My Natural Dye Sawtooth Star Quilt is Finished
I finished my natural dye quilt at the weekend and took it to the woods for photographs. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and can’t wait to make another quilt with fabric I dye myself with plants. I have big plans for the coming year on the allotment, and plan to grow madder, woad, indigo, dyers chamomile, dyers coreopsis, black hollyhocks, and a few other things that can be used as dye plants. It’ll be really fun to have a wider range of dyes and colours than those I can find in the wild. I am particularly excited about having rich blues and greens, which are hard to create with wild plants.
I’ve already shared a little bit about the dye process behind this quilt in other blog posts which can be found here, but in short, the colours for this quilt were created with goldenrod flowers, white willow, grey willow, hawthorn (branches and leaves), acorns from English oaks, and alder cones. The fabric is unbleached cotton calico. I chose the cheapest fabric possible because I wasn’t sure how my dye experiments would go and didn’t want to waste more expensive fabric on what felt very much like a leap into the unknown. That said, the calico has a lovely weight and feel to it, and the simple weave is similar to linen, but at a fraction of the price. Sewn up, I’m very happy with it.
The pattern is based on the classic sawtooth star quilting block, and I assembled it with half square triangle pieces. The back is a solid piece of calico dyed with alder cones, and the binding is made with fabric that I had leftover after making the top. The quilt wadding (batting) inside is a piece of heavyweight upholstery poly / cotton which I have had in my stash for over ten years. It’s leftovers from an upholstery project and I pieced it together with zigzag stitch to make sure it was the right size.
I only quilted the negative space, using 3 ply cotton embroidery thread and a sashiko needle. I didn’t want to detract from the stars by running lines of quilting stitches through them, so the quilting is very subtle and can only really be seen up close.
I’m already eyeing up that pile of freshly cut silver birch in the woods. The bark from silver birch gives a beautiful dusty pink colour, just like the hawthorn branches I used in this quilt. I need to get a proper outdoor crafts knife for removing the bark from felled branches.
Hanging from the branches of one of the oak trees I harvested acorns from last autumn. These trees are covered in oak moss lichens. They can also be used for dye, so I might try and gather some storm felled lichens next time I go for a walk.