Since early March I have embarked on the latest edition of dyeing solid fabrics in colors not offered by commercial fabric companies. The picture at left shows the samples I dyed of 69 colors. They were all supposed to be shades – pure hues with grey or black added – but somehow some colors that pop crept into the bunch! The dark colors don’t photograph well, but there’s a nice variety of blues, browns, reds, and greens included.
The way I work has changed over the years, not that I’m getting older or anything!! 😜 Now I’m dyeing as many yards as possible at one time, especially for solid fabrics. Besides saving my strength, it also decreases water use and fuel consumption, which is important to the planet. To do that, I need either a fairy godmother who wants 15 yards of every color I dye 🦄🦄🌈🌈 or a lot of people who need a yard or five. I do have a few customers who fall into the fairy godmother category, and they have my thanks – you know who you are!
Here’s how you can help and get some goodies. I will send you samples of all these colors and when you see what I will be dyeing, you can add your order to the total. Samples swatches can be yours if you send a self-addressed, 70 cents stamped envelope to: DippyDyes Solids Order PO Box 150 Red Hill, PA 18076 International orders are a bit different – send an email to Orders@DippyDyes.com for details.
Well, the truth is that I get focused on today, and don’t spend much time ‘thinking great thoughts’ like the scarecrow could after he got a brain. It’s just so much more fun playing with fabric! 2019 was a pretty good year, with happy successes and a few failures. It helped me realize that I’m very lucky to get to do what I love.
Looking forward to the coming year, I’ve finally updated my public calendar! I plan to vend at three shows, maybe more, plus I have two speaking engagements already booked! Coming up in just six weeks is the annual MAQGNet meeting, where speakers, teachers, and guilds all get together to learn about one another. If you belong to a quilt guild between Vermont and Virginia, you can find a speaker through MAQGNet!
In the studio lately, I’ve been working on a line of the basics. Since I sometimes find myself at a loss for which color I really want to dye today, I decided to look at the huge, yet limited array of the colors of Kona. Of course with hand-dyes, basics are NOT solids. I am taking an assortment to a couple of quilt shops and selling them wholesale. More on that later!
Well, this has taken rather longer than planned, so I will sign off now. Thanks for reading!
P.S. – if you wish to stay updated on what’s happening at DippyDyes, join our mailing list! We have a little PDF on washing out hand-dyed fabrics as a thank-you and will be creating a new free offer soon. You will get both!
“How can I help you?” Millions of people are letting Alexa, Siri and others help them with trivia, homework, how-to instructions and more. What I can’t ask the computer is how I can help you. Dyeing fabric is something I love more than chocolate, but running this business can be a challenge. One fabric has been sitting around for close to 10 years – I think I’ll call it the ‘life lesson’ fabric. That’s more polite than ‘that @^%# ugly thing.’ So rather than take advice from a machine, I need to ask you a couple of quick questions. And I promise not to try to sell you that @^%# ugly thing, or anything else! 😊
If you have a moment to help me out, click below. It should take only about two minutes of your time.
My how the time has flown. This post started three weeks ago when I first installed WordPress. I’m still in the midst of working on the new website, and transferring all my old blog posts over here. Meanwhile, I’ve wiped all my inventory out (again) over on DippyDyes.com, so, to save money, I’m updating all the quantities myself. Then there are pesky things like matching product pictures to product listings on the new site, and adding measurements and weights, etc, etc. You can still shop here!
The short-term goal is to make the new blog live as quickly as possible, and keep plugging on the grubby details of e-commerce. Next, to add some eye candy! And the deadline for all of this is 4/23 (maybe later), when posts begin on Cheryl Sleboda’s blog hop studio cleaning challenge! Since I’ve spent so many days with my nose plastered to the screen, today is a great day to move as much as I can!
The picture at right relates to the great studio and storeroom cleanup – more on that tomorrow!!!!
You probably won’t ever see this, but if you want to order fabric, go to www.dippydyes.com.
DippyDyes isn’t the only merchant that has been filling your inbox with holiday shopping emails. Yes we have a sale too, and nobody else is apologizing for all the emails. Why do I feel like I need to apologize?
But anyway, this was to be about numbers. Today is the fourth day of the sale and it continues until Friday the second. Total emails sent: 1322. Total unsubscribes: 9. Total orders: 2. Gross profit: $85.16. So now you know why micro-businesses flood your inbox!
Now, borderline whine and gratuitous accounting stats over, here are some recent additions to the website. Click on any of the pictures to be taken to that fabric on the website. (Go ahead – you know you want it!)
The ladies in the Shoo Fly Quilters of Boyertown know that I have a soft spot in my heart for old machinery. Hubby and I used to own Bahr’s Mill – an historic woodworking mill just outside of town. And when we travel, we try to find factory tours where ever we can. (Tip – Lowell, Massachusetts, north of Boston, is home to Lowell National Historical Park. Go there!) Last week I was able to get my factory fix at Kraemer Yarn in Nazareth, PA. (Yep, Nazareth, and that’s close to Emmaus and Bethlehem for those of you who aren’t from around here.) And it turns out that they sell skeins of yarn – thirty-six different varieties – for dyeing! I have eleven here now and need to narrow that down to about three or four to add to my collection, er, inventory. I’m definitely keeping the super-chunky thick and thin variety. It’s at the top of this picture. I also got some already-dyed yarn, but can’t share the details until after December 25th. Another plus is that not only is it spun right here in Pennsylvania, it’s made from US wool! Now around here I’ll dye anything that can’t run away. Can you help me by answering some questions? There’s a survey here. And if you’re not on the DippyDyes mailing list, you can sign up at the bottom. Thanks!
Monday I did something I have never done before – I ordered ten pounds of dye powders from Pro Chemical. Only eleven different colors – I got two pounds of two of the colors, and eight ounces or one pound of the rest. I’m about to embark on a solid adventure – dyeing 400 yards of fabric in about a month. Now, lest you think I’m completely out of my mind, I’m not talking about dyeing 400 different colors. To give you a little perspective, I’m starting with just twenty colors – ten yards of each. For inspiration, and to help me narrow down my choices, I went to the Robert Kaufman Kona (R) color story page, and picked summer, ’cause it’s on its way. That group is shown at right. Then I thinned that down to just the twenty colors that I’ll be dyeing. That’s my first, firm goal – 200 yards. And, as projects involving color often do, the concept has grown. Since I’m going to mix up those 20 colors, if I mix up just a little more than what I need for ten really saturated yards, I’ll be able to dye the same colors in a lighter value. So the next couple days will be spent preparing and documenting my progress – and getting some orders filled as well. Sue Reno’s project “52 Ways to Look at the River” has inspired me to track and share what I’m doing, plus it adds a degree of accountability. If I know people are watching, I’m going to have to keep at it! I hope you’ll follow along – and comment on the blog. I’m going to give something away — but I’m keeping that under my hat. #400yds30days
[Skip to the last paragraph to read the most important bits.] Yesterday, in addition to my last post here on the blog, I also got a newsletter out. This morning I checked the report from MailChimp on my phone. I’m incredibly bad about checking the “metrics” and today I just happened to click on the ‘opened’ link and scrolled through the 165 people who had opened it as of 8:30 AM. (Now 11 hours later and it’s up to 198, or 41%, with 23 clicks.) There was one unsubscribe, and that’s OK. The reason was a sad one – that person, who has opened every single newsletter I’ve ever sent – now has an illness that prevents her from using a computer. My heart goes out to her and the caregiver who wrote an explanation when she unsubscribed. The rest of the list of names was a real trip down memory lane. Some people were family – I’m grateful they look even though dyeing and quilting isn’t their thing. I saw names of a couple of my dye teachers and many fellow students, my students, customers and custom-work clients. There were people I met when I worked in the local quilt shop, and many people I’ve met at shows over the years. And below is the current geographic data of where people were when they opened the newsletter. Anyway, I expect this is really kind of dull to most readers. But . . . The Last Paragraph – what I’m trying to get at with this post is how truly grateful I am to everyone who takes the time to read the newsletter, and who has touched my life and has let me into theirs as well. Thank you, so very much.
On April first I posted the following question on the QuiltArt List: What can dyers do better? Specifically, what can I do, or do better for you? It was not intended as an April Fool’s post, nor did anyone take it as such. Here’s the second answer I received:
I don’t do dyeing so I’m thinking [about] what would make me buy someone else’s dyed fabrics. I don’t see the point in buying fabric that’s dyed an all-over color because solids are commercially available fairly easily , unless I’m wanting a particular tone of color that they just don’t make (grayed down yellow, or some such). I think those who do dye solid colors are more interested in controlling more about their work, including the perfect color mixes.
I like fabrics that look like batiks, kind of nebulous color tones but I want them to be in neighboring colors, not opposites, because I’m wanting to use them to represent something else (water, sky, etc) not be their own thing. Many people do make abstract quilts and might like that, however.
When I look at Kay’s ice dyeing pieces (http://quiltspluscolor.blogspot.com/) I am in awe, but they tend to be their own thing, like using a designer print and probably can’t be used to represent something else.
If the design is really stark (blue and keeping white) it feels too strong for me, or if there are too many colors it all feels too psychedelic to me. Darker blue and lighter blue, or green blue where it’s more moody feels better to me.
There are quite a few representational quilts out there, so think how you can get those different tones for skin, or hair or dog’s hair, or grass or trees. But I don’t think that’s the direction modern quilters are taking at all. They tend to want the focus pieces. So, look at who your market is or do both directions.
Another interesting, and interested answer, and very different from the first response I got. Of course, I like to say ‘there’s no wrong answer to this question’ – about a lot of things. I’m glad Barb wrote, because some days I get stuck staring at a white piece of fabric thinking ‘what do I do?’ OK, off to work on my newsletter now. Thanks for looking, and please join my newsletter list or make a comment about this post below.
A week ago I posted the following question on the QuiltArt List: What can dyers do better? Specifically, what can I do, or do better for you? Here’s the first answer I received:
I did a lot of dyeing earlier in my quilting life, and then I decided that buying interesting pieces from other dyers was a much better decision for me. The dyeing process was hard on my body, time-consuming, and I didn’t enjoy the process. So, I moved to dyeing fabrics with my credit card.
After about a decade of doing that, I became more and more dissatisfied with the dyed fabrics I bought. Why? Because they were almost never rinsed and set adequately, forcing me to do all those end steps to make them washable. . . . I even commented on this trend of dyers not rinsing and setting the colors adequately on this very list. What I got back in responses was an ***outpouring*** from dyers who complained that they didn’t have the time to do that or they didn’t have the water resources to do that or they’d have to charge more money if they did that or __________ (fill in the blank with whatever reason that exonerated them from doing the final steps).
It was at that point that I gave up and have refused to buy hand-dyed fabrics from anyone. What have I done, instead? I joined the Modern Quilt Movement and now have a collection of commercially dyed cottons that I use in abundance to go with commercial prints.
– Delores, still unhappy about all of this, but at least I’ve found a way to continue to enjoy quilting.
My standard answer to the ‘will it bleed’ question is that no, it shouldn’t. That said, I’m not perfect, so it’s possible I’ll miss something. And my fabrics take a beating travelling to shows, so I encourage washing them. (I always think they smell different when I get home, probably because I use hand sanitizer in the booth. I need an unscented, fabric-friendly version.) So, what do you think? And look for more replies here in the coming days. Thanks for looking, and thanks to Delores for her answer – Lisa