Category Archives: eco dye

Sew 352 – Bringing an artistic touch

Linda Zucco in eco-dye silk wrapMy friend Linda Zucco arrived for an upcycling session today carrying a bolt of pale apricot silk which had been sitting in her cupboard for years, left over from an earlier time when she sewed clothes for the living (more on that tomorrow).

Linda now paints oils on linen, creating beautiful street life paintings which are exhibited regularly at Lethbridge Gallery in Paddington.

The Vespas in the painting (below right) have such personality and impact, it is easy to fall in love with Linda’s beautiful creations. She brought an artistic perspective to our eco-dye project, despite having not done it before.  Continue reading

Sew 277 – Dyeing for a refresh

Steph wears upcycled floral maxi dressIt is amazing to see how a colour wash can revive a slightly dated floral dress for a fabulous second life.

This floral maxi wrap Laura Ashley dress was passed to me for upcycling by my friend Robyn Sheptooha back in February and now makes perfect beachwear for the gorgeous Steph on Stradbroke Island.

It was originally a cream floral that served Robyn well in its heyday, nearly 20 years ago. There was really nothing wrong with it at all except the cream floral looked a bit dated and Robyn’s style had evolved.  Continue reading

Sew 199 – Coffee dyed crochet

Dyeing with coffee groundsWe humans are autonomous, we make our own decisions, or so we think. Watch this documentary The Men Who Made Us Spend to learn how our ‘free choice’ is easily manipulated so a few makes lots of money while our environment is junked with unnecessary resource use and waste.

Investigative journalist Jacques Peretti explains how planned obsolescence, the organised creation of dissatisfaction and computer-aided design have cultivated competitive consumerism throughout capitalist society.

The documentary includes an economist saying change during the past two decades has seen the average American’s clothing consumption double from 34 pieces of apparel per year to 67 – equating to a brand new item of clothing coming into their wardrobe every 5.4 days. Once the garments are no longer ‘socially valuable’ they either go into the waste stream or the global apparel trade.  Continue reading

Sew 190 – Eco-dye with tea leaves

eco-dye wool with tea leavesIt’s taken a while, but I’m now dying with tea. Cream wool is pretty but the colour doesn’t seem warming enough for winter. This men’s wool knit is a favourite op shop find from a few years ago and I enjoy its soft cosiness. Its upcycle as Sew 190 happened by chance – when I splashed it with tea while lounging on the sofa. Although I immediately sponged it, the tea stain remained.

The solution was to gather all the ‘best before 2012’ tea leaves and make a big brew. The wool absorbed the colour beautifully and evenly. I left it soaking in the brew for about 30 minutes, spun out the excess then dried it in front of the fire. The jumper is now a beautiful caramel shade and smells of Earl Grey.  Continue reading

Sew 153 – Eco-dyed T-shirts reworked

eco-dyed t-shirts reworkedWhile it is easy to look at those who splash money around on flashy gear and beach houses and think life is good for them – researchers have actually found an association between materialism and decreased well-being.

This recent article on Huff Post’s The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Power and Money explains why more things don’t make us happier.

“It’s no secret that gratitude makes us happier, while materialism can do the opposite. And now, a new study shows that lower levels of gratitude could be part of the reason for why materialistic people have decreased life satisfaction, and that gratitude could actually mediate the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction. Continue reading

Sew 152 – Sustainable fashion at the fair

Eco-dyed cotton dressEndless consumption can’t rule. To sustain our lifestyle into the future we need to be mindful about the resources we consume and the waste we create in doing so.

It’s wonderful to be living in a city that promotes sustainable choices through the biannual Green Heart Fair and share ideas with friendly Brisbane residents and visitors.

Textile Beat was part of the action, and thanks to City Smart, family and friends for enabling that to be. Some of the Sew it Again collection found new homes – and others were paraded by the gorgeous Em and Maddy. Continue reading

Sew 82 – Green leaf eco-dye

Sew it Again 82 web

This upcycle was done in stages with the cotton dress shortened then dyed in a hot pot with green leaves. The skirt offcut becomes a waistband tied with a bow and eco-dyed silk is added to the neckline and sleeves to disguise stains.

I woke this morning to a beautiful view across a dam into a green canopy of tinglewood trees at our friend Jan’s place at Walpole in south west Western Australia. The beauty of the place is tinged with sadness because it was while landscaping Jan’s place that my brother Paul lost his life in an excavator accident here a year ago. I’ve returned with some jarrah timber which we hope in time and thanks to the Walpole Men’s Shed will become a seat somewhere along the Bibbulmun Track that Paul enjoyed walking from end-to-end several times.

Continue reading

Sew 78 – Eco-dyed urchin wear

eco-dyed urchin wear

This was an apricot-coloured raw silk suit upcycled with eco-dye from purple carrots to become what is now called Urchin Wear.

Eco-dye is an easy and affordable way to refresh dull garments. Animal fibres such as silk and wool absorb colour more readily than plant fibres such as cotton and linen.

Purple carrots date back thousands of years according to the World Carrot Museum and are loaded with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients when consumed as food.  Continue reading

Sew 41 – Heart in the right place

eco-dyed cottonTo liven up this cotton $2 op shop dress, I eco-dyed it along with some silk which was then used to lengthen hemline and embellish neckline along with beads.

I’m making it my business this year to reinvent existing clothing to demonstrate how using creativity and effort enables us to dress in a different, more mindful, way.

My inspiration comes from seeing and reading what others are doing around the world, as documented by people such as Sass Brown in her books Eco Fashion and Refashioned.

Brown also has a website and today posted an article about creative challenges involved in upcycling post-consumer waste. Continue reading

Sew 29 – Earthy and natural

upcycling a linen dressThis dress had several makeovers to be what it is today, morphing from long white-collar linen, short no-collar linen, eco-dyed, re eco-dyed, and silk-scarf trimmed.

All sounds a bit time-consuming, but each stage was a quick change and eventually the garment transformed to be number 29 in my 365-day Sew it Again eco-clothing project.

I’ve bought new the few business suits I own, but the rest of my wardrobe comprises garments I’ve made, altered, salvaged from op shops or been given as cast-off from friends.

I know where my clothes come from, know they are ethically sourced and made of natural fibres (including black cashmere coat Toronto op shop and silk dress Gold Coast op shop).

There’s a growing global awareness about where clothing comes from, how it is produced and its impact on ecological health which mirrors the recent coming to consciousness about food sources and impacts on our own and the planet’s health.

Sustainable apparel consultants such as Shannon Whitehead are bringing awareness to these issues. Shannon summarised in a recent post the six things you should know about your clothes:

  1. There are chemicals on your clothes
  2. There are more than 27 million slaves in the world today
  3. Big retailers are a big problem
  4. Our old clothes (and disposable behaviour) are ruining Africa’s economy
  5. It takes decades for your clothing to decompose in a landfill
  6. We’re not helpless

I began researching this subject while doing leadership study last year which led to my Sew it Again project to demonstrate a different way of dressing by resewing garments from our own and others wardrobes to reuse and repurpose resources that already exist.

Today’s offering had languished in the back of my wardrobe because its button-down front was dated but I love linen and can’t throw it out.  I cut the dress to knee-length and cropped off the collar with pinking sheers but found the white was dull (and noticed a small hole which I patched). I used onion and passionfruit skins to dye it – then gave it another burst with passionfruit skins because I loved the purple shades. A silk scarf from a friend complemented the colours so I stitched it on as a drape (and hem trim) to distract from the button-down front. Its earthy and natural – and will be included in Reverse Emporium’s Love Up-Cycled exhibition from February 8.

upcycling a linen dress