Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:

July 2013 - Posts

Guild Raffle Quilt Top

Another Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild member and I are in charge of making a raffle quilt for our guild quilt show. We decided on a simple pattern - nine patch - and had guild members provide the blocks. The fabric colors are brights that read like a solid. Members also provided a scrap of fabric from their blocks to use in the applique borders.  I created the border design of bluebirds, flowers, and hearts that was discussed in a previous blog post. Several members of our Applique Club volunteered to create the quilt borders. Last Tuesday, we got together to put the borders onto the quilt.  My guild friend had arranged all the blocks and stitched them together. The Applique Club members brought the finished borders. Here is how it turned out at the end of the day. 

I'm excited to see the finished quilt. Another member of the guild will quilt the finished top. There will be lots of room for quilting designs in the alternating blocks and the border. The quilt will be raffled off at our Spring quilt show in March 2014.


Posted Thu, Jul 25 2013 10:05 PM by Pamela | 4 comment(s)

Shibori Fabric Dyeing

Well, I am finally following up with the results from my second day of fabric dyeing. I was interested in trying a Japanese technique called Shibori. This is a resist dye technique that uses string or thread to create areas where the dye is not able to penetrate. The result leaves a unique design in the fabric. I tried two types of resist - string wrapped around a tin can, and basting lines of thread across fabric. My results matched the samples that came with the directions I followed at the Rit Dye website and on Quilting Arts TV.


Here are the results of the dyeing. The fabrics in the first picture were dyed using the string & tin can method, while the fabrics in the second picture were dyed using the hand stitched method. The third picture shows the purple hand stitched fabric as it was drying on the grass outdoors. I will review the two techniques below, with pictures taken during the process.

The first technique called for a large tin can. To begin, I folded a fat quarter size piece of muslin around a tin can. Then, a piece of string was wrapped around the center of the can and knotted, leaving about a 3" tail. The string was tightly wound around the can from the center to the bottom of one side of the can. After winding the string around the can a few times, the fabric was scrunched toward the center of the can, then more windiing and scrunching, until the end of the fabric. The string was wound a couple times around the can to get back to the center, then the entire process was repeated with the other side of the can. Finally, the string was wound back to the center and the end knotted together with the initial 3" tail. I neglected to take pictures of the wrapped tin can before it was dyes, but the following are pictures of the tin cans after the fabrics were dyed.


Here is one of the fabrics created from this process. You can see that the dye did not penetrate through all the fabric.  I tried using less string, thinking that the string was not allowing enough dye to penetrate to the extra fabric, but there was not enough string to create the design. Each of my fabrics created this same look, so the folds in the fabric were the real issue. I plan to use a larger tin can the next time that I do this, so that the fabric does not have to be folded.

The second technique used thread to create areas of resist. I tried this process following the instructions that follow, but modified the stitching process for further fabrics. Instructions indicated drawing chalk lines 1-1/2 inches apart on the long side of the fabric. Then, basting stitches were sewn along each chalk line. Last, the basting stitches were pulled up, creating a fan fold affect, and the threads were knotted. Here are pictures of this process.


The fan fold created by the stitching creates creases in the fabric that do not take the dye, causing the resist. The preparation process is tedious, so I decided to try it by fan folding the fabric without the basting stitches, then using a large upholstery needle to pull thread through the layers. It took a lot less time and the effect was the same. Check out these photos of the fabric being dyed.


All the fabrics are placed in water and the excess squeezed out, before applying the dye. In this technique, the dye is squirted from a bottle along the folds. The fabric is turned over and dyed on the other side, as well. Then, a second dye is squirted along folds. Different effects are obtained depending on how much dye is used and the area of crossover where the two colors meet, creating a secondary color. There can be many combinations within the cloth. One of the fabrics that I dyed was made by using up all the extra dye in the squirt bottles, so that a rainbow of colors was created.

So, there is the process for creating your own Japanese Shibori resist dyed fabrics. I really enjoyed the process of making the different designs in the fabric, and learned a lot about using dyes. I hope to make this into a regular event, creating fabric to use in my quilts. Maybe you will consider trying this technique, as well.

Happy Dyeing!


Posted Sun, Jul 21 2013 4:22 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Fabric Dyeing


I spent two days last week dyeing fabric. It was a lot of fun, but tiring standing on my feet so much. In the end, I created about four yards of brightly colored fabrics.

This was my first attempt at dyeing fabric. I have done some tie-dyeing in my younger days. But, this venture was planned to acquire a basic understanding of how dye interacts with fabric. I wanted to understand the concepts I had been reading and see the results for myself. I could also decide if I enjoyed this enough to invest in better supplies. For this project, ;I purchased basic supplies and pre-washed muslin fabric I had on hand, rather than purchasing PFD fabrics; PFD=Prepared For Dyeing. I chose to use Rit liquid dyes in three basic colors: Fushia, Aquamarine, and Lemon Yellow. These were a good choice because of the ease of use, low cost, and convenience in purchasing. I prepared an area for my dyeing area and dressed appropriately. Here are the results of my first dyeing attempts, along with my table set-up.


I chose to do low-water immersion for my first day of dyeing. Since the muslin fabric that I had on hand was 54" wide, the sample pieces that I cut were larger than traditional fat quarters. I did not use an adequate amount of dye to obtain a bright color. The volume of dye to the weight of the fabric determines the depth of the color. From this dyeing experience, I determined that the amount of water added to the container did not make a difference in the depth of color, only the weight of the fabric.

Here's a look at the table with the dye containers, and some of the fabrics after removing them from the dye. The fabric on the right was dyed using a different mix of colors and more dye than the fabric on the left, giving a darker shade.

Here are more samples of my second dyeing attempts using the correct volume of dye for the weight of the fabric. I used recipes from a Quilting Arts TV project on fabric dyeing. See how much brighter my aquamarine and lime green samples appear next to the first attempts. The mottled look is achieved by the low-water immersion technique. I tried Japanese Shibori dyeing techniques for my second day of dyeing. I will follow-up with those samples in another post.

Happy Dyeing!

Posted Sun, Jul 14 2013 3:24 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Pressing Board Project

I completed a quick project today, creating a pressing board. The project was presented on Quilting Arts TV episode 1105 with guest Elizabeth Hartman from Craftsy. You can watch the episode and download the project requirements. Here is a quick rundown of the project with the needed supplies:

16"X24" piece of 1/2-inch plywood

21"X29" piece of cotton home-dec fabric

3 pieces of 19"X 27" low loft cotton batting

staple gun

duct tape -  I chose a colorful duct tape to coordinate with the fabric.

The home dec fabric is placed right side down on the work surface and the three layers of batting centered on top of it. Center the plywood on top of the batting. Trim the corners of the batting at a 45 degree angle, to eliminate the bulk. Fold the four corners of the home dec fabric toward the plywood at a 45 degree angle and staple in place. Fold the batting and the fabric to the back of the plywood board along one side, stretching the fabric a little to ensure a snug fit; staple in place. Begin the stapling at the center and work your way to the ends of the board. Repeat this on all four sides of the board. Lastly, use the duct tape to cover the raw edges of the fabric and the staples.

Front of the pressing board. Note the size compared to the cutting mat.

Back of the pressing board.

This is a great item to take along for a quilting class or retreat. It is the perfect size to press fat quarters or press seams on blocks. It is lightweight, easy to make and inexpensive.My DH cut the plywood from scraps and sanded the edges; and I used leftover home dec fabric from making drapes. This would also make a great gift for a quilting friend.

Posted Sat, Jul 6 2013 2:05 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Star Spangled Penny Rug

Happy Independence Day! July fourth conjures up feelings of pride in our country among the majority. A sight of a flag flapping in the breeze or the sound of the notes from the National Anthem often bring tears to the eyes of patriotic citizens. We cannot take our freedom for granted, nor can we allow the government to diminish the principles on which it was founded.

To celebrate the day, I am posting a picture of the only red, white & blue quilted object that I have made and still own. And, actually, it's red, gold & blue - the stars are gold. The penny rug was made several years ago. I won a pattern on a bus trip. Sometimes, patterns won on bus trips and at guild meetings are poor selling items that stores are willing to part with, but  I liked this pattern. Penny rugs date back to the early 19th century and were made from wool scraps. The background was usually some other form of fabric, such as burlap. The name "penny rug" is derived from the use of a coin as a template. Circles were cut from the wool scraps and stitched to the background. Of course, in our modern era, penny rugs are much more elaborate and not just made from wool circles. Here is a look at mine. I use it to cover a side table.

These projects look quick and easy, but the stars on this project took quite a bit of time. The nice thing about working with wool is that there is no fraying, so the edges do not need turned under. All the applique is done with a blanket stitch. Candle mats are another wool project that are fun to make. I'll have to share some of those in future posts.

Enjoy your Fourth of July! And, Happy Stitching!

Posted Thu, Jul 4 2013 5:27 AM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Week-end Projects

Fireflies are out again tonight and the daylight is fading earlier. July has begun and I am looking forward to a long holiday week-end. Besides spending time with my DH, I have a couple of WIP Wednesday - works in progress - projects planned.

I was able to complete the blanket stitching on several more of the Farm Animals Baby Quilt blocks. I've fused the shapes of the last three animals and a heart onto the muslin blocks. I have been able to blanket stitch one or two blocks each day, so I should be able to finish them by the weekend. Then, I plan to stitch together the scrappy 9-patch blocks that will alternate with the appliqued farm animals and hearts. Here is my current progress.


The blocks on the right are the final four that need blanket stitching. I increased the size of the quilt and added more heart and farm animal blocks. The cat, goat and duck are my own designs. All of the completed blocks are on the left side.

I have also been moving ahead with the applique border for my guild's raffle quilt. All of the motifs are cut from the fabric scraps provided by guild members. I've laid out the shapes into a pleasing color arrangement. Check it out and let me know what you think.


The three photos show the entire width of the border as it will be laid out. It will be a very bright quilt and I cannot wait to see it all put together.

I also plan to try my hand at dyeing fabric. I have purchased some inexpensive supplies, along with Rit liquid dyes, and will dye several yards of muslin fabric. I want to try a Japanese resist dye technique called Shibori that I viewed on an episode of Quilting Arts TV. I'll have to share my experience with dyeing next week.

Until then...Keep Stitching!

Posted Tue, Jul 2 2013 9:44 PM by Pamela | 2 comment(s)