Pillowcase to dyed top

The fabric for this top was dyed during the Fibres West Retreat I attended in July, and was a pillowcase in its previous life. It was a pretty fancy pillowcase with lines of pintucks, some of which had come adrift and I discovered that I don’t have a pintucking foot so had to do the repairs the old fashioned way, which is not recommended. The pillowcase had also seen better days with the odd tear scattered through the fabric.

I didn’t use it for anything whilst I was on the retreat, but I did dye it whilst I was there, using a few eucalyptus twigs, steaming it in a pot of Marri bark which had come from our block, and I think I wrapped it round a piece of rusty rebar.


I so loved some of the detail I got and knew I couldn’t waste it. This is probably my favourite little bit and I had to do some visible mending because the fabric was pretty worn. However, I rather like all those stitching holes and patches.


I think I got this really good definition because I was able to roll it up really tightly with the aid of another participant.

I had the smallest amount of fabric as this was a really little pillowcase, so I had to hunt for a pattern that I could modify to make a cropped top. I had half a metre if I was lucky and used Vogue 8062, view B, which is a simple t-shirt with grown on short sleeves which I’ve had since 1990. I had to use bias binding on all the hems as I just didn’t have enough fabric to turn proper hems. The pattern has no darts or shaping so it was perfect for this fabric.

vogue 8062

I was pleased to be able to wear this top today, in spite of the wintery weather, teamed with my merino ruched collar top and velvet jeans.


The back view isn’t quite as pretty as the front but I still really like it.



Little successes like this really feed my interest in natural dyeing and I think that I am going to do some linen next.




39 thoughts on “Pillowcase to dyed top

  1. I love the results of your fabric dying experiments. Do you have links to sources on the techniques you have described.

    1. I have multiple books and basically scour the web. I might have to do a post on resources. The problem is that many of the techniques are location specific. Where do you live?

      1. Toowoomba, Southern Qld. I have a bush block too, so have access to similar resources.

      2. Natural Plant Dyes. Most books only talk about wool, which is a pain. The internet is a great source of info of course, and there are a couple of good Facebook groups – Printing Botanicals and Eco-dye-print-create.

      3. Yes, I have some books. I have one on natural dyes, but it is British, so plants and mordants are not so helpful.
        Besides the mosses, lichens, leaves, etc that you mention, we have weeds with bright berries, ochre rich rocks,
        Is it the eco-dye-print-create that have info on the processes that create your wonderful results?

  2. What a lovely pintuck top with a nice story behind and dyed so well! I think I like it most of your self dyed garments. Linen, too, would be gorgeous dyed like this!

  3. Great use of a tiny amount of fabric. As an aside, can you imagine the ridges in your face after sleeping on a pintucked pillow?

    1. Lol, thought the same thing myself. I think this is a throwback to that time when pillows took up half the bed and had to be chucked on the floor when one wished to sleep!

  4. You are just having too much fun with these eco prints aren’t you Sue?! This one is just gorgeous with the visible mending and that exquisite little gumnut print. So precious.

  5. What a great result! The flowers are really visible! I’m glad you were are to squeeze a top out of this little piece of fabric, the world needs to see this print! πŸ™‚

  6. This one is right up my street! I love the little detail that almost looks like a face peering around the pin tuck. The repairs give it almost a boro feel.

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