Category Archives: applique

Coloring fabric with melted crayons

In the online class I am taking at the Academy of Quilting, I was puzzling over how to shade some circles to make them look like spheres.  One of my fellow students provided a link to a video and suggested I try the “melted crayon” technique.  I watched the video and got interested enough to try it.  I am going to put some of my results here.  At the end of this post I will provide links to the video and to a blog post that provides more details.

This technique doesn’t require any expensive investment.  You probably already own most of what you need.  I plan to use this technique for art quilts; the resulting color seems to be reasonably permanent but I would run a sample piece through the washer and dryer several times before I used it on a regular quilt.

Here is what you need:  your fabric (probably a high thread count white or very light fabric, such as Pimatex) and whatever fusible web you normally use; an applique pressing sheet – one intended for use when you are building up a multiple-piece fusible applique (the fusible is  ironed down to this sheet, but can then be peeled up and ironed permanently onto fabric); a box of crayons; some paper napkins; a roll of paper towels for cleanup; and a hot dry iron.  If you are not familiar with applique pressing sheets, you may find one at your local quilt or craft store or here is a link where you can buy one on Amazon: Bear Thread Applique Pressing Sheet .  This is a link to the smaller, less expensive one (About $12).  There is also a bigger one for about twice as much, and there are other brands as well.  This just happens to be the brand I have and it works well for me.

Here is the process, briefly.  You draw whatever shape you intend to use for the applique on the paper side of the fusible web.  Then apply the fusible web to the wrong side of your fabric following the manufacturer’s directions.  Cut out the applique shape.  Press the applique shape onto the applique pressing sheet.  You then use the iron to get the applique shape AND the applique pressing sheet very hot.  You grab a crayon and rub it on the hot pressing sheet.  This makes a little “puddle” of color.  You then pick up the color with the tip of a folded paper napkin and transfer it to your applique shape.  Like magic, you have “painted” your applique.  I am not going to provide more detail about the process because the links I am providing below give you all that.

Here are a couple of photos of the spheres I painted using this technique.

Spheres colored with melted crayons - first try

Spheres colored with melted crayons – first try

And I tried again the next day and found I was more comfortable with the technique, and was able to do it more quickly and got slightly better results:

Spheres colored with melted crayons - second try

Spheres colored with melted crayons – second try

After completing the coloring, I placed a paper towel over top of the shapes and ironed them to remove any residual color.  Then I washed them in hot soapy water; none of the color came out.  As always, your results may be different so be sure to run your own test and make sure this process is suitable for your particular project.

I also tried a couple of other techniques for coloring the spheres.  When I was colored white fabric as shown above, I got the best results with the crayon technique.  For colored or dark fabrics, I got better results using Shiva Paintstiks (opaque solid oil paints).

I tried some liquid fabric paints also but didn’t get very good results.  I suspect that has more to do with my lack of skill than with the products.

I recently did a project using the Shiva Paintstiks and will be putting up a post about that project next week.  Lots of details and step by step photos in that post, so I am not going to say much else about it here.

The melted crayon technique has some nice advantages.  You can have a full range of colors for the modest price of a big box of crayons.  A small project can be completed quickly with little cleanup since the color is applied with paper – so no brushes to clean.    A second or third color can be layered on top of the first one immediately.  The color is dry right away – no waiting until the next day or several days for the paint to dry.

Here is the link to the video for any of you who are interested:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJN41E2Akto  .

My friend Charlie, who also took the class, provided a link to a blog post by another quilter, with great photos and useful information about the technique.  I have tried to put the link here, but for unknown reasons it won’t work.  I don’t know why I can get to the link from my email or from a google search, but not when I post it here.  So I can only suggest you also do a google search for “Quilt Whimsy blogspot melted crayons” and it should come right up.  I found it helpful to read this blog post after watching the video; it sort of reinforced the details and I could study the photos more carefully to make sure I understood the process.  The video and blog show using this technique on an apple and a leaf, and used multiple colors to get a very realistic look.  Terrie Kygar, who did the video, also has written a book about the technique, available through Amazon here: Creative Quilts from Your Crayon Box: Melt-n-Blend Meets Fusible Applique

Machine Applique with Silk Thread – Update

In the last post I mentioned that I was going to try spray starching my block instead of using a tear away stabilizer on the back.  I did try that, and it worked beautifully.  So no more stabilizer!  That saves a tedious step in the process.  I would still want to use the stabilizer if I were doing a satin stitch, but for the blanket stitch it is not necessary.  After starching all the light squares for my quilt, I finished the stitching on all the applique.  For these blocks, I had spray starched the applique fabric (on the front, to avoid affecting the fusing process) and thus had a minimal amount of fraying around the pieces.

I am now working on the dark blocks.  In my rush to make the blocks, I managed to forget about starching the applique fabrics ahead of time.  My first machine stitching resulted in a lot of fraying and I was not happy with the result.  So the next thing I tried was to spray starch the whole block, front and back.  This avoided the need for the stabilizer and also resulted in a much cleaner look to the applique on the front, as you can see by comparing the two photos below.

Applique fabric not starched

Applique fabric not starched

Entire block starched front and back before stitching

 

I think there is going to be a lot more spray starch in my future.  Before committing to it I will have to rinse out a couple of blocks and make sure the fraying doesn’t happen later, but so far I am pleased with the results.  This is a much faster way to get a good result.  Of course if you do this be careful about breathing the fumes!

Drafting Japanese Kamon or Mon (Family Crest) patterns

I love many things about Japanese design.  One of the aspects of Japanese design that has always intrigued me are the many variations of Japanese family crests, and I have been intending to make a quilt using the designs for at least a couple of decades.  Now I am finally doing it.  This is a progress report of the pattern drafting process.

On a trip to Japan at least 30 years ago, I purchased a book entitled “”The Elements of Japanese Design – A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & Symbolism” by John W. Dower.  My copy of the book was published in 1971, but I also see a 1990 edition for sale on Amazon now.  I have made a few failed attempts to use the designs in the past, but was stopped by the difficulty of the drafting process.  Here is how I have finally solved that problem – and now I wonder why I didn’t do this many years ago.  I think it was mostly because I lacked the confidence to enlarge the designs.  I am pleased with the results so I am going to describe the simple process I used.

The source of my problem was that the pictures in the book are so tiny.  Each kamon drawing is about 15/16 inch in diameter.  How to turn that into a 9 inch design for a quilt block?  The first photo below shows a page from the book with 25 different kamon, and the enlarged drawings that increased the size to about 3 1/2 inches.  I had to enlarge it twice using my copier, since my copier is limited to a maximum enlargement of 200 % at a time.

Using a copier to enlarge the drawing

Using a copier to enlarge the drawing

Next I put tracing paper over the top of the design and traced the shapes, as shown in the next photo.  I did the tracing at this step primarily to switch the design from white on black to black on white, so I wouldn’t waste so much ink.  This tracing was done with pencil (a good mechanical pencil is best).  No point in getting very precise at this stage, so I did the drawing freehand.   Be sure you have a good eraser on hand – I like the white ones because they don’t seem to leave a residue and they don’t get hard over time.  The three different kinds of curves in the upper right of the photo can be used to get smoother curved lines; I used them later on the final drawing.

Tools needed for tracing the pattern.

Tools needed for tracing the pattern.

The traced design is shown below.

The traced design, 3 1/2 inch size

The traced design, 3 1/2 inch size

Once the tracing was complete, I put it back into the copier and enlarged it another 200%.  A few of the lines were faint and had to be darkened. The design was now 7 1/2 inches across.  The final enlargement was at 120%, to get a 9 inch diameter design.  Since I only have 8 1/2 inch wide paper, I had to copy the design in two pieces and tape them together as shown in the photo.

The full sized free hand design

The full sized free hand design

Now I am ready to produce a finished design.  I placed vellum on top of the copied design.  Vellum is a higher quality drafting paper.  It is still transparent but can stand up to more drawing and erasing than tracing paper.  I actually taped the copied design to the back of a sheet of 11 x 17 inch vellum, using blue painter’s tape.  The reason I did this is because it is much easier to draw a smooth curved line if you can rest part of your palm on the table while you draw the curve.  This requires moving the paper frequently to get the curve oriented right relative to your hand, so taping the vellum and drawing  to the drawing board doesn’t work very well.  The photo below shows the vellum with the design underneath.

the finished pencil drawing

vellum taped on top of the full sized free hand drawing

Using a mechanical pencil and a curved template where necessary, I traced the design carefully.  At this stage I  modified the design slightly to get large enough pieces for applique, to get the spacing between pieces consistent, and to simplify the design where I could.  Not much was required for this particular design – some of the others I have done needed more modification.  So the photo below shows the completed pencil drawing.

the finished pencil drawing

the finished pencil drawing

Although I could proceed using only a pencil drawing, I wanted a sharper (and permanent) design that would show through the vellum (since the fusible web I am using requires me to draw the pattern pieces in reverse).  So I used a .05 black Sakura pigma pen to draw the lines again.  The resulting ink drawing is shown below.  I numbered the pattern and also labeled the reverse side so I wouldn’t get confused.

the inked drawing

the inked drawing

Each pattern piece should be labeled with the pattern and the fabric to be used.  For this design, the pieces are labeled “B12” because this is the 12th bamboo pattern I have drawn.  I chose which pieces would be made from one fabric, and then labeled them 2a, 2b, etc where the number is the fabric number and each piece using that fabric is separately identified with a letter.  As shown below for this pattern, I wrote these labels on the original pattern copy before the final drafting and used that as a reference as I traced the applique pieces.

the drawing with pieces labelled

the drawing with pieces labelled

Then I placed the design right side down on my light table (which is a piece of plexiglass held up by some wood 2×4 scraps).  I slide an Ott light underneath, which has to be moved around a bit to light up the part of the design I am working on.  Then I placed some Steam A Seam 2 on top, making sure the adhesive was fastened to the paper side that I am tracing on.  I drew all the pieces that will be made from the same fabric together and transferred the pattern, fabric, and piece numbers to each piece.  The pieces for this block pattern are shown below.

pattern pieces transferred to the fusible web

pattern pieces transferred to the fusible web

I cut the fusible web in sections to keep all the pieces using one fabric together.

The unmarked paper is then peeled off and the tacky side placed on the wrong side of the chosen fabric.  The Steam A Seam and the fabric are cut on the outside lines of each pattern piece, using very sharp fine scissors.

The overall block pattern is replaced back on the light table with the right side up this time.  The background fabric for the block is placed on top and centered.  The paper is peeled off a each applique piece just before it is put into position on the background.  Once all the pieces are in place, the block is carried to the ironing board and fused in place following the manufacturer’s directions. The photos below show a couple of my fused blocks.

Fused bamboo kamon block

Fused bamboo kamon block

second fused bamboo kamon block

second fused bamboo kamon block

Still lots to be done, but I like the look of these blocks.  I have fused the six light background blocks. The remaining blocks for this quilt will have a dark background.  The fabric is backordered so I am hoping it will arrive shortly and I can complete the remaining blocks.  In the meantime I can stitch down the edges of the applique on the first six.

Completion of “Negative Space” quilts

Last spring I took an online art quilt class at Quilt University from Marilyn Belford  (www.marilynbelford.com) .  I posted photos of some of my class homework at the time.  I have finally completed several of these class projects and am including photos here.  All of these projects were done on fusible web.   As a reminder, each project started with a large shape such as a circle, triangle, or rectangle being cut out of one fabric (with fusible web attached).  Then that large shape was fractured into a bunch of smaller shapes, which were then “stretched out” on top of a second fabric and fused down.   For the later exercises, shapes were cut from more than one fabric.

I did a lot of these exercises in the class and I still have three more to finish.  In all cases, the little quilts were completely finished from my fabric stash.   For the finished projects shown here, most of the pieces were machine appliqued using a fine thread and a small blanket stitch.

And now the quilts.  This first one has “fractured” triangles and other assorted shapes:

Multicolor geometric shapes

Multicolor geometric shapes

And the next one has a fractured circle and fractured triangles:

Circles and Triangles

Circles and Triangles

And now one where the assignment was to think of a feeling and express it using simple shapes.  The feeling I used was feeling “unbalanced”:

Unbalanced

Unbalanced

And the last one was an experiment (I don’t think this was actually a class assignment, but I could be wrong) where I decided to try simplifying an animal shape while retaining the “essence” of the animal so that it would be recognizable.  I used bald eagles because they are so recognizable and also because they roost in our trees here and we often see them performing acrobatics in the sky.

Acrobatic eagles

Acrobatic eagles

I used a gold metallic Shiva Paintstik to add some dimension and shading to the tree.  It worked fairly well considering my lack of painting experience.  The one negative is I can still smell the paint on the quilt — but then it has only been two days, so perhaps it will go away with time.

I really like these little abstract quilts.  The question is, what do I do with them now?  I don’t believe they are very marketable.  My cousin, who is an abstract painter, tells me that abstract art is a tough sell:  90 % of all people aren’t much interested in art; of the remaining 10 % who do like art, 90 % aren’t interested in abstract art.  So selling a good landscape painting (or quilt) is going to be a lot easier than selling abstract art quilts.  Good thing I don’t have to make a living with my quilts!

 

Ink-li-que project

Last week I experimented with Ink-li-que, which is a technique where the quilt is first quilted and then colored with ink.  There are a number of quilt artists who have carried this technique further and are using all kinds of paints to paint their quilts rather than use piecing or applique techniques.  At the end of this post I will give you a couple of references where you can get further information if it is of interest to you.

At least one major quilt show (Road to California) has recognized the need for a new competition category, and has added a category called “Painted Surface” to reflect this type of work and yet keep it separate from traditional quilting techniques.  In my opinion this is an important distinction and I hope all quilt shows will adopt this new category.

Now back to my modest attempt at Ink-li-que.  As you can see in my gallery, I recently started experimenting with Zentangle drawings and enjoyed that process.  Susan, a member of my guild, pointed out an article by Sherry Rogers-Harrison on Ink-li-que in American Quilter magazine from a couple of years ago.  She commented that it looked like my zentangle work.  I decided she was right and I should explore Ink-li-que a little to see if there were some different techniques I could apply to future zentangle quilts.

I designed a small quilt in black and white (the central chinese characters came from a book on Chinese calligraphy and are supposed to represent “Shirley”) .  Following Sherry’s directions, I used a high thread count fabric (Pimatex) and pre treated it by spraying with Scotchgard and an art fixative.  After letting the fabric dry – it was quite stiff – I drew the design on the fabric with a pencil.  I sandwiched the quilt and stitched on the drawn lines with a fine white thread.  I did some free motion but a lot of the stitching was done with a walking foot, since I knew the straight lines would come out straighter that way.  Then I used a Gelly Roll pen to draw on top of the quilting threads, and used Pigma pens to fill in the large black areas.  You can see the quilted but not inked version below with the inked version underneath.

My Chinese name, not yet inked

My Chinese name, not yet inked

My Chinese name inked

My Chinese name inked

Although this came out OK, I think I would prefer it done more traditionally – using a heavy black thread and/or satin stitching for the lines, and with the characters done in regular applique.  There is a flatness to the ink that doesn’t appeal to me for this formal a design.  Interesting, since I don’t have the same reaction to the zentangle form, which I like a lot.

There are many quilt artists who have carried this form to astonishing lengths and achieved beautiful results.  Sherry Rogers-Harrison has some beautiful quilts at her website, www.sewfarsewgood.org . She also has made some you tube videos showing the techniques.  Leah Day, another talented quilter, also has videos showing similar techniques.  You can see these through her website, www.DayStyleDesigns.com  .  Or just do a search for either Sherry or Leah on youtube or with your favorite search engine.  With use of rich metallic paints and clever highlighting, they can really make a quilt glow.

New art quilts

I have finished a couple of little quilts I started in the art quilting class I took from Marilyn Belford last spring.  The first is a still life made using the Broderie Perse technique.  The background is a commerically made gradated fabric for the lower part and a light mottled print for the top. A lighter gradated fabric was used for the pear.

A fusible web was placed on the back of a rose floral print and the individual flowers cut out.  Leaves were cut from a green fabric, and a vase shape made from the black.  Then the pieces were arranged in a pleasing manner and fused down.   This process is fun and relaxed, since the pieces can be rearranged at will before fusing.  After fusing, the pieces were sewn down using free motion. A stabilizer was used on the back to keep the top from puckering during this stitching process.

Coordinating borders were added and the whole thing quilted. Walking foot quilting was used for the straight lines and free motion for the rest.

A rose floral arrangement made using the Broderie Perse technique.

A rose floral arrangement made using the Broderie Perse technique.

The second quilt is one that was a series of exercises in use of “negative space”.  Fusible web was placed on the back of a rectangle of green.  It was then cut up into smaller shapes, mostly rectangles.  The pieces were spread out on top of a blue print to leave gaps between.  I had to add a few additional small pieces to “fill in” the whole rectangle.  The pieces were fused down and stitched around the edges with a decorative stitch.

I then added the green border and did the binding in the blue print.  I wanted the binding to be a design element, so I cut 3 inch wide strips and sewed the binding on with a 7/16 inch seam allowance.  This results in a nice wide binding and the corners really miter into nice sharp points!  The rectangle and borders are done slightly asymmetrically – partly due to the placement of the cut up rectangle on the original piece of blue print.   I think it would have been better if I had either kept it all symmetric (cutting off some of the lower blue print) or made it more asymmetric, so that it looked more deliberate.  The quilting was all done with a walking foot.

A cut up rectangle demonstrates the use of negative space in a quilt design.

A cut up rectangle demonstrates the use of negative space in a quilt design.

 

 

Tropical Flowers and Sashiko will be in the Pacific West Quilt Show

I was just notified that my quilt “Tropical Flowers and Sashiko” wll be included in a special member’s exhibit at the Pacific West Quilt Show in Tacoma August 23-25, 2013.  All the quilts in the exhibit have a floral theme.  It is one of three special member’s exhibits in the lower exhibit hall, separate from the juried show upstairs.  This quilt is made from a pattern by Sylvia Pippen and was a joy to make.

Those of you who have attended the PW show in the past know that the numerous special exhibits in the lower hall are wonderful.  I always enjoy that part of the show, so when the opportunity to participate came up last month, I quickly sent in an application and photos of my quilt.  You can see a photo of the quilt on my gallery page — it’s the last quilt shown.

As I posted earlier, my quilts “Fireballs” and “Leaves In The Wind” were accepted into the juried show, so they will be in the upstairs exhibit hall.

Hope to see you at the show!