Butterfly Art Quilt – Quilting and Final Product

My butterfly quilt is complete!

From a distance, it is hard to see the details.  But, close up it’s really fun to look at.

I find inspiration for my quilting from a variety of sources – photos, coloring books, . Sometimes the quilt block “suggests” the quilting design.  Other times, it can be a bit illusive.

When planning this butterfly quilt, I knew I wanted the quilting along the edges to look like grass, but I also wanted to add some creativity to the border.  While at work, I found inspiration in a recent copy  of Martha Stewart “Living” magazine.  I liked the ferns and curly spikes in this photo and thought they would be a great addition to the quilting.
I also wanted to add some flowers and butterflies flying in the background.
Here are some close-up pictures:

The back is fun to look at as well!

 

 

Road Trip, Summer 2016

As a pediatric dentist, summer is always very busy.  But, it’s still nice to have some time away from the office. This year, my time off came in the form of a road trip to NYC.  My third son, Ben, will be attending Pratt Institute this fall to study Architecture.  So, we loaded up his college stuff and hit the road.

Day One: Minneapolis to Milwaukee
Beautiful sunset over a Wisonsin farm.

Our first stop was a visit to see my mother-in-law in Milwaukee.  After working until noon, we finished loading and headed out. Unfortunately, I had a horrible migraine that even Rizatriptan could not stop. Thankfully, my son could drive.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan.
Photo courtesy of my son, Dan.
Day Two: Milwaukee to Niagara
An early morning wake up was in order to take the 6am ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon. Very relaxing start to our day (nap included) prior to driving across Michigan and part of Ontario.
The view from our hotel window.
Day Three: Niagara Falls
The Falls are always amazing to see and are a good reminder of God’s immense power.
If you visit Niagara, I would recommend dinner at Kasbah Mediterranean Qsine restaurant. Starting at 3pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they offer a prix fixe option for $21 Canadian ($16.15 USD) per person.  The meal included an appetizer plate, soup or salad options, four entrees and desert.  Great food, great value!
Brooklyn Brownstone
Day Four: Niagara to Brooklyn
We set out in the morning to drive across the state of New York. Along the way we made a stop in Corning to have lunch with my sister-in-law, niece and her husband.
When we arrived in Brooklyn at 8pm, the outdoor temperature was 95 degrees. My son’s room, on the fourth floor of one of the historic Brooklyn brownstones, was even hotter!  After numerous trips up and down the stairs, we finally had everything unloaded. I was happy to head to an air conditioned hotel.  My son, however, spent his first night in Brooklyn in his really hot apartment.
Day Five: Brooklyn, Manhattan, NY
Morning shopping at Ikea, Target and a grocery store.
Lunch at Luigi’s.
Dinner at Juice Press.
Evening Harbor Lights Cruise.

Statue of Liberty
Manhattan Skyline
Pratt Institute entrance.
Photo was taken during our visit in April.
Jacket was definitely not needed this time.

Day Six:

Brooklyn to Pittsburg

With orientation starting in a few days and classes starting in a week, Ben, has some time to check out the city and get settled in to his apartment. Kinda makes his mom want to be young again so that she can have the same experience!

But, my youngest son, Dan, and I had a long drive back to Minnesota. So, time to say good bye and head west.

To break up the drive, we planned a few stops along the way.

Liberty Bell

Our first stop was in Philadelphia for a self guided Constitution Walking Tour. Dan has been fascinated by history since he was really young. So, this was an enjoyable stop.

Constitution Hall
Chocolate Overload!

The drive through central Pennsylvania was beautiful. I especially liked the old split stone farm houses that I saw along the way.

For our second stop, I was debating between Lancaster, PA or Hershey, PA. I thought my son would prefer Hershey, so that was where we headed.
Bad decision – way too commercial and far too many people!  I should have investigated this decision a bit more.


Day Seven: Pittsburgh to Chicago

Eight hours of driving and toll road, after toll road. I think this trip cost over $200 in tolls.  I wish I had known that the E-ZPass – probably would have saved a lot of $.

The Ledge

Rain storms off and on throughout the day, from showers to heavy downpours.  We finally made it to Chicago.

Not wanting to do too much, we settled on a ride up to the SkyDeck of the Willis Building. The Ledge is a glass balcony that extends four feet outside of the building on the 103rd floor.  That’s 1353 feet above the ground.  When you look down, you see the city below!

Day Eight: Chicago to Minneapolis

Our day started with a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry. Some of the exhibits we saw:
Coal Mine – history and technology of mining
U-505 Submarine – a German submarine that was captured during WWII
The Great Train Story – a massive model train display that includes Chicago and Seattle
Numbers in Nature – Mirror Maze – this was really fun!
Transportation Gallery – a flight simulator ride with Dan as the pilot and me as the gunner.  I only hit three targets.  But, it’s a bit hard aiming when you are flying upside down.  Dan will need a bit more practice before he joins that Air Force.

After a late afternoon stop in Madison for ice cream with my son, Sam, we arrived home at 10 pm. Happy to sleep in my own bed again.

Accomplishments:
2650 miles driven,
$223.10 in tolls paid,
Nine states and one Canadian province visited,
A few tense moments driving in unknown areas,
One son settled,
History experienced, and
Lots of photos and fun memories.

Butterfly Art Quilt – Custom Dyed Background and Backing

After my butterflies were all cut, it was time to create the background fabric that they will be appliqued onto.  Inspiration – my garden (ie: grass and blue sky).

For this edge of the fabric, I am hoping to create something that looks like grass, using the Shibori technique.  For the sky, I am thinking that ice dyeing with blue might work well. Ice dyeing is similar to snow dyeing but with ice cubes instead of snow since it is summer here in Minnesota.  So, I setup to do some more fabric dyeing

Green Grass edge:
1. Cut 4 yards of Combed Cotton (Dharma Trading Company) lengthwise into three strips 144″ x 15″.
2. Sew each strip into a long tube (using a basting stitch) and scrunch onto 4″ x 24″ PVC pipe.
3. Place the fabric tube into wallpaper water tray that contains 750 ml Emerald Green Dye (2 mg/ml concentration) for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the fabric from the dye, place on paper towel to absorb excess dye solution, then wrap in plastic and batch for 4 hours.
5. Remove the stitching, rinse with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.

Blue Sky Center:
1. Cut the green dyed fabric into two pieces 105″ in length and two pieces 75″ in length.
2. Sew these to the sides of a 72″ x 45″ piece of undyed Combed Cotton, making mitered corners.
3. Soak the fabric in warm water and wring out excess so that the fabric is just damp, not dripping.
4. Scrunch the undyed center fabric into a drain tray (sorry, but I didn’t take pictures of this), with the green edges hanging over this sides of the tray to keep from getting too much blue dye on the “green grass”. Place a 12′ x 15′ piece of scrap fabric over the scrunched fabric to catch any undissolved dye particles.
5. Cover the fabric with ice cubes.  I used eight trays of ice, which made the layer about 3″ thick.
6. Sprinkle with 0.5 gm Mixing Blue  and 1.5 gm Royal Blue dye powder.
7. Place the drain tray in a large plastic bucket to collect the melting ice and cover (to keep my cat out of the dye).
8. After the ice has melted (about 8 hours), pour one liter of hot Soda Ash solution over the fabric to set the dye and allow to batch for one hour.
9. Rinse out the excess dye with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.
10. After drying, scrunch the edges of the fabric together and dip in Evergreen dye (1 liter of 2 mg/ml) to create a darker green edge.
11. Batch for four hours, rinse and wash.

 

 

The background fabric was now ready to applique the butterflies.  I used a variagated silk thread for the applique (Tiara #705 Silk, Superior Threads).

For my backing fabric, I wanted to complement the quilting that I was planning for the top of the quilt. To do this, I thought I would try to ombre dye the fabric.  As an added detail, I decided to first use dye magnet and dye blocker to make some butterflies that would appear in the dye.

Backing Fabric:
1. 80″ x 110″ Combed Cotton
2. Cut butterfly stencils out of adhesive vinyl using my Cameo stencil cutter.
3. Paint dye magnet near the center of the fabric to create five butterflies that will be darker than the dyed background color in those areas.
4. Paint dye blocker (Nori Glue) in the outer part of the fabric to  create five butterflies that will be white the the darker areas of the fabric. Allow both magnet and blocker to dry completely overnight.
5. Pull the center of the fabric together and secure to a wooden pole, similar to that described for ombre dyed sheers.
6. Fill a 4 gallon bucket with 8 liters of hot soda ash solution.
7. Add 1ml dye solution (200mg concentrate) and dip fabric to about 4″ from center fabric attached to pole.
8. Remove fabric, add more dye concentrate and dip the fabric again but this time stopping 4″ less than previously dipped. Repeat this process stopping 4″ shorter each time. Dye concentrate amounts used were 1,1,2,2,5,5,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml of 200 mg/ml solution.
9. Allow to hang and batch, with excess dye dripping off, for two hours.
10. Dip fabric in 4 liters of dilute Retayne and hang again for 20 minutes to allow the dye to set to the fabric.
11. Rinse out excess dye with cold water and wash with Blue Dawn.

I am now ready to load this quilt onto my longarm machine and start the custom quilting process.

Butterfly Art Quilt

As a pediatric dentist, I see lots of kids with interesting clothing selections.  Some have mismatched colors, some have their shirts on backwards (or their shoes), but some are absolutely adorable.  Last winter, one of my younger patients (she was a little over 3 years old) came in with a t-shirt on that had a large butterfly printed on it.
Now, I love butterflies – with their beautiful colors and graceful wings. This little girl was fearful of having me check her teeth, so I tried to help her relax by talking to her about her t-shirt.  Turned out that she liked butterflies too and gladly started showing me her t-shirt.  On closer inspection, this large butterfly was actually made up of smaller butterflies and was really cute.  After a successful dental checkup, she left cavity free and happy!
Since it was a busy day, I didn’t think more about the patient until my lunch break when my staff commented that they were happy she overcame her fears and was able to complete an exam and cleaning. One of my staff commented that the conversation about the butterflies may have been what helped her to relax. This conversation sparked an idea in my mind – to make a quilt with a butterfly made out of little butterflies.

http://www.missoulabutterflyhouse.org/store/

An on-line image search was unsuccessful in finding a picture of the t-shirt that matched what I remembered seeing earlier that day. I did, however, find a link to the Missoula Insectarium. In their store, they sell a t-shirt with butterflies  that I thought might be a good inspiration for my quilt.

Using a graphics program, I did a quick design to see how the idea might look. This, I thought, was going to be a fun quilt to make.

Creating the applique butterflies:
Using the graphics program, I cropped the butterfly image around each of individual butterflies.  In doing this, I found that several of the butterflies were about the same shape.  So, I actually only had 12 different butterflies to work with.  Using the Bernina DesignWorks software, I created a Cutwork and Applique file for each butterfly.

For my fabrics, I used the samples from my many trials of fabric dyeing – shibori, mandala, etc).  These fabrics had symmetrical colorings and patterns that worked well for butterfly wings.

More on this project in my next posting…

Ombre Dyed Sheers


My eldest son lives in San Francisco and recently moved into a new apartment.  His room is quite large and has a beautiful bay window where he has his desk situated.  He enjoys this desk placement with lots of sunlight flooding him when he is working and a nice view out the window.

 

At certain times of the day, the sun shines directly into his eyes, making working at his computer a bit difficult. He attempted to remedy this problem by putting up some sheers that would block the sun, but still allow some light into the room.

Unfortunately, the sun was still too bright in the late afternoon.  So, when the sheers did not solve his problem, he sought another solution.  His idea was to find some Ombre dyed sheers that were dark grey on the top and transitioning to white on the bottom.

Due to the size of the window, the only ones that he could find were nearly $600. Before he purchased these, he sent me a message to seek my advice about whether this was a good idea. Having recently tried out ombre dyeing of scarves, I thought that the price might be a bit high and offered to make some sheers for him.

Supplies:
Mid-weight Linen (Dharma Trading) 54” wide, 5.1 oz per yard
Wooden dowel, 5 ft length
Support rods – I used two camera tripods with a board attached to the top.
Dye – Black Silk, Jet Black
Unsoftened water, 12 gallons
Soda Ash, Salt
Retayne
Dye Vat:
2 x 6 Cedar, 48” x 2
2 x 6 Cedar, 12” x 2 – screw to ends of 48”
Heavy duty plastic stapled to wood to create dye vat 48” x 9″
Trial Day One:
Cut fabric to 90” length
Sew 1” doubled rod sleeve at one end
Pin opposite end to wooden dowel, roll up extra fabric (cover extra fabric with plastic bag to keep dye from splattering on white end of fabric)
Mark fabric with pin at 8” and then every 4” up to 48” from rod sleeve
Set up tripods at 6 feet height with board attached
Fill dye vat with 4 gallons hot soda ash solution
Add Black Silk dye (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 1,1,2,4,4,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml
Dip fabric to farthest pin, hang and move out of the way
Add next dye quantity (see above) and repeat until all dye has been added
Hang to dry and batch for 2 hours

Wash with Blue Dawn in hot water

Lesson learned – Black silk dye on linen washes out to a blueish color

Trial Day Two:

Question – does a mixed of two different black dyes keep the gray color better?
Followed the same technique as above, but mixed two different black dyes
Black Silk (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 50 ml, mixed with
Jet Black (250 mg/ml concentrate) – 50 ml
Add dye (250 mg/ml concentrate) –  1,1,2,4,4,8,8,10,10,20,20 ml

Wash with Blue Dawn in hot water

Lesson learned – when working outdoors, monitor the wind to make sure that the fabric does not blow down and land on the dirty driveway, and Jet Black dye leaves a reddish tint to the un-dyed fabric.

Trial Day Three:
Question – does spraying the dye on work better? does washing in cold water keep the color from fading
Pin white end of fabric to clothes line

Mark fabric with pin at 8” then at 4” intervals up to 48” from rod sleeve
Spray fabric with hot soda ash solution to saturate bottom 48” of hanging fabric
Dilute 7.5 mg Black Silk dye in 1000ml SA solution
Spray 200ml on bottom 8”
Add 200 ml SA and spray next 4”
Repeat and continue up to 48”
Let batch for 2 hours
Wash with Blue Dawn in cold water
Lesson learned – spraying caused distinct lines to be visible on the fabric, but the cold water did help slightly.
Trial Day Four:
Question – does Retayne help set the gray color better?
Follow the same technique as Day One
Batch for two hours
Dilute 1 T Retayne in 1 gallon hot water, dip the dyed fabric for 5 minutes
Hang and allow to set for 20 minutes

Wash with Blue Dawn in cold water

Lesson learned – this is the center panel in the photo above and was by far the best result!!