Showing posts with label Up-Skilling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Up-Skilling. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Dyeing Fabrics with Botanical Dyes - A Workshop

Having taken a two week break from social media and from sewing, I think it is time to get back into the flow of things. So let me share with you what I had been doing Sunday about five weeks ago. =)

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

My friend Conny, who knits and sews garments asked me if I wanted to attend a workshop on dying fabrics with botanicals with her. Yeah! Dyeing fabrics, which quilter would not want to? The workshop was given by a Berlin local creative co-op called ‘Driftwood Fashion’ that makes very pretty things and sells them too. So how did it go?

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

A classic case of frustrated expectations

On the day, I was so dissatisfied with the experience that I was grumpy for the remainder of the afternoon, although objectively this was hardly justified. The workshop was very lovingly prepared (check the pictures) as in: hot and cold drinks were offered along with biscuits and fresh strawberries, the material was lovingly arranged and the workshop owners were happy for the participants to go all mad around the dye baths to the point were we overrun time wise.

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

What annoyed me was that I expected a different sort of workshop with basic knowledge being conferred first to allow a structured approach to the experience later. If you are more of a forget-the-rules-just-go-for-it person this would have been your dream workshop. I just felt cheated for if I had just wanted to splash about with colours I would not have needed a workshop to do so. My frustration stemmed from the feeling of not having learned a single thing. (which is never true of course =)

From the beginning:

The table had been laid with fabric samples of cotton, linen-cotton, silk, cotton jersey, wool and others that had not been pre-treated with a mordant in contrast to further samples that had been submerged in a mordant for more than an hour. The idea was to give us the chance to see how differently the treated fabric absorbed the colour from the fabrics that not been treated before.

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

We all got a notebook and slips of paper to mark down the details and colour coded clothes pegs so we would not confuse our dyed samples. On the paper slips you could note down details like type of botanical dye, type of fabric used or whether the fabric had been treated with a mordant or not etc.

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

There were plenty of pots and pans and hotplates to warm up the dye baths, rubber gloves the botanicals used to make dyes and mordants and modifiers. Having said that, the dye baths had of course all been pre-prepared.

Dye stuff: Blackwood, Birch, Camomille, Dyer's Woad...

Modifier: Lemon, Vinegar, Iron (?)

Mordant: Alum

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

And there then it went kind of pear shaped for me. I would have expected a basic rundown on how to go about dying fabrics.

I would have imagined touching on the following themes:
  •  a short list of common plants used as source of botanical dyes? 
  •  how to collect, store and treat the botanicals you wish to use as dye?
  • which mordants exist?
  • which modifiers exists?
  • in what order to use the dye, mordant, modifiers and why?
  • health and safety precautions (fumes, chemicals, what not to mix and why)
  • how and why fabric absorbs the colours and what are the differences among the different fabrics?
  • what ratios of mordant, fabric, dye plants, water to use to create an effective dye bath?
  • what different dying techniques are commonly used?
  • techniques to make the dyed fabrics colourfast and lightfast?
  • how to care for your fabric in order not to stress it too much during the dying process?

And all this basic information was not in any way conveyed. Instead it was more like. 'Yes, we prepared here a few dyes and here are bowls of modifiers so grab some gloves and just get going.' I guess, had I had all the basic knowledge down already, I might have been able to make informed decisions about what effects I wanted to go for, but as it was, it felt utterly random to me.

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

So I have now got a pile of prettily coloured fabric scraps, which I do not currently dare use in any project I care about, as I am not convinced that the pieces are colourfast. And I also feel I have not gleaned much knowledge of dying process per se.

Puppilalla, dyeing fabrics, botanicals, organic, dye baths, dye plants

Still, as far as it went, it was nice to have access to the workshop space and physically haven gotten through the process of dying fabrics. It is a basis I can always build upon. Also I should have checked what I was getting into beforehand. My bad.

Now five weeks later I feel it might not have been such a bad workshop after all.  =)

Friday, 14 October 2016

Bucket List of Sewing (related) Projects continued - Lone Star Quilt and Cathedral Windows

It has been a long while since I last wrote about my bucket list of sewing related projects. So I thought, why not return to it for a change.

A Cathedral Window Quilt

Have I mentioned that I am impatient? No? Be it known then that I - Puppilalla - am IMPATIENT. That is somewhat unlucky in a quilter. =)

Therefore, I fear, while I do swoon over the pictures of beautiful cathedral window quilts, I will probably never be able to make - as in complete - one myself. I like the texture that is created by the layering of fabrics and enjoy the little fussy cuts of the myriads of fabrics, yet the sheer number of cathedral windows that would need preparing to complete a bed sized quilt is just daunting.

modern cathedral window quilt, Puppilalla, Fussy cuts, Peter robs Paul,

Still if I ever made one, the baby probably would look something like this. If anybody feels inclined to make a bed sized 'Cathedral Window' quilt for me, get in touch, so I know where to send the stack of fabrics I have in mind.  =)

Project rating: Keep wishing  =)

A Lone Star Quilt

aka 'Star of the East', 'Mathematical Star', 'Star of Bethlehem', 'Rising Star' or 'Blazing Star'

For a long time, I was not even sure if I liked the ‘Lone Star’ or not. I was constantly going back and forth between ‘Nay’ and Yeah’. I have since decided that I do like it and even want to make my own version but that I would have to be very sure about my fabric choices as they absolutely make or break the project.

I have stared a ‘Lone Star’ board on Pinterest for inspiration in terms of positioning, size, fabric choices etc. and am happy to sit on it for a while longer until some sort of plan forms. Not to mention that I will have to further develop my sewing skills to be able to realize this quilt design. So viewing tutorials and classes in parallel also goes on the To-do list.

I have however taken steps to realize the quilt at some point by purchasing an actual pattern during the 'May is for Makers' initiative. 

Project rating: long term and cautiously realistic

Bucket List, Sewing wish list, quilting project list, Puppilalla

I guess I should take 'join a Quilting Bee' off the list and add 'learn FMQ'. Also 'quilt-as-you-go' techniques would be definitely useful. Aww, there are so many things that I would like to try. Well one quilt at a time - right?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Up the Ante #4 - Interim Development

It was back in November when I last wrote about my 'Up the Ante' up-skilling project. I had mentioned at the end of the post that I had completed a few more blocks but  that the weather had not conducive to taking pretty pictures. Afterwards, I just did not get around to do it. As I have not done anything much sewing wise last week, this might be as good a moment as any to catch up on the project. 

Carolyn Friedlander, Outhouse, Puppilalla, Up the Ante, Foundation paper piecing

The main idea of this project is to learn new techniques and to hone my skills but also to stick to a colour scheme in order to make the resulting blocks play nicely with one another. The blocks I am making are of various sizes as I am drawing on a number of different Craftsy classes and other resources to work from. In the end I intend to put the blocks together to a sampler. 

I kicked this project of with staring to learn foundation paper piecing and found that easier than I had, prior to trying, thought possible. Above you can see the lovely 'Outhouse' pattern by Carolyn Friedlander I could not resist making a block of.

Patchwork, Puppilalla, Up the Ante Sampler Quilt

Next I want to make the incredibly nice 'Summer Perseid' block by Kim @ Leland Ave Studios, who designed the block for a blog hop last year. The quilting community does not seem to be alive to this block yet but I am sure it will catch up sooner rather than later.
What is nice about this project is that there is no deadline and no pressure to proceed. I am deliberately not entering this project into any Finish-alongs as this is not an UFO ... (yet, ask me again in a year's time =) 
Currently, I enjoy pulling the scraps out whenever I have time and feel that I want to work on it some more.


Saturday, 13 February 2016

Wer lesen kann, ist klar im Vorteil!

As I had finished my February bee assignments, I though of crashing Stash Bee Hive 5. Why not, as the requested block, a log cabin variation, is perfect for scrap busting and it looked as if would come together quite quickly.

Puppilalla, Patchwork, Improv piecing, log cabin, scrap block

Thus, I started to piece away. After a while I went back to check the tutorial for some detail or other and found that I was galloping down the completely wrong alley colour wise. Oops. ‘Wer lesen kann, ist klar im Vorteil!’ 
This is a German saying to ironically self indicate that you missed a piece of information or understood something wrong. The literal translation of it – though any interpreter and translator will agree that literal translations are seldom any good – is

‘Advantaged is who is able to read’.

See, told you it would not make any sense as it is not meant as a comment on literacy. The meaning is more along the lines of having a head start or advantage for having read the small print. Usually, one uses the saying in relation to oneself rather than somebody else to indicate that one does NOT in fact have said head start, on account of having missed a detail or gotten it wrong. I like the saying and think it infinitely more charming and certainly void of the aggression underlying the English language ‘RTFM’.

Puppilalla, Patchwork, Improv piecing, log cabin, courthouse steps, scrap block

Anyway, I then declared my work an exercise in improve piecing, unpicked some seams removing strips that would have taken the block in a different direction and made a few more block components in the same colour scheme. It was relaxing to work away without having a definite outcome in mind. I like how the little pieces look so far. They might end up as pot holder or pillowcase depending on how motivated I feel. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Up the Ante #2 - Paper Foundation Piecing and Directional Prints

Had I known how easy Paper Foundation Piecing is, I might have started earlier exploring it. As mentioned in a previous post, I recently started a Craftsy class with Elizabeth Dackson called Start Foundation Paper Piecing  and am really enjoying the process so far. Let me show you some of the blocks that were provided with the class materials. 

Puppilalla Paper Foundation Piecing Sampler Quilt Blocks

For the ‘Vortex’ block  (a) and the ‘Starbust’ block (b) I stuck to the instructions but once I felt comfortable, I altered the 'Starflower' (c) and 'Monarch Block' (d) a bit. I started by scaling the templates down as I did not want them all to be the same size. The 'Starflower' is therefore now only a quarter of the size of the ‘Vortex’ or ‘Starbust’ block. 

Puppilalla Paper Foundation Piecing Sampler Quilt Blocks template

I also added a few more lines to the template, which changes the design somewhat but I like it better this way. 

Puppilalla Paper Foundation Piecing Sampler Quilt Blocks Starflower

The ‘Monarch’ block too was scaled down and I had a hard time to decide the colour placement. I am content with outcome though the hot neon pink pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone. I am counting on it to blend in with the blues and low volume fabrics in the finished sampler quilt.

Puppilalla Paper Foundation Piecing Sampler Quilt Monarch Block

I also found it challenging to work with directional prints trying to make sure they remain aligned rather than going all over the place. With having to flip the templates over for sewing, I had to think sideways at times to try to keep count of where individual fabric pieces would end up in the finished block. =)

Puppilalla Finished Paper Foundation Piecing Sampler Quilt Blocks

Also have a look at these lovely star themed paper foundation templates Cath Hall so generously provides free of charge on her blog Wombat Quilts. I am thinking about making one or two to go with the ‘Starflower’ block.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bucket List of Sewing (related) Projects

Bucket List of sewing projects

Like every other quilter, I too have a wish list of projects I would like to complete at some point, some of which are short-term, others are long-term projects, some are realistic, others are less so.

Here a few thoughts in regards to my by no means complete wish list:

Joining a Quilting Bee

2015 is well into autumn and 2016 is visible on the distant horizon at least as far as the organisation of new quilting bees is concerned. I will endeavour to get a spot in one to get to work on a number of different projects with fellow bees.

Project rating: short to medium term realistic 

Building a Design Wall & having a permanent Sewing Space

One project goes hand in hand with the other of course. Both currently rate as unrealistic but hopeful for the future.

I am a city and apartment dweller and therefore, a permanent space specifically and solely dedicated to sewing is a luxury not very likely going to happen any time soon. My two room apartment simply cannot accommodate it. It would be lovely were it otherwise, as I am positively fed up with constantly moving sewing materials around and having to clear the living room table, which - alas - is also needed for other things beside sewing.  =)

The design wall fits right in with that. I tend to assemble blocks and fabric pieces on my less than ideal living room floor but cannot currently dedicate an entire wall or parts thereof to quilting only.

If anyone has practical ideas concerning stashable / foldable design walls suitable for small spaces, I am always grateful for suggestions.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Up the Ante #1 - Sampler Quilt Project

Puppilalla Quilt Project Up the Ante Graphic

On learning new techniques and up-skilling

As it is as good a time as any to take a little time to learn new techniques, I might just as well make a start now. A while back, I had mentioned to my friend Conny that I was interested in learning how to foundation paper piece and - VoilĂ  - received a Craftsy class on the very theme last Christmas. As I was tight up with various other sewing projects it took me until July this year to finally have a proper look at the class and other Craftsy classes beside.

Very motivated to find out how foundation paper piecing works, I set out to make the first class project, which was real fun. But following from that first finished block the question arose what to do with it and the ones that would follow?

I was not too keen on the general idea of a Sampler Quilt. They are generally just not my cup of tea. The decision on how to proceed, hinged on the question what I would want to do with the finished blocks though. Not wanting to continue without a definite plan I kind of got a little stuck.

Finally, I came across Rachel Hauser's blog Stitched in Color. Rachel created this stunning Penny Sampler Quilt, on which she taught a class on quilting techniques in 2013. I was instantly fascinated. It manages not to look like a typical sampler quilt but more like a storybook gone wild.

Stitched in Color Rachel Hauser Penny Sampler Quilt
Stitched in Color - Penny Sampler Quilt

What I really like about her design is the loose placement of blocks and the broken borders, that somehow manage to be engaging but not too crowded. Having decided on the Penny Sampler as my guiding principle and source of inspiration, the project is finally starting to fall into place.

Project planning:

Fabric wise I will try to use most of my green and blue scraps combined with low volume fabrics. As you can see there is plenty to keep me going =)

I also intend to keep a tally on the overall number of fabrics used in this project.

The blocks I will be making will inevitably be of various sizes as I am drawing on a number of different Craftsy classes and other resources to up my skills. I will just wait how they turn out and worry about placement and trimming once I have a fair number of blocks completed.

New techniques to master in the process:

- Foundation Paper Piecing
- some new Chain Piecing Techniques
- Sewing Drunkard's Path Style Curves

By the way - how can the Summer be over already? *sigh*