Sunday, January 29, 2012


Well here is the final steps and the results.  Before I go on with that, I have to say that I was quite surprised and happy with the final results.  There was some apprehension on my part after I got all the dye on the snow.  Even before I rinsed and washed the fabric, I was more than a little worried that this may have been a failed experiment.  But here are the final steps and the end result.......

Alright, fast forward to 3 hours after the dye has been applied to the snow and fabric.  I had to take a sneak peek to see what was going on.  Here are a couple of comparison pictures of when the dye was applied and how different it looked just 3 hours later.
Right after the dye was applied to the snow and fabric

3 hours after the dye was applied
 Big difference, right??  Now we're going to fast forward to 3 more hours after that.  That's 6 hours after the dye was first applied.  Put your gloves back on and flip your fabric so that the snow is all on your tulle and the fabric is on top.  Shake as much snow off as you can and move your fabric to a bucket.

Here's the fabric after "the flip"  Color is still pretty intense

  I moved my fabric into the house here and used the kitchen sink.  If you have a laundry sink, that would be even better or you could just leave it in the bucket, but that would be a lot more work!  Using cool water rinse the fabric.  After a couple of cool rinses, there should be less and less color bleeding.  When there is very little color showing in the rinse water, now it's time to wash.  In warm water use some gentle liquid dishsoap and wash the fabric.  Again I did this by hand in the sink and then rinse in the warm water.

Rinsing in the sink.  Colors are STILL intense!  YIKES!!
 Now the fabric has been rinsed several times, washed and rinsed.  For the FINAL step, I moved my fabric to the washer.  Use the hot wash/warm rinse cycle and a textile soap like Synthrapol (it came in my kit with the dyes that I ordered).  The directions said just a 1/4 teaspoon or use the liquid dish soap again.  Wash and dry and viola, it's finally done.  Are you "dyeing" to see the final results????  Big difference-

As you can see, the colors are a lot more subtle than even when it went into the washer.  The green ended up actually more of a gold color and the red became more of a pinky/burgandy/brown.  The tangerine stayed more in the orange family and was anywhere from a very pale salmon to the more intense orange.  There is some wonderful variations of color.  
Now I have to ask myself, is there anything that I would do different next time?  Not really because the result will be different every time.  Just have fun and play.  
It's winter and it's Iowa.  The combination of the 2 means snow.  Might as well put the stuff to "work" for me until spring comes!  Let me know if anyone has done this or if you try it.  Would LOVE to see the results. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012


You might think that I'm crazy, well that might be another blog someday, but at the end of last winter I read an article about snow dyeing fabric.  Since it was the end of winter and we had a record snowfall last year, I was pretty tired of snow by then.  I decided that I would tuck the article away and try next winter.  Well next winter is here.  While watching the snow falling last week, I remembered the article.  I began searching for all the dyes, soda ash and urea that I would need on line.  Well my dyes and supplies arrived on Thursday and this afternoon I set off for our garage with fabric and supplies in hand to try my first encounter with snow dyeing! 

If you're interested here is the supplies list. 
  • Dust mask (I bought mine at the hardware store)
  • Rubber gloves like the dishwashing type (again the hardware store)
  • Laundry sink or large plastic tote (Got my tote at the Dollar General)
  • non metallic screen or mesh (Tulle or nylon net, I used a double layer of tulle)
  • Large binder clips or small spring clamps
  • PFD (prepared for dyeing fabric)
  • Soda ash (sodium carbonate, not sodium bicarbonate)
  • Gallon bottle with lid (use a leftover milk jug)
  • Large funnel (Dollar Store or Dollar General)
  • Procion MX dyes (I found an autumn sampler of 6 fall color dyes at Pro Chemical Dye, also got my soda ash there)
  • Urea (nitrogen fertilizer, Pro Chemical has it also)
  • 12 or 16 oz bottle with tight fitting lids or squirt tops, one for each color you'll be using)
  • Large bucket
  • Rags and sponges (to clean up any messes!)
  • Old clothes and shoes or boots (again in case of a mess or spills)
  • SNOW!!!!!
  • Synthrapol textile detergent or liquid dish soap (The Synthrapol came in my sampler set from Pro Chemical and Dye)
Wearing a dust mask measure 1/2 c. soda ash into the gallon jug with a funnel.  Fill the jug halfway up with warm water, close tightly and shake.  Continue filling the rest with the warm water and shake more.  Put the fabric into a small tote or dishpan and pour the soda ash mixture over the fabric.  Make sure you have your rubber gloves on and squeeze through the fabric and let sit about 20 minutes while you prepare your dyes.  Here's my fabric soaking!
Now in your squirt bottles, mix 1 tablespoon of the dye and the urea with warm water.  Put the lid on and shake until all lumps are dissolved.  By the way, use your funnel to do this.  It's a lot less mess.  And make sure you have your dust mask and gloves on too!!  Let the dyes cool off a bit so the snow doesn't melt too fast!

 Next prepare your large tote for the fabric.  Place your double layer of tulle or your screen on the top of the tote and clamp with the large binder clips.  Use plenty, the fabric and snow are going to be heavy and better to have too many than not enough!  Now wearing your gloves squeeze out the fabric and arrange on the screen topped tote.  You can save the excess soda solution and reuse it again later.  Crumple the fabric up into hills and valleys but make sure you leave room around the outside of the screen for extra snow.  Rumor has it the more tightly crumpled fabric will give you more undyed white areas.  

Now it's time to play in the snow.  It doesn't have to be free of dirt and stick.  You're fabric is going to get rinsed anyway, but stay away from the yellow snow!!!  In a bucket, bring the snow in and cover the fabric about 2 inches thick.  Make sure the edges and corners are well covered.

It's time to dye!  You can squirt, pour, drizzle or drip or all of them!  Whatever floats your boat.  I used 3 color, turkey red, tangerine and loden.  I had no idea what color loden was.  Found out that it's green!!
For the darker colors, use more dye.  Here's what my dye covered snow looked like.....
I know it looks kinda gross.  This was taken right after I did it.  I just checked on the fabric and it's been about 1 1/2 hours since I applied the dyes and it has lightened up considerably.  I was a little worried that it would be UGLY when it was finished, but I feel better about the colors after just this amount of time.  Now I just have to continue waiting.  Guess you're supposed to wait about 6 hours. 

I'll play the waiting game and show the results and how to finish off the dyeing process in a blog tomorrow.  We'll see if this little science experiment is a success then!!  Fingers crossed!!!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Who doesn't love a mystery (quilt)?

Have you ever participated in a mystery quilt?  If not you are missing out on a lot of fun.  My Iowa Quilter's group decided that we would do a mystery quilt 2 years ago and I WAS HOOKED.  I just couldn't wait for the next clues to get emailed to me.  Each clue was like unwrapping a present bit by bit.  I had no idea what that quilt would look like until the final layout was emailed.  Everyone should try a mystery quilt at least once.  I guarantee that you'll be hooked too!

Here's my first mystery quilt from the Iowa Quilter's....
Along with they mystery quilt we also did a block swap.  Each participant selected their color way.  Mine was red, white and black, as you can tell.  Then we sent blocks to each participant in their color and you received the blocks in your colors from everyone else. 

I had so much fun doing this that when AQS announced their first online mystery quilt, I had to do that one too.  Here are the pictures from that one.......
                             These are the "in progress" blocks

And here is the finished top.....
The latest issue of McCall's Quilting is starting a 3 part mystery quilt.  I'm in the process of searching for just the right fabric for my next mystery quilt.  Hmmmmmm,I'm thinking oriental/asian theme.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why are we our own worst critics?

                                       Here's my first quilt!

Back in "the day" when I first started my addiction to making quilts, I figured it was good practice for me to make them and give them to friends.  They would go crazy over them and tell me how great they were and how much the liked and appreciated them.  But instead of accepting the compliments and being happy that they liked them, I always felt the need to point out the flaws (looking back, there were many :0)  )  Now that I've matured some in this craft, I look back and ask, why did I do that?  What was it in my nature that made me unable to accept that I had done something well?

This week I have been thinking about that quite a bit.  I have come up with several possible answers to why I did that and why I still feel the need sometimes to continue that inability to accept accolades from others.  I remember as a youngster my mother telling me that other people don't like to hear bragging.  She said that it made them feel bad.  But shouldn't we be happy for others when they do something well?  I know when a friend gets an award, shows me their new baby's picture, gets a new vehicle or buys a new home, etc., I'm always happy for them and want to hear all about the event.  So shouldn't we want to share with them our successes?  So I'm thinking that it's not my upbringing.

My second thought was, could it be a fear of failure?  Or better yet, a fear of success?  I believe that I'm on to something here.  No one likes to fail.  Let's face it, it doesn't feel good.  But no one is perfect, so failures are bound to happen.  Failure will hold us back if we let it.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Learn from mistakes and don't make them again, right?  My wise hubby has a saying, "You never know how you look, 'til you've had your picture took."  Guess what he was trying to say was you don't know if you can do something until you try.  I've learned a lot from him over the years and I know that it's not a fear of failure any more.  

So I guess that leaves me with a fear of success.  When we do something well, we have set the "bar" high in our minds.  So by acknowledging our flaws, whether they are big or small or even tiny, we always feel that the proverbial bar is not so high that we may never be able to reach it again.  We know how good it feels to achieve a goal.  The trick I suppose is to not let ourselves think that the bar is too high to ever achieve again.  Just be happy for that moment in the sun when all is right.  

So the next time someone pays you a compliment about something that you've done or even if you're having a good hair day, just smile and say thanks.  And be happy that for a brief moment someone appreciated you for who you are AND all that you are.

And on a slightly related subject, my first Scrap Squad quilt is done and should be posted here sometime next month.  (Just have to get the word that it's go time!)  And my new year's resolution was to do feathers and guess what!  I did feathers!!!!  And I have to say that they look pretty darned good.  Hey, I just paid myself a compliment and you know what.............It feels good.  I'll get the hang of this "it's OK to feel happy for yourself" thing sooner or later.  Practice, practice, practice!!  :0) 

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

     It's hard to believe that another year has gone by.  My Grandma always said that the older you get, the faster time goes by.  I thought she was crazy saying that when I was a kid, but she sure knew what she was talking about. 
     I have always thought that with the new year, it's a time to reflect on the past year.  You know, the where we are in our lives type thing.  What have I done's, the where have I been's.  With reflection on these is where our resolutions should come into play.  After this reflection on the past year, I find myself sometimes in a creative rut.  Looking back in the last year, I think that's where I have been.  When my friend Carol told my Iowa Quilter's group about the new 2012 Scrap Squad search, I thought, who would want to see my quilts?  I'm still a relative rookie in the quilt world.  But I have always been up for a challenge.  My hubby has long known how to get me to do something that he wants me to do, just by issuing a challenge in reverse pyschology.  "You'd never do anything like that!"  It took me years to figure out that's what he was doing!  Smart guy!!!!  So the Scrap Squad is one way that I'm going to break that creative rut. 
     My resolution this year for breaking out is to learn landscape quilting.  I bought the book on the how to's and have played some with the technique, but now is the time to go for it.  I find myself in the car looking at the way trees grow, the horizon, shadows etc and see them in a whole different way.  I love looking at photographs and there is something calling to me in them.  For me, it's soooo out of my element.  My elementary school was small growing up and the most we got from art class was coloring.  My high school wasn't much better.  I went to an all girls catholic school (that's right, all girls!!) and the sisters thought that we should be spending our time learning to be leaders in the world (they were the orginal women's libbers), so art classes were not a priority.  Consequently, I never learned to draw and spacial elements.  Well, OK, I can draw a mean stick man!  So, for my resolution, landscape quilting it is.  Sometime in this year, I will make my first real landscape quilt.
     My second resolution is to master feathers.  I LOVE FEATHERS!!!  There is something so graceful about them.  Again I have bought the book and have played, but yet to add them to my quilts.  Well, I'm about to accomplish my feathers.  My first Scrap Squad quilt is underway and I will do feathers on it.  YIKES!!!  So when I post my pictures on here in another month, the first of my resolutions will be accomplished.
     My challenge for the new year to anyone reading this, is to exam where you have been in the last year and then challenge yourself to be a better you.  Whether it's the old stand by of losing weight, quiting smoking, jumping out of an airplane or breaking your own creative rut, it's a new year and time to be a new you.
Practice makes perfect!  And I'll be ready soon to add feathers to  my quilts!!!