Posts Tagged ‘hand dyed fabric’

As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoyed the new technique I learned using half square triangles. I also was really in love with the last batch of fabric I dyed. So practically before one quilt was finished, I started another. I started by laying out a gradation of colors. I wanted one color to blend to another, slowly changing across the quilt. I cut a lot of squares, and sewed them together.

IMG_1217-2Then like before, each square gets cut into four squares, and pressed into triangle squares. I used little scraps of paper to keep track of rows, with notes on which color went where.

IMG_1219-2I then would take a row of pieced squares, iron them flat, then pin them on my design board in the pattern of the chevron. It seemed like an extra step, but it was helpful to really make sure I pieced them in the correct pattern. After putting them up on my design wall, I took them down re-grouped as pairs to seam together.

IMG_1223-2Then I’d iron those, put back up on the design wall, make sure the pattern was correct, I would take them down again, re-grouped as a new pair, and seam again . . .

IMG_1225-2Then once strips were sewn, I’d sew the strips together, start with a new row, and continue on. Since I had set the color pattern to start with, piecing was a mindless task that was really enjoyable. I could sit down for ten minutes or an hour, pick up wherever I had left off, sew a bit, then leave it where I was, to come back later and continue.

img 2Once the quilt top was pieced, I lay it out and basted together. I used my walking foot again, to quilt it, echoing the chevron pattern with simple straight lines on either side of each seam.

img 1At this point, I was working on the quilt every second I could squeeze in. Our county fair was weeks away, and completely last minute I decided to enter this quilt as well. As the date for the drop-off approached, I began to sew on my lunch break, after dinner, late into the night . . . The night before quilt entries were due, I was sewing on the binding, and hand stitching it down.


The autumn evenings here are turning cold, while the cottonwood trees in the valley are turning a brilliant orange. This is such a beautiful time of year. I couldn’t resist taking the quilt aside and capturing it with some of the fall color. Thanks Kim for helping with the photo shoot!

IMG_6758The quilt received a second place at the fair! It is a lap quilt or baby quilt size. As soon as I get my etsy shop open, I’m thinking I’ll sell it there. Would you like to have a quilt like this to curl up under on a cold winter evening?

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We had a great adventure road trip through Oregon. Two weeks of rivers, mountain bikes, breweries, coffee shops, and camping.

PicMonkey CollageAnd through it all, I found time to pull out my travel sewing quilt and quilt. Just a moment here and there. In the evenings by camp light. In the lazy mornings with a second cup of tea.

IMG_1342What was great is how the small size of the project allowed for any amount of time. I could pull out my kit and sew for five minutes or an hour. However long the moment lasted.

IMG_1180Sometimes Winston even kept me company!

IMG_1340I think this will be my go-to-project for whenever I’m away from home, camping with friends, visiting family for the holidays, taking the plane on trips. If I’m traveling the kit will come along!

PicMonkey Collage2Just as our trip was coming to a close, I sewed the last triangle I had pre-cut and brought with me. Almost 200 triangles!

IMG_6737After arriving home, I’ve already restocked the kit with more triangles, and am wondering how big I want to make this quilt. Lap quilt size? Go for a twin quilt? It comes together so easily and effortlessly, if I just worked on it here and there . . . I think it would grow pretty quickly! How big do you think I should go?

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My husband and I are getting excited and stoked for our upcoming honeymoon. We are going on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest. He’s bought a fly fishing rod, and I am envisioning long lazy summer days by a lake . . . where I will be . . . quilting! I started to look and think of a travel quilt project I could bring, which then led me to another quilting project to get ready for the quilting project!

IMG_6592English paper piecing is a great way to quilt while traveling. I came across this book and blog while browsing for paper piecing tutorials. The book is a great read and really inspiring. The author talks about her travel kit, using a pencil box to hold the supplies, and a smaller sewing pouch to hold the little pieces. Of course, I wanted to make my own!


This picture is for April – she said to me the other day, your blog pictures all look so neat and tidy! That’s because I often consciously straighten my table before I take a shot. Here’s a candid behind the scenes shot of my sewing area, filled with scraps, thread, tools, and piles of other projects currently in the works.

IMG_1251-2I wanted a small pouch that would fit inside the pencil box, with a zipper closing it on three sides. I settled on a four inch square size. I’ve been thinking and dreaming a lot of the wild geese quilting pattern, so I chose that for the outside. I sketched the pattern on tracing paper, and paper pieced by machine the blocks, to get that nice crisp look and because the pieces were so small.

IMG_1256-2For the lining, I took inspiration from the blog again. On one side, a small pocket to hold thimble, paper clips, and scissors. On the other side, a strap to hold a spool of thread, and pincushion to hold pins and needles.

IMG_6571The next step – the zipper – was a pain. I’ve never done a zipper like that. Something about zippers always confuse me anyway. I found a free tutorial for a pouch similar to mine online, and that helped a lot. Probably if I tried the same pouch again, it would come together easier.


I love the small size. Each piece is so tiny and simple.

IMG_6576This is one pouch that is ready to travel!

IMG_6580Now for the paper piecing. I learned a few nifty tricks from the book. For my project, I chose equilateral triangles. A simple repeating shape that is so lovely in its sameness.

IMG_6588I know I like paper piecing, because one winter I worked on this quilt each evening. But I wasn’t happy with how it turned out. I think I lost control of the color scheme, and the scrappy look just didn’t work out. With this new quilt, I decided I wanted to use my dyed fabric scraps. Browsing other equilateral triangle quilts, I found myself drawn to quilts that used multiple colors and were offset with white triangles.


I cut triangles of my dyed fabric and triangles of white muslin fabric (leftover from my wedding table cloths!). I cut triangles of cardboard to act as my templates instead of purchasing plastic ones. And I sewed a quick test run to try it all out. I’ll be making multiple units like this, piecing triangles into hexagons, and then sewing those together to make up the quilt.

IMG_6593All the pieces fit neatly into the pencil case.


Ready to throw in my back pack. Ready for vacation.

IMG_6599Have you ever taken a quilt on the go? What did you make?

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Browsing on Pinterest last week, I came across half square triangles. I didn’t know about them. In fact, I pieced an entire half square triangle quilt without knowing about them. I was floored. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to try it. I immediately started pinning every half square triangle quilt I could find. The possibilities were endless. Such a simple geometric shape that could become a myriad of stunning designs. And my hand dyed fabric would provide a perfect foundation for such designs. Without a moment of hesitation, I pulled out my recently dyed fabrics and separated them into dark and light values.

IMG_6266Then I cut each color into a square. I used this handy dandy chart I found to help me pick my size: 5 1/2″.

IMG_6269Then I randomly paired each dark square with a light square, and sewed 1/4″ all the way around, yes, every single side. This blog gives a good description and tutorial.

IMG_6272Each square pair then gets sliced into four triangles, by cutting a line from corner to corner twice.

IMG_6273The slicing and chopping went quickly, and pretty soon I had a sweet little pile of pieced triangles.

IMG_6274I pressed open each triangle square, and lay them out on my work table in a pattern (that I also found on Pinterest!).

IMG_6275And then the piecing began. One square to another. Two squares to two squares. Row to row. Like the tutorial mentioned, the bias in the triangles actually helps, and it was quite easy to push and pull a bit to get each square edges to line up.

IMG_6279The repetition was pleasing. The colors were calming to work with. Seeing the design come together was thrilling.

IMG_6280And then that sweet moment when it is all pieced, the last seam is pressed, and the quilt top is flipped over to admire.

IMG_6282Next, quilting! I put together my quilt sandwich of batting and backing. I decided I wanted to simply follow the piecing lines, accenting the stripes on the diagonal. I chose a light gray to use on the light stripes, and a dark brown to use on the dark stripes.

IMG_6283I recently purchased a walking foot for my sewing machine, and was eager to give it a try. I must say, it worked like a dream! The quilt was quilted in seconds flat.

IMG_6289Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day.

IMG_6292Quilted! And then bound.

IMG_6294Here’s one more shot!

IMG_6302Our quilt guild had their annual picnic last Tuesday. Each picnic there is a challenge, to make a quilt using a certain limitation. This year the challenge was to use solids. Perfect!

IMG_2618About ten ladies or so entered the challenge, with everything from quilted bags and more.

IMG_2613We each talked to the guild about what we made and how we made it.

IMG_2625It was a lovely picnic, complete with summer monsoon rain, good food, and friendly faces.


Perhaps the little half square quilt will go to the fair next!

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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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My good friend Lesley has an important birthday coming up, and I wanted to sew and mail her something special to have on her birthday. Because she is an avid knitter, the first gift I thought of was a knitting bag!

IMG_6723I bravely chose one of my favorite fabrics that has been in my stash for years: this birdsong print by Echino. I also pulled out some of my dyed fabric to select a color for the lining. It was kind of a no brainer though, as Lesley’s favoritest color in the whole world is purple.


I spent some time measuring, drawing, sketching, and planning, as I wanted to use the narrow 1/2 yard fabric to the last 1/4 inch.

IMG_6725To keep the vertical orientation of the birds, each bird panel for the sides of the bag was 9 inches. I wanted to rectangle to be wider for a wider bag, so cut and sewed side panels on each which would become the sides of the bag.

IMG_6726Next, I began to work on the lining. The pattern just called for two rectangles cut the size of the outside rectangles, but I knew I wanted to get a little fancy with my lining. I wanted to make two pockets, one open and one zipper. Here, I cut the open pocket square, folding and ironing in the sides. For the top side of the pocket, I folded down twice, to keep a hemmed edge, and stitched the top and bottom sides of this fold.

IMG_6727On the larger lining square, I chalked in a rough idea of where the bag edges and bottom would come to, so I could place and sew the pocket in place. I then sewed around three edges, and added in a pencil pocket on the side too!

IMG_6728Here’s a close up of the pencil pocket. On each corner, I reinforced with a triangle of stitching to make more secure.

IMG_6730Now for the zipper pocket! I’m quite proud of this one, and floored by how easy zipper pockets are. Thanks to the power of the internet, a quick google search came up with this awesome and easy to follow tutorial on sewing a zipper pocket. The first step is to cut out your pocket square, and sketch a skinny rectangle one inch from the top of our pocket square. Draw a line through the middle, with two triangles on either end. Sew this zipper pocket half to the bigger lining square, going around the outside of the chalked skinny rectangle. Trim both layers along the middle line, and in the edges out to the corner.

IMG_6732Through the hole I just cut, I turned the pocket inside out, pressing the edges neat. I then lay this over the zipper, and sewed around the edges of all four sides.

zippersAnd the front and back of the zippers! Pretty nice, huh?

IMG_6738The last step for the zipper pocket is to take your second piece of pocket fabric and sew it to the first, folding and moving the larger lining square out of the way.

IMG_6740And presto chango my zipper pocket is ready to store precious knitting items. Whew. All that for lining. Now, ready to start to sew the bag!

IMG_6742For the bag and lining squares, I sewed around three edges, then cut 2″ squares from the bottom two corners to create the gussets and shape of the bag. The pieces are then pulled apart and edges lined up matching seams and sewn again. The result is a square block open at the top. I set these pieces aside and went to work on the handles.


I cut the handle fabric from the bottom green portion. Folding the rectangles in half and ironing, then folding the edges in to the middle and ironing, and then folding the folds in half, I finally stitched each edge.

IMG_6745I pinned each handle to the right side of the lining, measuring from the edges to the middle and matching up each side. I sewed each handle piece onto the lining. Getting close now!

IMG_6746I inserted the lining into the bag, right sides facing (lining right side out and bag outside out), and sewed around the top, leaving a 4″ hole for turning (and making sure the handles were tucked inside). I flipped the bag right side out through the hole, ironed the entire seam flat, and top stitched the whole way round.

IMG_6749The bag is basically complete now, but there is one more step that sets it over the edge into cute. Pinching and pinning, around three sides of each side (sides and bottom), I tucked, pinned and sewed an 1/8 inch in to create a defined edge. This last simple quick step gives the bag character and support.

IMG_6751I followed the grocery tote pattern from the book One Yard Wonders, with a few variations, including overall smaller dimensions, no interfacing, and pockets. This is the second such bag I made, the first for myself as a test. The only thing I did different in the second bag was to make the pockets higher, especially the zipper pocket. On my original bag, the zipper is so low in the bag it is hard to open and close and access.


I hope Lesley will have many lovely hours knitting with this bag. Happy Birthday Lesley!

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Saturday morning, Lesley, Becca and I hopped on our bikes and rode down to the Owens River to harvest rabbit brush.

We quickly noticed that there were a lot of bees, all going for the same flowers we were! This made for slow work, but luckily no one got stung.

Some bushes had larger flowers than others, and we gravitated towards those, which filled our buckets quicker. We harvested from one bush and then moved onto another, covering a pretty large area, but there was no end to the rabbit brush!

After almost an hour of collecting, we had ten pounds of rabbit brush, which would dye about three pounds of yarn and fabric. Yikes!

We loaded the flowers into my bike trailer, and pedaled home.

Then the boiling began. First, we mordanted the yarn and fabric in alum, and rinsed it prior to dyeing.

Next we boiled the rabbit brush for an hour. I started to get excited when the stirring spoon started to get yellow! After boiling for an hour, we removed the flowers to make room in the dye pots for the fiber.

The second the yarn was placed in the water, it started to turn yellow!

Then we simmered the fiber and dye together for another hour. With great anticipation, we removed the dyed fibers from the dye pot to much oohing and aahing, and rinsed before hanging to dry.

Some rabbit brush flowers still stuck to the yarn!

Just look at the color. So brilliant and happy.

The work went quickly with three of us working to rinse and hang the fibers to dry.

The finished product: nine hanks of yarn and two yards of fabric. Note the color difference, the cotton not taking up the color as brilliantly as the wool.

What would you do with yarn of this brilliant nature?

Learn to knit a sweater of course! More on that coming soon.

What’s next? Maybe dyeing with pear bark from Lesley’s tree?

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