Sunday, May 27, 2018

Even More Eclipse-Inspired Quilts, with No-Bleach Discharge

It's nine months since the one-in-a-lifetime lunar eclipse last August, 2017, and since then, I've made a bunch of eclipse-inspired quilts, here and here. Below is number #3, a small piece measuring 6.5" x 8.5", all batiks, with 1" squares as the background....
Number 4, at 15" x 22", more batiks...
...For added atmospherics, I threw on some sparkly gold tulle...
...and purple netting from a vegetable bag....
Finally, #5, the piece I wanted to make from the beginning, 
It measures 12.5" x 7", and was inspired by the photo my friend Anne took of an Atlanta sidewalk during the eclipse. 
At a glance the photo shows sun shining through leaves, but at a second glance, you see the sunlight is shaped like tiny moons. To interpret the scene, I used a process called "discharge," similar to bleaching - removing dye from colored fabric  - with a product called deColourant* which is safer than bleach, for fibers and for people. 

I began by sewing together strips of brown and purple batiks to serve as the background. With an x-acto knife, I cut tiny moons from freezer paper. Ironed that stencil onto the patchwork, and applied two kinds* of deCoulerant - one that removes the dye, leaving white moons, and another that removes and replaces the dye with gold. 
I moved the stencil several times, after waiting for it to dry between applications, to cover the whole piece.
 Once dry,  I  pressed everything with a hot iron, which triggers the dye removal.
 Peeled back the freezer paper, washed out the fabric, and let it dry.
 Just for fun, I added leaves, flower petals, and an eclipse.
I laid the top onto batting and backing fabric (the purple-and-white batik you can see along the bottom and right), and strewed the leaves and petals about. With a temporary glue stick, I swiped some of them and stuck them in place.
 ...Then carefully laid a piece of dark purple tulle on top and freemotion quilted around the moons, leaves and petals.
I cut the three layers even, and satin-stitched around the perimeter a couple of times with purple thread. A purple marker took care of remaining white bits.
 And there it is, all done! It has a nice sculptural look around all the internal shapes. I think I'm finished making eclipse quilts, but you never know!

*The deColourant product recently changed ownership and formulation. The plain and metallic gold versions I used for this quilt are no longer available. Learn about the new products here, or for an informative PDF, click on: "deColourant and deColourant Mist FAQs". 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Something Fishy: More Quilted Silk Scrap Brooches

In February, I showed some Valentine's Day hearts made from felt, silk scraps and tulle. After the holiday, I wanted to go beyond hearts, so I dug up my aquatic life pattern e-book, printed out shapes, and used them to make....this butterfly fish...
...a winking crab....

 ...a lumpfish...
 ...a surprised angelfish....
,,,a bored Angelfish...

Same eye, different fish:
...a second seahorse (first one was here)...

A couple of snipefish...

...and cichlids...

...and sharks....


And so forth. Because I was running low on pin backings, I stitched gold safety pins to the back (You can also stitch a barrette finding or jump ring for a pendant; or, glue magnets to the back). I drip Fray Check on all the knots. 

These have made easy-to-transport gifts, which I inflict on friends and family on all occasions and non-occasions. I pinned them all to the back of a quilted wallhanging whose front was heavily sun-damaged. I roll this quilt up and carry it. When I meet someone who needs a brooch, I unroll it and let them choose!
Since making them, I revised and updated the ocean creatures pattern book with instructions for these brooches, as well as using these patterns to make applique quilts, especially from upcycled denim. More silk scrap valentines and a free tutorial are here. The pattern book is still available on my Etsy and blog shop.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Going-to-College Tee Shirt Quilt, Only 6 1/2 Years Late

Happy Mothers Day to all moms! Here's a project that's poignant but therapeutic for mothers and other empty nesters. It will move all of your offsprings' impossible-to-throw-away tee shirts out of your house!

I wanted to have this quilt ready for my son to bring to college in September...of 2012. It took longer. But I finally finished and presented it to him this week!

The quilt has two themes. Front: Oh, the places you've been!  (Tee shirts from childhood through college).

Back: Oh, the places you haven't been! (Fabrics from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Africa, three random places that he hasn't yet visited but from which I had interesting fabrics that I thought he would enjoy!)

The middle layer is made up of leftover tee shirt parts. (I hate to waste anything. My tee shirt batting tutorial is in this post.)

The front starts chronologically in the upper left corner, and marches through time in columns. The first shirt is so old he doesn't remember wearing it - his toddler Starfleet Academy shirt. Below that is his first soccer team (The Vipers), with what became his lucky number, 11.

The elementary school section culminates in this 5th grade graduation shirt, printed with tiny signatures of every kid in the class:

Moving into the teen years, I liked this shirt more than he did. Now he's stuck with it forever.

I also gave him this one:

The president punching a zombie was a must-have accessory circa 2014.
The next tee preserves the names of everyone in one of his orchestras:

High school spirit and activities:

The most up-to-date panel, in the lower right hand corner, is a bandana from the 1980s, which his father bought when HE lived in Boston, where my son lives now.

I filled the borders with worn denim jeans. Top right:

Lower left (authentic mended patch).

The back has some wonderfully graphic fabrics, like this one, from Africa.
Below is a small tablecloth I bought in Malaysia in the 1980s. When my son was an infant, I sewed it into a sling we used to carry him around. Once he outgrew the sling, I deconstructed it, and the fabric went back into my stash, awaiting its time to cuddle him as an adult.
The next purple fabric is African wax "ankara" fabric. (which means it could have been printed in Africa, Holland, or England). The symbols include a graph of the alphabet. Years ago, a friend did some research and told me the meaning is "Book learning isn't everything" - but I could be wrong. (I've scoured the Internet, with no luck - please chime in if you know the symbolism!)
Here's the fabric from Indonesia.
This next piece was an Indonesian sarong. 
I took all the leftover tee shirt parts - mostly collars and sleeves - and stuffed them into old clean pillowcases, or made pillowcases from an old sheet - then I packed those up in my car, and delivered them to the an animal shelter that wants them. (Call your shelter first and ask.) 
Tee shirt quilts have something for everyone! For more about making them, click "tee shirt quilts" in the word cloud on the lower right. Shared on Nina Marie Sayre's "Off the Wall Friday" with lots of interesting art quilt links!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

How to Talk to a Baby Quilt

The prospect of conversing with an infant can be intimidating to first-time parents. When I was a pregnant, young mother of only 37 - psychologically too immature to raise babies, but my fertility alarm clock was wailing - I worried about a million things, including: What would I discuss with the tot?

Over the years, we've figured out things to talk about (he's now in grad school and calls every week), but it would have gone even better I'd made him one of these conversation quilts. I call it an "Everything in the World Baby Quilt," but quilts like this are usually called "I Spy". This latest one was made for a good friend's daughter who is expecting a little boy later this month.
There are 108 4" squares, organized into 9-patches, separated by solid-color sashings, and black-and-white polka dot cornerstones (babies are said to enjoy black-and-white contrast). Just for fun, down the left side, instead of solid colors, I used tape-measure fabric.
If you look at 'I Spy' quilts online, you'll see that the individual squares are usually distributed randomly, but I often feel compelled to organize them into themes that may engage very young persons.  Conversation topic 1, block 1, upper left: Fliers.
Next to it, more sky things:
And the third block on top is astronomical, too.
In the second row, we start with dogs....
...Move to music - this particular baby is being born into a family of gifted musicians and will probably be given the world's smallest violin immediately after birth....

The last block is cats.
The third row starts with people and pseudo-people:
Then swimmers...
...followed by animals of the imagination....
The fourth row begins with inanimate objects...
Goes to sports...
And finally, transportation, with a subway map of New York in the center (this family hails from and/or studied music in New York City)
The back has larger amounts of fun fabrics.

Including SpongeBob, elephants, zebras, more dogs and cats, and turtles
 Plus, along the top, outer space, a night view of Los Angeles, and a yellow submarine
Making a quilt like this quilt is pure fun, unless you have to buy yardage and cut all 108 squares rapidly, with a pregnant person's due date looming unsafely over your rotary cutter. 

So I prepare ahead of time. Between projects, I cut some of my novelty fabrics into 4" squares. I usually fussy cut a couple of squares from the same fabric. Then, when friends and/or family gets pregnant, I locate the stack, pull out one square from each print, and start organizing 9-patches. I like to make the sashing from solid colors, to give the parents yet another discussion topic. 

You don't even have to buy and store a massive hoard of novelty fabrics for a lifetime, like me. Simply go to and type in "Novelty fabric quilt squares," or "I Spy quilt squares." You'll find adorable assortments, in many sizes and quantities, precut to save you work, money, storage space and sanity!

More 9-patch based conversational baby quilts can be found here