Monday, November 20, 2017

A Good Day to Dye

On Saturday I attended an Indigo Dyeing workshop at the Mariner's Museum!  Full disclosure - I did steal the title of my blog post from another clever participant. 

My spoils of the day
I had an absolute blast, and got so inspired by all of the beautiful patterns that everyone came up with!  I wish I had gotten pictures of them all, but I was too busy having fun to take many pictures at all.

Here's what I did get:

Our presenters, Lauren and Wisteria, show off the shirts they dyed in last year's class, as well as some of their designs on cloth:

I unfortunately missed the beginning of the presentation, but there was a slideshow of indigo dyeing from around the world, a bit about the history of indigo, and everyone got a handout with a book list for further study.  They also passed around several examples of really gorgeous indigo pieces like this one from Thailand:

I meant to go back and take photos of all of the examples, but I got so engrossed in the dyeing process that I forgot.

Everyone got 5 cotton napkins to experiment with, and we were also encouraged to bring our own pieces from home.  I brought three different fabrics, but I'll get to them later.

Lauren showed us how to go about dipping our pieces:

The dye vats were three five-gallon buckets that had been prepared ahead of time.  Each had formed a "bloom" on top:

But when you dipped your cloth into it... was green underneath!

Reminded me of a blueberry.
 The cloth would also be green, initially.

But with exposure to the air, the dye would begin to oxidize, and you could see it turn blue before your eyes:

They had provided several different materials for us to use to make patterns on our cloth, such as clothspins, rubber bands, wood blocks, popsicle sticks, yarn, and Elmer's glue.

I started with the glue, because I knew it would need to dry before I could dunk it.  I thought it would be fun to get a resist pattern, so I had to try it.  I improvised a flower design, which is very hard to see here:

And here is how it looked after dyeing, rinsing, and taking it home where it was washed with mild detergent and dryed:

Not all of the glue had fully dried before I dyed it, so the one corner got a bit smudged.
One of the slides in the presentation was my inspiration for two of my other napkins - I was going for the upper left and lower right images:

For the upper left image, I used rubber bands to take up concentric circles:

Which took forever!  And tons of rubber bands.  I was busy doing this while everyone else was already dyeing, and I kept running out of rubber bands and ended up pilfering used ones from other people - which is why some of them are blue:

I didn't notice one of my rubber bands had popped off until after I dyed it.
And for the lower right image, I attempted to pleat my napkin into tiny little accordion pleats.  It was rather difficult to get them to stay, and I didn't want to bind them with rubber bands or anything that would prevent the dye from penetrating.  The best idea I could come up with was to twist it around on itself and hold the two ends together with one rubber band.

I had tied/looped long strands of yarn on each so that I could easily fish them out of the bucket, as I had seen some other participants doing.  First they got dunked in clear water to wet them thoroughly:

Then into the bucket they went!

After the first dip, you can see they were quite green:

But the blue color came out pretty quickly as I held them in the air:

Back in for another dunk:

And popped on a tray to carry to the sink:

I gave them both a quick rinse before undoing my bindings.

The back side of the left one looked like clumsy smocking:  

And here is how they turned out:  

For my final two napkins, I used clothespins.  I had admired another participant's flower-like designs on her napkins, so she showed me how she got them.  Here is my attempt at recreating the look:

It came out like this:

And for the final one I went with an accordion pleat and parallel rows of clothespins:

It ended up being one of my favorite ones!

I had brought three pieces of fabric from home - a yard of plain cotton voile to make into an 18th-Century kerchief, which I attempted to dye an even, pale blue.  I ended up dipping it twice because the color did not come out evenly the first time, so it's darker than I intended: 

But still pretty.
Then I had about a yard and a half of striped cotton voile left from making my Sheer Striped Gown, which I wanted to dye a deep, rich, dark blue.  I think I succeeded: 

This was when it was still wet, of course.  Here it is dry: 

I plan to make this into a Regency dress for Reptar.  It's still fairly sheer, so I'll need to make her a shift, too: 

My final piece was about a yard and a half of polished cotton, leftover from the lining of the curtains I used to make my Gold Francaise Gown.  I wanted a fun pattern on this one, so I started with a diagonal fold: 

I then folded accordion pleats once again, and when I got it all pleated I folded the entire thing in half down the length, making sure the long center section was on the outside where it would absorb the most dye.  And I made a pattern of clothespins along the edges: 

And this is the result: 

I was very happy with this piece!  I think I'm going to make it into a skirt. 

Of course now I want to dye ALL OF THE THINGS! I may have to see about getting my own indigo dyeing kit someday.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Reptar's First Regency Outing

Two whole months ago - September 9, 2017 - Brian the Engineer and I took our new little one to her very first Regency Society of Virginia picnic!  And we asked our friend Stephen of Modest Monkey Photography to join us as a sort of unofficial photographer for the event.  He got some great photos, which you can see throughout this post.  Unless otherwise noted, the rest of the photos (and there are a lot of them!) are by me or Brian.

Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
I wore my white Sheer Striped Gown over my Regency stays (for the first time in over a year) and a quickly jury-rigged white petticoat with shoulder straps.  Reptar wore the simple drawstring dress and eyelet cap I made for her just before the event.

Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Brian the Engineer wore his old standby Blue Linen Tailcoat and Green Spot'd Waistcoat (I really need to make him a new waistcoat!) and his favorite sunglasses (purchased at Colonial Williamsburg).  

Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Daddy and daughter were quite popular subjects for photos!  

Photo by Rebecca
Photo by Stacy
Our friends Will and Stacy knew we were bringing Reptar, so they brought along a cradle for her to lie down in:  

But she wasn't in there long!  There was always someone willing to hold her, it seems:

Megan and Heather
Megan is wearing a fantastic Shocking Bad Hat, btw
Stacy in another gorgeous Shocking Bad Hat - Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Jackie fixes Reptar's cap - Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Before the meal, a group of us took a tour of Francis Land House, where the picnic was hosted.  I had never been there before, and I very much enjoyed the tour - and learned a lot!

Listening intently to our guide

I do not remember her name, but she did an excellent job

So many Shocking Bad Hats were in attendance!

Rebecca, in the middle, is the creator of said hats.
They are just as fabulous from the back!

Stephen took advantage of the beautiful lighting in the hallway to get some portraits of me:

Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
Photo by Modest Monkey Photography
This room was my favorite:  

I stole a shot out of the window, spying on the remainder of our group:

Our guide talks about the most expensive item in the room - the ladies' sewing table!

Stacy just looked like she belonged in that room:

Once the tour was over, it was time to eat!  I took no photos of the food, being too hungry to pause.  But after the picnic, there was more socialization.  Some played cards, some played Graces, and some took a turn about the garden.

Heather had brought a bit of sewing:  

More photos can be seen on the RSV Facebook page here.

And Reptar needed lunch, too:

Photo by Rebecca
Photo by Rebecca

Brian the Engineer lived up to his name, and engineered this baby carrier for me from a blanket: 

Reptar is not sure she approves...
But it worked great! 

I also got some shots of her in her new dress and cap:

And the obligatory sonic screwdriver pics:

Just a few more miscellaneous photos:

Photo by Modest Monkey Photography