Do you design to dye or dye to design?

Posted by on 29 June 2017 | 0 Comments


Do you choose your fabric after you've decided on your design or do you dye to design? Elizabeth Barton's technique of Dyeing To Design is the latter approach and here is an excerpt taken from the beginning of her online workshop. Wow, I learned something in the first few paragraphs, there's no telling how much more I can learn by enrolling in her workshop!

I recommend that from the very beginning of this project you plan a specific size for the suggestion is 18" x 24". This has a pleasing proportion, does not take too much fabric or time and you can work with a horizontal landscape presentation or a vertical portrait one. Furthermore, four quilts of this size hang together very nicely

Each quilt will feature a different surface design technique and, as we go on, it will be possible to use fabric from the previous week if you wish. This will be especially true of the fabric from this first week as we are going to dye a straightforward gradation of values.

In the first lesson we make enough dye solution for all five lessons! Dye will keep for months, if it is properly used and stored. When refrigerated, it will lose its potency at a very slow rate, perhaps 5% a month.
It is extremely efficient to make up a batch of dye concentrates so that you do not have to mix dye fresh for each project. I mix up a big batch about twice a year and that means I always have dye available. If you can store the dye solution, then you are not throwing away excess dye, which often happens if you are mixing it up fresh each time you dye.

We are not going to cover dyeing particular hues in any detail this class. We are working with six basic colors. This is not the place to learn 1,000 different colors, most of which you will probably never use. If you really get into dyeing, my suggestion is to systematically work through different combinations of all the basic colors and gradually make yourself a chart of the outcomes.

If you wish, after class you can approach color mixing quite methodically. .....

Always cut out a sample of each result and mark clearly which dyes were used and in which proportion. I glue them onto poster board and make a big poster; it is much easier to see and to find quickly how you obtained a certain color. You can hang the poster in your dye studio!

Do not mix too many different dye colors together; otherwise you will end up with mud. Two different dyes are enough except in rare circumstances where you might want to deliberately muddy a color a little.

Many color choices and color mixing ideas are similar to those a painter makes. When you paint you want a wide range of colors, but also you want them to go together to look pleasing when used in a single painting or quilt. The way to do this is to start with a limited range of colors. You also want to be able to achieve a wide range of colors. To do this, you need to have a cool and a warm version of each of the primary colors.

Nantahala by Elizabeth Barton - surface design, dyeing techniqueThe dyes I have asked you to get are:

a cool yellow
a strong orange which can be added to:
 - the cool yellow to make a warm yellow
 - a cool red to make a warm red
a cool red
a warm blue
a cool blue

In Lesson 3, you can learn how to make the surface texture featured in the photo - a really easy and fun way!

.... Elizabeth Barton
Excerpt taken from Dyeing to Design

About Dyeing to Designs Online Workshop: Five Lessons - five techniques - five quilts! In this class, you learn how to dye using a low water method, how to achieve gradations of color (so important and useful in good quilt design), how to do arashi shibori AND two kinds of screen printing using dye. A smorgasbord of dye techniques… plus tips on making a small quilt to showcase each technique. When you sign up for this on-demand class, you have 10 weeks of dedicated time with Elizabeth. You can start as soon as you register or dedicate a date you wish to start.  Read more...


quilting classes available at the Academy of Quilting

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