Tuesday, December 13, 2016

More block printing!

Inspired by Lysa Flower's great block printing workshop, I splurged on Speedball fabric inks and other supplies, and I spent some time carving additional blocks and printing with them on fabric.  Here are the blocks that I've cut thus far:

A couple of these are variants on my workshop blocks.  I recut the hexagon to try and avoid a few nicks in the original, and I did a new, improved version of the scattered leaves in the hopes that this one would print with better registration.

The orange peel block prints nicely:

It also pairs beautifully with the block of narrow straight lines:

It was fun to try combining a couple of the different leaf blocks.  I love the clean-looking red and white print here:

The new leaf cluster block registered pretty well, but I didn't mark any particular guidelines.  As a result, by the time I worked my way around to the lower right corner, I ended up with a bit of a mismatch, as you can see above.

The other leaf blocks also work well together:

Based on some advice online, I tried using carpet tape to mount my blocks onto some cheap acrylic quilt templates, so that the printing would be easier.  That worked well the first time, but I think that when I washed the blocks afterwards, it weakened the adhesive.  As a result, the blocks started sliding off the acrylic when I used them a second time, and the registration wasn't as precise as I wanted it to be when I tried printing the leaf clusters again:

The registration isn't actually too bad, but it's a little bit off, and I think I can do better.  I didn't try printing the new hexagon block, because I want to make some registration marks first, and I was too lazy to do it during this past round of experiments.  Now I think I'll wait until warmer weather in the spring when I'll be able to work outside.  The fabric inks are oil-based and smell like hell, and they need to cure for about a week until the odor goes away.

I wanted to save the best for last.  Here's the horizontal line block, printed in red on gray.  It makes a stronger impression in person.  I love the mid-century modern look here, so simple yet so dramatic:

Happy crafting, everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Block printing!

As I mentioned a few days ago, back in early October I took a block printing workshop with the fabulous Lysa Flower.  In addition to being a VMQG member, Lysa is a graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a working artist and fabric designer, and she gave us a jam-packed day to explore the joys and possibilities of block printing.   

We started with an introductory design exercise, in which each of us received a random card with some directives.  I think mine were something like "hexagons," "small scale," "random repeat," and "narrow spacing," and I came up with the block on the lower right.  Everyone did multiple test prints on construction paper, so that we all took home different samples that illustrated principles of scale and placement.

For our second block, Lysa introduced the class to methods for registration that involved drawing a basic design on paper, cutting the paper in half and taping it back together with the cut edges on the outside, adding more details, and then cutting again in the other direction and re-taping.  It sounds complicated when described, but is easier to understand with pictures, as in this online tutorial.  Leafy shapes are among the few non-geometrical objects that I can draw reasonably well, so I carved the block on the lower left.  Then, in the late afternoon, I had just barely enough time for a hexagonal design that I had in mind before the workshop.  I think it's an Islamic tiling pattern--I knew it would tessellate and make a great block for printing.

Here's how the fabrics printed with the second and third blocks turned out:

The Moo carve block that I worked with for the leafy print wasn't exactly square, so it didn't register as precisely as I would have liked.  I learned the hard way that the carving materials aren't cut all that carefully by the manufacturer!  I also decided that I prefer to work with the black Easy-Cut material.  The white, eraser-like stuff tends to be a bit more crumbly.  Although the black Easy-Cut is a little harder to carve, it allows for sharper lines, and I think it will hold up better in the long run.

I did a lot more block carving and experimenting in the weeks after the workshop.  More soon!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy sewing, in dark, gloomy days...

Between two months of dark, rainy weather and a long-deferred photo-editing software upgrade, I've stayed away from blogging.  Here's Poppyprint's comment on October's weather, and November wasn't significantly better.

Remember the indigo medallion quilt I was working on a while back?  In mid-August, I took the scraps and pieced tops for two small wall quilts.  Here's how things looked back then:

Although I haven't been blogging, I've had a reasonable amount of time for fabric-related activity this fall.  In particular, October was a fun, fiber-filled month: block-printing workshop with VMQG's fabulous Lysa Flower, mid-month quilting retreat, and a katazome workshop at Maiwa with the always-inspiring Akemi Nakano Cohn.  I've also started sewing some clothing for myself, to start dealing with the fact that I hate all of my old clothes right now, but don't particularly want to go shopping either.  I'll try to take some photos of the results the next time the sun comes out, but for now, I'll just say that although I haven't been as active in the sewing room as I had hoped over the past few months, a few things have gotten done here and there.

Among the finished projects was the first quilt above, "Stray Thoughts," which I actually completed back in September but didn't get around to photographing until today:

"Stray Thoughts" is now listed in my Etsy shop.  I also made a few pouches back in October, and they're finally going into the shop as well.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Modern Quilt Showcase, Vancouver: Today and Tomorrow Only!


I'm posting at the last minute here, but in case you're in Vancouver this weekend, please head over to VMQG's first-ever quilt show, our "Modern Quilt Showcase," over in North Van at the Pipe Shop (and no, that's not where they sell pot paraphernalia; it's a former industrial site turned public space).  We'll have over a hundred quilts by guild members on display, plus an education/demo area at our "Modern Mini" exhibition.  Four of my quilts will be there: "Indigo Summer," "Quilt with Attitude," "Drama Adorno," and "Oakshott Lattice."

The Pipe Shop is easily accessible from Vancouver proper.  From Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver, you can just take the ferry over the Lonsdale Quay and walk from there.  Once you arrive at Lonsdale, cut through the public market, jog over to the right, and you'll find your way without too much trouble.

I'm planning on heading over this afternoon, so maybe I'll see you there?

Saturday, July 30, 2016


It's taken me a lot of weekends, but the new bed quilt is finally finished!  It's a big one, close to 90" square:

The binding features a faux piping that I learned at a VMQG meeting a while back:

I wasn't confident enough about my FMQ skills to use a more visible thread on the border, but I like how it came out:

Now what do I do?  Cheers!

8/2: Technically, this isn't a WIP, but I'm still posting to WIP Wednesday on The Needle and Thread Network.  Gotta show off!

Sunday, June 12, 2016


I hardly know where May went, and June is already speeding by as well.  Amid lots of travel related to the day job, however, I've managed some sewing here and there.  I'm trying to ramp up the action in my Etsy shop, and in May, I made a half a dozen kimono silk drawstring bags, five of them pictured here:

Things were so busy, that I've only just started to list them over the last few days.

Also, remember the bed quilt I was working on last summer?  I've resumed quilting, with significant progress:

There's more travel headed my way, so I'm not sure I can get the quilt done by the end of the month.  But in July, there should be a brand new quilt on our bed, to replace the sad-looking duvet that's there at the moment.

Happy summer, and happy quilting!

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!