Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spring cleaning, spring sewing

It's been a long time since I've posted, for good reason through March, since the day job was keeping me too busy for any sewing.  But since then, I've made some serious progress, even though I haven't been blogging about it.

First and foremost, I finished the top for the indigo medallion quilt.  It's so large (about 50" square) that I couldn't get far away enough for a full photo from inside my sewing room, so I've just photographed the upper right quadrant:


I never did so much curved piecing in my life, but I love how the orange peel blocks turned out in the end.  I've also pieced the back, so now I just need to go ahead and get this thing basted, so that I can start quilting!

At the moment, the quilt top and back are sitting on the bed in our guestroom.  The completion of the medallion top provided a much-needed opportunity to clean up my completely cluttered disaster area of a sewing room: I put lots of things away, dusted thoroughly, washed the ironing board cover, and vacuumed for the first time in months.

With the sewing room in good shape again, as well as more free time right now, I decided to get back to my long-neglected Etsy shop.  I've begun to list a lot of passport covers:


Now that the passport covers are done (mostly), I'm prepping kimono silk drawstring pouches.

Meanwhile, we're enjoying a beautiful spring here in Vancouver.  Our lilac bloomed spectacularly this year, and I took a photo a couple of weeks ago:


Happy spring, everyone!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: The Year in Fabric



A year ago, I reviewed my progress in indigo dyeing and outlined five goals for 2015, three of which I thought I might possibly achieve.  In reality, I only got to one of them--the zinc-lime vat--plus just a bit of the second one, namely, a pole wrapping technique that was new to me.

But I managed a few other new adventures, pictured in this year's quilt and fabric collage.  Back at the end of May, I experimented for a weekend with bleach discharge dyeing with shibori techniques.  I'd like to do another round this spring or summer to build up my stash before making any quilts with these fun fabrics.  In the fall, the idea of small, boro-inspired quilts with matchstick quilting seemed to offer the perfect way to use some of the traditional Japanese cottons in my collection.  For the year as a whole, I finished one major quilt and two small ones: "Indigo Summer" is my pride and joy, plus I made a small lattice quilt for VMQG's special exhibit at the Vancouver Quilters Guild show back in October, and I completed my first boro-inspired quilt.  I'm afraid that my collage also includes four UFOs, not counting the green and purple shibori cottons that don't really count as a WIP yet, since I have yet to take a single stitch.

What are my quilting and dyeing goals for 2016?  Here are a few:

1) Of the UFOs pictured above, I am determined to finish the second boro quilt before too long, and to complete the bed quilt that I was working on in the summer.  I will also at least finish piecing my current WIP, the indigo medallion quilt in the bottom right corner.  Whether or not I actually manage to quilt all of it depends on how much hand-quilting I decide to do.

2) As mentioned above, more shibori bleach discharge dyeing!  I bought about four or five yards of solids earlier this year with that intent, so I'd better go through with it.

3) A fructose indigo vat--perhaps the most environmentally friendly indigo vat around, at least for the occasional dyer.  I've read that the fructose vat can be finicky, but if it doesn't work for me, I'll switch to a ferrous sulfate vat.

4) More itajime dyeing with Osnaburg cotton (for the loose weave), more pole-wrapping, more stitched shibori, and more tied shibori.  Really, I guess that just amounts to as much indigo shibori as I can mange this summer, and with as many different techniques as possible!

5) Maybe 2016 will be the year that I finally get to take a katazome workshop?  Eco-dyeing is also on my mind these days.

Here's to the New Year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Indigo Medallion: WIP Wednesday

I really ought to finish the boro quilt, but my own shibori indigo dyed fabrics have been calling for too long, and I couldn't resist starting the medallion quilt that's been on my mind for the past several months:


I dyed the center panel back in the summer, and I've been envisioning a medallion quilt ever since.  The center is an itajime variant that combines origami-like folding with clamped resists--it's sort of like folding and cutting paper snowflakes.  I used Osnaburg cotton, a fairly rough and loose weave of cotton, combined with a lot of massaging of the fabric while in the vat, in order to maximize dye penetration.  The rest of the fabrics come from both this summer's and last summer's indigo dyeing extravaganzas.


Currently, the top is about 28" square.  I don't know how many more rounds I'm going to do, but I'm guessing that it will finish at about 40-48" square.  Here's a hint of the next round, which will take me a while to put together:


Linking up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network and Freshly Pieced.  Happy sewing, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In the works

It's been quiet in my sewing room recently, so I can do a little more catching up in this post.  Back in mid-October, I went on a retreat for a fabulous weekend of sewing with some fellow VMQG members.  It was so much fun!   In addition to just gabbing away with fellow quilting fiends, I finally managed to make a name tag for myself, only five years after joining the guild, and I also contributed a block to a group quilt that's in progress.  But I spent most of my time working on the following:


It's the second in my new series of boro quilts.  Alas, I haven't worked on it since the retreat, but it's a high priority, and I will finish it soon.

A couple of weekends ago, I made another two indigo scarves for my Etsy shop:



Although it's pretty late in the day, I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network and Freshly Pieced.  Hope all of your fiber-related adventures are happy ones, and for those of you in the U.S., happy turkey day tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I'm still alive and sewing, really...

I've been lazy about taking photographs and blogging over the past several months, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been busy with textiles.  I did a lot more indigo dyeing beyond what I showed a few months back, and I've been working on various projects since September.

Over the past several months, I've admired the matchstick quilting that a lot of VMQG members have been doing lately, which beautifully transforms the texture of a quilt--it becomes almost like a woven wall hanging.  I had been waiting for the right project to try the technique myself, and when I happened upon some photos of Japanese boro patchworks online back in September, I knew I'd found the right inspiration.  Boro typically involves the use of old indigo-dyed cottons, which are given new life through patchwork and heavy quilting by hand to keep worn scraps together.  I decided to dig into my collection of Japanese cottons and use matchstick quilting to produce an updated, boro-inspired wall hanging:



I just love the results.  There was something wonderfully meditative about doing the matchstick quilting, which didn't bore me at all, and the visual effect from using two different variegated threads (40 wt YLI and 50 wt Mettler) is really eye-catching.  This quilt is the first of what will be a series of boro-inspired wall quilts.

VMQG was the "featured quilter" at the recent show of the Vancouver Quilt Guild, so our guild did a special "Modern Mini" challenge to showcase modern quilting: solids only, maximum 80" around, and an emphasis on modern techniques and designs.  The exhibit had about 26 quilts by guild members, including mine:


"Oakshott Lattice," another of my lattice quilts, features a repurposed classic block and an emphasis on graphic design that are both characteristic of "modern quilting."  The quilt ended up looking very Amish, thanks to the black and jewel-tone Oakshott shot cottons.  But that seems entirely appropriate, since the 1970s quilting revival grew in part from the modern art world's recognition of the powerful design qualities of Amish quilts.

More recently, I've started making scarves from my indigo-dyed gauze fabrics, so that I can add some much-needed inventory to my poor, neglected Etsy shop:


Finally, here's something on my design wall:


I'm not sure where it's going, but a dear friend gave me some gorgeous shibori dyed cottons from the grand old days of Kasuri Dyeworks in Berkeley, and I really, really want to work with them.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network and Freshly Pieced.  Cheers!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

From the vat: Arashi and cotton gauze

I've been slow to post, but here are the remaining highlights from my first major round of dyeing this summer.  I did a little bit of pole wrapping, with narrow strips of fabric about 6-1/2" wide:


The piece on the right is more or less the same technique, but there's a way of twisting the fabric as you push it up the pole that produces the broken lines.  I haven't quite figured out how to do it consistently, but it's a nice effect.

Here's a little experiment, in which I pleated the fabric before winding it around the pole and wrapping it with string:


I was hoping for less white and more blue, but the result is interesting.

Finally, I dyed some cotton gauze in scarf lengths:



I love working with gauze, because it takes up the indigo so beautifully.  The first piece is tesuji, while the second is a non-traditional technique in which you wrap the fabric around a piece of string, and then pull the string tight so that the fabric is in a kind of ring-shaped scrunchy before it's dipped into the vat.  It's an easy, easy technique, with oh-so-pleasing results.

There's not much time left for me to dye this summer, but I still have more results to post.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

From the vat: Nui shibori

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I saw that my vat had reached optimal conditions, with the dark amber color that indicates well-reduced indigo at a reasonably high concentration, I reached for the pieces of stitched shibori laboriously prepped earlier.  After six rounds of dipping and oxidizing, I took a seam ripper and opened up the first piece, which was a small test piece about 6-1/2" wide meant to try out a design that came into my head:


I had three more pieces of nui shibori which I put through an additional four rounds of dipping and oxidizing before carefully undoing the stitching.  The results were thrilling.  First of all, here's my pride and joy, a selvage-to-selvage quarter-yard piece using a technique that I learned from Jane Callender last fall:


mokume close-up
another mokume close-up

I also love how this tatewaku pattern turned out:


Sorry not to offer a close-up.  My photo-editing program managed to eat up the image as I was editing it--a really strange glitch that I hope won't become a regular thing.

Mokume stripes on the diagonal also turned out well, although closer rows of stitching might have avoided some of the uneven breaks in the dyeing:



More to come!