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.
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.
After spending time perusing other quilt blogs to find out how other quilters deal with this situation, I found part of the solution in the form of quilted buckets. This lesson comes to us from Christina Cameli and Bluprint.com.
So yesterday I started on my first of three fabric buckets that (I hope) will contain my fabric-waiting-to-be-used. This project is also an opportunity for me to practice free motion quilting while adding color and style to my studio. Her are my fabric choices for the first bucket.
I’m quilting dimensional triangles for this bucket. Here is the first step done.
The next few hours were spent happily quilting. Eventually the first basket was finished.
I have to admit that I sewed up the wrong sides of the baskets, so my basket is actually two inches longer than the one in the lesson. This turned out to be fortunate. The revised dimension held lots of fabric and fit nicely into the allotted space on my shelves.
I used the Kon-Marie method of folding the fabric and filled the bucket with the folded fabric pieces inserted on edge. It was amazing to see how much fabric this little bucket holds. Each fabric piece remains clearly visible and easy to grab.
So my plan now is to make three more buckets to use in storing 1 yard and fat quarter size pieces, and to make some smaller baskets for the various colors of scraps.
I highly recommend Christina Cameli’s class. She is delightful instructor. Each of her projects can be made in an afternoon and would make wonderful gifts.
This past summer has been a wonderful time of learning for the fiber artist in me. I have viewed dozens of tutorials, focused primarily on quilting. “Don’t ever throw away your scraps,” is advice that I heard from an art quilter, early in my training. Well, I took her advice, and look where it has got me. I desperately need a system for managing these fabric pieces!
By nature I am not a messy person. I like to make my bed and wash the dishes. When I began my journey with fiber, I organized a space which I believed possessed ample work room and plenty of storage for tools and materials. It was great, as long as I stuck to yarn crafts. But once I ventured into fabric work, things went wonky. (FYI “wonky” is a technical term used by quilters.)
I share my closet with the family’s camping equipment. It also houses the ironing board, a small set of drawers and shelves for my yarn stash. The stash is relatively modest, but it now fills the shelves. My bookcases contain paint, books, tools, my fabric stash and sewing machine. But the scraps have proven recalcitrant. If left tossed in a basket, they are impossible to work with.
So this is my plea: Who of you has solved the Scraps Dilemma, and will you share your solution with me, a frustrated fiber artist?
In March my daughter gave me three garments that were in need of a remake. I have already dealt with the silk blouse and the brown cardigan. The third was a blue wool baby sweater which got machine washed in hot water by mistake. The consequence was that it thoroughly felted and shrank down to the size of a doll’s coat.
I had been mulling over what I can make from a felted sweater. No ideas came forth. Then I shifted my thinking and considered what could be done with the felt itself? Remembering a conversation that I had with my grandson, about the poor performance of hand-knitted mittens in wet snow, I hit upon the idea of felt mittens. Melting snow will rarely, if ever, penetrate a heavy felt garment. Could I make mittens for the baby with this felt?
To start with, I cut off the sleeves. They looked vaguely mitten-like.
Using a crewel needle and sock yarn, I blanket-stitched around the lower edges of the sleeves. Then I picked up and knit into the blanket stitches and joined for knitting in the round. I knitted the cuff downward in rounds. After a few rounds, I started 2×2 ribbing for about an inch. Then I decreased, knitting another five rounds and bound off loosely.
The process for the thumb was similar, except I had to slice a one-inch gash in the heavy felt. About eight rounds of knitting later, I decreased with k2tog, pulled the yarn through the remaining loops and fastened off.
Here comes the fun part. I cut down the top edge, making the total length of the mitten 5 inches. The upper edge was closed with running stitch and then sewn with blanket stitch all around. Using pink and red yarn, I embroidered a heart on the back of the mitten.
Right hand mitten is done. I do hope that this will be a workable mitten. Now to make the left hand mitten to match.
I finished up the weaving on the button loom yesterday. Today I spent a fair amount of time making a backdrop for the weaving. I used silk triangles.
After sewing together enough triangles to cover the frame backing, I attached the silk to the backing with spray adhesive. In retrospect, I should have used non-woven interfacing behind the silk before attaching it. Wrinkling was a problem.
And here is the finished object. I call it Escape from the Tower. In case you are wondering about the story behind the title, rest assured that everyone was able to get out. It’s fortunate that the artist thought to attach a coppery rope to the tower. Those on the top floors used it to get to safety by rappelling down the wall.
When thinking about all things fiber, I occasionally ponder the role of objects associated with fiber. Buttons come to mind very quickly. Who doesn’t have a handful (or jarful) of these tiny essentials? While they are often mundane adjuncts to your cardigans, coats and jeans, is it possible for buttons to step out of the ordinary? Let’s make something that gives them a stellar role. I am designing and building a button loom. This loom won’t handle the work of any serious weaver. But it can hold the warp threads for a modest tapestry. If positioned artistically, the buttons can become a key design element of the finished object.
Among my collection, I have two dozen metal shank buttons that were saved from various worn-out blazers and jackets.
If I sew them very close together on sturdy upholstery fabric, and then wrap the fabric around a wooden frame, it could start to become a loom.
The button-covered fabric rectangles were wrapped around the short sides of the black frame and stapled in place. I used the glue to prevent fraying.
Here is my finished frame with warp threads in place. I have used cotton and acrylic yarns for the warp, pulling and tying them together at the lower edge of frame.
I’m staring at this really ugly wire basket which has been pressed into use in my studio. You may know the kind – available through Container Store. While it is commodious, it isn’t pretty.
Poking around in my linen closet, I identified several cotton woven placemats that are refugees from the eighties. We really liked these colors back then – peach, mint green, mauve and pale blue. They haven’t seen the light of day since I moved them sixteen years ago to our present home.
I decided that the wire which ran the length of the basket would be the warp, and the cut-up placemats will be the weft. The opening between wires are 1 and 1/4 inch.
I cut up the placemats parallel to the warp, and across the weft. It is my hope that the full-length warp threads will keep the strips from fraying. I sewed two strips together so that they stretch down both sides and across the bottom of the basket. Here is the color sequence that I settled on:
After a bit of sewing and weaving, my new Boho-style basket is finished. Here it is, put into service holding yarn:
I like this . And it feels good to re-cycle stuff that’s just taking up space in a closet. However, I must admit to you, dear reader, that this project produced a bunch of lint!
It is my stated goal to explore the possibilities of everything fiber, or even fiber-ish. Plastic bags seem to accumulate at an alarming rate in my home. This photo shows the orange plastic bag that my daily paper comes in, if the weather is even the least bit damp. Recycling these wrappers is not an option in my community. Of course the re-use option is the most likely destination for this item. I don’t have a dog, so that re-use is not going to happen. I re-use them occasionally to cover my paint rollers temporarily, if I am unable to finish the paint job in one day. But considering that the wrappers are long and narrow, I wondered if they could be woven, crocheted or knit?
The answer is yes to all three. I started out by knitting and, indeed, came up with a respectable looking little orange swatch. But I couldn’t think of any use for it. I moved on to crochet, using my no. 15 hook.
I connected the wrappers with clear tape. I tried sewing them end to end, but the plastic clung to my needle every time I pushed it through wrapper.
Here is my chain, slip-stitched together.
Here is the finished object, viewed from the bottom. My husband says it looks like a bunch of Cheetos.
The object ended up as a sort of Koozie, or in this case, a cover for a plant pot. I inserted a glass jar, added a cotton bow and filled with herbs. One could just as easily insert a cold beer which would likely stay cold until consumed.
My conclusion is that one can crochet a bunch of plastic together, but it isn’t fun and it isn’t pretty. The result is a bit of a “sow’s ear” trying to be a “silk purse.”
It’s that moment in the week to plan for my Friday fiber arts classes. Today I am working on a small stuffed toy that might be simple enough for my six to eight year old students. I learned to make it from Brenna Maloney’s book SocksAppeal. She transforms old socks into 16 delightfully cuddly friends. I’ll be making the bunny.
This is an old gray sock of mine that lost its mate. I start by cutting down the foot to separate the sock into two ears. I am using an old t-shirt for the arms and tail.
Here she is fully stuffed. I pushed a little stuffing into the ear cavities, just enough to make them stand away from the body a smidge.
My little bunny’s Irish eyes are smiling because she is all put together now. I think that I will have to help the little students with some of the cutting and sewing. They can probably manage to make the ears, insert the stuffing and sew the button eyes – maybe even a do little embroidery. We’ll see how it goes.
She hopped around outside for a while, then back in the house for bedtime.