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Posts Tagged ‘hand dyed fabric’

Margaret had attended this year’s Road to California and taken the shibori dyeing class. She brought back what she learned to our Out of the Box quilt group. We had a lovely Sunday afternoon in Nela and Jan’s garden. PicMonkey Collage4

Margaret showed us some of the fabrics she had dyed in the shibori class.

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With the range of colors available to us with dyes, we took the traditional Japanese indigo dye art out of the box.

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Margaret showed us wrapping the fabric around a round tube, tying it with string, and painting the dye on. We experimented a bit with pre-wetting the fabric and painting the dye on dry fabric. On the right, the top half was fabric dry, and bottom half fabric wet. This method is called Arashi shibori.

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Other techniques we played with was folding the fabric in triangles, and pinning with clothespins and clamps, this method is called Kumo shibori. We also tried wrapped fabric around objects and dyeing. And also using rock salt to spread the color! It was a great afternoon of experimentation and fun. No measurements were made and no recipes followed. I can’t say if I used 1tsp or 1 TBS of dye powder, and sometimes I was mixing dyes together without knowing what I was using, but I can say I had fun!

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Here are my three fabrics I made. The top two were wrapped around a pole. The top pink was wrapped at a diagonal around a skinny broomstick handle. The middle blue was wrapped straight around a wide PVC pipe. The bottom was folded in triangles, pinned with clothespins, and dyed in a light brown. Once dry, I refolded into triangles again, pinned with clothespins, and dyed with pink.

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This piece is my favorite from the day’s experiments. I like the layers of colors the double dyeing gives. And I like the random pattern within the repeats. Makes me want to use it in a quilt!

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Looking at these fabrics, I remember the feel of the sun, the sparkle of the spring flowers, and the laughter of the ladies as we chatted and played. As we celebrate the first days of spring, I am grateful for friends and creativity and projects to come!

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Recently, I purchased a book on Japanese inspired quilt blocks from the book store. I spent many evenings poring over their patterns, getting excited for using my hand dyed fabrics to give them a try. The pattern that spoke the loudest to me was one of a spiral. I knew I wanted to use my golden and turquoise fabrics from a recent dye session for this one.

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The pattern was very small and intricate, asking for one inch strips, with quarter inch seams, meaning each strip would be half an inch. Thank goodness for my new machine and the good foot and spacing guides! I was quite pleased with my ability to piece as precisely as possible.

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For quilting, I pondered for a while using regular quilting thread or cotton pearl thread. I had purchased some from our local craft store a while back, but hadn’t used them yet. I thought the simple stichery with big thread would nicely contrast with the bold simple design.

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The result? In my opinion: beautiful stichery.

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I liked the play of gold and turquoise together, and couldn’t quite ever decide if I was stitching the wave of a river, the bright blue of the rapid churning round and round, or the wave of the sun, relentlessly shining down. Which do you think?

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I had a few scraps left over, and couldn’t bear to see them go to waste. So I stitched them together too!

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Hmm, what could I make with two small squares? Pot holders!

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These I kept for myself. The river wave will be for sale in my Etsy shop soon!

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I think what caught my fancy the most with these little projects was the playful fun feeling I got as the piecing came together. I could sit down for ten minutes or a whole morning, and loose myself in the feel of the thread, the color of the fabric, and the texture of making. And they are portable! I took the pot holder to the local coffee shop, and in the time it took to drink my chai tea I had one quilted!

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Here is a sneak peak of my next mini quilt on the left – to be featured in the next blog post soon! I am enjoying myself way too much.

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(Three posts in three days, yikes!)

My goal this weekend was to have a kitchen dye session, making more of my California poppy  fabric, dyed back in 2010. After each dye session I keep detailed notes on what colors I used in what amounts, so that if I wanted to repeat a color run I could. I’ve never tried though, always preferring instead to experiment and make new colors. This time though, I wanted to dye more of the same colors, so I referred to my notes to repeat the colors.

PicMonkey CollageHere’s my notes and the fabric colors. It was a Blue Green to Red Orange run, made with Cerulean Blue, Deep Yellow and Fuchsia Red.  I looked through my dyes and I had fuchsia red, cerulean blue, and shoot, no deep yellow on hand! But I had Bright Yellow, so figured that was probably pretty close, and started to mix up my colors.

Oops, not. Bright Yellow is NOT like Deep Yellow. The fabrics came out so different! Here’s a screen shot from Dharma’s website, using their super cool color comparison picker tool. The Deep Yellow is so much more golden, which is probably what made my original run so orange and made me think of poppies.

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My colors I dyed this weekend were very red and blue. I don’t think the bright yellow quite had enough oomph against the reds and blues to make the oranges and greens I was hoping for.

IMG_8348I still love them though! They almost remind me more of dessert colors: cool reds and browns, bright pops of sky blue, and golden yellows.

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The yellows weren’t made with the bright yellow, those were using Marigold.

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So now I’ll just have to have another dye session to try to make more poppy colors, after I purchase some Deep Yellow!

IMG_8359The reds and browns remind me of Death Valley.

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What do the colors remind you of?

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Maybe I’ll make up some charm packs and post them for sale in my really really close to launching etsy shop!

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My mountain quilt panel was to the point where it was time to quilt! I eagerly sat down at my Kenmore machine, switched to my darning foot, dropped the feed dogs, and prepared to have fun. Ugh. Every few minutes my machine would sieze up, the needle would get stuck in the down position, and the only way I could figure to get unstuck would be each time to completely take apart the bobbin machinery, then put it all together again, start again and then a few minutes later . . . jam!

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Then I had this light bulb moment of, maybe I need a different machine! For years I’ve quilted on my Kenmore, inherited from my great-aunt Clarkia. It is a workhorse, solid metal, and has served me beautifully for all these years. But suddenly it hit me, that maybe I was pushing the machine too hard, and there is a different machine that would meet what I want it to accomplish better.

I started to call my quilter friends. And something surprising emerged: they all have Brother 1500 quilting machines! I read reviews online, spoke with my friends, and got the impression it was exactly the machine I was imagining: simple and functional for piecing and quilting quilts.

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My quilter friend Margaret now quilts on her Bernina, but had a Brother 1500 originally, and generously brought the machine by my house to lend it to me so I could give it a try! Here’s my first swatch when I gave the machine my first try. It was a breeze! A gentle humming sound and I easily stitched patterns. I felt the world of possibility open up.

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Last weekend I eagerly cleared my Saturday of obligations, and began to quilt my mountain panel quilt. Margaret had given me some tips on how to do the sky, that in landscapes, put lines closer together towards the horizon and further apart as you got towards the top. It did take a bit of courage as I made my first stitches!

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I first sketched my lines with chalk, to get a feel for what my intended stitching might look like. This was a helpful technique, as I could erase and redraw until I liked what I saw, and then when I stitched I could follow my lines. I had fun following the pattern in the hand dyed fabric, outlining the white clouds and emphasizing the stormy purple and blue.

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My courage served me well, and the sky came together beautifully, and I continued on to the mountains. I had a brief side trip to purchase more thread at the craft store mid-afternoon, as I didn’t have any colors that matched what I wanted for my mountains. Again, I sketched the lines with chalk, and then stitched them with thread.

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I chose a kind of topographic echoing repeating line pattern to emphasize the shape and flow of the mountains. I echoed but also made it random, giving it a realistic look. I wanted my snow patches to stand out, so I stitched around them with the mountain color, and then came back with white thread and stitched the white snow patches down.

And there is the top third! I was able to achieve more detail and control with the new machine. I can’t wait to continue quilting the rest! But wait, can you see in the photograph, it is white below the mountains. It’s true, I tore apart my entire bottom two-thirds of the panel. I removed all the quilting and took my light green fabrics off. This weekend I’ll reassemble it, and it shouldn’t take too long. I’ve selected the colors for the background fabric, and then will put back on top the tree trunk, leaves, bushes etc. And then I’ll quilt!

{This post is part of a series. To see other posts in this series, please click here}

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Cathy and I met up this morning to work on our foreground. Things are a little simpler for me, as I am an edge piece, so I am mainly collaborating with Cathy on my piece.

IMG_7870We started by laying out what ideas and colors we had so far. My kitchen table was just wide and long enough for our two panels to lay out side by side. Cathy is going to have an iris field in the bottom of her panel. We talked about how it would look good if it extended into mine a bit.

IMG_7868I auditioned a few fabrics next to hers, to pick colors of similar values. Finally my ice dyed fabric has a place! The multi colored patterning on it matched with the effect well. I chose a green dominated color for the stem background, and a purple dominated color for the flowers.

IMG_7872I started cutting the fabrics into rough shapes to see how’d they look, and Cathy let me borrow one of her iris to get a feel. Aren’t her iris lovely?! I can’t wait to make a few of my own for the corner. I think I’ll make them slightly smaller, as my iris section is smaller. I turned on my iron, and we worked away cutting, fusing, and placing. Sometimes we’d chat, ask the other’s opinion, sometimes we’d work in silence, in our own little world. It felt companionable and pleasant. What a great new way to make a quilt!

IMG_7873Then we both started playing around with our background greens, auditioning different colors, talking about where the light to darker colors would look good, and how to not just have straight lines, but more natural looking lines. We looked at pictures of the valley, and it looks like different groupings of bushes and grasses make different colored sections across the valley. So I tried putting out a layered approach, of different greens, and then cut them to different shapes and sizes. I’m thinking my stitching on top can be where I put in detail of bushes and grass using different colored threads.

IMG_7879Here you can start to see my layers cut out and layed down. They are very plain, so I think that puts more emphasis on the stitching making the pattern and design. I am thinking I will practice some different designs that might work! Maybe sketch out a couple, think about how lines could make the impression of bushes.

IMG_7884Did you also notice the brown of my tree changed?! I kept looking at my first tree, and it just seemed too dark. I like the brown that Cathy chose for her tree branch, and decided I needed to lighten my tree color. I knew it was going to be one of those details, that if I left it in, it would continue to haunt me. So best to change it now. I didn’t have any brown colors on hand, but Cathy had a hand-dyed brown she generously gave me to use, so I cut out another tree! Don’t you think it looks better?

IMG_7878This time, I traced it onto the fusible webbing as one solid piece. The last tree I broke into smaller pieces, thinking I’d save on fabric, but I didn’t like how once laid down they weren’t one piece. This way today used up more fabric, but I think the tree being one piece looks better.

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Photo by Cathy

And our end layout for this session! Our tree branches are lined up, and our greens picked out and cut.

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Photo by Cathy

The last thing I did was take a piece of solvy (water soluble stabilizer), and very roughly trace the outline of our tree, both our branches together. My idea for the leaves is to cut fabric into a million little pieces, sandwich them between two pieces of solvy, and quilt the leaves roughly together. Then I will dissolve the solvy in water, and I’ll be left with a loose netting of leaves and string I can layer over our tree branches. I want to try this technique to mimic the way the background can be seen through the leaves. I don’t want to cut out solid chunks of fabric, I want the leaves to be varied in their thickness and have the background show through. We’ll see how it works! That will be next weekend’s project.

{This post is part of a series. To see other posts in this series, please click here}

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A few weekends ago, our Out of the Box group met for our December meeting. We each brought our panel, and hung the strips on Nela’s design wall. We each had worked individually at home on piecing our mountain strips. This was going to be the first time we saw them all together. IMG_7820After we lined up the tops of the panels, we matched up the individual pieces, moving and adjusting as needed, to make sure major mountain lines and horizon matched up.

IMG_7814We all used different colors to make up the mountains, but chose to use the same piece of dyed fabric for the sky. I think it it absolutely stunning, with the white clouds and specks of purple. A really dramatic sky. Sky fabric hand dyed by Cathy. Makes the mountain scene look painted!

IMG_7822After all was lined up and pinned, we stepped back and enjoyed the view. It was stunning to see it all come together. To see what we’d already done, and to imagine what the finished product might look like. We have barely begun!

IMG_7827 StitchHere’s the mountain scene as a panorama, multiple photos stitched together. I want to work on adding some snow to my mountains, and maybe changing the fabric of the bottom foothill pieces, to be more brown and tan (my panel is Mt. Humphreys to the far left).

IMG_7835Then we moved onto the foreground. We chatted about greens and how to fill in the valley floor. We discussed how to transition the horizon line from the mountains to the valley.

IMG_7840We tried out various fabrics and color schemes, chatting with our neighboring panels about possible ideas.

IMG_7836Cathy and my panel border each other. I really want to have a big cottonwood in my foreground. We discussed how the cottonwood should extend over into her panel a bit, so she’ll get some of the trunk and leaves.

IMG_7839We laid out our paper strips, and Cathy sketched us a cottonwood to use as a guide. I’ve been thinking how I want sew the trunk and leaves. Maybe brown fabric for the trunk, with stitching to add textured bark. For the leaves, somehow using netting or solvy to stitch small scraps of green, to make a tree full of leaves. How would you sew a cottonwood tree with fabric?

{This post is part of a series. To see other posts in this series, please click here}

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A few years ago, a group formed from our quilt guild, of quilters who were interested in art quilting. We call ourselves Out of the Box, and we’ve done different projects together, learning new skills and playing with new techniques. Last year, we challenged ourselves to work in a series. This year, we decided to do a panel quilt together.

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In September, we met to discuss the idea, how it would work, and to share and show examples of other group quilts. We agreed we wanted to do a landscape quilt that was more realistic than abstract. We agreed we wanted to make individual panels, that when hung side by side, looked like one quilt. Each panel would reflect the individuality of the quilter. We chose a familiar landscape to anyone who has visited or lived in the Owens Valley: the mountain skyline of Mt. Tom, Basin, and Humphrey.

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We decided to make our panels long and skinny. The quilt would be 36″ x 70″, so each of us would make a 10″ x 36″ panel. We selected a photo to use as inspiration. Our next meeting was in October, when we came back together to sketch out the look.

photo-2Nela had sketched the mountain scene at the top of each panel, so that the horizon line stretched across the quilt. We also discussed our foreground, and what we’d liek to see there. We decided on a spring scene, with green fields and grass. We are going to put in a big cottonwood tree, a creek with iris flowers, deer and butterflies and a lizard, an old cabin, a mule, and wagon. It was fun to talk about what we think makes our home unique, and how we can portray it in our quilt.

For our November meeting, we came back together with our fabrics, to choose colors for the mountains.

IMG_7711Again, we hung our paper panels on Nela’s design board, and auditioned different fabrics.

IMG_7709When a particular mountain or portion crossed two panels, we worked together on deciding what colors to choose.

IMG_7707After selecting a fabric we’d like, like this beautiful blue sky cloud piece that Cathy hand dyed, we cut it into sections, so each person went home with a little piece.

IMG_7714We made notes on the paper panels, and attached names to the fabric to keep it all straight. Foothills, Mt. Tom, Basin, Humphrey . . .

IMG_7721My panel is on the far left, and I have Mt. Humphrey. Here’s the mountain in draft form! Next I’ll cut out the fabric into shapes, fuse, and lay onto a muslin fabric base.

IMG_7712Fabric was scattered all over the work tables as we pinned, cut, talked, visited, played, laughed, and enjoyed each other’s company. Part of what is so enjoyable about this new project is the time it takes as we work together to make the quilt. Instead of quilting being a solitary craft, we’ve now made it into a social collaborative experience.

At our next meeting in December, we’ll bring our mountain scapes together, to see how each interacts with the other. Maybe colors will need to be added, lines adjusted, or clouds added. Then it will be on to the foreground!

I do think I need to have a dye session, as I am low on greens. Maybe some ice dyeing to get multi patterned fabric. I’ll have to think about how to make it look like fields of sagebrush.

{This post is part of a series. To see other posts in this series, please click here}

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