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.

Butterfly Art Quilt

As a pediatric dentist, I see lots of kids with interesting clothing selections.  Some have mismatched colors, some have their shirts on backwards (or their shoes), but some are absolutely adorable.  Last winter, one of my younger patients (she was a little over 3 years old) came in with a t-shirt on that had a large butterfly printed on it.
Now, I love butterflies – with their beautiful colors and graceful wings. This little girl was fearful of having me check her teeth, so I tried to help her relax by talking to her about her t-shirt.  Turned out that she liked butterflies too and gladly started showing me her t-shirt.  On closer inspection, this large butterfly was actually made up of smaller butterflies and was really cute.  After a successful dental checkup, she left cavity free and happy!
Since it was a busy day, I didn’t think more about the patient until my lunch break when my staff commented that they were happy she overcame her fears and was able to complete an exam and cleaning. One of my staff commented that the conversation about the butterflies may have been what helped her to relax. This conversation sparked an idea in my mind – to make a quilt with a butterfly made out of little butterflies.

http://www.missoulabutterflyhouse.org/store/

An on-line image search was unsuccessful in finding a picture of the t-shirt that matched what I remembered seeing earlier that day. I did, however, find a link to the Missoula Insectarium. In their store, they sell a t-shirt with butterflies  that I thought might be a good inspiration for my quilt.

Using a graphics program, I did a quick design to see how the idea might look. This, I thought, was going to be a fun quilt to make.

Creating the applique butterflies:
Using the graphics program, I cropped the butterfly image around each of individual butterflies.  In doing this, I found that several of the butterflies were about the same shape.  So, I actually only had 12 different butterflies to work with.  Using the Bernina DesignWorks software, I created a Cutwork and Applique file for each butterfly.

For my fabrics, I used the samples from my many trials of fabric dyeing – shibori, mandala, etc).  These fabrics had symmetrical colorings and patterns that worked well for butterfly wings.

More on this project in my next posting…

Ombre Dyed Sheers


My eldest son lives in San Francisco and recently moved into a new apartment.  His room is quite large and has a beautiful bay window where he has his desk situated.  He enjoys this desk placement with lots of sunlight flooding him when he is working and a nice view out the window.

 

At certain times of the day, the sun shines directly into his eyes, making working at his computer a bit difficult. He attempted to remedy this problem by putting up some sheers that would block the sun, but still allow some light into the room.

Unfortunately, the sun was still too bright in the late afternoon.  So, when the sheers did not solve his problem, he sought another solution.  His idea was to find some Ombre dyed sheers that were dark grey on the top and transitioning to white on the bottom.

Due to the size of the window, the only ones that he could find were nearly $600. Before he purchased these, he sent me a message to seek my advice about whether this was a good idea. Having recently tried out ombre dyeing of scarves, I thought that the price might be a bit high and offered to make some sheers for him.

Supplies:
Mid-weight Linen (Dharma Trading) 54” wide, 5.1 oz per yard
Wooden dowel, 5 ft length
Support rods – I used two camera tripods with a board attached to the top.
Dye – Black Silk, Jet Black
Unsoftened water, 12 gallons
Soda Ash, Salt
Retayne
Dye Vat:
2 x 6 Cedar, 48” x 2
2 x 6 Cedar, 12” x 2 – screw to ends of 48”
Heavy duty plastic stapled to wood to create dye vat 48” x 9″
Trial Day One:
Cut fabric to 90” length
Sew 1” doubled rod sleeve at one end
Pin opposite end to wooden dowel, roll up extra fabric (cover extra fabric with plastic bag to keep dye from splattering on white end of fabric)
Mark fabric with pin at 8” and then every 4” up to 48” from rod sleeve
Set up tripods at 6 feet height with board attached
Fill dye vat with 4 gallons hot soda ash solution
Add Black Silk dye (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 1,1,2,4,4,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml
Dip fabric to farthest pin, hang and move out of the way
Add next dye quantity (see above) and repeat until all dye has been added
Hang to dry and batch for 2 hours

Wash with Blue Dawn in hot water

Lesson learned – Black silk dye on linen washes out to a blueish color

Trial Day Two:

Question – does a mixed of two different black dyes keep the gray color better?
Followed the same technique as above, but mixed two different black dyes
Black Silk (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 50 ml, mixed with
Jet Black (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 50 ml
Add dye (250 mg/ml concentrate) –  1,1,2,4,4,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml

Wash with Blue Dawn in hot water

Lesson learned – when working outdoors, monitor the wind to make sure that the fabric does not blow down and land on the dirty driveway, and Jet Black dye leaves a reddish tint to the un-dyed fabric.

Trial Day Three:
Question – does spraying the dye on work better? does washing in cold water keep the color from fading
Pin white end of fabric to clothes line

Mark fabric with pin at 8” then at 4” intervals up to 48” from rod sleeve
Spray fabric with hot soda ash solution to saturate bottom 48” of hanging fabric
Dilute 7.5 mg Black Silk dye in 1000ml SA solution
Spray 200ml on bottom 8”
Add 200 ml SA and spray next 4”
Repeat and continue up to 48”
Let batch for 2 hours
Wash with Blue Dawn in cold water
Lesson learned – spraying caused distinct lines to be visible on the fabric, but the cold water did help slightly.
Trial Day Four:
Question – does Retayne help set the gray color better?
Follow the same technique as Day One
Batch for two hours
Dilute 1 T Retayne in 1 gallon hot water, dip the dyed fabric for 5 minutes
Hang and allow to set for 20 minutes

Wash with Blue Dawn in cold water

Lesson learned – this is the center panel in the photo above and was by far the best result!!

Ombre Dyeing (Gradient Dyeing)

Ombre dyeing gives a nice subtle, ethereal look to fabrics.  It looks harder than it actually is.

Supplies:
Fiber Reactive dyes (MX dyes)
Soda ash
Salt
Buckets for dye bath
Rod to hold fabric
Chairs or some sort of support to hold your rod
Rubber gloves
Pins or clamps

Technique:
1.  Wash the fabric in Blue Dawn (unless using PFD fabric).                            Note: Some instructions say to presoak the fabric in soda ash solution.  I prefer not to do this to avoid too much color wicking up the wet fabric.


2.  Use pins to mark increments along the length of the fabric.
3.  Pin the fabric to plastic hangers for easier handling.  
4.  Mix up 20 ml of dye at a concentration of 100 mg/ml in Urea water
5.  Place 2000 ml of warm Soda Ash solution in a plastic container.
6.  For the lightest shade in your ombre pattern, add 2 ml dye concentrate to the soda ash solution.
7.  Wipe the inside of the dye tub to prevent unwanted dye marks on the fabric
8.  Dip fabric to the farthest pin and move up and down several times.
9. While holding the fabric above the dye tub, add 2 ml of dye concentrate and mix well.
10.  Dip  the fabric the the second pin and move up and down several times.
11.  Repeat steps 9 and 10 but adding 2 ml of dye concentrate each time until ten sections are dye at increasingly darker color.
12. Pull fabric out of the dye tub and hang over a container to collect any drips.  Allow dye to batch for 2 hours. 
13. Rinse the fabric in cold water, wash in Blue Dawn, dry and iron.










Some of my earlier posts included scarves that were ombre dyed.  Here are some images to show some additional samples of ombre dyeing.

 

 




Katazome – Stencil dyeing

Katazome, is a Japanese method of dyeing fabrics using a resist paste applied through a stencil. With this kind of resist dyeing, a rice flour mixture is applied using a brush or spatula.  Pigment, or dye, is then applied by hand-painting, immersion or both.  Where the paste mixture covers and permeates the cloth, dye will not penetrate. One of the biggest attractions of katazome was that it provides and inexpensive way for an over-all pattern.
Traditional katazome is quite labour intensive.

Traditional Katazome Stencil cutting

Stencil:
In traditional Katazome, the stencil is made by bonding multiple layers of mulberry paper together and waterproofing with persimmon tannin, resulting in a strong, flexible brown colored paper.  The intricate designs are then cut by hand with a knife. The resulting stencil is stabilized by overlaying with a fine net of silk.
This seemed way too complicated and time consuming.  So, I decided to use an existing plastic stencil for my first trial. For additional stencils, I used my Cameo to cut custom designs.

Nori Paste applied through a plastic stencil.
Far left shows Elmer’s School Glue drawn on.

Paste Resist:
Traditional Katazome paste is made using a complicated process (John Marshall has a very good description at http://www.johnmarshall.to/H-Resist.htm). While checking on-line for easier methods of making the paste resist, I found that Amazon carries a type of glue called Nori Glue that is made from rice and is water soluble.  I purchase some and found that it was an inexpensive, easy and satisfactory paste resist.
I also tried Elmer’s school glue.  This works well as a resist for drawing but was not a good stencil resist.

Resulting fabric after dyeing with Purple Procion dye.

I liked this technique.  So, I decided to try making some scarves.

Custom Stencil cut with Cameo

 

Technique:

  • Rayon gauze  12″ x 90″.
  • Tape stencil and apply Nori Paste
  • Dry overnight.
  • Dip in dye (Lilac) to create Ombre effect.
  • Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.
Dyed Fabric

 

Resulting Scarf
Green Scarf

 

Magenta Scarf

Color Magnet

This stuff is amazing!  That’s how the description of the Jacquard Color Magnet starts on the Dharma Trading website.  After reading that, I was intrigue and wanted to find out more .

Color magnet is a dye attractant that magically attracts more dye where it is applied, creating a unique, two-toned effect. The more dilute the dye, the greater the contrast of color. The color magnet has no binder, so it washes out completely after dyeing, leaving your fabric nicely colored but unchanged in how the fabric feels.  The color magnet comes in two forms.  A roller ball pen form that can be used for drawing or stenciling detail.  And a one pound container that can be used for screen printing, painting or stenciling larger areas.

Fabric recently splattered with Color Magnet

My first attempt:

  • Combed cotton fabric 12″ x 12″.
  • Splatter the color magnet across the fabric
  • Dry overnight.
  • Soak in Golden Yellow dye (200 milliliters, 0.5 mg/ml) for 24 hours. 
  • Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.
Fabric after dyeing with Golden Yellow

 

My second attempt:

  • Combed cotton fabric 6″ x 18″.
  • Tape stencil and paint Color Magnet using roller pen
  • Dry overnight.
  • Spray with dye (Golden Yellow, Mixing Red and Turquoise, 50 milliliters each at 0.5 mg/ml
  • Cover with plastic and allow to batch for 24 hours.
  • Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.

My latest endeavors:

  • Rayon gauze  12″ x 90″.
  • Tape stencil and paint Color Magnet using roller pen
  • Dry overnight.
  • Dip in dye (Lilac)
  • Cover with plastic and allow to batch for 24 hours.
  • Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.

 

More on the actual dyeing tomorrow.

Dyeing Silk Fabric

Silk — elegant, versatile and washable. Yes, washable! Sewing and dyeing silk was something I wanted to try.
Silk is a natural protein fiber (like wool) that is taken from the cocoon of the silkworm. Most animal protein fibers require acidic dyes which are different than the alkaline dyes that plant fibers like cotton require. However, silk is less sensitive to high pH than other animal fibers, which makes it the most versatile of all fibers for dyeing.
Silk can be dyed with acid dyes (specifically made for animal fibers), but it can also be dyed with fiber reactive dyes (such as Procion dyes).
Looking over the many approaches for dyeing silk, I decided I did not want to invest in yet another set of dye powders.  So, I looked for directions that used the Procion MX dyes I already had.  I found two different dyeing methods to try.

Soda Ash Dyeing

Similar to dyeing cotton, silk can be dyed using the soda ash method.  With this method, the soda ash acts as a mordant to bind the dye to the fabric. The only drawback to this method is that the soda ash is alkaline and thus will make the silk slightly less shiny and not as crisp. While others may find the loss of the crisp silk texture a disadvantage, I actually prefer softer fabrics for making quilts, garments and other household items.
Steps:
1) Soda Ash Solution – 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soda ash in one cup distilled water.
2) Make Dye solution by diluting 100 mg of powdered dye in 50 ml Soda Ash Solution.  Mix well.
3) Add 5″ x 5″ fabric square.
4) Cover and store at RT for 3 hours.
5) Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.

Vinegar Dyeing

To avoid the loss of shine, fabric can be exposed to an alkaline solution for only a short period of time.  Thus to dye the fabric, an acidic dye solution is needed. Vinegar contains 5% acetic acid and as an acid it will bind the dye to the fabric. But, to lock the dye, the fabric requires heat.
Steps:
1) Soak 5″ x 5″ fabric square in Distilled White Vinegar for 10 minutes.
2) Make Dye solution by diluting 100 mg of powdered dye in 50 ml Vinegar.  Mix well.
3) Place fabric and dye in microwave safe container and cover with plastic wrap.
     Note: do not use dyeing containers for food preparation
4) Microwave for 30 seconds, wait two minutes, and microwave 30 seconds again.
5) Cool for 5 minutes.
6) Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.

Gradation Dyeing

I liked this second method – its fast and creates beautiful colors.  Here are the samples created using 2 mg/ml and 0.2 mg/ml dye solutions.

Now I need to figure out what to make with these truly beautiful pieces of silk fabric I have dyed!

Vinegar Dyeing of Cotton?

I liked the vinegar method for dyeing silk because it was really fast.  So, if it works for silk – will it work for cotton?  Sadly, the answer is No.  The results show that the dye intensity is only about 10 percent of the intensity created with the soda ash solution.  This should not have surprised me since cotton is a plant fiber not a protein fiber.  But, it was worth a try.