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Transparent fabric?

This quilt is a really neat example of transparency in quilts. Boy, I wish I could say it was my work! It’s by Modern Quilt Studio, and it’s super! It is a good quilt to dye for, once you know some dyeing basics.

“Swatch” by Modern Quilt Studio

And transparency is the subject of my upcoming class on Saturday, May 11 at  Quiltfest Lancaster!

You’ll learn all the basics of dyeing, plus receive lots of recipes for colors that you can use to create your own unique transparency effects!
At the bottom of this post for the first time are all three versions of my Shoo-Fly Transparency quilt. What all these quilts have in common is the illusion you can create that one fabric is laying on top of another, and the combination of the two creates a third color.
P.S. – for a look at more samples of transparency quilts, check out my Pinterest board. Thanks!

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So you want to dye some fabric?

A recent Facebook post by Robbie E. turned into a wonderful discussion all about dyeing and washing out cotton fabric. I made a couple new friends that way; one wrote: “This is making me so confused. All I want to do is start dyeing! Any tips on where to start?” Lots of people pitched in before me to praise Ann Johnston’s book “Color By Accident.” It’s still the standard reference, and I was happy to recently revisit some of Ann’s techniques. I’ve been able to scale up to larger pieces of fabric, given the right container.
Another excellent book for beginners is “Tray Dyeing” by Claire Benn & Leslie Morgan. Time to re-read that one!
There are great on-line resources available at Pro Chemical & Dye and Dharma Trading, plus Paula Burch’s website here.
And, if you’re coming to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza show at Oaks, PA, I’m teaching Dye Boot Camp on Thursday, September 14.
Now that the nice weather is here, it’s time to give dye a chance!

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Dye Cadets, at ease.

Dye Boot Camp is coming up at MQX – the Machine Quilters’ Festival in Manchester, NH. I will be teaching and lecturing there all week – the first class is Dye Boot Camp on Wednesday, April 5 at 8 AM! It will be a quick four-hour version covering everything you need to know about dyeing cotton quilt fabric – AND about washing it out! #MQX
Sign up here! (It’s the third on the list.)

Class hard at work, learning something new. 🙂
 Colors, colors and more colors!
No hat this year, but the whistle might have to be pulled out!
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Knitting and Dyeing and a Factory, Oh My!

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!

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What I did on my . . . sabbatical(?)

Is it a sabbatical if you don’t work in academia? Well, I spent three weeks away from home focusing on surface design, and I got to sell some fabric too. That seems to parallel the idea of a break from the normal routine to take time to study. I’ve taken single week classes before, but never longer. I wish I could say it was an instant-gratification, earth-shattering, life-changing experience, but life doesn’t work that way. This was certainly gratifying, but any change will have to come from within, which, like thinking, is hard. Whaaaa. 🙂
Using this sticky keyboard is a pain, too, so let me see what pictures I can find.

Twenty-four monoprints in one day!!

Critique of ‘Impaired’

Lovely fungus – need to make printed fabric in these colors

First stage of a monoprint, worth repeating

View from the B&B where we spent three nights. At dawn. I don’t do dawn.
This is where we spent the remaining eighteen nights. Much more affordable. Plus we visited my sister on the way out and back. Great way to break up the trip – thanks!
Very grateful to have the opportunity to attend, to be able to sell fabric and dye tools & toys to be able to afford to attend, and support from family to encourage me to attend!

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Two minute intro to deconstructed screen printing

Friday, August 12 is the deadline – if there aren’t enough sign-ups for my DYE Classes at Oaks – the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza – they will be cancelled. To pique your interest, watch this:

Thanks, and here’s a link to the class descriptions! Classes are September 16 & 17.
Next up, an introduction to the other class – a vest that is machine stitched, then dyed. Time to take more pictures!

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400 yards in 30 Days – ????

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

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Working and loving it!

Yesterday I spent a lot of time in the studio. I’m dyeing the fabric for a whole-cloth quilt that will go into the teacher’s row at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival next month. It’s inspired by the work of Alma Thomas, and you can see a study for it in the Painterly Class sample picture below.
I finally got it rolled up in plastic to batch at about 6 PM yesterday, and now I’m doing everything I can to force myself to wait until 24 hours have elapsed before I start washing it out.
I also did some deconstructed screen printing – not a technique I’ve used a lot, but I loaded the screens with dye after the Oaks class in September. I finally released the dye; they are waiting to be washed as well. And since there’s no way I’m waiting until 10 PM tonight to start the washing out, they’re going to be stuck with only 20 hours of batching.
At right you can see two of the screens that are not yet fully released. Now I need more soda-soaked fabric!
Another way to fill my time will be dye a batch of solids – some fat quarters and a tee-shirt or two. They have homes already – more on that later! Thanks for looking!

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What do you think dyers can do better? Part 2

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.
Barb P

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.