living handmade


DIY – Dip dyed curtains



We just moved. Although it was a pretty stressful move, with me being very, VERY pregnant, it’s always inspiring with a new home: all the things you can take the chance to get rid of to live free from old clutter, all the new rooms to decorate, new ways to present art on the walls and new studios to decorate however we want! The best part of the house is the garden I think, it’s in full sun from morning to night and for a growing vegetable freak like me, this is heaven! But I’ll get back to that in a later post. Now, let’s talk about curtains! Dip dyed curtains 🙂

I’ve seen this pin of a soft dip dyed pink curtain circulating on Pinterest for a while and as I was decorating the kids’s room last week, I knew that was exactly what was missing from their Cherry Blossom inspired room. So I decided to make them curtains to match the pink paper umbrellas I put up as lamp shades (to cover a naked lamp socket on the wall) and I’m very happy with the result. What do you think? Here is a tutorial on how to dip dye things…





What you will need:


– Curtains in white natural fibre fabric (linen, cotton, viscose or with a small percentage of synthetics, but natural is best!)

– Dylon Fabric Dye (1 sachet is good for about 250 grams of fabric, I used 2 sachets for these curtains). I got the sachet for hand dying, not the big pack for machine dye. You can find it on Amazon.

– Big bucket for the dye (a baby tub will work fine)

– Big pot for carrying hot water

– Litre measurement

– Wooden spatula, spoon or stick, something you don’t care much about, to stir the dye with.

– Normal household/kitchen salt

– Tablespoon measurement

– Rubber gloves will be handy, but not necessary.

– A small towel or kitchen paper

– A bigger towel or beach towel (again, one that you don’t care much about)

– Chair, clothes pins and some string.



How to do it:


The instructions for dying fabric are on the Dylon package, but dip dying is slightly different… The preparations are just the same though.


1. Before you start mixing the dye, make sure your curtains are folded nicely together and that you know how far up on them you will dip dye! Make a little marking with a pencil or a pin maybe? It’s important if you want “the dip” to be on the same level for both curtains. Just lay them together edge to edge, fold them lengthwise until the curtain package is in a good width to fit into the bucket. Hang them on a chair like the picture, attach them with safety pins and string until the dye is ready to be used.




2. To make the dye: Mix one sachet in 500 ml warm water (about 40°C). That’s what you use the litter measurement for. I added both sachets in 1 litre of 40°C water and stirred until dissolved. Put aside.




3. Fill the big bucket with 6 litres of 40°C warm water for one sachet (that makes it 12 litres for both sachets). Add 5 tablespoons salt per sachet (so, 10 tablespoons for this batch). Pour in the dye mix and stir with your stick, spoon or spatula. Make sure the mixture is well-mixed.


4. Move your chair just next to the bath and carefully lay the folded curtains in there. Stir and press on top of the fabric under the dyed water, to make sure that the dye will penetrate all layers of fabric. Be careful not to splash on anything else. Leave for about 20-30 min.




5. To make the dye gradient, I pulled out half on the dip dyed fabric after 20 min and left the bottom remains to dye even darker. But as you can see, the contrast between white and pink is still pretty strong, so if you want that first gradient to be lighter, you could experiment and maybe pull out the fabric after 10 min already. In my case, I left the last dip for another 20-30 min before pulling it out.

To pull out the dyed fabric without touching anything else, I took off the clothes pins and string from the chair, pulled very carefully upwards and re-pinned the clothes pins and strings straight away.




6. The next step (drying) is the hardest and you might need a few extra hands to do it: Start by laying out a huge piece of bath towel or (clean) scrap fabric. Using your rubber gloves, open up your folded curtains if necessary and lay down on towel to do a quick first drying from wet to damp.


7. Once damp, get those extra hands back to help you and carry the fabric away to a door or a laundry drying rack for a final dry.


That’s it! In my case, my fabric was now finished and I could sew my curtains from it, but if you dip dye ready made curtains, you could now go and hang them up! This dip dying technique is so easy and fun: you could do it on t-shirts , towels, table cloths and dresses… It’s good to plan a little in advance as one big batch of dye like this can be used for some many different items. It’s a bit of a waste to just throw it away…

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DIY – Japanese wishing tree

When I remember my life in Japan I think of romance, love, beauty, silence and calm … There is beauty to be found even in the smallest of things. In almost every shrine you can find wishing trees, which is a tree or a wooden structure where you can write a though or a wish on a piece of paper and tie it around a branch. The overall effect when hundreds of people tie rolled up paper is stunning: it looks like a blossoming cherry tree!

When we got married, we knew we wanted a tree like that, rather than the common guestbook, like with everything I show you, it was easier than easiest to make 🙂 Instead of throwing away the tree after the wedding, we keep it at home as the house-guestbook where we let our guests wish for something or write whatever they feel like. We have been trying to find a good storage for it over the years and now it’s permanently hanging tied up from the ceiling of our staircase, looking as gorgeous as ever.

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You’ll need:

* a branch that looks like a tree

* a pot full of rocks (to hold the branch standing)

* silk paper (can be stored in a basket hanging from the tree)

* red pens (make the paper shift in pink-red and white when folded)

Write dreams, thoughts or wish for good luck, roll the paper flat and make a neat knot around the branch, make everyone else do it too and your tree will soon be full of pretty “leaves”.

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Sushi making, merry making

After living in Japan, I think that one of the most creative things I love to do, is to make sushi. My husband is the nigiri-master, but I make one hell of a good maki roll! I love to experiment with the contents, there is so much you can do! Plus, sushi making is the best way to introduce kids to healthy vegetables as everything looks colorful and is fun to make as well.

Yesterday night I made a Swedish midsummer style maki- salmon, dill, mayonnaise, spring onions and cucumber. Sushi is so much easier to make than what people think. The trick is to find good REAL sushi rice and fresh and juicy sweet fish. The best is to get a rice cooker, and any fish will do as long as it has beautiful color, smells good and clean, like the sea (if it smells “fish”, it’s not good). The color of the tuna should be bright red! If it has any kind of brown stains or shifting in coral green, discard it.


Sushi update 2014: Study after study shows how the fish in the seas are disappearing (and how we might not have ANY fish left as early as the year 2050 if fishing continues like it does today)! Because of this horrible fact, we have stopped eating our beloved sushi on a regular basis… Instead we replace the fish with vegetables as carrots, cucumber, leeks, avocado and we eat it with a healthy seaweed based miso soup. We do however treat ourselves a small piece of salmon once or twice per year, if the occasion calls for it, but only if we know that it has been caught eco-friendly.