Just a Pocket – The Alchemist’s Apron

The next step on my Alchemist’s Apron is to create some pockets.  Of course, ones I tried to plan out and carefully dye were disasters.  This one I sewed from a third shirt that I dyed for “extra” pieces of cloth to work with in constructing the apron.  I had sewn on a small strip of reddish silk someone had given me.  Some of the silk I used for this purpose, frayed to the point of not being useable but this one had an interesting look to it.  I saw a tree almost immediately when I ironed this pocket.  I used thread dyed with turmeric for the leaves and some brown from the dye pot to stitch the tree trunk, roots and branches.  The brown did not create enough contrast so I did use some darker commercial brown as well.  The fabric had a circle design so I employed a circle for a sun in the sky.  The colors are more of my autumn palette, however, Arizona also has a lot of browns and golds so I will use this on my apron.

Back to the Dye Pot

Experimenting with natural dyes has fascinated me for a long time.  I work on this fascination in bits and pieces.  There is so much to try and learn that it is a bit overwhelming.  Since we did have this bit of time in Arizona to stay put for a few weeks, I decided to break out my (very small) dye pot and my camp stove and see what could be done with these limited tools.  Spring is just beginning here in Arizona so there are is not a lot of plant stuff for the asking.  There is, however, the common food stuffs we use all the time that have been used for dyes throughout time.  I decided to work with avocado, onions, tea and turmeric.  Although I did find a few purple carrots so I eagerly tried those too! but, sadly, did not have enough to do a dye pot.  (Keeping my eyes out for purple carrots in my travels!) My avocado dyed fabric (to the right above) is more of a dusty rose probably due to the naturally high iron content in the water where we are currently staying.

These threads (white DMC embroidery floss) were dyed with (from left) purple carrot, turmeric, yellow onion skins and avocado.  The variations in color happened from using mordants after the initial dyeing process.  The mordants used were also easily found ingredients for a home/RV traveller:  baking soda, wood ash, cream of tartar and iron water.  I have to say my favorites were the ones with cream of tartar – just brightened the color a bit.  This is the first time I have taken the time to test colors with after mordants to really see for myself what happens – the best way to learn!