Over The Top Creativity

Some people are just over the top creative.  Last month the quilt club I am a member of in

Susan Rooney

Rochester, NY, Genesee Valley Quilt Club, invited Susan Rooney as the guest speaker.  Susan is one very talented local gal.  Not only was her presentation very informative, but I found it interesting and enlightening, as well.

Susan is a fabric designer, pattern designer, works with paper, and is just chocked full of creative ideas.  She looks at simple every day things, like a flower, stones, fences, and things we often pass by, and comes up with textile

Display illustrating textile design process.

designs.  Fabric is designed not just as a stand alone fabric, but often with companion designs that can be used in a similar colorway to work together in a quilt or other project.  Other colorways of the same designs are also usually available.  After creating the design, it is first printed on special large sheets of paper, sent to the textile manufacturer, printed on fabric, sent back to the fabric designer to check for color quality, design printing, and more.  This may even happen more than one time.

Did you know that there can only be 18 colors on silk screened fabric (most of quilting fabric today is silk screened)?  Most fabrics will have a row of color dots next to one of the salvages.  These are the colors that were used to print that fabric.  And certain colors do not work well next to each other because they will look like mud.  A lot of thought must go into the design of our quilting fabrics which include the design itself, often a compilation of a number of smaller elements, the size and scale of the design, the space around these elements, the repeat of the pattern, how the colors will print out, the colors used on the fabric, and more.  It is a lot of work.  When we see the fabric in the quilt shop, all we are really looking at is the pattern and color and how it will look in our project, never thinking about how much time and effort went into the design process itself.

 

Recently Susan started playing with a new type of textile design, one that we will probably see

Digital textile printing.

more of in the future, digital printing.  This type of design offers more flexibility and freedom of both the design with the option of much larger designs that do not repeat many times across the width of the fabric and an unlimited color pallet.  Some companies offer digital printing to anyone, such as Spoonflower printing on demand and a local Rochester business, Red-Dog Enterprise.  A number of the major textile manufacturers are even starting to print some fabrics with this method.

A fabric collection by Susan Rooney

When you look at the beautiful quilting fabrics available today, there is such variety in design, thousands of different colors and color combinations, and inspiration everywhere.  Susan has taken her creativity beyond just designing the fabrics into designing patterns.  Many of her fabrics are very colorful, some whimsical, others geometric or floral.  Susan designs patterns to promote these fabrics, and even designs applique and embroidery designs to be used with her fabrics and patterns.  Her patterns include purses, bags, table toppers, wall hangings, and more.  I purchased one of her bag patterns, Tidal Wave Bag, 15″ x 15″, that has a bag base and reversible bag cover.  “This Holds It All!  Tablet, books, folders and magazines” with two large pockets inside and a cell phone pocket.  It will be large enough to carry things to a club meeting, or use when we travel.  I have never made many bags, but this one looks like a lot of fun and will be very useful.

Locally Susan was asked to design the Western New York Row by Row patterns in 2017.

Row by Row 2017, designed by Susan Rooney

  Being creative again, she changed the row concept to a block concept for a more cohesive final design.  In fact the blocks could even be joined in more than one configuration!

At the meeting presentation that day, Susan told us she would rather design the fabric and patterns than make quilts.  Aren’t we luck we have over the top creative people like her to keep us going with delightful fabrics and projects to use them?

Now. . . . . the hard decision . . . which fabrics will I choose for that bag?

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Bleeding Fabric – Saving Quilts from Disaster

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Patriotic color quilts for Veteran Quilt Project

The last few weeks I have been completing and quilting three 48×60 inch quilts for a veteran project for our local quilt club.  A few years ago the club decided to honor each veteran in the town with a quilt.  Although a small town, there are a couple of hundred veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, through recent deployments to the Middle East.  The club has already given quilts to WWII veterans and the goal now is about 120 quilts for Korean, Vietnam, and other veterans.  Did I mention the club only has about 25 members?

After making and quilting the quilt, we wash the quilt and stitch on the label which will include the name of the recipient and that it is given by the club to honor them for their service to our country.  All of the quilts in any pattern are shades of red, white, and blue.  The club has a block of the month activity which supports our quilt efforts.  Each month those participating make a r/w/b block or blocks.  Whoever “wins” the drawing gets to take the blocks home, assemble and quilt the quilt. In addition, we have a couple of sit and sew days during the year to work on more quilts.  Members are always welcome to make quilts on their own, too.

Today I washed the three quilts that I had been working on, two quilts made from a Jenny Doan pattern (info below) and one from block of the month blocks I had won several months ago.  Since the quilt fabrics were not pre-washed before making the quilt, I decided it might be a

Color Catcher sheets to catch fugitive dyes.

Color Catcher sheets to catch fugitive dyes.  White sheet shown below the box.

good idea to put a “Color Catcher” sheet ($5.29 for box of 24) in the washing machine with the quilts.  The color catcher sheets pick up fugitive dyes released from the fabrics that would otherwise migrate to other fabrics in the quilts.  A red to blue, or blue to red migration might not be very noticeable, but certainly either of those colors to white would show up.  I am very glad that I put the color catcher sheets (2) in the washer as they both captured red dye and some blue.  The quilts look fabulous with no evidence of any dye migration.

What happens if you do not use color catchers in the washing machine and the dye

Center color catcher with red and blue dye captured. Right color catcher before. Left color catcher with little dye as it got caught in the washer drum.

Center color catcher with red and blue dye captured. Right color catcher before. Left color catcher with little dye as it got caught in the washer drum.

migrates?  Is the quilt ruined, or is there hope?   Because the dyes migrated once, they may still be unstable and able to be released from the fabric and “caught.”  I found additional help from another  blog post that offers several solutions and shows testing of several methods that can be used to try and capture the fugitive dyes from fabrics.

Although there might be hope to capture the fugitive dyes after the fact, using color catcher sheets the first time fabric is washed is probably better.  When I pre-wash my quilting fabrics (before making the quilt), I always toss in a couple of color catcher sheets.  Because my two quilts were made with strips, they were not pre-washed.  As a result, it was very important to capture any fugitive dyes during the wash using the color catcher sheets.  If little or no dye was released during the wash, great!  At least I was taking preventative measures just in case there were fugitive dyes.

quilts

Pattern: Jack and Jill by Jenny Doan

Quilt pattern called Jack and Jill by Jenny Doan.  Pattern directions using jelly rolls make a quilt 73″ x 83.”

 

 

 

 

 

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How Cotton Fabric Is Made Ready for Your Quilt Shop

We all use it, cotton fabric.  In fact, most quilts are made of cotton fabric.  Years ago fabricfabric was manufactured in the United States from cotton grown in the US.  Today, although the US grows cotton, nearly all fabric is manufactured outside of the US.

After the cotton is harvested and woven into the fabric called greig (pronounced gray) goods (unprocessed woven fabric), there are many steps that it must go through before it is ready to be dyed and shipped to your local quilt shop.   This video, filmed in a fabric plant in Hong Kong and Zhejiang, China takes you through the many steps needed to prepare the fabric, then dye, set the dyes with chemicals and heat, and finally wash and prepare the fabric for shipping.  I think you will find it interesting to see all that goes into making the beautiful and colorful quilting fabrics that we enjoy using in our quilts.

As you watch the video, remember that this was filmed in China.  China does not have the same standards of safety and cleanliness in their factories that are required by OSHAH here in the US.  For example, wet floors, the haze in the air from the chemicals and dryers, and even allowing long hair on workers would all be violations, each occurence of each violation with a $5,000 fine here in the US.  Our OSHAH inspectors would have a heyday writing up violations in a factory like this one.  However, because the labor is cheap and there are few, if any, work safety standards to worry about, we benefit by being able to purchase a huge variety of fabrics at a relatively low cost.  If fabric were manufactured in the US with our much higher labor costs and cost of compliance to regulations, we would be paying much, much more.

So, please take the video at face value and appreciate all of the work that goes into creating our wonderful quilting fabrics.

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