Software – A Great Tool for Needleworkers (Windows)

Where’s that note?

Several years ago I found a try-before-you-buy organizer program, AZZ Cardfile, that has saved me hours of lost time and numerous headaches. AZZ Cardfile is very user-friendly, and if you’ve used a Windows OS and any basic word processing program, there’s really no learning curve involved.

AZZ allows you to set up as many card files as you like. You can even download card files on various subjects that others have developed, such as an Embird card file. After entering a title for each new card, you then enter your data, pictures, and object files. Formatting, text color, highlighting, bulleting, and font choices are also available.

The thing I like best about this program is the visible list of card titles in the left column. You don’t have to go looking for your information. Every card title you’ve created is listed in alphabetical order, making it simple to click and have your information fill the screen immediately.

I have created individual card files for all my sewing machines, sergers, and embroidery and graphics software programs. Every time I happen upon a helpful hint or some useful information, I record it in the corresponding card file. How many times have you read a great tip while visiting your Yahoo groups and trusted it to your memory? Possibly you scratch your notes down on little pieces of paper that have a way of getting lost under all that fabric and fiber. AZZ Cardfile is the perfect cure.

If you need a good data organizational tool in your studio, visit the AZZ Cardfile website and check out the many wonderful features this little program offers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part six)

The fourth and last leaf design in this series uses a technique that produces a luminous web-like surface. I saw a similar technique in Quilting Arts Newsletter several months ago. My method is a little different, but it works well for me.

To create the leaves, first cut some synthetic organza a little larger than the size of your leaf templates. I used an organza print.

Cut Organza

Next, cut pieces of Stitch Witchery the same size as your cut organza. Place the organza on a pressing sheet. Top the pieces with the Stitch Witchery. Cover these layers with parchment paper. With an iron set on the “silk” setting, press the pieces for about 2 seconds. Very important! Do not over press or the Stitch Witchery will melt. The goal is to have the Stitch Witchery somewhat attached to the base organza but not melted into it.

Lightly Fused Stitch Witchery

Cover your work area with plastic or glass. Gather the following supplies: a stiff bristle paintbrush, a respirator, and several colors of Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments. Pearl Ex pigments are nontoxic, but when I use powders I always use a respirator.

Pearl Ex Powdered Pigments

Dip your paintbrush into one of the powdered pigments and brush it around on the surface of the Stitch Witchery. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Add as many colors as you like, or use a single color if you prefer.

When you’re finished, transfer the pieces to a pressing sheet, and set your iron on a cotton setting with steam activated. You are NOT going to press the pieces. Pick your iron up and hover it over the organza pieces about 1-2 inches above the ironing surface. Do not let the iron touch your work. Move slowly above the pieces, allowing the steam to adhere the fusible to the base organza and set the powdered pigments. About 5-6 seconds should do the trick. Let the surface cool before touching your pieces.

Set Pigments

Transfer the pigmented organza to a glass or heat proof flat surface. Place your leaf templates on top of the pieces. (I used template plastic, which can be melted by the heat tool, but moved quickly so that the hot tip would not damage the edges.)

Leaf Templates

With a hot heat tool (stencil cutter or wood burning tool), move quickly around the edges of your template. The organza should melt away easily. Save your scraps for a future project.

Heat Tool Finished Edges

Transparency and luminosity give each leaf a truly unique appearance. Of course, leaves aren’t the only things you can create with this technique.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part five)

I was asked a question about heat tools. When I’m working with organza or other synthetic sheers, I usually use a stencil cutter for cutouts or edge finishing. Some people use a wood burning tool. Both of these accomplish the same end. I recently purchased the Creative Versa-Tool by Walnut Hollow, and I must say this is one nice toy! You’ll probably be seeing it used in my blog entries soon.

Leaf one and two left me with lots of pretty little scraps that I decided to use in leaf three. I cut a circle of copper organza and placed a piece of Heat n’ Bond Lite (minus the paper backing) on top of it. I then cut the scraps into various random shapes and placed them on top of the Heat n’ Bond. I topped these layers with copper tulle and moved the group to a Teflon pressing sheet.

Scrap Sandwich

Next, I placed a piece of parchment paper on top of the layers and pressed on a wool setting for about 7-8 seconds.

I then prepared my sewing machine for free motion stitching and threaded the needle with a variegated rayon thread. The rest of leaf three was worked in the same manner as leaf two. First, I free motion stitched the surface. I then marked the outline of an oak leaf with a chalk marker and hooped the organza circle.

Hooped Organza; Chalk Outline

I stitched around the chalk outline eight times, building up thread.

Stitched Outline

Completed Stitching

Using sharp craft scissors, I carefully cut the leaf out, leaving a tiny bit of organza showing around the edges. I then used a heat tool (stencil cutter) to finish the edges.

The trapped scraps gave this leaf wonderful shading and texture. Additionally, I could make any number of these leaves, and they would all have a different appearance.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part four)

The second leaf I crafted was the largest of the four. I began by cutting a circle from a very sheer print (either nylon or polyester) and placing it in my 7″ embroidery hoop. I cut a strip of variegated “Harvest” organza ribbon (1 1/2″ wide), lightly sprayed the back with 505, and positioned it on the sheer background fabric.

Hooped Sheer Fabric

I continued cutting strips of ribbon and placing them in the hoop until the center was completely covered.

Organza Ribbon Strips

Next, I set up my sewing machine for free motion work, dropping the feed dogs and attaching a closed free motion foot. For my top thread, I chose Superior Halo #369. Halo is a thick decorative thread for bobbin or serger work , but it can also be used as an upper thread if you insert a large-eyed needle such as a jeans/denim #100/16, loosen your upper tension, and sew at a slow speed.

Using a simple meandering stitch, I free motion stitched the entire ribbon area.

Superior Halo Thread

Meandering Free Motion Work

This time I transferred the leaf outline to the fabric by tracing around a template with chalk. Contact paper would have worked just as well, but sometimes I like to mix things up a little.

Chalk Outline

With the same thread and machine settings, I free motion stitched the chalk outline. I made about eight passes in order to build up the thread.

Stitched Leaf Outline

I then cut around the thread outline with my nice sharp craft scissors and finished the edges with a heat tool (see previous post).

Edges Finished with Heat Tool

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasure

Fabrications – Heliocentricities (part three)

I wanted some dimensional leaves for the surface of my nameless quilt, so I pulled out some sheer fabrics in the autumn color range. As I moved the fabrics around, a nest of threads began to build around my fingers. Most of the threads were organza and chiffon. I thought they looked interesting, so I cut the little cluster away from their sources and decided to use them in my first leaf.

For the bottom layer, I cut a circle of copper organza. I then placed a piece of Heat n’ Bond Lite in the center. Actually, it was a piece of Heat n’ Bond that had separated from its paper backing. Next came the thread nest, which was topped with a piece of copper tulle.

Organza, Thread, and Tulle Sandwich

I set the layers on a Teflon pressing sheet, placed a piece of parchment paper on top, and then ironed the sandwiched items on a wool setting for about 8 seconds.

Next, I set up my sewing machine for free motion stitching and threaded the needle with a #40 variegated rayon. To secure the layers and add a little extra decoration, I free motion stitched some wavy lines back and forth, filling the entire sandwiched area.

Free Motion Stitching

I then positioned the stitched organza in a round embroidery hoop. Back in my hand quilting days, I would sometimes use contact paper to make removable templates. I used this same technique for the maple leaf shape.

Contact Paper Template

After positioning the leaf, I stitched around the template about 8 times, allowing the thread to build up.

Leaf Outline Stitching

Thread Buildup

I then cut around the stitching and used a heat tool (stencil cutter) to finish the edges. When using a heat tool, always work in a well ventilated area. For more information on this technique, see In Bloom, Part Three.

Completed Leaf

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
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
toothpicks
paper clips of various shapes and sizes
rubber bands
yarn, thread, string
rice
wood shapes
foam shapes
lace, lace doilies
keys
dry cereal
sequins
hair pins
buttons
bottle caps
wire mesh
cheese cloth
netting
flowers and leaves
feathers
cut paper shapes
stickers
die-cut shapes
washers
nails

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasure

Fabrications – Gathered into the Fold (part two)

To prepare my background fabric for the reverse appliqués, I stabilized it with a fusible interfacing. I then penciled a free form design onto some freezer paper, cut out the shape, and ironed it to the front of the fabric. Using sharp craft scissors, I carefully cut around the freezer paper pattern.

First Cut

I repeated the process for the second cut.

Second Cut

Since these were reverse appliqués, I placed the gathered red rayon pieces under the cut out areas. Owing to the gathers and folds in the appliqués, I didn’t perform traditional reverse appliqué where the top fabric gets cut out after the appliqués are stitched to the main fabric. (I didn’t want to risk accidentally cutting into the gathers.)

Reverse Gathered Appliques

To keep the appliqués in place, I dabbed a tiny bit of Glue Pins around the inner edges. I then set my sewing machine on a narrow buttonhole stitch and worked around the raw edges.

Narrow Blanket Stitch Edging

After adding some embroidery stitches with perle cotton, I further embellished the areas surrounding the appliqués with pearl, bugle, and glass beads, along with sequins and buttons.

Beading

Note: I’ve uploaded another colorform file (fjfan.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box in the sidebar (for your personal use).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasure

Quick Tips – How to Use Every Last Scrap of Solvy (WSS)

Sulky Solvy and other film-type water soluble stabilizers have wonderful recycling attributes. I use a lot of this stuff and always place the little leftovers into a glass jar. When the scraps start to add up, I do one of two things with them:

1) I iron small pieces together to make one new larger piece. To do this, I arrange the WSS scraps on parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet (you can also use a brown paper grocery bag) so that they all overlap and form a solid shape. I then place parchment paper over the scraps and press for about 8-10 seconds on a wool setting or until the pieces adhere to each other. Allow the parchment paper to cool before touching it.

or
2) I make Solvy soup by mixing the scraps with water. Here is the general recipe.

Ingredients:

About a 1 yard equivalent of WSS scraps
1/2 cup hot distilled water
2-3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

Directions:

Place WSS scraps and hot water in a glass jar and shake well until dissolved. If the solution is to be stored, add the alcohol and keep the covered jar in your refrigerator.

To apply, dip a sponge brush or small paint brush into the WSS solution and paint onto your fabric. Allow to air dry or use a hair dryer to speed the process. When dry to touch, cover with a press cloth and quickly press with a dry iron to remove any remaining moisture. Stitch as usual and then remove WSS with water (I usually spritz it away).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

N. Rene West
Time Treasured

« Older entries Newer entries »