To Dye For

Don’t you love hand-dyed fabric? Making it yourself is really fun. I’ve dyed fabric before, but packed away those fabric painting and dyeing dreams when we started remodeling several years ago. Daily life has been enough of a juggle without dripping wet dye cloths around our compressed living quarters. Now that we’re in the ‘putting-it-all-back-together’ phase, those fun fabric projects are finally getting off the backburner.

Dye supplies


Last Saturday I went to a guild-sponsored workshop on fabric dyeing. Sheri Wood, of White Robin Designs, was the instructor, and she made everything fun.


Bleach-printed fabrics



The first part of the class was devoted to discharge dyeing. In very basic terms, that means bleaching away portions of already-dyed cloth. Sheri explained the process and demo’d several different techniques, then turned the group loose on a pile of fabric. We made freezer paper resists, painted and stamped with thickened seaweed goo and glue, and learned several simple tie-dye type techniques for creating patterned fabrics.

Gradation-dyed fabric




The afternoon class was crammed with several different dye techniques. Mottled fabrics were made in tiny plastic cups, freezer tubs housed layered gradations, and seaweed goo made an encore appearance, this time in color!


Visually textured fabrics



All in all, it was a very fun day.

It’s Sew Fun!

Drg_sw1I have a tendency to get too tangled up in the ‘to-do’ list. Once I cross something off the list, it’s quite literally off my mind. So, at any given time, I tend to have a rather lengthy list…and once in a while, I get a really nice surprise!

That was the case earlier this week, when I received a delivery from DRG, the company that publishes Sewing Savvy magazine. The surprise was inside–a fresh-off-the-press copy of their new Sew It in a Weekend hardcover book!



Two of my designs are included in the collection of 57 quick-to-complete projects. The Autumn Print T-shirt features fabric printed leaves appliqued on ready-to-wear t-shirts. Express Yourself features quick-to-construct bags with tips for making simple stencils and using Shiva Paintstiks. (I’d forgotten how much fun those were to make!) Plus, there are tons of projects by sewing greats like Linda Turner Griepentrog, Carol Zentgraf and Lynn Weglarz.


Check out the book at DRG’s website and order online from Then grab a few hours and get stitching!

Painted Leaves

Yellow painted leafPaint plus leaf. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. This is a great project if you want to make something, but aren’t feeling too artistically inclined. You’ll be surprised how a tiny bit of paint dabbling recharges and refuels your creative energy. It’s that “What if…?” effect taking place.

To get started, gather up a bit of washed cotton fabric*, fabric paint**, paint brushes and leaves. Green leaves that aren’t too slick seem to work best. I’ve had good luck with maple, oak, and walnut leaves. Holly leaves seem to be a bit too smooth to hold the paint. Dried and fragile end of season leaves usually won’t hold up to the process.

Protect your work surface with a plastic drop cloth or old shower curtain liner and place the fabric right side up on the flat surface. Paint one side of a leaf with fabric paint. Use paint straight out of the jar, mix colors on a palette, or right on the leaf! There’s no right or wrong here. Once the leaf is lightly coated with paint, place it paint side down on the cotton fabric and gently press the painted leaf to the fabric with your fingers. Don’t forget the stem! When you’re sure you’ve finger-pressed the entire leaf, carefully lift the leaf away from the fabric. Congratulations! You’ve just made a print!
Green and yellow painted leafEach leaf can be used several times. Try both sides of leaves to see which works best. Don’t worry about smudged edges–it just adds to the effect. To make the yellow-orange sample shown at top, I painted the leaf, placed it on the fabric, and smoothed the back of the leaf with my brush. While the leaf was still on the fabric, I brushed a bit of extra paint around the leaf edges to help define the shape.

Overlap leaves to create a collage, or use leaf shapes as a resist and paint around the edges. Try both drybrush (not much water) and wet effects. There’s so much you can do with this one simple technique!

Painted leaf


*Washing the fabric removes any manufacturer finishes that might interfere with paint adhesion.
**I used Jacquard’s Textile paints for the samples shown here. A great selection of colors is available, and the paints can be heat set with a few seconds of ironing.