Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Embroidery Supplies Bundle

I've been traveling a lot lately and seem to be working on more embroidery than crochet.  I usually travel with crochet work, so I have nice bags to keep my works in progress and tools in.  
I'm embarrassed to admit that this is how my embroidery travel bag looks!  Yep - a Ziploc.  And I don't have any surface to work on, so the threads end up piled in a lump or strung all over me.  Hmmm .... not very classy looking.  I looked at a few embroidery organizers that are in the form of books, however that didn't solve the problem of no working surface.  A bundle that could be rolled up seemed likely to work, so I came up with this.

*one piece of fabric (mine is 22 x 9 inches) - this shows on the outside
*one piece of felt (same measurement as your outside fabric) - this is your inside lining
*one piece of felt (6.5 x 4.5 inches) - this makes a pocket to keep scissors, invisible pens, etc. in
*1 yard ribbon

My outside fabric is a piece of linen I used to make a dyed bundle with leaves and rusty pieces of hardware.  I've only done this once - after I try out a few more I'll post a tutorial on the technique.

1.  Sew pocket felt to lining felt - be sure to leave the top open.  Put this near one end, about 2 inches in from the edge.

2. Press under 1/2 inch around all edges of your outside fabric.  Lay on top of the lining felt (make sure the pocket is not on the inside) and pin in place.

3.  Fold the ribbon in half and insert between the outside fabric and the lining felt, about 1/2 way down one end.  I did this on the end with my pocket, but if I did it again I think I'd try doing it on the other end.  When my bundle is rolled up, the scissors poke out a little.  Sew around the outside about 1/4 inch in from the edge.

Here's my finished bundle with a work in progress, embroidery threads, needles, scissors, and an invisible pen.

To roll the bundle up, first fold up to the pocket ...

... finish rolling ...

... and tie.  I tied a knot in each end of my ribbon to keep it from fraying.

When I travel, I like to take pictures of unusual places I find fiber art - - did you know Minnie Mouse knits?!  Here's her workbasket at her house in Disneyland.  Little c is trying to be as "helpful" with Minnie's knitting as she is with her mom's!  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Project - Natural Dyes/Turmeric

This past weekend, I did my first dye testing using turmeric - I'm beyond thrilled with the results, but with am holding back all my cheering until I see how fast the colors I got are.  Turmeric is not known for being very light fast.  In India, garments dyed with turmeric are re-dyed every few years to refresh the color.

Turmeric is related to ginger and, like ginger, it's the root that's used for cooking and also for dyeing.  I've notice a big difference in the color of powdered turmeric from different spice companies.  Since it just seems like the darker the turmeric the better my dyeing will turn out, I went for the darkest!  We're lucky enough to have a Penzey's Spice Store near us, so I bought a big bag.  They also do mail order.  And it seems like an Asian or Indian market would have some pretty fresh turmeric since it's used in those cuisines' cooking.

I measured out 1 1/2 ounces of turmeric into 3 quarts of water.  I simmered this for one hour and then let it sit for another hour.  The house smelled wonderful - like my grandmother's when she would make turmeric pickled cucumbers!  Next I brought the turmeric "mudbath" back up to simmer and added the fabric samples - these were samples for everyone in the fibers class I'm taking this semester, plus a piece of cotton for me to run some light fastness tests on.  Turmeric is not supposed to need a mordant, but my samples were already mordanted - alum for the silk and wool, tannin for one piece of linen, aluminum acetate for the other, and tannin for the cotton.  I simmered this for one hour, removed it from the heat and let it cool.  I then rinsed the samples until the water was almost clear - this took a long time and I got tired of rinsing!

Here are the results on my samples:

These are various threads.  From left to right I have silk ribbon, cotton embroidery thread with tannin mordant, cotton embroidery thread with aluminum acetate mordant, wool yarn, silk yarn, and alpaca yarn.  It seems to me like the aluminum acetate mordant did lead to a little bit darker yellow.

The wool turned out gorgeous!  I really hope it doesn't end up fading too fast.

Likewise with the silk!

These two linen samples look very close in the photograph, but in real life the aluminum acetate mordant was a bit darker.  It's the one on the left with the notch.

The only cotton sample I had was mordanted in tannin and turned out real nice.

I read that an interesting property of turmeric dye is that it will dye synthetic fibers - something other natural dyes won't do.  This label is made of tyvek (the material that the post office's priority envelopes are made from) and it took the dye wonderfully.  I'll have to experiment more with this!

I'm currently testing the larger piece of cotton fabric I dyed for light fastness and will show you the results in a few weeks.  After I get an idea of how fast the color will be, I have some scarves and wool yarn to dye!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Free Form Crochet

In researching free form crochet, I came across the website for the International Freeform  Crochet Guild with 5 years of past guild shows - wow!  This site takes awhile to run through - but it's a thoroughly enjoyable while.  If you are at all interested in crochet, be sure to grab a cup of something you enjoy and browse through all the amazing pieces.

These are three that especially stood out to me.  I love Lou Bors' colorful spiral and flower design.  I've been working on figuring out spirals and you know I love crocheted flowers!  

Joan Bacon Springer's piece has an amazing amount of texture!  This is what I've been trying to figure out how to feature on a crocheted sculptural piece I'm working on for the fibers class I'm taking this semester.  The color palette of neutrals makes this seem light, even with all that texture.

 Mitsuko Tonouchi's free form garlands have all of the components I'm trying to incorporate - spirals, hyperbolic shapes, texture, color palette ... greatly inspirational!  She was inspired by the anime film "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind."

There are definitely enough pieces on this site to inspire every crocheter.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Machine Embroidered Napkins

I'm still working at switching from paper napkins to cloth - I love the feel of the cloth, but I want to have some sort of design on them and it takes so long to do the hand embroidery.  And I am getting some ideas for printed napkins, but want to work on them a bit more.  I've been experimenting with layering some of the programmed in embroidery stitches on my machine, I've been inspired by the poppies and African daisies that are beginning to bloom in our yard, so I put them together!

First I sewed around the hemmed edges of the napkins (see this past post) with green thread using the feather stitch.

On top of that, I added a layer of orange thread using the star stitch.  I played with the width and length until I got a size that let the green feather stitch show through like leaves.

A simple idea, but I'm planning on having some fun with more designs!

And if you're interested, the spring flower table mat instructions can be found here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Project - Scarves

Okay - so you made a scarf or two with the set of silk painting classes we just finished and now you're wondering what the heck to do with them!  I love working on silk, but I know it took me awhile to actually use it.

My favorite thing to do is to use scarves as the backgrounds for embroidered pieces or to quilt them to a backing - hand quilting works best for me with the slipperiness of silk.  Right now I'm working on the piece above, using one of the salt effect scarves and lots and lots of french knots.

I use Madeira's 4 strand silk embroidery thread, ordered from Jewels In Fiber.  Very quick service!

But some scarves just turn out as something you want to wear - like the shibori scarf I made in Class 6.  I've found several websites that have nice examples of tons of ways to wear scarves:

Scarf Queen's How to Tie a's How to Tie Square Scarves, and Tasaram's Tying Head Scarves are three good ones.

Or we could all wear them like they did in the 60's and earlier and start a new fad!  I do like the look ...

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Encrusted Embroidery

Update:  Unfortunately Jennifer Rochester's books seem to no longer be available and the links below to work of hers and tutorials no longer work.  Searching on Pinterest does bring up several beautiful examples of her work.

I'm currently working on a piece (you'll get a sneak peek on Monday) that is inspired by encrusted embroidery - not completely encrusted, just inspired by!  In searching for inspiration, I came across the work of Scottish artist Jennifer Rochester.  I was greatly inspired!  Her white on white pieces are wonderful.  You can see more of her work and read her artist's statement here.

 And if you're also inspired, she has a great tutorial for beginning in encrusted embroidery.  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Thinking Vintage

I actually have a special event this year I can wear a nice dress to!  This is very exciting because I've wanted to make nice, party-type dress for a long time - but it's hard to actually do that when you know you won't really be wearing it anywhere that won't raise eyebrows!  So I've been going through my collection of vintage patterns and have finally narrowed it down to four.  By the way, if you like vintage patterns and haven't discovered Janet Lanetz' great website, get ready for an adventure!

I'm drawn to 50's styles - but in some sort of updated way.  I don't want to look like I'm going to a costume party!  The neckline of this dress is nice, and the 3/4 sleeves - my arms look much better in sleeves.  And it's elegant, like ...

... the poster girl for elegance.

I really like the lace overlay on this Givenchy dress Audrey wore when accepting her Oscar.

But then there's Jackie.  I love this Cassini dress she wore in India in 1962.

And adding the 3/4 sleeves to this dress (I like the two sets of darts on the bodice) would look nice.  Not being actually in the 60's, I don't think I could pull off the hat and jacket, though!

However, there's this Belinda Bellville 70's Vogue pattern that keeps calling to me.  I love the back and the fact that it's a wrap dress.


And this Bellville (1950's) has an interesting neckline ...

... doable with this pattern ....

... and we're back to Jackie!

Maybe looking at fabrics will help the decision?

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, February 13, 2012

Silk Painting - Class 6

Silk just seems to have been made for shibori dyeing techniques!  For this last class in the silk painting series, we'll be using arashi shibori.  Arashi means storm in Japanese and is meant to look like a wind driven rain, so it's always done on the diagonal.  It's always reminded me of rain coming down across a window pane.

If this is your first time in the class, see Class 1 for background and the classes on the last four Mondays for a review of techniques.  For this project you'll need:
*one silk scarf, washed and ironed
*Seta-Silk paints
*artist's tape - this is a tape that's easily removable and doesn't leave behind a residue
*a resist binding - I like to use artificial sinew in shibori.  It's used in leatherworking and can be bought at various places like Hobby Lobby.
*a large, smooth cylinder, about 8 inches in diameter for the size of scarf we've been using (you want one that the scarf wraps around two or three times at the most).  PVC pipe works great, but is hard to find in that size, so I'm using a concrete form from the hardware store.

1.  Wrap the scarf around the form, diagonally ...

... and secure it with a piece of artist's tape.

2.  Secure one of the diagonal tips to the form with a piece of tape and stand the form up.  Tie the resist on at the tip, below the tape.

Remember how the name of the game with silk painting has been quick, quick, quick?  Forget all of that now!  Shibori takes time - and patience if you're in a hurry up mode.  Wrap the entire scarf with artificial sinew at about 1/4 inch intervals.  I put the sinew on something it will spin on and turn the form.  I get dizzy walking around it over and over!

3.  When you get to the tape in the middle, remove it.  When your entire scarf is wrapped, tie the sinew off over the form, not the scarf.

4.  The next part takes time - no way around it!  You want to scrunch the scarf and bindings together until it's tightly compacted.  

There are different ways to do this.  At first, you'll be able to push it down with your fingers.  When it gets difficult, I use a piece of wood that has about the same curve as the cylinder and a hammer.  If you have a plastic embroidery hoop that just fits the cylinder (the adjustable outer ring works well), you can slip it on and place the piece of wood over it and then hammer.  I have a great husband who finished this one up for me!

There are different techniques some people find makes this step easier.  You can wrap the cyclinder tightly in heavy plastic before you wrap your scarf - it's difficult for me to keep the plastic from scrunching up in the scarf, so I don't do that.  You can also scrunch the scarf as you wrap it - wrap a couple inches or so, scrunch, and keep repeating.  I have a hard time being coordinated enough to keep the wrapping lines even when I do it that way, and it's still hard for me to push the scarf down once I get a few inches scrunched.  But these techniques may work for you!

5.  Get your silk paints ready.  I'm using gray at full strength and turquoise and a blue/purple mix left over from last week's class.

 6.  You can apply the paint in any pattern you want.  I'm doing long stripes this time, but it also looks nice to do shorter stripes of different colors or to make shorter vertical stripes.  Some of the paint does soak into the concrete form, but it's a long form.  I just avoid scrunching the scarf over that spot next time.

 7.  After I had my stripes painted on, I went over the tops with the turquoise and put some purple on the gray.

8.  Let dry completely and then cut the sinew away.  You can reuse it for the next scarf.  At this point, the scarf will have these cool, tight little pleats.  Sometimes shibori is left with the form you get when removing the binding, especially if it's to be a sculptural fiber art piece. 

I want a flat scarf, though, so I ironed mine out.  A little bit of the texture still remains even after ironing, so I tend to not wash shibori scarves unless I have to!

This is our last class in the silk painting series, but now that I have the basic tutorial to refer back to, I'll be showing you how I do more of my scarves as I finish them and what I do with them afterwards.

Happy Creating! Deborah