Category Archives: fabric dyeing

Just Write

    I gave those instructions to myself today. Just write a blog post.

     I had expectations that I would have a finished piece today to have something exciting to show you. But the last three days have been brutally hot and I really don’t want to sweat while I sew. ( Not good to sweat on your art that many people will see.) I really hate complaining about the weather but it has been steamy in my little house in the farmland.  To have a ginormo quilt on my lap is way too sweaty. No air-conditioning here, folks. So during the day we seek water and cool spaces wherever we can find it .

    And I have been dyeing some fabric. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to do that here? Well the truth is that at the last day when I was packing to come here, I dumped a bunch of dyes in a box and shipped it here. I just couldn’t let hot steamy days go without dyeing. Call me irresponsible or call me responsible, this is just the perfect wet studio and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass!

      To me, this is THE space I love to dye fabrics in. Why waste a few days of heat?  I had the dyes, the space and the heat. I needed only the fabric. So, this gave me the perfect opportunity to try some the Kaufman pimatex which Lisa Call sells.  Lisa promptly sent it to me and I am a new convert to to Kaufman pfd pimatex.  I have found a new addiction as it dyes beautifully.

     What would summer in Vermont be without a few yards of fabric on the line?

Hodge Podge

     Just a sampling of what I did before the trip here last Thursday.

Tried to finish up some fabric dyeing of deep browns, blues and a funny mustard color.

I hand basted my Artprize piece-twice. The first time I didn’t follow the You Tube directions correctly using Sharon Schambers method. I really resisted hand basting but was going to hand carry this throughout the airport. The idea of hundreds of safety pins going off through security convinced me to do it.  A few wobbly lines which I am calling organic have been sewn in. Yes, I am doing this one from top to bottom with the walking foot.

And I squeezed in a little ice dyeing. I had a few pieces of fabric left and it was so hot I thought it a great time to try it.

A little ice on top of soda soaked fabric.

A little dye sprinkled on top of the ice and then a few more layers of fabric.

Twenty four hours later, I rinsed as usual and washed and I have some interesting pieces.

Nice markings on the fabrics and it was super easy.

I was stuck in the airport for about 36 hours and my husband came to get me in a CT airport.  I retrieved my lost luggage on Sunday which had the thread it in it for machine quilting. It was really an adventure from the netherlands which I have no idea why it always happens to me.  But this time it exhausted me .

In Vermont now for a few weeks and I hope I catch my breath enough to get the stitching down on Miss Artprize.

Behind the Scenes

     I have made great use of the super hot weather this past week.  The fabric really loves to be dyed in hot, hot weather !

I took inventory and put all the fabric I had away on my shelves before I started into it with full force. It’s amazing how easily I can get sidetracked when I dye with the “what if I add this color? ” questions. But, by having a list of what I needed, I managed to stay on track. I tried to dye a batch of more subtle earthy colors as well.

Also, I sorted every bucket and basket of scraps I had and I will be taking a big bag of scraps to Vermont  to do some playing. Because, my Artprize piece is coming along and some play is necessary to breakup the big piece!

What are you working on in the lazy days of summer?

Let Fabric Dyeing Begin For Summer 2012

     What a great weekend to dye fabrics-hot, humid and in the 90’s. I had worked pretty steadily all week to finish up the yard work and made a nice long list for my kids on Monday. I promised them if they got caught up on some of their chores, we could slide into summer after the school year finishes up.

     I was so excited to get going on fabric dyeing, I just wasn’t paying attention to the details. And I was so overwhelmed by different teachers, books and how they each vary the process a little and just enough to make it confusing for me. So, the first batch of dyes I mixed incorrectly. Blah results.

    And the next bunch of fabrics, I was trying to make a particular color and got everything but that color. That will be over dyed in the future. Then, I went to every source I had and laid it out on my kitchen table comparing everything in a chart format. Still confused.

    Then, I called a friend up and she came over and walked me through a few steps I had all jumbled up in my blonde brain. Oh boy. Finally, some better results though.

      I need to remember to slow down, think about what I am doing and weigh the dyes. CONSISTENTLY for CONSISTENT results if you want a particular color. Thank you very much friend.

One more batch to be rinsed out in the morning. The temperature will change tomorrow so the rest will have to wait. I was definitely inspired by the colors of my garden, wasn’t I?

Elin Noble at the Barn

The Crow Barn

      I am home after spending last week at the Crow Barn. I took a class with the lovely Elin Noble called Additions and Subtractions.  We moved quickly and were able to spend extra time with some additional things not originally scheduled.

    We covered three different types of dyes: Procion Mx dyes, acid dyes and vat dyes.  And  I learned a bundle of techniques: shibori stitching and pole wrapping, clamping, discharge with thiox, using a pleater and also how to mix and make all the solutions. Just writing this makes me a little tired! We were busy as always and Elin kept the day packed with lecture and then trials of all the principles.

Clamping with resists and Mx Dyes

My work table in the wet studio

More clamping with resists
Early in the week- my fabric wall

     Sorry this picture is so dark as I didn’t turn the lights on to take it. I need to process some others I took later in the week.

    Elin was another fantastic teacher -kind, extremely knowledgeable about dyes and surface design and just plain fun to be around. I had way too much fun!  More results coming up this week.

Friday Wrap Up

     I spent lots of time this week machine quilting. If I wait until I am finished with it to blog again, it might the year 2013! I feel like a turtle and keep thinking there has to be a quicker way to achieve dense quilting. (Ahh-yes, there is another unmet goal of learning to free motion quilt. I have promised myself to work on it this summer.)

Clamping and folding in the indigo pot. Nice to be able to come back to it and know how to “revive” it and work on new pieces.

 Taking inventory and setting up the dye studio. Fabric has been ordered to dye but way too cold here yet!

Some indigo photos. I love how when you take it out of the dyepot, it is this deep blue green color. And then with air contact , it oxidizes right before your eyes.  I really love watching it happen.

 The little moons need a special piece. Maybe some hand stitching. Linen accepts the dye so beautifully.
 I had bought a bolt of it years ago when a shop went out of business and sadly this is the last piece I had.
Does anyone have a source for ordering linen for purposes of dyeing?

Spring Break

     I have to say I feel kind of boring right now. Nothing major to show you. I am working. I am stitching but I am just kind of letting the cloth do the work and me just move with it.

     Playing in the indigo pot.

Hope finds her cow at Purdue- dreaming of vet school


Park at Butler University

      I have been busy with college visits for my daughter, spring cleaning and just plain spring playing outdoors. And I am okay with just going slow right now. I am not at all stuck. Just trying to figure out how to do all I enjoy doing and still making forward progress.

     I love the hand aspect of it. The gentle soothing of the stitch. But how does that fit with a fast track of piecing top after top in a series and having it merge with what I want to accomplish? Do I even know the answer to that? Nope.

    I don’t at all find it stressful. Just waiting for the cloth and hand stitching to meet in the middle somewhere.

Meanwhile, Lucy has been patiently waiting for a walk while I type away.

Dyeing Blue This Week

     I started two indigo vats this past week-one with the pre-reduced indigo from ProChem and one with the natural indigo in  a lime-fructose-indigo vat. It was easier than I thought it would be and the warm weather helped me jump outdoors and jump into fabric dyeing.

Silk Habotai with natural indigo

Cotton with natural indigo

Pre-reduced indigo with silk 

     It was interesting to see the variety of values between the vats and the different types of fabric I used. The pre-reduced indigo resulted the very dark blue fabrics.  It is a stark difference between the two and I think I enjoy the lighter blues. I used silk, bamboo/cotton blend and cotton to try with this batch. The only assignment was to start the vats and do test swatches which I have done and now labeled for future use this summer.

    I also am continuing on my series but ran out of navy blue for one of my pieces. So out came the  Procion navy blue and few pieces of cotton for the fabric dyeing I needed. I am ready to move on to brighter spring colors to use up what I have already dyed.  Fabric dyeing is time consuming but I didn’t want to waste the 75 degree weather here this week which has been unexpected and pleasant.

Bamboo/cotton with Procion Teal Blue

 Back to work on my blue lines next week.

I can’t get a few of my pictures to load so on that note -off to guitar lessons with my son.

A Peek at Last Week

       I definitely went into class withdrawal last week on my series. But as I did some uploading of photos, I realized that I kept working away for the whole week.

     I went to a demonstration day at our local sewing store given by the group I belong to- Lakeshore Fiber Arts group. We meet monthly to learn new techniques and review what we have worked on the past month. A few of the members gave demonstrations on surface design techniques and it was very well attended.

I also started an indigo vat down my basement using natural indigo, fructose and picking lime for the online class (called a 1-2-3 vat) I am doing given by Glennis Dolce at Shibori Girl studios.  I was just going to be an observer this time and wait until summer.  But thought I would just work a little each week in case I had questions so summer I can start a vat and keep it going in the sun.

Bad lighting in the basement but  this is really a nice range of light blue on linen, silk and a bamboo-cotton blend.

  I spent a day sewing with a friend on my baby quilts for our annual March drive for the NICU at our local hospital.  It is nice to have two of them done for the meeting and fun to catch up with a friend who is very busy. Thanks Betsy!


     And finally, for the week’s work, I was machine quilting an old piece deemed worthy of finishing. I think about ten more hours of work left. And the new week has begun with this piece under my machine.

Trying Again With Natural Dyeing

     I was rattling around in a cupboard and I found a lovely blue enamel pot. I looked inside of it and not a speck of rust or chip inside of it. Perfect for bundles I thought to myself. I forgot I had bought it last year at a yard sale.  So, I scrounged around in one of my boxes I am packing up to send home and there was a perfect piece of white fabric. I chop it up into about six pieces-and went on a hunt.

    “She is looking for things to wrap up in fabric. She is going to boil it and it will smell,”says one daughter.

     “For real?” says the other daughter.

      “Yes, for real,”says the mom.” It is called eco-dyeing. ” Lots of eye-rolling.

      And after I wrapped and boiled some birch leaves, coreopsis, hydrangea leaves and flowers, onion skins and some alum, I ended up with this:

    I was really hoping for some brighter leaf imprints but, of course, couldn’t find the book I needed. I think I already sent that home.

   I really have trouble remembering where I leave things. And which light switches turn on which lights. No wonder they think I am crazy. But I ended up with some pretty yellow fabric which they thought was pretty as well but involved too much work. Buying it at a store was mentioned….but then it wouldn’t be mine, would it?

    I like the marks the coreopsis made-nice and gentle. I thought I was all done with dyeing but I guess it wasn’t done with me.

    Be creative, my friends!