Monthly Archives: May 2016

Layered Progress

Since this month’s master class theme was layers I’d best move fast to get Elizabeth’s comments on my blocked out piece published before the end of May. Below is what I sent in and the comments I received.

2 images of my blocked layer piece. The only difference is the background material. One is a blue/gray solid; the other is a pale blue/green mottled batik.  I placed my piece on clear plastic so I could try different backgrounds.

The organza painted up in more pastel colors than I normally work with, but I think the lightness works with the sheer effect. I’ve added pieces to the ones shown in my sketch, so the whole thing has become more ruffley. That may be the influence of all the tree peony blossoms I saw last week.

I rotated the piece so it looks like an opening flower. It can also work flipped 180 degrees to look like hanging fruit.

JMM May 2016 layers blocked 1

JMM May 2016 layers blocked 2
It looks really beautiful…you show the idea of layers and all the wonderful effects you can achieve with them so well… and I like the idea of the opening flower…
now as to the background…I think you get more of a glow with a lighter color..but you don’t need the  mottling…how about a very pale yellow?  solid…but very very light….see how the grey background in the lower picture is dulling some of the colors?  But the upper one has the distracting mottling?
Remember the background fabric will show through.  It would also be interesting  to try white.
and what an excellent idea to have the composition on clear plastic so you can try different background – I must remember that!!!  apart from getting the right background, I think everything else is perfect…and just what I hoped somebody would do!!!
There is one thing though…the organza will probably look best if it’s handstitched down along the edges with a tiny little hem-type stitch in one strand of something  very fine…so you can hold onto this illusion of lightness…… if you use fusing be awfully careful that no glue shows through….
I’d do a  few samples just to see what looks best.

I’m now sewing down the organza pieces with a machine button hole stitch, changing out the thread color to match. My composition has changed, as intimated in the following dialogue:

Husband: I opened the window in your sewing room Me: Oh, no! my organza isn’t attached. Husband: I thought the plastic was on top. Me: No, it wasn’t.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

I’m A Fabric Designer

As promised, I want to talk about my Spoonflower printed fabric order. The biggest piece I ordered I can’t show as it’s a surprise. I can tell you that it was printed on very white Kona cotton, unlike the greige base color of the samples I ordered.

First, Spoonflower gets the power of presentation. My order arrived promptly and was packaged like this.

Spoonflower order

The color card is actually printed on basic cotton. Now all I have to do is figure out how to use it.

Spoonflower color card

The yard printed on Kona had a slight stiffness before I washed it. After I washed and dried it the surface still had a slight stickiness. When I ironed it, I found some of the color transferred to my iron. A more careful reading of laundry instructions revealed I was supposed to iron it on the wrong side.

I ordered four 8 by 8 inch sample swatches to test my designs and the fabrics available.  The first one is printed on the basic cotton. The second one is printed on cotton poplin. My lesson learned here (and elsewhere) is to do a better job of editing my photos before sending them in. Of course the sample size means that any design repeats don’t show.

The basic cotton is just that. The Kona is heavier and thicker. The poplin is closely woven, but doesn’t offer any advantage that I could see for quilting.

Spoonflower basic cotton

Basic cotton

Spoonflower poplin

Cotton poplin

The next sample was printed on linen/cotton, and is my favorite. The fabric has a nice heft and would be good for bags, home dec, etc.

Spoonflower cotton linen blend

Cotton linen

Finally, I had a sample printed on silk crepe to see how the printing process affected the hand of the cloth. The silk remained supple and soft, so it would be good for making scarves.

Spoonflower silk crepe

silk crepe

Spoonflower folded silk crepe

Now that I’ve dabbled a bit in DIY fabric printing, I’m eager to correct my mistakes – either use crystal clear photos or really blur them; and size my image better to get a larger image printed. I think I’ll be looking at more online videos.

If you’ve gone through this process I’d love to hear about your experiences. My best learning has always been through my peeps.



Filed under Fabric Printing

Digital Fabric Printing Options

After I wrote about Spoonflower’s fabric printing services Ann Scott kindly sent me links to several videos about reactions to Spoonflower’s products. They were most helpful in deciding what fabric(s) to choose.

In these two videos the artist talks about her own art pieces produced by Spoonflower, At the very end she talks about not being satisfied with some printed on the Kona cotton.

In this one the designer gives her impression of the cheaper basic cotton.

I looked into other online fabric printing services that I found through a search engine. I investigated three that are based in the U.S. One I found, Fingerprint, is based in the UK. Their offerings are mouthwatering, but I don’t know about dealing with customs, duty, and other such import issues. The site notes you’re on your own for that.

Fabric on Demand

Skip the video for this outfit and go to the FAQs. Also try out the sample customization using Monroe, their monkey. They claim their process is great for printing photos onto fabric, and they offer 18 different fabrics. I suspect sewers and quilters would be most interested in 4 and 6 ounce cotton and cotton duck. The remaining fabrics are some form of poly. All fabrics are more expensive per yard than Spoonflower. If you need help they can assist for a design fee.


Like Spoonflower, WeaveUp offers you the option to purchase others’ designs as well as offering your own for sale. The image editing options are like Spoonflower’s, and they offer no design assistance. I like that you can customize the number of repeats of your image across the fabric. I don’t like that you’re hit up with lots of legalese to agree to before your image loads to their site. Lack of cotton or other natural fabrics probably makes this outfit a non starter for quilters. Prices are comparable to Spoonflower.


I only know about this service because it’s based at Kent State University in Ohio. It’s hard to find information on how to order and the fabrics available without logging in. I suspect they are small enough to treat each order as custom. They offer 5 types of pattern repeats and use fiber reactive dyes. On the plus side, the minimum order is 4 inches. I’ve seen a sample of their work, and it was lovely. They are to do a presentation at an upcoming guild meeting, so I’ll know more after that.

I think I’ll stick with Spoonflower (price, ease of use, fabrics) unless Kent State knocks my socks off. In my next post I’ll show what came in my order.


Filed under Commentary, Fabric Printing

The Quilting On The Wall

As I noted recently, I’ve given my brother many quilted gifts. To my surprise, he has hung them throughout his house. I took pictures of them during my recent visit with him as many predate my digital camera.

The first quilt I gave him was based on the Jacob’s Ladder block. I chose colors I thought were non-girly. That worked out, but I wish I had used fabric with greater contrast for the blocks that tuck into the dark gray triangles.

Jacobs Ladder

I think the next quilt I gave him was a copy of an Amish quilt I found in a book. The batting was that puffy poly stuff, and the quilting is too sparse for current tastes. I recall that the border squares are made a wee bit smaller than the inner ones per the pattern. That was a pain as I had to deal with odd measurements.


Then, to commemorate his Tahiti trip in 2003 I made Adventures in Paradise, which I designed myself using a book of quilt blocks. At the time I was into secondary patterns created at the junction of the blocks. I remember how proud I was to break into the turquoise border with the blue triangles.

Adventures in Paradise

Sometime around 2006 I made this Ohio star quilt to coordinate with his newly painted bedroom. I sent pictures for his approval during the construction process. There were lots of points to match. I made a table runner for myself from the leftovers.


Most recently he chose Rainbow Connection from my stock of completed quilts. I made it about 2012 and actually free motion quilted it.


Beside wall hangings I’ve foisted table runners and the like on him. So, unless he specifically asks me for a quilt I’ll call an end to the quilted gifts. In case you’re wondering why I never made him a bed quilt, he only likes down comforters on his bed.


Filed under Completed Projects

A City State of Mind

A few days in the Big Apple certainly convinced me I wasn’t in Ohio anymore. In addition to taking in museum exhibits and relearning subway lines, I snapped photos of whatever caught my eye. And there’s a lot of eye catching material in NYC.

On a lovely day we joined the flow of crowds enjoying the High Line.

Highline steps

I couldn’t resist taking photos of these ladies at an outdoor table. When I transferred the photos to my computer I realized they are all on their cell phones. Whether by default or design, the women on the left are wearing black while the ones on the right are in light colors.

Alone in a crowdA twisty piece of the old rail track caught my eye. It was far more attractive than many museum offerings.


I finally get the idea of architecture as art after touring the Whitney and MOMA. The hand holding a pen you can see at the lower left tickles me.

MOMA stairsI took many more photos that may well inspire quilts, but I don’t want to overdo the big city gosh-golly shots here.


Filed under Inspiration

Sheer Layers, Sheer Fun

My May master class assignment is layers, which is right in my wheelhouse. You may recall my rhapsodies over my Empty Spools translucent fabric class. I haven’t worked with transparency since I finished The Big Bang. My first step will be to paint yards of silk organza.


Below is what I sent Elizabeth and her response:

For this assignment I went wild with tissue paper collage, but I did convert my photos to black and white. I plan to use painted silk organza for my piece. I’ve used it before for transparency work and find it works well fused or stitched.

 As to examples of painters and quilters that use layering effects, here are a few: (look at the sleeves)

I’ve been collecting examples of transparency on a Pinterest board for some time.

I used a candle flame shape (seems to be a popular choice in this class) in three sizes, and did trace the shapes for part 3 of our assignment.  My sketch 1 layers the basic shapes over each other in a mirrored effect. Sketch 2 layers a full view with detail. I considered putting something in the center-ish opening, but decided to leave it alone for now. Sketch 3 combines two different sketches. In this one, I erased extraneous lines and shaded in what would be color overlays. I tried several crops, but decided to send the most inclusive version. I think it may be too busy unless I go really big.

I like the ideas and the shapes – great thought to use tissue paper to work out designs.  I find the one above just a little too symmetrical to be really interesting….though the surprise of the very transparent layer is rather nice…
However the one below is very good I think and it works well…there’s a nice flow of movement around the shape…
I do keep wondering if it should be rotated 90 degrees to the left as you have a lot of weight on the left hand side…
I do like the way the negative space reflects the positive shapes – good one!
also the little unexpected shapes as one works one’s way around…can’t see any adjustments, I’d make at this stage.


Nice sketch, symmetrical but not too much…lots of flow and opportunities for overlapping layers and shifts in hue and very well in a square –
I like the way some of the leaves go right off the edge, but the circle always pulls us around…it should make up very well – don’t make it too small!!!  It will work as big as you can do!

As always, with the blocked out piece due on the 20th of the month, I don’t have time to get too elaborate. That means I will most likely make up sketch 2 and save sketch 3 for later.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

A Sewn, But Not Quilted, Gift

As friends and relations of quilters have learned, quilters think everyone enjoys and longs for quilted gifts. However, I had gotten the feeling my brother has become weary of the quilted stuff. The latest gift I made for him involved sewing, but no quilting, and is even functional.

Many years ago my brother traveled to Tahiti and took wonderful photos while there. He shared them with me and I have mentally tagged some of them as inspiration for a quilt. One of his photos ended up being digitally edited and printed on fabric as part of a guild program. My initial plan to free motion quilt it never happened, so I decided to make a pillow out of it with pieces of our mother’s damask table cloth I had dyed. The flange is Marcia Derse fabric.

photo pillow front

I made the back out of fabric I had been given from the costume shop I volunteer at.

photo pillow back

I like the crispness of the image on cloth, but I find the feel of the fabric a bit stiff. I don’t know if it was the brand of fabric sheets used or if any fabric run through a home printer would be the same. If you have a favorite brand of fabric printing sheets, let me know.


Filed under Completed Projects

Blocking Your Quilts Is A Good Thing – Reblog From The Quilt Skipper

Sometimes you just have to do the stuff youdon’t want to do. After a month with an abundance of travel, I’m just beginning to catch up. I need professional photos taken of some of my work, so I’ll need to wash and then block them beforehand. My quilts are touched by many hands at the guilds and…

via Oh the Joys of Blocking a Quilt! — Quilt Skipper: Jenny K Lyon | Quilting, Lectures, Workshops, Tutorials


Filed under Techniques

Kindergarten Deja Vu

I have fond childhood memories of cutting up sheets of colored paper with blunt end scissors to make shapes, then gluing them (and my fingers) to construction paper. For my latest master class assignment, layers, I’m revisiting those kindergarten skills.

I love transparent layers, so I’m deviating a bit from the assignment by cutting tissue paper into three sizes of a candle flame-like shape. Then I play. When I make an arrangement that appeals to me, I take a picture.

Here are my shapes ready for action.

cut tissue paperI warmed up with simple combinations, then got more baroque.



layers twins


For my class I’m de-saturating the colors so I can see if the values work, but those photos aren’t nearly as much fun. I’m also doing a pencil sketch that’s quite elaborate, but again it’s black and white.

My silk organza arrived from Dharma Trading, so I’ll start painting it once I pick my colors.


Filed under In Process, Techniques

Limping To The Finish Line

I had set the end of April as my deadline for Torii Traces, and I hustled to make it. I forgot that April is a 30 day month, though why I thought I could conjure miracles in 24 extra hours is beyond me.

No matter, this piece is complete except for sewing on the hanging sleeve, and that is ready to  install.

Torii Traces FinalCloseups of hand stitching.

Torii Traces dragonflies

Torii Traces bottom

I also worked on Tidal Marsh in Spring, and got that pieced, pressed and trimmed. I even cut backing and facing fabric. I’ll be quilting with my walking foot in hopes of sparing my arms.

Tidal Marsh SpringIt finished at about 16 by 32 inches. I may tweak it a bit with fabric pencils/paints. Once I make the summer version of this scene I’ll have shown it in all four seasons.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process