Overdye Success!

design, eco-craft, fabric, general crafts, inspiration

We love the very sturdy oak chairs that we bought from Ikea for our dining table in 1999. One of the chairs appeared on the cover of Quilts Made Modern in fact. The have arms, fit our bodies well, allow us to have Settlers of Catan marathons and invite guests to linger comfortably for conversation after meals. They are cushioned and they have slipcovers that wash when there’s a spill. They are small enough to fit 8 at our table but large enough for a person and a small dog to curl up and for me to sit “criss-cross-applesauce” during said game marathons.

IMG_0276

However, over the years the avocado-green covers had become stained and faded by sunlight. We looked for years for replacement covers and couldn’t find any. We also tried a variety of other chairs but none were as comfortable as these. They are also much sturdier than many chairs owing to their oak frame. The slipcovers are complex and would be very time-consuming to reproduce. So we decided to overdye them with an indigo dye. We calculated all of the chemicals needed and purchased the dye and chemicals from Dharma Trading. Taking advantage of the heat and the day off, we spent much of July 4 stirring and washing the slipcovers. We are delighted with the results. They feel and look like dark-wash indigo linen that has a really nice patina. We knew they wouldn’t look brand new but would have a soft wabi-sabi look that fits with our casual home. The color is crisp and perfect for us. Most of all we’re thrilled to be able to extend the life of the chairs and not add anything to a landfill.

If you are interested in doing something similar, read up on the many online tutorials first. If there’s top-stitching on your piece, assume that it’s polyester and will not take the dye. Our covers are top-stitched with a green thread so we planned the overdye color to work with the green topstitching and it does. Also stick to an analogous color in a dark value if possible; indigo over avocado green yields a deep dark blue that’s slightly greener than the original dye. A deep red would likely have yielded an earthy brown. Natural fibers take overdye the best so our 100% cotton slipcovers were the perfect candidate for this project. We did our dyeing in our garage for easy stirring, rinsing and cleanup. At some point, we’ll sew new slipcovers but for the interim, this was a great solution for us.

Crafting a Better Fire

by Bill, eco-craft, free patterns, general crafts, sewing

After all the activity around the holidays, we’re ushering in the New Year with a day of rest. And that means a family game in front of a cozy fire.

Carrying armfuls of weathered firewood from our log pile outside one too many times, I finally made a simple log tote from materials we already had on hand: some scrap canvas and an old dowel. In 30 minutes I’d made this carrier, which I should have sewn years ago. While off-white canvas will certainly get dirty over time, I had pieces left over from a project and always prefer to use up what I have. The dowel was left over from a hanging rod from a trade show (though I also eyed an old broomstick which I could have just as easily cut down.) The image below takes you through the four simple steps. You might be tempted to make the carrier a bit larger, but if you do then it gets heavier when full and more cumbersome to use.

log-carrier-tutorial

 

On a related note, we keep our firewood in metal hoop.

hoop

It came with a poorly made plastic snow and rain cover. The cold weather made the cover brittle and the sharp edges of the logs tore it within a few weeks. I purchased a heavy-duty tarp at Home Depot, took a few measurements and sewed together a far better replacement. The tarp stays fairly rigid and should last years and years. Here’s a photo of Weeks lifting the cover using the handle I sewed on top:

waterproof-cover

 

Not all stores carry the brown tarps, but it sure looks better than the standard bright blue ones, especially against the brick wall. If you want to make one, here are a couple tips:

  • make it at least 4″ wider than you think necessary to prevent it from catching on the logs
  • use polyester, not cotton thread so the stitching won’t rot outdoors
  • sew the handle to the middle section before sewing the sides and middle together (something I didn’t think to do since the handle was an afterthought.)

For those of you in enjoying summer in the Southern Hemisphere right now, you’ve got lots of time to sew your totes and covers for the coming winter…

Happy New Year to all!

 

Where You’ll Find Us

design, fabric, general crafts, quilting

Most days we’re in our studio or office in the historic village of Oak Park, Illinois, which borders Chicago. Thanks to social media, however, we get to connect every day with people around the world through this blog, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Here’s how we use each of them:

Craft Nectar

We use this blog to share longer-format ideas, free patterns, topics in the quilting and craft worlds and projects or designers whose work we think you’d find inspiring. We post here when we have news or a new project to share and it shows up on our Facebook page as well. Weeks has a personal blog Yes, It’s My Real Name, where she writes about topics unrelated to quilting.

Facebook

We post information about special sales, pictures from shows and in-progress quilt shots on the Modern Quilt Studio Facebook page. If you only want to follow us in one place, this is the site where we can easily link to Pinterest and Instagram. We also have occasional giveaways or online offers on this page.

Many people send Facebook requests to our personal Facebook pages. Facebook limits the number of people we can have as friends on our personal pages but doesn’t limit the number of people who can follow our business page. In addition, we use our personal pages for non-work-related posts (family news, thoughts about current events, pictures of our foster pets, etc.) Most people who send friend requests to our personal Facebook pages often don’t realize that they are personal pages and are looking for quilting posts so we encourage them to like our business page to find posts that will be of interest to them.

Instagram

We use Instagram for pretty pictures, sometimes shots we’ve featured in our publication Modern Quilts Illustrated or others we’ve taken while we’re on the road. Sometimes they are related to our work and sometimes they are just beautiful images from our garden. We post images that we hope will inspire you to see design differently. And occasionally we can’t resist sharing a cute picture of one of our foster pets. We generally post daily on Instagram, linking all shots from Instagram to the Modern Quilt Studio Facebook page. You’ll find us on Instagram as Modern Quilt Studio.

Pinterest

Our Pinterest posts are divided onto boards by various topics. We show our fabric, patterns, and ideas that we hope will inspire you to take on a new project. Posts may include a quilting detail so you can see a thread color or a pattern that you might want to try. Other posts show how we organize our tools or store fabric. Our goal on Pinterest is to help you see possibilities and fearlessly try something new. Typically we post several times a week a variety of posts to different boards. We link our Pinterest posts to the Modern Quilt Facebook page as well. You’ll find us on Pinterest as Modern Quilt Studio.

ModernQuiltStudio.com

Want to windowshop or actually shop at 2am when you can’t sleep? Our webstore is always open! If you don’t see something you’re looking for, it means it’s out of stock or we don’t carry it as our system is constantly updating inventory. Fabrics and kits sell out quickly so if you put something in your cart last month, it may not still be there. As always, shipping to US addresses is FREE! If you mis-cut a piece or want backing options for a quilt in progress, feel free to call us at (708) 445-1817. Nancy, our wonderful and knowledgeable studio manager, will take good care of you if we’re not available.

If you’re interested in hiring us for lectures or workshops, you’ll find our Booking FAQs a helpful read before you email or call us. Descriptions of our lectures and workshops are here. Please email booking requests to sales@modernquiltstudio.com. We’re fully booked through January 2017 but are taking requests for 2017-18 now.