Monday, June 28, 2010

Time to Make the Donuts

Remember that Dunkin Donuts commercial where the beleaguered employee pulls himself out of bed at the crack of dawn and declares," Time to make the donuts."? When I was a kid my Dad would often leave the house and, as he closed the door, say, "Time to make the donuts." It became one of his standard phrases, despite the fact that he was a doctor, not a donut maker. Well, I love a good, silly tradition, so lately, as I head off to work in my dye studio, I too say, "Time to make the donuts."
I've been dyeing a lot of fabric lately. Some of it is meant for existing orders in my shop. Some of it intended projects for my home and family such as my college bound girl's recent request for some pillows and a hand dyed closet curtain for her dorm room. Guess how long I thought about that request before I said yes. People, she actually wants me to make her something.

Full disclosure, I dyed the fabric for the pillow top a long time ago. In fact I had sewn it into a pillow, but extended exposure to my eldest's room can be detrimental to a pillow. So, I took apart the previous pillow, washed the fabric, quilted the top and dyed new fabric for the backing.

My other reason for spending hours slaving over a hot wax pot, dipping all manner of tools into the wax (hey, this is starting to sound a lot like donut making), and dyeing fabric is that I'm going to be a vendor at the Austin Area Quilt Guild Show this September.
So, I'm planning some new patterns,

in a variety of color ways,

and I'm going to start offering fat quarter bundles in many of my patterns. The bundles will consist of 4, fat quarter pieces of similarly patterned fabric, in 4 different colorways.
Since I'm feverishly working on making fabric for the show, I'm not sure exactly when these bundles will appear in my shop, but they'll land there eventually. Just as soon as I'm done making the donuts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Calling all Skirtmakers

I'm finally writing the tutorial for the mock patchwork skirt. Why is the fabric for the tutorial skirt different than the featured skirt? Why, indeed. The answer is all wrapped up in the backwards way I put together patterns. I don't sketch an idea, make a mock-up, take careful measurements, and then make the final product. No, I put stuff together, rip seams apart, curse under my breath(or not), and then write a pattern. Doesn't the first method sound so much more civilized? Of course it does. Will I ever work that way? I wouldn't know how. That's why the skirt in the tutorial is made out of a different fabric. The process for both is the same minus the cursing.

Anyway, here's the tutorial:

Simple Drawstring Skirt


At least 1 yard of fabric
(this varies based on your measurements, but I used 1 yard for the skirt and drawstring)
Large piece of paper
(I used a 24" x 36" piece of newsprint. I buy these in pads from the Art supply store)
Quilters Clear, Acrylic Ruler
Measuring Tape
Paper scissors
Fabric Marking Pen
Machine Sewing Thread
Coordinated Top Stitching Machine Thread
Tape Measure
Safety Pin
Rotary Cutter and Self-healing Mat
Small Scrap of Fusible Interfacing
Seam Ripper

Measuring for the Pattern:

Little side note: I made my skirt so that it had very little ease and sat about 2" below my waist.

1. Measure around your the upper part of your hips, about 2" below your natural waist.
2. Add 3/4"" for ease and seam allowance.
3. Divide this measurement by 4.
4. Measure around your actual hips.
5. Add 3/4" for ease and seam allowance.
6. Divide this number by 4.
7. Measure the vertical distance between the upper part of your hips and and your hips.
8. Determine how long you want your skirt to be.
(mine was 16")
9. Add 2" to that measurement.

Drafting the Pattern:
1. Working along one of the paper straight edges, draw a point perpendicular to the edge that is the same distance as your divided upper hip measurement.
3. Using a ruler, draw a line perpendicular to the paper's edge to that point.
4. Measure down from the line the distance between your upper hips and hips and mark it with a dot.
5. Draw a line perpendicular to the edge of the paper so that it intersects the dot. This second line should be the same as your divided hip measurements.
6. From your upper hip line, measure your desired skirt length. Mark with a dot.
7. Draw a line perpendicular to the straight edge of the paper that intersects this line and is about 1 1/2" longer than the upper hip line.
8. Draw a line to connect the endpoints of the upper hip line and the bottom line.
9. Using Paper scissors, cut out your pattern.
Note: The straight edge of the paper is now the edge of the pattern to be positioned on the fold of the fabric.

Cutting the Fabric:

1. Fold fabric in half and pin skirt pattern to fabric so that straight edge of pattern aligns with fold in fabric.
2. Using a rotary cutter, cut around pattern.
3. Remove pins and reposition pattern to cut a second piece like the first.
4. From same fabric, cut enough 1 1/2" strips to make a length measuring about 48".

Sewing the Skirt:

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all seam allowances are 3/8".

1. With right side facing, fold skirt in half.
2. Use your finger to crease the midpoint of the skirt along the upper edge and lay skirt on a flat surface.

3. Center a 1" line about 1 1/2" from raw edge of fabric. Mark with a fabric marker.
4. Cut a small square of fusible interfacing and, following manufacturer's instruction, adhere to wrong side of skirt directly behind marked line.
Note: This will give the drawstring opening a little security.
5. Using a buttonhole foot and coordinating thread, sew a buttonhole along marked line.

6. Gently open buttonhole with seam ripper.
Note: Skirt piece with buttonhole opening will now be referred to as skirt front.

7. Pin skirt front to skirt back, right sides together, along side seams.
8. Sew together side seams. Press seams open.

9.Serge or zig-zag stitch seams to finish.

10. Top stitch along both sides of seams on right side of skirt.

11. Working with top of skirt, press in a 1/4" seam allowance.
12. Press an additional 1" seam allowance.

Note: This forms the casing for the drawstring.
13. Sew casing in place close to folded edge.
14. Using diagonal seams, sew 1 1/2" strips together to form a single length.Press seams open.
15. Working on an ironing board with wrong side of drawstring length facing up, press short sides of drawstring length 1/4".

16. Meet long sides of drawstring together and press.

17. Open out to reveal midpoint crease.

18. Working with one long edge at a time, fold and press long edges toward midpoint crease.

19. Meet long folded edges together and press.
20. Top stitch drawstring.

21. Attach a safety pin to one end of drawstring and thread through casing.

22. Hem skirt.
23. Wear with pride. Maybe even with a newly knit top.

Just a suggestion. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010 me that is

I know that the interwebs are abounding with virtual quilting Bees and I've long watched the parade of finished blocks and quilt tops made by their talented members. I resisted joining in the past, not because, like Groucho Marx once said," I wouldn't want to belong to any club that will include people like me as a member," but because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fulfill my end of the bargain.
Recently, I threw caution to the wind and joined not one, but two virtual bees. I've received fabric from one, along with inspiration for the block requested and I'm here to report that making this block has been so much fun that I'm kicking myself for not having joined one before.

The inspiration behind this block was supposed to be triangles and the gal who's month it is even put together a flickr gallery to help spark some ideas.

My idea actually came to me when I was playing around with some hexagons and thinking about this blanket. I wanted to create a concentric pattern like the blanket where the base shape was not a square. When I divided up the hexagon into three pieces and pieced those pieces using strips, I realized that when I sewed them back together the centers made triangles. Eureka!

I made the center triangle smaller and from a print to differentiate it from the surrounding triangles. I also added strips along the edges so that the block would measure the required 12.5" x 12.5".
I still haven't figured out how I want to interpret the blanket pattern as a quilt. I've definitely ruled out applique as that's never been my passion. I like to piece stuff. I know I could do this as a circle within a square, but there's something about that kind of piecing that feels so tedious. I've done it before and it always makes me sleepy. I think the hexagon is the answer and making this block is a step in the right direction.
That's why I'm excited about having joined these Bees. Someone else's inspiration can become your own and push you to try new things. That realization shouldn't be new to me....Maybe I just needed a little reminder.

I didn't want to sign off before I gave you all an update on the skirt tutorial. I'm hoping to post it tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dyeing to Learn Batik

You all haven't heard from me for a little while and, more importantly, I haven't heard from the giveaway winner. So, before I plunge head first into this post, I've selected another giveaway winner.

She is Eve and she commented:

So glad everyone is safe! What a scary week.

So Eve, please contact me at and I'll get you the fabric and skirt tutorial ASAP.

I'm thinking that based on the title you all might already have guessed that the focus of this post is the dye class I mentioned here a while back. Well, I'd love to turn that assumption on its head, but I can't. I'm practically bursting to tell you about the class because it went so well and, as often happens with teaching, I think the evening ended with me having gained more inspiration from the students than they could possibly have gotten from me.
It's really no wonder when you take a gander at the beautiful fabrics they made.

My initial plan was that the class would primarily center on demonstrations with the students having a chance to try the techniques.
We explored applying wax with brushes,a variety of found object stamps,

and traditional batik tools.

I was so impressed with their willingness to try all the tools and their innate sense of patterning that I went ahead and made a couple dye baths in chartreuse and red. I boiled out their fabrics yesterday and ironed them because I wanted to really enjoy the fabrics in their full glory. Since most are local, they'll swing by and collect their beauties. Otherwise, I'll drop the fabric in the mail.
Sometimes it takes seeing a fresh approach to the techniques that you practice daily to recharge your excitement. I was planning on making this class a one time deal, but I so enjoyed it that I'm going to offer it again next month. I'll amend my listing on Etsy to reflect a new date.
I'm also looking into offering a shibori dye class as well. This class would teach patterning fabric with plexiglass shapes rather than wax resist. I'll update you all here when I've firmed up plans for that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Crafting My Ride

First off-- thanks to everyone who played along with the giveaway and to all of your concern and good wishes. They're truly appreciated.
Our winner is Daisy.

She wrote:

when i saw the pictures i didn't understand the "therapy theory" that lay underneath it all, but then i read the post and i was like:

- what? oh my god! broken? oh no ortopedic boot, ok. what? surgery in the thumb? wow. what more? what? an accident? phewwww that was close...


the skirt is amazing and so is the print. but i'm not so sure about the ric-rac myself, i think it tinkles :)

and just to imagine a patchwork dress... i'm sure i would have had a car accident if it had been me hehehe

So, Daisy, please email me at and I'll get your tutorial and fabric to you ASAP.

I've previously mentioned that I was participating in the Commuter Challenge during the month of May. I'm not new to riding my bike and, years ago, my main form of transportation was a bike, but the idea of relying on a bike to run errands was a long ago concept until last month. I'd come to view bike riding as something I did strictly for exercise, so I wasn't expecting the strange sense of empowerment that using pedal power to help navigate my daily routine would bring. What's perhaps even odder is that my sense of being in control seemed to change depending on the task being accomplished. For instance, I felt great about riding my bike to the bank or the farmer's market or a coffee shop, but I felt amazing about biking to my knitting group. There was something just a little more special about riding rather than driving there. I started to view riding my bike to knit the way I see knitting or sewing--that of having a real hand in crafting the things that I need or use. Somehow, riding made me feel like I was crafting that need as well.
Mind you, I really enjoyed loads of technological advances while I was busy crafting my transportation. I love my insulated water bottle, filled to the brim with ice water and I'm not going to deny that my first response when I walked into knitting group was, "aah...thank goodness someone though to invent air conditioning." But, I am enjoying the paradigm shift that this past month's biking has brought about and, despite getting soaked in the rain yesterday on the way home from the gym, am planning to continue relying on my bike to get around.
While at knitting group, I worked on probably my new favorite project.

This is a free pattern available here. I used the recommended yarn, Classic Elite's Sprout. It's part of their new line, Verde, and is a wonderfully soft, slightly nubby, organic cotton. Best of all, it's bulky weight, so it knits up super quick.

It's a fast knit and the top down pattern is easy to follow. Unlike many top down knits though you don't place the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and come back to them after the body is finished. Rather you knit the sleeves as you come to them. I was a little suspicious of this concept but decided to let the pattern lead me and it turned out great. I'm so jazzed about this top that I ordered yarn for a second. This time in this color way.
The color is called "Summer Rain". I think it's supposed to sound refreshing. Around here though summer rain is usually preceded by a goodly amount of summer humidity. So, I think I'll call the color pale gray instead. Either way, I'm set for next week's knitting group.