While we are all desperately hoping for rain, the hot sunny winter days make fabric dyeing a pleasure. We don’t need to create an artificial heated environment for the fabric to batch; we just put the fabric out into the sun to batch.
Hand-dyeing fabric is a complicated, but fun process that takes a couple of days from start to finish. First we wash the fabric, then we soak it in the dye activator and lastly the liquid dye is added. Our dyes are reactive dyes which use heat as a catalyst between the dye and the fabric. The best source of heat is the hot African sun. For those who know me well, I always mention the advantages of the African sun. There is something special about the sun that shines over the African continent. Yes, it’s the same sun that shines over the rest of the world, but living in Africa makes it special.
However, I digress…. Once the sun has finished working its magic, it’s time to wash the fabric out. This is probably the most time consuming part of the process. We rinse the fabric in cold water until the water runs clear and then we wash the fabric in hot water with Synthrapol (or an African equivalent). Fortunately we have rain tanks full of water so we are able to save water. The challenge is that if it doesn’t rain soon, the water in the tanks won’t last much longer. We then hang out the fabric to dry.. you guessed it .. in the hot African sun. Once dry the fabric is ironed and packaged for delivery or for sale.
Sir Sprocket the red Burmese boy has given the quilt his stamp of approval. He also noted that he would like a quilt like this, and didn’t accept “no chance” as an answer. He likes to carry his blankets (and everyone’s sweaters) around with him ….mmmm I wonder whether he has been reading Peanut’s cartoons and seen how Linus carries his blanket around. What he doesn’t realise is that this quilt is far to heavy for him to pick up, let alone carry around. I suppose I could make him a smaller version with the left over fabric…..
On a more serious technical note, I tried a new quilting technique – “quilt as you go” – 12 blocks in a row and 12 rows in a panel and 6 main panels with 4 border panels. This has been the most difficult quilt I have ever put together. The good news is that it came together quite well in the end – and I learnt a lot, which is always a good thing 🙂
We also hand-dyed a whole cloth piece to use as the backing for the quilt. IMHO, the calmer, muted backing complements the bright happy quilt top.
We are inching slowly forward towards our goal of a sustainable business. To remind ourselves, our passion and goal is to help provide employment for some of the local mothers and grandmothers. Sustainable development can only succeed if we all commit to the goal of social upliftment and by “loving our neighbour as ourselves”.
Back to the fabric…. the market, on the whole, seems to appreciate our fabric and it’s uniqueness. This is due to the quality and texture of the base fabric we use.
The samples we have sent out are finally reaching their destinations. We are waiting in anticipation to hear what people think. While we wait, Mad Scientist 1 and 2 are hard at work, taking advantage of the warm sunny Autumn days.
Just to whet your appetite, here are some photos of the cot quilts we made to showcase our fabric.
We are in the process of sending out our first orders and samples. Isn’t is exciting? Is your name on our list of orders to send out? You don’t want to miss out. Contact us to place an order. Contact Form is at the bottom of this post.
In the meantime here are some photos of the stunning goodies we have recently made with our fabric.
A small sidetrack….. I said that I would post photos of the fabric we dyed last weekend. Let’s just say, at this point, the fabric is stunning. The African sun worked her magic as usual. Our photographer is slightly behind schedule. He will catch up soon.
In the meantime, we went to the beach on Sunday morning – to walk ourselves and play with our puppies. We have busy, multifaceted lives. We are working moms with 2 legged and 4 legged children, mad scientist fabric dyers, quilters and we train search and rescue dogs (and anti poaching dogs). We each have a puppy which is in training to become a certified search and rescue dog. My blog documenting the training of the puppies can be found here. Basically the bottom line is, if you get lost in the mountains, preferably a South African mountain, we can come and find you. But that’s a story for another day and space.
The question people might ask, and it’s what I would ask: What does dog training have to do with fabric dyeing and quilting? Well, it’s simple really, because we are training wilderness search dogs we are often out and about in the “wilderness” – the mountains, beach, bush etc. Most of our inspiration comes from being out in the African “wilderness”. This leads back to the point of today’s post. Don’t you love circles? I collected the most amazing shells on the beach yesterday. They will definitely be inspiration for another range of hand dyed fabric.
Now its back to being a mad scientist and play some more with fabric and fabric dye.
The African sun has hidden herself. Our life force is ebbing away. What are we to do? Offer acts of kindness on her behalf to welcome her back?
The 2 mad scientists have consulted….. to encourage her back, we are offering 2 charm packs as as free gifts. All you need to do is let us know when the sun decides to shine upon us again.
The first 2 people who let us know that the sun is shining over our dyeing studio will win the free gifts. We post anywhere in the world.
And now…. because we need photos, here is a photo of the first quilt I am making with our own fabric….. Mmmmmm the photo isn’t brilliant – I think I need to employ the services of my personal professional photographer. But… it will do for now – it will relieve the photo craving – my reflection is on the right hand side of the quilt. I suppose it proves that this quilt wasn’t quilted by a robot.