Sunday, June 16, 2024

Drawing and painting with fabric, yarn and a hook

My imagination has been opened to more possibilities for using fabric strips and yarn after taking Trickster Textiles, a Shakerag workshop with fiber artist, Liv Aanrud.

Rug hooking with knit fabric strips.

In the workshop, Liv taught us to draw and make marks with strips of fabric and yarn and rug-making hooks. I had not done rug hooking before, but this traditional fiber technique is a very approachable craft and is easy to get started doing. With a short demonstration, all the beginners in the class were covering canvases with loops of colorful fabrics.

Rug hooking with flannel and knit fabric strips.

The fabric strips were cut between 1/4” to a scant 1/2” wide. Have you tried rug hooking with knit fabrics or flannel? I was able to upcycle knit scraps from past garment projects. The knit prints make especially interesting patterns.

Knit strips cut for rug hooking.

In addition to knit fabrics, I used flannel, wool, and wool blend fabrics in the piece I was making. 

“Weather Patterns”

Contemporary and traditional experiences converge

Liv, the workshop instructor, offered several presentations during the workshop that showed her own work as well as other artists in the field. With formal art degrees—a BA in painting and an MFA—Liv brought a contemporary perspective to creating pieces that blurred the line between paintings and textiles. 

Liv Aanrud discussed her work and work of other textile artists in class presentations.

Serendipitously, we also had Cass, a traditional rug hooker with years of hooking experience, as a fellow student in our class. Cass shared traditional hooking principles, a few of her tools, and technical aspects of the craft with several of the newbies. The convergence of perspectives made for a richer experience.

Liv Aanrud (left) and Cass discussing Cass’s project.

Class exhibit

A display of student work from the workshop...

Student work from Trickster Textiles workshop.

Student work from Trickster Textiles workshop.

A new tool in the toolbox

I've now added a rug hook to my toolbox and will be thinking about acquiring a frame/stretcher bars. The knit scraps from garment sewing will find their way into new projects with this technique.

New composition: painted monk's cloth, hooking and needle punching with fabric and yarn.

Tracker update

I've added another category—"hooking"—to my Create Daily tracker, and my Make Nine "Learn More in '24" prompt will be fulfilled when a hooked piece is completed.

Create Daily tracker for 2024 now includes a hooking category.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

100 Days of Paint, Paper, Stitch—a recap

100 days. 40 watercolor compositions. This year’s 100 Day Project, Paint Paper Stitch, is finished.

My stack of watercolor and stitched compositions from The 100 Day Project 2024.

My 2024 100 Day Project involved watercolor painting on watercolor paper with the addition of hand stitching and some slow drawing. I participated with my quilting friend, Tari, who worked on mixed media compositions with a “leaf” theme. We kept each other on task with weekly reviews and photo exchanges.

Tools and supplies

Most of the tools and supplies needed for this project I had on hand. I did purchase a jumbo tablet of watercolor paper, but found a spiral sketchbook worked better as I was able to turn the sketchbook orientation as needed during some of the painting exercises. The thick tablet was more cumbersome. 

Willa Wander’s “Watercolor for Relaxation” course was the perfect starting point to learn about watercolor painting and I found her class exercises so helpful and informative. I took one of her other online courses and would highly recommend her classes.

Stitching and painting supplies and tools.

The frame jig I cut from a piece of cardboard (shown below on the right) was so helpful. I was able to line up the square frame on a page, draw a light pencil line for the painting boundary, and I was ready to paint. This kept the composition size consistent and the square format was conducive for posing online. 

The plastic drafting templates—tools from my days as a paste-up artist—resurfaced in the toolbox and were used for various painting exercises and as a guidelines for punching holes for stitching.

Various templates used for painting and stitching.

My process

I started with the painting exercises—loading brushes, color mixing, creating a color palette—to learn how to work with the watercolors. 

Color mixing with watercolor paints.

As the project progressed, I began to add stitching to compositions. The stitching started with simple lines following the painted shapes. 

Days 38 (painting) and Days 45, 92 (stitching added).

Days 14: drawn flowers with a background wash. Day 73: petals were painted.
Stitching on Days 74 ,75, 84.

Once comfortable with stitching through paper, I started to think about using the stitching on its own as another layer of design. 

and Day 89

Layer upon layer

Many compositions entailed multiple days of both painting and stitching. Some of the painting exercises required drying time before the next technique was added to a piece, so spanned over a day or so.

Day 32. Painting shapes and then learning background flat washes.

Later in the project, I began to revisit earlier compositions to enhance them: stitching, drawing, and adding depth and texture.

Days 64, 69, 70,71, 93. Adding stitching to the painted compositions at different stages.

Drawing and stitching were added to this painting.

Days 48 (painting), 50 (drawing), 79-82 (stitching).

Beneath the Surface

The following composition, called "Beneath the Surface," was worked on the most number of days. It started as a painting exercise (Day 6) and got more complex with each day of stitching. This composition taught me the most about different weights of thread, using stitch patterns, and reusing holes.

Day 6 (left) ad Day 99.

I used Floral Stitches by Judith Baker Montano as inspiration for trying different stitches on this composition.

Using Floral Stitches by Judith Baker Montano for stitch inspiration.

Below is the final composition. It was started on Day 6 with a watercolor painting. Stitches were added on Days 46 47, 49, 90, 91, 94. On Day 95, I went back into the background and painted more shapes. More stitching was added on Days 96 - 99.

"Beneath the Surface" Day 99.

A few close-ups of Beneath the Surface.

Detail of "Beneath the Surface."

Detail of "Beneath the Surface."

And here is the back view.

"Beneath the Surface," back view.


I used various threads for stitching: embroidery floss, perle cotton, a few yarn scraps, and tested two new threads from Scanfil (a 4-ply cotton and a wool/nylon mending thread).

Days 76 and 83 using a cotton mending thread.

Days 77 - 78 using a wool mending thread.

Day 100: the final composition

For my final composition, I went back to the beginning of my daily process and pulled a color mixing exercise (3 primary colors) from Day 5. A successful flat wash was painting in the background (a technique I’ve been steadily improving on). Then, with whatever threads were left in my working needles, I stitched a sampling of patterns in circular motifs on the painting. 

Threads remaining in the working needles and pre-punched holes ready for stitching.

Day 100, final composition.

A wonderful learning experience!

With this 100 Day Project, I learned more about watercolor painting and practiced many techniques through the “Watercolor for Relaxation” course with @willa.wanders. I discovered the challenges of and learned the differences between stitching through [watercolor] paper vs fabric. I found ways and tools to adapt to this technique and have the results feel like it was successful. 

Things I learned about the stitching on paper
  • pre-punching the holes is a must! At one point I found a awl tool that helped with this.
  • stitching through paper is not like stitching on fabric. I had to turn the paper over when sending the needle and thread back to the front of the work.
  • use a needle "just big enough" to handle the thread. It will minimize the holes in the paper.
  • the same hole could be used for multiple passes for the same or different motifs.
  • once a hole was punched in the paper, I was pretty well committed to the stitch path (unlike on fabric).
  • I found the combination of the watercolor, drawing, and stitching, very interesting, different and rewarding.
Future explorations include trying different threads, yarn and silk ribbon.

Day 86

Watercolor painting techniques I learned
  • color mixing
  • how to make the colors in a color palette relatable
  • flat washes and glazes
  • "more water, less paint"
  • There is no need to clean the palette after every painting session. Watercolor paints can be rejuvenated and used for future sessions.
  • Watercolor painting is very frugal… a little goes a long way.

My 100 Day Project for 2024 resulted in 40 watercolor compositions/exercises. Some are on loose sheets of watercolor paper, a few are in a spiral sketchbook, and many are in a perfect bound watercolor tablet. 

I still have opportunities to continue this practice and I'm confident I'll use these techniques in various ways in future art. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on with "likes" and comments on my posts.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Slow Fashion Challenge 2024, 14 days in June

The Slow Fashion Challenge this year is from June 1-14. This Challenge is always interesting and enlightening to me and the daily prompts and topics usually lead me into doing research to get more information and a better understanding. I’ll be giving these prompts a go.  

2024 Slow Fashion Challenge daily prompts.

How to participate in the Slow Fashion Challenge?

Participation is easy. 

  • Follow @SlowFashionChallenge and the hashtag #slowfashionchallengejune24.
  • Make a post on Instagram using the prompts above as a guide. Or, free-style it and post something related to slow fashion or sustainability.
  • Include the #slowfashionchallengejune24 hashtag and include @SlowFashionChallenge in your posts.

You can post and/or just follow along and support other participants with likes and comments on their posts. 

The “Long Loved” prompt

For today’s “Long Loved” prompt, I posted a favorite patchwork jacket of mine that was started in 2018 and completed in 2019. As a Make Nine project from 2019, it’s been in my wardrobe rotation for 5+ years and is worn frequently.

Patchwork jacket from 2019.

Patchwork jacket, front view.

Want to learn more about slow fashion and sustainability? Follow the Slow Fashion Challenge 2024.

Learn, enjoy, and be inspired!

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Make Nine finish #6: a Berwick St. shirt and Valencia pants

I have a handful of favorite patterns that I reuse often. Once the pattern pieces are modified and re-drafted to fit me, it’s fun to focus on variations to these garments—shortening/lengthening sleeves, incorporating color blocking, using different fabrics, adding hand stitching, and the like. These are the times when I feel creative… and why I include a “Make it Again” prompt in my Make Nine challenges.

My Berwick St. shirt in linen/cotton with the pattern.

The Berwick St. Tunic re-make

Back in 2021, I used an eclectic Australian aboriginal print [by M&S Textiles Australia] to make my first Berwick Street Tunic [by The Sewing Workshop]. I wear it often in cooler weather but always thought it would be interesting to forego the gathered lower front panel and make a shorter, shirt variation and extend the button band down the full length of the front. So, here is my Berwick Street shirt, and the sixth finish for Make Nine 2024, fulfilling the Make it Again prompt.

My new linen/cotton Berwick Street shirt.

This Berwick St. shirt is made from a linen/cotton blend from Art Gallery FabricsInkperfect collection. When I was at Gina’s Bernina, a quilt shop in Knoxville, TN, I couldn’t decide which print to buy, so I purchased yardage of both. I drafted new pattern pieces for the front (to eliminate the gathered lower front panel) and shortened the bodice back about 3.5”

Redrafted front pattern piece.

I curved the bottom hem on the front pieces and matched them to the back pattern piece at the side seams.

Berwick Street shirt: color blocked front and curved bottom hem.

One of my favorite parts of the garment sewing process is choosing buttons from my extensive button collection! (Who doesn’t like mixing and matching and playing with all the buttons in the button box??) Buttons were needed for the sleeve cuffs and the front—and they don’t have to match or be the same!

Button options for the sleeve cuffs.

Small white shirt buttons were chosen for the concealed button placket.

This AGF linen blend has a beautiful drape and was easy to hand sew for the finishing steps—bottom hem, collar facing, cuffs.

To accompany my new shirt, I did a re-make of another favorite pattern—the one-seam Valencia Pants [The Sewing Workshop]—with a nubby, dobby yarn-dyed fabric [by Diamond Textiles] that I purchased on a recent visit to Fletcher’s Homemade in Elizabethton, TN.

Valencia Pants with added patch pockets. Pockets are lined with a voile print.

The pockets are a pattern hack that was added since my first version of these pants. I like to line the pockets with a “surprise” fun fabric like this one—a voile from the Emmy Grace collection [Art Gallery Fabrics]. Using a voile, rayon, or lighter weight cotton fabric for pocket linings reduces the bulk of the pocket and makes it easy to turn. (It’s also a great way to use up smaller pieces of fabric and offcuts from other projects!)

I wore both of these makes at H+H Americas, an industry trade show at the beginning of May. Nothing like a deadline to get something made… and finished!

Make Nine 2024 tracker. May 2024.

Make Nine 2024 Tracker: Make it Again prompt.

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