There once was a time when I labeled my quilts with a Pigma pen and date with my name. Then I started making labels in Powerpoint with images and printed them to fabric for stitching to the quilt. Those were certainly the good ole days. Now my labels are multi-day and, sometimes, hours long processes. Here are the 2 most recent ones.
First I started with the Groovy quilt. I decided that I would do this one in color and see how well it holds up in the wash. I've had good luck with color photo labels in the past but they do fade a little more than black and white. I printed the text (using a new font that I spent 30 minutes finding and downloading) and then started drawing small Spirographs all around it. I didn't take any more process photos because I was too caught up in playing with the gears.
For Jackie's Choice I wanted an oval label because the family name starts with an "O". I know, it will be sideways, but that's the idea I fixated on so that's where I went. I started by trying a lot of different gears in an oval gear to see what pattern I liked best.
Another 30 minutes on the font website and I finally had the label printed and was ready to draw out the design.
I was able to get them both printed on one sheet of fabric! You can see that I colored in some of the sections on the Jackie's Choice label. I thought it needed a little extra.
Here they are done!
In other news, the placemats will be done later today so I can post them tomorrow. Tomorrow is also quilt club sewing weekend so I'll have the second Hunter's Star quilt together by Monday.
I decided to start off the new year but finishing up the puppy quilt with the label. My plan was to give it to her today when she visits but that plan has changed a bit. I was visiting a quilt buddy yesterday and she asked if I was bringing the puppy quilt to show-and-tell. I had completely forgotten my obligation to show my quilts at club meetings first! My friend will have to wait a week or so before she receives her quilt, but she will get to see it today when she visits.
I used to do very simple printed labels that I created in Powerpoint. They took less than an hour to design and print. Then my sister-in-law taught me to Zentangle and then I found Wild Gears and my label-making turned into one more hobby. You can see the labels that I've made in my Zentangle gallery.
Anyway....Wild Gears has a set called Strange Shapes and it has a gear that looks like a dog bone and I had to use that as the base for the label for this quilt. I always start by practicing with different gears to pick the pattern that I want. I settled on the blue one.
The next step is to print the wording. I generally spend way too much time here playing with fonts and searching for new fonts on the web. But, for once, I kept it simple. I keep the file open on my computer in case I mess up the drawing and have to print another.
I was good this time and got the drawing right on the first try! No fancy pen here. This is my favorite black pen from Dollar General. The base gear is the dog bone and the traveling gear is a triangle.
Usually I'd stop here but then I remembered that I might have a stamp I could add. I headed to the basement to search through the bins of stamping supplies.
My memory is not totally shot. I did have a dog paw stamp!
My ink pad is a little old but I just went back and inked in the print with a fine point Sharpie to get them totally black.
Now I'm happy. The next step was to photocopy the label to pre-treated fabric. I use Bubble jet Set on Pimatex for my printable fabric. I usually prepare 2 yards or more at a time so I have a stack or printer sheets ready to go.
I line my labels by fusing a piece of white fabric to the back and then turn the edges against the lining. That blocks the backing fabric color from showing through. This is ready to be stitched on today or tomorrow.
The most important thing I needed to accomplish the past 2 days was to get this label done and stitched on the quilt. I always wash the quilt before I add the label so that the label won't be baggy the first time it's washed. That's a risk with labels as big as the ones that I make.
While I had everything out I made the label for the Groovy quilt too. I'm still slowly progressing on the binding. I have plenty of time. This one doesn't have to be finished until December 1 but I want it done before we leave for Thanksgiving.
I'm also pecking away at the Christmas postcards. I might have some photos to share tomorrow.
This past weekend Chris and I took off for a few days of hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a great trip and I'll share a few photos at the end of the post. But before we left my latest (and final) order of Wild Gears arrived! These floor cloths that I'm going to make are getting REALLY expensive! I'm going to have to find something else to draw on when that project is done.
I wanted even bigger drawings so I bought the Enormous Hoops, Oval and Ruler. These photos are from the Wild Gears website because my sets are spread out all over the cutting table right now.
Since I was already spending the money I also got the Modular Gear set and the 3-way Connector Set. You can build custom shapes and tracks for the gears. Or as Mom says, "It's the Wild Gears Hot Wheels track." I can't wait to play with this! But I did play with the ruler, ovals and enormous rings a bit.
Here are some of the designs that I was playing with before we left. Keep in mind that these are practice pieces using Crayola markers on newsprint. The ultimate project is to do the good designs using a fat black Sharpie marker on a painted floorcloth. Well, on 3 floorcloths!
We had a great trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We left Thursday and returned Sunday. We live so close that we had plenty of time to hike on Thursday and Sunday too. The first thing that struck us was the amount of tree damage along the parkway and in the forest. There were trees, limbs and branches down everywhere. We talked to a Park Ranger Thursday that told us they had a big ice event in November that has taken months to clean up. We saw several trees like this on trails. Nature will fix it.
There were fields of Mayapple. We have these in our yard and, thanks to the Ranger, I now know what they are.
We hiked 14.4 miles in 4 days and that was pretty good since it rained Friday and we only got in a 1.2 mile hike that day. We enjoyed lots of waterfalls.
We stayed on the mountain so we would have a great view and this place did not disappoint! After driving in the rain Friday we were rewarded with this when we got back to base. The weather was perfect the rest of the trip.
I even hauled myself out of bed early enough one morning to see the sun rise over the mountains. Then I went back to bed.
We were both exhausted when we got home last night but Chris still couldn't sleep because he watch Game of Thrones.
I can't put down the Wild Gears! In fact I ordered 3 more sets this week. There's an Enormous set and Ovals and I got both of those plus one other set that I didn't already have. I want the Enormous and Ovals for my floor cloths and I'm still playing around with large designs for them. But I've also been thinking about drawing on fabric so that I might make a quilt. I had a stack of yellow scraps on the table so I've been experimenting with them. Over the past week or so I've been drawing designs all over the fabric and yesterday cut them up into postcards.
I had not intended to make anything with the practice pieces but as I was looking at them I figured that adding a few crystals might make them fancy enough to be acceptable for postcards.
On this card you can see that I was also experimenting with doing designs in layers. I did a big design first in a light ink for some background lines and then added the smaller motifs in red and brown ink.
In a couple of hours I had 9 more postcards! Between birthdays, get well greetings and Airbnb guests I go through these really quickly.
Chris and I are taking a little vacation starting today. usually I prepare a lot of posts while I'm away but I simply ran out of time to do that this time. So you won't be hearing from me until next Thursday or Friday. I may be posting on Instagram (vickisews) and Facebook if you follow me there because I will have access to a sewing machine and some Wild Gears while I'm away.
I'll leave you with the latest Wild Gears designs that I've drawn up in preparation for the kitchen floor cloths. They look a little ragged with the markers I'm using so just imagine them done in black Sharpie.
See you next week!
that's going to take a lot of planning but I think it's going to be worth it.
This project starts with my finished kitchen. We basically got new counters and backsplash. The cabinets are still in great shape even though they are 20 years old. We wanted a couple of them to be reconfigured but that's it. New hardware was enough to make them look new. We also finally got faucets that don't drip! The black sinks were a risk but so far I love them.
The other catalyst for the new project are the Wild Gears that I've been playing with. Here's a new set that came in last week.
So, when we put the kitchen back together I put the floor cloths back down. These were made to match the old counters and tile. This was yet another project that my friend, Anne, got me into. In the summer of 2014 we made fabric floor cloths using this book. I dyed these fabrics to match the kitchen and I love how they turned out but they were a HUUUUGGEE paint in the @$$ to make. I do love the floor cloths because they can be mopped and they last so much longer than rugs but I vowed that I'd never make another with decoupaged fabric. (You can see a couple more photos of these here.)
Now that the kitchen is done I do need to make new ones so why not painted floor cloths covered in Wild Gears designs!
I know! It's brilliant and, you know me, it will probably take just as long as the fabric ones. But they are going to be awesome.
For the new ones I've decided that they will be painted to blend in with the flooring and all of the spiral motifs will be done in black Sharpie marker. I'll paint a base in a mix of these 3 browns to completely blend in with the floor. So hopefully it will look like spiral designs directly on the floor.....which is yet another idea to possibly do somewhere.
You can't just start drawing on the painted canvas. I needed to have an idea of the patterns that I would get from the gears. So I started drawing and I make notations on the gears that I use as I draw. That blue one is one of my favorites.
I quickly figured out that a fine point Sharpie wouldn't work. The drawings are going to be 5 - 6 feet from your eyes so I need bold lines and that means a fat Sharpie. I will need to use the big holes in the gears and that will change what designs I can do. The gears have fewer large holes than small holes, as you would expect but that limits the designs too.
But I can't use Sharpie markers for practice, I'm too sensitive to the fumes from the ink. Crayola Washable Markers worked out to be the right answer. The back of the kitchen counter cutout for the stove gave me a perfectly smooth surface for drawing (my cutting table mat was too uneven) and a pack of large newsprint from the craft store gave me cheap practice paper.
The Crayola marker give me a good idea of the thickness of line I'll get with the fat Sharpie. Some of the coolest designs come from running a gear in a gear in a gear.
Oh yes! I might or might not put these 3 designs together. I'm just making as many designs as I can on a sheet. I use different marker colors because I make my gear notes on the side in the color that the design is drawn in. I'm going for a library of designs.
It will be a month or so before I can start on the floor cloths. I will have to paint, draw and seal them outside because of the fumes so I need to wait for more comfortable weather.
Meanwhile I'm practicing and here are some of the practice pieces. Some are winners. Some are losers. You will see that I'm also playing around with ideas for filling in some of the designs.
I'm going to need a case of Sharpies for 15 feet of floor cloths!
More to come!
When I posted about my Wild Gears + Zentangle labels last week enough of you were interested that I thought I'd share a little more along with the last 2 finished quilt labels.
When you order Wild Gears they come like this. They are precision laser cut and there are a lot of gears on one sheet. This is the Compact Gear Set. The larger Full Gear set that I bough is about 16" square. The larger pen holes are for making parallel designs. You draw once in the large hole and the insert one of the little fillers in the same hole and draw again.
That's how I did this one.
I filled in the space to make a dark frame and then did Zentangle designs to fill the spaces.
For this label I nested one Wild Gears design in another. You can see the pencil lines that I used to center the ring on the label.
Here's the finished label.
I draw my labels on paper and then photocopy them to fabric that's prepared for printing. You can get printable fabric from a lot of sources but I generally prepare my own.
These labels used the last of my stash of printer fabric sheets so it was time to make more this weekend. This is a pretty boring chore so I try to make enough to last me for a while. I fold about 4 yards of Pimatex fabric in a plastic container and pour a whole bottle of Bubble Jet Set over it and let if stand for a few hours to totally soak in. I use Pimatex because the tight, fine weave accepts printing detail better.
After the fabric is saturated I hang it over the shower rod to drip dry, I don't wring it. Hanging it to drain on it's own makes it much easier to iron. I iron it to freezer paper sheets and then I can store it indefinitely for future printing. Here are 55 sheets that I made Sunday so I'm set for a while.
By now you know that I'm a little obsessed with Spirograph motifs. When one of my customers told me about Wild Gears, the adult Spirograph, I was all in! I immediately bought a set for my best friend for Christmas and then a week ago I borrowed them from her. After one day of playing I went ahead and ordered her a new set because I have gears spread all over my cutting table and I don't know if I'll get them all organized again.
I'm just starting to figure out what I can do with them but they have some really cool features. They have odd shaped wheels (squared, triangles and ovals) and lots of sizes of rings.
But one of the coolest things is the ability to do designs in parallel lines with these little inserts. You draw the design once in the big hole and then put the little circle in that hole and do the design again.
This is a really simple design that I did in parallel lines. As I was working with these I thought that I might be able to combine the WG designs with Zentangle for my quilt labels. Fortunately I just happen to have 3 quilts that need labels right now! With this one I will color in the space between the lines and then fill the sections with Zentangle designs.
I'm still getting the hang of figuring out how to read the codes on the gears and rings to predict how the design might turn out. At first I was disappointed with this....but then I got an idea.
I wanted a small, simple label for my Stars At Sea quilt and this design gave me an easy way to create a simple frame. I used pencil to mark the center of the design side-to-side and top-to-bottom and used those marks to center the ring.
Here's the completed label. I can now copy it to fabric to put it on my quilt. I think it's pretty darned cute.
Now I'm playing around to try out more gears and hopefully will find a good frame for my third label.
In case you need some for yourself, I ordered the Compact Gears and the Full Page Gears for Anne and I just ordered a new set for her plus a couple of other sets for myself. If you like Spirograph, you will love these! If you are on Instagram search #wildgears and you will see some amazing designs that others have done. My designs are baby steps compared to what other people are doing.
Go ahead, you know you needed a new hobby.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.
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