Yes to Yarn Dyes

design, fabric, quilting, sewing

We get lots of questions about our Warp + Weft Premium Yarn Dyes from quilters who haven’t ever quilted with yarn dyes before so we thought it might be helpful to share some tips here.

What are yarn dyes? Are they different from shot cottons? How are they different from prints?

Prints are produced by laying a series of screens and inks on undyed cotton. The screens are applied to only one side so there’s a back and from to prints. Yarn dye refers to a category of fabric in which the patterns are woven, as opposed to printed. Each yarn is dyed a different color before the fabric is woven. The pattern is produced by weaving so the front and back of the fabric are identical unless one side has been brushed to create a flannel. Shot cottons are often a bit more coarse and nubby but are a category of yarn dyes.

Do you have to cut them perfectly straight and match the plaids over every seam?

This is a personal choice. In our Warp + Weft publication, we designed a series of patterns that allow the plaids, ginghams, and stripes to be used in ways that don’t require matching plaids or cutting the fabric totally straight. In addition, you’ll notice that the smaller the scale of the plaid the less noticeable it will be anyway. However, if you include yarn dyes in some patterns, you’ll have to decide how important it is to cut according to the weaving pattern. Our preference is to cut mostly straight but not worry if it’s 5% off. Some people love wonky angles in plaids and others will prefer to match plaids across seams. You be you!

Are they the same weight as shot cottons which are too thin for me?

Some of the yarn dyes on the market are thinner than quilting cottons and don’t hold their shape well when quilting. Warp + Weft Premium Yarn Dyes are the same weight as standard quilting cotton and slightly heavier with a tighter weave than other yarn dyes on the market. In prewashing, they shrink the same amount as standard prints. We recommend prewashing all fabric with Ivory Ultra dishwashing liquid and drying as you will the final quilt.

How can I mix them with other fabrics I own?

We designed this collection as we do all of our collections — to play well with others. Although the yarn dyes are multicolored, think of them as you would a print of the same hue. Focus on the color and mix them with abandon with batiks, prints, solids, chambrays, in every genre of fabric. These fabrics are chameleons. The magenta will look edgy with modern prints. The red will mix beautifully with feedsack or reproduction prints. Focus on color and mix it up! The more the merrier!

Please tag us on Instagram and Facebook and show us how you’re including Warp + Weft Premium Yarn Dyes in your projects!

20 Years and Counting

design, fabric, general crafts, inspiration, just a thought, needlework, quilting, sewing

Happy New Year friends. It’s going to be a big year for us as we celebrate our 20th anniversary in May. There will be special events, new products, new online tutorials, new classes, new publications and lots of new fabric throughout the year as we mark this important milestone. Many of you have cheered us on since the beginning and we’d love to hear what’s of interest to you.

Mostly we want to help you find time and space in your life to make things that bring joy to you and your loved ones. It doesn’t matter to us if it’s modern. It doesn’t matter if it’s made with our patterns. It doesn’t matter if it wins ribbons or gets accepted to prestigious shows. What we know for certain is that the art of making things is an inherently optimistic pursuit. Who couldn’t use a little optimism at the start of a new year? Regardless of how the rest of your day or year has gone, there’s a wonder in our eyes and minds when we’re making things. We need more of that.

So as we start this first day of 2019, join us in committing to a year of great making. Let’s clear space in our homes, our minds and our days to make whatever brings you joy for even 30 minutes per week. Even daydreaming about projects counts! Let’s make 2019 the year we take a cold, hard look at the barriers that get in our way of making and commit to removing those obstacles. We’ll do our best to share our tips throughout the year for everything from taming your stash to helping you figure out what to do with all of those UFOs. Let us know on our Instagram and Facebook pages as well as in the comments below, how we can help you to have a great year of sewing, quilting and making. Fresh starts. New possibilities. Ready, set, go!

 

The Best Book You’ll Read This Summer

design, fabric, inspiration, quilting, sewing

May 1. Today’s the day that you’ll finally be able to read Rachel May’s epic 400-page book An American Quilt. Do yourself a favor and suggest this book for your book group or quilting bee because it’s the perfect read to discuss with quilters and bibliophiles alike.

The breadth and details in this book are as fascinating as the true story that forms the skeleton of the book. May delves into the history and background of not only an unfinished quilt made from fabrics from the 1830s but also the household of the couple who made it. It’s a tangled web indeed that spans from New England to the Caribbean as well as the historical backdrop of both white and slave family life during the era, the slave trade, trade routes between the agrarian south and the industrialized north and everyday details of 19th century life.

An American Quilt is a work of creative non-fiction, which is not a genre I’ve explored before so it’s worth explaining if it’s unfamiliar to you as well. May uses a bountiful supply of letters, photos, ephemera, the quilt itself and historical records from New England to the Caribbean to piece together the story with painstaking detail. Overlaid on the story of the quilt, however, is May’s own story as she takes us along as she pieces it all together. She describes her own journey of finding parts of the story and how she imagines the characters must have felt or interacted. Weaving together the facts she discovers, May also suggests possible context when she doesn’t have documentation to make the story more coherent.

May’s device of taking us on her journey to research the story of the quilt makes An American Quilt an intimate read. You’re there in the room as she delicately handles the quilt and reads the words “Seaman,” “Barbados,” and “casks” on the papers used for piecing the quilt. You go with her to Charleston where she combs through the files of the Historical Society to find more information of the characters we meet in the story. You sip coffee with her in Havana as she searches for information on the slaves she’s researching. For me, this is what brings so much life to An American Quilt. There are two parallel stories unfolding as you read. May also takes you on occasional “field trips” to give the reader historical context on how fabric was dyed at the time, how Rhode Island and Charleston, South Carolina became so closely linked in trade, what medicine was like for slaves, how rum production was linked to the slave trade and how the legal system treated slaves for example.

Reading An American Quilt reframes the way many of us will see historical quilts moving forward as not just the quaint product of the maker but as also having an additional complex backstory of the lives, culture and commerce that were part of the production of the cloth and the making of the quilt itself.