Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Old is New

Just at the last minute, I got my September goal for ALYOF completed. My 40's silk log cabin quilt top, aka "Eleanor Roosevelt," got a border. The quilt colors are a mixture of soft  dusty tones, and a few bright fuschias and mangoes. What to use to bring out the sparkle? Everything-old-is-new-again-grey. I think it works. The quilt really came to life, from blocks that were thrown away.

The border might need to be narrower.  A wild, orange and pink binding would be fun.  The blocks were sewn to flour sack backs, and a few flour sack prints. Just like depression era underwear ! I hate to cover them up. Since I interfaced the border, and the blocks are all backed, maybe I'll use a sheer backing and no batt, I can still hand quilt it but leave the sweet flour sacks visible.

Flour Sack Sweetness.
It is destined to be a wall hanging. So perhaps I can make a sheer or gauze backing work. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...

Friday, September 5, 2014

My New Favorite Aroma

I used to think there was enough wonderful fabric in the world without my adding to it by buying more and dying it different colors. I even tried a class on dyes, but was turned off by the hazardous chemicals and the precautions. Then I was introduced to earth friendly fabric dying by my artistic pal, Betsy Hinze, and heard the siren song. Or, as Mr. Thimblepie says, I drank the kool aid.

Last March I learned about mordanting fibers with plant protein, namely soybean water. After soaking the beans, the water was used to prepare the fabric for accepting the dye. I let the silk, linen, and cotton rest for 5 months. Betsy told us that Japanese dye masters have aged mordanted fabric for decades sometimes. Meanwhile, I saved avocado peels to use for the dye. Yesterday I started the simmering and was delighted to discover that the aroma is citrusy and like a walk in a pine forest. I  simmered the peels in a crock pot for the night, and gave the vat a full 24 hours of heat. Then I strained off the peels and added my fabrics in a big enamel pot. I also added a piece that turned out to be polyester, it did not take the dye. The silk, when added to the avocado brew, gave off the MOST WONDERFUL AROMA I have ever smelled. It beats fresh bread, sheets dried in the wind, and my own newborn's honey scent. True story. The aroma of silk in avocado brew is a combination of the citrusy piney scent and floral spice, something like Japanese tea gardens and hot house flowers mixed together. If I could add a scratch and sniff to this blog, I would.

How funny is it that the bland and stodgy avocado taste is so disparate from it's cooked peel scent? And then there is the equally surprising color.... dusty rose. Here is a peek at my clothes line, with my sister Pam's quilt, Tumbling Triangles, and my dusty rose fabric drying in the breeze:

Clothes line cross tie repurposed from a dead apple tree on our lot.
 At the other end of the property is our veggie and fruit garden, deer proofed. We grew lima beans this year, a very satisfying crop. The beans are so pretty.

All told we will have about 5 lbs of beans, dried, from one package of seeds.
I read an interesting article in The Quilt Life, "Brown's Sophisticated Cousin." It is about the movement of Japanese taupes into mainstream quilting. I think my dusty rose dyed fabric is leaning toward being taupe, especially the cotton. I  have a baby quilt to make in soft natural colors, and the taupe and dusty rose seem just the ticket. The baby is due around Thanksgiving, and now I can ponder the design.

My September goal for my group, ALYOF is to finish the quilt top I started in April, a vintage silk log cabin. I'd like to hand quilt it, and need to add a border and baste it. Here is the top so far, (I posted it in April, too,  if it looks familiar.)
My Eleanor Roosevelt Quilt.
I am thinking that some of my newly dyed fabric will make a nice border. Audition is tomorrow. What does your weekend hold in store?