Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Procrastination on the construction front

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!  (I think the White Rabbit says that).  What am I late for?  *think think think*...  Oh yeah - Christmas presents.  I am getting ever closer to having to pass out those dreaded IOUs to the little nephews instead of handing them their quillows, which I am sure they will at least use for awhile, and possibly enjoy, even if they don't fit in the toy category.

As a kid I used to be somewhat disgusted with anything practical when it came to Christmas presents, and when it came to clothing, well, that was quite low on my list of desires.  I wanted something that would give me hours of pleasure (e.g. a toy or paints), not just keep me looking decent.  Things changed when I was about 12.  The first item of clothing I appreciated at Christmas was size 28AAA.  Mom has a weird sense of humor, wrapping that item and putting it under the tree for the whole family to watch me open.  Fortunately I was not alone; my sister received the same present that Christmas.  We did not model our gifts for the family.

Back to the salt mines (deadlines caused by procrastination remove some of the fun of creating).


Monday, November 30, 2009

Piece out

I stopped by Lazy Gal Quilting's blog, a quilter whose quilting philosophy closely matches mine, though she's had the courage to be more free about it than I have. I looked at the "incredible" heading to her blog, and decided that was just what I needed to make my current charity quilt more interesting.

I took off the boring borders I had originally sewn on and instead will be inserting these words within each border of the music-themed quilt. I would have liked to have made my letters more irregular, but I was working with a scarcity of fabric and a bunch of 1" strips, so I just used what I had. I quickly sketched out the letters on scratch paper and worked out how to make each one using strip piecing. The "y" was my main headache, maybe because I'd had too much turkey earlier that day. The rest were relatively simple.

I am working with two groups who do charity quilts. The Roseville group meets weekly. They have worked primarily on quilts for babies who are born with drug addictions due to being exposed in utero. In order to give them a clean start, they cannot be exposed to any of the items in the home where drugs are used, because the drugs permeate the fabric and can still get into the baby's system. The quilts and other items we give the babies help get them free of the drugs. We learned recently, however, that it is not just babies who need the quilts; they need them for teens also, so while the rest of the ladies really love to do cute little baby quilts, I am specializing in quilts for older kids. The focus of most of the Roseville group is on getting as many quilts made as possible. Therefore, most of the quilts are whole-cloth and tied. I usually machine quilt mine, because it's about as fast as tying.

The Carmichael group makes quilts for kids in the cancer unit at the hospital. They meet monthly and are truly quilters in the traditional sense. They take a lot of pride in doing really great quilts. Speed is not their main goal, and many of the quilts being produced are quite impressive. Most of the quilts they have made, again, are themed toward younger children, but since children of all ages get cancer, there is a shortage of quilts for the older ones.

Both groups receive a lot of fabric donations, mostly brand-new quilt fabric that someone bought a few+ years ago and never used. I try to make my charity quilts purely from the donated fabric, since there is a lot of it. Just using some of those prints (think "ugly") and finding something in the stash that goes with it is a big challenge.

I haven't spend a lot of time with piecing intricate patterns, but once I got started on piecing the letters for my music words, I decided maybe I will fit in the second group a little better than I did, even though my quilt is still not "cute." Final product will be posted when I finish it, December or January.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas postcards

Yesterday I busied myself making fiber Christmas-themed postcards. The ones I like best, close up, are the ones I like least from a distance. Interesting, hmm? Contrast is the key. I keep forgetting

These include angelina, foil and couched threads on top of the fabric and ribbon background. I am going to be swapping only one card; had planned to swap all but one, but it turns out I didn't sign up correctly for the swap (you have to sign up repeatedly, depending on how many cards you want to make). So now I have extra cards. Maybe I'll just send them off to the very special people on my Christmas card list.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yo-yo assembly line

On these colder days I spend more time inside the house doing handwork than out in the studio sewing on my machine. Debbie Babin heads a Yahoo group, Studio Quilts-Goldilocks and Friends, and on there I mentioned an idea for making Christmas ornaments out of my stash of yo-yos (why am I making these things?), and she suggested a yo-yo ornament swap. Just what I need to do when I have all these other design ideas in my head, but I am interested, nevertheless. Now, of course, none of my previously made yo-yos are holidayish, so I am making more yo-yos with Christmas fabric.

I use two different sizes of the Clover Yo-Yo Makers (no affilation, etc.), and I find that, over all, they are faster for me than using a cardboard template, though the stitching step is slower, because you can't weave your needle in and out of the fabric while it's in the Maker. It's just needle-in-pull and needle-out-pull, or needle-down-pull and needle-up-pull, over and over. I suppose one could use the Maker to cut the circles, and since the two plastic layers mark a slight fold around the edge of the fabric, the fold could be finger pressed while stitching or iron pressed before stitching. I'll have to experiment. Laziness is the mother of efficiency.

Here are the steps I've been following for making a pile of yo-yos relatively quickly:
  1. Followed Yo-yo Maker directions for making the circle.
  2. Threaded a dozen needles and stitched a pile of yo-yos, keeping the needle with each yo-yo, because I still have to gather and knot the threads after pressing.
  3. Pressed all the yo-yos flat (makes gathering easier). I also noticed that using thinner fabrics makes the gathering easier. I like to press them all at once, so as not to have the iron on all the time.
  4. Gathered them, re-knotted the threads on the needles for the next set of yo-yos. After awhile, if your thread length has been on the long side, the thread starts unwinding its twist or may start knotting. At that point I discard it and re-thread the needle. Slightly stronger thread than usual is a good idea.
Now I've got to do some experimentation for making the ornaments. My plan is to attach 2 yo-yos to each other, back to back, somewhere along the line embellishing them with beads, etc.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fiber postcard exchange

Making and sending a fiber postcard seemed like a fun challenge, especially after seeing the box of dozens of fabulous fiber postcards my friend Marylee has collected in all the exchanges she's done. However, I begin to wonder if exchanging fiber postcards is fad that's already had it's day, since I've had such a hard time finding any group that's doing it. Without any confidence at all, since I've never made a fiber postcard before, I forged ahead and created two cards, one to trade and one to keep. This trade is one-on-one, so I'll send out the above -- to South Africa, as it turns out -- and I'll eventually get one back.

I made inchies (tiny quiltlets -- what size, do you think? You're absolutely correct!) with the scraps. I'm not sure what to do with inchies, but I suppose they can become embellishments and danglies on anything one might want to decorate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 5

Two more rounds to go!

With each month's revelation by International Friendship Quilters of the block to be added to one's quilt (one-person round robin), I've jumped right into the project and finished in a day or two. No such success this time. Fruiting, jamming, and pie-ing intervened, and then the challenges of how to do this Friendship Star round slowed me down.

I really, really, really didn't want to do the 40 star blocks I eventually ended up constructing. Repetitive measuring and cutting is just too tedious for me, and I greatly admire anyone who can make an entire quilt with little carefully-measured and cut pieces. My first idea was to make the blocks bigger, but checking it out with Photoshop fiddling revealed that they would be out of proportion with what I had already done (the giant pink flying geese blocks notwithstanding).

I spent a lot of time calculating and measuring, then forgot that the long side could not be evenly divided for the blocks, and decided to take out a red star on each side and add black spacers near the yellow stars. I cut my very last piece of black hand-dyed fabric too narrow, so that idea was kaput. I set the project aside and scoured my stove top, then was inspired to add gray spacers on both sides of the red star (much better than my first idea). All of this involved so much sewing and ripping out that I began to wonder if the fabric would survive.

I'm not sure I like that there are two red stars on the ends and one red star on the sides, even though part of my intent with this quilt is to make it not quite mirror-image. The single red star looks better than two, and if I add gray spacers on both sides of a single red star on the ends, it would improve the situation, and not be too difficult to do (after all, I spent much time yesterday picking out stitching and fixing attempts I didn't like). However, I no longer have enough of the darker gray fabric I used for spacers on the sides, so would have to use lighter gray spacers (same color as red star background) for the ends than I used on the sides.

One friend said, "Why don't you just dye more fabric?" Because it likely wouldn't turn out the same, for one thing. That's what dye lots are all about, and since I dyed these fabrics with Color by Accident procedures, nothing is exactly precise, and therefore not precisely repeatable.

So, should I leave it as it is, or change the ends from two red stars to single red stars and matching light gray spacers? Decisions, decisions...

Off to make fiber art postcards.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stir 'n' Roll Pie Crust

So there I was, calmly "thumbing" through various blogs, and I see a certain Altered Fabric person hasn't posted for two weeks! What is with her? I gave her a good boosting kick, and here she is.

My creating days during the past couple of weeks have primarily involved apples, pies, and pomegranates. I took no pictures, because I've posted them all before on previous years' blogs. However, I now recall that I may never have taken a picture of one of my pies. Should do. Maybe next year. (Added 10/27: below picture of my last 2009 pie sent by Dale - thank you, Dale!)

Besides the apple pie filling I canned until I was out of jars, I made apple pies for:
1) Friend Kerri, home from the hospital
2) Quilt group (a couple of extras joined us, just for the pie, and it was fabulous to have them come)
3) Girls' night out potluck
4) Piano technician that revived my piano (the guy was stunned by the pie offer)
5) Daughter in Napa (pleasant excuse for a drive)
6) Kerri again (you can't help but repeat when you are so appreciated)
7) Friend Dale, home from the hospital

That looks like seven pies, but there were nine. I know, because I ate two of them, a piece of pie every meal for two weeks, there being no one around to help me with the task. Gets old, believe it or not.


Everyone loves my crusts and wants my recipe. I will share it here, but let me warn you that it is not easy. If you are off just a smidgeon in your measurements and your timing, the crust is in serious danger of not holding together (though will still be edible).

I use Gold Medal unbleached white flour for this crust. Other flours usually need slightly different measurement (tried it = disaster), and since this is critical and I'm too lazy to test the proportions with a different kind of flour, I only use Gold Medal with this recipe (no affiliation, etc. I'm not getting paid anything for this by anyone).

I don't recommend doubling this recipe. If you try, I am not responsible for your results.

Stir 'n' Roll Pie Crust (from my mama, Barbara Sturges)

Here's the list of what you need; no time for running for the wax paper and rolling pin after everything is mixed, so get them now. Y'hear?
  • Wax paper - rip off four approximately square sheets (slightly too long is better than too short)
  • Rolling pin
  • Medium mixing bowl (plus extra bowl for lazy girl flour "sifting")
  • Mixing spoon
  • Measuring spoons
  • 1/4 c and 1/2 c measuring cups (or 1 cup with good graduated lines on the side that you trust)
  • Butter knife (needed to cut dough ball in half)
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Cold milk
  • Dictionary of Forbidden Words (optional)
Combine the following in a medium mixing bowl, and dig a hole in middle of the flour and salt in order to mix in the liquid ingredients faster.
  • 2 cups less 1 scant T Gold Medal unbleached white flour (before measuring, pour a pile into a separate bowl to fluff it up a bit; lazy girl's way of "sifting")
  • 3/4 tsp salt
Now is the point where you don't answer the phone, go to the bathroom, or duck and cover for an earthquake. You don't have to rush; just don't delay. Delay = crumbly frustration.

Measure the following exactly and
pour simultaneously into the hole in the middle of the flour:

  • 1/4 c cold whole milk
  • 1/2 c oil (I use light olive oil, but other similar cooking oils also work)
Stir quickly, just until all ingredients are moistened.
Dump dough out on one of the wax paper sheets.
Mound with your hands.
Cut mound in half with the butter knife.
Transfer half to another wax paper sheet.
Round and flatten both balls of dough with your hands and smash remaining wax paper sheets on top.
Roll both dough mounds into circles, as close as you can eyeball (almost to the manufacturer-cut edges of the wax paper). Dough edges will probably be crumblier than you are used to.

The dough will stiffen as it sits, so you want to get it into the pie plate as soon as possible.
Turn wax paper sandwich over, remove what had been the bottom piece of wax paper (this is because it is harder to remove than the other one and should be removed first, especially if you lightly dampened your counter top first to prevent slippage while rolling), turn pie plate upside down on center of dough circle, hold dough on and turn over, gingerly remove second piece of wax paper, and carefully push dough into the pie plate. You can smoosh together or patch cracks and breaks.

Putting on the top crust is easier, no special instructions necessary. When crimping the edges, remember that thinner edges burn more easily.

Extra crust pieces can be piled up in a little Pyrex dish, dusted with sugar and cinnamon, and baked for the kiddies along with the pie (remove early).

This is a messy, exacting job, but it is worth it for me; the fragile dough makes into a nice, flaky crust. Sometimes I add a tablespoon of sugar for a slightly sweet crust.

You will want to use a different recipe if you are weaving the pie crust top. Well, weaving actually
is possible with this one, but you may want to pull out your Dictionary of Forbidden Words to use in the process. Weaving this dough may not be so hard for quilters; you already know how to do piecing.

© 2009 LynnDel Newbold


In the quilting arena, I squeezed several shopping trips into my cooking and working-around-the-place days, looking for needed-but-not-readily-available springy floral prints. I've been steering away from floral prints for years, as has most everyone else it appears, and now that I want them, they're difficult to find. I ran across a few good pieces at Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) in Santa Clara, so was doubly pleased by the trip - inspired by the beautiful and innovative quilts, happy with my fabric.

For the last several days I have been working on another round of my great-grandmother's block quilt (40 star blocks in the works), and will post pictures in a couple of days. I now realize I will run out of desired colors of my hand-dyed fabrics for future rows/rounds, and will therefore be more challenged than I want to be on how to design the final sections. But it will be an adventure, and what is better than a good adventure?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It was time to try making a hobo bag, so I did an online search and found this pattern from jcaroline creative. The directions are very detailed and easy to follow.

The background fabric was from my stash, and the fabrics were pieces from my explorations through Fabric Arts Workshop by Susan Stein. I had to set my machine's speed on Extremely Slow while doing the decorative stitches with metallic thread in order to keep the thread from being shredded in the needle, so doing the decorative stitches was the most time-consuming part of the purse construction.

As I was working, I thought, "Why does a purse have to have a front side and back side? I don't have time to look down and see if I'm letting the best side of my purse be visible to my adoring (ha) public," so both sides are decorated as front sides.

The interior is lined with print fabric and has a zipper pocket in addition to two plain pockets that I added (not part of the original pattern) to hold my cell phone and blue tooth. If I were to put my own twist on this pattern, I would make the purse wider, because it is too narrow (about two inches) to stand up on its own.

Embellishing fabrics above are dyed silk, and DyeNaFlow painted fabric using gel glue as a resist.

Fabric squares above have fused Angelina, foil, and metalic ribbon (sprayed with Krylon in the hope that it would somewhat protect the Angelina from getting pulled off too much in daily use); the other is a Paintstik rubbing.

The handle rings are curtain grommets. Will see if they hold up to doing purse duty.

Wrist gaiters

It's coming up on the season when my hands get cold while computing, so today I made myself a pair of wrist gaiters. Tube of fleece, sewed down the side with a hold for the thumb. Simple. Will see how they work, and next time make them of stretchier fabric, perhaps.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Inside my quilt scrapbook

Awhile ago I posted a photo of the quilted cover of my quilt scrapbook, and Melinda suggested that I show some of the interior pages, so I am following through on that great idea. The book pages are 6x8, just the perfect size. I made the information form with my scrapbooking program. I am not completely satisfied with the form headings for the quilt details. They may change over time.

I had a lot of fun making this quilt, inspired from the Thinking Outside the Block book.

The "Happy Blocks" for this 75x53 quilt were obtained in an internet swap with the StashBuilders Yahoo group. A quilt back is often a place for me to play around, and I had to work hard to make this one purposely off-kilter!

A number of my pages do not yet have the information filled in. I am saving that job for cold winter days. This quilt, about 30x40 (rough estimate, since it is hanging on the wall of my Hideaway studio where I am NOT, at the moment), was created entirely of 1.5" squares (hence the pixelated look) from a photo I took near Moab, Utah. I hand drew this one, though now I discover there are programs that can do all the work for you.

I now have more quilt pictures than pages in my scrapbook, and no more room to insert more pages, so I am shopping for a new book. The next quilted scrapbook cover will most likely make use of some of my surface-design practice pieces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A chairful day

Whilst moving my studio furniture, AKA stuff other people have gotten rid of, I came across several extra ugly chairs and decided to do something about them.

The first one is a very old wheeled office chair. The black nylon fiber covering the seat and back was in such a state that the chair was not inviting to sit in. I made a couple of quick tie-on denim slipcovers after appliqueing (fused and zigzagged with monofilament) beautiful fabric leaves from yardage Linda gave me from her extensive fabric stash.

The second two chairs are still in progress. Today was the wash-and-sand day. These chairs are incredibly sturdy, possibly due to the many coats of paint holding them together. In the various dings in the finish, you can see the evolution of color over the years from light to dark:
  1. Plain wood (pine? I don't know)
  2. White
  3. Pastel yellow
  4. Green (that icky institutional green)
  5. Dark brown
  6. Red
  7. Tan
  8. Black

I don't want to lose the history of this amazing amount of paint -- and in the most recent case, amazingly drippy paint job -- so I am going to add another paint layer over what's already there. They will be multicolored, though I am not exactly sure in what way, possibly crackled. The design will grow with the project and will somewhat depend on the colors I already have on hand.

My philosophy: I can't make a mistake with these chairs, so I will forge ahead with confidence.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Critter haven for rest and relaxation

On the way to getting my Hideaway studio floor all polished - a seasonal thing I do after the harvest has kicked up the dust and spread it thickly over everything I own, I got sidetracked. It usually turns out to be a three-day job, this floor-polishing project, because I always get a little sidetracked.

Today, as I was moving all the previously moved furniture from the unpolished part of the room to the part I polished yesterday, I considered my antique sewing machine. Its wooden case could use a little Tung Oil, I thought. So out came the tung oil, and a-polishing I did go. Just as I finished the last of the six drawers, I knocked over the tung oil can, one of those pesky things that can't stand on its own foot when jostled a little. It went plop on the floor, splashing oil three feet away, and glugged out a half-cup puddle onto the unswept floor. I saved as much of the now-dirty oil as I could, and thinking it might work as a solvent on the Jackson Pollock-style floor paint, as many oils do,immediately cleaned it off the floor with Spic and Span.

OK, that was interruption #1.

Interruption #2 came when I considered my ironing board cover. My ironing board is a wooden table about the size of a twin bed, originally made by my dad, along with about ten other tables, for use in our packing shed when we were growing Asian pears commercially. I love it. Perfect for ironing large pieces of flat fabric. It is covered with batting, a mattress pad, silver-coated ironing board fabric, and a stretchy knitted bottom twin sheet. The sheet had started to turn brown in the middle from many ironings scorching the fabric and the dust that settles there every minute of every day.

The words, "Dye it," were recognized in the nether regions of my brain. First it had to be washed, and now it is sitting in a bucket of blue dye, topped with black dye (modified "color parfait" method from Color by Accident) out in the nearly 100 degree afternoon. I hope it will come out darkly mottled. Then I might do a little discharging with my bleach pen, just for fun. "Ain't nothing bad can happen to this bottom sheet," so it is said.

Interruption #2 ended, #3 was fast approaching. It must be noted that I have not yet mentioned the "To do" list I kept running to and scribbling full of to-do ideas as they made themselves apparent during my furniture-moving moments. Make covers for folding chairs. Paint mismatched cabinet wood. Handpaint grassy flower border along walls. Make sleeves for small quilts. Etc. Ten or eleven items so far. I now have enough projects to keep me going until Thanksgiving, providing I don't take a trip anywhere. Ha.

All furniture having been moved, I started sweeping, and there was interruption #3, horrible sight, a pile of doggy doo (should have been #2) in the corner under my ancient TV (any TV that is not flat now looks ancient). I touched it tentatively with my broom, wondering how many years it could have been since Mattie had left such a mess there and I not seen it. Impossible; I'd swept under there only last March. :) It was dry, totally dry. Swept it out all the way, and this is what I saw:

Poor little froggy. Came into the Hideaway one evening, probably, while I was sewing with the doors open, which I love to do, and never found its way out again. I went out to show the little girls, and they were all properly disgusted, but then told me about the hummingbird that had gotten caught inside the Hideaway several weeks ago and was now hanging from the wire from which my dad used to hang his model airplanes. I hadn't noticed, but went inside, and there it was, hanging head down, looking like it had gone to sleep and never let go of the wire. When I retrieved it, however, I found that a spider web was what was holding it to the wire. I believe it is the skylights that always confuse the birds when they come in. They are so bright that the birds always fly towards the skylights rather than the doors when they try to get out.

The mummified hummingbird looks as if it's drawing nectar from a flower.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 4

Round 4 of the International Friendship Quilters' "Round Robin" Ostrich Quilt was revealed on September 9, a churn dash block. I started out with green and gold blocks (cutting into my beautiful hand-dyed gold fabric was hard to do) and didn't like the brightness of it, so decided to make this round, and probably the next few rounds, more subdued, making the center square up to this point a colorful medallion in the middle of the rest of the quilt. You can see that the churn dash blocks on the far left are a reversed image of those on the right.

This quilt is different than anything I've made before, and since at this point I don't think I'll ever do anything like it again, I've decided I will enjoy the little bit of tedium (brain vacation) that comes from cutting, sewing, ironing, and trimming repetitively. While the colors are symmetrical, I decided to break away from the strictly traditional look by not making the block designs themselves symmetrical. It makes a person take a second look, which may or may not be a good thing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Piecing, traditional style

What is a traditional quilt? That's a question that comes up now and again on the list. I don't have a hard and fast definition myself, but I know what it feels like to make one: tedious, at least for me.

As part of my ongoing project to make a quilt from my greatgrandmother's block, I made sixteen (only 16, and felt I was persecuting myself) churn dash blocks from my hand-dyed fabric, only to decide that another color combination would have been better. Cutting and sewing 128 rectangles, 128 triangles, and 16 center squares is repetitive enough to make me want to wash windows for relaxation (ha), and now that I'm facing going through the whole process again in order to improve on the color choice, I have special appreciation for the quilt makers of more than a century ago, when it was all done by hand.

So what is a traditional quilt? As soon as I start feeling as if I'm a machine, doing the same thing over and over again, I know I am making a traditional pieced quilt, even if the end result is nothing like my grandmother would have devised.

As to what I will do with these, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking: handbags.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Black widow

While I enjoy traveling, camping, visiting family and friends, it is so nice to be home again and back in the Hideaway, creating away with my always-present eight-legged companions. I wouldn't mourn much if most of them were gone, but was thankful for their presence yesterday when swarms of fruit flies erupted overnight from the piles of apples and grapes in the kitchen area. The spiders have been feasting on the flies, and are now probably in the process of multiplying almost as fast as do the fruit flies.

I recognize there is a small part of me that hasn't grown up yet, and that came to the fore a couple of weeks ago when we visited the bug museum near Colorado Springs. There I saw little bags of plastic bugs, and had a great idea.

"Do you have a bag of black widow spiders?" I asked, thinking of the worst of the denizens of my Hideaway, and of my quilting friends who are strangely paranoid about them.

"No," said the lady running the shop, who just happened to be the granddaughter of the founder and collector of most of the bugs in the Natural History Museum, "but I have this," and she drew out a black widow replica that is about six inches long from toe to toe.

"Good enough," I said, and bought it, planning to share it with my friends. heh heh

The quilting friends' arrivals last night were well spaced out, giving me opportunity to give them individual attention. Ahem.

Friend #1 was mildly surprised.

Friend #2 said, "Thank you for the spider."

Friend #3, whose introduction to the spider was when she found it on the seat of her chair, was startled, giving an indescribable vocalization that would be gratifying to the ear of any practical joker.

I know, I know. Time to grow up.

I wonder if I still have any friends.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 3

Round 3 consisted of Flying Geese blocks (triangle within a rectangle). This makes the quilt balanced again, and everyone can now relax.

Even though I am away from home, without quilting means, I do have my camera with me, and am able to post the most recent additions to my great grandmother's center (trip-around-the-world) block, a photo that I took just before leaving on my trip. The International Friendship Quilters' "Ostrich" quilt has only four more months (rounds) to go. I think I mentioned that it is called an Ostrich quilt because you are allowed (amazing that I would join in something so regimented) to sit out one round if you choose. The month you skip, you are an ostrich.

Great Grandmother's block wasn't exactly straight sided, and with each successive round, the lack of straight sides became more obvious. I couldn't trim the sides with the blocks I had on there (you can't cut off points of triangles, after all), so I decided to add the striped round, hoping to be able to unobtrusively trim the sides for round 4, the block design to be revealed to us on September 9.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today's Write Prompt: Odd Plant

From the One-Minute Writer:

If you could plant something non-living and make it grow (such as planting a dollar and growing a money tree), what would you plant?

I desperately need a plant that grows already-wound bobbins. My plant would produce bobbins in just the right threads and colors. That was an easy question and took me only 30 seconds to answer, once I got my computer under control. What's the next?

Why, and why?

Why am I too embarrassed to show my recently produced ugly quilt? Maybe by the time I get home I will have worked up the courage to share it. Overdyeing, I think, will either rescue it or relegate it to the doggie blanket category. I decided not to make it overplush. Instead of batting, the interior will be flannel, washed, washed again, and rewashed, getting out all the shrinkage possible.

Why doesn't Blogger have an option where all the comments generated by all your posts are listed in order of when the comment was made? That would be so nice, and so easy, and help me so much in not missing comments, especially while traveling.

Traveling without fabric

I am going through withdrawal from busy-ness. Vacationing takes will power. No one seems to believe I can spend 6+ hours a day creating with fiber and enjoy it, but the answer is Yes, I can! Likewise, no one seems to believe I've spent that much time creating and not have made a single effort to sell anything. The answer again is, Yes. And I did!

That issue is soon to be remedied, the effort to sell part, that is. The family will soon be glutted with my gifts of quilts, and sis-in-law has proposed an online partnership. Definitely intriguing.

I shipped my last quilt to Grand Junction on Tuesday, arrived in Grand Junction myself after two fast hours in the air between Sac and Denver, then 1.5 slow hours going west again, to GJ, in a small plane that smelled suspiciously of failed urine neutrlization attempts. I mentioned this fact to my sister, and she said she has been on that plane and endured eau de vomit, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

The quilt will arrive in GJ sometime next week, having cost less to mail than to pack on United. I did not insure the quilt this time, because the man at the PO explained that to make a claim I would either have to have an appraisal, or receipts for the fabric -- impossible when you sew from a stash collected over a number of years, and especially in this case, where I sewed from a scrap box, not to mention the pieces I rescued from the wastebasket when a member of our Guilty Quilty Girls Quilting Guild and Friendship Garden Stitch and Itch Club discarded some cool blue scraps.

Yeah, currently separated from my fabric and busy-ness, spending more time with words and with prayer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dragged into rust dyeing

Rust dyeing, rust dyeing, rust dyeing. Blah, blah, blah. That's all I've heard about for months. I resisted it, like I resisted Facebook, like I resist just about everything that "everybody" is doing. And why? Because I don't like to follow the crowd, that's why. Then this class comes along, and this book (Fabric Art Workshop, by Susan Stein) for the class comes along, and here I am, rust dyeing, just to get my assignments done.

I go out to the pole shed and find the biggest, rustiest piece of metal I can find. It's -- oh dear, now I forget the name of it. I researched it with my guy friend, a reliable authority, and all I can tell you is that it is a rod used when pouring concrete, to keep the forms where you want them. No, not rebar.

So I wrap this yard-long, 3/4" diameter rod with my muslin, strap it on with fishing line, soak it with 50-50 water vinegar solution, wrap it in plastic and wrap again with fishing line (none of which is as easy as it sounds), and muster up the patience to wait 24 hours to see what happens. I have my doubts. I remember trying to rust fabric for Home Ec when I was 14, the purpose being to test stain removers on different stains. Couldn't get any rust to show up on my fabric, so to this day don't know if rust stains are removable.

But... there she is, tadaaa! -- or at least a part (12"x16") of the fabric I rusted. The darker area on the lower portion is the fabric that was actually touching the metal. It's washed and washed and rewashed, and still feels like it's been starched. Rumor has it that miniscule rust particles remain in the fabric, causing the stiffness. They say the rust will adversely affect my sewing machine needle. Remains to be seen.

So what am I going to do with this astounding piece of fabric? I don't know yet, but I think I might make more of it. Yeah, I'm joining the crowd. You can find me on Facebook, too, and I'm not in the market for rust removers at the moment.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shopping bag

Here are both sides of the bag that I made with the fabric I struggled with yesterday. All night long my brain wandered through alternatives as to what I would do to make the letters, the ones created with the gel glue resist, be more visible. I settled on outlining them with free motion quilting, and set about to prepare for that by fusing a stabilizing fabric to the back (now inside).

Then I thought, "Paint, I could use paint!" It would be so much faster, too. I looked at my various paints, but then my Pentel fabric sticks (look like little crayons) hollered at me from a dusty corner, "Try me! Try me!" so I did, after cutting off the plastic shrink wrap - mute evidence of an impulse purchase a year or so ago, a successful toting home of something I wanted but didn't have immediate need for. I outlined the letters, swirls, and dots with various colors, set with an iron. and completed the bag.

Now I think my next project will be to create a note to family recipients of my output that says something like, "This item was made with love just for you, but when it has fulfilled its purpose in your life, whether now or later, send it on its way without guilt."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adventure with gel glue resist, part 2

Photo: Shows fabric after scraping off the gel, wax not yet removed. Close inspection reveals glue is probably still in the fabric in spite of all my efforts; it shows as darker green squiggly lines in the dyed-green parts.

Before scraping off the gel, I rinsed this particular piece of fabric over and over and over in the bucket out under my sycamore, and the water ran clear. I scraped off the gel (see previous post) and ran it through 3 wash cycles on my washing machine, because now the water was green. Every time. I included with it the green fabrics from my dyed octave (big mistake; see why below), using Synthrapol, but still the water was green.

Mistake results #1 : Little bits of wax were over all the other fabrics like a bad case of dandruff. I rinsed them again, by themselves, but still the bits of wax were there. I let them air dry, since I didn't want to put anything waxy in my dryer, shook them out, and brushed them off with a dry washcloth. When I ironed them, I could still see spots of wax melting, so I pressed them between layers of paper toweling.

Mistake results #2: Little bits of gel glue transferred to the other fabrics, not much, but enough so that I had to wet at least one spot one each piece and peel off the gel that had hardened there. It wasn't difficult, just another fiddly thing that I won't have to do next time, because I won't process any other fabrics with gel-glued fabric again!

I spent a lot of time ironing the purposely waxed areas of the fabric-to-someday-be-a-bag piece, using paper toweling, a lot of paper toweling. Just like the red wax candle that spilled on my carpet a few months ago, most of it came up with the application of the iron, but not all, and not enough. I'll just boil this thing, I thought, still mentally composing a blog entry having to do with the failure of gel glue as a resist with fiber-reactive dyes.

So I boiled it. The water turned a nearly opaque green. As the water cooled, I soaked off the wax that had risen to the surface with a couple of paper towels, and dripped the fabric over to another boiling pot. The water again turned impressively green, but considerably lighter than the first run-through.

I laid it out on the floor to take a picture, and was I ever surprised!

Photo #2: Besides the absence of toes, you may not notice much difference between this shot and the one above it, but if you look closely, you can see the gel glue resist actually worked.

The contrast is not strong because of the highly patterned background, but I am not concerned. This little guinea pig of a project taught me a lot, the last lesson being that boiling gets out both the wax and the rest of that gel glue resist. Too bad I can't boil the wax out of my carpet.

Adventure with gel glue resist, part 1

I purchased this fabric about four years ago, mainly because it was on sale and it was wild. Since then I haven't thought of any projects to make with it, because it was SO wild!

Making shopping bags, the kind that prevents you from overpopulating your closet shelf and the rest of the earth with disposable plastic bags, has been on my agenda for awhile. This fabric would make the perfect guinea pig shopping bag project, I thought. I've been wanting to try gel glue resist again, as I did a couple weeks ago.

In the above view you will probably not be able to see the dried Elmers gel glue words and swirls on the fabric, but you can see the waxed parts - along the top and down the bag gussets. I used leftover paraffin wax from when I taught the Candle-making honor to the Pathfinders. After letting the gel dry overnight, I soaked it for 24 hours in approximately 50-50 yellow-turquoise dye mixture.

The next job was to get off the gel. It was plenty slimy, having soaked for so long.

The gel had soaked up much of the dye, and was nasty nasty nasty to get off. I used a spatula to create the above pile of gel. It's a lot of glunk and wanted to stay on my fingers instead of staying attached to the paper napkin where I piled it.

As I scraped off the gel, I could see that it had not done a good job of making a resist. I next used a fine plastic pot scrubber to clean off remaining residue. Still no discernible difference between the glued and unglued areas.

My sad tale continues. Or at least that's what I thought I'd be blogging. I thought I was going to be saying something like, "You can use glue gel as a resist only for projects that use a quick-drying paint, or a dye such as Dynaflow. A long soak in a dye solution makes the water soluble glue cease to resist as one would hope." But sometimes one has happy surprises.

Altered octave

This lemon-yellow to turquoise octave has nine notes; that's why it is an altered octave. Notice the big jump between yellow and the next color, and that could be because when I was measuring the turquoise concentrate, I thought the book said 2 Tbsp, when it really said 2 tsp. I caught myself after the first Tbsp, but wasn't able to take back all the extra turquoise powder I had put in. In other words, this is not a scientifically done gradation!

Dyeing is most enjoyable. I do it in the shade of the sycamore tree, on the table under the overhang of my potting shed. I get some good exercise, because I have to tote softened water out to do dyeing, since the sink in the potting shed is (I think) the hard hard hard H20 straight from the well. When I want to take a break, my hammock is right there under the tree, catching the slight breezes that are a near constant here. I let the dyed fabrics stew in their juices all the hot hot day, and rinsed out this morning next to the compost pile, my rushings of water scaring out the buggy creatures who live there.

The purpose of this dyeing exercise was to see what kind of green I could get for my shopping bag project. Next post.
- -

Monday, July 27, 2009

My quilt scrapbook

Photo: Quilted cover for my quilt scrapbook.

I've gotten behind on my quilt scrapbook, so while my gel resist is drying for another project, I am taking advantage of this hot studio day to stay in the cool house and catch up on my scrapbook. Each two-page spread features the quilt on the left, and details on the right.

I have made 37+ quilts so far (I think I missed counting one somewhere), for beds and for walls, not counting the scrapbook cover above. In addition, I've also made many placemats and potholders. I decided to lump them together, counting all placemats as one quilt, and all potholders as another. In the process of counting up my quilts, I've discovered that my one-block wonder quilt didn't get photographed after it was finished, so as soon as the temperature cools, I'll take it out to the design wall in the Hideaway studio and get it to pose for a shot.

Four-plus (this is where I'm not sure of the count) of my quilts were made between 1976 and 1995, the first of which never made it in pictures, and all the rest were made between 2005 and the present. My first 6x8 quilt scrapbook is full, so now it's on to the second, as soon as I find another sturdy one that I like.

In the meanwhile, I am sitting here wondering when is a good time to make a run to the laundromat. Which day is least likely to be busy? I haven't a clue. I want to wash and fluff up my Diamonds in the Rough quilt before I pack it for mailing, and my machines aren't big enough for the job.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stars for Henri

The christening of the quilt: My quilts are usually do not receive a final name until they are completed, not due to any master plan of mine, but because that's when the name appears in my mind. The working title for this one has been Beverly's BOM, because it was Beverly's Fabrics Block of the Month. Now that the quilt is finished (except for tying off and hiding thread ends, and a few minor fixes), it tells me its name is Stars for Henri, because the colors are like the jungles of Henri Rousseau.

My camera must be on a weird setting, because it makes everything look like I'm peering through a peephole; that is, all rectangles look rounded. It's not the quilt, because even the design wall, which is factory straight, looked rounded in this shot, before I zapped it out of the picture.

The BOM for 2009 looked like more of the same, so I decided not to do it this year. It was fun once, but I need something new - and there are already numerous ideas stewing in my brain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beware the leftover dye!

T-shirts, left in a closet, will multiply like rabbits. One begins to use them for grunge wear in activities such as gardening and painting -- and for eating spaghetti, tacos, and other leaky foods.

Below are three of my stained T-shirts. I never did like the color of the Cesky Krumlov shirt, but bought it because it was the least objectionable T-shirt color I could find when I was visiting Cesky Krumlov.

Below are the same three shirts dyed with my leftover dye. The orange one was supposed to turn out redder, but one can't complain with a shirt I wouldn't wear anyway because of the stain which now I can't find. Woohoo for dye!

Should you come to visit when I'm in dyeing mode, keep moving, or you may leave a different color than when you arrived.

First rotary-cut quilt

Photo: My first rotary-cut quilt (c. 1992), recently overdyed (not an improvement).

The trials of cutting strips of fabric with scissors for my first string quilt in 1976 (queen size) kept me from trying again until 1992, when I bought a Dritz rotary cutter and a 30x36 translucent cutting mat, both of which I still have and use. I had no quilting rulers then, only a piece of plexiglas on which I made marks with a permanent marker.

I had a quilting book called Amish Shadows, loved the op-art look of the blocks, and made two or three little quilts (about 36" square) including the above, and used polyester batting, because what else was there? The quilting was stitch-in-the-ditch. I had a horrible time with puckers on the back, but I persisted picking out stitches and re-sewing, until not one pucker remained (now I use spray basting, which eliminates all that frustration; recommend wearing a mask while spraying). I was so proud of these hideous little quilts! One of them hung on the wall for awhile, and they have served as table toppers and foot warmers for couch potatoes, but now I find them boring.

With a bit of blue dye leftover from a dyeing project, I overdyed this one quilt, but learned that the fabric must be polyester, since the colors of the quilt darkened, and none of it looks really blue. The lightest strips were an off-white, and now they're a very light green. What now looks like bluish pink was originally more of a peach.

Since I need a lot of practice with free motion quilting (FMQ), these little ol' quilts will be a good canvas on which to do some FMQ practice. Can't hurt 'em, right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ribbon netting

I've had a package of Super Solvy sitting around for several years, and am happy to finally use it.

I chose an interesting ribbon from my small ribbon/yarn collection and sewed the verticals with a narrow zigzag, slowly, and with much frustration. It was hard to keep things straight, and the Solvy would pucker as I sewed. I thought of pinning, started out pinning, and discarded pinning when the pins just got in the way and slowed my already aggravating progress.

The instructions called for a second layer of Solvy before adding the horizontals. I do not understand the logic of another layer, except perhaps it's because the Sulky company, already awash in fund$ due to their prices, wants you to use as much as possible. I chose not to add the second layer of Solvy, and sewed the horizontals with much more ease and enjoyment than the first layer. The first rows of ribbon gave the machine and the perpendicular pieces something on which to grip, and was probably easier to sew than if I had added the second layer. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. For now, anyway.

Color discharge with bleach

Crawling out of my full-speed-ahead-with-only-one-thought-in-my-mind blogging mode for a moment, here's an interesting thought from an interesting blog: Stuff Christians Like, on forgiving someone who has not apologized.

Back to fabric stuff.

Almost all of the exercises in Fabric Arts Workshop deal with supplies and materials I've never used or combined before, or not to the same purpose. I'm not saying that I have never discharged color from fabric before (witness unplanned bleach spots on various articles of clothing), but using bleach for more than getting my sink or my tidy whities tidier and whitier (I think I've said this before somewhere) is something new for me.

Using bleach on various black fabrics will result in differing colors, because black dyes are made of differing combinations of colors. The two fabrics on the right are from the same bolt, but the other two are each different, resulting in red , orange, and amber tones.

Top left: Two crocheted doilies were laid on fabric before misting with 50-50 water/bleach solution. The book called for cheesecloth, but since I had none and doilies were handy, I did the honorable GREEN thing and did not drive to town just to buy cheesecloth. The color changed almost immediately after I sprayed the fabric, and I put it in the neutalizing solution too soon, I thought, but when it dried, it showed good contrast.

Top right: Torn file folder used to mask the fabric as I moved it repeatedly and sprayed. If the sprayer mist hadn't been quite as heavy and fine, the lines would show better.

Bottom right: The directions were to use dishwasher gel (I used Cascade gel, in the green bottle) on a stamp. I used a rectangular foam stamp in the upper left and lower right corners and waited for the color to change. And waited. And waited. A quarter of an hour passes (our grandchildren will never truly understand why this generation and those before ever let "quarter of an hour" pass so easily through our lips), and no change is visible. OK, I decide, gotta try something else. I remember Soft Scrub, my favorite sink cleaner. I remember it has bleach in it (witness unplanned bleach spots on various articles of clothing). I use a giraffe foam stamp in the upper right and lower left corners. I wait. And wait. Another quarter of an hour passes. No change is visible from either the dishwasher gel or the Soft Scrub.

I pulled out my bleach pen and made sun, moon, and stars on the stubborn fabric. I misted the fabric with my heavy-duty mister (ah," heavy-duty mister," that could have more than one meaning). The stamped areas looked as if they might be more of a resist than a bleach. I rinsed and neutralized the fabric, and, voila! the dishwasher gel and Soft Scrub had been working, after all. If I hadn't misted the fabric, the giraffes would actually be visible, I truly believe. Will need to re-test the Soft Scrub. Interesting that the Cascade areas are an almost lavendar color.

Lower left: Bleach gel pen. Works great; the effect spreads, but not too fast. Can have ghostly or vivid results, depending on how long one lets the gel remain on the fabric.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fabric painting - sponging

I didn't quite follow the directions for this one, primarily because I had some interesting stencil possiblities open to me.

The laser-cut greeting card and 12x12 piece of "lace card stock" from the scrapbook store needed protection before being used as stencils, so I liberally sprayed both sides with clear Krylon. I dabbed paint through the spaces on the greeting card and the lace card stock with my sea sponges.

One thing I am learning from all these exercises is that I no longer have to spend hours searching for just the right bit of fabric for a project. Instead, I can create my own!

Fabric painting - painted fusible web

Painted fusible web, whoever would've thunk it? This exercise has a lot of possibilities, as long as one remembers that it is fusible web you are using. FUSIBLE WEB, sister, means, "THIS WILL STICK TO YOUR IRON!"

I randomly painted my fusible web, having no design in mind, and adhered it to the front of the black and white print, per Wonder Under instructions. On top of that I fused a fussy-cut flower from another black-and-white print, and fused over that two more pieces of painted Wonder Under, not having one prepared piece that was big enough, and resulting in the line through the middle of the flower, which I don't like. The result felt truly like one piece of fabric.

With all that fusible reaching out and needing something else to fuse to, with my iron I added a mylar ribbon, pink angelina, and gold foil bits, surprising myself by remembering to use a pressing sheet each time. If I ever use this as a background for something, I will have to remember the fusible is there before I set my iron to it. I should pin a note to the fabric, "Iron this and die!"

Fabric painting - resists & found object stamping

There's an advantage to having a somewhat obsessive personality. If only I could be obsessive about the right things. Of course, the "right things" are in the eye of the beholder. Without a man around the house to say, for example, "What's to eat, honey?" -- I find myself spending hours of time in the Hideaway studio, successfully ignoring annoyances such as dust and spiders accumulating in the house during the week -- until I get to my cleaning day, Friday, and then it's catch-up time. But it's not Friday yet, and I can focus my tunnel vision on my projects. I have, however, returned to an old habit that had gone by the wayside for a bit. I am washing my dishes as soon as I use them instead of waiting for a dishwasher load of dishes to accumulate before thinking, "Hey, it's time to wash my dishes."

Fabric Arts Workshop explorations have filled some of my days.

Masking tape resist (left) - The blue painter's tape worked as a resist with medium-body paint (Textile Colors). After the paint dried and I pulled off the tape, I diluted the paint and colored the resisted areas.

Elmer's blue gel glue resist (top) - The glue was an excellent resist. Instead of using a toothbrush to get the gel off after soaking (I felt it would take too long), I laid the wet fabric on the counter top and scraped it (in the direction of the grain) with a spatula, soaked and scraped again. and followed withone of the micro-pot scrubbers (one of those plasticky kind, often green and adhered to a blue sponge). I don't believe ALL of the glue was removed due to a feeling of
stiffness in the white areas, but what's left, if any, shouldn't cause a problem. I should try to dye the resisted area. however, to see what happens.

Found object stamping - The shimmery quality of the metallic Lumiere paints I used for stamping makes the stamped areas much more visible than appears in this photo. I scrounged my work area for "found objects" and found bubble wrap, buttons, a hand-carved rubber stamp, and spool ends (I have hundreds of empty spools). Some of the spool ends, especially the white plastic Coats & Clark from a few years back, have an interesting design under the label. After stamping, I played around by painting the white fabric with thinned leftover Textile Color from the masking tape resist exercise. Not beautiful, but a learning experience, nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough

I have finished my scrappy string quilt, everything but the label. I now call it Diamonds in the Rough, and it will be wending its way to my sister in Colorado. It is 96x96, and for once I did not piece the back. I love piecing leftovers into creative backs, but thought I'd try something different this time.

Fabric painting - sun print

Up until today, I'd always thought you had to buy special fabric and/or chemicals in order to do sun prints. It turns out you don't! I don't know why this works. I was amazed at how well it turned out, though I do have questions about the white spreading out from the edges of the leaves.

Looking at the bobbins, you can see the ghosting of the sun's shadow from when I first put out the wet fabric in the morning. I know you're supposed to set out your project when the sun is high in the sky, but I had to run to a dental appointment and just had to do it today. I think the ghosting of the bobbins is interesting. The top of the piece was oriented north, so the sun went from right to left over the fabric. It would have been dry long before the sun reached its zenith, with the hot, dry weather we experienced today. By the time I returned in late afternoon, the leaves, weighted down by rocks, had curled up into fetal position, scorched by the 101+ degree heat.

Can anyone tell me why the leaves have the fuzzed-out edges in places - and why in some places and not everywhere? Was the fabric too wet? Answers, in case you are unable to comment here (I don't know why the Blogger comment feature continues to give people problems) can be emailed to me at califgold at that good ol'

Fabric painting - splash and puddle

Last night I continued with my explorations through Fabric Arts Workshop. I used Dynaflow transparent fabric paints.

Bubble-wrap printing (left): It turned out just like the book said. Woohoo! While wet, I wasn't sure if it would work, but once dry, you can see the circles.

Color pleating (center): Also fun. I used blue painter's tape to secure the edges before pleating the foil, and noticed that the paint seeped in under the tape, which I think is a good point to note for something, sometime. The fabric was VERY wet. I held it up and let the water drip out of the valleys for awhile, so that it would dry faster.

Dribble painting (right): I used TONS of paint from my tiny little eyedropper in order to get a line from one edge of the fabric to the other. In fact, there was so much paint on the fabric that the underside had a plasticky feel when I pulled it off my 12x12 tile. Originally there was quite a bit of white space between the colors, which I liked, but I tried a spritz of water, and whoosh, the white space disappeared. The tile retained an interesting pattern on it after I pulled off the fabric. The tile washed off easily. I think I'd wet the fabric first next time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 2

Round 2 is a pinwheel. I decided to put it on two contiguous sides, spacing with two large flying geese (the pink triangle in a rectangle)blocks. Right now it has a lopsided look, but that problem will be fixed with next month's block, whatever it is!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fabric painting

Our online group, going through Fabric Art Workshop together, took a hiatus while life intervened for all of us. We have now reconvened and are continuing the book, though I am a little lost as to where we are actually supposed to be at the moment.

Below are the results of my most recent explorations in surface design. I am not aiming for beauty or perfection, just enjoying the experiences and possibly adding new techniques to future works.

After two weeks of diligent search, I finally found my Fabric Arts Workshop book nestled between a couple fat quarters in my stash. I admit I had been procrastinating a long time, even without my 5-week trip away from home (helping sister-in-law in Virginia recuperate from hip surgery). I had originally planned to make something meaningful out of each one of my experiments, and that plan was getting in the way of trying out the projects. I ran to the window,
flung open the sash, tossed out that grandiose idea, and now I can flow.

Top: Monoprinting, using Lumiere paint and a plastic sheet protector . You smoosh the paint inside the protector, than place in two layers of fabric, resulting in two prints. I liked the idea of using and abusing a sheet protector. My Lumiere paints have been around for awhile, a sampler pack in little squeeze bottles. One of them, in spite of being shaken to smithereens, didn't mix, and squirted out at least a Tablespoon of clear liquid before a pile of worm-like paint oozed out. Squishing inside the plastic protector did little to even out the worms, but once on the fabric, the problem isn't noticeable.

Top right: Lasagne dyeing on silk - This did not go at all as described in the book. All the layers ended up pretty much identical. Perhaps other silk weaves would spread a little more.

The bottom three are brayer painting exercises. Kinda fun, though frustrating because my brayer refused to load evenly on the slimy paint. It wouldn't roll until the paint became sticky.
My brayer comes from a set I purchased for my elementary school classroom a few years ago, and was not the best for the brayer experiments. For one thing, the brayer printed less in the middle than on the edges, and for another, it didn't roll easily in the slimy paint until the paint started drying a bit and became sticky, so it was hard to get it loaded evenly.

The results of the brayer plaid (center) show the concavity in the middle of the brayer. With several different sized rollers, one could cover a lot of fabric very fast and possibly interestingly, as a background for something.

Bottom left: Textures were placed under the fabric and brayered over with paint. I learned that not only is it a good idea to tape down the fabric, but also the texture plates. Their movement resulted in smudgy prints.

Bottom right: Brayer over polymer clay leaves. I had made impressions of leaves in polymer clay a few years ago, and not wanting to run outside in my bare feet in order to look for leaves, I used the cured clay leaves. I think real ones would be easier, but I still got an identifiable leaf print from them.

Ode to a Stash

I am building a small fabric stash, but not without a degree of guilt, for how does one overcome an early indoctrination that goes something like, "Don't start something new until your current project is finished?" (I have no idea how to punctuate that ast sentence, but I don't think the question mark belongs inside the quotes -- but I have also been indoctrinated with the American punctuation "rule" that requires quotes to go outside of punctuation marks, no matter how illogical at times. Perhaps that punctuation rule is the Simple Rule for Dummies, such as the non-rule teachers drill into students heads in their elementary years, the one that goes, "Never start a sentence with the word And." I haven't yet absorbed a more sophisticated system into my internal logic). (And periods always go outside of parentheses, so I was taught).

Jane, a member of my quilting guild, the Guilty Quilty Girls Quilting Guild and Friendship Garden Stitch and Itch Club, gave me the above panel, and I added the gaudy strips around it. Had to use up some of my stash in order to make room for guilt-free purchase of more.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Journal quilt - June

Last month I joined, rather late (I hope to catch up), a group making "journal quilts." Each month in 2009 a different technique is defined as the challenge for that month.

June's challenge was decorative stitches. This year the month of June has meant SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS to me, with probably 100 acres planted to the immediate north, east, and west of me. It's been lovely. After wrestling interminably with my machine on the third sunflower, I discovered my threads had popped off the lifter arm thingy (too lazy to look up the real name), and once that was remedied, sewing went smoothly. I was able to use multiple threads, metallic threads, and coarse buttonhole threads with no problem on my machine.

The background is distressed silk, all embellishments are thread, with the addition of textile paint on the F. The edge is satin-stitched. The leaves were afterthoughts, and after thinking about them, I'd arrange them differently, but what's done is done.

Why an F? I am going to use these as a sign for my Friendship Garden quilt guild. Each month's quilt will include the following 3 elements:
  1. A needed letter as the starting point
  2. Seasonal event from my yard as inspiration
  3. Technique of the month
What is a journal quilt? It is a notebook-sized (8.5x11") art quilt that can veer far from the traditional. This is my first one. It's a nice break from the big pieces I usually do.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Scrappy strings

Here we are with the scrappy strings quilt on my new design wall, which I put up just in time. Next step: combine triangles into squares, squares into rows, rows into a solid piece, etc.

Also on the back burner but now moving forward: journal sized quilts attempting different techniques.

In the meanwhile, temperatures in the Hideaway rise early these days, so I've set up the family room in the house for summer scrapbooking, for those hot hours when the house is cooler than the studio.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Scrap usage

I have multiple boxes of fabric strips, much of it from borders, bindings, and sashings that I cut too much of - or decided to go in a different direction once I saw how they looked on a particular project. With all those strips, I decided to make a string quilt. A good, mindless thing to do while pondering my next project.

The blocks above are 12.5" square (a block comprised of two back-to-back triangles, all strings parallel). I originally started out sewing strips together and then cutting out the blocks, but felt there was too much waste, so now am foundation piecing on quilter's grid, a triangle at a time. The foundation helps stabilize the strips that are cut cross grain and on the diagonal.

Back in 1975, I made my first quilt, a string quilt from our discarded clothing (ah, the memories!). I well remember how tedious the cutting was - back before rotary cutters - and wondering how it could hold together with 1/4" seams. It turns out that it didn't hold together that well, but I shouldn't complain. It got heavy usage for a dozen years, and if some seams of the gauzier material fell apart, who's to be surprised? I've looked all through my photos from those years and can't find a one that includes a picture of that string quilt.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 1

Because of my travels and other projects, I've been inactive in the International Friendship Quilters group for awhile, but their definition of a round robin, one in which you sew the rounds yourself instead of sending the quilt around and hoping it will actually eventually make it home again, intrigued me, especially since I had this block above, made by my great-grandma on her treadle sewing machine in the early 1900s.

Do you see where Great-grandma apparently ran out of one of her colors? This block has been sitting in my collection for awhile, waiting for attention, and I decided NOW is the time.

The Ostrich Quilt term comes from IFQ. Each month for the rest of the year they will reveal instructions for a new block to be included in the quilt. You can incorporate the block in any way you want, and are allowed to sit out (put your head in the sand like an ostrich) for one round, if you wish.

I haven't previously done anything with Great-grandma's block, because it included colors that are not common now, and that aren't in my preferred color palette. However, I also recently dyed 30 yards of fabric, and decided some of those colors will work.

The first block was revealed today, a square-in-a-square. Since tonight was guild night in the Hideaway, I got busy and made 20 squares from my dyed fabric and added them to Great-grandma's center block. It looks more interesting already, I think. I am looking forward to seeing what block will be introduced for the next round.