Sumac and Rust

No fireworks, but lots of positive results, after several tries.  I discovered, or really just noticed, a tree in our shop parking lot that looks like some variety of sumac (not poison).  Correct me with a comment if I’m wrong.




Pale color, hoping for red on steamed paper.




But instead, a beautiful orange sumac soup at the bottom of the steam pot.




Pale linen from the first steaming was turned into bundles and dyed again in the sumac juice, turning different shades of  orange.  Small strips of linen were added to soak up every drop of this discovery.  Rust shapes were put on the flat cloth and the juice deepened further.




The small bundles were made from the linen test strips that got some color from the juice.  Then, rose petals, leaves and pods were tightly wrapped into the strips.




Another try at pressing leaves and steaming.  Rust added.



Extra rust pieces are used to weight projects during drying.





Once White

We’ve been doing a lot of dyeing at my house these days and collecting of materials for the dyepot.  On most occasions, we enjoy the surprises that plants and metals bring to the cloth when mixed with the dye.   We enjoy using what’s on hand, salt and vinegar, the hard water from the sink.  We spent some time foraging birch tree parts, bark and twigs, after-winter nuts and their pods, steeping, boiling, dyeing cotton, linen and silk with very unexciting results.  Yes we learned a lot, but now it’s time to get serious, surprises aside.   I’ve been making  a silk dress with a linen overlay pretty much by hand.  And I want to know what to expect from my dyeing efforts after all the time spent on this garment.  Lots of it has been done by hand with a running stitch. DSCN2614 DSCN2615 So I’ve sourced some mordants from ProChemical and Dye.  I’m collecting materials for imprinting and studying up on expected results.  I introduced myself to our local flower shop owner, Kathleen of Alice’s Flower Shop.  We set up a pick-up day each week and this Friday I received this lovely, yet expiring hydrangea.  Thank you, Kathleen. DSCN2581 We separated the flowers, leaves and stems, DSCN2603 DSCN2602 gathered some dried materials, stalky and grassy, DSCN2606 DSCN2608 found some exciting metal objects with interesting shape and texture, DSCN2609 mordanted a batch of cloth in soda ash, bundled, dyed and recorded some results. DSCN2611 This is a turmeric solution that we heated.  I used turmeric because the color is rather intense with little effort, a good measure of leaf resist or imprint.  But time will tell.


And the dyeing continues…


Book Tour

Design and Stitch on patchwork piece

Here is a  glimpse into the pages beyond Amazon: People like looking at the pictures.

There is information about color and how to choose fabrics.  A project outline worksheet is included for the reader’s use to help with color decisions.

Color Has Value Fabric ValueThere are how-to illustrations for construction techniques

Rotary Trimming

Turn and TopstitchThere are projects with lots of illustrations for practicing the color and sewing instruction.

Night and Day PursePin Cushion Topper1
Adobe Photoshop PDF


Wedding Cake

No “piece of cake” the assembly of some of the unruly materials in this quilt.  I spent a whole day – well, in the shop time that is a series of interruptions, interrupted by sewing.  So it took nearly two days to get the back pieced together and a few, more detailed patches of the front.  (Remember, the center panel has been waiting for the basket weave and what I am calling the pillars.)


I’ve tried hard to keep my client in mind as I balance all the elements symmetrically – a square in a square, bordered on four sides, wedged between matching lattice weaving and flanked by stately columns, made more intricate by the addition of Dad’s silk smoking jacket.


I’ve featured pockets from the robes, always do in this sort of project.  I love the idea of holding hands with the past.


I’m weaving the back fabrics as well, for interest.  It was a nice surprise when the edging on one robe made an extra weave just because it was there.   These are the unfinished strips getting pressed.



There wasn’t enough of the necessary-sized pieces from the robes, so I added a piece of the dress into the weave.


Finally on the quilting frame for quilting.  This is the wrong side of the back, waiting for the batting to be put on.  I used a combination of patterns, including leaves climbing the brickwork and columns and other organic shapes.


I used a heavier cotton batting which created a beautiful relief because of the sheen of the satin.


I moved around the quilt as I place quilting lines, so that it remained square.  Dense quilting can distort a piece if this isn’t done.


The quilt lounges on the frame after a day’s work.  This keeps the wrinkles at bay.

caruso binding

Yards of binding were cut from another piece of the dress’  train.  There was so much fraying because of the weave of the cloth.  And, so much de-linting.



The monogram of buttons and silk roses that were once hidden in the folds of the side bussles.


The overall photo was better taken on the table because of the satin reflection.  I am finishing it off with an embroidered label that says I made it and the year.


Wedding Prep

The wedding dress project continues with lots of prep – just like a wedding.

I took the dress apart at the seams – which was pretty easy because the thread is reaching the end of its life.  The stitches broke away with no fight and a gentle crackling sound.  There are sixty-plus years of wrinkles to press flat before cutting the patchwork.  This takes quite a bit of steam.



I took part of the project home, trying to stay on schedule and knowing that we would be snowed in. Nothing better than being by a toasty iron and an indoor project anyway.


Strips were cut, based on my design: A center panel, taken from the bustles.  I could only get a 24″ square from that piece.  So I cut 6 1/2″ strips to bring the center/monogram panel up to 36″ square.


Sewing  satin is a challenge.  I use a pinning combination that reduces slippage in both directions,  when right sides of satin are facing one another.  The pins are very close together as in “over-pin.”


The pins stay in the whole time.  Some slip out, but the result is better if you can keep them in while sewing.DSCN2113

I’m pretty happy with the seam.  DSCN2114

I chain pieced anything I could.  This is a 12 1/2 piece stitched to a 4 1/2 strip.  They will be sub cut into a brick-type block that will give a woven effect when I’m finished.


Press the seams open.  I’m really surprised at how well the satin takes the heat from the right side with no major adjustments to iron temperature.  I can smell 1946 in the fabric as it heats up.


While I was pinning another strip for the center panel, I noticed how beautifully the satin draped over the edge of my sewing table.  Stopped to enjoy and take a picture.


The finished center panel is draped over the back of a chair in my studio while I continue piecing.


So far, I’ve gotten the basket weave patchwork laid out for sewing.

DSCN2131I will continue the process until the entire quilt top is completed.  Stay tuned a few more steps and the reveal.