My how time has flown by this year. It seems as if 2018 just started and now as I look at my calendar, I cannot believe April is coming to an end. Though it sounds cliché, I find myself always baffled by how quickly the weeks roll past me. When 2018 began, I promised myself that I would attempt to slooooowwww down. I am not sure if I have quite grasped that concept fully, at least not in all aspects of my life.
There is one project in particular that I have managed to work on slowly, allowing it to unfold organically as the seasons have changed. I am thankful that this project did not fully open itself up to me from the beginning as I have gained a greater appreciation for its process. I suppose you are wondering what that project might be, so let me rewind a little bit, back to its inception.
At the beginning of February, I was asked to write a blog post for Organic Cotton Plus, one of my all-time favorite fabric retailers. They have everything a sustainable designer could hope for and I practically squealed out loud at the opportunity. I have honestly used so many different items from their shop for my own personal brand or to experiment all-natural dyeing techniques on and haven’t found a fabric that I didn’t enjoy working with.
So, for this project, I wanted to work with something I hadn’t ever worked with before, and try out new techniques I was just scratching the surface with. I went in to the process only knowing that I wanted to work with their chambray and that I wanted to dye it with local plants or items found in my own kitchen. Beyond that criterion, I was at a loss.
Sure, I had ideas, but none of them seemed to sing out to me. I needed an idea to sing out so profoundly that I would want to share it with the world and possibly join in with a bit of my own karaoke.
It wasn’t until I was working on a dress for a client that inspiration struck. The dress I had been asked to create was simple, yet beautiful. It had this large, billowy skirt and a loose fit that would make anyone want to live inside it for days on end. With a few tweaks, I knew I could redefine this dress and create my very own perfect Garden Dress.
Now, all this time I was trying to work out WHAT I was going to create with my new Chambray fabric, I was experimenting with whole dyestuffs from my back yard. I felt like a little kid again, going on adventures, picking flowers and leaves and trying to figure out the names of all the trees. Then, a particular “weed” popped up in our backyard. It blanketed our space in a thicket of purple- I almost thought we were being overrun by a cousin to lavender.
With a little research, I found out that this “weed” was actually Henbit Deadnettle. What a great name, right? Henbit Deadnettle isn’t the cousin to lavender, but it is a relative to mint. You can even eat it!
Once I had figured out what the heck this plant actually was, I set out to collect some of it to dye with. I had no idea what to expect, I was simply on an adventure! And boy did things keep taking twists and turns.
The first time I dyed with my newfound friendly weed, my fabric came out this beautiful peachy-blush color. I absolutely adored it, though it blended nearly perfectly with my skin (yikes!), so when my second and final dye bath turned my Chambray a soft brown, I wasn’t terribly disappointed. It just goes to show that waiting even a week or so between dye collections can drastically change the color of your dye bath.
By the time my fabric was officially dyed, I had created the pattern for my Garden Dress, so all that was left to do was sew it all up! I quickly finished my project and was eager to photograph my latest make. However, it still felt as if something was missing.
Mind you, I had been packing and prepping for a move to a new house and had been working on bridal dresses as well as a blog post for The Hook Nook Life at the same time, so I was a bit strung out. It wasn’t until a few days before my move (incidentally as I was wrapping up the collaboration project with The Hook Nook Life) that I decided to just put half my dress into an avocado dye bath I had sitting on my stove. I’m not sure what drove me to do this, but I am so happy that I followed that gut instinct because now I feel as if nothing is missing from my dress.
What exactly was the point of my whole story? Honestly, I just wanted to tell you about the awesome power of slowing down. Had I tried to rush through this project, I may have created a garment I wasn’t super excited about sharing. I also wanted to brag on my favorite fabric company a little bit. I think it is really cool to be able to work with fabrics that are coming to me in their most natural form and transform them into something completely new and original, like this Garden Dress.
And I want to share that sense of discovery with you by giving you a FREE copy of my Bloom Garden Dress! I have created a PDF with Instructions + Copy Shop Download just for you! I really hope you enjoy it and I would LOVE to see what you create from it! You can download each by clicking the links above- Happy sewing!
*Please note this dress takes 2.5-3 yards of 58” wide fabric to create.*