For­age and sew

Use nat­u­ral dyes to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful geo quilt - Ali­cia Hall shows you how

Mollie Makes - - Living -

MA­TE­RI­ALS

4m (157 1\2") un­bleached cal­ico fab­ric 115 x 115cm (45 3/8 x 45 3/ 8") cot­ton wad­ding Eight av­o­cado stones Four large hand­fuls of fresh net­tles or 20 net­tle teabags 0.4g saf­fron 2 litres soya milk White sewing thread Ro­tary cut­ter Erasable fab­ric marker Three large saucepans

We can’t think of a bet­ter tribute to na­ture’s glo­ri­ous colour pal­ette than this pretty hand­dyed patch­work project. What looks like a sim­ple geo­met­ric lap quilt at first glance is so much more – it’s a cel­e­bra­tion of slow craft­ing and all things botan­i­cal, dyed with av­o­cado stones, net­tles and saf­fron, and lov­ingly sewn to­gether by your own fair hands.

Give it pride of place on the wall above your bed, or drape it over your favourite arm­chair.

01 Pre­wash the fab­ric to re­move any in­vis­i­ble coat­ings that may af­fect how well it dyes. From the cal­ico, cut two 4m x 3cm (157½ x 1¼") pieces for the bind­ing, one 150 x 130cm (591/ x 51¼") piece for 8 the cream tri­an­gles (this will be left undyed), one 35 x 150cm (13¾ x 591/ 8") piece for the yel­low tri­an­gles, one 50 x 150cm (19¾ x 59 1/ 8") piece for the grey tri­an­gles and one 180 x 150cm (707/ x 59 1/ 8") piece for the 8 pink tri­an­gles and the quilt back.

02 Mor­dant the fab­ric by soak­ing it in a soya milk so­lu­tion made up of one part soya milk to two parts wa­ter for at least 12 hours, stir­ring it a cou­ple of times. Once the fab­ric has fin­ished soak­ing, squeeze out the soya milk so­lu­tion, put the fab­ric on a spin cy­cle in the wash­ing ma­chine, then let it air dry. This mor­dant­ing process helps the dye to stick to the fab­ric, and works best if the fab­ric is left to rest for sev­eral days af­ter the soya treat­ment be­fore it is dyed.

03 Fill a large saucepan with 5 litres of wa­ter and the eight av­o­cado stones, fill an­other large saucepan with the same amount of wa­ter and the net­tles, then fill a third large saucepan with the same amount of wa­ter and the saf­fron threads. Heat all of the pans and keep them gen­tly sim­mer­ing with the lids on. Be care­ful not to let the net­tles boil as the dye will turn brown.

04 Af­ter an hour, take the pans off the heat, then leave them to de­velop more colour overnight.

05 Re­move the av­o­cado stones and any large pieces of net­tle, and use a sieve cov­ered with a piece of thin fab­ric to strain out the smaller pieces. The saf­fron threads can be left in when the fab­ric is dyed.

06 Place the two bind­ing pieces and the 180 x 150cm (707/ x 59 1/ 8") 8 piece in the av­o­cado dye, the 35 x 150cm (13 ¾ x 59 1/ 8") piece in the saf­fron dye and the 50 x 150cm (19 ¾ x 59 1/ 8") piece in the net­tle dye. Heat the saucepans to a sim­mer be­fore turn­ing off the heat. Leave the fab­ric soak­ing for sev­eral hours un­til you’re happy with the colours, then squeeze out the ex­cess dye and leave the fab­ric to air dry out of di­rect sun­light. Once dry, iron them to set the colour, then rinse in the wash­ing ma­chine on a cool cy­cle and leave to air dry.

07 From the large pink fab­ric piece, cut a 115 x 115cm (45 3/8 ") square for the back­ing us­ing a ro­tary cut­ter, then cut the re­main­ing strip into 14 14 x 14cm (5½ x 5½") squares. Cut the yel­low piece into seven 14 x 14cm (5½ x 5½") squares, the grey piece into 11 14 x 14cm (5½ x 5½") squares and the undyed cream cal­ico piece into 32 14 x 14cm (5½ x 5½") squares. Draw a di­ag­o­nal line from cor­ner to cor­ner on the wrong side ( WS) of each square, then cut along the marked lines with a ro­tary cut­ter to cre­ate a to­tal of 128 half square tri­an­gles.

08 Pin each coloured tri­an­gle to a cream one with right sides (RS) to­gether, then sew along the di­ag­o­nal lines us­ing a 1cm ( 3 /8") seam al­lowance, as shown. Press the seams open.

09 Once all the tri­an­gles have been sewn into squares, sew them into strips us­ing a 1cm ( 3 /8") seam al­lowance, re­fer­ring to the lay­out pat­tern on page 99. Next, press all the seams open and lay out the rows on a flat sur­face.

10 Re­fer­ring to the lay­out pat­tern for place­ment, sew each row to­gether us­ing a 1cm ( 3 /8") seam al­lowance, tak­ing care to match up the seams, then press them open.

11 Place the quilt back­ing WS up and lay the wad­ding on top, align­ing the edges, then place the quilt front on top, RS up. Pin all the way around. The wad­ding and back­ing will be slightly larger than the front of the quilt to al­low for any move­ment dur­ing sewing.

12 Start sewing from the mid­dle of the quilt, next to the hor­i­zon­tal seams, and work out­wards to pre­vent the fab­ric from bunch­ing in the cen­tre. Sew around the out­side of the quilt, roughly 0.25cm ( 1 /8") in from the edge, and trim away the ex­cess back­ing fab­ric and wad­ding.

13 Place the bind­ing strips with RS to­gether, sew one short end, then press the seam open. Start­ing half­way along one edge, pin the bind­ing to the quilt front, RS to­gether and align­ing the raw edges. Sew 0.5cm (¼") in from the edge, fold­ing the bind­ing at a 45º an­gle at each cor­ner. Turn the quilt over and slip stitch the bind­ing to the back, fold­ing the raw edges to the WS, and mitring the cor­ners.

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