Friday, June 11, 2010

Using Silks in Quilts

This is a work by Joann Kiehn, a pal from way back, who is doing a series of quilts with a dog theme. She uses hand dyed silk charmeuse, which she fuses with Wonder-under to construct her quilts. Obviously she is not afraid of color

Silk has a glow which makes it very handy for those things that should be glowy like this moon.
This detail shot shows the silk in the background and cotton leaves and stems in the foreground. Notice that the quilting is next to but not on top of the leaves and stems. This sets up the shapes without crushing the edges. Also notice that there is no fraying. The reason? The fused cottons or silks were cut without the (Wonder-Under) backing paper attached. Very important. See the sidebar under Helpful Stuff for links to more information about fusing.

One can also easily hand stitch through fused silk. The trick is to fuse the silk top directly to the batting* with no foundation fabric at all. Stitching through only two layers makes it like butter! After the hand work is done, the backing fabric is added. I use the Escape Hatch finish, also under Helpful Stuff.
*Do not use textured batting like Warm and Natural or White and Natural. It shows through the silk and warps the final product.

Some of you may have tried silk paints like Setacolor or Jacquard silk paint. There is a difference in the look of paint vs. dye. This quilt uses both. The painted silks are matte, while the dyed silks retain their shine.

I used silk charmeuse in combination with cottons to make this piece, A Triumph of Tulips. The silk must be heavy enough to be opaque, so I dye and fuse with 16mm charmeuse.

Silk shows the texture of the quilting better than anything.


  1. How spectacular, those colors are so inspiring to me. thank's alot for showing it to me
    Love Doris

  2. I love the pedicures on those dogs! Little red toenails!

    Photos don't do justice to the shining beauties you are showing here. Having seen some of them in person I can say they are even more amazing than pictured.

  3. Triumph of Tulips is spectacular. Thank you for more tips as well.

  4. Hi Melody!

    I'm a member of the 2Dye4Bee (a spin off of Prairie Star Guild in St. Charles!). I LOVE your blog! We haven't ventured into silk yet - but maybe we'll start soon! Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Love the moon piece and the tulips really are spectacular!

    Kristin F. in SC

  6. What a beautiful post to wake up to this morning. Makes me want to dye up some hot silk and make something bright and cheery after my loooong rainy season here in the north west.

    Those dogs are too cute.

  7. Your last few posts contain so much fantastic information, thanks for your open willingness to share! :D

  8. Diane6:25 PM

    Melody, I feel so fortunate to have 'happened' upon your blog. The silks are so yummy! I am a dyer-wanna-be and having read everything I could get my hands on about the subject, I still feel apprehensive. One thing I am hoping to avoid when I do get to it is the resulting fabric being stiff. I have seen and handled many hand-dyed pieces only to find they are so stiff I would not want to use them in a quilt, or anything else for that matter. Is it correct in thinking that not all hand dyed cotton fabrics are stiff? I would appreciate any input on this. And while I may be apprehensive, I think I am ready and anxious to give this a go. We've had torrents of rain recently as well with more on the way. Ack! Thank you for your time.

  9. I still absolutely adore the quilt with the moon behind the row of trees. It's one of my favorites. Do you still own it and is it for sale?

  10. Melody,

    These are wonderful--I especially like "Triumph of Tulips"--maybe I need to try some silk pieces, the texture is fabulous.

  11. Diane, You asked about stiffness in dyed cotton fabrics, and there is absolutely no difference in the hand of dyed fabrics BUT there is A BIG DIFFERENCE in the hand of painted fabrics. Lots of 'fabric dyes' are really paint, not dye at all. Beware of the difference. I use procion dyes, a fiber reactive dye that is the industry standard.

  12. There are just no words for your quilts/Art. AMAZING. I have to tell you, I lose all sense of time looking at your work. I love all the colors, designs, I could go on and on and on. Thanks so much for sharing your talent and work with us. As a new pretty new quilter, you inspire me.


So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com