Here I am back again, on a sort of roll ( but rolling gently as I have a sore back today- poor old me !)
I am working on dyeing a background for the poppies . Here's how!

First I studied my photo and decided which dye colours I needed to mix. Then , in a nice urea solution, I mixed some VERY intense dyes. More on that later.

I placed my paper pattern on the dry, clean , plastic covered work table. This got covered by a big sheet of plexiglass that, fortunately, fit the size needed for my background. Then, I cut a piece of the lovely silky cotton lawn a little larger than needed and I soaked it for  few minutes in pre-prepared soda ash solution. Putting the soda ash on first like this stops excessive colour bleeding . Normally, The soda would go on AFTER the dye. This SHOULD keep the colours pretty much where I painted them.

Then, with my dyes premixed in the urea solution, and a big soft paintbrush, I started painting , a section and a colour at a time. When the dye is wet, it looks VERY intense. I want good colour in the end and I KNOW some will bleed out when I rinse so I made strong dyes,strong urea and strong soda ash to fix it all. Normally, my dyes are not as intensely mixed.

Here is the fabric with the colour all painted on. The big white splotches are the places where the poppy heads will go eventually.
Now, I have all of the colour where I want it, next job is "fixing" it with soda ash. As I do NOT want to move the fabric off the plexiglass, I put my soda solution into a spray bottle and , after blotting a bit of extra wetness off the fabric, I sprayed it all over, REALLY well, THREE times with a few minutes between. Now it is "batching " on the table. I will leave it till it has been there a couple of hours , then rinse normally and dry and iron it - and hope it is good!

As well as this, I dyed a strip of silk organza - the normal way, with golden yellow and red to use as the blurry poppies in the background. It can come out of the soda pretty soon but I may leave it all till after dinner.
And here it is now, just batching away with the soda spray on it. Fingers crossed! Maybe by later tonight I will have a background ready to work with .
So...I am well on my way now. I am DYING to get to the poppy heads! Can't do them till I get my background finished! That is close to being ready so- stay tuned:-)

Hope this all makes sense! 


  1. What a neat way to do the background. gentle hugs for that poor back! ;~)

  2. The intriguing thing to me in this post is how much some of the colours resemble a piece of (hitherto ugly) fabric a friend gave me a few weeks ago; she'd wanted to use it in a piece about (you guessed it!) poppies...but she's not an art quilter and it stumped her. Now I'm thinking about digging it out and over-dyeing...or adding something to what's already there. Hmmm.... Thanks!!

  3. Very interesting, Carolyn! I once took a dyeing workshop and we pre soaked all of the cotton in soda ash. We didn't use urea. Your hint of spraying the odd a ash on after the painting is good too.
    Thanks for the process photos.

  4. Good recovery for your back. Don't do to much gardening - If I am doing it I am knackered - Greetings from Croatia!