Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part seven)

With my leaves complete, I’m ready to move on to the quilt top embellishment phase. However, I thought I should backtrack a little and share how I pieced the quilt for those of you who are new to the art of quilting.

I chose the maple leaf sun print for the center of this quilt. To set the paint as well as prepare the piece for cutting, I pressed it for several minutes on each side. I then chose a large number of fabrics that I liked for the rest of the piecing.

Heat Set Sun Print

Next, I rotary cut the edges off the maple sun print so that I had an irregularly shaped center.

First Cuts

To prepare my sewing machine for quilting, I threaded the needle and filled the bobbin with 100% cotton thread. I then attached a patchwork foot. The new patchwork feet with guides are absolutely wonderful accessories for achieving perfect 1/4″ seams.

Patchwork Feet – Bernina #57 with Guide, Bernina #37, and Baby Lock

The free form piecing of this quilt made is both enjoyable and easy. For the first round, I rotary cut strips of fabric in random shapes as I worked my way around the center piece. After sewing each strip, I pressed the seam and then cut its edges to prepare it for the next strip.

First Strip

Squaring of First Strip

I repeated this process all the way around the center sun print. If you’ve ever pieced a log cabin or pineapple quilt, this will have a familiar feel for you.

First Round Complete

I deliberately kept my first round of strips on the narrow side. For the second round, I cut my strips wider than the first but used the same process in my piecing.

I continued strip piecing the quilt top until I reached the approximate size I desired. Towards the end, I shaped my strips so that they would begin to square up the corners of the quilt top.

Piecing Complete

Once I completed all the piecing, I then did a more accurate squaring of the quilt top to prepare it for the next stage.


Time Treasured


Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part two)

I received an email from a reader asking whether Setacolor Transparent fabric paint was the only paint one can use for sun painting. I have always used Setacolor Transparent since it works so well and is available both online and in art stores. Additionally, Setacolor is a quality product that can be used with numerous fabric painting techniques. However, Jacquard Textile Paint and Dye-na-Flow are also reported to work with this technique.

The question piqued my curiosity, so I took out the other brands of fabric paint and returned to the picnic table where I usually do my sun painting. Wouldn’t you know it, the minute my brush touched the fabric, I heard thunder and felt raindrops. I transported my two pieces to the gazebo and there they sit as I write.

Jacquard Textile Paint with Wood Cut Dragonfly

Dye-na-Flow with String

So I would like to put the question out to all of my readers. What fabric paints do you use for sun painting? Please take a moment to comment if you have the time.

When sun painting, the design possibilities are virtually endless. I once made a photo transfer baby pillow using foam alphabet letters for the child’s name.

Sun Painted Letters

Here’s a list of other items you might like to try on your painted fabrics:

pasta shapes
paper clips of various shapes and sizes
rubber bands
yarn, thread, string
wood shapes
foam shapes
lace, lace doilies
dry cereal
hair pins
bottle caps
wire mesh
cheese cloth
flowers and leaves
cut paper shapes
die-cut shapes

As you walk around your home, garage, and yard, you’ll probably find lots of items you can add to this list. Additionally, keep your eyes open next time you visit your favorite craft, hardware, or office supply store. Their isles hold countless treasures for the alert fiber artist.


Time Treasured

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part one)

Several years ago I met a woman at a guild meeting who shared my interest in fiber art. We talked for hours, well after the meeting had closed and all participants had departed. We’ve been fast friends ever since. Every time we talk, I come away recharged and anxious to begin some new project. I hope you have someone like this in your circle of friends.

All this to say, I hung up the phone last week after a long conversation with this same friend and headed for the paints. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was itching to apply color to fabric. I chose four colors of Setacolor Transparent Paint and took them outside.

Setacolor Transparent Paints

Next, I gathered the usual painting supplies and set up an area to paint on our picnic table. I then walked around the yard and gathered some maple, poplar, oak, fern, and boxwood leaves.

Collection of Leaves

I took my little nature collection inside and pressed the assorted greenery between two paper towels, adding the weight of a quilting ruler on top. Flat items work best with sun painting.

“Leaf Press”

When I returned to the picnic table, I noticed a few clouds in the sky but kept working. First, I placed my PFD Kona cotton fabric square in a stainless steel pan and sprayed it with a little water.

Dampened Fabric

I then painted the first piece of fabric, making sure the entire piece was covered. White areas do not work when transferring designs.

Painted Fabric

I placed the wet piece on a prepared foam board covered with a white trash bag. Next, I placed fern leaves on the surface, pressing them down with my fingers. Items usually stick to the paint, which helps to keep them flat.

Fern Pattern

As I prepared to paint the second piece, I felt a few sprinkles. My beautiful sunny day quickly changed into a stormy, windy, downpour of a day. So I grabbed my painting supplies and headed for the patio. Since the air had become so damp, I knew my piece wouldn’t dry very quickly.

After a short time, the sun returned and I went back to work. I painted three more pieces of fabric and placed the leaves I had collected on the surfaces. I then set them all in the sun. Since there was a lingering breeze, I placed a few pebbles on top of the leaves to hold them in place.

Maple Leaf Patterns

About 20 minutes later, my four fabric squares were dry. My husband had just returned from the golf course, saw my leaf-covered fabrics, and told me to wait for him before I removed the all the toppings. There’s always the “Ahhhh” effect when you first see the transferred patterns on the fabric and he didn’t want to miss it.

So off came the leaves and there we stood gazing at our little gifts from the sun. It’s never loses its thrill.

Sun Painted Ferns

In recounting my day of sun painting, I mentioned most of the information you need to do this yourself. Here it is in review.

1.  Use Setacolor Transparent paints. You can mix them or apply as many colors as you like to your fabric. Cover all white areas.
2.  Prepare your cotton fabric by prewashing to remove any sizing or use PFD fabric. Iron it to remove wrinkles.
3.  Have all your supplies close at hand (brushes, paper towels, water, spray bottle, paints)
4.  Flatten the items you wish to use as patterns.
5.  Protect the painting surface.
6.  Work quickly.
7.  Keep fabric flat.
8.  Spray fabric with water before painting.
9.  Remember, painted fabric always looks darker when wet.
10. Secure your patterns if it’s a windy day.
11. Peak under one of your patterns when the fabric appears to be dry to see whether you have achieved the desired effect.
12. When fabric is thoroughly dry, press for 2-3 minutes at a cotton setting to set the paint.

So what kinds of things can you use as patterns when sun painting? We’ll explore the possibilities in part two.


Time Treasured

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (Coming Soon)

Nameless at the moment

I apologize to those of you who visited the blog Saturday and found most of the pictures missing. Our website was down for awhile, and we store most of the Fembellish graphics on that server.

I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone between posts. I’m afraid work before pleasure has ruled this week, but I have been stealing a few hours here and there to do some fabric painting, heliographic fabric painting to be more exact.

The pieced quilt above frames a sun painting of some maple leaves from my yard. I finished the piecing early this morning and hope to start on some embellishments next week. This is a work in progress, but I’ll share the process from start to finish as time permits. If I haven’t said it before, I LOVE painting fabric, and of all the fabric painting methods out there, I think I love sun painting the best.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and while I’m at it, let me thank you again for your kind, encouraging comments via the blog and email. I appreciate every one of them (and all of you).

Note: I’ve uploaded another colorform shape file (fjrectangel.dst) for those of you with embroidery machines.


Time Treasure

Fabrications – All in a Row (part two)

For the flower centers, I used a similar Stitch Witchery technique. First, I cut a small square of fabric and Stitch Witchery. I then backed the fabric square with a fusible interfacing.

Stitch Witchery

Second, I painted the Stitch Witchery square with Lumiere Pearl Magenta.

Painted Stitch Witchery

Third, I dropped some metallic threads on top of the fabric square. I then topped it with the painted Stitch Witchery and covered the layers with parchment paper. I pressed them on a wool setting for about 10 seconds.

Metallic Threads

Fused Threads

Using a small circle template, I penciled cutting outlines on the back of the fabric and then cut out the circles.

Marked interfacing

Next, I placed the circles on the background fabric in a somewhat random fashion. The only important thing here was to leave enough room between them for the petals. When I was happy with their positions, I tacked them down with a tiny dab of fabric glue so that they would stay in place as I continued working.

Placement of Center Flowers

The next step was the flower stems. I decided to use green quarter-inch organza ribbon. To get a nice rounded shape, I twisted the ribbon as I couched it down using the Bernina free motion couching foot. (This could be done just as easily with a cording or braiding foot or an open toe foot.)

Couched Organza Ribbon

The flower petals were created with Moda Dea Jai Alai (Bloom) eyelash yarn. I couched the yarn around the center, first working in a loopy motion to form the petals and then taking a final round at the outer edge of the center.

Free Motion Couched Yarn Petals

A free motion couching foot would be necessary to apply the yarn exactly as I did. However, you could achieve very nice petals through bobbin work with perle cotton or another heavy thread or fiber of your choice. To do this, sew a straight stitch around each circle. Wind your bobbin by hand and then prepare your machine for free motion work. Turn your fabric to the wrong side and stitch the petals around the previous sewing lines. (It’s always a good idea to work on a test piece first to make sure your tensions are correct.)

When my flowers were complete, I chose a leaf stitch on my sewing machine and added leaves to the stems. I could have thread painted the leaves, but sometimes I like to use the built-in stitches on my sewing machine simply because they so often go unused!

Machine Stitched Leaves

To complete the piece, I added a yellow glass bead to each flower. Instead of sewing the beads on with the hole to the side, I stitched them with the hole facing up and used a lighter yellow thread. The stitches formed a small “Y” design on the surface of each bead.

Bead Work

I really liked the role that Stitch Witchery played in this project. It performed well both as a fusible and as a paint transfer medium without leaving its own footprint.

Note: I’ve added another colorform file (fjsquare.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box in the sidebar. Enjoy!


Time Treasured


Fabrications – All in a Row (part one)

Sometimes I order fabric online. Occasionally, it’s not what I had hoped for so it becomes a makeover candidate. This floral print came with a grainy looking surface that I disliked.

I thought it might be nice to trap some snippets on the surface. When considering what kind of fusible to use to accomplish this, I decided to experiment with Stitch Witchery. First, I cut a piece the same size as the floral background fabric. I then painted it with Liquitex Medium Viscosity paint, mixing burnt sienna and green for the dark green area. I used magenta for the corner.

Painted Stitch Witchery

While the paint was drying, I placed painted (Lumiere Pearl Magenta) Cariff .50 stabilizer snippets on the surface, creating a heavier concentration in one corner.

Painted Cariff Snippets

I then placed the painted Stitch Witchy square over the fabric and snippets, covered it with parchment paper, and pressed the layers for about 10 seconds on a wool setting.

Altered Surface

Owing to the web-like quality of the Stitch Witchery, the resulting surface retained some of the background while allowing the snippets to shine through without being totally subdued. However, the original floral was now completely transformed.

Next, I set up my sewing machine for free motion quilting and threaded the needle with Valdani 35 wt. Green Grass cotton thread. After stabilizing the fabric with thin cotton batting and backing, I stitched the green surface with a free form leaf design.

Free Motion Leaf Design

For the magenta area, I used Valdani 35 wt. Hawaiian Orchid cotton thread and stitched a meandering design.

Meandering Quilting

In part two, I’ll share how I created the flowers.

For those of you experimenting with the colorform shapes, I’ve uploaded another file (fjpaisley.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box for you to download.


Time Treasured


Fabrications – Straw Flower Blossom (part two)

Once your first circle is completely stitched with embroidery floss, choose a secondary color of floss for your second scrim circle. I chose antique white. Fill this circle with stitches exactly as you did with the first circle.

Stitched Embroidery Floss

Don’t worry if your stitched “V” shapes vary in size. This only gives a more natural look to your flower.

Individual Scrim Flower Layers

Aren’t these little flower layers delightful? I can picture them used individually as flower appliqués embellished with some beads, a button, or French knots in the center. Since you can paint the scrim any color you like and choose from hundreds of floss colors, the variations are virtually endless.

For the flower center, you will need some thin ribbon. I chose two neutral organza ribbons. Silk would also work well. Thread a tapestry needle with your ribbon of choice, place your two flower circles one on top of the other, and pass the needle through the layers from the top side. Bring the needle back through the layers, returning to the top side. Pull to adjust the ribbon and then clip it. Repeat as many time as you like until the center is full of ribbon ends.

Ribbon Center

Since the scrim is so loosely woven, the ribbon work is relatively easy to stitch. However, as the center begins to fill, it helps to hold down the previous ribbon ends (as you stitch) so that they’re not pulled out of place.

Completed Flower Center

Mark a small circle on a piece of craft felt and cut.

Craft Felt Backing

With a light hand, cover the felt circle with fabric glue and position it on the back of your flower.

Backing and Brooch Pin

Allow the glue to dry and then attach a brooch pin to the center back. Your flower embellishment is now complete.


Time Treasured

Fabrications – Straw Flower Blossom

Spring has given way to summer weather here in the mountains, and flowers are in bloom everywhere I go. Over the Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I drove to Virginia and enjoyed the most beautiful scenery the entire trip. Red poppies filled the medians along highways, while private gardens offered a rainbow of floral colors. It’s inspiring!

Well, my little Straw Flower embellishment isn’t the most colorful bloom of the season, but it sure is fun to make.

First, let me say a few words about scrim since it frequently solicits questions from those who haven’t worked with it. You can find my previous entry on scrim here if you would like more information.

Scrim Yardage

Scrim comes in many forms, but the one used is fiber art is a loosely woven 100% cotton. Drapery stores sell it on large rolls, and it’s quite reasonably priced. You can dye it, paint it, stitch it, and manipulate it any way you see fit.

To make the Straw Flower, you will need some fabric paints, a gel medium (found in art stores), white cotton scrim, embroidery floss, craft felt, and a brooch pin.

Paints and Gel Medium

Prepare a work area for painting, covering the surface with plastic sheeting. Cut two circles out of scrim the size you want your flower to be. Place them on a piece of plastic. Mix your fabric paint with a little gel medium and paint the scrim. I mixed yellow, violet, and white to get the nice golden tan color that I desired.

Painted Scrim

If the paint mixture is too thick, add a touch of water, but not too much. Allow the painted scrim circles to dry.

Gel mediums are very useful in fiber art. Once dry, your scrim circles should have a firm body, yet be quite flexible. The gel medium will dry clear, leaving only the paint color behind. Best of all, the scrim will no longer fray since the medium acts somewhat like a glue.

When your circles are dry, draw two chalk lines to mark center. These are simply visual aides for the next step.

Mark Center

Thread a tapestry needle with embroidery floss. Choose any color you like, using all six strands. Do not knot. Working with one circle at a time, stitched from the outside edge towards the center, weaving your needle in and out about every quarter inch. Stop short of the center, pivot, and stitch back towards the outer edge, creating a “V” with the floss. Leave a tail on the floss that extends beyond the scrim edge and clip. Repeat this process until the entire circle is filled with floss.

Stitched Floss

In part two, we’ll complete the flower.


Time Treasured


Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part one)

This colorful project is packed with techniques that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. As with all my tutorials, you can tailor them to fit the type of fiber art work you enjoy creating. For part one, you will need three cotton prints (hand dyed or hand painted fabrics works well), craft felt, a fusible such as Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam, fabric paints, and rayon thread.

First, draw your design on white paper and cut out the individual templates. Back your fabrics with fusible and cut out each individual piece. Fuse your design pieces, with the exception of the focus background piece, to a piece of craft felt cut a few inches larger than your finished design.

Next, prepare your work area for fabric painting. You can use a single paint color or mix fabric paints to achieve the color you desire.

Place a piece of fusible cut larger than your template on a covered surface. Using a brush or sponge, paint the fusible side of the Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam. Set it aside and allow it to dry.

Once your fusible is dry, place your focus background fabric on a Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper (right side up) and top it with the painted fusible (fusible side down).

Top these with another piece of parchment paper. Press on cotton setting for 15-20 seconds. The painted fusible takes a little longer to transfer to the fabric. Allow the fabrics to cool before removing the parchment and fusible backing paper. If the paint and fusible haven’t completely transferred, press a little longer.

Holding your rayon thread over the painted fusible, allow the thread to naturally fall on the surface, forming circular shapes.

When the entire surface is covered with thread, place a piece of parchment paper on top and press for 7-8 seconds. When the fabric has cooled, check to make sure all the threads are secured by the fusible. If any are loose, cover and press again.

Place your template on the focus background piece and cut to size.

Position the piece on the craft felt, cover with a Teflon pressing sheet, and press.

Allow to cool and carefully remove the pressing sheet. The paint wanted to stick in a few places when I removed my pressing sheet, so I pressed for a few more seconds until the design was securely fused.

Your design background is now complete. In part two, we’ll begin adding detail with perle cottons and multiple cords.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Two (part three)

While shopping in a local craft store, I noticed these plastic shapes with raised surfaces.

I believe they’re used to create imitation stained glass. I purchased a few of them and found them to work quite well as rubbing plates with Shiva Paintstiks.

Using the same Kona cotton fabric as used in part two (prewashed), I rubbed the flower design onto the surface using a white Shiva Paintstik. After allowing it to dry and giving it a gentle wash (see part two), I set up my sewing machine with white rayon thread and lowered the feed dogs.

I then did a free motion outline stitch around the smaller flowers and filled in the centers.

Next, I attached the Bernina Free Motion Couching Foot and couched a #4 cotton around the larger flower. This could also be done by winding the heavy #4 cotton onto a bobbin and stitching the design from the back side of the fabric.

This simple design resulted in a beautiful embellishment that took very little time to create.

For the dragonfly, I decided to stipple his wings and thread paint his body. I began with the wings.

Then I filled in his lower body with a brown cotton embroidery thread. Next, I filled in his head with Holoshimmer.

Finally, I outlined his body with gold Holoshimmer.

Shiva Paintstiks made the transfer of the shapes simple and quick. Once on fabric, there were many things I could have chosen to do with each design. I hope you’ll do a little experimentation and enjoy the versatility that these paintstiks offer in the studio.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Two (part two)

Shiva Paintstiks allow us to transform a plain fabric into something eye-catching and beautiful. Possibly you’ve seen the application of Shiva’s iridescent paintstiks on a black background and the striking results.

In this project, I’m taking you in the opposite direction by using the color white. If you’ve ever admired shadow appliqué, you will appreciate the similar effects that you can achieve with a white Shiva Paintstik. In shadow appliqué, various colors of fabric are placed on the wrong side of a sheer fabric, allowing the design to show through. The outline of the shape is then stitched on the right side of the fabric along with some embroidery embellishments, resulting in a delicate, pristine surface design.

For this project you will need freezer paper, a pastel background fabric (I used a Kona cotton), Shiva Paintstiks in white and yellow, rayon thread, and some beads.

Begin by drawing a simple design on a separate piece of paper. I started with a circle and then formed petals to create my flower. Cut the design out and transfer it to the matte side of the freezer paper using a pencil or marker. Cut the design out of the freezer paper, making sure your design edges are smooth.

Place your freezer paper design shiny side down on the right side of your fabric and press with a warm iron until the paper fully adheres to the surface.

Next, prepare a work area just as you would for fabric painting, making sure the surface is protected. Secure your fabric with tape to a hard flat object, such as a large tile or plate of glass. Remove the thin skin from your white Shiva Paintstik (see part one) and gently color in the design area. You can apply the paintstik directly or you can use a stencil brush. Your design won’t look all that wonderful at this stage, but that will soon change.

Now add a yellow center to your flower using the original pattern template with the center cut out. You don’t have to wait for one color to dry before using another. With Shiva Paintstiks you can layer colors simultaneously or blend colors together to produce new colors.

Once your design is complete, peel off the freezer paper. If there are any flakes of skin residue, remove them with a point of a knife or similar object.

At this point I detour a bit from the usual directions by placing my design between two paper towels and lightly pressing (silk setting) for about 6 seconds. This is not for the purpose of heat setting but rather to even out the painted design. By doing this, your design will lose its grainy look and take on a solid, smooth appearance.

You must now set your design aside and allow it to dry for a few days. Once dry, heat set by again placing it between paper towels (or paper bags) and ironing for about 15 seconds on each side. Use the heat setting appropriate for the background fabric.

To remove any remaining chemical residue, wash your design in cold water with a small amount of detergent. You can do this in a washing machine, but I prefer to do this by hand and then lay the design on a towel to dry. You can also dry your design in a clothes dryer set at the low heat setting.

Once you’ve completed the washing process, your design is ready for some embellishing. Begin by stabilizing your fabric. I use a fusible cotton tear away purchased from ABC Embroidery (see Fiber Art Resources page). It’s a wonderful product that I highly recommend, especially to quilters who embellish with embroidery. It’s easy to remove, but can also be left in the design because it’s light weight and softens when washed. Whatever stabilizer you use, take care when removing it from around your stitching.

Set up your sewing machine for free motion embroidery, making sure you’ve dropped the feed dogs. Using a rayon thread (or any decorative thread you like), stitch around the edges of your design. Remember to loosen your top tension when using decorative threads.

Next, move to the center and detail stitch the petals. As a final embellishment, add some beads at the end of each petal detail.

When removing the stabilizer, you may like to leave the part behind your design since the white stabilizer enhances the white of your design. Now, have you ever seen anything so delicate and beautiful?

I hope this little project will serve as a starting point for some great adventures with Shiva Paintstiks. In part three, I’ll share some other simple tools that I use to create surface designs with Shiva Paintstiks.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Two (part one)

When quilters moved from traditional quilts to contemporary quilts to art quilts, many tools and techniques once used on canvas crossed over into fiber art. One of those tools is Shiva Paintstiks. If you haven’t already used them yourself, you’ve probably seen the work of those who have integrated them into their craft.

Shiva Paintstiks (also called Markal Paintstiks) are a combination of refined linseed oil, pigment, and wax, solidified into solid stick form. Unlike other oil bars, the linseed oil in the Shiva bars is highly refined, less acidic, and fast drying. Therefore, they do not leave an oil outline when used on fabric. Within 24 hours they will be dry to touch. However, they take 3-5 days to fully dry and must be heat set to be permanent. Following the drying time, give your project a gentle wash to remove remaining chemical residue. Do not dry clean..

One characteristic of the paintstiks has both a positive and negative aspect to it. They are self-healing, which means they form a skin after use. This makes for less waste but it also means that the skin has to be removed each time you work with them. I use a sharp knife with a thin blade. The skin is very thin so don’t take off too much in the process. Sometimes the skin flakes intermingle with your work, but they are easy to remove. Since I’m not crazy about the skin or the flakes, I cover my paintstiks with Glad Press n’ Seal if I plan on using them a few days in a row. This retards the formation of the skin and keeps them sealed at the same time.

The first time you use them, practice on a scrap of fabric to get the feel of how they work. Don’t press too hard and work in a consistent linear motion. Although rubbing plates are available, experiment with other items that have interesting raised designs on their surface. I used a plant stand in the example below.

One of my favorite rubbings is random dots found on a textile plate intended for clay.

Additionally, you can make your own raised designs with string or wire. Also, keep your eyes open when shopping and you’re sure to find items that can be adhered to a firm surface and serve as an original rubbing plate. For example, I found decorative paper clips in the scrapbooking section of a local craft store that worked well. Simply glue them to a piece of wood or similar object.

Rubbings are not the only use for paintstiks, though. You can use commercial stencils or stencils you create yourself to decorate fabric. It is best to use a stencil brush to apply thepaintstik to the fabric. As an alternative, you can paint directly onto the fabric and then use an old toothbrush to rub the paint evenly into the fabric.

Shiva Paintstiks come in both matte and iridescent colors, and they can be blended to create even more colors.

I like to use one of the citrus solvents for cleanup, but they don’t really make much of a mess. Regular soap is all you need to clean your hands. However, do prepare your work area just as you would for fabric painting.

In part two, we’ll get to some creative ways to use Shiva Paintstiks in projects.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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