Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where Do I Put My Books Now?

I was able to finish sewing the binding on my screen-printed table runner while in the hospital (is it strange that I love hand-sewing the binding?), but then I needed to block it because it was so wavy.

It’s been a while since I blocked anything, but I didn’t bother to look up the directions, I just went ahead with it. Then I let it dry (and forgot about it) for 3 days.

I’m thinking I stretched it a little too tightly, because you can see where all the t-pins were. Plus, blocking it seems to have stretched out some of that lovely quilty puffiness that I like so much for pieces like this. Maybe I’ll rewash and dry it, and see if it straightens out.

It’s difficult to get good pics of a piece this long and narrow, but I’ve tried to capture most of it:


All the fabric in this piece is either screen printed or hand-dyed (LWI and shibori) by me. I created the pattern to piece it, which may seem like a minor accomplishment, but which actually took quite a while! Anyway, all that is to say I’m proud of it, pleased with it, and more than a little fond of it.


Of course, now that I have a lovely table runner, I had to clean off the breakfast room table. That means actually reshelving all those books I carry outside to the back patio to read on my breaks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Is This Not the Best Idea Ever?

I’ve been writing in my 10-year journal this morning. This has to be the most amazing invention ever, even if you’re not into journaling.

Each day of the year has it’s own page, and a small (4-line) space for each year. Mine runs from 2005-2015, so today I can see what I wrote last year on April 27, and in 2007, 2006, and 2005.

If I’m REALLY in a writing mood, I can continue my thoughts or ideas in expansion pages in the back.

It’s amazing the memories it triggers, even if only the friends we had dinner with, the funny thing the grandbaby said, or what I was working on (last year on this day I went to the fabric store for backing fabric for a quilt I was making; the year before that, my daughter and grandson came for dinner; the year before THAT, we were in Las Vegas!).

Plus, occasionally I run across a really great idea I jotted down that I had completely forgotten about, and that might have been lost forever if I hadn’t written about it on that day.

Every year, I use a different color for my journal entries. My 10-year journal is started to look pretty colorful! I can only imagine that, as time moves on, it will be even more fun to review one day over ten years to see how my life has shifted, moved, or stayed the same.

I think whoever thought of this idea is brilliant! The journal is available on Amazon, if you’re interested in recording your own memories over 10 years. I bought one for each of my children, and for several friends. They make wonderful gifts!

I just had a thought—I think I’ll get a couple for my grandbabies who are 8 and 9. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they had a record of their teenage years to keep throughout their lives? Hmmm . . . off to Amazon!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


So there I was, happily working along, and my pancreas decided to act up. It gets “angry” every once in a while. I took to my bed with pain pills but then started running a fever, so my doctor told me to get to the ER. They gave me antibiotics and pain meds, but I felt much better by today (ok, I was still in pain, but the fever was gone and the doctors said the infection seemed to have been warded off, and I was going stir-crazy!) so I talked them into letting me come home. I’m working with doctors in Houston to schedule surgeries, so I hope the problem will at least be relieved in the near future, if not fixed permanently.

In the meantime, here are more screen printing pics. This time, I used Speedball drawing fluid to paint an image from my journal onto the screen. I let that dry, then squeegeed screen-filler fluid over it:


Then I pulled out a piece of previously-dyed fabric that was sort of ugly, and printed several of the above images on it:


The fabric is still drying, so I can’t hang it up to get a good pic, but here’s the image from one of the prints:


So far, everything has worked just like Lyric in the QU Screen Printing class said it would—the drawing fluid washed right out, but the filler fluid stuck. I guess the real test will be whether the filler fluid washes out completely with hot water when I’m ready to “erase” it . . . and whether my pancreas decides to behave itself so that I can something done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weekly Square #9

This week’s square is influenced by:

  • The pieced and machine-quilted table runner I’m making, which uses screen prints and hand-dyes;
  • The beautiful spring weather, cool days with tinges of summer heat slipping in (yesterday was in the 90s already);
  • My desire to use the color red in a positive way (in the past, I had associated red with anger and, as I tend to do with the emotion, avoided it as much as possible);
  • My desire to connect to nature in a healing way.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I’m recycling—old blog postings, that is.

I’ve collected some links to some of my blog postings showing projects from recycled (upcycled? whatever we’re calling it today) materials. Since I’m a terrible packrat, I have quite a few.

Have fun, and go recycle something!

Save those leftover threads and fabric snippets, and make a thread bowl.

Don’t throw away that ugly fabric! If you paint, dye, color, or stamp on it enough, you’ll never know it was once ugly. Even cutting it up into small pieces can make it not-so-ugly!

Make some earth-strata Earth Day ATCs.

Save your paper towels and make pretty paper! Then, use the paper to make a journal cover.

Use fabric scraps to make awesome new fabric.

Tear your scraps into strips and use them to crochet a fabric bag.

Cut squares out of old blue jeans and make a rag quilt.

Piece little squares of leftover fabric together and make a patchwork book cover.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two Down, Twenty-seven To Go

I always feel good when I complete a project since I’m so much better at starting than finishing them. I feel especially good today because not only is it a perfect Spring day, but I’ve completed TWO projects! And to top it all off, neither one of them will get tucked away in a dark closet.

The first one is a piece I started back in January (you can read about its birth in this post). Later, I added some color to it with Neocolor crayons:


I beaded this piece while watching (or mostly listening to) TV. When it was finally finished, trimmed it to 8”x10”, added a back and binding, and fused on a label:


This is going to my sister, Suzanne, and her partner Judith, who both have birthdays coming up. If you’re reading this, Judith, Surprise! Happy Early Birthday!

The second finished project started as a piece for Lily Kerns’ Fractal Fragments class at QU; I blogged about it here. I wanted to add a lot of fractal elements, but I just couldn’t get excited about it, so this morning I free-motion quilted the piece and made it into a pillow. I’ve never made a pillow before; it was fun!


And now, I think it’s nap-time . . .

Dyeing to Start My Flower Quilt

I’ve been dyeing fabric in preparation for making my Flower Power quilt for Susan Brittingham’s class at QU. I started with a 2-color run, using Dharma’s Sky Blue & Fuchsia.


I like the mid-range color the best for the flower pieces in the quilt (although I can use small pieces of the pink end, as well), so I dyed a gradation set of those.


I had some leftover dye, so I twisted and folded and ended up with these great pieces:



Lots of fun stuff to play with!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Round 2: Vivera vs. Durabrite

Now that I have an Epson printer (I got a really good deal on a reconditioned one from Epson), I can compare the quality of the Durabrite inks with the HP Vivera inks.

Some specifics: I have an HP Photosmart C8180 All-in-one that uses Vivera (#02 cartridge) inks, and an Epson Stylus CX7450 that uses Durabrite (#69 cartridge) inks. The images were printed onto Bubble-Jet-Set treated fabric, and rinsed with Bubble-Jet-Set Rinse and cold water.

Last time I tested just the HP Vivera inks, and noticed some fading of the inks when the fabric was rinsed. This time I got the same slight fading again. The first image is printed on HP’s “normal” setting, the second on “best.” On each, the top print is not rinsed, while the bottom one has been rinsed in the BJS Rinse:

HP_vivera_rinse_test_normal HP_vivera_rinse_test_best

I originally chalked the fading up to the truth of the rumors that Vivera inks just aren’t waterproof. So imagine my surprise when the Epson Durabrite inks faded just as much, if not more, when rinsed:


In terms of image quality, the Epson printout was brighter than the HP, but the HP colors seemed truer to the original (more red than pink).

Next up will be the “fade test.” I’ve heard the claim that HP Vivera inks will very quickly fade in sunlight, as opposed to Epson Durabrites, which remain stable. I taped an HP Vivera printout in a west-facing window and left it for two weeks, and the result showed no fading. I don’t think that was really long enough for an accurate test, though, so I’m going to repeat it, and this time include an Epson Durabrite printout. In addition, I’ll include a piece of commercial fabric and a piece of hand-dyed fabric for comparison (my window will look really bright, I think!). I’ll try to leave those in the sunlight for several months, and periodically record the results.

I can tell you that I’ve had an HP Vivera printout hanging on my design board for about 6 months now, and I can’t detect any fading. It’s not in direct sunlight, of course, but then, I try to keep all my fabrics out of direct sunlight.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Screen Printed Fabric

I seem to be better at decorating fabric than figuring out what to do with it.

More screen prints. This time, I created a stencil (or is it a resist?) on the screen using Elmer’s gel, which I drew onto the screen right out of the bottle.


I used Setacolor fabric paints, and I was able to get quite a few prints out of the screen without the dried glue softening up; here are some of the cleaner ones:

screened_flower1_small screened_flower2_small

screened_flower3_small screened_flower4small


Now, what to do with them? I had been thinking we needed new placemats for the breakfast room table, but then I thought, why not a table runner? I drew the pattern out, then cut up some of my hand-dyed fabric and pieced it, along with the flower screen prints. Here’s the finished top:

Now I’m wondering whether this might be a little dark for the table, and I can’t decide if I should make a wall hanging out of it instead; it’s very tall and narrow (60”x24”), so I’m not even sure where I would hang it!

Last of the ATCs

for a while, anyway. Here’s one more from the Surface Design Techniques swap, from Elizabeth:


I received the following ATCs in exchange for my geckos; these are from Annie, Cat, Diana, Jane, Judy, and Wil:

annie cat

diana jane

judy_a wil

And finally, from Alis, not only a lovely ATC, but a beautiful little book to go with it:


I’m continually amazed by how much work and heart people pour into these tiny pieces of art!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekly Square #8

This week’s square started as a class project for Susan Brittingham’s “Flower Power” class at QU. Because the floral quilt we’re making will take several weeks, she gave us a quick fabric collage project to work on this week, if we wanted to.

Originally, this piece was 8x10”, but there was a lot of “empty” space around the flowers (although the fabric was beautiful), so I decided to cut it down to 6x6” and use it for this week’s square.

I think it will make a nice addition to my year-long quilt, and it does reflect the weather we’re having, the flowers that are in bloom all around the neighborhood, and my general feelings this week of happiness and well-being.

This square, as well as the quilt I’ll be making for Susan B’s class, are based on a photo that Melody Johnson gave me permission to use. I’ll be showing that photo later on, once I’ve finished the quilt.


Here are the basic steps I took to make this week’s square:

  1. Colored white-on-white fabric with Tsukineko inks (I didn't get a pic of those, but here are some more I made at the same time)


  1. Free-form cut the flowers from the inked fabric
  2. Cut leaf and stem from hand-dyed fabric
  3. Attached flowers, leaf, and stem to background fabric with a dab of glue stick


  1. Free-motion stitched around flowers, leaf, and stem with invisible thread
  2. Free-motion stitched white highlights on the edges and in the centers of the flowers


  1. Free-motion stitched veins on the flowers
  2. Free-motion stitched the pink centers
  3. Fused white dots on and edged them with Micron pink and green pens (not sure what these are—the little seed-like things in the center of the flower)
  4. Fused border on and free-motion stitched it with invisible thread.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mailbox Surprises Continued

More ATCs, this time from the Surface Design Techniques swap, from Marga, Mags, Judy, Jan, Debbi, Britta, and Aynsley:

Thanks to all of them for sending me such beautiful ATCs for my collection!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mailbox Surprises

I am way behind on thanking everyone for their ATCs from various swaps. Here are a few I’ve received:

This one is from Alis Clair in exchange for one of my gecko ATCs. She included a lovely little handmade book, as well:


These are from the Cloth Paper Studio Yahoo group Signs of Spring swap. They’re from Marci, Aynsley, and Meridel:


More to come!

My Easter Basket

So, what do you do when you’re overwhelmed with things you need to do and have too much to do and to read and to clean and to write and to compute and to . . . and really, you’re too tired to do much of anything and you don’t feel all that well, but you just want to feel like you’ve accomplished something???

Make a bright and cheerful Easter basket from thread and scraps of fabric, of course!


Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weekly Square #7

Influences for this week’s 6x6” square: the "ugly duckling" fabric; a circular stamp I carved from rubber; painted fabric. The quickly-approaching due date for taxes (which aren’t done) and worry about the possibility of upcoming surgery represented by the black background; joy in creating represented by the foreground squares. The need right now for simplicity, order and balance in my life represented by the design.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Earth Day ATCs

I’ve signed up for the Earth Day ATC swap through a Yahoo list I’m on, and even though the ATCs aren’t due until the end of this month, I wanted to get them finished and mailed off.


  • I started these by fusing scraps of the transformed ugly fabric (see the last post) to a black background.
  • I sprinkled this with Bo-Nash powder, heated it, and rubbed a blue-green foil onto it.
  • I laid an interesting piece of sheer fabric over that (that’s the blue, green, and purple fabric you see); it’s more sheer in some places than in others. I have no idea what it is, since I got it from the clearance bin at Jo Ann’s. Then I stitched it down with black cotton thread.
  • I burned away the sheer part of the fabric with a wood-burning tool.
  • I stitched painted Tyvek over the fabric and a layer of batting, then ironed it (with a piece of parchment paper on top, of course) until the Tyvek shriveled and melted.
  • I sewed beads and broken shells on.
  • I added hand-dyed fabric to the back and free-motion satin-stitched around the edge (I wanted a little “rougher” feel to the satin stitching to match the card, which is why I dropped the feed dogs. I actually liked this better than satin-stitching with the feed dogs up!).

Here are close-ups of each of the cards:

earth_day_indiv1 earth_day_indiv2

earth_day_indiv3 earth_day_indiv4

I think these ATCs are particularly appropriate for "Earth Day," since they remind me of Earth's strata (and the beads represent the gems and minerals found in the various layers).

As usual, my sweetie claimed one, and the other three will go to the swap (I need to remember to always make TWO extra now: one for her, one for me!).