Themes work for me…

On Tuesday I met with a tech group from my quilt guild, but that was side business for the REAL meeting I needed. My friend Katie and I are trying to put together an application for an art exhibition and we needed to organize ourselves and pick pieces. The rest of the group were happy to give time and share their insights with us—thank goodness! We got a title and theme, using hand dyes, circles and squares.

I feel that I don’t have as much work that complements Katie’s as I thought I might. Panic time (for me–she was fine!)!!!

After the meeting, I ran home and started assessing what I have and the panic did not abate. So I threw fabric around like a wild woman for a little while and found some scraps that fit the circle theme and a background and got a preliminary idea on the design wall.

I have learned to think about designs as I fall asleep and while I exercise in the mornings and it really does help! It was obvious that this rough ‘sketch’ would need some work, but I think this piece was meant to be. It almost created itself…


And a little rearrangement of the elements

And what I thought was a dye failure turned out to be perfect for the backing

The quilting has been started………………

One day wonder…still more to do, of course, but I am highly motivated! And I even really, really like it! The panic is subsiding. Phew!


Discharge paste

I have tried to experiment with discharge paste before and was not too impressed with my results. My latest dye results were not my best either, so I thought I’d play with both. Nothing to lose, right?

The piece of fabric I used started as a black and white print. I did a single color deconstructed screen print over it and it came out very, very dark. I neglected to take a photo of the original!

I used stencils and discharge paste right out of the bottle and got a little bit of lightening of the darkest area.

I looked over the directions again and honed in on the possibility of adding water to the paste so that it was absorbed more into the fabric. Which I did and here are the results, in the same area of the fabric.

See any noticeable difference? I sure don’t! The discharge paste DID work on the fabric in many areas. Enough to make this an interesting piece of fabric.

I have another piece of fabric that I really, really did not like and I watered the paste down even more. After it dries, I’ll see if the paste had more of an effect than on this one, but overall, I don’t think that discharge paste is worth the effort for me! One more item I can clean out of my studio and pass on to someone else.

So now it’s back to working on items for my Artisan Showcase. I know I need to make some Christmas items. They were popular last time, but I’m not thrilled with making Christmas things. I opened up the drawer that I shoved all my Christmas stuff into and found this————-

A whole bunch of started items that only need some embellishment. Hooray! I feel like I’m almost done already now! Ready–set–go!

Oh, purple………….sigh!

Using a color that is far from your favorite is difficult. Purple is that color for me and I seem to fight it every step of the way, even when it is the only right choice for the project.

And perhaps you have had the experience of putting in a lot of work on a project, thinking you may have made an error…and you keep right on going, trying to convince yourself that the wrong choice was actually a good one?

That’s right where I’m at with this project.

I was too impatient to wait for the purple wool that I first thought I would use on it. I went ahead and used the purple silk I had on hand instead. Laid everything out, pinned it, added batting for stability, sewed it and selected beads and embroidery threads……………and absolutely could not make myself start on the additional handwork.

Deep down, I knew the silk was the wrong color. Yeah, it was purple, but NOT the right purple. Too bright, too shiny, fighting with the red….so it sat. Took it to my Knot Even Quilters group and asked their opinion and they totally agreed with my deepest gut feelings.

I even shocked them by grabbing a pair of scissors and cutting into the piece, trying to figure out an easy way to  rescue it. There was just no way to use that bright  purple with the darker purple wool.

And I have plenty of red silk to re-do this if I simply remove the rust fabric squares and start again. But I really didn’t feel like totally starting over so I deconstructed and trimmed this block.

Turns out that the red squares CAN be 1/2″ smaller and still work! And this looks so much better on the darker wool.

And here we are–lots of deconstruction and back where I started several weeks ago. A big pile of pieces, ready to be set together on the background.

And another pile of bright purple pieces, ready for someone to play with! I don’t think it will be me. I’m not a good fighter with purple!

Hopefully now, though, I can sit down with those beads and threads and do the handwork I originally intended to finish this piece.

Gosh………..purple! Sigh!

Purge and Putter

My days are supposed to be filled with cleaning and purging the studio until it’s done. My excuse today is that I have a cold and don’t really feel like working too hard. So, I’m puttering about, thinking and planning finishes.

All those samples that I took to camp with me need to be mounted and/or edge finished. The first ones I grabbed seemed to want to be mounted as a pair.

The other two in this series can’t decide if they want to be mounted on a smaller canvas or a larger one.

…or even another set of side by side!

Of course, then I have to decide what color to paint that canvas!

Which I am trying to do on this piece…

It’s kinda part of a series, but I think it’s gonna be a stand alone. And I always feel like lime green is a neutral, so I’ll probably start with that. It may change.

My little gingko leaves are definitely part of a series, but I’m having the same issue with them….side by side, top and bottom, single mounted?

Oh, yeah–maybe on a larger canvas or all 4 together on an even larger canvas……….and now I’m back in familar territory………….too many choices. Need to stop the puttering for a while as the decisions percolate through my brain. Maybe do something practical like laundry.

Or the ever attractive nap!


As I mentioned, I need some hand work to take to camp with me so I’m trying to get that ONE MORE PROJECT ready to go. This one–the Goldilocks project– is actually mostly planned out and it’s only a matter of execution. Ha!

I totally changed my mind on the materials I’m using, though. The rusty pieces were going to be placed on wool squares on a wool background. I changed to silk…because I have a ton of it!

Decision 1–red on purple

or purple on red?

Aaaand….it’s going to be red on purple, like this.

All laid out and ready to stitch down. I fused the purple to batting first because I want a bit of stability when I start doing the hand stitching. I’ll add a back later to hide all the messiness.

And I had a Duh! moment…..square the background up by using the straight edges of the table it’s laying on! Too easy!

Next decision–what color thread to sew the squares down with, red or purple? Well, thanks to Teri Lucas, who suggested using both threaded through the needle at once! Brilliant!

Little issue, though. The red was on a free-standing thread stand and the purple was on the machine. The red was a bit looser and got a little loopy. Not enough for me to consider ripping anything out!! You can see loopy red towards the bottom and fixed and better above it. I came up with a Rube Goldberg fix, and I still can’t believe it worked!

Wrapped the thread around the bobbin tensioner and set a spool of thread on top. Amazing that that little bit of extra tension fixed the problem!

I thought I had stitched 12 of the circle studies, but it turns out I had 13! I will need to spend a bit of time figuring out how I want to arrange them……..or it may not matter one little bit.

But I believe I have eliminated that #13 odd man out already. I just don’t care for this one that much.

Not asymmetrical enough, I guess.

I feel much better about heading off to camp now. I have a project, and it’s plenty large enough to keep me busy for quite a while!

May not post much from camp, so don’t worry if I seem to be missing! Rest assured that I will be having fun. I love teaching these kids.

The dreaded choices

Yes, dreaded choices! I am so very bad at making decisions. I see too many possibilities when I start pulling out fabrics and cannot settle easily on only one.

I have some hand dyed fabric that I intend to leave uncut and want to finish with a small border to set it off. HA! Choosing that border fabric has been almost impossible for me.

I did start by eliminating the idea of commercial fabric, though I did look over the stash. I pulled out a stack of other hand dyes from which to choose.

Tried almost everything…

Settled on yellow-green, which shows up as very, very yellow in my photos!

Limey green with a second light blue border?

Or limey green with a second multi-colored border?

Or a slightly bluer green with a blue square and no second border?

I’m pretty good at knowing when something is right, but none of these jumped up and said that they were perfect. I went back to commercial fabric and really like this more olive grunge fabric.

Not screaming ‘perfect’ but better than the others. I’ll let them all hang around for a few more days before I decide, but I’ve been in this spot with this piece before and have yet to make a final decision. I think I’ll have to force the issue this time because I want to work on this fabric!

And, as I recall, done is better than perfect!

It’s Goldilocks time

My little rust fabric squares have been done for a while and sitting in a little stack waiting for some more attention. Because of the colors in the variegated floss I used, I was pretty sure of the background colors I wanted to use, but not exactly the size and placement of the pieces.

So………….on point on a piece of red wool. Good color, red is too big.

And then we tried the medium bowl of porridge………, a smaller square of red.

Still not quite right, and I tried a smaller piece so that the edges of the cotton hung over the wool a bit more.

Aaaah–just right. The full background layer will be a single piece of deep purple wool, but I don’t have any of that right now. I was able to find a small piece to try out the color scheme and it will work very will.

My camera exposure wasn’t correct, but you can see how deep this purple is. I think this layout will work just fine and I’ll have lots of opportunity for hand stitching embellishment. This Goldilocks will live happily ever after!