What to do when the project fails

Recently, I was commissioned to create fabric for a comforter and pillow shams; seven yards total. The request was for a creamy fabric stamped with leaves in blue, purple and green. I thought, “no problem”. I hadn’t thought through how I would get the soda ash to combine with the dyes without mixing them. And then there was the sheer size of the comforter fabric – approximately 88″x88″.

I decided to set up all four of my folding tables in the garage, adjacent to my dye room. I soaked the fabric in soda ash solution and spun out the excess in the washing machine.  I mixed my dyes and thickener, thickened the dyes and began stamping. But the blue dye was too thin. The images ran, the dye dripped. So much for that fabric.

The next day I began again, this time insuring that the dyes were well thickened. It went well and this photo shows the result.

The custom order



But what to do with the first attempt? Most of the leaves were pretty and sharp. And I can’t waste fabric. No matter how “ugly” I think a piece is, there is something that will improve it and someone who will love it.






I got busy and over dyed it. With two pieces I used a parfait, low-water immersion technique to apply multiple colors:















Stamped and over dyed

















I decided to try Arashi Shibori to two more pieces. I’ve been doing Arashi as an over dye on multi-color fabrics. It made me wonder how it would look with the leaves. I was pleased with the result:

Arashi and stamping































This could be a whole new direction! I will just think twice before I agree to the next custom request! Not really.

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5 responses to “What to do when the project fails”

  1. Thelma Bradshaw

    I think they turned out great! I know you were probably really upset when it first happened and you had to get some more fabric. But overdyeing worked great !

  2. Norma Schlager

    These are scrumptious! Perhaps this should be your new direction.

  3. Sue Andrus

    Wow! Those turned out to be beautiful even if they started out as a “failure”… I love how “failures” can turn into something that works, even if not for the original purpose…

  4. Martha Ginn

    I don’t dye (well, rarely), but you have made me want to get back to making beautiful accidents! Thanks for the pictures!

  5. jackie moravcik

    wow, i LOVE the end result far more than the original! what a fantastic idea.
    don’t ya love playing with pattern and fabric??

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