india dress back

a beautiful hand-sewn silk dress, made and dyed by Australian artist India Flint, and reproduced here by her kind permission. she used her leaf bundling technique to dye it, including some shibori tie-dye, and a huge kelp stem which seems to have been twisted round the outside to help with the colours.

india dress process

a photo taken by Australian artist Kaz Madigan as it was unrolled after boiling then cooling.


my efforts up until now have not been quite as exciting


these are some sample pieces I tried out eucalyptus leaves and some native leaves on


but I have been inspired to hand-sew some dresses with silk, silk jersey, and silk and merino jersey, and taken the plunge;


rolling this one up with eucalyptus leaves given me for christmas, and in this case with ivy berries, which may or may not give a pale sappy green, and a piece of old iron chain from the old pig sheds in my garden

1copper bundle

to make this bundle, boiled in a copper bain-marie with red onion skins and a splash of vinegar.


and this one, a dress made from the tube of silk and merino jersey, bundled and boiled up on my woodstove with eucalyptus leaves, more scrap iron and  a splash of vinegar


which I unbundled today, and found, to my huge excitement, the most marvellous colours and leaf shapes, plus the piece of ilex oak leafy twig I had popped in came up as a purple-grey spotty leaf print, and the black outside of the bundle as a square “bib” on the chest, back and front. I am not sure where I am going with all this but it is huge fun, and addictive.


guided by India’s blog and her books, Second Skin, and Eco Colour I bought a book on Shibori, Japanese tie-dye, and I have tried out two of the methods – this one, pleated-on-a-rope Yanagi, resuscitating a hand-knit cashmere shawl which had been at the bottom of the stock box for several years


and this one, mokume, on a Katherine Hamnett silk top from the eighties which had been lurking in my chest of drawers, unloved, for rather a long time. these were boiled together on the wood stove with eucalyptus leaves, scrap iron and vinegar. I think the fact that these are cooked in a better casserole with a good lid, hotter, and probably for a bit longer, may account for the more definite colours. but I haven’t opened that onion skin one with the ivy berries yet … patience! time makes all the difference ….