Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Play Time"

Today is play time.  I do have a couple of things that I have to do but for the most part I'm coming up with a couple of ideas where the heart picture is involved.  It will be fun to see if my idea works.  Some of my projects work out and some . .  well . . . just don't.  But that seems to happen to everyone at some time or another.  Recently I've been working on one project that after several hours of work just didn't ever look good.  After several different ideas didn't work, I just scrapped it.

I also made a couple of books starring my grandkids for them to take home this weekend.  It's the kind of thing that I enjoy doing and is fun.  Pictures of the kids are put on pages with a few words telling what they did.  Then after I print off the pages I take them to a store that laminates the pages and then all that remains is just putting the pages together into a book.  The kids, I hope, will really like them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"A Time To Rest"

While I have waited for my hand to get better, I've been doing other things.  One of those things is reading . . . a lot.  While I read mysteries quite a bit of the time, I also love to look at quilting books.  One that I've enjoyed enormously this week is Jinny Beyer's book, The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns. She researched for years for the patterns of the l800s and 1900s and then made up illustrative patterns for each one.  The book inspires as well as being quite informative.  She also is very meticulous in the detailing of where she found each of the blocks.  So for a quilter who loves traditional design this book is just a little slice of heaven.

The other quilting book I've enjoyed is Quilts Sold!:  A Guide to Heirloom and Antique Quilts by Kathy and Dave Prochnow.  The color pictures are excellent of the antique quilts.  So if you find time on your hands for whatever reason, pick up a quilt book and start looking through it.  It is the next best thing to quilting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Shopping Trip"

After church I went shopping for some supplies to finish up some of my projects.  It was so much fun!  Everything was either on sale or I had a coupon for it.  Lovely.

For my bags that I make I needed some muslin so that I could quilt the outside fabric of the bag without it showing on the lining.  And it was one of those wonderful sale items.  Good quality muslin on sale for half price.  Gotta love it!  The best find, though, was a beautiful candy apple red wool that I'm going to felt this afternoon and use this week for a project.  At $25 a yard it was beautiful--with a 50% off coupon--it was spectacular.

Candy corn is something I've wanted to make out of my hand dyed fabrics (orange & yellow) for awhile now.  I used one of Megan's designs but realized after I stuffed it that there was a better option out there than stuffing.  Namely, lofty batting so that the shape stayed true to what candy corn looks like.  Now I just have to figure out the mechanics of how I want to do it.

I've almost got my little ghost perched on the second Trick or Treat Bag that I made.  It is a cute ghost--all swirly and chubby.  What a cheerful ghost!  Just like ghosts should be at Halloween.

Tomorrow I'm going to dye some fabric specifically for some projects I have in mind.  It's suppose to be in the upper 80's tomorrow and on my deck I suspect it will be over a hundred degrees.  Perfect for dyeing fabric.

The leaves are beginning to change and fall to the ground as well.  I want to get some and trace their shapes.  Some of the other blogs that I've been reading have some of the artists putting leaves, weeds, you name it from outside in with some fabric covered with water and are leaving it for the winter.  I'm not sure I'd like the results although since all the main stuff is just laying around in your yard the only thing you'd lose is fabric if you didn't like it.  I'll have to think about this one.  I love color so much in hand dyed fabrics that this technique would have to give some really special results.

Looks like a fun week to be outside and do things.  Fall is my favorite time of year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"A Lovely Bag"

Today I finally got one of my bags listed.  It is "Twas The Night Before Christmas" bag.  I'm pretty excited about that.  Later today I'm going to list my Santa Bag.  I need a couple more pictures though.  Taking pictures of the bags seem to be a little tricky or maybe it is just the light and the fact that the bags are empty.  I'll have to think up a different way to take a picture of my Santa Bag because it is so big.

When Megan came down over the weekend, she drew me some cute designs which I want to put on my Halloween bags so after I get that done, I will also list them.  It isn't as hard to list things on Etsy as I thought it would be.  Etsy has made it very easy to do.

Megan gave me several designs for Halloween and a couple of others which I'm pretty excited about using.  All kinds of ideas are floating around in my head.  This morning I enlarged the designs that Megan made for me so that they now fit several ideas that I have for projects.  Now to get some of those projects finished and on Etsy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Lots of Quilting To Do"

As you can see, I've got quite a lot of quilting to do.  All of these are smaller art quilts and all are either hand-dyed fabric or painted with Pebeo paints.  The backings are batiks.  Luckily when I finished cutting the backings, I also cut and made the bindings so that part is well on its way to being ready to apply when I get my quilts quilted.

It has been a busy weekend and will probably get the things in Etsy tomorrow night late.  But we've sure had a lot of fun this weekend.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Cuteness In A Can"

Cuteness is what we are looking for when we need a package for our handmade items.  When I was shopping yesterday, I found something that I think will enhance a couple of my still-in-the-process items.  Packaging is just one of those things that I want to do with some of my items that will be coming up for sale later this month.  I just needed something to put things in that would be attractive and, due to my lovely shopping trip yesterday, I think I’ve found a couple of pretty cute containers.  A ribbon, a bow, and there it is!  Cuteness.

Still working on a couple of things to put on Etsy when Megan gets here tonight but mostly have just a few things finished.  Handmade does take a while longer in a busy life but so worth it.  It is such fun to sew everyday and see things develop out of just a couple of pieces of fabric and some thread which is why I’ve loved to sew practically my entire life.  It gives you such a good feeling to make things.  I’m just sure that people who make things are happier.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Creating . . . What Fun!"

At the library so many little kids enjoy reading and picking out their own books and they definitely want to carry these books home--all by themselves.  Kids are generally pretty excited about it.  But most of the time their books end up in plastic bags (donated by patrons who recycle their plastic bags to the library) instead of a cute, little bag just the right size for their hands.  

So, yesterday I sat down and designed a pattern for a little kid’s book bag in which to carry home their library books.  So much more fun than a plastic bag!  I am going to use a sweet ladybug print on a yellow backgound that I think little girls will especially like.  I’ve also got that ladybug print on a green background, too.  So maybe I’ll make one out of that, too.  I’ve taken a picture of the fabric so that you can see it.  This week is pretty full so I may have to finish some of my projects next week.  I have to work today, too, so I’m going to sew on my projects as much as I can now.
In other sewing news I’ve got a table runner design laid out (just need to tweak it abit) and three more bags cut out and ready to sew.  Still working on tracing off the pattern for all of the applique pieces for Little Red Riding Hood--the quilt that Megan designed for me a while back.  My husband just finished making me a light box so it should go much faster.
I’m pretty excited about all of my projects and hope to finish at least some of them soon.  Megan is coming down this weekend so whatever is done we will put on Etsy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Trick or Treat Kids' Bag"

I’ve been working on some bags for Halloween and for Christmas and will put them in our Etsy shop this next weekend.  Ideas for things aren’t too hard to come by--just getting them from the idea stage to the finished stage is the real trick.  Handmade does literally take a lot longer, especially if a new design or pattern is involved.  Anyway, it does for me. 

My Halloween bag that I designed is for a little kid to use to take for the Trick or Treat part of Halloween Night.  It would hold substantial candy without tiring the kid out.  Which as I remember is the most important part of Trick or Treating right?  

The original bag pattern I use was just too large for a small kid so I took it, made a few adjustments, and came up with this bag.  I really like it but it did involve a lot of tweaking to get it right.  The idea of this bag over a pillowcase or a plastic sack or even a hard-shelled plastic pumpkin is one that I especially like.  As a kid, I dealt with all of those ways of carrying candy and each has its own particular downside especially the handles or lack of handles.  The handles on this bag are kid-sized and reinforced a couple of times with extra stitching to make it comfortable.  There is even a pocket in the front for something special.

Today is a good day and I’m going back to my sewing.  Some days are just good!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"The Big Reveal"

I picked an excellent day to dye fabric.  High 90’s, lots of sunshine and heat.  The fabric baked nicely for several hours in the sun on my deck and then overnight in my bathroom.  Heat would be a key component to getting good results.  The colors are bright and I'm very pleased with the results.   The picture below is the dyed fabric  from yesterday and certainly well worth the time spent.

I’ve dumped the water out of each container and have seen the most beautiful colors wash right down my sink.  I’d love to have those colors.  However, the fabric color itself is stunning right now.  But after rinsing most of the dyes out of the fabric, I’ll put all of the fabrics into my washer with a little detergent and then dry them in my dryer.  Afterwards I'll need to iron my fabrics so they will be ready for me to use.  Only then will I see the final color.

Fabric changes color about three times before you get to the finished product which is why it is so difficult to match colors on different dye days or even different dye pots.  Even big manufacturers who do a lot of dyeing will tell you to buy enough yarn, fabric, whatever from that specific dye lot because they can’t guarantee the exactness in color.  The difference might be slight but there you go--if you need the color to be exact the slightness will surely show up jarringly in your project.

I think my colors are just beautiful!  I’ll have the best time deciding how to use all these fabrics and in what projects.  Sometimes I dye fabric for specific uses and other times like yesterday I just dye fabric for the sheer joy of it.  Admittedly, I go towards the blues and the pinks.  They have such charming names like Cherry Blush and Azure, but sometimes just plain names like basic blue and basic red.  

If you are thinking about dyeing fabric, do a little research.  If you know someone who dyes fabric, ask if you can either watch them or help.  It is not as difficult as the books make it out to be but a little individual instruction can go a long way.  Nor is it all that expensive when you start out small.  Just be careful with the dye powders (wear a good mask) so that you don’t breathe any into your lungs while you are mixing the color dyes.  The other thing is to always wear good rubber gloves so that you don’t dye you hands.  I wear an apron, too.  Of course, a little bit of carefulness goes a long way in not having to clean up messes.  Also, keep any containers, measuring cups, and spoons separate and only for your dyes as well as anything else you might use for this.

I buy my dyes from Pro Chemical and Dyes and my fabric from Dharma Trading and am happy with both internet stores.  Both stores carry dyes and fabrics but for some reason I bought my dyes from one and my fabric from the other.  Why?  I don’t remember but I’m happy with both. The fabric should be PFD fabric which means prepared for dyeing--which means it takes the dyes better.  Commercial fabrics have a finish on them that doesn’t work well with dyes.  Both stores will also give you detailed instructions on how to use their products--and all directions vary a little so read the ones that come with your specific products--then after you’ve done it their way begin experimenting with the dyes and colors because that is really where all the fun lies.

It would be wise to invest in a small amount of dyes (a couple of colors) and a small amount of fabric (mask & gloves, too) just to go through the process to see if you enjoy it as much as you think you would.  Then if you enjoy it you can buy all the stuff to make whatever you want using dyes.  Yesterday I just dyed fabric different colors.  However, I did scrunch my fabric up in each container so that I’d get different variations of color on each piece.  But I have made designs on the fabrics using various objects, actually painted dyes on fabric (I took Hollis Chatelain’s course a few years back) and have done quite a few other things with dyes.  Fascinating things can be accomplished using dyes.   

The possibilities are simply endless when you begin a new adventure.  

Friday, September 3, 2010

"A Great Day To Dye Fabric"

I’ve only been dyeing fabric for about eight or nine years. But it is a process that I thoroughly enjoy and wish I had begun much earlier in my life. When I decided I wanted to learn how, I read all the books and, boy, did it seem a long, difficult process. Measuring everything, keeping accurate notes to redye in the same color, lots of supplies, big advice on how to deal with the mess of spills, etc. Sounded really hard when I could buy a fat quarter of hand-dyed fabric at the quilt shop I worked at part-time for about $2.50. But I really wanted to dye my own fabric and use it in my quilting.

Well, once I started, I realized it was much simpler than people made it out to be. I’ve taken a picture of the fairly minimal amount of things that I use for you to see. My bathroom sink is where I dye all my fabric.

So how do I begin to dye fabric? There are two things I always do without exception: I wear rubber gloves and I wear a mask when I mix the dyes. I use procion dyes and the only problem with that is breathing the powder before you mix it with water. A little hard on your lungs if you breathe in the powder, hence, a good mask. The rubber gloves keep the dye off my hands.

Here is how I dye my fabric:

1. Tear your fabric into the sizes that you want to dye. Anywhere from a fat quarter (which is what I did today) to a yard or bigger if you want. It is really up to you.

2. I fill my measuring cups with water and lay out all of my things so I will be able to use them efficiently. Lastly, I mix up the dye activator in my big bowl and put the fabric in it to soak. I let my fabric soak for a while and then wring out the fabric so that it is ready for me to use.

3. I take one of the containers and put some water in it (about a quarter cup more or less) and then put the amount of dye I want. I used a teaspoon for some, a tablespoon for others and somewhere inbetween for the rest. My dyes are kind of old so I used a little more than normal on some. Stir it gently until it is mixed well. By the way I put a wet papertowel under the container so if I spill any powder it will get readily absorbed and won’t float in the air. And, too, it just makes clean up a little easier.

4. Then I put my fabric into the dye container and squish it to make sure all of it has taken dye and then I usually add a little more water and squish it one last time and then pop the top on the container.

After placing all my dye containers in my big blue plastic box, I take my big box out to my deck where I leave it in the sun for the day.  Tomorrow I wash out all of the fabric.