Posts Tagged ‘fabric dyeing’

It is rare that I get a chance to piece a quilt.  But there are gifts for special ones that go out ‘in haste’ here & there.

This is for a friend’s first granddaughter that is due soon. A family friend found me via FB and asked if I and any of our group’s quilters would like to make a baby quilt.   Sadly, our friend died 7 yrs ago and we thought it would be sweet to bless the daughter with quilts from her quilting friends as her mother would have been doing.  I was the only one that sent a quilt. The baby’s room is painted a golden yellow with accents in navy, purple, and fuchsia.

I chose the accent colors from my stash but just could not find the right background fabric for this.  I could drive 1 – 1 1/2 hrs each way to a modern quilt shop to try to find something which adds up to “take a day trip” with 3 hrs on the road, lunch out, etc.  I could have looked online for awhile and ordered but then I wouldn’t have it in time.  Or… I could dye my own!  My SIL was here and I was asking her help with choosing dyes off my color chart. Nothing was quite right and I was also looking for yellow dyes in the storage drawers.  There NOT on the chart but in my inventory, was pencil yellow.  Yes!  That was the color we wanted and I had bought that on a special – no longer made deal.  Of course, now I love it and hope to get some more pencil yellow fabric from my amount of dye.


The next day I dyed an extra amount of fabric than my plan needed just to be sure I had enough.  I was also making my own pattern so was just using my guesstimated amount of fabric needed.  I used about a 1/2 strength of dye.  I stirred the dye about every 15 mins for an  hour to have it more of a ‘solid but not quite’ coloring.  I was so excited as I think it came out perfect to what I wanted!
I cut the half-square triangles (HSTs) with my accuquilt Go! cutter.  LOVE IT!  I line up the fabrics that will be sewn together, right sides together, and they come out of the cutter ready to zip under the sewing machine.

Once I had all the HSTs sewn and pressed, I laid out part of the center design.


Sewed the top together…


And this also shows some of the quilting marks I made before I loaded it in my machine for quilting.  I had guidelines for the circles and divisions of 8 or 4 per ring.

First the detail quilting in a variegated thread that stands out on the lighter fabrics.


The finished quilt – quilted, labeled, bound, & washed.

12Close-up of a corner and you can see the circular designs.  The background fill thread was a matching yellow and a finer size thread.


The back of the quilt. Once again, without going to buy the fabrics, I pieced the back from other fabrics in my stash.  🙂

I appliquéd the baby’s first initial and a heart, then pieced in the diagonal piece of fabric for an accent.

label 01
I had help from my family & friends on the label verse but I found it fitting since the mom has never met me. It was just a gift from God, with love from one of her mom’s quilting friends.  Sent from Illinois to Mississippi.


The one who contacted me and the new mother were surprised at how well it matched the baby’s room.  Yeah!  I loved this quilt and had a hard time putting it in the box to ship away.  It was a gift of love so I knew I needed to send it.  It sounds like it was well received.

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When I did my snow-dyeing the cold of the snow affects the color outcomes so I didn’t get as close to my aim as I had hoped.  A few days later, I used the basic low-water immersion technique.  However, because I wasn’t working outside (are you kidding?!!! Brrr!!), I worked in the basement furnace room.  It isn’t heated there so I still had some loss of planned colors because of not working at room-temperature.

I did the red/fuchsia/pink mix again in a parfait 3-layer technique and still it is a bit more red than I prefer.




I also did the gradations of grays to dark gray.

I love the fabrics even though the final outcomes are not what I intended on getting.    Hopefully, I can try these outside this summer.


These are following the winter season recipes in Ann Johnston’s book, Color by Accident.

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I always have future quilts of my own swirling in my head.  And when Saturday & Sunday gave us over a foot of snow and huge drifts, I paused my Monday work for snow dyeing for a future idea.

My favorite fabric dyeing book is Color by Accident by Ann Johnston.  She has seasonal dyeing projects in the back of the book using all her techniques.  So I chose winter for snow dyeing.  I was pleased the “recipes” were written for 1 yard pieces as that is what my head wanted.

But she doesn’t use snow-dyeing. So I took her ideas, twisted the thought with snow-dyeing, and hoped for a good result.

I don’t aim for accuracy with my fabric dyeing so each piece is a one-of-a-kind… doubtful I could repeat it.

Monday, I read the sections I needed in Ann’s book, planned, prepped, got out supplies, and worked on the dyeing process in my basement furnace room and trips out the garage to get buckets of snow.  From 10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. …. all 8 yards – 4 recipes of Ann’s – were set in the shower to dye.


The parfait recipe in a bucket.


For snow-dyeing I use trays for the fabrics so they can drip as the snow melts and let it set about 24 hours or when the snow is gone and I get back to it.  Twenty-two hours for these.


Right after I added the snow & dyes.



8 hours later


On Tuesday morning, I rinsed all the fabrics in the basement and then ran them through rounds of the washing machine with hot water & synthrapol.



Ice Blue… I like this!


red & green layers

Ironed on Wednesday.  I really need someone to hold them all up individually and take a photo. Each one is so different throughout the whole yard that a fold area just doesn’t give it justice.

The red – burgundy- fuchsia parfait… I goofed, mixed too much, forgot the top layer (HA!) and they are just more red than I’ll probably ever use.   I have one piece that will be perfect for a winter sky.  The black gradations were highly affected by the cold temps with the snow and are mostly teal & purple of varying degrees but quite modeled.  I like them!!



Snow dyeing fabrics. Colors aren’t accurate as I took this photo with my phone and no flash.


On Wednesday since I knew that I could do better with the parfait and still wanted to try a black/gray gradations batch, I did those with Ann’s low-water emersion technique.  Still in the basement room that is unheated so a bit affected by the cooler temps.   Not gray… still a bit of purple but I’m just fine with all I’ve made.  Those will be for another post.  The fabrics still need ironed and photographed.

Fifteen yards dyed and every time I dye fabric I’m reminded how fun it is to dye fabric!

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This weekend I dyed 1/2 yard pieces of fabric in every green, turquiose, blueish color I have.  I’d like to choose one to dye my tablecloths.  I have the print for the valances and these new dishes.  The plates are white on top where the food goes and the slate blue/turqouise on the bottom.  The bowls have the color inside and white outsides.   Obviously, the tablecloth won’t be touching the valances but I would like it all to get along.  My walls are a pale blue and staying that way.  I have some turquoise trivets and spatulas type of stuff.

And here are the fabrics with the plate on top —

The fabric is at a pretty heavy concentration of dye so I could do some of those darker ones a bit lighter.

Please vote in the comments section so I can narrow this down and figure something out.  I’ll be back to work this week so some weekend, I’d like to dye the tablecloths and get my kitchen switched over to new decor.   Thanks!!


{D is called chartreuse!  Doesn’t that look weird for that color? I just left it in for part of the 10.}

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Or maybe we’ll call it my Mom Cave….. 🙂

We started in earnest right after Christmas the large job of clearing what we have planned to use for me studio space for my long-arm.  I shudder to think of showing you a before photo.  Just imagine the standard 34 year old basement with nary a path to the walls.  Or the need to make a path to whatever you want type of storage.  Ack!!  Nothing to be proud of and I never wanted to think of a flood or fire involving that area.  (really any area, but YKWIM!)

Putting it mildly... this shows 75% improvement! hahaha!

After clearing out via saving in the storage area, truck loads to Goodwill, books to a homeschooling friend, Craigslist, FreeCycle, the dumpster, or the burn pile… we finally had a room to redo!  I washed the walls and then put on 2 coats of primer.  They are just roughly poured cement foundation walls.  Nothing fancy.  Two are cement, one is old drywall, and the 4th was yet to be made. I put on 2 layers of Sherwin-Williams Swimming paint color… a light aqua.  (I found the Swimming color name fitting since I do aqua aerobics 2x a week.)

Phil did a lot of electrical work.  The dangling outlets got permanent homes with me choosing to have 2 outlets in my space along this (above) east wall and he added a 3rd near JP’s drum set a bit farther down.  The drywall covered wall got 2 new outlets that are on a separate circuit for my machine.

He moved switches so that the ceiling lights for my studio are on a different switch than the rest of this side of the basement.  He made the switch IN my room to operate the track lights he installed.  He moved the ceiling lights to be over the area away from the machine and the track lights. I’m still working on knowing which switch does what!! Of course, he has learned along all the update projects I’ve done, that I want new white switches and outlets.  Yeah for not having to ask!!!

He rerouted a furnace duct pipe to not go diagonally across the ceiling and also built a box to hide it that I was able to paint.  He moved the furnace vent for this room to the center of the room instead of the heat falling down an outside wall.

After all the electrical work was done, he installed a (barely) dropped ceiling.   I was NOT even asking for that; I thought I’d either paint the floor joists above or hire someone to do that.  He wanted a ceiling.  And I must say… is is quite lovely!!!  🙂    He installed a vent for the relocated furnace vent and I’m able to open and close that for the room.

We bought 3 sets of 3 lights each track lights that he installed through the ceiling tiles and fastened in the floor joists.  I love the track lights — never had them before!  (The rest of the lights will be added once the machine is set-up and I  know where & how many I want.)

One day while Phil was working there, I attacked the windows.  Molly, our collie, loved to lay outside along these windows and would throw dirt on them.  Plus these haven’t been part of the regular window cleaning routine!  😉   After getting all the layers of the window clean, I painted the trim area around the windows gloss white.  What a delightful change!!  On sunny days, I hardly need the lights on as the sun pours into these south windows.  🙂

After the ceiling was finally finished, we cleared all his tools away and I put down cement epoxy on the floor.  This was hard work but I love it!  I had mopped the floor twice in preceding days and then one evening we did the concrete etch need to prepare the concrete for the epoxy.  As JP noted, this area would be the cleanest cement we have down there.  However, that concrete etch pulled up lots of yuck!  I was SO glad I used it!  It also made the concrete really smooth, soft if you can imagine!, and they say it helps the epoxy adhere to the concrete better.  Time will tell on that.

I was SO exhausted and achy after doing the etch.  However, I felt normal the next morning with no sore muscles.  Yeah for kicking fibro in the can!!  🙂

I applied the epoxy the next morning to the very clean and now dry cement.  It goes on really easily and looks great!  Because I needed the time back to back to etch & then epoxy the floor, the 2nd area didn’t get applied until a week later.  Because the epoxy can’t be stored like paint, we cleared enough area to use up the whole second gallon.  It looks nice.  I think it will keep the dirt from sinking into the cement and will be easier to clean.

The fourth wall of my room is a curtain.  I snowdyed about 17 yards of duck cloth / canvas for this.  It was much more difficult working with the heavy canvas than regular cotton quilting fabric!  Exhausting!  I did this after our blizzard … but a few days afterwards when we had added 2 1/2″ of light fluffy snow on top.  It was very hard to scoop the blizzard snow.  Here are some in-process photos of that —

Finally, yesterday I sewed it all together, Phil hung 1/2″ metal conduit for my rod (with some adjustments) and waa-laa….  a new wall!!  I had grown accustomed to the larger space, all cleared out for putting down the floor epoxy.  It is so different w/ the curtain… but I love it!

the 4th wall

Today I dyed more fabric for the doorway to my studio.  I did regular low-immersion dyeing methods like I taught at my classes.  I used a lighter pallet of colors in contrast to the stronger colors in the other curtain.   Tonight Phil hung the rod for the doorway.  I attached this with shower curtain rings & buttonholes in the fabric so it slides to either side very easy.

from the doorway

the doorway closed

I’m ready!  🙂

Before & After

Tonight we moved all the parts boxes into the studio so JP has plenty of room around his drumset to give a lesson tomorrow.  We also added a rug remnant for some of the floor.

(please be gentle, I can’t believe I showed you the before (but really not the honest before) in this post!)

This has been a huge transformation over the last 2 months.  All the sorting, purging, and cleaning are done.  (for this area! haha!!)  If I didn’t have so much to do tomorrow, I’d be basking in sunshine over this!  Next week, I’ll bask!  🙂

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Dyeing Play

With a snaffoo in my schedule of dyeing….

I did a 45″ piece of cotton fabric…

for fun….

while I waited…..

in a fun, new-to-me pattern,

and used up some old dyes that were taking up space.


After soaking my fabric in soda ash solution and letting it drip dry a bit, I folded it into quarters and then another fold like a triangle.  Think paper snowflake making.  This is in 8 sections.  (Eight-pointed star)

Then I marked various lines for pleats with a crayola washable marker.

Accordian pleats were made along each line and then tied with a rubber band.   I also looped  a rubber band loosely around the large end.

I gathered all the yellows, oranges, reds, and pinks from my stash of already mixed dyes.  First I dipped the first tiny section (the point) in the yellow.  I then poured (in a very messy manner!) the other dyes either along the tie or in the middle of them until most dyes were used up and I had covered all the fabric.

For a bit of fun, I poured some blue on the end and ran it into some of the reds as well.

I let it sit  like this for 6 hours.

Rinsed out but dripping wet before I put it in the washer —

Washed, dried, and ironed.

I’m a total newbie to this as this is my first one but I’m happy with it.  And I learned that maybe the dyes have a longer than 2 month shelf life!  I don’t have plans for this yet as I didn’t know if it would turn out either in design or colors but I’m thinking of quilting it like a wholecloth quilt.

I found this idea online when doing some more reading about dyeing and this pattern is called a mandala.  There are lots of sites out there for learning and inspiration.

Hanging on my newly painted studio wall (JP loves the masking tape 😉 ) and showing you a bit of the new ceiling!

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I have done several batches of parfait dyeing and… it is terrific!  It is such a process and the fun of pulling fabrics out of the jar and getting the surprise color is such a blast!

I have finally gotten some pictures around to show you.  One day, I did 2 parfaits at a time.  One in my pickle jar and one using a jumbo sized plastic pitcher.   I actually liked using the pitcher better because I could get 2 hands in there to mix the color and soda ash with the fabric.

I chose my dyes for each container and had them in my carrying box in the order I wanted to layer them.  Here layer 1 is in each container but the color for layer 2 is in the cups ready to go.

I could hardly stand my happiness of seeing the fabrics so I spread them on the lawn in the order they were in the jars.

They aren’t rinsed at all yet! Brand-new babies!!

Here are those fabrics ready to use – rinsed, washed, dried, & ironed!  –>

Just by happen-stance, I laid them out the same.  Or the fact, that both times I wanted them in the order they were in for the dye process and that as a native born European-American mutt, I read from left to right.  Something like that….

The Parfait Dyeing Class is available to my Beginner Class alumni and will be this Friday, September 24, 2010.  More details are on the Fabric Dyeing page.   It is the second class listed so scroll to halfway down the page.    (The next beginner class is October 18 and the information for that class is also on the Fabric Dyeing Classes page.

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First Class

I had my first Beginning Fabric Dyeing class on July 9 and it was so much fun!!

We had a perfect morning to be outside in the shade.   I hung some of my hand-dyed pieces on a clothesline between 2 trees.  The gentle breeze was perfect!

I had a table out for supplies we’d need and they could use it for mixing if they didn’t want to work from their lawn chair or the ground.

Nine students came for the morning.

I loved having the class and received happy comments back as well.  Plus I learned a few things to help work out the kinks.

Nina & Molly enjoyed the cool of the basement but Nina was glad to hang out with me while I gathered supplies that afternoon to take back to the basement.

The next class, Beginning Fabric Dyeing, will be here on Friday, August 13, 2010 from 9 a.m. – 11:30 (or so).  A few would like to take the class again and that is totally fine!   I have created a page at the top above our picture for the class information.

Send me an email (jmquilts AT gmail.com) or a Facebook message to let me know you’d like to come and I’ll put you on the list.  Class is limited to 12.  Raindate is Saturday, August 14, 2010.

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Beginning Fabric Dyeing Workshop

Low-Water Immersion Technique

Friday, July 9, 2010

9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (or so)

$20 (payable ahead or at class) includes the dyes, fabric (PFD high-quality cotton), and various supplies including a dust mask.

Register by emailing me: jmquilts AT gmail.com

or register by sending me a Facebook message or by marking you’ll be attending the event.

Come learn some basics of fabric dyeing and go home with 4 different fat quarters of hand-dyed fabrics.  We will do a basic low-water immersion dyeing technique.  The dye will color our fabrics plus your clothing if it splashes or spills.  PLEASE wear old clothes & shoes!

This workshop will be held outside (in the shade) at my home.  Please make sure I have your contact information in case there is inclement weather.  The rain date is Saturday, July 10, 2010.

You need to bring:

  • Lawn chair
  • Bucket (for rinsing fabrics) – 2 or 3 gallon size is fine but 5 gal is fine, too
  • Plastic basin or storage box (for dyeing fabrics) – size range: 5 x 14” to 15 x 22”
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pen

This picture shows my bucket, my rubber gloves (to the side), and some of the plastic basins I’ve used.

You only need ONE basin in the size guidelines listed above, but this way you can see some of the options I’ve used.  I’m guessing you may already have one that you could bring.

Here I have fabrics & dye in the basins:

After the dyeing process, the fabrics are rinsed in warm water and then washed in hot water.

I love the surprise of seeing the finished fabric!



Leaf Green

I will have a wide selection of dyes for you to choose from at the class.

And they started resurfacing our highway yesterday!  I think they’ll be done by class time!! Yippee!!  🙂

I hope to hear from you soon – please email me to register and if you have any questions.  I’ll also answer your questions posted here.

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Fabric Play

So as not to start the year out with only talk….

K wanted to cover her datebook/journal/mind-in-a-book with a fabric something.   I went along for the ride!  

We started with a FQ each of the brown-red fabric we hand dyed back in October.   That story is here.  

We used templates and paintsticks and have gotten this far.


I added blue and metallic bronze from the paintsticks.

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