Archive of ‘textile’ category

playing with hand printing

I’ve been a wee bit obsessive about hand printing lately.

hand print options

it probably started back when we did the stamping art project with the kids for valentines day.  but, it became urgent (URGENT!) when I bought three little kraft paper covered moleskin books.  it’s not the kind of thing I normally buy, moleskins seems like such an indulgence.  but, I kept having ideas that I was certain I would remember and didn’t need to write down…well, you know how that story ends.  so, I caved and bought these little books that will fit anywhere, anytime. the moleskins are filed with graph paper and the combination of a kraft paper cover and graph paper interior was like some kind of kryptonite.  I was too weak to resist.

the beautiful, blank look of kraft paper always screams WHITE PAINT at me.  so I dug up some of my old hand printing things…carving tools, etc. and I went to town decorating them.  of course, once I had made a stamp I had to try it on fabric as well

clear stamp

my favorite was actually this ‘lily pad’ design..made by cutting a foam sheet and gluing it to the clear stamp base.  I bought the clear base literally years ago and never used it, waiting for the ‘right’ project.  but, in line with my 2013 goals I pulled it out and just used it.  my habit of saving nice things is so, so ridiculous and slowly but surely it is a habit I’m breaking.

I’m pretty sure the clear base is a martha stewart product.  I really, really like it.  because the stamp is clear I can see exactly what I’m doing and line everything up well.  I’ve used wood bases before and it’s so much more difficult to line things up just right when you can’t see what you are doing. 
lily pad press

I especially wanted to be able to see what I was doing with this stamp because I didn’t print the repeat in a conventional way.  instead, I bounced around, deciding which direction to place the stamp as I went.  it made it so easy to create a one-of-a-kind design with some flow.  the picture above was just my practice/playing around effort.  I promise to share more finished projects soon.

but, the moleskins books really are making me happy.  I used regular old white tempera paint, actually stolen from the kids art cabinet.  (in case you are curious, I did use fabric paint for printing on the fabric.)  I’m already using the moleskins, I keep one in my purse.  good idea bookI named my favorite one.  it’s called “good idea!”.  because, you know what?  I noticed something.  I am excellent at recognizing when I’ve been a terrible parent and have done everything wrong;  I do a great job of berating myself over a sewing or professional failure; I even excel at noting when I’ve been an impatient friend or wife.  but, I’m not nearly as good at allowing myself the compliment of a good idea.  so, this is my good idea book.  even when I glance over at it; it says to me good idea!  it’s going to fill up with good ideas…even the bad ones will be good ones in this book. I’m starting to think I should have always carried a good idea book.

handprinting fabric swap

speaking of good ideas, I took my renewed hand printing enthusiasm and joined in a fabric swap at maze and vale.  it is hosted by the inspired and lovely leslie keating and she has been so gracious, providing tons of inspiring hand printing tutorials.  I’m so excited.  can’t wait to make something beautiful and unique with the hand printed fabric I receive.

this quilt is fly

I sometimes just do not know what to do large scale print fabrics but I am often drawn to them.  I never want to cut up the print but since I don’t really wear bold clothes, it is rare that I find the right project that keeps the whole design intact.  and it was just that dilemma that inspired this whole cloth quilt.  I had one remaining yard of melody miller’s fantastic pixelated fly print that I just had to use.  so, I paired it with a lovely mint voile that is so super soft and silky and made this lap quilt.  


(aren’t I lucky this adorable boy agrees to model for me?  I could just squeeze him looking at that cute face.  and, he is in this phase where he must wear a button down shirt every day…he calls them ‘handsome shirts’.  I loooove it!)

ahem, the quilt.  I have been wanting to practice free motion quilting anyway.  I really am falling in love with free motion quilting.  so far, I have only tried the swirling, whirling around that I believe is called stippling.  I’m sticking with that for a while but I hope to soon move on to other, more advanced styles.


I did experiment a little, as you can see, with making a little flower design. but, my main goal with this quilt was just to keep the swirls consistent and actually covering all the areas of the quilt and I mostly accomplished that much. wahoo! for me! DSCN6090
the binding is machine stitched, in part because I was feeling lazy and impatient.  but also because I was encouraged by a quilt-mate (yes, that is a word!) from my quilt guild who convinced me that seeing the binding stitches is a cool look.  and, I will say it gives it a sporty look, which is ok with this quilt but I might not do it on something a little more delicate.  the difference actually reminds me of a blind hem stitch versus a straight hem stitch when it comes to hemming skirts.  one is sporty and the other is more sophisticated, both work at the right time.

free motion quilt boythere you have it…not a bad use of a yard, huh?  especially when paired with that adorable boy!


favorite blanket of all time

there is a clear winner for favorite blanket in our house and I am getting a little emotional about it.  I’m finding this blanket stuffed behind the couch and draped over the bunk bed; piled at the top of the stairs and giggled under on the porch. wool stripy with silly willy

I am an unashamed, honest-to-goodness sentimentalist and so it means a lot to me that this blanket is well loved.  this is because it’s made from a lovely, tightly-woven, lightweight wool I received from my grandmother.  she moved last summer and shipped me over 50 pounds of fabric that she saved from her days as a upholsterer and seamstress.  it’s not an exaggeration when I say that a piece of my family history is in every yard.  every single yard.

stripy blanket from irene

in fact, it was just that tug of heritage that kept me from using it after all these months; paradoxically, it felt too special to use.  but, in keeping with my goals for 2013 (use what I have!) I dug it up and made it into the blanket I had imagined it would be the first minute I saw it.  that’s right.  from the first moment I pulled this wool out of the 50 pound package I wanted it to be a blanket exactly like the blanket I made it into.  because, really…it could hardly be anything else! looks at those beautiful stripes!

stripy blanket in basketnow for the details: the back is blue flannel and the binding is an easy, self-made (this is a great tutorial, which I followed).  I didn’t do anything special working with the wool in terms of needles or thread.  the blanket is super cozy and warm but not too heavy owing to the fact that one side is wool and the other is flannel.  a unexpected but great combination for a blanket whether it’s with new or old fabric.  It’s perfect, if I do say so.

snuggly guy in stripy blanket

now that the blanket is well and truly done and being drug to and fro around the house, the fabric doesn’t feel so precious and fragile.  it feels special, for sure, but I cringe to think that I could have kept it hidden away in my fabric stash and never come across a scene like this…where wrapped in his great-grandmothers fabric, my feisty boy squeals and hides from his hand-making mama.  I’m not saying it but you could say that a scene like that could get a girl a little choked up.  (gulp).

the wool chevron pillow and our amped up wine budget

our couch is in terrible shape and should really be replaced.  but at the end of the day wine often seems like a more urgent purchase…especially at the end of a wild, couch-jumping, food smearing, runny nosed day.  at those moments, it becomes terribly clear that a new couch would only be jumped on, smeared on and booger-ed on.  the wine helps with this rationale.  and that, my friends, is how it all comes full circle.

wool chevron pillow

but, a new pillow!  well, that is totally sensible and a manageable little happy project. so I used some of the luxurious fine wool my grandmother gave me to make a plucky little chevron pillow.   the cat is thrilled, can you tell?

cat meets new wool pillow

the pillow is made by piecing together triangles to form the chevrons.  I kept the red and brown in a random pattern so the pillow didn’t get too stuffy. I like the look of the wool but the seams did get pretty bulky and then things didn’t line up perfectly. but, I am perfectly happy with the level of imperfection in this little pillow or I’m trying to be at least…I’m moving past glaring at the wonky seams every time I see the pillow.
wool chevron pillow full

I installed a bottom zipper, the invisible kind. I actually re-used this zipper, it used to live with an old pillow that was completely falling apart.  so, I’m happy it found a new home and it means that my new pillow costs a total of nothing…not a thing!
invisible zipper on wool pillowyou know what that means, right?  yep.  more wine!

how to hug a teeny tiny heart

one of my oldest, dearest blogging friends, mary frances from this is marzipan, has just had a baby girl and has the great joy of bringing a bit of estrogen into her otherwise all-testosterone world (like me, she has two boys).  I’m a little jealous to be honest.  unfortunately, some of the joy has a little dark cloud shadow hovering over it because the baby was born with a heart condition and her teeny tiny, beautiful heart has already met with knives and highly skilled doctors.  as they say in my family, uff da.  it’s more than a grown-up heart can handle.

of course, mary frances and her family are taking it in stride and with great strength and grace…an amazing feat given what they must soldier through.

for my part, I had to find a way to hug that teeny, tiny hard-working heart so I made two little kimono shirts.

birdie heart hugger

the pattern is from the heather ross book weekend sewing.  this kimono style wraps twice around the front, that is the hug.   but, also, the fact that it is easy to open up in the front will hopefully be helpful during her recovery.

sleepy night heart hugger

I love this simple easy pattern and there really isn’t anything more satisfying than making clothes for little babies.  especially since I rarely get to create for girls.

side of birdie heart hugger

the fabric’s are from my stash, of course.  one is a soft, loose-weave japanese print and the other is a soft flannel.  I’m really fond of how the japanese print decorates the chest.
reaching branch heart hugger

my only gripe with this pattern is that it always seems to leave a little pucker and extra bulk at the armpit. I think it might be the technique: the sleeves are sewn in before the body side seams are sewn.  the final stitch sews together both the bottom arm seam as well as the side of the body (essentially sewing a 90 degree angle from arm down to body) and I think it might be inevitable that this technique is not as smooth as actually inserting a sleeve properly.  anyone else have this problem?  the shirt is not tight so I doubt it will bother baby girl, it’s simply a sewist investigation.

wrinkled arm heart hugger

wild boy gets a quilt

if there is anyone in this house that is in danger of taking to the high seas, it is this guy, little J.

so, it is only fitting that his bunk bed quilt is covered in pirates, maps, and ships.  I might as well support his wild ways, as I have no other choice.

the fabric is the latest from sarah jane fabrics, I always like her playful, boyish prints.  they manage to come across as  tough enough that the boys find them fun and I like that the designs are still innocent.  I think our boys are right in that sweet spot when innocence is still possible.

this was one of the few things that were sewn for my family this christmas…between holiday markets and memory quilt commissions I didn’t have much time to sew for family.  but, I squeezed this one in.   it means both boys have semi-matching quilts now, I am a sucker for symmetry, I tell you.

I struggled a lot with pulling this quilt together.  I really wanted it to consist of three prints and three solids including lots of white.  but, I could not for the life of me decide on what the other two solid colors should be and I went back and forth with bright red and yellow and the muted blue and grey that I eventually chose.  I don’t want a quilt to scream at me, I wanted it playful but still calm.  I’m not convinced it was the perfect color choice, still but I’m happy with how it came out.

I did really enjoy the free motion quilting process.  I haven’t done much free motion quilting and I am officially smitten….I hope there is much more in my future.  the stitches on this quilt are not perfect, in fact I see mistakes every time I look at it, BUT it still looks lovely and washes with a great pucker to it.  at the end of the day, free motion quilting is more forgiving…the darning foot just bounces around making it easier to avoid the fabric folding over on itself.  I feel like I don’t have to be so intense about pulling and pinning everything perfectly straight because there is a bit of wiggle room with the bouncing presser foot that just isn’t there with a regular straight stitch foot.  as an added bonus, the end result looks just oh so….well, quilt-y.  I love it.   I will admit it can get quite comical wrestling with the quilt itself while the machine bounces around.  it’s a good thing I work alone.

the boy himself (on the right up there) he isn’t so crazy about this quilt, I will admit.  I mean, he likes it and says he likes it when he’s crawling into bed but opening it on Christmas day wasn’t quite the thrill that came when he opened up the Star Wars lego set.  he was polite and gave me a weak smile but quickly said “are there other gifts for me?”.  the poor plight of the children of mama makers!  sorry kid.


kids clothes week challenge–‘capping’ things off.

the last three days of kcwc moved more slowly, sewing-wise, than the first four did.  I guess I work like that.  the sprint is fun, the marathon…not so much.

but, I did finish off with an hour of sewing today to complete the bucket hats I set out to make.  these are from liesl gibson’s book ‘little things to sew‘.  this was the first thing I made from this very beautiful and inviting book.  I have read that liesl is very precise and exacting and her bucket hat pattern proved the point.  it was clear, concise and made a great little hat but there is no cutting corners…you gotta follow her instructions.  I tried a little cheating only to find I had to backtrack.  I believe that is called being schooled.  once I got the hang of it the hat doesn’t take long to make.

there is some hand stitching involved in this making, which I would normally shy away from but in this case it was necessary and even helpful.

the fabric is a japanese linen-cotton blend, some heather ross guitars and chino, from purl soho…an indulgent purchase that I knew the boys would love.

the lining is a nice linen-cotton blend that used to be a pair of my husband’s shorts until the nice linen-cotton ripped apart from over-wear.  I love it when that happens!

the boys do like their hats, even big C.  in fact, he put on this button-down shirt and said “do you want to take a cute picture of me now?” and then he did this pose.  I guess he has got my number.

spotty table runner

I have my preferences…I like linen, I like red and teal together, I like a touch of modern embroidery, and I like spots.  I’m sticking to it.  it’s working for me.  that is why I am not feeling shy about proudly displaying our new table runner.  I love it.  this is a little embarrassing but I sometimes walk by the dining room and just smile at it…as if it were a very well-behaved and cute child.  I am indeed in love. did I mention that?

as soon as I saw the pillow case in this book by the amazing ellen luckett baker I knew that I wanted to use the reverse applique technique for a table runner.  I love the way the right runner makes a table look pretty and inviting.

but that is enough gushing.  time to get down to brass tacks.

to make this I cut a strip of linen 17″ wide and just long enough that about three inches hang over both ends of the table.  then I cut circles out of card stock in two different sizes and used them to decide where I wanted to place the circles.  once I had the paper circles in locations that I liked, I traced around them onto the linen with a marking tool.  next I prepared the patterned fabric by cutting circles out of them using a fabric circle cutter being sure to cut my fabric circles 1.5″ larger than their respective paper circles.

with careful placement and using fusible hemming tape I ironed the fabric circles onto the wrong side of the linen (translation: it took me forever to get the circles secured in the right position).  because I had already drawn with a marking tool around the card stock I was able to machine sew along the lines I had drawn to complete the circles and really secure them in place.  of course, at this point, all I had was a strip of linen with sewn circles on it, I couldn’t see the patterned fabric.  so, using my sharp little ‘could never live without you’ scissors I cut the linen inside of my sewn circles without cutting the patterned fabric.  and voila, the patterned fabric pops out! next, I simply used embroidery floss to make even little stitches around every circle.  once that was done all I had to do was sew a muslin fabric on the back.

the patterned fabric I used was almost entirely vintage…some from vintage sheets (the dark navy and the blue and gold flowers).  but, the most special fabric in this runner is just peeking out of the corner in the picture above.  it came to me as a gift from my lovely aunt who appreciates both beautiful things as well as the way that things hold onto history and memory.  the fabric is actual flour sack fabric from the flour mill owned by her husband’s family, my awesome uncle.  starting in the great depression all the way to the 50s flour would come in printed fabric that was then reused to make everything from clothes and wash towels.  flour mills apparently printed lots of different patterns to encourage people to buy lots of flour.  to have the real thing and with a family connection is a real treat! I was so touched to receive it (really, I am just lucky my aunt doesn’t have any girls!).

I’ve been holding onto this fabric for a long time, afraid to chop it up but this seemed like the right project for it.  it was a flour mill in rural Minnesota so it’s got a bit of me in it.  seemed a good thing to have at my table, right? right.

and, by now it has hosted many of our meals but the first one was this tomato salad (chopped up with basil, garlic and olive oil) from our abundant garden.

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