Category Archives: fabric dyeing

Fabric matching

Just a quick post. Yesterday I needed to dye a piece of fabric to match some commercial fabric I had on hand that I wanted to use in a quilt so I got out my swatch book – the one with all my colour gradations of the various dyes. Low and behold there it was bronze, who would have thunk bronze would be the match but it was so I dyed up just over a metre and was so tickled to have it turn out the proper match that I just had to post.

ProChem bronze and commercial fabric
ProChem’s bronze and commercial fabric.

I’ve done this several times where I’ve gone to the swatch book and made a match and every time I think it’s so neat that I now have this ability.



Swirl Quilt and Lace Yarn

Well I finally sewed together all the squares in my swirl quilt and all that needs doing aside from actually putting it together and quilting it is to put some kind of border around the squares. I’ve decided to piece together a border of plain blocks made up of the other swap technique fabrics in my stash. I’ll probably do that after I’ve put together some kind of quilt for my new grandson that is due to be born in the next week or so.

John with swirl quilt
John holding quilt over deck railing at back of house.

The swirls that make up this quilt were some that I had done myself but most of them were done by other ladies from my fabric dyeing forum in a swap exchange. For a block swap everyone does up the required number of squares and then sends them in to a hostess who exchanges all the blocks and mails them back out to the participants. This way you can dye up say 14 blocks in one colour pathway and then receive back 14 different coloured blocks.

I didn’t want a black quilt so had a hard time coming up with a good colour to match all the squares. Call it lack of imagination but I went with white to frame the squares (there were different sizes) to 15 inches and then a narrow band of light baby blue to tie them together. Black would have been stunning but the blue and white will match the guest bedroom and my bedroom for that matter better.

I also had my Knitpick’s order come in on Friday so thought I would post a picture of the colours that I bought during their recent lace sale.

Knitpick's peppermint cloud alpaca
Knitpick’s “Cloud Alpaca” in the colour Peppermint. I waited 9 months for this yarn to be restocked.

Knitpick's Shimmer Lace Hush
Knitpick’s “Shimmer” in the colour Hush. This is an alpaca silk blend.

Knitpick's kettle-dyed Shadow lace eggplant
Knitpick’s kettle-dyed “Shadow” in the colour Eggplant. Shadow is a 100% merino lace weight wool.

Knitpick's kettle-dyed Shadow lace Altitude
Knitpick’s kettle-dyed “Shadow” in the colour Altitude.

Knitpicks lace yarn
All the yarn together in a stack.

I already have some lace weight yarn waiting to be worked on but since I’d waited so long for the peppermint alpaca cloud to come in and it happened to be right when the other lace was on sale I decided to go ahead and buy some more since the shipping was the same regardless of how much I bought.

The lace yarn was quite reasonable ranging from $5.49 to $2.99 per 50 gram skein. Needless to say the peppermint alpaca was not on sale seeing as how there is such a great demand for that colour. Still, all in all if you figure you need anywhere from one to three skeins of yarn for a lace scarf or stole then you can make one of these projects for under ten dollars. Of course finding the time to do it is another thing but I’m thinking Christmas is a reasonable time frame. I guess another problem would be giving up the project once it’s made.


Vacation and Shibori Pillow

Well I’m back from vacation and a good time was had by all. Thought I’d post a couple of pictures of my most favorite place to be in Vancouver and that’s the Spanish Banks. Think of Vancouver as being in the centre of a horseshoe and the spanish banks along the one side of the horseshoe.

When the tide is out you can walk out from the shore about a kilometre or so and the sight is phenomenal. I always love going there and if I only had one spot to visit this would be it.

At the shore of the spanish banks
Starting out at the shore of the Spanish Banks, Vancouver, Canada.

Looking out across the harbour
Looking out to the middle channel from the shore.

Dog keep west
The beach is a popular place for dogs and owners so the shore is divided into an area for the dogs to play.

Looking east towards Vancouver
Looking east along the tidal flat to the city of Vancouver.

Starfish stranded at low tide.

Yours truely it's all about the tie dye
Yours truely, its all about the tie-dye.

In front of signal light
In front of a harbour signal light.

In front of signal light close-up
Close-up of the above shot standing about a couple of yards in front of the signal light.

Dead crab.

Looking back to shore
Looking back to shore from the edge of the channel at low tide.

Karen and Sarah another harbour signal light
One more picture of another harbour light that marks the opening of the channel into the Vancouver harbour. At this point the tide has turned and is starting to come in and now it’s a race back to the shore before we get stranded.

Encounters of the close kind
Back at the car, big owie. As we were rushing back to shore I turned back to see how far we had come and ploughed into a log mid-stride. You get submerged logs from the logging industry spotted along the coast and ships and boats really have to keep an eye out for these hazards. This log reminded me of the ones you see along the roadside as telephone poles. It was partially submerged and I didn’t see it until I was on top of it. I had a choice of either falling face forward or twisting backwards which I did but unfortunately my leg brushed up against it as I fell. LOL, I hadn’t planned on taking a swim.

Another favorite spot of mine is Granville Island. It’s an artsy spot with lots of little craft shops and a wonderful market that has the most yummy fritters full of apple or raspberry filling. The amazing thing about these fritters is that they are huge and one fritter will easily satisfy three people and they are made fresh on the spot. Another favorite shop is of course Maiwa that sells all the dye supplies that a person could want.

Maiwa also has a shop where they sell clothing and linens and while I was there I bought a pillow case that I became enamoured with. Lol, I admit to buying it so I could try and figure out how to do the same process at home…well that and it was gorgeous.

pillow from Maiwa
Pillow from Maiwa.

Flip side of pillow from Maiwa
Flip side of the pillow.

Closeup of shibori
Close-up of shibori work.

I have an idea of how the pillow was made but I’m not positive so if any one has any ideas let me know.


Kumo – Spider Web Shibori.

I have a secret project that I’ve been working on so I can’t blog pictures of it until later after the gift has been received but I can blog the fabric I made that’s a part of the gift.

I love Shibori (The Japanese art of fabric tying and folding) but really have been too lazy to try out many of the techniques as they are fairly labor intensive, it was always “some day”. Well I haven’t done much lately in the way of dyeing so decided now would be an opportunity to try out some Kumo or Spiderweb shibori for the piece of fabric I had in mind for my project.

I started out dyeing a parfait in turquoise and fuchsia, not too dark as I wanted contrast between these colours and the overdye I had in mind.

Turquoise and fuchsia parfait
The photo is on the dark side.

Next I used a Japanese tool that screws onto a ledge and has a fine pick/needle to hold the fabric while you work on it. I’d tell you the name but the box is written in Japanese.

Japanese pick tool for holding fabric
Shibori tool for holding fabric while you tie it off.

Next I bound the fabric with nylon thread spaced throughout the yardage. I started off with fairly big spiderwebs but then as I grew more used to tying off the webs I spaced them closer together. I had started off tying each kumo separately but then read a book and realised that I didn’t have to do that and just went from kumo to kumo carrying along the thread as I went securing it at the base of each kumo before moving on.

Fabric all bound up with kumos otherwise known as spider webs.

After binding all of my fabric I soaked it for about 1/2 hour or so in soda ash solution and then spun it out in the washing machine to get rid of excess solution (make sure you don’t rinse). I then made up some dye solution of ProChem’s eggplant and put the fabric into a container and poured the dye on top. I then let the material batch for about three hours before rinsing and washing out.

Kumo overdyed
Over-dyed fabric with eggplant.

Using a stitch ripper I very carefully picked out the nylon thread and spread out my beautiful shibori. I decided to wash the fabric once again just in case any excess dye was left over from being trapped in the folds of material.

Thread removed
Thread removed.

Opening folds
Opening folds.

Fully opened
Fully opened.

After drying the fabric I ironed it.

Ironed fabric
Ironed fabric.

spiderweb closeup
Closeup of the spider web and the thread lines caused by the resist of the nylon thread.

I have to admit that I was quite impressed with the results, lol, I don’t want to cut into this but what am I going to do hoard it? It looks pretty good with the project it will be paired with.

Edited to note: I have had so many requests for where I got the tool that my next posting has the link for the page on the Maiwa website as well as some closeups of the tool in case people want to try to make their own.


Gradations and a tee.

It’s been a while since I last posted but I’ve been on a reading jag for the last month or so. My daughter passed on the twilight series and then I went on from there.

I bought some baby onsies and toddler t-shirts to tie dye and decided that since I needed some more lemon yellow to go ahead and order a few extra baby colours as well.

I have four gradations below:
Baby blue Wisteria Baby pink Seafoam
Baby blue > Wisteria > Baby pink > Seafoam all from Dharma. Colour corrected with Photoshop because they were so pale. The pink is a bit to intense at the darkest level and the Wisteria is a very subtle blue with a hint of purple in it. This is a colour that might do better at a more intense level.

The colours are pretty light to start off with so it was somewhat of a waste to do a six level gradation with them but I’m glad I did the gradation because I like the baby pink and blue at a less intense colour. The only problem being that a tee-shirt usually does better with a more saturated dye as it’s thicker material so I’ll probably go with the darkest shade and see how that turns out. I thought the Wisteria would be more purple but I was confusing this colour with the samples of ProChem’s wisteria.

I have been doing crafts but they are all things that I’ve done before so I haven’t posted them but I did do a tie-dye tee for my son’s girlfriend so thought I’d post that as well:

Mal's tee
Basic turquoise, fuchsia and lemon yellow.


All Things Bright and Beautiful…more spirals.

I finished doing the spirals for my June spiral swap yesterday. It’s finicky working with small pieces of fabric – about 11″ x 14″. I used tweezers to grab the middle of the fabric so I could turn it and then held the fabric with elastic bands instead of doing it in the bowl like last time. The result was a tighter spiral. I also for the most part used a few 10ml syringes to apply the dye. I had better control but it took forever to keep filling them up and using them. All done though and here are the results:


more spirals
More spirals

yellow spiral
Final yellow and golden yellow spiral.

And then from my garden:
Just to prove that I did indeed get some berries from the garden this year. A mad fight with the chipmunks to see who gets the ripe ones first.


Colour Wheels Mounted

I spent a good chunk of yesterday mounting some colour wheels I had done from a colour study last year onto paper. Most of the girls in my group use card stock but I have to admit that I just use paper. One of the girls in the forum had created a really neat file for mounting these wheels and I started off using her form for the first wheel but basically I’m a lazy writer and wanted to type in my information so I ended up creating a new document in Word, which turned out easier than I expected. The original form was pdf and I don’t have adobe so had to create a new doc file using Word.

Susan’s idea was to attach iron-on adhesive to each square and then iron the colour wheel onto the paper/cardstock. Wonderful idea and it works brilliantly. I started off using some “steam a seam 2” but ended up with “heat and bond” for no other reason than the “steam a seam 2” cost major bucks. I’d bought some of this at the fabric store with a 50% off coupon but even then it still cost over $6 a metre (Needless to say it sells for $4 in the States without the 50% off.). The heat and bond was still expensive but at 50% off was the same price for 3 yards and it was wider. I’m sure it’s less expensive in the states as well. Needless to say I found the “heat and bond” after the clerk had already cut the more expensive stuff.

Anyhow they both worked well but I have to admit that if you’re into applique the “steam a seam 2” is fantastic stuff. It’s tacky on both sides so that you can stick your fabric to it and if you don’t like where you’ve positioned your piece then you can lift it off and reposition, wonderful stuff but expensive.

Here are some photos I took of the colour wheels, unfortunately they didn’t turn out all that great I don’t know why. I tried to adjust the lighting but they still turned out on the dark side, my lack of camera expertise I guess.

Colour wheel assortment
Colour wheel assortment I did using fuchsia, cobalt and golden yellow. The dark, medium and light value colour wheels are on the top and the three colour wheels on the bottom are dark, medium and light as well but with black, brown and grey additives.

Dark Wheel closeup
Dark colour wheel closeup.

Light colour wheel mounted
Light colour wheel closeup.

Light colour wheel with grey additive using old form.

I was hoping to get all of my colour wheels done yesterday, big joke as I managed to mount 18 out of the 55 wheels that I have. Could be a long process.


More Amish Diamond Squares

I finally got around to finishing some of the Amish Diamond squares for the block swap I’m participating in for the month of July.

The colours used are Jaquard ultra violet, Dharma ivory (at more then the recommended strength), Prochem’s boysenberry and the green is one I made myself mixing lemon yellow and one of the blues I have, can’t remember which. The black is Kona black.

amish diamond squares
Amish Diamond squares.

I had participated in this swap last October but there weren’t that many people so our group decided to repeat the swap. Hopefully with these additional squares I’ll be able to make a small quilt. If I don’t have enough then I’ll just raid my stash and make some more. I might just do that to colour balance what squares I end up with.


18-step Colour Wheels

I’ve been busy doing stuff like gardening and reading and fabric dyeing over the last little bit, nothing to really blog about but I thought that I would post a couple of pictures of two colour wheels that I recently did.

I drew inspiration for the colour choices from the ProChem website and their gradation kits. I didn’t follow their instructions for the 30-step gradation but rather did an 18-step colour wheel using fat eighths and my own dye formulas so the colours I ended up with were slightly different than those pictured on the site.

The first colour wheel I did was called Flower Garden:

Sapphire Boysenberry Tangerine 18-step colour wheel
Sapphire – Boysenberry – Tangerine

The second colour wheel is called Autumn Blends:

Autumn Blends

Turkey Red – Butterscotch – Olive

The Flower Garden wheel used full strength dye so the colours were quite intense. For the Autumn Blends wheel I backed off and used 2 tsp of dye per cup and a half of water. I was happy with both of the colour wheels but I’d already done several jewel tone wheels before so the Autumn Blends turned out to be my favorite this time around. The wheel really does remind me of the mix of leaves that you see in autumn – yellows, reds, oranges, greeny browns, browns and reddish browns – very nice.


Over-Under Complex Cloth

I have a upcoming swap due this month for my Dyehards group and the theme is Over-Under. I’ve never done this type of complex cloth before so it was a new learning experience for me and since everything turned out quite well I’m pleased.

I drew a lot of inspiration from Ann Johnston’s book “Color by Design” so if you’re interested in this type of fabric dyeing I strongly encourage you to buy her book as it’s all there, a little powerhouse of a book.

I have to admit that after sternly telling myself to take pictures of the steps along the way I got caught up in the process and didn’t so what I have are the finished products and I’ll explain what I did to get there.

I used dry soda-soaked fabric as my base and then added thickened dyes to the fabric to create my pieces. The thickened dye was dye concentrate mixed with print paste.


The table that I work on isn’t large enough to hold a 44″ piece of fabric so I took the one yard and divided it into two managable pieces. First I taped plastic to protect the table and then I took a piece of large-sized bubble wrap I found in the garage and taped that on top of the plastic. I had some debate as to whether I should put the thickened dye on top of the bubbles or lay the fabric on top and roll the dye over the fabric. I decided to roll the dye on top of the fabric because cleanup would be easier.


Look closely and you can see golden yellow circles in the background. In her book Ann mentioned that the grid on the paint tray will indent the foam roller if you press hard enough so I tried this out with the fuchsia dye and it works really well, I was surprised so if you look at the fuchsia you can see some cross-hatch marks.

Next I took an old stencil and used some thickened black to make the flowers. I started off using a foam brush put it pushed the dye under the cutout and was blobby so I took a rounded pouncing foam brush and made up and down dabs, much better.


This second piece was much the same as the first but this time I took a rubber stamp, the Japanese symbol for love, and using the circular foam brush I tapped black dye on it and stamped in various locations all over the fabric.


There seemed to be a lot of white space on the fabric so I took a sea sponge and lightly dipped it into the black and gently sponged all over the piece to give it more texture.

The pieces were fairly dry at this point so I covered them up but was worried that they wouldn’t stay damp even though I know that the urea will work to keep the fabric moist for the dye to bond. Anyhow I gave into impulse and several hours later ended up lightly misting the two pieces with water, something I regretted as a couple of hours later when I checked the black had begun to diffuse and I lost the sharp edges of my designs.

Not to worry though because in the washout the crispness was restored so I have a feeling that adding the water several hours later didn’t really do anything for the fabric because the dye had bonded by that time anyhow. Next time I won’t mist and I’ll only work on one piece at a time so the fabric will be fairly damp by the time I cover it.