Category Archives: Project Ideas

Tracing Cloth Play

A chance discovery of Pellon 830, called Easy Pattern, led me to experiment with ways to use it. Pellon calls it an interfacing-tracing cloth. I bought a bolt of it to make a sample pattern for my silk vest (Why a bolt? It was a 60% off sale and the usual price was $2.48/yard. You do the math.) That went well as 830 sews nicely, but then I began to wonder about other uses.

Out came the paints, the watercolor pencils, the crayons, the stamps, and the brushes. First, I soaked pieces of 830 in containers filled with diluted fabric paint, which resulted in soft pastels. Then I began to stencil and stamp it.

I fused some of the colored 830 to Wonder Under, cut it up and ironed it to fabric. Then I quilted it. I found that it doesn’t fray and even three layers are quite thin.

On other experimental fronts, I traced stencils with markers and found the result to be crisper than on fabric.

Then, I traced a flower from a quilt photo (the 830 is translucent), colored it with watercolor pencils, and outlined it with a fine tip black marker. I think traced designs could be cut out and fused to fabric.

About the time I began my tracing cloth play, I found out that Betty Busby uses this stuff in her quilts. A friend took a class with her where students used this and Evolon. Busby has her students use a Silhouette Cameo machine to cut out original designs from these materials. Here are pieces Busby made that incorporate nonwovens.

“Buffalo Gourd’s” leaves are made of nonwoven material, and sewn onto hand painted silk.

Busby developed “Toupee The Turtle” to teach students how to use nonwoven material. It looks like the background is hand painted fabric.

There are numerous advantages of this material. It cuts easily, is washable, doesn’t fray, is fusible, can be sewn on, takes paint and marking tools well, and is translucent enough to trace designs onto it. You don’t get the drag of fabric when you use pencils or markers on it. Oh, did I mention it’s cheap?

I encountered a few disadvantages. The fabric paints I used didn’t dry to exceptionally intense colors but were more pastel. However, I diluted my paint, so full strength paint may give more color. I haven’t tried acrylic paint or dyes so I can’t speak to how well they do. Also, unless you can get opaque coverage from paint, any fabric used underneath 830 will show through a bit.

Busby’s work shows me I have lots more experimenting to do with this material. Lucky for me I have most of a bolt left.

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It Seemed Like A Good Idea

A few months ago I wrote about Wen Redmond’s book “Digital Fiber Art” and my confusion about how to proceed with her techniques. So I was glad to see steps to follow in her article in the latest Quilting Arts about how to transfer a photo to cloth. Of course I had to try out the technique.

I made my base fabric collage with scraps that included an old tee shirt mop up rag that had turned lovely pastel shades.

Then, I covered a black and white inkjet copy of a photo from my Around Here series with mat gel medium per the directions and rubbed it onto the fabric base.

Once that dried I moistened it and rubbed away the paper to (hopefully) leave the transfer print behind. At this point my results diverged from the instructions. Either too little or too much of the paper came off, so some of the edges were jaggedy. Maybe I didn’t apply enough gel medium. More important, the photo looked really dark.

I thought I could brighten it up with big stitches.

After three colors of perle cotton I decided it was still too dark, so I moved on to machine stitching. Then I got the bright idea to highlight the light areas with metallic paint.

That turned out way too garish, so I tried sanding the painted areas to tone them down. I found that gel medium stands up well to sanding with fine sandpaper. Unfortunately, it didn’t remove as much of the paint as I had hoped.

Right now my experiment resides in the drawer of shame. Lessons learned:

-choose a photo with a lot more light areas and just a few dark lines

-do a practice photo transfer before the one that counts

-remember that subtlety isn’t my strong point, and there’s a fine, but definite, line between subtle and dreary.

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Playing With Solids

The double whammy of the recent Circular Abstractions bulls eye quilt exhibit and a quilt group program on Nancy Crow’s design methods led me to pull out all my saved solid fabric strips and sew them together. I hope this link to Pinterest gives you an idea of the exercises students do in Nancy’s workshops. She offers several multi-day classes that range from beginner to expert.

My design wall became colonized by stripey units in various stages – just stripes, units cut from stripes, units with added cross stripes… As always, it’s fascinating to see which colors enhance each other and which just stick out their tongues at each other. So far I’ve worked only from scraps, though some of the scraps are about fat quarter size. If I want to make larger units I may have to break into stash.

For now I’ll set these assemblages aside to mellow a bit and wait for further inspiration. My fellow group members had fun playing with strips. Here are some of their efforts.

You begin Nancy’s workshop with lots of strip piecing, which you then build into units, and finally you do an overall composition. Since I made my units above before our group program I didn’t exactly follow Nancy’s dictates.

I learned that Nancy takes away everyone’s ruler after a few days; that she wants you to cut towards, rather than away, from you (I find that scary); and that she wants you to backstitch at the start and finish of seams.The ruler thing is amusing as Nancy once lent her name to an acrylic ruler.

I also learned she uses the same rotary cutter blade for a long time, even up to a year. Apparently she doesn’t sharpen it. We all wondered how that was possible, given the amount of cutting involved with her method.

All that cutting is the reason I won’t be adopting Nancy’s methods in a big way. Pressing down to get through multiple fabric layers and seams doesn’t do my shoulder any good. I plan to develop some of my starts further, but after that, who knows.

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Fabric Paper or Reverse Engineering

Traditionally, fine paper was made from cotton rags, hence rag paper. It’s more durable and far less acidic than paper made from wood pulp. So you could say that fabric and paper have a long history together. However, my conversion of fabric to paper began quite recently.

I was intrigued by Eileen Searcy’s article in the February/March 2017 issue of Quilting Arts magazine  about making a “faux torn paper” quilt. It was different, didn’t require quilting and, except for the dimensional paint, I already had the supplies. A grub through my interfacing drawer turned up some very lightweight non-fusible interfacing and I had a bolt of Wonder Under. Once I dashed into WalMart for the paint I was good to go.

To create the 2 by 22 inch fabric strips the directions called for I pulled out solid or mottled fabrics in a gray to green to blue range, with a few light beige neutrals thrown in. To speed up the strip process I cut my fabrics into 4 inch wide pieces and fused as many of them as I could fit onto my interfacing pieces. Then I cut them into 2 inch wide strips. If I had been thinking I would have cut them into 4 inch wide strips and separated them with the jagged edge cutting that simulates torn paper. Oh well.

Next, I dabbed the ragged cut edges with the dimensional paint. The idea is the white paint will give the effect of torn colored paper, which has a white core. This piece of real torn paper gives an idea of the look I was going for.

element_tornpaperI could have painted my strips faster, but I wanted to try different ways of applying the paint and different thicknesses of the paint. The magazine instructions turned out to be on the money – paint from the front to back of the fabric and hold the brush perpendicular to the fabric, though I decided to apply a lighter coat of paint. I can always go back and add more.

Rather than use batting I decided to fuse my foundation fabric to Decor Bond for extra stability. I’ll be sewing the fabric paper strips to this and the backing fabric at the same time. My “sandwich” will be my strips, the foundation fabric, Decor Bond, and backing fabric.

After the prep work I got to my design wall and began to play. I ended up with a design that reminds me of the Great Smoky Mountains, so I emphasized earth and sky components. Of course I took some artistic license.

great-smoky-mountains-national-park-lead

Here’s my version so far in black and white. I was checking my values range.

smokies-bw

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Around Here Week 4

Northeast Ohio isn’t known for endless sunny days, so I love to watch the shadows when we actually get some sun. This art glass on my mantel casts rippled colored shadows, while fronds of the house plant add stripes. Somehow the right hand blue vase looks like it was drawn with colored chalk. I like the blobby circle shadows.

glass-and-sun-2

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Around Here Week 3

If it’s January there’s usually snow on the ground. My street gets occasional visits from the city snow plow, but this day in early January we got only two inches of snow so we didn’t make the cut. Maybe there’s a quilting design in those tracks as seen from my sewing room. Or maybe the plumes of my neighbor’s grasses will inspire a surface design.

tire-tracks

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Around Here Week 2

My mother in law gave me this cut glass piece many years ago. She treasured it as one of the few “good” formal dining pieces she owned, along with the dark mahogany dining room table and chairs. I use it to hold small glass ornaments at Christmas, which explains why I had the dish out. I’d love to quilt the pattern somehow.

cut-glass-dish

 

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