Hand dyeing fabrics at home is a fairly simple and straight forward process. It takes a few minutes and a bit of patience to do. All you need is a small space with a sink, a measuring jug, spoon (dedicated to dyeing, not for food use), some recycled containers, and a way to protect your surface against spills. Dyes of course, you also need some soda ash. To ensure you love the end result, it also takes some knowledge of colour mixing.
Hand dyeing my fabrics for a new quilt, I am going for a colour combination that I have not used before – greens and pinks. My design is computer generated, so I have to generate a design from it that I am happy I can replicate. I could print from the computer, but I want to make my own fabrics and use the design as inspiration. Greens can be tricky to mix in art, and I ordered up some new Procion dyes. These are cold water dyes. The process is included for this type of hand dyeing and many more in my design ecourse.
What I want to discuss here is the single greens you can purchase against mixing your own. There is a rule in art that you never use a bought green, but you mix your own. I was not dissatisfied with the results of the bought greens, but still I used my signature method for mixing the two, so they are not ‘out of pot’. However I was unconvinced that I had quite the right green I was looking for.
I went back to my dyes and mixed more and was rather annoyed to find that the dyes I already had made a more suitable green for my project. I also made a more suitable pink with the dyes I already had than the ones I had purchased.
Mixing dyes is fun and if you measure dyes, you can replicate results exactly. I now have the 6 fabric colours I was hoping for to start my project. You do need a little colour knowledge though not to end up with something sludgy. Colour mixing is part of my online ecourse Colour for Quilters.
Hand Dyed Fabrics
My hand dyed fabrics, are available to purchase exclusively here
As a quilt designer I have taken the route of offering quilting ecourses. There are also other routes I can pursue – the doors are open far and wide.
It’s one of the first decisions you have to make as a professional – which path to follow and build upon. I chose teaching because I am a fully qualified and experienced teacher. I wanted to bring ecourses within the reach of the many not the few. I have not cut corners, just costs.
I started offering quilt design ecourses just over a year ago to start in September 2017. My first group of wonderful ladies finish their ecourse in the first week of September. It’s all gone very well, with good feedback. FOQ helped to publicise the ecourses, the feedback and interest were fantastic.
So where to for 2019 and beyond? I am offering in situ courses in a number of places, and looking for other places to offer courses too, see the website under ecourses, the link is above. I am also working on videos to expand the desirability of the ecourses. If you are looking to learn, please take a look at that section of the website – so much more than just design, I cover many aspects of patchwork and quilting.
So where to next? One of my desires was to produce my own fabrics – costs are a little preventative, but I can still produce hand dyed fabrics, so I shall develop one-off art cloths to be used in quilting. The kits are developing too alongside a range of unique quilts. I am creating my own quilt style now. Ones that build quilting skills. This second year will be building on the good foundations of 2017-2018. Wish me luck! The culmination will hopefully be a show quilt at FOQ 2019 and better recognition for all my hard work.
I finished 2 full-size quilts, one almost full-size, 4 lap quilts, at least 3 art quilts and 3 Cathedral Windows quilts. I am working on a new skill builder quilt design.
Festival of Quilts. It’s the final countdown. The show starts on Thursday and I have to have the stand ready at the end of Wednesday for the big day. It’s been all work and no play here. I am well and truly exhausted.
I’ve done so much sewing of quilts, I am not sure if I can remember it all. I finished all the small textile quilted pictures. I even fitted in a new one yesterday. It was a week of ‘how do I finish this?’ Often we ask ourselves the question ‘Is this finished or does this need something else?’ Fortunately I found just what I needed. The bird quilt was enhanced with some applique.
I ironed again and folded all the hand dyed fabrics. Just that alone took hours and hours. I made labels for the work. I have dyed and cut more fabric.
It’s all looking good. There are one or two unfinished quilts but I am only human. The unfinished new quilt and hand stitched calico quilt will either go as samples or as photos – I have not decided which yet. It all rather depends on how it fits into the transport.
I have spent my day today designing posters for the back wall of the stand at the show and finishing the brochure. I also framed two quilts and blocked two quilts onto canvas.
Great news is I will be promoting the textile quilting holidays that I am leading. I am teaching in France in November this year – on the 5th for a week – quilting inspired by the Romanesque churches of the Charente region, and the following week, commencing the 12th, I am teaching cave paintings on a variety of fabrics.
In January 2020, I am leading a tour for block printing in Jaipur, India. Come and join me. See you on Stand C5 at the show.
I will try to blog from the show, but no promises.
Words, images and work copyright Karen Platt 2018