Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This time I was determined to make an artsy piece.

I wanted to dye some PFD pimatex quilting cotton so I cut off a yard by 45”. The size of the piece you can dye is determined by the size of the bucket and rack that you can find.

I found one of these storage containers at Target that is 35.5” long and the key is that it is not so deep. I wish I had a 45” wide pan that was shallow so I could do pieces larger than a yard at one time. Then you need to find grids that the fabric can sit on. Lynn found baking sheet cooling racks at the restaurant supply store and they fit perfectly on top of this container.

If you can’t find racks, then maybe you can do this with foil to keep the fabric off the bottom.


After soaking the fabric in soda ash for 20 minutes, I accordian pleated it neatly onto the rack.


I set out all my colors with plastic spoons.


This took 6 trays of soda ash ice cubes and it could have used a bit more ice. But I think next time I will just use regular ice and load it up.

Again the dye was generously sprinkled on the ice. I think you can see I sprinkled it straight from one long edge to the other….top to bottom in this picture.  I started in the middle with dark purple and then used, cobalt, turq, lavender,avocado on each side of it.  Next I put foil on top and let it sit for 24 hrs before washing out…..and voila!


I’m pretty happy with it. Next I’ll try some rayon bamboo knit that I can turn into a top/tunic. This Procion MX dye gives vibrant colors and is easy to use.

Here are the beautiful scarves that Lynn did. She has great color sense!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ice dyeing in the Summer

I saw a you tube video on ice dyeing and it looked rather easy. My friend Lynn had lots of dyes that she had never used and some rayon bamboo scarves that were already hemmed. The scarves are from Dharma Trading that has everything for textile dyeing and painting!

We did this in my garage in case it made a mess and because we needed to let it sit overnight without being disturbed by dog or children.

We had to start a week early because we had to make special soda ash ice cubes. I mixed 1 cup of soda ash with 1 gallon of water and then filled up the ice cube trays. But of course my 2 freezers are full so I had to put in 2 trays and let them freeze overnight and then stack 2 more trays on top the next day.

On dyeing day, we took our scarves that are 5” x 60 “ and soaked them in a bucket of soda ash and water for 20 mins. After wringing them out , we arranged them onto a rack over a pan. I used a disposable aluminum pan and a grid that I found at Dollar General, my new favorite haunt. The grid  was probably for use on the grill but any kind of rack will do.

We held the soaked scarf at the narrow end and let it hang down. Then we pulled it up in our hands and pleated in like an accordion and placed it on top of our grid over our pan.


Then we covered it well with the soda ash ice cubes. I used 3 trays but Lynn didn’t have enough and used some regular ice cubes and I think it’s fine.


Next we took plastic spoons and sprinkled the dye powder onto the cubes. We used the wonderful Procion MX dyes from Jacquard Products. We were very generous with the dye and probably put on too much.


I also feel that I used too many colors while Lynn used less and all shades of blue mostly.



Next we put some saran wrap over them and let them sit for 24 hours.


The next day we took them to the sink and rinsed them out in cold water and then in hot water for what seemed like hours since dye was still coming out of the piece.  We then put the scarves in a bucket of hot water and a teaspoon full of Synthrapol and let it sit for an hour.  Then more rinsing and a cycle of the washer and dryer.  And voila!


To me, mine was too rainbow tie-dye looking but Lynn, who is a painter, made 2 mastepieces!


And so, I’m making more soda ash ice cubes to try again! Will post results but it was easy and fun! I like the serendipitous nature of this and want to try SNOW DYEING!  But not too soon, Winter was brutal last year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015



Living in Columbus, Ohio we are lucky to have the Quilt Surface Design Symposium here every June for 2 weeks. They bring in the best textile teachers in the world for wonderful classes.  And it’s only a 15 minute drive for me!


A few weeks ago, I took Sue Cavanaugh’s class with a few friends and it was really interesting. Above are the samples we made.

Sue is one of the best shibori artists in the world and she lives here in Columbus also. I’ve seen her work at shows and have always admired it but was intimidated to start my first dyeing class with such a renowned artist.But that soon disappeared as she is a very friendly, fun teacher who makes this seem easy.




This purple piece is my favorite and it was the easiest with just rows of running stitches done with thick beading cord and then tied up tightly( as shown below) before dropping into a bucket of dye.


Since I haven’t dyed much, I was experimenting with mixing colors and what you see is not what you get in the end. Many were trying to make the traditional indigo dye color and that was blue with some black dye added. The dye bath is always darker than what the fabric color dries to.

For me, the hardest part was pulling the thread through the Pimatex tightly woven fabric with my arthritic fingers. A friend gave me some lawn to try and that was better. Then I changed to a finer needle and some less thick button thread and that improved it a bit more. I think I need to experiment with diff needle and thread combos until I find one that is not too much strain on my fingers.  Also, I’d like to try shibori with silk and that should be much easier to stitch.

My grand plans are to shibori some silk and then make a simple blouse and to do three huge cotton panels and sew them into a king size comforter/quilt but I better start small first.

It is always good to take classes and try new techniques to further your creativity and I highly recommend QSDS classes for next June.



A very simple dress for a gift for a friend. I’ve made many of these dresses. It starts with a store bought t-shirt that is cut about 4 inches above the waist.

Then you get 2 yards of fabric from your stash for the skirt. I cut two panels 31-36” by the 45” width of fabric and sew them along the selvage to make the side seam. Press the seam open and then I gather the top edge using my BERNINA #16 gathering foot.

I love love this foot because you just put the fabric under it and go and it gathers up the fabric….no pulling two threads to gather! The longer the stitch length, the more gathers you get. It’s a huge time saver!


After I gathered up the entire top edge of about 90 inches, I was ready to attach the skirt to the knit top. First I matched the side seam of the skirt to the side seam of the shirt and pinned.  I left 3 inches on each side of the opposite side seam of the shirt unpinned. I sewed across the top attaching the skirt to the top and then stopped short. Held the two sides of the skirt together and estimated where to sew that side seam and stitched it down to hem, trimmed and pressed it open. Then I continued to attached the gathered top edge to the remaining 6 inches of the shirt.

After that you just need to hem it and I used the blind hem stitch and foot to match, of course!  It’s a very fast dress to make and only takes maybe two hours.  You can make it easily for a child and you can also use a woven shirt that buttons in the front as long as you cut it above the waist and it’s roomy enough to pull over your bust.


Some good friends of mine took two years and went all over the world, decades ago when they were in their twenties. It was a fascinating trip and their stories are so interesting! I wish I had the guts to do something like that!  They just gifted me with this incredible bag from China.


As you can see, it is 3-dimensional applique. Much hand embroidery on it and it seems to be lined with newspaper…? I don’t plan on washing it so it should stay pristine. It’s just so much work and skill for probably very little income for some craftsman.

But I just love the whimsy of the bugs on this and the frog’s open mouth! It’s a very special gift!



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sweet Baby Jumpers

Project #15

I’m going to consider these 3 sets of garments as one project. It’s a gift for a baby girl and I just used the fabric from my stash, which is always a plus!


This back-cross little jumper is always cute and great for warm weather and easy to fit. I remember wearing one when I was a little girl too! The most challenging part were the panties because the pattern didn’t say how much elastic should go in the legs or the waist and I don’t have the baby to measure her. I had to go to a store and measure a garment and then guess. I hope they don’t fall off the baby! It was fun to sew with ric-rac again.

I’m planning on making more little girl garments in the future!

Collecting Art Quilts

With two designers in the family, there are a lot of collections in this house. My specialty is art quilts and usually I buy them from my authors such as Barbara Olson, Laura Heine, Jane Sassaman and Noriko Endo.

This month, I bought a quilt or two from seeing them on facebook! It may sound odd but it isn’t the first time.  A few years ago I saw the work of Susan Lenz and then looked at her website for more and purchased one from her.  I love it and it is hanging in my studio. Facebook is a great marketing tool to get your work out in front of the right ‘eyes’.

Window XIV

Windows XIV by Susan Lenz

In April, I kept seeing the work of Danny Amazonas from Taiwan on facebook. What caught my eye is how he cuts up ‘shards’ of fabrics to make a realistic image with his precision value placement.

One morning, I saw a quilt of a rainy day scene where the people in the evening light were reflected in the rainy street. It was mostly Kaffe Fassett fabrics which I love, and the color range started at the left with reds and then graduated to the right into blue/greens!  The technique was something that was new and fresh and the quilt was breathtaking!

I followed it all day and it got 1100 likes by the evening. I sent a message to Danny and told him how incredible I thought this was and he wrote back that he was having an exhibition from mid-April to mid-May. Then my wise husband said that I better put my name on it before it went to the show where it would most certainly be sold! So by the end of the evening, I had told Danny that I seriously wanted to buy it and to save it for me. He graciously agreed and I waited a month.

After the show was over Danny contacted me and said that he has a special arrangement for me.  If I bought this Bird of Paradise quilt then I would get the Rain scene as a ‘free’ gift!  Wow! 2 Amazonas quilts!


I’m hoping that some of you were on facebook that day that the rainy quilt was posted because I’m not allowed to post it anywhere. It’s a special request of Danny and I have to respect it. Sorry about that. I was wondering if I should even blog about it!

But if you get a chance to see his work or take a class from him in Taiwan, you should do it! I hope he will come teach in the States so I can take a class too.  Take a look at his portfolio on his facebook page/there isn’t a website. It’s just fantastic that now we can see quilts from around the world on the internet, or I’d never know about this talented quilter who is also a florist for his day job!  Now, I need to make room to hang these two new beauties!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The pink dress


After many days of cataloging my fabric stash by measuring, taking photo and inputing yardage and details onto my ipad app, I think we are finally finished.  My newly retired friend spent a lot of time helping me with this huge task! I think she learned so much that she could be hired at Joann’s now!  This photo is only half of the boxes in the studio and shows none stashed under the stairs and in the back room!

It was good to see old forgotten fabric cuts with a new eye and I even pulled some aside to use soon…shock!  Among the cuts is this linen/cotton blend that is hot pink, the favorite color of my friend. We both shop for nice summer dresses on sale every year so I offered to make her a summer dress and she chose this Mc Call’s 7118 pattern.


DSC04672 DSC04673

Project #14 for this year!

It’s very simple and only took a few hours so it’s a good beginner pattern. I love the back strap detail.  It fits her perfectly and she loves it. What a difference to sew a size 6!!  Now we wait until the weather is warm enough to wear it in Ohio.

While looking for more fabric in the back room I found some beautiful blue linen which would be enough for a dress with matching jacket…so let’s see what pattern she selects next.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Koos, 2 new dresses


March was a short trip to NYC with friends and I went in a day early to see the head designer and the owner of KOOS. It was the first time I’d seen them since he died and it was odd not to see him in his cluttered design room at the studio. The room was empty and cleaned and painted white. All that was left was his Juki industrial machine and a large portrait.

Here are some photos from the boutique. I made the dress on the left twice and it has such a nice draping/bustle detail in the back. It’s one of my favorites.  The store was very busy so that was good to see. Everything was beautiful and inspirational. 


I love this detail on a blouse with a net base. How unusual.


Project #12 for the year. We stumbled onto the store PURL SOHO and they had this Kaufman fabric that is very light and airy so I bought some for this Vogue 1312 by Lynn Mizono. (Forget what I said in January about not buying fabric for a while since I bought 100 yards!)  I love the skirt and it went together so quickly.


Project #13 is Vogue 9112 by Marcy Tilton, one of my favorite designers. As soon as this pattern was released last week, I was dying to make this dress! After weeks of sorting, cataloging and arranging my fabric stash we finally came to the box of Asian fabrics. Inside was a collection of these Japanese dobby weave fabrics. OF the main fabric, I only had 1 3/4 yrds so I had to use the two other fabrics but I wanted to mix fabrics in this dress anyway. It took every inch of the fabric and lots of squeezing in the patterns…a big puzzle!

I love how it came out and can’t wait until the weather is warm enough to wear it in Ohio! From cutting to finish, it took me about 6 hours, so very fast but I think it is an intermediate level since you need some skill with easing in round areas and applying bias tape. I will be making it again for sure! Just wish I had a source for this fabric!

What to sew next?