Thursday, January 5, 2017

Playing in the New Year

Happy new year to you.

Since the first, I have not begun any significant sewing projects. I'm playing and healing. That is enough for now.

Today I played by thrifting for fabric. I've done this before with mixed results. It is never a large investment and I always learn something or at least have some cheap fun. And today my favorite local thrift store had shirts priced at $2 each. Such a deal for these lovely cottons:

Each shirt is a men's size L or XL so as to be able to harvest the maximum fabric. First I'll toss them in the washer and dryer, though three of them still had laundry tags on them. Then I'll cut the pieces apart. I've learned that it's not generally worth the trouble to harvest from the collars or cuffs due to the fusible interfacing used. But I'll see.

I have some favorite patterns in mind but really should wait to see how large the pieces are. If all else fails, I'll just play with the pieces in some kind of an art project. I like how the colors play off one another.

In addition to playing with these thrifted shirts, I have discovered a new material - hanji paper - and a new technique - felting with hanji paper. Cornelia in my fiber art group introduced us to this cool stuff Tuesday night. Cornelia is Korean-American. She told us that in Korea, this has been used for clothing, even armor (before bullets). Bonus: it is yummy to hand-sew:

We started with two large sheets of white hanji paper and several small pieces of colored hanji. I cut profiles (or a vase, depending on your perspective) from the blue hanji and sandwiched the blue between the two white sheets. To felt you mist it with water and accordion fold it. Then it is squeezed for what seemed like hours but was really about 5 minutes. Then it was refolded in another direction, accordion style and squeezed some more. I squeezed it all the way home in the car but it was not really felted even then.

On the other hand, the blue color had transferred to the each white sheet. When I pealed it apart, the blue pieces stuck to one of the pieces of white hanji paper. And I had two versions of my design. You can tell in the picture which portions contain the blue paper because it is darker blue. The lighter blues are just the lovely bleeding. The blue pieces were just barely attached, so I hand-stitched them down. I also hand-stitched the two pieces together.

Then I ruined it experimented with writing on it. Great fun, but I don't like it as much. The poem is Mirror by Sylvia Plath.

I have ordered a roll of hanji and cannot wait for it to arrive. Lots of playing left to do.

Meanwhile, I am using a modified Jude Hill technique to add on to a quilt. It started with a signature block from the family reunion in August. Some of the kids also traced their hands onto the white muslin. The piecing is a bit unsettling but the hand-stitch makes it better, I think.

It started out quite small and so was easy and fun to hand-quilt. Jude's approach is a kind-of quilt-as-you-go. You start with what will become the center of the quilt, build the quilt sandwich and quilt it leaving some space around all edges.

To add on, I peeled back the top and the back to show about an inch of batting. Then I hand-whipped another piece of batting onto the previous batting.

adding on new batting

After that I pieced a new portion for the top, and hand-stitched it on using a felling stitch. And then did the same thing to the back.

new portion of the back

the new sections on the right is ready for some slow hand-quilting
And then more quilting but it is always around the perimeter of the quilt. I have always struggled hand-quilting a quilt of any size because the center is so hard to handle. This eliminates that problem. It is slow sewing, but I like to have a slow project on hand at all times just to pass the time sitting by the fireplace.

So what are you sewing in 2017?


  1. I love these experiments, Martha. And I actually love the look of the writing on the hanji pieces. Interesting layers of texture and pattern!

  2. I love your hand sewing Martha! And your textile experimentation. Very nice