Hand-Dyed Patchwork Duvet Cover

It’s finished! The duvet cover I started lo these many months ago is now on my son’s bed. His bed is a bunk, though, very difficult to photograph, so this bed had to stand in.

This duvet cover started out life as my son’s cribsheets, which I hand-dyed and batiked. Also thrown in are scraps from curtains I made for his room and the pieces from a failed attempt at a shopping cart cover and leftovers from his baby sling. For more information about how this cover was made, check out these posts: this one on the batik, this one on his original room, this one about the design for the bed cover, and here and here about the patchwork process.

I’m really excited with how it turned out. It just glows. The little man really likes it, too.

Here’s another view.

And below, a couple of detail shots:

On to other duvet covers for the rest of the family!

FYI I recently joined Pinterest, a social networking site where you can “pin” images from the web into an account so you can look at your favorite things together in one place. Other people can see them, too, so if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve pinned, click here. I seem fixated on quilts lately, so that’s most of what you’ll see. Be forewarned, if you’re addicted to beautiful images, like I am, it’s a bit of a dangerous site.

Getting Started with Dyes, Part II: Plant Fibers


In my last installment on dyeing I wrote about animal fibers. Today, it’s plant fibers.

Plant fibers include cotton and linen. Synthetics generally don’t take dye all that well, at least not when I’ve tried them, so I tend to stay away from them. If your fabric has a small synthetic content, that’s okay, but anything above 25% I would avoid.

The best dyes I’ve found for plant fibers are what are called procion dyes. These are available at dharma trading, where I’ve gotten a lot of dye materials. They have reasonable prices and lots of information on their website.

I used to use grocery store dyes, but I got tired of the lackluster hues, the constant fading, and the lack of color range. With procion dyes, once you dye your fabric, it stays dyed, with no worrying about washing it with other items. There are a million colors to choose from, and the colors just glow. I think you can also use procion dyes on animal fibers, but I haven’t tried that.

The image above is of a patchwork made of self-dyed and commercial fabric (the fabric I dyed is the teal and the lighter orange). And good news! I should have some more to share on that project soon. It’s coming together.

I did a post on faux batik with procion dyes here. Another project with hand-dyed fabrics: my washcloth hand puppets.

Malka Dubrawsky has a wonderful book on dyes and batik called Color Your Cloth. She also has a very inspiring blog, and she sells her hand-dyed and batiked fabrics and other creations on etsy. Her stuff is very modern and cool.

Another book worth checking out (I discovered it through Malka’s blog) is Surface Design for Fabric by Proctor and Lew. It’s out of print but available used through online outlets. I bought mine through half.com. It’s like a textbook for fabric decoration: dyeing, tie-dyeing, batik, printing. You name it, it’s got it.

Yet another book with information about dyeing and other techniques is Textile Arts: Multicultural Traditions by Margo Singer and Mary Spyrou. This book is an overview of several textile techniques, including batik and tie-dye, with sample project instructions for each technique. I used to check this one out over and over again at the county library when I was a teenager, and now I own it.

This should get you going. I recommend starting with one or two colors to get your bearings first. And as always, dye with an open mind. You never know what your end product will look like exactly, and that’s part of the fun.

Update: Patchwork in Progress

Here are some strips from the duvet cover I’m making. I seem to have lost the triangle patches I had in my original design. I’ve made a few but I’m thinking I need to make more now to get the design closer to my original idea.

I learned how to do this cool but simple trick to make triangle patches. Check it out here. I love all the little piecing tricks out there.

For more info about the background of this project, including the hand-dyed fabric, see this post.

More Easy Cheat Batik: Gel Glue


This is a project I did quite awhile ago for my son’s nursery. With both of my children, I had really specific visions in mind for their nurseries, and the colors never matched up with what was being sold in stores. My son’s room is a soft aqua-greenish color with white and pale orange accents.

I got a little carried away with dyeing things for my son, but when you have an orange and aqua nursery, your options are a little limited.

I bought white (secondhand) cotton sheets and spread them out one at a time on top of a large piece of cardboard covered with a plastic garbage bag. I drew the waves on with Elmer’s gel glue. It’s a little tricky to draw with the glue this way, so it was probably best that I stuck with something simple. Recently I’ve read that using a metal tip with the glue bottle can help give you more control over the lines. I’ll have to try that next time.

After letting the glue dry, I used procion dyes purchased from Dharma Trading. They’re the real thing—-no playing around with this stuff, but they don’t fade and come off like grocery store dye.

So, the steps are easy:

1) Draw on fabric with gel glue. Let dry.

2) Dye according to directions.

3) Wash fabric.

The little man’s room has an aquatic theme. Here’s a shot of some of the fish on his wall:

He’s just moved to a big boy bed, so now I’m in the process of making the old crib sheets into a patchwork bedcover.

Easy Breezy Faux Batik Using Dishwasher Gel with Bleach







I got this idea from Kristi Porter’s domesticsphere. She’s my favorite knitting designer and does lots of other crafty things, too. I love the way her mind works.

So I’ve been looking for some brown patterned fabric for a sewing project. But I had some nice solid brown fabric lying around from another project, so I thought, why not pattern it myself?

So here’s the basic premise: paint or stamp dishwasher detergent with bleach onto the solid fabric. Wait a minute or two for the bleach to work, bringing out a lighter color, then rinse the detergent out. Make sure, of course, to wear something you don’t mind getting bleach on.

I used these Creative Playthings stamps of mine from the 70s. I was expecting the bleach to create white images, but instead, they are this lovely apricot color. I love the developing-photograph-type effect especially on the squares. I’m not sure if this is exactly what I want for my project, but I love the result, and I’m sure I’ll use the fabric for something.