This Week in Dyeing

picking flowers

Sometimes I need a little blog break for mental sanity. The last couple of weeks I’ve tried hard to spend less time on the internet, more time using my hands, for things like… picking flowers! May signals the end of the early spring wildflowers in Austin, so I’ve been rummaging around the garden dead matter in search of the last bluebonnets, poppies and sweet peas. And then of course taking bunches of photos of the pickings (my other favorite pastime).


Who doesn’t love poppies…

The explosion of spring color inspired me to keep up my dyeing adventures. Pale peaches, mink browns, lemons… And mint is next. Except I can’t decide if I want a seafoam mint or a kind of pale cucumber-y mint.

I won’t lie, dyeing takes time, especially if you’re as exacting about color as I am. And all that stirring can get laborious, but it’s so worth the results. Washer-dyeing is a way out of all the stirring, but unfortunately, my washer is front-loading and doesn’t pause on a soak or agitate cycle. For these fabrics, I used fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading. They’re carrying some lovely colors inspired by the Pantone palettes for spring and fall. One of my Pantone favorites at the moment is “Linen”, a sort of peached-up ivory. It reminds me my fading roses…

dyeing cotton

The funny thing with dyes is that they mix really differently than I am used to with paint. And if I’m using a mixed rather than primary color, some parts of the dye can “stick” faster than other parts. Dyeing fans always say it’s part science, part art, and now I can see why. So my “linen” came out more pink than I had hoped but I found a way to use it. These are cotton and modal knits I’d stashed for possible t-shirt projects, but they’re very soft for some simple summer lingerie. I’ve got my eye on some Tencel knits, too. I love soft knitted underwear especially in the hot months.

All of this dyeing led up to samples of several lingerie projects. And that’s another place my hands have been–sewing, sewing, testing, more sewing. I love making things for myself but over the last year I got an itch to do something more with my sewing and designing. It was an itch that wouldn’t go away. My business ideas are still in the nascent stages but the more I plunge into them, the more I realize that designing clothes and patterns is something I’ve dreamed about for many years. I would never have guessed it’d be lingerie!

Anyway, promise I’ll be back with some of the finished projects. Some of them aren’t too exciting; I’m working on developing my distinct style and then there’s just a lot of me trying to improve at handling elastic and stretch. And then some of them are downright secrets until they’re ready. And that’s what lingerie is about, right?


  1. Ksaunm says:

    Your photos of the flowers in the blue vase are astoundingly beautiful! I’m breathless…thank you so much for sharing them!

  2. Maddie says:

    Lingerie is about secrets. You’re totally right about that!

    I haven’t gotten into dying yet. I want to but I’m still fine tuning my skills with bra fitting and construction and I’m sure you know that to get a good “hand” at both requires TIME.

    I hope your dreams about designing come true. I hope mine do too πŸ™‚

  3. I would agree with Ksaunm that your flower photos are really beautiful! πŸ™‚
    I actually just commented another blog about bras… hehe, but what I have to say about bras is that they’re SCARY! πŸ˜›
    I fell like I’m a pretty comfortable sewer, and I draft patterns as well, but bras are one of my weaknesses!

    I hope ALL our designing dreams come true! πŸ˜€

    • Amy says:

      Thank you! Hopefully we are nudging you closer to making one. Once you get going, it’s really fun!

      • Parnuuna Kristiane Thornwood says:

        I have decided that my next bra budget will be used on a bra pattern, so I can get started. πŸ™‚ Hopefully I will be comfortable making them, before long. πŸ˜€

  4. Katherine says:

    I have been thinking about your dyeing lately…with elingeria closing down, I am wondering if I need to start dyeing to get all the pretty colours I want.

    I would love to see all your projects…exciting or not…helps to see the evolution of your process and ideas.

    I think it is fabulous if you can turn what you love into a business.

  5. ~ Becky says:

    I’ve been thinking about making lingerie. Reading about your peachy pink soft knits reminded me that I have some stashed. Time to get it out! Once again, you inspire me to do more with my life than just sit on the internet!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I love the idea of having a little secret. Lingerie, for me, is the way of something which envokes a feeling that is hidden under layers. Even when it is unveiled, it’s demonstrative, not obvious. It’s about seeing me as much as it is about seeing ME :).

    Growing up in the 80s, I was very influenced by early Victoria’s Secret, which had nice laces and sets that always felt womanly. A French vibe moreso back then. There was something intellectual about it, an idea about something? I had a blue plaid set that was my favorite for ages.

    It would be cool if you could find a way to play with patterns!

  7. Carolyn says:

    Your dyeing experiment produced beautiful results; what a divine pink! I completely love that colour πŸ™‚ I’m very excited to see your designs!

  8. Sallie says:

    Beautiful! Absolutely gorgeous results! I love mixing fiber reactive dyes – as you said, it’s part science and part art. I’ve generally found that with those dyes any red pigment is the “bully”, taking up fiber space faster than the rest of the colors – which may explain why your linen ended up more pink than you were expecting.
    Also, I’m swooning over your spring garden. I tried poppies here for the first time and it was a total failure… I’m not sure why… but I was majorly disappointed!

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Sallie! That helps. I’ve been surprised at how quickly fabric sucks up the red, which does seem to be in all tan & brown dyes. I emailed Dharma about it to find out what other colors I might try. I might go for a really diluted orange next time to achieve a pale pale coral. Then again, there’s still red in that!

      My big poppy tip is: plant your seeds in October, and water till they germinate. I get the best poppies that way–they start blooming in March. That probably only goes for Texas or the deep South, not the rest of the world :). If you plant poppy seeds in spring, you’re doomed. It gets too hot too fast!

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