Monday, May 22, 2017

Shabby Chic Scarves

One of my favorite ways to use silky fabric scraps, yarn, dyed cheese cloth and other fun fibers is to make what I call a “Shabby Chic” scarf.  As usual, I found a wonderful tutorial on-line written by Sherrie Spangler, a fiber artist who has become a friend first on-line, then in person over the past 5 years.  Sherrie takes wonderful pictures, and is a talented fiber artist who is very generous about sharing what she makes on her blog  If you are not familiar with Sherrie’s blog, be sure to check it out for lots of inspiration and ideas!
So I am going to start this post with a link to Sherrie’s Scarf Tutorial – she has written about her process several times on her blog, but this one was the post that got me started. You will notice that Sherrie’s scarves look different than mine. I tend to load my scarves with a lot of different snippets, but Sherrie prefers to leave hers lighter and airier - two different versions using the same process.  That’s the beauty of leaving the process loose to allow for individual interpretations!

Above is a picture taken while I am stitching the scarf together.  All the fabrics, yarns, ribbons, etc. are sandwiched between 2 layers of Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer.  When I have finished grid stitching (rows of stitching across, then down the length of the scarf) I will rinse the scarf to dissolve the stabilizer, leaving a light airy piece of wearable art!

My next 2 posts will show other things you can use this process to create, so stay tuned!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Covered Journals

I don’t remember where I found instructions for constructing composition book covers – there are so many great tutorials on the internet, not to mention the great blogs written by fellow fabric lovers!  Eventually I compiled instructions and modified them to create a Crazy Quilt version such as the one shown here.
Here are the basic instructions for making the cover (not including the modification to create a Crazy Quilt pattern):
Composition Book Cover

Materials needed
2 Pieces of fabric 16” x 10 ¾” – Outer cover and lining
2 pieces of fabric 10 ¾ x 13 ½” – cover flaps
14” ribbon – book mark
For each side, fold fabric in half, wrong sides together; press and pin along the fold. 
Assembling the cover
Place outside piece, face up, on mat.  Find the center, then pin the ribbon to the center.  Put Flap pieces down on each side of outside piece, matching raw edges together; pin in place.  Place lining piece, right side down, on top; pin.  Mark the curved corners using the composition book corners, to create the stitching line.  Start sewing 3-4” from the bottom edge of one side, using a ¼” seam allowance.  Leave a gap for turning.  Remove pins as you sew, but be careful of pin holding the ribbon – if removed too soon, the ribbon might shift and not be sewn down.  Press seams, trim corners, then turn right side out.  Use a turner to poke corners out.  Press seams, turning the raw edges of the turning gap in.  Pin all outside edges, then edge-stitch 1/8” from the edge.  Press.  Insert composition book.
For you quilters, I know you can imagine how to create a quilted piece to serve as your outer piece.  You can also make this with a solid piece of fabric, but it will look better if you do some decorative quilting on it before sewing the cover.  I did some with just solid pieces of fabric, and they are not as attractive – see below:
However, if you are just looking for a quick cover idea, this will work and takes less time!
By the way, a quick tip on inserting the composition book:  slide one side into the flap, then bend the other side back a little before sliding into the other flap.  Once in straight, then gradually bring the covers together and the book will slide into place.  Another fun way to use up that fabric, and a great gift item for anyone who journals or for a student taking notes in class!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Covered Notepads

I consider these notepad covers a stash buster, but they are also a great item for gift giving, or selling at craft shows... they don't cost a lot to make and they are really attractive and very handy as well!

I found a really great tutorial on line several years ago for making these.  Here’s the link for instructions to make this great gift item!  You will note that the author shows how to use an altered photo technique to create your own unique fabric, but any beautiful fabric will do!  Above is an example of several I have made using fabrics I hand dyed.  The bright orange one is the result of a surface design round robin I participated in several years ago.  So use your imagination, and show off your great fabric stash!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stash Buster: Grocery Totes

I love making grocery totes, especially since I also love using them!  I made my first batch from some purchased fabric about 8 years ago, and once I got used to keeping them handy in my car, I use them weekly when I do my marketing.  Benefits?  No plastic bags to return to the store to recycle!  Plus they are portable, reusable, washable (a really big plus in my book!), and they help me keep my fabric stash from taking over the studio!  And of course, since I love to dye fabric, it gives me an incentive to dye more, and I sell them at the local gallery and craft shows.
If you sew much, you have probably made a tote or two in your time, so maybe these instructions are not going to get you too excited.  But I am going to share my method just in case there is someone reading this who wants to give it a try.  Again, I found instructions somewhere on the internet, but have made some modifications over time that I think have improved on the original.

How to make a grocery tote bag
1 piece of fabric, 40” long by 16” wide
2 pieces of ribbon, 19” long by 1 ½” wide
Thread, notions
1) Fold fabric in half, lengthwise to create a piece 20” long, matching raw edges.
2) Stitch sides, using ½” seam allowance.

3) Finish raw edges (I used a serger to finish, but you can zigzag or fold under and use a straight stitch if you prefer).  Fold edges down 1 ½” and press.  Stitch down.

4) At the bottom edge, measuring from the side edge in, then up from the folded edge, draw lines to form a 4” square on each side (I use a template).  Cut out square and discard.

5) Fold upper side opening to bottom opening.  Pin in place, then stitch.  Repeat on the other side.  This creates a flat bottom.

6) Finish raw edges of ribbon strips by folding under ¼” and stitching in place.  Measure in about 2 ½” from the side seam and mark – this will be where you align the outer edge of your ribbon.  Repeat on the opposite side of the front of the bag then repeat on the back side of the bag.  Pin one ribbon strip to the front, both edges. Stitch each edge down securely.  I stitched in a square, then I crisscrossed to add strength.  Repeat for the second ribbon.

Enjoy your tote, and get ready to make more!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Book Review – Sewing Pottery by Machine by Barbara Warholic

This book, like “It’s a Wrap II”, took me to an even higher level of skill and potential.  I have always loved pottery, and even aspired to becoming a potter in my younger years.  But I found that making clay pots took a skill set I didn’t possess, and I had pretty much given up on that dream until I bought this book.  The author gives detailed instructions on how to create several pottery shapes, and it is now possible for me to make “pottery” with cord and fabric that look much better than any of the feeble attempts I made at creating pottery with clay back in my youth!  Here are some of the pieces I have made using Warholic’s instructions:
Jar with Lip

Round Bowl with Leaves and Medallions

Seed Pot

Indian Pot with Leather and Bead Embellishments
Oval Bowl with Leather and Fabric Medallion

Each of these vessels are made of multiple components, and sewn together by hand to create pots or vases. I highly recommend this book for those of you who, like me, love the “pottery” look and want to transform fabric and cord into eye-catching home d├ęcor accessories!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review – It’s a Wrap II by Susan Breier

Before I found this book back in 2013, my only instruction on how to make coiled fabric bowls came from a lovely tutorial I found by Sherrie Spangler on her blog ( search on coiled bowls and you will see several posts on her bowl making process). With photographs and easy-to-follow directions, I began to make bowls, primarily to use up my ever-growing fabric stash.
By chance, visiting a quilt shop a couple of hours from home, I spotted “It’s a Wrap II”, and had to have it.  By now, I was ready to take my bowl-making to a new level, and Susan Breier’s book gave me some valuable tools to do just that.  From how to make different shapes, to ways to finish your project with loops, medallions and other embellishments, this book will take you beyond basic bowl making to learning how to design your own original creations. Beautiful examples will inspire you to go beyond your comfort zone, and each finished project will leave you anxious to start on the next one!
Published in 2010 by Martingale & Company.
Here are a few of the projects I made using Susan’s book as my guide:
Oval Bowl

Covered bowl with knob handle

Basket with knotted handles

Bowl with beaded embellishment

So if you are ready to take the plunge, or maybe have tried bowl-making but want to learn some great techniques to expand your skill set, give “It’s a Wrap II” a gander… happy sewing!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Coiled Fabric Vessels

To begin, I have to give credit to my friend Sherrie Spangler for turning me on to making coiled fabric bowls.  I have admired them for a long time, but Sherrie posted a couple of easy-to-follow tutorials on her blog that got me started on my way.  If you have never tried making these bowls, I encourage you to visit her blog and search on coiled bowls… great way to get a start on using up the ever-growing fabric stash!
Here are a few examples of what I have made over the past 5 years or so:
Bowl with autumn leaves

Oval bowl

Multicolor bowl w/medallion

Covered bowl with fluted edges

Bowl with leaves and medallion

Seed pot with feathers

These are just some examples of what I have made… some with a variety of scraps, some with hand dyed fabric, some with fabric purchased specifically for the project.

After following Sherrie’s tutorial for a while, I found two books that helped me to expand my skill set to include more than just round bowls.  The first book is “It’s a Wrap II” by Susan Breier.  I got this book in July, 2013 and it taught me how to make different shapes, and how to make lids as well as some neat new ways to finish the bowls with medallions, loops and other finishes.  Sometime in 2014, I found the book “Sewing Pottery by Machine” by Barbara Warholic, and her techniques took me to a whole new level.  I will be reviewing both books later this week if you are interested in learning about them. Meanwhile, I would love to hear from you if you have tried making bowls or have any questions or comments about the topic.  Happy coiling!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Drizzle Dyed Silk Scarf

I started my journey as a dyer almost 20 years ago… hard to believe!  In the beginning, I pretty much stuck with learning how to tie-dye t-shirts with traditional patterns.  But at some point, I started to experiment with other techniques, and discovered I can make it up as I go along… freedom!  Drizzle dyeing comes under that heading, and I thought it would be fun to share it with you.

Drizzle Dyeing is a technique that uses an eyedropper or pipette to drizzle the dyes over a silk scarf that has been scrunched up on a project board covered with plastic, then left to batch for about an hour before rinsing and washing.  Here are a couple of examples of my Drizzle Dyed Habotai silk scarves:

I fell in love with the wonderful markings that are achieved using this technique.  As with any hand dyed fabric, no two come out exactly alike, making it a form of wearable art in my opinion.
Here is the process I follow to achieve these results:
I use a long, narrow project board I created from foam board, a piece of lightweight cotton, and covered with heavy duty plastic.  I have 3 colors of dyes mixed – Turquoise, Bright Green and a light mixture of Azure Blue.

I soda soaked my habotai silk scarf for 15 minutes, squeezed out the excess, laid on the project board and “scrunched” up to form the peaks/valleys.
Here, I have drizzled the Turquoise using my eyedropper.  I tend to dye sparingly on these, as the dyes migrate over the peaks & valleys, creating the patterns.  Leaving some white enhances the overall look.
Here is the scarf after I applied the other two colors.  I covered with a plastic trash bag to batch, typically for about an hour.
And here is the result.  In this case, the colors are light and soft, just right for a spring or summer accent!  Let me know if you give this a try… would love to see your results!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ice Dyeing

Many of you may have tried this technique, with varying results. Below are pictures of a few of my early experiments:

This was part of a parfait ice dye experiment, and I used lots of different colors and probably way more dye powder than I needed.  I love the markings, but never did figure out what to do with it.

Another example of ice dyeing, not my favorite effort, but it’s good to compare with what I have been able to achieve since I took a fabulous on-line class offered by Lynda Heines, one of our alumni from a few years back. I took Lynda’s class, available at, last year, and learned so much from her to help me get some wonderful, consistent results!  Here are some of the pieces I dyed using her instructions:

The above are fabrics, and below are some garments I have dyed all using her techniques.

I won’t go into process here, since there are plenty of basic resources online for basic ice dyeing, but I will tell you if you are serious about learning this dyeing technique, Lynda’s class is very informative and affordable. Lynda provides great downloadable tutorials and tools to help, and she has created a closed Facebook for students where we can share our results and learn more from her and each other.  Now that warmer weather is coming, it’s a great time to give this great technique a try!

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Little of This, A Little of That

When Beth asked if I would commit to a month of posts this year, I hesitated – what can I say that hasn’t already been covered wonderfully by so many in past months?  She thought if I did a little recap of what I have done over the years, it might make for interesting reading. 

First off, I do think of myself as a “fiber artist” – a term that means different things to different people. Wikipedia defines fiber art this way:

"Fiber art refers to fine art whose material consists of natural or synthetic fiber and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labour on the part of the artist as part of the works' significance, and prioritizes aesthetic value over utility."

Well… I typically try for a happy balance between functional as well as decorative.  I strive to make items that are unique, but definitely useful, such as clothing and household items.  I will be talking about these during the month.

I am also someone who likes to re-use and re-purpose, as well as conserve.  If you sew, especially you quilters, you probably look at fabric scraps the way I do: “I’m sure I can find something to use this for”, and thus the fabric stash grows and grows!  I will be talking about some ways I have found to use those scraps, even going so far as to demonstrate one way I have used up my spare thread stash… the threads that are snipped from sewing projects, spool ends, etc.

I should note here that I primarily make my items for sale – I am a member of our local Artists’ Coalition, and have been part of our Artists’ Co-op gallery for over a year, so my first thought when working on something is : will this sell?  And I have developed a group of items that have become good sellers.  But if you make things for yourselves, or to give as gifts, I’m sure you can adapt some of the techniques I will be discussing here for your own projects.

So just to give you a recap of what I hope to cover this month:  a brief glimpse at a dyeing technique I learned last year, with a link to a great on-line class where I learned the technique; another fun dyeing technique I have enjoyed using for dyeing silk scarves; several ways to put a dent in our ever growing fabric and thread stashes; a couple of great links to on-line tutorials, and reviews on a couple of great books I have used for one of the techniques. And to finish out the month, some examples of a new technique I am finally learning to use to dye chiffon scarves, but it can be used on other silks, as well as cottons.

So stay tuned… I hope you enjoy this month’s posts, and would love to hear your comments or questions as we go thru these subjects!  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Printing with aluminium foil part 2

You can also draw on the cardboard.

Then apply glue on the drawing and attach a tread ( different thickness)

Once it is dry apply the aluminium foil in the same manner as explained.
The first attemps might not be as good as you hoped for, but the prints will improve after the plate has been used a few times.

Next time I show you  what I did with some off the prints.