Posts Tagged ‘fabric’


35.7 Dancing Ribbons corner quilting not turning out

June 24, 2014

Okay I have been living with some darker fabrics next to my dancing ribbons quilt, trying to make the fabric decisions on what will work best for the corner blocks.

dancing ribbon fabric choices 2

And then on a whim this past weekend, I decided to start cutting up and using an even lighter fabric for the corner fabric, making my lightest color fabric on the left in my picture above now become the darker of the 2 blue fabrics.

Then I have everything cut out, and all my sets of pieces cut out, sewn together & trimmed.

dancing ribbons corner blocks trimmed up ready to piece.

This means all the paper pieces are trimmed and all the fabric is sewn together in groups of 2 trimmed.

But you know the old saying “Measure twice, cut once”? Yeah, I don’t think I did that.

dancing ribbons first too small corner

See how much smaller my completed corner is from the size of the quilt? I forgot to double check my measurement of my quilt block before printing out the EQ7 paper piecing.

I had put in the center block to being 20 inches instead of the 23 inch finished size. I was hoping to go large and then cut back, not the other way around. ūüė¶

Sad trombone.

Also, seeing exactly how bright I went with the brighter fabric now this “way lighter” corner thing looks really out of place.

If I manipulate the one corner I have done in photoshop to see the quilt as it may appear (with the too small corners) it will look kinda like this.

dancing ribbons first too small corner copy

I don’t mind lighter corners, but this seems too light. I think I may rethink this redesign. I may go with the original darker fabric to tie it better to the original colors. I was “this close” to using the darker fabrics Saturday, but then “on a whim” (which sometimes works) I said that I liked this lighter fabric too much and I wanted to use it.

Since I have to redo the corners anyway for being too small, I will switch back to the darker fabric & purchase more of the ‘medium’ I have in this piece.

The dark from the corners of this piece will become the light in the next part of the fabric. The time I spent working on this quilt, there were limited hours for in-person fabric shopping. So this quilt will sit another week during the thinking stage.

The yellow bright corners may be too bright for this quilt, I have a duller version of the yellow. Possibly, I am going to rethink the actual corner colors.

I did have a thought about adding borders to the corners to make them fit better, but I don’t really want to try to mess with that.

I don’t mind too much about this setback. I DO really like the four corner colors that I have created.

So much that I decided to complete the four corners as a small quilt of its own. With a minor change with the inner star which I will highlight with the quilting stage.

blue faded star four corners

This is a cute little happy blue quilt. I will have a quilt plus the reverse of the same thing in the corners of the Dancing Ribbons quilt. With different colors.

Just not destined for this quilt at this time. Very pretty!


7.5 Different kind of Artistry

July 26, 2010

A few weeks ago my dad dropped off a dresser from when I was a little kid.  Of course it had scribbles all over it and the wood was unfinished. 

I wanted to paint this dresser a dark, dark red – almost black – with just a hint of a fiery red color, and trim the dresser with ‘gold’ around the outside of each dresser front.¬† I was open to other¬†hues of dark almost¬†black as well, but red was my favorite idea.

Here are my initial paint chip samples from local big box hardware store:

None of these choices matched the vision in my head for this piece.

Apparently the two blacks on the right side, one of which is a green tinted black and the other which is a purple tinted black are the only really really dark colors of anything they have there premade.

So I went back to the big box store and told them this was my great compromise and idea.¬† Let’s put the red that I loved that was not too purple and the black and mix them together equally.


They said no.  They cannot do that. 


Now I am a quilter and I work with fixed colors of fabric and so I get when you have a blue piece of fabric and a red piece of fabric you cannot create a purple piece of fabric by sewing them together.¬† That’s because the colors are fixed¬†into the fabric.¬†

But paint?  Paint can be mixed.  

Hues/tints/shades can be changed fairly easily.¬† It’s not like I was asking them to take a piece of red fabric and make it black, I was asking them to mix two colors of paint together!

So this one employee asks if I had looked at everything they already had available and takes me to a section of paint chips that has some dark red/purples, and then I say, not what I am looking for, can we just mix them?  And then she gets another opinion from another employee, and then asks a third employee. 

So suddenly this other lady is trying to convince me that when you mix more black with red, you get a red/purple. 

Okay, she was just trying to say that without a specific paint chip, she didn’t want to get the color wrong and get sued by me for giving me the wrong color, or that if the shade wasn’t right, then it would take too much paint to overcorrect it,¬†or that her bosses had said previously that they don’t mix colors without a specific color sample (or at all – I don’t know?) to match it against.¬† (I am just speculating here)

She was saying that I wasn’t worth the time to get the shade correct, or that mixing paint was impossible, or treating me like I didn’t know that when you mix red and black you should get a red/black¬†– dark red¬†– not a dark red/purple.

Can you tell I wasn’t all that happy when I left?¬†

I was convinced by the employee that either the purple or the red I originally came in with would be a good match for what I wanted, and so took home¬† a color sample of each of these colors.¬† (picture here doesn’t turn out correct color shades, the top is more purple and lighter, but my camera didn’t show that very well here)

Then proceeded to paint parts of the dresser to see which I liked better..

Well the red was too red and the purple was … purple …

Not happy with this.

So I scrapped the original idea and decided to paint it black with gold and red trimming details.¬†¬† Driving back to the big box hardware store and I didn’t get the same hassle because I didn’t ask them to mix anything but the paint samples provided.

I got the black done and then it rained as I was just finishing the first coat of paint,¬†and I haven’t been back out for the 2nd coat yet on it.¬† Haven’t done the drawers yet.¬† Haven’t started back up on it yet.¬†

Decided to mow the lawn instead.  Then my mower quit halfway done.  I should try to mow again today now I am not as upset at my mower.

Maybe tomorrow when I get off work I will work more on the dresser?¬† Perhaps.¬† I will need to cut out painter’s tape in the shapes that I want.¬†

This may seem like a departure from the original idea, but the dresser will be dark, but I will still have some color in it.  Looking forward to seeing how it turns out or if I will finish it.

Do you want to see the knobs I purchased for the dresser?


I am considering transferring this design on my detail work on the dresser.¬† I also have some shiny gold tempra paint that could cover the handles, but if it get used a lot, perhaps that’s not a great idea.

And what do I ultimately want to use the dresser for?  Storing fabric!

Of course.

The other fabric storing device I worked on this past weekend:

This is 1 1/2 of those small wire  mesh shelves.  I took the top pieces from ones I bought at target, and middle sections of ones I bought a year ago at walmart, and two sets of racks (6 total to get good spacing).  

I’ve always liked my racks before, but too much space between them meant that fabric was piled too high and hard to reach the bottom.

It was cheaper to buy two sets of racks than to send away online for more bare shelves.  Each shelf by itself cost as much as a complete new rack.

I hit a snag in the project when I pulled off the tops of the target purchased poles and there was no threading.  And another snag when the threading stayed half on the wrong side of my original wire walmart racks and half on the right. 

Good ‘ol needle nose vice grips to the rescue and the ‘frankenstein wire rack’ is¬†ALIVE¬† – and looking very well in my studio/office.


2.9 Podcast 6 – Chemical Christmas & Christmas Memories

December 20, 2009

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This Christmas I have 3 (4) ornaments to share with you.  One chemistry, one yarn, and two fabric wreaths (variations on the same idea).

The Chemistry Borax Crystal Snowflake Ornament

Growing crystals from super saturated solutions is something that you can do easily with household products.  A supersaturated solution is one that you force a liquid (typically liquid solvent) to dissolve more solid (called a precipitate  solute) than it typically can hold.  Most of the time, heating a solution can force the solution to dissolve more solids, and then as the solution cools, the solids come out of solution Рsometimes in the form of crystals.  Alton Brown says that even fudge is a crystal structure, so crystals are found everywhere this time of year.

To grow borax crystals


  • several pipe cleaners
  • something to cut pipe cleaners (NOT fabric scissors)
  • a string or fishing line
  • a pencil or pen
  • a wide glass jar
  • hot (boiling) water – just enough to almost fill up the jar but not too full
  • Mule Team Borax laundry booster
  • (You can substitute¬†sugar crystals for borax, but I think they take longer to crystallize)
  • (I wonder if you could substitute fabric pieces for pipe cleaners.¬† If anyone does this, I’d be curious to know)

Procedure for creating crystal snowflakes (or you could do a star of david, or other object you want to crystallize)

1.  Cut the pipe cleaner into sections to create the crystalized shape

2.  Tie your fishing line or string around one side of the snowflake.

3.  Place the pencil across the top of the jar such that your ornament hangs in the jar without touching the bottom. 

4.¬† Any snowflake too high up will not have water on it, and thus may not form crystals.¬† Make sure the sides don’t touch the jar either for more perfect crystals.

5.  Remove the snowflake once you get it to the right height in the jar. 

6.  Add water to the jar near the top (or you can put this in a microwave safe measuring cup that holds the same amount of water as the jar). 

7.¬† Microwave for at least three minutes.¬† If you’re worried about superheating your water, place a chopstick in the water as it sits¬†in the microwave.

8.  Use a hot pad or towel to CAREFULLY remove the jar from the microwave.

9.¬† Add borax crystals until you can’t get any more to dissolve and start to see borax staying on the bottom.¬† This takes a lot of stirring and a lot of patience.¬† I had to remelt my crystals after the first night because I was too impatient and I thought I had enough borax the first night.¬†

10.¬† Keep adding and stirring, and if you need to, carefully pour off some of the excess water so you don’t spill over onto the floor.¬† Remember that the snowflake is also going to displace some of the water so you may have more liquid than you realize.

11.  Add the food coloring to the jar, and then put in the snowflake into the jar.  (the following picture shows too little borax dissolved to get a good result.  Add more borax than this.

12.  Wait overnight at least for the solution to cool to room temperature.  If you have multiple jars / snowflakes you could try putting one in the fridge (be careful!) to see what type of crystals form.  Crystals forms differently with different amounts of starting temperatures and cooling rates.

13.  Take a paper towel and place the completed crystal on the paper towel giving it time to dry.  This snowflake you can see a little bit of blue tint to it with lots of crystals.

 Another ornament I made this year

The dragon boat ornament from Jennifer Ackerman-Heywood at CraftSanity.  I had black yarn available, and I used a piece of cardstock and cut out her template on her site.

Christmas Wreaths made from fabric scraps

Styrofoam Wreaths – Wreath Variation #1

  1. Take a styrofoam wreath shape Рcut out from various styrofoam leftovers from presents!
  2. Take scraps of fabric 2 inches square or so Рpinked edges look nice here
  3. Wrap the fabric right side towards a pencil
  4. Dip the pencil in Elmer’s¬†glue (or maybe Eileen’s tacky glue)
  5. Stick the fabric into the styrofoam
  6. Repeat the process until the wreath is completed

Wire Wreath – Wreath Variation #2

  • Bend a wire hanger or pipe cleaner into a circle

  • Use small strips of fabric, cut into sections
  • Tie each section of fabric around the wire
  • Repeat for all the fabric pieces around the outside of the wreath.


This particular wreath is a little messy.  With more time and patience, these can look quite nice.

Other chemistry christmas ornaments to try

Additional Resources

Christmas Memories

One christmas memory from each of the people in my immediate family that is no longer with me.

Grandpa – Polka music (Watch out it’s loud!)

Grandma – Cross stitched snow globe angel – Free Design at Black Swan Designs

Mother – Lighted candle angel

Grandma – Amazing Grace church


2.2 SQ Podcast Episode 4 – Quilting the Spectrum

December 6, 2009

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Many days in science class I stared at the emission spectra posters on the wall.  Which may explain why I am drawn to the black, white and rainbow colored pattern I bought from a local quilt artist, Linda Everhart at Quilting Among Friends and the quilt on the wall at the local quilt show this past summer.

It was no surprise that when I saw the Science Craftster Swap from March that I immediately¬†stopped to look at the spectra scarf made by echo_brook to give to pocketwatch.¬† Sending¬†a message to Echo_brook, she plans to knit a¬†blanket of the same design. Here is pocketwatch’s scarf found on page 10 (not 15) on her cool art¬†couch.

And here is pocketwatch¬†showing off the purple portion of the knitted scarf.¬† Why is the design that way with “random” purple and black (and other colors)?¬† It’s not¬†random, it’s an emission spectra of Argon.¬† Perfect for the length of a scarf!

The emission spectra is something explored in physics and astronomy.

A tool that breaks up light is a prism, and a tool that has many “microprisms” on a thin sheet is a diffraction grating.¬† Prisms and diffraction gratings break up light by bending the light that travels at different speeds.¬† You may see “rainbow glasses” at your favorite science museum or science gift shop – that’s probably a diffraction grating that you’re buying.¬† Below is a picture of the diffraction grating.

A CD also can serve as a ‘makeshift’ diffraction grating.

For a summer I did research on the hydrogen spectra at Kansas State Physics Education Research Group.  It was the first time I saw a video camera with a diffraction grating taped to the side of it.  We set up our hydrogen gas tube, turned off the lights and took some pictures.  Of spectra.

What is spectra?¬† Spectra is a visible amount of energy due to moving electrons in an atom.¬†¬†We put energy into the hydrogen atom by¬†adding electricity, and then the electron moves away from home for a while.¬† Then the electron gets bored and comes back, but it doesn’t get to keep that fancy energy.¬† So it emits energy, some of which, is in the form of light – visible light.¬† And if we have the right tools¬†to break up the light, we can get a specific pattern of colors, which we call a spectra.¬† Each element has a unique emission spectra due to the number of electrons and where they are located in the atom … and a bunch of other reasons.

If you want to see a periodic table that shows each specific element’s¬†emission spectra in gif form, click here to go to the Penn State Erie¬†site (click on each element to get to the spectra picture).¬†¬† A periodic table with the symbols and element names¬†is necessary to get the correct element here (unless you were forced¬†to memorize the first 4 rows like I was – even several years after teaching I could remember most of them).¬† Feel free to search for “emission spectra” or “emission spectrum” in google for more info.

This one is Argon.  I downloaded it from the website to use for my quilt design.

Scientists will use a device called a spectroscope (dark box with a long thin slit and a “ruler” inside to measure the distance of the colors) to determine the elements that make up various gases.¬† For a tutorial on how to make a CD spectroscope, and a spectroscope with a cereal box and a diffraction grating, click here.

In the meantime …

Placing the diffraction grating in front of my camera lens produces interesting effects.

Using a diffraction grating on my ceiling light fixture shows bulbs of color, which demonstrates that the light source is where the rainbow is coming from.

And this following picture was of a set of 6 LEDs in a row which I liked.

Braving the December evenings I stepped outside to take a picture of the street light with the diffraction grating in front.

Turning to the side slightly about 20 Р30 degrees, you can see the spectra through the diffraction grating.  Notice the lonely cyan light, in addition to the bright green and yellow lights.

The diffraction grating had only about 1000 lines / mm.¬† More lines would give a higher resolution, but are also (slightly) more expensive.¬† Also the diffraction grating was a little¬†dirty and I¬†tried to clean it as best as I could.¬† Sodium has a distinct “double yellow” line(s) that would be easier to see with a more precise diffraction grating.¬† I am still betting this street lamp is sodium rather than mercury due to the brightness of the yellow here.

How can this relate to quilting?

What about a special scientific quilting design that¬†is pleasing to the eye but also has a “hidden scientific code” inside?

I call this “coin quilt” design “Noble Metallic Spectra” (Chlorine isn’t noble gas, nor metallic, but I like¬†the name¬†anyway).¬† The symbol names in red at the bottom could be stitched as embroidery or quilting on the quilt itself.

As mentioned in the podcast you could do this as a coin quilt and consolidate the blacks (and maybe some of the colored bars) together, or you could do bias bars as the colored strips appliqued on top.

Letting my imagination run away from me, I produced a ring quilt using the polar coordinate filter on Photoshop.

This one I call “Medals of Elements” because its Copper, Silver, and Gold and traditionally medals are given as copper, silver, and gold (and they were my favorite crayon colors growing up).

Maybe I should draw up a “pattern” for these and become a scientific pattern designer?¬† Well first I have to create the quilts to know if they will actually work.

Additional resources

Bleach dyes websites from Deb

Websites to check out of other quilting podcasts mentioned in the show

Thanks also to my commenters

  • Janetsnina, IamSusie, Deb, Kelley, Ruthann, Lauretta6, Janet

Feel free to let me know about your scientific adventures in quilting or other crafts!

Keep experimenting!

EDIT:  I created an item with an embroidered spectra Рa Sewing Machine Cover.  Find the link here!


1.1 Getting Supplies Ready

October 29, 2009

There’s an advantage to having a plan before you begin.¬† Even trained in science, I find the whimsy of being spontaneous exciting and the status quo more often than not.¬† However, there are many meal plans that in my head I think would be perfect for dinner, but when it comes to rounding up supplies, disappointment takes place as I don’t have a certain ingredient and have to change the entire plan.

In science, without a road map, it is likely that you aren’t doing something right if you don’t have a plan or supplies to achieve your goal.¬† The whole goal in thinking scientifically is to get the left brain engaged in all the “thinking stuff” – what do I need to add next, what do I need to have weighed, what order do I need to do it in?¬† Those types of questions.¬† Proper planning makes the act of experimenting a whole lot easier & quicker.

The same goes with quilting.¬† Finding out that you only bought a yard of fabric that you finally settled on as your outer border of your quilt can be devastating.¬† Especially when your trip to the quilt store that sold it to you reveals that even though the last 3 times you were there you saw the fabric, but when you needed it, it was gone, gone, gone.¬† One way I trick my budget is to buy small amounts of things at one time, which I justify that I can always come back later for more.¬† Never buying more than a yard means that I don’t stockpile things too much, but on the same hand, also means that I am taking a risk that my quilt could become scrappier than originally planned.

Stashing (buying stash fabrics) to me is my illusion of getting my supplies ready for sewing.  When the time is right, I will take the beloved fabric out and integrate it into the best quilt I have ever made.  In a way I am getting supplies ready for the perfect time and place.

But eventually there is a time for everything.  A time for doing must follow a time for planning or the stashing will be piling, and the house will be bulging and the quilter will have too many possible wonderful quilts out there to make and feel overwhelmed.  Actually planning a quilt may in fact be my favorite part, but that does not mean that the rest of the parts are not also fun and also need to be done.

And letting myself explore new things Рembroidery for example Рgives me a new avenue and new way to express myself that I never planned for.  Yeah for both planning and keeping an open mind.

Oh and by the way, I am getting some supplies ready for podcasting.¬† I am slowly finding programs and hardware in unexpected places ( ROCK BAND microphone works in my computer!!!)¬† Yippiee!¬† Here’s a link

Fabric 1

Unplanned fabric

to a song I want to use in the podcast from mevio’s music alley by Rilo Killey.