Monday, September 29, 2008


Perhaps my friends are being too polite to tell me I've gone off the deep end on this discharge dyeing, but it certainly has grabbed my attention enough that I'm not listening if they are. The ideas are literally hatching with each new experiment. The latest hitch has been with borders.
My works/projects tend to fall into two camps, the planned and the evolved. I'm trying to push myself into more of the planning, but in all honesty, I'm more of an evolving kind of gal. Flighty? Perhaps. Flexible, yes. (My husband might disagree.) With this, I am trying to push myself into more planned pieces, which are challenging, but happening.

My first border project has been one of those evolving pieces. I dyed up a palette of dark-brights in a guild class I facilitated last month, and with them I needed to do some piecing for the next step - closed figure free motion quilting to later be discharged. I also wanted to include some brights that hadn't been darkened - just a smattering of them. In rainbow order, I sewed 1" strips of the brights, cut them into a trapezoid shape, then surrounded them with the darks. I also included another small amount of the brights around the outside border. Now for the planning of the quilting pattern.

I used one of my platters to get the perfect oval shape which I traced onto freezer paper. I took the outside of this shape (the negative) and positioned it over the trapezoid shape, pressing it to hold it down. I wanted the effect of a sunrise so I then placed a small circle over the top of the trapezoid. Then I began what I've come to call "spoking" as the sewing is much like following the ins and outs of the spokes on a wheel. The long stretches at the bottom were too long for me to keep track of and got a bit wobbly, but I kept on going. Next time I will be sure to use some sort of washable marker that will keep me more on track. After I pulled my papers away, I went ahead and discharged to see what it looked like.

Next I was ready to assemble materials for the borders. This time I used 1/4" masking tape (for painting trim), a circle shape for the outside and a small circle hub. I cut my small "hubs" from masking tape strips placed over a folded piece of parchment paper. This way, after I cut out the small circle shape, I was able to easily peel them off, much like peeling off the backing of a band-aid. (This is now part of my handy dandy bag of tricks.) I didn't use freezer paper for the outside circles this time because I didn't want to iron over the thin masking tape line; instead I used computer paper and pins. I had my materials and was now ready to attach them to the pieced fabric.

First I placed the hubs in each corner and along each line, measuring to make sure they were equally spaced and balanced around the border. Then I carefully placed my 1/4" masking tape in a rectangular shape where I wanted my border to be. This would be the line that joined the sunbursts around the perimeter of the piece. Finally, I pinned a larger circle around each hub. Now I was ready to sew.

Free motion quilting in this manner is to first do the outside, and then the inside (or vice versa if you choose). To get from one burst to the next along the masking tape line, I needed to slice into the large circle and gently fold it back to get my presser foot to the inside. I proceeded with "spoking" until I came to the masking tape again, cut an escape route through the computer paper, and proceeded onto the line and into the next burst. I finished the outside by doubling over the beginning of my stitching, then proceeded to the inside. I stripped away my tape and paper and was ready for the discharging. The results were great, even with the wobbly sun rays on the centerpiece.

My next border attempt was approached a bit differently. (For one thing, it was PLANNED.) This was more about shape than spoking. I saw a great bumper sticker last year that's been mulling around in my brain: "wag more, bark less". Good, huh? I knew these words would find their way to fabric someday. This seemed to be as good an opportunity as any.

I used an earth palette of colors, with both lights and darks. A light circle with a scrappy little dog in the middle was surrounded by the key words, written with the bleach product. Some simple piecing with darks on the outside finished off the cloth. Now for the border preparation.

I wanted to keep with the doggy theme so thought little dog bones around the perimeter would look good. This time I used the thin masking tape to define the border, then added masking tape bones and little circles for the corners. I used the parchment method for making these pieces which worked great.

After placing all the pieces in place, I once again stitched the outside of the border, then the inside. I stripped away the tape and discharged inside the little dog bones. Beautiful colors emerged.

Now I will finish off my two discharged pieces and hopefully display them in my First Friday webwalk, THIS FRIDAY. Yikes, I better get busy!

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