Fabric to Dye For

comments (0) June 17th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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This amazing machine quilt—Sand in the Wind by Ann Johnston—is made with hand-dyed cotton broadcloth. 
The pretty fabric pieces of this cool, coral, log-cabin quilt top were
made by hand-dyeing long strips of fabric for different lengths of time. The quiltmaker rolled the fabric in some bubble wrap during the drying process to get those neat circle effects.
This is a commercially dyed cotton velvet, embossed with cool circular designs and Stewart Gill silver fabric paint.
This amazing machine quilt—Sand in the Wind by Ann Johnston—is made with hand-dyed cotton broadcloth. 

This amazing machine quilt—"Sand in the Wind" by Ann Johnston—is made with hand-dyed cotton broadcloth. 

Photo: Courtesy of Ann Johnston

Creating your own custom fabric can be thrilling and habit forming. Best of all, because the products and tools are better than ever, it can be done successfully at all skill levels. I’ll talk more about printing later; right now, let’s look at some of the other ways to put your own color and images on cloth and some of the people who are masters of it.

Many art quilters have been dyeing their own fabric for years and have established their own personal signatures with the fabric they create. Ann Johnston is renowned for her quilts, books, and classes. Be sure to check out her work, and for further inspiration, take a look at the work of Maggie Weiss. Last summer, I taught at a retreat in Chicago with Ann, and I wish I could have been in her workshop. Her students were working like crazy and having the best time. The cool thing about dyeing is the surprise factor. You can’t always predict what’s going to happen, but you can narrow the odds with more information, and of course, practice. Go to Dharma Trading for lots of good product info, projects, technique how-tos, and more. And the Fabric Dyeing 101 blog offers some basic lessons on how to dye your own fabric.

Painting is another way to color your own fabric. It’s a little more controlled, and nowadays, fabric paints can be heat set so much easier than they could be in the past. You can also add luminosity to your colors with metallic paints such as Lumiere by Jacquard and even add dimension with dimensional paints and puffy paints (the Tulip brand is available at most large craft retailers). And you don’t really have to have a degree in art to enjoy yourself and have success. You’ll find some wonderful surface-design techniques and ideas that you can do with paint at Stewart Gill. This UK company offers lots of fun products, including a book by Rebecca Gill that expands on ways to use Stewart Products, and it’s full of design ideas and inspiration.

If you’re missing the drawing gene as I am, give stencils a try. Diane Ericson has designed some of the best. She also sells a DVD showing how to use them. But, of course, you can cut your own stencils, too. Here's an online lesson on stencil cutting for you to learn the basics.

And if you love the idea of painting and dyeing fabric, but are a total neatnik, Shiva Artist’s Paintstiks are for you. Laura Murray’s the one to go to for more information, and check out the video to watch her demo on how to use them.

posted in: embossing, dyeing, painting fabric

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