Ann Johnston at the Columbia FiberArts Guild

Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away …. no, that’s not right, I mean here in Portland, OR – in April. Ann Johnston – one of my heroes, gave a lecture to the Columbia FiberArts Guild and then offered a 3-day workshop afterward.

Hand dyed fabric from Ann Johnston
Hand dyed fabric from Ann Johnston
Hand dyed fabric from Jill Hoddick
Hand dyed fabric from Jill Hoddick

What a fascinating ride Ann has been on. For many years she’s worked with dyed and painted fabric – produced in her own studio. Her book – Color by Accident, was my bible. My Virginia kitchen was filled with ziplock bags of fabulous coloured muslin, silks and sometimes even velvet cloth. Rows of curing yardage spread out on the kitchen table – while my husband was away flying planes, or putting up cellular towers in strange places around the world.

Since then, we have left our Virginia house, where I had the free run of the kitchen for my dyeing projects. We were beginning an 8 year wander, from Virginia to Florida to end up in Portland, Oregon.

My dyeing equipment sold, but I kept all the fabric and schlepped the boxes around from home to home. I still made quilts but surface design and dyeing was off the books.

Now we are settled here in the NorthWest, we have finally decided to buy a home again.

I am thinking…….. maybe I could start dyeing my fabric again?

And if I do, I’ll be following Ann’s books and now her DVD.

Color by Accident by Ann Johnston

Color by Accident by Ann JohnstonAt some point in your quilting life you will want to play with dyeing your own fabrics. Either because you keep hearing about how others do it and how easy it is. Or because you really, really want to create your own colours for your stash or a particular quilt.

I did it initially because I was curious about the process then I found I really enjoyed coming up with piles of new colours for my quilts.

For several years the kitchen in our Virginia house would be taken over by a mask wearing fiend who spread ziplock bags filled with swirls of colour and scrunched muslin all over every available surface. It made sense to create great wodges of hand dyed fabric in one session because it is a fairly messy and intrusive process. It takes a couple of days – because you are leaving the cooking fabrics overnight and then washing them out the next morning. While my husband was travelling and didn’t need feeding the kitchen was mine! Continue reading “Color by Accident by Ann Johnston”