I have made my indigo vat, at last, almost three months after the workshop with Michel Garcia at Hat in the Cat. I didn’t get blue hands this time, I decided I didn’t want to be wearing blue nails in Paris next week, so I sweated disgustingly in rubber gloves.

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I was actually rather nervous; I had contacted all the other attendees and asked whether the henna decoction should be strained – the consensus was no – but as I put the henna powder straight into hot water it went into lumps, so I had a rather steamy time mashing it up, and it didn’t get a chance to fall to the bottom, as Michel had said. but anyway, I put it all together – managing to lose a couple of marbles into the vat, and it looked just the same as the vat Michel made in Newburgh. the rest of the day was spent in dipping and rinsing garments,

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two cotton bought things, a dress and a hoodie, to lower the ph a bit for the silk, and then five dresses, including a bought slip for my daughter, and a linen cardigan, and then at the end, when it was tepid a cashmere shawl with the moose and tree embroidery. a whole washing line of vivid blues, and the shibori in sodden lumps, waiting to be steamed in the new pressure cooker – which should preserve the creases.

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everything was only dipped once, as it was quite strong, and I wanted sky blues, not dark blues, for my next spring collection. I am keeping the vat in the pottery workshop where the blue splashes don’t matter and it will be preserved from frosts, and using the long hose-pipe and various buckets and bins outside for the rinsing. that is not going to be an option in really cold weather.

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the vintage kimono pieces I bought on ebay dyed up really well, with their various woven

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and dyed and printed patterns taking on new intensity.

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given a stronger more coherent feel by the indigo

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some of the prints were obviously acrylic and took no dye

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and the damask patterns became more three dimensional

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the two dresses I made with the japanese silks were a lot of work so I was holding my breath,

indigo vintage silk dress one front small

but I’m really happy with them

indigo vintage silk dress one back

and feel confident about being able to make more

indigo vintage dress two

the fuji silk dress pleated into shibori was a success I think, I love this soft blue

shibori indigo fuji dress

and the dupion dress that Molly (my new part time seamstress) made

shibori indigo dress

became rather special with the same treatment.

now after rinsing them and washing and rinsing again they are fit for the collection. It takes quite a lot of rinsing, this indigo thing.

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and I have some cardigans to go and find leaves for, and another fuji silk dress shibori-tied waiting for what I hope will be a green dyebath.