Dye Class: Pro Chemical

I am happy to announce that I will be teaching a class at the Pro Chemical facilities in Fall River, Massachusetts in June 14 &15 of 2018!


This class will focus on playing with screens, stencils, dye and color. On the first day, we will dye our foundation fabric.
On the second day we will build our screens and layer color.

This is a fun introduction to working with simple screens and dye.

You can find more information and registration options on the Pro Chemical site here.

Here are some examples of the techniques we will play with:

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If you have any questions, please comment below.


Quilt Festival Houston: Teaching Schedule


I will be teaching at the Houston Quilt Festival this year. The class catalog went live this morning.  Click HERE to be taken to the Quilts, Inc website for class registration.

The classes I will be teaching at Houston Quilt Festival 2017 are:

Wednesday, November 1:

Dyeing is Easy! (All day)

This is an all day class where I’ll teach you the foundations of dyeing cotton and silk. The morning will be a lecture presentation, and the afternoon will be interactive demonstrations. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to dye fabric for your own designs, this will be a great way to start.

Thursday, November 2:
Making Molds for Resin Buttons and Charms, (2-5pm)

In this class, I will teach you how to make a simple mold to produce your very own resin buttons and charms. Learn about all the tools you’ll need, and how to adapt found objects to fit your embellishment needs. It’s a simple process that yields great results. You’ll leave with a functioning mold and resin samples.

Friday, November 3:
Friday Sampler—Embellished Art Ornaments, (10:00am-noon)

The Sampler is a great opportunity to learn techniques from several instructors at once. You can float from demonstration to demonstration at your leisure. I will be demonstrating how I make embellished art ornaments. They are great ways to test techniques, use up scraps or decorate for a holiday.

 Friday, November 3:
Lecture—”Wearable Art—My Journey So Far…” , (4-5pm)


Someone is actually handing me a microphone…
In this lecture/presentation, I’ll talk about the ups and downs of designing and making my wearable art. I find the process to be the most intriguing part of the journey, and that part is often forgotten when observing someone’s work. Join me as I pull back the curtain on my triumphs, troubles and techniques.

I will be adding lots of pictures to my gallery with class demos and samples as it gets closer to festival. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section.


So it’s been a whirlwind last few months.

I started and finished a wearable art project I titled, Azulejos. It was inspired by hand painted Mexican tiles.





First things first – I draped and drafted a pattern for the jacket.


I then cut out a dozen or so paper “snowflakes” that were scanned, cleaned up in Photoshop and finally cut in acetate on my plotter. The acetate gave me a more stable stencil to work with, as the paper would warp after a number of uses. Using 100% cotton, I printed the background colors. I worked with blues and turquoises as the foundation colors because I wanted a nice contrast to the bright centers.


First step in printing.

I then painted the white spaces with bright oranges, yellows and greens. I wanted a hand touched look to them, so I didn’t get too precious about coloring in the lines. The bright colors mixed with the blues and resulted in various greens and aquas. I didn’t want to do a literal copy of the tiles, so I kept each design as spare as possible. I was more intrigued by the graphic tone of the printing than making them realistic.


Rinsed and dried.

Each motif was cut apart and bordered with 1/4 inch sashing. Even though the intersections were going to be cut out, I insisted they match perfectly.



Once I had the yardage I needed, I CUT OUT THE PERFECTLY MATCHED CENTERS!!! and covered them with fusible squares of smaller printed motifs done in bright oranges and yellows, which got satin stitched in matching thread.
Each corner was then beset with a sequin.

Then began the quilting of the jacket body. I kept all the stitching pretty simple as I thought the complexity of the printing demanded it.


Once all the quilting was done, I worked on embellishing the standing lapels.

I hand appliquéd all the leaves and circles, then chain stitched around each of the leaves and embroidered the veins.. The bias vines were couched in contrast thread, and the shisha mirror work was done by hand and appliqued on. I guess this is a bit odd because I used the appliqué as embellishment AFTER the quilting was done.



All of the dyes used were ProChemical, I only use Hobbs batting (in this piece it was Theremore) and the only fusible web I use is Misty Fuse. It took me a while to find products that I love and dagnabit, I ain’t changing any time soon!

I did all of the printing, dyeing and embellishing by hand.


I just found out that this piece took BEST OF SHOW in the
Pacific International Quilt Festival wearable art division!!!


So yeah, I’ve been a little busy. I also have a wedding to go to soon and this guy (points to self) thought it would be a good idea to make a shirt and vest to wear to the event. So that’s kept my idle hands occupied lately. I also started another project that I will reveal in due time. Oh and Houston Quilt Fest is coming up in like two weeks.


Questions, comments, concerns?
Let me know in the comment section.

I’m going to be a good boy and TRY to do a round up of what I see at Quilt Fest. I’m not teaching this year, so I’ll have more time to take pics of the quilts and exhibits.


Hand-Dyed Pearl Cotton/ Embroidery Floss Tutorial


I’ve been wanting to do this tutorial for a while now and FINALLY got around to taking pictures during my process.

If you’ve ever wanted to dye your own embroidery floss or pearl cotton, this is an easy method with great results. I don’t usually dye more than 8 or 10 skeins at a time, so I can control the colors better, but once you get the hang of it, you can probably do a lot more at one time.

Let’s get started!
You will need:

  • White, 100% cotton 6-strand embroidery floss or white, 100% cotton pearl cotton (any size). I personally use DMC because I get good results, but feel free to use any brand you want. For this demo, I’ll be using #5 pearl cotton.
  • MX/Procion dyes. I use ProChemical mainly, but as long as it’s for cellulose fibers, any brand will work.
  • Soda ash. You can get this through any dye seller.
  • Synthrapol for rinsing your hand-dyed coton.
  • Small plastic containers – one for each color.
  • Plastic spoon for mixing – I use plastic baby spoons from the grocery store.
  • Measuring spoons – NEVER user dye utensils for food prep!
  • Measuring cup –  NEVER user dye utensils for food prep!
  • Two quart plastic container
  • Plastic tray or cardboard box lined with a plastic trash bag
  • Old towels
  • Cheap acrylic yarn – Honestly, the cheapest stuff you find on the clearance rack is fine.
  • Cling wrap
  • A couple of cans of vegetables, or two candle sticks, or something that can stand on its own.
  • About a yard of tulle. Use a coupon or get it on sale. Any color will do, but make sure it’s tulle and not netting. Also, avoid the kind with glitter on it.
  • Sewing machine and thread.
  • Apron, rubber/nitrile/dish washing gloves, face mask, eye protection.



Also, I work on an old towel when I dye.
It helps to catch drips and makes clean up WAY easier.

Step 1 – Make a skein.

I just wind a length of pearl cotton around my forearm, kinda like winding a garden hose. How long you need the cotton depends on your project. I usually just count 20-25 revolutions around my forearm, but you can do more or less.You can also wrap your skein around two cans or a knitty noddy if you have one.

Step 2 – Tie off your skein.

Using the acrylic yarn, bind your skein at even intervals around the loop – I usually do four. You don’t want the knots too tight or they will act as a resist and you’ll get white spots without dye – unless that’s what you want, then bind away! Just make them loose enough to slide over the surface of the skein.

Step 3 – Soda soak your cotton

Mix 2 tablespoons of dry soda ash with 1 quart of warm tap water (If you have hard water, use cheap, store-brand distilled water so you don’t have to add a ton of other chemicals) in the 2 quart container. Stir the soda ash until it completely dissolves in the warm water – you’ll know it’s dissolved when the water is slightly milky and you can’t hear any more granules scrape against the bottom of the container. When completely dissolved, place your bound skeins in the solution. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes. SOFTLY agitate them a couple of times during the soaking to make sure they get saturated, but don’t ruin your skein shape.

Step 4 – Make your dye solution

While your skeins are soaking, measure out about 1 cup of tap water into each of your plastic containers (If you have hard water, use store-brand distilled water so you don’t have to add a ton of other chemicals). The number of containers you use will depend on how many colors you want to dye your cotton. Measure out the desired amount of dry dye powder into the containers. If you want a pale color – use about 1/4 teaspoon, for a medium value – use 1/2 teaspoon, for a dark color – use a teaspoon. Please feel free to experiment with the amount you use. These amounts are not in stone and you can get great results just playing with dye amounts. Using the plastic spoons, thoroughly dissolve the dry powder into the water. When all dye solutions are made, set the containers close together.

Step 5 – Dyeing the cotton

Remove one skein from the soda soak and wring it out over the 2 quart container. It needs to be damp, so don’t dry it out. Figure out how you want your dye pattern to run (But seriously, don’t over think this, just have fun!) and place a section of the skein in one of the dye containers. With the other containers close by, dip the remaining sections in the other containers. Let the skein rest on the rims of the containers (If you want a solid color, just drop the entire skein in one color bath). You’ll want to soak the skeins for a few minutes – this allows the color to sink into the fiber and travel up to the rim a little bit. you can manipulate the skein as much as you want to get the color blending you desire.


Once you get the idea, you can start adding more dye containers and more skeins to get a little dye factory going.


Have fun blending colors and dye patterns. Once you have your set up, leave the skeins to soak for about 10 minutes. Make sure to get enough dye liquid on the parts that are resting on the rims.

Step 6 – Batch setting your cotton

Once you have the color you want, and they have been soaking for about 10 minutes, carefully transfer each skein to a plastic tray or box with a trash bag lining it. You can slightly squeeze some excess dye liquid out of the skein, but be careful to wipe your glove before moving over to another color of the skein. You can easily transfer color that way.

Lay them down with out them touching each other. When you have all the skeins laid out on the tray, cover the tray with cling wrap. You’ll want the cling wrap to touch the skeins so they don’t dry out. Keeping them moist while the chemical reaction of the dye bonding to the fiber happens is called batch setting. You’ll want to keep them under the cling wrap for an hour, at least. You can keep them batch setting for up to 24 hours if you want, but I never leave them that long. I usually don’t let them batch for longer than 3 hours just because I’m impatient.


You don’t have to have green cling wrap, I’ve just had this box for like 10 years and NEVER seem to run out of it.

Step 7 – First rinse
After the skeins have batch set, your first rinse will be in the sink. You can get a plastic dishpan and fill it with tap water and do a rinse in that, but you’ll need to change the water every so often. Honestly, I just run the tap with a light stream and rinse under that. You are going to run the skeins, one at a time, under the tap and let the water wash off any excess dye. At this point, you just need to get rid of the bulk of the loose dye. Your water will not run clear at this point, but you will notice that the run-off isn’t as dark as it was when you started. Try squeezing the individual color sections, under the water instead of balling up the skein – this will prevent any back staining of dark colors on light colors. You need to get all the skeins rinsed like this and set them on a towel in single file.


Once they are all lined up, roll up the towel tightly to get out the bulk of liquid in the skeins. Really squeeze them to get them just damp dry.


Step 8 – Machine rinse

Lay the tulle on a table. Place a skein on the tulle with some room around it and sandwich in between another layer of tulle. The pictures I have here are just to show you placement, but when you do this, it will be easier to do one at a time. What is happening is that you are making a one time use rinsing bag for the washing machine. The old standard is to use a lingerie bag, but I find that leaves the skein all tangled and matted. This way does use up a little tulle, but ultimately saves you time on rinsing.

You are going to use a long baste on your sewing machine, with any thread you have (this is a great way to use up oddball bobbins). Sew around each skein with just a little wiggle room. You also need to sew down the center of the skein, in the donut hole, so to speak. This prevents the skein from balling up when in the washing machine. This stitching does not have to be pretty, as you can tell in my pictures. You can do individual bags for each color group, but I have never felt the need to. I get great results just lining them up in a  row. You can fill up the width of the tulle with as many skeins as you have.


Make sure to sew COMPLETELY around each skein, backstitching at the start/stop AND down the center. If there is a little hole between the skeins, the loose end will find its way through it, BELIEVE me!

Once the skeins are secure in their tulle cells, toss that puppy in the washing machine on hot with some Synthrapol (Follow mfg. instructions on your brand of Synthrapol). I usually run my wash cycle twice, on hot. I also do some yardage fabric dyeing and toss that in as well. The tulle casing can take a beating in the machine.

After your preferred washes (Do at least two for good measure, more if you are selling your floss), you can throw the tulle package in the dryer. If you want, you can also hang the skeins to dry. Again, I’m impatient, so in the dryer they go. I use medium heat for a “regular” drying cycle in my machine.

When they come out of the dryer, cut around the tulle cells, being careful to not cut the pearl cotton in the process.

Step 8 – Winding your floss

Place the skein around the two cans of vegetables, keeping the skein taut.


CAREFULLY cut the acrylic yarn off of the skeins.


Slowly unwind the skein from the cans as you wind it onto a bobbin or empty spool. I have a die cutter, so I use all these fun die shapes instead of traditional bobbins. You can also just leave it in a skein form if you want.

And there you go.
That’s how I dye my floss/pearl cotton.

Let me know if you try this or have any questions.


Making a print board for dying

Let me show you how I assembled my print boards for my printing.


The supplies I used were: A Foamular square from Home depot (about 6 dollars, but any insulation foam will work, heck, you could probably use thick foam core), a piece of  lightweight 1/2″ chair cushion foam from Joann’s (about 6 dollars on sale for a small roll of it, which yielded two boards), medium weight clear plastic from Joann’s (about 5 dollars a yard) and duct tape (my grocery store was having a buy one get one free sale on it at the time, so about 3 dollars a roll. You’ll use less than a half a roll on one board).

Start by tracing off the shape of the foam square on the cushion foam.


The cushion foam is lightweight, so I just used craft scissors to cut it. Next, you’re going to layer the board sandwich. Place the plastic first, then the cushion foam, then the Foamular foam. Make sure the two foams match, edge to edge. Cut the clear plastic with a generous 3 inch or so border around the foam sandwich.


Starting with the corners, tape them to the underside with the duct tape. You want to keep the corners taut, but not so tight that the corners of the foam sandwich crush in.


Note, it really helps this next step to cut a bunch of small pieces of duct tape so they are ready to place.

Now that the corners are done, you are going to wrap the edges of the plastic to the underside using small pieces of tape for now. Keep the plastic taut while you do this. I tend to do one side, then its opposite side, so I can keep the plastic’s surface tension even in one direction at a time.

When you get to the corners, just do simple tucks or miters with the excess plastic.


When the plastic is nice and smooth on the surface, you can seal the edge of the clear plastic with a long piece of duct tape. This helps the plastic stick more to the foam and cleans up any sloppy taping.


And that’s it! Your board is ready to use. You can lay your fabric directly on the surface and print, but if you get any seeping, you’ll need to wipe the plastic before you print a new piece. To remedy this , I use a flannel print cloth over the plastic. The flannel soaks up any excess dye and provides more of a grip for the fabric I’m going to print on.

Joann’s has a solid flannel called “Cozy” or something like that. It is usually on sale and I got three  yards of it for about 6 or so dollars.

I just trimmed it to a generous size over the plastic and serged the edges to keep them from raveling in the wash. After I print, I just toss the print cloths in the wash with some bleach, and they are ready to go for next time.

I use T-pins or large glass head pins to secure the print cloth to the board. Because of the foam, they go in easily and stay put.


When I’m ready to print, I do the same to a large piece of fabric, or I pin into just the print cloth for small pieces of fabric.


On the left is one of my homemade screens loaded with Speedball ink, and the printed result on the right. Shhhh, don’t tell, but this is a secret Christmas present!


Mood Indigo

I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with two different dyeing techniques: Indigo and Deconstructed Screen Printing. These techniques are far removed from one another, but at the same time, work as wonderful cures to my recent creative malaise.

This post will focus on the indigo results.

I bought ProChemical’s indigo starter kit when I was enjoying the Houston Quilt Festival, this past November. With just a few things from the dollar store and Home Depot, I was off on my blue adventure.

I can’t stress how simple this process was to get the dye vat started. It’s just mixing some chemicals in a certain order, letting the vat sit for a few hours, then having a blast dyeing all kinds of fabrics in the blue wash. I will say that the smell can be a bit noxious at first, but if you just stay down-wind of it, you’ll be fine. I did this in my garage and never felt like the odor was too over powering or harmful. It has an obvious whiff of ammonia, so if you’re sensitive to that smell, you might want to do this outside. Regardless, it’s too easy not to try it. If kept well, the vat can last for a while.

As I rarely ever want to make jeans, I figured the most fun to be had with this process would be to work with stitched and tied resists. Over the course of a couple of weeks, I tried a few different ideas and got some rather interesting results. Please note that the pictures will never do the blue color any justice. It’s a rich rich blue that gets deeper with every submersion in the liquid.


You see that one small piece on the lower left that is green? That is the color the fabric becomes when removed from the indigo bath. It is this insane green that when exposed to oxygen, oxidizes and becomes the familiar blue we all love. It’s magic! Well, it’s chemistry, but still…

You can dip your pieces as many times as you want, after each oxidation process, to get as deep a blue as you want. They do rinse out about a value lighter than the wet results (NEVER TRUST WET DYE) so just keep that in mind if you are looking for a particular color.

The funny thing about rinsing the fabric, is that it gets rinsed in Ivory soap flakes. I’m not sure what this does to the indigo dye, but I will say that the fabric came out with a soft hand.

If you work with indigo, you’ll notice that it feels different than working with traditional powdered dyes. There is a soda ash activator involved, but, and this was something that really shocked me, you hardly use any to keep the vat going. Also, I re-read the instructions like 5 times to make sure that the amount of pre-reduced indigo was correct. It honestly didn’t seem like that much for 3 gallons of water, but low and behold, it works beautifully, so just trust the instructions and you’ll be fine.

Since I associate indigo with resists, for some reason, I wanted to try something I’ve never really had the patience to try, but still felt compelled to attempt – Shibori. Working with plastic beads and some strong thread, I tied off about a half a yard of white cotton into a flood of small starbursts. I love the results, but don’t think I’m going to try this again for a while. It is painfully time-consuming; however, the finished product is a sight to behold.


These are the 12mm plastic beads I used. I’ve had them for about 12 years and finally found a use for them!


Here is the yard of fabric all tied and ready for the bath.


This is the piece out of the indigo bath, rinsed once and ready to be untied. It is still damp at this point.


This is the finished piece, after being untied but before final rinse and pressing.

So, in conclusion, indigo was just what the doctor ordered to help me through a creative funk. Not sure how long I’ll keep the vat going, but for now, I’m just going to have fun.

Here are the results of my colorful labors:

If you have any questions, just ask away in the comment section.
I’ll be back soon with my Deconstructed Screen Printing adventures.