Monthly Archives: June 2015

New Studio Resource

The lonely artist working in isolation may exist in novels but I find it’s hard to stay isolated. As I join more quilting groups I get more exposure to great resources. My latest discovery is the Praxis Fiber Workshop in Cleveland, Ohio.

It’s an offshoot of the Textile Arts Alliance (TAA) of the Cleveland Institute of Art, and is meant to be both a neighborhood resource and a studio for fiber artists. The old storefront is jammed with looms, lots of worktables, deep sinks, a washer and dryer, lockers, and more I didn’t explore. It also serves as a gallery.

Praxis spaceMy art quilt group thought we were going to tour the facility and check out the TAA exhibit, which we did. Then Jessica, the executive director, gave us a lesson in indigo dyed shibori.

Lots of pleating and tieing later, we dipped our bundles into the indigo pot.

Dipping into indigo potHere are our results.

I suspect the color differences may be due to different fabrics.  Indigo dyeing is just one of the classes on offer at Praxis.

Here’s a piece Jessica dyed that combines rusting and indigo.

Jessica's silk organza clamped shibori


Filed under dyeing, Techniques

A Surprise Bonus

I had Setacolor green and cobalt blue paint left over from my sky painting, so I decided to paint silk organza with it rather than toss the paint. I mixed a turquoise shade, layered mop up cloths and failed experiments under the organza to sop up excess paint, and splashed the paint on.

To my surprise, the cloths meant to sop up the extra paint turned out well. The silk organza also turned out fine, but the payoff was those throw away cloths.

painted fabricHere’s a pile of them, topped with the painted organza.

painted drip clothsThree of the cloths from different layers.

painted on painted damaskA failure with iridescent paint made much more usable with turquoise.

Some of the cloths weren’t great so they have returned to the ugly duckling pile in hopes they’ll become swans in the future.


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Filed under Techniques

Painting the Sky

After many postponements, a friend and I finally got together to paint fabric using Mickey Lawler’s techniques. Following Mickey’s book and DVD on Skydyes, we covered damp white cotton fabric with Setacolor fabric paint. Here’s our paint mixing table and our sponges and brushes.

Setacolor paint mixingOne lesson I learned was that colors really lighten up as the fabric dries. You’d think I would know this from dyeing, but I’m a slow learner.

Painted landscape wetPainted landscape dryThe sky is actually more nuanced than the photo shows, but I had expected a less pastel result.

Here’s another example, this time using Mickey’s scrunching technique. The fabric on the left is my mop up cloth.

Scrunched fabric and mop cloth wetScrunched fabric dryOne easy technique I enjoyed was sponging paint on with light taps. I made a winter sky that didn’t seem to lighten as much as the pieces above.

Winter sky landscape wetWet

Winter sky landscape dryDry

We did learn we could use a bit more practice, as what seemed effortless on the DVD wasn’t so easy. What a surprise!


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

I Can’t Believe I Followed A Pattern

Well, almost. I made it bigger.

I’ve been buying black and white prints for some time, and I was more than ready to use them.  A simple wall hanging pattern, Ladora by Kim Schaefer in her Bright and Bold Cozy Modern Quilts, caught my eye. I thought it would allow the diverse fabric prints to star.

The directions are clear but sparse and I miscounted a few times as I enlarged the wall hanging to a lap quilt. Right now it’s about 80 inches long by 60 inches wide. Here are my miscuts. Somehow I misread 7.5 inches for 6.5 inches, so the pieces were too short.


I have quite a fabric scramble going on – Marcia Derse, aboriginal, home dec, batik, Kona solids, 30s repro, and some scraps from the 1990s.

Black and white meet

Once I’ve sewn the strips together I can figure out how to quilt it. Right now I’m thinking of long straight lines of different color thread to make a plaid. First, however, I have to find enough fabric for a back.


Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Fantastic Fabric Fun Retreat

Take 7 quilters; load up their vehicles with sewing machines, fabric, and lots of supplies; and stir them together in a house designed for quilt retreats. Garnish with good food and wine. Result: recipe for fab weekend in Charm, Ohio.

We were serious about playing with fabric, and experimented with a lot of techniques.

Monoprinting on gelatin plates

Gelatin plates

Knox gelatin plates

Monoprinting results

Rusting Fabric

Rust and wine

Wine added

Raw materials for rusted fabric

Result of dump diving

Rusted fabric examples

Variety of results

Sun Printing

More sunprinting with hardware

Washer whirl

Sunprinting with hardware


Thermofax Screen Printing

Thermofax screen printing 1

Circles screen overprinted with 3 colors

Wildflower screen print

Wildflower screen print

Shaving Cream and Inks

Shaving cream and inks

Comb used for marbling


Jewelry stamp

Sand dollar pendant mounted on cardboard

And some folks actually made quilts. Of course, we managed to visit the quilt shop next door at least once, maybe twice.


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Another Modern Quilting Book

I have mixed feelings about The Modern Medallion Workbook, one of the latest books riding the coat tails of the modern quilt movement. In a nutshell, I think it’s a perfectly OK book with some nice patterns from a bunch of quilters active in the modern quilt movement. However, I think it’s a marketing hook to call many of the book’s quilts modern.
What makes a medallion quilt modern is never defined. All that’s said on this is it’s a medallion quilt with “the addition of modern fabrics and a modern aesthetic.” I take this to mean modern medallion quilts are what the authors and their friends made. Only a few of the eleven quilts – Drop of Golden Sun, June, Graphical Modern, and One Step At A Time  – seem modern to me.  I focused on the use of negative space, asymmetry, and a pared down look. Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio’s recent post about what is a modern medallion quilt talks about other aspects of modern quilts.

The rest, such as the examples below, look like traditional medallion quilts with different fabric choices. One, Zen Medallion (on the book’s cover,) is made in wedges. I like it, but it certainly doesn’t use the usual medallion quilt construction methods.

Modern Medallion008Modern Medallion007

Good Points:
-The book gives planning, organizing and general quilt construction instructions that apply to any quilting project, and beginners might need/want to consult them.
-There are line drawings of each quilt so you can try out color combinations before you cut fabric.

-I’m inspired by the half circle outer border on Oviedo (the quilt shown on the book’s cover.) Accuracy would be crucial to ensure matched corners.

Bad Points:

-In the special techniques section (piecing curves, flying geese, half square triangles, paper piecing) I have issues with the curved piecing technique shown (too many pins,) and the paper piecing section leaves out some helpful trimming steps. Freezer paper piecing, which would be a good technique to use for the book’s patterns, isn’t mentioned. There’s lots of detail offered for different ways to make flying geese, but only one way to make half square triangles.

-The 6 pages on designing your own medallion quilt seem OK until you try to use the formulas given on pages 112 and 114 for adding, subtracting, or resizing blocks to fit; or for adding filler borders. As was pointed out to me, they are WRONG. The reader is told to multiply, when the correct mathematical operation is to divide. I suspect that somehow the wrong sign got inserted, and copy editors/proof readers never caught the error.

-I think the quilts need a degree of difficulty rating. Some involve intense paper piecing. The Migration Medallion has you piece 48 1 1/4 inch by 2 inch flying geese. That’s tiny.

-There’s no resources section or tip of the hat to the long history of medallion quilts – and books about them. I think a case could be made that many “old” medallion quilts are modern.

What do I consider a modern medallion quilt?  I’ll let Gwen Marston speak for me.

liberated-medallion-quilts- -by-gwen-marston-add-3-534px-534px



Filed under Books, Commentary

Thoughts Of A Fabric Enabler

I had to share this post written by a Canadian lawyer who is married to a quilter. He does an excellent job of describing the characteristics of a fabric addicted quilter (as if there were any other kind.)

fabric addict



Filed under Everything Else

Designs From Odd Places

A graphics oriented blog I follow recently featured Nick Barclay’s minimalist designs based on Star Wars characters. I don’t know how well the designs represent the characters, but I think they’d be great for modern quilts.

Luke Skywalker




Filed under Inspiration, Modern Quilting, Project Ideas

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

About two years ago I pieced a top based on a RaNae Merrill pattern. It was inspired by some hand dyed scraps from Vicki Welsh and augmented with a black gradient and graduated gray fat quarters from her Etsy shop. It’s been hanging in my fabric closet waiting for me to summon the courage to free motion quilt it.

Two weeks ago I pulled it out and forced myself to quilt it before I could start another project. I wanted the quilting to give the effect of clouds scudding across a night sky as the moon rises. I laid vinyl on top and drew quilting designs. Because the color values change so dramatically, I decided it was futile to mark my quilting lines.

Six different thread types and a lot of ripping out later, I decided to call this done. The black fabric on the left side of the photo is being auditioned for a binding.

moon riseI used Aurifil 50 weight cotton, Sulky 40 weight solid and variegated rayon, and Sulky Holo Shimmer threads. The last I found hard to work with – lots of breaking, knotting, not stitching well – even with the use of a spool stand. Finally, by accident I discovered that Superior polyester invisible thread in the bobbin made my stitches work.

moon rise detail 1My moons have extra batting to prevent the seam allowance from showing.

moon rise detail 3I had issues with the long quilting lines that run from side to side. Forget stitch regulators. I want a quilt bulk regulator.

moon rise backMy backing fabric does a great job of hiding my stitching. In fact, I hard a hard time finding the stitches when I had to rip them out.

I don’t know whether to put a binding on this with the black grunge fabric I have or face it. I’m in no hurry. This won’t be hung in my house any time soon as my husband’s reaction was, “that’s really dark.”



Filed under Completed Projects

Buttons and Furbelows

My Oklahoma costume construction adventures have continued, with the promised promotion to serging. Wow, those machines are fast, which was a good thing since I was sewing the edges of 14 yard long strips of synthetic organza for these cancan outfits. I love how serging with black thread adds a decorative touch.

serged rufflesOf course, I continue to sew on lots of buttons.

buttons and ruffles

And I did score more fabric scraps, the leftovers from these sequined bodices.

sequined bodice

By the way, according to, a furbelow is:

1. a ruffle or flounce, as on a woman’s skirt or petticoat.
2. any bit of showy trimming or finery.

verb (used with object)
3. to ornament with or as if with furbelows


Filed under Commentary, Techniques