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.

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Book Cover


Book cover

Above is my book.  It was made using hand dyed fabric, coordinating hand dyed threads and rayon threads which were supplied by Linda and Laura Kemshall as part of a competition they were running entitled Love Colour.  The rules specified the piece must not be larger than 30cm x 30cm (12” x 12”) or smaller than 15cm x 15cm (6”x6”) and included some of each of the fabrics and threads.

For sometime now I have been considering making a book, one that I could add to over a period of time, but what to use to facilitate these additions other than a ringer binder type mechanism? I then came across a supplier for, what look like the screws used to hold carpet samples together, they are just the thing as they have a tall cylinder that separates the two screw ends that can be threaded through ‘pages’.

To comply with the competition rules I decided to make my piece 11” by 10”.  This allowed me 1” for the spine and 10” square for the cover itself.  Knowing I had to incorporate both fabrics into the design I decided to showcase the yellow patterned fabric in a centre on point square cut from the centre front, like a window.  The darker purple fabric used for the majority of the cover was cut into a square about an inch larger all round than the cover itself to allow for turning.  The centre of this square was marked on the reverse, where the ‘window’ would fall.  I fused to the back of the darker fabric a square of the yellow fabric again slightly larger than needed so the edges wouldn’t show.  using the yellow thread supplied and a satin stitch, I stitched parallel diagonal lines across this centre square.  Once complete the fabric was cut between the diagonals so there was a satin stitch either side of the cut.  I folded the pieces back to reveal the second fabric, pressing really well to retain the folds.

The centre embroidery was done using water soluble fabric as a basis, I wanted to incorporate both hand dyed threads and the rayon threads in this.  I stitched a frame(now hidden) to add stability to the whole design, then stitched a grid format over the entire piece in blue rayon thread.  The diamonds where then worked over the spaces created by the grid.  I then hand stitched alternate corner squares with the hand dyed threads and a chain stitch to create a heavier line than would be obtain just with running stitch.  The water soluble fabric was then washed away, the embroidery was stretched, pinned and left to dry.

I used transfer paper that I ran through the print for the text which was ironed onto pre painted fabric cut out and zig zagged around, double sided fusible was added to the back and pressed in place on the front.

The ‘Tudor rose’ like flowers where made from 41/2” squares of fabric folded origami style, stitched to hold together and beads added.

Beads have been stitched all around the edge.

The spine 1” wide has pre-painted fabric diamonds stitched down the centre, with the edges being satin stitched all round.  The hand dyed threads have been stitched ‘long stitch style either side of the diamonds.  The carpet sample screws have been placed equally in the spine.  The spine and cover have been joined together with a separate piece of fabric on the back to form a folding cover.

Double sided fusible web has been used to stick it all together.