Dying Fabric for a Lake

I’m starting a new art quilt.

A few years ago, while visiting my son in Seattle, I just happened to snap a photo of Lake Washington with bright blue hydrangea in full bloom in the foreground.  I’ve always wanted to make a landscape quilt from the photo, but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to go about it.hydrangeas seattle

I’ve procrastinated for quite awhile!

After hearing from a fellow quilter that she felt art quilts were easier than pieced quilts because you can always cover your mistakes, I took heart and decided to jump in and go ahead and see what happens.  If it fails it fails.

After pulling every hand-dyed and batik fabric I have (what a mess!), I was ready to start.

I found a pretty good sky fabric, something that might make do for the shoreline in the distance, and lots of hand dyes for the flowers, but the lake water had me stumped.  Nothing seemed right.

So late last night, I cut about a yard of my Kona PFD fabric and headed downstairs to see what I could come up with.

The first two pieces I tried were soaked in soda ash solution and placed (ringing wet) on the bottom of a large plastic pan.  I tried to “pinch” them into horizontal folds.

I mixed up two solutions of Procion Dye powder (two different blues) with hot water, and poured a little of each into the pan.  This allowed the dyes to “soak in” to the bottom of the fabric, leaving some lighter areas on top– hoping to replicate the light and shadow of rippling water.

After a few minutes, I swirled them into circles (like 2 cinnamon buns), picked them up & put each in a pint size wide mouth canning jar to sit for several hours.

Very late last night, after washing, drying and ironing…this is how the first two experiments turned out…


I wasn’t convinced that there were enough “ripples”, and the color was a bit more on the aqua side than I wanted. So I gave it another try.

This time I wrapped two fabrics around a PVC pole (sorry I forgot to take photos), and secured them with several rubber bands.  Then “scrunched” them down to the bottom of the tube, creating lots of lovely wrinkles…

Fabric4  Fabric5

The lines are more pronounced–but still not exactly as I had hoped.

I’ll experiment by laying each one on my landscape background with the rest of my design pieces and see what works, if any 🙂

More later…

Happy Quilting!


Mulberry Patch Quilts


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