Cynthia St. Charles Store

Monday, May 31, 2010

Early Yellow Iris

This yellow iris is the earliest tall bearded variety I have. I am so happy to see them blooming. The rest of the iris stems are filling out, too. I thought I might have iris for Erin's wedding, but maybe not. If warm weather persists - they will no doubt be done by June 12.

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ponderosa Pine Dyed Fabric

Above, you can see the pine dyed fabrics flapping in the breeze after washout (they still have a strong pine fragrance). The colors may have faded a bit with the washing.

Washed out and ironed - these fabrics have a nice soft glow. The top piece is raw silk dyed with pine needles. The second one down is also raw silk - vinegar soaked and wrapped around pine bark. The last two were bundled together (cotton broadcloth and cheesecloth) around pine bark - soaked in alum and boiled.

This was encouraging. I do think I will try a similar approach with some other native plants that are growing near my home.

Today is my birthday! I am off to a spring picnic at daughter, Elizabeth's house.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pine Dyeing Project Results

I was anxious to unwrap the cotton bundle with the pine bark enclosed. This piece had been boiled for a while, then it sat in the dye liquor for a few weeks.

I shook out the bark and hung these pieces up to dry. The closest piece is cheesecloth that was wrapped up inside the cotton broadcloth (to the left).

Here is the entire group of fabrics dyed with pine tree parts. They have not been washed yet. The one closest (on the left) was dyed with pine needles. The other three were dyed with pine bark. I'll let them hang a day or two before washout. I wonder if all the color will disappear.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pine Needle Dyed Fabric

The pine needle silk bundle was fully dry, so I unwrapped it. I was hoping the pine needles would have left an impression, but they didn't.

The color is a nice soft shade of gray and the raw silk really sparkles in the sun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bridal Veil and Headpiece for Erin

With Erin's wedding less than 3 weeks away - I am trying to get things finished up. She picked out a simple veil at Hobby Lobby, but the comb and loop system it came with was not very effective. It would not stay in place and it looked bad. So, I offered to try to create something simple that would slip on easily but look nice with her very elaborate dress.
This is what I came up with.

I twisted a single length of heavy wire into a single bar about 6 inches long and curved it to fit my head. Then I wrapped it with white florists tape followed by ivory ribbon that was glued in place.
I strung pearls and white and ivory beads onto some 28 gauge gold wire, and wrapped the bar with that - twisting under each pearl so it would stand up slightly.
The "pearls" are some I had in a jar - from my grandmother. She loved her costume jewelry and I am sure these pearls were saved from a broken necklace. The color is just right for Erin's ivory and champagne dress. Erin seems happy with it and I think it will look nice on her.

Speaking of the dress - it had to be shortened by about 6" - and that took nearly all day for me to accomplish. Before it was over, I sure was wishing I had paid someone else to do it. What a project! Horsehair braid had to be removed and then reattached . . . and so many layers . . . I think I adjusted about 7 layers - counting the petticoat. Yuck. I added a few hooks and eyes, too. Amazing the finish details that are lacking in a dress that cost as much as a refrigerator!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scrap Quilt Wedding Gift

My stepdaughter, Erin is getting married on June 12, and I wanted to be able to give a bed quilt as a gift. I enjoy making scrap quilts and this one uses 5" squares.
No doubt, I am not the first person to do something like this, but I sliced half of my 5" squares somewhere off center. Then, I added 1 1/4" strips of solid pieces in various colors - just using up what I had on hand. I did try to create contrast as far as what color of strip I used for each square.
I didn't really think it through quite as well as I maybe should have - if I'd used a narrower strip - the resulting block would still be 5" square rather than 5 1/2" x 5".
On the bright side, this made it easy to put together because there were no seams to match! I alternated the square and rectangular blocks and tried to make sure the inset strips did not line up - in order to create visual interest.
What do you think?
Since I made this quilt in late winter, I used the snow dyeing technique to dye the backing (a cotton sateen bedsheet purchased on sale at Target - I stockpile these).
I think the back is delicious, and I hate to part with it!

Anyway, it is completely finished - bound and ready to wrap!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Early Dwarf Iris

The first iris are blooming. They are very early this year!
These are some I purchased from the local Iris Club at the Farmer's Market.

They are very short - probably less than 12" in height overall, but what a welcome sight!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Group Pictorial Quilt

Last summer, Joe and I took friends Mike and Alex on a hike to Becker Lake in the Beartooth Mountains. The wildflowers were spectacular that day (as were the mosquitoes!).
Anyway, I took this photo, and it was chosen for our first pictorial group quilt - a joint effort between two small art quilting groups - WAV and TAGY.

15 participants each created an 8 x 11" section of the image. Here they are all put together. You can see each artist's individual work on the WAV blog here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pine Tree Dye Bundles

Here are the two bundles of fabric I have dyed using pine tree parts.
The top piece is silk. It was soaked in vinegar, bundled with pine needles and boiled in water that had been boiled with pine needles for several hours.

The bottom piece is cotton. It was soaked in alum and wrapped around pine bark fragments.

I hope to unwrap the two bundles in the next few days.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pine Bark Dyeing

I recently pulled my fabric bundles from the solution they were soaking in. Above, you can see a piece of bark exposed. This alum soaked cotton broadcloth was wrapped around fragments of bark from the Ponderosa Pine trees that surround my home. The fabric was boiled for several hours in a liquid resulting from bark and water being boiled for 4 hours or so.

One side is much darker - the one that was exposed to the air during drying.
This bundle will be left to air dry. I will not unwrap it until it is dry all the way to the center.

I am just messing around - experimenting. I don't have any books on dyeing with native plants, but I should order one or two. I have a couple on my wish list, but I have not bothered to invest yet. I am enjoying the experience of my own discovery process.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pine Needle Dyeing

The pine needle bundle soaked in the dye extract for a couple of weeks, but I recently noticed that a slimy scum was developing on the top of the liquid and also on the fabric bundle.
That kind of grossed me out so I pulled it from the liquid and set it aside to dry.

By now it is mostly dry on the outside, but I think the inside of the bundle is still damp. It was more grayish while submerged. As it dries - the color is shifting.
It is hard to wait, but I have plenty of other things to distract me. I will unwrap it soon. Stay tuned!
The pine needle bundle soaked in the dye liquor for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ponderosa Bark Impressions

Here are some images of fabric I have hanging on my clothesline today.

It is raw silk that was soaked in distilled vinegar, then bundled with small chunks of bark from the Ponderosa Pine trees that surround my Montana home.

I want it to "cure" before I toss it in the wash. I have virtually no idea how much of this color and texture will remain with a washout - so I have taken many pictures.

This piece of fabric smells really strong of vinegar, so a washout is a necessity.

This piece was not boiled in the dye liquid - that was another piece - which I will show as soon as I can (you saw it in yesterday's post - in the pot). I think that one will be significantly darker.

This is one of my favorite sections of the yard long piece. I really love the way the ties created a resist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pine Bark Fabric Dyeing

Here is alum soaked cotton yardage - wrapped up with pine bark from the Ponderosa Pine trees that surround my home.

I gathered pine bark and boiled it on the burner of our BBQ grill. This kept the smells outdoors, and it worked great. The dye extract was pretty brownish - kind of a yellow brown.

I boiled the fabric in the dye extract for 5 hours, then set it all aside until the dye water evaporates. It will not be "finished" until sometime this summer. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pine Needle Fabric Dyeing

As spring unfolds - I am finding myself drawn to the native plant life that surrounds me at my home in Montana. I started thinking about what is here and became curious about the possibility that naive species might actually be useful for fabric dyeing. Kind of a crazy notion - I know, but I actually did a bit of research online and found a website that had a long list of plants that can be used for dyeing fabrics. I have always shied away from natural dyes because I am afraid of the mordants - which can be so toxic. My research also led me to two non-toxic mordants that I know I can safely use - alum and vinegar - both of which I already had on hand .

I soaked cotton in an alum solution for several days. I soaked raw silk in vinegar, as well. Then, I bundled the silk with pine needles, and bundled the cotton with pine bark. We are surrounded by a Ponderosa Pine forest here. I never found specific references to Ponderosa pine, but other pine needles and pine bark yield dye - so why not Ponderosa? No harm in trying!

I boiled the pine needles in water for about 6 hours. The resulting dye water was a pale greenish shade. I removed the needles and then, added the silk pine needle bundle, which had been soaked in white vinegar. This was boiled for another 6 hours. The fabric gradually shifted from the natural raw silk color to an ecru color and then to a deep warm gray.

After cooling, I have put the bundle into a container and covered it with the dye water (holding it submerged with a large local rock. I will let it sit and soak now - until the water is all evaporated!

Am I nuts? Maybe. I am not following any instructions I found anywhere - I am just playing. . . . it's kind of exciting . . . maybe I will discover something interesting. Hey - I already know the fabric is a different color so I know it works on some level. I'll publish my results when I unwrap the fabric bundle. It won't be til the weather warms up, though - we are getting a lot of chilly weather and rain - I am sure it is not evaporating much right now!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Printing Fabric Again

I printed another series of fabrics. Block prints above and screen prints below.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

5" Squares Quilt Design

Since I recently got started on scrap quilts done in a traditional style - for the bed. I thought I would also try using up a big pile of 5" squares I have had for about 10 years. This collection was started back when I hosted a charm square swap for my local quilt guild. Over a period of about a year, I accumulated quite a collection, but then I added to it by cutting 5" squares from my leftovers from any quilts I happened to make. I collected 5" squares for several years. I've made a number of interesting scrap quilts from those squares over the years. . . .

This is the last of them, though. I used up the remaining Kona solids I had, also. They were cut in 1 1/2" strips - sewn on two sides. You can see the individual blocks above.

I messed around with them on my design wall for a while - trying different settings.

I was thinking I could sew them in a 4 Patch and add sashing. I think I would end up with a larger than anticipated size if I did that, though. I am leaning toward the first setting I showed you - sort of a simple windowpane.

It goes together quick and is mindless. I'll show it to you again when I finish it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

String Quilt

Every spring I end up making a traditional quilt or two.
Usually, the project is inspired by some one's graduation or something.
Once you start giving a niece/nephew graduation gift quilts - you pretty much have to do it for everyone!
It is a good time to reduce the stash a bit or use up scraps. I really enjoy doing a scrap quilt now and then. This one is composed of solids and plaids that have been languishing in a drawer for at least 10 years. They are leftover from a variety of different projects, and I thought I could do a good nephew quilt with them.

A string quilt is such a good way to use up scraps. I just cut strips of various widths, then sorted them into warm/light and cool/dark piles. I had some cheap muslin in a drawer, also - so used that as a foundation - cut into 8" squares. I started by layering a light and dark strip diagonally across the center, then continuing on each side with strips from the same color group.
The setting really makes a visual statement that I appreciate.

Now to decide on the border and then get it off to the longarm quilter (I no longer quilt these projects - it is just not worth it for me!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My sister Karen also has a litter of puppies at her house!

Everyone really enjoyed cuddling with them.

They were at the perfect stage - sleepy and sweet.

This was Airus' first experience with puppies and he was rapturous!

Now he is talking about needing a puppy.