Saturday, February 28, 2015

The First Cut

My first cut on the Dargate Treasury fabrics--shaking in my shoes. It's like the first blank page to the sketchbook artist, a little intimidating. Don't mess up.

Hello, blog followers. My name is Mary Robbins. I have the pleasure and honor of working with Margo to design quilting patterns for her newest fabric collection, Dargate Treasury from Andover Fabrics. I have many years of sewing and quilting experience starting when I was a child making Barbie doll clothes on my KAYanEE Sew Master. Barbie, if she could, would have rolled her eyes at the fashion statement made with the scraps of fabrics I used, but I came to love everything about cotton cloth--the feel, the crispness, the pattern repeats. I made complete coordinated outfits including little purses with repurposed, gold-filled necklace chains for handles. I wonder where they are today and where did that Barbie doll go?

In our pattern designing collaboration, Margo will be offering traditional patterns and I'll be designing contemporary ones. Like a time traveler, I'll be going back in history for the fabric but coming back to now to envision modern quilting designs in reproduction fabrics. Based on my interest and experience, you can expect quilts, table runners, tote bags, aprons, and pillows with standard piecing, foundation piecing, or appliqué.

S-o-o, the first cut was easier than expected--straightening the edge of the fabric, nice and neat. Now. onward to the second cut and, oh my, the shaking in the shoes starts all over. But, I'll endure because I must get to the sewing. I'm so excited about our projects. Stay tuned for regular updates on our pattern development.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Textile dyes

Dyes vs Pigments



Natural dyes from the Middle Ages used to color a variety of textiles were largely derived from vegetables. Some of the most popular were weld (Reseda luteola) which produces a yellow, madder (Rubia tinctoria) can give tints and shades from pale pink/peach to reds/purples to near black and Indigo (Indigofera) and Woad (Isatis tinctoria) for blues. New World contributions were Cochineal, brazil and log woods plus Quercitron.  Textiles were dipped into vats containing these dyes. The coloring agent adhered to both sides of the goods with a weaker color often on the backside. 

Back of Indigo dyed fabric

The only dye with affinity for cotton is Indigo. All the others had to be fixed onto the fabric with mordants. These metallic salts were printed or painted onto the ground cloth which was then processed in a dye bath. The mordant (alum and iron were the most popular) ‘bit’ both the dye stuff and the cotton fibers to form a stable bond.


The early 19th century mineral colors (Prussian blue, manganese bronze and the chromes…yellow, orange and green) were often printed on cotton textiles as insoluble pigments.  A binder was necessary to enclose and then attach the pigment to the cloth. Albumen from either eggs or blood was used during the 19th century as a textile pigment binder. Pigments sit on top side of the fabric and give a pale beige or taupe color to the back side.


The first synthetic fabric dye was discovered in coal tar residue in 1856…mauveine. Some of the early synthetics were printed on cotton as pigments until the discovery tannin mordants. Other aniline dyes followed in 1869 for alizarin (the coloring agent in madder) then in the early 1890s a good aniline black and finally in 1897 artificial indigo. A version of this is still used today to dye our beloved jeans!

Print pastes incorporating pigments into an emulsion were used for fabric printing during most of the 20th century. Today many of the printed fabrics in the quilt marketplace use fiber reactive dyes with occasional details provided by pigments.
Dargate Treasury by Andover Fabrics
Dargate Treasury due late April/May  Shop owners please contact your salesperson. They should receive the sample cards this week!


Saturday, February 7, 2015


I am working on basket blocks using my new Dargate Treasury sample yardage. What fun. Love baskets. This block was taped to my office door one morning in December with a note...' hope you can use this'. Alas...I was unable to read the signature??

It is a bit lumpy but I loved the parallelograms! I have drafted it and converted to rotary cutting measurements. Currently sewing basket bodies.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy Days!

My 'working' yardage has arrived for the new line of Dargate.....Treasury by Andover Fabrics. Now I need to get to work!