Hand Dyeing Journey

WAY back in 1994, I started dyeing cottons for my applique work.  I found some of my recipe cards in the back of my cutting table/desk and I actually dated them.  Back then I was just vending at quilt shows and I had no idea that in a little over a year, I'd be opening a quilt shop.Dye recipe cards from 1994

When owning a quilt shop and three teenagers made life a little too crazy, I stopped dyeing.  About 7 pr 8 years ago I got interested in wool, couldn't find wool anywhere near me so I pulled out my dyeing stuff, bought new dyes and started dyeing wool for the shop (and my stash!).  

Last year I wanted something different for a wool applique background and I thought "why not cottonl"  I couldn't find the look I was looking for so bought a bolt of white cotton and dyed some colors.  Loved the look!  Earlier this year I wanted something with more depth for a background and thought "why not flannel?".  I couldn't find the look I was looking for, so you guessed  it, I bought a bolt of white flannel and dyed some.  Loved it! 

That didn't happen with linen, my friend Kelly Ann got me into this one, so I'm blaming her.  She mentioned that she was selling a good bit of Essex Linen.  I knew what she was talking about because when I went to Elna Dealer training, my trainer Kris, loved Essex Linen from Kaufman and we used it for quite a bit of our samples.  I knew I had some somewhere . . .  but my enabler sent me some in the mail, so I dyed it, loved it, bought a bolt and started dyed 4 months later when it finally came off of backorder and arrived.  Love it!  

I've been dyeing for the past couple of days getting ready for a show I'm doing in Tuckahoe for the South Shore Stitchers October 14, 15 and 16.  These are hanging on my clotheline as I'm typing this and the ones from yesterday are ironed and hanging draped over everything in my wool room so they stay flat.  (Ironing is the worst part about dyeing cottons!)  You can tell which ones are the flannels - the mottling is bigger and less "scrunchy" than the linens.  At the left , the first Butterscotch is linen, the one next to it is flannel.  It's the same dye, same amount of dye, same technique but a totally different look between the two fabrics.  

Here's a close up of two from yesterday that are ironed.  The one on the left is flannel, the one on the right is linen.  Crazy right?  The flannel gives a softer, bigger mottling than the linen on the right. 

Kilt Green Flannel and linen same dye, two looks

I need to get the rest dried, off the line, ironed and pictures taken before I can load them on the website.  Since I have grandbabies coming tomorrow, I'd better finish this and get cracking!

Happy stitching!



  • Your Clothes line is BEAUTIFUL.

    Debbie Norris
  • Debbie, that Grey piece is beautiful. Do you think you could get the same look in a shade of blue on counted cross stitch fabric? I have a project in mind and that Grey mottled would be perfect. I haven’t decided if I am going to do it Grey or blue.


    Dona Coffey

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