Flesh Tones

I have a lot less time for quilting, these months, with my husband retired and ready to play. When he worked long hours, I filled those long hours with my work – quilting. It takes focus, for me. When a quilt comes to mind, it is like a sort of engineering problem, and I am usually trying a new skill. I have a pretty clear idea where I am going but I need to work out how I am going to get there.

I have a great quilt in mind, I’m really excited about it. I am using some fabrics I bought at one of the European International Quilt Exhibits while I was living in Germany and going to European quilt exhibits :-). Different nationalities see colors, techniques and even traditional patterns very differently, so those exhibitions were always stimulating, and often even astonishing.

But I wander. The fabrics I bought are reproductions of very very old Dutch fabrics by Den Haag und Wagonmakers B.V, one including a tree of life panel, in which the fruit of the tree of life – or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – is the pomegranate, which just happens to be one of my very favorite all time fruits.

I am working out the composition, but am a little bit stuck on flesh tones. I know the tone I want, but the flesh tones look different under different lights. Can you see the difference?

I may have to tea-dye one of the fabrics just a little darker, a tiny bit browner . . . I don’t know. I am stuck. I’ve been stuck before. It will work out, but I wish it would work out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, I have been burning the midnight oil working on little bags. But that’s another post, for when I have a photo of some of the bags I’ve made, at least the ones I have not yet given away!


Hand Dyeing Class

“Why would you want to dye your hands?” she asked, looking at my very purple fingers. Actually, I had been wearing gloves, but in the process of twisting and tying a piece of fabric, I had taken them off and forgotten to put them back on before plunging the fabric into the dye-bath.

This class was so much fun. If I had one complaint, it would be only that for all she taught, for all the supplies and for all the printouts and wisdom, she charged too little. She is an excellent teacher, and on top of the class, she fed us a delicious lunch. I would have paid much more. We had a lot of fun, and I learned a lot.

My gradations:

Aren’t they just yummy? If I were really going to get into dyeing, I would keep working to find that perfectly perfect blue purple; I love these colors, but they are just on the blue side of purple. I prefer being on the blue side to being on the red side, but I would love to achieve a more intense, deeper purple, just a shade less blue. . . That’s just me being me, wanting just a little more precision. I’ll know it when I see it.

This one is overdyes; the original was aqua/turquoise, and I overdyed with my purple. Because I couldn’t wash the dye out for a couple days (you know, life gets in the way, or maybe it was just bad planning on my part) it is probably more purple than it would otherwise have been . . .

These are fine, as I use so many of these colors in star quilts and sea quilts. 🙂

Last, we did a jar with layers, mine were green, turquoise and purple, but again, I think leaving them for three days probably skewed the mix. Still, I love the results:

The truth is, I know what the layers were, but when I look at the results, the only one I am sure of is that the top one was the bottom, green, layer. I can’t be sure which is which of the middle and last.

A Workshop on Dyeing

“It’ll be fun!” my friend said, telling me about a class being taught through the Kuwait Textile Arts Association.

“Ummm. I don’t think so. I don’t like getting all messy,” I said, hating myself even as I said it for sounding so prissy.

“You know how much fabric we buy that she (the instructor) makes – we might as well learn how to do it ourselves,” she went on, encouraging me. She knows I will give in; sometimes my first response is just negative.

So there we were, in a sun-drenched location, on one of the prettiest days in Kuwait, four of us in our raggedy clothes because yes, it was going to get a little messy. The instructor made it all so easy – charts with exact measurements, equipment labled with how much to add of what . . . it was fun, and mostly, it was easy. We are all totally into color, and we got to do a little experimentation.

First, we chose one color and did gradations, six fabrics from very light to very dark. I asked if I could use two colors, blue-violet and a little black, because I wanted to end up with a very Dark Iris color, and I wanted cold icy blues to dark cold purples. The results exceeded my every expectation:


I wish you could see the entire pieces – they have so much flow, motion and texture. Perfect for a cold, wintery quilt with sparks of green, blue and even turquoise in the icy purple. I could see snow capped mountains, icy streams, distant mountains, rising mists . . . these are perfect Alaskan colors.

We worked in teams, and as we worked on my partner’s colors, a spoon flipped, and the cup full of dye spun out of her hand, spiralling the spatter on me, the wall, the table, the floor – it was everywhere, a brilliant sapphire blue. I was wearing my oldest jean skirt (I could barely zip it) so honestly, it just didn’t matter. It took us forever to clean it all up. My poor friend kept saying “Sorry. Sorry. I’m so sorry,” and finally, as we were both down on our hands and knees sopping up sapphire blue I started laughing and said “Friend, I am down here on my knees just thanking God it was YOU that did it and not me!” If we hadn’t been laughing so hard, we probably could have cleaned up faster, but even the spill was a lot of fun. I had blue toes when I got home! I looked like something out of Braveheart!


The next exercise we did had to do with color families, using two dyes, six fabrics, and varying the proportions from one end of the spectrum to the other. I chose yellow to fushia. The results totally wowed me:


And then – the grand finale – direct application dye. We had squirt bottles, and could apply the dye wherever and however we wanted. We could mix, we could scrunch, we could try anything. It was, it was like being a kid again. My result is like something out of the 1970’s – I totally love it!


I seem to do a lot of quilts with seas in them, and my hands are itching to get busy on another one. These fabrics are inspiration for both sea and sand . . . love those orangey sand colors, too.

If you have a chance to take this class, grab it and run! It is SO much fun!