The kaleidoscope quilt I’ve been working on for the past several months was finally finished in time for last night’s school auction. Each of the kids at the school (almost 400) dyed a square of fabric, which I cut up to make this quilt, paper-piecing each block. You can read about the dyeing process here. Of course it didn’t sell for as much as I’d hoped at the auction, but I’ve learned not to take that personally. Just wish that all my time could have resulted in more money for the school and I will definitely not break it down to figure out my hourly rate, because that would be too disheartening.
Here are my Instagram photos of the process, which I thought I’d share in case you don’t follow me over there. These days I really enjoy taking photos of the process and I’m trying to take a step back and enjoy the work more, rather than focusing on the end result. You can see that I sewed the blocks together with the paper backing still attached, then wanted to speed up the process of removing them so eventually the quilt top landed in the bathtub. They do make a dissolvable paper for foundation piecing, which I will definitely try next time on a smaller project. My walking foot was skipping stitches (tried everything including tension, replacing needles, cleaning machine, etc.), so I eventually had to get a new walking foot and an adapter so it would fit my older Babylock Ellageo machine.
If you’re interested in making this quilt using the foundation piecing method, I posted the templates that I created here.
In a previous post, I mentioned that the fabric used to make the school auction quilt, which is still in progress (finished quilt top here), was dyed by the kids at my children’s school. In order to get almost 400 kids to dye fabric and attempt to make each piece unique, we used a small batch dyeing process using plastic bags. Sarah from Intown Quilters here in Atlanta told me about this method. I ordered my reactive fabric dye from Dharma Trading. They have a great variety and an educational website to help you with the process.
First, I cut all the fabric into 7″ squares, then pre-washed it, dried it, and gave the pieces a quick pressing. For this project I used a white Kona cotton and some other white and neutral cottons and linens, but you might want to use fabric that has not been treated. I mixed several colors of dye, each in a small cup and mixed the soda ash with water in another container. We then folded plastic bags over larger clear plastic cups, filled them with warm water and let the kids squeeze in some of the concentrated dye with a medicine dropper (another parent thought of using the medicine droppers so the kids wouldn’t spill and it worked out very well). We then added the soda ash mixture, dropped in the fabric, sealed the bag, removed the bag from the cup, and let the kids squish around their bag, gently. That word “gently” is key when working with five-year-olds. Out of almost 400 kids, we only had two minor spills, so not bad! Many of the kids enjoyed the sensory input of squeezing the bag of warm water and didn’t want to give it up.
Some of the bags we let sit for just 10 minutes and some a couple of hours. I changed the dyes up frequently, varying the colors and intensity so we could get the widest possible range of blues, greens, and yellows. Then I rinsed the fabric, let it air dry, then ran it through the washed and dryer. I think I bought nine different colors, but mixed them together in various ways and changed the concentration with each batch. Here is an Instagram photo some of the fabric drying on a rack at the school. The very patient art teacher let us dye fabric with the kids during art time.
Hopefully I’ll get this project basted and quilted soon!
Since I’ve mostly been working on the school auction quilt this week, I thought I’d show you the work in progress (via Instagram photos). So far, I’ve got 44 of 64 blocks made.
I’ve also started watching some of the lectures from QuiltCon, which you can find for free over on Craftsy.
Many of you quilters are at QuiltCon, but I am just going to sew all weekend. I’m disappointed about missing out on all the fun, but it’s part of my resolution to get a better balance on my income versus expenses this year. That means only one sewing trip for me; fall market in Houston. For all of you quilters who didn’t make it to QuiltCon this year, what are you working on at home?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m working on a quilt for the kids’ school auction. The theme of the auction is kaleidoscope, so I immediately thought of the Shoeman’s Puzzle quilt in Denyse Schmidt’s latest book. I am making this quilt with a traditional kaleidoscope design, but I created templates so that I could paper piece it. I’ve shared my templates below if you’d like to make this block. Just click on the images for the .pdf file. Be sure to print full size (de-select the “fit to page” option). Although your outer lines may get cut off, the block with seam allowance is 8 1/2″, the width of standard paper.
If you follow me on Instagram, you saw yesterday that I was trying to decide whether to paper piece or use templates, so I increased the size of the block from 6″ to 8″, which means I only have to make 64 instead of 100 blocks. I like the precision of paper-piecing and I actually enjoy the process. Cutting fabric is one of my least favorite tasks, so this skips that step. Each of the pieces for the quilt was hand-dyed by the kids and when it all comes together, it should look something like this. I limited the colors to varying shades of blue, yellow and green so that the subtle patterns in this design will still be seen.
Hoping to get the quilt top made this weekend, so wish me luck!
I have foolishly volunteered to make the school auction quilt this year. Two years ago, I spent a lot of time working on this quilt that was embroidered by all 400 of the kids. It took me about 6 weeks at the school sewing with each kid. Though it was lovely to introduce the kids the kids to sewing, I have learned a few lessons. This time around, we are having each kid dye a piece of fabric which will then be incorporated into the quilt. A much faster and easier process. I’ll post more later about the process of dyeing each piece individually if anyone is interested.
But above you can see some experiments that my kids and I did with patterned fabric. Ultimately we’re using only those with subtle or small-scale pattern and skipping the fabrics that grayed out too much in the dyeing process. I am using a kaleidoscope quilt design, so I think the quilt will be busy enough without too much additional pattern. Here’s the stack of fabric we have so far, and I think we’re close to halfway through the almost 400 kids who will be dyeing fabric. You can see I am sticking with shades of green, yellow, and blue and striving for lots of color variation. I’ll keep you posted on the process.