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!

More bits and pieces

As promised, here is a pic of the finished turquoise beaded piece.

Way different than I originally imagined, but that’s what happens when your art tells you what it wants!

Had some down time while I was deciding what to tackle next, so I deconstructed a collection of neckties that I had. There really is an unbelievable amount of fabric in a necktie. I’m always surprised. Anyhow, now I have a pile of necktie fabric sitting in a drawer, waiting for inspiration.

Let’s see…I’m putting a sleeve on an older piece and looked at the pile of canvas pieces that need hanging hooks and wires. I walked away from that chore!

Basted a quilt…wonder how long that will sit before I get around to the quilting.

And when I put it on the pile of basted quilts, I selected one to start working on. And it, too, sent me in a direction I was not expecting.

I had a plan to quilt an uneven grid, reflecting the uneven grid dyed into the fabric. And I started out that way, but instead did a random assortment of partial grid sections. Then, this happened…

It’s difficult to see in this next pic, but all this flower stuff is on the left side.

It doesn’t show up all that well, but…I’m toying with the idea of micro lines from the flower part to the other edge. Maybe a bit more of the flowers, first.

And if I do that, should it be the navy thread that I did the partial grid sections with, the variegated thread that I did the flowers in, or something else? Time to step away and let that decision float around in my brain for a while.

As I’m writing this, the weather tomorrow is supposed to be a real killer…high humidity and 90 degrees…and I’m teaching a dye class out in my garage. Hydration–move slowly–take breaks in the air conditioning as needed–right? There might be more breaks than usual……………..

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!

Bits and bobs

After I sorted through all those foo foo fabrics,

I was left with a bag of tiny bits that I thought might work for one of those stitched-through-water-soluble-stabilizer scarves, so I laid one out. I don’t normally like using tulle, but these pieces were so tiny, like confetti, that I thought I needed it.

Step one–hard to see through the tulle and the soluble. The usual procedure, again, is to pin the heck out of the piece and then stitch, stitch, stitch. I decided to baste instead of pin because I hate maneuvering through all the sharp pinpoints and it really doesn’t take much longer. And the thread can be left right in the finished piece!

That was step two–

And then it really is time to stitch, stitch, stitch! Step three–I’ve got it started but it takes forever! Another good thing, though, is that you can use up any little bits of thread left on a spool or bobbin. You can add threads or yarns or ribbons to your heart’s content. Really can’t mess it up, but it does take a lot of time. I’ve got it started, but it may be one of those things that I only pick up in spare moments.

I really, really do not like the tulle, but I’m thinking when I get a bit more stitching done, I will be able to cut some of it and expose some of the underlying shiny bits. I do love me some raggedy bits hanging out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But the main project I want to tackle over the next little while is the dyed grid. I put a green border on it and I plan on quilting it with a kind of grid.

Since it’s a hand dye, the colored grid is not machine precise–don’t you love that? And so my quilting will not be a precise grid either, but straight lines at ‘off’ angles. At least that’s the plan right now!

And just when I’ve finally got a project and a plan, it’s time to go work at camp for two weeks. I need that hand work project…………..which I don’t have because I’ve been playing with these two. I’d better get going on ONE MORE PROJECT, so I have fun hand work to take with me.

I have such a good life……………………

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!