Category Archives: Dye

Jewelweed Quilt and a Hand Dyed Disaster

A couple years ago, my mother in law gave me a beautiful stack of fat eighths fabric for my birthday. She had gotten it at the Lancaster Quilt Show. I had had an idea for a quilt block rolling around in my head, and so I brought the fabrics with me on a sewing retreat and began cranking out blocks.  I called it Jewelweed, because that is a pretty flower, and I liked that the blocks were kind of jewel like, with all the butterflies around them like they were flowers.

I used up EVERY LAST BIT of the butterfly fabric making this. I don’t think I have any scraps larger than a half inch. I was definitely sweating by the time I finished the last few blocks – and I had to piece together some of the pieces there at the end.

But, I made it! And I used every last scrap I had to make up the back, which I love as much (more than?!?) the front. And here is a photo of it, new and pure!

Jewelweed Rainbow Quilt

And then what happened? I set it on the coffee table next to the couch. As I was watering a plant next to the quilt, a few drops of water got on the quilt. And the dye bled like crazy. From a few drops of water, the dye was suddenly everywhere.

I panicked, called every fabric store in town, found some synthrapol at an art store thanks to a savvy member of my quilt guild, and set to bathing the quilt over and over to try and pull out the dye. I also used dawn dish detergent and some oxi-clean based on internet advice.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

I took a picture of the bath full of dye on instagram months ago when the whole disaster happened – this was probably several rinses in. I have never seen fabric bleed like this – it was like they never rinsed out the original dye! Every color was bleeding, not just the reds and blues. The green and turquoise and brown were terrible too.

Luckily (for them) I lost the tag naming the person who dyed the fabric, as I am very amazed at the shoddy quality of their work. I suppose I should have known to pre-wash the fabric, but with fat eighths I was worried about pre-washing those small cuts. And I just forgot.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

Anyway, here is how the quilt is today. You can’t really tell in the photos, but the butterfly fabric is muddy in color with lots of blue splotches.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

I might try one more wash and scrubbing with some shout to get out the really bad parts – in particular this turquoise marking on the back. I mean, come on, this quilt has been washed about 15 times at this point.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

Speaking of the back, I love the effect of the leftover squares of fabric I had on the back.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

I used a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton for one side (the tan) and a bit of organic sheet from Target on the other. As a bit of trivia, the sheet picked up much more dye than the shot cotton.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt

Anyway, as I learn over and over in life, try the best you can and then count your blessings and get over yourself! There are worse things in the world than some a little color where it shouldn’t be! I bound it in this old purple sheet fabric that I have used on several quilts now. It has a satin finish which I can not resist.

Jewelweed Hand Dyed Fabric Quilt


Color Wheel

My fabric dyeing class just ended, which means I’m going to have to buy my own dye and set up my own dye studio because I love dying fabric! I went on my the Dharma Trading Website – the dye website to end all dye websites – and filled my shopping cart with three containers of Fiber Reactive Procion Dyes. You can make a whole rainbow with just turquoise, yellow, and fuchsia. Then I was feeling cheap and didn’t check out.

I feel like I have a decent understanding of Color Theory, but there’s something magical about seeing it in action. It really works! Below is my first sloppy color wheel attempt.  It’s on a poly-cotton blend, which gives the dye an un-even look because it applies differently to the poly and the cotton. I think it looks cool, but probably the dye will also fade at different speeds. I’ll make something with it, wash it a bunch, and let you know.

But, it’s amazing to me that adding turquoise to fuchsia = purple.


What’s Cluttering Up My Desk

Whenever I haven’t been outside in the garden and freaking out about our changing climate, I have been doing some sewing.  So until we are flooded out, burned up and then crushed under rising wheat prices – Happy stuff!! – and linking up to more happy stuff at Freshly Pieced!

.This is from my most recent fabric dying class (though the yellow fabric is from a different batch) – we dumped dye on 4 different fat quarters and then layered them in a bag and squeezed so the colors all blended together. And, if you’re wondering, it’s even easier than it sounds. Dyeing is so easy! It is just the effect I have been wanting for a while for a half square triangle quilt – so look out world!

Then this red – scarlet – red violet – violet red? What is this color? Whatever it is, it is a sheet that will soon be another whole cloth quilt. I drew these crazy flowers on it – they are based on an Amy Butler design via Free-Motion Quilting. Stuff I Made May 2011 006PS, I drew the lines on this using my AWESOME Fons and Porter Mechanical Fabric Pencil which comes with white and gray lead. A gal sitting next to me had one in a quilting class I took once, and I bought one on the way home from class (the local quilting store didn’t sell them, so I got it from my frenemy Jo-Ann).

I have probably spent well over $100 on various fabric marking implements for embroidery and quilting and this is by far my favorite.

Now that I think on that $100 figure, I realize that’s a really low estimate. It’s probably more like well over $100/year for the last 10 years. Could this be true? Ugh, best not to think about such things.

Do you have a favorite marking tool?

Dyeing to Make Puns

This was folded up into a little triangle and I dipped the edges into two blues.I’m in a fabric dying class. It started, um, yesterday, and lasts for 8 weeks. It is very pun filled, like anything involving dyeing. I’m pretty ok with this. Ricky Gervais says that the pun is the lowest form of humor, but what does he know about jokes?

So, anyway, in the first class, we folded up cotton all different ways and squirted dye on it. This morning I was DYE-ING to rinse out my experiments. But the I folded this up in squares and dipped the edges in two shades of was sunny for the first time since – last summer? I can’t remember. So I was also dying to start digging a plot for a garden in our backyard. I managed to accomplish both, by drying out my fabric on the lawn.

Ok, but the dyeing.  So, I had never done one of these hippie-tastic swirl things and it’s too easy! You could totally do it stoned! I get it! In the little Rainbow Snail.
Rainbow Hippy before I unfurled it. thumbnails you can see the little ball before I unfolded it to discover my new Grateful Dyeing handkerchief (Get it, hmmmm?).

I had hoped to unfurl one of them to find the face of a deity, or even just Doogie Howser or something but no such luck.

I made 8 fat quarters, but I’ll spare you the full details. I really enjoyed the process of folding up the fabric and trying to guess how to make patterns and then unfolding it and seeing how horrible/ok it turned out. I’m not sure how useful these will be in my quilting, because despite the fact that I am one of those terrorist eco-greenie types, I’m really not a huge fan of tye-dye. But I think it will be good to push myself to find a way to use these. And they were fun to make.
Unfurled Yellow and Green Folded Yellow and Green

To Dye For

My first attempt at fabric dyingBack in December I got a whole bolt (20 yards!) of Kona Prepared for Dying Cotton and a couple packs of fabric dye on super duper clearance plus an extra coupon from Jo-Ann Fabric on-line.  The boyfriend got the postal note on the door and biked over to the post office. The box was enormous, but he balanced it on the handle bars and pedaled home.

Imagine his dismay when he beleagueredly showedThe green on the right is not that gray in real lifeme the package and I said, “I want to die!” but I swear I meant, “I want to dye!”

So anyway, puns. The impulse bolt has sat under my desk for several months, and the cats have really enjoyed sharpening their claws on it.  I decided it should go to a higher use, and so I spent Saturday and Sunday playing with low water immersion fabric dying.  With mixed results. And then I mixed some of the results.

I used Dylon fabric dye, which I got four packs of on a whim because it was on the aforementioned sale. In Navy, Goldfish, Forest, and Tropical. I was disappointed in the two greens, the Forest is pretty in the darkest shades, but turned a bit gray in the lighter shades, and the Tropical green is so light, even in the strongest mix. But maybe I used them wrong, who knows. I found I used the leftover navy dye to spruce up 4 pairs of jeansgreat info on Dylon dye here and elsewhere that I didn’t save, sorry!

My main take away was that it dyed way, way more than the 1/4 lb of fabric that it said on the package. I dyed probably 10 lbs of fabric, and then I had so much of the navy blue leftover I dropped 4 pairs of jeans into it. Granted they didn’t pick up a huge amount of color, but they spruced them up and two of them really look like brand new pants. The pants on the left may not look super dark to you, but they were basically white. I am very excited about my “new jeans.”