Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tutorial - Sharpie Tie Dye Quilt

Every year when we travel home to visit my family in New Hampshire I try to think up a craft that we can all do together.  Some years it is jewelry making, one year it was doing crazy chemistry experiments and filming them, and last year was making a quilt.  I wanted everyone in the family to participate in making the quilt, including my parents who are in their eighties.  I had made t-shirts using the Sharpie tie dye technique and figured that this could translate to quilt squares. 

I used 100% cotton white cotton fabric that I had on hand and cut twelve squares, each square measuring 12-1/2 inches on each side.  Other materials needed are Sharpie markers (the more colors the better) and rubbing alcohol.  The finished quilt will require sashing and backing materials, but more on that later!

I asked everyone to take a square and draw things from around the lake.  We ended up with kayaks on the water, family dogs, Mom’s flower boxes, the American flag which is flown from the deck, blueberry bushes, fish, and other scenes.  I saved two squares specifically for signatures and to write the names of my parents’ cottages.  It isn’t necessary to add a lot of different colors to each square as when the ink runs from the application of the alcohol the colors will appear muddy if there are too many (that are close together) on the square.  Also, the drawings do not need to be too complicated for the same reason, so this is a perfect craft for young children, with adult help.  

American Flag

A drum, from my son, the drummer!

A flower box on the deck.
Other tips are : 
  • Don’t bear down too hard with the Sharpie as smaller shapes and words will be difficult to distinguish; and
  • Make sure you have paper under the fabric while drawing on it as the Sharpie ink will bleed through. 

Important!!!  The next step should be done only by an adult.  

Now that all of the drawings are completed the alcohol will be applied.  Again, this step needs to be done on a pile of rags or on a glass top table so that the ink does not stain as it bleeds from the alcohol application.  I did this on a glass top table and had no trouble removing any ink afterwards but I did not let it dry first.

  • Place the fabric square on the absorbent cloth or glass.  
  • Using an eye dropper or plastic teaspoon, carefully drip alcohol over the drawing beginning in the center.  The ink should immediately start to run.  Use the alcohol sparingly as you don’t want to muddy up the picture.  Only use enough to get the “tie dye” effect that you want.  
  • Once one square is completed hang it to dry where the drippings from it won’t stain.  If working on glass, wipe after each block up so that any ink left on the glass from  the next.  
  • Continue until all squares are completed, hanging each to dry.  
  • Once completely dry, I ironed them to further set the colors. 
I set my squares into a 3 by 4 square quilt pattern, but individual pillows could be made for each of the square painters for a keepsake from a family reunion, for instance.  As I brought the squares home with me last summer I had time to further work on them and spent time embroidering details on each square.  I outlined everyone’s signature to make these stand out and enhanced some of the drawings that had become a bit muddled.  It was a lot of work, but definitely worth it!

To finish the quilt, I used traditional 2-inch wide sashing and 2-inch square corner pieces.  I wanted this to be a quilt that would be used so, rather than back it with a cotton fabric and line it with quilt batting, I used a piece of fleece for the back.  Since the quilt is predominately blue and green, because of our outdoors drawings (and blue is my Dad's favorite color) the sashing is blue and the squares are green.  I tied bows from 1/8" satin ribbon and machine-tacked them in the center of each square to hold the quilt front and the fleece back together.  I get lazy sometimes and used purchased quilt binding to finish the quilt.  

Some more of our artwork!

I had planned on sending this to my parents for a Christmas present, but ran out of time in completing it.  And, I really wanted to be there when they opened it.  I was able to give it to them during a visit I made back to NH in March of this year.  

Mom and Dad with the finished quilt, March 2015.
It is a great memory quilt of both our family and our times at the lake.  Hope that you find inspiration in this project and create your own Sharpie tie-dye quilt or pillows!

Happy Crafting...and Quilting!


Please note:  I was not compensated by the manufacturer's of Sharpie markers for this project.  This idea, and all of the drawings used,, are solely those members of myself and my family, and may not be reproduced.  Thank you for your understanding.

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