Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Shibori quilt

Here's an attempt at an art quilt which I sat down and made today. It's about 12" x 14".

I've been browsing art quilts a lot recently but don't really know where to start. I often plan complicated things in my head and then can't make them happen so today I thought I'd just start with a piece of cloth and see what happened. I picked out one of the shibori pieces I dyed a while ago and mentioned here. It looked like this:

I really couldn't decide what to do so I cut it in to strips, sewed them together and cut them up again till I had this:

Well, some time later I'd ended up with this. I quite like this:

And maybe I should have left it there, but it wasn't very 'quilty' so then I added some batting and backing and quilted it. Not terribly successfully I have to say. Anyway, here's the finished piece again:

Not as good as I'd hoped but I did learn a lot. In particular I learned that I need to be a lot more accurate with the sewing. As you can see from this close up, I was a bit hit and miss.

Also, I needed to spend more time getting the distances between the lines even. To be fair, it was all a bit of a struggle as my machine isn't built for quilting - there is no way to drop the feed so I can't go freestyle and it doesn't really like the thickness.

On the plus side I also learnt that if you don't like something you can just keep trying different things. Originally the buttonhope/zigzag stitch diamond was just sewn in a single line which looked a but weedy and confused with the other straight lines running through it. I added some zigzag stitch and it looked a bit better, then I did buttonhole stitch over the zig zag and quite liked the result although again, I wished I'd done it more neatly.

Oh, and as for the back looking as neat as the front. Well it doesn't!

I didn't bind it properly, just turned the edges in, as the whole thing is really just a trial piece. Next time I'll try being a little more careful!

With hindsight, one of the reasons this piece doesn't quite work is because the lines of the quilting don't have anything to do with the lines of the dyed cloth. The lines of the cloth are so pretty that they really don't need stitching over. I think I would have done better to just stitch in the ditch of all the little seams and leave it at that. Never mind, it's all about learning.

Sari photo frame

I am finally finding uses for the sari fabric I bought. For Christmas I made my daughter a concertina photo frame using cardboard and the brown sari fabric. I've put pictures of my daughter, me and my mum in it but the pictures do slide in and out so she can change them if she wishes.

And here it is folded up.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Organising ribbons

There's something very satisfying about organising materials.

Starting with this...

A nice new stationery box, some cardboard from some cereal packets, three little Ferrero Roche boxes and some loom bands to hold the loose ends and you end up with this...

The thin ribbons in the larger Ferrero Roche box are all cut from clothing. You know the little ribbon loops you get inside the shoulder of blouses and dresses to hook over the coat hanger? Well I always cut them off as I find they tend to stick out of the neck line when I'm wearing them but I don't like to throw them away as I think they might do for an art quilt.

Eventually I might transfer all the spools onto cards and arrange them all by colour but at the minute I don't have enough to worry about. A satisfying hour or so.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Bead Journal Project 2016

I've just been accepted onto the Bead Journal Project 2016. This is a group started in 2007 by Robin Atkins  where members commit to producing a piece of work which includes beads once a month. Ideally each piece should say something personal about that month.

I can't wait for January to get started - quite literally, so I've started.

Here are January, February and March lined up ready for beading.

They look like little coasters!

To begin with I had lots of grand ideas about how I was going to link the twelve pieces and I started to think about colour schemes for the year but then I thought that wouldn't be so much of a journal - more or a year long project that was planned all in one go - so then I stopped planning. Even so, the bit I dislike most about bead quilting is preparing then finishing the material. This is really down to laziness as I have to get the sewing machine out then pack everything away again afterwards. So I thought I would just prepare the first three months' pieces. I already knew what I wanted for January and I can pretty much predict how I will feel in February (glum and longing for the sun) and March (starting to warm up a bit) so it didn't feel like cheating to do a bit of preparation.

The BJP suggest that you make your pieces all the same size so I settled on 4" squares with rounded corners - small and manageable. Then I made up a few more rules just for me. I decided that I would only use fabric dyed, painted or designed  by myself. I've got so many bits of fabric I've dyed etc that it seemed a good way to get some of them used. I also decided that I would include at least one button on every piece, just because I can.

I wanted to keep it simple and decided not to bind them. Instead I sewed them right sides together with some brownish dyed cotton for backing (I've go an awful lot of brownish dyed materiel - if you've read any of my posts on natural dying you will know that most of them came out brown!) Then I glue-basted a bit of quilt wadding to the back and turned the whole thing in the right way. I'll slip stitch the gaps when I get round to them.

I've also cut out all the backs and pieces of wadding ready for the rest of the year, and have a card template ready to cut the front fabric when I choose it each month.

You can see I use a 'window' template rather than a solid one. It makes it easier to lay on the fabric and move it around till you get the exact bit of fabric you want showing in the window. A solid template covers up the fabric and it's difficult to see what you're getting.

I will now wait till January to begin as I'm in the middle of something else at the moment but I'm dead excited about the whole thing.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Sari shawl

Finally found a use for some of the sari fabric that I bought (shown here).

I've been looking for an orange scarf or shawl for ages and just happened to see one in a charity shop yesterday. I'm not sure what it's made of but it's beautifully soft. Here it is before I gave it a makeover.

However, I didn't like the tassels on the ends so I thought I'd cut them off and use the sari material to add a bit of interest. This is the result.

It took much longer than I expected. The material is quite difficult to work with as it's all very fine silk. Really pleased with the result though. It's my new favourite thing.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sari fabric

I played around with some of the sari fabric that I wrote about here today. The fabric is very thin so I used a piece of muslin to back it and created a more robust fabric using stripes of the different saris. I really like it but I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it yet. I might cover a note book with it or applique it to a T-shirt. (Or leave it in the drawer like most of the things I make!)

Sari Squares bead quilt

A few months ago I bought four damaged saris over the internet. Although they're sold as damaged there are literally yards of perfectly good material in each piece. The pictures are here.

Although it was hard to take a pair of scissors to them, I finally did. I've made a small beaded quilt with squares of the sari material joined with navy blue ribbon. I tried lots of different coloured ribbon but the blue was best as it seemed to bring them all together. I've tried not to overdo it with the beads either. This is the final result. It's about 13" square.

I like how this has turned out. I've done a close up of each of the squares below.

I did plan to include some embroidery and there is some on the yellow square but I didn't particularly like it and I didn't enjoy doing it much either so I went back to just beading for the other squares. This afternoon I'm going to play around with some more of the material and see if I can create some interesting fabric from it.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Fabric design and printing

There are a number of companies now where you can upload designs and have them printed on to fabric so I've been experimenting with this. I used Print Me Pretty which is a UK company.

The first set I did were based on some photographs of pebbles I had. I wanted a set of three fabrics that could be used together so I used to alter the photos till I had three designs; small pebbles, large pebbles and lines. The original designs were grey and brown but at the last minute I changed the colour to pinky-purple and I wish I hadn't now but there you go. You have to fiddle around so that the repeats work. There's a tutorial on the site showing you how but because there was no blank space in my designs it was pretty tricky. Here are photographs of the three pieces of fabric all printed up.

The lined one was created from this picture which I took on a beach in west Scotland about three years ago. I like the lined piece better than the pebbles.

I didn't really feel the photos worked that well, so next I worked with an idea based on a mosaic. I created the mosaic outline then experimented with different background and colours. In the end I had two pieces printed. The first is a fat quarter which contains three different coloured mosaics plus some blocks of the background designs and some plain colour. I think this might cut up nicely for beading. The second pieces is a test swatch (20cm x 20cm) of one where I coloured each tile by hand - took ages. Here they are.

The final piece is another test swatch of a design I made based on a photo of some Moroccan tiles. I think I like this one best but it might be less useful for beading on to.

I got the repeats wrong in this and if you look closely you can see that some of the 'flowers' are a mix of colours, either half and half or in quarters. I don't think it matters, in fact I quite like it.

This particular company only prints on cotton though you get a choice of two different weights. You can order as little as a swatch patch (20cm x 20cm), or a fat quarter (50cm x 56cm), a tea towel size, or metres in two different widths. You can also make your designs public for other people to order.

Donegal bead quilt

We went on holiday to County Donegal, Ireland this year. We stayed in one of the cottages you can see in this picture with the beautiful beach nearby.

On one of our trips to the beach I collected lots of shells which I decided to use for a bead quilt. I also bought a scarf in a charity shop which I used as the background fabric, and collected some sheep's wool from a fence. The beads were ones I already had. This is the final piece. As usual it's about 12 inches square.

And some close up...

I quite like it but I think if I did something like this again I would leave out the wool, do the whole thing smaller and just cover it in shells. I'm not sure how robust it will be. I think if you move it about too much the sharp edge of the shells might cut the thread. I've already had to do one repair. I also think the little mussel shells are in danger of escaping their tethering - we'll have to see.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Ice dyeing - the final chapter

OK I think I'm going to give up on the ice dyeing. Although I liked some of the pieces I've made, I've seen some magnificent ice-dyed fabric by US artist Debbie Krell. Her etsy shop is here and this is one of her amazing pieces.

I tried to do something like this but mine was really terrible. Here it is.

My second attempts were a bit better but really, I'm never going to have the patience to perfect this!

 I think I'll stick to the big scrunchy pieces if I do any more.

Shibori dyeing

I've had fun with this technique this week. I don't like to use any more dye than I need so I cut the top off a plastic drinks bottle to put the dye in. The wrapped pole fitted perfectly.

 Here's the pole before it went in.

 I did two pieces. The first was folded in four then wrapped and tied.

And the second was concertina folded in three, then in half, then wrapped and tied.

And some close ups.

I'm really pleased with these. Can't wait to sew with them.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Confetti dyeing

When I was researching ice dyeing I came across this post by Carol Eaton on confetti dyeing. It looked quite difficult and very messy but I gave it a go. Basically it involves sprinkling on powder dye and then spraying it with water. Initially I tried using a tea strainer as Carol suggested but after a while I found I preferred sprinkling it by hand. Here are some of the first results.

This one is the brown iced dye piece I showed in the post ice dyeing part two. I sprinkled it with dark green. There's a detail below. I think maybe it was better without the green!

Detail of brown piece.

This one is yellow and green sprinkled in stripes.

This one is actually sprinkled with dark brown and pebble beige but the powder was sprinkled very thinly and so the granules didn't have a chance to mix, leaving it mostly blue, red and yellow with no brown at all.

This one dark green, sunflower yellow and rosewood red (I think - I didn't make notes!)

This one was jean blue and burlesque red. Instead of leaving it flat I hung it on the line and sprayed it with water to make the dye run. 

Here's a close up of the drippy one.

Then I saw a striped pattern that Carol had done so I had a go. It's done by folding the fabric concertina style and sprinkling the top with dye. I really like this one. 

This last one was made on pale blue fabric. I folded it concertina wise one way, sprinkled dye on it, rinsed it after a couple of hours then folded it the other way and sprinkled it again. The dye was jean blue. Here it is with the first lot of dye on.

And is the the gorgeous final result.

And a close up.

I think, over all, it's quite hard to sprinkle the dye effectively. Folding and doing stripes is easier and I actually like the results better so I might experiment with that a bit more later.