Friday, January 22, 2016

Art Party - Fabric Painting on Aprons

My Completed Apron
My hand dye painted fabric is so colourful, it will be good to have a neutral apron for the Vendor Markets.

Preparing Ahead:

Sew or purchase aprons ahead for the amount of people you want to invite.

Have extra material available:
- for a test piece to start ie 18" square
-in case someone gets their apron done early

Gather supplies needed for fabric painting and provide adequate space for placing materials to share. Don't forget to cover your tables with protective material.

Provide fabric paints. These are ready to use.

Keep acrylic paints separate as equal amounts of the fabric printing medium (Golden GAC 900) will need to be added to make the acrylic into permanent fabric paint. 

Provide a place for your pet and some toys. If your dog is like mine, they are going to want to be in the action.

A tea and snack station is nice.

Tables for participants and their materials ready ahead of time allows everyone to start right away.

 Starting the test pieces:

A bonus of fabric stamping with others is they bring their stamps to share. Look at this beauty carved from a large eraser. Oh yea this was carved by the participant's spouse. Hmmm, how nice is that!
All could be made into something useful: colourful linings, tote bags, wrapping material, adhering to heavy paper for making into bookmark or boxes....and the list goes on.
There may be some highlighting that is going to be done to this piece yet but I love it as it is.

One person brought beige jersey fabric for stamping, later to be sewn into garments.

A harmonious colour scheme with the neutral white and black gives cohesiveness to a sampler. 
A blue blob that started this test piece simply becomes part of the background. The stamps are all of a natural nature creating a theme to the sample.

 Getting into painting on the aprons (after a cup of tea that is):

Starting on dampened fabric. Applying paint with a nylon dish scrubber - the things you learn from others.

Working in black and white. The pocket was stamped separately to create design element.

A completed apron. The stamps were dabbed off on a paper before applying, leaving a beautifully muted appearance.

This apron was built up in successive layers with each layer getting a little stronger colour. Some of the stamps were from Art Foamies, a local company that I can highly recommend. 
The newsprint sheet this participant tested her stamps on becomes wrapping paper.
After drying overnight all fabric must be heat set either in the drier or by ironing. Follow the instructions on your painting mediums.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year, New Techniques: Mark Making in Ink and Heavy Thread

Mark Making in Watercolour:
A new year inspires one to try new things. So at drawing session, I've been using a dip pen with acrylic ink. It dries fast and if I am quick I can add some values in watercolour. The poses last from a minute, at warm up, to about 20 minutes for the longer seated poses so there is no time to get too fussy. It forces you to make decisions about what you will include in your drawing and what you don't have time for.

 With having to dip the pen to replenish the ink, it causes a sketchy look. I find because I work with textiles, when I am painting I am often focused on depicting the fabrics. This chiffon skirt below, draped marvelously and the dots were spell binding. The colour in the background was from a commissioned watercolour I started but abandoned as the composition wasn't to my liking. It could be an interesting start for some added watercolour paint. 

 Look at those side buttons on that jumper. Who could resist focusing on those? Notice I was using fuchsia ink. Feeling colourful that day I guess.

In summary, I like the combination of the ink and watercolour. The acrylic ink which dries quickly seems more suited to this technique than India Ink which I have found has a tendency to bleed. 

 Mark Making with Thread:

When free motion stitching on my hand (dye) painted fabrics I generally use a regular weight polyester thread. Out of the blue I decided to try a heavier weight in the upper thread. The bobbin thread remained the same regular weight thread. I did need to adjust the thread tension slightly. The thread line is NOT smooth (likely due to the differences in thread weights between the bobbin and upper thread) but I like the textural nature of the line.

Cherry tree in Bloom using a heavier weight thread.

Who is peaking out the screen door?

More wrought iron and a hanging basket.

For my friends in Yuma, "Is this the gate to your yard?"

This heavier thread weight worked really well for these flowers.

Something for the recycle bin. Too much of a contrast between the heavy black line of the thread and the light value of the hand dyed fabric for my liking.   
In summary, I think the heavier weight thread suits the more organic images but when thread painting buildings, for instance, I prefer the standard weight sewing thread. Also consider using a lighter thread when the dyed fabric is of a light value.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sewing Just Before Christmas

"Merry Christmas Everyone!"
Are you busy in your studio before Christmas? I hope you have been, as I have been having so much fun there. The days have quieted down with the arrival of snow and I find myself, wanting to sew and sew some more. Below is one of my hand 'dye' painted textile cards with 'free motion' thread sketching. For my own Christmas cards I simply had photos made of the textile art and attached the photo to folded card stock.
I think the trick in thread sketching is to simplify. "What lines really tell the story?" In this case, I felt, that the shape of an old fashioned wooden shoeshoe was important, as well as the webbing. Notice I didn't put the webbing in the top area, or the boot harnesses, or ski poles. Did you make your own Christmas cards?

Sewing Gifts

Picking fun fabric and fussy cutting makes for some great potholders for gifts.


Okay measure twice and cut once. Obviously I didn't do that here!
Coordinating fabric makes two matching potholders but not they are not the same.

Lay the two layers of fabric right sides together. Mine were 8" square. Lay two layers of cotton batting on top. I stitched with a 3/8" seam to be sure to catch all layers. It probably would have been better to change to a walking foot but with attention, a regular foot works.

Preparing a Loop
 Some I added a loop to. Out of the scraps, I cut 1 1/2" strips, folded in the edges and stitched down the open side. The sewn strips were cut to 4" and inserted between the two fabric layers when sewing the perimeter.

A matched set because of the identical paisley background.
Leaving an opening when sewing the perimeter allows the potholder to be turned right side out. The opening was hand stitched closed and then the square was machine quilted.
This lovely fabric was purchased at
All packaged and ready for giving

From the left over scraps I cut 3/8" strips, sewed them together to form strips long enough to tie the two potholders together.

Board Game Bag:

My Scrabble Tiles Bag

 Although this top sample was sewn years ago, I wanted to show it, as the bag has been great. Three features I really like are:
  1. the satiny lining as the tiles slip out easily
  2. the double draw string as it is easy to close
  3. the front pieces is velvet so it absorbs some of the sound as you lay down the bag.
As this bag is a gift for another Scrabble Player, I wanted to incorporate those special features. I didn't take photos as I went along, but this is what I did. I put two layers of cotton together and free motion stitched them together. I used one of my hand dyed fabrics for the outside. To see what was my inspiration for this fabric, click here.
 I cut a rectangle from the two sewn layers of fabric, folded it in half lengthwise and sewed up the two sides. Then I sewed a 2" seam across the bottom side seam to create shape to the bottom of the bag. The bag was then turned right side out. Next a lining was sewn using a shiny fabric but I made it a bit longer. The lining was inserted into the outer bag and turned over the top edge of the outer bag to create a casing for the drawstring.
After sewing the edge down all around the top, I stitched around the side seam several times in a square shape. After that the stitches of the side seam were undone to create an opening for the string to go into the casing. Strings were threaded through the casing all the way around the bag and back to the original opening. This was then done on the other side with another string. Beads were added.

To keep the lining and outer bag from separating, a few hand stitches were sewn to catch them together at the bottom near the side seam.
There it is. Of course this would make a unique bag for other board game pieces.
January is around the corner and I am looking forward to more time in the studio. What are you planning?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Vintage Sewing Machine: My Little Singer 'Spartan'

My Little Spartan

Have you ever dreamed of a owning a vintage sewing machine? Since I have been a vendor at shows, selling my hand painted and stitched fabrics, I've been thinking of having a hand crank sewing machine in my booth for doing demonstrations.  Last Friday I saw this machine at our local second hand store . This wonderful organization is run by volunteers and supports community programs. I thank the gentleman working that day who gave me additional information about this machine. After going online I find that yes it can be converted to a hand crank machine.

'Spartan 192' - Singer Sewing Machine
Yesterday, I cleaned and then oiled where I could see moving parts and the oil holes. The motor was working but the machine was very stiff to move. It wasn't until I cleaned and oiled around the bobbin area that the machine started moving smoothly. The spool spindle was missing but I tried sewing anyway.

It's first sewing in ??? years. I was able to hear another Spartan on a Utube video and my machine sounds the very same. It just purrs along. In one video they showed it sewing through multiple layers and then through 3 layers of garment leather. That's my little Spartan!

The Spartan is a specific model of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. It is 3/4 size and research suggests built in the 1950s or early 1960s. It is similar to the Model 99K but with much less decoration. Named the 'Spartan' as it was built as an economy model. But Spartans were also ancient Greeks from the City of Sparta so I already think of my little sewing machine as strong as Greek Warrior
Spartan 192 Model. This model features a forward and backward stitch.
Click here to go to an introductory video that I found helpful. And click here for an online manual. A couple of things I did learn online was that the silver area is NOT where the spool spindle threads in. It is an place to put oil. I read online that it is quite deep and should be cleaned first before oiling. I need to do that yet.

Another thing I learned was that red piece of fluff is an oil felt. DO NOT try and remove it. Thank goodness it didn't come out when I tugged on it. I left the tape on the machine bed for the photo. It delights me to think of the projects that must have been sewn by the previous owner.

The surprise this morning when I opened this somewhat hidden draw and emptied out the contents, I found the spool pin!!! Thank goodness I didn't find it before I did the research and try and put it in that wrong hole on the top.

A drawer that turns out from under the cabinet.
Odds and sods from the plastic bag inside the drawer. Well we know she/he sewed something light green, turquoise and burgundy.
Can you tell I am excited about my new sewing machine. I love it so much, the question is, "Will I really go ahead and convert it to hand crank?" Any feedback for others with vintage sewing machines?

Also this Week

The other fun thing this week was a Painting with Dyes workshop I gave to the local Quilt group. I didn't get as many photos as I should have but I'll post what I have soon. There were some great images painted and I can hardly imagine what the quilters are going to be sewing them into.
Sample piece of painting with dyes. We did a dry brush technique on the candle and greenery with a lighter dye glaze overtop. The two white stripes were created with a pinstripe masking tape resist for a design element that the quilter's are going to have fun embellishing with thread.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Watercolour: The Blooms of the Southwest Desert

 My newest completed watercolour paintings. Looking at them, I can almost feel the warmth of the sunny desert. The 'Argentine Giant' blooms are very fragrant, open at night and close during the day. In certain places in the southwest desert you can see the agave and the prickly pear growing naturally. That is a treat in itself but when they are blooming, well, that really is something very special.

Watercolour: 'Foothills Agave' - off to a new home

Watercolour: 'Argentine Giant' - off to a new home
Watercolour: 'Prickly Pear in Pink' - off to a new home

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as regularly. Below is a sample of what has been keeping me so very entertained. More info as things unfold.