Posted in creativity, quilting, stash

Experimental Wall Hanging Now Purple!


Compared to the last photo before it went into the dye bath.

How did the predictions turn out?

That the printed cottons (pink with Chinese characters and the purple and pink dots around the border) will take up less of the dye than the other fabrics.

Not really, the pink and purple dots are the darkest elements in the piece now and you really have to look to see the dots.

That the upholstery fabrics will retain more of the dye than the piece used in my other workshop project, which glowed when it came out of the dye and then mostly rinsed off.

Yes, that worked better because I hand washed the upholstery samples I was planning to use with Synthrapol.

Quilted with purple polyester serger thread, which will retain its current colour and contrast with the dyed finished wall hanging.

That happened and now that everything else is a similar colour I like my free motion quilting better than when I took it off the machine.


  • It was weird to see the turquoise polyester stay brilliantly its own colour throughout the dyeing process.  It positively glowed as I was agitating the dye bath trying to ensure that everything dyed evenly with no freckles or streaks or unintended weirdnesses.
  • Not sure about the butterfly shape above the central panel.  I will say no more.  It will tell me what to do over time.

Points to Ponder:

To dye something evenly you need to stir the dyebath fairly constantly during the first half hour, and then at intervals after that.  I had planned to do this Saturday morning but by the time the piece was ready to go in, I was planning to meet friends for coffee, so I postponed it until the late afternoon.  Even then, I spent several hours out at dinner, but it had been stirred around enough in the early stages that it was okay.


One of the most important safety principles in dyeing is that nothing can be used for food once you’ve used it for dyeing.  I have a jug, measuring cups and spoons, old yogourt containers, a bread knife and a form that have all been dedicated to dyeing and surface design.  For this piece I needed something to stir the pot with and hesitated to sacrifice a wooden spoon.  My main objection was not the expense of replacing it as much as the nuisance of needing to do so.  Me eye fell on a nice smooth piece of driftwood occasionally used as antlers by Young Sprout to be a “boy deer.”  Perfectomundo!  Problem solved!  And there’s plenty more where that came from …


Next steps:

Trim the edges

Make bias binding



Stay tuned!

Posted in beading, creativity, quilting

Blogger’s Quilt Festival


It occurs to me that I still haven’t posted the quilt I made in the Ana Buzzalino workshop that set me off on my current explorations.

And since it’s the Spring Blogger’s Quilt Festival, this is the perfect opportunity to share.  So do hop off  over there and vote for your favourites.  This is in the art quilt category and is 12 inches wide and 39-1/2 long.

And on the topic of voting … I put a poll which is just two posts back from this one, requesting artistic feedback, so please feel free to vote on that and help with a current project too.

Ana is a very encouraging teacher who brought many of her pieces to the workshop where we could study her techniques as we went along.  There were several examples of the Birds on a Wire that we made in the workshop, also others using the technique of piecing mixed fabrics straight onto foundation, batting and backing and then overdyeing the whole piece.

Mine includes white on white prints, black and white cotton, broderie anglaise, upholstery fabric, heavy cotton that feels like wool, assorted trims, and seersucker.  Some of these were fabrics I never thought I’d really be able to use.

beading, assorted b/w prints, eyelet trim at top
beading, assorted b/w prints, eyelet trim at top


I mixed peach and tangerine fibre reactive dye powders from Dharma to achieve my colour.  It’s fascinating to see how each fabric dyes differently, yet everything goes well together.


This detail shows dupioni silk, a strip of hook tape which I bought for the workshop because it’s polyester cotton blend so I knew it would take some dye.

It also demonstrates Ana’s saying that there’s always a fix for everything.  A hook fell right at the edge and I had to snip it out to be able to sew the binding down.  This left an ugly hole because of the way the hooks are sewn into the tape.  I found a couple of beads and covered the hole with a trim.  There’s a row of seed beads towards the bottom of the piece (below the sitting birds) but sewing through all those layers was quite tough so I left it at one row.

Posted in creativity, quilting, stash, surface design

New Experimental Wall Hanging in Progress

This piece was started on the last afternoon of Ana Buzzalino’s workshop while our main projects were soaking in the dye.

The bright turquoise is pure polyester that will not be affected by procion dyes.

Everything else is 100% cotton except for the centre Chinese print and the purple, which are both poly-cotton blends, and some of the neutral pieces around the borders, which are upholstery samples.



I’m in the habit of prewashing all quilting fabrics other than pre-cut jelly rolls and charm packs and the like.  That said, I wash my stash with regular detergent.

Scouring means using Synthrapol to really remove all dressings and treatments and ready the fabric for surface design treatments.

In this piece I did wash the upholstery samples in Synthrapol, and the muslin I’m dyeing for the binding was also scoured when I bought it, since it was intended for dyeing.


That the printed cottons (pink with Chinese characters and the purple and pink dots around the border) will take up less of the dye than the other fabrics.

That the upholstery fabrics will retain more of the dye than the piece used in my other workshop project, which glowed when it came out of the dye and then mostly rinsed off.


Purple polyester serger thread, which will retain its current colour and contrast with the dyed finished wall hanging.

I’m new to free motion quilting, not that I need to say that to anyone who knows about FMQ!  But you have to start somewhere and since this is a very experimental piece I figured it was a good place to start.  I used the approach explained by Elizabeth Hagh of the Modern Quilt Guild and found it was much faster than quilting with a walking foot.  Maybe this will inspire me to persist and tackle larger pieces, of which I have several almost ready to be quilted.  I bought 5.4 metres of Warm & Natural the other day based on current projects, so that’s an added incentive.  The batting was 50% off so to me this was a rational decision …


Blue with a large white hibiscus print.  Since this will be dyed purple I wanted a simple backing in a primary colour, and was limited to finding something large enough that I wouldn’t have to piece it before starting the quilting.


Posted in quilting, Uncategorized

Challenge Teaser

Here’s a test piece which  I made to experiment with curved piecing to be able to do sharper curves.

This reminds me of an aerial photo of a landscape and can turn into a nice small piece.  It’s all in aid of the Wild, Wild West challenge for our Guild retreat in June although it’s different enough from the design I’m working on for that to not be revealing any big secrets.  All will be revealed in mid-June.

Learned a lot from this and will probably have to do another one to see if I can get a curve going more in a U shape.  This time the blue fabric I used for the second curve wasn’t big enough to be able to do that.  But no worries there’s more of both these fabrics so I can make a third block that continues the river meandering along.


Lessons learned:

  1. don’t go so near the edge of the block with the curved piecing
  2. mark the seam allowance on the back of the “river” and align the blocks with pins
  3. square off the finished blocks

Note to self:

Make sure the next block is wider than the existing pieces so I don’t have to trim any more off the side of the existing block!

It’s amazing that the blue fabric was on sale at a very low price because it has much potential!

Posted in quilting, Uncategorized

Log Cabin Blocks

Our Quilt Guild retreat is coming up in early June.

Part of the fun is a draw for blocks, either log cabin or bear`s paw in keeping with the Wild, Wild West theme.

These are supposed to be in earth colours with red centres and of course have the light and dark sides.

Hoping mine are sufficiently earth coloured enough to meet with approval.   If time permits (ha-ha!) I may make more.   There`s some slate blue fabric which to me is earthy but others might disagree.

The other unknown when making blocks for a group project is that others may interpret light differently than me.  I stuck with the palest fabrics and rejected others which could be light if all the blocks were being made either by one person or by a close-knit group who could agree they were light.