Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wool Patchwork Dye Project

Ah the ideas that roll around in my head. Like this idea. I love wool and have been collecting pieces here and there and have also pilfered thrift stores for their Pendleton skirts and cut them up for the wool. A few years ago I made these pillows from skirt remnants:

Winter and Harvest Moon

And I've made some patchwork scarves backed with minky:
Pendleton Plaid Scarf with Minky

Now my idea is to make patchwork blankets, no batting or anything, just a patchwork of wool squares BUT then overdyeing the finished blanket with a bright color dye. I got this brilliant idea from the new overdyed rugs that are amazing and beautiful and INCREDIBLY expensive. Someone came up with the idea of taking old oriental rugs, cut into patchwork, sew together and they dye bright pink, purple, green, red, any color really. Some are just dyed and not cut up and patched together. For a mere fraction of a second I considered trying to make one but to dye wool you have to simmer it in the dye and yeah, no way I'm figuring out how to get a rug in a pot on the stove. Here are a few pictures:

So back to my experiment. Purl Soho had a great article on piecing wool which I used as my method, a double seam. Only Purl used felted wool which won't ravel and I used woven wool which will ravel so I'll have to figure that out, later.

I cut up some scraps and sewed them together.
Wool Patchwork Dye Project BEFORE

Then I got some dye that works on wool (I bought this at Hobby Lobby but Dharma Trading has awesome dyes and all the other materials which is where I will get the dye when I'm ready to do the actual blankets)

I have a LOT of experience dyeing cottons so I know the chemical process but have never dyed wool. Wow, it was SO much easier! In spite of the fact that you do have to simmer it on the stove, but the dye went right into the wool and the water was clear afterwards which surprised me. When using procion dyes on cotton, the water still have the dye color in it. Anyway, I used vinegar to set the dye, as directed on the dye packet. I also used a tiny bit of the dye, not the whole packet.

Voila, the finished product!
Wool Patchwork Dye Project AFTER

I can almost hear a collective sigh of disappointment. It's not real exciting but I love it! It gives me an idea of which colors look better after being dyed yellow. Here are some side by side comparisons.

I love this one. The white of course became yellow.

And I REALLY love this one because I'm not a big teal fan, now it's more green.

On this one the right is the before, the left is the after. Interesting, not real exciting.

You may be thinking, why not dye them before you sew them together? That is an option but I'm just loving the overdyed rugs concept which says you use one color on everything.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The (sort of sad) Tale of a Quilt

Little Folks Voile Quilt
I've had a collection of Little Folks voile for a long time and I finally got the inspiration to make a quilt, using my own pattern, which I really like, based on the numbers 5 and 10, I made rows of blocks that were ten inches high, pretty simple but kind of fun since it was improvisational.

The voile is amazing to work with. Very smooth and soft, great feel to it, finely woven. Once the top was done (baby quilt size) I decided to use a gorgeous handmade wool batt for the inside. This came from a sheep farm, so it's like wool roving that you use to spin yarn only it had been carded into a flat sheet that was the exact size of my quilt top.

It was so fun working with the fluffy natural wool and I used a solid piece of Coloring Garden from the voile for the back. After pinning it together, I read a few articles about quilting with an unprocessed wool batt. They mentioned encasing the wool in cheesecloth first, to prevent "bearding" (I had no idea what bearding was but if you read on you too will know what it is). So I took the quilt layers apart, bought some cheesecloth by the yard, and encased the wool in cheesecloth, then put the quilt back together, pinned it and free motion quilted.

It was beautiful when I finished! But as always, I wanted to wash and dry the quilt so it would shrink to it's final size and give the quilting a little more wrinkle. Again, I had read online that you should be able to normally wash and dry a quilt with wool batting. WRONG.

I used cold water and a 4 min gentle cycle for the wash. When I took it out of the washer, EEK. It was all wonky. I stretched it out and tried to dry it as flat as possible overnight. Here is the result.

Little Folks Voile Quilt - a sort of sad tale

This is bearding. The wool fibers come up through the fabric, in spite of my cheesecloth coverage:

And the fibers aren't sitting on to of the quilt, they are still attached to the wool inside the quilt so you can't remove it all.

So, it wasn't really that sad because,

GOOD NEWS instead of listing this in my shop for sale, I get to keep it! And, it's super warm and cozy.

BAD NEWS, it's kind of wonky. It's about 34 inches wide by 40 inches long so not really great for a human throw but one can never have enough quilty things laying around the sofa for various creatures to use on chilly nights.


1. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

2. Practice new things using small pieces of fabric first.

3. Natural, unprocessed wool batting in a quilt should be

hand washed in cold water and dried flat, like a wool sweater (duh on my part).

4. Processed wool batting, which is needlepunched and sold ready to use at Joann's or quilt stores, has already been prepared for quilters, pre-washed, super shrunk, guaranteed not to shrink. Probably a better bet to use this than what I did, unless you're like me and you love to experiment.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Farmers and Farmer's Wives

So, I jumped on the bandwagon a week or so ago and bought the book and started the Farmer's Wife Quilt!  I am a member of both the Flickr group and the Yahoo group.   The blocks are addicting when you start out.  I was making 2 a night but recently I slowed down.  I'm using my collection of Urban Chiks Swell and Sweet fabrics along with some Tanya Whelan florals and Lecien Flower Sugar.  I can't wait to see more blocks together.

AND speaking of Farmer's....
Amazing Hail Storm

A few weeks ago we had a terrible hailstorm that ruined my vegetable and battered the pond lilies.
Amazing Hail Storm

The biggest fatality was the cucumber patch.  This picture almost makes me cry.  I had to pull out all the plants and throw out the half-grown cucumbers.
 Since it was too late to plant more cucumbers, I picked up some pepper plants to replace the cucumbers:
 I went out a few days ago and took photos of the recovery effort.  The pond has recovered amazingly.  There are lots of new lily pads and about 6 lilies blooming!  More than usual.
 I lost a lot of tomatoes and the plants and fruits were bruised but they seemed to be trying to come back and a few have turned red (these are tiny grape-sized fruits that should be larger like Romas)
 The corn stalks were shredded by the hail but seemed to be coming back and growing taller and taller and the corn cobs already starting, YAY
AND THEN....  yesterday evening we had a rainstorm.  The wind came whipping in first, then it rained for about 15-20 minutes hard and then settled into a light sprinkles.  No hail.  This morning I went out to the garden and YIKES.  My corn plants were lying on the ground, yes, lying.  They are probably 8 feet tall now, maybe taller, and the roots were stool firmly in the ground, the stalks had not broken but they were bending down touching the ground.  Rosie had a good sniff and I was lucky she didn't decide to "mark" it.  I hope the sun will attract them back up straight again.  For now, I propped them up with a garbage can, lovely.  A couple of the tomato cages also blew down and covered the pepper plants!  I propped them up using a board.
I am seriously wondering how real farmers do it.  This is a fun little hobby for me, not my livlihood.  I have a much greater appreciation for farmers now.  And for farmer's wives and quilting.  I'm now working on block 7 and these are tiny pieces.  At least I can protect my quilt from hail and wind.

Thursday, July 7, 2011



So I thought I was tired of sewing.  I just couldn't make myself finish the quilt I've been working on for a year or start the new quilt I'm imagining or make another shirt or skirt for the summer.  I felt lazy.

Eero Aarnio Puppy!
And then.... Suddenly I had a project!  The Mod Livin Best in Show charity auction Eero Aarnio Puppy decorating event came along.  Suddenly I'm staying up late and getting up early to work on it.  It's puzzling how this could suddenly make me so passionate.  Wish I could be this passionate about my job, hahaha.

Stay tuned for the final project....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quilt Inspirations

Quilt Inspirations
I have one Kaffe Fassett book, Glorious Patchwork.  In this book, he displays photographs that inspired the quilts, along with photos of the finished quilt.  I really love this.  If you go to his website, the movie that plays has a mosaic of images.

I studied fine art and still remember how I started looking at the world differently when I started to paint or draw it.  When I began with black and white, I saw every object as dark or light and imagined how hard I would press the charcoal or Conte crayon to make that shade.  Graduating into color was harder and again, I began to look at every three dimensional shape differently.  A green leaf is not just green, it is darker on one side, the veins might be lighter, so I would add maybe red to darken the green, yellow or even white to lighten it, sculpting a three dimensional leaf on the paper.

So when I started quilting again a few years ago, geometric shapes around me began to pop out.  There is a sign near my office advertising a real estate company and their logo looks like paper piecing to me!
Quilt Inspirations
I decided to go out around my neighborhood the other day and photograph inspirations that might become quilts some day.  It's amazing the variations.  After taking photos, I realized I could either use one photo/pattern for a quilt or I could combine may patterns.  I made a few mosaics but I feel like this is just the beginning.  There are so many other ways to combine images and so many more images to photograph.

Let me know what you think of all this.  It was just an idea I had and I know I've seen others do it, Kaffe Fassett of course, also Cherri House, just wondering how you would translate images into quilt designs?  I haven't quite decided yet, just playing with the idea.
Quilt Inspirations

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Oh so many things going on, like work.  Work.  Work.  and GARDENING.  So little time to sew but here are some things I have managed to fit in...

Following up on my last post, the WIP, here is the finished shirt which I LOVE!!!!
HR Summer Blouse

We went to Boston the beginning of June to see my incredibly brilliant niece graduate from High School with a zillion scholarships, honors and she was valedictorian.  My brother's house had a gorgeous rhododendron in the front yard and I asked my husband to photograph me (in the HR Summer Shirt) in front.  Apparently a bee mistook me for a flower bush and started to attack.  Thus this lovely photo that makes my husband collapse in man giggles whenever he looks at it. 
That trip was so amazing, watching my little nieces grow into amazing women.  My younger niece has two more years of high school but is an amazing singer and is in the high school musicals each year with solos. 

We went to Woodman's for lobster, in Essex, MA one day
Explored Boston, Cambridge, went to Harvard, Little Italy, visited a good friend, saw the Holocaust Memorial
Went to Rockport, here's the apartment where my brother stayed his senior year in college, still there, still looks the same, same sign
Beautiful Rockport

AND in other news...
I decided to make a skirt.  I used Anna Maria Horner "Little Folks" voile, Forest Hills in Citrus, lined with the solid voile in Kiwi using this pattern from Altered Cloth which is a simple cotton/lycra waistband and gathered skirt.  I made it in 3 mornings before work, crazy, yes.

AMH Little Folks Voile Skirt

(Rosie has dependence issues)
AMH Little Folks Voile Skirt

I don't know if I made the skirt to go with the new shoes, or bought the shoes for the skirt, LOVE them regardless
AMH Little Folks Voile Skirt

Self-timer shot
AMH Little Folks Voile Skirt

WIP News....

One day I stumbled on this quilt and I fell in love and promised myself that one day I would make a flag quilt.  Seeing as it's nearing on the 4th of July, I pulled together all the red, white and blue fabrics that I thought would look good in a quilt like this.

Red, White and Blue

Next post.... I had this idea of finding quilt inspirations by photographing architecture and other things in my city and neighborhood.  This will be in my next post!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011



I am too excited about this not to post a photo.  I still have the final touches to add, the button and I have to close up the front placket (or find a cami to wear underneath).  The pattern is from Heather Ross' "Weekend Sewing" book that I got as SWAG from the HR Workshop in Palm Springs and the blouse fabric is from Kei Fabrics of Japan from my local Fancy Tiger.  Oh and the placket fabric and the bias around the neck were made from Monaluna Circa 50 organic fabric that just happened to match.

I'm one of the last to have finally jumped on this book and I'm really excited to sew more of the women's patterns.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Catching up

Herb garden planted yesterday, with marigolds

 Earthworms galore in my raised beds, turning the clay soil into magic dirt, makes me very happy

Tomatoes planted

Some projects I hope to start on today

RANDOM photos of my home

 Angela Adams duvet and shams paired with my quilt/coverlet

 View from our bedroom window yesterday

 Living room wall that needs repair/painting (I told you these were random)

 Fuchsia hanging from my front porch

 Hardwood floor in front of the door where it is worn and needs to be refinished

 View into my built in

 A corner of my kitchen