Tag Archives: silk fabric

Trying Out 3D

For many years I have planned to make a 3D quilted object. I have sketchbook drawings to back up that claim. My scheme was to create multiple small connected units with see through spaces between them. The piece could cast shadows on a wall or floor, or give a screen-like view through to other items in a room.

Fast forward to 2020, when I got serious about this idea. Using many silk fabrics I had amassed, I created circles and ovals. After trying to create one big piece out of all the shapes I decided to group them by warm and cool shades. The warm shades were first up because I had fewer of them.

As I wrote earlier, I treated each shape as a mini quilt, sewing together front, back, and batting. Then I hand sewed the shapes together, and machine quilted them as a single unit. I thought that would be the end, but the results didn’t look finished. I had the idea to add metal rings, which I made from jewelry wire. Once those were sewn on I threaded satin cord between the wire circles.

In a change of plans I thought I would mount the construction to an ice dyed backing. To help the shapes stand out against the backing I edged each shape with silver glitter. After I carefully sewed black wool felt spacers behind each shape to help them stand away from the backing, the construction just didn’t look right. There was still not enough contrast.

At this point I made an executive decision to declare “Roundabout” done. Some finishing details are rough and I really can’t ship it anywhere easily with the wire, so I am chalking it up to process rather than product.

Roundabout, the first pink piece I’ve made
Roundabout detail

Because I was determined to use the backing I worked so hard to make, I resurrected an old resist piece, quilted it, and attached it to that backing. It’s called “Raspberry Lime Swirl.”

Raspberry Lime Swirl

Now all I have to do is figure out how to finish all the cool tone shapes. They are sewn together, but languish on top of my old trunk awaiting inspiration.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

2019’s Last Hurrah

Sorry I lied to you. It turns out I wasn’t finished with finishes for 2019, though the final one is more of a collaboration than a solo effort.

Several years ago I bought an Amish made wall hanging at a tag sale. It was sun faded and made with bland colors, but it had nice quilting. After it spent a few years as a table cover, I decided to over dye it. Despite several hours of soaking in a dye bath all the colors remained unchanged except for the cotton quilting thread. Sadly, my wall hanging was made mostly of polyester fabric.

I put it in the to-be-donated box and forgot about it until two weeks ago when I put together a box to take to a local veterans thrift store. I realized I could use the hanging as the base for new layers, and did just that with many smaller silk pieces cut into squares. I had wanted to use more of my silk fabrics before I died, so I was glad for the opportunity.

I sewed the squares down on top of the old squares with a zigzag stitch. My sewing lines are uneven as I found the original workmanship left something to be desired, with crooked, uneven piecing. The whole piece also curled a bit, even after blocking.

I filled in between the silk squares with mother of pearl buttons I inherited from my granny. They are tied on with hot pink crochet thread. Because one button is slightly darker than the others (leave it to my husband to notice that) I call it “There’s Always An Oddball.”

I left the original binding and hanging sleeve as is because I saw no reason to assume new binding would made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I still like the cable quilting in the borders.


Filed under Completed Projects

Another Use For Silk

A member of my art quilt group clued me in to yet another way to use silk fabrics, especially men’s ties. She found a tutorial by Linda Heines, who uses neck ties to dye silk scarves. The key is to use all silk.

I had to try this technique as I had old ties and various silk scraps. Linda arranges her materials carefully to create attractive scarves. Since I wasn’t making scarves I got a bit experimental with my combinations.

The technique is easy. You layer your ties/scraps on a piece of silk, such as a scarf, and wrap it all around a dowel to make a tube. After securing the tube with string, rubber bands, etc., you remove the dowel and boil the tube in a big pot (not used for food) for 25 to 30 minutes. Linda adds vinegar to the water, but I tried boiling with and without it, and didn’t see any difference. Maybe it helps the silk retain the color.

After your bundle cools, unwrap it and see what you got. Here’s what I got.

For me the big advantage of this technique is I already have all the needed materials. Also, there’s no dye to rinse out. I rinsed all the fabrics once they were boiled and had little bleeding. The big disadvantage is it’s hard to control your results. If you’re willing to live with whatever you get, then you may enjoy trying it.


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Art Nouveau Rococo

A while ago I blogged about a silk piece based on a tissue paper design I made for use with organza. Because the design features stylized curves I thought the design had an art nouveau flavor, but the flamboyance of the finished work led me to call it Rococo.

I had the quilting done by Janice Kiser, a local longarm quilter who has an affinity for curves. Here are details of her quilting.

The batting is wool, which gives a 3D effect to the petals. Rococo finished at 30 by 35 inches, and has a faced edge.

I’m surprised at the amount of silk fabric I still have, so I need to design more projects for it. While I love its sheen, I find it a bit finicky and in need of backing before sewing with it.

Linked this post to http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com/2018/09/finding-inspiration-off-wall-friday.html.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Getting My Curve On

So far this year my work has been squared off and rectilinear. I’m breaking with that in my latest WIP, which is all about curves.

I was inspired by a sketch left over from my 2016 master class and my hoard of silk fabrics.

I had developed several sketches using cut shapes of tissue paper.

Someday had arrived for the dupioni, sari and kimono silks, the broadcloths, and the silk-cotton combo fabrics I’ve collected. Because the silks were different weights, I stabilized them with either fusible nylon knit tricot or WonderUnder. The differing material characteristics (some were closely woven, some ravelled or shredded, etc.) led me to use raw edge applique instead of piecing. I used MistyFuse for any pieces not backed with WonderUnder.

There were translation issues between my sketch and the work. The sketch was designed for transparent fabrics, and was another take on overlapped pieces of silk organza, a technique I used in Unfolding.

Unfolding 25″ sq.

I didn’t have the color changes created by the fabric overlaps, so I had to come up with an opaque approach. Here’s my first version.

The “hat” had to go. It looked lovely with transparent layers, but not as a solid piece. I ended up with huge blooms that would fit into a jungle. All the sinuous curves give it an Art Nouveau feel, like the embroidered fabric below.

After I ironed down the pieces I straight stitched around all the edges. I tried out a buttonhole and a zigzag stitch, but found they frayed the edges and caused raveling. There is still a bit of fraying, but I’ll have to live with it.

I plan to have Rococo (tentative title) quilted by a local long arm quilter who is very good with curved designs. For once, I think it’s the right approach to accentuate the curves. It should finish about 36 by 30 inches.



Filed under In Process

All My Pretties: Confessions of a Silk Hoarder

My silk collection began with a bolt of inherited peach silk crepe that resided in a steamer trunk for many years. Then, as I attended big quilt shows I began buying bits of silk dupioni. Here’s what’s left of a 25 piece collection.

DupianiDupioni colors are wonderful, but the fabric just loves to shred. It needs to be backed with fusible knit interfacing or cut on the bias.

I continued to seek out silk yardage at various shops and shows. The left hand piece is shot silk and the right hand one is organically dyed silk from Laos (bought in Canada.)

Shot silkLaotian silk

But why stop at yardage? I didn’t and started buying second hand designer silk scarves. These will need to be backed with fusible interfacing before I use them.

Bill Blass scarfNorrell scarf

Once I began dyeing fabric I decided to dye that bolt of silk crepe, even though you’re not supposed to use Procion MX dyes on silk. I went with what I had. First, I used a bubblegum pink dye to intensify the pinkness. Another time a few yards were treated to ice dyeing. It does seem I have a lot of pink and purple silk.

Dyed silk crepeIce dyed silk

And once people learn of your interest in silk they donate to the cause. Here are sari silks and a silk batik from a friend.

Green sari silkNavy pink sari silk Batik silk

My latest silk purchases have been a silk/cotton mix fabric called Radiance which I hope to use with some of the silks above.

Radiance fabricI also have cut up silk ties. Here’s how I used some of the tie fabric.

Tie sticksNote I haven’t included silk organza, another aspect of my fascination with silk.  I’m afraid there’s still more, but I can handle just so much confession at one time.



Filed under dyeing, In Process

No Slicing and Dicing

In a rare burst of financial frivolity I actually purchased a quilting book without having examined it first.  Usually I borrow a book from a library or friend so I can see if I want to buy it for my collection.  However, I couldn’t find any library that owned a book I was curious about, so I took the plunge.

Oh, the book is called “Sliver Quilts” by Lisa O’Neill, and I was intrigued by a particular pattern in it called Helios.  It’s a circular pattern that looks paper pieced, but it isn’t.  Instead, the author cut an arc of fabric, folded it at regular intervals, inserted slivers of other fabric in the folds, and then sewed along the fold to encase part of the sliver. If you sew four of these together you get a circle.  Here’s a picture of the pattern that caught my eye.

However, that’s not the pattern I started with.  Instead a table runner made with silk caught my eye.  Why?  Well, I’ve been collecting silk fabric for years with the idea I’ll make my magnum opus with it.  However, such a project keeps getting bumped down my to do list, and I really want to use that silk for something other than a drape for my coffin.

So, I hurriedly read the book’s basic instructions and then pulled out my silks.  Of course, I deviated from the instructions right away.  Lisa rightly comments on how silk frays and then says her pattern calls for oversized blocks so you can cut off the frayed edges after all the slivers are inserted.  However, since I had already backed part of my silk fabric with fusible interfacing, I went ahead and did the rest.  The advantage is it really cuts down (haha) on fraying; the disadvantage is it increases bulk as you fold and sew.  Pick your poison.  Here are just a few of my slivers, all ready for insertion.


The bulk was manageable except for the mystery synthetic teal fabric I used. I had interfaced that because it kept slithering, but the new interfacing I tried really wasn’t suitable.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from using it anyway.  So, now that I’ve sewn all my blocks my next step will be to take a hammer to the bulky areas and beat them into a semblance of flatness.  Here are some of my blocks after inserting the first two slivers.


And here are some of the finished blocks, plus the book itself.


I’ve been auditioning fabric for the posts between the blocks and was intrigued when my husband opined that he thought one possible choice clashed with the blocks in a good way.  That’s quite a sophisticated critique from a man who likes florals.

Some other possibilities running around my head include the use of sari silk yarn to sew horizontally and vertically on the posts.

But, back to the book.  Lisa has some other interesting patterns that create spokes (more circles), and suggests ways to experiment with the basic technique.  Her book is clearly written and well illustrated, and includes sufficient details to get you through each pattern to completion.  The major downside to the sliver technique is that I don’t think it will be easy to quilt the slivered areas due to fabric bulk.  Of course, if your quilt also includes lots of borders, posts, and flat areas you’ll have lots of scope for quilting designs.


Filed under Books, In Process