On the Needles: Indigo Quilt

Indigo Charm Squares by Cate Carter-Evans Infinite Twist Indigo is magical stuff.

It even has its own smell - William Gibson described it "a faint jungle pong." It's an herbal smell, unique and almost wooly.

I live in the right place to indulge in a love affair with indigo.

I've collected a little bit here and there on travels, and ended up with a fair bit. High time to put the stash to good use.

Indigo Charm Squares by Cate Carter-Evans Infinite Twist

The fabrics are a smogasbord of textile techniques, including cool examples of block printing, stencil printing, batik, and a use of hand-stitching to create areas of resist (kind of like shibori perhaps?).

I'm combining them with a really bright Chinese red cotton I picked up on a recent trip to Portland.

My plan is to piece a big double happiness for the quilt back, something like this block.

double happiness

I'm looking forward to snuggling up with this beauty as the weather cools off.


Vesper seems to like the new quilt already. The alternate explanation is that she's telling me I'm doing it wrong.

Lucky (least social of cats) has established a new territory in my office, and he's been keeping me company at the computer.

He's camera-shy, so it was fun to get a close-up of his face. Lucky

What have you been working on this week?

Thai Silk

silk 1 silk 2













So DH and I went on holiday to Bangkok... and I just happened to see lots of Thai silk. Yeah, quite the serendipitous coincidence. Here are my best textile photos of the trip - I hope you enjoy!

silk 3

silk 4

silk 5

Batik Quilt

Here's a look at the finished batik quilt, plus some photos of the process.

It's driving me crazy, but I don't dare put this quilt on the bed yet. The kittens are still too small to properly manage the leap onto the mattress. They manage to jump about 3/4 of the way up, and then dig their little claws into the bedding to pull themselves up the rest of the way.

Cat claws + new quilt = bad news.



The first big hurdle was finding the right background color to pair with all the batiks. I started out with a light grey, which didn't work at all. I eventually settled on a dark charcoal grey.




After piecing the top, the next challenge was quilting. I've been wanting to try free-motion machine quilting for a while, and thought this quilt would be a good place to start.

I rented time on this Gamill sewing machine while on vacation in Maine, and completed the quilting in about six hours.


The quilting process was a lot of fun and a little bit nerve-wracking. The machine felt like it was driving me rather than the other way around for the first couple of hours. By the end of the day, I felt like I had the hang of it.  



Up next was making yards and yards and yards of binding, followed by two days of hand-stitching it on.  



Lastly, after a thorough trip through the washer and the dryer, it was done!




Modern Baby Quilt

This is a baby quilt I made for my friend Bec. The design goal was something modern and not too "baby" looking. All the fabrics are from my stash, including a bunch of prints from Singapore and Germany.

It's all quilted now (stitch in the ditch), bound with a dark grey binding, and has traveled through the washer and dryer. It's light, clean, fluffy, and all ready for its little person!

This case for double-pointed knitting needs and its companion crochet hook caddy were instant gratification at its crafty finest. This was a quick-and-easy project (less than 1 hour), made from 100% stash materials, and it solved an organizational challenge.

This case replaces a pretty-but-useless velvet case I made several years back. The needles constantly fell out of the old one and would wind up at the very bottom of the basket of knitting stuff. I could never find what a full set in the size I wanted without digging.

For this new and improved version, I knew I wanted the fabric to be stretchy so the needles would stay put. The perfect material was already in my stash – multicolored 1.25” elastic!

The elastic was a free gift from my previous employer (a sportswear company with a certain German obsession for quality that leads them to test absolutely everything that goes into their products). Testing leftovers were dumped in a give-away bin outside the mterials lab, and one day, there was the super fun elastic. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but loved the candy-hued colors, and home it came.

Confession - this stuff has been in my stash for somewhere around three years. Gah! In any case, I think it was worth the wait.

Wedding skirt ingredients

Here is part one of the materials list for my wedding skirt and veil:










1. Large bag of dupioni and charmeuse silk scraps donated by the fabulous and generous Piper Ewan. She makes epic corsets, slip dresses, garters, and silk flowers, and is a gem of Portland indie fashion.











2. Bits of vintage kimono silk, and left over-bits from the re-work of one awesome embroidered and beaded 60's era dress, also from Piper,











3. A sample of curtain fabric woven by my grandmother,











4. old tea towels, handkerchiefs, and napkins, plus a very early embroidery effort on my part (circa age 4),









5. bolt of old japanese silk from my great grandmother,











6.  Hand-edged linen and cotton from the Paris flea market, plus another hankie,











7. fabrics from Singapore and Vietnam (the sparkly one didn't make the final cut),











8. hand-sewn doily fron Vietnam.

With all these goodies to work with, it would have taken some real work to achieve a less-than-awesome result. It was a real treat to be able to use the beautiful recycled materials from Piper, plus textiles from various stops along my travels, and so many family pieces.

There's even more ingredients to show, but I'll save them for next time.

Welcome back!

So it's been mighty quiet around these parts for the last couple of months. This was not standard blog burn-out - I was busy getting married, twice, one two continents, to the same wonderful man.

Wedding number one was a full-blown married-at-home crafty extravaganza. I made my dress and accessories, did the decorations myself, made headpieces for the flower girls, made outfits for the flower boys, sewed runners and tablecloths, and made the favors and did the flower arranging with the help of some wonderful friends and dedicated family members.

I'll be sharing some highlights of the wedding projects over the next couple of weeks.

Up first is the most time-consuming bit of the whole process: the saga of the epic underskirt.

I'm not that much of a planner when it comes to sewing - I've made a lot of garments and costumes for myself and other over the years, and I generally feel pretty confident in my ability adapt as I go along. The underskirt was a lesson in where a bit of math up front would have been helpful.

The underskirt concept was to do a crinoline-style skirt in silk organza, with soft grosgrain ribbon reinforcing all the horizontal seams. I bought 12 yards of 60" silk, and then cut that into 5" strips, yielding 144 yards of fabric to be gathered and sewn up.

That sounds like enough, right? Oh, silly seamstress! 30 yards of fabric and more than a mile of ribbon later, I finally had something that looked like it was big enough to support the overskirt I was planning. Even that wasn't enough.

Luckily, I had an excellent supervisor. 

Finally, I got the message this just wasn't going according to plan, and went to the Shanghai Wedding Market. The wedding market is in the same windowless building as the optical market, and the photography market. It's one floor of prom dresses on steroids, fake flower bouquets, and suits that would bring Elvis blush with envy.

I hunted high and low for a crinoline to put under the one I'd made - no luck. Finally, I found a shop that had hoop skirts made from metal hoops encased in nasty polyester. I bit the bullet and shelled out my $15. The darn thing worked like a dream. I wore my silk underskirt underneath it as a shield from the nasty fabric, and to avoid feeling like I was walking around in an empty shell.

Post-wedding, the underskirt has gone to a certain crafty friend who will recycle it into something amazing. I can't wait to see what she does with it.