That was the catch phrase for a 1950s TV sitcom called “The Life of Riley.” It’s still relevant today for situations like the one I got into with a humble lap quilt. On the down low I’ve been making a bricks pattern quilt with an assortment of materials that range from hand dyed cottons to commercial prints, with thermofax prints and Spoonflower printed photographic fabric as well. Its chief purpose is to use up experiments and large scraps that I’ve had too long.
Construction was uneventful. I found a backing fabric, on sale of course, and handed it over to a local long arm quilter, Eva Birch, for edge to edge quilting. My quilt was ready in good time, and I decided to wash it to encourage crinkling before I bound it. I am sure you’ve seen it coming; that’s when the trouble began.
Two of the quilt fabrics were dyed by me, a lime green and a blue-violet. They were in the last batch of fabric I dyed before I swore off dyeing. I guess I didn’t rinse them thoroughly enough. I know it was a cool day and my back hurt from hauling around buckets of water. (I have no sink suitable for dyeing.) I did run them through the washing machine, but maybe two times through would have been better.
When I pulled my new quilt out of the dryer I noticed that the lime green had bled a bit. Quickly I looked up Vicki Welsh’s instructions for soaking out dye bleeds and filled up my whirlpool tub with hot-hot water and Dawn liquid. After an hour the water was really green. I drained the tub and set up another soak, this time for overnight. The next morning the water looked pretty clear, so I popped the quilt into the washer for a rinse, and then dried it. To my delight, almost all the green stains were gone. To my dismay, I found that the blue-violet had now bled a bit around the edges. Even worse, the backing, heretofore fine, was now stained.
I wasn’t about to soak the quilt again, so I used a white Posca pen to touch up the worst of the areas on the top and ignored the problems on the back. Here’s “Linearity.”
I am not the only quilter with such problems. Recently I read Timna Tarr’s account of her adventures with fabric bleeding. Her problems came from vintage red fabrics. While washing in hot water took out some of the staining, she opted to use applique patches to cover problem areas. It’s a good lesson in creative solutions.
Now the only problem I have left is the rest of the fabrics I dyed that last day. I threw out the remainder of the lime green, and rewashed the blue-violet gradient I had dyed. I think it will be okay as long as I don’t wash whatever I use it in. Fingers crossed.
I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.