Category Archives: dyeing

Ice-dyeing – “it’s all in the folding” – Part 2

As I wrote in Part 1, I had such a lot of fun with the ice-dyeing – folding fabric, placing in colanders and on racks, covering with ice and then sprinkling with dye powders, until I ran out of ice – ouch!  Weekend and local store closed early, I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow, so came up with plan B –  there was no point in wasting all that folding energy, and wicking would be a good way to use up left over liquid dyes.

I started with red – two different dyes mixed together and some poured into the bottom of a flat bowl, quickly dip the folded fabric into it, count to 5 and turn the fabric over, count to 5 again and remove to a clean bowl – leave overnight.

Wicking - various reds mixed together

Wicking – various reds mixed together

As you can see, there is a lot of white there – the fabric was folded very tight and not much liquid dye, and one of the reds separated, you can see the yellow circle.  It looked stunning on the wall.

For the next one I used 2 colours – Yellow 2R/yellow 8G mix for the first dip, and Violet RA for the second dip. This fabric was wetter than the red one above, and so the dye moved much quicker and further.

Wicking - Procion Violet RA and Yellow 2RA

Wicking – Procion Violet RA and Yellow 2RA

Some of these are two different colours, but most are of one colour made with two different dyes.

Wicking with Procion Indigo MX

Wicking with Procion Indigo MX

I love this Indigo colour, just like the real indigo without the mess, and you can get paler or darker much easier.  It is available from Dharma in the USA.

Wicking - Turquoise & Ultramarine blues

Wicking – Turquoise & Ultramarine blues

Wicking - Fuschia and Red 5B mix

Wicking – Fuschia Red 8B, and Red 5B mix

Wicking - pastel blue & purple mix

Wicking – pastel blue & purple mix

Wicking - Various yellows mixed

Wicking – Various yellows mixed

Wicking - Ruby red on only one folded edge

Wicking – Ruby red on only one folded edge

Wicking - olive green mix

Wicking – olive green and green MX mix

Wicking - Violet RA & Yellow 2RA

Wicking – Violet RA & Yellow 2RA

Close-up - Violet & Yellow wicking

Close-up – Violet & Yellow wicking

Wicking - sky blue & lime green

Wicking – sky blue & lime green

Lime green - split colour

Lime green – split colour

Close-up of lime green split

Close-up of lime green split

Wicking - sky blue & lime green

Wicking – sky blue & lime green

Close-up of sky blue & lime green wicking

Close-up of sky blue & lime green wicking

Wicking sky blue & lime green

Wicking sky blue & lime green

As you can see, wicking produces some interesting results, a bit more planned than dyeing under ice, even though the folding is the same.

The drier the fabric, the more white, and the wetter the fabric the more wicking and spreading of colour.

One dye which consistently separates is the lime green, sometimes there is more yellow and other times a hint of blue in the separation. I haven’t worked out what the catalyst is yet – sometimes it is the temperature of the water when mixing the dye in the first place, but not always, and other times I can’t work out a reason at all.

Thank you for reading this far, now it’s your turn to try out some of these techniques and leave a comment on your results below.

Keep smiling, the silly season is nearly over 🙂

A Happy New Year to all my readers.

Ice-dyeing – “it’s all in the folding” – Part 1

A few weeks ago I delved into my bucket of pre-soda-soaked cotton fabric – there’s always a few metres ready to use.  After a bit of ripping and tearing, I had enough fat quarters, half metres and bit-over-a-metre-squares, for a whole day’s dyeing.

Some fabric was still damp, so it was easy to fold, and the really dry pieces were dunked back into the soda ash.  A while later I had a basket ready for dyeing.

Fabric parcels ready to go

Fabric parcels ready to go

I am a great fan of the mandala, especially the kaleidoscopic designs.  Ice-dyeing is a quick and easy way to achieve them. It’s all in the folding ….

There are plenty of books available for fabric folding as well as videos on u-tube, so I won’t go into it here.

Place the fabric parcel in a colander or similar, suspended over a bucket, cover with ice blocks (e.g. party ice), and then sprinkle dry dye powder (Procion MX dyes) over the ice which is above the fabric, one, two or three colours will give you an amazing kaleidoscope.  Every piece will be a wonderful surprise, there are no bad results, only very different from what you thought possible.  Experiment, experiment, experiment….

Ice over fabric

Dyes sprinkled over ice and fabric

Dyes sprinkled over ice and fabric

Leave until ice melts, batch overnight and  next day rinse in the usual way – voila –

Kaleidoscopic mandala

The one above is a largish piece, a bit over the metre square, but the ones below are all fat quarters. The dyes used in the purple fabrics were Violet RA and Aubergine, mixed together dry, and sprinkled over.  One of them split the pale blue, very pretty.

The dyes used in the green fabric were olive, lichen and green MXG, mixed dry. In the bottom 3 fabrics, I used lime, lichen and yellow 2RA, mixed dry, fabric is actually more yellowy then the photo shows.



At this point I ran out of ice, and being a Sunday afternoon, the local store closes early, so what to do now?  Plan B is in the next post.

Till then, keep smiling.  🙂


Dyeing classes for summer 2015-2016

the grass is riz, the lawn needs mowing, but to the studio is where I’m going! Apologies to whoever wrote the old phrase “Spring is sprung, the grass is riz……”

With longer days and warmer temperatures, I’m spending lots of time in my studio dyeing and painting, and I can’t wait for really warm (hot) weather to start up an indigo vat also.

Dates have been set for my dyeing classes (play days for fabriholics) .  If you are interested in any of them, leave a comment below and I’ll send you the list of requirements.

Dyeing workshops – summer 2015–2016.  Second Saturday each month

October 10 – Dyeing day with Procion MX dyes. Using pure primary colours and not-pure primary colours, we will create some stunning bright and pastel neutral shades. Cotton or silk fabrics only.

November 14 – Painting day. Hoping for a sunny day, we will do some sun dyeing, shibori painting, and sun printing using found objects as a resist. Any fabric except wool will work for this.

December 12 – Dyeing with indigo. Explore this ancient method of changing colours. Try various shibori techniques. Works with any fabrics that are light to medium in colour.

January 9 – Create a piece of fabulous art cloth. Explore various methods of transferring designs on to fabric, using rubber stamps, wood blocks, gelli plates, monoprinting, and removing colour from the fabric with discharge paste and/or bleach products.

February 13 – to be decided.

March 12 – long weekend, we may change the date.

All classes are held here in my studio at Flowerpot, 9.30am to 4pm-ish.

Dyeing silk scarves for lime design of Salamanca and Tas Craft Fair Deloraine

I probably mentioned this a few months ago that I will be having a stall again this year at the Tas Craft Fair in Deloraine.

On the weekend I received the notice that I have the same space as last year, #775 Furmage Pavilion, at the Showgrounds, just inside the door as you get off the bus.  I found this to be a good spot for me, and I am working on a ‘stunning’ quilt to hang so it draws the visitors my way immediately!  My ‘Fireworks’ quilt last year did just that.  It’s been hard to come up with something new that will have the same impact.

Dates for this year’s show are Friday to Monday 1-4 November, open times 9am to 5pm, except Monday closes at 4pm.

The other piece of exciting news I have is that I have been invited to join lime design of Salamanca, one of the galleries in Salamanca Place in Hobart, to sell my silk scarves.  It is a collective and to be a member I will be working there for a day every couple of weeks or so. I’ll tell you more as it happens, soon.

Before this happened I was busy dyeing lots of scarves to take to Deloraine, and now a lot of those scarves have been set aside for lime design, and I need to start again for Deloraine.  It’s a little over 6 weeks to go, so I will be a bit busy – that should read very busy !

Here are a few pictures of what has been happening in my studio lately.

Washed and ready for dyeing

Washed and ready for dyeing

I wanted to use Procion dyes because I like the bright colours I get, but with such a lot of scarves to dye in a short time, I decided to try the method of using procion as acid dyes and the microwave.  Instead of pre-soaking in soda ash, they were soaked in vinegar for the same time – a half hour or so – until the fibres were well saturated. Then I mixed the dye powder into solution with salt water instead of plain water.

Each scarf was in its own small container, pour the dye solution over, squish the way I wanted, maybe add another colour, lid on, then into the microwave for a couple of minutes, until any liquid in the bowl was clear.

I had quite a production line going, I was faster at preparing each scarf than the microwave was in its cooking time.  So each scarf had unintentional extra time to take up the dye which was very good for the resulting colour – it did mean that I had to add some more water before putting in the microwave so the silk wouldn’t get too hot and scorch or dry out and become brittle – I know from some past experiences on that one. 😦   And this method also means less dye wastage in the rinsing out later, clear rinsing water in the second tub.

Anyway, here is what they looked like later –

Spotty scarves drying

Spotty scarves drying

A rainbow of spotty scarves

A rainbow of spotty scarves

Satin devore silk scarves drying

Satin devore silk scarves drying

Satin devore - purple

Satin devore – purple

Satin devore - red

Satin devore – red

Satin devore - green

Satin devore – green

All lovely bright fresh colours for spring.

And it is a lovely sunny day today, could be warm by lunch time.  🙂  🙂

Markets and Dyeing to Felt

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote here. I’ve been home from my travels for some weeks I know, but I have been busy, first getting results of our quilt exhibition (which was the weekend we returned home) on to the Tasmanian Quilting Guild’s website, and other committee things for the guild as well. I will be putting up on a separate page some of my 2000 photos I took while in Europe, and including quilts from the festival in Ireland, soon.

Markets are happening every couple of weeks for me again, even though it is still winter they are popping up everywhere. I have been to Kingston Beach Handmade Market twice, back to Snug market (which was not good at all for me), and of course to the Tas Quilting Guild’s Friendship Day in Launceston, which is always a wonderful day for everyone there – members, friends, and traders alike.

Fabrics, threads & books at Friendship Day

Fabrics, threads & books at Friendship Day

KBHM market table

KBHM market table

Selection of scarves at Kingston Beach market

Selection of scarves at Kingston Beach market

All these markets have meant getting back to work quickly as stock in some areas is dwindling.  My dyed and felted cotton journals (which sell for $18.50) have all gone and only a couple of small ones (selling at $15.00) are left. Here are a couple of pieces of cotton felt.  The one with squares was indigo dyed a long time ago, and as the dye didn’t take very well to the dry cotton, I overdyed it with colour and it looks so good now. The cotton felt just soaks up the procion dyes so easily, whereas the indigo … well, I’m not sure …

Dyed cotton felt

Dyed cotton felt

Over-dyed cotton felt

Over-dyed cotton felt

The Guild’s challenge for 2013 is “Birds”, and I have painted some fabric which looks like feathers.  I took some to the Friendship Day last Saturday  as a sample, and before I could make the announcement that I had the fabric, it all sold except one piece – so when the sun comes out again, I’ll be painting some more feathers.

Feather fabric before ironing

Feather fabric before ironing

Feather fabrics after ironing

Feather fabrics after ironing

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos from last week.

Snow on Mt Wellington

Snow on Mt Wellington

Spectacular sunrise over the Channel

Spectacular sunrise over the Channel

I made a cake for my youngest daughter’s birthday last week, and put 21 or 22 raspberries around the top – (I couldn’t count to 40 could I?)  Absolutely no calories worth speaking about, and it was demolished in seconds !  🙂

Jen's birthday cake

Jen’s birthday cake

Keep smiling

Cotton felt and Quilt Festival in Ireland

It’s all happening at last.  I’m off to Ireland in June for the International Quilt Festival of Ireland, 3 days of quilt heaven (sigh 🙂 )  I have my tickets and booked to do classes with Ineke Berlyn, a quilt artist I have long admired, and who I met when in Birmingham some 7 years ago. Only 3 months to go, and counting down …..

Meanwile, I haven’t been idle textile wise …  I have been dyeing and felting cotton batting to see if I can get similar results to the same techniques with wool batting.

soda soaking cotton backing

DSCN6978 cotton batting batching 6Feb2013

This time, being cotton, I didn’t use the microwave for the felting procedure, but with Procion MX dyes and the agitation and hot water of the washing machine, the result was a beautiful soft fabric.

When it was half dry/still a bit damp, it looked and felt like chamois (shammy), and there was quite a bit of shrinkage, so I was glad I hadn’t cut into very small pieces before dyeing.


After stitching, I lined each piece with a cotton interfacing for strength.

Don’t they look luscious …

And while I was in the mood for book covers, I used up some scraps to accompany this tie-dyed flower.

Now after all that fun, it’s back to finishing off some more fire relief quilts, counting down, only a couple left to quilt and bind.

Lots of dyeing – scarves and art cloth

It’s always a fun day when I’m dyeing silk scarves.  Mixing colours and techniques makes for some surprising results.  This picture shows some of he colours.

The “spotty” scarves – silk organza with cotton bobbles woven – react differently to different dyes.  The pale blue one was dyed using Landscape dye in the microwave – the silk came out a beautiful colour blue with the cotton staying white, and the orange/green one and the deep burgundy/purple one were dyed with procion dyes, and the cotton bobbles accepted the dye in varying degrees depending on the strength of the dye I was applying.  They look very interesting when actually being worn.


The stripey scarves are silk with rayon ribbon woven in the check design.  They reacted similarly, in that the green one was dyed in the microwave and the rayon didn’t accept the dye very readily, but the red one (moroccan red/aubergine mix) was dyed with procion and the rayon is a very rich colour.

A couple of days later, I had to do some more dyeing (my excuse was to use up the dyes while they were still good, with the weather as warm as it was!) – this time lots of fabric.

???????????????????????????????Here it is drying after soaking in soda ash for a couple of hours.

My plan was to dye large pieces with two or three colours and see how they mixed together on the fabric.

I mixed up a fresh lot of lichen procion and poured some onto the first piece of fabric, and watched it separate as it touched the fabric – there was such a variety of colour changes I decided not to add anything to this one.  The rinsed out fabric is green, from yellow mustard through grass to lime – a really beautiful piece, and I forgot to take a photo, but you can see some of the variations on the batching fabric here.


Then it was three colours on each fabric.  Here they are nicely dried while batching in the sun

what looks blue is really much greener, a deep teal green, and the purple is very purple. My camera makes everything very blue if there is any blue in the colour at all.

Here are the rinsed and ironed fabrics.  The colours used were lichen, golden yellow, aubergine, navy, teal green, primary red and moroccan red, in different combinations on each piece.

You can see I had lots of fun with this lot.  Next thing is to get them ready for sale, at $30/metre, either a cut metre or the whole piece which is approx 3m for $90.  I’m just an email away if you are interested.  The full length pieces would make excellent basis for art cloth manipulations.

Till next time, keep smiling.  🙂

More procion dyeing results

Last weekend we had another basic learning to dye class using Procion dyes, and as usual we had a ball, not only did everyone enjoy the day but they had some great fabrics to take home.

We started the day with grading one primary colour, I demonstrated with red

Grading red to pink

Then using the other 2 primaries to make secondary colours.

Blue to green to yellow

With some of the left over weak dyes we made some lovely pastel neutrals

Pastel neutrals

After the weekend, I had to use up the left overs as there were many cups with little bits in them.

This fabric was folded and sat upright in the cup and left overnight. You can see how the dye soaked its way up the fabric even to the folds.

soaking up some aubergine dye

When washed out it looked like this

Aubergine soaked fabric

and the closeup with fine markings

Another piece was folded in triangles and dipped in 3 separate dishes – dilute lemon yellow, dilute fuschia and still plenty of colour diluted aubergine

Draining excess dye from folded fabric

And this is what it looked like rinsed out

Rinsed out triangular folded fabric

And another piece using the same 3 colours, but folded differently

Soft colours

And lastly the left over fuschia, moroccan red, weak yellow and blue on a 1.5m piece.

Red leftovers with lemon & blue

I already have a quilt in mind for this piece of fabric

Leftover results

Closeup of fabric

After finishing ironing all these fabrics, I went back to trimming the flying geese for my drunkards path quilt’s border, should be ready to show next week.

Day 1 of the Channel Art Trail

A warm sunny day, and lots of people came down the Channel to see the exhibitions and artists’ studios.

Here at Flowerpot, we had plenty of visitors who came to check us out.  This picture shows a couple of ladies looking at the bags in Jen’s “studio space”, with Jen working on another of her lovely creations.

Visitors in Marcato studio space

On the back wall of my studio are some of my favourite quilts. In the centre and right of the picture is part of my Flowerpot Quilts shop, and some silk scarves hanging right in front.

Back wall of my studio

After having several enquiries today about dyeing , I think  it’s time to start my classes again, and get organised for the coming summer.  I’ll let you know soon.

Landscape dyed and felted book covers

Creating felt for book covers is so easy when you use wool or wool mix batting and Landscape dyes. The easiest way to describe the process is in a tutorial form.

Start with a sizeable piece of batting – I use about half a metre cut in half or thirds.

Wet the fabric thoroughly by soaking for a few minutes in warm water, then scrunch into a microwave proof bowl.

wet fabric in bowl

Pour over some of the already prepared Landscape dyes, scrunch and massage the fabric to make the dyes move around and bleed into each other.  I used a pink, orange and yellow for this piece.

Then microwave for 4-7 minutes on high setting.  Time depends on how wet the fabric was to start with and how much liquid dye was poured over.

Start with 3 minutes, turn over fabric carefully with tongs and put back in microwave. Do this as often as necessary, but halving the cooking time  each time.

Everyone has different criteria as to when it has cooked enough, but my guide line is the colour of the water in the bottom of the bowl – when there is no more dye colour and the water is clear, then it has had enough time.

Of course, if the fabric was not wet enough in the first place, dry patches will burn very easily, so watch this very carefully.  This is what it will look like when it has finished cooking.

after microwaving

You will notice the colours have really blended together and are softer looking.

Now hang it out to cool and dry.  Be very careful handling the hot fabric, as it will be close to boiling temperature for several minutes yet.  Hanging or draping as soon as practical after the cooking also helps to smooth out some of the wrinkles which would be permament if left scrunched until dry.  Then on the other hand you might be looking for that effect anyway.

A good vigorous rinse will remove any surplus surface dye – and there is usually very little of that – add a splash of vinegar to the water, and hang to dry.  Or if you want it to felt even more, then wait until it is very cold and put into the tumble dryer on Hot for 10 minutes or so.

When it is dry it is time to iron the fabric.  A very hot steam iron is needed for this, and  you can really see the brilliance of your piece of felt.

Now it’s ready to cut and stitch.  I usually add a piece of iron-on cotton interfacing to give the fabric a bit more body, especially if the intended book has a soft cover rather than a stiff hard cover.

Sometimes, I machine embroider something simple on what will be the front of the cover, other times I’ll add a strip of ribbon or braid of some sort and stitch a row of fancy stitches either side of the ribbon as a decoration.

This is the stitched cover waiting for a book to be inserted.

And here is the finished product ready for a new owner.

Felted diary cover

Different colour combinations can create very interesting fabrics.

This is a blood red, orange and forest green.

Soft colours but very intense.  Here are the 2 pieces hanging to dry after the rinsing.

In reality, the two on the left are as brilliant as in the photo, the far left piece was used in the book cover.

I have a lot of fun and enjoyment with dyeing this way, I’m sure any one else who has already tried it feels the same.  Landscape dyes can be used on silk as well as wool, and the scarves which I have dyed this way are all very intense colours.  Results are very quick and there is little mess to clean up afterwards.