This post feels very timely, given that tomorrow the weather forecast is for ANOTHER hot day. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of sunshine, and I’m not a fan of really hot weather at the best of times, but when I’m growing another human being, I’m definitely not a fan!
Despite this, when the weather is a little bit cooler, it is nice to sit out in the sun and make the most of the nice weather. We haven’t really taken advantage of our garden since we moved in, but with a little one on the way, this is probably going to change. My latest make is perfect for those moments when we do want to spend some time outside.
A little while ago, Dylon approached me asking if I’d like to be sent some samples of their new dyes. Dylon is a brand I’ve used before, so I was excited to be given the chance to try out something new. My previous experience of dyeing was many years ago when I was still living at home. I bought some cold-water dye to repurpose a dress, and my Mum made me do it in the garden in case I made a mess. Dylon sent me an all-in-one product to try that I could use in the washing machine, meaning I could do it from the comfort of my own kitchen.
As soon as I saw the bright vibrant blue and sunshine yellow colours, I immediately thought of a sunny summer day, which was the inspiration for my picnic blanket! So, how was I going to turn some dye into something beautiful for the garden? Given that I was making something for outside, I wanted a fabric that was durable, but also that didn’t cost the earth. (I’m realistic in the fact that it will probably end up covered in grass stains, ice cream drips, and general dirt). Plain calico fit the bill nicely as it’s thicker than standard cotton fabric, but also reasonably priced.
I started off with the background fabric (approximately two metres of fabric in total) that the dye made a nice vibrant blue. I then proceeded to dye the remaining fabric (approximately three quarters of a metre) yellow, ensuring that I cleaned out the machine between dyeing. The yellow came out really well, with a nice even colour. The blue was a little paler, and in some places it is a little patchy, but admittedly I probably used too much fabric.
Once the fabric had dried, I gave it a good iron (lots of steam needed), and set about constructing my blanket. I cut two 1m x 1m squares of blue fabric, and then from the yellow fabric, cut out a large quarter circle, and some strips for the sunrays. These were stitched straight onto the blue background (as the fabric is quite thick, no interfacing was needed).
Next, I pinned my two squares right sides together, and added a layer of thin wadding, although you could leave this out if you wanted something thinner. I stitched around all 4 edges, leaving a 20cm gap to allow me to turn the blanket right sides out.
The finishing touch was a straight stitch approximately 2.5 cm around the outer edges to keep all the layers in place, and then an additional line of stitching around the edge of the sun (this is optional).
So, what’s the verdict on dyeing? On the plus side, the colours achieved were much more vibrant than I was expecting. The process itself was simple, although you do need to set aside an afternoon to do it (You need to do three washes in total: one to dye, one to rinse, and one to clean the machine). My biggest concern was that the dye would damage my washing machine, as I had used two lots of dye I did decide to do a service wash before putting any whites in the machine, but that is me being over cautious.
The finished mat took approximately two hours to construct and could easily be completed by a beginner, as it’s mainly straight lines of stitching. I’m looking forward to taking it out to the park or our garden and enjoying some sunshine!
Disclosure: Dylon sent the dyes used in this post to me for review purposes. The idea for the blanket was my own, and I provided all other materials. This post reflects my honest views of the product.