Dyeing Easter Eggs (opps! I mean fabric)

Happy Easter! Now is the time to dye some eggs but I have been dying fabric instead. I have been experimenting with over-dying fabric. You know the fabric, “what was I thinking when I bought this, was I drunk?” and all that fabric I inherited from Mom, Mom I love you but your favorite colors were not mine. Don’t forget about those dated fabrics, you know the ones, that were bought in the 70’s, 80’s & 90″s. This is really a quick and easy way to re-purpose fabric. I used Rit Dye because it is fast and doesn’t care so much about ph, soda ash, pre-treat, dye activators and the processes used for the good dyes. Some of the fabrics I was using were dark so I decided to remove some color by “discharging” which means soaking it in bleach water. I bleached several fabrics with a variety of results. I have been playing with bleach products for other purposes, every time I do it I learn more. I have these buckets that I used for dying and I tossed some of the darker or really ugly fabrics in the tubs of bleach water. I checked on them about every 15 minutes, took some out and let some stay longer. Some stubborn ones got to spend the night in the tub, interestingly they were not any different in the morning. So, I learned, fabrics that are heavily printed or have metalic ink really don’t care about bleach. In the morning I treated all of the fabric with bleach stop and then washed the fabrics.
Many colors discharged to pink, even if they started as other colors.

Now to the dying.
First off I picked 3 boxes of dye, fuchsia, green and turquoise. I wanted to see what the different fabrics would do. I tore the fabrics in to 3 parts to have some of each in each color. I used other fabrics other than the bleached ones also. The white on white fabrics were really interesting.
I took 4 cups of boiling water and poured it into a tub. Dissolved the dye in the hot water and then added hot tap water, so that I had about a gallon. Then put the fabric into the tub. Paint sticks work great for this. I then added a little more water and stirred them a bit. I purposely did it this way because I wanted a variation in the color. If you want it more solid you would separate each fabric and dye them separately in a larger water bath or in the washing machine. I unfolded most of the pieces so it was a more crinkle or modeled look.
When I was done with one color I did the same for the other 2 colors. By the time I was done with the third color I checked the first color and decided it was dark enough and rinsed them in warm water to get rid of the extra dye and threw them back in the bucket. The fabric probably soaked about a half hour.

Tree Table Runner Tutorial

Tuesday about 11:30am I was called by Eileen Torgerson asking if I could present a program for the Falls Quilt Guild that evening. Evidently the planned program had to be canceled. I told her I would come up with something. I had been thinking about a technique that I had presented a few years ago when we made bookmarks. Over the weekend I saw a variation on the technique that got the ideas going. So, here it goes.

Select 3 fabrics ,I will call them a top fabric, flip fabric and base fabric. You will want contrast between the top fabric and the other 2 fabrics.
Cut 13 x 25 piece of each of the 3 fabrics. Cut a piece of fusible web 12.5 x 24.5. Use your preferred brand of fusible web. I used Wonder Under because that is what I had on hand. If you are using a fusible that does not have a paper backing you will need to apply it using a Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper. Refer to product instructions for appropriate application.
Apply fusible web to back of top fabric, let cool and peel off paper.

Fuse the flip fabric to the top fabric with wron
g sides together. Press well so that the 2 fabrics are completely fused together.

Draw a line down the center of the topper on the flip fabric side.
Make a stencil from your pattern by cutting away the appropriate area as marked on the pattern.

Line up the stencil center line with the bottom of the tree 2 inches from the side of the topper. Mark the cutting lines.

Mark the other end of the topper in the same way.
With sharp scissors, cut on each of the cutting lines, from the center line to the center line.
Flip the cut fabric over so that the flip fabric is on the top fabric and you have open space where the fabric was flipped.

Press flat. Place base fabric under top fabric so that it shows through. Pin the flipped part down.
Square up the topper to the size you would like it.

Layer it on batting and a backing fabric.
Stitch the raw edges with your preferred method, I used a straight stitch but if you prefer the buttonhole or zig-zag go for it. By stitching this after it is layered you are securing the raw edges and quilting at the same time. Quilt as you prefer. I placed holly berries and leaves and then filled in with a background stitch but that is way more quilting than you need. I didn’t quilt in the trees because I wanted then to puff out.

Bind the outer edge. What a quick and easy project to use up some of the Christmas fabric that seems to accumulate. I think this would be cool to do on a tree skirt. I would make wedge shapes with the trees on the outside edge, alternating colors.

You could use this technique with any shape and any fabric. My friend Jenny suggested making snowflakes or pumpkins. I can’t wait to try hearts for Valentine’s Day. I added a heart design to the pattern for you to play with.

Ok, so that got me thinking about placing the trees around in a circle so I tried this second option. I cut 3 squares 18 x 18. Cut fusible web 17.5 x 17.5, not rocket science since the fusible web is 17.5 inches wide. Fuse the top fabric to the flip fabric so that you have wrong sides together. Square up the fabric so that it is 17.5 x 17.5.

Mark lines corner to corner and center to center so that all 4 lines cross in the center.

Using the smaller tree pattern create a stencil to mark your fabric. Place the tree stencil so that the bottom of the tree is ¾ inch from the edge of the fabric on either the horizontal or vertical line. Mark the cutting line. This time there is only one cutting line.

Measure the distance from the top of the tree to the center where all lines cross. Move the stencil so you are marking on the diagonal line placing the top of the tree the same distance from the center point and mark the cutting line. Continue around the piece until you have all 8 trees marked. The top of the trees should all be the same distance from the center point.

Cut along the cutting line. Flip each tree along the center line and press in place. Place base fabric right side up under the fused fabrics to fill in the holes. You can make this an octagon or a circle or leave it square, your choice. Layer and quilt as desired.

Pillowcases Made Quick and Easy

I am sitting here at one of my favorite places in the world making pillowcases for the VA hospital in Helena.  Big Sky Quilts has adopted this charity project after completing their previous one for Montana Soldiers.  It is a great way to use up some of the fabric stash and left overs.  You know the ones, OMG, there is fishing fabric I don’t have…. now what do I do with it. My favorite use for these pillowcases is in the foster care system, children enter the system with the clothes on their back and acquire a few things along the way.  As they move through the system they typically take their belongings in a plastic grocery bag, it is much nicer to have a pillowcase bag that is your own to keep your things in.

There are quite a few different instructions out there for a making a pillowcases but I thought I would share my version.  It is quick and easy, has an attitude strip,  doesn’t require much pinning and has all enclosed seams. I have made MANY of these pillowcases  for various gifts and donations.  I like to use flannel because it is so soft but if you are sewing with flannel I suggest a more generous seam allowance.  Making pillowcases is one instance when I DO pre-wash in warm water to shrink the fabric before construction.

Cutting Instructions:

Main Fabric: Cut 1 WOF (Width of Fabric) 27 inches

Border Fabric: Cut 1 WOF 9 inches

Attitude Strip: Cut 1 WOF 1.25 inches









Sewing Instructions:

Place 9 inch strip right side up. If directional fabric is used lay with the top at the top 🙂 As in make the horse right side up.

Next lay main fabric piece right side up on top of the 9 inch strip with the cut edges even.  If the selvages don’t match up exactly don’t worry about it.  Let one piece extend.

Next you will  fold the attitude strip in half lengthwise with right sides out.  If you would like to press this in half you can but I don’t.  I just fold it and hold it, sew a ways and fold again.  Match the cut edges of the 3 pieces and sew the width of the fabrics with approximately 1/4 inch seam allowance.  What I actually do is just aim down the middle of the folded attitude strip and call it good.  It seems to keep the attitude strip an even width this way. I sew this without pinning. It really doesn’t matter what the seam allowance is, just make it all the same.











Now roll the main fabric up.  With the border fabric on the bottom and the main fabric rolled up close to the previous sewing line, bring the border fabric up and pin so the cut edges are even and the roll is inside the border fabric.  I match the border fabric selvage edges and the cut edges.  Pin ends, center and half way between the 3 pins.  Sew this with the previous stitching on top.  Sew on the previous stitch line or or use a slightly wider seam allowance so the previous stitching will not show.   You end up with one long sausage tube.













Now it is time for the birthing process. It is actually too easy to call it the birthing process but it is time to get what is on the inside to the outside. So, grab the rolled up fabric on the inside and fold the border fabric back so that it is right side out.  As you pull the main fabric out the border will become right side out. How cool is that??












Time to press it flat.  If you have done it correctly you will have the main fabric on top, the attitude strip showing and the border fabric encasing the seam.  If your edges are not even (because the fabrics were not all the exact same width) now is the time you can square things up.  Trim what needs trimming. If the selvage is wide and going to show you can trim that off as well.  Here is where the exact size is really not going to matter.  No 2 pillows are exactly the same so why should pillow cases have to be exact? Life is too short to worry about that.  You just want the width at the border to be the same as the width at the bottom. Confession time here, I just line it up  so it is parallel and sew it, you will be trimming it later anyway, your choice.  If you like things neat and tidy trim, if you are in production mode, go for it.

Fold the pillow case with right sides out and cut edges matching (or lined up parallel).  I pin matching the border edge, attitude strips and the corner.  If you are inclined to add more pins, feel free.  Begin stitching with 1/4 inch seam allowance at the border edge, back stitch to secure, sew to bottom corner to 1/4 inch from cut edge. With needle down, lift presser foot, pivot fabric and continue sewing to edge of fabric fold, back stitch to secure. If you didn’t square things up it might be easier to start sewing at the folded end and end at the border fabric, just make sure that edges stay matched.











Trim seam allowance to about 1/8 inch.  Now it is time to press.  The way I do this is turn the pillowcase wrong side out and press the seam to one side and if convenient press to the other side as well. It is like ironing in a big hole. Get as close to the corner as you can with the iron but don’t sweat it. It will just make it easier to press at the next step.  Now smooth out the wrong side out  pillow case and press the sewn edge so the seam is in the crease line..  What you are doing is creating a “French Seam” for those of you who didn’t have to do that in 4-H back in the dark ages. Start sewing 1/4 inch seam allowance at the border (open) end of the pillowcase, back stitch to secure, and sew to 1/4 inch from the corner.  With needle down, lift presser foot, pivot fabric and continue stitching to the fold, back stitch to secure.  If you have done this correctly the seam allowance will be encased in the seam.  Turn the pillowcase right side out, press and you are ready to start the next one.  I cut out 20 this afternoon and stitched 9 of them together.  I took a few photos and will finish up the others in the morning then it is back to Great Falls in the afternoon. Looks like some of the photos I took last night are dark so re taking some today. I will try to replace with better photos as I can.

Hope you found this helpful and are inclined to attack that stash and put it to a good use!


Hugs & Stitches,