Tag Archives: hand dyed fabric

I’m Back to Sewing, Finally

I’m still coughing my head off, but I am now able to follow a train of thought for more than five minutes. That means I am becoming reacquainted with my sewing machine. Since I have had no artistic breakthroughs for new work I am quilting the pieces gathering dust in the fabric closet.

Under the needle this week is “The Left Coast.” I wrote about designing it, but now I am trying to add texture with quilting. I gathered about 15 spools of thread to use and began with walking foot quilting. The past two days have been all FMQ. To make the process simpler I am using Superior Thread monopoly pre-wound bobbins. It’s wonderful not to have to change bobbins when I change thread color, but the stuff is hard to see and a pain to rip out.

I have added a bit of red to the sky and water to give a sunset effect, and some white for waves. I haven’t yet sewed on the islands as it’s hard to sew around them. If I add them it will be after the rest of the quilting is done.

Quilted but without islands.

Two different arrangements of islands.

Detail of water

Detail of cliffs in foreground.

I’m still uncertain about the islands, but prefer the second arrangement above to the first. If I use them I will need to add some whitewater around their edges. Time on the wall may benefit my decision making process. In the meantime, I have pressed a variety of leaves to use with my gel plate.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

So Many Choices

It’s so easy to get tangled up in choices when I design a piece. Since my starting point is usually rough, at best, many shape and color decisions still need to be made. And it’s easy to slip into not seeing the forest for the trees territory.

I finished quilting my four scrappy medallion log cabins so I rewarded myself with a new start, based on a Spoonflower printed photo of a dry stone wall that encloses a local landmark.

Here’s the printed fabric of two rows of walls and trees.

I pulled possible additional fabrics and painted pieces of an old shirt and sheet. Then I pinned them up.

The large piece of commercial fabric is by Marcia Derse.

After I looked at them for about two months I thought of an approach to that wall fabric – make several narrowly separated stacks. I used most of the fabric in the above photo. The Marcia Derse and some teal curtain fabric were dropped. I created bias strips of yellow/red/orange to break up the dark area. At this point the piece measures about 45 inches long by 19 inches high.

Now comes the point I’m stuck at. I want to use narrow strips of a gradient fabric by Vicki Welsh between each stack. Right now my plan is to angle the edges of each stack, and possibly have the stacks at slightly different heights. But, before I cut more fabric I need to decide which way to run the gradient – top to bottom or left to right. Then, I need to decide if I want solid strips across the top and bottom and, if so, what colors.

I’m hoping you’ll have some opinions that will prod my thinking. Some possibilities work for color, but don’t necessarily contribute to the story. The story here is the impression you get of this wall as you drive by it on the street that runs parallel to it.

I’ve thought of blue for sky but the blue fabric I have is too strong and draws attention away from the trees. Below are some options I’ve pinned up. Most show only a few of the stacks as the insert fabric won’t stretch across the whole piece and I don’t want to cut it up and then change my mind.

Option 1: Gradient runs left to right, no top or bottom strip
Option 2: Gradient runs top to bottom, with orange fabric on bottom and gold on top
Option 3: Gradient runs left to right, dark orange on bottom, light orange on top
Option 4: Gradient runs left to right, gold fabric on top, orange fabric on bottom.
Option 5: Gradient runs top to bottom, mottled fabric on top, dark orange on bottom.

I can understood if you’re confused at this point. If nothing else let me know which options you think really don’t work. I’ve become like a toddler – just give me two options for my outfit. Otherwise I’ll dither forever.

One last point about this piece – the printed fabric photographs much less vividly than the other fabrics. IRL the colors are stronger. Maybe the type of printing process used caused this?


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

A Wonderful Windfall

Over the past few years I’ve bought hand dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh and have been very pleased with them. Recently Vicki did a week of giveaways, which included what she called large scraps. I had the good fortune to win that random giveaway.

I’m delighted with my windfall. My only quibble, which totally works in my favor, is that Vicki and I have very different concepts of large scraps. I received three different hand dyed fabrics that total at least 3 yards. My idea of a large scrap is a fat eighth.

No matter, here’s a glimpse at what I received.

Vicki has in no way solicited (or even hinted at) a plug from me, but I do want to let you all know of a good source for hand dyed fabrics – gradients, shibori, and lots of other special effects. You can get assorted packets or large pieces of fabric.

Here are a few of the pieces I’ve used Vicki’s fabric in.


Winter Fields

I assure you it’s much easier to email Vicki than to break out my dye pots and make sure I have enough supplies.


Filed under dyeing

If You Cut It Small Enough…

… ugly fabric won’t look so ugly. At least that’s what Bonnie Hunter told us at a long ago workshop. She was dealing with millenium fabric, which was truly godawful. I tried to find an example to show you, but it seems to have been banned from the internet.

Because I had less than wonderful results in some pieces from my Sue Benner paint/print dye workshop. I wanted to cut those up. I thought a pattern called Flux, designed for Art Gallery Fabrics, would work to punch up my fabrics with bold solids and impose a grid order on them. While I used the same dye colors in my fabrics, the patterns were all over the place.

My plan worked, kind of. The pattern calls for increasing the size of the center blocks with each row from the center. It turned out more of each fabric was needed than I had. I decided to use the same fabric on the diagonals rather than in rows to eke out my supplies. I still didn’t have enough fabric, so I threw in a commercial fabric from Joann’s clearance bin.

Here’s my original sketch. Nothing like good old graph paper. The interior squares are crooked because I cut them out, colored them separately to give myself more flexibility and set them down on my foundation grid. At this point I still hadn’t decided on the center of the design. I ended up trying at least two different schemes for that area.

In fabric that translated to this.

I’ve called it “Trip Around Columbus” as a tribute to the trip around the world effect. Because it’s 56 inches square, I may have it quilted on a longarm.

I remade some of the squares because the first fabrics I chose just didn’t work. Those rejects gave me enough material to make a go-with wall hanging, called “Fractured Trip Around Columbus.”

I bet you thought I never used patterns. If someone else has done the work, why should I reinvent the wheel.


Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

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

I Think It’s Done

For over a year I’ve been adding hand stitches to a 17 by 21 inch bit of cloth I had dyed and then stamped with leaves. This piece began with sprayed on “failed” dyes that were too pale for my taste.  A play session with fabric paint resulted in the leaf impressions.

It’s taken so long because I worked on this project only when I had time to kill on a volunteer job.  Two weeks ago I chain stitched a line on a leaf and decided the piece was done.

Leaf_printI’ve added a few machine stitching lines to hold the batting and top together.  Next I plan to wrap this around a stretcher frame and staple it on.

Leaf_print_detail1  The blog And Then We Set It On Fire has been featuring hand stitching lately, and the examples that show the expressiveness of the humble running stitch have been real eye openers for me.

Leaf_print_detail2My previous post about big stitches focused on big stitch quilting.  Now I’m considering how the softer lines of hand stitching can add subtlety and depth to a design. Yes, I hear laughter in some quarters as subtlety and I are barely acquainted.


Filed under dyeing, Techniques

A Quilt That Whispers, Not Shouts

I think I’ve finally made a subtle quilt with nuanced colors.  I’ve mentioned Subtle Points before when it was still under construction. I just finished sewing on the hanging sleeve and placing it above my bed so now I’m ready to see if it passes the subtle test in the opinion of others.

Subtle_PointsThe brightest part of this quilt is the kind-of aqua triangles.  Those started out as a peachy colored silk crepe (from my grandmother’s legacy) that I dyed with yellows, blues and purples.  The combination really muted all the colors involved.

The pinks and purple fabrics are hand dyed old table linens and a gray bed sheet left over from a shower curtain project (from about 2001.) The grays are hand dyes by Vicki Welsh, while the outer print is a batik that’s been languishing in my stash because no one could play with it.  The bronze solid is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton. The blobby print that started this whole project is by McKenna Ryan.

On the back I used up that McKenna Ryan print and cleaned out some other oldies from my stash.  Those drawers are getting emptier.

Subtle_Points_backThe quilting is basic, just large diamonds.  The label is a leftover block.  You can see the tuck for ease in the hanging sleeve as I hadn’t yet pulled out the basting when I took the photo.

Just to show you how hard it is for me to restrain my use of bright color, here’s an early example of my color sense.

early artworkI must have been five when I did this.  It was in some old family photos and records I’ve been scanning, and I just had to scan it, too.


Filed under Completed Projects, dyeing