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Monday, February 2, 2009

Batik-style dyed child-size apron

I remember this gorgeous pale pink silk batik saree my mom had that seemed ethereal somehow, just beautiful. I loved the way she moved in it, draped elegantly. I used to find excuses to hold the flowing border of that saree, much to her annoyance. I think that's when my love for batik-style fabric prints germinated. That saree is threadbare, but, she gave it to me the last time she was here because I wouldn't let her condemn it to rag-dom like the fate of most of her other old sarees.

I have tried my hand at batik a few times but nothing spectacular to show for it. And, this project is not for show-casing it either. I just love the idea of applying wax to block the dye in some chosen pattern, then dyeing the fabric, especially the kind of fabric that absorbs color non-uniformly, and letting it dry to reveal the magic.

batik style dye and sew child apron

And when Ana's class teacher mentioned that she'd like a few aprons for her kids, I couldn't resist trying to make a couple rather than buying some generic ones from the store.

batik style dye and sew child apronbatik style dye and sew child apron

For this project, rather than any pattern, I simply wrote some words on the fabric with the liquid wax, knowing that kids will be using it for art work or other classroom activities in her Montessori school. Nothing earth-shattering or clever, but just something that is relevant and simple.

Items used: unbleached cotton canvas fabric, Tulip™ Wax Resist, Dylon™ permanent dye (Terracota)

Procedure is simple: apply the wax-resist, allow it to dry completely, then dye the fabric, then sew it into child-size apron

Sewing: I made it to fit Ana as most kids in her class are about her size and age. The neck piece as well as the waist string are sewed at one end and attached at the other by velcro, so students can easily put it on and take it off by themselves. I didn't want buttons or ties anywhere for little kids. The finish is just regular piping (bias-binding).

batik style dye and sew child apron
When we took it to her class, Ana got to show her teacher and her friends how to wear it (as she had tried it on several times at home).

In her Montessori classroom, kids do various activities like peeling-slicing-serving bananas, metal and wood polishing, art work with paints, washing their own dishes after lunch, nut cracking etc. - just lots of practical skills that also develops dexterity, hand-eye co-ordination, self-esteem and life skills, so, the two aprons will get used a lot, I hope.

I have done some tie-dyeing on and off and still enjoy dyeing fabric with natural dyes. My favorite of late happens to be woad. I guess a PBS show about woad plant and dye-extraction got me fascinated in the first place... and the fact that woad is sort of colorless like water and when the fabric absorbs the dye and gets exposed to air, it gets oxidized to reveal this gorgeous blue...

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