December 23, 2011 6 comments

Happy Holidays to all

I'm off for about a week - see you soon!

December 19, 2011 2 comments

Happy Christmas

(or holiday celebration of your choice)

In case you haven`t figured it out  already - this will be a non-quilting related post . :)  A teensy how-to follows though, for these and a few other little Christmas decorations I made for my office.

All of my materials are from the dollar store, which means that I`ve spent no more than $2 on any one item. 

 The simplest of course, was the vase of flowers.  The flowers were purchased by individual stem at $1.00 each, the vase was $2 and the sand and vase filler were simply layered in like a parfait.  Easey peasey!

In the first pic, there is a vase of the same size beside the one with the flowers. In it is a little tree in some vase filler. The tree started out like this:

and then I used a utility scissor to cut the plastic pot it was inl; and then cut the bottom of the pot out so that the tree would have a little stand. 

Although the tree was still quite small, it was too tall for my vase, so I used a wire cutter to trim the tree stump, which I then put back in its stand for stability. 

Mes voila!

I used the same simple process for this shorter, rounder vase; as well as come clippings from the Christmas pics in the first materials shot and made this little pretty:

Since these are so quick and easy to make (less than an hour for all three), if you like them, you can whip a couple up for your coffee or sofa table, or even a centerpiece for your kitchen table and still have plenty of time to finish whatever else needs to be done between now and Saturday.

See you Wednesday!
December 16, 2011 10 comments

on my sewing table right now...

This is just a little something I've been playing with on my kitchen table.  "Kitchen table" you ask?  Why yes! Haven't I mentioned that my sewing room currently looks like THIS:

the walls are primed...

that closet door is now primed too...

sadly, there's nothing I can do to make that window bigger...

and we're laying the floor this weekend.  AND THEN, paint, furniture goes back in, fabric goes back in - I'm hoping that shortly after Christmas, I'll be back in business!

December 12, 2011 6 comments

Failure to thrive...

This was a piece I made several months ago. I was experimenting with a number of techniques, (not purposely, mind);I was trying to create the effect of trees in the background, mid-ground and foreground, so, using some of my hand-painted fabric; I quilted it to death, painted over, painted under, quilted some more,  fused on top of,  and I think, did a final layer of paint  - all in an effort to make it look the way I saw it in my head -  and failed utterly.

So I called it "Failure To Thrive" (a play on both words and the utter failure of the piece) and put it away.  I never actually intended to show it to you, though the sharper eyed among you may have spotted it in this post ( like all my failures, I never give up on the - I always try to rescue them, make them over, prove that they can be beautiful despite themselves.)

I'm showing it to you today because it's part of a project I'm working on that will be revealed in the new year. Rayna Gilman is involved... and you can play too.  Pick up her new book or enter here for a chance to win a free copy.

Talk soon!

December 8, 2011 5 comments

and we have lift off!!!!

I finally got my laptop back (it was actually ready 7 days before I was able to pick it up, but due to a miscommunication in house, they kept telling me it wasn't. ARGH.) 

In the meantime, I was working on lots of stuff, but first up, playing with plastic!

Over on And Then We Set It On Fire, this month's technique is fusing plastic. So I played with this technique over the weekend, using grocery bags, dry cleaner wrapping, thickened plastic wadding and bubble wrap. 

Mostly, I just melted stuff together. :) 

I was interested in the types of textures I could get with the different weights of plastic; but because the dry cleaning plastic would have been excessively boring, I first put down two squares as a base,  mixed up some craft paint on top, put another two squares of plastic on that and melted away.

Four layers wasn't enough, but 8 was, and I got some really nice results that were highly coloured, very pliant, and easy to quilt. 

I also tried it with some white grocery bags for a less vibrant result, but in my finished piece, I layered the different kinds of plastics and some of the colours together. 

I also tried putting "stuff' in between the layers: sequins, tiny beads, bits of fabric, plastic mesh and the like - with varied results - I may use those bits and bobs in other pieces in the future:

But often, the result was such a hard mass of plastic, I couldn't imagine using it in any way except possibly, sculpture!

It's not clear from the pic above - but this turned out be a lump of hard plastic that I wouldn't be able to get a needle through. 

In the end, I took some pinks and greens and whites, (and little of the grey with sequins) cut them up, layered them and put them together in a little wall hanging. BSP *LOVES* it and thinks I should work with melted plastic all the time.  It was fun - but that's enough for me. :)

November 28, 2011 4 comments
 My little darling is now in the shop - the scanner got rid of "70 known threats" but there were 102 found!

I love that a service such as The Geek Squad exists, but they're not cheap! $314 up front (to get rid of the virus, and save my files) and possibly more when I pick her up.  Sheesh!

However, life is short - as per The Holstee Manifesto, above, so I've found lots to do in the meantime.  :)
I'll see you in a couple of days!
November 25, 2011 2 comments


I'm not quite back from vacation yet, but I have been checking in online from time to time, and I clicked on link to see what Kate Middleton was wearing and my laptop blew up!!!

Okay, it didn't really blow up, but (literal) sirens went off, and I got all these notices from Norton, Windows Firewall and Windows Defender that said versions of "YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK". 

And then Whoopi appeared and said:

(Okay, she didn't, but I seriously was expecting her to.) :D

That was last night about 7:30 p.m. and currently, my 'lil laptop (who I call BabyBelle) is STILL running a full PC scan and finding all kinds of issues.

I may have to bring her into the shop tomorrow but I'm not sure how long that sort of thing takes, so I may not have a post for you on Monday.

In the meantime, enjoy your fabulous post-turkey days (if you celebrate) and remember - be careful out there, 'cuz you could be in DANGER gurl!"

November 16, 2011 6 comments

Leavin, on a jet plane...

With apologies to John Denver. :) But before I go, I thought I'd show you this:

I couldn't pick up the gloriously glossy effect that this fabric has as I'm not yet that skilled a photographer - but it's really lovely.  This is another fabric I made (36 x 24 or so) with the disperse dye/transfer paint method that I'm demonstrating over at And Then We Set It On Fire this month.

For the piece above, I tore my papers into rough bits and then overlaid them individually onto the fabric and ironed them. It was a very lengthy process, which is when I came up with the idea of gluing them down first - which is what I did here. 

I cut all of my bits of painted fabric into roughly rectangular shapes and then glued them to another piece of paper paint side up.

(I had already written on the backs of the papers their colours so I would know what the heck I was doing - as I was laying them down they all looked sort of blackish or blueish as you can see)  Anyway, when that was done:

I ironed for this "ta da" moment.  (This printed part of the fabric is about 30 inches wide and 26 or so tall).

Remember if you're trying this at home, that the key points are as follows:

1.  I used pre-mixed transFER paints (not transPERSE paints) as well as disperse dyes. The latter is my preferred method.

I used IDye for my disperse dyes (the link is for a Canadian store but I believe you can also get it at Dharma Trading) but  any powdered dye that is meant for polyester fabric will do.

I mixed the powders to the following method:

a) 1 tsp for pale
b) 2 tsps for medium
c) 4 tsps for dark
d) 8 tsps for black

I mixed the IDye with a 1/2 cup of boiling water and two drops of synthrapol.

For an effect like watercolours on fabric, I thinned this mixture with another 1/2 cup of water and once cooled, painted my papers.

Both mixtures gave GREAT results with print after print, with no smell and virtually no mess.

I had the best results BY FAR using paper from a sketchbook rather than bond (photocopy paper). I found the heat process bound the colour to the bond paper (that's what photocopy paper is for, after all!) whereas the colour just sat on top of sketchbook paper. However, you don't want to use a really good quality sketchbook paper as the colour will then sink into the texture of the paper rather than sit on top.

With the photocopy paper I only got one or two prints, whereas with the sketchbook paper I've had so far - endless results (each paper has been printed at least six times and some of them have been printed 20 or more times!)

2.  The higher the amount of 'man made' material in the fabric, the better result you'll have.  I had the very best result with 100 polyester silk.  I also tried a sheer polyester tulle with a very dark value paper which produced a really lovely see through print.

3. Don't forget to try different things with your papers - using resists, cutting out shapes or tearing the fabric into odd pieces, mixing your colours directly on the papers and using tools with the application of the paint.

I have finger painted it with multiple colours on one sheet, combed it and then spattered it and then smooshed it on top of all of that and had a fantastic resulting paper. For instance I painted a paper yellow, then laid pink over top, combed it, and then dropped "stripes" of orange with a heavily paintbrush in long swoops across the page - lightly smooshed it with the flat of my hand and that produced an amazing beautifully multi-coloured and patterned 70's funky cloth.

4. When you're actually making the cloth, I start by using a heavily padded surface on my table and putting a sheet of craft paper over it, then laying the fabric on it "good" side up, and then putting the painted paper(s) face down on the cloth, and then put another, bigger paper on top of it all to keep the iron clean.  While you're working, keep the iron moving, keep the iron HOT HOT HOT(no matter what the fabric requirements are - you have two layers of paper between the fabric and the iron to protect it)

9. The longer you press and/or the more pressure you apply when you press, the more brilliant your result is.  (For me, with arthritic hands, elbows and shoulders, pressure was problematic, so if I wanted brilliant colour, I just increased the time).

So, the top piece, with it's lighter colours, was less pressure and time, and the bottom piece was done with more time.


You have to experiment a LOT until you get a piece that you're finally happy with. Be prepared for a lot of craptastic results when you first start doing this.  Once you figure out the appropriate amount of pressure, heat and fabric though, you're off to the races and you'll love the results and variability you'll get.

I know lots of quilters and even art quilters have an innate prejudice against using fabric that isn't "best quality quilter's cotton" but as you know, I have NEVER adhered to that rule, I don't even understand the rule.  Certainly, you don't want to put cheap cloth in your work whether bed quilts or art quilts, because the fabric will degrade and the colours will fade or the fabric will pill after the first or second wash.

However, good quality fabric of ANY kind will last a couple of hundred years in an art piece, and maybe even that long in a gently used bed quilt, so don't worry about it!

So, I'm off on vacation again (spoiled girl that I am) this time to Savannah for a week, so I'll see you next Thursday or so, and hope you all have a good week in the meantime!


November 15, 2011 0 comments

More experiments

I have been working on other experiments over the past couple of weeks with transfer paints/disperse dyes.  For this piece (36 x 24 or so), I couldn't pick up the gloriously glossy effect that this fabric has as I'm not yet that skilled a photographer - but it's really lovely. 
For this piece I tore the painted papers into pieces and then laid a piece down, ironed it, laid another piece on top, ironed it  -  with a fairly light hand onto the fabric, a quite laborious proces, but a result I was quite pleased with. 
November 14, 2011 5 comments

The beginnings of another painted quilt...

I thought I'd try painting on silk twill again - only this time, I used fabric paints rather than watercolours. It's nearly dry in the pic above, so I'll be setting it aside soon for quilting.  (But maybe first I'll fix the persepctive on that rail fence - maybe thicken it up and add some more leaves!)

However, to get to the how to - I  started with about 1/4 tsp. white fabric paint and added just a drop of azure blue to about a 1/4 tsp base extender.

Mixed up, it looked like this. A lovely pale greeny blue.  I forgot to take pics as I went along (I got so into what I was doing) - but on the cloth it looked like white, with just the slightest hint of blue - which is what I wanted for the clouds.

Then I used my handy dandy mini colour wheel to mix up some other colours.

A blue-er blue for the sky (remember, with fabric paints, all colours look wayyyyy more intense on the pallete than they'll end up on your fabric - but do some test swatches to get more comfortable.) Here are from left red/orange/blue (for those burgundy orangey leaves) copenhagen blue and goldenrod for a green, goldenrod and azure blue for another green, and just plain straight from the bottle green - all were mixed with base extender to produce:

Which were all of the leaves.  Unfortunately, I just mixed as I went to make the browns and the greys, which was really dumb of me because now I have to figure out how to make some more grey, greige and beige that matches my already existing fence.  (gulp!)

Wish me luck on that, and btw, how are all of you?

 Hope you had a good weekend!

November 10, 2011 11 comments

Always a bridesmaid...

.....never a bride.

The third time I've thrown my hat into the ring, and the third time I didn't win. *cue the "whah, whah, whah" music*

I'm happy (?) to announce that  Off to Oz - my entry in the Generation Q Magazine's Scrap Splat Challenge, placed second. Congrats to Flaun Cline on her win. (Her quilt really is quite lovely.)

But, can I just say: "AGAIN with the second place?"  Perhaps one day I'll do a 27 Dresses type thing about all of my failed quilts.

Or maybe I'll just stop entering contests!  *heh*

Talk soon!
November 7, 2011 12 comments

Fern... a sketch

Happy Monday!

I mentioned in September that I've been asked to guest host a month at And Then We Set It On Fire... and November is my month. The process we're learning together this month is transfer paint/disperse dye.

I posted the initial instructions last week, and this is my first finish using this technique.

I began by using this mottled yellowy brown background - which I created by first covering my paper with orange transfer paint,  then adding stripes of yellow disperse dye over that, and over it all, droplets of brown dispere dye.  I then smooshed all the colours together by making a pouncing motion with the flat of my hand.  Once it was dry, I ironed it to my fabric. (To get a more intense colouring, I would have had to iron longer - but I wanted this mild version.)

Next, I used this orange/yellow combo (as above) and ironed sections of  it over the mottled mustardy-yellow background.

This paper (now dry) is a combination of greens.  The same disperse dye green, "au naturel" on the left,  mixed with a little black on the right and a little blue on the blackish looking streak/drips on top.  (All the mixing was done while wet.)  I have to say, this particular paper is my favourite - it produces a nice yellow green, a brilliant blue-green and a leaf green - all in the same paper! I think I've used it on every single piece of fabric I've produced for the Fire tutorials (and that's about 30 pieces of fabric - so far! - which goes to show how many times you can re-use these papers.)

I got a fern from the garden and used it as a resist before laying different sections of the green paper above all over it. ( By the way -  when ironing - I've been using a padded surface, a piece of craft paper, my fabric, the transfer dye paper, and then tracing paper over that to protect the iron - and the iron has to be dry, hot and constantly moving with good pressure to get good results.)

After quilting, I added some pastel dye sticks, watercolour dye crayons and a gold leaf pen to enhance, and then decided to add some beads - for once leaving them on!

And that was it! Big fun - I highly recommend it. :)

November 3, 2011 4 comments


So, at the beginning of October, I was picking up supplies (dye stuff and things for my learning/teaching  guest posting over at And Then We Set It On Fire), and there were a few other things I popped into my bag as well that I thought might be fun to play with - among them some discharge paste.

I'd never used it before but thought a piece of cloth like the above one would be perfect for an experiment.  It was a double- fail dyeing experiment - failed in that it didn't turn out anything like what I was shooting for, and doubly failed in that it was a BORING fail. (Could there be a worse failure?)

So, discharge paste to the rescue and then ...