HOW TO MAKE A PLANT DYED BACK­PACK

Mollie Makes - - Mollie Makes -

MA­TE­RI­ALS

Two 30 x 37cm (117/ x 145/ pieces of cot­ton can­vas 35 x 37cm (13¾ x 145/ cot­ton can­vas 90 x 37cm (35½ x 145/ nat­u­ral linen Two 160cm (63") linen cords Two 5 x 10cm (2 x 4") lengths of linen or can­vas tape 30g mad­der root 100g acorns Sturdy leaves One cup of dried soy beans 1 tsp green iron sul­phate crys­tals Tex­tile paint in dark grey Small sponge White vine­gar Muslin cloth Two glass jars Match­ing sewing thread Three 5l pans Safety pin Set off on a wood­land ram­ble, you’ve got a botan­i­cal ad­ven­ture ahead of you. Acorns and mad­der root are used to colour the can­vas, then this easy-sew project goes be­yond nat­u­ral dye­ing by print­ing with real leaf stamps for an earth-lov­ing fin­ish.

Plant-dyed fab­rics need a lit­tle ex­tra love to keep them in tip-top con­di­tion, so wash at 30ºC with a pH neu­tral eco­log­i­cal de­ter­gent and dry away from di­rect sun­light.

Soak one cup of beans in three cups of wa­ter overnight. Wash and grind the soaked beans, then strain them through the muslin cloth. Place the cot­ton can­vas fab­ric in the soy bean so­lu­tion to treat it, adding enough wa­ter to cover the fab­ric. Leave the cot­ton can­vas to soak in a bucket for 12 hours, air dry, then dip quickly twice more in the bucket to add a thin layer of soy so­lu­tion. Cure the fab­ric in a dry space for a few days.

In the mean­time, soak the acorns. Place them in a glass jar, cover with wa­ter and leave for 5-7 days. To cre­ate an iron so­lu­tion, put the green iron sul­phate crys­tals in a jar, cover with white vine­gar and fill with wa­ter. Leave for one week.

To pre­pare the dye baths, tip the con­tents of the acorn jar into a 5l pan and top up with wa­ter so it’s two-thirds full. Sim­mer the acorns for one hour then let the pot cool overnight. Place the mad­der roots in an­other 5l pan, fill­ing two-thirds full with wa­ter. Heat at 70°C for one hour – don’t boil or the wa­ter will turn brown. Strain both dye baths.

Sim­mer the two 30 x 37cm (117/ x 145/ can­vas pieces in the mad­der root dye at 70ºC for one hour then let the pot cool. Sim­mer the 35 x 37cm (13 x 145/ can­vas piece in the acorn dye for one hour. Tip the con­tents of the iron jar into a 5l pan and top up with wa­ter so it’s two-thirds full, then dip the acorn-dyed fab­ric in to turn it grey.

Rinse all pieces sep­a­rately and hang them up to dry.

Use sturdy leaves to print on the right side (RS) of one piece of the mad­der-dyed fab­ric. Ap­ply paint with a small sponge on the leaf un­der­side and press on the fab­ric through a piece of thick pa­per. Prac­tise the pres­sure on a scrap of fab­ric be­fore print­ing the fi­nal de­sign. Set the dried paint by iron­ing it for four min­utes.

With RS to­gether, pin one mad­der-dyed piece to each long edge of the acorn-dyed piece, align­ing the raw edges. Sew with a 1cm ( seam al­lowance.

Align­ing the raw 37cm (145/ edges, pin the mad­der-dyed pieces to the linen lin­ing piece, RS to­gether. Sew with a 1cm ( seam al­lowance. Find the mid-point of the lin­ing and acorn pieces and cut out 8 x 5cm (31/ x 2") rec­tan­gles at both ends for the stand­ing bot­tom.

Place the tape to make strap hold­ers at about 2cm ( ") above the rec­tan­gles of the outer fab­ric. The loop should be small enough to hold the knot­ted cords later, ap­prox­i­mately 1-2cm ( - "). Sew the sides leav­ing a 10cm (4") open­ing on one side of the lin­ing and 5cm (2") open­ings on both sides for the draw­strings, where the lin­ing and the out­side fab­rics con­nect. Se­cure the draw­string chan­nels’ sides by stitch­ing.

Fold and align the bot­tom cor­ners around the cut-out rec­tan­gles as shown and sew, mak­ing a stand­ing bot­tom in both the outer and lin­ing fab­rics.

Turn the back­pack RS out. Fold the raw edges at the gap in the lin­ing to the wrong side, sew closed, then tuck the lin­ing in­side.

Make a draw­string chan­nel by sewing all around the top of the bag, ap­prox­i­mately 2cm ( ") down.

Thread the cord through the chan­nel us­ing a safety pin, then put both cord ends through the strap hold­ers and se­cure with knots.

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