Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Natural Dyeing

In these lazy days of summer (boy is it hot and humid here in Abu Dhabi!) it is fun to kick back and play.  I have done a lot of fabric dyeing using Procion dyes but I have been wanting to experiment using natural dyes and see what results I could get.  While I was in Michigan, I found this wonderful book by Sasha Duerr, The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes in which she using all kinds of natural things in your kitchen to dye both plant and animal fibers.
My first experiment was with Turmeric Powder. As a mordant or fixative to bind the dye to the fabric, I first boiled the fabric in an aluminum pot, which is one of the easiest mordant methods. I used cotton, silk, and scrim or you may know it as cheesecloth. The silk is so vibrant while the color of the cotton is much more subtle. Three very different shades depending on the type of fabric used.
My next experiment was with Blackberries. Yum! The great thing about dyeing with natural ingredients is you get to eat your way through your dye process. Lovely soft, dusty color on the silk.  Very vintage looking.
I also made a stronger mixture of blackberries and dyed these white wooden prayer beads that I purchased on my India trip. The wood really absorbed the color.

I am looking forward to trying some other natural dye materials such as red cabbage, mint, onion skins, and hibiscus tea, just to name a few.  What fun and inspiring fabric to use in projects. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


After traveling for an extended time, it is taking me a while to get caught up on my sewing and blogging. I will catch you up as quickly as I can. I hate being behind schedule!

We quilters and lovers of textiles enjoy every aspect of our craft and I especially enjoyed seeing in India how differently things are done. A lot of work is done on the street and it was exciting to see and appreciate the similarities and the differences.

This gentleman was a local tailor. Whenever my studio becomes disorganized or I think it is way too messy, I just need to look at this photo to remind myself that productivity can take place anywhere, under some extreme circumstances!  His sewing machine sat about two feet from the street curb. Push and shove was his storage technique! I could relate. I use that technique at times too in my studio.

This gentleman was dying a piece of red silk fabric.
 To dry it, he waved it up and down in the wind and sunshine. Lovely!
This group of gentlemen were beading designs on the this lovely green silk. It reminded me of an old quilting bee, as they sat together around a frame chatting and seeming to enjoy their work and each others company.
I don't like to iron clothes but I do enjoy ironing my quilt fabric because it is during the ironing process that I get a lot of good ideas. It's rhythmic, soothing, and peaceful, conducive to letting your mind wander and dream of wonderful designs. This woman was the local ironing shop and she set up her workspace in front of her home on the street. Her iron was an antique model that was heated with coals placed inside the iron. Very effective for getting out those stubborn wrinkles. Notice the lovely flower designs carved in the wall behind her. She was so friendly and happy to chat with us once she knew we all appreciated the work she was doing and our fascination with her iron.

For my May Journal Block, which is my 3rd circle block, I took inspiration from the flowers that fill India. They are everywhere. From the real blooms...
 to the drawn and painted blooms.

Flowers grace the homes, the hotels, the palaces and shops.

Especially lovely is the floral embroidery that is incorporated in so many of the textiles of India.

When you think of India, these stylized flowers immediately come to mind.

My May Journal Block, the 3rd circle block, was done in all hand dyed fabrics and hand quilted. The flowers were done using traditional applique and the leaves were done in fusible applique, with a hand feather stitch edging the leaves. The stems of the leaves are done in a Stem Stitch using a Size 8 embroidery thread.   To set off the colors of the flowers, I used a two color binding and introduced a third color by Stem Stitching along the seam line of the two color binding with a purple Size 8 embroidery thread.

 The flower centers are fusible applique, sewn in position using irregular long stitches, using 2 strands of a 6-strand embroidery floss. Small beads were sewn randomly to the threads.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Cookies for You

When I was at International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City, a promotional bookmark, with a cookie recipe on the back, was given out at the launch of my new book Quilting Those Flirty 30's. Inside the book you will find 12 more family favorites.  I wanted to share this recipe with you.  They are delicious!

Carrot Chip Cookies 
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugars, and eggs in a large bowl. Blend in carrots. Mix all dry ingredients together and add to carrot mixture.  Beat just until blended. Stir in nuts and chips. Drop by rounded teaspoon full on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Makes approximately 4 dozen. Enjoy!

If you would like to read more about Quilting Those Flirty 30's, visit the publisher's website at  You will also be able to read the Author Interview which I had with Durby Peterson of Martingale and Company.