Monday, December 31, 2007

Painted Faces for Beginners by Bonnie McCaffrey

This was my Christmas present from my DH. Cool! Purchase your own here.

Now I can work on a new skill for portrait quilts! Now to find the time and space to practice!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Notebook Covers

The smaller one is a la Gill K. from Conversations in Cloth. 5-1/2 x 8 in pad. She gave everyone a little kit to make one at our Christmas Party a few weeks ago. This one flips up.

This one is the Padfolio pattern from Sue Bleiweiss at Fibre & Stitch. It covers an 8-1/2 x 11 inch legal pad. I didn't do any thread-painting or embellishing as I was testing the basic pattern.

I needed a new notebook system for drafts of my blog post articles. The notebooks go with me everywhere, and I can write a draft when an idea presents itself. It's harder to schedule computer time at my house between a computer programmer husband and a gaming boy, so the notebooks house my ideas until I can get them posted.

I bought a few notebooks last summer when all the school supplies were on sale. But these notebooks seem to be so poorly constructed that they fall apart with minimal use. I can't imagine any of the students are putting up with this. I don't want a spiral notebook because I rip out the pages and recycle them after the post has been published. I don't like all the little bits of confetti that fall when pages are torn out of spiral-bound notebooks.

This solution provides a cloth cover for a plain old sturdy legal pad (or smaller). I can rip out pages and not worry about it falling apart. The design is tried and true.

I'm working on a similar design that would not require the satin stitching. This method uses a lot of thread. Stay tuned ....

Ties that Bind

An old silk tie found at the thrift store is transformed into a little case (or purse) suitable for a small digital camera or a cell phone. It's a really simple project, and I love the recycling/transformation aspect.

The instructions from Sulky are here.

Envelope Purse

At Quilt Camp in November, Bobbi was making several of these nifty little 3-pocket purses. I don't know where she got the pattern or the idea. But it's simple enough to relay here :

1) Start with an 18-inch square quilt sandwich. (2 fat quarters work well)
2) Quilt as desired.
3) Bind it.
4) Fold in half along the diagonal.
5) Mark a perpendicular line at 6 and 12 inches across the long diagonal side. Sew up this perpendicular to about 7-1/4 inches. You don't want to go to the very top, or the top envelope flap won't fold freely (ask me how I know this).

6) You should have a triangle with 2 seams. Turn the side chambers inside out.
7) Hand stitch the cross-over pieces that make the side pockets.
8) Add closures as desired. Add a strap, and you're done!

My husband liked this design so much, he asked me to make a quilted bag for his new laptop in this style. I just have to figure out how big a square I need to start with ...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Embossed Velvet Snowflake Postcard

Post card is on the left (blue). The foam stamp is on the right (purple).

A few months ago, Conversations in Cloth worked on making our own stamps. The method I seemed to like the best was using the sticky-backed foam. It's easy to cut with scissors and is flexible. My own stash of foam does not contain the sticky-backed variety, so today I experimented with a couple different glues (I do NOT recommend Elmer's School Glue for this appliation).

The snowflake stamp was stuck down with Gem Tack (That's what I had on hand.) I had a little too much and it oozed out as I pressed the piece in place. I suspect it would work better to "paint" a thin layer of the glue onto the top foam. Then press it in place without the gobs oozing out the sides.

Here are the basic steps for making the above postcard :
Make the foam stamp

Lay stamp face up on ironing board.
Lay velvet face down over the satmp.
Spritz the back of the velvet with water.
Iron the back of the velvet.

The object is to make the nap of the velvet lay down where the stamp comes in contact with it. That's how you get the two tone, shimmery effect.

It's remarkably simple!

Finish the postcard in the usual way.

The velvet is from a bag of rags J. bought for me probably more than 10 years ago at Gromiko's Junk Shop. I made 4 Christmas stockings out of the remnants and have been saving the rest for just such a project as this!

After Christmas, I found out that my Unca Ray liked this velvet snowflake so much, he hung this postcard on his Christmas Tree. Aunt Rosita said that was the first Christmas card that's ever been hung on the tree! That is an honor!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crazy Quilt Post Card

Inspired (again) by Vicky Welch at Field Trips in Fiber, I worked out this fabric post card. Instead of sewing the pieces together as traditionally done, the scraps were arranged and fused to Timtex. Fancy stitches hold it all together. I may have to set up the Designer I for many more options in stitches. It's still on the floor of my sewing room where I put it when I got back from Quilt Camp in November. (Heresy, I know!)

This was my first attempt at anything like crazy quilting. I'm pleased with the way the colors came together. ;-) However, the choice of threads should show more contrast to be more visible ... Could use more embellishments, too.

And that's why the fabric postcard is such a great practice area!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bon Fire (in Progress)

Here's another one of my C-in-C challenge pieces. A bonfire--remember it's a work in progress. This is my own original pattern worked in fusible applique.

About a year ago, I took the Elements in Fabric class at Quilt University with Linda Schmidt. My pieces were disappointing, so I never posted them here. However, some of the techniques I learned there are used above. The best technique was to use sheer fabrics to create a sense of depth and dancing flames.

This currently has pins holding everything together under a layer of black tulle. I still have to stitch it all down and put it on it's final background. My husband likes the yellow pinheads, so I'll eventually add some beads to keep that effect ... Stay tuned!

Here's an inspiration photo :

The house was 50 degrees this morning. Brrrr! and 19 degrees on the porch. Time to build a fire!

Northern Lights (in progress)

People have been asking me what I'm currently working on, so I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at The Northern Lights wall hanging.

This was originally supposed to be the centerpiece of a larger quilt, but it kept growing, and growing. It took on a life of it's own. I decided to make it a wall-hanging unto itself, and start over for the centerpiece.

The turtle at the top is from an indigo adire dyed fabric that I picked up in Nigeria in 1993. The menfolk tend to use tin stencils to push starch through to the blank fabric before it's dipped into the indigo dye vats. The starch resists the dye (the lighter areas) of the turtle. I bought the turtle fabric for my friend Diane, and made a vest for her back then. I still have pieces left, and thought the at the turtle looked like one of those time-elapsed photographs of a starry sky, revolving around the north star ... I couldn't resist adding it here.

I've been experimenting with different ways to make the pine trees. I may put up a tutorial in coming weeks on that topic ...

The northern lights fabric is a shiny satin that didn't photograph very well. I still have to finish working on the trees in the foreground. Then comes the thread-painting, quilting and finishing. Not to mention figuring out how to build some kind of a frame so it hangs properly.

For Conversations-in-Cloth this month, we're supposed to present "significant progress on a personal challenge piece." This is one of my challenges.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Quilting Events at Oshkosh Public Library

Last week, The Oshkosh Public Library sponsored a program for quilters, quilt enthusiasts and readers alike.

Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of The Elm Creek Quilt series. She read a chapter from the new book, and showed a few of her own quilts (yes, she quilts!). Then she signed books.

Lakeside Quilt Guild (our local guild) did a quilt show under the dome (I had 2 pieces on display : Oliver and Sandy's Promise--not pictured here). Apple Blossom Books sold books. The quilts looked very nice in that classic old building!

Quilts Under the Dome. Sorry the lighting is so poor. It doesn't do these quilts or the building justice.

It was a very well-attended program (despite the Packer game). I am especially pleased to see our public library offering adult programming like this and tying in community resources like the local quilt guild and Apple Blossom Books. It does a lot to BUILD community!

Skin Tones (Revisited)

Some of you may be wondering what I decided to do since dying skin tones with Fabric Dying 101 recipes didn't work out as planned ...

I realized that I actually did have some usable, workable, and acceptable skin tones already in my stash :
These are from The Quilter's Pallette Class with Marjie McWilliams at Quilt University. I can't share the recipes here, but if you like what you see, I encourage you to take Marjie's classes. She's a wonderful teacher who gently encourages the students to think for themselves. And best of all, the classes are online, so you don't have to schlep anything --just go down to your work space and check in on the computer from time to time.

This set is from a pack of fat quarters sold by Keepsake Quilting, Bali Blender Browns.

It's too early to show the progress on the next portrait quilt because I don't have anything more than a pattern at this point, but stay tuned!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Study in Color : Festive Taco Dip

Here's the Taco Dip I made for our Thanksgiving Feast. I love the colors and balance ... Maybe the edges are a little too blah, but this is a start!

Anyone know how to take a picture and separate the colors and percentages (how much green, red yellow, black)? There must be photo software that can help ... What are they?

It would be neat to use this color scheme as the inspiration for a quilt someday ...

Email me directly, if you'd rather not leave a comment. I've been interested in this for quite some time, but don't really know where to start ...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wet Studio

I thought I would share my "wet studio." This is an area of my basement adapted for messy projects like hand-dying cloth and soap-making. A batch of soap is curing on the blue plastic in the picture above. My husband (who cooks at our house) is very insistent that I not use the kitchen for these types of projects. He does not want the kitchen contaminated with lye (for soap-making) or dye powders or other chemicals I might use for my mess-making--so he helped carve out my basement retreat area.

It's a 120-year-old house, so the basement is not one of those nice living area spaces. I have plastic covering the wall behind the counter area because the mortar in the stonework sheds its salts. There's always a gritty powder coming off the walls ... The plastic keeps that residue off my work space.

The basement stays nice and cool in the heat of summer, and is a great place to retreat since we don't have air conditioning. The my soap and dye season is over until next summer, as the basement is too cold to work in for very long.

We got the cabinet at a moving sale for a great price! It cleans up easily, and has lots of storage space underneath.

To the right of the counter is a shop-type washtub that my husband trash-picked several years ago. (What a visionary!) This has been wonderful for rinsing dyed fabric, and cleaning up my messes.

We replaced all the windows last fall, so now we actually have LIGHT in that previously dark and dreary basement.

You'll have to wait until I clean up my sewing room before I feature that in a post!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Batting Samples (a la Harriet Hargrave)

Front and back of a sample batting square. The back is supposed to be 1/2 black fabric so you can see if this batt beards with your chosen needle. This particular sample is pre-washed muslin fabric with pre-washed Hobbs batting. I used a blue washable marker to trace the stencil design. The 6-inch square is drawn on the front with permanent marker to test shrinkage and take-up from quilting (The mere act of quilting can make the piece shrink as well. Who knew?)

Why am I doing this?
Several months ago, Harriet Hargrave spoke at the Darting Needles Quilt Guild in Appleton, WI. Her lecture was on batting.

Now--you probably would not think of batting as a very interesting topic, but Harriet made it intriguing! She suggested making quilted batting samples from as many batts as we can find (or order her batch of batting samples (which I did)). The sample kit contains most of the batts Harriet Hargrave carries in her shop (minus the silk). Even in the finer quilt shops, they usually carry only 1 or 2 types of batting amid all that wonderful fabric. It's amazing to me that so little thought goes into what's inside these wonderful quilts we make. Which is why her lecture was so refreshing!

She said people used to blame nylon thread (old style fishing line) for the crackly feeling they'd get in a quilt gone wrong. Harriet said it's more often from a bad choice of batting. Invisible threads are much better today than they used to be ... and so are the batts available now.

In 1997, Ms. Hargrave wrote a book called From Fiber to Fabric, which I read last summer. Fascinating process! She has also worked with the Hobbs people to get them to produce battings that we quilters actually want to use in our quilts. I for one, am grateful for her input!

I learned early on that I really don't care for Warm N Natural (Did you know that WnN was originally designed to be used for window coverings? It's great as a window quilt because it doesn't sag or stretch. I just don't like sleeping under it ... ) At present, my preferred batting is Hobbs 80/20--mostly because it's been easy to get locally (Though JoAnn Fabrics no longer seems to carry it.) We'll see if my opinion changes after these experiments ...

Harriet says we need to think about what type of batt is appropriate for the person we are making the quilt for--as much as we think about patterns and colors in the top being appropriate to the person, the batting is also an individual choice. Some people like light and airy and warm (silk might be the best choice). Some people like breathable cotton or wool. Some people like hot-hot-hot (so polyester might be appropriate). It all really depends on who's getting the quilt and their preferences. Do you want thick or thin? Do you want something you can quilt by hand? on and on ...

I've been doing a mixture of marking and free-hand/free-motion quilting on the squares :
* Stencils with blue water-soluble marker (see 1st picture above and feather below)

* Feathers drawn on Golden Threads quilt paper and stitched through (Tip : Don't use a pencil to trace the feather/design as the graphite from the pencil migrates as gray to the thread and fabric. It should wash out, but it makes everything look dirty and gray.
* Freehand designs. You can see sample free-hand patterns from Patsy Thompson's website.

Though I think several of the ladies thought I was crazy to be working on such a collection of batting samples at Quilt Camp, I think this is a very useful exercise. With so much concentrated practice on free-motion, my technique was starting to look pretty good by about the 12-15th squares. Too bad I have so little time for free-motion. It really is something that takes practice to keep up the skills (kind of like welding, I hear). By the time I have another quilt to do, I'll have forgotten the feel and pacing to keep the stitches even ... Maybe by then, I'll have a long-arm to practice on??????

When I'm done with this project, I'll have a box of batting samples, and I'll be able to see what a batt will look like after it's been washed a few times. Believe it or not, it makes a big difference if you use pre-washed batts, or pre-washed fabrics, or a combination of both. The samples allow you to see what effects are possible --and offer direction on how to attain the desired effect with a particular batting, and washed or new fabrics.

"Sandy's Promise" (above) was made with a new Hobbs 80/20 cotton/polyester batt with pre-washed fabrics. After being washed, this batt does shrink a certain amount. That's what gives it that wonderful old-timey look that I was after.

The first quilt I made was from a kit. I thought I knew how to sew, and I did it on my own. I found out there are a lot of tricks to learn with quilting ... I used a thick polyester batt (I was rebelling against Warm N Natural even then!). It's puffy and light and warm, but even through the cotton top, the batt feels kind of scratchy. Now I know that the polyester batts are not great for the longevity of a quilt. The polyester fibers can rub, scratch and damage the cotton fabric of the top. I don't expect this one to become an heirloom, but I do like to use natural fibers if possible.

10 Great Things about Quilt Camp

No pictures for this entry. Hope you don't mind the text ...

1) Concentrated time to sew-sew-sew!
2) Catching up with Ma and Rosita (fellow family quilters)
3) Getting to see all the other neat projects and color combinations all the other ladies are working on. Bobbi made several envelope purses--I got the "pattern" from her. Expect to see a few of them here in the coming weeks. Mrs. C. made a gorgeous winter quilt that was red, white, blue and green. I took notes on her colors because it was such a pleasing combination in perfect proportions ...
4) Learn new things : Do you know what WORMS are?
My mom was working on a quilt made with "worms." Since it was for a man, I was thinking she meant there were worms as patterns and motifs in the guy-fabric. No--she meant those pre-cut jelly roll strips.
5) They feed us very well. Someone else cooks and cleans up for us. Hurray! Usually, the food is great. Here are some highlights from the menu this time : a very tasty apple strudle (made with organic apples) and cinnamon buns loaded with frosting (What can I say? I don't get these at home!), home-made potato soup, and a delicious broccoli curry over noodles. All we have to do is sew-sew-sew! (and eat-eat-eat!) There's also a table loaded with snacks to tide us over between meals. We don't want for anything!
6) Quilt Camp is usually set next to a beautiful lake with lots of trees around with gorgeous sunsets visible through the windows. I don't usually take the time away from sewing to walk in the woods--usually because I can't convince anyone to go with me into the woods. Sigh!
7) This Quilt Camp was hosted by Cutting Edge Quilt Shop in Antigo, WI, my home town. This time, there was a whole group of teachers-who-quilt in attendance. I think most of them were newly retired. The lady who sat next to me was Mrs. C.--I used to babysit for her kids back in the day. Nice to catch up with her.
8) Great commaraderie. If you forget to bring something, usually someone else brought enough to share (ie batting for one of Bobbi's envelope purses). If you don't know how to put on your bindings, someone there will be more than willing to show you how they do it.
9) You get to see and hear all the other sewing machines people use. You really don't need a fancy $6K Viking to accomplish some gorgeous quilts. It was neat to hear all those Vikings humming along ...
10) A break from my family--separation makes the heart grow fonder. I always come back with even more love and admiration for my swell family who encourages me to go on these retreats. I am so fortunate!

At 37, I'm usually the youngest quilt camper in attendance. Where are the younger people? I am also one of the youngest people in my Quilt Guilds. Is the younger generation scrap-booking? Or living it up in 2nd Life and facebook?

Quilt Camp Fall 2007

I spent the weekend at Quilt Camp : a whole weekend devoted to nothing but sewing, with a group of like-minded women (inlcuding my mom and Aunt Rosita).

Projects on the to-do list this past weekend :
1) Get used to using the Husqvarna-Viking Designer 1
(I've had it since last Christmas, and have not yet ventured to open it--why bother? My other machines work fine--and I know how to use them. By the end of the weekend, I could set it to sew 1/4-inch quilting seams with the rudder foot and do free-motion quilting. That was a triumph! It's a nice machine--and I still have a lot to learn on it.

2) Sew blocks for 4-patch stacked posey quilt
I got the basic blocks sewn (they still need to be squared up), but I need my design wall to decide how they will go together. I have not yet studied the above, or spent time divining what would be a proper order--That takes time to digest. I just wanted to show you what's brewing in my sewing room. ;-)

3) Add a hanging pocket and label to "Sandy's Promise." Yeah! It really is done now!

4) Sew 1/2-square blocks from Keepsake Quilting charm packs (Cottage Florals and Neutrals)
Here's a possible layout on the design wall for a few of the 1/2-square blocks. Not set in stone, by any means, just a possibility ...

5) Begin quilting the batting samples (I got through about 15 ; only about 45 to go!)
More on these batting experiments here ...

I did not bring the squares for the John Hiatt Quilt as it's too hard to do fusible applique at Quilt Camp--too much stuff to bring without a light box and my bursting box of scraps as a pallette.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sandy's Promise : Kaliedescope Quilt is Finished!

After nearly 1 year in the making, Sandy's Promise is finally finished!

In November 2006, I look a class from our local quilt shop (Quilt Essentials) with Susie Kubatzki. The pattern comes from Bethany Reynolds' book Magic Stack 'n Whack Quilts (Half-Square Triangle Magic ((or Pinwheel Stars)) from Chapter 3).

What's Stack 'N Whack? explained by the originator, Bethany Reynolds.

I remember going to Borders Book Store to drool over this book when I still lived in Madison more than 10 years ago--long before I became a quilter. Now I have my own copy ... :-)

In a nutshell, all the flower blocks in the middle are made from the border fabric.

That's what is so appealing to me about this technique : every block is different, and every block fits the overall color scheme fir the entire quilt. When I was piecing the flower/stars, I would stay up late into the night because I wanted to see how the next one would turn out. It was always a surprise.

I bought the fabric at Cutting Edge Quilts in Antigo, WI. The owner, Marla, has a wonderful eye for color. And she has the best selection of batiks I've seen in Wisconsin ...

The Specifics
* This quilt is machine-pieced and machine-quilted by me.

* I used Marti Michell's Machine Quilting in Sections technique. It does make quilting a bed-size quilt more manageable than trying to wrestle with the entire quilt at my little machine. I do have 2 lumpy seams at the back where the 6 layers (top, batt, and backing) come together. It works--still, I think this will be the last large quilt I try to do myself on a standard home sewing machine. I want a LONG-ARM with a frame!

Where does the title come from?
My close friend, Sandy died unexpectedly 2 months before my son was born in 2001. I had just visited her the weekend before ... I don't think any of us saw it coming.
About 6 months later, I did a meditation to talk with her, to find out if she was all right and to say, "Good bye." When she met me in this "dream," she gave me the gift of a flower--a water lily. She said, "For your future, Kid!"
When I started putting this quilt together, the flowers reminded me of the water lily Sandy gave me that summer's day. And now, I know that I can talk to her anytime I want ... Those who loved us in life, love us still after death.

"The day will come when it is more painful to stay tightly closed in a bud than to bloom." --Anais Nin.

These colors are not at all "Sandy." She was bright and flashy and sparkly and loud. Before I knew her, she was an exotic dancer ... but she couldn't wear the high heels anymore, so she had to make a career change. She became a naturalist, learning about ecology and giving nature tours--she loved the outdoors. Read about a Fall Day in the Baraboo Hills with Sandy. No--these are really MY colors. This quilt is a gift to myself--with Sandy's continued blessing and encouragement.

For the quilting, I made several good-old-fashioned (mostly) cardboard templates.

I traced these shapes onto the quilt with a purple MarkBGone pen. This was problematic because the ink was already disappearing in our humid summers before I even had the whole section marked. So I spent a lot of time re-marking what I had already marked. Now I use the blue MarkBGone that stays until I remove it with H2O and a damp cloth.

A Note of Caution : Anytime you use the disappearing ink pens, follow the manufacturer's directions for removing the ink completely. You really don't want it to re-appear in 15 years as a brown streaks--not after you've done all that hard work. That would be heart-breaking! As soon as this quilt was complete, I threw it in the washing-machine with Orvus Quilt soap. This gave it a thorough soak to remove any residual MarkBGone ink. It also gives it that great antiquey well-used look that I was after ...

It took a while to decide how to quilt the pinwheels. I didn't want the stitching to take away from the kaleidescope flowers. In the end, I went with a doughnut : 2 circles.

For the doughnut, I cut out the stencils in freezer paper and pinned these to each block. Instead of marking these, I used the paper stencil doughnut as a stitching guide. This worked remarkably well to keep the circles round and even. The paper is easy to fold for registration marks that can be lined up with the respective seam lines--again to keep things straight and even.

Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 Cotton / Poly Blend is my current favorite batting. I like the way it gives an old-timey "well-used look without the cotton squashing down. I wanted the puckers! It also stays light and flexible.

For Piecing : Coats & Clark Star Piecing Thread in cream
For Quilting : Sulky Blendables 30-wt (pastel pink, yellow, green) on flowers and border
Superior Rainbows 40-wt Poly (purple-pink-green) on sashing
For Bobbin : Superior Bottom Line - cream colored. (I had to tear off the cardboard bobbin top as it causes problems for my machine. However, it is so well-wound that it holds it shape nicely without the carboard bobbin.) I like Bottom Line because, you notice the quilting more than the thread.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

4-Patch Stacked Posey Sample Blocks

I started working on a 4-Patch Stacked Posey quilt. Last weekend, I got the squares cut out.

Here's a pic of the overall fabric and pattern for this quilt :

I am easily amused : It never ceases to amaze me how these 4 squares come together in such different patterns, depending on the orientation of the blocks and what elements get highlighted or show-cased.

Here are 4 layout options for the same block :

Depending on what's in the middle, something else always stands out. Even the gray "empty" areas have interesting things happening in them with this fabric.

I'm not even doing any sewing on these yet. It's so darn relaxing to come home after a long day at work using my brain for words and ideas--to come home and start working on something VISUAL like which layout option I like best.

I start out with one orientation (this is a new sample square) :
That looks pretty good ...
But I have to see what the other options might be possible (What am I missing if I don't at least try?), so I turn each of the blocks 90 degrees to the right

Layout#2 : This one is okay ...
Let's see what else might be in store:

Gotta try option #3 : Nah. I'm not crazy about this one.

Option #4 : Wow! Never would I have expected that green wreath in the middle. And I like how the gray swirl moves the eye to the corners. I think this one wins!

It's a whole different part of my brain that gets exercised when I step into my sewing room. The Kaleidescope and 4-patch posey quilts manage to keep my interest. I want to know what the next block will look like. The exciting thing for me is that every block is different, but still fits so well into the overall color scheme. When I'm doing a regular quilt with so many of the exact same blocks, I tend to get really bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Those projects get started and put away because I need a break from the monotony. I think that's why I sort of headed towards art quilts over traditional quilting.

With upwards of 52 4-patch blocks, I'm keeping the chosen layouts separated with sheets of paper (you can sort of see the stacked sheets above)--until I can sit down at the machine and sew them. I don't want to have to shift gears and go into design mode when I'm ready to sew-sew-sew.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Treadle Pot Holders

This chenille potholder was begun (and nearly finished) at Conversations in Cloth in September. Gill showed us how to make them last month. She says you can use any woven cloth. I think these are homespun. Since it's just straight-forward sewing (literally!) I thought it would be a good and easy project to try on the old treadle sewing machine.

I sewed the blue potholder below on the treadle. After I had cleaned, oiled and lubed the treadle, I thought I was ready to go. But I was still having a problem with the top thread not catching the bobbin thread--until I figured out (at Katy's suggestion) to turn the needle 90 degrees, so the hole runs parallel to me as operator (not like on modern machines where the hole faces us).

On the old treadle, I kept wanting to use the reverse button and thread cutter ... Old habits die hard! Things ran reasonably smoothly until the bobbin thread kept breaking. I can see how the rotary bobbins were an improvement for less stress on the thread. I loosened the bobbin shuttle screw, and still the thread would get stuck ... I finally got the channels sewn for the blue potholder. It took about 90 minutes. There's no dual feed on the old machine either, so the plaid came out a little crooked (I trimmed it down here). I also discovered that if I work the tradle in daylight hours next to the window, I have plenty of light. Night-time sewing is difficult on it since I don't have a decent light there ...

These are samples of the potholders before they've been thrown in the washer and dryer with a fluffy towel. Channels have been cut, but not fluffed. The handy slash cutting tool on the right is a must-have item if you want to make any chenille. It makes cutting the channels go fast and relatively easy.

For the red potholder, I went back to my not-so-old sewing machine, and sewed the channels with much less fuss and hassle. Maybe my old treadle machine will just sit there and look nice ...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

(Attempted) Skin Tones : Parts 3 and 4

The quest for perfectly hand-dyed skin tones continues ...
See Parts 1 and 2 for the story up until now.

Here are the results of the test that Melissa from Fabric Dyeing 101 recommended in order to isolate and remedy the problem I seem to be having with results. It appears that the yellow wasn't contributing enough and the fuschia was overpowering everything else.

So I tried putting in a little more golden yellow to see if that would "normalize" the colors suitable for skin tones. I also tried a white muslin to start with. The aurora takes the colors so well and deepens them--which is GREAT for landscape colors, but not so great for what I'm after here ... In the test above, the small swatches are Aurora Muslin.

Still too green for skin tones. I might blame the Cotton Black being too green ... except not all the greens had black in it ...

Next I tried backing off on the Fuschia (I've got enough pink-ish fat quarters by now!) and doubling the yellow. These look more like what I'm after, but they look too washed out and lack vibrancy :

The Dyeing season is just about over for me now. I'm giving up on this project. Dyeing is a summer activity. When it's too hot to be in my sewing room upstairs, I retreat to the basement where it's cool and dark ...

I guess the lesson here is Hand dyeing is great if you're not expecting anything in particular. I have so many greens now, I'd better start making some tress!