Scrappy Log Cabin Coasters – Modern Patchwork Spring 2014

The new issue of Modern Patchwork is out, and my scrappy log cabin coasters are featured in the issue! You can find the issue on Interweave’s site. The issue also features some cute pillow patterns, wallets and coin pouches, and some beautiful modern quilts from their double wedding ring challenge.

Scrappy Log Cabin CoastersThese coasters are made using liberated quilting techniques. There are a number of other names for this style of quilting – intuitive quilting, free form quilting, improv quilting, among others. I was first introduced to this style of quilting through Gwen Marston, and I also admire Jean Wells, Rayna Gillman, and the Gees Bend Quilters. Basically, rather than cut your fabric perfectly straight and sew everything at a 90° angle, you cut freeform using scissors and sew on strips at slight angles to create a slightly askew but dynamic design.

Scrappy Log Cabin Coasters

If you want to learn more about liberated quilting, I would recommend Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston, Create Your Own Free Form Quilts by Rayna Gillman, and Intuitive Color & Design by Jean Wells. The coasters are an easy and cute project to get started and a set of 4 would make a really nice handmade gift!


International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene Magazine – Elephant Cat Toy Pattern!

My family is definitely made up of cat lovers with seven cats between three households. I like to make handmade gifts, so last year I decided to make some little catnip toys as stocking stuffers for the holidays. I made a few different designs, a fish, a mouse, a turtle, and an elephant. After much convincing, I got Zoe to briefly pose with one. The cats really do love playing with these, but they are not as fond of a chunky DSLR aimed in their direction!

Elephant Cat Toy

The little elephants turned out so cute that I decided to submit the pattern to the annual International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine and…it was accepted! The magazine was recently released and is available for purchase on Interweave. The pattern can be found on Page 70.

Elephant Cat Toy

These little elephants are really easy to make and are a perfect gift for anyone with a cat. They only require basic sewing skills, so it’s an easy project even if you’re new to sewing. They’re a great way to use up scraps, and only require minimal materials.

Elephant Cat Toy

The magazine has lots of other cute projects including a Hexagon mini-quilt by Malka Dubrawsky, a knitting needle case by Rosemarie Deboer, a quilted table topper by Erin Daniels, and lots more. This is the first pattern that I’ve had published, and I’m looking forward to developing and submitting more ideas in the future!

And, on another note, I’ll be taking part in the Virtual Vegan Potluck again which is coming up on November 16th. The deadline to sign up as a participant is tomorrow, November 9th. It’s always a lot of fun to see what everyone posts, and it brings the vegan blogging community together. If you want to join in, sign up now!

Experiments with Color and Shibori

I’ve been posting about hand dyed fabrics quite a bit recently. Hopefully you are all enjoying that in addition to the recipes. I’m enjoying sharing my food and crafting adventures with you! Hand dyeing is my newest crafting love. It’s just so fun creating your own fabric, and I love the surprise of seeing how it turns out!

I just finished my latest batch which was mostly an experiment with mixing color. I recently ordered some charcoal gray, a bright fire red, and a navy blue. The pure dyes (and some of the mixed ones) tend to be fairly bright, so I wanted to trying toning them down a bit. I accomplished this by mixing pure colors together and also mixing them with charcoal gray.

Cool Tones

We’ll start with the cooler tones. In the photo above, the fabric all the way to the left is charcoal gray by itself. The second from the left is an olive green, which was a mix of blue, yellow, and tiny bit of red. Oddly enough, when I was rinsing this one out the water ran a deep purple. The fabric must have absorbed most of the yellow and left more blue and red behind. The third from the left I honestly can’t remember what I mixed together to create that color, but I bet it was a mix of yellow, blue, and charcoal gray (I need to keep better notes!) The one all the way to the right is a chartreuse green created by mixing yellow with a tiny bit of turquoise.

Warm Tones

And now on to the warmer tones. The fabric all the way to the left is fire red by itself. It turned out very bright, but a truer red than the fuschia red I used last time. The second from the left is fire red with charcoal gray. The third from the left is orange with a little yellow and charcoal gray. The one all the way to the right is mostly yellow with a little orange and a little charcoal gray. One thing that I noticed about a lot of the fabrics was that they have little speckles of other colors. I haven’t had this happen with other batches. This could be caused by the dye not being mixed up enough, or it’s possible that a little bit of the red dye got into some of the other dye baths. It’s not a bad effect necessarily and I’m sure it could be the perfect texture for certain things, but it’s not what I intended.

Shibori Circles

Last, but not least, I also experimented with shibori. Shibori refers to a variety of Japanese techniques including folding, wrapping, binding, stitching, and other ways of manipulating fabric to create patterns when dyeing.

Stitched Circles

I specifically tried the technique of stitching fabric using a running stitch and then cinching it up tightly. I just free form stitched circles following staggered spacing in rows. I cinched up each circle and tied off the thread before dyeing the fabric in navy blue. The photo above shows what it looked like after I stitched the circles. The photo below shows what it looked like after cinching the circles.

Cinched Circles

I’m really happy with the results of the concentric circle fabric! This was somewhat time consuming and a little challenging (of course that means I loved it!) The toughest part was cutting the stitches out after the fabric was dyed and dried. They’re cinched so tight it’s a challenge to snip the threads without cutting the fabric by accident.

Shibori Circles

The other didn’t turn out quite as well. I think I made the stitched design too intricate. You can see that the patterning did not show up in the center medallion except for the zig zag circle. The other mistake I made was using the wrong thread. I tried using cotton quilting thread, which is not strong enough to be cinched up without snapping frequently. Once I switched to a thick thread for sewing denim it went a lot smoother.

Shibori Zigzag

The circles around the outside were created by bunching up a little bit of fabric and wrapping thread tightly around it. I like the way these turned out. I will definitely be trying out more stitched shibori, and I look forward to using these fabrics to make quilts, pillows, and lots of other crafty things!

Making My Own Fabric! Hand Dyeing and Wax Patterning

I finished another round of hand dyeing earlier this week, and I’m excited to share the results with you! This time around I tried out over-dyeing, mixing dye colors, bleach discharge, and using wax resist to create patterns. It was really a lot of fun! This process has gotten a lot of ideas churning, and I can’t wait to try out different methods for patterning with wax! In this round I tried a few different methods of applying the wax to the fabric – clay stamps, wood stamps, painting, and found objects.

I mentioned in the last post that I learned how to do these techniques through Craftsy classes. There were two classes that I took called Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist taught by Malka Dubrawsky and The Art of Cloth Dyeing taught by Jane Dunnewold. If you’re interested in learning how to do this yourself, you should definitely check out both courses!


I carved my own wooden stamp, which resulted in the pattern you see in the photo above. It led to a minor injury by carving my finger as well, which thankfully healed up quick! This was dyed in a teal dye bath – a mix of blue, turquoise, and yellow dye. The smudgey part in the upper left corner was a failed attempt at using a book end as a stamp. The result wasn’t very interesting, so I patterned the rest with the wood stamp.
Yellow and Teal
The photo above shows the results of the clay stamps I made. I used Sculpey III, which didn’t turn out to be very durable for this process. Most of the stamps broke before or in the process of stamping. I really like the patterns I got from these, so I’ll have to keep experimenting with different types of clay and other materials to see what will hold up. These were stamped on fabric that was already dyed yellow (you might remember it from the last post I did about fabric dyeing). I discharged them in a diluted bleach bath after the wax was applied. They were then placed in the same teal dye bath as the wood stamp fabric.

Blue Clay Stamps

This is another attempt at using the clay stamps. Again, I really like the results, but only one of the clay stamps I used for this is still in tact. The others all broke unfortunately. I’m going to try recreating them in sturdier clay and possibly wire to see which works best. This was dyed in two different colors in the same container. I poured in some of the teal dye, and a blue violet dye (a mix of blue and purple dye powders).


This was created with an apple corer that I found at Goodwill. Metal cooking utensils are a good way to create interesting stamp patterns! I like this because it looks like a lemon cut in half. I combined yellow dye with a tiny bit of orange to create a warm golden yellow for this. This was one of my favorite stampers of the whole bunch.


This is another example of the apple corer stamp. I stamped onto a fabric that was already dyed orange (again you may remember it from the last post). I then discharged the fabric in a diluted bleach bath and it was dyed in a blue violet dye bath. As you can see, the orange in the background didn’t discharge very much and it peeks through the  blue violet color. I like this result though because it gives it some depth.


This fabric was created by painted wax onto the fabric using a regular paint brush and dyeing it in a blue violet dye bath.


Last but not least, this is a fabric that was originally blue (you can see it in the last post). I bundled it up with rubber bands the same way as I did the first time and put it in a yellow dye bath. It gave a greenish hue to the whole piece and the outer parts turned a stronger yellow color. I really like the depth that over-dyeing creates which you don’t necessarily get with just one dye bath.

This has been a really fun learning process and I’m looking forward to making a quilt out of my own handmade fabrics. I have a ton of ideas to try out in the next round of wax patterning and dyeing!

Hand Dyed Fabrics – The Results!

My first round of hand dyed fabrics are finally ready! It’s fun to see how they all turned out with lots of surprises along the way. For the first batch, I decided to just use the colors as they came without mixing any of the dye powders together. I wanted to get a sense of what they look like on their own. They turned out pretty bright. Some of them are probably brighter than I would actually use in a quilt. It’s good to see how the pure colors look, and next time I will try mixing some to see what new colors I can get.

I can tone some of them down by over-dyeing. I will also use some of them to try out wax resist and then over-dyeing. What you’re seeing here is a middle step of the process. Most of the fabrics will look different in their finished state, but there are a few that I’ll leave the way they are now. I made little notes on each photo, so if you scroll through the gallery you can get more info about each fabric.

The blues took a really long time to wash out. They’ve been soaking for a couple days now and have been through multiple washes. The other colors washed out a bit easier. What this means is that I probably used a bit too much dye for the amount of liquid, although I was relatively conservative with the dye (so I thought!). Next time I know I can probably get away with a little less dye.

This is an experimental process, so there will be a lot of trial and error in figuring out colors and patterns. There’s only so much you can do to control the process, but that makes it fun. You never know what you’ll get when you unwrap your bundle of fabric, and you can always keep changing it until you’re happy with the result!


Hand Dyed Fabrics – The Waiting Game!

I recently took a couple of Craftsy classes on hand dyeing fabric and patterning fabric using wax resists. Today I got to try out a batch of hand dyed fabrics. You have to wait 24 hours before you get to see how they turn out. I keep counting the hours on my fingers, but alas, it’s not tomorrow yet! I’m still waiting for my electric skillet to arrive, so I couldn’t try out the wax resists just yet, but there were more than enough techniques to try out this time around.

Hand Dyed Fabric - Manipulations

The instructor for the hand dyed fabric class was Jane Dunnewold. She did a great job of explaining the whole process! This class was exactly what I hoped it would be. I used Pimatex cotton and Procion MX Fiber reactive dyes. My end goal is to use these hand dyed fabrics in my own quilts. I tried out almost all of the manipulations she suggested in the course (the ones I had the supplies for), and I tried a few of my own as well. The possibilities seem endless with this process, especially once I’m able to add wax resist to the mix.


I bought 8 colors of dye, so I made up a little cup of each one. This will be a test run to see how each of the colors turn out, and then I can start playing with mixing colors.


It’s all a bit of an experiment, but I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I can’t wash them out until mid-day tomorrow…15 hours to go! (This is not a hobby for the impatient.) I will post more photos once they’re finished and washed out!

The Free Motion Quilting Project – Practice Place Mats

Here’s a break from the food posts for a craft post! This week, I made a goal for myself to work on improving my free motion quilting skills. It’s of course an on-going process, but one that I finally decided to tackle. I love hand piecing and hand quilting, but it’s led me to avoid learning free motion quilting for a while now. As much as I love quilting by hand, it’s a slow process. I really want to improve my FMQ skills so that I can finish up some projects quicker. It also just opens up a whole new world of design possibilities! After going to the Quilt Fest of NJ with my mom last week, I was really inspired by all the amazing free motion quilting. I hope I can be that good someday, but it will take a lot of practice!

A huge resource in this endeavor has been The Free Motion Quilting Project. The creator of this project, Leah Day, has posted hundreds of different free motion quilting designs. You can sort them in various ways, including by difficulty level. I’ve been tackling some of the beginner ones. My stitches are definitely a bit wobbly, but you have to start somewhere! While my FMQ still needs a lot of work, I can already see that I’m starting to improve and gain more control over my stitches.

To practice, I’ve been making place mats. I bought a couple of panel fabrics to use as centers. I pretty much never use panels, but I thought quilting around the images would be good practice. I’m using up bits of fat quarters that I won’t really use in other projects. These aren’t my favorite fabrics, but that also makes it much easier to practice on them. I’m not hung up on making mistakes or messing up the fabric or quilting, since I don’t really have a strong attachment to these.

The guild that I attend has a community service project through Meals on Wheels. They deliver place mats to their clients around the holidays to brighten their day. So not only am I getting tons of practice in, but these will go to a good cause as well, and I’m using up some of my fabric stash. It’s a win, win all around!

Designing with Photos

I’ve been focusing on a lot of my own creative work and hobbies recently, and it’s been fun to see how some of these hobbies may be able to merge. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to find a way to combine my photography with creating quilts, not necessarily by printing the photos on fabric, but using the photos as design inspiration.

As I was looking through some old photos I took a few years back, I remembered an art project that I did in college. It was a pretty simple project, but I enjoyed it. Basically, we had to draw a design on a four inch square of paper. It could be any design, but it had to have elements that extended all the way out to the edge of the paper. We made the lines heavy with Sharpies and then photocopied the design. We filled a poster board with the photocopies side by side to see how the design played out.

This time, I decided to try this basic idea with photos rather than drawings. Some of my old photos had lines that ran to the edges of the photo, so I played with them in photoshop. I used just four copies of the photo and rotated and flipped the images. Most of them were in color to start with, but I found that making them black and white helped them look more like a design than a photo. I think the results are pretty interesting. I’m not sure yet how these can translate to quilting, but if I lined some of these up, they would look like intricate quilt blocks. There’s more playing and creating to come, as I figure out how to translate these in fabric!

Stretching Art and Tradition Challenge Quilt – “Foundations of Liberation”

My mom, my sister, and I took part in a quilt challenge called Stretching Art and Tradition. It’s an annual challenge, but this is the first year we’ve participated. The deadline for sending the finished quilts in was this week, and I sent mine off over the weekend. The quilts will all be shown at the Quilters Heritage Celebration Show in Lancaster PA. I took some photos before I packed up the quilt, so I thought I would share them.


The theme for this year’s challenge was “Foundations of …”, and you could choose how to fill in the blank. I decided to go with the theme “Foundations of Liberation”. I interpreted this theme a few different ways in the quilt. My favorite type of quilting is called “liberated quilting” inspired by Gwen Marston‘s book “Liberated Quiltmaking” as well as the work of Jean Wells, and the amazing Gee’s Bend quilts, which I just love. My mom first introduced me to this style of quiltmaking, and it’s really become my favorite way of designing quilts. It’s a really intuitive process that I enjoy.


The designs in the quilt are loosely inspired by the views of crops and fields from a plane window. I visited my sister in California back in May. I knew that I would be starting work on this challenge during my vacation. I knew the theme I wanted to work with, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to create. Staring out the plane windows on my flight to CA provided plenty of inspiration!

This ties into the theme of liberation, because when you’re flying in a plane looking down, designs emerge that you would never see from the ground. The change in perspective allows you to see patterns that you wouldn’t otherwise see from your normal day to day perspective. I used this as a visual representation for things like racism, sexism, ageism, or homophobia. These ‘isms and phobias tend to be invisible unless you have the perspective of someone who experiences them in your day to day life. This change in perspective, whether it’s looking at something familiar from a new angle, or shifting the way people perceive you in the world, is in a way liberating.


I don’t think all of this comes through just from looking at the quilt, but that wasn’t really my intention. I didn’t want it to be too literal. This is just what was floating around in my mind as I worked on the design. Visually I tried to keep with the crop/field theme in terms of the shapes I used and the quilting designs, but I didn’t confine myself to using colors that you’d find in a field.

I’m glad to have this quilt finished, and to have met the deadline! It took many hours of sewing, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. I’m looking forward to making more quilts inspired by views from a plane. I’ll be traveling soon for work, so it will be a good way to pass the time coming up with more design ideas!