How NOT to…

or, a lament for the art lessons I didn’t get to go to

I’ve spent a merry weekend trying my hand at a spot of dyeing. I’ve had an idea for the next lockdown stashbuster quilt; it will be a trial run for one I’m keen to make for another “real” baby. It involves hot air balloons, and hot air balloons generally float in the sky, weather permitting. I don’t have any fabric that would work as a summer sky, but I did have an old sheet I could dye to the right sort of colour.

So I invested in a tub of Dylon’s Ocean Blue, which struck me as a fairly close colour to what I wanted. I decided to quarter the fabric & try tie-dyeing it, in a variety of patterns; I had a fairly good idea of how that’s done, and I was really pleased with the results, despite long ago having had to go & do battle with Latin and Physics in drab classrooms when my friends were having real fun dyeing & stitching in the fabulously-equipped art & craft studios at school. (That still rankles!) But I also wanted to try out stitch-resist/shibori dyeing; I have had a project in mind for years now, involving a LOT of old tablecloths of one sort or another, and shibori dyeing plays a big part in my plan. One of my fellow Guild members is rather expert at this, makes the most lovely things, and runs courses which I am keen to attend; I haven’t actually managed to get to one yet, though. But I have watched her tutorials…

I put out a plea on our local Freegle/Freecycle groups for some more old sheets to practice on, and was delighted to receive a big bag of lovely high-quality cotton sheets & linen tablecloths. I also ordered some more Dylon; I know my limitations and exact weights of chemically-lively substances are not my best starting place, especially not if my indefatigable feline assistant is in attendance. So I cut up another sheet, tied 3/4 of it in one way or another, quartered the remaining piece and earnestly stitched some patterns onto those.

Poppy “assisting” with the tying…

BUT I idiotically ignored Annabel’s advice about which thread to use. I had a big cone of very tough linen upholstery thread, and smugly thought, I’m sure that will be perfect. Not so! I should have realised, because it was very hard to thread needles & tie knots in it; the ply kept splitting, though it certainly doesn’t break easily. But I’m good at knots and thought they’d hold… Of course, they didn’t. My heart sank when I opened the washing machine & saw loose threads visible amongst the now-green cotton. The tie-dyes came out well, but all I have of most of my carefully-stitched patterns are needle-holes in plain green fabric! A few did hold in places, and there are faint ghostly traces of leaves and stars and spirals here & there, but – mostly not. The thread seems to have actually stretched, as well as un-plying & un-knotting itself; I suppose upholstery threads don’t often get wet & just aren’t designed to withstand a soaking. Plus the agitation in the washing machine was probably too energetic and worked the dye in too well once it had started to loosen.

A very faint undone-stitch spiral, and tiny traces of grass-heads, but a nice clear bit of tie-dye…

Ah well! A lesson learnt. Learning to listen to people who really know what they’re doing, and take good advice, and also how NOT to do something, isn’t really time wasted. But now I have to think of what to do with 4 x 1/16ths of a large sheet of pretty much plain green cotton…though I do have these to play with as well…

These did turn out how I wanted them!

Oh, and that “real” baby? The one I need to make a quilt for? I’m going to be a Gran

2 thoughts on “How NOT to…

  1. Jayne February 12, 2021 / 7:52 am

    Good luck with “stashbusting”. In the last couple of weeks I have sewed nearly 80 log cabin blocks thinking they would make something of a dent in a collection of plaid fabrics. {rolls eyes and laughs ironically} They have made no appreciable dent whatsoever.

    Love your dylon experiment even if it did not come out exactly as you intended.

    • thriftwizard February 12, 2021 / 9:05 am

      Thanks, Jayne! I do have to make a hole in my stash, somehow; it’s definitely got to the beyond-life-expectancy stage! And the Scrapstore can’t take donations just now as they haven’t any space to quarantine stuff. We have no. 3 son returning home shortly after 10 years of mostly living/studying/teaching away & need to find a spare corner for him amidst the fabric…

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