Monday, February 23, 2015

A Crowd-Sourced Decision and Small Batik Scrap Weavings - Hallelujah!

We have a winner! When last we met (last week) I was deciding whether and where to put two verticle magenta strips that punched up one of my weavings. Without the magenta strips, it looked like this: 
I decided to crowdsource the decision. Thanks to all who voted in the comments and via email!Most people liked the additional magenta strips - some suggested I add horizontals, too, maybe in a different color. Or shorter strips. Or converging strips. I tried it all! My dear quilt friend Lindi suggested I offset the strips - make one higher than the other. Lindi, you are the winner! Here's the final quilt, with the strips stitched down: 
I love the offset - I think it looks like you're on a path, approaching a giant rectangular spaceship? (One commenter said the woven unit looks like a temple -  even better!)

This and the other batik weavings I've done for the past two weeks (12) wound up largish, each set on a yard or so of fabric. But they can also be much smaller (and faster). The next one is only 11" wide by 17" long (or 25" counting the danglies): 
There are just 10 pieces of fabric from my scrap stash (including the background). I stitched a wooden bell, and some coconut shell stuff on the bottom; they clatter nicely when shaken (or stirred). I think this would work well on a door. 
The edges of the strips that hang off the bottom are satin stitched, and the edges of the interior strips are finished with a medium-loose zig-zag.
Here's another smallish piece, 17" wide by 22" long (not counting extensions), for which I have big plans:  
I love that dramatic swipe of red/orange - it got me growling Leonard Cohen's Anthem: "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." (Young persons, if you've never heard Leonard growl, you're in for a experience that, like magenta strips, you may love or loathe. His greatest growl: Hallelujah.) The stitching is also a loose zig-zag. 
Much embellishment is to come. 
Want to start improvisational weaving? The technique is easy! Find it in installment 1, here. More in part 2

Sunday, February 15, 2015

More Batik Scrap Weaving Adventures, and Mazel Tov, Cumberbatches

In our last post, we wove batik scrap strips into a fun and fast quilt, with the help of a hokey Star Trek movie (redundant) starring Benedict Cumberbatch, or BC as we call him to save bytes. Yesterday, on Valentine's Day, my Facebook feed informed me that BC wed, so we send him and Mrs. C congratulations, if not the actual quilt.

Like BC, weaving is highly addictive, and I had more batik strips in my scrap pile, so I started another one. Using the approach in the last post, I wove and lightly glued the strips at intersections, then carefully laid them on a bunch of different backgrounds. Here are a few of the contenders:

Batik grapes:
Blackish green:
Rainbow verticle stripes with a gold overlay: 
Nothing special
Same fabric, with stripes set horizontally: 
 Chopped lettuce batik:
Ouch, my eyes! 

A narrow strip for a non-traditional background:
Too daring. 
Too awful. 
Sunset stripes:
Too wonderful.  I liked the last one best, but I wasn't willing to waste such a fantastic piece of fabric on this scrap project. Instead, it will continue to live unused in my scrap box for another generation before my children sell it for a pittance at a garage sale.

So instead, here's my final version.
It's the rainbow stripe, set horizontally, but I used the back instead of the gold-overlay front.   I like the fact that the woven area looks like a bridge between the blue areas. I quilted wavy lines on the blue area, triangular-crystalline structures on the other colors.
After the quilt was batted and backed, I stitched all the central area strips with an open zig-zag, matching thread color more or less to each strip.
I like this MUCH better than satin stitching in the last quilt. 
Now, in theory, it's done. But it doesn't feel done. Just fooling around, I placed two magenta stripes on either side of the woven island. I am finding myself unexpectedly liking them!  

Why do I like this? What do you think? Should I sew them down? I'd love your vote on this! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Hated It When I Went to Sleep: Weaving Batiks Into Darkness with Cumberbatch

This is one of those 'What-to-make-when-you-can't-think-of-what-to-make' quilts. It will take a long afternoon/evening. You'll need batik fabric scraps, thread, and a campy Star Trek movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Step 1. Go through your batik scrap stash, which I keep seperate from my main scrap stash, because of my pet theory that all batiks look great together (Except sometimes brown.)

Step 2: Extract random long strips, at least 12 of them. 1-2" wide is good. A few additional short strips are okay, too.
Step 3. At an ironing board or a wider surface, with a non-stick appliqué sheet on top, lay some out straight. Start weaving

Enjoy: Over-and-under is sooooo psychotherapeutic. Go over three if the strip is gorgeous.

  Cut some curvy strips and lay those in among other strips.

When happy with an area, swipe a glue stick or appliqué glue under the top strip at intersections and press dry. (In this picture below, I squeezed 'Quilter's Choice Basting Glue' from the bottle - but dipping a toothpick into the glue and inserting it between layers worked  better.)  Don't do every intersection, just a lot of them.

For the outermost strips, it's easier to use a glue stick.

Now there will be tiny gaps between some strips, so you need a batik background.

Step 4: Lifting carefully, test the woven unit on different batik backgrounds. When you find a background you like, glue the unit down around the edges.  Then put the whole thing on a layer of batting.

Now here's where I went wrong. I decided to cover each strip's raw edges with a satin stitch.

This was Saturday afternoon/evening, with my TV playing 'Star Trek: Into Darkness', in which Benedict Cumberbatch, as the evil yet elegant Khan, acts his nostrils out. Seriously, no actor working today has sinuses as expressive as Cumberbatch's. When he is onscreen, I cannot tear my eyes away from the miracle that is the fluid, flaring epicenter of his face.
(Here's a sketch of BC in a Starfleet uniform that my DD made for me.)
Fortunately, he doesn't have a lot of dialogue, so I got a lot of satin stitching done to the sound of starship explosions and actors thumping around a brewery,

The more I sewed, the more I recalled that I am not a fan of satin-stitch appliqué; I fretted that the thick lines detracted from the soft transitions between batiks.

But, like the Enterprise plowing into (spoiler alert) San Francisco, it was too late to change course.

We all neared the dénoument, Khan was interned in a cryogenic pod. and the hero, Captain Kirk/Chris Pine, a reckless teenage jerk until quite recently, delivered a Malala-esque oration at Starfleet headquarters. That's what being raised from the dead via Cumberbatch platelets did for him! I could have used some Cumberbatch platelets to avoid awkward satin stitching decisions! Instead, I retreated to my pod for the night, feeling defeated.

But to my astonishment, when I emerged Sunday morning, and ambled over to look at the quilt again - I quite liked it!
Of course I'm naming it "Cumberbatch."  If I could beam that satin stitching away without leaving a mess of holes, I would, but since I cannot. I have come to accept it. And you can too. A good night's sleep in the ol' pod changes everything.

Next week: More improvisational batik weavings. They got better, especially when I used a looser zig-zag instead of a satin stitch.

UPDATE: OMG someone actually made a literal Benedict Cumberbatch quilt! No financial affiliation, it's for sale on etsy, here!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Attaching Stuff to Quilts, and Vice Versa

Do you put unusual stuff on your quilts? I've been embellishing in earnest lately. A few weeks ago, I wrote about stripping this 8" x 8" quilt from scraps. The key and the hawk charm came with holes, making stitching easy. The yellow fish, from a vintage necklace, had a broken hole, so I glued a brooch finding to his back (he can be unpinned from the quilt and worn, a bonus!)
I wanted to put two polished rocks, a piece of beach glass, and a tiny shell to the lower pebble stripe.
How to attach rocks, shells, and beach glass? I'm not good with a drill (it's an aspiration, tips welcomed). So I decided to glue 'eye pins' - lengths of wire with a loop at one end, intended for jewelry making - to the back of the stones and the shell:
Wow, that looks like a tooth, but it's the shell. It's held on by Liquid Fusion Glue, which is strong and dries clear (but shiny, beware). (BTW, I do see now that I need a new cutting mat.)

I left the glue to dry for a day or so, and then used a large safety pin to put holes in the quilt where I wanted the rocks and shell. Cut the non-looped end of the wire to about 2", stuck it through the holes to the back, then, on the back side, with a wire pliers or by hand, swirled the wire around in a circle and flattened.

Here's how the back looked:
Not pretty, but don't worry, because I then stitched the 8" x 8" quilt to the center of a 14" x 14" hemmed piece of coordinating fabric, and wrapped it to the back of a stretched canvas. 
I think I'm going to take out the thumbtacks and use a staple gun instead. 
How do you attach stuff like rocks to quilts? Or quilts to stuff?