Thursday, December 12, 2013

What to do with Bloopers?

As I close 2013, I am cleaning off my shelves and digging out from under the year's worth of fabric that was thrown aside or crammed somewhere/anywhere to get on with what was next. 

I have tons of fabric that was experimental, not quite right, misreads of orders, and lots that is just the result of a brain fart; stuff that got away from me for who knows what reason. It is still beautiful and worthy of something other than just sitting in a box.

I had a brief "Etsy" experience long ago and will reopen the store momentarily. If you want some hand dyed cotton for CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP, check it out. Silk and wool products will follow as I have the time and desire.

Here are some of the blooper photos which I know happen to you now and then when you do not pay attention to what you are doing. Can you imagine that I once had a customer who requested that I dye her fabric so it HAD these folds and "highlights"? Where is she now, I wonder?

Need some blue cotton? Need some yellow? You know where to find me. It's selling as soon as I get the store cranked up, for $4.00/yard or $1.00 per fat quarter. Once I get the store open, I will post how to locate it quickly and painlessly.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lichen Dyeing! New YouTube video~

My latest YouTube video can be seen if you go to:

I had heard that lichen made a nice natural dye, so watch the video of how I obtained the beautiful yellow green seen in the picture.

The lichen used to dye the wool, silk, and cotton fibers was sustainably collected from a fallen tree in Mt Shasta, CA. 

My new workbook will also be available on my web site ( tomorrow with lessons on how to dye using tea, spices, juices, flowers, rust, and much more.

If you prefer dyeing wool, that will be the next workbook I complete this fall, so watch for it here, on Facebook, and on my web site.

Happy dyeing!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hand dyed silk, cotton and wool~any color, any fabric, any way you want it!

Fabric has a Facebook page and boards on Pinterest if you are interested in seeing more hand dyed cotton, silk and wool textiles! We even have YouTube videos on various topics relating to fabric dyeing techniques. Look for the Fabric Designs channel and become a follower!

Right now, I am working on three large scale panels for a local cafe. The subject matter is three sleeping cats and will be done in either batik or with textile paints. Watch this blog for photos of the step by step process.

Happy dyeing!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dye Garden Events Coming to a Close for The Season

Hello, dear dyeing students,

Cheryl asked me to post our attempts at using oxalis blossoms on various wool yarns. It was a success in that we got color but this is not something we will repeat even though having an ample supply of it in the yard. 

My daughter fired up the roasting pan one more time today to run through our last round of pokeberries for the season. That has always been a great color although a bit temperamental. 

Most everything else is done now so the garden will be given over to edible plants until spring returns.

To look forward to next spring- the return of larkspur and orange cosmos. Hopefully we will get some black hollyhocks this year. The seeds have been stubborn to sprout and I have to protect the plants from chicken musings.

What are you working on these days? Any big projects looming in the wings? Let me know how you are and what's up in your world.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Four Yards of Nui Shibori

 My students in Shibori Dyeing asked to see the process that includes metallic textile paint. 

This online class will be taught again at the new web site which will be announced in January 2014.

Dyed silk sewn in Nui Shibori style

Finished and gathered.

Dyes painted on one side and then flipped.

Diluted gold paint applied over pleats.

Finished effect.

Four yards may seem like a lot of fabric to hand pleat but the process goes quite quickly.

Diluting the paint makes it somewhat less stiff and scratchy but it still adds weight and "hand" which is to be expected with metallic paint.

Hope that helps, Chrissy. Let's see your results in the student gallery!!!!! :-)

Friday, August 30, 2013

So are you teaching online classes or not????

The answer to this question is yes, I am teaching my online fabric designing classes when Quilt University closes at the end of this year.

You may also be asking me where, when, what, how, who.....all good questions but I can't say quite yet. I will announce it soon. Sorry about being so secretive but that is how it has to be for now. I know!!! It's making me antsy too.

Until then- there are a few more of my classes to be found at


Monday, August 26, 2013

Wicking Color- How Procion MX Dyes Travel Along Fibers

Here's yet another YouTube video on how colors wick.

The quality isn't that great so I do apologize for that but you get the general idea of what's going on here, I hope.

The problem some of my students have with colors wicking too fast or too slowly results in funky results on occasion. 

One color in particular that is tough to make is brown. When jammed into a tight container to make the mottling designs we all love, the color red, which travels slowest of the three primaries, can't quite make it into the folds and caverns to blend with the yellow and blue. The result is some brown but also some green thrown into the mix. You can easily fix this problem by readjusting the fabric at the half way mark so the red can find it's way along the fibers to make a nice brown color.

Removing a piece of hand dyed fabric too soon from the dye bath can also be problematic in that the colors haven't had the time to travel together and connect to the fibers as well as they can or should.

I have been playing with intentional wicking of colors. You can see results of that by searching this blog for the word, "wicking".


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


For my online students and those who have taken classes with me in the past, here is a demonstration of how to tent silk (or cotton) that has been dyed in an environment where there is very low humidity. 

Having the fabric dry out too soon can be problematic when looking for deep, dark color saturation.

Happy dyeing, everyone!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Online teaching...

Might still be teaching online fabric designing classes after all....interested? Let me know!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

California Fiber Artists Profile

Read this and see if there is any part of it you can relate to as a fellow fiber artist. Let me know!

Meet CFA Member Marjorie Bartolome McWilliams

July 21, 2013 at 6:35am

MarjorieBartolome McWilliams

1.  How would you describe yourself in 20 words or less?
            I am on a quest for simplicity in my life.

2.  Where is the first place, and what was the year, that you officially entered your artwork into a show?
            A park in Santa Barbara, CA-1971. A dog peed on one of my paintings.

3.  What drew you to your particular art medium?
            I took a batik class in 1969 and the smell of the wax, the feel of the fabric, the color of the dyes.  It grabbed me immediately.

4.  Has your style changed since you began your journey in art?
            I used to throw all caution to the wind when it came to color and design and approach. These days I am much more thoughtful and plan out my attack on the fabric before I ever start the process of making art.

5.  What is a major goal you have as an artist?  Why is that your goal?
            I make art to challenge myself. I rarely make art that doesn’t contain a problem to solve. My major goal these days is to focus, think, attack, and learn. If I finish a project without gaining new insight then it’s a waste of my time.

6.  What are you proudest of so far in your art life?
            I am proudest of the fact that I have taught fabric designing to over 12,000 students in 13 years at Quilt University.

7.  Which artist(s) in any medium do you most admire...  why?
            Amedeo Modigliani and Franz Marc.  Both capture emotion and design in a simple and elegant way.

8.  Describe your studio space:
            My studio is in the basement of our Victorian home in Woodland, CA. Yes, it is dark but I can get as wild and sloppy as I want and I walk away from it by closing the door and shutting off the lights. My beloved restaurant sink is my pride and joy, along with my huge glass topped table made from sliding glass doors.

9.  How in the world do you balance your home life and your work?
             I don’t.

10.  What exciting things might be coming up on your art horizon?
            Expanding my love for natural dyes by taking advantage of local farmland and cultivating dyeable plants. I already have four farmers who have generously offered portions of their land for this use! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Transition Times

Many of you are asking me what I am going to do once Quilt University closes its doors this fall. I have been teaching there for 13 years and have had over 12,000 students journey with me through miles of fabric and mountains of dye and wax and spices and rivers of gutta and truck loads of potato dextrin. So what is next? The thought of stopping the 7 day a week, 11 months out of the year check-in process is mind bending. I have done this almost non-stop for so long. Should I? Could I? Would I? 

You wouldn't believe the inconvenience this has been for me. Teaching my 13 courses (sometimes five classes at a time), causes hours and hours of question answering. Usually they are the same questions year after year. The vacations paused so that I can check in with the discussion forums every day has been inconvenient. Trying to find hot spots was harder in 2000 than it is now! Finding free ones only to have the sprinklers turn on unexpectedly and soaking me and my lap top; dogs chasing me; getting ratted out by hotel managers; having waitresses scold me for not buying something- "so okay...bring me a cup of tea please"; sitting on filthy curbs on busy streets teaching classes to happy unknowing students- my favorite dirty curb is outside a sports bar in Mt Shasta City, CA where they sometimes offer me a cigarette. (I don't smoke).

That's the down side. 

Here's the upside- students who have been grieving and are in need of a diversion have been cheered through the creative process found in these classes. Caretakers who needed a break also found escape in class. We survived 911 together. There have been extreme droughts and we have figured out unique ways to still dye fabric. There have been famines. World wide calamities have been shared. The fires in Australia. The strife in Egypt. Having to teach in two hemispheres at the same time is tricky- the extreme cold in the northern regions and the blasting heat in the southern. Women facing surgeries and the death of children. Loved ones moving away. Husbands and partners dying (dying without the "e"). We have shared the heartache of children in prison, mothers not caring, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren going off to war. Drugs. Alcohol. Accidents. New passions flamed into a fire that roars. New avenues of creative endeavor have opened up for countless students. Financial benefits have come to women in remote African villages who learned my batik methods using home made bar-b-cue pits. Its all happened to us and with us and it's been a great part of the QU experience for me. 

Most of the ramifications I do not know. I have no way of knowing the full impact these last 13 years have been on so many people's lives. I only hear a little bit when someone reports in telling me how this has changed or affected them.

In my own life, my students have humored me and taught me so much about what I do. I have been challenged, and taunted. I have been humbled, encouraged, and amused. I have been tickled and angered...enraged at times. Carol would always calm me down and teach me new ways to be professional and encouraging.

This has been a great ride. I will take a break for awhile as I want to market my new hand dyed wool products and my wedding chuppot as well. We'll see where that takes me. In the meantime, I am making all of my QU classes into workbooks and PDF files so that those who missed a class or two can still play.

Thank you to each and every QU student who has passed through my life. You know where to find me. Stay in touch.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013


My workbook, "Shibori Dyeing on Silk and Cotton Fabric" is now available on my web site. You can buy the hard copy or the PDF file version. It contains 6 lessons-

Lesson One- Three projects in Arashi style dyeing (scrunching the fabric onto props before dyeing).

Lesson Two- Three projects using Bomaki style dyeing (pole wrapping before dyeing).

Lesson Three- Three folding and dyeing 

Lesson Four- Three Nui (sewn and pleated) 

Lesson Five- Two more Nui techniques.

Lesson Six- Clamping and pleating projects.

All silk and cotton dyeing is done using 
Procion MX fiber reactive dyes.

These classes are the best projects from my 
two Shibori dyeing classes offered at Quilt

Coming up next at QU- Cotton Dyeing
 Basics! Classes start this weekend so sign
 up now! This is the last time it will be offered 
online. (

Happy Dyeing everyone!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tea and Spice Dyeing coming to Quilt!

Registration is now open for Tea and Spice Dyeing at This is the last time this class will be offered at QU. After that, it will be for sale as a four lesson workbook, or in PDF form which can be purchased on my web site. Classes begin July 12th.
Happy dyeing everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Basic Cotton Dyeing and yet another YouTube video!

In this video, I take you back to the very beginning to show you how to make a paste out of Procion MX powdered dyes.  Yes, it is true; some people still need to see how this is done. 

I will also post a picture below of what can be expected when you take the Basic Cotton Dyeing course at www.quiltuniversity in June or when you use the information in the workbook found on my web site  Either way, you too can hand dye fabulous cotton in all the colors of the rainbow.

This will be the last time this class is offered online.  Registration is open and classes start June 21st.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another YouTube video! Sodium alginate as a dye thickener.

I just made another video that is posted on my YouTube channel, Fabric Designs. I give the very basics on how to make Sodium alginate (seaweed) into a thickener for Procion MX dyes.  

The class I taught at Quilt University called "Thick and Thin" will be offered one more time before QU closes. It starts May 31st. Registration is now open.

Here's the link to the video:

This is a portion of a table cloth I made using thickened dyes. The process is so easy and fun once you know how.  

Watch for the workbook this fall on the web site. It will be offered as a hard copy workbook or in a PDF format which will save you shipping cost!

Thanks for looking.

Next posting will be about the progress this year of the dye garden.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I made a new video on the Fabric Designs channel of how to dye cotton, silk, and wool using larkspur blossoms!

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Do you love this?  I do too. This is hand dyed 100% cotton fabric I made years ago as a backdrop for an Easter Sunday concert. The 18' long panels hung on the stage as well as draped around the hand rails leading up to the stage, so I have tons of it left sitting on my shelf. 

I have recently challenged myself to not buy or dye anything new for my own use until I have recycled the miles and miles of fabric I already have on the shelves. Because I am not a quilter (shocking, I know) I don't use my seconds or fabric I experiment on or use as samples for the classes I teach. So what happens to it all? It gets given away, sold off,  overdyed for fiber arts projects sits on the shelf and waits for inspiration.

Yes, it will fade. All fabric fades. I plan on trying to move it out of the sun when I think of it (for the first week) but mostly it will just age.  When it gets ratty looking, I have about 8 more panels I can replace it with so yay for me.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, April 26, 2013


 At the end of this year, QU will be closing its doors.  It's hard to believe, but I knew it would happen someday.This makes my heart so very sad.  I have been with QU almost from its first breath. It has sustained me and my family through our own financial crisis, introduced me to over 12,000 student from around the world, and taught me how to be a better teacher, woman, and artist. 

Carol Miller was my mentor in many ways. She defended me, coached me, tempered me, and asked me hard questions. Having to teach these techniques, which in many ways come second nature to me, has been wonderful and refining.  I owe this place so much.

That said, what's to happen to my classes and to my students who have yet to take all the ones you wanted to take?   I am in the process of making my 13 classes into workbooks that can be ordered through my web site,  So far I have three ready: Basic Cotton Dyeing, Intermediate Cotton Dyeing for Landscape and Portrait Colors (this is Quilter's Palette class at QU), and Silk Dyeing.  Presently I am working on combining Shibori Dyeing with Shibori Dyeing II so that both courses are in one book. After this, I'm not sure which one will come next but all classes will eventually be a workbook. 

Here is my schedule for the rest of 2013:

Three Unusual Ways to Dye- (spray dyeing, discharge dyeing, using potato dextrin)-4/26
Shibori Dyeing-5/10
Thick and Thin (using sodium alginate as a dye thickener)-5/31
Dyeing Cotton-6/21
Tea and Spice Dyeing-6/12
Dyeing Wool-6/26
Fabric Painting-8/16
Dyeing Silk-8/2
Quilter's Palette-9/6
Three Unusual Ways to Dye-10/4
Thick and Thin- 10/18

If you would like me to send you the supply lists to any of these classes, email me!

Until then, we have a lot of time to play and talk and adjust to the inevitable. 

My plans are to go back to teaching fabric designing classes from my home studio. I haven't had real live students for a long, long time and I do miss warm bodies, so to speak. I am also going to start some marketing ideas for some of Fabric Designs' products. Another thing I am pursuing is a home horticulture certificate through Oregon State University. I want to learn more about how to cultivate dye plants. Gardening is a passion of mine and my own back yard is too small to hold what my big dream contains. I have farming friends who are willing to donate portions of their land to this project which may include teams of students who want to join me in the adventure of planting, tending and harvesting and then dyeing with the goods the earth provides us.

It's all good. We have to look at the closing of one door as an opportunity to open another door somewhere else.

I have loved this place. I hope you have too.

It's all good.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

My third workbook is available for sale on my web site. Here's the promo for it:

*This 40 page workbook comes in a convenient 3-ring binder with plastic covered recipe pages and places to save swatches and keep notes for years of use as your own personal hand dyeing journal and reference tool.
*Prop it up or lay it flat to do your lessons.
*Each lesson contains step-by-step, easy to follow instructions and color photographs that take the mystery out of dyeing 100% pure silk textiles.
Outline: Supply List- Everything you need for the four lesson series and where to get it.
Lesson One- Painting on Dyes and How to Use Silk Sizing as a Resist
Lesson Two-Full Immersion, Partial Immersion, Sprinkling on Dyes
Lesson Three-Shibori Dyeing on Silk
Lesson Four-Paste Resists on Silk (Norizome)
*First edition.

Let me know if you'd like me to autograph it for free!

Next workbook up- Wool Dyeing.

Click on "supplies". 

Monday, April 8, 2013

New YouTube video!

Just posted another YouTube video on how to label fabrics before dyeing. This is important when dyeing a lotta fabric at the same time and if your brain gets easily overloaded or distracted.

This picture is of 30 containers of dye with fabric in them. I think this may have been my own personal world's record for the most containers used to dye separate fabrics at one time. It isn't the most fabric I've ever dyed at one time...that would be 45 yards. No need to label it as it was all the same color- rust. It had been batiked and was for a couch. Raise your hand if you remember that beastly piece of furniture my parent's owned. 

Anyway- take a look at the video. Soon I will master not only focusing but improving the lighting.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Dawn of a New Day
38" x 52"

Monoprint- dye on crepe backed silk satin

The California Fiber Artists are featured April 1-22 at Gallery 74 in Fresno, California. The reception is April 4th from 5-9 pm.

This is my piece that will be in the show. After many flops and horrible results, I finally made another mono print that I like. Isn't that how art making is? Not everything created is a winner. All are stepping stones to the next attempt.

This particular piece came on the heels of a horrible print that was garish at best.  The next day I went into the studio and saw the dried dyes and chems still on the glass- topped table and decided to break all the rules and make a second print. I tossed water on the dried dyes, added more chemicals and laid out the silk. The colors are much more muted than the first print and this time- it worked. Beautiful color, beautiful texture and the light breaking the sky- just right!

Many times, it's breaking the rules that has taken me into new territory that defies logic. Anytime in art making when someone says, "absolutely do not _____" I have to go there. It has often been the best thing ever. I either find out for myself WHY not to go there or find out it is actually a very good thing and not a major "no-no" and so worth the risk.  How about you?

To see the new CFA web site, go to 

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rust Stain Dyeing and Pokeberries

Want to rust stain silk or cotton on purpose? Watch this quick video:

There are a lot of YouTube videos on the Fabric Designs channel. Subscribe, and you'll be notified when new stuff is posted.  If you have ideas of things you would like to see, let me know!!!!

On the dyeing scene, I finally got rid of the huge bag of pokeberries in my freezer.  Michelle gave me her roasting pan which is perfect for this messy event.

 Here are some pictures of the job, complete with my mother joining in the squeezing portion of the process.

The end results were unexpected. The colors ranged from brick reds rather than deep maroon to walnut hull brown as the dye became spent. 

Next event around here includes planting seeds for the dye garden. We learned a lot last year and won't repeat a lot of our mistakes. For sure, we will at least triple our indigo plantings.  It takes way more leaves than we ever imagined. Lesson learned.

Thanks for looking!  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

YOUTUBE videos!!!

This week, I began the process of making a YouTube video for each of the 13 classes I teach at 

As of today, I have made 4 new videos to add to the two existing ones on how to filter dyes and how to troubleshoot problems using Procion MX dyes.

If you would like to subscribe to my channel, it can be found under Fabric Designs. Click on MommaMarjie.

How To Remove Jacquard Textile Paint

No, I am not a professional photographer or editor. I should get better at it as I go along. Heh-heh.

How To Cut Sheer Silk

Had to do a lot of editing on this one as I had the camera posed at a weird angle that missed all the cutting and pulling. 

Tips For Applying Gutta Resist For Those Of Us With Shaky Hands

I'm glad the audio of the applicator making a huge farting noise can't be heard.

Over Dyeing Cotton, Lesson Five Tutorial

Thank you for looking everyone! In a few days I will have a short video on how to dye fabric using rust; how to make sure your batik wax has gone all the way through to the other side of the fabric, and much more.

Thursday, January 24, 2013



Please take a moment to check out my new web site. The old one was built in 1999 and served me well all these years but we needed to freshen things up as well as incorporate smashingly new technology. I'm sure there are a few small things to rework so take notes and give me feedback on what you think!

New stuff-I am now selling acid dyes and Procion MX dyes! This can now be your one stop shopping destination for  Quilt University classes, as well as any workshops or seminar classes I teach. Check the supplies page.

Also new- hand dyed wool yarn, felt, flannel and roving. I offer tons of colors holding tons of possibilities for your knitting, rug hooking, costume making, and felting projects. Mottled or solid- you choose.

If you are a returning customer and the old site comes up, please hit "refresh" to see the new site.

Thank you for your faith in me and what I do.

Love and happy dyeing, 


About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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