Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Last Day of Dyeing Before Heading Back North!!

My friend Dianne and I spent the day doing both a small overdyeing sequence and a couple of gradations.  The gradation dyeing which I have talked about in previous blogs is based upon low water immersion dyeing (Ann Johnston) and her books were my first "bibles" of dyeing. Ann uses tsps and tbsps for measuring dyes.   I was converted to measuring my dyes scientifically by Carol Soderlund in the class where she has you do sequenced overdyeing of three color palettes.  Carol didn't use low water immersion dyeing but did emphasize the measuring of the dyes by weighing rather than using tablespoons or teaspoons.  The reason to use more accurate measuring is that you can duplicate your results and the dyes weigh all different amounts if you keep the volume (a tablespoon or a teaspoon) constant.  So a tsp of yellow might weigh 7 gms but a tsp of blue would weight 5 gms.  Ann is extremely used to the dyes and how to  play with them using volume measures. I like the predictability of measuring by weight better although like all dyers, sometimes I just play!!

The dye houses express the colors you will get using their dyes in % OWG (of weight of goods) which means if one of the dyes (One of the yellow dyes from ProChem for example -you can click on this link) says that the color shown is 4% OWG, this means that it will take 4 gms of the dye to dye 100 gms of fabric or 8 gms  of dye to dye 200 gms of fabric.  I noticed that they are expressing how many tsps of dye you need per pound of fabric as well now.  If you are using one of the less expensive fabrics from Dharma (about 70 x 70 thread count), a yard of fabric will weigh about 100 gms.  So again, 4% will require 4 gms of dye per yard of fabric.  If your yard of fabric weighed 150 gms, it would take 6 gms of dye to get 4% OWG, etc.  6/150 = .04 or 4%.

In dyeing the most important ratio is the weight of the dye per weight of fabric.  The amount of water used really doesn't figure into the calculation of how dark a fabric will be (although with regular immersion dyeing,  if you  use a lot of water, you will need to add salt to achieve the same results or the dye will bond with the water).  With low water immersion dyeing, you need enough water to cover the fabric and allow it to move around.  From Ann Johnston, this amounts to about 2 cups of water per yard of fabric (with the appropriate grams of dyes dissolved in it) and 1 cup of soda ash solution after the fabric has sat in the dye for about an hour.  She does it somewhat differently soaking the fabric and then using a cup of dye solution while I prefer just using 2 cups of water per yard of fabric.

The above picture is the results of an "extreme overdyeing" session.  Instead of using first five colors and then overdyeing with different five colors (which result in 35 different colors), we only did 3 overdyed with 3.  The first three were a gradation of Navy Blue.  The concentrations were 6%, 2% and .66%.  In each pot were four pieces of fabric from each of us.  We rinsed these out and then prepared 3% solutions of Sun Yellow,Golden Yellow and Mixing Red.  We resorted the fabrics so that from each of the first set of pots, we saved out one piece, place one in the Sun Yellow, one in the Golden and one in the Mixing Red.  We did this with each of the fabrics from the first dyeing.  The results of this overdyeing are what is pictured -- you get 15 different colors.  


We also did some gradations -- both of us chose different gradations.  This first one is a gradation of Intense blue (the first pot had an intensity of 10% and is halved as you get lighter.  Into each pot, 3 gms of Leaf Geen were added.  

If you look closely, you will see a damask like pattern in the fabrics.  This fabric is called Bazin and is used extensively in Africa.  Dianne introduced it to me as she lived in the Cameroons while in the Foreign Service.  She sold me some of her precious stock but I did find it online as well and bought 10 yards (it is on both Amazon and ebay very surprisingly).  I wanted to make sure that the fabric I bought from Amazon was the same as what I got from Dianne as it dyes beautifully and adds some pattern to the fabric,.  It is 48 inches wide and about the same weight as a better commercial cotton with almost a sateen finish.  It is not cheap however.  (It was very cheap when Dianne bought it in Africa though.)  It comes in 10 yard lengths and is heavily waxed and perfumed (although I suspect the wax is more like some kind of starch as it washes out easily.)  The experiment was a success and I may buy more at some point.  It is slightly cheaper on ebay -- no shipping charge but it comes directly from China so does take a little time (but not a lot.)


This was my second gradation.  It was a gradation of New Black with Strongest Red added in an equal amount to each pot (3 gms/yard).  Dianne pointed out that Navy Blue is about the strongest of the dyes we have used and I think she is right!!  If you look at the first picture, you can see how dark those fabrics on the bottom row are.

I did like the darkest of this gradation as it was a really rich dark brown.  This Strongest Red might not be too strong anymore as it is quite old and I have found that the reds exhausts faster than the other colors.

Another blog I also talk about this technique is - Blog on dyeing.

As an aside, this is blog number 998 so 2 more and I will have done 1000 entries in the last eight years.  Whew -- and I hated writing through school and college!!



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Purses, Purses and More Purses!!

This is a collage of the most recent purses that I have completed.  Four of these use some of my marbled fabric, one uses commercial fabric and one uses a hand dyed fabric that I purchased from another dyer (upper right hand corner).  It was different than anything I had so I purchased it just to see if I wanted to do this.  It basically is dye powder sprinkled on a soda soaked surface which is at an angle so the stuff moves around.

This is a closeup of one of my favorites of the bunch.  Each of these purses uses a heavy duty pseudo suede in the handles, the bottom and on the sides of the purse.  Each purse (except for the one with the commercial fabric) has a zipper on top.  All have two zippered pockets inside and I believe I have solved the drooping problem by sewing the pocket to the lining instead of letting it just hand down from the zippered opening.  

This is also one of my favorites and utilized one of my favorite marbled fabrics.


Friday, April 8, 2016

QBTS 2016 Show

Our Wilmington quilt club did something a little different this year in terms of a quilt show.  We participated in a gallery showing at the Brooklyn Arts Center in downtown Wilmington.  Because of this we had size limitations and had to jury to some extent which quilts would be shown.  They were all hung from wires coming down from the ceiling so they were well above everyone's heads.  This was for two reasons which were that it allowed for more quilt and it also prevented anyone touching the quilts as they offer food and drink at this venue and this is how they make their money.  Many of the quilts were for sale as well.  There were also quite a number of vendors both underneath the quilts and in the courtyard.  You can see here a number of the quilts.  One of mine (I just noticed) is up in the upper right hand corner and is one of my sunset pieces

A view of some more of the quits.

Still more!  In the upper right hand corner is a quilt by fellow dyer Dianne Brisson who was one of the lucky ones who sold her quilt.

A view to the back row.

Two magnificent quilts in the middle surrounded by two of my less significant quilts.  I believe the top quilt is by Pat Mattison. 

The quilt that is on top of this picture evidently won prizes at Houston and it is stunning.  It took five years to make and is all hand appliqued and quilted.  You can see one of my more modest quilts below it -- the snowflakes called Winter in Rochester which was prophetic this year!

Here is a closeup of the above quilt!

All the challenge quilts were up on a wall together.  The challenge had been Circle of Friends.

We had a very short Iron Quilter demo at the show as well into which Pat talked me into participating.  The day before she told us the theme and we were allowed to bring in any fabric we wanted.  The theme was "rain".  We only had an hour and a half to complete a small quilt.  This was the winner (voted on my the audience) by Ann Hope Marvin even though she didn't have it quilted! There were only three of us particpating as there wasn't much room on the stage nor time to be truly creative!  

This was Pat's piece showing the spring gardens and rain.  Lots of bling!

Here is my piece which was obviously a rainbow at the beach.  I thought at the time that everyone would do a rainbow and was surprised that only I did.  One of the parameters we worked under was that we had to incorporate a piece of fabric from each of the other two quilters -- the two fabrics I got were the turtle fabric and the green in the rainbow.  The background is all pieced and the rainbow is fused on and quilted.  It is about 12 inches by 18 inches.  The turtle was my daughter's idea and I really liked it!  There was one woman who watched me almost the whole time I was working and said she had learned so much which was rewarding!

We have already been invited back to this venue for next year!!  It was estimated that we had close to 1000 visitors, many who hadn't been to a quilt show before.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Visits etc.

I haven't posted in awhile because I have been doing a bit of entertaining!!  Several years ago, I reconnected with my best friend from high school whom I had lost for about 40 years!  Since then we have gotten together at least once a year if not more.  She lives in Florida but comes up once a year to North Carolina for a bridge tournament put on by the local bridge club.  She took up bridge about five years ago because of another high school friend's encouragement  -- she is an extremely good bridge player!!  The first year she came up for the tournament, she came only with her partner for bridge.  The following year she brought up two additional ladies and insisted that I be her partner.  This was rather daunting as I hadn't played bridge in almost fifty years and things have changed considerably in the bidding.  This was my third year of playing in the tournament with her and even though I only play once a year, we consistently score master points (which don't count for me as I don't belong to the bridge league).  I actually feel like a bridge player again!!  This past week she came again with two friends, for one it is her third visit and the other her second.  We had a grand time, playing cards and visiting the Wilmington sights!!  This is a view from a boat ride we took one day when the temps were in the 80s! We ate at this wonderful little restaurant called George right on the Cape Fear River -- it is the building with the white awnings.  The food is generous and really good!!

This was one of the petroleum storage facilities at the Port on the Cape Fear River.  They paid a lot of money to have this painted and it would be great if they were all painted!!

Jean and Vicki decided to go for a walk along the beach one evening after dinner.

This is the four of us after a victorious bridge session.  We came in first as a team winning all our rounds.  I am the second from the left.  

The Azalea Festival (one of the big yearly festivals) isn't scheduled until  next week.  The weather has been so warm, though, that there will be few azaleas left to bloom.  They were glorious when we were touring around last week!

There has been constant bulldozer noise at night as they are renourishing the beaches down here.  These pipes are strung for at least a mile along the beach with a ship pumping sand from the ocean up onto the beach.

This is one of the bulldozers and the end of the pipe from which sand is spewing forth!!  It is quite a process and it has been done about every two or three years since we have been down here.  The sand gets pulled out and shoals created and then man comes in, breaks down those shoals and pumps the sand back to the beach.

I visited the deer down at the Air Force Recreation area.  They have closed off the road that I usually go down so I had to look at them from a distance (about a herd of ten).  I then decided to turn around and all of a sudden they came running up the field to greet me -- I thought I was going to be surrounded!!  They are obviously used to someone feeding them from a car!!  I still haven't seen the big buck though.  In another few months when I will be gone, I am sure there will be lots of fawns.  Hopefully some will still have their spots when I come down in the fall.

I am back to sewing, finishing up a couple of blouses for my daughter and then sewing more purses.  Had to buy more fusible fleece as I actually finished off a bolt!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Enough Cosmetic Bags -- Time for Some More Purses!

Can you believe I made 55 of those cosmetic bags and actually made a dent in the zippers and marbled fabric stash?  If I get my act together, maybe I can sell some at our quilt show.  Need to figure out how to label them though.

Anyway, decided to switch to purses again as I really needed to try to see if I could figure out a solution to the "top sagging" problem.  I like to put zippered pockets in the lining of the purses and this has caused the top to sag down which is annoying.  I know I could do a line of stitching above the pocket sewing the outside to the lining, but this would be awkward and show.  My new solution which will hopefully work is to not let the bottom of the inside pocket be free to sag down when full.  I have sewn a line of stitching at the bottom of the pocket attaching it firmly to the lining.  I will have to use the purse to see how this works.  You can see I am using more of my nice marbled fabrics.

Here is the beginning of the next purse using commercial fabric this time. I brought down much of my half and quarter yard stash down with me.  I love using the pseudo suede in the purses as it really holds up extremely well.  I can get it cheaply down here and it must have repellent on it as it still looks like new in a lighter color on a purse I have been using for months.  I am going to head to the shop where I purchased it and get some in every color they have!!

The birds all seem to be pairing up as well!  Spring must have arrived. The Laughing Gulls are all laughing and showing their summer colors already. Here are the beautiful mallards.

Buffleheads.

Lesser Scaups.

Hooded Mergansers (which were not in their usual place).  

The weather has been gorgeous down here with temps  in the high 70s so much time has been spent outside these past few days but must get my act in order as guests arrive on Monday -- a full house!


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Making the Cosmetic Bags!

Each bag requires:

7 inch zipper
2 pieces of fabric (main outside) 5 1/2 inches by 9 inches (in a perfect world, you could              make 4 outsides from one fat quarter)
2 pieces of lining fabric 5 1/2 x 9 inches
2 pieces of fusible fleece 5 1/2 x 9 inches
1 piece main fabric 2 1/2 inches x 3 inches


Enclosing the Zipper:


  1. Cut the 3 x 2 1/2 inch piece  into 2  1 1/4 x 1 1/2 pieces.
  2. Wrap one of the pieces, right side against the zipper around to the back of the zipper overlapping the two sides.  This should be about 1/2 from the ends of the zipper.
  3. Sew the tube down right next to this and then trim the bottom of the zipper.  Do this slowly just in case you judge where the bottom of the zipper is. Trim away the excess zipper.



  1. Pull the zipper through so it looks like the zipper is closed by fabric at the bottom.

  1. Repeat for the top of the zipper.  I would suggest opening the zipper up a bit.
Making the bag sandwich:

  1. Unzip the zipper halfway.
  2. Take one of the fused main pieces and center the enclosed zipper underneath it centering it on the right side of the fabric (wrong side of fabric will be facing you). Hold it stable with a couple of pins.
  3. Take one of the iining sections and place underneath the zipper with the right side facing you.  Pin the three sections together.
  4. Sew using a regular presser foot and sewing just a presser foot width from the side of the fabric (I would guess that is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch).  This keeps the stitches about 1/8 from the zipper teeth.  When you get about an inch from the zipper pull, lift the presser foot, and move the zipper to the part already stitched.  Continue stitching until the end.  This will give you a nice even seam.



  1. When you have finished the above, do the same on the other side of the zipper.  
  2. When this step complete,  you will have a zipper in the middle, the lining fabrics below and the main fabrics on top.



Completing the bag:

  1. Trim the excess from the sides of the zipper so that it lays in line with the outside and linings.
  2. Make sure zipper is all the way open (very important).
  3. Put the right sides together of the outside fabrics and pin.  Do the same with the lining fabrics.  Make sure they are even where they meet at the zipper.  At the junction of the zipper, push the seams toward the iining and make sure that the zipper facing is pinched in half.  Do for both sides.
  4. Start sewing about an inch from the sides of the bottom of the lining and sew all the way around until you are about 4 inches from where you started on the lining.  Backstitch and end.

  1. Trim the seams neatly and cut across at the corners (to reduce the bulk).
  2. Turn the bag by pulling the outside through the lining.  Use a knitting needle or large scissors to make the corners square and to push the junction of the zipper and the bag so it sits nicely.
  3. Either hand stitch or machine stitch the bottom of the lining so that nothing can slip through.
  4. Give it a little press!  Sometimes I press it along the way when I have finished making the bag sandwich.

Its a little darker on one side because I managed to squirt water on it when ironing but it is done!

This is what it looks like looking down on it.  I could have sewed a little closer to the bottom of the zipper but you can see how the little piece of fabric makes it look a lot more finished on top.




Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Use for My Marbled Fabric!

I love to do fabric marbling but have really been in a quandary about what to do with the fabrics once I have made them.  For the most part the fabrics are somewhere between a fat quarter and a fat half yard of fabric.  I tend to use a lot of color when marbling and can actually get two prints many times -- one dark and one a nice light print.

This is a long long ago example (and not the best one) of a second pull -- hard to go through all those files to find one of the better ones.

The first picture is of my design wall with the 30 or so "cosmetic bags" that I made this week while binge watching the very old BBC Jane Austen series -- acting terrible but keeps closely to the original books.


This is a closeup of one of my favorites.  Each bag is lined and is approximately 8 inches wide and 5 inches in height.  They all have fusible fleece giving them some oomph.

I have wanted to do something with the marbled fabrics besides using it in clothing (which I have done successfully).  They get lost in a quilt although some pieces could easily be almost stand alone.  It is a very serendipitous process (doing the marbling) and you really don't know what you will get many times.  I have been collecting quilt patterns that feature nice fabric but somehow it just didn't feel right.  I have dutifully brought these pieces down with me (about a third of my stash of marbled fabrics) hoping I would find inspiration.  A friend used some of these fabrics to make lovely notebook holders which she gifted to my school group of online friends.  It was a great use of the fabric.  

Here are three more closeups.  They are fairly easy to make.  I will put together a post on that as well for later!


I have a ton of 7 inch zippers that I bought years ago when making a lot of my own clothes.  Even back then I didn't use 7 inch zippers so not sure why I have so many (I used 9 inch zippers for skirts).  I have ordered a bunch of zipper pulls onto which you could add some sort of adornment.  Once I get these, I will see what seems right.  I have used thin ribbon in the past on the zipper pulls and that works well.  We shall see!