bookmark_borderPlain Cotton Shirts for Dyeing

At the most recent dyeing activity, one of our friends brought a few articles of finished clothing that she’d purchased inexpensively, specifically for the fun of shibori dyeing it in indigo. When you make up a couple of big pots of indigo dye, you might as well use them for as much as you can. They really don’t keep, and there’s so much dye in there that you can normally toss in some experiments at the end just to see how they come out.

Her experiments came out so awesome that I decided to copy her method. The online stores that sell the dye also carry a broad line of prepared for dyeing (PFD) garments, but I hate buying clothes mail order. I have plenty of simple sewing patterns, though.

Cotton Shirts for Dyeing

I used white muslin fabric to make two shirts. One uses a sweatshirt pattern, and the other uses the beloved pajama top pattern. No buttons on the pajama top yet, because they would only interfere with the dye. I finished all the cut edges with serging, but did all the top stitching with cotton thread. The cotton thread will take up dye, but the polyester serging will not. The serging is all hidden inside, though.

Somebody is running a dyeing day next month, so now I am ready for fun.

bookmark_borderThrown Weapons Rank Favors

One of the martial activities in the SCA is called “Thrown Weapons”. Participants throw handled metal weapons such as axes and knives at fixed targets for scores. If you can achieve certain scores during a timed exercise, you qualify for different ranks. These belt favors are meant to be given to those participants who have achieved the required skill levels. The background color of each favor denotes the rank: black for Thrower (0-29 points), blue for Verfur (30-59 points), purple for Caster (60-79 points), green for Huntsman (80-99 points), and red for Marksman (100-120 points).

Each is machine embroidered on cotton twill fabric. The favors are about 7.5 inches wide and 18 inches long, meant to be doubled over a belt. The badge is 3.5 inches in diameter. The fabric is doubled over into a kind of bag, inside which valuables or authorization cards can be stored. I made six of each rank, thirty in all. Even though the machine did all the hard work, there was still a bunch f work setting things up, switching threads, and completing the favors. It took me a while.

bookmark_borderHashi-maki from Surplus Fabric

In Japanese, what Americans call “chopsticks” are called “hashi“. “Maki” is the word for “roll”. Many years ago, I bought a pair of hashi that came rolled in a piece of fabric, secured with a cord and a bead, and this was such a handy thing to have that I realized these would make great gifts, and would be a good way to use up small squares of surplus fabric. I bought a couple packages of bamboo chopsticks at the Asian grocery, and away I went.

8 Hashi-maki, 2021 edition

Here are the products of that idea. The fabric came from my stash of surplus fabric. You may recognize some fabric from previous sewing projects. The beads came out of my stash of beads and baubles that have been given to me as tokens of appreciation over the years. The basic process is to sew two squares of fabric right-sides together, leaving one corner un-sewn, Turn the squares right-side out, and insert the ends of the cords in the unfinished corner. Top stitch all the way around, sealing the corner and securing the cord.

To use, place flat on a surface with the corded corner pointing to the right. Place a pair of hashi just to the left of the center line, oriented vertically. Fold the top and bottom corners over the ends of the hashi, so they can’t slide out of the roll. Fold the left corner over the hashi to the right. Roll the hashi up in the fabric, wrap the roll with the cord, and tuck the bead under the wrapped cords to secure the roll.

bookmark_borderTrio of Triangular Braids

Back in the Spring, I started teaching myself a new kumihimo braiding pattern. It’s called the “Sankaku-kumi 1” braid. It is #116 in Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids: Marudai. It is a triangular braid with fifteen strands.

Most marudai braids have a number of strands that is divisible by four. Eight, sixteen, and 24-strand braids are the most common. Odd-stranded braids are uncommon. I’ve done a 9-strand braid and a 17-strand braid in the past, and I’d love to be able to run a workshop on odd braids. This one seemed like a good candidate.

First, I did the braid in some acrylic yarn I keep around for learning purposes.

First try at the sankaku braid

It’s a pretty thick braid because I used two plies of yarn on each tama. You can see that there are a number of errors in this braid. Most of them seem to be of the “doing the wrong step at the wrong time” kind. There are 9 white strands, and 6 red strands. They are separated into six positions around the marudai: RR WWW RR WWW RR WWW. Each iteration, you move one white strands from each group two positions clockwise, and one red strand from each group one position counter-clockwise.

Second try at the sankaku braid

For the second try, I used cotton crochet thread, and reversed the colors. I don’t think there are any visible errors in this braid. There are some structural twists in it, though, that keep it from being smooth.

Third try at the sankaku braid

For the third try, I went with lace-weight silk yarn. I got started on this, then it sat on the marudai for at least six months. I got side-tracked onto other things and it stared at me accusingly for all that time like a one-eyed daruma doll. For this try, I used back and gold threads for the 6 center strands, plus red and white threads for the 9 outer strands. I did not quite plan out the color pattern well enough, so you can see where two white strands come one after the other. There’s also a big error from when I got started on the braid again and did the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve hidden it in the photo, though.

Anyway, this is a nice, fast braid when you don’t take a six month break in the middle of it. I’ll probably give it a rest for a bit, then do a fourth try to lock the pattern into my memory. Once I do that I can create my own instruction sheet and I’ll be ready to teach a class on it.

bookmark_borderBurgundy Oilcloth Shop Coat

I decided that I wanted to make one more shop coat. The other two are great, even though I have less opportunity to wear them lately, but I thought that a third coat made from oilcloth would be a handy thing to have. The oilcloth would make it water resistant, if not waterproof.

Then, I had to find a source of oilcloth. Most oilcloth you can find on the net is not real cloth, it’s that flannel-backed vinyl that people use as tablecloths. Real oilcloth is real cloth (usually cotton canvas) that’s been soaked in boiled linseed oil and allowed to dry. It’s easy (if pricey) to buy garments made from oilcloth, but not so easy to find the raw material, and I didn’t want to make it myself.

At least one of the merchants at Pennsic usually carries oilcloth, but there was no Pennsic this year and none of the merchant websites listed oilcloth. Eventually I found Hamilton Dry Goods. They have a selection of real cotton oilcloth in stock and their service was reasonably fast.

Anyway, here’s the coat:

Burgundy Oilcloth Shop Coat

Because it’s meant to be worn in wet conditions, exterior pockets seemed like a bad idea. Because the oilcloth feels a little greasy even when it’s dry, I decided to put a lining in the coat, and put pockets on the lining.

Lining with Pockets

I had some of this rosy poly-cotton fabric all the way down in the bottom of one of my fabric supply bins, held in reserve for a project I was unlikely to ever make. It was a good hue match for the burgundy shell fabric, and a better feel against the skin.

The pattern doesn’t include instructions for adding a lining, so I had to figure all that out on my own. I only messed it up a little bit, at the lapels. I managed to effect a save without ripping out all the collar stitching.

A quick trip to the fabric store for some brass buttons, and this project was complete. Some time I need to figure out how to make one of these with a zipper instead of buttons. Not soon, though.

bookmark_borderNew Banner

My old shibori-dyed personal banner is getting a little faded, and my silk banner is too delicate to hang outside in the rain, so I decided to make a durable banner that I can mistreat.

Banner in trees

It’s 15 inches wide and 6 feet long of cotton duck fabric in this wonderful deep-yellow color. The black parts of the design are painted on with Jacquard Textile Color, with details on the bunny in gold Jacquard Neopaque fabric paint. The textile color is a really thick pigment type paint, that doesn’t forma film the way the acrylic Neopaque does.

I made a simple 8-strand suspensory braid in some polyester yarn, so that I won’t have to worry about it, either.

bookmark_borderBunny Pajamas

I was in the fabric store that shall not be named a couple of weeks ago, and they were having a sale on all cotton prints. Their selection of Japanese prints was pretty bad, so I bought a cute bunny rabbit print from the “Easter” colection, to make a new pair of pajamas.

Me wearing the pajamas

There’s no crosses or anything, just white bunnies cavorting on a pastel purple background. Very cute, and the cotton fabric is lightweight and good for summer wear.

Bunny Pajama Shirt

I used my favorite pajama pattern, since I know that I like the fit. I think I did a better job of placing the shirt pocket on this iteration than I did on the natural shop coat, and the collar attachment was quite smooth.

Bunny Pajama Pants

I greatly simplified the pants, though. I left out the false fly, which is a nice accent, but serves no functional purpose. I also left out the pockets, which are nice to have sometimes, but rarely used and not worth the added bulk and trouble in my experience. I also did a drawstring waist instead of an elastic waist, but I usually do that.

This project took me about two days worth of work. I’m very happy that this kind of thing is a weekend project for me now.