Sunday, May 31, 2009


If a tree falls in the forest but there's no one there to wrap it in yarn, does it make a sound?
Before you scratch your head in befuddlement take a gander a these pictures.

We happened upon this tree/sculpture as we were riding the Town Lake Trail the other day. The tree had apparently been felled recently in a storm and someone/ones had come along and wrapped its branches in lots of cheap, bright, acrylic yarn. It's really quite amazing. I love it on so many levels. Obviously the fiber connection speaks to me, but I like the public art/anonymous aspect of this project, and the fact that something like this is so quintessentially Austin.
If you live here and would like to see this for yourself, it's on the part of the trail that's just north of the Mopac foot bridge. And, if you go see it and post pictures, let me know. I'd love to see them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Richard's Shirt Repeat

About a year ago, I posted about making my friend, Richard, a shirt out of some of my hand dyed fabric. Well, I'm thinking that this could be an annual event because I've made him a second shirt.

Everyone, this is Richard and his new shirt. One of the things I like about sewing for him is that he's not afraid to wear bold colors and prints. The pattern for the shirt is the same as the one I made him a year ago. Then, though, I hadn't thought to arrange a little photo shoot so that he could model his shirt.

These shots were taken yesterday morning after swim practice. He and I swim on the same USMS (United States Masters Swimming) team. His smile and probably mine are because the photographs were taken after practice. Everyone's always a little cheerier on the other side of the workout.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mini Quilt Monday :: Yellow Edition

One of my goals in taking on the challenge of Mini Quilt Monday was to investigate some technical or design element every week. Sometimes the idea being explored altered the quilt in a big way. I feel that was the case last week. And sometimes, the new idea or direction is just a small variation of something I've already tried. I think that's OK too. A lot of times making one of these minis has spawned a slew possible variations on a given design.
This week's mini falls into the subtle variation category, but it's definitely something I've been thinking about for a while.

The concept, simple quilts, has to do with whole cloth quilts crafted out of a single, beautifully dyed piece of fabric. I envision this top heavily quilted and bound by a contrasting fabric whose color is intensified by the color of the top. Oftentimes, when I work out a design idea I do so in stages. This mini quilt seems like it might be stage 1 of my simple quilts idea.

It's obviously not constructed out of one piece of fabric, but I did stick to mostly yellow fabrics. I wanted it to read like a color field, but to be made out of small, slightly different bits. To accentuate it's singleness of hue, I bound it with some amazing yellow silk dupioni.

Photographing the quilt against this gray background was pretty much a no brainer. I'm especially partial to this view where so much of the background is included. It really highlights that color field quality.

This is the last Monday in May and technically, the end of my May celebration of mini quilts. But I'm not feeling done with Mini Quilt Monday, so I'm extending my commitment to weekly Monday Mini Quilts through June. I invite you all to join me on any or all of the Mondays in June by posting your mini quilt to the Mini Quilt Monday flickr group .
And, if you have a minute, check out Melissa's little beauty on her blog, Whatknot .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seven Reasons

I love fabric.

1. It looks pretty up close.

2. It's pretty from a distance.

3. It can have the most amazing texture (embroidered silk dupioni)

4. It makes so much creativity possible.

5. It makes me happy even after I'm done working with it (two versions of the same dress).

6. I can make it uniquely my own...

7. ...or combine it with something someone else's vision.

Those are only some of my reasons, but I'm guessing they're similar to the way a lot of you feel about crafting with fabric. Well, to help fuel your creativity(addiction?), the folks over at are offering you, my readers, a special discount. If you glance over to the right hand sidebar, you'll see that I've got a new button. I've decided to become a affiliate and, at least for the next few days, you all are the beneficiaries. Between May 21 and May 28, you'll get a $5 discount on any fabric order. Just enter the phrase blogstitchindye as your coupon code and $5 will be deducted from your order. Pretty neat, huh?
Saving a little money could be reason #8, but, let's face it, I'd buy the fabric even without the discount, wouldn't you?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Inside Out Mini Monday

My original design for this week's mini quilt was thwarted by how much I liked the side with all the seams. This isn't the first time I've noticed and enjoyed the "wrong" side, but it is the first time I changed everything to highlight it.

What really sold me on the idea of featuring the raw edge side was the way the seams looked. I can be lazy sometimes about changing thread and at the time I was starting to piece this quilt, I was using an orange thread both as bobbin and top thread. I found that I really liked the way the orange contrasted with the whites and other light colored fabrics and how it emphasized the lines of the concentric piecing.

Once I decided that I was going to feature the raw edges, I realized I had a second design question to ponder. Did I want the top to look like the underside of a quilt, meaning that the fabric shown was always from the wrong side? I actually didn't want that. So, I had to piece all the blocks with wrong sides facing to make sure that the "right" side of the fabric faced out. Sound confusing?

When I stitched with my own hand dyed fabrics or with whites and solid linens, the right side/wrong side issue wasn't really present. But when I used commercial prints, I really had to pay attention because, after years of sewing with the right sides together, doing the opposite is no easy feat.

I also went back and forth about how to quilt and bind this little quilt and, in the end, decided to go with simple stitching in white thread. I wanted the quilting to be there, but not overt. The choice of binding fabric was partly dictated by the orange thread used to piece the top and partly influenced by my plan to photograph the quilt against a gray background. Orange and gray do look awfully good together, don't they?

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Quickie

Just popping in to make a little announcement, answer a question and show off a recent FO.

I'm so happy to tell y'all that my book now has an official title, Color You Cloth: A Quilter's Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric. Yay!
If you don't make quilts, do not be fooled. This book is loaded with information that you too can use and half of the projects aren't quilts, so there's plenty for those whose sewing passion is not quilting.

The question has to do with my last post. I mentioned that I was planning on making this dress in cotton lawn. Someone asked where I have found cotton lawn online. As it happens, you can buy some lovely looking cotton lawn from I haven't purchased any cotton lawn yet, but I have bought quite a bit of fabric from this online retailer and I've been very happy with their products and customer service.

OK. Now for the finished object I mentioned. It's big and blob-like, but I like it.

It's the Gum Drop Pillow by Amy Butler. The pattern comes in two possible sizes, 18 and 24 inches. I imagine the 18" version is supposed to be more of a sofa pillow, but I'm a bit suspicious of this reasoning. This shape doesn't strike me as appropriate for laying back on as you relax on the couch. It does, however, make a great ottoman. This one belongs to my youngest. She picked out the fabrics which are, coincidentally, from

Just between you and me, I'm not in love with her choices, but I decided to avoid micro managing the making of her ottoman. The pattern was clear, and easy and, like all of Amy's patterns, incredibly well illustrated. I did make one modification. The original instructions call for you to leave a seam open in one of the panels so that you can add stuffing, then hand stitch the seam closed once the pillow is as fluffy as you like. I opted to put an invisible zipper in that seam instead, so that I could add more stuffing when I felt it was needed. Sure, you could open the seam to do the same thing, but unzipping a zipper is a lot easier.
I'm happy to report that Abi is very happy with her Gum Drop Pillow and that the making of it afforded me endless opportunities to squeal like the gingerbread man in Shrek, "not the gum drop buttons!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The New York Times and Me

A few weeks ago I was perusing the Sunday New York Times when I spotted an interesting article in the Sunday Styles section.

Titled, "Hard-Working Dresses", the piece highlighted several Spring dresses that they claimed were stylish and practical because of their versatility. The crux of the article was that in tough economic times shoppers are looking for garments that can be worn both for day and evening and were easy to wear. In scanning the dresses featured, I liked most of them and could imagine wearing almost all of them. I read through the article and, not surprisingly, discovered that the NY Times and I have a different perspective on what qualifies as affordable. No problem though. I had a feeling I could find similar patterns for all of the dresses I liked and make them without shelling out $350 per garment.

Has anyone else noticed that there is an amazing array of great patterns available lately? It didn't used to be this way, but there's more stuff that I'd like to make than time to make it. It's a wonderful time to sew clothes.
Anyway, I found this pattern which I thought was very like the one pictured. I opted to make my dress in just one color rather than the contrasting fabrics in the original.

I used a navy (or purple if you ask my youngest) linen for mine and, in keeping with the feel of the original dress chose the version with sleeves.

The pattern has several nice features including an invisible zipper and generous front facings.
My next version will probably be in cotton lawn and sans the sleeves, but I definitely want to make a second dress. Considering that the original came at a price tag of $350 and I spent $12 for the 3 yards of fabric needed, I'm confident I still have money in the budget to make a few more of these babies.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Mini Quilt with a Hexagon Twist

Wow! There are a lot of eager baby quilt makers out there. I enjoyed reading all your comments, especially the ones that mentioned soon-to-be babies as an impetus for making quilts.
According to the random number generator, the winning comments were:

cheryl norwood

Love your fabric, pillows and quilts---looks like a cute book, too!

Congratulations, Cheryl! Email me your address and I'll pass that along to the folks at Lark so you can receive your copy ASAP.

This week's Monday mini quilt is all about my newest shape obsession, hexagons. Well, maybe not exactly an obsession, but I am making a large bed sized quilt with hexagons and I've done a fair amount of English paper piecing of hexagons, so, perhaps the phrase strongly held interest applies.

Like last week's mini, this one utilizes a lot of leftovers from my scraps basket. I drafted a hexagon that measured about 4" in width and used that to create my patches. I didn't paper piece this quilt though. I machine pieced them with "Y" seams. The sewing wasn't exactly super fast, but a whole lot quicker than hand sewing.

And it made simple quilt-in the-ditch possible as I didn't have to worry about using the quilting to help hold the top together like I would have had I used paper piecing.

Frankly, the hardest, most time consuming aspect of this quilt was the binding. Because it needed to go around unusually shaped corners, I cut all the strips on the bias and then had to carefully manipulate it in and out of each edge. Also, I needed to hand stitch the backside of the binding rather than using a machine zig-zag.

I'll be adding these images to the Mini quilt Monday pool over at flickr. As of this minute, 12:40pm CST, there are 199 members in the group, so that means there are a whole bunch of wonderful mini quilts to enjoy. Run...don't walk (interenetly speaking, of course), to see these quilts.

And, as an appetizer to the group, take a gander at these two mini quilts sent to me via email this morning. This one is by Rossie. She's used a dye technique that's near and dear to my heart to craft her little beauty. And this one is by Chawne, aka cauchy09. If you get a chance to see Chawne's mini, take some time to check out her photostream. This woman has made some wonderful quilts.

Happy Monday!

PS. For those of you looking for more stitch in dye bundles and 1/4 pound scrap bundles, they'll be more in the shop this afternoon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Baby Quilts Book

That's what I called it for the longest time. So, I was really happy when I found out that the official title of the book was going to be Quilts,Baby! . I didn't have to work too hard to learn a completely different name.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was excited to have a couple designs in this book, but at that point I hadn't received my contributor's copy. Now that I have an actual copy of the book, have read (and reread) the text and oohed and aahed over the quilts, I am even more thrilled to have been included. Along with a spectrum of fun, and contemporary quilts, there's a an extensive techniques section that, I think, makes these projects very doable for sewers from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. Also, there's a bunch of cute little extras that enhance the essential charm of the book.
Extras like this:

Rather than have a traditional picture of each of the designers, the author, Linda Kopp, had each contributor send a baby picture to be included along with their design. It's just a little thing, but I enjoyed flipping through the pages and looking at everyone's baby picture. It made for a sweet experience. I also loved the excerpts from questionairres the designers filled out. I'm familiar with the work of quite a few of these women through flickr and the blogosphere and it was fun to hear more about them.
I think it's a fresh look at baby quilts and I'm proud to be included. I'm also giving away a copy of the book. The nice folks at Lark Books (the publisher) are offering a free copy of the book to one of my blog readers. That's you! All you have to do is leave a comment and I'll put your name in the drawing for the book. I'll take comments through Sunday at 8:00pm CST and announce the winner as part of Mini Quilt Monday.
Good luck and have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's not about the pictures

Really. This post is to let you all know about a new flickr group I've started to celebrate Mini Quilt Monday. Check it out here and, if you're interested, I'd love for you to join. There are already quite a few terrific little quilts in the group which makes me so happy. Also, I managed to navigate the process of creating the group which actually wasn't that complicated, but I'm still semi-amazed I didn't screw it up.
These pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the post, but I'm seriously averse to posting without images. Nine times out of ten when I visit other blogs, I enjoy all the pictures before I ever stop to read the text.

This fabric was hung out to dry yesterday and and looked so pretty on the line that despite its wrinkles I took some pictures of it.

Then today I crafted some of it into a pair of pillow covers for my shop .

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Mini Quilt Monday

It's, it must be time for more mini quilts, right? And just to ratchet things up a wee bit, I took some of today's images with my Macro lens. How's that for adding to the alliterative atmosphere?
Before I tell you about my latest mini quilt, I'd like to invite to check out the little lovelies courtesy of Rossie, Marty (she seems to have caught the alliteration bug as well), and Kajsa.
I actually have you all to thank for the inspiration for today's mini quilt. I really appreciated the comments about my Patch Pillow and was buoyed by them to craft a quilt using the same technique. But, because I get bored easily, I decided to add variety by altering a small detail.

From the moment I decided to uses the patches design for my mini quilt, I knew I wanted to round the corners. It's such a little change, but it was the design element I was most excited about.

I couldn't wait to finish the quilting so that I could trim the edges and round them.

The binding fabric is a commercial print I bought at IKEA the other day. I spent way too much time thinking about what kind of fabric I wanted for the binding, but it seems to me that if I'm going to call attention to the edges by rounding them, then I've got to be choosy about what covers those edges.
Also, in response to several of you who expressed an interest in the scraps still lingering in my basket, I've created a new "category" of bundles for my shop .

I've been offering my stitch in dye bundles for a while. These are variety packs of my hand dyed fabric that include 18, 5"x5" squares. They're easy to measure out and add up to a total yardage of about 1/4 yard. I had a bit of trouble deciding how to quantify these scrap bundles. I didn't want to just eye them because I would hate for anyone to feel like they didn't get a fair amount.

But I also didn't want to measure each scrap and then add those measurements up until I got about 1/4 yard of fabric. That did not seem like a good use of my time. I decided to weigh the bundles on my kitchen scale and equalize the amounts that way. The process of weighing the fabric inspired its product name, 1/4 pound bundles. So, there they are, 4 ounces of hand dyed fabric goodness tied together with raffia. I think you'd be amazed how many scraps it takes to make 1/4 pound. I was.
I'll be adding these to my shop later today.
Edited- The 1/4 pound bundles are sold, but there will be more soon!
Happy Monday!