Thursday 30 August 2012

Round Robin 1

I belong to the Southern Cross Crazy Quilters and we are having a Round Robin. We have already had the first swap and I received Jenifer's block in the mail.

Jenifer's base block

It's actually  bit scary working on someone else's block.
What if they don't like it?
What if it's not what they expected?
What if I don't like it?
What if I make a mistake?
Oh my goodness, why am I doing this?
Then I remember that this is supposed to be fun and it's only a bit of fabric anyway.
We have already had a slight hiccup when one block took about 10 days to arrive from NSW to WA, and everyone thought that it was lost!

I decided to add some satin stitching to the centre flower because I thought it would get lost once the block was covered with embroidery.
Then I added a vine with some ribbon leaves and some red spider web roses. I decided on red roses because there are some red ladybirds peeping out of the centre square and I thought it would highlight them a bit more.
On the last seam I did some double feather stitches and added some yellow beads.

My embroidery on Jenifer's block
Now the block is all packed up and ready to post to the next person on my list.

Bye for now,

Monday 27 August 2012

Playing with Paintstiks

Last month the Waverley Art Quilters task was to experiment with paint and pencils on fabric. You can see the results of Playing with Paint here and Playing with Pencils here.

My last experiment was with Paintstiks. Shiva Paintstiks are an oil paint in a stick form and are suitable to use on fabric and are permanent when heat set.

After you have used the Paintstik, a skin forms over the top to keep the paint fresh. This means it will never dry out like a pot of paint, but you must remove the skin by rubbing with a paper towel or scraping with a knife before you can use them again. You must be careful when doing it so you don't get flakes of paint over yourself, your work or your house.

I had saved an article by Sue Kelly in a Quilting Arts Magazine and thought that this was my chance to try out her ideas.

Issue 39. June/July 2009.
Sue Kelly had quilted fabric and then painted over the top with Paintstiks to add colour.

Quilt then Paint by Sue Kelly

I quilted some circles onto a printed batik and rubbed the Paintstik straight over the top. I found that the paints didn't show up very clearly at first and went over the colour again with a white Paintstik which made them show up a bit more.

Paintstiks on printed fabric

After that I quilted some curved shapes onto a black fabric and quilted some filler stitches into the spaces. I thought that the Paintstiks showed up much better on the black fabric. Painting directly onto fabric with the Paintstik gives a softer look.

Paintstiks on black fabric

I have used Paintstiks in my quilt Star Crazy. I used freezer paper as a stencil and painted with a stencil brush. This gave a more solid coverage.

Star Crazy detail


I quite like using Paintstiks. I like the fact that they don't make the fabric stiff afterwards. I like the fact that they don't dry out. I don't use paint very often in my quilts and it is quite annoying when you get out your paint pots to find them all stiff and gluggy.

The downside is that they can be a bit messy to remove the outer skin. You have to wait 2-3 days after painting for them to dry completely before you heat set them or else they will smudge.This means you have to plan ahead and be organised.

That is the end of my playing with Paint and Pencil experiments for the time being. I think it is important to let yourself play every so often. You never know when you will need the technique and it is a bit of fun as well.

Our next topic in the Waverley Art Quilters is the Australian artist, Margaret Preston.

Bye for now,

Saturday 25 August 2012

World Quilt Show

The World Quilt Show was on in New Hampshire, USA this week and I received the wonderful news that my quilt Eastern Elements won Best of Australia.

Eastern Elements ©2010 Linda Steele

Quite a few Australians won prizes this year which is fantastic.
To see the list and photos of all the winners click here. It certainly put a smile on my face.

Bye for now,

Thursday 23 August 2012

Playing with Inktense Pencils

Last month the Waverley Art Quilters decided to experiment with paints and pencils on fabric.
My last post showed my painting results.

I drew a few flower shapes onto 3 different types of fabric, a fine white fabric that had been pre-washed, an unwashed calico and a pre-washed calico .
I  coloured the flowers in with Inktense Pencils. They behave like any other pencil when applied to fabric but when water or textile medium is added to them they become very vibrant. These watercolour pencils are supposedly safe to use on fabric and are permanent when set.

I had heard that once water is applied to them and they are set with an iron the colour would be colourfast. The only way to find out for sure was to test it myself.

Once I had coloured in the flowers. I painted one with water, one with Jo Sonya's Textile Medium, one with 50/50 Textile Medium/Water and I left another flower untouched with no medium or water.
When the fabric was dry I heat set them with a hot iron.
Pre washed fabric

You can see from the photo above that the flower in the top left that was painted over with water ran terribly and I also had a little bleeding with the 50/50 combination in the bottom right corner. The flower in the top right was treated with textile medium and there was no bleeding at all.
I was really surprised by this because I was testing to see if the pencils were colourfast after washing not if the pencils were going to run when water was applied to it. I didn't use a lot of water when painting over the flower.

The next fabric I used was an unwashed Calico.
Unwashed Calico
There was no bleeding with the unwashed Calico with the water or the textile medium. I had heard that there was less danger of paints and pencils bleeding on unwashed fabric and this was certainly true in this test.
But then I wondered if it was just a property of calico, so I coloured in a flower on pre-washed calico and painted half with water and half with textile medium to see if there was a difference.

There was bleeding with the half that had been painted with water.
This proved that fabric needed to be unwashed to prevent bleeding with the water.

 I hand washed the fabric in cold water, rubbing slightly.
After washing-white fabric

Here is a photo of the white fabric before it was washed to make it easier to compare the colours.

Before washing-white fabric

After washing the previously unwashed calico, I had similar results. The flower treated with the  textile medium was much more stable and brighter.

After washing- unwashed calico

Here is the first photo of the calico before washing to make the comparison easier.
Unwashed calico before washing

It is harder see to see the difference in the photos but the flower treated with textile medium stayed the same and the flower treated with water washed out a bit more.There was still colour in the water treated flower but the flower treated with textile medium retained its vibrancy.
The flower in the bottom left corner that had not been treated with water or textile medium had faded considerably.

I actually decided to repeat these tests to see if I got the same results and I did.

My results are that Inktense pencils must be treated with Textile medium to become permanent. The fabric still remained fairly soft because I only painted the textile medium very lightly.

I don't agree with the argument that an art quilt hanging on the wall will not be washed. When quilts are being judged at Quilt Shows, the quilts in each section are laid on top of each other. It would be a disaster if the colour from a quilt rubbed onto someone else's quilt.
I often block my quilts with water and I wouldn't like to have any unhappy accidents with the pencils bleeding.
Mind you, I don't intend to be making quilts using pencils anyway, paint is much quicker and with greater impact  but there are times when subtle shading is needed and  a pencil may be just the right thing.

Bye for now,

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Houston Silent Auction

The International Quilt Festival is coming up again. I have already received the 50 page catalogue of all the  events planned for this year. As usual there is a wonderful array of classes from the top quilters around the world and it is very tempting.

I am honoured to be asked to participate in the Silent Auction again this year by making a small quilt. All the proceeds go back into IQA to help them put on this wonderful show.
All the mini quilts are beautifully displayed and in front of them are sheets of paper where you insert your name and the price you would like to pay for the quilt. Someone else can come up afterwards and put a higher amount after that, and so it goes. The highest bidder by the end of the show gets the quilt.
I could never afford to buy some of those magnificent award winning quilts but it would be lovely to have a mini quilt made by the person.

I decided to make a little crazy quilt similar to the one I made last year, but this year I am putting a kangaroo in the middle because my crazy quilt, Naturally Crazy that is a finalist in the show this year has  kangaroos in the centre.

I picked out my fabrics.

Then I drew up a foundation piecing pattern onto calico and made up the base block.

I put the motifs in place next.

Stay tuned for more progress but I haven't long because it has to be in Houston by the middle of September.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 21 August 2012

CQJP August

My August block for the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) 2012 is another blue block but this one is a 12" block.
I was inspired to embroider a reindeer with fancy curling antlers after seeing a similar one on a Christmas serviette last Christmas.

I used a magic chain stitch on the bottom right which looks tricky but is actually so easy to do. I remembered some little polka dot buttons that I bought while on holiday last year and added them to the top on the chain stitch.

Magic chain stitch
When I bought those buttons I had no idea that I would be doing a Christmas Crazy Quilt this year. In the back of my mind I thought I would do one at some stage.

I took a photo of the block before it was beaded. The beaded block at the top of the post definitely looks better. Beading adds life and sparkle and a touch of light.

CQJP 2012 before beading
Bye for now,

Monday 13 August 2012

Playing with Paint

The Waverley Art Quilters decided to have a month of playing and experimenting with fabric paint and pencils. I don't usually do painted quilts but I do have a selection of various paints and pencils and thought I would do a few experiments to find out what worked well and if I liked the technique.

I painted a butterfly on a fine cotton fabric using 5 different paints. Paints used were Paintstik Oil Paint, Tsukineko Ink, Deco Art So Soft, Lumiere and Setacolor.

All the paints were suitable for use on fabric and could be heat set to become permanent. All paints were used straight from the bottle undiluted with no water on the brush.

These are my results

Paintstik Oil Paint

No bleeding
Great for stencils
Doesn't change the hand ( feel)  if used lightly
Difficult to get a lot of paint on the brush
Very dry and hard to apply in tight spots
Can be messy getting the seal off the top of the Paintstik

Tsukineko Ink

Very easy to apply
Nice bright colour
Doesn't change the hand (feel) of the fabric
Easy to quilt
Wonderful for shading when used dry with the applicators
Colour bleeding when used straight from the bottle with a brush


Very easy to apply
Lovely strong, clear colour
Sometimes you might not want such a metallic look
Fabric slightly stiff after painting
Needle popping sound when quilting through it.

Deco Art Soft

Easy to apply
Little squeeze bottles clean and easy to use
No bleeding
Slight change in the hand (feel) of fabric
Slight needle popping sound when quilting through it


Easy to apply
Easy to quilt through
Slight bleeding
Slight change in hand or feel of fabric

I painted a rectangle of all 5 paints and quilted through it as a further test to see if any of the paints were difficult to quilt through and if the quilting left visible holes in the fabric. They all performed well with the Tsukineko and Setacolor the best of all.
Quilting through the paint


I love the Lumiere paint, it is so easy to apply with no bleeding. There are times when I may not want such a strong metallic colour, for instance when painting a face and then I would use the Deco Art- So Soft paint.  Deco Art-So Soft was recommended in a portrait class I did with Bonnie McCaffery.
To be fair to the Tsukineko Ink, they don't recommend that you paint straight from the bottle. They have designed special applicators and used quite dry they work very well for shading on applique with no bleeding.
I have used them a lot for shading in my crazy quilts.
Shading on Polar Bear

I did some further tests with the Inktense Fabric pencils and Paintstiks but I'll tell you about another day.
Bye for now,

Sunday 12 August 2012

Berry Quilting Retreat

The Berry Quilting Retreat is on next month. It is being held on the 8th and 9th of September. Berry is in NSW about 2 hours drive from Sydney. I have heard that it is a beautiful part of the world and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
 There will be 8 tutors including myself with a good variety of classes to suit all tastes. Click here to read all about it.

As well as the classes there will be a quilt display and the Berry Textiles Art Prize, called One Red Thread.

Of course, there will be also shops in attendance to tempt you to add to your stash.

I have been told that last years retreat was very successful and a lot of fun. There is still time to enrol and join in the fun.

I am teaching Crazy Quilting with my quilt, Crazy About Australia.

Hope to see you there.

Bye for now,

Friday 3 August 2012

Round Robin

I belong to an online group called the Southern Cross Crazy Quilters. They have decided to run a Round Robin and invited people to join in the fun. I have never participated in a Round Robin before and decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.
Eight people have signed up and we have to make a 12' crazy block and decide on a theme. Every month the blocks get posted onto the next person to work on the block. The idea is that at the end of eight months you get a beautifully embroidered block back embroidered by all your online friends.
It is supposed to be fun and a way to get to know the others better as well.

You send off a little booklet with your block and each person writes a little note as well as explaining what they did and what threads they used as well.

Here is my block all ready to be posted on to the next lady. Won't it be exciting to see what it looks like when I receive it back?

My theme is Gardens.

Bye for now,