Monday, November 24, 2014


I've seen a lot of monprinting in my time but this was a new twist I never saw coming.

I am going to do a few designs on paper in preparation for my monoprinting session.

I cut pieces of paper from a 36" roll of tracing paper. It made things very easy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Alabama Studio Sewing + Design

I've been keeping this book to myself for quite a long time.

Awhile back a Facebook friend emailed me wanting me to look at the Alabama Chanin website. He lives near the company and thought I might be interested. I had never heard of this company or the owner Natalie Chanin.

After looking at the website, I had to buy two of her books. I spent days drooling over this book. (I also bought the Alabama Stitch Book.) If you aren't familiar with this company, all of their clothing is hand-sewn, hand-embellished, and made out of 100% organic cotton jersey.

She uses a lot of stencils which I love, but in a different ways. In this book she explains the different ways and all of the basic stitches.

The applique chapter includes relief applique, Cretan stripes, random ruffle, pleated ruffle, couching, latticework passementerie, and ruffle passementerie.

In the chapter Fabrics + Maps she shows closeups of seven different fabrics, the stencils used, and "maps" which show the placement of every stitch, applique, and bead. All I can say is "Oh My!"

 In the chapter on Basic Garments + Accessories, this poncho caught my eye.

Looks pretty easy. But then later in the book there is the same poncho, but with negative reverse applique. Be still my heart!

She also includes the stencils used and they can even been downloaded from her website. You can also purchase large stencils from the company.

Usually I rate a book by how fast it can motivate me to create. I've had books that I couldn't even finish them before I was at my table making something. If the book can get me to do something right away, it's a keeper and deserves a special place on my bookshelf. With this book, I've done nothing but drool. I've sat for hours looking through this and her other book, checking out all of the stitches and gasping at the simplicity and elegance of the clothing.

This book with all of it's beautiful photographs really ranks a place on the coffee table (if I had one). I've not reviewed this book on my blog because I wasn't sure I wanted to share it. I know - sounds weird but it's been my little secret stash - like those chocolate chips hidden under the frozen veggies in the freezer. But it's time for me to bring it out and share it with the world.

Will I make anything that's in this book? Maybe. Maybe not. But it doesn't really matter. It's such a lovely book just to spend time with when I need some inspiration.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: Fabric Printing at Home

Lynda here from and for the next two posts I'll be sharing with you a couple of books that I've come across recently that you might find interesting and useful.

I don't know about you, but I love books. It seems like I can never read enough about fabric surface design. Fabric Printing at Home by Julie B. Booth is a brand new book from Quarry.

This is the blurb from the publisher about this book:

You don’t have to be a fashion designer to create your own amazing fabrics! Fabric Printing at Home will show you how to print your own custom fabrics using everyday items from the kitchen and around the house! With tons of color photos, step-by-step instructions, and helpful hints, you will be crafting your very own fabric designs in no time! Learn to make print blocks, rubbing plates, stencils, and fabric resists from a wide range of kitchen materials. See how your favorite fruits and veggies create perfect shapes and texture patterns for your fabrics and how to upcycle simple materials for surface design. This family-friendly guide shows how to make fantastic, colorful fabric designs with accessible, non-toxic materials.

This book is full of techniques - all from stuff you already have in your kitchen or around the house.

Julie starts you out on how to set up your work area, the basic tool kit, and even directions on making your own portable print surface.

Then each chapter has different surface design methods. I absolutely love the corn cob printing in her 
Kitchen Textures chapter. It's definitely one I will try.

I love resists and she has a couple I've not tried. One of them was using gelatin. I love her clear directions and sample pieces.

I also like the Recycled and Repurpose chapter where she makes lots of interesting stamps out of cardboard.

And if all of the techniques weren’t enough, the Contributing Artists chapter provides the reader lots of inspiration from artists using techniques from the book.

You can get into fabric printing without spending a lot of money. As I mentioned earlier, many of the objects used to print are in your kitchen or somewhere in your house. If you are new to printing on fabric, you will find all kinds of different techniques, with pictures and instructions. If you’re experienced with fabric printing, you might be surprised at what you didn’t know. I found several techniques I plan to try soon.

Fabric Printing at Home by Julie B. Booth, is one of those reference books that is great to have on the studio bookshelf.

Excerpts used/ photos used with permission from Quarry Books.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another painting technique

For today I have another painting technique. Normally I work with my own hand dyed fabric, but this time I started with a brightly colored batik and stitched a lot of folds in it. Stitching takes time, but it gives the option of slightly bended lines. Something you cannot achieve with folding. Plus it gives sharp outlines when you paint the fabrique.

After the stitching your fabric looks like this, top:

and back:

Next step is to protect your working area with plastic or old newspaper. As paint I used Lumiere halo gold blue. With a foam brush I applied the paint till the whole front was covered.

Let the paint dry and remove all the stitches. Iron your fabric from the back and this is the result:

Have fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

OOPS! - or - My How Time Flies!

OK, please tell me I'm not the only one who gets distracted and forgets just what I was doing a few days ago!! PLEASE!!!!!  :-)

I put PFD fabric in my 5 gallon bucket to soak in soda ash/water. Then I get involved in making something else and although it only needed to soak for 30 can figure out the end of THAT sentence!

Now to get right down to the total truth. I have often forgotten pieces for weeks...even months! Now I have a bunched up crusty of fabric with soad ash dried and crystallized all over it! NOW WHAT! Well, the first time this happened I decided to just dye it anyway to see what would happen if........  Low and behold! I ended up with a dyed piece of fabric with a very interesting texture! AND I loved it!. The soda ash had acted as a resist! Very organic and unpredictable (just like I like it!)  I call this Serendipity Method of Dyeing (some call it forgetfulness or dementia but I prefer to view it in a more positive light!)

Here is the long-lost soaked fabric in the bucket. You can see the dried soda ash on the sides of the bucket and the fabric is just a stiff mess!

I took it out of the bucket and placed it on my work island. I also included a side view so you could see just how stiff it is!

Then I put it into a smaller dye bucket and smushed it down just a bit.

 Now comes the dye. I had some purple (grape) already mixed so I just squirted it all over the piece. I'm not sure what method of dyeing you would call this because it isn't even Low Water Immersion. It isn't really immersed at all. I did pick up parts of it and squirt the dye down into the center etc.

Then I place it in my batching closet where it is always a balmy apx 75F for a few hours. Then I soak it well to remove the dried soda ash. I took a photo of this piece while it was wet because I had a bit more to do to it. But you can see the interesting textured appearance. 

Now I soaked it again (since I had now rinsed out all the dried soda ash) and over-dyed it with Hot Pink. Here is the final piece after rinsing and ironing.

And a real close-up so you can see the soda-ash resist purple giving extra depth to the back color.

Now if you don't soak before dyeing, or if you never forget fabric in the soda ash, you can always do this bit on purpose ya know! Otherwise, it is a fun and surprising way to retrieve a long-lost soda ash soaked fabric and turn it into a beautiful piece of fabric.  Happy Serendipity everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

layered painting

This is my first post on this blog and I hope you like the technique I want to share with you:-). What you need for this technique is different types of paint, foam brushes and a surface to paint on. I worked with textile paints (opaque and transparent) and acrylics. The surfaces I used were fabric, brown wrapping paper and canvas. The fabric I used was a hand dyed one, which looked dull and definately needed more.

Prepare your working space by covering it with a piece of plastic or with old newspapers. Crunch your fabric or paper and iron it flat. 

The colors will overlap. Keep this in mind when you pick your first color. If you start with a yellow transparent and use a blue one for the next session, you will have green. Pick a color of paint and a foam brush and dabb the paint so that it looks like this:


No need to be precise when you dabb the paint. Let it dry and iron your pieces. They will look like this:

Not yet very interesting, but that will change because we are going to repeat this process several times. You can apply as many layers of paint as you want. Till you have an interesting looking result. This is how my samples looked at the end:

It was the first time that I used canvas for this technique and I discovered that the thickness of the material made it difficult to use. Even after ironing it did not want to stay flat but remained like this:

I applied the paint as best as I could, but for the next sessions I folded straight line and ironed these. That worked much better.

 I hope you liked this technique.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winner of The Trickster's Hat

This give-away was on both the FIRE blog and my own (sewsewart). There were 23 comments on both blogs and the winning number was 20. The first 19 were on the FIRE blog and the last 4 were from mine. The winner is Vicki whose email address I do not have so here is her picture.

So Vicki, send me an email at beth dot from dot maine at gmail dot com. I'll be sending you the book as soon as I get your address.

I always wait at least 3 days after a give-away because some folks who email subscribe don't get the posts for 3 days.

Congratulations Vicki and thanks everyone for your comments. Creativity awaits!!