A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Little More Plastic Play

I borrowed the bag idea and made a tiny one to match the shoes in my previous post.

I lined the plastic fabric with the sparkly dress fabric I used to make a gown for my daughter's doll -- the same way I did the slippers.
I'm not crazy about the jewel on the front and I'm not sure how to make an elegant closure on such a small scale.  I'm thinking I'll just sew on a snap and cover the thread on the front with the jewel.  Unless someone has a better suggestion...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Working my way Through Rayna's book

I don't know about you but I am so excited to have Rayna leading our experiments in January!  She will be leading us in reinventing UFOs.  

I have already gotten started on a different chapter in her book.  An early chapter is on making and using strip sets.   Here is a picture of an art quilt I am working on using strips sets and the Double F motif I have used before.  It is not finished yet but I am really excited about it.
 Not all blocks are created equal.  I made some ugly ones that did not make the quilt.   Lucky Me!

 You will get to see them again in January when I use them as my UFOs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Button, button, who has the button?

Do you remember that game from when you were young?  I doubt than anyone under 50 remembers it now.  But since I was thinking about buttons, I thought  of the game.

First I read the post by Kit who said the melted plastic was so thick that no needle would ever go through it.  Then I read Lin's Arty Blog about making buttons.  The two ideas came together and I thought, why not make buttons?
 First, here is my wonderful husband washing the dishes while I am melting plastic and trying to turn them into buttons.  Aren't I a lucky woman!
Okay, on to my fun.  I saved my plastic shopping bag from Barnes and Nobles.
 I cut off one of the decorative sides, wrapped it in plastic wrap, folded it into 4ths, and proceeded to melt it with the iron.
I then cut the plastic with a pair of heavy-duty scissors into squarish and roundish shapes.  I could have made them neater but I then I like things with character.  I melted holes for the thread by holding a nail with pliers  over the stove burner till it was hot then poking holes in the button.   While I would think twice about using the buttons on clothing that would get washed frequently and go into the dryer, they are stiff enough to serve as reliable closures.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And the BIG WINNER is...Lynn from Alamosa Quilter

Lynn!  You won Rayna Gillman's new book, Create your own free-form quilts.  Congratulations!!  Please email me at quiltordye@ftml.net and let me know where to mail it.  If you do it quick, you can have the book in time to start on January 1 as we reinvent UFOs with strips and bits (pg 66).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts Give Away

  Only hours left before Rayna Gillman's book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, may belong to you!!  The drawing will be at noon Christmas Day.  For more information about how to enter to win, read this post and leave your comments there Good Luck!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Arrived Today!

When I got home from work there was a package on the doorstep waiting for me from C&T Publishing.  It was Rayna's new book that we are giving away on Christmas Day!

"What?" you say, "You are giving away Rayna's new book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts?"  Yes, we are and all you need to do is  post a comment here to be entered to win.  If you grab our Fire Blog logo for your blog, and leave us a comment to let us know, then you can be entered a second time

I bought Rayna's book a few weeks ago and have been  thrilled with it.  It really is book that I can and do use.   In fact, I am combining the double F motif I used in Nancy Crow's workshop with some strip sets I learned how to make from Rayna's book.  No peeking yet but I think it will be a winning combination.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meet Mr Heat Gun

I am mostly satisfied with the texture on my compost fabric trees so now it is time to start auditioning leaves.  Since I want a leaf with as much character as the tree trunks, I have tried burning a variety of types of fabric and non-fabrics.  Here are my experiments and my results.

 First I made a quilt sandwich with the same type of fabric as the trees.  I wanted to know what the leaves would look like on the black linen and whether the felt I used as batting would be a problem if melting stuff on it.

Next I photocopied some leaves that I had pressed.  I wanted to have the copies to help with the size, shape, and veins of the leaves.

Then I started stitching various fabrics, including tyvek, onto the quilt sandwich. The tyvek I had previously painted green.  All of the rest of the fabrics were various weights and types of polyester. The stitching was the outside edge of the leaves and the veins.

 Once  I had several leaves sewn, I started heating them with the iron to see what would happen.  Not much. I should have done a better job of trimming the leaves before I ironed them.  I had expected the fabric not sewn down to just melt away.  Not so much. It melted into the fabric.   I'll do better next time.
 So then I moved on to the heat gun.  Much, MUCH better.  Now I am starting to get the texture I wanted and the extra fabric on the outside edge finally melted away.

Take a look at this one.  It is really nice.  However, the leaves were flat.  FLAT!  I could just not bear to put them on my lovely trees. 

So then I moved on to melting plastic.  I put some of the more promising polyester between some layers of Glad Wrap and took the iron to it. While it was still warm, I cut the melted stuff into leaf shapes.  Pretty but not enough texture yet.

Here they are after meeting Mr. Heat Gun (he is one hot dude).

I also tried cutting the tyvek into a leaf shape and taking the heat gun to it for texture.  Much better results burning the tyvek before sewing it down.   Here are both the green tyvek leaf and the plastic leaves pinned on the trees.  Beside it are the leaves on my quilt sandwich.

While I like several of the results, I am not satisfied that I have found the right leaf for the trees  yet.  I will let  you know if it turns out to be plastic like this month's technique or tyvek like a couple of months ago.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Plastic fabrics

Last weekend I assembled some supplies to create some plastic fabric. I used saran wrap and paints, adding a layer of plastic and some paint til I had about 6 layers built up.

Then I covered with parchment paper and ironed it til it was fused together. It was pretty quick, I had two sets made in a few minutes.

I then took the fused "fabric" and sliced it into squares, rectangles, and cut some into circles.

I sewed some of the circles onto a piece of gauze-like fabric using a free motion stitch. It was kind of hard on my sewing machine, as the paint was too thick in parts, and kept gumming up my needle. If I ever do this again, I think a light wash of paint would be better for my machine.

This is a portion of the sewed piece, held up to my window so you can see the translucence and the stitching--

Another piece I created the same way, except I used squares instead of circles. Then I cut into a square, put a piece of ribbon through it, and now it's a homemade Christmas tree ornament.

This is a piece created using one of the plastic fabrics, cut into squares, then mounted onto a piece of a hospital laundry bag that dissolves in water, kind of like the dissolving stabilizers. My friend at work, Eileen, gave me one yesterday after I saw her blog post about them. I just sewed straight lines on the piece, instead of doing any fancy stitches, and then melted the laundry bag away.

This piece is going to be cut up, too, but I'm saving it til my week off after Christmas when I might have a little more free time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I ironed 4 layers of shopping bags (no.2) together under parchment paper with fine scraps of fabric between layers 2 & 3. The bags didn't like the fabric and I had to iron on 2 more layers on the "iron side" of the piece. Here are the pics of my process:

This is the "iron side" of the piece. I have parchment paper on the ironing surface, 2 layers of bags, hand smoothed, fabric scraps then 4 layers of plastic bags. I covered all with more parchment paper and ironed - not too much because it wants to ripple.

This was the side touching the ironing surface. This ironing took place by my window with the huge exhaust fan on since the fumes are most probably toxic and these irreplaceable lungs are keeping me on this side of the grass so....
For some reason this reminded me of pampers (which I never used - always cotton!- aah fiber)

So I decided to free motion to flatten the plastic puffs down and add more color.

Then I made an envelope with a gold elastic and button closure. This will be nice for keeping flat memorabilia like cards.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Year Anniversary and a Present for You!

January is our one year anniversary and we want to celebrate!  Rayna Gillman, author of Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, has agreed to join us as a Guest Blogger in January.  She will be giving us a tutorial on her chapter on "reinventing UFOs with strips and bits." (This is just so fabulous!)

To help you prepare we are giving away an autographed copy of Rayna's book on Christmas day. Just leave a comment here for one chance to win.  For a second chance, grab our blog button, post it on your blog, and leave us another comment with the link to your newly embellished blog.

Good luck to you!  I am so excited for our January celebration!!  I love Rayna's book!!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Playing with plastic

I played with this technique over the weekend; using grocery/store bags, dry cleaner wrapping, thickened plastic wadding and bubble wrap. 

Mostly, I just melted stuff together. :)

I was interested in the types of textures I could get with the different weights of plastic; but because the dry cleaning plastic would have been excessively boring, I first put two squares as a base,  mixed up some craft paint on top, put another two squares of plastic on that and melted away, 

Four layers wasn't enough (paint ALL over my iron), but 8 was, and I got some really nice results that were highly coloured, very pliant, and easy to quilt. 

I also tried it with some white grocery bags for a less vibrantly coloured result and in my finished piece, layered the different kinds of plastics and some of the colours together. 

I also tried putting "stuff' in between the layers: sequins, tiny beads, bits of fabric, plastic mesh and the like - with varied results - I may use those bits and bobs in other pieces in the future:

But often, the result was such a hard mass of plastic, I couldn't imagine using it in any way except possibly, sculpture!

It's not clear from the pic above - but this turned out be a lump of hard plastic that no needle could ever get through!

In the end, I took some pinks and greens and whites, cut them up, layered them and put them together in a little wall hanging. BSP (Beloved Spouse) *LOVES* it and thinks I should work with melted plastic all the time.  

It was fun - but that's enough for me. :)


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Playing With Plastic - Karen

 I have been saving the bags I get in the produce department for a while -- they're great for picking up after my dog.  So I grabbed a few of them and ironed them together.  They looked kind of blah, so I borrowed some glitter from my daughter and sprinkled it on the ironed bag-fabric, then covered it with a sheet of plastic wrap from the kitchen.

I really like the look, but the wrap shrunk up at a different rate than the bags and I got all this cool texture.
 But the texture was too much for the project I had in mind (that first piece will go on my "little gems" pile.)  So I laid out three bags (I cut off the handles and bottoms so they would lie flat) and sprinkled on some more glitter then covered it with another bag.  I ironed it flat between two sheets of parchment paper.
 Here is a close up of the glitter trapped between the not-quite-opaque bags.
 I used big paper clips to hold the pattern on it for cutting.  --I keep a bag of these in my studio in all different sizes -- it's amazing how useful they are.
And the finished product -- little fairy slippers for my daughter's doll.  The plastic fabric is just clear enough to allow the yellow fabric to show through.

I think I would like to try this with tiny snips of fabric sandwiched between the layers of plastic.  And, of course, with paint.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Technique--Plastic Fabric

The technique for the month of December is making and using plastic fabric. I had tried this quite awhile ago but wanted to experiment a bit more with it. It is easy to make and (hopefully) will get your creative juices going.

The "recipe" for making "fabric" from plastic bags is very simple.  

1.  Gather your plastic bags. (I like to use the thin ones that grocery stores use, but you can use others.)
2. Cut the bags open down one side and cut the handles and bottom off the bags. You want a fairly smooth surface of bags to work with.
3. Layer 4-6 bags (one on top of the other) between pieces of parchment paper to get a larger piece of "fabric." You can fold one bag to get the number of layers you need to make smaller pieces. (I found that if you mix the type of bags some of them melt faster than others. This may cause a bit more shrinkage and more ripples/bubbles in the "fabric." Personally, I like the texture that gives me.)
You can find Parchment Paper at the grocery store. If you don't have parchment paper, you can also use the paper backing that comes with some fusibles. I think that those non-stick applique sheets would work too.
Here, there are six bags layered one on top of the other.

4. In a well ventilated area, fuse the bags (layered between some type of non-stick material like parchment paper) together by ironing. Start out with a temperature setting of rayon, but keep in mind that you may need to increase the temperature. (I increased the temperature to the highest wool setting.) Keep the iron moving. (Some bags produce more fumes than others. I put my ironing board right next to a window and cracked the window.) It helps to iron the bags from both sides, especially if you are ironing six layers--turn the parchment paper "sandwich" over and iron the back too. Check to see if the bags are fused by lifting up the corner of your parchment paper. 
These bags are fused. You can see in the upper left-hand corner where the "fabric" has bubbled a bit. I got a bit impatient and increased the heat of my iron a little too high. I found, though, that I liked the texture this gave the "fabric."

Once the bags have been fused, you can use the bags like regular fabric. (Keep in mind, though, that pinning will create holes in the plastic fabric. You might want to use paper clips to hold the "fabric" instead.) Before using your plastic fabric you will probably want to paint and embellish it. I used acrylic paints and a Sharpie pen to decorate this green fabric.
When you are finished with your "fabric," it can be sewn and stitched. You can use it for purses, iPad/iPod cases, journal covers, etc. You could cut it apart and embellish a quilt with it. There are lots and lots of things you can do with it. I'm anxious to see what creative things you can come up with.

I decided to make a clutch purse out of my green "fabric." I liked the ruffled edge, so I decided to keep it. I am using a magnet (glued with E6000) to close it. I haven't yet decided which decorative closure to use. These are some of my choices--I may not have found the right one yet. Do you like any of these?

Here are some websites that will give you more information.

Tutorial for fused plastic fabric
How to make an iPad case with plastic fabric and general instructions