I’m Julie here at Pink Doxies, and I do more than make quilts. I’m a fan of improv design and a longarmer, but I also like to print, paint, and dye fabrics. Surface design is fast becoming my favorite thing to do. For dyeing, Procion MX dyes are my pick because they are both versatile, and will not fade the way some dyes will. I can create a soft, pastel palette, or one that is saturated, bright, and beautiful! When I’ve dyed the fabric a perfect color, I’m sure it will stay that color because these dyes are chemically bonded. I’m such a color fanatic, and I love the process!
“You spend all this time dyeing them, but do you use them in quilts?”
One thing people tell me is, “I think hand dyed fabrics are beautiful, but I don’t know how to use them. They’re so wild! They don’t work with anything I have.” Yes, I do use them, and they play well with others. They are easier to blend than you believe. Let me show you some tricks on how I do it, and maybe you’ll reconsider these unique textiles for your work.
Most hand dyed fabrics aren’t so brightly patterned, but I’ve made these just to show you how extreme colors and patterns do blend.
These 8 fabrics were made using a simple process called Dip Dyeing. You can read about it here. The fabric is folded many times in a pattern–or randomly, if you choose, and the edges or corners are then dyed in colors of your choice.
You can apply clamps, rubber bands, or other materials to provide a resist, and this creates a pattern. Even a beginner can create a stunning range of pieces.
The 2 fabrics with a circular print were created using metal washers front and back, and secured with a black plastic clamp. These were all experimental, so some shapes wound up squares before dipping, and others triangles. The surprise for me is part of the fun!
This hand dyed selection include both saturated and muted colors so I looked for something softer to complement them. This comes down to playing with value, and choosing a variety just as you would with any quilt fabrics. The dyeing palette felt unusual when I chose it, but surprisingly there were many fabrics in the store with the same colors. In just a few minutes, I’d located this buttery soft print above, and liked how it had most of the colors, but not all the exact colors. Using a light, medium, and dark yellow help in giving this quilt dimension, and cohesiveness. So don’t worry about all the colors you’re using being in your commercial print. It just needs to coordinate.
I still had not chosen a pattern, but 2.5 yards of the print were a good estimate for a large lap quilt. The medium yellow solid was pulled from my stash along with the white solid, and white on white inner border print to give a nice background for the rings to ‘float’ on. Even with the sun washing out my colors, you can see what a soft, pretty, and summery looking quilt this is becoming–and all with those bright, hand dyed fabrics! Would you have ever guessed?
Values: Light, Medium, Dark
My favorite tricks include squinting at a quilt to see the values. Can you see how the soft blue has become the dark color here? The soft green and commercial prints look the lightest, and the rest fall into the medium value range. If squinting doesn’t work for you, take a photo. The values will pop with a black and white filter.
Prints: Large, Medium, Small
You might also consider the print sizes within the fabrics, and see the the multicolored dip dyed pieces fall into large prints, the more subtle dyed fabrics medium, and the commercial print between medium and small with the flower dots. There are also a fair amount of fabrics that appear more as solids. This old rule still helps, but isn’t set in stone.
Sources for Hand Dyed Fabrics
Support your online and local stores that carry them. Most will offer bundled specialties, but others can be purchased by the yard for larger projects. Dyeing fabrics yourself can be very rewarding, and I would recommend the Dharma Trading Co. website as a good resource.
Pink Doxie Textiles & Wearable Art: Also, I will be offering some limited pieces soon, and my first small collection in late summer. If you’d like to receive a notice when these are available, send an email to email@example.com with your email in the message. Use ‘Hand Dyed’ in the subject area, and you will only receive messages about hand dyed textiles or wearable art. You may also follow me on Instagram on @pinkdoxies.
Check out some other posts to learn more about me, past quilts, but especially the #BraveQuilter project. Pink Doxies encourages all quilters to grow their skills one small step at a time on their own terms. I will support your bravery, and cheer you on while you meet others also venturing into the unknown.
Come on, Doxie girls. Let’s go sew.
Now it’s time to link up your latest Sew Cute projects. Don’t forget you can link directly to an Instagram pic too! So if you want to link from there, you can do that too – link up as normal, and use #sewcutetuesday and @blossomheartquilts on IG to help us find you from there too.