Using ice dyed fabrics can add a unique touch to your next quilt. Because of the way ice dyed fabrics are made, no two pieces are the same. And they can be used seamlessly in quilts, mixed with solids, neutrals, or prints. If you want to learn how ice dyed fabrics are made and how to use them in quilts, this is the post for you!
Today, we have an interview with hand dyer Brooke Biette of Dust + Waves Textile. Brooke is an experienced quilter who runs a textiles business in Maine. Her work is inspired by the environments around her and is deeply rooted in personal experiences with east coast and west coast landscapes. Brooke dyes fabric yardage and garments, and sells her own quilts that are made using ice dyed fabrics.
Here at Suzy Quilts, we fell in love at first sight with Brooke's ice dyed fabric. Its swirling colors were perfect for the new geometric Voyage quilt pattern, which goes on sale THIS FRIDAY, March 12!
Voyage comes in a fat quarter version and a two color version. Using ice dyed fabrics for the two color version gave this quilt movement and variance. It has the look of a stormy sea – perfect for this adventurous, beginner-friendly quilt pattern!
You Might Also Like...
An Interview with Ice Dyed Fabrics Artist, Brooke Biette
Tell us about yourself, your quilts, and Dust + Waves Textiles!
Almost 30 years ago my mother taught me how to quilt, but I've been dyeing fabric for only five years. Dust + Waves Textile came about after living out West in the desert for almost a decade then moving back to Maine where I grew up, and wanting my business and brand to showcase the incredible juxtaposition between the different landscapes and ways of life.
With my business I dye and sell fabrics, as well as make quilted goods that I release in seasonal collections. All of my items (from fabrics to quilts) are inspired by both my desert and coastal homes, landscapes, and experiences I've had.
What drew you to making hand dyed fabrics?
Dyeing fabrics came about from my own personal desire to make the fabrics I had been searching for. I was noticing that the fabrics I was buying to use in projects weren't quite right, they didn't quite fit the vision I had in mind.
A lot of the projects I was making were really personal and inspired by very specific sights and moments I had experienced or gone through, and I didn't feel like I was doing my ideas justice by using fabrics that felt just "okay".
So, I decided to learn how to dye them to fit the ideas I was trying to bring to life. The concept of playing with colors felt very much like painting, and allowed me to really stretch my quilting concepts a little further than I had been able to before.
Can you tell us about the process of making ice dyed fabrics?
Ice dyeing is a 24 hour process that requires the fabric to first soak in a mordant, which makes the dyes permanent. After, you play with ice and the powdered dyes to create a beautiful watercolor effect, the dyes are carried down through the fabric as the ice melts.
It is very much a personal experiment as to how much ice and dye, colors, and types of fabrics are used. Cotton fabric works best, but you can also ice dye any natural fiber, like linen. Once the ice has melted and the dyes have cured for a day, you wash them and get to see what your creation looks like!
In the five years I've been making ice dyed fabrics, I have never been able to completely replicate the same piece of fabric, even using the same exact dye colors. The way the colors mix and the way the ice melts really has a mind of its own, and I've learned to just let it do its thing.
Since I'm usually a total control freak in life, it gives me a chance to sit back and let the colors do what they will. It is a nice quiet space for me and allows for a little bit of a surprise in everything I dye.
I've been experimenting a lot with using snow instead of ice here in Maine, since we have had plenty in the backyard this winter. I have an instructional e-zine in my shop with all the ice dyeing how-to's for anyone interested in getting started and learning about the process.
What types of projects showcase ice dyed fabrics well?
I think any project that uses a fat quarter or larger is a good place to start! I tend to work in half yards, as it's an approachable size and fits well in my dye setup (bins and racks). So, dyeing fabrics for quilts is amazing.
I also love dyeing clothes. I dye lots of wearables for my shop when I can, because who doesn't love a fun sweatshirt or robe?! I've dyed sheets and pillow cases several times - really its all about whatever you want to dye! If you have the space to try it out, there are no limits!
Of course, the larger the project or piece of fabric, the more you'll see the designs created by the ice. But I do love cutting smaller pieces for quilting, because even within a couple of inches the designs and colors can change and you really get such a variety within just one piece of fabric.
FQ-Friendly Quilt Patterns!
Is there anything quilters need to know about caring for ice dyed fabric?
Please pre-wash your ice dyed fabric before using them! I always specify this to my customers and friends, and always get at least one person who didn't follow the instructions and ends up with some dye bleeding in their project.
The dyes are "permanent" if done correctly, but chances are good you'll get some dye loss in the first couple of washes - especially dark or really vibrant colors. I use a lot of Color Catchers, too, when I wash my fabrics to catch any excess dye.
In addition to being an ice dyer, you are a quilter who is bold about mixing prints and hand dyed fabrics. Do you have any advice for other quilters who are interested in trying that?
I truly believe that hand dyed fabrics mix well with everything. You can make them as bold or neutral as needed. I started out using them sparsely, and then worked my way into going nuts with it. I mix my hand dyed fabrics with vintage fabrics and designer fabrics all the time. Hand dyes can be used in place of solids or prints. Its all about finding a balance.
The environment plays a big role in your hand dyed fabrics and your quilts. Can you tell us about how nature inspires you and how it manifests in your work?
Having grown up in Maine with harsh long winters, and then relocating to the West Coast (Los Angeles and then both northern and southern Arizona), I feel like I've truly lived in the full spectrum of weather and landscapes.
Maine is gorgeous, with its rocky Atlantic Ocean coastline and deep woods. Northern Arizona allowed me the opportunity to frequent places like the Grand Canyon. And living in the extreme southern Arizona desert was a lesson in patience and perseverance.
All of the places I've called home inspired me in one way or another, giving me space to create and wander. In all of my projects, I try to continue to visit all of these places and moments in color and patterns, to tell the stories about where I've been. I picked up and moved West by myself on my own, and had many many ups and downs in my time in the desert, with lots of personal struggles that were constantly soothed by my need to create.
But, coming home to Maine with my partner has been inspiring in a different way. Now I get a chance to try to put down some real roots, be with my family, and dive in a little deeper to what comes next.
Thanks to Brooke for sharing her story and tips for working with ice dyed fabrics! Brooke's shop is Dust + Waves Textile, where she releases her ice dyed fabrics in small batches.
Fabric sales are announced on her Instagram. Brooke's Monsoon Moon fabric was used in the sample of the Voyage quilt pictured above. The Voyage quilt pattern is available on March 12, and Brooke will be launching a new batch of fabrics for sale on March 13 – make sure to get them before they're sold out!