Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Apron Quest: The Final (?) Adventure

the ultimate apron
I have made a whole bunch of aprons in my quest for the ultimate apron.  I tinkered with several patterns until I either decided that they weren't right for me, or until I got them to fit properly.  I have given away 3 of these aprons to family: Helen, Rachel, and most recently Aurora, and that's not counting the cafe aprons that I made for Emily.

The one I gave to Aurora was one I liked and had planned to keep, but it was more thrilling to me that Aurora wanted it.  Serendipitously, the previous week I had found the exact same fabric at the thrift shop, and plenty of it.  Looked like someone had started to make curtains and quit halfway through.  In addition to the curtain pieces, there were 3.5 yards of new yardage (and the curtain panels still new too, only partly finished). This lot worked out to about 25 cents per yard, probably an all-time-low.  Love the thrift shops!

Aurora said something about expressing her inner girliness by wearing the apron while baking, and I decided to take that idea and run with it as I made another bias apron from the paisley fabric.  I recently scored a big bunch of rick rack on eBay and I went all out with the rick rack.

FOUR kinds of rick rack

I also tweaked the pattern a bit more:   more coverage through the bust and 4 darts for shaping, and a bit more reach around the back.  I lengthened it and tried a scalloped edge again.  This one is definitely a keeper. I love the girliness of the heart pockets and all the rick rack, and the black paisley is just right.  For the pockets I used, for the first time, a bit of a beautiful pink paisley that I bought at Liberty's in London back in 1986.  One of my post-retirement resolutions is to use things and not hoard them.  After 24 years I think it was time to dip into the Liberty lawn.

Other recent projects:
A little bib for baby Carla

sweetness for a sweetie pie
Emily's cafe aprons

Each apron is reversible, with a plain side and an embroidered side.
The design is her own.
embroidered dragon
gold thread
bleach-resist dragon

I made two reversible aprons and practiced machine embroidery. 
Learned how to reverse a design (easy:  select and drag it through to the other side.  everything is easy once you figure it out!)

I liked the pattern and the reversible construction was very interesting, but I don't like the finished product.  They look fine, but the pockets are all wrong.  I had to enlarge the pattern, one size definitely does NOT fit all! and that put the pockets too far around the back side.  I added a small cell phone/iPod pocket toward the front, and it looked cute but that still didn't fix the problem.  Not keepers.

And finally, Sophie got a pair of wings.   Just because.  I think she deserves them, don't you?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Printing on Fabric: an idea whose time has NOT YET come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've been enjoying puttering in the studio this summer, working on a variety of small projects.  Many of these will become gifts, so I'm not talking about them yet.  I like doing things slowly and letting the ideas mature as the work progresses, so even the things I am working on are not ready for publication here yet.

I just finished a course at Quilt University titled Printing on Fabric.  I've been very impressed by most of the Quilt U courses, but not this one, which seemed to be light on content.  It did provide the impetus for me to experiment with this technique and use up the supplies that I bought when I took the OTHER Quilt U course on this topic, which also did not ring my chimes.

I'm going to sound like a cranky old lady here (oh wait!  I AM a cranky old lady!) but most of the quilts I see with photos on them leave me cold.  I'm sure they have meaning to the people who produce them, and that's really all that matters.  But aesthetically most of them look pretty crappy to me.  I'd rather have my photos in frames or scrapbooks, thank you very much.

So I decided to print topographic maps and aerial photos on to fabric.  I'm searching for a less cheesy title for this project, but the working title is "places of the heart".  I had a wonderful time selecting maps and images, and editing them down to the places I love:  McGonigle and Reily and Oxford in Ohio especially, and several of the places I have lived.  I mourn the loss of topozone.com which used to have free topos of good quality.  Google is wonderful for the aerial images but somehow I can't seem to find decent topos anywhere online, at least not for free.

I have experimented with 2 different commercial fabric sheets (EQ Printables and Printed Treasures) and also made my own with Bubble Jet Set.  I have two different printers, one with pigment inks and one with dye  inks.  I included information about the printers, inks, date of printing as text below each image and I'll leave this info visible in the quilt I create so that I can track the performance as the quilt gets washed.  I plan to include a label on the back with a spot where I can write the date of each washing.

Even though I am not finished, I have come to one huge conclusion:  Printing on fabric is a BAD IDEA. 
  • Printers were not meant to do this.  They don't like it.  Fabric leaves lint down in their little bellies.  LOTS of lint, at least compared to paper.  I have run the head cleaning cycle on both printers DOZENS of times during this project, and one of them has still not recovered.
  • Fabric is not the ideal medium for photos or other images, at least not where printers are concerned.  They are NEVER going to look decent no matter what you do.
So for anyone contemplating printing on fabric, keep this in mind:  the quilting industry has one goal and one goal only:  TO SELL PRODUCTS.  All those magazine articles about printing on fabric are meant to get you to buy fabric sheets or the chemicals to produce your own.

You COULD ride your riding lawnmower to work, but just because you could does not mean that it would be a good idea.  You can print photos on fabric, too.   But I wouldn't if I were you.  And when this project is finished you can bet that I will never do it again.  I'm just hoping that I haven't permanently ruined the heads on my continuous ink systems.

Rant over.