Sunday, May 6, 2007

Supplies for the Journey

All the quilting-class descriptions I read indicated that learning how to rotary cut was the first order of business, so I ordered a rotary cutter and mat online. But my impatience got the best of me, so I took a trip to the new Jo Ann Fabrics in Austin, where, wonder of wonders, rotary cutters and mats were on sale 40% off. I bought one of each, along with rulers in various sizes. I wasn't sure what size rulers to get, but I had seen someone online using a 6-1/2" square, so I grabbed one of those.

I bought thread in various colors. I still wasn't certain what type to buy; I loved the variegated threads, but they were rayon. I had read that "real quilters" used only cotton thread. I had started taping the show "Simply Quilting," even though watching it was much like watching the Spanish channel in that I didn't understand about 90% of what they were doing or talking about. Snippets ended up sticking in my brain ("I use only cotton thread" being one of them), though I could never be quite sure I had heard or translated correctly. I also picked up a few yards of white cotton fabric to paint. After my experience with the acrylic paints stiffening the fabric, I investigated fabric paints, and bought several Jacquard sets.

I really wanted to take a quilting class, but it turns out that the quilting shops in Austin must not place a high priority on classes, since they're treated in a somewhat haphazard way. The most complete class I could find--$100, but worth it, I thought, since the class would take me through the entire process of creating a simple quilt--was already in progress, and the store couldn't tell me when a new class would start (I finally gave up calling them every few days as they suggested, since I was sure they began rolling their eyes and whispering "It's that crazy, desperate, wanna-be quilter on the phone again"). I decided I would start practicing rotary cutting. I began by cutting the fabric on the right side--the wrong side, as it turns out. I couldn't understand the logic of cutting the fabric from the left, but I followed the online instructions anyway. At some point it began to make perfect sense why you cut from the left side, since you can see your measurements through the ruler this way. I also discovered that I really needed a larger ruler: 24x6" seemed the way to go, so I headed back to Jo Ann's.

I continued painting fabrics, but I wasn't terribly happy with the Jacquard paints. They seemed to wash out after drying, and I found myself having to re-apply them several times to get the colors I wanted. I was thumbing through an old issue of Quilting Arts, a magazine I love and had been buying for a while--purely for "inspiration" for my other art projects, of course--and saw a reference to Setacolor. I found these at Michael's, and bought a starter pack of 6 colors. I immediately loved the vibrancy of the colors (although they washed out slightly upon drying too, but not as much as the Jacquards, it seemed to me). The added bonus was that you could put objects (leaves, cutouts, etc.) on top of the painted fabric, set it in the sun to dry, and end up with lighter patches where the objects blocked the sunlight. I was having a blast painting the fabrics, and I experimented with using stickers in the shape of leaves, flowers, and various shapes to block the sunlight on some pieces. The edges curled up on some of the stickers, but for the most part, they worked well. I had some alphabet stickers and one day pressed some of those onto a piece of painted fabric to spell out my DP's name.

I did figure out eventually that I love both the Setacolor paints and the Jacquard Dyna-Flow, which feels and acts more like a dye than a paint. Someday I may actually try some dyes, but for now I'm trying to use up all the paints I've purchased.

Once again, the stacks of painted fabric were growing, and it was time to figure out what to do with them.

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