“Dyeing To Design”

“Dyeing To Design”

I almost didn’t post this today as it’s Election Day and figured many of us would be out voting or thinking about voting or waiting in anxiety for the presidential election’s outcome and then I thought – a perfect time for some levity while waiting in line to vote or for those reading this from elsewhere… okay not sure where I’m going with this, so here it is…

“Dyeing to Design” is the title of the terrific five week online class I’m taking given by the talented artist Elizabeth Barton through the Academy of Quilting.  I wrote about the first week ‘here‘ and promised to write about the second.

I started the second week by pretty much dyeing every bit of white cotton fabric I had.  Seriously.  I went through the ten yards that was suppose to last us the entire five weeks of the class.  Restraint is not a strong suit.   In addition I went through so much dye that I realized I was not going to have enough to get me through the rest of the course, which meant I had to order both fabric and dye.  Waiting was excruciating.  I was going to work in a pun using the word “dyeing”, but restrained myself.  See. I try where and when I can. While I waited however, I had all these beautiful fabrics to look at and consider for my next design.

The design I decided to do used shapes I come back to again and again, long ago when I was a fashion designer, now still designing jewelry and again this past week while using my hand dyed fabrics.  Let’s not spend any time analyzing this, yes?


*R17YG copy 2

R17 – 18 Kt Brushed Gold


I chose two colors to work with, red and, with Elizabeth’s suggestion, an olive color.  Elizabeth encouraged me to play with the olive color using it’s various gradations, which of course required more fabric that I didn’t have.  Not easily thwarted, I pulled out some muslin and dyed that.  It was at this point that the faucet in the kitchen sink suddenly stopped working.  It was a drought.  Nothing, but the slightest trickle of water, a whisper, really.  However, we have a slop sink in the pantry.  It was one of my brilliant ideas when we gutted the place; I envisioned our loft as a veritable greenhouse with furniture.  Think Max’s bedroom when he falls asleep in Where the Wild Things Are.  This vision of mine never came to fruition and so the slop sink became a receptacle for rags, cleaning supplies and other items no one knew what else to do with.  And to add insult to injury underneath the sink we keep the kitty litter box.  As we live in NYC our “pantry,” while sounding grand and spacious, is actually the size of a very, very small closet, combined with the kitty litter under foot, a stacked washer and dryer, the slop sink overflowing with assorted cleaning supplies… Let’s face it, it’s really really cramped.

I was determined to make it work, and while this made for some interesting maneuvering on my part, I did fall in love with my slop sink, but not so much that I didn’t call the plumber.  He came a few days later and fixed the kitchen faucet, but in the meantime I washed all my dyed fabrics in my now beloved slop sink inside our closet, I mean pantry.  It was all very Alice in Wonderlandish.

Two days later, after the sink was working again I came home to the smell of smoke and asked FH (fabulous husband) what happened.  “Well,” FH said, and then after a lengthy pause and with a pained expression he finally added, “I think our washing machine blew up.”  I would have suspected wild exaggeration on his part had it not been for the lingering evidence of noxious smoke wafting through our home.  Evidently he was doing a load of laundry and heard a loud bang.  He went over to investigate to find smoke billowing out of our front loader.  You have no idea how happy I am that I was not there to witness.  So for the next few weeks we are without a washing machine.  But I digress… Here is the preliminary piece on my design wall.


Slowly it began to take shape and as everything seemed to be falling apart, exploding, going dry and whatever else, my sewing machine, not wanting to be left out of all the fun, decided it was no longer going to play nice with my walking foot, perhaps it was taking a cue from our presidential race, requiring me to spend more than five hours watching various you tube videos, reading the instructions over and over again to troubleshoot.  There were a LOT of late, late nights.  Eventually I was able to convince my sewing machine it was in its own best interest to get along and all is well.  In actuality I realized that my walking foot was causing the automatic threader to jam.  When I thread it manually everything works.

After I did the quilting I decided to add some hand stitching, but couldn’t decide whether to do more or take it all out.  So what does one do when you’re not sure?  Ask Elizabeth and others in the class for feedback, of course!


Which led to this…kyoto_front

And here’s the back.kyoto_bach

The third week of the class is well underway, my fabric arrived, the sink is running as is my walking foot (haha) and oh what fun I’m having!   We are learning basic Shibori arashi dyeing.  I still don’t have a washing machine, (and have two teenagers in the house) but these are luxury problems.   I haven’t figured out what I’m doing with my beautiful dyed fabrics, but will come up with something in the next day or so.  Here’s a sneak peak at this weeks dyeing and drying New York City style.  shibori-drying-copyAnd I didn’t make a single dye joke.  The title doesn’t count because it’s Elizabeth’s name for her class.  How can you not love that title?  I may go back and edit a few in, just to amuse, or you can make a few in the comments!