Using Hand Dyed Cotton Fabrics

April 28, 2012

I’ve been dyeing cotton fabric for more than twenty years, and at some point I had to find a way to use it. The familiar refrain in my retail booths is, “It’s too beautiful to cut up.” Or, “I don’t know how I would use it”. Well, it’s easy, you use it just like you would a commercial fabric and you may find it is even more beautiful when cut up!

For several years I’ve been designing quilts, using my fabrics, for Quilter’s Newsletter and it’s special issues. Each has been patterned there. For Christmas 2012 I did a Christmas poinsettia using semi-solids, combining piecing and applique. (Published in Best Christmas Quilts)



The block came from Electric Quilt’s block library. I loved the way the pieced background formed a secondary pinwheel where the corners met.


When I wanted to use a multi-color snow dyed fabric, I created Gelato. This time I used various colors of semi solids to frame snow-dyed squares. The borders are also made from the snow dye. That was fun because each square looked different and arranging them for the final layout was challenging. That quilt was published in the December/January 2013 issue of QN in conjunction with my article about snow dyeing.



Easy to cut up – right? The patches in the quilt still retain the character of the original snow dye.












But my favorite quilt that I’ve made in the past year or so is Springtime. In this quilt I made lots of fat quarters using a variety of fold and clamp ideas and some pole wrapped fabrics. They were cut up in small pieces and worked really well to add interest and movement to the overall design. I also used lots of different blue, greens and tans to add more variety, but it still all holds together. I just love this quilt. It was published in Best Fat Quarter Quilts 2013.
















I used a similar combination of various red and green fabrics in my latest Christmas quilt which will appear in Best Christmas Quilts this fall. The background isn’t your usual Christmas green, but that’s what makes it fun. The photo I have is only the top. You’ll have to look at the issue when it comes out to see the finished product. It’s been living at the magazine offices since it was quilted.



The photo doesn’t show it well, but the reds range from fuchsia to cherry to scarlet reds. The greens include grass and olive, among others. Of course the background is a chartreuse.




Finally, I used gradation fabrics for my quilt Rosie Glow. It was a quick technique using strip sets to cut the triangles that make up the blocks. It is published in Best Weekend Quilts which is about to go on the newsstands now. I’m so happy that it was chosen as the cover quilt!



It’s companion quilt, Peachy Keen, will be patterned on the Quilter’s Newsletter website in the near future. The strip piecing technique results in a second set of triangles in each color that make a second top. These would make great twin bed covers for a little girl’s room.

As always, I’m prepared to supply fabrics for any of these patterned quilts. But whether you make these quilts or create your own, it’s okay to cut into those hand dyes. Use them up! I’ll make more.

If you enjoyed seeing these quilts, let me know. I’ve got a lot more to share if you’re interested.


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3 responses to “Using Hand Dyed Cotton Fabrics”

  1. Kay Sorensen

    Yes, those hand dyes don’t have to sit on the shelf.
    You have shown some great examples of how to use them.
    I hope it will encourage others to CUT them up and use them.

  2. Penny Gold

    Great to see several of your quilts all at once, Janet!

  3. Nancy Sawyer

    I love your quilt Rosie Glow, The best weekend quilt says that there is a quilt kit available. (pg 95) I am new to quilting and would benefit from a kit. Please let me know. thanks

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