Hand Dyed Quilt

So Here’s the tutorial I wrote for my winning So You Think You’re Crafty RIT Dye week craft. I am bringing it home today so that it is on my blog too. I am very excited for Monday, because SYTYC has its last week of my season! (I’m pretty happy with what I made, although nervous because it’s our first time not being anonymous, and I am in the pictures, so ACK!) Anyway, here’s my quilt…….. 
Because I am here in S. Korea, I can’t just go into a store and buy RIT dye, but luckily I had dye supplies already on hand. (I didn’t have any RIT, but I figured the brand didn’t matter!) The dyes I have are not an all in one like RIT is, so I had to take a couple of extra steps to dye my fabric. (The dyes I used were Procion cold water dye, by Jaquard.) I had to make up some chemical water (click on the link for a recipe) and then I thickened the chemical water with sodium alginate, in order to make a pudding textured goop. After letting the thickened chemical water sit for a bit, I put half a cup of the chemical water into a cup, and mixed in brown dye (made from 2 tsp. of dye powder mixed in about 2 Tbs of tap water) and then just a sprinkle of soda ash (the soda ash activates the dye so it will actually permanently stick to the fabric) OKAY now I am ready to begin putting color onto fabric!
Just kidding, I am totally not. First I had to pin my fabric to my print table (a board covered in thick industrial felt, and then canvas, in order to give me a pin-able surface.) The fabric came from one 3 yard length of white cotton fabric that I ripped into 1 yard sections, and then used t-pins to pin the fabric to the surface of the print table. NOW we are ready to dye!
For the first yard, I used a picture frame (I use the glass as a pallet,) a foam paint roller, and a Lego base plate.   
I began by sliding the Lego plate UNDER my fabric, and then I loaded my paint roller with the thick brown dye (don’t forget to activate it with soda ash!) 

 And then gently roll over the Lego base plate, you can get a feel for the amount of pressure you want to place on the roller, as you go. I moved the plate around randomly so that sometimes it was skew, and overlapping where I had already rolled. I covered the whole yard of fabric this way. (My other two base textures, not pictured here, are the suction cups on the bottom of a $1 store, rubber bath mat, and just rolling on the surface of the fabric with the foam roller, alternating the amount of pressure.)

After laying down all of my brown, I mixed up 12 other colors (one at a time actually) in the same tap water, powdered dye, thickened chemical water, soda ash, mix as the brown dye. I ripped all of my yardage into four fat quarters per yard, (for a total of 12) and pinned 2 fat quarters to my print table surface. (does that make sense?) I laid my color down, by smearing it onto each fat quarter by hand in a swirling motion. (I definitely recommend the rubber glove unless you want a very excitingly colored hand) 

 Here’s what the pink and green fat quarters look like once smeared and waiting to dry. By the way, the print table has a couple of old flat sheets pinned to it, so that my canvas surface doesn’t get contaminated with dye. (I only mention this now, because in just a second the color is going to change to a clean sheet, and it’s a TOTALLY different color.) Anyway, after I let these two colors dry, I removed them from the surface and set them aside for 24 hours. I repeated the smearing process with all 12 fat quarters, in 12 different colors.

 After 24 hours, I thoroughly rinsed all of my fat quarters; it takes rinse, after rinse to get the water to run completely clear, (and I used synthrapol to help wash all the fugitive dye out of my fabric) and then I still put them in the washing machine to run through a wash cycle. YOU DO NOT WANT ANY DYE LEFT TO BLEED OUT  LATER! After drying my fabric, I pinned 2 fat quarters to my print table, (the red one shows the rubber bath mat suction cup texture) that is now newly adorned with a purple sheet, and got ready to print my pigment. I used a speedball pigment in a pearl white color.

 The images I screen printed on top were my own, and the screens are made by a thermofax machine (I am recycling screens from another project, so I did not make them recently) A thermofax machine takes the carbon found in a toner printed image (like the sort of toner used in an old copy machine) and burns through a plastic coating to a screen layer, to make a screen that can be used very much like a screen print that has used a light reactive medium to burn in an image. The same effect could be achieved by stamping on your fabric if you aren’t able/brave enough to make a screen!

 I had 12 different screens that I could use for my fat quarters, and I used the white pigment for all of them.

 Once everything was printed and dry, I cut up all of my fat quarters into 5.75″ squares (you can get 9 per quarter) and then took the remainder to make even rectangles.

 I randomly mixed up all of my colors, and sewed my squares into 9 square blocks. In order to be permanent the pigment needs to be heat set. I didn’t heat set the pigment before now, because I knew I would be ironing my squares once sewn together, so at this stage, all the pigment was set too.

 Next I cut my 9 square block into 4 separate squares, by making a cross right down the middle.

I rotated all of the small squares so that they faced the top right, and randomly sewed all the blocks together (my only rule was no 2 of the same fabrics right next to each other.) I didn’t use all of my blocks to make the center section, as I only made it 5 by 6. I then added white strips in a 2.5 inch border, and then my outer border was made from cutting the rest of my blocks in half each (I didn’t worry about the direction, I just cut them down the middle) and sewing the strips together to create a border. 
The final step was to quilt the quilt by machine (with yellow thread in my needle, and fuchsia thread in my bobbin.) I quilted in a free motion style, just randomly swirling, but trying to keep the space between stitch lines to about a 1/4″ apart. I bound the quilt by sewing the remaining strips of fabric that was left over by cutting out the 9 squares from the fat quarter end to end, sewing the length of it to the front of the quilt, and then hand stitching it to the back. I then washed the quilt to fluff it all up (this is the stage where you find out if you rinsed out all the dye; if not, your nice white border will get bled all over!)    

I know that this sounds like a lot of steps (and it is!) But in reality, if broken down into steps, it’s not that hard to do, and boy is it really satisfying to have a quilt top made entirely from my own fabric!!! I hope that this tutorial helps you see that it is really possible make your own textiles, and use them in projects!!!
Thanks again for all your votes, I am excited about the finals!

  3 comments for “Hand Dyed Quilt

  1. March 9, 2013 at 1:39 am

    No wonder you won. This is amazing!!!!

  2. March 9, 2013 at 1:47 am

    This project is truly amazing, I’m so pleased you won, I can’t wait to see what you do next week x

  3. March 10, 2013 at 12:01 am

    I love it!!!

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