A few weeks ago I was dyeing up some rainbow mohair fur fabric for our teddy bear supplies store and posting the progress photos to our business facebook page when IM commented that she'd love something like that for the baby... maybe as a rug or something. We nutted out what would be most practical though - and seeing as mohair is notoriously scratchy and not a great fabric choice for newborn skin, we decided to see what a cot sheet set would look like dyed up rainbow-style.
So I tracked down some plain white cotton cot-sheets, and set about dyeing it up like I do with the mohair. The dyes I use are made from natural minerals and we buy them in bulk tubs from a supplier local to brisbane. The problem with them is they give incredibly inconsistent results depending on the material being dyed! lol. Even using mohair fur (which is a natural goat-hair fibre pile on a cotton backing) we get some pieces that wash out with the same intensity as they were when painted, and some that loose nearly all the colour! I've learnt that letting the fabric set in the heat of the sun really helps. So we choose a nice hot QLD summer day to do this batch of rainbow dyeing.
IM had commented that she really liked the diagonal rainbow effect I'd done on one of the earlier pieces of mohair - so we decided to stick with that patterning. We make up little pots of concentrated pastes of each of the colours, wet the sheet, wring it out, lay it flat on newspaper (to absorb excess moisture and prevent the dye from bleeding through the colours stripes) and start painting it on.
It takes a little while - but the effect is so pretty. I was really hopefull that the colours would keep their vibrancy. We laid the sheet out in the sun for a few hours while I painted up the tiny pillow case included in the cot set, and the fitted sheet which was a whole other ball game! (Because of the elastic around the edges of the fitted sheet we couldn't lay it flat for rainbow stripes, so we did a 'splotch' rainbow effect instead which looked a bit like a painting my kids might have done at kindy! lol).
Traditionally I've always rinsed my dyed mohair pieces off outside on the lawn using the hose. But because this is going to be used for a baby, I decided to thoroughly wash it using a sensitive laundry liquid in the washing machine. This was probably the main reason the colours ended up so much softer... but I will admit it did grow on me. Probably a little more 'newborn' suitable!
I even managed to fold it all back up and pop it back in the original packaging too! That was a proud moment! lol. (though obviously not quite as neat as it was when I purchased it!)
We posted the cot sheet set off with the rest of the christmas presents for our IPs and their little boy last week. I'm kind of hoping it has arrived already... or I will have spoilt the surprise with this blog post!
I really enjoyed making this. It was something a bit different for me, and I had visions of surro baby in a few years time taking his unique cot sheets to his kindy/day care and being able to say that his 'tummy mummy' made them for him before he was even born. My kids (4yrs and nearly 3yrs) are VERY into hearing about stories from when they were in my belly, or from when they were new babies and learning about where their most cherished toys and blankets came from.
My daughter recently found two of her baby dolls we'd bought for her on her first christmas (they were 'lost' in the toy box in her room). Four years have passed and the original outfits have long since disappeared into the black-hole of her room... but these two little dolls are now her most cherished toys. The photo above shows them fresh and new back on Christmas day 2009. The photo below was taken about 10mins ago while she has her nap. On the floor. Next to her beloved babies! lol.
It has actually been something that has caught me by surprise a little - how much the story behind an object/toy means to kids. I feel a little silly that this has been something I didn't 'get' before now. But it does makes sense - time is so relative when you've only lived a few years, and don't even remember a lot of your life.. so anything that someone can tell you about what you liked/did/saw/played with etc as a 'baby' is so exciting. Like learning about who you are.
Even more important is a kid's 'story of origin'. While my two are still a little hazy on the whole 'coming from mum's tummy' thing (my daughter likes to check every now and then that she came first, then her brother, and that they weren't both in there at the same time?'), they grasp the basic concept of 'baby comes from belly, is born, then grows up'. They don't have to think too much about it because it's no different to anyone else they know.
I wonder how different that is for a child born to surrogacy and/or egg donation? If their story is told from the very first memories ... I wonder if it's accepted as easily? I've always assumed it would be, but then I've never had to reconcile a story like this myself, or for my own kids. And I didn't anticipate how important these 'origin/babyhood' stories would be for my kids. I think this is also why it felt so right for me to make something unique for this little boy wriggling around in my belly. Something that he can keep, that is a physical object to help represent HIS story of origin and the circumstances that makes HIM so special.
I just have to hope that the pastel rainbows don't completely wash out over the next few years now! lol