Big Girl’s Room and Patchwork Duvet

The Cuppa Cuppa patchwork is finished, and we rearranged a few things in my daughter’s room to coordinate.

The elephant painting is one of three animal paintings that I made for her nursery before she was born. She’s now seven and still loves it, which makes me so happy, of course. And very glad I didn’t paint a mural on the wall, since she was born two moves ago.

The stuffed elephant was designed and hand-sewn by my dear friend Minnemie when my girl was a newborn. So glad that he’s still loved as well.

The sweet pajama cat (you stuff him with your pjs) was made by my mom from the book Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor.

The matryoshka doll wall decals are from local shop Enna (the seller, Anne Wendtlandt, also has an etsy shop from which she ships internationally).

And lastly, the Tooth Fairy pillow was mine, made by our neighbor back in the day. Love the 70’s Holly Hobby vibe.

I’m really glad I convinced my girl to tone down the pink in the patchwork scheme. All the sudden she’s feeling like a “big girl” and not as interested in pink and purple princesses, so thankfully she still likes the patchwork now that it’s finished.

If you want to know more about the making of this patchwork, here are posts about the beginning, middle, and almost-finished stages. It’s constructed with improvisational piecing using self-dyed, commercial, and recycled fabrics, inspired by this quilt by Malka Dubrawsky.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It’s always a bit strange overseas, since no one celebrates it here. On Sunday Advent season begins, though, and Christmas markets have opened, which are a big deal here and lots of fun. Happy weekend!

Oval Patchwork Update

Still fiddling with these ovals, trying a new layout on for size before I start sewing the suckers down.

This project started out as a variation on Amy Butler’s patchwork duvet pattern. See an earlier post about it here. The original pattern calls for a patchwork background topped by these ovals, but I decided just to do the ovals on top of a plain light green background.

Last time I was laying these out, I was still following the general layout of the original pattern (see the earlier post), but that design minus the patchwork background seems too static to me. I’m liking this much better. What do you think? Of course you have to imagine away the navy blue because it will be light green in the end.

I’m not loving the colors as much as I did when I started, but oh well. I’m committed now, and I’m ready to finish this thing. I got really bogged down with the ovals because of some fabric shortage issues, which led to some creative piecing on the fly.

Meanwhile, I’m inching toward the finish line on the Cuppa Cuppa Patchwork. Stay tuned.

Also, I just started the Blogging Your Way e-course with Holly Becker of decor8. Looks like it’s going to be a good time.

Have a great weekend!

The Cuppa Cuppa Patchwork

“It’s just a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly.  I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.” Dolly Parton as Truvy in Steel Magnolias

For awhile I was calling this the Candy Rainbow patchwork, but now when I look at it, I keep thinking of Truvy serving ice cream with her Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa cake. The intense, sweet colors here were just begging for a little something to cut the sweetness.

I’m liking the quiet spaces the white is making. The front of this is finished now, so hopefully I will finish up the back (all white) and show it to you soon.

I’m getting a little weary of the candy colors, or at least in using them all together. My next new quilt will have to be something a little quieter.

For earlier pictures of this patchwork, click here.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy seeing an earlier patchwork of mine that appears here.

Candy Rainbow Patchwork-In-Progress

You may remember seeing the fabrics for this patchwork here. I’m calling it the Candy Rainbow for now because the colors are so bright and sweet they remind me of a collection of Jolly Ranchers. It’s fitting, because the duvet cover is for my daughter (7), who loves candy better than just about anything.

The inspiration came from a couple of places. First, from this one, which needed a sister. I wanted it to be different and feminine but using many of the same fabrics. My daughter really wanted some florals and some pink, so I incorporated those. The florals are new fabrics, and the pink is scraps from a dress I made for her. The darkest orange is left over from an infant shopping cart cover that never worked, and the rest of the fabrics are scraps from commercial and self-dyed/ batiked crib sheets.

Second inspiration: Malka’s strips and bricks baby quilt. I love the simple shapes here. There’s something really satisfying about it, and the colors match the vibe my daughter wanted. By the way, Malka has this pattern for sale here if you want it.

So our loose design is a riff on these ideas. At first my daughter was totally adamant that there be no white, but she’s relented a bit and seems willing to let me put in some white bands. I just thought we needed a bit of a breather from all that saturated color.

I’m sewing these strips together to make the full width of the bed (queen-size). Then I’ll be cutting the sewn strips different lengths, separating them by bands of white.

As usual, the project changes shape as I work on it. I was thinking of going in this direction:

But then I didn’t really like the way the “stacks” seem to float in the design.

Little Miss and I agreed on something more like this:

I like the way the strips in this version are beginning to look like books on a shelf.

I had a really good writing week last week and got all excited. This week has been a bit tougher. Currently reading Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

New Patchwork/ Current Reads

I know, I don’t need to be starting yet another patchwork project, but they kind of multiply when you turn your back.

You haven’t heard much from me this week for two reasons:

1) I’m buckling down on my novel and trying to minimize distractions. Ouch! It’s tough. I’m pretty distractable.

2) During craft time I’ve been chipping away at several projects but don’t have much interesting to show just now.

I finally finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and have just started her latest novel, The Lacuna. I had heard bits about it several times but somehow until now missed (I guess I wasn’t really listening) that it takes place in Mexico and involves Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Trotsky.

You had me at Mexico. Add Frida, Diego, and Trotsky delivered by the great Kingsolver and I’m totally committed. I’ve been a  Frida fan since before she was cool (1994-ish?) and have been to her house  and Diego’s murals in Mexico City. Notice how I’m on a first-name basis with them?  Though oddly, I never saw the Selma Hayek movie. I suppose I should try it.

Meanwhile  re-reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. Oh I love this book. It’s read-aloud worthy and really a great companion when you’re slogging through manuscript revisions and expansions.

The fabric strips above are for my daughter’s patchwork duvet cover. I want it to be a sister piece to my son’s. You know, related, but not the same exact looks and personality. I’m using some of the same fabrics as I did in his plus some other scraps and a couple of new florals specifically requested by my daughter. She likes prints, my girl. I wanted to add white but she is adamant that it be full color. Okay, okay.

Little Miss is interested in horses right now so I am looking for a decent read-aloud chapter book about horses. We’re reading Misty of Chincoteague, which I had never read. It has its merits, and she seems to like it, but yow! it really bothers me that the little girl happily stays home wearing a dress while the boy gets to do all the horse-wrangling. I know it’s old, but still. She could at least want to join him.

If you know any good horse books that wouldn’t kill me to read aloud, and possibly involve girl characters who are allowed to do anything, please suggest away. I’m all about reader choice, but when it comes to glittery covers and magic ponies I would rather she read those to herself.

Have a great weekend!

Hand-Dyed Patchwork Duvet Cover

It’s finished! The duvet cover I started lo these many months ago is now on my son’s bed. His bed is a bunk, though, very difficult to photograph, so this bed had to stand in.

This duvet cover started out life as my son’s cribsheets, which I hand-dyed and batiked. Also thrown in are scraps from curtains I made for his room and the pieces from a failed attempt at a shopping cart cover and leftovers from his baby sling. For more information about how this cover was made, check out these posts: this one on the batik, this one on his original room, this one about the design for the bed cover, and here and here about the patchwork process.

I’m really excited with how it turned out. It just glows. The little man really likes it, too.

Here’s another view.

And below, a couple of detail shots:

On to other duvet covers for the rest of the family!

FYI I recently joined Pinterest, a social networking site where you can “pin” images from the web into an account so you can look at your favorite things together in one place. Other people can see them, too, so if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve pinned, click here. I seem fixated on quilts lately, so that’s most of what you’ll see. Be forewarned, if you’re addicted to beautiful images, like I am, it’s a bit of a dangerous site.

Frühlingsfieber/ Patchwork Sneak Peek

Give me a couple of days of sunshiny, above-freezing weather, and I’m delirious with Fruehlingsfieber (spring fever). I’m superstitious even as I write this that Jack Frost is reading and will surely punish me for hoping spring is really on its way. I know the sunshine can’t last, but if gray weather will teach you anything (and actually, I think it can teach a lot, more on that some other time) it’s to make hay while the sun shines. Go out! Enjoy it! This is what the Germans do and so am I.

I’m also feeling the creative sap flowing. Recently I’ve been getting deeper and deeper back into my YA novel and motoring through chapters as fast as I can, trying not to look back and overpolish before I’ve got a complete draft. It’s a totally new way of working for me, and I have to ask myself why I never tried it before. I guess I just wasn’t ready.

Meanwhile I’m getting further and further along on the self-dyed patchwork I started awhile back. I’m so excited about the way it’s coming together. Hope I can share it in full soon. It’s for my son (3) and he’s loving it, which is just the best.

Above is a little peak from the back. Do you notice those finished edges? I realized since it wasn’t going to be quilted that I needed to do something to keep it from fraying. So I’m zigzagging every last little seam. Yep. Crazy, isn’t it? But somehow so satisfying. Aren’t you proud of me for being such a stickler?

A few more random updates:

  • just finished The Hunger Games trilogy. Whew! What a ride! I can’t believe it took me so long to pick them up. Although, it’s kind of nice to be able to read the whole trilogy at once rather than wait for a year or so in between installments. This isn’t my “normal” favorite type of read, but these were way way awesome, very fine writing in addition to the exciting plotlines. They were also progressively engrossing. By the second half of the third novel the world just sort of fell away, dinner went uncooked, children made messes.
  • just discovered a new-to-me design-y/ crafty/ arty blog with a good sense of humor that I’m really enjoying: aesthetic outburst. Thanks go to Meg of elsie marley for the hot tip.
  • oh, um, in case you were trying to reach any of those links on my “projects” or “writing exercise” pages, they have now been fixed. Gotta tell me when these things are messed up, okay?
  • enjoyed this opinion piece by Mark Bittman in the NY Times re: the new dietary guidelines. It’s called “Is ‘Eat Real Food’ Unthinkable?”

Getting Started with Dyes, Part II: Plant Fibers

 

In my last installment on dyeing I wrote about animal fibers. Today, it’s plant fibers.

Plant fibers include cotton and linen. Synthetics generally don’t take dye all that well, at least not when I’ve tried them, so I tend to stay away from them. If your fabric has a small synthetic content, that’s okay, but anything above 25% I would avoid.

The best dyes I’ve found for plant fibers are what are called procion dyes. These are available at dharma trading, where I’ve gotten a lot of dye materials. They have reasonable prices and lots of information on their website.

I used to use grocery store dyes, but I got tired of the lackluster hues, the constant fading, and the lack of color range. With procion dyes, once you dye your fabric, it stays dyed, with no worrying about washing it with other items. There are a million colors to choose from, and the colors just glow. I think you can also use procion dyes on animal fibers, but I haven’t tried that.

The image above is of a patchwork made of self-dyed and commercial fabric (the fabric I dyed is the teal and the lighter orange). And good news! I should have some more to share on that project soon. It’s coming together.

I did a post on faux batik with procion dyes here. Another project with hand-dyed fabrics: my washcloth hand puppets.

Malka Dubrawsky has a wonderful book on dyes and batik called Color Your Cloth. She also has a very inspiring blog, and she sells her hand-dyed and batiked fabrics and other creations on etsy. Her stuff is very modern and cool.

Another book worth checking out (I discovered it through Malka’s blog) is Surface Design for Fabric by Proctor and Lew. It’s out of print but available used through online outlets. I bought mine through half.com. It’s like a textbook for fabric decoration: dyeing, tie-dyeing, batik, printing. You name it, it’s got it.

Yet another book with information about dyeing and other techniques is Textile Arts: Multicultural Traditions by Margo Singer and Mary Spyrou. This book is an overview of several textile techniques, including batik and tie-dye, with sample project instructions for each technique. I used to check this one out over and over again at the county library when I was a teenager, and now I own it.

This should get you going. I recommend starting with one or two colors to get your bearings first. And as always, dye with an open mind. You never know what your end product will look like exactly, and that’s part of the fun.

Oval Patchwork Bedcover

Here’s a sneak peak at another patchwork project I’ve been pecking away at for a long time. I’m feeling the need to finish these bedcovers lately, so hopefully I’ll have more to show you soon.

This patchwork pattern is a modified version of an Amy Butler design (Patchwork Duvet Cover) from her book, In Stitches. It started out as thrifted clothes I picked up on one trip to the Goodwill in Charlotte. Here’s an early pic:

I decided this print (below), though I liked it, had too much white to work in the design, so I used fabric paint to darken the white to a kind of purplish brown color. You can see the result in the first photo. It’s a watercolor-type paint, so it doesn’t change the “hand” (the feel) of the fabric much.

The oval appliques will go on a light green background when I finish the last few. I tried laying them out on white (top photo) but I didn’t think it worked so well. What do you think?

Hand-Dyed Patchwork in Progress

I hadn’t planned to share from this work-in-progress until it was done, but then I was inspired by this post, which challenges bloggers (quilting bloggers in particular) to share more of their process, not just finished projects.

So, here I am, showing you a strip from a large patchwork I’m working on. When I do patchwork, I’m not usually interested in following a traditional pattern or in measuring. Some people call this “liberated quilting.” For me it’s about being able to enjoy the process (I hate measuring) and also something we used to talk about it in art class called “showing the artist’s hand.” In painting this often means that the artist has let the brushstrokes show. I enjoy having my patchwork look handmade at first glance. If you’re familiar with the Gee’s Bend quilts, it’s that kind of aesthetic I’m going for.

I also prefer to work with mostly used or scrap fabrics in my patchwork (I keep saying patchwork rather than quilting because this piece is not actually going to be quilted). I think it’s because historically that’s what quilts were made from, and that thriftiness and ingenuity is part of what attracts me to patchwork in the first place. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a beautiful quilt made from new fabrics—-this is just a rule I give myself (and sometimes break, of course). The history of the fabric creates a story behind the project, and it also provides an extra challenge, kind of like painting a still life using only four tubes of paint.

This patchwork is for my son’s duvet cover, and it’s made from his crib sheets, most of which I hand-dyed, and also from the fabric I used in a failed attempt at making a shopping cart cover. You can see one of his crib sheets in this blog post. There’s also a bit of fabric left from making the curtains in his room.

When I was pregnant with my son, I went snorkeling for the first time and was inspired to create a nursery mural of a very simple school of white fish on a grayish-teal backdrop—blogged here. Now that he’s in a big-boy bed, I wanted to make him a new bedcover with a similar theme. I didn’t want to make literal fish but  wanted to keep the feeling of simple white shapes moving over the space. Here’s my sketch for the piece—although I didn’t color it all in so you really can’t tell at this point which parts are going to be white. That part’s in my head. I may or may not follow the sketch entirely.

In addition to the Gee’s Bend quilters, another influence is the work of Malka Dubrawksy, a fiber artist, quilting blogger, and author I admire. Check out her gorgeous work made with fabrics she batiks and dyes herself.

Can’t wait to get some more done so I can show you my progress. Hopefully I’ll finish this before the little man goes to college. And if he doesn’t like it, I’ll hang it on the wall!