Way back (ah, decades ago!) when I was in college in Madison, WI, I met a vibrant, adventurous, elegant woman whose bohemian and artistic outlook was a revelation and an inspiration. One of those friends whose free-spirited nature stills shapes me to this day. When she got married this summer I knew I wanted to make her something special as a wedding gift. I decided to make a sunprinted tablecloth and napkin set.
In the college days, when the rest of us were scraping together chips and salsa, she would show up to a birthday party having baked a cake decorated with raspberry sauce and fern leaves. Somehow managing to put together a celebratory table to give you happy goose bumps. And a table was never complete until it had a tablecloth. It’s a tradition I have kept up with my own family.
After all the roads we travelled since, I knew she would use and appreciate an eclectic table setting of the handmade and love-filled variety. Plus, I wanted to return the favor for all the wonderful meals we’ve shared together over the years. I decided to try my hand at inkodying. Normally, I wouldn’t try something new when I was making a gift, especially a wedding gift but it just felt like I had to do it. She would love that I was winging it.
This was my first time using inkodye, so it was a bit of an experiment. Inkodye works by reacting to sunlight, so anything placed over the dyed areas will not change colors. I gathered some leaves from our garden and an antique duct cover I picked up antiquing. I pressed my leaves while I was prepping my fabric (probably about 20 minutes). The fabric is 100% linen and it took the dye really well. It was a great choice. I started by taping the fabric down on cardboard. I was working in my dark garage because you don’t want any light to hit the dye before you are ready.
Once I had the fabric taped, I prepped my dye. I only had one bottle of blue dye and I was worried I would run out of it, which I did but it was ok because I was able to work with the design to make it look intentional. I added one cup of water to my dye before I painted it on with a brush. The water diluted it just a little bit and allowed me to stretch one bottle of dye into just enough. While I was still in the garage I placed the duct cover and the leaves just where I wanted them. Then, I opened the garage door and pulled the whole thing into the sun for about 8 minutes. It’s really stinky stuff but the smell completely dissipates.
It was fun to watch the color change from purple to blue and see the transformation happening.
When the timer finally dinged I pulled the whole thing back into the dark garage and removed the leaves and tape to reveal the tablecloth! I threw it in the washing machine and dryer right away without any further exposure to the sun. You are supposed to use an Inkowash product but I didn’t have any and it worked fine without it.
The print turned out really good. You can see some areas where the dye bled under my painter’s tape and some where I applied too little or too much dye but I like that natural variation.
I paired the table cloth with cloth napkins made of the softest, woven cotton fabric in a variety of shades.