The great Indigo fabric reveal…..

In 2010, Michael and I spent a time in Dali, China and while there had the opportunity to visit a fabric dyeing facility.   I wrote a short blog post and showed pictures here……

I actually purchased the piece that was being used as a demonstration and gave it to my friend Deb…..


She liked it just the way it was so had never taken it apart to see what design was lurking in there.   A few weeks ago she said that she was ready to start unveiling the piece and asked if I wanted to photograph it…..silly question!!


She started out using scissors or a seam ripper to take out the threads but then decided that some of them were easier to just break.

It was fun to see that each of the “tentacles” was mostly a blue and white stripe but with rings of intricate flowers…..




After completely opening one of the tentacles we decided to leave it there and save the rest for another day. 

Deb did have to do some hand cleaning afterwards…..


The most amazing thing to me was the intricacy of the flower border.  I cannot imagine how they are able to sew and tie the threads with such accuracy and keep everything so even!!

Now I cant wait to see the rest of the piece!!!

Fiber Frenzy – Part 2

At our last Fiber Frenzy group the program was about making Deconstructed Screen Printed fabrics and was presented by Anita and Mary Ann.

They started out by showing us how to make a screen.  First step is to place objects under the screen, only using things that are fairly flat…..


Next you use a squeegee to cover the screen with a thickened dye……


Lift the screen up, remove the objects and allow the screen to dry.

Next, place the dried screen on a piece of PFD fabric and squeegee it with print paste…..


Lift the screen and see what has happened…..DSC00436

Move the screen over, apply more print paste to release more dye…..DSC00438

As you keep going, more and more of the dye releases, causing the print to change……everyone is a bit different from the previous one!!!

Here are two more examples….this one was made with thin spaghetti underneath the screen……


…..and this one showed the progression as more and more of the dye began releasing from the screen……DSC00445

THANKS Ladies for showing us such a fun technique……DSC00458

Dye day with Deb

Back in January when there were inches of snow on the ground, my friend Deb H. and I got together to do some fabric dyeing.   We had a need for a certain type of background fabric and our goal for the day was to make this fabric.

We originally thought of snow dyeing, but decided that 1)….it would take too long, 2)…..we didn’t have the best paints for it, and 3)….there was such a heavy crust of ice on top of the snow that it would  take us forever to gather what we needed.

So….on to the next possibility…..

We taped the PFD fabric down to the plastic covered space and sprayed it with a good bit of water…..


We then went to the paints and started mixing colors, using mostly Setacolor and Dynaflow paints…..


Next step was to apply the paints to the fabrics…..

_1131335_1131329  We rolled the fabric…..


And then unrolled it to reveal the final surface…..


We put them outside to dry (or rather freeze), sprinkling some of them with salt to enhance the texture…..


I forgot to take a photo of the fabric after it had been washed and ironed, but suffice it to say that they will be perfect for our intended project……if we ever get around to it!!!!

Back Again

Hello….my name is Frances and I am a quilter!!    I almost feel that this is how I should start my blog since it has been so long since my last post!!!!

It has been a busy three weeks, with spending 10 days in China, spending a week getting over jet lag, and a week getting caught up on business duties!!  But, I am now starting to feel a bit more normal so thought I would catch up with you again.

I posted to a blog while traveling and want to share here a couple of posts from the trip.  The first is a trip to a fabric dyeing “factory” in Xizhou, a village in the southern province of Yunnan. 

They do traditional tie-dying (like we did in the 70’s), but make  ornate designs by taking the fabrics and sewing or wrapping them to make amazing patterns. It seemed like a mixture of Shibori and Tie-dyeing. They showed us the entire process, from soaking the fabrics in a solution that allows the fabric to accept the dye, to the process of tying the fabrics and then the final dipping in dyes. Most of the pieces are dipped several times to increase the intensity of the colors. All of the dyes are organic based with their specialty being in Indigos. Needless to say, I spent a good amount of time in the sales room!!!! When Michael “complained” that our bags were heavier, I pointed out that our wallets were lighter so it all worked out fine!!

Here are some photos of the outing……


Soaking the fabric in uric acid……


One of the Indigo dye baths  (apparently they required a bit of working in between dye baths……


The “dyeing” room….today they were doing traditional tie-dyeing……

_3084242 The pieces are tied and wrapped and then dipped in dyes.  The piece on the right has been wrapped but not yet dyed…….._3084228 This one has been dyed and the threads are now being cut to reveal the design……_3084231

After dyeing the pieces are rinsed many times…….


Allowed to dry……    _3084248And displayed into a quilter’s paradise!!!……. 


I bought one of the hand-dyes in the middle of this stack………._3084259 

Do I look happy, or what!!!!!………_3084253

Where do you do your thinking??

Over the years I have realized that I often do my best thinking and planning when I am in the shower and sometimes it gets me into trouble….as it did yesterday.

You see, I am working on a pictorial quilt and have been experimenting with using RIT dyes on some of the fabrics…..more about this in another post.  Yesterday morning, just as I was heading to the shower, I realized that I wasn’t happy with the coloring of the bottom part of the quilt.  As I thought about it (while showering), I decided to take the bottom bit off and try over-dyeing it to see if I could fix the color.  I knew that I was going to change it anyway, so I figured I would try this first.

Naturally, I couldn’t wait until I was dressed and ready to sew, so I wrapped the towel around my mid section, closed the blinds and headed into my studio.  The first thought was that I would simply see how hard it was going to be to unpick the section.  Well, that was easy enough.  So, why not go ahead and do the dyeing……still wrapped in the towel and with my hair drying plastered to my head.

After dyeing, rinsing, hand-washing and rinsing again I took the piece to the ironing board and proceeded to dry it with the iron.  Not dark enough….so back to the dye bath….this time for a longer time period.  I went through the same procedure and discovered that this time it had just turned to a muddy grey and would not be usable…..Oh well, it was worth a try.

Back to the bathroom to put  my make-up on.   While standing there, thinking about whether or not I had an appropriate fabric  to use, I had the brilliant idea to use one of the fabrics from the top of the quilt, but to OVER-DYE it to make it a bit darker. (Do you see a theme here?)  Since I didn’t know how long the dye bath would be usable I ran to the kitchen to dye this piece…..ha….success.

Back to the bathroom to re-wet my now dry hair and try to style it into something not resembling a bad wig.  As I am getting dressed, I suddenly remember that the base fabric that I had originally used had been over-dyed as well and that I would need to do the same for this new section.  Off again, this time half dressed, to over dye this final piece.

At the end of my one hour delay, I was clean, coiffed and ready to sew.  AND, I had two new colors of fabric to work with.  It was worth it, but I am just glad that no one else was home!!!