Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Stash does not runneth over, yet!

I've seen so many terrific sewing room setups online recently I decided it was time for me to organize my stash.  Well, I wouldn't exactly call it a stash, at least not by most quilters' standards.  I dye/buy, I consume, I dye/buy, I consume.   I ended up with 4 drawers of fabric, separated as follows:
  • "other peoples" hand-dyeds
  • batiks (I love them)
  • prints
  • "my" hand-dyeds

All my fabric is tucked away, neat as a pin, for now at least, in this  awesome cutting table Jay made me last year.  It's 72 x 40 with 2 sets of pull out drawers and a center open area for additional storage.  I've got hooks on the sides to hang my rulers and my rotary cutters and scissors fit very nicely in the top 2 skinny drawers.  And best of all, he built it on industrial casters so I can easily move it around and then lock it into place. What Jay doesn't know YET, is that I do want a huge stash of thread.  I just love thread and am newly inspired by how Patsy Thompson hyperquilts with luscious trilobal polyester threads by YLI and Superior.  Patsy and her husband, Ernie, have created several instructional DVDs dedicated to free motion quilting and have new DVDs coming out on hyperquilting.  So while I won't hoard fabric, I will absolutely hoard thread.  The more the better.

I also hung some smaller wall quilts around my workroom.  We are living in a 1940 stone cottage on the edge of North Asheville.  All the walls are plaster and I've been too afraid to put a nail in the wall.  So instead of actually hanging things where they'd look good or fit properly, I just randomly hang things on nails that are already in the walls.  Ugh.  Here is a fused applique/ thread sketched piece I made of my beloved aussie, Toby.  It really looks exactly like him.  He stares at me while I am at my sewing table.  Kinda cool.

(Click to enlarge for more detail)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gradations by Squeezing and Wringing

My new and insanely talented friend, Patsy Thompson,  of Patsy Thompson Designs brought me some fabric samples a few weeks ago to play with.  I dyed up a small piece each of cotton/silk "radiance," cotton sateen, cotton bamboo, and egyptian cotton.  Each piece was dyed in the same dye bath.  Look at the differences!

From top to bottom:

Egyptian cotton
cotton sateen

Yesterday I decided to try Melody Johnson's "Lazy Dyer" technique for creating solids.  She fondly refers to this method as the Squeeze and Wring.

I used a natural color cotton sateen (my new favorite fabric for dyeing) and worked with deep navy, strongest red, and deep orange to create 3 and 4 step gradations.  Using the same amount of dye concentrate, each step was made by adding twice the water as the previous step.  That sounds pretty confusing...let me try again.  I used 1/4 cup dye concentrate Straight Up for the darkest piece, then used 1/4 cup dye concentrate plus 1/4 cup water for the medium dark piece, then 1/4 cup dye concentrate plus 1/2 cup water for the light piece.

I had an extra 1/4 yard of fabric (how that is possible dividing a yard into 4 pieces is my own stupidity for tearing along the selvedge without realizing it before it was too late!) so I did an extra piece of dark navy using 1/4 cup concentrate with 3/4 cup water.  I actually LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the color!!  It reminds me of a great pair of blue jeans.

Nobody warned me how addictive dyeing fabrics can be. 

And I am trying to keep a journal of my dyeing recipes.  You'd think since I'm a trained CPA I was meticulous and organized!  You'd be wrong!!!  My office during tax season used to look like a bomb exploded in there, but I always knew where everything was, well almost everything.


It's a start in the right direction at least.

Friday, February 19, 2010

check out the blue chic!

My incredibly talented web designer, Laura Jane, of ChickenScratchStudio, just sent me what I fondly call "my blue chic."  Blue chic is going to grace my blog header from here on out.  I love her hair-  it reminds me of quilting swirls.

Laura Jane has the patience of a saint.  I hemmed and hawed over this blue chic for months.  What colors?  What fonts? What colors? What fonts?  How "big" should the hair be?  To her credit, Laura Jane didn't run for the hills.  She delivered me exactly what I didn't know I wanted until I saw it.  That's the kind of consumer I am.  I know what I want, but can't always explain what I want until I actually see it.  Makes for some frustration for everyone.  But in the end, it works out just fine.  If you ever need anything--  a logo, a header, a website, a storefront, LauraJane is your go-to person.  I know she is mine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Whimsical Butterfly

After spending all that time doing invisible machine applique I decided I needed a quick project.  I whipped up this butterfly yesterday using raw edge/fusing techniques.  I got to use my own hand-dyed fabrics.  I had a lot of fun experimenting with some cool filler motifs from Leah at DayStyleDesigns.  Leah lives in NC and is blogging 365 different filler motifs for a year.  Check her out!

I played with a bunch of different threads too, sometimes doubling them up for a dramatic quilting line.  I think I want to try the butterfly again using piecelique this time.  I find the piecelique is less tedious than invisible machine applique but gives a more polished look than fusible.

I haven't trimmed or binded it yet - 


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Invisible Machine Applique Tutorial

I learned how to do invisible machine applique from Sharon Schamber.  Sharon always has a neat twist on most quilting processes, and this one is no exception.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I am participating in the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway's 75th Anniversary Commemorative Quilt, that will hang on permanent display in the Folk Art Center on the parkway.  I have a 36" x 16" panel to complete.  I decided to make dogwoods, LOTS of dogwoods.  I dyed 4 different mottled pinks for the bracts and green for the leaves. Here is the panel so far- all the leaves and bracts are done- I have to make the center of each flower and then embellish with beads, but the "invisible machine applique" part is done.

Panel with all the dogwoods sewn to the background fabric

Step #1
Using applique foundation (available from Sharon Schamber or Ricky Tims- these are my sources, but I'm sure there are additional products out there), trace each element/piece of your design onto the foundation.

Step #2
Cut out each shape, then glue, using Elmer's Washable Glue Sticks, to the wrong side of your chosen fabric

I label each piece (element) so I can match it to my master drawing later when I glue the elements to the background fabric

Step #3
Cut out the fabric with a scant 1/4" seam allowance.  It doesn't have to be pretty.  You are going to turn this seam allowance under, so it won't show

Here are some of the bracts for flower 14- I labeled each flower with a "P" plus petals/bracts "a-d"

Step #4
Put a generous amount of glue all around the edge of the applique foundation and the seam allowance.  The glue is purple, but don't worry- it drys clear!

Step #5
Pinch the seam allowance at the outer edge of the foundation forcing the fabric to wrap around the edge and to the back of the foundation.  If you are going around a tight inside curve, clip the fabric ALMOST to the foundation to help ease the fabric without creases or folds.  You can also use a set of cuticle sticks (I got a pack of 150 from Sally Beauty Supply for $7) to manipulate the fabric a little at a time.  This is what I usually do.

Try to "pinch" pleats with your cuticle sticks as you move around the curves

Step #6
Heat set immediately.  Using a dry iron, tap the turned edges from the wrong side first, to set the glue.  Then turn the piece so right side of fabric is facing up, and heat set again.

Step #7
Set up your machine as follows:
ZigZag stitch-   .9 stitch width;  .9 stitch length
Use your #37 foot- quarter inch foot.  YES, the zigzag is so small, the movement will fit using this foot!
Needle down position
Monopoly thread in the top; loosen top tension to 2-3. Of course, the setting will vary depending on your machine
Very thin thread in the bobbin, in a gray color.  I use Superior Masterpiece "L" style prewound bobbins

My supplies- most are available at quilt/hobby shops with the exception of the applique foundation

Step #8
Using Elmer's washable school glue in the bottle with a glue tip (available at many quilt shops, hobby/craft stores) run a bead of glue around the edge of the wrong side of the piece.  Place on your background fabric and heat set immediately.
CAUTION!  think through the entire design, because you want to glue down and then applique down the pieces that will be tucked under any other pieces first.  This can get confusing if you have a lot of overlapping, so take your time.

These glue tips come in a package of 3 different sizes.

Step #9
Starting at the right side of your element, take a few stitches, then back-stitch to lock in.  Then continue sewing the piece to the background SLOWLY! so you can hit the element, then the background, then the element, then the background.  You will have to stop often to shift your fabric to stay on that edge.  When you get to an outside curve or edge STOP and PIVOT your fabric, then continue on your merry way.  With a little practice, a novice can master this process quite quickly (I did!).

When you get to the other end of the element, take a few back-stitches and smile-  you are done- 
now wasn't that easy!

 Notice that I've traveled from the right edge, around the heart-like shape of the bract, and will finish at the other edge

After all your elements have been appliqued down, you can do thread play, quilt, etc.  Because the applique foundation is hidden between the background fabric and the elements, you don't need additional stabilizer to do thread play.

 Here are 2 completed flowers (without their centers)- notice that there is overlapping, so I first glued, then stitched those pieces down first, then glued and stitched the overlapping pieces second

You can leave the applique foundation there forever OR, if you wash your quilt, it will disintegrate into fibers into your fabric.  Ricky Tims product doesn't disintegrate like Sharon's.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  It is my first attempt at one! 


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary Commemorative Quilt

One of the coolest activities here in the mountains is a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The turning of the leaves was breathtaking in October.  I haven't quite figured out how to capture any of the 500+ pictures we took, but I will, eventually.

What I AM working on is a 36" x 16" panel of an 84" x 100" quilt that the Asheville Quilt Guild has been asked to make to celebrate the parkway's 75th anniversary.  The quilt will be on permanent exhibit at the Folk Art Center, located on the parkway.

I've decided on a spray of pink dogwood, since dogwood is our state flower/tree- it's really a tree, but looks so much like a flower!  I'm using 4 different pinks that I hand dyed last week.

this is my drawing of the dogwoods

here is my inspiration photo (left) and the drawing (right)
108 dogwood bracts (petals) ready to be machine appliqued onto the background fabric