Post-Vinegar Soak

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

After unpacking from Ireland, I wanted to treat my indigo dyed fabric to make them as colorfast as possible. Turns out, the internet has a dizzying amount of advice that ranges from "do nothing" to "use a salt water bath" or "soak in vinegar." 


I chose the vinegar route. Several websites advised adding a cup of vinegar before the rinse cycle and stopping the machine so that it will soak. This strategy seemed an unlikely win with my brand and model of washing machine. I decided an old-school bucket and a few gallons of water would be more reliable. I added the vinegar let the bucket sit for two hours. 

I put the indigo fabrics into a wash with two color catchers. I haven't found that product here in Norway, but I brought two boxes with me from the US when we moved. The pieces of paper absorb dyes in the wash, and I brought them because they are fantastic when washing quilts for the first time.

As expected, the color catchers grabbed a bit of blue. And the fabrics, thankfully, didn't seem to lose much of their color. Based on what I've read, I expected some of the indigo particles to come off, and I was excited that most of the dye has adhered well to the fibers.

I hung it all to dry inside as there's no shade outside. I think the avoid-UV-when-drying rule is when the fabric first comes out of the indigo vat, but it was easy enough just to dry these inside anyway. 

Next step is to sew the smaller squares into a set of napkins. Not sure yet about the larger pieces, but I'm pretty sure they'll end up in a quilt.

It's hard to believe that just month ago I was in Ireland. Since then of course, it's been all-home-all-the-time, except the few trips to the grocery store and a few delightful walks in the woods. Strange times...  

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Indigo + Shibori Workshop with Kathryn Davey

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

Kathryn Davey's Indigo + Shibori workshop was a Saturday of pure fun. I learned plenty and happily took home lots of samples, but the best part was the simple act of getting to dip fabric into dye and watch the color oxidsize into a deep, beautiful indigo. I've been reading about natural dyes for a while, but nothing beats getting your hands dirty.

There seemed to be a lot of necessary tools, but there was also an "anything goes" feeling about the tools. Nothing was hard to find: porcelain tiles, pieces of wood, clamps, rubberbands, 5 gallon buckets. 

Kathryn added materials to the indigo dye vat and discussed various traits of indigo. She detailed several options for oxygen reducers that help the normally-water-insoluable indigo dissolve and then eventually permeate the material you want to dye.

Kathryn regularly dyes outdoors, but the wind was howling on Saturday. I was glad she spread a tarp out to create a space for us to work.

Our first task was to accordian fold fabric to clamp between two tiles. The dye only reached the edges of the fold, creating a grid-like pattern across the fabric.

We also rolled fabric onto rope and compressed it like those hair scrunchies from the 80's that seem to be coming back into style.

The indigo vat and the first glance at fabric that comes out of the vat both have a greenish tint, almost turquoise or aqua-marine blue.

There was a subtle magic in watching the color shift from that greenish tint to a true indigo.

I know indigo doesn't require mordants during the dye process, but I'll treat my class samples in a mix of vinegar and water to set the dye. I'm not sure it's necessary, but there's no harm in taking the extra measure to prevent fading.

After that, I'll hem the edges of these little squares and see how these fare as everyday napkins in our household.

Most importantly, I found some confidence in this workshop. I started some lichen dyes last summer that are waiting for me to get my own dye space set up, and Kathryn "pulled back the curtain" to reveal how a simple set up can yield amazing results. 

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Review of New Patchwork and Quilting Basics

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

I'm excited to review Jo Avery's book, New Patchwork and Quilting Basics! 

Jo's book is a fantastic guide for the beginner. There are a dozen projects to choose from, and Jo's an expert at breaking each technique into manageable steps.

I loved the Tree of Paradise quilt. There's something so beautiful about two color half square triangles!

And this adorable Flower Garland Pillow would be such a fun way to learn applique!

I wanted to test one of the projects, and knowing that I love curves, I instantly decided to play around with a few parts of the Pinball Wizard.

 Just to get in the groove, I blasted a bit of The Who's Pinball Wizard while I worked. It was pretty fun to rock out while almost literally bouncing around my studio.  

I took kind of a haphazard approach to my fabric selection, simply grabbing whatever was in reach. I'm such a planner that it was refreshing to just jump in and see what happens!

My first surprise was when I sat down to sew the inner curve. Jo planned the order of sewing so that all the seams were pointing away from my machine which made that tight curve much easier than I expected.

I also used the templates to cut on a fold. I've not done this before, but it meant the center line on my template piece was crisp and easy to find.

Turns out, my pinballing around the studio left me with a SUPER scrappy block. 

I took some of the paper pieced sections and tested a bit of a half moon/half sun look.

Then I alternated them and tried a few variations in the center.

Truthfully, I might have blown past a reasonable amount of chaos and scrappiness...

 But I don't care because my Pinball Wizard is going to make a great pillow for my couch!

Ask for Jo's book at your local quilt shop or purchase online at Ad Libris (in Norway), on Amazon, from the publisher C & T Publishing. Or, if you are in the UK you can order a signed copy direct from her for £19.99 (incl. P & P) by clicking on her website here 

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Quarter Circle Table Runner

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
I had the pleasure of working with a beautiful bundle of Ruby Red shot cottons from Oakshott Fabrics for this table runner.
 
Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
There's just something fantastic about shot cottons. Contrasting threads in the warp and the weft (threads running vertically and horizontally) create subtle shifts in color as the fabric moves under the light. 
I might have been a little distracted by the beauty of those shifting colors - the rotary cutter almost took off the tip of my finger! Oops!
Quilting injury on finger nail
There's something almost meditative about repeat sewing. I don't often have repetitive sewing like I did with this project, but I found I enjoyed what we quilters call "chain piecing."
Stack of quarter circles for quilted table runner with Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
And table runners quilt up so quickly! I loaded it on my long arm and quilted it without needing to advance the rollers.
 
Long arm quilting of quilted table runner with Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
The best part is having a a beautiful accent piece for our holiday meal this Christmas. 
Orchids on table with quilted table runner with Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
I think it might have to make an appearance for Valentine's Day, too! Such a versatile table decoration! 

 

As usual, I used my trusty Aurifil 50wt for piecing and forty3 (3 ply cotton 40wt) for the quilting. 

 

If you'd like to make your own, the pattern for this table runner is in the latest issue of Quiltemagasinet. Check with my favorite local quilt shop, Kathrines Quiltestue, and see if they'll mail you a copy!
quilted table runner with Oakshott Fabrics Ruby Red bundle of shot cottons
 
 
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Make Your Own Acrylic Quilting Rulers on a Laser Cutter

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

For over a year, I’ve been searching on-and-off for a source of custom acrylic templates for cutting quilting fabric. After a few failed attempts at placing an order with two manufacturers in Norway, I found The Sewing Fools on a Facebook group and placed my first order with them. I had the templates shipped to a friend in the US and picked them up while on a business trip to California.

 

It’s not sustainable or convenient for my business to order overseas, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever move enough product to justify massive orders with big manufacturers for a discount. So I've been on the hunt for other options.

(image from visitløkka.com)

This week, I stopped at Fellesverkstedet to take a look around. Fellesferkstedet is a makerspace in the Grünnerløkka neighborhood of Oslo. The guy at the front desk was great - he immediately offered to take my husband and me through the facilities to check out their machinery.

I confess that I tuned out for much of the wood shop equipment tour. Table saws, routers, CNC machines, planers - their resources looked amazing, but I have no context for those things. I think my husband was drooling though... 

I perked up tremendously at the silk screen machinery. And my eyes sparkled at the sight of a printing press just past the silk screen room.

But the real gem of the tour for me was the laser cutter.

 

Fellesverkstedet does not require a membership. You make an appointment to come in. They train you to use the machines, and then they leave you to do your work. The next day, I came back and Jens trained me on the laser cutter and the connecting PC. He explained the details of how to format my files in Illustrator and how to set up the machine, as well as the safety shut off and location of the extinguisher should something catch on fire. This is less likely with plastic than wood, but it’s good to be prepared. 

 

For me, the process looked something like this:

  1. Find a source for acrylic. In my case, it was a local hardware store called Jula. I spent about $33 USD (299 NOK) on a sheet of plexiglass 1000mm x 500mm x 4mm. I would have preferred 3mm, but the options available at my location were 2 or 4mm. If I continue making templates, I'll find another source that carries exactly what I want at a better price point.
  2. Create a RGB file in Illustrator. (CMYK will not communicate correctly with the laser cutter). The working space of the Fellesverkstedet laser cutter is 640mm by 460mm. You can either create an art board that size, or in my case, I created 2 art boards that were 500mm x 400m, and one that was 500mm x 200mm. 
  3. Set all the cut lines on the shapes so the stroke was .001 pts and red (R=255, G=0, B=0). 
  4. Set all the vector etch lines to .001 pts and black (R=0, G=0, B=0).
  5. Set the fill on relevant shapes to black. (raster etch lines). Most of my raster etching was in my logo, but I also changed my font to an outline rather than load a new font onto the computer attached to the laser cutter. Those were raster printed.
  6. Place the material onto the laser cutter, using the ruler guides to align the top and left sides of the material. When etching (not just cutting), remove the plastic film on the top of the plexiglass to keep the etching precise. If the etching needs to be on the bottom of the ruler, mirror the etching layers in Illustrator so everything is backward.
  7. Turn on the exhaust system that processes the fumes during cutting.
  8. Autofocus the laser cutter so the cutting device knows where it is in relation to the material being cut. There’s a small mechanism that snaps to the cutter head for this purpose. It lowers onto the material, depresses the mechanism, then retracts up, registering the distance between the material and the cutter.
  9. Send a small test shape to print. Open the print settings and set the speed based on your material. The slower the laser moves, the deeper it cuts into the material. Running the laser too slow will be unnecessary. Time spent running the machine equals money, so it’s best to be efficient with the laser cutting speed. Default speed on that machine has been set to 1.5. For 4 mm thick plexiglass, a speed of 1 was almost perfect, so we dropped it 20% to .8 and the pieces were almost falling out when I pulled out the sheet at the end. (They were held slightly by the plastic film left on the back). Similarly, slowing down the speed of the black areas in the Illustrator file will etch shapes deeper into the surface.
  10. Send the rest of your shapes to print. The print settings remain for each subsequent print of your file, but if you open a new file, remember to change the settings from the default position.

There are a few steps I’ve glossed over for brevity, but hopefully this demonstrates a good overview of what’s involved. Several people on Instagram messaged to say their public libraries have laser cutters. This resource is becoming more and more common which is exciting!

It’s not rocket-science, but it’s best to allow enough time and materials to make some mistakes while learning. I spent four hours at Fellesverkstedet, but most people will probably work a bit faster than me. I tend to double check things excessively, but even still, I got confused and thought my print settings would be the same even when opening new files. I had a whole print job that failed. I managed to salvage a bit, and then made another mistake which meant that sheet just needed to be tossed. 

 

But I had two sheets that were perfect, and I was able to have templates to bring with me to my trunk show at Tåsen Quiltelag on Wednesday night. Being able to print small batches as needed is a huge help for my business, so I’m grateful for the grant money and the fantastic people that keep the doors open at Fellesverkstedet!

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