dyeing · Textiles

Summer Dyeing: Outdoor Textiles

Are you eager to get outdoors in the summer?
I love sewing so much that I mourn lost sewing time before I even go on holiday. But, as soon as I’m at the cottage, I want to be outdoors! Dyeing fabric is the perfect outdoor summer textile project.

Summer Projects

Every summer, I set myself a creative project that takes me away from my computer and sewing room and puts me in touch with the natural world around my cabin.
Some summers, I have work to do, and bring manuscripts to write or correct, but this often morphs into whittling wood or some other outdoor project.
So, I try to go with the flow.  Mostly I amble about the property  painting and drawing outdoors.
Lakefront watercolour by Juju Vail
Lakefront water colour painting
Occasionally I’ve restricted myself to tonal exercise drawings or some other specific focus.
Tonal Pencil drawing of my mother's garden in front of the lake
Tonal Pencil drawing of my mother’s garden in front of the lake.

Some years I paint in oil and acrylic but I love painting with water media most. The flow of liquids is very sympathetic to our lakefront summers.

Dark Swamp Watercolour by Juju Vail
This summer I’m dyeing fabric and building a collection of marks and motifs, on paper. I will use these to make fabric designs when I return to London, and have time to get digital again.

Summer Dyeing On Cotton

I have done some acid dyeing on protein fibres, in previous summers, but I haven’t played much with dyeing cellulose fibres like cotton, at least not since collage. They can be trickier to set and get vibrant.
However, cotton is affordable and available at the local fabric store, so that’s what I’m using.
dyeing cotton
Dyeing Cotton Jersey

Dye Colour Palette

I’m using a restricted palette since I want to avoid clownish or overly muddy colours. By sticking to a monochrome palette, it’s easer to avoid psychedelic results.
It’s difficult to choose a limited palette; I considered a range of blues, or khaki & forest greens but settled on a warm palette. This dried Hydrangea and wild flower arrangement, on my mother’s porch, inspired me.
dried hydrangea colours
forest berry pie colours
Forest Berry Pie colours
These colours could be worn with either my summer or winter clothes.  I have lots of wood and berry pies around to inspire me. (Have I mentioned how much I love pie?)
In my next post, I’ll show you some works in progress. Follow me on Instagram for daily snapshots of my dyeing process.

2 thoughts on “Summer Dyeing: Outdoor Textiles

  1. Your watercolours are beautiful! Love the berry palette too and look forward to seeing what these fabrics become. What are you using to dye/mark your textiles?

  2. I love your watercolours, and watercolours are my favourite type of paintings. There is something just magical about it.

    Your fabric dying is going well too. Seems like it’s an inspirational summer for you so far!

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