Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prize Drawing-What Fabric Do You Prefer


Just as you get comfortable things change.

A few years ago, after dying a million yards of Kaufman Pimatex, I began to realize that while it is a beautiful fabric, I needed a fabric that was easier to sew and quilt.

Pimatex takes dye beautifully but because of it's structure it is dense and hard to needle if you are a hand quilter and if you are a machine quilter it's hard to repair mistakes if you have to remove stitching. Pimatex is a broadcloth which means it has more weft than warp.

I faced up to this situation and spent a year and lots of money and time sampling other fabrics. I dyed, cut, pieced and quilted many different fabrics. I finally settled on another Kaufman fabric named Prima. This high quality muslin took dye really well and it was less expensive than Pimatex. Due to the 50/50 muslin construction, sewing with this fabric was much easier.

I purchased a number of bolts and used this fabric until last year when Kaufman announced that they would no longer offer Prima. I cried a river....I also quickly purchased as much as I could afford to pay for and store but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I still have a few bolts of this wonderful fabric but I will have to find a replacement soon.

I'm aware of many of the fabrics quilters and surface design artists use in their work but I'd love to hear from YOU about the fabric or fabrics you use and which ones are your favorites.

With that in mind, I'm having a small drawing for everyone who comments relating to their favorite fabric for dying and surface design.

So tell me....

  • What is your fabric of choice for surface design and hand dying?
  • Who is the manufacturer?
  • Where do you purchase your fabrics?
  • Have you ever been disappointed in a fabric you purchased for dying? What was the brand?
The name of everyone who responds via the comment box will be put in a "hat" and I'll have my assistant (Tom) draw a name out next Monday to receive a BIG Prize.....OK, maybe not BIG but a nice prize in the form of the Art Quilt Elements 2010 Catalog and a fun assortment of embroidery thread.

I'll be looking to hear from YOU.

I appreciate your spending time at Studio 24-7. Remember, commenting is FREE and your name will go into the hat for the little drawing.

41 comments:

  1. Please don't enter me in the draw - I have so much stuff, my sewing room will explode if I add anymore, but my gosh - your post made me laugh!

    Because as a Canadian, our fabric is so much more expensive than yours, that we would probably only dream of paying what you think is "too much" any day!

    My supplier is also Canadian in any event - I use primarily PFD silk twill ($16.50/yard if I buy it by the bolt otherwise, $19.50/yard); or a PFD 53/47 silk/cotton blend ($13.00/$10.50 yard; or rarely, PFD ramie, at $8.00/$6.90/yard. Still wanna know who the manufacturer is? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another Canadian here. I have been dying Sunshine cotton it is a broad cloth as well. I do not think you can get it in the US. It is made in China. I could not get any for more than two months last year as it was back ordered and not even on the boat yet. I also like Kona cotton, but it is very different and much softer and thicker fibres. I know we Canadians are not much help. We also get use to paying so much more. If we can get dying cloth for under $8.00 a meter we think it is a deal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ouch! I feel your pain. I purchased some Kona cotton recently for a workshop I was teaching and couldn't believe the price! Sounds like you guys have it even worse.

    Thank you for sharing the info!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love TestFabrics 400M. It dyes beautifully.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a few favorites that I use if I know I'll be doing some hand stitching; P&B's dyers muslin, Rocklon's Natures way muslin and my favorite for mono prints is Dharma Trading's Essex - 55% linen and 45% cotton.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I will be really interested to hear what others say, and to know what you decide on. My favorite fabric is Kaufman's Patina. Takes the dye beautifully and reliably, and has a very nice hand. I chose it specifically because I sometimes do hand-applique and wanted a fabric that would work for hand stitching. The best price I have found online is at http://www.fiberonawhim.com, but it is now up to $7.16/yd. I have tried various muslins and Kona cotton that I can get at JoAnn; you can see the results in this blog post: http://penny-studionotes.blogspot.com/2011/09/dye-experiments-with-less-expensive.html I was especially interested in finding a 90" fabric that would dye reasonably well, and found Kona Premier muslin to be satisfactory. But JoAnn's seems no longer to be carrying it. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lately I've been using old table linens for dyeing and quilting and am preferring those to any of the commercial fabrics I've used. The old linens dye beautifully, have a wonderful soft hand (both cotton and linen) and quilt well, especially for hand stitched work. I dislike Kona and Pimatex, they're too stiff and dense, and dyes on them are often too garish for my taste.
    So I hunt rummage sales for the linens. My favorite commercial fabric for both dyeing and quilting is linen -- and I get mine at JoAnn. They always have a variety of weights, also several linen/cotton blends. I'll likely try some of Dharma's linen fabric next time I need some.
    And P.S., I've never found that PFD fabric makes a difference at all, because I always prewash everything on hot anyhow. Still don't know why many dyers insist on PFD fabrics. As long as one stays away from bleached fabrics or those treated for permanent press, there's no problem using non-PFD fabrics for all that we do.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you Linda, Vicki, Penny and Connie. Isn't it interesting what diversity there is as to choice of fabric.

    You have all been added to the drawing! Many thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Presently I am using Kona cottons and a heavy cotton twill cotton for an outside installation. I love jacquard dyes and Setacolour paints. I order from Dharma and even Amamzon helps me out. I am creating a large fiber hand dyed installation for our local Dawes Arboretum .... it is a big job but I am excited to have the work!!! Peace, Mary helen Fernandez Stewart

    ReplyDelete
  10. I also have way more stuff than I need, so there's no need to add me to the drawing. I just wanted to say that in the dye class I took with Carol Soderlund, we used TestFabrics 400M. Obviously she feels it takes dye well (and I have no quibbles with that as the resulting swatch book is gorgeous) and she said that it needles well and easily. I brought home a scrap to try -- and misplaced it almost as soon as I arrived -- but I thought I'd share my small "authority by proxy" on the dyeing end.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks Mary Helen and my croft.

    I have used some twill fabric for backing but not for the face of a piece. Interesting.

    I actually think I have a roll of the TestFabrics 400M that I purchased from a friend but I've never used it. If I recall it is wider than the Prima which would be nice. I'll have to look at that. If I find it My croft, I'll send you a piece to try.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've used Kona Ready Dye from fabric.com for the past year, where it could be bought for around $5.00/yd. Just checked their website, however, and they don't currently carry it. Someone told me Nature's Way muslin was great to dye, so I ordered a 50-yd bolt from Joann's at 70% off w/coupons, liked it but didn't love it. I always end up going back to Testfabrics 400M, it's consistently a great product for both dyeing & sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like Test Fabrics 400M if I want to hand stitch. It takes dye really well. I think their 419 is more popular. It is dense like Pimatex, but in my limited experiments, the thinner 400M dyes better.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you Laura and Beverly! Testfabrics seems to be very popular. It also sounds that many of you have done what I have done in the past and that is to try many things.

    As for Kona, I think it's selling these days for around 7.99 at Hancock Fabrics if you don't have a coupon.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I still use kaufman pimatex. It behaves beautifully when piecing.

    I am sad that they don't make the 60" wide anymore. Bummer.

    I buy it direct from Kaufman which keeps the price down. (I also sell kaufman fabrics on my website in quantities since it can be hard to find.)

    Good luck on your search for a replacement! Let us know what you picked.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you Lisa. I will certainly do that. Pimatex is indeed beautiful but I also had issues with it when cutting and piecing large curves. The uneven structure didn't always accommodate me. Guess this is why it's great to have choices!

    ReplyDelete
  17. It's been really interesting to read this thread. I've only ever bought fabrics for dyeing from Dharma,but I really love working with old linens. I had a donation of amazingly soft white cotton sheets that I've dyed and printed and stitched until all I've got left are scraps.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I use Testfabrics 400M when I use cotton for all of the reasons the other women mentioned. It comes in 60 inches wide as well. You can get a price break by talking with them about bolts of "seconds." I have used two bolts of "seconds" and found no unusable fabric. The "seconds" that I bought were called that for wrinkles while being rolled onto the core. Of course, once scoured, the wrinkles disappeared. Don't count me in the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you Marie and Diana.

    Yes, it is interesting to hear the what and why of fabric choices. One "size" definitely doesn't work here.

    Thank you for commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I tried several others fabrics, but now I always use Test fabrics 400M. It is so easy to call and order it, and I like the way it dyes. I will have to find out about the seconds!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Gail! Yes, the idea of "good" seconds sounds great. I just downloaded a catalog from Testfabrics and their pricing looks good. I plan to order a few yards of the 400M and see how I like it. I checked the roll of fabric I purchased from a friend and I believe it is the 419. I will test it as well.

    Thanks for commenting. You're "in the hat"!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I also like 400M best from test fabrics, if ordered 100yds at a time the price is very good. Natures Way muslin from RocLon is good too, ordered from the manufacture for just a bit over a dollar a yard on 50 yard bolts - it must be scoured, its muslin colored and has a nice suede like finish once washed, its cheap and fun for playing!

    ReplyDelete
  23. For me, the 419 - hands down. Because it's mercerized it takes the color beautifully. However, I also like Hoffman Lawn, which is easier to needle if you are working by hand. I buy it by the bolt from Hoffman.

    I'll be interested in hearing the results of your tests.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you Mechelle and Rayna. I'm really surprised just how many people have mentioned the Testfabrics. I will be giving it another look.

    I have also used the RocLon muslin. I found it to take some colors beautifully and others not so well. When it works, it is fabulous. Sort of blotchy and very soft which I do appreciate. I also like the idea of low costs and guilt free experimentation!!!

    You guys are in the "hat"!

    ReplyDelete
  25. After trying 3 or 4 different types of fabrics for hand dying - I like Testfabrics 419 white which has a bit of a heavier hand and for lighter hand applications the 400. I found both to take dye wonderfully and both machine and hand quilt up nicely. I also have dyed two bolts of Kona sold by Joann's which was advertised as a "broadcloth" - I was also quite happy with that. It also was rather inexpensive since a bolt was only %80 (with their coupons or on sale) shipped free. I had to order the testfabric on the phone - and it wasn't cheapie - but shipping was relatively low since they are here in PA. They will send you swatches which was nice. hope that helps

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oops I lied - I meant to say that the Joanns Kona was advertised as Twill - so many names - so little brain cells!!!

      Delete
  26. Well, most people here use what I use but I will contribute as well. I love Testfabrics 400 and 419m. I also really like Prochem's style 100 cotton sheeting and style 200 broadcloth (both are mercerized). I will also use nature's way muslin and white linen that I buy from Fabric.com. No need to enter me in the drawing either. I am preparing to move my studio. I am happy to send *you* a few things if you'd like, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you Nina marie and Deborah!

    I appreciate hearing where you buy your fabrics what your experience has been.

    Deborah I feel your pain. Stuff can certainly take over a space.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Love Testfabrics 400M. Had problems years ago with a roll of cheap PFD from Dharma; the last 10 yards had some sort of a undyable line running down it that didn't appear until the fabric was dyed.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hey Connie! Thanks for the info. That's interesting about the un-dyable line. I have had issues with expensive fabrics having bits of what I know is polyester woven into the fabric and of course it won't dye with procion dye. I understand that this can happen but in some cases it was more than one small spot which is very disappointing.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Teri –
    interesting that you would be posting about searching the right fabric exactly when I am in the final phases of deciding for my fabric club, too! I posted about that on my German blog. (http://justcolours-uta.blogspot.com/2012/03/der-groe-test-stoffe-im-vergleich.html)
    So here’s my info from a European point of view:
    I am currently deciding between three different fabrics: Hofmann pfd (which is the same, they say, that they use for their Balis), Kona cotton pfd, and Bella Solids pfd. All of these I acquired through German distributors, so that would not help you at all. My favorite is the Hofmann, because it is the finest. But it is also the most expensive of these three. Out of these three I like the Kona the least, Bella Solids just has a slightly nicer feel/touch. Currently I am waiting for offers from the companies after inquiring about a rebate when I buy larger quantities. Then I will decide.
    But let me tell you that your prices are much better than anything I can get here, even as a business, even at a rebate. Don’t complain, you’re living in paradise regarding that matter!
    Good luck with your search.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have come full circle and I'm back to using Kaufman Pimatex. I tried everything under the sun as Kaufman is difficult to get up here in Canada. I tried 400M 409, cotton lawn, silk broadcloth, Pro Chem (least favourite) even fabric from Joannes. Some of these were fine but all were way more expensive than buying direct from Kaufman. So now I have it shipped to upper NY state and I cross the border to PU. Other than the cost I like the tight weave, the way it dyes and holds its shape when piecing. I was surprised to read that you had issues with it when cutting and piecing large curves....hmm - would like to know more.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Uta and Kit. Thanks for commenting. My internet connection is VERY slow today but I you both "in the hat" and will draw a winner Sunday.

    I am very curious what you are paying per yard or meter for your fabrics.

    Kit. I have never paid any attention to the grain of a piece of fabric as to how it runs when cutting. The main reason is that if I needed a specific color I used whatever I had in that color and sometimes this means cutting across the grain at odd angles. With the muslins this doesn't seem to be an issue but it can be with the Pimatex and other broadcloth fabrics as the give of the fabric is not equal from all directions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to buy the sunshine cotton broadcloth from a local store, but now I buy it by the bolt directly from the manufacturer (supremelaces.com).

      It is a very dense fabric, I find, and doesn't fray much compared to others. It will, however, let you know when your needle is getting blunt - it is that dense.

      Delete
  33. Thank you gatheredthreads! The sunshine broadcloth is the only fabric readers have mentioned that I'm not familiar with. I like the idea of the low fray. Your name is in "the hat". Best, T

    ReplyDelete
  34. Test Fabrics 400M is my current choice for production dyeing. It has a lower thread count than Pimatex, thus needles more easily. Weighs in at 116 grams/yard. I truly love to dye Robert Kaufman's Kona cloth because it seems to give my lwi pieces more depth and complexity. Not everyone likes to quilt with though....it's a hefty 122 grams/yard. I do have a few customers who prefer it. Used to use Hoffman Cotton Lawn almost exclusively. It has a beautiful soft hand. BUT, it's thread count is similar to Pimatex. It's very tightly woven which is great for surface design detail, but not necessarily for everyone who hand needles. It's woven with finer thread than Pimatex, which is why it is lighter and I still love it for myself, just not for hand appliqué or for customers. Sorry for the dissertation. No need to be in the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you FunkyC! I loved hearing all about your experiences, what you like and why you like or are not fond of in regards to fabrics. I'm also learning that our choices are "somewhat" limited to a set of fabrics. Interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wish I dyed cotton just to receive a sweet package from you! heh heh! I love linen.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You are too cute ;-) Here's my best dye story.

    As a college student I dyed some tee shirts red and used the dorm washing machines. Strangely, right after that, everyone in my dorm turned up in pink undies......Who me? What tee shirts?....Sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi Terry!

    So late am I in reading blog posts that I just read your results post and came back to add my two cents. I'm a P&B dyer's cloth gal, although the finished product is the pretty much same as TF 400 M in color uptake and they have similar thread counts (78x78 vs 78x76) I found that there was a bit more starchy stuff in the TF that repelled dye a bit when it wasn't pre-washed or pre-soda ash soaked (which is my preferred method for LWI).

    The Lunn's turned me onto the P&B way back, and I bought it from them at a very reasonable price until they stopped selling it. I think one of the reasons so many folks use Tf is the price and ease of purchasing large quantities from them. I know that's why I switched to Tf when my P&B suppliers ran off to Java ;-)

    5 years ago I turned my hobby into a business and started buying my beloved P&B wholesale (I'm sure one of the reasons I got "legit" is so I COULD buy P&B wholesale) and was very happy to switch back. I've started teaching online dyeing classes and I sell any of my students drop shipped bolts at a rate just above wholesale, which brings the price to just below the Tf 400M price of 4$/yd (the 25+ price). If I had to sell it at close to retail prices the I'd be selling it at more like 6$/yard, which is a hefty bit more...so my theory is that price pays a large factor into the 400M.

    OK, more than my 2 cents, but there you go! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Thank you so much Candy. It's true, the P&B can be hard to find and your price is Very Good. I will try to remember to bring this information forward for those who don't ready all the comments.

    ReplyDelete