Posted in colorwork, quilting

Thread Art Baby Portrait F.O.

This is a qualified finish. I still need to quilt the border and bind the edges. But the creative work is essentially done. I chose to use echo lines to quilt the background. The work went swiftly and smoothly.

The cotton damask fabric is a joy to work with. I had the benefit of a fresh needle in my machine, thanks to the delivery of my on-line order from Bluprint.com.

Following the example of Lola Jenkins, I used Prismacolor pencils to color the image. I had never tried this medium on fabric before. But by working slowly and carefully, I managed okay, rendering shadow and highlights modestly. Here she is as of today.

Here is a close-up of the subject.

I noticed that a damask vine landed smack in the middle of her onesie. I didn’t plan that placement, but serendipity happens. So I chose to leave it unpainted and embroidered a running stitch around it.

At 18 inches square, this piece is a good size for framing or mounting on artist canvas. Perhaps the arts supply store will open soon and I can buy what I need. In the meantime, she will be tacked up on one of my foamboard panels, allowing me to admire her on a regular basis.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery

Application of Painted Thread

Last week I wrote about painting heavy weight DMC thread with fabric paint. Just now, I finished embroidering my quilt with the thread. Before I do a “reveal” of the finished quilt (it isn’t quite sewn together yet) I want to show how I used the thread.

Essentially, I created little scenes that tell a story of looking up at the Gateway Arch.

The moon and the stars.
Falling Star
Jet airplane and flock of birds over downtown
Fireworks over the Mississippi river on July 4th.

I had no real difficulty embroidering with the threads. They do not appear to be bleeding color at all. I wish I could say the same for the quilt fabric, some of the paint rubbed off on my quilting gloves.

The important thing right now is that the End Is In Sight! A little assembly and sewing on the binding and it will be done.

Posted in colorwork, painting, quilting

Painting Thread

So far I have found myself frequently frustrated while shopping in my local craft store for decorative topstitch thread. My local craft store, which is a Hobby Lobby ( I have a love-hate relationship with H-L,) has a limited selection of quilting threads, none of which are what I am wanting for my current project. And the threads that are available are not particularly affordable.

I have nothing to lose in experimenting with painting my own thread. (Not be confused with thread painting, a hand embroidery craft in which stitches are worked densely to create a painterly landscape of thread on fabric.) I have everything I need.

1. A 50 gram spool of 100% cotton DMC thread no. 10 in an off-white color. 2 Assorted jars of Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo fabric paint. 3. water proof freezer paper. 4. latex gloves.

After coiling several yards of thread and tying them together with string, I let the thread soak in the paint for about ten minutes. Wearing latex gloves I lifted the coil from the paint, squeezed out the excess and laid the threads on paper. Drying took several hours. The next day I pressed the dried thread with a hot iron, under a pressing cloth, for about 30 seconds. This was my attempt to fix the color. Because Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo is an acrylic paint, it is essentially color-fast from the moment it dries. But if you want to use the paint on an item that will be washed, I would recommend letting it cure for at least a week before washing.

Here are my hand-painted threads wound on spools.

I love that the paint gave the thread a variegated effect. I’m not sure if this happened because I mixed paint colors together or because I had a cord tied around the coil. It certainly makes for a splashy look.

Airplane is in natural thread. Moon is stitched with painted thread.

So far I haven’t noticed any color bleed on my sample fabric. Tomorrow I will start using it on my quilt. I’m excited to see how that goes.

Posted in colorwork, knitting

Hat Alert!

The message came in over the week-end, with a tone of some urgency. It seems that the baby toddler girl had outgrown her hats, and the carefully saved wool hat of #1 grandchild was no where to be found. With the onset of cold weather, there was no time to waste in meeting the need.

The criteria was pretty simple. Earflaps were desired and a cord to tie the hat under the chin. Consulting my stash I found an almost full ball of Cascade 220 Superwash in a pale yellow color. I had purchased this yarn two years ago when I first learned of the baby’s expected arrival. I was excited to try out some stranded patterns using this yarn and various bits and bobs left over from other projects.

First I consulted my knitting stitch dictionary (750 Knitting Stitches – The Ultimate Knitting Bible.) For this project I needed a pattern with a fairly short repeat. I also needed a motif that would fit on the ear flaps.

These two will do nicely. Cosmea will work for the earflaps and Aubrieta can circle the body of the hat. I also liked that the pattern repeat was six stitches. With my gauge of 5.5 stitches, a multiple of six will help me achieve the 18 inch diameter I needed. Here is my chart for the earflap and body, and my calculation for the cast on. I came up with a total of 96 stitches, which is divisible by six.

Ear Flaps done.

After casting on, I completed a modified version of Aubrieta, stopping when the hat body was 4 and 3/4 inches tall from cast on. Next I consulted the pattern I had used ten years ago for grandchild #1’s hat to figure out the crown decrease rate. I added a few rows of dots in the first three rounds of decrease, then completed the rest of the decrease in the solid yellow yarn.

Ear Flap hat in the blocking stage.
All Done.

This was a fun and quick project to make from one’s stash. I was pleased that I could use up some yarn scraps of a beautiful Malibrigo yarn that was left over from my blue ribbon vest.

UPDATE: Hat was received, and put into use quickly. Not only does it cover the ears, it covers the cheeks as well. It’s so big that it will still fit her next winter.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, knitting, sewing

108 Contemporary Gallery

During a shopping excursion to Tulsa, we stopped by the 108 Contemporary Gallery to catch a new show – State of Craft. Works in various media, including fiber, were on display. I thought it would be good to check it out.

There were some large works such as this one by Whitney Fortsyth.

All Things New – Ceramic with oil patina

Interesting wood items like this one by Rusty Johnson.

If you could see the Wind, driftwood and colored pencil

And then there were fiber objects, mostly smaller but exquisite.

Let it Flow, Sheryl Landis, dyed silk, embroidery, paint and beads.

A large work with a fish-eye mirror in the center. White linen with beads.

I particularly like these bags by Rhonda Steiner, hand dyed, painted, and screen printed.

And finally, there were some yarn objects, felted, crocheted and knitted.

Here is a link to the gallery, in case you would like to see more. https://108contemporary.org/event/state-of-craft-2019/

Posted in colorwork, quilting

Inspiration, Gestation, Implementation

INSPIRATION: The idea for creating a fiber object based on the Gateway Arch has been rattling around in my brain for some time. It really started way back in 2012, after my husband and I visited the Gateway to the West museum in St. Louis. At that time, he took a series of photographs showing every possible angle of the Arch at ground level. They are rather remarkable, taken as a group. Here is an example.

Earlier this year, I asked for copies of these images and began to imagine how a series of different views would look on quilt blocks. I printed out nine pictures and pushed them around against each other. In the end, I shelved the project. I decided that I really lacked the necessary technical skills to realize my idea.

GESTATION: Over the summer I completed several on-line quilting lessons and actually made a quilt based on my own design. I now feel ready to tackle the Arch project. So yesterday I pulled the photos back out and arranged them into a nine-block design with a look that pleased me. It took me hours to get it right.

IMPLEMENTATION: Dear me. Thinking about the many steps required to move a quilting project from the idea stage through to completion is giving me pause. Let’s take stock of where I am so far:

  • I have a design and a layout, pictured above. Each image represents one block at 1/3 scale. I’ve decided that I will need a paper template for each arch image, in order to draw and cut it accurately from the background material. For this task, I have located a pad of giant post-it notes. From it I have cut nine pieces that are 14 and 1/2 inches square.
  • Block Content: Each block will consist of 16 squares with a finished size of 3 1/2 inches. The flowing arch will be cut free-hand into the sewn blocks and inserted.
  • Colors: There will be three background colors in hand painted fabrics, moving from left to right they are purple, blue-purple, and blue. The arch section which winds through each block will be made of golden-orange-pink fabric. Here are some samples that I made earlier this year.
  • Other design decisions yet to be made: sashing or no sashing, type and number of borders, backing. While I plan to quilt it myself, I haven’t decided on a pattern yet.

Next steps seem to be

  • Draw to scale the templates for each block
  • Determine yardage needed for quilt top and purchase fabric
  • Cut fabric into manageable strips
  • Hand dye strips according to design plan
  • Cut out the squares
  • Practice cutting free-style curves.

A wise woman said, the journey of a thousand stitches begins with one thread.

Posted in colorwork

Experiment with stamping

While shopping yesterday, I discovered some fabric ink pads seriously discounted.

This is something I have been wanting to try for some time. I have done a little bit of stamping/printing using fabric paints and homemade stamps. I’ve never been quite satisfied with the process and medium. The fabric paints start to dry and clump before I have finished my project. This results in a lot of wasted paint. So I am intrigued to try stamping with ink instead.

First I made a color swatch using some square stamps.

I like the red, blue, green and magenta the best. When stamping yellow over blue, I noticed that the inks blended – a desirable trait for my work.

The instructions say to let dry 24 hours and then press for 3-5 minutes to set the ink. This morning when I pressed the samples, I noticed that they weren’t quite dry. But by this afternoon they seemed okay. I quickly made up some triangle stamps out of foam pieces with the idea of stamping an angular rainbow on white fabric.

This was fun.

Next I tried the ink on a pale gray printed fabric. While my stamping technique was a little crude, I thought that the result was okay.

My verdict: I’m glad that I paid so little for these ink pads. It took a lot of color worked onto the stamp for each press, and the color intensity on the fabric was lacking. I’m also not thrilled that it takes so long to dry. Do any of my fiber arts friends have a product that you would recommend?

Posted in colorwork, painting

Another Hydrangea Leaf

…..With apologies to readers who might be tiring of images of leaves.

I’m experiencing momentum on the oakleaf hydrangea project. While I intend to create 12 leaf blocks, I promise that I won’t blog about every single one of them. But I think today’s block is worth a few words and images. Here is the reference photo.

After making my sketch on the fabric, I masked the veins with resist and applied a pale emerald green wash. In this photo the piece has dried, and the leaf is covered in resist before undergoing the second wash.

I went really dark.

After the paint dried overnight, I pressed the background in an effort to set the color, then washed out the resist. Before I started painting in the details, I sampled several colors of paint over the pale emerald on waste fabric, because I had no idea what color would give the effect I wanted. I ended up applying yellow-orange, let it dry, and then painted in the major and minor veins.

This image has strayed pretty far from the reference photo! It is no longer a summer leaf, but a slightly battered early fall leaf, getting ready to change color before dropping to the ground. I love the chalkboard look of the background. Because it is black, I was able to use an Ultra fine point Sharpie to draw the leaf margin.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, quilting

Oakleaf Hydrangea – The First Leaf

Yesterday and today I resumed work on the oakleaf hydrangea fabric paintings. Above you see the reference photo for the first leaf I am painting. I chose to do two experiments. Here are the two paintings after the first round of painting. The color wash – resist steps were complete and the paintings left to dry. In these photos, the water resist medium has not been washed out yet.

And here are the two paintings, washed, dried and with final details added, using Jacquard Textile paint inTurquoise and Goldenrod, so palette was quite limited.

It was a learning experience, trying to paint on dry fabric with thicker paints. I discovered how to add depth to the background by dry brushing. And I learned that my skill in painting delicate lines needs work. After the pieces dried, I pressed them and continued on to the stitching phase. I chose to work with the purple piece first, hand quilting with embroidery floss. Instead of backing with regular batting, I used cotton flannel, since it would be easier to push the needle through.

I carefully stitched over the major leaf veins, and then made two borders around the leaf margin. After finishing the leaf, I just improvised the background, using two shades of purple and two stitches – feather and chain.

So far, undecided about how to stitch down the edges. The choices are blind stitch or use a decorative blanket stitch. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Posted in colorwork, painting

Consolidate. Gestate. Internalize.

For the past three days I have been irresolute about making new fiber objects. I haven’t been idle – not a chance of that! But I felt more internal about my efforts than external, that is, not ready to show or talk about them.

Consolidate: (verb) 1. to join together into one whole. 2. to make firm or secure.

Gestate: (verb) to conceive and gradually develop in the mind.

Internalize: (verb) to incorporate within the self as conscious or subconscious guiding principles through learning.

If you ever start to feel you are stuck creatively, I suggest you reframe your status with the verbs above. It could be that you are not stuck at all but are internalizing.

A week ago, I agreed to offer fiber arts lessons again to the local homeschool association. To keep from being overwhelmed, I suggested that I teach project or workshop-type lessons. So part of my time has been spent on writing syllabi for these workshops. The first topic is crochet. I propose to teach crochet in the round.

View of my worktable with two crocheted baskets in use.

I finished the syllabus for this workshop and made this sample.

It has been a while since I’ve created with yarn. It felt good to get back to it.

Secondly, I have been fooling around with pattern and paint on my color washed fabrics. Using foam, felt, cotton yarn and cardboard, I made these stamps.

Stamps sitting on color wash sample

I then proceeded to use them on this sample as well as a dark gray sample. My paint selection included Jacquard Textile paints, which are semi-transparent, Pebeo Setacolor opaque white, and some metallic acrylic paint I had laying around. Here are my doodles.

I’m loving the dark sample, especially the way the white opaque shapes and the glittery bronze shapes jump forward from the brooding background.