More Wonky 9 Patch

June 4, 2015

Following up on my last post, I sewed the strips together from the wonky 9 patch I thought I ruined:

6 slice 9 patch

Much to my surprise, I actually like these two blocks.   Cutting those blocks into 6 narrow strips was a mistake, but a mistake that resulted in yet another look.

The blocks could be rotated too, or I can place a square ruler on top of them – at an angle – cut around the ruler, and create yet another look.  I think that might look good too.

What started as trying to make one wonky 9-patch block, turned into creating many variations, and something tells me, there are lots more to be discovered.  Don’t you just love it when a simple idea spurs creativity?



Wonky 9 Patch

May 31, 2015

This week was spent exploring different methods of making a wonky 9 patch square.  Now you’d think this would be easy, but I had a heck of a time trying to be a wonky piecer.

I started by making a traditional 9 patch a little larger than wanted, then placed a square ruler at angles on top of the square, trimmed around the ruler, and voila:

red green straightred and green

I did not like this one little bit, most likely because I used 10″ blocks, and the center block – be it white or a fabric print, was way too prominent.  Attempting to get rid of that large center square, I sliced and diced one of the blocks, and inserted some fabric strips.  Still didn’t like it.

Next, I thought it might work much better if I used uneven fabric squares, or long strips of fabrics cut with a gentle curve:


Now this might work well, but I used a striped fabric, and it really distracts from the effect I was trying to attain.

Onwards to another idea.  This time I used a 9″ block – 1 solid, 1 print,  placed them on my cutting mat right sides up, then made an angled straight cut:

step 1

Took the print fabric from the bottom right, and sewed it to the solid color piece of fabric on the left, and sewed the bottom pieces together also.  Then another angled straight cut was made on the left.

step 2

Again the fabrics were shuffled, and sewn together:

step 3

Then I made the spectacular mistake of cross cutting these squares into way too many skinny strips.  I didn’t bother sewing them together, as I thought I royally screwed up.  Now that I’m taking the time to reflect on this atempt, I will sew them together.  Like all good fiber artists, I saved the cut fabric.  I’m so glad I did.

Next was a smaller block – 6″, again a solid and a print, cut and shuffled like the last attempt, with only 2 horizontal cuts made:

step 4

Much better proportions.  One set was made with straight cuts, and one set was made with gentle curves:

4 finished blocks

Now this is more like it.  Finally, I got some wonky blocks.

I hope some of you get inspired to get your wonkiness on.  ;-)


Design Wall & Telephone/Whisper Quilt – Fiberistas Members Don’t Read This Post

May 14, 2015

Four  design boards have been added to my sewing studio lately.  I used the tutorial from The Quilting Edge, and it is brilliant.  I now have 10′ of horizontal design wall when I want.

I placed two boards on either side of my north facing window, and when I want to utilize the entire width, I remove the window drapes, place a flannel sheet over the drapery rod, and Voila, I have a nice wide design wall.  When I don’t need that large a space, I remove the sheet, and I still have 4′ on each side of the window, and that works great too.

In between way too many doctors’s appointments and tests, I’ve been quietly creating art quilts, but haven’t posted what I’ve been making as the pieces are part of my Fiberistas group Telephone/Whisper quilt challenge.

Quilt club was today, and a member mentioned it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, so thought I’d risk posting this, and hope my Fiberista friends stop reading this post here.

Each member created a small quilt in January 2015, and passed it to another member.  The second person creates a quilt inspired by the first quilt.  The first quilt is then sealed in an envelope, and then placed in a box with the second quilt.  Together, they are passed to a third member.  The third member makes a quilt inspired by the second quilt.  Seals up the second quilt, puts that in the box with the sealed first quilt, adds the quilt she made, and passes it on to another member, and so on, until we’ve all created a quilt for each phone line.

There are 9 of us participating in this challenge, and we aren’t supposed to cheat by opening any of the sealed envelopes.  Here is a picture of the most recent small quilt I created for the challenge:

Steph finished quilt

I selected some quotes about leaves, attributed them to the author, and printed them out on interleaving paper, cut out squares and rectangles that were then sewn onto the base fabric.  I do wish I had printed this out on fabric instead of the paper though.  I’m a bit worried the paper will be easily torn.

Btw, it’s really easy to design and print text using a Word type program.  I used Microsoft Word and it has oodles of fonts.  You can change the size, and color, plus you can change the background color.  Nothing like customized printing.

Then I took a cloth napkin, cut out some rectangles, and free-hand drew some leaves on it with a brown Sharpie.  Sewed them down, and frayed the fabric edges.

Some of you might recognize the base fabric from an earlier post that was dyed, painted, shibori dyed, and then painted a bit more.  There are gold circles on this fabric so I thought a little repetition of the shape would look nice, but do wish I had used sheers for the circles.  They are awfully prominent on this piece.

Those are the only two things I would change, but when you have a deadline, you have to keep it.  With 9 people participating in a challenge like this, you really don’t want to be the person who messes up the rotation.


Back Home

April 19, 2015

Hi Everybody,

We did make it to Arizona, but I managed to lose my Arizona themed Tibetan prayer flags somewhere.  Hopefully, they’ll turn up, but I have no idea where they could be.

We had a great time on vacation.  The weather was perfect, we met old friends, made new friends, our daughter came for a visit, and we were happy campers the entire time.

I set up an outside sewing studio and made a few items:

  • A chair cover
  • A telephone/whisper quilt
  • A tablerunner
  • Worked on a knitted counterpane

Lots of sight seeing, lots of eating out, pool time, and just chilling outside on our patio reading good books.  It was a wonderful getaway from all the cold weather back home.

Taxes are done, and I’m back to attending local meetings, and sewing in my home studio.  No gentle breezes, birdsong or visitors walking by my patio studio, but it’s great to have access to my fabric collection, have lots of thread choices, and room to spread out.

While I was in Tucson, one of my Arizona quilt clubs decided to make charity quilts for Casa de Los Ninos in Tucson, and those who wanted to participate brought thirty 12″ blocks.  They were put in a pile, mixed up well, and we took turns selecting blocks for our quilts.  We used the Fons and Porter RandomActsofHappy pattern to make our tops.  Here is how mine turned out:

Quilt from Arizona

While all the fabric came from Tucson, this quilt top will be donated to my local quilt guild’s Comfort Quilt project.  I’m 2,500 miles away from Tucson at the moment, so my local Comfort Quilt club will benefit.


Tibetan Prayer Flags

January 17, 2015

I’m still home, but dreaming about going on vacation, so thought I’d try my hand at making some prayer flags in the Tibetan manner to help nudge me on my way.

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five: one in each of five colors. The five colors are arranged from left to right in a specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow, but I’m making my flags with Tucson on my mind. This is the first one I made:

Tucson Emb

The sun embroidery was sewn out a few months ago with plans of using it for the base of a Bead Journal Project, but thought it was perfect for this project. The sun always seems to be shining in Tucson, so I used a built in alphabet in my sewing machine to sew the city’s name in lots of different rayon thread colors. The design is from Kreations by Kara

The second design was done this past week when I got home from the hospital:

Hand Spiral

Inktense pencils were used to create the watercolor background on the same muslin as the first flag. The colors used were Burnt Orange, Sicilian Yellow, Baked Earth, and Chilli Red.

I much prefer the bottom of the piece. I like how some of the background fabric shows through, and I like how it looks a bit like paint flaking off an old fresco.

Too much water was used in the center, so the colors blended too much for the look I was going for, but this was a good learning experience. If you click on the photo it will enlarge for you, and I hope you can see the difference between the bottom and the middle.
It’s the first time I’ve used these pencils, and I definitely plan on using them a lot more. The fabric was left nice and soft.

Then I placed my hand on the colored fabric, and traced around it with a pencil, and added a spiral design on the palm. It looked pretty flat to me, so to create some depth, I made a freezer paper mask for my hand, and stamped spirals all over the piece. Oh yes, instant depth.

Metallic YLI thread was used to sew around the spiral in a double straight stitch on my sewing machine, and then I hand beaded around the hand image.

I’m pretty sure I’ll make a third flag, maybe with a saguaro cactus on it, but then again, it could be more spirals. That sun is spiraling, the palm design is a spiral, and I actually had that spiral stamp used for the background in my stamp collection. I obviously have a subliminal attraction to spirals.


Dye Play Day

January 2, 2015

Yesterday was a “what if” surface design day for me, and I added a couple of techniques to a piece of fabric I had been saving for a dye day. It all started a little after Thanksgiving.

I had a lot of left over paint from making Child’s Play, and decided to use it all up after the piece was finished. I cut a piece of PFD fabric, placed it on a plastic drop cloth, and proceeded to draw circles and make marks:

Painted fabric 1

I let them dry for 24 hours, then heat set them with an iron. The holidays arrived, and the fabric sat in my laundry room till yesterday.

I love stitch resist dyeing so did some straight line stitching in a 12” block arrangement. 5 rows every 2” horizontally, then 5 rows every 2” vertically. Gathered the stitching to get this:

Scrunched Fabric 2

Now to use the last of the print paste I had mixed up – which somehow hardened. I really didn’t want to mix up more, so added a bit of hot water, nuked the container, stirred, nuked the container again, stirred some more, and Ta Da the print paste was rescued.

As this was a totally fun play dye day, I didn’t weigh anything or do any math. I put a plastic teaspoon full of soda ash in the print paste – and I have no clue how much print paste was in the container, with a dash of Pro Chem’s Deep Purple #8147. The fabric was not presoaked in soda ash, so soda ash had to be added to the print paste for the fabric to dye. Using a sponge brush, I painted all the high spots on the dry, gathered fabric, then let it sit in the sun for an hour:

Print Paste 3

A couple of months ago, I had mixed all the dye concentrate I had into one bottle. I have no clue what colors, or depth of shade it was, and being over 2 months old, wasn’t sure if this concentrate would still dye the fabric, but went for it. This concentrate was poured into a plastic container, but didn’t cover the bottom, so I added some water. The fabric was laid flat and squished a bit so there would be no white spots.

After 15 minutes, I added a cup of soda ash water, and batched it in the sun for an hour and a half, and this is the result:

Finished Fabric Close-up

I’m pretty darn happy with the results, and learned quite a bit.

First off, I lost all the red circles made with the Liquitex ink and aloe vera. I’m not sure if that is because the dye concentrate color covered it or not. Most of the yellow disappeared also – made with Adirondack alcohol inks and aloe vera, while only some of the green did, and a lot of the blue stayed – both made with Daler Rowney inks and aloe vera. The bronze circles stayed the best, and they were made with Golden acrylics with lots of textile medium added for a very watery consistency.

The inks were very easy to sew through and gather. The thinned Golden acrylic did not want to be tightly gathered. It also changed the hand of the fabric. Since I used an iridescent bronze there are wonderful highlights in those circles. Everywhere the light hits, it shines.

I know I’m not done playing with this fabric. The bronze circles are way too dominate, and I liked how the circles linked together in the first step, so will definitely add more circles.

I achieved my goal of using up all my old mixed supplies, and now have a totally clean dye studio – also known as my laundry room. It won’t take me long to mess it up again, but it sure was nice to be able to see the top of my washing machine and dryer again. Anybody want to start laying bets on how long it’ll stay this clean? ;-)


Happy New Year 2015

January 1, 2015

Nothing profound or earth shattering happened to me in 2014, and while I could have stood some enlightenment, I was very happy nothing earth shattering occurred. I usually associate earth shattering as something negative, due to all the disaster movies I’ve seen on the SyFy channel, so all is actually good in my little part of the universe.

For those of you who remember my focus on trying to destash some of the “stuff” in my home, it has slowed significantly. That must mean I really want/need what I own. Only 93 pounds of “stuff” departed in 2014. My grand total has reached 3,181 pounds out of here. It looks like it will take an actual household move to get me to the 2 ton mark.

No recap of what I’ve accomplished this year, no list of what I’d like to do in 2015, but I do have to admit, I have a file on my computer titled “What I Want to Make”. It’s getting longer and longer. I’m like a little kid at Thanksgiving who puts too much food on their plate. Their eyes are bigger than what their stomach can handle, but I consider having that long list a very good thing. It fills me with awe, inspiration, and offers a world of creativity for my future – an opportunity to learn something new every day.

I wish you all the same future, plus one filled with good health, happiness, and love – lots and lots of love.


Clothesline Bowl

December 18, 2014

Usually, I gift a bottle of wine when I attend parties at this time of the year, but I came across an interesting book called It’s a Wrap by Susan Breier. Hmmm, what about a fabric bowl? I have fabric. Boy do I have fabric. I even had the correct type of clothesline in the house. All right, I was in the basket making business.

Clothesline basket1

Clothesline basket2

It is so much fun making one of these baskets. Yes, it’s a little tedious wrapping the fabric strips around the clothesline, but when you get to the sewing, before you know it, a basket is constructed before your eyes. Fill it up with macaroons and scones, and you have a wonderful hostess gift.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. Before you know it, you’ll be making bowls, and purses, and plates galore.


Child’s Play

December 16, 2014

My most recent piece was for the international art quilt blog I belong to Sky is the Limit and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process.

Childs play finished

This piece started out as a white piece of fabric. I selected an image, and traced it with a fine Sharpie black marker. Then it sat on my kitchen table for a month. What can I say? I’m wonderful at procrastination.

The deadline passed, I was going to have company soon, and needed the kitchen table, so I got busy last week. First thing was to stamp those swirls all over the fabric. I used Golden Bronze mixed with a lot of textile medium, but it came way too dark. Solution? I took it to the kitchen sink, and scrubbed it with soap and water. Now I was happier with the much lighter swirls.

Next came painting the image. I love, love, love using textile and alcohol inks with clear aloe gel, so did exactly that. Still worried that one side had darker swirls than the other, I decided to paint both sides of the piece.

Thus came the disastrous bleeding outside the lines in the apple tree leaves. I did not wait for one side to dry before I flipped it over and painted the other side. Lesson learned – let the paint dry before you attempt to paint both sides of the fabric. It’s really not that big a deal, and I kept it “as is” to remind me not to do that again – unless I want a watercolor effect.

Next step was layer it up with batting, and using 6 strands of DMC floss I sewed big stitches around the image – just like I did when I was 3 years old. I added the numbers as I sewed the big stitches with an Ultra Fine Sharpie marker.

Then I added backing fabric, and machine quilted around the apple tree branch and apples. Heat set the piece with my iron, then used my favorite binding technique, and ta da Child’s Play was completed.

This was so much fun to make. Every time I approached this piece, I felt like it was play time. With all the misery in the world, I needed to create a bit of calm and happiness for myself, and wish the entire world could be at peace. That is my fervent desire for all of you.


Crazy Quilt Block from Kathy Shawkl’s Beginner Online Class

November 28, 2014

I’ve been quietly working away on Kathy Shawkl’s Crazy Quilt Block class these past few weeks, and finished it up in time for Thanksgiving:

CQ Class 2nd finish

Her instructions were very good, and Kathy offers this class for free. Can you believe that? She is doing a great job promoting and encouraging fiber artists to try crazy quilting. If you want to give this a try, go to Kathy’s website to see when it will be offered again.



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