But I wouldn't want to work on anything else in the world right now!
I did have a few questions about dyeing yesterday that I'll answer here because this entire project was such a long process of sampling and experimenting. I literally spent 3 months stitching small samples of the quilt, dyeing at different stages and working to figure out what colors I wanted, what fills needed to be where, and what the overall impact of the quilt would be.
Most of this is guess work. The only way to know how she will truly look is when she will be finished, but it is possible to answer tons of questions within the design process very early in the game.
So why is the thread showing up? Karen at Fireball quilts noticed this and asked about it yesterday.
Here's the deal: Dharma Procion dyes are designed to dye cotton fiber, especially when used with soda ash. If I was dyeing another natural fiber, like wool or silk, I wouldn't use soda ash, but citric acid crystals to make the dye more acidic to bond with those materials.
But polyester is a man-made material and I have no idea what bonding agent I'd need to get it to accept dye. I ran some tests and found the if I used polyester thread to outline, it would not accept the dye and would remain white on the surface of the quilt:
|Test Sample of various filler designs stitched in Isacord thread, then dyed two different colors.|
But what if I didn't want this thread white? What other options do you have in this process?
If I'd wanted the thread to dye right along with the fabric, I could have always used 100% cotton thread. I even ran some tests with Aurifil 50 wt mako cotton, which turned out quite nice, though just not what I was going for with this quilt:
|Same designs and dyes tested, only difference is this is quilted with Aurifil 100% cotton thread|
I also received a few different questions from quilters about my chosen dyeing method. Why didn't I just dye the quilt in a big bathtub or in the washing machine?
The most simple reason is I tested this and couldn't get the desired results. I attempted many times to dye large panels of fabric - 80 inches square - and each time the colors came out unsatisfactory. When I tested the method of applying directly over a soda ash soaked quilt, things finally worked properly.
You need to understand the process of trial and error with this quilt. I started out with a wide open rule - I LOVE EVERYTHING! - and slowly narrowed down designs, motifs, color, thread, and the dyeing process.
At no point in time did I ever say "I'm not allowed to do that." That is a dangerous road to take with design, and I once did that with beadwork and know the path it leads to - frustration and disappointment. All doors were open to me. All possibilities were there, and with over 400 designs to choose from, that can be a bit overwhelming to try to pick just a handful to use!
So I constantly narrowed my focus with the question - What fits this quilt perfectly?
This isn't an easy question, but coming from The Duchess, I knew certain things had to remain - she needs to be both simple and complex (a paradox), the focus needs to be on the center medallion, then the borders need an equal design to complement the center, the background needs to be filled in a way that is both engaging, but not so flashy it's distracting, and so on.
This was a simple process of asking questions and seeking answers. Taking out all the question marks early in the process has made my life now just a joy of quilting. I'm not asking any questions, I'm trusting that I've made the right decisions and all I need to do is quilt and be happy: