Shibori indigo dyed quilt advice

molanicJuly 26, 2014

I normally hang out on the gardening forums, but a new project has sent me here for ideas. I would say I am a novice quilter with some sewing experience. I did some patchwork and quilting many years ago but only made a few small things. Now after failing to find a replacement quilt to buy for my bed and a new-found interest in tie-dye, I have gotten the idea to make own shibori indigo dyed quilt.

It is going to be more about having fun making it than having a high quality art piece, so I am hoping to keep the cost way down but still have it look decent. I also have three cats and a dog that frequent the bed so it has to be very washable and reversible. I am hoping to keep the actual quilting stitches to a minimum because my existing quilt is full of snapped or pulled stitches from animal nails snagging them. I'm thinking just enough quilting to keep the layers together and not shifting. I did a small quilt before with yarn tie pompoms but I think that is out of the question with my kitties now!

This blog with small dyed samples is where I got the idea. I think it would look pretty cool to have these pattern blocks framed with some solid or mottled indigo dyed borders, then a backing fabric of one large dyed pattern. I have no idea design wise what would look good as far a scale for a full/queen quilt though.

I was thinking it might be cheaper to get some 100% cotton white flat sheets king sized with 250-300 thread count instead of fabric by the yard. I also like the idea of not having to have seams in the backing so it would look good reversed. Plus I should be able to fit the sheets in the washing machine without worrying about unraveling to pre-wash them. I'm hoping that a wash or two with hot water and special detergent followed by a high heat drying will remove any fabric treatments on them so they take the dye well. Hopefully that will prevent much shrinking on future washings.

Does this seem like a feasible plan for a novice? I can see from the other postings that most of you are quite advanced quilters with beautifully detailed quilts. Any advice for this sort of newbie would be appreciated. I am going to check out some library books on quilting to refresh my memory on some things too.

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Instead of quilting or tying you can machine tack with either a simple bar tack or if your machine has decorative stitches, pick one, do only one stitch and stop, then move it to the next spot, etc. My machine has a stop button that you push if you don't want more than one stitch on it. The biggest hassle is that you have to keep cutting the bottom thread if your machine doesn't have an automatic thread cutter function. But I have used this method quite a few times. I have also used the free motion foot and just done small circles that way. BTW, if you do it this way, make sure that you don't have any of the quilt dangling off the surface of the sewing area, bunch up the quilt all around so that the weight of the quilt doesn't pull in the area of the needle, otherwise it will
distort the shape of the stitch design.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:44PM
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That looks like a wonderful do-able project! I would advise that you do not use a sheet as a backing. Bed sheets are heavier than quilting fabric and the high thread count makes it hard to get through them plus batting plus quilt top. You can find wide quilt backing fabrics at quilt shops and online.

You should be able to find a gorgeous indigo-color batik to use as the borders for your blocks. You don't have to take the time to make fabric for the borders if you don't want to. I would say, make the dyed blocks first, using 100% bleached muslin that you will pre-wash before dying. Then, take some of your blocks to the quilt shop when you are ready to buy your block border fabrics.

One of my friends is making an indigo quilt (she's not dying the fabric herself, but has bought lovely indigo fabrics for her blocks) and if she can email me a pic, I will post it here on your thread so you can see an example.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on the link below.


Here is a link that might be useful: shibori indigo dyed quilts

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:42PM
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So tempting. If it wasn't for the drought I'd start tomorrow.

Smoke from the local fires is keeping making us need the air conditioning at night. Sure hope they contain them soon. It hurts to think of the people who have to evacuate and the damage to some really beautiful spots.

I can't wait to see your quilt, so I can live vicariously.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:03PM
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I'm attracted to these fabrics too although I've never done any dye work. I checked out Teresa's link too and found a quilt picture I've saved for future use! I want to make a shadowbox quilt and this one from the link is gorgeous!!!

Thanks for the inspiration!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 12:25AM
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That's really an exciting quilt.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 12:43AM
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And, if you dye, you can buy fabric already treated for dying. It doesn't have the chemicals printed fabric has and takes the dye better.

I use Dharma Trading for my fabric and dye. They are wonderful and ship promptly. They are just north of San Francisco and have a wonderful catalog as well as a nice web site.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:02AM
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Thanks everyone for the great info, sorry I'm a bit late to reply. Dharma trading is great! I had actually already placed an order with them for some of the dyeing supplies. Their selection and pricing is the best I've found. Unfortunately, because I live by Chicago the shipping rates go up pretty quickly for heavy stuff. I had to get a few things elsewhere to keep my order weight down. I could probably get any fabric at the local Joann's Fabrics and they have at least a 40% off coupon every week.

I had read some pros and cons to using sheets prior. A few even said their sheet quilts held up better over time, but there are a lot of factors involved in that I know. Most said the main drawback was that the weave was so tight it was hard to quilt like you said Teresa.

I was planning on using a pretty thin batting because it will be a year-round quilt. I decided to just use small down throws for an extra layer in the winter (much easier to wash at home than a full-queen comforter). If the quilt is pretty thin and I roll it up carefully I think I could go the machine tack route or some kind of stitch in the ditch quilting (if I am using that term correctly). If I did that could my machine handle it ok? I have an Elna 2004... nothing fancy electronic with auto thread cutter, but it does have 16 stitches.

I hadn't thought too much about the differences between sheets and fabric by the yard other than cost and not having to do any piecing for the backside. My only experience with muslin in the past was some really rough unbleached stuff you could see through. I'm sure they have better stuff that I just never noticed yet. I'm wondering how it compares weight wise and durability to the sheets. I do want something that won't get ripped up easily too by pet nails, but that also doesn't feel like I'm sleeping under a lead blanket. I wonder what the difference would be as far as dyeing too?

Back to the fun part! I was looking through those great google images you linked too. I'm hoping to get an overall look like this one. I like how it is kind of crazy wild and some of the indigo is very dark so it really pops against the white. caught my eye too. It is interesting how they kept it a little ordered with the dark solid indigo blocks in a pattern to break up the resist blocks. I am kind of liking the bright red backing and border too.

I apologize if just linking the pics is bad. When you find them on google images and pinterest it is hard sometimes to link it back the original website and direct link to it. I've hear some people don't like their images hot linked where they aren't getting credit for it. Pinterest complicates things though.

Anyways, I'm planning on taking my time with the dyeing and try different techniques so I have a real assortment. If I can get some family to do it too, then I will have some blocks dyed by different people to make it a little special. I don't have a time constraint since it is not a gift and all for me!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:37AM
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