Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gradation Dyeing with Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes

This is the pile of fabrics I got using yesterday's methods for overdyeing. Can't remember right off which one it is!

Well, you could probably use this gradation dyeing method with about any kind of dye but I use it with my Procion MX dyes. It is based on a method that I first learned way back in 1992 at a class taught by Don Wiener at Pro Chem. Elin Noble was supposed to teach the class but she became very ill at this time with what turned out to be a very severe case of Lyme Disease.

Anyway, I do this using low water immersion methods. I usually do an 8 step gradation for the deepest colors (navy, intense blue) and a 6 step for some of the lighter colors (turquoise, basic blue).

May I start by saying that I always look at color two different ways -- one is the actual color itself (blue, blue/green, yellow/orange etc.) and one is the concentration of the color (.05% or 6%). So when doing the gradations, you can pick any color (either a manufactured "pure" color or a mixture of pure colors). For illustration purposes, assume that there will be one yard of fabric weighing about 100 gms in each dyepot (in this case I use gallon sized zip locked bags -- only the good ones which I use over and over again - I like the baggies better than other containers because you can message them so easily).

I make one cup (250 ml about) with 10-12 gms (about 2 tsps) of dye. I then add a cup of water to that to make 2 cups. I arrange the baggies in a tray, each with one cup of water with 1 tbsp of salt (optional). I start with the baggie furthest from me in the tray and add one cup of the two cups of dye. I then fill the 2 cup container back to two cups. I go to the next bag closest to me, put one cup of the new more diluted dye in and then repeat the adding water step. This is repeated through all the baggies. You will have one cup of diluted color at the end. I then put the fabric in each baggie starting from the one closest to me. I message the baggie to make sure the dye gets all through the dry fabric. I smoosh the bags several times during the next 15 minutes. At the end of the 15 minutes, I add a cup of soda ash water to each baggie starting at the front again (lightest to darkest). I message the bag very thoroughly, get as much air out as I can and close the baggie up. I do this for each bag. During the next 15 minutes, I will frequently message the bags but then won't touch them the last 45. If I want more mottling, I will not message as much but I do want to get the soda ash throughout as I hate white spots or pale spots. After an hour, wash out.

A variation on the above that I really enjoy is using one color as a gradation so that you have different intensities in each baggie as above. Instead of using the plain cup of water though, I will make up a second color (say yellow) in a 2% solution and add one cup of this solution to each baggie. You will get a nice gradation that moves from one color through a series of colors sometimes to another color. For those of you who have had Carol Soderlund's class, you kind of get the rows or columns in her book. It is a little tricky to figure out the concentrations of each color but a little arithmetic and you are all set! You will love the results of this one!

Forgive these being un-ironed!! The left side is a gradation of greys using a no longer produced mix from ProChem called Mixing Grey. I have achieved almost the same color using navy blue and orange in a 2:1 ratio. The one on the right hand side is one where I used a navy blue gradation but added a constant 2% solution of a mix of yellow and mixing red.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Extreme Overdyeing -- Dyeing with Procion MX dyes

Well, a very fruitful day of dyeing -- a little like getting back on a horse after a long absence. My back is killing me and I am tired but I have a big pile of newly dyed fabric to admire and pet. And then, what to do with it next. Of course, usually I would be right down in the basement dyeing more and more (I tend to go on dye binges dyeing perhaps 200 yards of fabric in a week). However, this time - like last year - I am heading out west again for a short trip to Las Vegas to meet up with friends for a few days.

Anyway, for those of you well versed in different dyeing techniques, my version of overdyeing is based loosely on what Katy Widger did with her sequenced overdyeing where she took fabric through two sets of dye baths, each one a gradation from light to dark of one color. I did several of these early on in my dyeing career but wasn't overenthusiastic about the range of colors I got with this. It was okay but I wanted yardage and I wanted to experiment efficiently with overdyeing. So my version I will call Extreme Overdyeing as you will get 35 different colors of all about the same value (depending on the colors you choose) with just ten dyepots. 10 of these are the colors from each of the dyepots and 25 are the overdyes.

This is the worksheet I create before each time we do the overdyeing.

The theory (hope you can follow this) is that you put six yards of fabric into each of 5 different color dyepots (say sun yellow, golden yellow, mixing red, fuchsia, strong orange -- all Procion "pure" colors). You can use either regular immersion or low water immersion for this. I prefer low water immersion. After you batch these for their prerequisite hour or so, you rinse them out, wash them and then sort them into a second set of piles. These piles are created by first eliminating one yard from each of the five colors and setting those aside (and calling them finished).

Then you take one yard from each of the pots in the first step (so you would have one of yellow, one golden, one red, one fuchsia and one strong orange) and put into the first pot of the second set of pots (say basic blue, intense blue, navy blue, blue/violet, turquoise). You do this for each of those five pots. Then you add in an additional yard of white fabric into the pots so again you have six yards in each pot. (Of course you will have labelled everything ahead of time!!) Repeat the first step and you will come out with a wide variety of colors (of course my example would yield probably every green you can think of). I use 2% solutions for each of my two steps so that the final colors all have an intensity of about 4%. Varying the intensity would of course yield different colors as well and sometimes I will have one pot with 2% and one with 3% of the same color just to see the difference.

My friend Marcia and I have gotten together several times and done a series of these. One time we overdyed bright colors with browns, one time with all the different blacks and greys, and one time we just took warm colors and overdyed them with cool colors. We generally use "pure" (pure means that they are not created mixes) colors for one step and either pure or mixed colors for the second to try to keep mud to a minimum. It was a great way to see how the new grape and boysenberry pure colors interacted with a wide variety of other colors.

This was one of our overdyes where we used either premanufactured browns or made our own browns using colors we had made in Carol Soderlund's dyeing class (the one where you get 4500 swatches).

Here is one where we tried all the different pure Procion MX blues over the different pure warm colors.

Here is one where we just tried different colors in each batch to see how they would interact with each other. I didn't show all the colors that went into the second set of baths as I have so many yards of those in the pure colors. They were sun yellow, golden yellow, fuchsia, turquoise and mixing blue.

This is another one where we stretched ourselves using browns over warm colors.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

After the Jacket Class

Well, we spent another wonderful day at Marcia's studio working on our jackets. We had a smaller group this time and Priscilla was working on a jacket rather than spending all her time teaching us. We all made a lot of progress, I must say.

Donna is definitely making progress on her jacket here. Here are the fronts partially sewn together. It is really shaping up!

I couldn't resist taking this picture of Donna working on her jacket. She got a whole lot accomplished on this one day and I am sure will be done in no time.

She even managed to get quite a bit of the piecing finished on the back which exceeded ever her expectations.

This is the beginnings of Priscilla's jaguar jacket. I fell absolutely in love with the panel which Priscilla found on ebay. We all loved the colors that she is surrounding it with. It is such a nice shade of blue and she found so much to match it from her stash. We all very much encouraged her NOT to put those drop dead gorgeous beaded pieces on the jacket as then we could swoop down on them. She didn't fall for it and will probably include some of them on the front. They were stunning but then the whole jacket is stunning.

This is pretty much how the jacket back looked at the end of the day.

Here is the front of Marcia's jacket. She spent a lot of time moving one of the patches in the front so that it would show -- that is the tricky thing about clothing -- some places just don't show when you put the clothing on! The jacket is really shaping up and should be very elegant when finished -- especially with all that black pieced work.

Well, here is the final picture of the front of my jacket. I am relatively pleased with the changes that I made. I had already finished the back as well.

However, after getting home and now seeing this picture (taken from Priscilla Kibbee's blog -, I realized that having the black at the bottom of the back would just not do!! It made the jacket look like it was short in the back sooooooo. I got home and first undid the lining (which I had sewn in after adding all the interfacing which I had managed to forget before) and then undid the stitching holding down the middle piece. Everything is flip and sew so it builds out from this center piece. I then put in a couple of strips. I am still not totally happy as the bottom strip only shows about 3/8 inch but at least it is a bright color so the jacket shows its length. I then reassembled everything and of course forgetting the shoulder pads yet again. I will slip them in through the armholes as I refuse to take out the basting a THIRD time!!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

More Jacket Pictures

Well, I have included some of the pictures of the various jackets that were made in the class. Everyone's approach was very, very different and you learn as much from that as the class itself. It is always good to see what advice Priscilla is giving to others.

Julie Brandon was working the fastest in the class and had this luscious batik plus some of her own shibori dyed fabric to work with. Julie is a prolific doll maker and I was waiting to see a doll face apear somewhere!

Instead of going with lots of piecing, Julie went with embellishing the beautiful fabric with lots of couched yarns and then added some appliqued embellishments on both front and back. This is one of my favorite vest/jackets -- like the one I made in the first class.

Here is Julie trying on the jacket so that she and Priscilla can do the last minute fitting.

This was a beautiful vest that Jeanne was working on. She decided to limit the piecing she did and concentrate on decorative stitching as well. She added bronz cording between panels which just spiffed the whole vest right up a notch!

Donna spent most of her first day having Priscilla guide her through the fabric selection process for several jackets to be made. Donna chose a wonderful Japanese panel for the back of her jacket and by Day 3 had a good beginning on the front of the jacket.

This is the front of Donna's jacket. She is going to be sewing like crazy next Tuesday when we again meet at Marcia's.

This is our wonderful host Marcia's jacket back with the wonderful batik and Guatemalan trims. She is doing a lot more embellishing and piecing than she did with her last garment.

This is the beginnings of one of the fronts. Double click on the picture and you can see the intricate black "close value study" she has done here. She spent lots of time sewing strips together and then cutting apart.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Wonderful Jacket Class with Priscilla Kibbee!

Well, I am not sure whether I will have the courage to wear this jacket in public but it sure has been fun to put it together and get all the hints I need!

We had a relatively small class with only five us attending and even with that I think we kept Priscilla jumping around quite a bit for those three days. We are meeting again on Tuesday to try to finish up the jackets. I did manage to get most of the front and back done and know what I am doing on the sleeves. There were very different jackets in the room. Only two people were using the same pattern so Priscilla got to deal with four different patterns and a myriad of body shapes. She is sooooo good at fitting even some of us who may be a bit rounder than we were 20 years ago! These are the photos of my jacket that shows the progress. I will put the pictures of the other jackets in tomorrow's blog!

This is the beginnings of the back of the jacket. I had bought a couple of panels with me that I intended for the center back and ended up choosing this lovely Michael Miller tulip print instead. I had just bought it last Saturday with the intention of including it somewhere on this jacket. My original thought had been to do a black and red jacket and add in some black and white prints. After I bought the tulips, I slipped in some green fabrics and the evolution began!

This is the jacket a little further along. My goal was to get the back done Day 1, the front on Day 2 and then the sleeves. This didn't happen! The design part is really very difficult although after making the last jacket, I now am a little smarter about where to spend time vs where not to spend time.

I did manage to finish the back of the jacket on Day 1 and this is it!

This is the beginnings of the jacket on Day 2. I decided (of course with much help from Priscilla) to have slanting on one side and straight up and down on the other with the tulips again featured. I had made the Seminole piece that I used in the center in another class with Priscilla on embellishment with the intent of making this jacket.

You can see I have gotten further along in this picture with the fronts beginning to shape up. There is a little challenge with piecing the slanting side. The way these jackets are constructed is to directly piece onto a flannel foundation. So it is basically sew and flip and then iron down and then put on another piece. With the slanting side, I sewed down the Seminole work but left the black piece open on one wide. I will hand stitch it down on top of the slanting pieces which are all sewn and flipped.

This is the jacket a little further along.

This was how I left the fronts at the end of Day 2.

This is the front near the end of the third day.

This shows to the left the beginnings of the sleeve which will be pretty simple with just some stripes in the center and then the "background" fabric on the lower part (under the arm).

This is the completed front and back. I have a beaded piece that you can see in the previous picture that I left out of this picture. I will be sewing the beaded piece on the jacket front to the right (with the slant)where the black stripe is. I am also changing the bottom of that piece so that there is not solid black but some stripes. Onward to getting the sleeves done and the lining!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Lazy Sunday

Well, finally I have gotten the more than 150 9-patches done for the cornerstones for the Depression quilt which contains 132 blocks. Double click on the picture to see it bigger. It is in two pieces as I want to quilt the sections separately and then put them together so that I won't ruin my shoulder for another year (like the huge one I did a couple of years ago). I will also add the borders after the whole thing is quilted as well. This quilt was inspired by one I saw for sale on Ebay. Linda Franz (one of our club lecturers) knew the woman who owned the top and said she had self published a pattern which I bought. It was much like the Dear Jane book in that it only presented black and white line drawings of each of the block but did give the Blockbase source for most of them. I redid many of them for one reason or another. I decided to declare this quilt done after doing 139 blocks even though there were many more in the original. It is time to move on to more non-traditional styles! Doing these small blocks is like eating potato chips, you can't just do one. The workmanship is FAR from perfect but some of the 4 inch blocks have more than 100 pieces and many of them contain 50 or 60.

Can't seem to make up its mind out there whether it is winter or spring. It snows and then it is sunny. Feels like a good day to have at my sewing room which looks like a tornado recently went through it! At least I have managed to clear off most of the stuff from the sewing cabinet so I can get down to some machine quilting which is next on the sewing agenda!

It will be a busy week with Lisa coming home on Wednesday night and me also having a three day class with Priscilla. It will be another jacket making class so I look forward to it and will try to make a black and red jacket this time. I have picked out most of the fabrics but still have to get some "stuff" together for embellishment. Soon after Lisa leaves, Marcia and I will spend a day dyeing and then quickly I will be heading to Las Vegas for a few days. My main goal for the trip is to see the Grand Canyon so I have booked a day tour which includes the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead (been there already!). It will be a LONNGGG day but will be my highlight. We are also scheduled to see one of the Cirque shows one night as Warren has always wanted to see one of those (Mysterie).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Patricia's March, 2008 Quilt Show

Well, it is trying to become spring and the temps were obviously conducive to large numbers of people coming out for the quilt show at Patricia's Fabric House. As usual, there were a lot of wonderful quilts and tons and tons of people as she also has a 25% off sale running at the same time!!

I really enjoyed seeing some quilts that were from people I had not seen before and have included a few here for your viewing pleasure. I added a few more to my Picasa Album.

This is the first quilt done by a local quilter who I did meet. She was inspired by the poppies on a plate that she had and came up with the design herself using a book on landscape quilts.

This quilt was done by our own Pat Berardi in a class taught by Sylvia Einstein. This was very un-Pat like and we loved it!

This was one of two lovely quilts by Mary Rankin in the quilt show. There is all sorts of lovely beading on this piece which you may see if you double click on the picture for a closeup.

This was a lovely all wool applique.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Fun Day at Genesee Valley Quilt Club

The posts have been a little sparse lately as I keep having problems with uploading of pictures. I think it is all done and then I get a server error. Grrrr. I think it has to do with doing it at a busy time of day and it is probably timing out but very annoying. So with some luck I will get the remaining New York pictures up and then some of quilt club today which was fun.

Priscilla Kibbee had a sale table and it never ceases to amaze me that I always find new things that I have to have. As I am making a jacket next week in her jacket class, I picked up a few odds and ends to put on the jacket which will be primarily blacks and reds. It needed a focal point though so hopefully I will have found it!!

I also volunteered to help with the Programs part of Genesee Valley for next year (a behind the scenes position for sure). With a whole team working the programs, it shouldn't be too bad.

I only took a couple of pictures today but had to share this one of Teddy Ahern's chicken quilt. Teddy is a champion machine quilter and that is how she did all the chickens. She then used fabric crayons to shade them in. It is in honor of one of her pet chickens who was killed by a hawk in her yard.

I also loved this one that Pam Peet did and had quilted by Valerie Schultz who is also a wonderful machine quilter as well as President of our club. If you double click on the image, you might be able to see the detail in the light areas.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Circle Line Tour

Well, we did manage to get out to Staten Island to see Warren's elderly aunt which is always a treat. She is still pretty spry and has lots of stories from old although her short term memory is not doing so well. She lives in a ranch house in a lovely residential section of the Old Town area of Staten Island. It is hard to believe that such suburban looking areas exist as part of NYC.

I decided to take the 3 hour Circle Line tour my last day in New York City. I really like it so much better than the shorter trips as you get to see all of Manhattan and surroundings. The last time I took the trip was close to 25 years ago when the Statue of Liberty was clad in a metal brace while they were working on her. What a change there has been on the island of Manhattan since then!!! All for the better, I might add.

The tour guide said that they are putting up residential apartment buildings as fast as they can and are still not meeting the demand for living in the City! Hoboken and Jersey City right across the river are no longer grubby outposts but have been gentrified to take the overflow.

We decided to find Warren's father's tenement house one day. We knew it was in Brooklyn and had the address (thanks to Aunt Norma).

We had NO idea what kind of neighborhood it was now but got on the subway and headed out. I suspected it might not be too bad as it literally was next to the water looking onto Manhattan in Brooklyn. Well, turns out the neighborhood is Brooklyn Heights and is filled with those ridiculously expensive brownstones!! The tenement is still there but is now a nice apartment building! It is considered a historic district! His father would have gotten a big kick out of that! The family moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island when he was a teenager because a younger brother was thought to benefit from the fresh air of the "country".

Warren was born on Staten Island when it was still farmland and the only way to get there was by ferry. Times have obviously changed there as well! A recent look at his old address shows nothing but condos and small tightly built homes. Warren estimated there were probably 200 residences on the land his parents used to own! Now they made quite a bit when selling it, but what it must be worth now!!

This is the skyline of the financial district on Manhattan -- it looks so strange without the Towers which helped you to figure out where everything was.

This is a picture of Ellis Island where many of our ancestors first landed on American soil. I have at another time taken a tour of this island.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

We Stop the Travelogue for a Brief Update of My Quilting Adventures!

Winter has arrived in Western New York -- too bad it is just a couple of weeks until spring is officially here! I thought with our numerous times away, we might escape winter entirely this year.
Well, the weather has not been behaving but I did manage to get to my friend Marcia's house on Friday for a wonderful day working in her studio with both Marcia and Priscilla Kibbee.

Priscilla has become an official quilter with one finished top she had been working on and one in process which we got to see for the first time yesterday. It was of course in Priscilla's laid back muted colors (LOL)!! It isn't done yet but we all pitched in to see if we could rearrange the blocks.

I made excellent use of the wonderful design walls and set up the rows and columns for my Depression Sherbet Extreme Quilt. I spent much of today sewing on the sashing between the vertical sides of the blocks and am quite pleased with how it is coming together. Just have to make some final design decisions on the nine patches which will attach to the sashing strips. EQ6 will get called into use yet again!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Tour of Grand Central Station

These two pictures are from my hotel window in the evening after all the lights were on. I couldn't resist adding them to the blog. After all I have shown the view at every other time!!

Thursday Warren and I decided to split up as he wanted to take the tour of Central Park and my feet by this time were killing me! I opted instead for what I thought would be a short tour of Grand Central Station. Well, it was a great tour but not short. It is a free tour that is held by the historical society each Wed at 12:30. It was lovely in that we heard so much of the history of Manhattan as well as the history of railroading in NYC and of course Vanderbuilt.

Now when I was a kid, we lived in the Philadelphia suburbs, used public transportation and had no car. We frequently would take the train to NY into Penn Station and then switch to Grand Central for the "national" part of our trip. All that has changed as Penn Station is where the long rides originate out of now and all the local trains come from Grand Central.

Over a 15 year period, they complete refurbished and redid Grand Central to bring it back to what it was when it was first built in 1913. It is the largest in the world in terms of the number of tracks coming in and out (I believe it was 67 or 68). When they rebuilt, they actually opened up quarries long closed in Italy and Tennessee to obtain matching marble!

I remember the "before" version only as being a grubby railway station like many I had been in. The most striking thing was always the HUGE Kodak picture of the month or quarter which filled one end of the station. No, it is no longer there. They actually built a new part of the station according to the original plans which had never existed before -- on the east side. The reason it was never finished as only the poor lived on the east side of Manhattan and they would have no need for a railroad!!

It certainly has changed!!

This is the clock on the outside of Grand Central. You will see the red background on the 6 and this is actually a window that opens in the summer to keep the works cooled.

This is one of the many lights in the main section of the terminal. When they were contemplating the cleaning and refurbishing, they assumed that these were brass as they were so discolored by smoke and grime. It turned out that they were actually gilded with gold on nickel!! They are stunning.

This is a view looking up at the ceiling of Grand Central which is filled with a painting of the Mediterranean night sky from June through October. They didn't even know it was there, the ceiling was so dirty. Needless to say, they don't allow smoking in there anymore as that was 70% of the grime.

This is one of the light fixtures in what used to be the Ladies Waiting Room where women would shower and change before or after getting on the train. They are starting to do some more work in here.