Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Now to think up a title

Here are a couple of pictures of the discharged piece that was so disappointing.  Looking at it more casually, it reminds me of the woven tapestry fabric that is sometimes used to make up tote bags or small overnight bags. I will be keep it as a reserve piece for the show this weekend.  If one of the two pieces I have sells, I'm obligated to fill the space, and at this point, I don't have a lot of options.
As usual, the problem is one of value--always my Nemesis.  the fabric did not discharge as much as hoped.  But I could also have chosen fabric that represented greater value differences, or maybe I should have quilted in threads that matched the value of the fabrics, rather than doing it all in black.  Ah well, hindsight is always 100%.
Here is a full view and two close-ups. The concept was a stylized image of water flowing down a rock face.

Monday, April 27, 2015


The piece did not discharge as much as I would have like,and the value differences are too small to really allow the viewer to see the design.  Maybe a bit of paying too much attention to the details and not enough to the overall image.  Of particular concern is one fabric where the some of the raw edge discharged to a brilliant yellow that looks grotesque.   But I will finish it and probably show it.  Right now it is being blocked, but I have all of the finishing pieces ready to go tomorrow morning.

Yes, I'm disappointed.  but I've been disappointed before and will be again.  I take some satisfaction in knowing that disappointment is a part of being willing to take chances.

Otherwise a fairly quiet day.  I attended a Zentangle workshop last week, and spent some time today reviewing what we did , and searching for more patterns on the Internet.  A bit of play.  I have ordered some water colour powder called Brusho from England via Amazon, and plan to try some ATC's using the paint as a basis for some of the Zentangle designs  that I'm finding.  I'm using water colour paper,about 120lb, and it works beautifully.   If I actually get anywhere, I'll post pictures.  This all fits quite nicely in with the sketching classes I've been taking.  Certainly, I feel more confident with my sketching, and the Zetnangles are a fun way to practice.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

And the beat goes on!

The machine came home yesterday.  It appears to be working just fine.  Evidently all I would have to have done was re-boot.  And don't I feel like a fool.  Ar-g-g-g-h!

So now the quilting is done, and the discharge paste applied.  Once it's dry, I can discharge it, but I think it will wait until tomorrow morning.  For the timings to work out, the quilting had to be done today, or there wouldn't have been time to discharge, wash, block and bind.  So I can stop and breath.  This is such very intense work, that I'm exhausted, and I think I hear noises that sound like DH looking for supper.

Friday, April 24, 2015

One of those Days

I am desperately working on my piece in hopes of finishing it in time to hang it in a show next Friday.  Yesterday my sewing machine broke, with exactly the same problem I had two weeks ago.  A delay with taking it in, and then setting up the old Pfaff.  The old Pfaff is 13 years old, the Janome only 3, and it spends more time in the shop than I think it should.  My DH agrees but expresses himself in much more comfortable terms.  I use the Pfaff for piecing and the Janome for FMQ'g.  I was just setting up for the FMQ'g on my piece when it broke.  I'm not fond of FMQ'g on the Pfaff. as it forces me to use those colourful terms, just like Hubbie.

But I am persevering.  I am having a terrible time with the thread breaking, and finally realized that the thread was rotten.  I've been using a black cotton, rather than the King Tut, as the King Tut just faded right out against the dark fabric background.  I own a lot of thread, but not a lot of 100% cotton and certainly not in black!  But--I actually found a spool of exactly the same thread and manufacturer!  It appears to be fine, and we're hoping I can get a bit more done on the piece.

I have been reassuring myself that it doesn't matter if I miss the show deadline, as there is another show in June that I could enter.  Today I received e-mail reminding people that the other show requires that the design be based on one of certain quotes about water.  Say what!??  Well, I knew about the water theme, so that fits, but the design, although original, certainly isn't based on any quote.  Damn!!

And throughout the day, every time I sit down at the machine the phone seems to ring.

So here I sit, having a relaxing drink, and trying to chill out.  Not working, so back to the "salt mine".

Monday, April 20, 2015


I'm really intrigued with this discharging technique.  I've used it before, but rather like the idea of discharging a shape over a pieced background.  With the winged piece--probably going to be called "Wing Swept"--the colour discharged too deeply for me.  So I experimented with some commercial fabric.  I have a design, based on some work we are doing in my sketching class, and used the two samples just to gain an idea of what the fabric would look like after discharging.  I was very disappointed in the middle fabric in the second picture, but absolutely thrilled with the top three fabrics in the first picture.  Those are the ones I've chosen for the actual piece.  You can see that There will be some pretty dense quilting, which will be done with 100% cotton--Superior's King Tut in Obsidian.  I've used it before, and while it more or less reads as black, is actually a variegated black,brown and silver. In the sample, it has discharged in places, along with the background fabric.  Exactly the effect I was looking for.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Busy week

Two projects in the final stages and one finished.

Icarus' Dream is finished, faced and has its hanging sleeve sewn on.

If you remember, there was a first attempt at Icarus' Dream that didn't work out.  I trimmed as much of the background, that part with the quilted grid, off that piece, before throwing the center portion out.  I had to quilt a couple of other pieces to match, and then put them all together, like jig saw puzzle.  I butted the pieces together, with a multiple zig-zag, to hold them, and then sewed them with a narrow satin stitch, into a single larger piece. This was stamped with Dragon Flies with cobalt blue Seta-Color paint.  You can see that there were two dye lots of the yellow fabric, but I think it adds to the piece..

The dragon flies then had their heads, bodies and tails beaded.  You may be able to see the beading in the following picture.

This larger piece was turned into a knitting bag with some wooden handles that I found in the storeroom.  They must have been left over from the 70's 

 At the same time the latest issue of Quilting Arts Magazine arrived, containing an article on discharging hand dyed fabrics.  Since I was experimenting, I didn't bother drafting a new pattern, and simply re-used the Icaru' Dream pattern.  I found three of my hand dyes to base it on, and quilted the basic feathers in red, Since it was also machine trapunto-ed, using water soluble thread, I spritzed it to remove the white thread, and darned if the dye didn't run.  I have never had this problem with my hand dyes before!  So I gathered up most of the hand dyes I have, including the  piece, itself, put it through a very( read-very) hot wash with Synthrapol.  It seemed to take the excess dye out, but the batting shrunk!  Since I never wash my hangings, I had forgotten that cotton batting needs to be pre-shrunk.  But, it was still an experiment, so I persevered.  Finished the background quilting ( much simpler than on Icarus' Dream),  and then applied discharge paste to the feathers with a paint brush.  It dried over night, and the next day DH took my ironing board out to the patio and I ironed it, wearing a respirator.  It was washed, to remove the discharge paste and blocked--and what a PITA that was!  

Here is the result.  I had expected more pale colour in the feathers, but I'm well pleased with the result. I plan to finish this with facing and a hanging sleeve. It may be shown, but probably not offered for sale.This technique is certainly something I'll do again, I already have a design, and fabric, in mind.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Decisions, decisions

Even in its portrait layout, there is something  wrong with Icarus' Dream.  Probably a combination of low contrast, and poor definition of the feathers.  I thought of triming it down to echo the larger "wing" shape, but realized that the added problem of how to hang it would just magnify the existing contrast issue.  I really like this concept, and design. Having booked the space at the upcoming Art Show, I felt that I would still display it.  ( Not a very good decision!), as I really didn't have an option.

Then the most recent issue of Quilting Arts Magazine arrived, and there was an article on using discharging to create contrast.  The article specifically recommended using the technique with hand dyed fabric.  What do I have to loose?  I put Icarus' Dream aside, and pulled out my hand dyes fabric.  The article spoke of several different discharge chemicals, but most of them were bleach based, and required quick application and removal of the chemical, so as to control the amount of discharging.  Knowing I would need time to carefully paint on my chemical, I decided to use Jacquard Discharge Paste.  Checked my supply and found about 1/4 cup in a bottle, that I think I bought about 15 years ago.  I used it to check out how the fabrics I had chosen would discharge, but decided ( there's that word again!) to order more, on line.  This also meant paying a bit more for shipping as there are so many post office holidays in the next week or so, that it might take a month for the stuff to arrive.

The magazine showed using a pieced background for the work, so I pieced three hand dyes and then set out to audition thread.  The fabrics are green and blue, so an obvious choice, for quilting the feathers, would be orange-y. Not being fond of orange, I went toward copper, but that just died out against the fabric.  ( I had also tried all sorts of variegated thread, both Sulkey Blendables and Superior King Tut, but decided not to use a cotton thread for fear of the discharge paste altering the colour of the thread)   I finally found a Trilobal polyester--Superior Magnifico in a deep red.  When the blue fabric discharges there is a pink-ish tone to it, that works well with the red.  The red is very close in value to the fabric, but is still visible because of the hue.  I'm hoping that, once the piece is finished and discharged--which is the very last step--the red will visually blend into the blues and greens a little more.  Once that choice was made, I found a lovely Superior Twist, in olive green, that will be perfect for the background quilting.

I'll let you know how it goes.