Monday, April 10, 2017

Flower Print Eggs: A Natural Egg Dying Tutorial

Easter is just around the corner, and I was just thinking about how we would color eggs this year. This worked so well last year, and it was so fun for the kids, that I think we'll do almost exactly the same thing! It's sort of a relief that I can walk by those chemical food coloring egg dye kits with confidence that we won't be missing out on any of the fun. We'll do onion skins for a rich red-brown, turmeric for yellow, and purple cabbage for blue. This year I want to try beets to see if we can get a nice rich red.

Read on for instructions for this easy natural dye project, and have fun! 

Flower Print Eggs with Easy Natural Dye
using ingredients you'll find in the kitchen and pantry

I've been a bit obsessed with decorating eggs with natural materials and dyes this year. It's great to do with my four year old daughter. I also love how they capture some of the ephemeral beauty of spring!

The most beautiful results have been with flowers. I had no idea they would turn out so beautifully!

Here's how you do it. It's very easy, a great project for kids or adults.

You need:
--Nylon pantyhose
--Eggs (You can use blown eggs or raw eggs)
--Natural dye plants-- this year I used red cabbage (1/2 head), yellow onion skins (from 3 lbs of onions), and powdered tumeric (about 2 tablespoons).
--White vinegar

Where to get flowers in early spring? This year in the Finger Lakes we found hellebores, crocuses, and snowdrops in the garden and in the nearby woods. If you are gathering wild flowers, make sure to only pick a few so that there are lots left to make seeds. You can also use store bought flowers-- supermarket bouquets that are a bit past their prime (and on sale) would be perfect.

Position a flower on your egg. Use water to moisten the petals and help them to stay in place.

Wrap the egg with a piece of nylon pantyhose. Pull it tight around your egg, holding the flower flat against the surface. Tie with a piece of string.

Prepare your natural materials. For the onions, peel off the outer papery layer. For the cabbage, tear the leaves into chunks, or roughly chop.

Purple cabbage and the nylon wrapped eggs in the stock pot. Those blown eggs want to float!

Place the dye material in a large stock pot, and fill with cold water so that the eggs are covered. Bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for at least 1 hour. After one hour, turn off the heat, add 2 tbsp of vinegar per pot and allow the eggs to sit in the colored water until the desired color is reached. If you want a dark color, you might need to let it sit overnight.

The added benefit of this method is that your raw eggs will be hard boiled without an extra step. If you are dying blown eggs, you might need to put something on top to keep the eggs submerged-- a lid from a smaller pot might work.

Then, cut the nylon and peel off the flower to see your beautiful results!

Alternate method (or a method to keep the dying fun going): Boil the dye materials in the stockpot until reduced to about 1 quart of liquid. Strain and reserve the liquid. To dye your eggs, submerge for a couple hours or overnight, depending on how concentrated the liquid is and how dark you want your eggs.

Dying eggs in canning jars with the strained liquid. Left to right: onion peels, tumeric, purple cabbage.
Here are some results to give you an idea of how your eggs will turn out.

Above: Crocuses with purple cabbage, Crocus on an egg dipped in the onion skin dye then soaked in tumeric, snowdrows on an egg soaked in onion skin dye, hellebores on a egg simmered in onion skin dye. 

Above Left: grass in red cabbage dye, Above Center: leaves in tumeric dye, Above Right: Crocus in red cabbage dye.

Other natural materials work well too! The left egg is myrtle, the other two are weeds in our yard. All of these eggs were simmered in onion skin dye.

It is fun to experiement! This was a very unexpected result... we soaked some eggs in cranberry juice, and they came out not at all red, but etched, looking almost like fossils. Must be some kind of reaction at work, anyone know the chemistry of this? I can't really recommend it thought... the eggs in that batch are very fragile, three have broken already!

Another lovely flower egg: Hellebores in red cabbage dye.

Have fun! I would love to see your results, post them at instagram and tag @unlikelynest, #flowerprintegg.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Just in Time For Spring: Velveteen Rabbit Pattern in Love Sewing Magazine

It's been a long time coming, but the Velveteen Rabbit Sewing Pattern is finally available! I've collaborated with Love Sewing Magazine, and you'll find it in Issue 37 which is available now.

This rabbit sewing pattern is inspired by the story by Margery Williams. It enchanted me when I was a child, and I love reading it to my own children. There have been several editions published, but I especially love the original version illustrated by William Nicholson.

The Velveteen Rabbit pattern makes a soft toy that is about 14 inches high, not including the ears. It is approximately a life-size standing rabbit. You can make it with any soft, woven fabric such as velveteen or quilting cotton. The instructions include pattern pieces for making weighted bags to give the toy a realistic weight and to help it stand upright.

If you are in the UK, you might be able to find Love Sewing on the newsstand! If you are in another country, shipping is quite reasonable, or you can get a digital copy for instant gratification. I was not previously a subscriber, but I've been really enjoying my copy, it has some really great patterns in it and stories by some members of the sewing community that I really admire.

There are also new Velveteen Rabbits in The Unlikely Handmade Store. There is a burgandy and pink velvet bunny (the very last of this fabric!). Also a very special floral bunny made with an organic cotton from Cloud 9 called "Secret Garden"-- this is my daughter's favorite, I might be making another for Easter for her! And my personal favorite, a dark chocolate colored bunny made in a super soft silk-rayon velvet. The pictures really don't do it justice. All of my bunnies are sewn double-layer for durability, and stuffed with wool for cuddly warmth! They are limited edition, so don't wait if you have fallen in love with one!

****EDITED September 2017****

The Velveteen Rabbit Pattern is now available in The Unlikely Handmade Store on Etsy! This is the same pattern that was in the magazine, but it also includes step-by-step instructions with photographs guiding you through every step.