Bobby Dole’s Blue Jeans

Where were we? Oh yes, I was dyeing everything blue. With all the yardage I dunked in the indigo (multiple times, each piece), I decided to try to get that pineapple quilt done again, closer to the initial design.

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

There was no lingering because there was a deadline for an exhibition. Oy. But I pressed on through and got the deed done.

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

And I still want to sew more pineapple blocks, believe it or not.

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

But later…later. And a little differently.

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

I promise to tell you all about it. Maybe.

Bobby Dole's Blue Jeans

Heh.

The Details

Materials: my own handdyed indigos and bits of commercially dyed cottons and neutrals
Techniques: improvisationally-pieced by machine using paper foundations; machine quilted; hand faced; handdyed
Finished size: about 33″ square
Started: March 2015
Finished: June 2015

just some play

Some random not very deep thoughts on fabric and stuff.

Been dyeing loads of indigo yardage and contemplating dunking my entire stash at once. Lately, I just keep chipping away at a few stacks of solids and semisolids adding more colors here and there. Not touching prints cached away long ago really makes one see the rookie purchase mistakes…yikes. Pretty sure an all-blue stash won’t fix those errors, however. So considering how to clear the shelves of fabrics and guilt is my next big project.

Playing around.

Just playing around in found moments, though, I’m still sewing. Not quite at “burn out,” it’s definitely a low in the pendulum swing around here. Just doodling and seeking the next spark.

Instead I’m feeling inspired by:

…these ladies telling the truth.

…this sparkly protrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the painful story of how it came to live in NYC.

…this surprisingly engaging and funny talk about the awful designs of city flags.

Have a great week!

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Let’s do this one photo-essay style? I’ll blab a little and then just let the story play out in a buncha photos.

Turns out that indigo overdyeing of quilts is a “make lemonade” kind of move sometimes, whether you’re working with an old stained quilt that needs to be refreshed or a new one in which the red dyes run despite pre-washing multiple times flim-flarn-filth-flipping-fart-fo-fum-foo

Ahem.

So…here’s the beginning. The traditional pineapple block is a marvel. It’s constructed like a log cabin, with some corner work here and there. And no matter the size, each one takes about an hour to make. The faint of heart might want to steer clear unless they want to make something truly lovely. The secondary circles that pop up after assembly are stunning and well worth the effort.

Of course, even more exciting secondary patterns come when you vary sizes and shapes of the traditional block and then slam them together. That’s what I was going for and it didn’t disappoint.

I spent seven months off and on—way more than 100 hours—working on this tortoise-slow piecing and dense quilting. And all was looking and feeling great! Which, of course, means disaster was looming.
.
.
…suspenseful pause…
.
.
The reds ran! And I now no longer use the fabrics of a certain notorious high volume hand-dyed fabric purveyor. Please don’t lecture me on pre-washing. I pre-washed THREE times with all the standard professional detergents. And, after the bleeds, I tried every professional remedy and every folktale cure—anyone mentioning Color Catchers here will be strung up by their toes. No, really, shove them where the sun don’t shine. Nothing. Nothing worked.

But what then do you do with a year’s ruined magnum opus? I never gave up, but I did eat a lot of comforting cookies.

Turns out that indigo overdyeing was exactly the right gamble for me. And I kinda think it’s an even better quilt in all its blueness.

Oh, and I already made another one that isn’t quite this blue! More on that one later.

Okay, here are the photos. Thanks for hearing my story. xo

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

two-by-two, hands of blue.

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Bobby Dole Sings the Blues

Have a Smurf-y weekend!

.

The Details

Materials: Various handdyed solids and neutrals; indigo dye
Techniques: improvisationally-pieced by machine using paper foundations; machine quilted; hand faced; hand dyed
Finished size: about 33″ square
Started: September 2014
Finished: March 2015

i blue my quilt.

So…I want to tell you about a quilt transformation that I both love deeply and kinda sorta fret about.

Night and Day Log Cabin

Back in 2005—TEN years ago—I made this quilt with my mother. She came up for a visit and I showed her how to quilt. I was still in my conservative color stage (only blue and white…grey, if feeling randy) and so I decided to let her pick the fabrics. That yellow really made me twitchy. We cut strips and I sewed like a maniac to finish the top within the weekend.

smurf attack

We made a couple of tops that weekend, so it felt fine for me to choose to keep this one—the yellow grew on me. It quickly became the ubiquitous couch quilt, enduring coffee spills and the strife of real life. Laundering was always enough to perk it up, until this past weekend when a couple of stains pushed me over the edge.

Why not overdye the quilt with indigo to cover the stains? I dyed my own pineapple quilt this past winter; and I still need to show you that here. Though, I got the idea from these indigo dyed vintage quilts in NYC. You can see their current inventory too for a sense of the range of possible outcomes. [I have no affiliation with Shark Tooth.] The varied shades of blue come from multiple dips to darken, difference in how various fabrics (cotton, silk, synthetic, etc) take up the dye, original colors of the fabrics, etc.

smurf attack

I’ve written about the indigo dyeing process here before. For depth of color, one doesn’t leave stuff in the dyebath for longer time, but rather dips and oxidizes multiple times. I dipped and oxidized the quilt three times. It’s one thirsty quilt, absorbing lots of water in the dyebath and turning heavier and soggier every time. Supporting the weight to transfer to the rack each time was quite the workout! (My hands, arms, legs and feet are now very blue. And my kitchen eventually flooded with a deep blue river.)

smurf attack

I love the subtle variations in the blues; it’s mesmerizing. And the quilting stitches, done by a longarmer, must have been done with polyester thread because they didn’t take up the dye. The contrast is kinda nice now that the quilt is monochrome.

smurf attack

It’s like a whole new quilt. And I just fell in love with it all over again.

xoxo

And about that fretting? Yeah, well, this process transforms the quilt into something new. We could debate about the company that does it to vintage quilts, but it’s not the same to choose to do it to one’s own quilt. Having now done one as soon as I made it and another one ten years later, I dunno.

Meh. I don’t feel like fretting.

Okay.