Archive for the ‘new technique’ Category

T-shirt Tiles

In junior high and high school I did technical theater for a lot of plays. And, of course, we got a t-shirt for every play we were in, so I have a lot of them. (Add to that the fact that the BF was in most of those shows with me so he has all the shirts too… that’s a lot of t-shirts!) I’ve been saving them for years, and my mom had sort of vaguely agreed to make me a t-shirt quilt or something with them, but neither of us ever got real excited about it. Then, in prepping for the Fiber Arts Festival, my mom started playing with t-shirt yarn and decided she wanted to demonstrate re-using t-shirts for the Festival. So we pulled out my old t-shirts and she said she’d work on them. Then she asked me if I really wanted a t-shirt quilt or if I wanted something more interesting. Well, I just want to be able to hang them up and show them off so I told her to do whatever she can come up with, as long as you can see the designs. And this is what she did!

It’s hard to know what to call them, but I think t-shirt tiles works quite nicely. They’re much more interesting, and feel more sophisticated, than a t-shirt quilt, and I can intersperse them with pictures on the walls! Of course, I haven’t put them up on the walls yet, but I’m just really bad at committing to wall decorations. No other commitment issues, just with wall decorations. Also, I’m pretty sure there’s at least one show shirt missing, and I may see if I can get her to do something like this with some of my other commemorative t-shirts, if we can find them that is. They’re kind of missing.

 

A little bit about the construction of the tiles. Obviously they’re the front of t-shirts that have been cut up, but because t-shirts are very stretchy (and they’re going on stretcher bars) she put a stabilizer on the fabric before she mounted it. Then it’s just wrap it around the stretcher bars and staple like crazy! I’m quite amazed at her skill at getting things on the stretcher bars just right, I know I’d be messing it up 5 different ways, and there would be a lot of swearing before anything got finished. Anyway, here are some details of the back of the pieces, to give you an idea of the construction.

 

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We’ll call it a progress report

I was in Wyoming last week for my cousin’s wedding, we got back to town Wednesday, and that’s totally my excuse for not posting sooner. Then I got home and got lazy, *sigh* sometimes I just feel like being a lazy bum. But now I’m going to post! Cause I need to clean off my dining room table so I can do more crafting, and if I tell you guys I’m gonna clean, then I’ll probably do it! Anyway, I did some fiber stuff on my trip, and got some new fiber and fibery things, to tell you about. And then I have an update on the Dreambird project I’ve been working on!

First, my fiber acquisitions.

On the way to Wyoming we made a stop at this great fabric store in Billings, MT, called Fiberworks. They had some of the neatest fabrics I’ve seen, and definitely the best collection of animal print fabrics I’ve ever seen at a store, along with lots of cool patterns. That’s where we got the penguin pattern. My cousin Colleen wants me to make a penguin for her, and I’m thinking I may start playing with colorful penguins… sometimes I’m a bit too ambitious I think, we’ll see how that goes. I also got the blue felt there, which I plan to use as the background for a couple pieces I’m doing for another show with the Designing Quilters, called Beauty and the Breast. It should be an interesting show, and those pieces are what I want to work on when I finally get the table cleared off. We also went to a fabric store in Wyoming which is where I got the plaid fabric. I just loved the colors, and it was on sale, so we got it for me to use to make an apron dress for SCA stuff. It is cotton, which isn’t exactly accurate for the time period and location, but it’s so pretty! And I figure it will be nice to have a somewhat lighter-weight apron dress.

The quilt blocks have a fun story behind them. I like to geocache, which is like a worldwide treasure hunt where people hide little containers (called caches), sometimes with little knick knacks in them, sometimes with just logs, and then post the GPS coordinates to the cache online and other people try to find them. It’s lots of fun actually, although when I first heard about it I thought it sounded strange and boring, but it’s not! The point is, there was a quilting themed geocache in the town where we were staying! I got my mom and my aunt to come with and find that cache which is where we found the quilt blocks, and then left a few buttons in exchange, because the rules are that if you take something you leave something of equal value. I’m not totally sure what I’ll do with the quilt blocks, but my mom suggested making them into a box of sorts to store/display the stuff I find from geocaches, and I like that idea. Then, on our last day in Wyoming, we stopped at a thrift store in town, which had great prices, which is where we found the pattern for the cute little sheep (I want to say it’s a counted cross-stitch pattern). It was actually a kit, but it looks like it’s missing the thread at least, unless it came with almost no thread, but it’s cute and it still has the directions and chart, so I’ll have to try it one of these days. Counted cross-stitch is one of those techniques I’ve never tried, and only been marginally interested in trying.

And now, the dreambird shawl!

I’ve been moving almost painfully slowly on it. I’m not quite sure why, cause it always feels like I’m making great progress as I work on it, and then it just feels like I stall out and suddenly it’s taking me a couple hours for each feather. And I can’t quite pinpoint a certain section that’s taking extra time, cause each section separately seems to go quite quickly and easily. Maybe I just have a weird sense of time when I’m working on it, although there is the saying that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. So maybe extra time is just disappearing… yeah, doesn’t make sense to me either. But I think I’m almost half done with the shawl, so maybe just another month or so, I hope.

 

Now, I need to go clean off my dining room table. It’s where I take most of my pictures and I seem to just pile up the stuff I’m taking pictures of all over the table. And the sewing machine is set up there. The poor table is just not that big, so I need to do something about the mess. And now, because I’ve told you that I’m going to clean, I might actually do it!

messy, messy table

messy, messy table

Book progress report

This was a busy week for me, I picked up a lot of extra time at work so I didn’t have much time to work on the book until today. But boy did I get things done!

First, the wording on the last page is done! This is the second of the pages I did with free-hand machine stitching.

IMG_3164

This page has the same puckering problem as the first, although I accidentally discovered that 4 layers of the paper does decrease the puckering noticeably. That’s a lot of paper, but it’s some pretty thin paper so it didn’t seem to trouble the machine at all and it wasn’t any harder to remove after the sewing was done.

Next I did the outlines on the satin stitch pages, yay for free-hand machine stitching again, which should make those go much faster. I still haven’t even finished the first of those pages, and no pictures of the partially done one, but I think I can get them done pretty quickly with some solid sewing time. If I can’t get the pages done I do have the contingency plan of printing the words out on fabric and sewing that the to pages, not as fancy but faster and a do-able alternative since I’m low on time.

And finally I started on the illustrations for the pages! The first three pages of the book are now completely finished! And the fourth one is almost done.

I’m pretty happy with how the needles turned out, and very pleased with the “thread”, which is actually yarn that I’ve couched on. I’ve never really done any couching, but the learning curve has been pretty steep, and I think I’m getting better at it. The couching is kind of slow going, but I like the results so much I don’t mind. I have decided that I need to work at a table to do the couching, rather than in front of the TV like I was doing today. It works alright to basically work in my lap but I think it would be easier and faster on a table. So much for laziness in front of the TV, I’ll just have to stick to working on the satin stitch letters when I watch TV. The fourth page is also going to have a smaller needle and thread on it, next to the piece of fabric. I’ve been waffling back and forth between just loving the piece of cloth ripply on the fourth page and thinking it looks stupid. One of the later pages is going to have what is supposed to look like a pattern drawn on paper which I will be doing on white cotton so I wanted to make the piece of cloth illustration look noticeably different by having it look ripply. Now that I think of it I could have just made it look like a folded piece of cloth, but I like the implied motion of the ripple. I’ll have to see how it looks with the rest of the illustration on the page.

These ones were the simplest illustrations, but even the more complex ones are rather small, so they should be pretty quick to put together. The show that the piece is for goes up this Sunday, so it all better be pretty quick to finish! Luckily the most complex of the illustrations are just going to be small simple embroidered flowers, and I should be able to do those pretty easily in an hour or so. And I think I just need two of those, actually, if I work it right I might only need one, we’ll have to see how that goes. It is so exciting to see, and feel!, the pile of the finished pages. It’s starting to look like a book, and like an actual piece of art too! I don’t generally think that highly of my own pieces, I’ve seen too many really good pieces by my mom and her friends and mine don’t even compare, but I’m already pretty proud of this one, and it’s only getting better.

Freehand Machine Stitching

The freehand stitched pages are taking longer than I expected. That probably shouldn’t surprise me, I tend to underestimate the amount of time crafty things will take. Mostly it took me a while to get all the settings on the machine figured out so that it would stitch right. I’m using a thicker thread that my mom lent me, which means I needed to decrease the tension, although apparently at first I didn’t decrease it enough. I was having this problem where it would stitch just fine for a while, usually most of a letter, and then the thread would get caught in some part of the tensioning groove and the tension would increase to the point that it would barely sew, but then if I pulled the thread out and rethreaded the machine, it would be fine again. I thought something was wrong and tried all kinds of fixes, including several suggestions from my mom, but nothing seemed to work. So finally I just turned the tension way down. I didn’t do that first because I had turned the tension way down on the first letter I did, and the stitching was really loose and floppy, and just looked bad. I don’t know what I did differently the second time, but when I turned the tension down again, everything started working just fine, and the stitches didn’t get sloppy. Sometimes technology just baffles me. Actually, not just sometimes, most of the time technology baffles me. Now that I’ve got all the kinks worked out, I have the first freehand stitched page done and the second is all written out and waiting to be sewn.

The fabric puckered and got rippled a bit, even with two layers of paper for stabilizer on the back. It’s kind of annoying, but really, it’s a lot of stitching in a small area, so it’s not surprising and there’s probably nothing I can do. Hopefully, once I get the illustration on the page, and sew the book together, it won’t be very noticeable.

 

I’ve discovered I really like freehand machine stitching. I’ve been meaning to try it for a few years now, since I saw a piece done that way in a show and my mom explained how it’s done, but never really got around to it. Well, now that I’ve tried it, I think I’m hooked, and I can’t wait to have time to play around with it some more. I’m thinking I’ll even go back and re-sew the outlines of the letters for the satin stitched pages, because freehand on the machine makes it a lot easier to follow the curves of the letters. I wouldn’t want to sew straight lines this way, but I’m thinking I may never use the feed-dogs for curves again. I really like being able to move the fabric any direction and change directions with one simple movement, it works so much easier for small, strange shapes. Like letters!

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