Never Say Never or Dye

prewashing fabricsToday I find myself doing two things I thought I wasn’t doing anymore.  Prewashing fabric, and dyeing fabric.

Once upon a time, I prewashed all my commercial quilt fabric.  I loved seeing the colors up close at the ironing board, I found myself reshuffling fabrics to make new groupings as they hung on a rack to dry, and I planned all kinds of projects during that stage of the process.  Lately, though, I’ve enjoyed piecing with the crisp fabrics as they came home from the store.  And, I enjoyed having the time spent sewing rather than washing and ironing.  I do only buy quilt shop quality fabrics and haven’t had a problem with colors bleeding.  Well, I have had one problem red fabric, but it was a top quality brand, and it had been prewashed.  So, there is that.

I’ve lately bought some vintage linens that were heavily starched and I didn’t want the bugs to attack.  Recently I’ve been doing a lot of hand stitching, exploring more of Jude Hill’s techniques, and like touching the soft rumpled linen and cotton in that process.  I wanted to use some Irish linen handkerchiefs I recently bought which had never been used (I removed the Rich’s label before throwing them in the washer) and wanted to be sure the creases were not yet holes.

mb wool with snailAnd, last week I stitched the wool piece you see here from a Maggie Bonanomi pattern.  I was anxious to work up another one of her pieces, and grabbed a piece of silk matka for the background of the next piece.  To complete the load, I added a few pieces of Japanese woven fabrics I had bought in Paducah.  They needed softening a bit, too.

Maybe dyeing isn’t the right word to describe the process you see in the bowl.  Staining might be more like it.  Some of the fabrics I’ve been working with lately are a bit too WHITE for my taste.  And, I had this set of blue linen napkins that I’ve been working with and wondered what I could do to give them some visual interest.  Yes, the weave is nice.  The color is nice.  It’s just a bit flat.  And, I admit to being spoiled by using hand-dyed fabrics; I’ve gotten accustomed to their subtle variations.  blackberry dyeingSo, I had some blackberries we weren’t eating as fast as we should, I boiled them with some water in the microwave, and added some fabrics.  If you think you see bits of berries in the bowl, you are right.  I’m hoping for a mottled effect.

I love hand-dyed fabrics.  I’ve said that before.  But I don’t like the chemical nature of synthetic dyes and the equipment needed to dye my own fabric.  However, I have recently embraced watercolors on fabric and like to alter the color a bit myself.  So, natural recoloring might be something I can do with rust and berries and nuts and dirt.  Think of it as a country girl’s approach to hand-dyes.

Stay tuned for the outcome.

Author: Sandy Gilreath

I’ve stitched my way through life. Early skills in utilitarian and decorative sewing have merged with art in the world of quiltmaking. My love of journaling has now crossed into the cloth world, too. I love old songs, old souls, old words; my collections attest to my fascination with memories.

3 thoughts on “Never Say Never or Dye”

  1. Years ago, when I was into dying Easter eggs, I boiled brown pine straw which made a very nice yellow. Once I used green chips from an oak tree to dye fabric–can’t remember what color came out.

  2. Years ago when I was into dying Easter eggs, I boiled pine straw which made a very nice yellow. Once I boiled some green chips from an oak tree to dye fabric–can’t remember what color came out.

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