Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pouches and Purses

Here are a few pictures of my latest endeavor.  I've been busy sewing up lots of lovely pouches and purses made with wool from our local Pendleton Wool Mill.  I don't know why I didn't start making these long ago.  As with many things, sometimes the most obvious thing is beyond our vision.  It took the closing of our local quilt store to force me to expand my sewing horizon.  These lovely purses are a joy to make, and are proving to be much more popular than quilts or quilted goodies.  I am still getting some patchwork in here and there, but for the first time in years I am actually making a wee bit of money selling the wool purses and such on my Etsy site, as well as to local friends, family, and shop owners.  I have even been in contact with a small business counselor to explore possibly making something out of this!  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Quilt For My Son

A few months ago, my oldest son asked me for a new quilt.  It's been a few years since I last made him one, so I was more than happy to oblige!

Last winter he started swimming competitively for his high school, then a club over the summer.  It turns out he has quite the ability!  If I've been a bit quiet here, it's partially because I have spent much of the last few months going to high school swim meets, driving his to and from practice, and taking extra trips to the grocery store to fuel the extra calorie needs that swimming for a few hours a day requires.

But it all paid off when he placed first in his district swim meet in the 200 yard freestyle, earning him a trip to the Oregon state finals.  He was also good enough to get an alternate place in 2 relays that also went to state.  He placed 2nd in district in the 400 freestyle.  Only the 1st place finishes go to state, but his personal best time was faster than at least 1 of the 12 finalists.  He placed 12 out of 12 in the state meet, but for a kid who has only been swimming competitively for less than 2 years, we couldn't be any prouder!

My official name for his quilt, is "Plus Squared", but the subtitle is "Gee, you sure can swim!" ;-)  I made it in his high school team colors.

Because I like to hear other people's stories of where they get their inspiration, here is the picture that led to this quilt design.  I stumbled across it around Christmas time, and filed it in my "idea folder".

My son is also good at math, and I just happened to have a few blocks left over that went perfectly on the back.

The quilting took much longer than the construction, but I'm very happy with how it turned out. You can see it best on the back.  Now that I feel somewhat competent at free motion quilting, I am preferring solid colors on the back more and more, as it really highlights the quilting.

It's a 70" by 86" quilt, using a combination of Moda "Comma" fabric, and Robert Kauffman Kona Solid Forest green and curry yellow.  I used a variegated Coats and Clark thread for the quilting, and Kona black for the binding.

It was a joy to make this, as it was to see my son succeed and do so well in a sport he loves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NASA Star Block Challenge

If you haven't heard of Astronaut Karen Nyberg sewing the first quilt block in space, I thought I'd tell you about it!! She is a quilter, and on a recent trip to the Space Station brought along some quilting supplies and sewed up a start block.  She even took a video of it.

Back on Earth, she decided to take it one step further and has invited quilters to send in a star quilt block to be sewn into a quilt that will be displayed at the 2014 Houston Quilt Festival.  Here's the link for all of the information.  There's also a link on that website for the YouTube video of her space quilt block.

I had some lovely space batik in my stash that I knew would be perfect.  Since I wanted the dark fabric to be the highlight, I designed a simple paper pieced star that hopefully looks a little like a sun.

The deadline is August 1st, so there is more than enough time to make up a block and send it in!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Snow Dyeing Results

All of our snow is long gone, but before it all went away I made a few more batches of snow dyed fabric.  I thought I'd share the results with you.  I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.  I'm already planning on experimenting with crushed ice dyeing, now that Spring is right around the corner.

I had a few yards of Kona white (maybe even Kona "snow") in my fabric stash.  I decided to give it a try, this time, separating the colors a bit more to see how each one reacted individually.

From left to right, there is a piece with all 3 colors, then a "wasabi green", a (mostly) gold, and purple on the very right.  As you can also see, the colors really bled onto the white.  With the original Pimatex cotton, the white stayed crisp and white, and the patterns were more distinct.

Here's a close up.

I also decided to dye a few scraps I had of white print on white fabric.  One pattern did quite well, the other became almost indistinguishable. For grins, I also threw in some cotton yarn to dye too, as seen drying in the picture below.

Finally, I tried out some 200 thread count white muslin that I was able to buy at a local store. The tight weave had my hopes up. This time I used mostly green with a few spots of purple.

But in the end it seemed to take up the least amount of dye, and showed the least "crisp" design in the fabric.  Neither the Kona nor the muslin was "PFD".  I don't know if that really makes a difference, as I prewashed them all, but for now, I'll be sticking with the Pimatex PFD cotton, and have already ordered a few more yards and some new dyes to play with.

The very first picture at the top of this blog post, shows all 3 together, from top to bottom, the Pimatex, the Kona, and the muslin.

I've also put a few fat quarters of the original batch of Pimatex cotton in my Etsy shop to see if there's any interest in it from buyers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Olympic Rings Quilt Finished!

The Winter Olympics was exactly what I needed to motivate me to finish the quilt that I started 2 years ago, during the Summer Olympics.  I stitched on the binding this morning, just as the last of the snow is melting. It's 54" by 72"... the perfect size for snuggling under while we watch the Olympics on TV.
I decided to quilt laurel leaf wreaths in each of the rings.  As the legend goes, Laurel leaf wreaths were put upon the victor's heads during the original Olympics in ancient Greece.  The rest of the quilting is my attempt at flames, from the Olympic torch.  I think it was so neat to see it go into space during it's voyage to Russia.
I decided to use a black and white variegated thread in the black top and bottom borders, and LOVE the effect!  I'll be using this technique again!

The back is simple, just some coordinating solids I had.
I love the way the rings and other quilting shows on the back.  As I've gotten better at free motion quilting, I like solid colored backs more and more, as they show off the quilting, rather than hide it.

I hope you are enjoying the Olympics as much as I am.  Call me crazy, but my favorite events are the Half Pipe Snowboarding events, as well as the Mogul Skiing.  I find them mesmerizing.  I think my own background in gymnastics is what makes them appeal to me, as they have so many wonderful flips and twists.  What's your favorite event of the Winter Olympics?

Another totally off topic question I have is what camera do you use?  My point and shoot has bit the dust, and my son's who I've been using (same model, a Cannon Powershot), is following suit.  I took all of these with my ipad mini.  It's OK, but not great.  I really want to save up and get a nice one next.  Thanks for any advice!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Olympic-Inspired Quilt Top Finished!

With the Winter Olympics starting up this week in Sochi Russia, I was motivated to dig out the Olympic quilt that I made 2 years ago during the Summer Olympics (and never finished).

I always try to figure out why certain quilts get tossed in the UFO pile, and for this one, I think it was just too small.  I have no more wall space for any more minis, but decided that a throw quilt for the couch would be perfect for the Winter Olympics.  Luckily I still had some of the original solids that I started out with, and combined them with some solid white to make a bunch of half square triangles.  When I still wanted it a bit bigger, I got out some solid black to extend it, and I'm calling it done at about 54" x 72".

The back is already finished, and batting purchased.

With the 7-8 inches of snow we got over the last 2 days, I should have plenty of time to finish it.

I still have a tutorial for the center of this quilt on this blog.  Click the link above, or the tutorial link if you would like to see it!!

I also have to say that I just LOVE the patchwork quilt motif that is being used in this games.  It's my all time favorite!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Adventures in Snow Dyeing

When life give you snow, give snow dyeing a try!  This has been on my radar for a few years, after buying some snow dyed fabric at a local quilt show a few years ago.  A conversation over the week-end with some fellow fiber artists about snow dying yarn reminded me of this technique. I bought some supplies this summer to try out batik dying (but never did), and with the addition of another cold snap, and some fresh snow this week, I "carpe diem'ed".

I found this tutorial, from Dharma Trading Company, the website / store that I bought all of my supplies. Of course I used snow, instead of ice.  I used the colors wasabi, hydrangea, and paloma gold, all pastels, but as you can see, almost none of those colors are visible in the finished product.  I used pima cotton that I also bought from Dharma Trading Company, as well as 2 white shirts that I bought from them, 2 womens, and 1 unisex.  The womens' shrank quite a bit during washing.  I am beyond thrilled at how this turned out, and have already ordered more dye and supplies, and am among the minority of people who are hoping for MORE snow haha!

Basically I soaked prewashed fabric in the soda ash solution for half an hour while I collected a tub, wire shelf / rack, gloves and snow.

I wrung out the fabric, crumpled and laid it on top of the wire rack.

Next, I piled a few inches of snow on top of the fabric, and sprinkled the dye powder directly on top of the snow.

...and waited

...and waited

...and waited

...and waited.

The next day, about 22 hours later, I then rinsed the excess dye out of all of the fabric.  This was my least favorite step in the whole process, as it took a lot of rinses, and a lot of time, but did provide a good upper body workout LOL.  Once the rinse water was clear, I put it in my washing machine and rinsed one final time, then washed in hot water with a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap.  I did not have any sythol, but read that you can substitute dish soap.  Seems to have worked.  We have a front loader with a clear glass door, and I could not see any color coming out of the rinse water in the final wash.  After a trip in the dryer and a hot iron, I was just delighted beyond words at how beautiful the final fabric turned out.