Artnextdoor's Blog

My place to be creative


Restocking my stash of hand dyed fabrics

After many months of using up my stash of fabrics I thought it was about time to start restocking with hand dyed fabric. This has also made me think about the fabrics I actually use – do I really need to buy the considerably more expensive patterned fabrics anymore?  No I’ll try to just use those I dye myself.  Thank goodness for my washing machine as it does all the hard work of rinsing the fabric once they have been in the dye bath for a while and my hands stay relatively dye free – I can’t get on with wearing gloves.

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To dye my fabrics I use a combination of techniques from all over the place but basically it is 2 teaspoons of dye mixed with a small amount of water, which after mixing I added further water to about 400ml.  To dye the above I divided this mixture in half and then half again until all the dye solution was used.

  1. 200ml of dye solution, topped up to 400ml with water and 400ml of salt solution.
  2. 100ml dye solution topped up to 400ml with water and 200ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  3. 50ml of dye solution, topped up to 400ml with water and 100ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  4. 25ml of dye solution topped up to 400ml with water and 50ml of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.
  5. whatever is left topped up to 400ml with water and whatever is left of the initial 1 litre of salt solution topped up to 400ml with water.

All measurements are approximate.  I add the above solutions to zip lock bags with a piece of cotton fabric which measures approximately 50cm by half the width of the fabric.  Give the bag a squeeze and a mash around as much or as little as required to distribute the dye solution and leave – I leave mine overnight before rinsing and washing with a mild detergent and fabric softener.  I iron my pieces dry as I can’t wait to see what they look like and I can get all the creases out much more easily.

The salt solution I use is 200g of salt dissolved in boiling water to make 1 litre of solution.

All my fabrics have been soaked in a solution of soda ash and water for at least 20 minutes before wringing out and used for dyeing.  This can be left to dry and will be ready to use as and when but one thing I have learnt the hard way that soda soaked fabric should NOT be ironed until it has been thoroughly washed, as the soda seems to stain the fabric yellow which will not come out.

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City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting

I was asked to recycle a piece of textile during this course.  My son had out grown the trousers  – Ideal opportunity.  I cut the legs from the trousers, unstitched the crutch seam so everything laid flat, but still the same boring boy colour, time for dyeing.  I didn’t dye the cut off legs just the body of the ‘skirt’, once this was done I set about finishing the bottom off with a close satin stitch.  Then added painted, stitched flowers, these where made from the left over legs.  Another use for a pair of tatty boys jeans.

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Another City & Guilds piece

Below is another piece of work I have done towards my city & Guilds qualification.  It is not an assessment piece but a sampler quilt I have created from various commercially printed and hand dyed fabrics to experiment paint effects on, these included Markle/Shiva oil pastels, textile paint and discharge paste.  The discharge paste was not at all successful on the commercial prints but worked very well on the hand dyed.  The whole piece was assembled, quilted and bound before these techniques where used.  This piece also includes a couple of edge finish samples, i.e. beads, stitch and the addition of torn fabric strips within and on the edge of the binding.

sampler quilt 1

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Another piece of work towards the City & Guilds in Patchwork and Quilting


The basic unit was made for an earlier part of the City & Guilds I am taking in Patchwork and Quilting with the beading, foiling, hand stitching and washer embellishments for the current stage.  What do you think?

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City & Guilds Recycled Project

Above is the item I made for the recycling part of the City & Guilds I am taking.  This skirt started life as a pair of my little son’s trousers.

mod 6 act 8 (2)

It seemed a shame to ‘waste’ these trousers by completely destroying them to create something very different to their original use.  I cut the legs off, dyed them, stencilled them and some of the leg fabric, sketch stitched the ‘flowers’ attached the spare flowers and satin stitched the hem.