25 July 2010

more fun with markers

[ the sale in the shop continues...thanks for the orders so far!]
[ and thank you to Dan for loaning me his spare camera in the meantime! ]

These fabric markers have a life of their own and have been weaseling their way into a number of my recent projects.

Having said that a piece of fabric Elle algipainted would make a cool napkin, I set about stitching one up.  Because of the way Elle had done her fabric painting (green grid on the slant and flowers within the grid) once I cut it and joined it to the Amy Butler print, there was a blank spot that just looked wrong.  Before I knew what was happening, a green marker was in my hand and I was filling in the blank space!  I then darkened a few other squares for a more unified look. I really like the results.

There are a million ways to make napkins.  Because I don't like ironing tiny little hems, I like to make napkins by
1. sewing two fat-quarters together almost all the way around (right sides in) with a 1/4 or 1/2-inch seam (leave a 3-inch opening along one of the sides)
2. pressing the seams open (essential for getting a neat edge)
3. turning the napkin right side out.
4. stitching right along the edge all the way around.

Since Elle isn't one to eat alone, I made a second napkin to go with the first.  The back of the first napkin (above) is from the new fabric line, Party Dress by Mo Bedell.  I really like the sweet, drawn look of the fabric, plus, it has some of the same colors as the other prints I was using.  So, I went through my stash for another piece of Party Dress with the right colors.  On the way, I found another print with the same feel as the fabrics I was already using, but it didn't have quite enough color.  Also, I wanted both napkins to have that custom/homemade feel.  As I was wondering what to do, a whole gang of markers made their way into my hands and then onto the fabric.

In no time at all I had two unique and coordinated napkins!
I was especially pleased with the napkins when they came out of the washer looking very much like they did when I put them in (the above photos are of the napkins after being washed).  As you may recall from my project with the scarves, the markers faded quite a bit when washed.  I think that maybe the quilter's cotton had a better result because of the high thread count.

My markers weren't done with me, because they also made their way into a couple of quilt blocks I made on Friday.  After reading a blog post about a young father who was fighting cancer and a friend who wanted to make a quilt to help him, I volunteered to make a couple of blocks for the quilt.

Lucia had decided on a blue and gray color scheme for Errick's quilt and asked that we please pick fabrics that weren't too feminine or juvenile. When I went through my stash...
I found a lot of fabrics that almost fit the bill.  Eventually, I settled on a big gray polka dot print and a deep blue sea print.   But I wasn't quite happy with the fabric as the polka dots looked a bit too fun for a quilt that was going to kick cancer's butt (serious business!)  So, I started filling in the polka dots with the gray markers from Dharma (I have both mist grey and grey).  Then, since I happen to know the name of Errick's tumor--it's Trudy--I wrote her name in and crossed her out.  Take that Trudy! 

These blocks are on their way to Lucia tomorrow!

I can only hope that my non-toxic markers have some serious cancer-killing vibes!  Go markers go!

23 July 2010

sale in the shop

I was happily crafting along, snapping some photos as I went...
When my camera went dead.
It seems to be the shutter.
Which is fair enough.
I've taken 84,000 photos on my Rebel XT.
Average shutter life is somewhere in the 50,000 neighborhood.
I knew the poor thing's days were numbered.
I've been saving for new one.
But I don't have enough money yet.

And so, I bring you the BROKEN CAMERA SALE.

For one week only, FREE SHIPPING to US addresses.

International customers:   I can't do free shipping for you, but I will refund your 10% of your total cost of items after you place your order.  And as always, if you are overcharged for shipping, I will refund the difference.

So, you want plexi right? 

Now is your chance to get it at a cheaper rate.  I'm unlikely to have another sale anytime soon.
The plexi comes with directions for dyeing and discharging.
Get it while the getting is good!

Don't know what this plexi is for?  Check out my explanation over here.

Sale ends on July 30th! 

19 July 2010

It seems I am not alone...

It seems I am not alone in disliking the name "scrappy" for quilts with mixed prints/designers/etc. "Scrappy" should be reserved for quilts that actually use scraps (left-overs) and further, I think, a quilt doesn't really look scrappy unless the scraps are pulled somewhat indiscriminately, so that hue, value, and scale receive little-to-no consideration.

I like the term "stash quilt."  I also sympathize with the desire to just call it a quilt. But, I like being able to quickly communicate how the fabric was selected and there are at least three ways I see this happen:  (1) make your own mix  (2) use scraps from other projects (3) mostly use prints from a single line.

Someone asked why I need a name for this at all, and the answer is simple: I name everything. I find names really useful.  They are shorthand, they are maps, and they are how I make my living.  I know it is exhausting sometimes for other people.  My older brother has expressed a strong preference for talking to me on the phone when I'm tired and/or sick because I'm "less exact and less exacting."  Ha!

Also, a few of you mentioned that you also hate the term "wonky'---ME TOO.  But, I already have a much better term that I use.  Want to know what it is?  Come to my lecture on August 15.  : )

A few other things worth mentioning:
A lot of good recommendations came in for children's books with quilts in them.  I put them all together over here:
Kids' books with quilts

I've had an Amazon Associate's account for a while now, but this weekend I put together a store and organized it.  You may find it useful because I did comment on all of the items in the store and you can see a list of my favorite quilt books and craft books.

Rossie's Amazon Associate's Store

I get a small kickback if things are purchased from Amazon following my links, but feel free to just copy down the titles and borrow stuff from the library (that's what I would do!)  Of course, if you do follow the links and buy stuff, rest assured that any money sent my way will be spent on quilty goodness.

I've just signed up for lessons on a Gammill Long Arm.  Can't wait!  It looks like a lot of fun.

Images used in this post are from a quilt I made last year as part of the first Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along.  It's a rail fence pattern, I altered Dana's pattern to include an odd number of strips in each block and to include the random teal squares.

16 July 2010

there is something to be said

for getting just sick enough that you have to lay on the couch for a couple of days.  Feeling unwell, but not entirely miserable either.  You know what I'm talking about?  Those illnesses where you can feel okay for hours at a stretch as long as you don't move too much and someone occasionally brings you a bowl of rice and a cup of tea.  The kind of illnesses where as soon as you try to do anything other than read a book or pet the dog, you get wicked sick.  But lying on the couch, everything is okay and so your job is just to wait for the ailment to pass.  So you do luxurious things like listen (just listen) to a whole album or read a novel from cover to cover. 

That was me earlier this week.  I had a migraine that refused to fully bow down to my meds, so the worst of the headache and nausea would disappear with the medicine, but only if I stayed still.  So I stretched out on the futon and read Slammerkin. It's very good.  I love well-written, well-researched, historical fiction.  And I listened to The Crane Wife which I have out from the library.  I do love The Decemberists.

Wednesday, I was well enough to sit up and scoot around a bit so I made my block for the Common Threads Quilt Bee
Jess based her block request off of this quilt by Ingrid Press:
I think Jess's quilt is going to look amazing!

Does anyone know more about Ingrid Press?  I googled and found some blog posts related to her part in a 2009 Birmingham show (here and here) but no website of her own or books or anything.  There has to be more to see than what was in that show...and my eyes are hungry for it!

Having done Jess's block, but still finding myself in the mood for sewing, I stitched up a little log cabin block out of some fabric I had nearby.
I've noticed that a lot of people refer to all fabric combinations that aren't prescribed by designers and manufacturers as "scrappy."  This has never sat will with me because I make my own fabric combinations 90% of the time and so using fabrics across designers/manufacturers/etc is not using it for some secondary purpose.  It would be wrong to call the above combination "scrappy" because the fabric isn't "left over" from other project, it is being used according my own original intention.  I also hesitate to call such combinations "original" because um, blue and green is not some extraordinary idea!  Also, sometimes I begin with a fabric combination I saw in someone else's work, as below where the colors in this quilt began with the Dewberry pink and Butler mustard, which I saw together in a purse listed on etsy.com.

I was looking through my thesaurus in search of a word I would prefer to "scrappy" and have yet to settle on one.  Something that expresses the autonomy of the person choosing the fabrics, without suggesting that they are a lone ranger or some sort of hard luck case. Any ideas? 

Alright, I'm off to catch back up on my work (there is a downside to getting sick!)

14 July 2010

some kind of scarfy fabulousness

Ace and I were sitting in our neighborhood bar a few weeks back when he reached out to pet the scarf I was wearing around my neck.  He asked if I had made it and, further, could we maybe do "some kind of scarf fabulousness" on a future craft night.  I had not made the scarf in question (pictured below), and initially thought that making scarves might be far too much of a bother for a craft night.  Would all the sewing fall to me?  And what fabric would be suitable?

The next day, I remembered that Dharma Trading Co. has a section in their shop dedicated to blank scarves and realized that some kind of scarfy fabulousness might be quite easy to do!

The folks at Dharma Trading Co. were kind enough to sponsor our fun and together my friends and I selected 15" x 60" cotton gauze scarves and fabric markers (we went with Fabricmate Permanent FabricMarkers in both chisel tip and fine tips.) After reading that the markers worked on both cotton and silk, I added a single silk scarf to our order (more on this later).

A few days before craft night, I made a practice scarf (seen below). The color of the wet markers is very close to the color of their caps, but the color is a bit lighter once it dries and lighter still once the scarf has been washed.  Making a practice scarf and washing it proved really useful as it let us make informed choices about which colors to use and combine.  I also discovered that the metallic marker didn't look metallic on the cotton gauze...maybe it works better on thicker material?
Setting up for Craft Night was as simple as opening the box of goodies from Dharma, getting out the ironing board, and pulling out a roll of freezer paper.

Freezer paper has a papery side and a shiny side, a hot iron can be used to temporarily fuse the scarf to the shiny side in order to stabilize it.  This is optional, but can be really useful if you want to have a design with long, straight lines. The utility of freezer paper is magnified if you draw a grid onto the papery side before fusing the shiny side to your scarf.

This grid was drawn by Elle who showed up for craft night having done some homework:
Elle has been into folk art lately. These motifs are based on Ukrainian Easter eggs.
After gridding her freezer paper and carefully ironing her scarf to the paper, Elle made two bold viridian stripes on her scarf.
Then, she added a black design on top of the viridian and an apple green motif alongside the stripes.
Finally, she added magenta designs to the center (look closely and you can see the gridding on the freezer paper in this picture.)
Her final result was gorgeous!

In the meantime, Ace worked away on his scarf.
He didn't use freezer paper backing, but we did protect my table with some cardboard since the markers can bleed through the fabric a bit.  Ace's scarf is based off of the Tori Amos song "Cloud on my Tongue"--a song that was playing on the stereo.  Ace used lyrics and images from the song to fill up his blank scarf.

Ace added layers and layers of text, pictures and lines.  He used the veridian, suede, and grey markers to create something truly unique and beautiful!
I've been researching mid-century modern design lately and based my scarves off of designs from the book Robin and Lucienne Day: Pioneers in Modern Design.  Here I am with the book (Ace decided the world needed to see my mid mod dress with the mid mod book.)

This is the first scarf I worked on:
As you can see, my yellow ocher marker ran out of juice!  This was the only marker that ran out of juice and it happened because it was one of the fine tip markers, but I was using it to color large areas of the scarf.
I decided to work with the marker as it lightened and then leave the rest of the scarf white.  I like the resulting look even though it wasn't what I had planned!

For my second scarf, I decided to marker on both sides of a cotton gauze scarf.  As you can see from this shot of Elle's scarf, the markers don't go straight through the scarves, so there definitely is a "back" and a "front."
For my scarf based on the Day's pods design, I did one side in red and then flipped the scarf over and colored in the same shapes in crimson.
It came out really well if I do say so myself!

For my third scarf, I tried out the silk.  I quickly discovered two things: (1) while the markers keep a precise edge on the cotton gauze, they bleed a bit on the silk, creating a sort of fuzzy edge. (2) on silk, the markers go through to the other side.
After washing everything, another difference between the silk and cotton showed itself:
the colors on the washed silk changed very little while some of the colors on the cotton changed quite a bit.

I love the way the cotton scarves look.  This sort of casual, faded look is perfect in the summer over a t-shirt or sundress.  However, fading could probably be minimized by washing the cotton scarves by hand with gentle soap (I threw these in the machine with regular detergent).

As my friends and I were working on these scarves, I kept thinking how much fun this project would be at a kids slumber party.  Especially since it has basically no preparatory or clean up work!  Of course, if parents did want to do some preparatory work, they could dye the scarves ahead of time.  I dyed one of my scarves after the fact...the pods one.  I just wanted it to be pink!
I also sewed snaps into the ends as I'm not a naturally elegant scarf wearer.  You know those people who carelessly tie a scarf and it looks perfect?  I'm so not one of those people, but I try to look like one.  Snaps help.  : )

09 July 2010

reminder for locals: Shadow Art Fair tomorrow!

More details over here.
They don't usually have any quilts, fabric, or fiber art, but the whole thing is still very cool and worth the $0.02 cost of admission! 

I won't have a table, but I will be there in the afternoon, approximately 2pm-3pm.  Say hi if you see me. There's a picture of my face over there--->
I'm 5'10" and will be wearing a polka dot dress.
; )

08 July 2010


Sew, Mama, Sew has asked to see our thread stashes.


Yep, that's it.  : )
I did just give a few spools of polyester thread to a friend though.
Okay, now for the questions:

How did you select colors for your personal thread collection?
I use neutrals  (beige, white, gray) for piecing, so there's always some of that around.  For quilting, I buy thread on a project-by-project basis, I usually head to the shops knowing exactly what I'm looking for.

Do you always match the color perfectly to your project?
No.  In the spirit of the photographer Henri-Cartier-Bresson, who said, "Focus is a bourgeois concept," I have long believed that matching is a bourgeois concept. It is by no means my default to match my thread to my fabric or my shirt to my skirt.

Do you ever use contrasting thread?
Yes, but usually my thread plays a sort of conversational role somewhere between the "blend in" of matchiness and the "stand way out" of contrast.  For example, The Green Quilt is quilted in a very specific lime green color that I hunted down.  There is no lime green in any part of the patchwork, it was what I wanted to add to the quilt through the quilting and binding.

Do you use the same color in the bobbin as the upper thread?
I match the top and bottom about 75% of the time.

What if a fabric has big areas of very different colors?
This has never bothered me.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about choosing thread?
Learn what kind of thread your machine likes.  My old machine really liked polyester thread.   My new machine prefers certain brands of cotton thread. 

Can you show us a picture(s) of your thread collection?
Do you ever buy thread because you fall in love with the color (without a particular project in mind)?
Embroidery thread: yes.  
Quilting thread: no.

Do you “invest” in thread?
No.  I'm not cheap about thread (you get what you pay for!) but I don't keep a stash of it, either.
If I came across a sale on 30wt Sulky solids and blendables, or something else that I knew worked well in my machine, I could see myself stocking up.

What types of thread do you have? (elastic, quilting, all-purpose, wool, etc.)
Cotton embroidery thread.
Cotton machine thread.
Cotton machine quilting thread.