I’ve been thinking over which fabric would make the best print or plain for the background for my new stash.

A plain white (such as the sheet on which I photographed them in the last post) seemed too stark. A long time ago I had a fat quarter of a light sky print of powder blue with clouds, but that’s no longer in production. In any case, I would still need to get a different print for the sea part of the quilt. So I got some white cotton and some water soluble dyes, a couple of cheapie spray bottles of the type Windex comes in, and had a play at getting a variegated but soft colour on the cotton.

This is the white ready to go.

This is a faint spray of Pebeo Setacolour Transparent in emerald and moss green. I’m not sure if a better spray gun would furnish a less spotty fabric. I’m sure an air gun would work, but I don’t have one and I have no need of one. Pushing the fabric underwater before ironing helps to moosh the colours together, but you lose intensity. I did make a more intense patch as a sample:

And this is a sample of the same fabric washed out and then ironed to set the dye.

In the end, though, I wasn’t happy with the range of colours that are possible. I went to the fabric shop and tried my fabric against pale-as-pale greys, greens, and blues: each one clashed with a lot of my fabrics. I even tried bleaching a few batiks, but they’re bleachfast (how is this possible??).

So. I could make a hundred different shades by mixing and matching dyes and pulling more or less dye out, but I don’t want it to be so fiddly. The prospect of matching background patch to feature patch, then trying to find shades to fit between blocks of many different colours and intensities, leaves me more intimidated than excited. I mean, every block is going to be a challenge anyway, isn’t it?

So, the decision – I’ll use white in the background, with the odd full colour block. It’ll be more Jane Stickle than Sundial, and I’ll have to take care not to get it dirty. I’ll also have to lose a few of the more intense colour fabrics. But I’m pretty sure it will work.