The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Indigo Reveal

Posted by AVFKW Staff on June 15, 2016 3 Comments

The most-anticipated moment with shibori and indigo dyeing is the moment you remove the object creating your resist (binding, stitching, clamps, etc), and reveal the design underneath! With indigo dyeing this is especially fun, with the strong contrast between your dark blue and white underneath.

On Tuesday, Lis and I dipped our pieces in the indigo vat. The night before, I finished stitching the fishbone pattern onto my completed Tendril Tank (above), and Lis's fabric was stitched and pulled tight. We soaked our pieces in hot water to thoroughly wet them, so that the indigo could easily permeate the fabric. Then we re-calibrated the AVFKW indigo vat and started dyeing!

I dipped my piece a total of 5 times; Lis dipped her fabric 3 times. It was a beautiful day in Oakland, with a bright, warm sun. We alternated dips between our two pieces to allow them to fully oxidize.

After our dipping was completed, we gave each piece a quick rinse, then carefully began cutting our knots and removing each thread. 

Lis's fabric turned out beautiful! Since part of it is solid blue, this means only part of her tank will have her stitch pattern, the rest will be solid blue. And since the Tendril is cut on the bias, her stitching pattern will also be on the bias. 

My Tendril Tank is complete, and I love it! Since I used a cotton fabric that is a little heavier than the linen in the Fishbone Dress project, the gathering of the fabric between the stitching lines created an additional resist. I did my best to allow as much dye as possible into this area, but I love the additional patterning that it created.

I'm looking forward to seeing what YOU create with indigo this month! Please feel free to leave us a comment with a link to photos of your work, or use the hashtag #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong on Instagram.

Indigo tips:

+ Make sure the dye reaches all parts of your fabric - i.e. in between the rows of stitching on your Fishbone Dress. 
+ Make sure to allow the indigo on your fabric to fully oxidize in between dips. It can be helpful to dye multiple pieces, one after another, to space out the dips. Grab a friend to join you!
+ Just like with other dyes, your fabric will be several shades lighter after drying, so be sure to keep that in mind as you dip your fabric.
+ Watch Kristine's Creativebug video on dyeing with indigo to learn more.
+ Embrace the variation and natural beauty of your dyed piece!

-- Sarah

Read More

The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Pathways to the Fishbone Tank

Posted by AVFKW Staff on June 08, 2016 1 Comment

Happy summer everyone!

As you may know, Kristine and Adrienne recently visited New Hampshire and are currently exploring the beautiful country of Iceland, experiencing the deep-rooted wool culture there, as well as the gorgeous natural landscape. You can follow along on Instagram!

Meanwhile at Verb we are continuing on with The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along, and June brings us to the first indigo project of the year! 

Indigo dyeing is one of those processes that gets your attention. As you remove your piece from the indigo vat, a shimmering transformation takes place, from bright green to blue. This transformation grabs ahold of people and never lets go. There are natural dyers around the world that have devoted their entire life to working with indigo. Whole books have been written on the color blue and its history. It is an endeavor that easily encompasses a lifetime, as there are endless nuances, techniques, recipes, styles, and applications of indigo dyeing.

In The Modern Natural Dyer, Kristine has presented several projects to introduce you to indigo dyeing. The Blue Skies Tote and Indigo Wedge Cardigan teach you how to indigo dye on cellulose fibers and protein fibers, respectively. Further projects explore overdyeing with indigo, after dyeing with other natural dyes, as well as a variety of surface design techniques that work very well with indigo. June's project, the Fishbone Dress, is one of these - it explores indigo dyeing on a linen tunic that has been stitched to create a resist pattern.

You can use our sewing pattern, The Tendril Dress, to make your linen tunic for the Fishbone Dress. (If you have purchased a Phase 2 Kit, you have a copy of the pattern and enough linen to sew one for yourself!) We love the Tendril pattern - it's a simple dress cut on the bias which makes it easy to sew and wear. After sewing, follow Kristine's directions to stitch and gather the fabric in your dress. Once you learn the motions of this variation on a whipstitch, your gathering will go quickly. Then it's on to the best part - creating your indigo vat and dyeing your dress! 

For the Work-Along, Lis and I will both be working on shortened versions of the Tendril Dress - we're calling them Tendril Tanks. We're each following a different pathway with our project and are excited to see the similarities and differences. I will be following the procedure laid out in the The Modern Natural Dyer: first I will sew my Tendril Tank, then I will stitch, gather, and indigo dye it. Lis will reverse this process: she will stitch, gather, and indigo dye her fabric, then lay out her pattern and sew her tunic.

Lis has been practicing her stitch techniques all week and has settled on a unique grid pattern covering the middle of her fabric, which is a medium-weight white linen. Her stitching lines follow the weft and warp of the fabric, which means when she cuts out her pattern on the bias, these lines will be on the diagonal.

I am sewing my Tendril Tank out of our white, light-weight organic cotton chambray, grown in the Capay Valley (where the sheep that grow wool for our yarn Horizon live) by Sally Fox. I am so excited to be working with this fabric for the first time and I can't wait to wear my top with my Horizon sweaters. I will be using the same stitch pattern as in the book - but I will make sure to end my stitching early enough to leave a solid band of blue around the bottom of my tank.

We have many resources for you this week!

Sewing classes & tips:

+ To modify your Tendril Dress into a tank, Tasa recommends shortening the pattern by measuring 12" up (or more or less as you prefer) from the hemline, then drawing your new hem in the same curve as the original.
+ Our new class, The Tendril Tank, is full - but email us to be put on the notification list for the next time we offer it!

Indigo dyeing classes & tips:

+ Kristine is teaching Indigo + Shibori I at Verb on June 19th! There are a few spots left - grab one while it's available. Students will learn a variety of bound and stitch resist patterns and spend the afternoon dipping their pieces into the indigo vat.
+ We're excited to announce that today Creativebug is releasing a brand new video, Natural Indigo Dyeing. In it, Kristine teaches you how to create an indigo vat and several resist design techniques. This is great if you aren't local - or if you want to be able to refer back to her techniques at a later date.
+ Want to try indigo dyeing on your own? Pick up all the supplies you need from the shop or order them online.
+ Make sure to review all steps in the indigo dyeing process. Remember, you don't need to mordant - but you definitely want to scour! In The Modern Natural Dyer, see pages 131-137 for information on making and dyeing with your indigo vat, including tips on recalibration and avoiding crocking. The Fishbone Dress project starts on page 177.

We'll be back again next week with the results of our indigo dyeing. In the meantime, we'd love to see your progress! Use the hashtag #themodernnaturaldyerworkalong so we can follow your work!

 -- Sarah

Read More

The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Flowers at My Fingertips Sewing Kit

Posted by Kristine Vejar on May 04, 2016 1 Comment

Walk into your own front yard, wander through your garden, and at your fingertips there very well could be dye plants growing.

May's Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along project is the Flowers at My Fingertips Sewing Kit. Through this project, we explore how the garden is a source of dye plants, and how to take those flowers and leaves and print with them on fabric. This process is also referred to as eco-printing and in my mind was first popularized by artist and natural dyer, India Flint. Not all flowers are created the same in the eye's of the dyer, there are certainly some whose color and print are longer-lasting than others, and we cover those in The Modern Natural Dyer. That said, I have seen some really amazing, unexpected results from plants I wouldn't have typically deemed as "dye plants". Perhaps it is the fact that the flower is so intently pushed into the surface of the fabric.

Once the fabric has been printed, it is cut and sewn into a traveling sewing kit.

This is what it looks like folded; all of your tools ready for a journey. I don't know about you but there is rarely a time I don't have a sewing or knitting project in tow.

Here are a few tips when approaching this project:

+ Always mordant your fabric for the most long-lasting and saturated color.
+ I used wool flannel for my sewing kit, though, feel free to use other medium weight fabrics, like white cotton denim, and simply follow the directions for scouring and mordanting cellulose-based goods.
+ Turn to The Modern Natural Dyer's 20-page spread of dye plants to find those which will make great dye - and for ideas of what to plant in your garden this Spring!
+ Experiment with plants in your yard, you only have to scour and mordant once, you can keep dye many times on that piece of fabric - in case you would like to add more layers, or a flower fades.
+ Though I made this kit with the sewer in mind, it could easily be adapted for knitting tools.

To help you with sourcing the materials for this project, at Verb, we have made a kit. This is a great project for you to do with kids! It includes the scour, mordant, fabric, thread, and branch which you use in the dyeing process.

If you are in the area, I am teaching a class on eco-printing called Mapping Color. Join me in making your own eco-printed fabric! And if you are interested in growing your very own dye garden, join Adrienne for her class, Growing and Gathering Dye Plants.

Read More

The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Depth, Texture, and Layers of Natrurally-Dyed Color with Alabama Chanin

Posted by Kristine Vejar on April 27, 2016 1 Comment


The typical pathway of creating an Alabama Chanin piece is to choose a sewing pattern, cut the fabric for the sewing pattern, stencil the fabric, layer the stenciled fabric over the a piece of non-stenciled fabric of the same size, stitch around the stenciled layers, cut the inside of the stenciled shape out, and then sew all the pattern pieces together. The last step is to add the neck and sleeve binding. Wait, the last step in completing an Alabama Chanin piece is to wear it...flaunt it? Yes, go for it, flaunt it.

When writing The Modern Natural Dyer, there were many experiments conducted, testing recipes, and fine-tuning projects. This process has provided us with an incredible library of naturally dyed yardage, yarn, and garments - like A.Chanin cardigans and tanks.

Some of the tanks have a bit of irregularity in the dyeing, as I have said before, there is always the option of embracing imperfection, and celebrating the movement of the hand, the aliveness of the natural dyeing process. Though, as an appreciator of the Alabama Chanin style of sewing, and one who finds the process of hand-stitching quite relaxing, I wondered what it would be like to add even more hand-work - to put two of the tanks together, and add the layers of stenciled paint, thread, and cut motifs, revealing another plane of naturally dyed color. I found this to be the perfect opportunity to try.

Both of the tanks I scoured, mordanted, and dipped into a wheat bran bath according to the directions for cellulose-based fibers in The Modern Natural Dyer.

Top Layer: Naturally dyed with weld in the darker of the two shades featured on p.98 of The Modern Natural Dyer
Bottom Layer: Naturally dyed with weld in the lighter of the two shades featured on p.98 of the The Modern Natural Dyer

Once dyed, both tanks were dipped into a bath of iron-infused water. Though I used weld, there are many other dyes and colors you can choose for your own piece.

Onto stenciling...

Stencil: Anna's Garden
Paint: custom mixture of brown, black, and a hint of bronze
Thread: Taupe

+ I added ironed a piece of freezer paper to the tank, for stability when stenciling, and so the fabric paint would not seep through to the other side.
+ When stenciling, I did not want to paint the binding on the neckline or on the armholes, so I taped over these areas.
+ If you do not own a spray gun to apply your fabric paint, using a square chunk of foam works better than a foam brush. The square piece of foam applies a thinner layer, more uniformly, so you will use less paint, and it will look more professional.
+ Paint the back first, so you can get used to the process. By the time you get to the front, you will be comfortable and confident. 
+ I applied the above principle to stitching. I started at the top of the back. Once I felt like I had warmed up, I moved to the front. Always making sure my seams along the side were pinned and did not shift while stitching.

I always get really excited when stitching, and have a deep desire to peek at what the finished cloth will look like, so I snip away some of the motifs before completing all of my stitching. Plus, I find it easier on my hands if I balance stitching with cutting. As you can see, I am not quite done with my piece, but it is going really well, and figure I will be done by the end of April. It helps that the garments are already sewn, as once I am done stitching, it is ready to wear!

I know natural dyeing can be a labor of love, and can involve a process akin to learning a new language, but when I sit and stitch this piece, I marvel at the beauty and the infinite intricacies of color and depth provided by nature, and am in awe and gratitude for the extra time taken to apply naturally-dyed color to this piece.

As we round the corner, out of April into May, we also say goodbye to Alabama Chanin April, though, really at Verb, it is always Alabama Chanin April. Don't forget, we have Alabama Chanin stitch-ins every month. We stock a full range of colors in Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey, a full range of sizes in A. Chanin tanks and cardigans, are always happy to order you a custom DIY kit, (where you get to pick the colors of jersey, the stencil, the pattern, the thread color, and the kit comes stenciled and the pattern pieces come cut, very exciting, I'm dreaming of this one right now), and always have on hand a collection of Alabama Chanin garments, hand-sewn, representing the collection of sewing patterns in the line of Alabama Chanin books, in an array of sizes, for you to try on before, to help orient you in size, style, and fit, before embarking on a new project.

The tank written about in this essay will be on display at Verb starting May 1st, so stop by and check it out. This month has been such a delight to work in tandem with Natalie and Alabama Chanin, I look forward to seeing your naturally-dyed x Alabama Chanin-style sewn pieces.

-- Kristine

P.S. In May, we are focusing on eco-printing, dye gardening, and the project from The Modern Natural Dyer titled Flowers at My Fingertips. Stay tuned! We have some exciting projects in store for you.

Read More

The Modern Natural Dyer Work-Along: Fashion Revolution

Posted by Kristine Vejar on April 20, 2016 2 Comments

This past weekend, I held a class helping people dye their own Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age Tank, a project from The Modern Natural Dyer. As you may know The Modern Natural Dyer includes shade cards which features a series of widely available natural dyeing extracts, the color they make, and the quantity of the extract needed to make that color. The Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age Tank is designed to show how one can expand on the colors featured on the shade card through the use of iron-infused water. Sarah, who works in the Verb dye studio, came to class and dyed her own A. Chanin cardigan and tank using pomegranate. Then, she dipped her cardigan in the iron-infused water to get green. I love her results.

As you are poking around the internet this week, perhaps checking your Instagram account, you may have noticed photos of people holding a sign which reads "I made your clothing" -- or -- just an image with the words asking "who made your clothing?" These photos are tied to a movement called Fashion Revolution, and is a particularly hot topic this week as it marks the anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex.

On April 24, 2014, 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Rana Plaza was a garment sewing factory who made clothing for Bennetton, Walmart, and many other large-scale clothing companies. The complex collapsed due to poor upkeep and over-capacity of workers. This type of working condition develops because corporations are trying to sell clothing at too low of a cost (and are possibly using too much money in marketing and paying top CEOs). In honor of those who have lost their lives, those who have lost a loved one, and for those who are still working in these conditions, this tragedy inspired the start of Fashion Revolution, a movement encouraging you "to use your voice and your power to transform the fashion industry into a force for good."

Fashion Revolution is encouraging people around the world to be curious; to consider who grows the cotton to make your t-shirt, or the wool to make your sweater, who is dyeing the fabric (and with what dye), who is milling the fabric, who is sewing the garment. And to present these questions to those labels you love to wear: #whomademyclothes

The movement has expanded from asking major labels to explain "who made my clothing" to people who make clothing and who care about transparency and trace-ability to come forth and declare "I make your clothing". This is a great time to learn and explore this exciting and burgeoning time in fashion and to support those making the effort. It's easy, search on the hashtag #imadeyourclothes

In the Gilded Cardigan and Iron Age tank, I specifically chose A.Chanin pieces because I could trace where the garments and the cloth come from. The garments are made in Florence, Alabama. The cloth is milled in the Southern United States of organic cotton. Regarding organic, my general rule of thumb is - if I wouldn't want to use a chemical (like a fertilizer or pesticide) for the sake of my health or the health of the environment, then I don't think its ok for a farmer to use it. Their health, and the health of the Earth, is as important to me as my health. We are one in the same. The pieces are undyed. In this project, you get to be in the driver seat as the dyer, and choose exactly what you would like to use.

I see the next evolution of this movement expanding to "I make my clothing".

I find making my clothing such a powerful way to cultivate new skills, engage my creativity, feel connected through meeting others with similar interests, and have even more of a voice over which materials I choose to use and why. I can support local farmers who are making a determined effort to live sustainably and to cultivate harmony between Earth and humans.

To support your efforts of making your own clothing, we have a winner for the West Water Tunic sewing pattern: Martina, who wrote "Dreaming of Squam…and wearing a West water Tunic made with indigo dyed linen with EVERYTHING!"

Fashion doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't need to hurt. Dressing ourselves can be filled with joy, a medium to express our journey and our ethics. You can help make a change!

Looking forward,


Read More