Stash Busting

One of the goals I wrote about as part of my musings on Slow Fashion October was to sew through my substantial stash. I've been collecting fabric for at least 10 years and while I would say I'm not quite at the magnitude of other sewists, there's quite a lot of usable fabric to shop instead of buying the ever alluring new fabric.

Not only do I want to sew through what I have, but I also want to maintain a smaller stash in general. I've discovered in the last year that I am not really a stasher or a stash user. Some of my favorite & most satisfying recent projects (in both sewing and knitting) were conceived and created in one fell swoop. Meaning, I bought the fabric/yarn for a specific project and then made it.

Now, there will always be that fabric that you have no immediate plans for but seems like a good investment or at the very least, impossible to pass up (I'm lookin' at you, tiny tiger print linen) But in general, simply buying appealing fabric without a project in mind has left me with a large stash that I find fairly uninspiring when it comes time to sew.

OR, what happens more often is that as I become more aware of how I like to dress and what colors work for me, the stash fabrics I love don't feel like good contenders for my wardrobe. The most obvious solution to this problem? Dye it!

This fabric is a favorite in my stash and while I loved the pink color, I knew it would never make it in my wardrobe. So it was overdyed an olive green. The pink in the cross weave turned brown while the white dyed a pretty, bright olive. I decided to spare about 1/4 yd of the pink just in case.

This fabric is a favorite in my stash and while I loved the pink color, I knew it would never make it in my wardrobe. So it was overdyed an olive green. The pink in the cross weave turned brown while the white dyed a pretty, bright olive. I decided to spare about 1/4 yd of the pink just in case.

I love the look of overdyed and hand dyed fabric and what better way to reinvigorate a collection of fabric bases I love (In colors I don't love, or do love but just not on me). I decided it was time to start refreshing my fabric stash with a bit of new color.

I recently purchased The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar of A Verb For Keeping Warm. The book is full of lovely photos, recipes, and projects. It has me excited about using foraged materials to dye fabrics and clothing to better suit my preferred colors. (Fortunately, the natural dye palette of rich yellows, ruddy oranges, greenish browns, and deep blues fits right into my personal color story.)

But sometimes, a girl just needs a quick and easy color fix. Enter a good old hardware store standby and dyestuff of childhood backyard tiedye: RIT.

Arguably, this goes in the opposite direction of Natural Dyes. It's like the V05 to my sulfate free herbal conditioner or the wonderbread to my whole grain boule. But sometimes, a synthetic is just what you need. Rit is a blend of dye types and while super synthetic is actually quite low impact and apparently non toxic. As somebody who lives on well water and a septic system, this is a comforting piece of information. As to the sincerity of these claims or how low impact the dye really is, I'm unsure. But it passes the initial research test. And I think re-energizing my stash is a good trade off.

Also, my wardrobe was craving green, big time. In The Modern Natural Dyer, it even mentions that green hues are harder to come by without metallic modifiers. So synthetic is is, at least until I'm able to get my hands on some black eyed-susans next year (they're pretty abundant wildflowers round here)

On the left is black & white striped shirting that has a great hand but too traditional of a look. Sort of along the lines of 1940's nurse dress. It needed a bit of color. The lighter right side fabric is the shibori piece from my onion skin dyeing adventure that didn't quite shibori. I refolded and clamped the fabric and popped it in with other fabrics for a bit. The darker right is the olive stripe in the earlier picture. It looked much darker when wet.

A little bit of green to offset all the brown in our backyard.

A little bit of green to offset all the brown in our backyard.

I also decided to throw in some vintage blouses that I never wear because I never wear white. The left blouse is tiny hand crochet. I decided to dip dye this one to make it a little more modern. The right blouse I picked up in a Maine antique market and is a shirt that appears to have been shortened with a waistband added. I shortened the sleeves.

I'm overall pretty psyched about my not-so-natural dyeing experiment and have already started creating an A-Frame skirt from the olive stripe. I hope to share it on the blog next week! Not sure what I'll do with the other two but they're great blouse weight fabrics.

Have you ever overdyed fabric or clothing or yarn? Did you like the way it turned out? Did you end up using it sooner or wearing it more?