Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Ultimate in Scrap Quilting...

In every quilter's life there comes an end to the fabric food chain, whether your style is coordinated or scrappy. Those last bits and scraps usually end up in the trashcan but now you have a chance to recycle them and help abandoned animals in need!

I am starting a program called Creature Comforts and am asking for your throw away scraps! As long as it is washable and without paint, fusible web, etc., no size is too small. In fact, small is good! These will be collected and used for stuffing in pet beds which will be donated to the Forsyth Humane Society, and if we get more than they need we will continue to find NO-KILL shelters and foster care providers who can benefit from having them.

So be green and start saving those scraps‼ If you are local to my area you can bring them to Sew Original on Robinhood Road in Winston-Salem, bring them to any Forsyth Piecers and Quilters Guild meeting, or email me to arrange delivery karen@kfridy.com . We will also accept yardage donations of muslin, denim and twill for making the linings and outer covers.

If you live too far away and don't want to mail your throw aways here, then please consider starting a program where you are with your favorite quilting group! It will help our furry friends and it will keep stuff out of our landfills.

Plus it will make you feel really good inside.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Now in a Mini

I popped into my local big chain fabric store yesterday to buy a chunky zipper for my current project (posting to follow upon completion) and saw this:

Is that not just the CUTEST thing ever??  It's a teeny flat sole iron. It was on sale. I had to adopt it. Who could resist? Those are 2.5" strip blocks you see there and I thought this little iron would be the perfect helper to keep beside the machine instead of jumping up to go to the "big iron" every time. We'll see if it works. If not, it's just the perfect size for surface design printing, or if nothing else, it would be the perfect studio paperweight. :)

I put that spool of thread in the picture for scale. It's Superior Threads "The Bottom Line" and I LOVE it in the bobbin. There are 1,420 yards per spool, it's a 60 wt. polyester, and it will fill up a bobbin that will last for a good while. Running out of bobbin thread is a big pet peeve of mine and this takes care of that quite nicely! It's also a nice weight for applique. No affiliation, just a happy customer.

Well, back to work...I have pressing matters to attend to!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Making string blocks, that is. :)

My "traditional" bee, Miss Bee Havin', is planning a sew day soon and we will all be bringing 8.5" string blocks to make quilts for the local hospital's Neuro Care Unit. I already had some wonky strips cut from the border of my batik BOM (um... blocks circa 2008? As soon as I get it quilted I'll be posting pics...it is SO ME!! And it's the first bed quilt I've made just for myself. It will be my retreat/travel companion :) But I digress.

Anyway, so I've been happily sewing away today. This is my kind of piecing...sew, flip, sew, flip...no seam matching! No rules! Perfect sizing when you trim it up!  What could be better?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Dyeing 101

When the weather turns cold and the sky starts making snow it's very tempting to stay in, sip a hot drink, and quilt away. But if you try this I promise you will want to be out in the snow, scooping it up and squealing with delight at the results!

Here's how I do it: (if you have safely worked with fiber reactive dyes you can skip ahead to the fun part!)

First and foremost - SAFETY...always! I use Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. They are micro-powdery and you do not want to inhale them! Working in a draft-free space, you should use a respirator, long rubber gloves, and I also use a small cardboard box lined with damp paper towels to catch any dye powder that may fall when adding it to the mixing container. Keep a small/medium size bucket of water nearby for rinsing your tools and gloved hands as you work. NOTE: any tools you use for dyeing must not return to the kitchen! I bought a set of measuring cups and spoons at the dollar store that I keep in the studio. I also picked up some bottles at my local beauty supply store that have a capped tip top. They are meant for hair dye, but they work perfectly for this. They have measurement lines on the side for water level, and they make it easy to shake mix the dye as well as squirt apply it.
These safety measures apply to any kind of dyeing. So also does the way I prep my fabric for dyeing. I use 100% cotton, usually premium Kona. I pre-wash with Synthrapol, and pre-dry as well so that any shrinkage happens before I divide it up. Lesson learned the hard way...I once pre-cut fat quarters and when they came out of the wash they were slim quarters... :) Anyway, once I've done that I measure and tear whatever sizes I wish to dye. I tend to work in FQ's, but not always.

Next, the fabric goes into a soda ash solution for an overnight soak. I keep a large 5 gallon bucket (with lid) of this solution ready to go at a moment's notice. When I'm ready to dye the fabric, I wring out the excess solution back into the bucket (gloves on!) and can keep using it and adding to it as the level goes down from use. I mix about 1 cup of soda ash to 2 gallons of water and mix well. Use your gloves here too! If you want to be really precise you can use pH test strips...aim for 10.5

For snow dyeing I mix the dye a bit stronger than I do for regular dyeing, simply because the snow dilutes the dye as it melts. So, for 8 oz of water I might use 1-2 T of dye powder, depending on the color I'm trying to achieve. I'm not a formula dyer...I just do what the muse tells me to do. I like surprises! As soon as I have measured the powder into the container of water I immediately dunk my measuring spoon into the rinse bucket. If you've never dyed this will be a surprise...the powder is so fine it doesn't look like any is on the spoon, but the water will tell otherwise! Make sure to dry your measuring spoon before using it again.

Mix the dye solution well so that all of the powder is dissolved.

Now to the fun part!

Using whatever container you choose (I use plastic dish pans, again from the dollar store. I love that place!) simply place your fabric in the bottom - I just scrunch it up, 3-4 FQ's per tub - and pack snow to the top of the container. It's fun to imagine what your neighbors are thinking when they see you bringing snow into the garage :)

Fabric in the pan (ping pong work table optional)

Snow packed in 

Once the snow is packed in the tub, simply squirt the dye over the surface of the snow. I like to use 2 colors, one going in one direction and the other crosshatching the first. One color works too, as would three. Play! See what works for you.

Dye squirted on

Now comes the waiting. I leave this just inside the garage near the door where it is coldest for at least 4 hours. Then I move it into the studio to continue melting. It looks a bit like a snow cone, but DON'T EAT IT! :) In fact, it's a good idea to make sure this is out of reach of pets and young children. It looks yummy and they don't know better.

I'm melllllttting!!........

Once all of the snow has melted I let it sit and batch for several hours allowing it to reach room temperature. Sometimes it sits for a day or two. I'm a mom...sometimes other things need my attention.

Then comes the not so fun part...Rinse, rinse, rinse!!!

I don't have the luxury of a utility tub, so I just start filling up the washing machine with cold water and carefully dump in the contents of like-colored groups of fabrics (blues and greens go in together, reds and oranges separately, etc.). I will run them through about 4 rinse cycles until the water is pretty much clear. Then they get a full cycle wash in HOT water with Synthrapol with 2 more rinses. Into the dryer and then a good ironing and voila!

Snow dyeing is lots of FUN!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snow Dye Results and a New Year!

Just before the turn of the new year I snow dyed (previous post). There was a bit of a delay in photographing some of the results because on a whim we decided to go here for the last half of last week:

This was the view from the house on the Intercoastal Waterway on Oak Island, NC where we rang in 2011. Well, most of us. SOME of us decided they couldn't stay up! No not me...I was the liveliest one of the bunch. I won't name names... ;)

It was a nice get away even if the fish weren't biting.

Now that we've returned and I've washed, dried and ironed, I thought I'd post a few of my snow dye results. I think I dyed about 5 yards or so, so this is just a small sampling, but I LOVE how they turned out! Serendipitous dyeing is the most fun to me...usually the surprises are good ones. Aren't these yummy? Each one is unique...

This one reminds me a bit of this :)

 And one last thing to share that always makes me giggle when I drive by it...this is on the way to the beach. Click on the picture to see the unique offerings at this little shop. One of these times I'm going to have to stop there...

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2011 has lots of good things ahead!