Falling leaves

So much fun yesterday,

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I got together with my usual fiber gang yesterday, and we spent the day turning leaves and silk into beautiful combinations.

Seattle Leslie had taken a class in using leaves to print on silk scarves so she led us in techniques throughout the day. Everything began with a big pile of vegetation gathered from various neighborhoods, both green and dried.

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There were also a lot of onion skins to add yellow and orange options. The dry leaves were soaked in water so they would be less brittle and could handle the process.

First the scarves had to be soaked in a heated alum solution and then wrung out gently.   After that there were various options. The leaves dipped in an iron water solution could just be directly laid on the scarf and wrapped up, or cotton blankets (sheet strips) with dye could be laid on top, with or without more iron water.  Stems and flowers?  Why not.  Rusty washers?  Toss them in!

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The scarves and Saran Wrap were tightly rolled around plastic and wood dowels and tied tightly to keep the cloth in close contact with the leaves.

Some of us really put themselves into getting that part right.

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Then the bundles all went into this fabulous old steamer Oregon Leslie found on Craig’s List.  It was originally for canning, but it makes a perfect scarf steamer.

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The unwrapping, after the bundles had cooled, was magical.  So many unexpected results!

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The scarf above, made on a wool/silk fabric, came out really yellow compared to all the others.  Less heat perhaps, as it went in as one of the later bundles?  But the red Japanese maple leaves with all the yellow are gorgeous.

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We learned that chestnut and oak leaves left wonderful imprints, as did smoke tree leaves.  Cedar and fir left ghostly jagged lines, and onion skin gave sharp burst or yellow and orange.  Hydrangea leaves, on the other hand, didn’t give much of an effect at all.

D12D03AA-A0B4-42F7-A9EF-E7474E2BA271Rose branches, rusted washers, and broken dye made this mirror image square of silk frame worthy.

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Bundle after bundle unrolled incredible prints.

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The joy just keep coming.

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Some were even more joyful than others.

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Can’t wait to do it again!

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A quick trip north

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I went up to Seattle recently to craft with my cousin, Patti.  She had an almost finished fused fabric project that needed a couple of sewing details, so I brought my machine along.

What I didn’t bring was the power cord.  Argh!  Luckily, Seattle Leslie (as distinguished from Oregon Leslie in our fiber group) was willing to text her husband from her trip to the Midwest and he got out her spare machine to lend us.  Sewing can be a complicated multi-state business.

My cousin is generally a paper crafter, but occasionally she gets the hankering for fabric and floss.  Along with (parts of) my sewing machine, I lugged up bags of floss and batiks and WonderUnder fusing.

 

I stitched around some fused pieces of her camping scene that were losing their stick, and she added embroidery details – little clumps of grass, chains to hold up the hammock, French knot sparks in the fire.  I would love to have that camping spot!

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I fused some small geometric shapes and started connecting them with stitching, when I wasn’t knitting or walking their labradoodle – a dog so laid back that when it slowly wags its tail everyone around him takes note of how excited Teddy is.  Teddy is the chilled out dude of the dog world.  Our dog is a neurotic hyper wired mess in comparison.

Teddy in his usual mood:

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Now Patti is moving on to little houses.  She got a few embroidery books and websites to learn new stitches and at this rate She’s going to be stashing fabric soon I’m sure.  Fiber hobbies are addictive.

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Neck cloud

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I am knitting the softest imaginable scarf/shawl thingie. (The official term for this type of neck knitting.)

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Malabrigo silkpaca lace yarn.  Wonderful stuff.

It is just row after row of garter stitch, increasing one at the start of each row – a truncated triangle because I started with 75 stitches.

I worked on it during our weekend camping trip, the last before work and school officially start next week.

Yarn and dog both spent a lot of time at the river.  I was the Official Photographer for Teens Jumping Into Glacially Cold Rivers. Theo was Official Barker at Boys Jumping Into Freezing Water.

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Of course, they didn’t always jump voluntarily.

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While they swam and splashed, I knit rows and rows of cloud-light alpaca and silk.  I’ve 800 yards of the yarn, so it is going to go on for a while.

I did stop for hikes and s’mores, but then was back at it.

This is actually replacement knitting as I’ve ransacked my house several times and can’t find my other on-the-go knitting project.  It has to be somewhere, but it continues to elude me.

I did unearth other neglected knitting projects and pulled one out to be the home knitting project.  My purple sweater now has a sleeve. So close to done!

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I’m sad to be nearing the end of camping season, but so glad that we bought the little pop-up trailer last spring.  We haven’t traveled far and wide, but we’ve discovered and revisited some great corners of Washington and Oregon nearby.  The boys complain a little bit before hand (generally due to the lack of WiFi) but they mostly have a great time once we are out there.

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Even when it is really, really, really cold.

 

Dressing up

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I rarely have a reason to wear a dress.  My job as a librarian meant  I was often crawling around on my knees to reach low book shelves, and we aren’t dress-up-and-go-out-on-the-town people.  But every once in a while, an occasion comes along that calls for a dress.

I have, unfortunately, “outgrown” all my dresses, as I discovered the last time I pulled one out to wear.  (Translation: I gained a lot of weight.) The neglected couple of dresses in the far end of the closet no longer fit.  As it was a last minute event, it was sort of a scramble to come up with something to wear.

So, I’ve made a dress: the Lara dress, from Style Arc.

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The pattern came as a downloadable pdf, which means a lot of pieces of printer paper have to be taped together to create the pattern.  A simple process, but time consuming.  My kitchen peninsula worked well as a taping surface.

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It is a fairly simple design, so not a lot of pattern parts.  I simplified it even more by making bias tape for the neckline facing. And I had the perfect color zipper in my stash which saved a trip to the store.

The directions were extremely minimal.  The guide for how to tape together the pattern pages was longer than the sewing directions.  Exhibit A:  the total instructions for putting in the zipper came in step 7: “Insert zip.”  That one took some Googling and a YouTube video.  But the pattern really doesn’t have much on the way of tricky bits, so minimal was enough for all the other parts of the process.

I made a couple other modifications.  I changed the neckline to deepen the scoop in the front (one reason for the bias tape switch as then I didn’t have to make matching changes to the interfacing pieces).  I also brought in the sides of the neckline a bit to avoid bra straps showing when I wear it.

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I used as much of the fabric length as possible, making it about 4 inches longer than the original called for.  I’m long waisted and didn’t want it to be above my knees. I’d have made it even longer but there wasn’t more fabric to add in without sacrificing the sleeves.  You can see in the pic below how little was left for the sleeve layout.

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The zipper gave me some trouble, not because of the process, but because I kept doing stupid things.  A bobbin ran out in the middle of the top stitching which interrupted the line.  At one point I’d turned off the machine and forgot to reset the needle position when I turned it back on, breaking a needle against the zipper foot.  My top stitching effort was wobbly and had to be redone on one side.  There was cursing.

It always amazing me how easy it is to make a simple thing hard.  I manage that a lot.  But in a couple of hours, I had a new dress.

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On the hanger, I have to admit that it looks a lot like my many tunics. But it is different, really!  A zipper!  Neck line darts!  Longer!  And . . . well, other than that, it is very similar.  But a dress!  Definitely not a tunic!  (Exclamation points add conviction, right?)

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See – clearly a dress, not a tunic.

As a review, I would say that I’d definitely make this pattern again.  I’d probably bring in the sides of the neckline yet another inch or so and add even more length.  The dress is comfortable and easy to move around in.  I love the weight of the cotton\linen blend.  It is from the Robert Kaufman company, the Forage collection.

I enjoyed this dress project enough that I ordered another pattern to download to make a second one.  The fabric is in the mail and I have already begun taping.

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I’m back in the classroom this upcoming school year, so dresses may be able to be a part of my wardrobe again.  No floor crawling required to teach history.  I hope.

 

Summer blues

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A sudden urge to sew came over me and I actually made enough progress to have something to post about.

There hasn’t been a lot of time spent on the machine this summer, spending more time camping, in class, or hanging out in the hammock reading, but in the last couple of days I’ve picked up my modified crossroads blocks again and got the top finished.

The original block puts the emphasis on the center 8 point star.  I changed it up to make smaller X blocks in single shades which makes that part stand out more.  If I’d stuck to a single X color or made the bars of the X random shades the stars would have stood out more, but as it is, this is an X quilt more than a crossroads block.

 

 

I finished up all the 16 patch and X blocks a few weeks ago. I dug out my Hera marker which made sewing the corner lines go faster, although it was still the slowest part of the block.  Chain piecing sped things up again.

ECEF7A9F-06D9-4FFB-B218-5FE365F7F202I spent a lot of time trying to get the mix of blocks so that the different blues were scattered and the low volume blocks didn’t have any duplicate fabrics touching, and had the blues and yellows spaced out.  Inevitably I missed some with the background fabrics and didn’t notice until seams were sewn.  Eventually I had to let go and just not care.  I’m the only one who is really going to see those duplicating squares when it is all done, so I am reminding myself not to care.  With mixed success, but I will keep trying to not obsess.

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Laying it all out is also when I discovered that apparently I can’t count.  Back to the sewing machine to make four more 16 patches.

 

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There are eight blues and 50-60 low volume fabrics in this.  It made only a small dent in my 2 1/2 inch squares, so I will be searching for the next scrappy pattern to use them with.

The top is 56” x 80”, so a smallish twin or a largish throw.  I’ll piece together a backing from more of the stash fabric one of these days.  I lost my usual places to pin quilt sandwiches as both my sister and I have changed schools so I no longer have the library tables or her classroom floor.  I think there will be spaces in my new building, but they don’t know me yet so it seems a little weird to go in this summer and commandeer floor space.  I will let them get to know and love me before I start crawling around with handfuls of pins and tape.

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation and Oh Scrap

 

Design wall, without design

After two years in this house, I finally got around to putting up a design wall.

I have been using the floor for the most part, but after laying out my blocks for the latest quilt top, I got a lot of pushback from my family who apparently felt that completely blocking access to the kitchen was “unreasonable.”  Not a quilter among them to sympathize with my need to make sure that the Xs in different shades of blue were distributed attractively across the top.

So at long last I got a 4’ x 8’sheet of foam board and put up a design way.

It isn’t a complicated process.  I cut off a foot as our ceilings are barely 8’ up, and with the trim I needed more wiggle room.

I had the flannel still from the last house’s design wall; I just sewed the two lengths together and then spent a minimal amount of time ironing it.  A lint roller cleared off all the threads from previous quilts.

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It was a quick task to trim and tape the flannel around the board.  I kept the writing side to the back so the words wouldn’t show through – the other side of this board is a reflective silver.  I pulled it taut, but didn’t worry about perfection.

What I should have worried about was the wall it was going to be hung on.  I forgot about the wall socket.  It is our only nearby electrical outlet for the room’s main lamps, so it couldn’t just be covered up.

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The solution involved a box knife and more duct tape.  Not attractive, but it worked.  I may get white tape and recover it in a more aesthetically minded way in the future.  Or, I may just not think about it ever again.

A few finishing nails to hang it on the wall and now I have a design wall.  A little narrow, but it will keep the path to the kitchen clear – most of the time anyway.

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Hats on

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My library recently added Creative Bug access to our library accounts, which gave me the chance to make versions of a sun hat that my friend showed me last weekend.  This one, specifically.

My mom and sister were over on the 4th of July and pulled some fabrics so I could make them hats as well.

It’s just a three piece pattern, reversible and floppy.  I used a sew-in medium weight interfacing — iron-on would have been easier when sewing the curves but I didn’t have any in the right weight.

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My only complaint about the Creative Big presentation is that the directions are video only.  It assumes that you’ve never sewn anything like this before, so the process is shown step by step, slowly.  I would have appreciated written directions as well so I could just quickly skim to see if there were any special steps I wouldn’t have expected.  There really weren’t.  If you’ve sewn anything with an attached lining and you’ve done curves, you can sew this hat without the videos.

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Except, you do need to make sure the lines of communication are working.  I made my sister’s first.  That is her modeling it up in the top picture.  The hat comes in wide and short brim options and  she chose wide.  My mom and I have shorter hair and decided the shorter brims would suit us better.  While I was working on mine, my sister cut out Mom’s fabric.  Only when I told her the smaller brim, she just heard small, and cut the whole thing out in the small size.  Which I didn’t know until I’d finished it and we tried it on.

The people in my family have really big heads – to the point that we can almost never buy hats.  Size small just perched on top of Mom’s head, more comic decoration than head gear.

So I made a fourth hat and we’ll find some small child in the family to give the other to.

The three that fit us:

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And reversed:

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It is great to have a hat that really fits.  I’m already planning more.  I need a black and white one to go with my swimming suit, and a wide brimmed one in a sturdy fabric for maximum sun protection during yard work.  Maybe denim?