Category Archives: Techniques

My Latest Craft Addiction

I am very late to the little zipper pouch party. Other bloggers have churned them out by the armload as gifts and gussied them up with cunning shapes and zipper variations. I’ve been avoiding this kind of project due to my fear of zippers – installing them, that is.

Finally, I decided it was time to pull up my big girl pants and have a go. I searched Sew Mama Sew for tutorials, and settled on Melly Sews 15 minute zipper pouch. It’s a basic, no pockets, lined pouch that can be resized to suit. Besides, Melly has a video that shows each step.

As you know, I’ve built up a stock of fabric bits I’ve tortured in some way with various surface design experiments. What better way to use them than to make pouches. I began with some batik fabric I had pleated and sewed down in diamond patterns. It wasn’t going to make it to a quilt, so I chose it for my first effort.

I dug out an old zipper, chose fabric for a lining and sat down with Melly’s video. An hour later I had a zipped pouch. Melly is a lot faster than I am.

Emboldened by this success, I tackled an upholstery sample scrap next. The extra thickness was a bit of a challenge but the pouch got made, albeit a bit crookedly. The pouch now holds my Fabrico pens.

Next up was a fat quarter I bought at a quilt show – cute fabric but I couldn’t figure out how to use it in a quilt. I learned that it’s wise to interface quilting cotton used this way, but my colored pencils weigh down the bag so that oopsie is concealed.

Finally, I remembered some linen I bought in Canada that could give more body to a bag. In fact it gives so much body I can’t get the bag to stay open so the lining shows. It’s a teal color, to complete my green family lining color theme.

After four bags, I think I’m done. My next goal is learning to take glamor shots of my work – craft porn.

8 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, Techniques

Revisiting Garment Sewing

I grew up with a mother and grandmother who sewed all kinds of garments, and taught me the rudiments of making my own clothes. Attention to detail ran a distant second to speed in my work. It always had to get done for a deadline and a basted hem worked just fine.

In college I stopped sewing as much. Button fly Levis became my uniform along with chambray shirts, and the army/navy surplus store supplied my clothing needs. Once I was working, it was a thrill to shop for clothes that someone else had made. I loved being free of the dorky homemade look my own efforts produced.

Over the years I noticed that patterns became much more expensive, as did nice fabric. I grew up used to fine woolens and fully lined jackets and skirts. To reproduce such garments became cost prohibitive, so I wasn’t tempted to even try to make my clothes. In fact, some of my first quilts used old fabric from my clothing sewing days.

All this is by way of saying it’s been a long time since I sewed any clothing other than Halloween costumes.

Fast forward to my growing collection of silk fabrics, capped by bits of hand dyed kimono silk I bought from Laura Murray. I’ve made quilts with neck ties and intended to make one with all that silk, but when I saw this pattern by Barb Callahan at a quilt show I decided to make myself a flowing vest instead.

silk-vest

Because I had been away from this kind of sewing for so long (I don’t count my theatrical costume making stint as I simply followed orders) I bought some pattern tracing material to make a trial vest before cutting into my pretties. The result seemed large so I took fullness off the back and side seams.

Once I thought I had the right fit, it was time to cut the silk. Now, because I had many different weights of silk I decided to interface the lightest with a product called French Fuse, a fusible nylon tricot. I found the tricot was difficult to sew on which caused a few difficulties, but nothing I couldn’t force my machine through. The real problem I faced was the huge amount of fabric the vest needed – about 2.5 yards for the exterior and 2 yards for the lining. The largest piece of fabric I had was about 3/4 of a yard so I got creative in patching the segments, which of course created more seams to sew through.

The pattern calls for a process known as bagging out to sew the exterior and lining together. That worked pretty well, except for the armpits. I chanted Tim Gunn’s “make it work” mantra as I forced my fabric into a semblance of submission. I also changed the way of sewing the shoulder seams together, opting for a tabbed tuck method I sort of made up.

So, here’s front and back views of my vest in all its harlequin glory.

img_8904

You’re wondering about the lining fabric? It’s a silk Bill Blass scarf I bought at a women’s organization fund raising sale It’s also faced with French Fuse.

img_8906The finished product makes quite a statement and is very full, even though I removed about 8 inches from the original pattern. I plan to wear it to gatherings of art quilters, though it would make a great garment for shoplifting. I could hide a lot of merchandise in those folds.

 

12 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, Techniques

Play With Surface Design

Well, it was actually play with paint, but surface design sounds fancier. One of my goals for 2017 was to build on fabric I had printed with thickened dyes at a workshop last fall. For no reason I can explain, the dyes faded a lot on some of my fabric when I washed it, especially ones made with a soy wax resist.

soy-wax-1I had three that looked a lot like this; the vibrant greens had mostly washed out.

A recent paint play date gave me a chance to improve them. Participants brought a wild assortment of objects to print with. Some were ad hoc such as springs, cat toys, chop sticks, bubble wrap, and rubber door stoppers; while others were purpose made, such as stencils and fancy foam brushes. I availed myself of many of these tools, plus empty toilet paper tubes, truly the Swiss army knife of printing.

silk-screen-with-paintThe results are definitely more colorful than what I started with. I may add more to them at the next painting session.

9 Comments

Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

On Top Of Old Smoky

While the weather here bounced around from 12 to 50 degrees I was revisiting the Smoky Mountains in fabric. I settled on an arrangement of my faux paper strips, sewed them down, and cobbled a way to finish the edges. I used no batting, but fused Decor Bond to my foundation fabric, and it’s a good thing I did. The finished product is heavy and might buckle without that extra firmness.

Because the fabric strips were three layers thick (top fabric, fusing, interfacing) I elected to trim up the side edges and sew some twill tape to them. I pressed the edges to the back and hand sewed them down. The top edge got the same treatment, while the bottom edge, which is only one layer thick, got turned under.

smokies-back

This project came with a bonus. I bypassed my scraps bins for the trimmings and created another small piece with them for this month’s scrap quilt. The base layer is fabric I had silk screened with thickened dye.

interwovenThe finished product, The Smokies, measures 20 by 25 inches.

the-smokies

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Fabric Paper or Reverse Engineering

Traditionally, fine paper was made from cotton rags, hence rag paper. It’s more durable and far less acidic than paper made from wood pulp. So you could say that fabric and paper have a long history together. However, my conversion of fabric to paper began quite recently.

I was intrigued by Eileen Searcy’s article in the February/March 2017 issue of Quilting Arts magazine  about making a “faux torn paper” quilt. It was different, didn’t require quilting and, except for the dimensional paint, I already had the supplies. A grub through my interfacing drawer turned up some very lightweight non-fusible interfacing and I had a bolt of Wonder Under. Once I dashed into WalMart for the paint I was good to go.

To create the 2 by 22 inch fabric strips the directions called for I pulled out solid or mottled fabrics in a gray to green to blue range, with a few light beige neutrals thrown in. To speed up the strip process I cut my fabrics into 4 inch wide pieces and fused as many of them as I could fit onto my interfacing pieces. Then I cut them into 2 inch wide strips. If I had been thinking I would have cut them into 4 inch wide strips and separated them with the jagged edge cutting that simulates torn paper. Oh well.

Next, I dabbed the ragged cut edges with the dimensional paint. The idea is the white paint will give the effect of torn colored paper, which has a white core. This piece of real torn paper gives an idea of the look I was going for.

element_tornpaperI could have painted my strips faster, but I wanted to try different ways of applying the paint and different thicknesses of the paint. The magazine instructions turned out to be on the money – paint from the front to back of the fabric and hold the brush perpendicular to the fabric, though I decided to apply a lighter coat of paint. I can always go back and add more.

Rather than use batting I decided to fuse my foundation fabric to Decor Bond for extra stability. I’ll be sewing the fabric paper strips to this and the backing fabric at the same time. My “sandwich” will be my strips, the foundation fabric, Decor Bond, and backing fabric.

After the prep work I got to my design wall and began to play. I ended up with a design that reminds me of the Great Smoky Mountains, so I emphasized earth and sky components. Of course I took some artistic license.

great-smoky-mountains-national-park-lead

Here’s my version so far in black and white. I was checking my values range.

smokies-bw

6 Comments

Filed under In Process, Project Ideas, Techniques

A Year In My Different Drummer Group

My philosophy seems to be you can never belong to enough art quilt groups. A friend and I started a very local group a year ago called Different Drummer. We’ve been following the Jane Davila/Elin Watertson book Art Quilt Workbook.

No one is too sure what chapter we’re up to (it’s a very informal group) but we do know the end is near.  The book’s final chapter deals with embellishments, so that’s what I worked on for our November meeting.

Now I don’t get into such embellishments as seed beads or charms -too twee for me. So, I used large beads I bought at Walmart and some vintage cardboard bits of toys to make “Hidden Openings.”

hidden-openingsThe base is a bit of damask tablecloth I dyed with turmeric. I printed it with Styrofoam plate stamps, embroidered it with perle cotton, embellished it with cardboard tractor tires, and finished it all off with cheap beads. All it needs is some fringe – just kidding.

To recap, all my 9 by 12 (ish) inch pieces involve openings in some way. Here’s what I made for this group.

Open EndedOpen Ended

AnEyeOpenerAn Eye Opener

DD April NotchNotch Opening

DD WallgateOpening In The Wall

opening-up-2Opening Up

I think I missed some months or combined them. I found it’s hard to make interesting pieces at a small size, and I know I cheated by adding or subtracting inches.

This year we’ve focused on various techniques, such as using photos, embroidery, paint, embellishments, etc. For 2017 we decided to concentrate more on design, and use Deborah Boschert’s book, Art Quilt Collage. I’ll be interested to see the group’s reactions.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Sucked Deeper Into The Printing Vortex

As I’ve shared with you before, I like to print designs on fabric. My latest foray was improvisational screen printing using freezer paper, newspaper, and soy wax. I took a day long class from Sandy Shelenberger with other members of an art quilt group.

We had four yards of cotton fabric to play with, lots of Procion MX dyes and dye thickener, screens, bondo filler spreaders, and various oddments to use for texture. Each student took off in a different direction, so the versatility of the techniques was on full display.

Where are the photos of all that wonderful work? Ahem, I was busy creating and my hands were usually encased in plastic gloves and dye, so I neglected to take pictures. I can show only what I created.

The technique is simple – you mask part of the silk screen with paper/wax/tape and then scrape (this is where the bondo spreader comes in) thickened dye across the screen onto fabric beneath the screen. Freezer paper cut into patterns can be ironed onto the screens and used for several prints. Newspaper can be torn into strips, placed over the cloth, and covered with the screen, which is then scraped with dye. Once the newspaper is covered with dye you can use it to stamp directly on your fabric. Soy wax is melted with an electric skillet or griddle (devoted entirely to non food uses), then painted on the screen. When it dries it resists the dye and makes the pattern. The wax can be washed off the screen with hot water and soap.

Here’s some of the cloth I printed. I view it as work in progress and hope to add further print layers with inks, paints, etc.

soy-wax-3I created a soy wax pattern on a screen and printed it with blue (above) and yellow green (below.) I also swirled a large toothed plastic comb through the green print.

soy-wax-1I cut out a freezer paper pattern and ironed it to the screen. The red was added with a paint brush.

screen-printing-freezer-paperI combined an old silk screen design with a newspaper overlay (2 steps) in the piece below.

silk-screen-newspaperThe dark purple/brown color in some of my prints began as black cherry. Once I messed with it I named the color prune.

The same techniques can be used with paints, printing inks, etc. The dyes give wonderful colors but they are messy.

 

 

17 Comments

Filed under dyeing, Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques