07 May 2012

Dye job

For the next round of the Free Bee virtual quilting bee, John has asked for three improvised 10-inch block inspired by Erin Wilson's Totem series. John's brief was to maintain a coherent design and color story across the three blocks, with all bee participants choosing a dominant color to ensure a rainbow selection of completed blocks.

I've been curious about dyeing fabric. In the past I've had unsatisfactory results with RIT dye. The colors are weak and drab, and the pigments stain in every subsequent wash. Seeing Lucie Summers's recent post in which she overdyed her new collection of prints with Moda Fabrics, Summersville, my enthusiasm for hand dyeing was renewed.

John wants mostly solids for his Free Bee improvised "totems." He's allowed us to use some prints, if necessary. I've elected to use some overdyed green Summersville Brush Strokes.

I used Jacquard Procion MX fabric dyes (purchased at Blick Art Supplies), mixing various proportions of yellow, turquoise and fuchsia. For mixing guidelines I relied on the rainbow dyeing procedure at quilt.com Fabric Dyeing FAQ (instructions starting at "By popular demand"). I wasn't sure what I was going to get, and that was part of the fun.

The colors turned out vibrant and beautiful. To complete John's totem, I'll probably mix in some commercial solids, and maybe another print. This is going to be fun!


  1. The colors are so vibrant! Did you use buckets or cups? It's hard to tell the scale of the first picture.

    Some friends and I have gotten together for Dye Days. We "followed" Paula Burch LWI instructions, and used the procion dyes. We used large yogurt containers, as well as medium/large plastic baggies. So much fun!

  2. That sounds like so much fun! I've really been hoping to dye some fabric and yarn soon. I love the colors you created!