Easy peasy

I complain often about having too much stuff and part of my problem is waiting for the right project before I use that stuff! This is a bunch of mohair yarn that I have had for more than a few years and I’m tired of waiting for a perfect project. That’s just not gonna happen!

There is not enough of any color for a nice sweater and too much of each color for a little scarf. I finally figured it out……….I’m going to make couch throws from those colors that I have the most of and scarves from the small amounts.

The simplest of stitching…garter stitch. Cast on and knit…no thinking required! May be baby blanket size, or sophisticated over-large winter scarf or cowl. I don’t care right now. Whatever it ends up, it will be soft and fluffy and gone from the tub in my basement!

This is the handwork that I will do for the next little while, until this yarn is actually used. It does no one any good stored away.

Knit on……………….!!


My last batch of dye printing left me with some fabrics I love and I started a piece with these today.

I love this stencil AND this print!

Love retaining the white!

First step and basic idea.

And when you only have a fat quarter of a fabric you printed, only a piece this small is a throwaway!!!

I planned on using this third print, but I’m not liking it.

Too mushy and confusing. Time to audition other fabrics. The one thing I rejected immediately was orange. I know that shocks you, with how much I love orange!!! I may try it just for fun, though, but don’t expect to finish with it.

Blue and green print, still busy, not too bad.

Maybe a touch of black?


Two shades of blue…

And if you think those shades are close in value…

I like both the brightest green that I don’t have enough of and the darkest blue.

Do I go searching for more of that shade of green? Do I go very dark with the blue? No matter which one I use, I’ll probably wish I had used the other! Would I be happy with a teeny strip of the green and then the blue, or maybe the blue first and then the green? Maybe a strip of one of them and then more of my printed fabric?

I think it’s going to marinate on the design wall until I’m less conflicted.

Might be well-marinated by the time we get back from a little travel time, too……………may or may not be able to post from our stopping points, so don’t worry if the blog is quiet for awhile!

Thursday Tutorial–magic made fabric part 2–making WITH it!

Not every textile experiment has an immediate use and that’s often the case with our “made fabric.” We play with strings, fusibles, organza, threads, scraps, water soluble stabilizers because we always ask “What if….?” Sometimes we even know in advance and experiment to make the type of fabric we need in a particular piece of art.

I’m going to show you how I used the fabrics I made in part 1 of this tutorial.

This first one relied on a layer of tulle to hold the pieces in place for the stitching.

Two layers of black tulle

The finished project had one more layer of trimmings added and stitched down to become a dark woods.

Fused organza with lots of color was used to make leaves. The organza barely frays when cut and it was a great base upon which to use fancy threads.

I also stenciled on top of the made fabric for another wall hanging.

For these next pieces I placed strings onto fusible interfacing, just like the landscapes, and stitched them down before cutting out the shapes I wanted to use. This could have been done with tulle, also, but I have a love/hate relationship with tulle and avoid it when I can. Many, many people love it!

And I loved that background fabric so much that I used it again. Only this time I made fancy flowers with the water soluble stabilizer to add on top.

And landscape backgrounds are perfect for a lovely little flower or tree.

Double sided sheers are excellent for free floating pieces.

That is what I am using this last bit of made fabric for……….and it’s not done! But here are a couple of the leaves I made from it.

Always ask yourself “What if…?” questions and make your vision happen, even if you have to create the fabric yourself!

Two days of play

Today was another day with nothing on the calendar, so I went to the studio to play.  I spread out my bag of papers–

grabbed my bag of batting again

and headed for the sewing machine.

The way I like to work on these is to grab a piece of the batting, whatever size it is, and start laying papers and fabrics on it. It almost doesn’t matter what goes where as long as you have a generally pleasing color arrangement. Then the fun starts with thread, couching, additional pieces of papers and fabrics. I didn’t do anything with laces or linens this time, but that’s always an option.

When the pieces are very small, I have no problem going directly from batting to post card. However, when the piece starts to get picture size, around 16-20 inches, I start thinking of it as a total piece on it’s own and sometimes don’t want to cut it up.

Today I dragged myself back to reality by hitting ‘stop’ and arranging cards. I had a few cards that are 5×7 but most are 4×6. I tried to lay out some of each and see if I could get a variety from the same piece of fabric. It has to actually be what would be the most efficient use of the piece. If I leave a space too big, it makes me want to keep it instead of throwing that tiny piece away! Yeah, it’s crazy.

Too much leftover space.

Yep–that’s the way I want things to work out!

It seemed as though I created tons and tons of postcards today and yesterday. I put them up on the design wall at the end of the day, and it doesn’t seem like nearly as much as I imagined! Maybe I set some on the other side of the room!

My favorite–

What I learned is that working with the paper is more painstaking than fabric alone and for postcards like this the thin paper works best. I’ll probably keep paper for larger work. Fabric alone is easier and quicker. That’s only important because I have this whole stack of cards that I’d like to use!

Three full inches of postcards. Do I NEED to make these? to use up these cards? Absolutely not. But I somehow have it in my head that it would be too wasteful to toss them in the trash and I have waaaaay too many scraps and bits and bobs that fit perfectly into this genre…so making postcards it is!

I’m ready to work on something bigger again, so all the postcard stuff can get put away for a while. Probably some handwork since it’s been a while for that!

And probably getting started with this, that I showed you the other day!

Giving Away–Winners

Time to make these pieces go to their new homes!

Winner: Laura S.

#1 Branch 9×14

Winner:  Jane R.

#2 Wonky Stars (not really crooked, just bad photo) about 16×20

Loser: Nobody wanted this vintage piece, so it’s off to becomes place mats!

#3                     Twin Blessings 27 x 42

Winner: Diana E.

#4                            Windblown Leaves

Look for more giveaways soon.

Looking for fun

Today was a day for fun and play. I have had a small portfolio full of papers that have been part of other fun days and it was time to see what I could do with them. I have a pile of old advertising postcards and planned on making them my end product.

I thought about making this into a Thursday Tutorial, and might eventually, but there were too many variables today and I wanted to play, not plan and photograph!

First thing I did was wet an old map and crumple it up. NOT sturdy paper and it fell apart in my hands, but the crumpling gave it some texture. Not a problem, since I waited for it to dry and tore chunks of it to use. I placed them on a piece of batting and then stitched with cording and metallic thread.

I used a glue stick to adhere this to the face of the old advertising card, before I trimmed it to size. I stitched around the edge a couple of times with a straight stitch, then trimmed it, and it was done!

Onward to another set of papers. This set had a watercolor paper base–not real heavy paper. It had tissue paper and fuzzy yarn and thread already all glued up.

I added a bit more stitching and then glued a couple of post cards to the back. Why do that when it’s already paper and stiff? Because it makes a nice, clean finish for the card and it’s easy to send in the mail as is.

I had some gorgeous painted papers from a friend and I set those on batting and did some stitching. I figured I could get 3 cards from them.

As I stitched, I started falling in love with it. I did not want to cut it into small pieces. I kept adding to it and then figured out a background………I do love using that wool!

It could stay like this as a soft wall hanging, but I think I will like it better if I mount it on canvas.

I kinda like it on the unpainted canvas, but that always looks unfinished. I’ll have to decide on a color and get it painted and finished up. I feel like I’ve really accomplished a lot today, even though I got a bit off track from my original intention! But that’s nothing new, is it?

I have barely touched the surface of exploration with paper and what I can do to it and what will destroy it! Looking forward to lots more fun…and gotta remember to put a new needle in the machine before I try to sew fabric!

When in doubt, write a post

So very often when getting a new project going, I am at a real loss as to where to begin. That’s when it’s very helpful to me to walk away and write a blog post. It’s quite useful in organizing my thoughts and selecting a design direction.

I put up some fabrics that I dye printed for inspiration.

Then stepped away to see if some ideas jumped out of the wall and into my brain!

My little silk project needed to be finished up, so I quilted on that. I am less than inspired by how that is finishing. It’s a disappointment because I had such fun making those flying geese, playing with the silk. It’s hard to tell that I have a bright magenta binding when it’s hanging on my design wall, but you can see it in the detail photo.

Organized Flight 51×59

It’s shiny and puffy and light as air, but I’m not in love with it. Perhaps it’s simply not finished and when I figure out what else it needs, I’ll like it better.

Funny, though, the good and bad of working with silk……….no matter how careful you are, you end up with little fluffy silk thread bits all over everything!

And then the stenciled green tree on the design wall started screaming for attention.

One of my favorite stencils! He has some buddies up on the wall, done in the same dye colors, so it is time to play!


I like both the light and darker versions of the prints and there is a third version with broader stripes and darker yet that may  work with this, or it may be another project.

As I look at this picture, I think #3 is trying to steal the attention away from the tree, so he might need to be sent away.

While all this is designing itself in my subconscious, I have another little project from the past. My friend Cindy does a lot of deconstruction work with old quilts and that inspired me to deconstruct a class sample from the Bicentennial era of quilting. I’d like to use the fabrics and give it a bit of an improv twist. It will still be a memory of that time, but it can be put on the wall or on a table and not left stuck in a plastic tub in my basement!

And I think it’s calling out for some hand stitching. Maybe………….

Thursday Tutorial–magic made fabric–making it!

I’m not talking about weaving your own cotton or wool cloth, here! What I love to do is combine bits and pieces of fabrics and threads into a new and unique decorative fabric and then make something cool! (Part 2 will be making WITH it!)

There are sooooooo many fun ways to create your own special fabric but my favorite is using water soluble stabilizer and stitch. You can fuse bits and bobs, which needs additional stitching for sure! Tulle is a very useful tool–play on words intended!! Let’s take a quick look at how to use these techniques.

The very first time I tried this, I played with the effects of tulle. I had some curly trimmings and laid them on a background. I tried different colors and amounts of tulle and added more trimmings on top.

With one layer of white tulle

One layer of black tulle

Several, 4 I think, layers of white tulle

Two layers of black tulle

Pin or baste the tulle down and stitch. This needs the least amount of sewing because you have a sturdy base fabric and the tulle holds the small bits in place.

The next time I experimented, I used pieces of organza on an organza base. I used a lightweight fusible put on small rectangles or squares of organza. Be sure to test your organza for heat tolerance first–not all of it can be fused! The fused sections were cut randomly into smaller pieces and scattered over the organza base.

After fusing them all down, this ‘made fabric’ became the base from which I  stitched and cut some beautiful leaves.

The back side was a single color of an organza base.

Water soluble stabilizer is my favorite, however. It allows you to use ANYTHING that can be stitched! Even tiny bits of fabric or threads, but you need to do a lot of stitching to have it hold together after the washout.

Flowers……stabilizer base–fabric and maybe yarn and ribbons next–another piece of stabilizer on top–stitch!

More yarn added after the wash out

Fabric base–skinny strings–stabilizer on top–stitch and more stitch–presto! A landscape!

Those raw edges look great after wash out

It helps to have a plan in mind for using your fabric…I often do not! For that firm finished product, it works well to start with a base of lightweight fabric or interfacing. I have wanted to have a more sheer finish upon occasion and started with an organza or tulle base.

Love making fabric this way!

Basted instead of pins and this one had tulle on one side and stabilizer on the other for a looser effect.

This is NOT enough stitching! More, more, more!

The main thing to remember when you don’t use that base fabric is that you really need to have a lot of stitching, in all directions to secure those little pieces together when the stabilizer is washed away.

It’s quite simple to use any of these methods, or a combination of methods to create some beautiful ‘made fabrics.’ Next time we will look at what to make WITH that fabric.

FYI: This is what I use the most, though I know there are other brands!

Giving Away

It’s definitely time for a giving of my work! Shall I come up with a fake reason, like ‘blogging for just over 10.5 years’ or ‘published 1,669 posts’ or ‘almost dog days of summer’??? Or simply because I have many pieces of art work that need to find new homes? Yeah, I think that last one!

My family, of course, gets first pick of anything I might wish to give away before you get them! But I have 4 pieces that I think need to head out into the world. They are all small pieces ready to hang.

#1 Branch 9×14

Branch detail

#2 Wonky Stars (not really crooked, just bad photo) about 16×20

#3                     Twin Blessings 27 x 42

#4                            Windblown Leaves

If you are interested, make a comment on this blog post indicating which one you would like to win and I’ll make some random selections by the end of the month.

No promo, no gimmick, just because!

EDITED to add that there will be more in the coming months!

Oh, my heart……….

Keith, AJ and I went to the Toledo Museum of Art today. At the very least, we make an annual visit, though we certainly like to get down there more often. AJ loves the visits and I think it’s because we always let him explore museums at his own pace and by his own interest level. It’s a good time, every time, every museum!

One of the good things about museums is that you can usually count on certain things from their permanent collections and you love to visit your favorites. One of the BEST things about museums is that they always have new exhibits and you get to see things that might never come your way again.

Today I totally lost my heart to this installation.

I was enthralled and think that I shall look at this picture, study this picture, love this art for the rest of my life. It struck my soul more than any art I have ever seen. Sigh………….

That’s what art should do. Love it.