Fabricating Faces Workshop by Marilyn Wall

My self portrait

My self portrait

NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase hosted a lecture and workshop by Fiber Artist Marilyn Wall this past week. The workshop was called Fabricating Faces. We learned how to posterize a photo using Photo Shop Elements and then build a portrait using 4 different values of a single color fabric.

Here is how mine looked as I added layers to my portrait.

Two layers

Two layers

Three layers

Three layers (incomplete)

Layer 4

Four layers

In this final picture I haven’t completely finished my portrait. She showed us how to add the “glint” in the eyes with white paint or marker at the very end. I haven’t fused all my pieces down yet and done this eye detail which will make a difference as you can see in some of the photos below.

Marilyn Wall was such a delight to have as an instructor. If you ever get a chance to take a class from her, be sure you don’t miss out. Here are some other participants projects from the NeedleChaser’s workshop.

Marge Stemble's work

Fabrication Marge Stemble

Photo

Photo of Alice’s grandson

Fabrication by Alice Giancola

Fabrication by Alice Giancola

Photo of Donna's dog

Photo of Donna’s dog

by Donna Jacobs

Fabrication by Donna Jacobs

Pam's grand neice

Pam’s grand neice

Fabrication by Pam Zurer

Fabrication by Pam Zurer

Fabrication by Debra Lamb-Mechanick

Fabrication by Debra Lamb-Mechanick

Fabrication by Jan Gavin

Fabrication by Jan Gavin

As you can see, there was quite a variety of fabric colors and prints and they all turned out a little different.

Thank you to Marilyn Wall for teaching us this fun technique!

 

 

 

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Mid Atlantic Mod – sewing retreat

I am just back from a 4 day sewing retreat held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mid-Atlantic Mod was arranged as a gathering of three area modern quilt guilds – DC, Philadelphia and Central New Jersey (although there were a few members of other MQGs there as well).

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

What a weekend! It is such an absolute pleasure to get away and be with this group of quilters. For a “first time” event, it was extremely well planned by Katie, Jessica, and Andrew. The retreat started on Thursday and didn’t end until Sunday at 6 PM. Participants brought their own projects to sew but throughout the weekend, there were various optional activities that you could chose to do – or not.

There was a tote bag swap. We were given a yard of Robert Kaufman Essex Linen a few months ago to incorporate into a tote bag. On the night of the swap everyone who brought a finished tote bag, got one that someone else had made.

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I received.

Tote bag that I received  - I love it!

There were 60 minute long workshops on Saturday and Sunday. I taught a workshop on English Paper Piecing. I love that modern quilters are interested in this age old technique. I believe that the reason for this is that it is such a portable project and doesn’t require any special or expensive equipment. Very intricate designs can be sewn together with just a simple hand stitch. Thank you to Paper Pieces.com and the Colonial Needle Company for donating supplies for my EPP workshop.

EPP hexagon "kit" donated by www.paperpieces.com

EPP hexagon “kits” donated by http://www.paperpieces.com

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

EPP - Old and new.

EPP – Old and new.

Click on Mid Atlantic Mod – English Paper Piecing to download a copy of the EPP handout that I made up for my workshop. I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try!

There were 3 progressive quilt tops that were sewn during the retreat. Those participants that wished to work on one or more of these came prepared with a quilt block that met certain specifications and then those blocks were used to create a top as one person after another worked with them. Here are the final quilts:

Low volume with pops of color

Low volume with pops of color

Triangles

Triangles

Stripes and solids

Stripes and solids

These progressive quilts were not something that I wanted to work on, but it was VERY interesting to watch them change and grow over the course of 4 days. One lucky participant got to keep each one at the end of the retreat – I think that there was a random drawing of those who worked on one to decide who “won” it.

On Friday night there was a “mixer” and we were served hors d’oeuvres and cocktails made just for our group (with names like “seam ripper”) and persuaded to mix with each other by constant give aways being given to those who changed seats.

On Saturday night we had a pajama party and sewed in our PJs. The group made pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKer Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKerr Cancer.

I traveled to the retreat with my friend Anne. While we were there one of the participants was selling a Featherweight sewing machine and Anne tried it out and ended up buying it.

Anne and her "new" sewing machine.

Anne and her “new” sewing machine.

We did so much sewing and had so much fun. Thank you so much to the organizers and sponsors. Let’s do it again next year!

 

 

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Schoolhouse Tunic and Arts Center Exhibition

A few weeks ago the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington DC opened an exhibit of quilts by local quilters.  DC Modern Quilt Guild members have a variety of quilts hanging there including one of mine.

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Stitched DC

My husband and I helped to hang the quilts on the day before the opening. The quilt below was made by a member of the Daughters of Dorcas quilt organization.

My husband hanging the largest quilt in the exhibit.

My husband hanging the largest quilt in the exhibit. Photo courtesy the Anacostia Arts Center.

I wanted to make something new to wear to the opening reception. I had some Nani Iro double gauze fabric just waiting for this purpose and chose to make a pattern by Sew Liberated called the Schoolhouse Tunic.

Linda Fasules with "Zakka Style Quilt"

Linda Fasules with “Zakka Style Quilt”

The pattern comes in two lengths and I chose to make the longer version.

Carla Voorhees with "HST Journey"

Carla Voorhees with “HST Journey” (and me!)

I love how it turned out and it is beyond comfortable. Because the fabric was so precious, I did make a muslin first, but ended up not having to make any changes. This is a very quick and easy pattern to make.

Other quilts in the exhibit with their DC Modern sewists -

Susan Fuller with "Pinocchio"

Susan Fuller with “Pinocchio”

Dana Seltzer with DC Metro Map

Dana Seltzer with DC Metro Map

Anne Brill with "Four Flowerpots"

Anne Brill with “Four Flowerpots”

Natalie Hardin with "Little Star"

Natalie Hardin with “Little Star”

Meli Mathis with "Simply Styled Color"

Meli Mathis with “Simply Styled Color”

Frederick Nunley (on the right) with his partner Keith and Shoofly Orange Slice. Photo courtesy Anacostia Arts Center

Frederick Nunley (on the right) with his partner Keith and Shoofly Orange Slice. Photo courtesy Anacostia Arts Center

Elle Sutherland Irby (and Miles) with "Smooth Sailing"

Elle Sutherland Irby (and Miles) with “Smooth Sailing”

Lynne Mackay-Atha with Katte's Paintbox (back)

Lynne Mackay-Atha with Kaffe’s Paintbox (which is the back of this beautiful quilt)

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The front of the quilt above. Read her post  about the Arts Center choosing to show the back.

There are many more quilts to see and the exhibit is running through March 29, 2014. If you are in the DC area, make plans to go see it. There is a wonderful cafe in the center that is well worth visiting as well.

On Saturday, March 8th there will be quilting lectures and pop up shops at the Anacostia Arts Center.

March 8 event

March 8 event

Katie Blakesley and Laura Gunn will be speaking from 1 to 3 PM. You do need tickets to attend the lecture. More information and a link to buy them can be found here.

Finch Sewing Studio and Del Ray Fabrics will be selling from 3 to 5 PM.

See you there!

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Clutch Purse Made From a Book

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Clutch purse

My oldest daughter has always loved to read. Her sister came up with a great idea to turn a book into a clutch purse as a Christmas gift this year and I was able to help her make it.

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Have you seen anything like this? Here is one that my other daughter purchased. It is very hard to tell it is a purse!

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We followed a tutorial by Erica of Caught On A Whim which she calls DIY: Nerdy Chic Book Clutch.

Tutorial by Erica of Caught On A Whim

Photo and Tutorial by Erica of Caught On A Whim

Erica has two other tutorials that go along with this one. One is for covering a book with fabric and the other is for cutting out the inside of the book to create a space to make a book safe – you know, to hide your cash or jewelry in!

The book that we used was an old book found at an antique shop. It has a pretty cover and so we chose not to cover it with fabric. It looks as though it could be leather bound, but it isn’t.

Inside covered with fabric and pages cut.

Inside covered with fabric and pages cut.

Holes are made with a needle along the top and bottom of the first and last few pages and the fabric insert is sewn to these. We found that we could have sewn through the pages without making those holes first as we had a very sturdy and sharp needle.

Figuring dimension for fabric insert.

Figuring dimension for fabric insert.

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The pages are all mod-podged together (in 2 sections) and we painted the edges of our book to make them look gilded. Putting the clasp on involved first glueing a small piece of scrap wood to the pages in order to align the clasp with the outside of the book.

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Clasp glued in place and pages painted.

It ended up looking pretty great!

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Hexagon Zippered Pouch

I made up a little pouch yesterday.

Hexagon pouch made with Riley Blake Fabric

Hexagon pouch made with Riley Blake Fabric

The Modern Quilt Guild provided 6 fat eighths of this Riley Blake Fabric and challenged its members all around the world to make something from them and post a picture by Feb. 17th.

DCMQG's group of fabric for the Riley Blake fabric challenge

DCMQG’s group of fabric for the Riley Blake fabric challenge

The rules are simple – you can make anything that is quilted using these fabrics or any Riley Blake fabric and you can also add in any solids that you wish to.

Back of pouch

Back of pouch

I just wanted to make something up with the bundle we were given. I used the whole piece of the solid grey for the outside and a white and grey stripe for the inside. I simply cut the grey piece in half and quilted both halves.

Quilted wavy lines and added some leaves to one line just for fun.

Quilted wavy lines and added some leaves to one line just for fun.

I then made English Paper Pieced hexagons out of the other 4 fabrics into 2 flowers and appliquéd them onto the outside. 

EPP hexagon flower

EPP hexagon flower in progress

I wanted this flower to be flowing off the edge.

I wanted this flower to be flowing off the edge.

I inserted the zipper using my favorite technique of using little fabric tabs on both sides of the cut zipper to make the final product all neat and tidy. How this works is that there doesn’t end up being any zipper parts caught in the sewn side seam. In fact, I try to make it such that the fabric tabs aren’t caught there either.

Zipper inserted. You can't see it here, but the lining is also attached at this point.

Zipper inserted. You can’t see it here, but the lining is also attached at this point.

I had intended to make a flat bag, but right at the very end of sewing it up, I decided to box the bottom corners so that the bag would stand up.

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Boxed corners on the bottom

This kind of messed with my hexagon flower placement, but I do think it makes the bag more useful.

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Dyeing Wool with Kool-Aid

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Flavors used: 1. Grape, 2. Cherry, 3. Orange, 4. Pink Lemonade, 5. Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and 6. Yellow Lemonade.

I recently took a beginning wool class at Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro, Delaware which I blogged about here. The instructor, Lenny Truitt, told us we could dye wool fabric in a microwave using Kool-Aid. It sounded so easy. The idea is that, by using Kool-Aid, you don’t need to use any toxic chemicals or delegate any kitchen equipment to be used only for dyeing and not for food.

Wool pincushion that I made in the beginning wool class.

Wool pincushion that I made in the beginning wool class.

Fast forward a month to Christmas and my oldest daughter gifting me a 3 month subscription to http://www.creativebug.com which is a collection of craft videos. I can view any or all of them for the next 3 months. One of the categories is “Kids Crafts” which I wanted to see because my (almost) 10 year old niece was going to be visiting for the New Year. One of the classes is called “Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn”. I combined techniques between this video class and the wool class to dye some beautiful yarn with my niece – completely fuss and mess free! Here is the lovely Maya to show you the process:

Measure 1 cup of tepid water and place in a ziplock bag. We used a gallon sized bag.

Measure 1 cup of tepid water and place in a ziplock bag. (We used a gallon sized bag).

Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.

Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar (Maya did NOT like the smell) . . . .

and 1 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid.

. . . . and 1 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid.

The yarn that you dye must be an animal fiber. We used a white 100% wool yarn and I cut about a 5 yard length and tied it in a loop in several places (not tightly though or the dye won’t penetrate). This yarn should be soaked in warm water for about 30 minutes prior to being wrung out and dropped into the ziplock bag with the water, vinegar and Kool-Aid.

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Wet white yarn ready for the dye bath.

I put the ziplock bag in a small glass bowl with the bag slightly open to let steam escape and microwaved it for 2 minutes. My microwave is a low powered machine. I would guess that a regular microwave might only take 1 minute. The bag was pretty hot to the touch, but I doubt that the liquid had reached a boil. The glass bowl made it easy to take it out of the microwave without touching the hot bag.

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After microwaving, the yarn has absorbed most of the color.

We set the bag aside until it had cooled – several hours.

Maya showing cooled bag before removing the dyed yarn.

Maya showing cooled bag before removing the dyed yarn.

Cool bag

Cool bag – liquid is clear!

At this point the dye has all been absorbed by the wool yarn and the water in the bag is essentially clear. Some flavors left a cloudy liquid. We took the cool yarn out, rinsed it in cool water, wrung it out the best we could by hand, and hung it on a drying rack overnight.

Hung to dry overnight.

Hung to dry overnight.

The wool yarn is really beautiful and I have read that it is colorfast. It does still have a slight scent of the flavor Kool-Aid used (which Maya loved to smell) but which I’ve also read does disappear with time. There are many online resources for dyeing with Kool-Aid but most of them involve either dyeing in a pot on the stove-top or in a bowl in the microwave – not a bag.  The ziplock bag just seemed to make the whole process so much less of a mess risk – especially when doing this with a child. By putting the bag into a bowl we could also avoid touching anything that was very hot if we handled it correctly.

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Ready to be wound into a ball.

All ready for some fun! Knitting? Weaving? I can’t wait to see what Maya does with it!

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Winter Tweed Boston Bag

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I made this wool bag for one of my daughters for Christmas this year. It is from the book “Carry Me – 20 Boutique Bags to Sew” by Yuka Koshizen. I bought the book after seeing the bag from the cover made up at a quilt shop in Hawaii. However, after buying the book I fell in love with this Boston Bag and knew my daughter who works in Boston would love it.

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This bag was quite an accomplishment. Just gathering the materials needed to make it was somewhat of a challenge.  I bought the tweed wool and then the lining fabric. That was the easy (and fun!) part.

Inside of bag.

Yellow for the inside!

Then I bought the 12″ Tubular Frame (Item 912) from Ghee’s online.  I thought I was ready to go. As I got started I saw that the pattern called for purse feet on the bottom. That seemed like a good idea but I couldn’t find any locally so back online I went.

Antique brass purse feet

Antique brass purse feet

I ended up ordering from BuckleGuy.com. I had to decide what color metal hardware to order. The internal frame doesn’t show except for the hinges which are brass. I didn’t want shiny brass feet or handle hardware and so I chose antique brass. These small antique brass feet (B1615) require a back post to attach them.

Close up. Aren't they pretty?

Close up. Aren’t they pretty?

The back post (B1414) comes in different lengths and so I had to guess what thickness the bottom of the bag would be. They only cost about 8 cents each so I ordered a couple different sizes. I ended up using the 3/8″ size which worked well. My bag bottom had 2 layers of interfaced fabric (wool and lining), a layer of foam stabilizer which gives this bag it’s structure, and 2 layers of stiff Peltex that was cut just the size of the bag bottom.

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After all of that, I couldn’t find leather handles locally. I could find some synthetic leather handles that looked pretty nice, but after spending all of this money on all of the other materials, was I really going to settle for less than leather? And believe me, this daughter would notice – immediately! I needed dark brown leather, 20″ long with antique brass hardware and the ability to attach to the bag. I bought these from Pursesuppliers on Etsy. I did like that they sewed on rather than having to use a single rivet. I just feel as though they can handle the weight of whatever gets put into the bag better this way. And believe me, a LOT can fit in this bag!

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Pockets on both sides.

Once I had the fabric cut and all of the supplies gathered, it was summer! I kept everything together and put it all away for months.

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The directions for this bag are very minimal. You have to read and look at small diagrams and I don’t think they are very clear. I would not want a beginner sewist or someone who hasn’t put several handbags together before to make an attempt at anything in this book. I had to make my best guess at much that I did. Having said that, though, the whole bag is one piece of fabric, and so it is very cleverly put together. It’s all about that internal frame.

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I am so glad to finally have completed this bag! I think my daughter is going to love it – I really hope so.

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