Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A Cool Little Technique

Years ago when I lived in Marietta, GA, I used to shop for art supplies at Pearl, very well known on the east coast....Unfortunately after many years, they closed, but in the interim, it provided many happy hours for finding new things to experiment with. I was into dyeing fabric so anything with the word "cotton" caught my attention. 
There were rolls of canvas for painting....cotton and one in particular seemed rather thin. It was a 7oz single fill (I had no idea what that meant) but it was COTTON...so how bad could it be. It was also a great price $3.00 a yard which ran 72" wide so really only $1.50 a yard. I bought a yard...drove home happy as a clam....and immediately dyed  this treasure that same afternoon...(Off the subject, the minute I laid this fabric down to photograph, Molly was on top of it!)
Well guess who was heading back to Pearl the next day for more....
Yup....10 yards this time. I still have lots left; it is a bit heavier than quilter's muslin but it's a wonderful fabric and I've used it many times in smaller pieces.
I always microwave dye it to add some visual texture to the fabric and take away the flatness. The process I use is quite easy...1/4 tsp. each of soda ash, mx dye and table salt in 2 cups of water for 2 yds of fabric. Microwave (in a designated microwave) for 4 mins on high if you have settings. It doesn't matter if fabric is dry or wet to start...each creates a different effect. You can halve the recipe if 2 yards is too much. Above, I used Havana Brown mx which is a dye that splits and gives off a grayish brown along with a greenish color...so pretty. After placing some of the appliques on top, I realized the background needed some more "personality" so I went to my stamp and silk screen drawer.

I mixed up some textile paint to make a brownish gray which I thought would work well on the background fabric.

I love stamps with words...I use this one a lot....and my favorite....not a stamp but something

I found when our house was being built (top left) used as a base for tiles in the bathroom. It creates a wonderful and subtle effect on fabric....just a touch here and there.
There are several size grids...this one above is a little larger than the yellow grid. I like the additonal stamping etc. on the surface.

And now onto the tulle. Tulle, like ballerina tulle is a great "tool" - pardon the pun, in your studio.
There are many times when you have an applique with many parts and you want to try it out on different areas of your quilt...so time was when I had to pin each little part to another area of the quilt until I discovered how to use tulle. So here's what I do...make 2 copies of your applique...one as a reference and the other as a pattern to cut up. Number each part with the same number in each applique....Petal #1 in the cut up is the same petal #1 in the reference and so on......
Lay a piece of tulle under the applique which serves as a reference. The applique pattern is used to cut up and make each part in fabric. Lay each piece on the reference piece on top of the tulle, pin or
use a glue stick to hold in place. Next you are going to iron the pieces onto the tulle using a fairly low setting. Use an old cotton hankie as a pressing cloth and also to protect the tulle from disintergrating. It can happen very quickly...Ask me how I know this.....see bottom right. Now if you're wondering why I just don't use the glue stick and skip the ironing....I've had it happen far too often where the pieces fall off with a glue stick...so ironing holds it better.

Even little fabric dots can be added to the tulle.....Now it is so easy to move the applique anywhere on the quilt to see the best placement for it. The tulle on the lower pictures is very light colored and hard to see....
When you have the right placement, it's time to iron the applique down permanently. Do this a little bit at a time by gently pulling off the tulle, ironing that section, pull off more tulle, iron...etc...It's a great little technique I've used time and time again....
Have fun...til next time.


  1. WOW...aren't you the clever one! Thanks for sharing this process!!! As always, you provide some cool techniques and share so easily!

  2. This is a great piece- thanks for sharing your process for preparing the layers. Cute kitty!