One of the best things to come out of social media algorithms is how I fit Taproot Magazine‘s customer profile. This magazine really is everything I could want: it’s ad-free, crafty, visually appealing, well-written, and has lots of applications for household waste. It practically is me.
In issue 40: Cure, was a small quilt project (final measurement about 4’x5′ @sugarhouseworkshop ) which would not only be a great introduction to proper quilting, but a good gift in these weirdo times. And I had just the right recipient in mind!
My dear friend Eve has a daughter who is now six. Her name is Pearl. I haven’t seen them in a while because, well… obvious, but Pearl is at the age where moving is a bigger deal than it was when she was little, and they are about to move. My first moving of house memory was at just about her age, and blankets can be a source of comfort.
First, I had to dye some of the fabric. The instructions called for a gold to be created by simmering onion skins with the fabric. I read online that onion doesn’t require a mordant, but as I should have expected: the internet is a gasbag of lies. More on that later.
I had been planning to do this project for a while, so we have been saving our onion skins for at least a calendar quarter, maybe longer. If I had to guess, I’d say we had a half-full produce-section plastic bag of onion skins to about a half gallon (or so) of water.
I was repurposing a sheet that I had meant to donate earlier in the month, but said sheet had escaped the donation bag, and, therefore, became the substrate for the quilt. Because space is very limited here, I went ahead and cut the pieces ahead of time, then dyed. I cut the fabric to size and boiled it with the skins, then let it steep overnight for about 36 hours. The only thing I had to wait to do was the binding because the instructions presumed I was using purchased fabric, and I wasn’t certain about how much I would need to (a) dye, and (b) make.
The quilt came together very quickly; I’d say it only took me a few days to do it over the course of two weekends. I didn’t read the instructions very carefully (surprise), so I missed the whole section about trimming the half angled squares down, then got all confused about it later, but whatever: it all worked out. I trimmed as I went along, which did result in the loss of some very sharp points, but also gave an overall “fox” look to the chevron motifs. So lesson learned, but still okay with it.
The second photo above shows how the original chevrons were this really lovely shade of gold, which was not destined to last. I got very excited when things started to come together, first the original panel, then the block of panels, then the full 3 blocks of panels; it was astonishing. Once I was able to get the main blocks in with their surrounding edge pieces, I measured and dyed the binding in an avocado skin & pit bath for (again) about 36 hours. Avocado truly doesn’t need a mordant… ask me how I know.
Finally, it was time to quilt! I used a thermal pen and my trusty quilting ruler to draw out the lines, then I just stitched. I had a couple real learning points here in the quilting because originally I had stitched across the border area, but that caused everything to shift (this wouldn’t have happened had I actually read all the directions ahead of time), and so on some lonely, late night, Justin helped me pick out my 25 or so long rows of stitching to start over.
In the next iteration, I opted to reflect the motif using triangles around the border, a triangle above the fox (like an idea triangle). I loved the motif so much that I really didn’t want anything to compete with it. Lastly, I cut the binding to size, and bound the quilt with the avocado-dyed fabric.
For the drama: things were going along rather smoothly; however, while quilting, my fithly-ass, ancient (but otherwise trusty) sewing machine smudged a greasy dirt mark on the front. I noticed it right away, and had used a little soap and water. I thought the stain had come out, but after I was finished quilting, I realized that the filth just SHIFTED, and did not, in fact, disappear.
Ultimately panicked, I reached for everything could to rid of it: dishsoap, toothbrush, baking soda, vinegar, boiling water, hydrogen peroxide. You name it, I tried it, but then the worst thing ever: THE GOLD FROM THE ONIONS BLED. Everywhere.
With little recourse left, I ended up having to wash the whole thing in oxyclean with hot water, which did take out the gold from the white, and restored it to its close-to-original beauty, but the gold now looks a lot like the avocado pink. I have since acquired some alum.
I was able to bundle it up and deliver it to Pearl that weekend, clean and readied for use. So that’s good. Most important of all, it shouldn’t bleed on any of their clothes when they wash.