Butterfly Art Quilt – Custom Dyed Background and Backing

After my butterflies were all cut, it was time to create the background fabric that they will be appliqued onto.  Inspiration – my garden (ie: grass and blue sky).

For this edge of the fabric, I am hoping to create something that looks like grass, using the Shibori technique.  For the sky, I am thinking that ice dyeing with blue might work well. Ice dyeing is similar to snow dyeing but with ice cubes instead of snow since it is summer here in Minnesota.  So, I setup to do some more fabric dyeing

Green Grass edge:
1. Cut 4 yards of Combed Cotton (Dharma Trading Company) lengthwise into three strips 144″ x 15″.
2. Sew each strip into a long tube (using a basting stitch) and scrunch onto 4″ x 24″ PVC pipe.
3. Place the fabric tube into wallpaper water tray that contains 750 ml Emerald Green Dye (2 mg/ml concentration) for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the fabric from the dye, place on paper towel to absorb excess dye solution, then wrap in plastic and batch for 4 hours.
5. Remove the stitching, rinse with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.

Blue Sky Center:
1. Cut the green dyed fabric into two pieces 105″ in length and two pieces 75″ in length.
2. Sew these to the sides of a 72″ x 45″ piece of undyed Combed Cotton, making mitered corners.
3. Soak the fabric in warm water and wring out excess so that the fabric is just damp, not dripping.
4. Scrunch the undyed center fabric into a drain tray (sorry, but I didn’t take pictures of this), with the green edges hanging over this sides of the tray to keep from getting too much blue dye on the “green grass”. Place a 12′ x 15′ piece of scrap fabric over the scrunched fabric to catch any undissolved dye particles.
5. Cover the fabric with ice cubes.  I used eight trays of ice, which made the layer about 3″ thick.
6. Sprinkle with 0.5 gm Mixing Blue  and 1.5 gm Royal Blue dye powder.
7. Place the drain tray in a large plastic bucket to collect the melting ice and cover (to keep my cat out of the dye).
8. After the ice has melted (about 8 hours), pour one liter of hot Soda Ash solution over the fabric to set the dye and allow to batch for one hour.
9. Rinse out the excess dye with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.
10. After drying, scrunch the edges of the fabric together and dip in Evergreen dye (1 liter of 2 mg/ml) to create a darker green edge.
11. Batch for four hours, rinse and wash.

 

 

The background fabric was now ready to applique the butterflies.  I used a variagated silk thread for the applique (Tiara #705 Silk, Superior Threads).

For my backing fabric, I wanted to complement the quilting that I was planning for the top of the quilt. To do this, I thought I would try to ombre dye the fabric.  As an added detail, I decided to first use dye magnet and dye blocker to make some butterflies that would appear in the dye.

Backing Fabric:
1. 80″ x 110″ Combed Cotton
2. Cut butterfly stencils out of adhesive vinyl using my Cameo stencil cutter.
3. Paint dye magnet near the center of the fabric to create five butterflies that will be darker than the dyed background color in those areas.
4. Paint dye blocker (Nori Glue) in the outer part of the fabric to  create five butterflies that will be white the the darker areas of the fabric. Allow both magnet and blocker to dry completely overnight.
5. Pull the center of the fabric together and secure to a wooden pole, similar to that described for ombre dyed sheers.
6. Fill a 4 gallon bucket with 8 liters of hot soda ash solution.
7. Add 1ml dye solution (200mg concentrate) and dip fabric to about 4″ from center fabric attached to pole.
8. Remove fabric, add more dye concentrate and dip the fabric again but this time stopping 4″ less than previously dipped. Repeat this process stopping 4″ shorter each time. Dye concentrate amounts used were 1,1,2,2,5,5,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml of 200 mg/ml solution.
9. Allow to hang and batch, with excess dye dripping off, for two hours.
10. Dip fabric in 4 liters of dilute Retayne and hang again for 20 minutes to allow the dye to set to the fabric.
11. Rinse out excess dye with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.

I am now ready to load this quilt onto my longarm machine and start the custom quilting process.

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