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, 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 painting

Painting Hydrangea Leaves

Beside the patio lives a beautiful oakleaf hydrangea. Every morning, I drink my coffee in its shadow and admire the sunlight shining through the leaves. I have been wanting to incorporate these wonderful leaves into my fiber art all summer long.

If you look carefully at the photo, you will notice that there is a variety of leaf shapes presented by this plant. There can be three, four or five lobes on a leaf. It seems that the baby leaves start out almost round and the lobes develop as the leaf matures. I have decided to do a mosaic of the leaf shapes with fabric paint and resist on cloth.

Here are two of the drawings I made of these shapes. I will be using the shape outlined in black ink for today’s paintings.

There are two experiments today. In one, I use the water based resist on the leaf shape, paint the background, then remove the resist and paint the leaf. In the second experiment, I paint the entire piece, add resist to the leaf shape and over-paint the background. Here is a photo of both experiments in the first stage. The lines are traced and a yellow tinted resist is applied to both swatches. The left swatch has the whole leaf covered in resist.

Experiment one. I used a violet background.

Wet painting
This photo show the fabric after the resist is washed away. The yellow leaf veins didn’t stick, but some of the yellow outline is still visible.
in this photo I applied resist all around the leaf shape before painting the leaf itself.
Paint on leaf still wet. Only a little green leaked out on the lower right side.

Experiment two. I started by applying yellow tinted resist to the veins and outline, then covered the entire fabric with yellow-green paint.

Paint is still wet.
Paint has dried. I applied additional resist over the leaf area before painting the background.
Finished leaf, still wet.

I am happy with today’s experiments. I like the dark velvety color of experiment two. But experiment one has potential. Both are now ready for additional paint effects.

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.

Posted in painting

Color wash – The Dark Side

Okay, no Star Wars reference intended – I am talking about painting on a dark solid fabric. This is what I chose to do today. My goal is to make swatches that will represent the night sky in a future fiber object. Here are my chosen fabrics:

The gray solid will be used for most of the work. I chose the white marbled fabric because the black lines are vaguely cloud-like. Here we go:

With the gray fabric pieces cut roughly 13 by 21 inches, I painted one with blue and black and the other with violet, blue and black. I used foam brushes and loose, wavy strokes. Then I blended all the blotches together and lay the fabrics flat to dry. Here they are after drying.

Violet, Blue and Black

The original gray is still visible, but it just shades the colors into a deeper range. I like the brooding, atmospheric effect. Next is the white marbled fabric.

I stuck with the blue paint, but darkened it by mixing in black for a monochromatic color scheme. At the last minute, I decided to scrunch the wet fabric.

And here is the swatch after it has dried.


This looks nothing like a night sky to me. It more resembles fast-moving water rippling over rocks. This piece could inspire a new fiber object for a later day.

Posted in colorwork, painting

DIY Fabric Color – Pattern

Today I will be enhancing the fabrics I color washed yesterday with more color. I’m excited to try water-based resist, a product new to me. I will be using it on the pale pink strip of fabric, also pictured, above.

The product came with a little applicator. I quickly discovered that it was impossible to get the gloppy resist paste into the tiny opening on the applicator. So I moved on to using a narrow paintbrush. But first, I wanted to try some crayons, just to see if the crayon marks would resist the paint. Here is my swatch all crayoned and resisted, before I flowed in the paint.

I mixed yellow, orange and ecru Dye-Na-Flow paint to get a bright gold color.

Tomorrow we will see whether the resist worked. Next I moved on to the striped piece of fabric. I wanted to print it with the following item:

Any one who is related to a son or a grandson will recognize a foam nerf bullet. I will be printing with the back end of the bullet, which makes a very nice circle. Here is the fabric before and after printing with orange Jacquard Textile paint.

Before. (In this image the paint is still wet.)

I would say that this fabric is unique.

Addendum to this post: I thought you might be interested in seeing these fabric swatches after they were washed, dried and pressed.

I’m pleased with these swatches, but especially so the water resist piece. Even though the lines did not resist all the way through the fabric, the front of the piece shows the pink lines clearly. The only negative is that the resist hasn’t completely washed out of the fabric. I will probably need to give the fabric an additional soak.

Posted in painting

DIY Fabric Colors

Recently I ordered a LOT of Dye-na-Flow fabric paint from Dharma Trading Co. Now that I have the quilting bug, I want to create my own fabrics. I know, there are thousands of beautiful quilt fabrics out there in retail world. But most of them are just not for me. And the ones I do like are kinda pricey. So here I go, making my own.

I had purchased several yards of white and light gray solid fabric specifically for coloring. I have an idea for designing a sunset scene. So today I am coloring the white fabric with warm colors such as yellow, orange, gold, and pink. Here is my swatch fabric where I tested a few combinations.

There’s also a little bit of ecru in the mix.

I plan to use 4 inch strips in my project, so I cut the fabric into 13″ wide pieces. This will yield three strips per piece, and incidentally, be a workable size for painting. Here are the results of today’s work:

Stripes of sunset colors. The orangey stripe should fall into the center of the 4 inch strip.
This gold turned out very well. I added some orange stripes and splatters. The stripe will go across the strips.
This was the tail end piece. It may be enough for one strip. It looks a bit blue in this photo, but I assure you that it dried pale pink.

It was a relaxing and productive afternoon. I look forward to working on the gray fabric. It will be interesting to see how it reacts to the sheer fabric paint.

Posted in colorwork

Salty Squares Disaster

I’m feeling pretty low right now. Here is my colorful tale of woe. Maybe talking about it will help me feel better.

After I finished my two swatches yesterday, I could tell that the two patterns would not go well together in the same quilt square. The patterns were both the same scale. So I decided to make two additional color wash pieces – one in dark purple, to pair with the light patterned swatch, and one in pale pink, to pair with the dark patterned swatch. They turned out great – the colors were just what I wanted.

Oh, by the way, I also hand-washed the two salted pieces which I made yesterday, to remove the salt. At this point, all four pieces were drying. As they were nearly dry, I decided to toss them into the electric dryer, briefly, just to speed things up.

You’ve probably guessed what happened next. I returned to the dryer, and found purple paint everywhere. The purple swatch was clinging to the dryer exhaust vent grill and now looked like this:

The pink and the light color printed swatch had dots of purple all over.

Only the dark-colored print escaped harm. I will spare you the view of purple disaster inside my dryer. Fortunately, I was able to remove all the paint from the dryer walls by wiping them down with a wet towel. But I have now lost enthusiasm for sewing up nine-square patches today.

Let’s see, what aphorism can I use for this situation? “We learn from our mistakes?” “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?” I know – how about. “I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow’s another day.” So true, Scarlett my dear. So true.