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What to do in a pandemic?

Solid swatch samples

Why, dye fabric, of course!

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 for details.

See for pricing and other details.

Boy, my last post was about the vision board. It certainly is time to rework that. But my next post has to be how we’re increasing capacity at DippyDyes!

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Tints, tones, and shades

Vivid viola shade in several values

Tints, tones, and shades are some of the basic terms used when talking about color. They can get confusing because sometimes other words are used to mean the same thing. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Tints – a pure color, or hue, that has been made lighter. With paint, this is done by adding white; with dye, we just use less dye.
  • Tones – a pure color that has been modified by adding grey. This needs to be a neutral grey, not a blue-grey or grey-green, etc.
  • Shades – a pure color with black added. Often we ask ‘what shade of blue is your favorite?’ even when we mean ‘what color blue?’ Don’t let that bother you. The grammar police are eating donuts with the quilt police. 🙂

A pure hue is often described as being ‘neutralized’ or ‘flattened’ – made less pure, or intense, or glowing. This is done by adding grey or black, or sometimes by adding the complement – the pure color that is the opposite on a color wheel.

CYM color wheel image from Wikimedia Commons.

The gallery below shows the colors I will soon be dyeing on demand. I’m also going to dye a glowing turquoise color called Breakers. As a reference, pages from Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-1 Color tool are included. Some of the folks going to the Crow Barn Workshops beginning the end of September have asked for flat colors, so here they are! If you are a new customer, you can start the order process here. Existing customers – you know how to reach me, and thank you! For many more colors, order the virtual swatch book! We’ll do more colors as time allows.

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The Wonder of One-Touch White Balance

In an effort to provide the best images of my fabric online, I finally learned how to set the white balance feature on my camera correctly. The photographs of solids and my virtual swatch book require the best color rendering possible. Turns out the camera has a super-quick way to set it up. While it does require four clicks to get there, once the menu item is open, it really only needs one click to set it. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are two versions of the same picture:

Two versions of a photograph of Kona(r) grey fabrics, one with, one without white balance
Top: Kona® grey fabrics without correction
Bottom: Kona® grey fabrics with white balance corrected

If you have any of those Kona® fabrics on hand, you can judge which picture shows them more accurately. If you don’t, you can believe me when I say that the corrected version is far better than the uncorrected one.

You can also see this picture along with 430 pictures of DippyDyes solid fabrics in the Virtual Solids Swatch Book found here!

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Back from the Barn!

Last week I was privileged to attend Carol Soderlund’s  Neutral Territory class at Nancy Crow’s Art Barn retreats. With the work of our fabulous group of 15 artists choreographed by Carol, we came home with hundreds of samples of ways to mix three (or four) colors together. The results include a great palette of blacks, browns, greens, blues, greys, purples, umbers, ochers and reds. And we did one bright and sassy 12-step color wheel and shaded it with black. Altogether over 600 new samples – with no duplicates! In addition, Carol taught us a new sampling technique and provided great tools for doing the sampling.
Now I’m home and I’m still trying to get the right colors for a client. Great time to use what I’ve learned! Above is a picture of the washout step of a yellow shaded with two different amounts of black, and each color is done in six values. Two down – 94 cups to go! And as much fun as I find that, there’s still business chores and household chores to be done. Rather than whine about that, I will sign off and go ‘Git’r’Done.’

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My Guest Blogger – Nan Baker

Picture 1This week brings a new wrinkle to this blog – a guest blogger. Please enjoy the post, and learn more about her at the end. Thanks for writing, Nan!

Color Your World by Nan Baker

One of the most exciting things about starting school was getting a new box of crayons. Opening the box and seeing all those gorgeous colors was such a treat. I could hardly wait to use them.
Now I will admit, I much preferred a coloring book (and yes I colored inside the lines) instead of a blank sheet of paper. In fact, a blank sheet of paper absolutely scared me to death. What would I put on it? I needed lines and I felt safe when I had them. (I still do to this day – I use graph paper.)
It was always fun to pick out my favorite colors with the crayons. I would go towards the yellows, oranges (fall colors and they are still my favorites today). Isn’t it interesting how a little box of crayons can say so much about how colors will play in your life? At least that is the way it has been for me.
As quilters, colors play such an important part, yet they can be very intimidating. Now I will admit, I am not an art major, but I do have an eye for color. At least that is what I have been told over and over by some art majors. Yet even with an eye for color, it is still sometimes very difficult to pick out those “purrfect” colors for a quilt.
Picture 2There are some wonderful books on the subject and I have several. One is by Maria Peagler called Color Mastery:10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts and another is Color Confidence for Quilters by Jinny Beyer. These books have proved to be very Picture 3helpful in understanding and choosing colors.
I also have a color wheel which has proved to be very beneficial.
However, I must admit that sometimes I see a piece of fabric and it just calls my name. That happened to me when I was making my first pair of drapes for my new home. I walked in the shop and on one of the front rows – there it was! I looked no further – I knew I had to have it. Those drapes hung in two houses and I never grew tired of them. I even kept some leftover fabric and made a quilt. I pulled colors from the fabric that coordinated and I am pleased with the results. The pattern is from 9-Patch Pizzazz by Judy Sisneros. Picture 4Picture 5
Picture 6Now I have another small piece of fabric – not even a FQ – and the colors just make me happy. I don’t even know where this fabric came from. It was a scrap in my stash. Since I don’t have enough for a quilt, I am going to pull colors from it that will coordinate to create my masterpiece. I don’t even have a design in mind, butPicture 7 I know these colors will work beautifully together as they do so in the lovely fabric.
Again I am not an expert, but when you can’t decide what colors to use in a quilt, consult a book or two for some basics and guidelines. If you are still not sure, find a piece of fabric that you like and pull from the colors there to help create your work of art.
Then if you are still not satisfied and can’t find the right fabric, check with Lisa as she just may have what you need. Thank you Lisa for letting me be a Guest Blogger. I am pleased and honored.

Nan Baker is the CEO and Designer for Purrfect Spots, a company where quilts, needlework and animals are loved. Her designs have appeared in numerous publications including The Quilt Pattern Magazine, Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, and on Visit her website at and her blog at Nan is also the Marketing Director for The Quilt Pattern Magazine.

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New SnowDyed fabrics

The recent talk on MXDyers made me pull out the screens again. Not everything is washed yet, and some of these fabrics were dyed in July and never photographed.  We had great weather for it on Friday – the highs barely reached 60, so the ice didn’t melt as fast as it did in July. Anyhow, time for pictures! You should be able to click any of these to see larger images. Thanks for looking!

A square section of a longer piece of yardage.
The rest of these were dyed as square pieces, with fan-folds, 6- and 8-pointed folds, a couple spirals for fun, plus a square fold that I learned from Elin Noble.


There are some dark lines in the lower left corner of this piece. They are the result of letting the fabric dry with out washing it out. The blue dye, being the slowest to strike, wicked up to the top of the folds and bonded there. Not snow-dyeing in its purest form, but it adds to the fabric surface.


Above is the square fold. As you see, it was folded in half to start, so the left side is much lighter than the right. Not super-successful, but could be very interesting cut and pieced.
I was really thrilled when I unfolded this. I was afraid there was too much white in it, but it looks like a whole-cloth quilt to me.

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Relative color / value

If I do this right, a picture puzzle will appear. It is a good illustration of how color appears to change depending on the colors it is near. Assemble this puzzle, but don’t place one of the blue pieces that goes into one of the right-hand corners. Before you finish, hold the piece and slide it over the other blue areas. It  should look like the moving piece is changing color, because the background is changing. Interesting, I think.

Click to Mix and Solve