Kantha or Hand Quilting?

Posted by Daisy Aschehoug on

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The Aurifil Artisan Challenge this month was to try kantha quilting. Kantha (wiki link) is a style of embroidery from the eastern regions of India. When I think of kantha, I think of stacked saris recycled into medium sized, lightweight blankets, and I think of the layers being secured with long lines of running stitches, tightly spaced.

I had high hopes of getting more rows of stitching in on this quilt, but it's about 50" square. The picture below if from March 15, two days after schools closed here in Norway in an attempt to limit the spread of the corona virus. I've got Aurifil 12 wt in Fairy Floss (6723) on a chenille needle size 24. 

Fairy Floss has the tiniest bit of pink to it, but it's not really noticeable once stitched into the quilt - if you look closely enough, there's a bit of fun contrast that comes from the tiny bit of pink, but I think it mostly served to cheer me up a bit when I grabbed the spool to pull off a piecer for the next row of stitches.

I tried using chalk to mark the lines, but the white chalk I had didn't show up well enough on the gray Essex Linen. I considered a hera marker, but instead I opted for blue painter's tape. 

I use painter's tape for a variety of tasks in the studio. If I want to pin baste a quilt, I use painter's tape to secure the edges to the floor as I layer the sections and place the safety pins. When I need a visual reference for something, I use a bit of painter's tape to put a sketch or printout on the wall where I'm working. I take a bit of tape to secure the end of a giant roll of sketch paper after I've torn some off, and I tack up quilt blocks that may not fit on my design wall with tape, too.

Painter's tape is meant to be temporary, and it comes up easily, without leaving residue behind. That part is super handy when using it on textiles.

I've decided to give up on the dense stitching. These rows are spaced one inch apart, and they still conjur the rhythmic, orderly feel of dense kantha stitches.

I basted the quilt on my long arm so at the end, I snipped and pulled all the longer stitches that ran perpendicular to my straight line quilting.

I'm still auditioning ideas for binding: all black? a mixture of fabrics already used in the quilt? something bright that picks up one of the color pops between the blocks?

We've already gotten word that preschools will reopen in two weeks, and the younger grade school kids will go back in three weeks. I know the threat hasn't passed entirely, and I do worry about my friends and family in the US. But I am grateful that there seems to be an end in the future to the immediate tragedy, and that processing and healing can begin to deal with the aftermath.


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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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