Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I had a request for the Nearly Tribal Masks to be made smaller to suit machines with a 5 x 7 capability.   So they are now done and available on Etsy - HERE  - $15 AU for the 12 designs.  

The Nearly Tribal quilt is now for sale on Etsy at $1,000.    I have also reduced the price of "The Ghastlies Family Album.       The test stitch outs for the 5 x 7 designs are also available for purchase - $40.00 for the 12 designs (there is just the one set available).    Put together your own African style quilt.     
If you need any other information please don't hesitate to contact me  - address on the side bar.
Sue xxx

Monday, May 20, 2013


I spent Friday evening in the laundry, not doing laundry, just making lots of jars of scientific experiments.   The jars in the last post have now been rinsed and better rinsed and are now dried, pressed and ready to be used (although I think I will just look at them for a little while). 

Here are some of the little jewels:
Some of the fabric that had the left over dye mixes tipped on directly whilst  sitting in the jars has produced some lovely pieces that could well make subtle backgrounds for applique.   
These ones that have lots of greens and pinks are very pretty.   Some are a little pale but that was because the dyes used had been diluted a number of times before being used.  
This blue and green one is very pretty also.
You can see with many of the pieces that the way the fabric is folded, contributes greatly to the final design that appears at the end of the dye bath.  There is a lot of undyed fabric here.   I think the reasons for this include my twisting the fabric too much, making it difficult for the dye to penetrate the folds.  This one in real life has the look of a flower.   It may end up as an appliqued flower on some other fabric.   
This one looks like sunbeams!

Even though most of these look like tie dyed fabrics, they have all been achieved purely by pinching, twisting, folding or scrunching.
To achieve the circle patterns within a piece of fabric, simply pick the fabric up from the centre and twist on itself, then shove in to the jar, already loaded with dye and salt.  
 The yellow sun rays where done by folding the fabric, concertina like, followed by a  twist and stuff action. 
Dyeing in a Jar is a great technique.   You get lots of interesting designs.   Listed below are things to consider when using jars for dyeing.....
Jars best suited for this project are those with wide necks.    Fat quarters will fit into most medium type jars.     WHY do wide neck jars work best.......because if the neck of the jar is smaller than the base, then you can create your own personal volcano effect.........I know, I did it a couple of fold or scrunch the fabric and then try to stuff it in the jar.   It doesn't go in, so you use a little force.   It still doesn't go in, so you use more force......the next thing you know, the fabric has gone in to the jar at full throttle and you are now looking at the volcano effect - the walls have dye on them, the dryer and window have spots, your hands are covered and if you are really lucky, you will have some on your face to boot!!  It takes a day or two to get it off your skin.   Keep that in mind if you are planning on going out that evening.
Put the lids on the jars so they can be turned.   Make sure the lids are watertight.   Some may be tight enough to allow you to tip the jars - this will at least help spread the dye a bit more.   A helpful sole in my home decided I could keep the jars in the shed but for some reason threw the lids out.   I poked my fabric with a skewer. 
Wear gloves.    Try and keep gloves on.    The minute you take gloves off,  Murphy's Law states that you will encounter  either one of the following, a tripping hazard whilst moving jars to their curing position or the volcano effect will take place.    
Wear an Apron and old clothes.   See above.    
Move the whites that are waiting to be washed.    See above.
I think I twisted some of my fabrics a little too well, you want the dye to be able to penetrate all the way through.
Find something to do whilst the dye weaves its magic. 

 I have dyed 26 metres of fabric - you can call me Eddy - Eddy the Expert!!

Sue xxx

Saturday, May 18, 2013


When I went to the quilt show here in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, the first stand inside the door had fabric dye. There was fabric dye and lots of other bits and pieces for creating fabric works of art. I didn't leave empty handed. I have done a bit of fabric dyeing in the past, but like anything I take on, I go to town. My laundry has looked like a glass works for a few weeks now. The benches are covered in paper, cat litter trays, bottles of made up dyes and measuring paraphernalia. There have been incidents and leakage and the local dam is possibly looking a little depleted, but I have made lots of pretties to touch and pet and maybe even use!!

I have learnt a lot, but mostly I work on the theory of 'lets see what happens when....'.

Originally, I had planned to follow a recipe for 'dyeing in a jar'. I say planned, because my instructions only specified, blue, yellow, red. No other information. I had Navy, Fire Engine Red and Yellow (I was also in possession of Lilac, Violet and Black and Pale Aqua = a waste in the Procion colour chart). The other incident that occurred was a numeric one. My first batch was to be 24 colours following the recipe. I bought six metres of fabric. My maths skills (although often limited), really left me on this day. There I was gaily ripping fabric - half and half and half, etc......when I should have been measuring 1 metre lengths and then making those into fat 1/4's. So, instead of 24, I had 18. Not to be deterred, I went and bought another 10 metres of white broadcloth, by then it was on sale for $4 a metre; absolute bargain. After ripping this lot, I was now facing a tally of 37 bits of fabric.

I measured, I guessed, I tipped carelessly and with wild abandon. Most of these colours had a 1/4 teaspoon of black dye mix added.    So now I have these.....

I played around with folding and pinching and just scrunching the fabric.   Each method reveals something different.

By the time I got to the last couple of fabric pieces, I had run out of jars, bags and my enthusiasm was waning.   I mention litter trays earlier.   I used those for the last three pieces - this was one of the successful ones.   I twisted the fabric and then made a snail shape.   I then poured some dye remnants - just bits here and there.     As I was cleaning up, I suddenly realised that I hadn't added any salt to the fabric so threw a handful at the project and tipped a bit of the soda ash solution over the whole lot.   This one was the best of the three.  
I do not like this colour mauve.   When dyeing with the 24 jar system, you get this colour.   Too many times for my liking.    Stupidly, I realised when mixing up either the violet or lilac, I can't remember which one it is, that when the fabric hit the dye, I had actually purchased this colour - making even more of it.   Here you can see, the mauve with a bit of blue.   

This one had too much white anyway......
and the same applied to this one - another of the fake tie dyes.

I remedied the situation by washing all the fabrics I didn't like and giving them a second colour.
Much better now...

I'm not sure if the last one is an over dye.   I think it looks like a row of chest/pelvis xrays.   Don't be concerned, I think if you look really hard at lots of these fabrics you can see faces, owls...........well those of us who are a bit 'touched' can!!

But wait, I haven't finished with the dye yet......these are last nights collection.    For these jars I used two cups of the dye mixture for each colour block.   I put 1/2 cup in a jar and then added 1/2 cup of water back into the dye mixture.   I repeated the process for six jars.   There was some left over.     I kept that til the end.
I made up a blue with a hint of yellow, and a yellow with blue, red and red with a hint of yellow.     Here they are sitting quietly overnight. 

Here is O'Reilly, asleep, waiting for me to get out of the laundry.   Laundry = Cat Food .  Cat food = Snack.   Total sum of Cat Food + Laundry = Dog getting yelled at.    Dog is really tired of waiting.......

 These are the pots of leftover dye poured into the jars in different spots - some of these were quite weak solutions, we'll see the results soon.....

If you don't have enough jars, ziplock bags work well.   I would recommend putting them in to another bag or into the litter trays whilst they are brewing up their fabulousness.
Salt added to the bags....
 Use good quality bags.   Less chance of leaking.   
Still waiting, change of position.......
 I eat slowly.    Usually everyone else has lost interest and left the table....except these two.   Waiting for a morsel, they are as bad as each other.   This doesn't speed me up any........
As the nights are getting colder in Melbourne, these two wrestle for poll position by the fire.   Harv is pictured here using O'Reilly's muzzle as a pillow.    
The last of the fabrics are going around in the washer and dryer as we speak.   I will post when they are all ironed and pretty.     Some of them are quite striking.   
Sue xxx