Saturday, August 15, 2020

Breathing Room

Remember this scrap project from last fall? I made three quarter log cabin blocks with my print scraps, using every shade and pattern. It was fun and therapeutic, but once I completed the blocks, I was dismayed to find I hated how they looked together. I even wrote a post contemplating where I went wrong. After leaving them on the shelf and the mental break of working on other projects, I decided to see if I could rescue the blocks. I do not ordinarily use sashing, but I knew the blocks needed some breathing room.

The fabric I chose for the sashing is Homespun Essex in indigo (although it reads as grey to me), and I think it is just what the blocks needed. The neutral space between the crazy prints tones down the chaos just enough. I picked my favorite 45 blocks, which finish about 9 x 12, so this will be an extra long twin when I get it pieced.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Modern Appliqué Table Runner

My latest experiment with improv appliqué is perhaps the simplest of all - organic ovals not unlike stacked river stones. Each shape was cut by eye and appliquéd in place with matching thread. The fabrics are all shot cottons, and their shimmering colors are hard to capture in photographs. While not a strict gradient, the colors are arranged to shift harmoniously from one to the next. I think the design is at once bold and peaceful.

To add texture, I quilted the runner densely with organic straight lines in creamy Aurifil 50 weight thread. Keeping the focus on the appliqué, I bound the runner in the background fabric which makes it nearly disappear.

The runner finishes at 16 x 49, and this unique art piece is available in my etsy shop.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Improv Appliqué Pillow

My latest improv appliqué piece was inspired by dried coral. I wanted to create a shape that mimicked its organic curves, specifically the holes within the coral. The technique I used was the same as my previous improv appliqué pieces (cutting the appliqué shape by eye, basting it a quarter inch from the edges onto the background, and using needle turn to sew it down), with the addition of careful basting around the shapes to be cut out within the larger appliqué shape. I cut the holes one by one as I appliquéd them in order to maintain the structure of the piece and avoid distortion. I'm really pleased with how flat I was able to keep the piece using this strategy.

I had a false start with the quilting, trying out some ocean-like waves which went awry. I set it aside for a while and ignored the impulse to put the whole thing in the trash can. After a couple hours of laborious unstitching, I decided to create a dense, random crosshatch. I love the texture, and the bonus of dense quilting for an appliqué piece in particular is how durable it makes the pillow.

Another change from my original design is the shape of the finished pillow. I started with a square, but I didn't like how the appliqué shape moved across the square. It works so much better as a rectangle, although it hurt a bit to lop off a good 6 inches. It was worth it in the end, as the piece achieves just what I set out to make - a natural, serenely flowing shape.

You can find this unique, quilted pillow in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Modern Strata Quilted Pillow

I used the leftover bits from my scrap solids quilt to create this cheerful, improv pillow (do scraps ever really get completely used up?). This random looking piecing is called strata, and I give detailed instructions on the technique  in a section of my book, Improvising Tradition. I never really noticed, but until now all my strata has been monochromatic. The riot of color from the multicolored scraps has a very different feel, but I think it works in small doses.

The quilting is an easy free motion swirl that creates such a fun, contrasting texture to the geometric piecing.

For a nice plump pillow, the cover finishes at 19 x 19 inches to be filled with a 20 inch pillow form. The pillow backing is fully interfaced and closed with my favorite finish for quilted pillows - the lapped zipper.

This happy little number is available in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Shibori Face Masks

As promised, these are the masks I made with some of this week's shibori indigo dyed fabric. Are they cooler than plain masks? Maybe. Will they mark me as a textile nerd to others of that ilk? Definitely.

I've sewn over 50 masks in the past couple of months for friends and family (as well as some to donate). These are made from my favorite pattern, a free one by crafty passion. They are quick to sew, wash well, and have a versatile fit. The elastic can be made as two strips to wear around the ears or in a continuous piece to go around the head. I knotted the elastic so it is easy to adjust or replace.

Stay safe!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Shibori Fabric Dyeing

I was privileged to take a shibori indigo dyeing class a few years ago with Kim Eichler-Messmer. It was such a good time I always intended to do more at home but never seemed to have time. Being stuck at home has this silver lining, among others - the time to experiment with crafts.

I used a simple indigo dye kit I found online. You can see the blue isn't as rich as a real indigo dye, but you might be able to adjust that by overdyeing the pieces or leaving them in longer than I did. The kit comes with a few rubber bands and pieces of wood, and I supplemented with clamps and some acrylic shapes of my own.

The circles in the dark piece were the result of small rubber bands tied around chickpeas, believe it or not.

My attempt at arashi (wrapping fabric with string around a rod of some kind) was interesting. A larger dowel would be better, as it would allow more surface area of the fabric to be exposed directly to the dye. This result reminds me of a Rorschach test.

This was a fun experiment. It's a little messy but a great project to do outside in the summer with kids, if yours have not yet reached the age that crafts with mom are no longer appealing.

To bring the whole project to the quarantine full circle, I plan to use a couple of the pieces to make face masks. A couple of the half yard pieces would be nice whole cloth table runners.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Solids Chevron Quilt

The colors in this throw-sized (54 x 65) quilt make me happy, and we all need some of that feeling right now. I also love how a quilt, made entirely of solids, turns into a quilt that reads like a print. To make the chevrons I used a paper template created by Molly of applecydermill for each block. Removing the papers was a pain, but the crisp neatness of the design is worth it, I think.

The Carolyn Friedlander black and white text backing is a nice contrast to the bold, colorful top. I chose my favorite turquoise solid for the binding. It is just the best color.

I used straight-line, horizontal quilting, spaced about every 1/2" in a pale aqua  50W Aurifil thread. It was a spool I happened to have on hand, and I was surprised at how nicely the color blended with the fabrics on the top. It even harmonizes with the back. Quilting this densely makes the quilt more durable, and I think the texture it adds is a huge pay off. This bright, modern quilt is in my etsy shop. 

Amazing to think this beauty started its life as a pile of scraps I just wanted to use up!