Thursday, April 30, 2009

More on Dying

I've gotten a few comments about how I dye, so I thought I'd delve into it a bit further today.  I use Dharma Fiber Reactive Dyes which I purchased a few years ago.  I have five colors of these dyes: turquoise, fuchsia red (I called it pink yesterday), yellow, brown, and black.  I rarely dye fabric brown or black, but I use these colors to darken other colors.  Turquoise mixed with a bit of brown is a beautiful color.

I don't keep up with how much of each dye I use in a batch - I just add a bit of this and a bit of that, just like when I cook.  Because I use PFD fabric, I don't have to chemically treat the fabric before I start.

I do use a fixative.  The formula is 1/2 cup salt and 4 teaspoons soda ash per gallon of water.  I have an old milk jug on which I have this formula written in Sharpie.  I mix the fixative in this jug and never have to look for the recipe - it's always right there.

For this piece of fabric, I liberally drizzled the fixative over the fabric once it was arranged on the table.  This is the first time I've done it like this.  I typically pour 2 cups of fixative in a gallon baggie, then I my add dye (which I premixed in a cup of water), and then add a piece of wet fabric, all scrunched up.  But I wanted to get horizontal movement on this piece, so I did some experimenting.

I hope this answers your questions.  And one nice reader very kindly pointed out that it would be more earth friendly to use paper cups rather than styrofoam and popsicle sticks instead of plastic spoons.  She's certainly correct, but I'm trying to avoid buying anything for quilting this year, and I already had these cups and spoons in my house.  So I used them.  But in the future, I'll try to be more "green" in my dying, I promise! 

Now for my April summary!  I finished the applique on Patches last night!  Yay me!  I still have to applique the portrait to the background before this quilt top is finished.  Today I pinned it in place and will start this final applique tonight.  It shouldn't take more than a couple of days.

So one stash quilt ALMOST complete during the month of April.  As for May, I want to quilt the Patches quilt and bind it, totally finishing it within the next couple of weeks.  I haven't decided on a stash color to work on for May yet, but I'll keep you posted on that.  I've had a quilt design running through my head for the last month - an easy, scrappy pattern that would work up quickly; I think that's what I'll do for my May stash quilt.

By the way, I've now made it EIGHT MONTHS without buying fabric!  I can hardly believe it myself.  I think I'm going to make it!  Yesterday I made hotel reservation for Houston - I've never been to that show and have made it my goal to attend this year.  My year long no-buy journey will be over by then (October) so I can actually shop.  But going this long without buying fabric has really changed my perspective as a quilter.  I no longer feel compelled to buy, buy, buy fabric.  I haven't made a dent in my stash in these eight months, so I will probably buy more supplies (like inks, paints) than actual fabric when I go.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Dying Adventure

Here's my day of dying from a couple of days ago.  I set up a card table on the driveway and covered it with big plastic garbage bags.  The bricks are to keep the plastic from blowing up on the edges.  The fabric is white Kona PFD (prepared for dye) - I started my "no buy" year with a few yards of this on hand, thank goodness.  It's one of the first things I'll buy when my year is up!

I wet the fabric with plain water and loosely accordion folded it on the table.  These folds were my attempt to get some horizontal movement in the final dyed fabric.
Next came the messy part!  I mixed about four different colors of dye:
1.  Turquoise
2.  Turquoise plus brown
3.  Turquoise plus pink
4.  Yellow plus pink

I mix my dyes in styrofoam cups (easily disposable!) with plastic spoons (easily disposable).  I place the dye cups in a plastic shoe box so that if one tips, it will spill in the box.  I simply drizzled the dyes directly on the fabric, heavy on the blue with a touch of the  yellow+pink=orange in a couple of places.

The results:

I'm pleased with the results, though if I had it to do over I'd have diluted the dyes a bit more for less intensity.  It is very rich, though, isn't it.  I have just enough PDF fabric left to do one more piece if I decide to try again.  But I'll pin Patches to it first to see how he looks.

Speaking of Patches, only 3, three, THREE more little LITTLE pieces to applique.  I'll finish him tonight!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Hummingbird

Sorry for the blurriness; he kept moving on me!  This is my small purchase from Sunday's art show.  It's made from a soda can - good example of "green" art.  His wings are like pinwheels; they spin in the breeze.  I hung him from the ceiling fan pull on the deck.

I've been a busy bee this week.  I'm ALMOST done with the hand applique on Patches!!!!  So close I can taste it!!!  I've also done a bit of dying, trying to come up with the perfect background piece for him.  More on that later.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Pile of Trash?

Hubby and I went to the annual art show in downtown Birmingham today - look at the treasures I found!  Literally.  An old piece of steel, a wonderfully rusty, curly piece of metal, and a piece of caution tape.  I LOVE this kind of stuff.  I can wrap vinegar soaked fabric around the metal piece to give them a rusty patina.  I'm also planning to other fun things with the curly cue piece - I love its movement.  And the caution tape - I'll bet I can sew through it, so it will definitely be added to a green quilt at some point.

And yes, we saw lots of cool artwork, too.  We did actually buy one little thing.  I'll show it to you tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Another Gardening Day

Yay, I'm pretty much done!  We have a fairly large yard and hubby does a great job of maintaining it.  Lucky for me, he enjoys yard work.  But last year I laid claim to this tiny little area as my garden.  I planted a few perennials here last year  and most of them came back.  I added in a few more yesterday and today.

I also planted the topsy turvy today.  By the way, these are available for $9.99 at Walmart.

Here a view from below.
My only complaint is the color and pattern.  It looks a bit tacky hanging from the deck, but I'm looking forward to seeing how well it works.  I wonder if I could paint it... maybe some stripes?

I know you're sick of hearing about my garden!  Now for some quilt news.  Remember my Spring Break quilt?  When I sent it to Houston for the Celebrate Spring traveling exhibit, I had to option to get it appraised while it's gone.  Today I got the results of the appraisal.

I was VERY pleased with the results!  I'll never sell this quilt - it just wouldn't be right for my daughter (in a bathing suit!) to be hanging out on a stranger's wall.  I never sell sentimental pieces.  But, I'd never had a quilt appraised, so I had no idea what one of my art pieces would be worth.  I'd continue making these even if they weren't worth anything!  I mean, it's what I do.  And I love it.  But, this little bit of positive reinforcement gave me a real boost today!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tomato Week!

No, I don't have any more tomato quilts to show, but today I planted two tomato plants!  The weather is finally warm enough here, and we shouldn't have any more frost.  We don't have the best yard to grow vegetables, but I found a little corner of the backyard to put them.  They don't get sun all day like they should, but last year they did pretty well there.

I also planted a yellow bell pepper plants and potted lots of flowers.  Spring is really here!

I have one more tomato to plant, but I'll do it tomorrow, I think.  Have you seen those commercials on TV for the Topsy Turvy Upside Down Tomato Planter?  I bought one to try this year.  I'm going to hang it off a planter hanger on my deck.  The deck gets lots of sun, so this should work well.  I'll be planting a Grape Tomato plant in the Topsy Turvey.  I'll take pictures of it tomorrow when I plant it.  If nothing else, it should be fun to watch it grow upside down.

I working outside for about 6 hours today, plus I got a haircut, so I haven't quilted much.  I'm camping out in front of the TV tonight in my recliner (with doxies and quilt) and work on the Patches quilt.  I haven't posted a picture of it in over a week, but it hasn't changed drastically since you last saw it.  I'm getting closer to being done, so I'll probably wait to show you once I've finished this applique.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vine Ripened

Here's my other 12"x12" tomato quilt, Vine Ripened.  The green square is canvas that I painted.  I stitched the canvas to hand dyed fabric and painted more tomatoes.  The "T' is needle felted wool.  I also needled felted more wool on the tomatoes (see the blue?).  I embroidered tomato varieties around the green square.  The hand is cut from the covering of a tangerine crate and fused in place.  I also glued some pieces of phone book on the tomatoes.

Lots of techniques, lots of fun.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tic Tac Tomato

Remember those tomato quilts I was working on a few months ago?  I entered them into the Quilting Arts magazine 2010 calendar contest.  Neither one was a finalist, so I can show them now.  Here's my favorite, Tic Tac Tomato.
You may remember I stamped the tomato images with fabric paint.  I used selvages to depict the tic tac toe grid.
Puff paint illustrates the mayonnaise.
Then I added some beads (for seeds) and LOTS of hand quilting using embroidery floss.  Very fun quilt!  I just listed it in my Etsy shop, if you happen to be interested.

Speaking of tomatoes, I just put together two casseroles of lasagna for our dinner.  With only two of us, I divided the recipe in two pans and froze one.  So dinner is ready to go in the oven, and I'm ready to sit down and stitch more on the Patches quilt.  

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dogs in Art

Sorry to have been away a couple of days.  Allergies, sinus headache, etc., etc.  I'm ready for SUMMER!  My progress also slowed down on the Patches quilt, though I'm ready to start stitching again!

Today was a fun day.  The Birmingham Quilters Guild hosted the quarterly meeting of the Gulf States Quilt Association (I hope I got that name right!) here in Birmingham.  This is a group of over 600 quilters who reside in four states.  Of course being so spread out, not everyone comes to all meetings, but they had a good turnout.  Members of our B'ham guild were welcome to come and participate, which many of us did.

There was so much Show and Tell that there wasn't room to hang it all!  It was almost like being at a quilt show, except with the added benefit of hearing each quilter telling about their work.

Today I wanted to share with you a phenomenal You-Tube video.  No, it's not the now-famous Brit Susan Boyle singing, though isn't she great!  No, this is a link sent to me by my good friend, Tammie B., who know how much I love dogs.  Check it out - it's really cool!  Click here for video.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How I Work

When working on a hand applique project such as the Patches quilt, there's no need to be in my studio.  I might as well be comfy, don't you think?  So I sit in the family room in a recliner, with my feet up.  I have a small table on my left to put my thread, scissors, TV remote, phone, and a cold drink.  I have a lamp over my right shoulder.

I have a quilt over my lap, because I always like to have a quilt over my lap, winter or summer.  My applique project  lays over the quilt.

And under the quilt....
I have two sleeping dachshunds.  It's a fun way to work, plus I'm never lonely!  Can you tell I woke up Mickey for this picture?  Prince is to the left; he refused to even lift his head.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Easter Visitor

Yes, we had a visit from the Easter Bunny Sunday!  We see wild rabbits frequently in our neighborhood, but they are always brown.  We started noticing this bunny about a week ago.  He (or she) really gets around because nearly everyone on our street has been seeing him (her) in their yard, too.  We are all assuming that he (she) is an escaped pet, since none of us has ever seen a white wild rabbit.  We've heard that he (she) has been seen hanging out with a brown wild rabbit, so we'll probably have baby bunnies all over the place soon.

I'm having a non stop sewing day today.  I'm still debating what to do about the background for Patches.  I think I'm going to have to finish him and try out some options.  I have some PFD fabric so I'm even considering custom dying a piece to use.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Patches Portrait Update

Here's the status as of Sunday evening.  I'm pleased that I'm well over half way done!  I should be able to accomplish a lot this week.  I'd love to finish the face by this time next week, and then use the following week to work on the background.  I don't have a specific looming deadline though, only my own self imposed goals.

Daughter 2 left late this afternoon to return to college.  It was a great Easter weekend, and Daughter 1 will be home next weekend.  So we get two weekends of fun in a row.  Yay us!

We had a special Easter surprise in our backyard this morning.  I'll post a picture of it tomorrow.  Hint:  It's very cute and has long ears!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

We are enjoying a wonderful Easter weekend, and hope you are as well.  This is an azalea in our front yard; they're at their peak this week. 

I'm still plugging away on my Patches quilt.  I'll post a new photo by Monday.  I haven't worked quite as much on it over the last couple of days, party because I'm enjoying Daughter 2's visit, and partly because my hands needed a rest.  I'm right handed, but this is not the hand that bothers me the most after hours of hand work.  I must tense up my left hand while holding the project.  Or maybe I'm just holding that hand in an awkward position.  When I start to feel it, I know it's time to back off for a while.  So I've given my left hand a much needed break this weekend.

I wish you all a blessed Easter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Portrait Surprise

There was so much traffic on my blog yesterday after being featured on the selvage blog!  Welcome new friends - glad to have you around in my blog-i-sphere!  For all you newcomers, I'm currently working on a quilt portrait of one of our dogs, Patches.  Doesn't he have the perfect name for a quilter's dog?  My book, Fabric Photo Play (published by the American Quilter's Society in Paducah) explains the technique I developed several years ago to make portrait quilts.

Sometimes I make portraits using fusible applique.  I've also done them with machine applique.  For this quilt I'm doing hand applique.  It's a bit time consuming, but I'm really enjoying the process.  I only started this project a couple of weeks ago, and it's coming along faster than I expected.

Last night I went through my stash looking for a fabric for parts of Patches' face and chest.  I needed something that would read as light gray from a distance.  In the bottom of my black/white drawer I found this.

It's perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can you see why?  No?  Get a little closer.....
I don't remember buying this.  I don't even remember seeing it before!  Is this not adorable!!!
The selvage says it's by Nancy Wolff designs.  There's no telling how old it is, but I wish a had more.  I don't have quite enough of it, so I'll find another fabric to go with it.

When I make a portrait quilt, I love to "hide" a couple of fabrics that you don't notice from a distance.  But when you get closer, you can see them - fun and happy little surprises, just like this fabric.  Once I did a portrait of one of my nephews and I used dinosaur fabric along with candy fabric in various spots.  I love to find a fabric that relates to the portrait subject AND fits in with the color scheme I'm trying to accomplish.
Daughter 2 is coming home from college for Easter break.  I threw together a fruit salad this morning using whatever fruits I could find in the kitchen: banana, apple, strawberries, mandarin oranges, and pineapple chunks.  I've got a crock pot of baked potato soup simmering as we speak.  Yummy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Check Out the Selvage Blog

Karen Griska is featuring my Green Zinger on her Selvage Blog Wednesday!  Be sure to check it out, along with so many other selvage projects.  Thanks, Karen!

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Patches!

FINALLY, today I basted the eye to the quilt!  I don't think a portrait ever looks right until I get the eye done.  Now, this one is not complete yet, but at least it's basted and ready.  And I'm loving this fabric that I've used for the copper fur.
Isn't this yummy?  I bought this piece years ago from a friend in our guild whose husband dyes fabric.  He does a great job, obviously.  This piece has a bit of green in it, too.

One of my good friends, Lisa, saw this quilt in person last week and though she's been following the progress here on the blog, she wasn't expecting it to be so big.  To give you a bit of perspective, the nose alone is about the size of a large dinner plate.

The part of the quilt I'm doing now has really big pieces, so it's going quickly again.  Once I move over to his ear, though, the pieces are little again.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy B'day to Hubby

We've been celebrating today!  I gave hubby a Wii system, and so far I've beat him at both bowling and golf, which is amazing since he's definitely the athlete in the family.  We're having a blast playing.  I gave him the Wii Fit to go with it, but we haven't gotten past the fun sports.  Lots of fun!

I've spent a bit of time on the Patches quilt, too.  I'll post a picture of the progress tomorrow.  Best to all!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Making Slow Progress

Somehow, the Patches quilt has slowed a bit, partly because of a two-day sinus headache.  I did catch up on the applique this afternoon, and pinned three more pieces in place to work on tonight.

At my quilt bee meeting yesterday, NG brought this beautiful old quilt top someone had given her.  It is entirely hand pieced, probably in the 40's.
I love the aqua's and red's together.
In other news, the winners of the Celebrate Spring exhibit have been announced, and after seeing them, I'm just honored to have been a finalist.  Go here to see them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dogwood blossoms?

Here's another option for my Patches quilt.  It kind of makes sense, don't  you think?  Dogwood trees are all over our yard.  Patches is a DOG.  My last name is WOOD.  Hmmm.....

My quilt took a tiny step back yesterday, though in the long run it was for the best.  As Patches' face grew, it started becoming a bit distorted, what with the bias pieces stretching a little here and there.  What to do...

I ended up tracing my entire enlarged pattern onto a big piece of muslin.  Than I stitched the part of the face that I've done in it's place on the muslin.  Now, I as add another piece of fabric, I pin it to the front, then use a heavy jeans thread to baste it from the back along the traced pattern.  I can then trim the piece on the front and it's ready to applique, clipping those basting threads as I go.  I can't use freezer paper anymore since there's no way to get it out.  The muslin stabilizes the entire piece though, so it's worth it. 

It took a few hours yesterday to switch gears and get the piece ready to continue again.   This morning I finally attacked the accumulating dust bunnies so I'm ready to get back to the needle and thread.  It's full speed ahead now!