sheets and shibori – dress 1 – asymmetric sheets

The last few weeks I have been so preoccupied by the Irish Dancing dress.  For the most part, its been trying to get embroidery drawings together and staring at black pages.   Its still not fully figured out, but most of the embroidery drawings are done, but they are currently hand-drawn, which in my case means they are not perfectly symmetrical, so I have to fix, and scan, and then try to get using an embroidery machine if I can. 


In between times, and as a bit of a distraction, I started making up some sheet dresses to shibori dye.   I got an indigo dye kit on amazon, as I have never used indigo before, and made some dresses up in patterns I wanted to try out, and lots of white sheets waiting……..


sheet dress shibori



When I decided to remake the chevron halter from the last post, and a totally different dress started to evolve.  It was a straight across halter instead of a v, a cross-back-straps instead of neck tie, and an asymmetric front.    I drafted a pattern and used one of the front darts as a seam, I don’t know if I should have distributed the darts differently but the pattern I drafted fits.  (I am not fully happy with the dart locations).  the skirt is a drop waist, and a-line at the back and the front drop is flared out.  The original back of the dress was too low, so I added a panel.  I think the drop waist may be an inch lower than it should be, but I will think about that again.

sheet dress shibori


I folded in the side front seam and did one line of running stitch up, and this made the shibori effect ‘ori nui’.  I wasn’t really sure how it would turn out.  The indigo is a small bit blotchy in parts but in all, its blotchy/textured throughout so I am hoping this adds to its appeal!  I have to finish straps and hem, as I figured I would wait till it was dyed to work out the final details.
sheet dress shibori


The indigo dye was so interesting but I should have probably prepared better.  I did it a day sooner than I intended as the weather here has been very damp and last Thursday (yesterday) was dry and a tiny bit sunny, so I took my chances.  I didn’t have a 5 gallon bucket, so I used the bin liner (as I had a ‘lid’ that fitted over it) and I worked outside.  The dye goes a long way so after doing the pieces I needed, I scurried to dig out some other fabric bits and kept going.  I was so amazed at the oxidization process, it comes out of the dye vat a green yellow, and turns blue in the next 5 minutes.  The dye times were hard to figure out, (most pieces were left in for a few minutes) as was the amount of ‘bloom’ at the top of the dye mix but I kept going none-the-less.  By the time I did all my pieces, ! went up to the work room and got more to dye, the garden was full of fabric hanging everywhere and the sky clouding over.   I should have had a rinse basin going earlier, but I didn’t have one at all.  I finished the pieces by putting them in the washing machine to rinse and spin.  I was well glad I decided to work outside as the clean up was far easier, but  I have a few reminders for ‘next time’


1 – use a shallower basin (I only used the bin bucket as I forgot about another container) and use a garden sieve to keep the sediment to the bottom perhaps (I was conscious of not letting go of the fabric
2 – have a rinse basin to hand
3 – not to empty the dye for 12 hours – there is a white patch on a pair of trousers I hadn’t seen
4 – find out how the actual times and perhaps use a timer !

It would be very interesting to do a workshop in one with someone who works with indigo and I am considering that perhaps for next year, I have not come across one before, but then again, I was not looking.  I am quite pleased with the results, but if I had to dye larger quantities I would probably stay using dylon machine dye to get a more even result.  

and if anyone has used shibori, I would love to know any tips you may have …….

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3 sheets to the wind – more sheets to follow

….. this time last year I started the blog, pretty much ‘just to see what happened next’.  I had a few ideas in mind, and the core being –to make clothes by re-making old clothes, and for these to be well made – as in they would be everyday, wearable, and long lasting (slow fashion)  I was also a good challenge for me to focus a bit more on my pattern drafting skills which were becoming as ad-hoc as my sewing (another set of bad habits to undo).  

I was always making things growing up, and from about 14 or 15 I started making my own clothes at home (as opposed to the ones-made-never-worn from Domestic Science/Home Ecc in school).  The fabric for my own home-mades invariably came from the linen cupboard, in the form of white sheets – later dyed charcoal due to heavily diluted black dye!.  
A lot of Irish linen cupboards and hot presses had these sheets tucked away, they would have been hand-me-downs, bottom drawer, and wedding presents and on the 70s arrival of printed and coloured bed-linen (known here as ‘american sheets’) they were relegated to the back of the press.  These white sheets are regularly in charity shops and I regularly buy (and I have to stop myself acquiring excess at times!).  A lot are these are the old sheet sizes so have to be remade, and the quality of the cotton is so lovely. 


Last summer was a fine summer (as opposed to today being about 17degrees and heavy rain), and I wanted to try out a pattern using up some charity shop sheets.  I made this, using a halter pattern I had been playing about with, but using and extending the same darts was a bit clunky looking (not easy to see but I tried to continue some french darts to the back on a diagonal) so I left it to one side meaning to try another halter top, and I also had a rethink about my ability to keep white bodices clean……  I did like the overall construction, ie making the 4 parts of 2 fronts, and 2 backs and sewing together.  It reminded me of a dress idea I also like from a favourite book ‘The Art of Sewing – Shortcuts to Elegance).  The book is on loan to a friend but I will insert a photo here of this ‘dress from triangles’ when I get it back.


Meanwhile, here is the opener – chapter 1 from ‘The Art of Sewing ‘The Creative Touch’, which give instruction on refashioning clothes, embroidery, and crochet and knitting.



I don’t know if anyone has these books, – they are a series of about 10 or 12, and are on Amazon at various prices so I am thinking of getting some more.   I got my two (shortcuts to elegance and the creative touch ) from a charity shop a long time ago.  They are good fun, and informative -the sewing instruction is excellent, and the photos sufficiently dated to be entertaining, and the models are not photoshoped so thats an added bonus!  




I am planning a few more sheet dresses and have ordered some indigo dye to try our some shibori techniques.  The halter pattern has altered a lot – the v neck now a square neck, and the hemline is moving.