Monday, May 29, 2023

Therapeutic FMQ on scrappy charity quilts

I have a stack of scrappy or improv quilt tops waiting in the wings for a dedicated block of time for intuitive free-motion quilting [read therapeutic quilting]. These tops are for charity quilts—kitty quilts for the cats at the Chattanooga Cat Clinic or cuddle quilts for my guild's community service project.

Two free-motion quilted kitty quilts, ready for binding.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the extra day in the Memorial Day weekend to baste and start quilting a few of the kitty quilt tops. These quilt tops are approximately 25" x 27" that can be free-motion quilted quickly, but still offer a mental respite from the daily grind.

Five kitty quilt tops ready for basting and quilting.

The 9 kitty quilt tops were paired with backings. A 2-ply flannel I got on clearance offers an extra soft and squishy backing fabric that the kitties and staff at the Cat Clinic love.

2-ply flannel for the backing fabric.

I also tried out these pre-wound bobbins of WonderFil DecoBob, an 80 wt. soft poly thread. Boy, pre-wound bobbins make it soooo fast AND easy! (Buy a pack of these in a neutral color and you're set to go.)

DecoBob pre-wound bobbins. 80 wt soft poly from WonderFil Specialty Threads.

The 80 wt. DecoBob thread sinks right into the 2-ply flannel. I didn't even need to adjust the thread tension. A 50 wt. cotton thread was used on the top.

Free-motion quilting (back view) on2-ply flannel.

For charity quilts, my process is generally piece-piece-piece (several quilt tops), then quilt-quilt-quilt, then bind-bind-bind. When I get "in the zone"—piecing or quilting or binding—I like to keep doing the same process over and over. 

This must be the "therapeutic" part. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

A new binding on a vintage quilt, Make Nine finish #5

This vintage quilt has been in need of some "mending love" for quite a while. My Make Nine 2023 "Mend/Repurpose" prompt was just the thing to get this project into the queue. 

Vintage quilt with worn and frayed binding.

Analysis of the vintage quilt

As was often done in the past on utility quilts, the backing fabric (feed sacks, in this case) was used as the binding instead of a separate strip of fabric attached to the edge. The backing fabric was brought around to the front of the quilt—wrapping around and enclosing the edges of the quilt—and then hand stitched to the front to secure. 

It appears there may have been multiple backings on this quilt.

The backing of this vintage quilt was pieced. The fabrics appeared to be feed sacks or flour sacks. The quilt was hand quilted.

Pieced quilt backing made from feed sacks or flour sacks.

There were a few worn places in the patchwork that needed mending. Here is a reproduction fabric that I used to simulate the print and colors of the vintage fabrics.

A worn out area in the patchwork and the replacement fabric.

A new binding 

I had several options for a binding fabric. It was difficult to match the white color of the original binding fabric, so I had to choose something that was "intentionally" different. I opted not to use a very contrasting color—like choosing a color from the patchwork—in order to keep with the feel of the original maker's color scheme. 

Binding fabric options.

I chose Decostitch 715, cafe latte (second from top) from Art Gallery Fabrics. Decostitch has a subtle print that looks like hand stitching and the color did not call attention to itself. 

Double fold fabric for the new binding.

In keeping with the original binding technique, the new binding was machine sewn to the back of the quilt and brought around to the front side for hand stitching. I didn't try to unpick or remove the old binding, but rather covered the frayed edges with a new fabric binding.

New binding machine stitched to the back of the quilt.

Here is a comparison of the newly bound corner and the worn binding at another corner.

Worn and frayed binding (right) and the new binding (left).

Another block with holes was covered with new fabric and then re-quilted by hand. I used a long staple 100% organic cotton thread (2 ply 50 wt.) from Scanfil for both machine and hand stitching the binding, and for hand appliquéing the patches and hand quilting where needed.

An appliquéd patch to cover a frayed area.

Here are the newly-bound edges and corners of this vintage quilt. 

Edges of the vintage quilt with a new binding.

This is officially a time-span quilt that spans the 20th and 21st centuries.

New binding on a vintage quilt.

Make Nine 2023 5th finish

This project fulfils my "Mend/Repurpose" prompt for Make Nine 2023. It's my fifth finish this year.

Make Nine 2023, Mend/Repurpose prompt.

Make Nine 2023 tracking, May 21, 2023.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Quotes about mothers and other strong women

For Mother's Day, a few quotes from my 100 Days of Hand Lettering project.

"When your mother asks, "do you want a piece of advice? ..."
—Erma Bombeck

"God could not be everywhere, therefore He made Mothers."
—Rudyard Kipling

"Strong women never give up."
—from Women Who Lead Empires

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Creative braiding: upcycling T-shirts and knit fabric scraps

This month's Slow Fashion Challenge as well as other recycling and sustainability initiatives has made me acutely aware of opportunities and techniques for upcycling and repurposing textiles. Selvedge magazine recently offered a virtual workshop given by Studio Brieditis and Evans. The workshop was about upcycling T-shirts using braiding techniques. If you've ever braided hair, you can do this!

Braided strings of knit fabrics and recycled T-shirts.

For the workshop, I used a few old T-shirts as well as cut-offs and scraps from previous knit garment projects to try out a few braiding techniques—using 3 strands and 4 strands. 

Experimentation is critical to discovering which sequence of the knit fabric strings create interesting color combinations. The magical part of creating patterns in the resulting “textile” is when the braids are arranged side-by-side. 

Three-strand braid.

This screen shot from the virtual workshop shows examples of patterns that can be created.

Screen shot from Selvedge virtual workshop on creative braiding.

Check out the other creative upcycled items the team at Studio Brieditis and Evans have created at the ReRagRug blog. You might think twice about donating old T-shirts or disposing of fabric scraps once you see the possibilities for giving them a second life. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Earth Day: Mending a vintage quilt and collaborating with Anonymous

The theme for Earth Day 2023 is "Invest in our Planet." In our little space on the planet, my husband is tending our home garden and weeding the flower beds. My plan is to gather materials to mend the binding edge of this vintage quilt—a quilt that is on the bed and used all the time.

Frayed quilt binding on a vintage patchwork quilt that needs repair.

I realize that adding a new binding onto a vintage quilt will date it to the current year, but I think it's more important to care for and repair the things we have rather than discard them. Mending and repairing this quilt will be a "Collaboration with Anonymous." I like to think that the anonymous quiltmaker who made this quilt early in the last century would be pleased to know it is being used and cared for.

These are the potential fabric options I have for this mend. I'll be doing some auditioning to see what we—Anonymous and I—find most suitable.

Fabric options for a new binding on a vintage quilt.

 A Mend/Repurpose project is also one of my Make Nine prompts for this year.

Oh, and if you're interested in textiles, clothing, and sustainability, try the Sustainable Fashion Quiz on the Earth Day website.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Slow Fashion Challenge 2023 starts in May

The Slow Fashion Challenge 2023 is set for May 1-15. It follows Fashion Revolution Week, April 22 - 29. Fashion Revolution Week 2023 marks 10 years since the Rana Plaza tragedy.

Daily prompts for Slow Fashion Challenge 2023.
Follow #slowfashionchallenge2023 on social media.

Are you a maker?

As a maker and a fabric rep, many concepts of the Slow Fashion movement are pertinent to me and what I do. I participated in the Slow Fashion Challenge last year and was exposed to many ideas and issues surrounding sustainability, caring for and mending our clothes, fast fashion, fashion brands, and a myriad of other topics. I was also extremely inspired by the Challenge participants, their posts and comments.

Hand lettering practice with text from Folk Fashion, by Amy Twigger Holroyd.

I'm reading and incorporating excerpts from the book, Folk Fashion, Understanding Homemade Clothes by Amy Twigger Holroyd, in one of my 100 Day Projects. I think Folk Fashion ties in perfectly with the Slow Fashion Challenge.

Folk Fashion, Understanding Homemade Clothes, by Amy Twigger Holroyd.

One excerpt from the book examines the definition of Creativity with respect to individual sewers/knitters/weavers/etc. using patterns when making garments. It seems there are different views on creativity when making clothing for an individual or for oneself vs creating clothes for mass production. Does this also apply to Slow Fashion vs. Fast Fashion?

Creativity is about breaking new ground, but internally—doing something you've not done before.

Join the Slow Fashion Challenge

Consider participating in the Slow Fashion Challenge... or at least follow along [#slowfashionchallenge2023 and @slowfashionchallenge]. The prompts are new this year and there will be many insights and viewpoints on the topics from people around the globe. I know I'm certain to learn something! And, the possibilities for learning is a good motivation that might develop new habits. 

Hand lettering: "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Six days of stitching the Secret Trellis Garden

Working in the garden is often challenging, but it's also rewarding when you see the fruits of your labor. This composition, called the Secret Trellis Garden, is one from my 100 Days of Textile Collage project. This garden grew over the course of 6 days.

The Secret Trellis Garden
from 100 Days of Textile Collage project 2023.

Days 1 - 6

The beginning of this collage truly started with fabric leftovers—scraps from fussy cutting hexagon shapes for English paper piecing (EPP). You can see where the hexagons have been cut out. The background is also pieced from cut-offs from previous projects.

Secret Trellis Garden Day 1: running stitches in a zigzag pattern.

Following the design on the print, the scraps were appliquéd to the base in a zigzag (or "trellis") pattern. Unknown to me, the seeds for this stitched garden had been planted from the inception—with the trellis. 

Secret Trellis Garden Day 2: outlining the circle motifs.

The trellis was build (stitched) over the first two days. By Day 3, I needed to figure out how to bridge the two appliqué pieces to make the piece more unified. See that odd-shaped dark background showing through between the two appliqué pieces? That was the problem.

I incorporated yarn thrums in a previous composition and felt it was successful. So, auditioning thrums and other ideas was needed to bring cohesiveness to this one. 

Auditioning placement for yarn thrums.

The addition of another lighter fabric solved the problem. 

With the addition of a third fabric, the prints started to tell a story. The bees, grasshoppers, circles (flowers), the mason jars... all began to converse in this textile garden.

With another piece of fabric added, the lighter value made the composition mor unified.

The next obvious step was to turn the composition 180 degrees so the grasshoppers were right-side-up.

Secret Trellis Garden Day 3: rotating the work 180 degrees.

With the garden theme secured, it was time to add blooms and greenery. The yarn thrum spirals transformed themselves into flower blooms. French knots formed the flower centers. The beetles (the "crunchy" bugs) disappeared beneath flower petals where they belong.

Couching the yarn thrum flowers (in progress).

On Day 4, the garden took shape.

Secret Trellis Garden Day 4: yarn thrum blooms and stitched leaves and vines.

Day 5 focused on details: more French knots in the flower centers and the circle motifs; fireflies stitched in a doubled fly stitch; stem stitch outlines on the glass jars; stitched leaves with fly stitches supported the flowers.

Secret Trellis Garden Day 5: stitched flower centers, vines, leaves and fireflies were added.

On Day 6 the final touches included additional leaves and greenery, background kantha stitching, feather stitches at the bottom to ground the vines.

Secret Trellis Garden Day 6: the final composition.

In an outdoor garden, the work can been realized in the outcome. With a stitched garden, the work can be seen by looking at the back!

Secret Trellis Garden (back view).

The halfway point of the 100 Day Project

Today is Day 50 of the 100 Day Project 2023. The Secret Trellis Garden is my 8th textile collage composition.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Happy Easter 2023

Watercolor with hand lettering.

Combining my 100 Days of Hand Lettering project with watercolor flowers.

Pink tulips in the backyard.

Pink tulips colored by Mother Nature... who needs no classes nor practice.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Another Bristol knit top: Make Nine project #4

Can you have too much of a good thing? In the case of the Bristol Top pattern paired with Art Gallery knits... I think not.

The  Bristol Top with cotton knits from Art Gallery Fabrics.
My Make Nine 2023 Wild Card prompt.

When you're faced with the comment, "wear something green in honor of St. Patrick's Day," you quickly rummage through your closet to see what you have. Hmmm... not much. However, the luck of the Irish must have been in the air as I found two AGF knits on an "end of the bolt" sale. The prints were from two different collections, but with Art Gallery's fabrics, you can mix across collections and still come up with a pot of gold at the end of any garment sewing rainbow.

Make Nine 2023: the Wild Card prompt

This Bristol is fulfilling one of my Wild Card prompts for Make Nine 2023. This is my second Bristol this year and the sixth make from this pattern. See all previous versions in this blog post

Bristol Top #6. Pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

My Make Nine 2023 tracker has been updated.

Wild Card prompt on the Make Nine 2023 tracker.

Four projects completed this year with five more to go.

Make Nine 2023 tracker, April 1, 2023

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Day 33 of The 100 Day Project

 Time flies with The 100 Day Project. It's already a third of the way to the 100th day.

Textile Collage #1, The 100 Day Project 2023.

Project 1: 100 Days of Textile Collage and Stitch

I've just about finished six pages of textile collages for a stitch book. So, I'm averaging about 5 days for each page. With each composition, the basic stitches at the commencement give way to more complexity and depth in a collage as each day passes.

First day (left) and Fifth day (right) of a textile and stitch collage.

Depending on the time available each day (or how tired I am after work), a few or several stitches are added to a composition. As one would expect, I tend to make more progress on weekends.

These are close-up photos of the collages so far.

Textile Collage #2, The 100 Day Project 2023.

Textile Collage #3, The 100 Day Project 2023.

The collages definitely got more dimensional after pulling and using bits from old knitting swatches and novelty yarn leftovers.

Textile Collage #4, The 100 Day Project 2023.

Textile Collage #5, The 100 Day Project 2023.

Textile Collage #6, The 100 Day Project 2023.

Project 2: 100 Days of Hand Lettering

My second project is 100 Days of Hand Lettering. I'm working through the exercises in "Love your [imperfect] Letters" with Willa Wanders.

Sometimes pages are filled with drills of strokes, letters, or alphabets. Finding pangrams made practicing more interesting.

Practicing hand lettering using pangrams.

Then I started lettering excerpts from travel brochures and magazines. Quotes and phrases give the lettering more meaning. 

Phrases from a Threads magazine article.

This exercise explores "faux calligraphy" by adding extra weight to the down strokes of a letter.

Hand lettering practice.

On occasion, I'll hand letter a quote in my new Junk Journal.

Hand lettering in my Junk Journal.

The hand lettering workshop has been very thorough and insightful. We've covered roman letterforms, creating a signature alphabet, serifs, faux calligraphy, script lettering and other lettering concepts.

I am enjoying both of my 100 Days Projects for 2023. The 100 Day Project is a good motivator to learn something new through a daily practice. 

This quote that sums it up.

Motivation gets you started...
Habit keeps you going.

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