Ugly Fabric Challenge 2014 – Wrap Up

July 25, 2014

Playing with this fabric is a bit like eating potato chips. You can’t stop with trying one technique.

After soaking the fabric overnight in cold water – to get the excess dye out of the floral screen print – I was pleasantly surprised that the flower actually was visible:

Dyed floral

Now I pursposely placed that screen over the lightest part of this dyed fabric, but when it was wet, it was not visible at all. I should have waited for it to dry and then ironed, before I said it disappeared. Live and learn. Please double click on the picture, and look on the right side. You should be able to see the floral design well.

I was very unhappy to discover that soaking this fabric overnight in cold water – to make sure all the screen dye was rinsed out – drastically changed the deColourant Plus colors. If you compare this photo with the one from yesterday, you’ll see the green is almost totally gone, the red is much lighter, and the blue is not visible at all. Now I know that deColourant Plus can’t hold up to a long cold water immersion. This is actually a good thing to learn on this project, because I like this product, and now know what order to use it when putting multiple layers on cloth.

There was still lots of fabric below these techniques, so I drew some lines 1.5″ apart from each other, and stitched them with a basting stitch:


Then I pulled the stitching to create these gentle gathers, and painted over them with a foam brush, using 1 part Cobalt Turquois Golden Fluid acrylic to 4 parts Golden GAC-100:


The fabric was a little over 12″ long scrunched down to 2″. After drying, I removed the stitching and this is what I got:


I absolutely love the randomness of this. This is a technique I will most likely do again with soda ash soaked fabric and thickened dye. By the way, the white lines will disappear when washed. I use Prismacolor white pencils to draw on dark fabrics, and they wash out easily, leaving no trace behind.

Am I done with this fabric? For now, yes, but if I use this is an art quilt, I can see adding some beads, and some thread work. I do love the turquois against this purple, and think it would be lovely with some copper metal, or that gorgeous rose gold look. Sheesh, now that I’m writing about it, you know I’m going to have to try it.


Ugly Fabric Challenge 2014 – Addition

July 22, 2014

This time around, I decided to add color. Some theories were confirmed, and one surprised me. Since I was experimenting with thickened dye paste, I thought I’d also work on some white 480M sateen fabric. The sateen is on the left and the “ugly” fabric is on the right.

This first test – on the “ugly” fabric alone – was using Jewels DeColourant Plus – emerald, fuchsia, and navy blue:

Thickened Dye Paste

As you can see from the photo – the top row – the emerald and the fuchsia did just fine, but nothing happened with the navy blue. I used a stamp and painted a good sized swatch so you could see the colors clearly. All the bottles were purchased at the same time, but I think the navy blue chemicals expired.

Then I moved onto using Procion MX-308 Fuchsia. A dash of that was mixed with 2 tsps of thickened sodium alginate, and 1/4 tsp soda ash. It was pretty thick, so I added a bit of water, and used a katazome screen made years ago. The screen worked great, cleaned up beautifully, and that is the faint floral design you see on the second row of the “ugly” fabric. Please double click on the image, as it’s pretty hard to see against the purple fabric.

And believe it or not, the same stencil was used with some Aloe Vera gel and 3 drops of Liquitex ink Naphthol Crimson. It showed up when wet, but this photo was taken after it dried. It totally disappeared. That was the big surprise with this experiment as I thought the ink was opaque.

That was it for experimenting with the “ugly” fabric, but I had left over print paste and used it on the 480M sateen fabric:

First print was with the same stamp I used with the deColourant Plus, and the second print was with a tree screen I made with sheer drapery fabric sandwiched between interfacing, and sealed with latex paint. It’s not very clear, and I’m not very happy with this screen. It will require a do over.

The third print was made with a Mod Podge screen I made a few years ago. This was also made with the same drapery fabric, but Mod Podge was painted around the design, and the print quality is outstanding. Clean up was also a breeze.

This second photo of the 480M sateen was after it was washed and dried:

480M Thickened Dye

Big difference in color, isn’t there?

I didn’t take a second picture of the “ugly” fabric after it was washed, as I totally lost the dyed floral print. I figured I would, but stubborn head me, had to confirm for herself that you really can’t overdye an already dark piece of dyed fabric with another dark dye. Some of us have to learn the hard way, and others take the wisdom of the dye gurus, and don’t waste their time.

My take on the 2014 Ugly Fabric Challenge was when you get a dark fabric, discharge it, then start layering. If you want to leave the dark fabric in place, then use OPAQUE paints, and stencil or draw designs all over it. Or texture it with stitching. Hmmm, now that actually sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe after my table runner is quilted, I’ll tackle that idea. Sounds like fun, true?


Ugly Fabric Challenge 2014 – Subtraction

July 13, 2014

This week I spent some time working on the Ugly Fabric Challenge from the Yahoo Group MXDyers. Barbara – the list owner – loves to dye fabric, and for the past few years, she has given good sized pieces to members who volunteer to alter pieces she’s not crazy about, and we get to keep them. She calls them ugly fabric, but I loved the piece she sent me:


Isn’t that gorgeous? I hardly ever get the depth she manages – even when I dye at 10%.

I cut the fabric in half, and saved one half for an upcoming project, and divided the other half so I could play with subtracting color and adding color. Today’s picture shows the subtraction piece:


This was really an experiment in using 2 discharge chemicals. A few days ago, the entire piece was written on with the Clorox Gel Pen and neutralized with Anti-Chlor. I learned that it’s really hard to get a fine line with the Clorox Gel Pen. You had to squeeze and write at the same time, and there are plenty of blobs on the piece because I flat out don’t have the hand strength to maintain even pressure. No even pressure = no even flow = not great writing.

Today I used deColourant and a paint brush. The size of the writing is smaller and much more readable. If I laid just a little deColourant on the fabric, just a little of the color came off. I really like the lighter purple areas in the writing. I had much more control with the paintbrush, and no hand pain.

If I put a heavier amount of deColourant on the brush, the color was almost totally removed. I used a dry iron to discharge the writing, and if I had used a steam iron, it would have been even lighter. The “my” on the first line is very light because first I wrote it with the Clorox Gel Pen, then 2 days later, used the deColourant on top of it.

Can anybody read the writing? If you double click on the photo it will enlarge for you. Hopefully, some of you will be able to make out what I wrote.

A personal side note about what the writing is following, so if you don’t want to read a touchy-feely story, you can stop reading here.

I’m blessed to have my 95 year old Dad in my life. He still lives independently, and is a joy to be around. I call him everyday, visit him at least once a week, and this morning he told me the most wonderful thing. He said when I step foot into his home, his heart opens up, and I’m like a ray of sunshine entering.

Now 3 days ago, I was wondering what to write on this fabric, and I thought of my Dad. Immediately, the song You Are My Sunshine came to mind. It’s truly amazing that we both think of each other the same way.

I couldn’t make up a story like this if I tried, and while I’m trying to be light-hearted about it here, I have to say, he brought tears to my eyes this morning when he told me that.



July 5, 2014

Last week a few friends gathered at my home for a playdate. We each made the same pattern, but with our own interpretation.

I post pictures in alphabetical order, but unfortunately, my camera lost the picture I took of Beth’s tablerunner, and she did something really neat. The pattern is made by sewing strips of fabric together to form a strata. Beth eliminated one of the strips to have a larger center and it turned out terrific.

Next is me:


I followed the pattern exactly and chose bright colors. It will be assembled differently though. Yesterday, I purchased some wool/rayon felt, and instead of pillowcasing the table runner, I’ll be fusing it to the felt, quilting it, then cut the felt about 1/4″ away from the edge. When it is completed, I’ll post another picture.

Marcia got to the assembling the strata stage:


Her colors are very elegant.

Sue got hers totally pieced also:


She finished quilting hers and you can see a picture of all 4 together on another friend’s blog – another Beth Our group picture is a little way into that post.


First in Flight

June 14, 2014

This is going to be a long post as I’m going to share the step-by-step creation of my latest small art quilt – First in Flight with all of you.

First in Flight

It all started with a Fiberista’s Art Group challenge. All the members take a turn presenting a program to the group, and we are supposed to make something from the new techniques we learn. Sue’s April technique was learning how to create original tesselations with the help of a new software program from TesselManiac. It was a big hit and we all purchased the program.

I love hummingbirds, and have planted perennials in my front yard so I can see the little darlings flit across from plant to plant all summer long. Of course, I had to attempt to create a tesselated hummingbird design, and succeeded:

Printed bird

I smoothed out the curves, added a small design in the body to give the illusion of a wing, and added a black eye in the head area, then traced the bird onto tracing paper over and over to get an arrangement I liked. Once the paper tracing pattern was completed, I placed a piece of 400M pfd fabric on top, and traced the design onto the fabric with a Sharpie.

Regina – a new RAFA member – had mentioned that she painted on fabric with clear Aloe Vera gel mixed with textile ink. Hmmm, that sounded like a lot of fun. She used 1 drop of ink to 1 tsp of Aloe Vera gel. Hmmm, what would happen if I tried to create values? The little chart below is a result of my testing:

Color Swatch

The names of the inks are on the left, the number of drops used is along the bottom, and the inks used were Liquitex professional acrylic ink, Daler Rowney FW acrylic artist inks, and Adirondack Alcohol inks. As you can see, you can create values by adding more drops of ink.

The little hatch-like marks at the upper left top were made with Derwent Inktense ink pencils, and I used them for a couple of the birds also.

This was a bit like painting by numbers. I stayed inside the line, painted on dry fabric, and mixed and matched the 4 colors I used in little plastic containers to create lots of variations. The sky was painted the same way, but with a larger brush, broad strokes, and 4 different colors.

The fabric was air dried for a couple of days, then ironed, then I gently washed the top to remove the Aloe Vera gel. The hand of the fabric was soft and supple, but the yellow bled a bit. I would not use this technique for something that had to be washed a lot, but it was perfect for this little art quilt.

Next it was quilted, and the bird taking off for its first flight was embellished with lots of metallic embroidery threads, and opening wings. The eye is a sequin with a French knot holding it in place.

Time to do the binding. I like turning the front fabric to the back, and mitering the corners, so I carefully pinned the front borders to the center, and trimmed the batting and backing away. When I turned it over and unpinned the quilt, this is what I found:

birds with slit border

Yes, that is a wonky slit across most of the bottom that is supposed to be the quilt edge. My reaction? I put my hands on either side of my face and repeatedly and sadly said “Oh my.” Now this is not normal behavior for me. I can be pretty emotional and have been known to swear, but I was really tired – which is probably why I didn’t think to turn the quilt over, and cut the batting and backing fabric from the back – like I normally do for this technique. I quietly left the room, went downstairs to eat lunch, and didn’t go back into my sewing studio till the next day. I looked at it, did a little heavy sighing, and left the room again for another 24 hours.

After considering several options, I simply whacked off the entire bottom edge, sewed a seam, and carefully, and I mean carefully, understitched the hem by hand so it would perfectly turn along the bottom edge. It came out great. It came out so great, I decided the quilt had been saved and was worthy of some hand embroidery.

Each and every little bird’s wing was hand embroidered with 2 strands of embroidery floss and – get this – with THE FLY STITCH !!! Pun intended.

I loved making this little quilt – even with the “Oh my” incident, but sure hope I don’t have an “Oh my” experience with my next creation.


SAQA 2014 Donation

May 27, 2014

I’ve been meaning to make a donation to the SAQA Auction for a couple of years, and today I mailed my very first one:


I can not believe I did not take a photo of this before I sent it, because it really doesn’t look like this anymore.

This was a black and white fabric value study of a picture of a palm tree I took in Arizona. Yes, there are palm trees in Arizona. The label has the inspirational color photo printed on it, so whoever purchases this will be able to see how this piece was created.

Anyway, the proportion of the two solid black fronds was off, and the placement on the piece wasn’t right, plus I hated the quilting in the middle of the right one, and the white zig-zag on the left palm frond. They were removed and replaced with larger fronds, closer together, and have a black zig-zag around them.

This piece was made last year in a Katie Pasquini Masopust class, and I told her I was making it for the SAQA auction. Hopefully, someone will bid on it.

PS – Yippee!!! I found a picture of the completed quilt:
finished piece

Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2014

A wonderful surpise arrived at my house yesterday:


It’s been ages since I’ve received fresh flowers – mostly because there were two cats in residence for awhile. There have been no cats in the house for the last 6 years, but somehow fresh flowers did not make a reappearance.

My daughter asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and you know what? For the life of me, I could not think of something I wanted to add to my home. My focus has been to declutter and simplify my environment, not add more material objects to it.

She grew up in a home that had fresh flowers on the table from early spring to fall. I love fresh flowers, and planned my gardens so there was always a variety to select for my floral arrangements. Gardening has fallen by the wayside since my knee got trashed, and to be honest, I loved the flowers, but hated the weeding. I don’t miss the gardening, but I do miss the ever present flowers.

When the doorbell rang, I had no idea what would greet me on the other side. The unexpected delivery was a delight. The glorious colors, the element of surprise, the gratitude I felt, all the emotions were rushing through my mind, and the overriding emotion was thankfulness that I had given birth to such a wonderul daughter.

My wish for all my readers is for you to enjoy this day. I hope you can all spend some time with your families, and to spend a moment remembering those who have passed.

To love and be loved, is the greatest joy on earth.


April Ogden Art Group Meeting

April 30, 2014

I’m squeaking this post in while it’s still April. Nothing like taking forever to transfer photos from my camera to my computer. I’m such a procrastinator. This meeting was 2 weeks ago, and it was a good one. It’s always interesting to learn a new technique, and to be inspired by a stellar Show and Tell.

Beth has made a lot of progress on her quilt:

Beth quilt

She has a wonderfully, clean approach to her work, and it’s always a joy to see what she is creating.

Julie has missed a few meetings, and she had a lot for Show and Tell, but these two were my favorites:

Julie circles

Julie leaves

The purple circle piece was started at a Fiberista’s meeting, and after all the stitching, she got brave and sliced into that heavily stitched piece. It looks so good against the background. Her judicious editing really worked well for this art quilt.

And the leaf quilt – what can I say about leaves? I love them. Any size, any color, any technique.

Sue took a beading class and made this:

Sue bracelet

I love that bracelet. The mixture of beads works so well in that bracelet, and this is the first time I’ve seen 2 different color leather cords used this way. I definitely need to get out more. It’s been pretty rainy here lately, and my getting out of the house mojo is missing. Where oh where has the sun gone???


GVQC April Meeting

April 12, 2014

It’s been a busy two weeks, and one lacking photos, but full of inspiration. I was bringing my beads to the last two meetings I attended, and there is only so much I can carry, so my camera stayed behind. There will be a tesselated piece coming soon, so that is something to look forward to viewing. Now that I posted this on my blog, I HAVE to make it. ;-)

Happily, I attended my local quilt guild meeting beadless. Dianne Hire was the guest lecturer, and she brought a lot of her quilts for us to see. They are absolutely stunning, and we were allowed to take photos, but not post any of them on our blog. While I can’t share those photos, I can of a couple of quilts from Show and Tell.

Chris Wickert’s most recent prize winning quilt was displayed:

Chris Wickert persian version applique

She woke up one morning, looked at the Persian carpet under her feet, and thought to herself, this would make a wonderful quilt. She loves working in silk, and her version of a Persian carpet became a reality. Please double click on that photo, and I hope you will be as impressed as all of us were.

Bev is working on a challenge, and this was her piece:

Bev Kondolf

Again please double click on this image. She created a lot of that fabric herself. Can you find the shibori?


Ogden Art Group Meeting and a Bracelet

March 29, 2014

Last week the Ogden Art Group met and Karen led the group with an ingenious project. We used calligraphy to create these applique designs:

calligraphy 1

calligraphy 2

calligraphy 3

calligraphy 4

No tutorial on the technique, as I strongly suggested to Karen this would make a great book, and she’s thinking about it.

Sue had some nice pieces for Show and Tell. She is taking a watercolor workshop, and thought it would be interesting to show the class how her watercolor could be translated to fabric. She did an amazing job

Sue's watercolor

Last month’s bead guild meeting was on kumihimo using beads on the cords. This was Sue’s work:

Sue's kumihimo

I was still on vacation, so missed the workshop, but did make a bracelet on my own:
Bracelet 1

This was made by connecting some filigree pieces with jump rings, then some connectors to the ends. It was pretty unadorned, but I decided to bling it up a bit with some crystals. Smaller jump rings were used to attach the crystals along the edges. I have no clue why I added the crystals and I’m not a bling type person, so if this appeals to you, it could be yours. Just leave me a comment. and I’ll email you back with the price info.

Size info? My wrist is pretty small. It measures 6 3/4″ from the tip of the closure to the jump ring it slides into. And as usual, if you click on any of the photos, they will enlarge for you, so you can see all the details.



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