Tag Archives: tie dye

Ghost House – EEEEEEEE

When I hung this (nearly) finished quilt top on the line, a whole new quilt emerged.

This quilt has been in the works for a long time.

As some of you know, when I began this quilt, I was thinking a lot about how physical trauma changes us.  In 2010, my younger son broke his left arm twice, shattering more than just bone.  My first impulse was to create a kind of postcard of cheer, which I later called “Happy Hut”.  It used bright colors, and sunflowers, and pieces of some plaid flannel pj’s that I had made him one Christmas.

You can see most of “Happy Hut”, as well as a comparison of some of the bleached fabrics, here.

The next impulse was to describe the trauma.  I bleached a bunch of the fabrics and started including blue tie dyes that looked like Xrays and made a pale version of the same house motif.  The quilt, now dubbed “Ghost House”, grew and shrank, went away for some periods, grew and shrank some more and finally, just last week, when one corner went rogue (here), arrived at its final dimension.

Once I let that corner have its say, the rest of the quilt quickly and easily fell into place.  It became, now, about the size of “Happy Hut”, which pleased me, given that they are companion pieces.  And, it turned into a quilt that was going to be finished, which pleased me even more.

But here’s the thing. In between the beginning of this quilt and now, life has changed.  A lot.  I am NOT thinking about physical trauma these days, and thankfully, neither is my younger son.  Part of the struggle to finish the quilt top had to do with this very fact, the fact of life moving along, rendering the theme of the thing not only less compelling, but even a little off-putting.  I didn’t want to keep dwelling there.

So, when I hung it on the line and the light streamed through and totally transformed its pallid surface into something gleaming and popping with color, I just said, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” (to quote a fellow blogger).  Here is TODAY’s quilt – something that more nearly matches how the world looks to me this day, of this month, of this year.

I have not yet decided, but I don’t think I will back this quilt top.  I want it to be able to catch the sun and have these two very different moods.

It’s still not done, actually… have to trim that strip of shibori (mine!) off the left edge.

To achieve the pale palette, I bleached some fabrics, but for many rectangles I just used the ‘wrong’ side.  When the sun shines through, the more intense colors of the ‘right’ side of the fabric come through… especially the flannel sunflowers of the sky.

Here’s the final seam.

And just so you don’t have to follow the links to see the non-illuminated difference, check it out:

This picture also shows the piece that went rogue.  The nice thing is, there’s another piece, roughly the same size, that I came away with.  They will be a pair, I think.


Stitching a hanging rope and a bamboo skewer into the top hem of a little wall quilt feels elegant for some reason.


phone picture from last night – sorry it isn’t more crisp

That rope will not slide or tug away, and the skewer will keep the piece (though small and somewhat stiff) from bowing.

I like the way the half-moon vintage doily rises above the top edge.

Part of this effort was inspired by Jude Hill‘s Heart Whispering class.  It is also a continuation of a 12 (or more) year-long exploration of hearts in cloth and thread.  What you can’t quite see in these pictures is that the sheer green Asian fabric features metallic inks.  Yesterday, as the day waned, those gilded areas caught the sun and glowed.

And since I don’t think I’ve posted any pictures of the indigo-dipped cloths that used lacrosse balls as resists, here are a couple of more pictures.

And another.

cookin’ up a batch o’ color

Cooking up a batch of color, AND some yellow beets (beets being food AND color, of course).  We were careful, D. and I, to keep all food/dye implements separate, lest you blanch at the thought of my taking a sip of purple Ritz No. such-and-such.  And please rest assured that I will NOT be stirring Easter soup with a chop stick saturated with dye.

Yesterday I read about wrapping eggs in silk and boiling them in water and 1/4 cup of vinegar.  I had to try it.  The big surprise was that the loveliest of the bunch came from a dark, dun-colored necktie fabric (four of the five orange eggs pictured below).

The former blue silk blouse was basically a bust (ha!), but the checked taffeta came out cool.

The easiest tool at-hand for securing the silks turned out to be bread tabs.

The last step will be to rub them with a little canola oil, for some shine.  I used whole eggs, but next year (I say this now), perhaps I will blow some eggs in order to create some that will hold year-to-year (then I understand that you have to get a little clever about weighting them down in the pot so that they don’t float).

Those beets will be peeled tomorrow and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette… have I mentioned that I am a Salad Goddess?  There are so many things that I am not very good at, that I hope you don’t mind, dear reader, the occasional reminder of my Goddess status in this area!

I will also be making Potato Leek soup.  The leeks at Russo’s (local readers, I hear you swoon at the thought of Russo’s – and yes, I braved the crowded lots and aisles to go yesterday) were so unbelievable.  I swear they are nearly as long as I am tall!  I also will have watercress on the table for folks who want their soup with a little more peppery flavor.  It is turning out to be an Irish dinner – two legs of lamb will be the centerpiece.  Blanched asparagus, garlic parsley new potatoes and a salad with bitter greens, radicchio and endive will complete the fare.

Once I started dyeing, it got D. thinking.  He wanted to tie dye two shirts, so we hauled up some tubs, rubber bands, gloves, squirter tubes, and soda ash.

I tie dyed three little layette pieces that have been sitting in the basement, washed and ready to go.  They will be washed at least twice before being tagged for sale.

I have made some tiny cotton pants to go with.  They are aqua.


Beautiful, right?  That’s three pieces of arlee barr‘s master dyeing (stablizied, cut (yes! cut!! — one of the many moments in the life of a quilter requiring FEARLESSNESS) and read to go), and a little end of a silk scarf (tie-dyed) given to me recently by a friend.  The light and the fabric are really working together here.

And speaking of fearlessness, I went ahead and added machine stitching to the blonde (yesterday’s post).  So far, only gold thread and pale sea green — will I venture to black?!!