The most visited place on this whole website is the page of instructions for dealing with bleeding quilts. I get lots of emails from people telling me that these instructions saved their quilts. I know of three grandchildren who received pristine quilts for Christmas after their Grandmothers dealt with bleeding that seemed to ruin their special Christmas gifts.
That makes me feel good but we can avoid all of that drama if we will treat our fabric before we ever sew with it.
The key lesson that I learned through testing is that the fabric needs a long time exposed to water for it to let go of all of the excess dye and water exposure is cumulative. Three 15 minute washes is equivalent to a 45 minute soak. When we pre-wash fabric we are only giving the fabric about 15 minutes of exposure. I learned that reds generally need 8 - 12 hours soaking to release all of the excess dye and blues take even longer. A batik turquoise will still bleed dye even after 48 hours. That would be a lot of wasted water and electricity for repeated washing when a couple of soaking will do.
Some commercial fabrics don't bleed at all but you never know which ones do until you soak them. It has nothing to do with Wal-Mart vs Quilt Shop fabric. As an example, I've bought Benartex fabric one year that bled and a related line the next year that didn't. Given that all of this fabric is printed overseas I just don't believe that anyone has any real control over those processes anymore. I soak EVERY commercial fabric that I buy and I soak all of my hand dyed fabrics before you ever purchase them.
Yesterday I soaked 10 yards of some new fabric that I bought. After an hour of soaking the water was still quite clear but I left it overnight. This is what I found this morning. Imagine if I had sewn the fabric into a quilt with light colors. It might not have bled in the first couple of washings but eventually all of this dye would have released and ruined my quilt. I emptied the washer, filled it again and let it soak a few more hours to make sure it was done. Now I can use it confidently in any quilt.
Soaking process for new fabric: Be sure to use a tub that can hold a lot of water. HE washers will not do the job. You need a large volume of water and soap. Hot water will make the process happen faster and Dawn dish soap (any of them) is the best soap to use. Use enough soap to get a good suds. That amount depends on the hardness of your water. When the water turns dark, drain the tub and start the process again. You are done when the water remains clear.
Let's not leave this post with just an ugly washing machine photo. Here's my applique quilt coming together. I've got 2 more corners to add and then a green outer boarder. Then I'll finally be able to draft up the outer border.
The snow melted on my dyed fabrics. We still have plenty outside. Here's how the bins look before I washed everything out this morning. Everything is soaking now. I love most of the pieces. A couple didn't turn out so great but that's how it goes.
I wanted ruddy greens and I think I succeeded.
One of these is a 108" square quilt back...or front.
This didn't produce the browns that I wanted but I love all the colors and there's a Tshirt in there that's awesome.
This one and the next one are pieces done in boxes so that I can sit the pieces on edge. It gives a totally different look. I wanted greens (check) and red(not so check). I got more pint than red but they still turned out really nice.
I peeled myself out of the recliner long enough Sunday to prep fabric, shirts and other things for snow dyeing. The most time consuming part of snow or ice dyeing is preparing the fabric. Most of the fabric isn't on grain so I have to do some tugging and stretching to get the fabrics square so I can get a perfectly centered mandala. The 108" square pieces are the hardest and I try to do one in each session.
I got fabric ready for 4 trays. After I get all of the fabric folded I soak it all in soda ash solution for about a half hour and then arrange them on the 4 screens to get the ready for the snow and dye. This bin had one large quilt back and one 58" cotton sateen mandala.
I have these wide plastic strips that I clip around the fabric to hold the snow/ice on the fabric.
I start with a layer of snow. It's just enough to cover all of the fabric. I do this because I try to avoid getting dye dots on the fabric.
This one will be all blues. I don't bother with turquoise anymore because it's a colossal waste of dye. Turquoise just will not set in cold temperatures so 90% of it goes down the drain. This one will have sky, cerulean and cobalt. I cover this with several more inches of snow. This snow is so dry that I actually added about 3 more inches of snow after it melted some.
Here's what it looks like from the side where you can see the layering.
Here are 3 more bins. On the left I'm going for golds, orange and browns. The middle is yellow, gold and black and the right one should come out in shades of green.
Chris has the wood stove going and 72 is about as low as it will get down there today so the dyeing should happen pretty quickly.
One of the things that I loved to do for my customers is color matching and the best way to do it is with paint chips. Two weeks ago a customer sent me paint chips for a whole cloth that she is going to quilt for her son's newly painted room.
It's always risky to mix very light colors like the orange with very dark colors like the brown. In this case it worked just fine.
I couldn't get a photo of the whole thing before I shipped it because it was too windy outside. This is about a 3rd of a 108" square piece of fabric. I'm really thrilled with the way it turned out.
I was kind of hoping she would hate it because it would have been a perfect backing for one of my quilt tops. I suppose I could dye another....
This past Friday and Saturday were sewing days with Country School quilters. I have this project packed up and only work on it there. It makes packing for the day very quick and easy. I have a dedicated sewing machine and set of notions for "travel quilting" so I can get ready in about 5 minutes.
This is a perfect project to work on because the blocks are simple so I can talk and sew at the same time. I just love these bright colors too so I really look forward to working on it.
I had a a stack of bright fabrics and cut as many blocks as I could. I should have enough for a king and lap quilt. This pretty stack represents 180 out of 318 blocks. That doesn't include the border blocks!
I have a tutorial for this quilt here.
Laura and I are continuing to have a little fun around here. Today is my last day with her for the next 10 days so we are going to do a little shopping and such around town today. Then I'll try to catch up on "work" before she comes back and we leave on a little trip week after next.
Today's post shares some dyeing from last week. I ice dyed last week and have a lot of fabrics to iron, photograph and list but I also experimented with a few other things.
I continued to chip away at my family Hatteras beach towels for next summer. I've never ice dyed one but I'm really pleased with it and will do more. What I have discovered is that turquoise is a total waste of dye for ice dyeing. It really needs heat to set so I won't use it in my ice dyeing again.
I am absolutely doing more ice dyed clothing. I expect that Laura and I will do a bunch when she gets back from her Nashville trip. The one on the right is mine. The other is for the husband of a friend.
These are tea towels from Dharma Trading. They are a little pale because of where they were located in their bins. I love the effect and I think these might be my Christmas gifts for this year.
Today we are off for a little shopping at Costco and the craft store. I have finally started to think about my Christmas postcards designs for this year and need a few supplies. I need to get started on them soon.
I got a few more of my beach towels dyed last week. The green one turned out surprisingly nice!
Here's what they look like when they are being dyed.
Here are the other 2. One of them is one of the prizes from last week's giveaways. Have you entered all 6 drawings yet? You only have until tomorrow!
Next summer my family is getting together for another beach week in Hatteras, NC. I like to take some sort of gift for everyone. The first year was right after I started making glass so I took all of my glass pieces for everyone to pick something. The last time we made TShirts to celebrate one of Mom's milestone birthdays. I decided on tie dye beach towels for next summer. It seemed to make sense to get started early! Here are the first 2 of 16. I think I'm going to do all of them in spiral patterns. One of my brothers HATES tie dyes so I might dye one solid blue just for him. These came from Dharma Trading and they dye beautifully.
Only 14 more to go!
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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