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Archive for December, 2011

Pot holders for Christel

For Christmas, I gifted Christel and her family a pair of pot holders. She had asked for yellow and green colors to go with her kitchen. I raided my stash of dyed fabrics, and came out with these.

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She loved them and I hope they will get a lot of use.

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Now that Christmas is past, I can share the many gifts I sewed and gave to friends and family. This is a tote bag that I made for Aaron’s sister Amy. She called one day, asking if I could make a bag for her, and of course I said yes!

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The outside of the bag is made with my hand dyed fabrics, and my batik fabrics.

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For the inside of the bag, I used fabric that I dyed with turmeric!

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And just barely, you can slightly see a small pocket with fabric that I patterned using the discharge method.

The bag is such a lovely blend of many different art fabric methods. I hope she enjoys it!

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Sightings of Serena Quilts

I love seeing my quilts being loved and used. Here are a few pictures of my quilts out in the world.

My sister Becca’s quilt, in its new home.

Baby Jonas on his quilt in Alaska.

Lukas and his quilt in a sunny window in the Bay.

So happy!

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Day 2 began with rinsing the fabric from the two pots of alum and tannin mordants that sat overnight. I lay a plastic drop cloth in the bathroom floor, opened the window, and proceeded to rinse and rinse and rinse. All waste water went down the drain (remember the mordant part is the messy chemical part).

Then it was time to dye! I did my calculations, for every 100 grams of fabric . . . Dissolved the dye powder in water, and brought the dye bath and fabric to boiling. I then reduced the heat and let simmer at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Multiple trips to the pot to stir and check the temperature.

I chose to dye with two plants, that I purchased in powder form from the internet: madder and logwood.

Madder is a perennial plant that has been used as a dye for over 5,000 years. The dye doesn't come from the leaves but from the root of the plant.

Logwood is a tropical hardwood in the legume family.

Madder dyes a red color, and logwood a purple color.

Stirring the dye bath as fabric turns red from madder.

And, after much boiling, simmering, and rinsing, the final product! With one dye bath, you can produce many colors depending on the different mordants used. From left to right: 1 – Logwood dye with tannin mordant, 2- Logwood dye with alum mordant, 3 – Madder dye with tannin mordant, and 4 – Madder dye with alum mordant.

Four lovely colors.

What’s next? I am going to test their color fastness. I also am going to try a third mordant, which is more involved, alum-tannin-alum mordant. I am on the tannin step. We’ll have to compare how the color comes out different. I’d also like to try collecting some plant stuffs myself, and creating my own dye colors. Maybe collecting dye stuffs locally, creating a color pallette specific to our region.

For this first experiment, I followed the instructions in “The Craft of Natural Dyeing” by Jenny Dean. Anyone else have a favorite dye book? I’d be curious to try other methods or to read more.

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This weekend I decided to dive into the world of natural dyeing. It is a long process, with a lot of measuring, boiling, and rinsing. The fabric needs to soak in the mordant bath overnight, so it is at least a two day process.

Day 1 began with scouring and mordanting.

It was 36 degrees outside at 11am when I brought the fabric out to scour. As you can imagine, it took a long time to reach boiling temperature!

Scouring is the process to get the fabric completely clean. After weighing the fabric dry (to calculate how much mordant I need later), I immersed the fabric in water with soda ash and laundry detergent, and boiled for 45 minutes. Then rinsed.

Stirring the fabric into the soda wash bath to boil. I set up a stove outside to have better ventilation during the mordanting process.

Mordants are substances that are used to fix dye to the fabric. Alum (aluminum sulphate) is the most common mordant used for cotton. Tannin (from oak galls) can also be used as well. So I tried both! After measuring the chemicals and dissolving in the water, I added the wet fabric, and brought the bath up to simmering, turned it off, and left it all to sit overnight.

My measuring station. All fabric and powders were weighed in grams on a scale.

Sounds simple, right?

Day 2 will be more fun, when I get to make colors!

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