Category Archives: Fabric

All about fabric

Handmade Christmas

For my littlest niece

The tote bags are done (finally) and the Christmas quilting has begun.  I have three nieces, and they are all getting quilts for Christmas.  I have had the tops done for a few months, but I have really procrastinated on getting the quilting and binding done.

This is the first one completed.  I love how bright and fun this is.  My middle niece is the smallest of the three girls.  She is such a petite little thing, so bright and happy.  This is perfect for her.  I used a flannel back on it for extra warmth.  They live in a very cold climate and she will love wrapping up in this.

The quilting is almost done on the second quilt, and the third quilt is basted and ready to quilt.  I still think I can get these done in time to ship out for Christmas delivery.  Wish me luck!

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More Distractions

What I am Working On

 

This is a photo of part of my sewing room (sorry about that light shining in your eyes!)  I took on a project to help out a friend that turned out to be a little more involved than I thought.  Her husband has been in and out of the hospital for the last nine months.  Several times they thought he wouldn’t make it.  She has drawn on her church family for strength and support over these months, and its time to give back.  The church is having a craft fair and she is setting up a booth to help support it.  I volunteered to help out, and I am making 20 tote bags for her booth.  It’s been a big project and I’m glad to be doing it!

If you’re in the area, stop by the first Baptist Church, Ashville OH on December 3 and support an amazing church!

My other big project has been setting up a new domain for this blog.  This has turned out to be more complicated and time draining than anticipated.  It’s getting closer and I’m really excited about how it is coming together.   And Gatorhost has really awesome customer service!

From the Design Wall Part 1

Starting Out

This is the first of a series of posts showing how an art quilt goes from the design wall to a finished piece.  I am writing these as I am making this piece, so there will be some posts before and after each post in this series.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this as I go, so please let me know what you think in the comment section.

Starting out, I went into my stash of hand dyed fabric (I do this myself) and found this nice grey/blue length that seemed a good neutral background for the piece I have in mind.  Then I started looking for color.  I auditioned several colors and the photo above is what I started out with.

Percolating

My usual process is to let an idea percolate for awhile, while I work on other things.  The photo above shows another fabric I added into the mix.  It seems to give it the little bit of pop I was looking for.

That little piece of white over there to the right are some very rough sketches of some of the shapes I want to incorporate into this piece.  Here is a close up…

sketches

You see…very rough sketches.  But they give me an idea of the direction I will go — I have ruled out some shapes and combinations and have kept some as more interesting.  Keep in mind that these are a starting point.  I may end up with something entirely different.  The point of this process is to get the thinking/creativity started.

This will stay up on the design wall for a couple more days, as I continue to think about exactly how to translate my idea into fabric.  Next step, I will start cutting and throwing the shapes up onto the design wall.

From “Fugly” to “Has Potential”

Possibilities

This piece was some of the fugliest fabric I have ever ever ever dyed.  It was awful.  I had dyed it a green that didn’t turn out nice and overdyed it in a brownish red that just muddied up the green until  it looked…it just was fugly.

So while I am fooling around with surface design again, trying to get back into the swing of it, this seemed like a good piece to work with.  It couldn’t get any worse!

I started with deconstructed screen printing.  This was a new-to-me technique that I now really like.  The process is to mix up some print paste (urea, thickener, water) and add in some dye.  Then create your screen — I used some plastic artist rubbing material, put it under the screen and pulled the dye paste over it.  This created an imprint on the screen, which I then let dry overnight.  This is what it looked like.

screen with imprint

Then I put the screen on the fabric and pulled screen paste (print past with soda ash mixed in) across it.  The first prints come out dark and clear, then fade and muddy up as you continue screening.  So I was moving all over the fabric with the screen and just that first step was a huge improvement.

Then I went in with some thermofax screens and printed the maple seeds in brown, and some flowers in a golden yellow with thickened dye.  I am not completely happy with how the flowers came out but that’s no big deal.  And finally I went in with a leaf stamp and stamped it up with some green thickened dye.

When using these types of techniques, I would normally batch this by steaming.  Since this was the only piece I was working on, I went ahead with a washout instead.  The only problem I had with the washout was that some of the brown migrated.  But that actually made the fabric a bit better!

I really enjoyed playing around with this.  I don’t think anyone would say this fabric is beautiful.  But it definitely has potential!

A Break from Surface Design

Batik Baby Quilt

In between all of the surface design activities last weekend and into the week, I have been sewing on this little sweetie.  I was going through my scrap stash the other day and found a good size stack of 5″ squares.  These came from a couple of different sources, but mostly from a time several years ago when Debra Lunn of Lunn Fabrics came to speak at my quilt guild.  She gave out a small stack of their beautiful batik fabrics to everyone who was there.

Obviously nothing fancy here…just 5″squares sewn together, and slap on a 6″ border and voila!  You have a baby quilt!  But it was nice to have some sewing that didn’t require much concentration and still came together lovely.  Sometimes simple is best.

I’m looking forward to getting this quilted.  It is first in line now behind the Christmas gift quilting and in front of the vintage quilts.  Lots of tops already to be quilted, and still sketching out ideas for art quilts.  This will be an exciting winter in the studio!

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…

Extremely Made Over

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

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!

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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.

Anyone ready for a cuppa?

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!