Archive for the ‘Hand Dyed Fabric’ Category

I am so lucky! My husband built a dye studio space for me in our garage. We were gifted old counter top from a neighbor who was remodeling their kitchen. He rearranged some cabinets for the counter to sit on, and built some additional shelves above.


The area is almost six feet long, and is adjacent to a large industrial sink (perfect for rinsing), and our washer and dryer. Of course, I was impatient to move in.


I felt very gleeful as I unpacked my supplies from their bins they had been sitting in, to arrange in the space of the new cabinets. I am so thrilled to have a designated space for dyeing, with all my supplies ready to play with at a moments notice.


Of course, once I had it all arranged, I immediately wanted to try dyeing in the new space! Having just completed a small mountain quilt with some of my ice dyed fabrics (more on that coming soon!), I was inspired to dye more ice dyed fabrics!


What a pleasure it was, to pull out all the materials, set up the fabric and dye, and be off and away, new fabric in progress! No worrying about interfering with activities in my kitchen, or contaminating the food area. All I had to do was wait for the ice to melt!


Actually, I hope to do more ice dyeing. It’s been awhile, and I’m not sure if I used enough ice and/or dye. The picture above was the first round. When I rinsed out the fabrics, no dye had reached the bottom portion. So I attempted a second round, putting the fabrics in upside down (their un-dyed portion near the top) and I used more ice and dye.


However, the second batch didn’t sit overnight. You can see in the final fabric, the bottom half is more muted. I still like the result! Just fun to experiment and note results. I can’t wait to try more! Hmm, maybe I need to order more fabric …

Read Full Post »

I’m in the middle of my next quilt as part of the Master Class I am taking, focusing on lines. I’ve made a sketch of a mountain scene, and am in the process of turning it into a quilt. It’s quite challenging, but feels good to be stretching my skills and doing something that is hard to do (once the quilt is all the way finished I’ll have a proper post sharing more detail!).

MAR SLJ sketch 4

As I started pulling together fabrics to use, I realized I needed a few additional colors. So last Sunday, I had some free time to dye. Thinking of mountains, I wanted to dye a range of blacks and greys and maroons, with a few greens thrown in for the valley.


I started by dyeing a value gradation of the three colors I wanted to make, using Better Black, Brushed Steel, and Sangria procion dyes.


And then I got more playful. In the past, I’ve kept meticulous notes and followed careful directions to achieve specific colors. This time, I mixed and played at random, each new color a a delightful surprise.


I started with a bit of the black, and added a bit of golden yellow to lighten it. I then played around with adding golden yellow and sangria and brushed steel in varying amounts to various colors. I generally know how I got to each one, but it would be hard to recreate each specifically. Maybe that is a bit of the magic and why I love dyeing fabric so much. Each piece of fabric is unique and perfect and there won’t be another like it.


And then my favorite piece. Inspired by directions in Gloria Loughman’s book Radiant Landscapes, where she shares how to dye a gradient. For my last rectangle of fabric, I took the remaining black, grey and maroon, and dyed them in a gradient. I want to dye a lot more pieces like this. The possibilities for quilting and design are endless.

As for finishing my March Master Class assignment by the due date … I am very behind. Life got busy this month with fun and work commitments, and my extra energy and time for quilting hasn’t materialized. How do you catch up on projects when you get behind?

Read Full Post »

Each Christmas, I enjoy putting up a tree and pulling out the ornament box, finding the right place for each ornament on the tree. Many ornaments are gifts from friends, and one ornament I made last year, an acorn with leaf. When I thought about what gift I would like to make for friends and family this year, I thought I would continue with the ornament theme. I like to imagine that each person I give an ornament to will also feel that pleasure as they decorate their tree, being reminded by the handmade ornaments of the people that love and care for them.


As the early part of December past, I pondered and mulled over and thought about what type of ornament I could make. I had some vague sense I wanted to do something with my hand dyed fabric scraps and paper piecing quilt technique. Inspiration struck one evening as I was browsing instagram, and saw a photo of an ornament that was needlepoint, with a mason jar lid as the hoop/border. Perfect! I could paper piece a small quilted piece and then enclose with a mason jar lid.

img_2069Once I had my idea, I browsed pinterest, to see if anyone else had done this and if they had any suggestions. I learned from one tutorial how to use a hammer and nail to make a hole in the side of the lid for the hanging loop to go through, and learned from another tutorial to turn the inside lid upside down to make the design push outwards instead of pushing inwards.

img_2057Each evening I sewed and pieced and churned out ornament after ornament. I traced the lid on paper to make my paper piecing templates. In the beginning, I was more impromptu, randomly pulling fabrics and making a design. Then I started to curate my fabrics a bit, and pulled fabrics of similar hues.

img_2073One design led to another which led to another. Some designs were more complex, and I would draw on the paper to follow the pattern. Others were simple and came together quickly. From start to finish, each took me about 15 minutes.

img_2007My favorite comment was from our Great-Aunt Sue, who upon unwrapping her ornament, exclaimed that it will “make the mason jar look so nice!” Well, I guess that would be a good use for them as well. Really dress up your preserves!

Read Full Post »

Last Sunday our Out of the Box group gathered again to play with fabric. This time Margaret was showing us how to use soy wax to make batik patterns. She brought a pot full of hot soy wax and we played!


We tried using different found objects like lids and cookie cutters as stamps. We tried painting with paint brushes to make our own designs. I brought some previously ice dyed fabric to paint. We all had a hand at seeing how the wax felt and worked.


When I got home, I bleached my two pieces of fabric to lighten the background color. Then I ice dyed the fabric again to give a little more color. Kind of seems redundant now that I type it! My thought was to give the background a different color than what it had before.


One benefit of using soy wax is that it is easy to rinse out. Instead of the endless boiling required when using beeswax for batik, soy wax can just be rinsed in the sink! After rinsing and drying and ironing, I compared how the fabrics looked to when we started.

PicMonkey Collage2

They are definitely lighter than the original, with the batik patterns standing out! But I don’t think my second ice dye really gave much added color. I still like how they turned out!


I have two new fun fabrics to add to my stash, and a great new technique to add to my skill set. I look forward to experimenting with it more and collecting items to stamp with! How do you like to make patterns with soy wax?


Read Full Post »

Last weekend I had the great fortune to attend a two day workshop at Road to California with Gloria Loughman called Confident Colour. Before going I made time for one dye session, making a range of blues and oranges to bring to the class.


The workshop started with a brief lecture on how to read the color wheel, and the basic types of color combinations. We colored in examples of the combinations, which would be our choices to work from for the rest of the workshop.


Throughout the two days, we were tasked with making the same quilt pattern over and over, trying out different color combinations. The first quilt we were asked to do a monochromatic scheme, the hardest to do! I chose blue-green as my color.


Halfway through the first day, Gloria gave a short demonstration on how to paint a sky fabric. I was entranced. I loved it and couldn’t wait to try.


After dipping a piece of plain white fabric in water, I spread it out on a plastic surface. Mixing colors, starting from light to dark, I slowly painted the sky. It’s almost like watercolor the way the colors blend and combine.


I really think the sky makes the quilt too! On the left is my monochromatic quilt as I first made it in the morning, with a plain blue piece for the sky. And on the right is after I learned to paint skies I went back and made a new one. The sky can turn the whole mood of the quilt, here making it stormy and dark.


The second coolest thing about the workshop was learning to use the color wheel! We all have seen a color wheel, and basically understand how it works. What was really neat and what I had never done before was choose a color combination and select fabrics to match by holding them up next to the wheel. I really got a feel for which fabrics fell where on the wheel, and how a particular color wouldn’t fit within the selected scheme.


This was my second quilt, with a complementary color scheme, from blue-green to red-orange. I love the sky so much! I would however, not put the orange hill in the foreground, I think I could have gone with all blue hills.


My third quilt is my favorite. I chose a triad color scheme, using green, violet and orange. The sky was so fun to paint, and the mountains fairly shimmer with color. I really enjoyed Gloria’s teaching style. She left plenty of time for working and asking questions, but also filled the workshop with endless techniques and tips. On the second day she introduced making linear lines in the landscape by cutting up individual segments and laying them over another color.


For my fourth quilt, I chose a split complementary, picking a range of greens from yellow-green to blue-green and a red-violet for accent.


Gloria left us with lots of tips and ideas for how to quilt our finished pieces.


Here are my friend Margaret’s quilts, I really love her gray cloud sky that she painted with some orange. Just makes it pop!


And here’s a few others from the class. Amazing how even when working within set limits there is so much individual creativity!


And here are my four completed colorscapes! What should I do with them? Combine them into one quilt? Make each a small wall hanging?


Read Full Post »

Stitch by stitch my equilateral quilt grew, until one day it was suddenly … done!

After ironing the top flat, I prepared it for quilting by making the quilt sandwich. It was evening and I was tired and skipped a few steps thinking it would help speed things along.

Famous last words. Skipping steps never speeds things up, and I discovered a number of bumps on the fabric backing. *sigh*

I set the quilt aside and returned fresh at another time, carefully taping down my layers, keeping each flat and taut. Voila – the quilt was ready for quilting!

I decided I wanted to use cotton perle thread for a large stitch look. And of course I then felt like being a little playful and using lots of different colors instead of choosing just one.

I chose a radiating star pattern, using the natural diagonal line of the patchwork to make the quilting lines. I alternated colors randomly as each thread ran out.

For the binding, I selected a mixture of yellow and yellow-green fabric. I think the bright colors complement the quilt well, while also blending in with the green.
I gifted the lap sized quilt to my mother-in-law Joann for Christmas, thinking it would be lovely to snuggle under as a lap quilt or use as a room accent on a couch.
All fabric hand dyed by yours truly, the quilt top is hand pieced and hand quilted. You can read three other posts on this quilt here, here and here.

Read Full Post »

Margaret had attended this year’s Road to California and taken the shibori dyeing class. She brought back what she learned to our Out of the Box quilt group. We had a lovely Sunday afternoon in Nela and Jan’s garden. PicMonkey Collage4

Margaret showed us some of the fabrics she had dyed in the shibori class.


With the range of colors available to us with dyes, we took the traditional Japanese indigo dye art out of the box.

PicMonkey Collage

Margaret showed us wrapping the fabric around a round tube, tying it with string, and painting the dye on. We experimented a bit with pre-wetting the fabric and painting the dye on dry fabric. On the right, the top half was fabric dry, and bottom half fabric wet. This method is called Arashi shibori.

PicMonkey Collage3

Other techniques we played with was folding the fabric in triangles, and pinning with clothespins and clamps, this method is called Kumo shibori. We also tried wrapped fabric around objects and dyeing. And also using rock salt to spread the color! It was a great afternoon of experimentation and fun. No measurements were made and no recipes followed. I can’t say if I used 1tsp or 1 TBS of dye powder, and sometimes I was mixing dyes together without knowing what I was using, but I can say I had fun!

PicMonkey Collage5

Here are my three fabrics I made. The top two were wrapped around a pole. The top pink was wrapped at a diagonal around a skinny broomstick handle. The middle blue was wrapped straight around a wide PVC pipe. The bottom was folded in triangles, pinned with clothespins, and dyed in a light brown. Once dry, I refolded into triangles again, pinned with clothespins, and dyed with pink.


This piece is my favorite from the day’s experiments. I like the layers of colors the double dyeing gives. And I like the random pattern within the repeats. Makes me want to use it in a quilt!


Looking at these fabrics, I remember the feel of the sun, the sparkle of the spring flowers, and the laughter of the ladies as we chatted and played. As we celebrate the first days of spring, I am grateful for friends and creativity and projects to come!

Read Full Post »

In the new year, I had a few days off and realized I was low on fabric color options, So I  decided to start the new year with a dye session. I pulled out my entire stash of dyed fabrics to see what I have, and what colors I wanted to dye.

IMG_9056I had plenty of red, purple, green and yellow. Low on blue and brown. I read once in a quilting book, that a quilter’s stash will often tell you what kind of colors they don’t like to use. In that case, I love to quilt with blue and brown!


So my first dye batch was a run of 7 colors, mixed in three values, to make neutrals. I was hoping for more browns, but the mix actually came out more diverse. As I was mixing and dyeing I was bummed because it wasn’t what I had hoped for, but after drying and ironing, I love the spread!

IMG_9099When I see them all jumbled together, I think of a cottage garden, with roses and hollyhocks and herbs. What do you see in these colors?

PicMonkey Collage

As I’ve said before, I am strongly drawn to neutrals, and already this bunch has me imagining and thinking about many different projects to use them in!

IMG_9110I also dyed a nine-step colorway from blue to green.

PicMonkey Collage2

My first project with the new fabrics was to make a new set of coasters. I chose one of my ice-dyed fabrics as the backing, and picked six individual colors for the front of the coasters.

IMG_9132I wanted to try making a round coaster, so found a lid in the kitchen that was roughly the size I wanted. I cut a circle from the backing, from the front, and from batting.

IMG_9134I sewed all three layers together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2″ gap to turn inside out. I then ironed flat, and stitched around the edge to close all three layers together. And then this is where it got fun!

IMG_9143At our last meeting, we starting talking about zentangles and quilting, and I hadn’t used my darning foot on my new sewing machine much, so I decided I wanted to play around with free motion quilting! I sketched a few designs first, seeing how they would look in a circle, which also helps me practice the non-stop movement with the pen first before stitching.

IMG_9137Because the coasters are relatively small, the pattern caused the thread to be quite dense in some areas, which really created a new color and pattern of its own.

IMG_9140One of the best pieces of advise I read that helped me become more confident with free motion quilting, is from Leah Day, who teaches and uses travel stitching a lot. It opens up the doors to so many possibilities!

IMG_9141I think these little projects are a great way for me to find designs I love, to then use on bigger quilts. I could make coasters all the time!

IMG_9142Which stitching pattern is your favorite?


Read Full Post »

(Three posts in three days, yikes!)

My goal this weekend was to have a kitchen dye session, making more of my California poppy  fabric, dyed back in 2010. After each dye session I keep detailed notes on what colors I used in what amounts, so that if I wanted to repeat a color run I could. I’ve never tried though, always preferring instead to experiment and make new colors. This time though, I wanted to dye more of the same colors, so I referred to my notes to repeat the colors.

PicMonkey CollageHere’s my notes and the fabric colors. It was a Blue Green to Red Orange run, made with Cerulean Blue, Deep Yellow and Fuchsia Red.  I looked through my dyes and I had fuchsia red, cerulean blue, and shoot, no deep yellow on hand! But I had Bright Yellow, so figured that was probably pretty close, and started to mix up my colors.

Oops, not. Bright Yellow is NOT like Deep Yellow. The fabrics came out so different! Here’s a screen shot from Dharma’s website, using their super cool color comparison picker tool. The Deep Yellow is so much more golden, which is probably what made my original run so orange and made me think of poppies.

deep yellow

My colors I dyed this weekend were very red and blue. I don’t think the bright yellow quite had enough oomph against the reds and blues to make the oranges and greens I was hoping for.

IMG_8348I still love them though! They almost remind me more of dessert colors: cool reds and browns, bright pops of sky blue, and golden yellows.


The yellows weren’t made with the bright yellow, those were using Marigold.


So now I’ll just have to have another dye session to try to make more poppy colors, after I purchase some Deep Yellow!

IMG_8359The reds and browns remind me of Death Valley.


What do the colors remind you of?


Maybe I’ll make up some charm packs and post them for sale in my really really close to launching etsy shop!

Read Full Post »

A few weekends ago I transformed my kitchen into my dye studio. Someday I hope to have a designated dye studio (hey a girl can dream!), but until then, my kitchen suffices.

After the first day dyeing several yards, I couldn’t stop and continued dyeing several more colors the second day.


It was a long weekend of dyeing and rinsing and washing and playing with color!


I dyed four nine step color ways, from the left: blueberry to lime green, mermaid’s dream to golden yellow, turquoise to line golden yellow, and amber wave to lime green.




More yum. Must have had spring on the mind with all the greens, yellows, bright blues and purples I was dyeing!


I’ve also spent my free time dyeing more yarn! Several friends joined me in my kitchen last weekend for more fun.


I covered the kitchen table with a plastic table cloth and voila! – the playing begun! Lesley had purchased a lot more colors to play with, and we had fun inventing different color schemes.


I wanted to dye five skeins for a sweater. I think it was too much for one pot, as it was challenging to get the dye on all the yarn.


I must have still had spring on the mind, selecting several greens and a splash of pink and orange.


I also diluted the dye to get softer colors then full strength. After re-skeining post-dyeing, the colors blend and mix together quite nicely! A pale springtime bouquet of color.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »