I have not sewn much lately; I have celebrated the arrival of warm weather by traveling, plein air painting, and gardening instead. Between trips and other forays outdoors, I did finish a small project for some favorite small people, pennants spelling out two children’s names.
I cut pastel stripe and plaid fabrics into triangles, then used iron-on fusible to attach letters in dark blue fabric. I sewed right sides together and, leaving the tops open, turned the triangles and pressed them. I ornamented these with many small snippets of lace, ribbon, and seam binding that I have been storing for years…some inherited from my grandmother and my mother-in-law. A double-folded seam binding finishes the top. I found it was easier to space the triangles if I basted them in position before adding the binding. Here is a handy sewing tip. I threaded a hand-sewing needle and knotted the two ends together to create a double thickness of thread. I stabbed this through the tip of the pennant so I could pull use it to pull the pennant taut as I machine stitched around the sharp corner. Here are some photos.



Tulip Trees

This is the 45″ square quilt top on my design wall right now. I’m letting the work “rest” to determine whether I’m done drawing and painting it. The fabric I chose for the backing is visible in the upper right of the picture. 

This project began with three lovely lengths of hand-dyed fabrics. I saw possibilities for a forest scene in the purple and green fabric from Indonesia. A green batik and a purple batik from Kenya provided an inner border of textured color accented by an irregular white line.  I pieced the fabrics to enhance the forest idea. I blurred the seam intersections and strengthened the tree shapes with Inktense pencils and diluted acrylic paint. Then I added white paint for a light-through-the-leaves effect. I added the brown and white outer border on a whim. I think it is a surprising choice which repeats the white in the forest scene. The last step was suggesting a path through the woods. I think the photo I took last week of a deer path in the snowy woods in my backyard put that idea in my mind. I have seen two art calls for entry that might be suitable for this work and their deadlines will urge me to finish it.

Tulip Trees

deer path in winter

March magic

March came in like a lion where I live. The storm came in just at nightfall. Our electric power was out for about three hours so I peeked out the window from a darkened house. Despite complete cloud cover, the light from the full moon on the reflective white of the snow was strong enough to illuminate the scene of tree trunks dancing in the wind. When morning came, I headed outside with my camera to capture the lacy flocking on every tree and bush. I can imagine recreating some of these textures in the first two photos future artwork.
The third and fourth photos amused me – their loss of purpose as information because of the snow. Enjoy.

dark boles and white lace

tree blaze

street sign

warning sign


The “reveal” – is what they call it on those DIY TV shows. Here are the results of my snow dyeing experiment a few days ago.  Dyes, applied in powder form, liquify slowly as the ice melts creating unpredictable patterns with soft blends between the colors. The scrunched fabric below the dye powder and ice has hills and valleys. Colors concentrate as they pool in a valley or have a lesser effect where they roll off a raised portion of fabric. I waited (in suspense) for the requisite 24 hours, then rinsed out excess dye, machine washed, and ironed the fabric.

The powdered dyes in the first tub, with a piece of fabric about 45″ square, were Havana Brown, Orange and Yellow. You can see olive green in the fabric because the brown dye was a composite color that separated into the component colors, one of which was bluish. Blue + yellow = green. This fabric reminds me of geraniums.

snow dye in warm colors









Colors in the second tub, with two pieces of fabric, were Robin’s Egg Blue, Cyan Blue, and Black. Black was a composite color that had some reddish tones, so you see some purples in the resulting fabric. The larger piece of fabric is about 45″ square. The second photo shows the small piece of fabric laid atop the larger one and gives a hint about what it would look like if the fabric would be cut into segments and pieced back together.

snow dye cool colors

snow dye two pieces

Snow Dyeing

It is hovering just above freezing in Ohio today. As I watched the waning snow I knew there was still enough for a batch of snow-dyed fabric. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand, but I did do a quick check online to review instructions. Dharma had instructions and did too.

I had about a yard and a half of PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) white cotton fabric.
I tore it in half and set it to soak for 1/2 hour in soda ash solution. I have two white plastic dishpans and 2 grids made from salvaging the sides from a damaged laundry basket. I scrunched the soda-ash soaked fabric, arranging it on the plastic grids which I elevated within the dishpans. I brought snow in and put a 3″ layer of it over the fabric. Wearing mask and gloves, I scooped dry Procion dye powders out of their containers with a plastic spoon and sprinkled dye over the snow – three colors in each dishpan full of fabric. I wrapped black plastic garbage bags around each dishpan. Now I wait… 24 hours until I can peek. Then I’ll rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, heat set and enjoy my “new” fabric. I did not take pictures, but here is an illustration from the instructables website.
I’ll post my dried and ironed fabric results in a few days.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Using Practice Pieces

I hate wastefulness. You, like me, may have accumulated a stack of small free-motion practice pieces, and have already made all the potholders and mug rugs that you can use and give away. Larger free-motion practice pieces are great for easy oval placemats. I take a double-page-width sheet of newspaper and fold it into quarters. I draw a gently-rounded corner by tracing a plate from the cupboard.  I cut out the traced corner and unfold for the pattern. I cut the oval from my pre-quilted fabric and bind the edge. Done!

I’ve made custom-sized cases for my too-large-to-fit-in-a-standard-case Fitover sunglasses, my digital camera, and my harmonica. I measure around the object, add a slight ease and use double fold seam binding or leftover quilt binding to finish the edges. If they get dirty, they are machine washable; when they wear out, I make another.

Today I finished a small diameter neck pillow that I wanted in order to be perfectly comfy watching T.V. in my favorite chair. I rolled up a 12″ x 12″ piece of memory foam, sewing it to retain a tube shape. I finished three edges of 18″  x ??” rectangle from my free-motion practice pieces stack. I wrapped the fabric around the foam and hand-stitched the edge. The ties are seam binding I’ve had so long the color is faded. Cute and comfy… it only took a couple hours from idea to finished… and was made entirely from supplies on hand.

Drawing with thread

Here are photos of two small fiber art pieces I did at different times in the past few years. They are drawn by free-motion quilting, drawing with thread. I would call them moderately successful, but I do not feel I’ve totally mastered the technique of drawing with my sewing machine. The secret to getting really comfortable with any technique is practice, practice, practice. I believe the maxim that it takes ten thousand hours of effort to become an expert at anything. I need more material on which to practice.

So, I’m reviewing and re-evaluate drawings, scribbles in sketchbooks, and unfinished paintings that have accumulated in my studio. I hope to find an image worthy of translating by free-motion quilting to become an art quilt.

Thanks, Dot detail

Cardiff Character