Monday, February 28, 2011

Design Wall Monday—Lots of finishes


AKA, I haven’t had internet access in 4 days, argh!!  I’m going batty but I did get a lot of sewing done.

First up, I finished piecing this top.  No wonder I never do traditional quilts, it gave me fits due to non-exact cutting of the squares.  This used every tiny scrap of my 2 Central Park charm packs.  I haven’t decided what to back it with yet, might have to spring for a yard of one of the prints (if I can get to a real quilt store to buy it).  Excuse ugly curtains & some freshly dyed fabric drying there behind it, we played with snow dyeing last week.


Next up, I finally finished this little mini.


I quilted around some of the veins in the background fabric too.  This is Jennifer’s Fairy Dreaming applique pattern again.  Once again I skipped the borders & did my own thing, adding the sun & moon.  It measures about 12x12”.


Next, I finished the little square I submitted in the QuiltStory contest last month.  Raw edge appliqued around Fishy, SID for the rest.  It measures 10x12”.


And I machine quilted another of the Heather Ross fish quilt tops I had laying around for several years.  It still needs binding but I’m kind of sick of fish quilts so it’ll sit a while longer.  I didn’t do a great job quilting and it’s heavy (even though it only has flannel for batting).  Nice warm quilt though, good FMQ practice, used up recycled denim.  Measures about 45” square.


Editing to add the last one, this was a practice silk screen run I did last summer.  I saw a similar design on someone’s blog (I think) and added some elements from some fabric I had, hand drawing my own interpretation onto the screen.  I backed & bound it in that pretty batik & hand quilted it last night.  It measures about 9x10”.


Don’t forget to stop by Judy’s for more Monday fun & I’m linking up with Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anyone can dye their own quilt fabric


Dyeing fabric came up recently on a board I visit with several commenters saying it looked neat but they could never do it themselves.  Huh?!  Dyeing is super easy, inexpensive & fun!  Here’s a quick, freespirited tutorial for anyone who’s scared to give it a try.


Assemble your supplies: Containers dedicated to dyeing (do NOT use later for food), 100% cotton fabric works best, Procion cold water reactive dyes (available at chain craft stores, Dharma Trading Co, etc), Soda Ash (see next pic, I buy it at Walmart in the pool supplies aisle), salt.  In addition I have wax paper to cover my countertop as the dye will stain it and your sink unless you rinse quickly, a knitting needle to stir because I couldn’t find my big spoon & water.  Some people add something called urea to the water, I can’t find mine, it’s a wetting agent, it’s not necessary for this method but it’s good for tie dye. If you’re particularly messy wear disposable gloves, I’m being careful because I have to go to a funeral tomorrow & have no gloves.  You may also want a dust mask as it’s not good to inhale dry dye powder, once it’s in water you’re ok.  NOTE: soda ash is not baking soda or washing soda, your container should say sodium carbonate, this is what makes your dye permanent.


OK, disclaimer—I’ve been dyeing for about 10 years and sold my dyed wares online for several of those.  I don’t measure anything, seriously.  So if you’re one of those cooks or rule followers who really needs a recipe or pattern this isn’t it, I’m trying to show you how simple the process is!  There are many excellent tutorials online with more detailed instructions.  I dye the same way I knit, quilt & well, everything, LOL!


I wanted a marbled appearance so I got my fabric good & wet, rinsed, wrung it out & set aside.  Add slightly warm water to jars and about 1/8 tsp of dye powder (be sure to rinse & dry spoon between colors).  Add a little shot of salt (not required but it seems to make the colors a little brighter).  Stir well.  Add 2-3 Tbs soda ash to jars, really stir well, it takes a while to dissolve.


Stuff fabric in jars loosely, stir it around.  Go back and check on it for a quick stir every so often so it dyes fairly evenly, I didn’t want a lot of really white areas in the finished fabric this time.  My fabric is cut to approximately fat quarters, for larger cuts use bigger containers.  Remember to rinse your stirring tool after each jar so you don’t mix the colors.

Now if you would prefer a different look with more colors here’s how I do it.


Start with dry fabric, stuff it into the jar.  If you want more white in the finished piece don’t prewash the fabric.  The piece above was washed, it was all I had handy to photograph.  Normally I like more contrast & veins of white through mine.  Look how full your jar is, I like it just over half full of fabric, you’re going to need headspace for the last step but not too much that you’re wasting your soda ash.  If you’re using a large piece of fabric a pitcher works pretty well but you don’t want a great big bucket.  Mix your water, salt & dye in a separate jar (one jar per color).  Pour one color at a time into the fabric jar over different sections of fabric. Once you’ve poured however many colors you want you’re ready to set it.  You should see a little fabric peeking out of the dye water, that’s a good level to stop dyeing & start setting.  Mix some soda ash with slightly warm water, I use a pretty concentrated mix for this method, say 1/8 cup to a large mason jar and use that for several fat quarter jars, stir well to dissolve.  You want to pour about an inch of soda ash water over your dye water which is why I mentioned the container size.  If you’re using a great big bucket you’re going to need a lot of soda water.  Don’t freak out now, it might look like a big muddy mess of gray/black water.  Normally I dye like colors that play nice together (like the blue/purple/red thing up there, or yellow/orange/green, you can’t really mess those up).  It’s very hard to dye black & takes a lot of dye, sometimes it turns out olive, purple or gray.  Red’s tough too, you need a strong concentrate and I mix a couple reds together to avoid pink (in the example way up top that’s fire engine & carmine red mixed).  Turquoise is one of the easiest colors and in my experience always comes out nice.

OK, whichever method you’re doing you want the fabric to sit in the dye for at least 8 hrs, I once waited 3 days to rinse mine.  **If you have pets or children please cover the jars & put them somewhere out of their reach &/or label them, it would be bad to mistake dye water for koolaid!**  When you’re ready to see your results carefully pour dye down the drain (it’s safe for septic & sewers).  Rinse in cool water until it runs clear, then rinse in warm to see if anything runs.  It might take a while….then wash in the washing machine, I use just a little bit of regular laundry detergent but they make a special soap called synthrapol recommended for the final wash (and for pre-washing fabric too).  Machine or hang to dry, cut, quilt & enjoy! 


Mine sat in the dye about 18 hrs.  Above, after sink rinse.  Below, after machine wash.


Procion Bright Green, mix of Fire Engine & Carmine Red (still kind of pink today needed more dye, lol), Cobalt Blue & Brilliant Orange.  I didn’t use quite enough orange dye and you can see I forgot about stirring them after a while so I got some light areas, most obvious on the orange.  But I like them!  Perfect for a baby quilt with a lot of white background.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Design Wall Monday



Another finish!  I can’t get into the whole “process blogging” thing, I like to show & tell.  Though I will show you how I almost laid this out.


Sounded good in theory but horrific when I laid it out.


My nighttime photos are pretty awful, I’ll try again before I gift it.


This is Central Park by Kate Spain for Moda.  My first “designer” fabric purchase in many years and I adore it!  Hand tied, machine quilted in the borders.  The border squares were pinked & raw edge appliqued.  The binding fabric was some purple tie-dye cotton I found that went with the line pretty well, I thought patchy binding with the remaining scraps might overwhelm it.  The back is white.  Quilt measures 36” square and I really need to work on that whole mitered border thing, I got it but it took a lot of fussy sewing.

Up next on the hit parade is a little work quilting & I’d like to make another biscuit quit in satins.  We’ll see how long I can hold off before I buy more charm packs, I think I might become an addict!

Thanks for stopping by & don’t forget to check out Judy’s blog for more Design Wall Mondays!  I’m also doing my first Quiltstory Fabric Tuesday!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Design Wall Monday


Happy Valentine’s Day!  We’re not really celebrating, we went out to an event Saturday night so tonight I’m just cooking a nice dinner for J.

Not much on my design wall either, I’m still working on this which I’m officially behind on now thanks to an ill-timed nap yesterday and I have GOT to do some real work today to deliver tomorrow & fix some pants for a friend.  In the meantime, I babysat this morning & have to go back this afternoon for another hour, do some laundry, straighten up the living room & & &…you know how it goes! 

Have a nice week everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Random Friday


Did anyone miss me?  After going post crazy the other day I figured I should let my blog cool off a little, plus I’ve been uber busy with a custom quilt order that I sadly can’t show you except for this little peek at some stars.


That’s a lot of little pieces to fuse and a ton of math, tracing & cutting.  Fun though!  I have Jennifer to thank for reminding me how much I adore applique, here’s my 2nd take at her tester pattern in the works, modified yet again.


Now a bit of fashion weirdness about me.  Unless I’m running (which is lacking the last few weeks, ugh) I wear black boots ~everywhere.~  I have 4 pair I wear ALL the time, almost the same style, big clunky 2” heel, wide square toes, zip up the inside.  One pair are lace-ups, they’re my favorites!  Except I must walk funny, look--


See that heel?!  I’ve done that to 3 pair, same foot!  Yes that’s duct tape in there…I tried a couple different kinds of glue too, I can’t get it to stay together.  The remaining 4th pair of boots…they’re the nicest ones to look at, name brand, the only ones that are real leather…but they’re SO uncomfortable, the bottom is really hard, the arch is too high, it’s like walking on a slab of lumpy wood all day.  Plus they click-click-click when I walk like a horse coming down the street.  I really need to go shopping for some ‘new to me’ boots ‘cuz I’m cheap and pick them up at goodwill or the like for $5 in new condition.  They weren’t goofed like that until I wore them for a few months.  What I’d really like are some nice lace-up Justin cowgirl boots but can’t justify the pricetag.  I started wearing boots like these after a back injury  & spine surgery almost 2 yrs ago and now I can’t stand flat shoes.  Having some extra height is great because I’m short and they force me into a nice posture with shoulders back & head up. I walk with confidence even when I’m nervous or uncomfortable. 

Since I’m sharing all, to go along with the boots I have at least 30 pairs of bootcut jeans, I’m an addict!  We won’t talk about how many of those I haven’t worn for a year since I packed on some weight, it WILL be gone by bikini season, LOL!  99% of those were also scored at goodwill, when you’re shopping for size 4 (ahem, not right now) you find a ton of new name brand jeans for 75-cents, let me tell you.  I love my boots & jeans, my other addition is tank tops and I think I have more of those than jeans.  I have a great tattoo on my back that I paid good money to show off, I even wear tanks all winter.  Everyone who meets me remembers my name (mumbling under their breath I’m sure, there’s that crazy woman who can’t dress herself!).

Hmm, what else is new here?  I’m working on a book proposal.  I got “the look” from my boyfriend about it last night…way to be supportive babe.  Why not though?  I’ve wanted to write a book for 2 yrs, I just didn’t have a topic until I was out the other night ALONE and did some soul searching.  I know I can do it, I’m just afraid I have too much info on too many ‘kind of’ related subjects for a single book.  I’ve always enjoyed writing, research & teaching.  I was an English major in college, I even kept my senior English term paper on (of all weird things) medieval castles.  At the time I wasn’t sure why I was an English major except that I was at a small school & pre-med wasn’t an option when I filled out the scholarship apps (maybe they were afraid I’d keep milking them for money & never leave school?).  Sadly I didn’t make it through my entire freshman year before I quit to do the family thing.  I was ok with that decision until a couple years ago when I realized I’m not qualified ‘on paper’ for jobs that pay more than $8 an hour without that college degree.  I know how to do a million & six things & I learn fast but companies that are willing to take that risk are few & far between in this economy.

Anyhow, enough of that for now…back to my sweat shop!  Have a good weekend!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Contest Submission


I’ve been thinking about joining in on the Quiltstory Block Party (button on the left sidebar) for a few weeks but didn’t finish a block I really liked until I got an idea today.  It’s lying on the backside of a cream quilt just so ya know, my table is too shiny to photograph on.



I’ve done SO much with this Heather Ross fabric (see post below, lol).  I LOVE the free styling here, the different sashing widths, the way it starts traditional log cabin layout and then rotates, the rectangular block (I’m so over plain squares), our little pal eyeing “Swimmy” in his bag, poor thing!   The block measures 10x12” and the fishy is an applique I printed off a free clip site & altered to be able to cut the fine bits out.  This is SO totally ME!  I shared a couple reject blocks a week or so ago, one also using these fabrics but this is my pick, wish me luck, I’d love to win!  He’s going in the “modern” category.

Hmm, sometimes I wonder…


I don’t remember making this quilt…or know who I gave it to!  I had it in a list of UFO pics to finish and darned if it doesn’t look like I DID tie quilt it & bound it so what the heck?

This one is still a UFO waiting to quilt, I know where it is.

And the one I just finished.

Apparently I started 3 in the same theme with the same fabrics, lol…I definitely got my money’s worth from the fabric, I have enough scraps for a couple more!

Applique Fun!


I was given the chance to test a pattern for a new designer yesterday.  Oh my gosh, what fun!  I knocked this out in about 8 hrs of intense sewing (missed the whole Superbowl in fact!).  It’s been a while since I did applique.

I snapped some pics as I went along, trying new & old methods.  I didn’t have some of the materials I needed on hand but I couldn’t wait for a shopping trip to get started.



The pieces were so tiny!





I did a simple raw edge applique, the fairy is stitched in gray thread so she really stands out nicely on the white backing, the rest is quilted in white.  It was supposed to have some nice sashing but I had a mis-cut and didn’t have enough fabric to fix my mistake.  I also took creative license with the on-point layout and the wings (which are a white sheer I had handy to make a curtain, lol).



This lovely pattern called “Fairy Dreaming” was designed by Jennifer Burns-Dyson and should be available soon.  It was a real pleasure and I thank her for choosing me!  Can’t wait to do another!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Design Wall Monday



First up, my 2 Saturday finishes!  I made this little baby puff quilt in 2 or 3 days including the hand work (I tied it and hand sewed the backing to the front for binding).  It’s almost all satins with some brocade and something I’m calling “crepe” though I don’t know if that’s right.  Lots of nice texture but let me tell you, it was quite “stringy” to work with all those fraying squares!  I skipped the border & used flannel under the puff layer instead of batting because the last one I did weighed a ton.


The brocade butterflies are my favorite!  I had just enough scrap left from another quilt backing I made a few yrs ago for 8 squares.  I’ll definitely make another in these types of fabric, I find them a lot on the remnant rack though all of these came from my scrap bin, not a penny spent!  Ready to be gifted to a friend’s niece who’s pregnant with her first.  It’s small, just 29” square, but nice for a little newborn.  One of my fav, most used baby quilts was no bigger from my girls, it was our “car seat quilt” for going out in the winter.


I pieced this top over 3 years ago when my friend was pregnant with her twins.  Then I changed my mind on the whole project and made them something else, it’s been lugged around through a few moves and finally is done!  I practiced my FMQ on every bit of it except the denim strips.  The wonderful woman behind A Few Scraps blog has a great FMQ-along/tutorial I used and I’ll tell you, my quilting got SO much better!  Not so much my photography though, I was in a rush & only had the dining table available.


I’ve been hoarding these Heather Ross prints for years & if I’m frugal I can knock out a few more quilts with them Smile  It measures 30x41” which I found an excellent size to run through my machine.  Scrappy binding allows me to really use every little bit!  I backed it with a cream corduroy that feels really nice & it has flannel batting.  No home yet, I may take it to a local store to consign, the next baby on my list is a girl.  I have another coordinating top pieced from the same project that I’ll be tackling very soon.

I’m waiting for some charm packs to arrive for the next baby girl quilt so I’m back to my paper pieced flying geese circles for my Superbowl sewing…

Edited to add---I’ll share more tomorrow but here’s what I ended up doing during the game!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Design Wall Monday (a day late)


I woke up feeling sick yesterday so here we are a little late.  Not a lot on my wall but I’m liking this “no deadline” project.  I’m not sure who this is for, perhaps one to finally keep, though all that white with the pets might be a bad thing…

Please excuse my ugly curtains, aka my design wall.  It keeps them conveniently in sight anyway.  These take a crazy amount of time, each 4 block square is a good hour or more of pressing & sewing.

100_0168  100_0169

I started this last night, a puff quilt for my friend’s brother’s newest granddaughter-to-be.  Did you get that?  LOL, said friend’s brother and his wife took care of my best bud for several weeks around Christmas while he was laid up with the broken leg & bad back.  Their daughter is a really good kid (ok, young woman) and when I heard she’s having baby girl I had to start something pink.  From the stash, lots of white satin & a pretty pink brocade I had just 8 squares left of.  Not much yet (started sewing at 9pm last night) but I’m hoping with today’s ice & snow I can finish it in a day or two despite the slippery fabrics.


I have the squares cut for my UFO Challenge (that was due yesterday) but have yet to sew any together…I’m not real thrilled with the project, we’ll see if I can get that going today too…