Archive for June, 2013

{My DIY Wedding Series – Post 3}

Another friend was getting married in May also, and mentioned to me that she was making chalkboard signs. I liked the idea so much I wanted to make some too! One Saturday I raided Aaron’s wood scrap pile, finding smallish size pieces of wood. Some that were bigger he cut into smaller squares for me. I rinsed them all off, and scrubbed some that had been sitting out and were dirty.

IMG_0846I wasn’t too particular with how nice the scraps were. Some had holes or were bumpy. Ours was a rustic wedding, and I thought the roughness of the wood would fit right in. I picked up a can of chalk board paint from our hardware store, really inexpensive. Covering my worktable with newspaper, I got to painting.

IMG_0856Since I was using scrap pieces of wood, each took up the paint differently. For sure though, one coat wasn’t going to be enough.

IMG_0858I used our clothes drying racks to hold the signs as they dried. After waiting the suggested amount of time (four hours? I can’t remember), I went back and painted on a second coat. By the second coat, the chalk board paint was a nice thick even color.

IMG_1284At first I thought I was done there. But the boards looked rough around the edges, unfinished. I was chatting with my dad one evening, and he suggested putting trim around the edges, giving it a framed look. But then we realized how much trim would be needed, so we opted for paint instead. Laying out newspaper, I painted the edges and the sides with a brown paint. The other option would have been to have painted the chalkboard green along the edges too, but I kind of like how the brown frame gave them a unique look.

IMG_0728When we started setting up for the wedding, the signs were super easy to use. Whenever we had to put a sign somewhere, we grabbed chalk, wrote what we wanted to say there, and presto, we had a sign!

IMG_0738We put signs on stakes, we hung signs on trees, we leaned signs on tables . . . They went everywhere.

IMG_1034They are also super re-usable! They’ve already been used at another wedding, and have been washed and are waiting to be used at another! The chalk rinses right off, and the signs are ready to go.

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{My DIY Wedding Series – Post 2}

Do you know what bunting is? I didn’t. And now do.

As I entered the world of wedding planning and wedding decorating, I (of course) started a Pinterest Board to collect the DIY wedding ideas I was attracted to. One image that I came across and loved is this outdoor wedding site, with bunting flagging strung from tree to tree.


My wedding was also going to be outdoors, in an open valley surrounded by forest. I knew I didn’t need a lot in terms of decoration, as the verdant green valley and forest were going to be decoration in themselves. I kept being drawn back to the flagging though, and knew this might be a crafty project I could sink my teeth into.


I had been already thinking about wanting burlap table runners down the middle of each table, and had been chatting with Margaret about where to get burlap. She was traveling down south and offered to pick me up some. What a great friend – not only did she pick me up some, but it was on sale, and she got me a whole bolt – as a wedding present!


Now I knew I wanted some of the bunting to be burlap, but I also wanted some to be colorful too. Margaret in her infinite awesomeness, had also given me two sheets, a white sheet and a light green sheet. And thus my wedding colors were decided on. One Saturday Kim came over for a sew day, and while she was at her machine quilting a baby shower gift, I made a cardboard template, and cut out a few practice triangles.

IMG_0776I sewed a test strip about ten feet long, and hung it on our back fence to try it out. I liked the size of the triangles, and the spacing between the triangles, but I decided to make the string skinnier.

IMG_0769With my triangle size decided on, I began cutting. And cutting. And cutting. I think I ended up with almost 100 each of burlap, light green, and white triangles.

IMG_0768I took another sheet I purchased at the thrift store, and tore it into skinny strips.

IMG_0786And then I sewed. Just a simple zig-zag stitch, sewing the triangles to the string. I used whatever color thread I had in large quantities. It was a good way to use up a lot of thread that I was worried was too old! Like my invitations, I sewed a little here and there, in the evenings and on the weekends. I kept piles of triangles by the machine, and sat down whenever I had a moment. It went quickly, as I alternated between the three different colors.


The bunting was great fun to hang a few days before the wedding. I still wasn’t sure how much I had made or if it would be enough. Turns out I made plenty. I had yards and yards of flagging. There was enough to go all around the valley, up at the ceremony site, and more.


It gave the site such a festive look. I’d highly recommend it to anyone planning decorations. For a small amount of effort, it packs a big punch.

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{My DIY Wedding Series – Post 1}

When I started looking at wedding invitation options online, I found a lot a beautiful designs that were very very expensive. After showing Aaron a couple of options, he said, can’t you use your crafty skills to make us our own? All of a sudden, the wheels in my brain started turning, and I was off and away on a fun adventure. Of course! Silly me. And instantly I had an idea. From there, it all fell into place.

I wanted to incorporate my love of sewing, locally source the print job, and reflect the natural history of the property I grew up on and where we were going to get married. I found a sketch of two oak leaves and acorns online, and traced them onto fusible webbing. For 65 invites, I needed to trace 130 oak leaves and 130 acorn seeds and caps.

IMG_4839I cut out these fusible webbing shapes and ironed them onto scraps of fabric that were from my hand dyed fabric stash. I chose various greens for the leaves (each card received a light and dark colored oak leaf), and various dark and light browns for the acorns.

IMG_4842At this point, my hand and arm were started to cramp and be sore from all the trimming, so I called in reinforcements. Kim and Lesley joined me for a Sunday morning of cutting.

IMG_4844I designed a card with what text we wanted, and took it to our local print shop to get printed. After all the fabric shapes were cut out, I peeled off the paper backing of the fusible webbing, arranged the leaves and acorns on the paper card, and ironed the shapes down. I was pleased to discover that the fusible webbing works as well on paper as it does on fabric.


As well, I am indebted to Margaret for sharing with me the tip of taking a pin, and drawing a small cut line on the fusible webbing paper, aiding in the process of peeling the paper off of the fabric shapes. Saved me hours of frustrating peeling!

IMG_4849Each leaf and flower was then quilted down. I took pleasure in the slowness of the process, imagining inviting my friends and family to the wedding, looking forward to the day of. I’d do a few minutes in the evening, an hour on the weekend, and slowly, slowly, my pile of finished invites grew, until they were all complete.


Hand crafted, made with love, invites were then sent out to our friends and family.

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I’ve noticed with recent sewing projects that I’ve been drawn towards light value colors, or the neutral colors. I’ve also noticed my stash of neutral fabrics decreasing as each project is completed. Last weekend, when I got the urge to dye fabric and suddenly found myself with a free Saturday, my thoughts went immediately to dyeing more neutrals.

IMG_5761I think hand dyeing neutral fabrics is one of the unique reasons to dye fabric in the first place; the incredible range of colors and values you can get with mixing your own dye is limitless. What is the best way to dye a neutral color you say? Mixing three primaries, red, yellow and blue. Of course the amount you mix of each changes your neutral color, to range from a red brown to a golden brown to a blue gray to a green gray . . .

IMG_5084Some time ago, I think back in February, I spent another Saturday dyeing fabric. I was eager to try the Outdoor Flat Dyeing method, featured in the June/July 2012 issue of Quilting Arts, of Robin Ferrier. I had also recently purchased on a whim the Fall Pantone colors from Dharma.

photoI’ve never previously purchased mixed colors from Dharma. I’ve always mixed my own colors from the three primary colors. But the Falltones mix seemed fun and varied, so I thought I’d give it a go.

IMG_5092Unfortunately, as happens in the spring in the Eastern Sierra, the Saturday I set out to try this new outside dyeing method was extremely windy. It was the most stressful, frantic, and messy dyeing experience I’ve ever had. The wind blew the plastic and dye over everything.

IMG_5083Once started though, I couldn’t stop, as the fabric was pre-soaked in soda ash and the dye colors mixed. I forged ahead and persevered. The wind not withstanding, I was not very happy with my results. I was shocked by the deepness of color. Perhaps already then my penchant for bright colors was lessening as I continued to be drawn towards more muted colors. I now have over 10 yards of dyed Falltone colors. Perhaps the fabric will make good backs for quilts or linings for bags. (Note: lessons learned are to not choose a windy day, make sure you have a large table to work on, and personally, I’d reduce the amount of dye powder suggested per cup of water.)


Now back to this last weekend. As I pondered the neutral fabric I wanted to mix, I thought, why not use the powder from the Falltones! Learning from my past experience, I used a very diluted amount of dye powder to get the lighter colors I was hoping for. Completely at random, I chose three dye powders from the Falltone set and mixed them together. While not truly a neutral color, the result was a lovely range of muted tones. For each, I dyed three different values, decreasing in brightness, for more varied color. When I finished the rinsing and drying and ironed the swatches out flat, I was more than pleased with the result.

IMG_5753Exactly what I was hoping for when I started out in the morning. Unique. Solid. Mouth-watering. I was unstoppable. I wanted to do more! So I cut up another few yards, and kept going. With this next batch, I chose two colors I hadn’t used yet from the Falltones, Brushed Steel (silver) and Caffeine Buzz (brown), and reduced them to lighter shades. As well, I mixed another random neutral using equal amounts of Jungle Red, Brilliant Yellow, and Blueberry.

IMG_5756The result? A more somber set of neutrals, still equally mouth-watering and brilliant in their simplicity.

IMG_5758I keep track of all my dye experiments with notes like this, in case I ever want to go back and duplicate a color in larger quantities, or to use as inspiration for what worked or how to do something different. In these particular notes, I included the original Falltone colors that made each run of neutral color.

IMG_5759Here are all 27 colors mixed together. Don’t the duller neutrals just make the brighter neutrals pop?! Never underestimate the power of adding a neutral to your palette.

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Two weeks ago, my sister embarked on a summer adventure to Mongolia. Called the Nobody’s River Project, the adventure entails 4 women, 3 Countries, 4,400 kilometers, and 1 Free Flowing River. You can read more about their adventure on their blog at http://nobodysriver.org/, or their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NobodysRiver.

As the time for my sister’s departure grew closer, she grew busy with logistics, packing, and planning. Their trip entailed so much, and these four women took each step with grace and humor. I began to think how I could support her as she took off on this trip. What did she need that she didn’t already have? Not much. As well, with all the gear and supplies they needed to take, there wasn’t much room to take anything else.

The beginning of an idea started to niggle at the back of my mind. Something hand stitched. Something small that could be tucked inside a bag. Something with water. And four days before Becca drove to LA to catch her flight to Mongolia, inspiration struck. A small zipper pouch.

IMG_5683Their project has a striking symbol as a type of logo, and I wanted to incorporate that into the pouch. I took a light beige piece of my hand dyed fabric, soaked it in bubble jet, let it dry, ironed it to freezer paper, and printed the circle symbol onto the fabric. I then let it sit overnight, then rinsed the fabric out and let it dry again.

IMG_5672I remembered a pattern for a small zipper pouch in the book Fresh Quilting, and loosely followed that pattern. I cut out the circle pattern on beige fabric to the size I desired, and then ironed some fusible webbing to it, with a piece of muslin on the back. I then chose some matching color thread and hand stitched around the symbol.

IMG_5675For the other side of the pouch, I was inspired by the imagery of water, as Becca was going to be spending a lot of time paddling! I chose a piece of my hand dyed blue fabric, and choosing varying values of blue thread, stitched simple waves along part of the rectangle side.

IMG_5677The two sides being done, I followed the instructions on sewing the bag together. For the lining, I used a piece of fabric I hand dyed with madder root powder. Linings always somewhat mystify me, but when following instructions, somehow it all works out.

IMG_5688Then, getting the pouch to my sister became a hurdle in itself. Since I had waited till the very last minute, on a holiday weekend to boot, I didn’t have a lot of wiggle room. Luckily, FedEx came through, and it didn’t cost as much as I thought it might to overnight the pouch to her.

IMG_5689My parent’s, who were part of the team’s airport send-off-delegation, reported that she immediately put the pouch to use. That is the greatest compliment a gift can ever receive.

Each day, I think of her on this incredible journey and send her my thoughts and prayers. Every Wednesday, they post updates of their journey on their blog. Travel safe and have fun Becca!

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