Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Squares & Circles

 I was given this wood block (wall treatment I think) sample by Bron, from one of the recent FabMo distributions.  I thought it would make an interesting surface to do some ShivaPaintStik experiments with.  Consider this a bit of a tutorial on playing with PaintStiks.
 When working with the paintstiks, I always try to remember to cover up most of the surface I'm working on as they tend to smear and get pretty messy.  As an aside: I have been re-using the same white pieces of butcher paper for a while now for this purpose as well as fabric painting and some of them are getting pretty interesting looking all on their own...
So, I started out with ironed flat pieces of plain white pima cotton.  I've found that you really want the fabric flat if you want the image you're trying to capture by rubbing to come out clearly.  If you don't care, then go for the wrinkly look and see how it looks!
 I didn't tape down the fabric to the surface just held the edges taut with two fingers as I ran the first color of paintstik over the surface.  If you want to tape the fabric down use that blue painter's tape or cheapie masking tape, both work pretty well for that. 
When you first use a paintstik you have to rub off the dried skin that forms on the exposed area, I just use a paper towel for this, twist gently and it peels off very easily.  And keep those paper towels around, because you'll need them to wipe your fingertips off on as you keep working.
I found that it was a bit hard to keep the fabric in the exact same place, but I liked how the slight shifts looked with the additional color.  If I was aiming for perfectly lined up shapes I would definitely bothered to do some taping down.
 Moving the fabric around to get the surface covered with marks and trying out various color combinations.  The overlapping colors make great combinations and when the paintstik color hasn't dried you can smear it together with your fingertips to soften the edges of the marks and blend to make new combined colors.
 I like the overlapping areas and the not exactly lining up of the squares.  As you work with a paintstik and start using it up, you'll have to peel off bits of the paper sleeves (just like with crayons!).  Don't do the whole thing or too much because it will just dry out and be unusable.
 Flipping over the wood block, hey surprise, surprise, there are circles instead of squares. A two for the price of one tool, gotta love it!
 I like how the circles side looks a lot, especially how some of the circles get filled in slightly with color as the fabric gaps down a bit over the larger holes in the surface allowing the paintstik to make a mark.
 Changing direction with color to escape the grid.

 Two experiments on one piece of fabric. Rows of color and filling in most of the surface with color.  That green line down the middle was made with some fingertip smearing of a bit that broke off the green paintstik.  Didn't want to throw it out, so I used it up by adding an additional mark of color to the surface.
 Instead of a regular grid pattern, I shifted the fabric slightly over the wood block as I went over each column of shapes.  I like the more random look and the combination of circles and squares in one piece.  I could see a dress made out of this fabric with the circles on the bodice and the squares in the skirt....  With this piece of fabric I guess I could make that dress, for a Barbie doll maybe.

All the fabrics up on the wall together.  Very interesting and fun experiments all in all.  I think next time I'll try using some already colored fabric to not end up with so much contrast with the white background.
After several months of curing, the smell has finally gone away enough so that the fabrics are usable for me.  I don't know if I'm extra sensitive to the smell of the paintstiks, but I have a hard time using fabrics I've done right away, especially if they are in a piece that I'm ironing a lot.  Seems to release a lot of the carrier oil smell. 
What do you think? Have you tried these Paintstiks yet?  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scraps of Life, Clearly Still Vibrant

 This interesting looking thing above is a block of wood with remnants of glue and fibers, the result of tearing off the sample rainbow colored pieces of linen in the picture below.
 All that ripping and tearing of those pieces of rainbow colored linen left me with this:
 A pile of colorful, fuzzy, interesting looking linen threads.  I bet you can guess where this is heading...
 It was time to make the weekly six-word memoir journal quiltlet, the 49th in the series, and I needed to clean up the debris to move onto another project.  As I am most certainly not one to throw away a bunch of colorful threads, I had to use them by placing them on a small piece of backing fabric and a scrap of batting.
 While working on how to contain the threads, I worked on the words for the piece which I wrote on a clear piece of plastic with a fine black Sharpie pen. 
 I used a piece of strapping tape over the words to seal them in as they didn't look like they'd ever dry.  I did it quickly enough so that they didn't smear at all and trimmed the rectangle down to a small size.
 I ended up using the stretchy, knit, plastic-y, possibly nylon covers that I saved from some get-well roses (one was on each bud) that were delivered by FTD.  That's me, using up excess packaging since 1973! 
I opened up several of the flower protectors so that they were able to be flat and stitched them down with rainbow variegated thread right on top of the mass of linen threads.
Lastly, the plastic rectangle with the words for the week were stitched down.  The words are:  Scraps of Life. Clearly Still Vibrant.
The result was lumpy and pulling in all directions and very messy around the edges.  Just like the week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not Interested

Here is number 48 in the weekly six-word memoir quiltlet series. 
 Well this one is pretty negative isn't it?
The words say: "Not Interested In Doing The Holidays", from the first week of December.  
And I really, truly was not. I had to force myself to get into the holiday spirit this year and get all the holiday stuff going.  Understandable I suppose with what was going on for me, but still, unlike my usual M.O.
 I used the striped packaging and red satin ribbons from the Ghirardelli holiday chocolates I bought to "get into the mood" for celebrating the holidays.  The jaggedy edges came about when I was cutting away the product name and information and I liked how the spiky-ness echoed how I was feeling at the time.
 I used a white flannel-ish fabric (actually one of those shoe polishing cloths you get free at some hotels) to stitch the words on with the embroidery stitches on my machine.  The words came out jaggedy and a bit strange looking because I was moving them around to try and get a discombobulated look instead of pretty perfection.
Also used some repeated star embroidery stitching to pretty up the corner.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Puddles Filling, Emptying

 Here's one of my favorites of the whole year-long project of making a weekly six-word memoir quiltlet.  It is number 47.  It may be my favorite even.  (Please don't make me choose).  But honestly, I think I like it so much because the words are not immediately visible, the 3-d-ness of it, the machine embroidery, the fabrics I used and the beading.
 The words say: "Leaves Turning, Falling. Puddles Filling, Emptying."  Sums up late November around here.
 The words are written with fabric marker on a leftover piece of a t-shirt my son was using to patch his pants (don't ask, he wanted a stretchy knee patch) which was on my worktable.  I folded the piece in half and stitched the bottom part down making it stand up.
 The beads function as a bit of a physical prop for the knit material to stand up.
 I had several colors of these leaf shaped glass beads which I thought suited the words of the week really well.
 More gratuitous close-ups of the beading.
I used several of the special embroidery stitches on my machine that had leaves, I think they show up really well on these almost solid brown fabrics.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiercely Fighting Forward

 Here's the 46th in the year-long series of weekly six-word memoir quiltlets.  Almost to the end!  This one is made with the plastic leftover after you've peeled off and used a SalonPas pain patch.  I found they really helped with the post-hip surgery pain.  There were so many of these oddly textured (ridged stripes!) thin, flexible, strangely colored, plastic pieces lying around, I of course had to use them in one of these quiltlets.
 The words say: "Struggle For Recovery, Fiercely Fighting Forward."  Sounds way too dramatic to me now, but I suppose it is probably pretty accurate.
 The stamping was done with a dye ink which took a while to dry.  I used one of my largest sized fonts because I wanted to fill up all the blank space with the words.
 I really like how some of the letters are on the fabric and thus are very dark.  It looks so random when you look at the overall piece before you see the rest of the words.
This particular plastic was really easy to sew through on my machine and I like how the thread lies on top so nicely.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thanks Letters

Here are some closeups of the letters from the Thankful Banner from yesterday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Banner Of Thanks

 After a year of looking at a stack of large triangles I cut out last year (right before I had hand surgery) for this banner, it was time to actually make the Thankful Banner. 
The size of the triangles I cut out was 10.25" at the base and 13.75" tall.
Since this is to be a double-sided banner, I cut out the number of triangles I needed to spell out GIVE THANKS twice, including one for the space inbetween the two words, which worked out to 22.
Each triangle was cut from a different fall fabric, leaves, greens, browns, corn, trees, pumpkins, etc. 
I had to choose some fabrics to use for the letters.  I decided to go with oranges and yellows so they would show up against the fall colors
 I chose a font that I really liked  the look of (Lucida Handwriting) and printed the letters out in a huge size (350pt).  About two letter per page printed out.  I wanted lots of room around the letter on each triangle.  For this type of project you want a fairly simple letter shape that isn't going to kill you cutting it out and sewing it down. 

 Whoops, I should have printed them out reversed since I was doing the fusible tracing thing. 
 So instead of wasting paper,  I quickly traced around the back of each letter in sharpie pen, so that I could then do the next step.  Learn from my mistake if you do this *print in reverse*.

Traced the (now backwards) letters onto fusible web (Steam a Seam 2). 
 Rough cut out the fusible letters, then fused them to the back of the letter fabrics. 

 Cut alllll those letters out of the now-fused fabric.
Next step was to fuse the letters down onto each triangle.  I decided I wanted them to be in roughly the same spot on each triangle so some measuring was required. Take into account seam allowances and the top inch which will be folding over the ribbon or cord.  Also be sure that the letter fabric shows up well enough from your background fabric. I had a few that I had to switch around to make it work well.

I used a tearaway iron-on stabilizer (Tearaway Magic) which I ironed to the back of each triangle covering the area where the letter was to be sewn down.

Stitched in a zig-zag around each letter.  I was going to do a satin stitch but decided I liked how this looked, and the banner won't be something that I'm washing all the time, so the edges should hold up pretty well.

Here's how the back of the triangle looks after I've sewn down the letter S.

After all the letters were sewn down I matched each triangle up with their mates.  This part can be tricky if you want your banner to be spelled correctly on both sides. So check your work several times. 
Sew the two triangles together right sides together starting about an inch down from the top edge. 
Cut the tips seam allowances down like the picture above.  
Turn the piece right-side out, use a chopstick to poke out the pointy tip and smooth out the seams, press. 
Press in the seam allowance on the remaining 1" up the top edge. 
Fold in about 1/2" and press the two top edges,  to make a casing.
Sew across the top edge and also about 1" down from the top edge.
Do a final press, string onto cord or ribbon. And There it is! Done and hanging in our house!

Too many banners? Yep, adding one to the usual two that are hung in our house did muddy the waters a bit.  Maybe next year I'll just have one up there at a time.