natural dye

The Race Is On

Today is Friday, October 19th, and probably our last day in the upper 50’s, which means my indigo vat has one last round before hibernating for the winter.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

Fabrics are soaking, and the clock is ticking. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands in that big blue vat! If you’ve followed along on Instagram, you’ll have had a glimpse at an average dye day and how it moves from hour to hour throughout the day. Suffice it to say, with all of the dyeing these past few weeks, there will be a shop update very soon!

These action photos were taken by my very talented friend Tracy Altieri, and you can find her gorgeous blog here and on Instagram @myretiringlife. On this particular dye day, Tracy swiftly captured me gingerly shaking out the fabric immediately upon exiting the vat. The fabric transitions from a yellow-green to blue-green and then to a majestic blue, as seen below. The blue deepens with each dip in the vat. This process never ceases to delight and impress! With that, I’m off to the vat, tick tock!

Indigo dyed sateen drying among the dogwoods.

Indigo dyed sateen drying among the dogwoods.

A   shop   update is quickly approaching!

A shop update is quickly approaching!

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

Stay tuned for next week’s post!

Friday, October 26th is my day on the fun-filled blog hop for Karen Lewis’s chic new book, Wabi-Sabi Sewing! Meet the entire line up of talented, generous sewers and quilters on the blog hop which begins Wednesday, October 24th with Svetlana Sotak at http://www.sotakhandmade.blogspot.com. I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog hop celebrating Karen’s book. Follow along to see gorgeous examples several of us have made from the book. There will be giveaways, too, including one happening right here! You won’t want to miss it!

A hidden clue for next week’s exciting post. Can you spot it?

A hidden clue for next week’s exciting post. Can you spot it?

I hope this weekend brings you some of what you love most about fall! See you next week!

#MakeDoQuilt Challenge

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

If you're a quilter and are on Facebook or Instagram, you likely know about Sherri Lynn Wood's #MakeDoQuilt Challenge. I'm joining the challenge, and sincerely hope you will, too! 

In a nutshell, Sherri Lynn's challenge to quilt makers is to make at least one quilt in a year's time using only found textiles; for example, discarded clothing and household linens, garage sale and thrift shop finds, clothing swaps with friends, etc.. She states that you get extra points for salvaging the batting and backing, too! Read Sherri Lynn's post for all the details and thoughtful back story: http://daintytime.net/2016/08/11/make-do-challenge/

Her challenge resonates with me on a few levels: as a quilter who loves a challenge; as a dyer who is seeking best practices for our health and the earth's health; as a textile artist who wants to leave as small a footprint as possible. I'm both compelled and excited to participate! Plus, there's tons of inspiration already happening on Instagram, #MakeDoQuilt, by other talented quilters joining in. What a great idea - thank you Sherri Lynn Wood!

This challenge already has me approaching the quilt process in a new way. I'm keenly aware of the variety of textures and weights of the fabrics I've pulled (photo above). The quantity of each fabric now plays an integral and critical part of the design process, designing according to what I have. Quilt strategy at its best!  

Pursuing my interest in feeling closer to our quilting heritage, I'm looking to antique quilts for design inspiration. Here are three from "The American Quilt" by Roderick Kiracofe: 

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going!    Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going! 

Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket!   Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket!

Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful.   Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful.

Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

In addition to pushing one's own creative limits, there's a second element to Sherri Lynn's challenge, and that is increasing one's awareness of the huge problem the world is facing regarding fabric, landfills and our soil and water supply.

Overconsumption is a problem for us all. As a quilter, if the making of even one quilt can begin to affect change, then I'm all in. Every effort counts! Recently, I posted about how each piece of cloth is handled here in the studio, and the truth is, every scrap is accounted for. None of it goes in the trash. 

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

I'll post my #MakeDoQuilt updates here and on my IG feed. Do you have any questions for me? Are you participating, too? Let's get some conversation going, and I'd love to hear and see how you're meeting the #MakeDoQuilt Challenge!

The Westwater Tunic

My tunic is linen with my own eco-dyed silk at the back yoke (detail, right). Do you see a butterfly/ moth? The drape and weight of linen makes it a nice choice for this garment. The tunic can be worn so many ways, it's a real wardrobe work horse! Sam gives options for handling View A's front closure. I chose the one-button closure.

While at Squam, my tunic didn't actually have a button. At home, I tried both antler and horn buttons from my stash, but they all felt too masculine. Who saved the day? Sarah Waldo Jagger! While sewing in her class at Squam, she came over to my side and held out the perfect button, explaining that she found it at the bottom of her sewing basket. That's Squam love right there. Thank you Sarah! 

In the months leading up to Squam Art Workshops, Elizabeth Duvivier announced the release of the Westwater Tunic pattern co-designed by herself and Samantha Lamb. I bought my copy, chose my fabrics and eagerly set to work. 

I loved the process and the end result so much that I decided to bring my finished tunic to Squam and show Elizabeth and Samantha.

They were both so kind, and made me feel good about my work. Personally, I credit Sam for her exceptional technical writing, not to mention loads of helpful photos. The collar (which I had been fearing) was actually a breeze! I would definitely make this garment again, and would try View B, which is a pull over rather than button front.

In this time of indie designers, social media and movements like #whomadeyourclothes, being able to connect one-on-one with the designer is important. For me personally, meeting the designer makes the process and the finished piece even more meaningful, bringing me closer to the garment.        

I'm especially grateful to Elizabeth Duvivier for creating Squam Art Workshops, a most magical, soul-filling experience deep in the woods of New Hampshire.