Starting a New Quilt Project

October 21st, 2017
There’s nothing quite as invigorating as beginning a new quit project. I’ve had the center part of this quilt in my head for a few months now, but couldn’t allow myself to begin working on it until I had finished up some other work. Now I can really plow into this! I started by cutting out applique shapes with my Sizzix Big Shot:
(This was early on…I cut a WHOLE lot more than this, but it went very quickly using a steel rule die.)  My background fabrics were the hand dyed fabrics I dyed recently.  Here are my 3 center panels once they’d been backed with a lightweight interfacing and cut to size:
(For what it’s worth, I always fuse a lightweight interfacing onto the back of any fabric I’m going to embroider, but cotton sateen is a good fabric to ALWAYS fuse to lightweight stabilizer, even when you’re not going to embroider it.  It’s a twill fabric and can be a bit of a “shape-shifter,” if you know what I mean.  Once you back it with interfacing, it will not change shapes on you.)
Next up, I fired up the old embroidery machines and started many, many hoopings of machine embroidery applique.  You can see one of the panels in the next shot as I’m still adding to it:
This first panel has jade swags and dark blue flowers.  It’s my favorite one.  This second panel has turquoise swags and purply/blue flowers.  I’m not as in love with this one:
I can’t believe I got this far already, but I’ve finished the MEA on the first 2 panels!!  Here is a shot of them next to one another on my design wall:
The Dijon mustard fabric in between them is in the “auditioning phase”…not sure that is a “go” or not just yet.  The third panel will also have jade swags and dark blue flowers.  I won’t be able to work on this again for a week, but I’m feeling totally “juiced up” by how far I’ve gotten so far.  Here’s a closer up shot that is very off-kilter:

Dyeing Fabric With Old Dye Powders

October 19th, 2017


I was about to start a new project and needed 3 long panels of hand dyed fabrics that were predominantly greens.  I have lots of already dyed fabrics that fit that bill, but all of it was just a wee bit too short for my needs.  Isn’t that always how it goes?!  Anyway, I decided to get some late season fabric dyeing going a couple weeks ago and the shot below shows my set up:



This is a quick and easy direct dyeing method, and if it’s something you’ve wondered about trying yourself, here is a quick video lesson on how I do it:





What I want you to see is how the intensity, or saturation of the color, changes once it was washed out.  The fabric in the shots above is still a bit wet, and this makes the colors appear somewhat darker.  BUT, the post washing shots below will give you an idea of how old dye powders result in less than saturated colors in the final product:



This next shot is the darkest piece of all, yet look how light it is:



These are all still very use-able, but darn, I miss that intense color saturation!  Here is the darkest one all sliced up and ready as 3 panels for my next project:


Invigorating Color!

August 22nd, 2016
I probably should have warned you that you might need sunglasses to safely view the photos in this blog post!  The block above is a 35 inch square machine embroidery applique block created on my embroidery machine over many days last week.  It is appliqued/embroidered on a piece of hand-dyed cotton sateen that has been sitting in a drawer for a few years, just waiting for the right design.  I love, love, love the rich, saturated colors here and the way they bleed into one another.  This kind of fabric dyeing is actually very easy to do, and I’ll give you  a link at the end of this post to a short video tutorial we made a few years ago that shows you exactly how to do it.  In the meantime, though, here are some close up shots of this center block:
The “circle” that surrounds the center flower quartet is made of 5 inch swag pairs.  I was more understated than usual in my thread color choices for the swag pairs but I’m glad I was because the background fabric colors are so strong.  Here is a close up shot of the center floral design:
(I still need to trim some jump stitches in those center flowers: I just noticed those now!)  I really like the outermost flowers that encircle the block.  I was trying to make every other flower more of a “purple theme” and then every other flower a “blue theme.”  Here’s a “blue themed” one:
…and here’s a “purple themed” one:
I have been doing MEA for about 4 years now (maybe it’s been 5, I can’t remember), but it still never ceases to amaze me just how much intricate detail and texture the thread work can add to an applique design.  I am enthralled by the swirled thread work on these.  Here are a couple of them together in one shot:
Working with all this fabulous color last week was a treat for my soul.  It’s making me feel like I need to use up more of my yummy hand dyed fabrics because they make me feel so alive as I’m working with them.
If you’re interested in trying some hand dyeing yourself, this video shows you every single step I use to make fabrics like these:

Give it a try…your quilting will never be the same!


Dyeing Fabric..The Quick, Easy and Fun Way!

May 31st, 2014
Color is everything to me and to most quilters and there’s nothing more invigorating than seeing brilliant colors develop right if front of your eyes!  I am asked all the time how I dye the background fabrics that I use on many of my quilts:



It’s all much easier than you’d think!  We are now officially in the best season for fabric dyeing here in the old USA, so I thought it might be fun to make a video showing exactly how I dye background fabrics like these.  Thanks to my husband, Ernie, you can watch a video that lays it all out clearly right here.
(I’ve tested this link in firefox, internet explorer, chrome, and safari and it worked for me each time, but I’ve heard from a few folks who have not been able to use the link.  If this happens to you, try this url address as a cut/paste option instead:


Spinning My Wheels

September 27th, 2011

My hands have been in so many different projects over the last 5 days that even I am dizzy!  I am scrambling to get some large volume dyeing completed before the weather turns too cold.  I can dye all winter in the garage, but I need lots of larger yardage pieces (i.e. at least 2 yards each) and there isn’t space to dye large yardages unless I’m working outside.  These are Egyptian cottons that are great for piecing and every once in awhile I’m throwing in a  smaller piece of another fabric type to use up the end of a dye color:

I finished all the free motion embroidery and trapunto on the tulip quilt about 1 1/2 weeks ago and had to wait to bring it to NC so I could spray baste it.  Here’s a shot of the backside (the colors are very washed out looking as these are all printed commercial fabrics) and you can see that there’s a lot of trapunto.  Every applique shape except for the stems are trapuntoed, and those are free motion embroidered.  I used 5 different types of batting for the various trapunto shapes:

I’ve just begun the first phase of the quilting, and this involves zipping around all the applique pieces with invisible thread (Monopoly by Superior Threads).  I always find this phase very relaxing and it gets my head in a very good place.  One of the battings I used was a thin fleece batting and I am loving the texture it creates.  You can get a bit of a feel of the trapunto effect on this wreath, and remember, I have done no background quilting at all here, and that will make all trapunto more pronounced:

The other thing I have been doing is spending loads of time trying to teach myself how to digitize.  I am not a computer person at all, but I can’t believe how much I’ve learned!  I know that many quilters really have no interest in machine embroidery, but all I can say is you have no idea what you are missing out on!  For myself, I really think that a melding of my free motion work + machine embroidered applique=incredibly exciting horizons for my future!  Here’s  a peak into what machine embroidery can do for my feathers…wonder where these babies will end up?

Stay tuned!  I’m hoping to have my first machine embroidered applique quilt pieced in the next few days!