Dyed cabin dress

After the success of my first Blueprints for Sewing Cabin dress I decided to make another one, but take a slightly different approach to the fabric. I had some rather plain cotton/linen blend and thought I’d dye it. I dumped it in a pot of rosemary and left it for a few days, but the colour was really dull, so I cut out the pattern pieces for the dress and then re-dyed them individually.

I am rather pleased with the result!


The fabric was mordanted in soy milk (three dips, drying between each dip), prior to the rosemary dye bath. For the final version eucalyptus leaves were rolled into each pattern piece and the bundles were put in a sourgrass (oxalis) bath, simmered until I got bored, and then left overnight to cool. I had practiced the technique on a table napkin and got much better definition with the leaves, but I had folded the fabric in half and didn’t like the strip of yellow down the centre.

sour grass dip

With the dress pieces I rolled each one as a whole  rather than folding them first and I was pleased to eliminate the stripe, but disappointed that my leaves didn’t show up as well.

I decided to not roll leaves into the back yoke and the pocket pieces, which means that they are quite yellow, as demonstrated here.


I also threw in some bias binding which I had made months ago and tried to dye with avocado with disappointing results. The yellow bias binding matches the yoke perfectly and blends with the rest of the dress.


You may notice that the back of the dress has a seam down it, yes, I ran out of fabric – again! sigh!

Once again I used the burrito method on the hem. This is quite tricky over a long distance. I left one side seam open and had to roll the dress into the hem band tightly, trying not to catch anything into the seam that shouldn’t be there. Once I had the long sausage shape, I felt along it to ensure that all was well, as once this baby was turned, there would be no going back!

There’s a whole dress rolled in here!

Pulling it through was not the easiest thing to do either.

The pockets emerge

There is not a lot more to add about the pattern, I still like it a lot and this dress is as easy to wear as the last one, although more casual in appearance. I was pleased with the placement of the leaves, although I would have been happier with better definition. However, this gives me lots of motivation to keep learning about the art (black art, I think) of natural dyeing. For example, would I have achieved a better result had I laid the fabric on plastic so that I didn’t get a transfer of the leaf pattern? Something to play with.




26 thoughts on “Dyed cabin dress

  1. Your dress looks gorgeous, the fabric is stunning – such an uplifting sunny effect, but gosh, that burritoing of the hem band looks challenging, although I ‘m sure, the finished result is beautiful.

  2. I really love this pattern on you, Sue. It’s worth the extra effort with the burrito and the binding as it takes a simple dress to the next level. It just looks so comfortable and beautiful. Although the dyeing process did make me laugh – I am allergic to soy, so this dress would be like kryptonite for me 😂 I’ll just admire it from a safe distance on the other side of the world!!

  3. I love this! The yellow is gorgeous. I haven’t tried rosemary so that’s another for my list. Did you try blackberry whilst I’ve not been looking?

  4. Yes, this looks like a black art to me, too! Your second dress is very lovely, too, and I guess that both will be perfect summer dresses!

  5. I’d call this a grand success in my book! Gorgeous smudgey colors with all the coordinating binding and trims. So interesting to read your dyeing experiments. 🙂

  6. Dyeing really does seem to approach alchemy. I really think I would like to make this dress……..(all I need is an extra day in the week 😞)

  7. Hello Sue!
    I like your dress very much, both shape and fabric. I’d like to start exploring dyeing too and I’m curious to know if the colours are still ok after a few (machine or hand ?) washes. Thanks in advance.

    1. Thank you Karine, so far it’s been colour fast. Mordanting is essential, and the sourgrass (oxalis) has quite a bit of tannin in it, which adds to the colourfastness.

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