Sunday, July 24, 2016

Progress report….Avocado Dye

So this is what happened with the Avocado Dye experiment.

After scouring everything on the subject I could find on line,
I picked out the techniques that made the most sense to me and proceeded this way…..

To prepare the fabric:

I soaked a thrifted silk shirt (that had been previously 'eco' dyed with eucalyptus, walnut and iron),
and small pieces of undyed silk and cotton jersey fabric
in warm water with a squirt of ph neutral dish soap 
(in this case Mrs. Meyer's Lavender).

I soaked these overnight and kept them wet in the solution until I put them directly in the dye pot
(when the dye solution was ready*).

*To prepare the dye solution:

I covered the skins and pits of 15 previously frozen Avocados with cool water in a large stainless steel pot.

I did not weigh the fabric or the dye stuff.

I slowly brought the pot to a 'just before' boiling point and left it there for 1 hour.

While it was simmering, I skimmed (and skimmed and skimmed)
the green slush of the avocado meat from the surface.
All accounts said this is not necessary, however it seemed like the best thing to do,
since I was 'into' it 
and curious….
while waiting for the brew to become the infamous 'pink'.

After one hour of the 'almost boil', I turned the heat off and let the pot cool on the stove over night. 

In the morning I poured the sludgy brew through some cloth placed in a sieve until it's liquor ran clear.

To dye the cloth:

I squeezed the soapy water from the items to dye and placed them in the cool dye bath.

I did not rinse the fabric (of the soap) before it went into the pot with the clear liquor.

I may have added a bit more water to cover the fabric.

I used my tap water for the whole process.

Then I repeated the 'almost boil' process, bringing the pot to almost boiling, and cooking the fabric for one hour.

After the hour I turned off the heat and let the fabric sit in the dye to brew overnight.

The next morning, I extracted the items from the pot,
then ran them through the wash with no soap in cool water.

then I said….

"oh, pink rays of morning sunlight please bless this wet shirt"

(just kidding, I didn't say that)

this was a surprise.

here's the almost dry…

thrifted shirt in the background, 

fabric from left to right…

some kind of silk, PFD cotton jersey from Dharma in the middle, mystery fabric on the far right.

I'm sorry I don't have the 'before' pics of the fabrics

The silk was off white and the cotton was very white.

The results:

The shirt color did not shift as much as I'd hoped,
 however it seemed darker and more uniform in color than before.

Obviously the silk took the dye more than the cotton did.

I did not presoak the cotton in soy milk as is often recommended. 
I'm not sure it would make a big difference, but it might. 
I would definitely go to the trouble if I were to dye a cotton garment with this process.

The dye bath does not seem exhausted, so it's in the freezer for future use.

I'm not sure what I'll do with this information, 

but I consider this experiment a success.

Yes I do.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Seeing Red...

I've had some extended time alone, and realize I haven't written a post since April.

A brief report.

I've been traveling, sewing and continue with my de-cluttering and organizing. 

I made myself a commitment
 to get my place settled and into my studio before the end of the summer. 

It's been a huge undertaking.

 Moving is hard.


It's often been difficult to maintain and re-establish equilibrium. 

And it seems to be the theme of my adult life. 

In my case, I believe it's greatest toll is felt on my creative pursuits.

 The giant glitches in my computer over the past two years have also taken their toll. 

For instance, as I attempt to post a photo from my phone, this is the new muck I must wade through before it happens….

iPhoto has detected inconsistencies in your library. Please click Repair to avoid any potential problems.

So today I have a dye pot on the stove filled with Avocado skins and pits.

 I'm hoping for the pinkish color that's claimed.

Sort of this color….

or a 'Wood Rose' shade would be nice.

In the mean time, as I photographed this zinnia, 
I became enamored with the quality of light shining on my stove top. 

In addition to the soft pink….

thanks to this morning's visit to our local grower's market...

I noticed some reds.




I was amazed to see what local growers produced in this year's searing heat and drought.

The pickings were slim at best, 

but SO appreciated.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Another for the pot….

Flowing with momentum that began with the Maggie Dress inspiration,

I decided to tackle Alabama Channin's A-Line Dress.

This pattern is found on a CD included with Natalie's latest book, 

Learning from my last endeavor with the Maggie Dress, I found it fairly easy to have my local printing shop upload the CD and print off the simple pattern.

I have to note that since the print shop had never done this before, it did take them a few tries to execute the large scale pattern.

They were as happy to persist as I was prepared to be patient.

I chose to use an inexpensive
 PFD (prepared for dye) cotton jersey from  Dharma Trading Company for the short dress version.

I've sewn more than a few pieces from the A/C collection and found I needed to alter all of them in one way or another.

Making a sample is the best way to figure this out, especially if you plan to embellish with layers and appliqué.

I made a slight change to this pattern….

Although it looks VERY nice in this photo, the v-neck was a little too severe for me…

so I chose to round it out a bit….

This fabric from Dharma is very white with a sort of blueish tinge and has less drape than the buttery Alabama Chanin Organic Cotton Jersey, but it is forgivable at $4.58 USD per yard.

I also think it is still a little too full in the skirt, which might disappear when made with the softer drape of the A/C cotton jersey. 

 This one has pockets, which I LOVE, and was VERY easy and quick to stitch together.

I plan to pop this into the dye pot along with the Maggie Tunic and a long skirt I made.

I'm thinking Indigo.

Still aways off.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Just when I was thinking about how difficult a climate we have for growing…

on my walk today I couldn't miss the 

welcome sight of water and the greening of this ditch….

And as I turned the corner to my lane

I also have to report 


flourish here.

As do


go figure.

OK….so when 'figuring',

I realize they resemble rose hips and roses (and all sorts of prickly plants) also flourish here. 

(Don't worry, they're headed for the dye pot too.)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Perky Sue….

There is no question….

Albuquerque, New Mexico has an extremely harsh environment for growing plants.

I once sat at the feet of local well known landscape designer and garden writer,

 Judith Phillips.

Judith specializes in arid-adapted and native plants,

and she confirmed it….

We get to complain about how difficult it is to garden here for good reason.

The drought conditions, range of temperature, low humidity and our high elevation make it very hard to cultivate most species.

But up comes Hymenoxys scaposa, AKA 'Perky Sue'. 

She bloomed here all last summer 

and seems happiest

between a Rock and a Hard Spot…

You Go Girl you Perky Sue.

She makes me smile every day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the Maggie Dress….

In January, Alabama Channin launched their 'Build a Wardrobe' program with a release of their much anticipated
 Maggie Dress pattern.

This simple dress mimics an apron, closes with a snap in the back, ties in the front and
can be made in three lengths…
a top, a tunic, or a dress
(with or without a seam in the front and back for ease of embellishment)

As I was one of those who swooned over this seemingly simple to sew frock, 
I jumped at the chance to buy the pattern.

I ordered the pattern on line, printed it off on my Epson,
then set about piecing it together…

My thought was to save the time (and cost) of running to the nearest commercial printer…..HA!

this was not the simplest task…
and very time consuming, however a tranquil and meditative exercise..

I chose the 'tunic' length and
 made a sample using inexpensive knit fabric before I cut into A/C's yummy organic cotton, which I had on hand in the 'natural' color.

Before I cut into the A/C cotton jersey,
after selecting the size Large (even though I'm normally a medium),

I added an inch to the back side of the pattern (which wraps to the front with ties)….
actually 1/2" to each side 

(I still made mistakes even after making the 'muslin'…ugh…like forgetting to add the inch to the part that wraps to the back, but that didn't seem to make a difference)

and there seemed to be miles of edging strips to cut…

(432 inches to be exact)

and iron in half.

Of course

I under estimated how much fabric I needed for the strips and ended up needing to order more….

And after I sewed these strips to all the edges of the tunic,

using the 'Cretan' stitch for it's stretch and design…

I ended up with this version…

 I think it was worth the effort.

(of course as I'm rarely happy with my first try,  I wish I had a version that is about 6 inches shorter…)

My plan is to make a few more frocks from the A/C selections and toss them in a dye pot this summer…

to be continued... 

Saturday, April 2, 2016


One delightful by-product of living in New Mexico are the many friends who come to visit…

And before the snow fell in Santa Fe yesterday,
(much to the dismay of my friends visiting from Michigan)
 I was able to meet them on Canyon Road for a walk and a talk and some tea.

As I peruse the photos I took that day,
 I notice I was drawn more to 
the atmosphere and charm 
of Canyon Road's historic homes 
turned into galleries and shops 
than the art the lane is so famous for...

kitchen of the Nüart Gallery 

stylish shop selling, pretty much,

painting on the wall at the entrance of the Dark Bird Studio

Jun Kaneko sculpture that caught my eye...

and the divine Teahouse with it's yummy food, mimosas and of course tea.