The Sew out of bed challenge continues

Continuing on from my last post where the #Sewingsansfrontieres team had a challenge going where we made things from bed linen for the Make a Garment a Month sew along, I thought I would use more of the bed skirt from which I made the triangle top.

This time I used the plain part of the bed skirt (the part that sits under the mattress) and dyed it with onion skins and assorted flora from our holiday place.

I mordant with soy milk prior to dyeing and leave the fabric wet from the last dip.

I use a large copper pot over an open fire, and allow the onion skins to circulate with the fabric, which means that they can stick to the fabric, but I don’t mind that, especially if they leave a mark.


I made parcels from fabric which I had cut out into the shapes I wanted to make up and then threw whatever was left over and a piece of random linen in as well.  These are my parcels after having sat in the onion water overnight. It should be noted that the fabric is 100% cotton.


I don’t cut the string when I unwrap the parcels, I keep it to use again as I love that it absorbs and releases the colours.

Here are a few closeups showing  some of the colours and patterns I managed to get. This sort of dyeing can be hit and miss for me. I tend to cut out the pattern prior to dyeing as I can be sure that I’m not going to waste any of the patterning, and the smaller pieces make it more likely that I will get nice patterning all the way through. Even with this, you can see that the middle of the fabric pieces don’t get much colour compared with the outside.



and a montage showing how those patterns were placed on the garments. Notice the pale sections which were inside the parcels?

I made the tops from Vogue 1653, a 1977 Chloe pattern. One is a kimono sleeved t-shirt, very simple and perfect for this experiment. I also made the vest to go over it, which I love on the pattern, but, as always, the wrap does not suit my very short body.


The top worked well. I love the border effect where the onion skin dye was stronger, and I really like some of the colours I managed to achieve. It’s hard to see the patterning from a distance; it’s very subtle.

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A quick note about the shorts. Suzy from @sewing_in_spain alerted me to this free pattern from Purl Soho. They are called the City Gym Shorts and I have to say that they suit my lifestyle perfectly. There are only two pattern pieces and they are extremely simple to make. There is quite a bit of bias binding and I managed to sew it on with one row of stitching by pressing a crease through the middle so that the fabric could just sit into it. These shorts were made from the random scraps I threw in the dye pot with the bundles. Note the much deeper colour as the fabric was allowed to move round freely. I bound them with the tiny scraps of paprika linen left over from my Megan Nielsen Tania culottes, fabric also from Megan Nielsen.

Back view with obligatory stray thread! I really like the contrast in the colours, but looking at this photo, I am going to roll the sleeves up as I don’t like the length of them.


Here it is with the wrap vest over the top. I have to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be wearing this, so it will be turned into something else. Pity as it has miles of home made bias binding in it.


I felt that these shorts were a smidge too big, so I used a bigger seam allowance in the next pair and the fit is much better.

I used the frill part of the bed skirt for this pair so they match my triangle top from the last post. I am really pleased with them and can’t wait for summer to wear them.


I used the reverse side of the fabric for the waistband but decided not to sacrifice more  fabric for self-binding so used some vintage cotton bias from my stash. It’s a bit narrow which makes me a nervous about its ability to cling on to the raw edge of the fabric,  but I like the strong contrast.


I had a few random triangles left over from my extension to the back of the top, so I fashioned them into a pocket which perfectly fits my phone. I will wear this outfit for walking in the summer and I do like somewhere to put my phone.


I still have a section of the patterned part of the bedskirt left, and have plans for it, but I have tiny scraps only of the onion dyed cotton left, so I’m really happy with that. This bed skirt cost me 50 cents at the op shop, and I think I’ve done it justice. Each outfit has cost me a few cents and I’ve made things I love and will wear a lot (except for the vest, which I shall find a use for), and I have the #sewoutofbed challenge on Instagram to thank for giving me the shove I needed to make these.



4 thoughts on “The Sew out of bed challenge continues

  1. Excellent Sue! I love your dying experiments (although I’m highly unlikely to ever join in) and these are great. The pale yellow is perfect with it without any pattern to embellish it.
    You have reminded me that I have that Purl Soho pattern – it was even in the basket of patterns I wanted to make for this summer before I was diverted to scrubs. I may be late for this summer but it looks like a quick make so I’ll try to make a pair VERY soon as yours look so good 😊

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