I know next to nothing about quilts, lets be clear about that at the beginning, but I have experience with silk dyeing and watercolor painting so I'm comfortable "playing" with liquid color; it's like finger painting in kindergarten, play!
I am in the process of restoring/conserving my father's mother's Contained Crazy Quilt. My grandmother, Aagot Tonseth Raudstein Nelson, used a lot of fragile silks in her quilt and many of them, after ~80 years of almost continuous use, have disintegrated. My mother, who used the quilt for decades, cut them out. It is my intension to replace the original silks with modern silk and attempt to match the original colors with dyeing.
I purchased some silk crepeline to overlay fabrics that haven't disintegrated from Chris Moline. The crepeline is white so I wanted to dye it to match the original fabrics. I did an inventory of the colors I need and ordered Rit liquid dyes from Joanns Fabrics, they have every color imaginable and shipped promptly.
Chris Moline's instructions made it possible to dye the crepeline, and later my white silk charmeuse:
For saturated color:
- 1/2 teaspoon Rit liquid dye
- Add 1 quart of boiling water
Swish the patch around in the solution until it's the color you like, remove it, rinse, roll in a towel, lay flat to dry.
- IF YOU WANT TO BE SURE THE COLOR WON'T FADE WITH EXPOSURE TO SUN RINSE WITH --- Rit ColorStay Dye Fixative
Chris Moline suggests laying crepeline out on paper towel to dry.
I like to heat-set the color by ironing the damp fabric.
That's it. Piece of cake. You may not get the color you want and then the fun begins:
For a lighter shade, empty 1/2 the water out of the jar and fill with hot water (this reduces the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon of dye in 1 quart of water.)
Need a slightly different color blend? Start by adding 1/4 teaspoon of another color to your existing color jar. Test a sample. Is that good enough? No? keep tinkering. Need to tone down the color to age it? Try a 1/4 teaspoon of Pearl Grey or Taupe, to the quart.
Want to use the solution again but it's cold? Remove metal lid and microwave for 3+ minutes. Careful when removing, it's hot.
Tape the recipe and a sample of the fabric to your jar, that way you can replace the solution and, too, you'll have an idea of the resulting color.
AS AN ASIDE:
In my opinion you can invent a thousand excuses why you won't try this (What if it fades? What if is not a conservation technique? What if _______ (fill in the blank.) Will the patch do the job for 20 to 40 years? After that it's someone else's problem (i.e., to pick it out and replace.)
WANT TO USE CONSERVATION DYES?
Here's a link for more information from Textile Specialty Group Conservation Wiki
They use powdered dyes that require weighing, masks and gloves for safety.
They recommend Procion Dyes for cotton, rayon, linen, hemp and silk. They also recommend other dyes.
Here are the instructions for Procion. Have at it! Let me know how it works for you.
My example: under the decorative stitching is the original fabric, a deep purple. The big piece to the upper right is my dyed sample.
Here are the jars of color I've made with samples of the colors they yield. I have labeled the recipe