Fabrications – Encased (part four of case construction)

Our case is now ready for the final steps that will bring it to completion. First, cut a strip of your base fabric on the straight of grain 2″ x 10″. Fold both long raw edges evenly towards the center (wrong sides together) and press. Fold again at the center line; press.

Topstitch along both sides.

Topstitch Edges of Band

Cut your strip into six 1 1/2″ pieces. Fold each one in half and zig zag stitch along the raw edges. These pieces will form the bands that secure the cording to your case.

Six Bands

Take a measurement for the length you want your case’s cording. I measured from the base point of where I would want my case to be positioned up around my neck and back down again. Using three coordinating colors of rat’s tail, make a knot at one end (leaving about a 5-6 inch tail), braid the cords the desired length, knot again, and then trim, leaving an equal length of tail.


Take your six bands and string them onto your braided cording.

Cording With Bands

Fold your case in half and position the cording with three bands on each side. Using fabric glue, place each band within the folds of the case at bottom, center, and top. The bands should fit snugly in order to secure the cording.

Attaching Bands

Stitch along the folded edges using a stitch length of 2.5mm. You may like to backstitch at each band for extra security.

Final Stitching

I hope you enjoy making these little cases as much as I do. They make great “canvases” on which to experiment with all types of fiber art techniques.


Time Treasured


Fabrications – Encased (part two of case construction)

Machine quilting this little case is quite easy since you can simply use the patterns found on your organza overlay and base fabric.Set up your sewing machine with a free motion foot, drop your feed dogs, and change your needle to one that is appropriate for the thread you will be using. I chose a green rayon thread for the leaves in my organza fabric. Loosen your top tension if necessary.

Begin quilting around the patterns in your fabric.

Quilting Around Leaves

Quilting Around Flower

Switch to another decorative thread and continue machine quilting. I chose Sulky Sliver for some of the scrolling patterns in my base fabric. Sliver can be a little tricky to work with. I use a net and stand it vertically on a thread stand. I also loosen my top tension a good bit with this thread. It’s a good idea to test stitch before working on your actual project since thread tension is key when working with Sliver. If the tension is too loose, it will cause thread buildup on the wrong side of your fabric. If it’s too tight, the Sliver will break.

Quilting with Sulky Sliver

When your quilting is complete, position your felted floral round on the surface. Once you’re happy with its placement, tack it down with a small amount of fabric glue.

Felted Floral Round

To embellish your flower, choose an assortment of beads in various shapes. I chose bugles and rounds. Hand stitch the beads around the circumference of your flower. Use a strong thread (not cotton).

Hand Beading Around Flower

In the same manner, create a stem for your flower with an assortment of green beads.

Hand-Beaded Stem

In part three, our little case will begin to take shape.


Time Treasured

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 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 – Gathered into the Fold (part one)

One way to add texture to a project is by manipulating fabric. I recently purchased a supply of rayon yardage in various colors and used some of it to make the reverse appliqués in this piece. If you’ve ever worked with rayon, you know that it’s a shape-shifter. That very quality makes it perfect for this project.

First, I cut a few pieces of red rayon about 8″ x 8″. I set up my sewing machine with a gathering foot and a straight stitch at 3.5 mm. The gathering foot is a great accessory to have. For one thing, it’s easy to use and always works well. Additionally, it provides normal gathers rather than the little pleats created by the ruffler attachment.

Gathering Foot

Next, I began stitching the rayon in a very random pattern, holding my left index finger behind the foot to gently add some resistance as the fabric fed under the foot. This helps the gathers to form more densely. As the gathers build, it helps to slow down and adjust the fabric so that you don’t sew over any pleats, although it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you did.

Random Gathering

When the piece was complete, it looked nice and puckered all over the surface.

Gathering Complete

To flatten the piece, I set my iron at the wool setting and turned on the steam. I then pressed it from the wrong side for a few seconds. Since the shape-shifting quality was no longer desired, I pressed a light fusible interfacing to the back side.

Pressed Gathers

I thought it might be nice to cover the stitch lines with a decorative stitch, so I chose a star stitch and simply followed the lines of the previous stitching.

Decorative Stitching

Since I planned on doing further embellishments to the piece as a whole, I didn’t want to over work this area. If the appliqués were the main focal point, such as in a quilt square, I would have used decorative threads, couching, and/or beads as further embellishments.

I’ll complete this little piece in part two.

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


Time Treasure

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 – Cutting Up

I love the term “fiber art” because it’s so broad and inclusive. Normally, I think of myself as a quilter since I’m forever sandwiching things together and stitching through layers. For me, it’s difficult to say where one ends and the other begins. This little project blends the two nicely and could become a wall quilt, pillow, or some form of wearable art.

For the top fabric, choose a bright large print. Cut it to the size that you need for whatever end you have in mind.

Top Fabric

Choose a solid fabric for the under layer. This fabric will show through to the front. Cut it about three inches larger than your top fabric. Stabilize the back with a heavier stabilizer such as Decor Bond.

Under Layer Fabric

Place your solid fabric on a moveable base object, such as a large quilting ruler or foam board. With a sharp pair of scissors, begin cutting pieces of your top fabric in a freeform fashion and positioning them on your solid fabric (about an inch in from the edge). Cut one piece at a time and place it next to the previous piece, sort of like a puzzle. Leave a space between the pieces (about 3/8 of an inch). You may have to trim the last few pieces to fit them properly.

Puzzle-like Top Layer

When you are finished placing all the pieces, you should be able to see the original printed pattern, only now in a slightly fractured form.

Take your two layers to a well-ventilated area. Working with one top piece at a time, spray the back of the piece with a little 505 temporary adhesive (or similar product) and place it back in its original position. Repeat this process until all pieces are secure.

Thread your sewing machine with a variegated decorative thread. I used a Valdani cotton. Stitch around each piece about 1/4″ from the edge.

To prepare your project for the decorative stitching, add one more backing layer. I used a piece of craft felt cut to size. A piece of flannel would also work well. Attach it with a light spray of temporary adhesive. (I recommend 505 because it lessens the problem of skipped stitches and sticky needles.)

Choose whatever decorative stitch on your sewing machine that you like, and stitch in all the open spaces between your cut pieces.

After you complete all the decorative stitching, wash your project on the gentle cycle, using cold water. This will allow the raw edges to fray, giving your project a little dimension. Next, place it in your dryer on a short heat cycle.

Clip any extra stray or uneven threads from the surface and finish the edges according to the type of project you are creating.

This method is a great way to use those large prints that don’t work so well in other projects. Another idea would be to use a monochrome color scheme. Additionally, you could embellish the cut pieces with beads, buttons, or ribbon. Whatever choices you make, I think you’ll enjoy the process.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Garden Gazing (part three)

With the free motion embroidery of flowers and leaves now complete, we turn back to the Angelina gazing ball, which is the final stage of this project.

First, iron your leaf fabric to a fusible such as Heatn’Bond or Steam-A-Seam. Cut about six free form leaves and position them around the Angelina. Using a Teflon pressing sheet (or parchment paper), press according to the manufacturers directions.


Set up your sewing machine for free motion embroidery, making sure the feed dogs are lowered. Using a decorative thread, free motion quilt around all the leaf appliqués. I used Sulky Holoshimmer.

When using decorative threads, it’s usually necessary to loosen the upper tension. With Holoshimmer, I set the tension at 1.5 and use an embroidery needle.

When you complete the leaves, rethread your machine with another color of decorative thread and free motion quilt the Angelina between the leaves with whatever motif you like.

To make the flower center, cut a circle from a piece of satin about double the size you want your finished center. Free motion stitch large circles. The fabric will naturally pucker.

Next, baste around the outer circumference of the satin and then pull the thread ends so that the circle gathers in on itself.

Turn to the right side and attach to your flower center with seed beads. You may like to dab a tiny amount of fabric glue on the wrong side to keep the center in place as you bead.

Your project is now complete! I hope you all have a wonderful Easter.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Garden Gazing

We put a gazing ball in our garden a few years ago and I would find myself walking around it, looking at it from different angles, and being thoroughly captivated by its image reflections. In spite of the fact that the weather people are telling us to expect snow this weekend, it is nonetheless spring and I’m stitching flower gardens.

For this project, you will need a commercial fabric with garden images or a hand painted fabric with the basic colors and shapes applied to the fabric. This is very easy to do with fabric paint. You might want to do a little sketch first and then paint your garden scene in abstract form. Stabilize your main fabric with a light weight fusible and back it with batting or craft felt. If you use batting, place a piece of light weight stabilizer under it so that the batting doesn’t get caught by the feed dogs. Sandwich these with a light spray of 505.

You will also need about three colors of Angelina “Hot Fix” fibers. I used Blaze Crystalina, Mint Sparkle, and Raspberry. An assortment of cotton embroidery thread will be used to define your flowers and grasses. To appliqué the leaves and embellish the Angelina, you will need some decorative threads, such as Sulky Holoshimmer.

For the main flower, you will need a small piece of satin, some seed beads, and some hand dyed or painted fabric for the leaves. I used hand dyed silk. These will be applied with a fusible backing.

After you stabilize your main fabric, cut a large circle from another coordinating fabric and position it on the surface. This will be your gazing ball. A little of it will show through so choose something appropriate.

Give the back side a light spray with 505 and then quilt it to the surface with a meandering stitch.

Now place your project on your ironing surface and begin pulling out strands of Angelina from each of the colors you chose. Drop them right on top of the gazing ball base fabric. Mix the colors well and make sure you have pulled enough to completely fill the round area.


Place a Teflon sheet or a piece of parchment paper on top of the Angelina and press for 3-4 seconds on a silk/wool setting. Let the area cool and then remove the pressing sheet/parchment paper. Spray a little 505 on the underside to keep the Angelina in place. (Remember, only use sprays in a well ventilated area.)

The basic foundation of the project is now complete. In part two, we will begin stitching the background flowers and grasses using free motion embroidery.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Caught in the Middle

It was Saturday night and I felt like doing a little experimental play. So I took out some paint and looked around for something I might apply it to. Although an unlikely prospect, I chose the lightweight Carriff 0.5 stabilizer (see Carriff Engineered Fabrics on the Fiber Art Resources Page for details). I was actually curious as to whether it would take paint and if so, how it would act (and look) if I torched it with a heat gun. I never got that far, but here’s what transpired.

First, I assembled the usual painting supplies and brushed cadmium red medium and yellow light hansa on one piece of stabilizer and prism violet and magenta on another. (I used Liquitex medium viscosity acrylic paints for this project.)

Liquitex Paints

As soon as the pieces were dry, which was within minutes, I cut them in half.

Painted Carriff

Next, I took some rayon thread clippings and dropped them on two of the cut pieces (yellow and viiolet).

I then placed a fusible (Heatn’Bond) on top and pressed it.

Fused Threads

After peeling the backing paper off of the fusible, I pressed the two remaining painted pieces (magenta and red) on top of each fused piece. Mixing the top and bottom colors makes a big difference in appearance since the sheerness of the stabilizer allows both colors to harmonize.

The resulting fabric reminds me a little of vellum. It’s lightweight, semi-translucent, and nonfraying.

New Fabric

Unlike vellum, its surface is texturized by the middle layer of rayon threads. All in all it’s quite unique.

I really liked the organic appearance of the fabric so I decided to cut some flower shapes and use them in a quilt I’m working on.

Cut Flowers

When I picked up the scraps, which were heading for the waste basket, I was intrigued by the various shapes that had formed as a result of the cuts.

Cutting a 15″ square of cloth, I positioned the shapes on the surface and then appliqued them using Holoshimmer thread.

Holoshimmer Thread


I love the way this thread catches the light. (Make sure you loosen your top tension and use an embroidery needle when sewing with Holoshimmer.) One thing led to another and the piece ended up looking as you see it above.

I did a little more experimental painting on Saturday night using Jacquard Lumiere. I’ll share the results of that with you in the near future.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Quilting – Out of the Blue (part two)

Out of the Blue

Our painted fabric is now ready for the next stage where we will define the different areas of the flower with color and stitches. Remember that any number of these blocks could be created for a larger project, such as a quilt.

Look at your project and decide where you would like to divide the various sections, i.e., the center, the petals, the surrounding areas. This should be easy to do since the salt would leave some of the defining areas mottled. With a sharp chalk marker, draw around the center section, the petals, and the outer areas. Of course, your wall ornament may be completely different from mine, but I think you get the idea.

Chalk Outlines

Cut batting and backing a little larger than your project and sandwich together using 505 spray or whatever method you prefer. Prepare your sewing machine for free motion quilting, making sure the feed dogs are lowered.

For the center of the flower, use a light colored thread that coordinates well with your fabric. Free motion whatever design you like in this area. I began by sewing around the perimeter and then working towards the center.

Center Motifs

Thread your machine with a darker thread and use a different motif to free motion quilt the next area. I used navy thread and the garnet stitch, making circles and ovals with my needle. Remember, it is the contrast of colors and stitches that gives this piece its visual interest.

Now return to a lighter color thread and begin outlining your flower petals. Add a little dimension to the upper petals with three or four short lines of stitching radiating outward.


When your petals are compete, thread your machine with a darker thread and once again free motion quilt with a new motif. I used a meandering stitch in this area.

Continue in this alternating pattern until you finish your quilted project.

Radiating Stitches

Dimensional objects in fabric painting can reward us with spectacular outcomes that open up new avenues of creativity. I hope you will think of this tutorial as a mere starting point.


N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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