Category Archives: colour

Hand Dyed Fabrics

I love hand dyed fabrics – the way they look, the textures, the variety of  tone and hue.  I love the mess and the result.  If you look at my earlier blog on dyeing you’ll see what I mean.

I have attended a workshop recently on Natural Dyeing.  It was really interesting to see what plants could be used, the different mordants and the various processes.  It is amazing that one plant can create so many different colours just by using different mordants.  A mordant is a product that helps the dye bond with the fabric.  Typical mordants would be alum, iron and copper.

Previously I have generally used Procion dyes – and have loved using them.  But, what do you think?  Would you prefer natural dyes, with their uniqueness and variety?  Or chemical dyes where you can more readily guarantee colour and light-fastness?  Please let me know!

VIP day – great success

Today I had a wonderful lady as a student for my VIP day.  She has always wanted to have a quilt on her bed, to match her decor, but has been unable to find anyone who would accept her commission.

She contacted me and told me what she wanted to do and we planned a day for her to achieve it.

In one day, she has been able to make a complete quilt top, learning about colour choices, tone, auditioning fabrics and using a rotary cutter along the way.

She did say that I had worked her hard!  I think she was going home for a hard-earned glass of wine!

She has booked a day later on in the summer to complete the quilt – I can’t wait to help her achieve this wonderful goal

Making progress on the patchwork quilt

The fabric has been dyed and cut, and I have begun putting it together.  I am using this small patchwork quilt as a teaching tool for my classes this term so am making it step by step so that my students can see how it all comes together.  It’s really rather lovely sharing its growth with them.

As this involves 20 identical patchwork blocks, we are chain piecing.  It is a really useful technique.

Chain Piecing really does what it says on the tin!  I started with all the hearth squares (magenta), adding the shortest pale blue log, stitching straight from one to the other.  When all 20 are done, cut the joining thread.  Then add the next log to all 20.  The real joy of this method is that it is hard to lose track of where you are and put the wrong colour on the wrong side!

All the blues are around one corner of the square and the purples are diagonally opposite.  12-RIMG0037

The blocks have gone together beautifully and I love the colour combination.

RIMG0025This is the 20 blocks stitched together in the “Straight Furrow” patchwork design.  I had this pinned to my sitting room wall (yes, I did say pinned – with drawing pins too!)  I loved looking at it!

The next stage was to add the inner border and then start piecing together the outer strippy border.

RIMG0030  RIMG0037  RIMG0038  Sadly my pictures are not of very good quality, as I am just taking snaps as I progress, and the light varies hugely – but I think you get the general idea!

Today is the day to make the first cut!

Today is the day to stop looking at my beautiful hand dyed fabrics and start cutting them up!  Does anyone else find it hard to make that first cut into a piece of fabric?

2-RIMG0025Well here they are – looking beautiful, don’t you think?  I do like the way that they look together so I am very excited by how they will work within my quilt idea.  I know that in an ideal world I will have sketched out ideas, and auditioned fabrics and colours, but I am very much a “just leap over the precipice and see” sort of person when it comes to making quilts.  It’s an adventure and shouldn’t be over-analysed at the planning stage.

1-RIMG0027Well, I managed it and got my trusty rotary cutter, ruler and board out and made that first cut.  I have cut the hearth squares out of the magenta and just a couple of strips of each of the other colours ready to build the log cabin blocks.  I know some people like to do all the cutting at one go, and be very precise over cutting individual pieces but with log cabin I prefer to cut strips and trim to size when I have added them.  How do you make your log cabin blocks?  Can you just spot the safety pin on the left hand side?  I have pinned the strips of each shade together with a safety pin and then joined all the safety pins together on an extra bigger pin so that  I won’t lose any pieces – let’s see how that works!

Well, have to go out now – a friend is having a book signing and I really want to go and pick one up – “The Lazy Optimist” by Martin Gladdish – I think it is going to be one of 2013’s best business books.  Get a copy and let me know what you think!

I’ll let you know how the sewing goes later!

Lovely colours for Patchwork

Last weekend I was able to give myself the excuse to do one of my favourite things – dying fabrics to create pieces of gorgeous colour.

I was preparing for the forthcoming class, where we will be making an Amish-inspired small quilt or wall hanging.  The Amish traditionally use plain fabrics that would have come originally from the remnants of their clothing – blacks, blues, dark reds etc.  Depending upon the specific Amish community, different colours would be used – some communities might use purples, others might use muted pinks or golds.  Some would not use much black – this is scope for a whole blog post of its own!

I realised I had no muted solids – fabrics that are of that plain, subdued range.  And I really didn’t want to buy any more – there’s barely space to move for fabric as it is!

So I got out some of my calico and after much consideration chose to dye using pure magenta, indigo and a mix of magenta and turquoise.

Look at the results.


You can see the three shades of magenta/turquoise at the top, the pure magenta over on the left, and the indigo in the bottom half.

They had been rinsed but not yet washed – when the colour would change, but hopefully not too much.

Working with turquoise is always tricky as it never takes as well as other dye colours.  I had originally remembered that and so put extra turquoise in the dye-bath.  Then panicked because it was VERY blue, so added a little more magenta.


5-RIMG0028After a good wash in the machine this is what we now have!  Actually the true colours are a little stronger than you can see here and although I have to admit to being a tad disappointed that they are not so much what I had in mind, they are very lovely shades!

The adventure with dying fabrics is always to be open to the possibilities and not to have expectations that are too fixed.