## Ignorance Is…

Pretty!

You can fill in the blank!  Here’s how an unfortunate set of mistakes led to a fortunate result!

Most people who know me, know that I am…hmmm…well, mathematically challenged.  And I am particularly challenged in measurements.  This has resulted in a number of interesting choices in lengths of fabric to buy — sometimes too much, sometimes too little.  Also some serious miscalculations in the number/size of blocks needed for a quilt.  In part, this is why I embrace art quilts…very little measuring involved!

This length of fabric was meant to be Exercise 1 in Jane Dunnewold’s book, Complex Cloth.  (By the way, this is an awesome book and if you are at all interested in surface design I highly recommend you get this.)  In this exercise, you are to immersion dye the fabric, discharge, overdye, and stamp the fabric.  So I measured out the water and chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric a really lovely light blue.

After I washed it out, I thought that the dye didn’t penetrate the fabric like it should, but it was a nice result so I moved on to step 2.  This step is to discharge the fabric with household bleach.  (Discharging removes the dye.)  I don’t like the smell of bleach, and I found a bleach pen in my drawer so I just used that.  It didn’t work…the design I drew with the bleach pen on the fabric did not discharge.

So I just moved on to step 3, overdying the fabric.  Again I mixed up the chemicals, added the dye powder and dyed the fabric.  About three hours later, I looked at my dye bucket, then looked at a 5 gallon bucket, and looked again.  I was only using 2 gallons of water instead of 4 gallons in my dye solution.  What happens is that the fabric does not have enough room to move around, so the dye doesn’t penetrate the fabric evenly.

I pulled this fabric out of the dye bath, washed it out, and I love it!  I can do Exercise 1 some other time.  In the meantime I am going to enjoy my ignorance!

## Extreme Makeover

handpainted fabric

This is a length of fabric that I painted a few years ago.  (Please forgive the poor photography.)I have never used it for a couple of different reasons.  First, even though I treated it with an industrial fabric softener, I have never really liked the hand of the fabric after painting.  Second, I was painting two layers at a time, with this being the top layer.  It’s just not that attractive.  It’s ok, but the bottom layer is really much nicer.

Since I am starting to play around with surface design again, it seemed like a good time to drag this piece out and give it a makeover.  So I laid it out on my kitchen table, as seen above, and started in.  I screen printed, I stenciled, I screen printed more, and had a great time with it all.  Because this was already painted, with no dye, all the surface design was done with fabric paint.

And this is what happened…

Much more interesting!  Not exactly a work of art, but definitely more interesting.  And most important, I had a lot of fun doing it!

## Dying to Dye

I spent a wonderful weekend up to my elbows in fabric dye, print paste, screens, stencils and other surface design fun.  It’s been a long time since I have had an entire weekend just to play like this.

Everything is still a work in progress so no photos yet.  I have a couple different surface design projects going on now.  One is working through the exercises in Jane Dunnewold’s Complex Cloth.  Second is resurrecting some of the really ugly fabrics that I have dyed and overdyed and still they are just ewwwwww.

I’m working through the Jane Dunnewold exercises because it has been so long since I have done any surface design that this kind of structured play is a good review and gives me some structure to work within.  Because trying to rescue some of these overdyed uglies is exactly the opposite — anything goes here cuz it can’t get any worse!

Activities for this weekend included immersion dying, which I have done very little of anyway.  I typically dye smaller lengths (1 yd or less) using a very different technique.  Lots of screenprinting, which I love!  I did some deconstructed screenprinting a la Kerr Grabowski and Rayna Gilman.  And more traditional printing with paint and thickened dyes.  I have a lot of thermofax screens from Marcy Tilton and I was using those like crazy!  And a little stenciling and a little stamping too.

This week it’s back to my regularly scheduled sewing projects, with a little bit of surface design too!

## To Infinity and Beyond

Upcycled Infinity Scarf

Well, maybe not beyond.  But definitely to an Infinity Scarf!  This is a great project to upcycle an old tshirt.  This was one of my favorite tshirts, but I lost some weight and it just didn’t fit like a tshirt should.  I didn’t want to part with it…I knew I wanted to upcycle it somehow but just hadn’t found the right project.

Enter Alicia at Art for All.  She posted this awesome tutorial and I couldn’t wait to get started.  This is a supereasy project, easily completed in an evening.  And it is a lot of fun!

My favorite tshirt

It all starts with a tshirt.  This was a great choice because it has some color design to give it a little pop and some subtle graphics as well to keep things interesting.

Cut into equal segments

Cut the shirt into fairly equal segments.  I also cut off the hem so that the edges would all curl up prettily on the finished scarf.  This part was hard, kind of like cutting your hair after it has been long for awhile.   You know you want to…really you will be happy when this is all done.  But you just have to take that first big step!

After this step, you will have two big loops.  Cut them in half to make two long strips.

long strips for scarf

All that is left now is to sew these two strips into one big loop!  Honestly, this part took me the longest.  I decided to use my serger for this step instead of my sewing machine.  The serger was threaded with black thread…not a good look for a green scarf.  So I re-threaded it with four different colors of thread (I thought it would be fun.)

If you use a serger, you know that re-threading is a little scary.  The easiest way to do it is to knot the new thread onto the already-threaded-through-the-serger thread, push on the go pedal and before you know it you have your new thread in the serger.  It works great.  Unless you are in a hurry and don’t check all your knots.

You can guess what happened next.  Luckily it was only one of the needle threads that didn’t hold up, so it wasn’t too hard to fix.  It just took a little time to find the manual with the threading directions to get it rethreaded.

Hope you enjoy this project as much as I did!

## How I Get Great Fabric at Great Prices

Great Fabric

Who doesn’t love a bargain?  Especially a bargain on fabric!  Like a lot of people in our current economy, I am on a budget.  Not a have-to-choose-between-rent-and-groceries, but more of a watch-what-I-spend-so-I-can-pay-the-rent budget.  As a result, I am always looking for ways to get great fabric at great prices.

Sure, we all know about playing the coupon game at big box fabric stores.  And there is even the 10% off the week of my birthday game at my local quilt store (which I totally blew today.)  Anyhoo, that’s not what I’m talkin’ about.

What I’m talkin’ about is the quality fabric shown above for less than \$1 per yard.  Or the 5 lbs of premium quality quilting cotton for \$10.  What I’m talkin’ about is YARD SALES!

Now, I have never been much for yard sales.  Give me a good flea market anyday, but to drive around town all day and look at other people’s stuff…waste of sewing time.  For anyone else out there like me, I have one word for you.  Craigslist.

Craigslist is not just for politicians looking for a one night stand anymore.  Craigslist has an entire section devoted only to Yard and Garage Sales.  However, reading through all those posts is…waste of sewing time.  In answer to this, I give you the search function.

All I do, every weekend in yard sale season, is search on the word “fabric” in the Craigslist category for Yard and Garage Sales.  Do I find fabric bargains every week?  No way.  But I find them often enough to go back for more!   I bought the fabric pictured from a clothing designer destashing before her move to NYC.  Another sale had nice fabric for \$2 per yard, and vintage patterns for 50 cents.  And yet another had the quilting fabric I mentioned before — 5 lbs (about 12 yards) for \$10.  I bought two.

So now you know my secret.  Get out there and get some bargains!

//

## A Cozy Cuppa

Tea Cozy and Coasters

As the weather gets cooler and shades of Autumn are seen, my thoughts turn to a nice pot of tea on a Sunday afternoon.  Since I don’t have a fireplace, I am usually wrapped up in an afghan on the couch to enjoy my tea.

Showing off my teapot

This was made as a gift for my mother.  Shhh, don’t tell!  She doesn’t read my blog so no chance she will be tipped off before the big day.  Anyway, I was looking through some of my craft books, trying to come up with something to make for her.  And this seemed like a lovely idea.  Not only does she collect teapots, but she enjoys drinking tea as well.  In fact, in seemed like such a great idea, I made two!

And another tea cozy with costers

This one is staying here, but it may go up for sale in my Etsy some at some future date.

These were super easy to make and a lot of fun two.  Each cozy/coaster set uses one fat quarter of cotton fabric, and one fat quarter of flannel.  I cut a rectangle in each 10″ x 18″, rounded off the top corners and sewed them together up the sides and across the top.  I added the ribbon at the top as a nod to a traditional tea cozy.

I put the flannel piece inside the cotton piece, wrong sides facing and put some binding around the bottom edge.  I had enough fabric to cut four squares 4.5″ on each side.  I sewed them together right sides facing, leaving a space to turn them.  After I turned them right side out, I pressed then top stitched around the edges.

## Handcrafts and ebooks

So I landed a gig to write an ebook on “How to Quilt.”   I have to say I am pretty excited about this!   I have done a lot of writing over the years, but I have never written a “how to” type of book.

I really enjoy talking about quilting, knitting and all kinds of handcrafts.  Of course, handcrafts are becoming more and more popular these days.  It’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to share information about something I have been doing my whole life!

## Dry Spell

It’s been crazy busy around here this week.  Shuffling cars around, doing some extra computer work, car broke down, holiday food coma hangover…you name it.  Lots of things that needed to get done, like food shopping, put off until they can’t be put off any more.

So from a studio standpoint, all this adds up to a dry spell.  Tea cozies and coasters half made on the sewing table, pattern set to be drafted set aside, and the studio needs CLEANED UP!  Got a little bit of knitting in but that’s about it. There may be some potential for the tea cozies and coasters in an Etsy shop…so making some multiples to see how they come out and how long it takes to put them together.

Did manage to get a vintage quilt top quilted up but that’s about it.  Hopefully will have some finished product to show you soon!

## Blog Thoughts

Anyhoo…the original idea behind starting this blog was not to showcase my crafts, photos, etc.  Rather, my thought was to flesh out what I would focus on selling in my future Etsy shop.  That is not the direction I ended up.

I ended up following some guidelines…to schedule my posts, to have regular features ie Foto Friday, to post three to five times per week.  However, the common theme I read about regarding blogging, at least as it applies to art and handmade items, is to be authentic.

For me, authentic means not writing a week’s worth of posts ahead of time.  It means not scheduling posts, not establishing regular features, etc.  At least for now, being authentic means writing about what I am thinking about.  Sometimes that is what I am working on in my studio, or what I am out taking pictures of, or what my current inspirations are.   Sometimes it includes pictures, sometimes it doesn’t.

So back to the original idea behind this blog.  I am still firming up what my Etsy shop will look like.  Or if I need two shops.  And I will still show some of my crafts, because that it what my Etsy shop will be about.  But sometimes I will talk about my life, my thoughts and my inspirations.  Because that’s how you will really get to know me.

## Computers and Creativity

PSE 8

I love to create — to work with my hands and make things like quilts that are pretty and let me be creative.  But I’m also a geek.  I love my computer, my smartphone, the internet, streaming video and all that techy stuff.  So when I can combine these two parts of myself, I am a very happy camper!

I have tried designing quilts with an EQ program.  I had some moderate success with it, but it seems so restrictive.  It kept wanting me to use traditional designs and had fabric samples to plug in that I didn’t like.  And I could work around all of those things, but the program is really written for quilters making more traditional quilts and maybe tweaking them up a bit.  Not really me.

I have used Photoshop Elements for years in one version or another to edit my photographs.  I have looked at using it to edit and modify my photos to use in artquilts and I have not been happy with it.  It’s much easier to use than the full version of Photoshop but I have never taken the time to learn how to use it beyond editing my photos to make prints.

Well, its time to Cowboy Up!  Because now I have this.

Bamboo Fun Tablet

This, my friends, is a Waucom Bamboo Fun Tablet.  AKA my new BFF.

With this, I can draw in Photoshop Elements.  I can design fabric and have it printed by companies like this.  I can use the pen and tablet to select objects in my photos much much much easier and then edit and modify for quilts.  I can draw motifs and print them on fabric with my inkjet printer for quilts.  I can design a quilt and have it printed at a print shop on really wide paper to use as a pattern for an art quilt.

The possibilities are endless!