[in Just-], Deconstructed


4-in-art_3buttonin Just_in the garden

Yesterday, I revealed my quarterly art quilt challenge, and as is my usual, this post is about some of the how-to’s.

in Just_1

When trying to think about how to illustrate this poem, I kept thinking of all the pictures I’d taken in Washington DC during cherry blossom season and was thinking that they might work for this.  I first searched for a picture of a balloon seller, and found an illustration from what looked to be c. 1950s, perfect for I wanted–a nice, clean interpretation.

Photoshop Balloon Man Poem

This is a composite of several photos; I added in the balloon man last.  I saved all this (multiple times) and then started to prepare my fabric.  I wanted to use the Bubble Jet Set again, like I did for an earlier art quilt (more info *here*), so soaked my Kona white squares and hung them to dry.

in Just_2a

I ironed them to freezer paper, then tried to feed them through the printer just as they were.



in Just_4a

So this time I trimmed down the edges and taped it to a piece of cardstock on three edges and then fed it through the printer (I have a flow-through feed path, but I have done in those printers that do a U-turn).  Success.  I didn’t care that the image was a bit wider and spilled out onto the tape, as I knew I was going to sew fabric strips around the edges.  I let it sit for 30 minutes.

in Just_3

The other part of using Bubble Jet is to rinse the printed fabric in their Bubble Jet Set, so after waiting the allotted amount of time, I rinsed the printed images, and hung them to dry (below).

in Just_3b

in Just_4b

I’d printed two different versions of the balloon man.  One with all full-out color everywhere, and one where I had lightened the background by about 30% to let the man and the children pop out a bit more.  That one worked best for fabric.

Contrasting Balloon Man Pix

On the screen, they don’t look too different (lighter background is on the right).  But my husband said the full-color print was “all a bit much,” language for toning down one part of the picture so that the other could shine.  He liked the difference.

in Just_5

in Just_5a

I cut the strips 1 1/4″ wide as I wanted a narrow range of gradated colors.

in Just_5b

Strips on.  I made it a wee bit bigger than our 12″ so when I sew all four of these together at the end, I’ll have room to maneuver.

in Just_6a

I drew out the balloons on some waxie paper squares that they use in delis. I’d purchased a big box ages ago and I use them to try out quilting ideas.

in Just_6b

I tried drawing it on with a white pencil, but it didn’t show very well, so I just pinned on the waxie paper, and kept flipping it back and forth.

in Just_6c

If you read the post about the quilt and the meanings of the motifs, you’ll know why these balloons are here.


I like to attach the label before the reveal date.  On this day, my father was going into surgery for a broken hip.  He fell when he was hanging a painting in his art studio.  Did I mention that he’ll be 90 in December, and is still a source of inspiration for me–still going down to his studio to paint daily?  But today, while I thought about him, I couldn’t make the labels at all–something I usually can do in my sleep.  The middle shows the label. . . printed on the freezer paper backing.  Next.  The righthand side shows the label when I forgot to print only the first page, plus I obviously put the fabric down too low and it printed partially on the masking tape.  I finally got it the third time.  He had his surgery, and is fine, but to say I was feeling a wee bit distracted and out of sorts would be an understatement.

Spiffing up Other quilt

Now I’m thinking that the other quilt needs to be spiffed up with a photo or two.  I need to get those woods darker and deeper, but will have to think about how to do this.

PostscriptI always enjoy trying to interpret a theme or an idea in these little quilts, but there are some days I approach the task kicking and screaming.  It’s always soooo much easier to just pick up a block or two, start whacking away with my rotary cutter and tada! a stack of blocks is sewn and done.  It is harder to take the time to think about what I want to say and how to say it.  It’s on days like that I’m keenly aware that I’m not an fine arts artist like my sister Christine, or my father.

However, I’m my own kind of quilt artist, and I choose to keep doing these little art quilts because it stretches my brain and pushes me to explore new techniques.  Everyone has to find a way to keep growing in their quilting, otherwise we become stagnant and stale and slip out of the conversation.  For me, this is one way to remain in the stream of creativity, and I’m always glad to have these art quilt challenges come around again.

Many thanks to the other quilt artists who participate–they inspire me!


Deconstruction of Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, an Art Quilt

On the Bench at the Park

This post is a deconstruction of the techniques I used to create Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a small (12″ square) art quilt for the Four-in-Art Quilt group.  Our challenge this quarter was Contrast, under the overall yearly theme of Urban.  Often an idea will come to me, but sometimes I start with the technique.  I knew I wanted to drag out those bottles of Bubble Jet Set and Bubble Jet Rinse that I’d ordered some time ago, and find out if this whole process was difficult or easy.  It was easy.

Bubble Jet Set is a type of mordant that binds to your fabric and allows the ink from your inkjet printer to adhere more easily.  I’ve printed on fabric for years, but haven’t ever prepared the fabrics.  I first started by reading a lot of blog posts, and I’ll post the links at the end.  The one website that described the process best was Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s (Bryerpatch.com), and I followed her instructions.

Bubble Jet Set

I bought a shallow plastic container at Target, about 4 inches deep with a latch-type lid, as I wanted to store the prepared fabric in there afterwards.  I cut my fabric about 9 inches by 12 inches, grabbed the container and the Bubble Jet Set (I only needed that one at this time) and went down to the kitchen sink.  I put on dishwashing gloves, as suggested, then laid the first piece of fabric in the bottom of the container.  I sparingly glopped some BubbleJet Set (BJS) onto the fabric, smoothing it out until it was thoroughly moistened.  I placed a dry piece of fabric on top of that, again, smoothing until it looked like it had picked up most of the excess BJS, then glopped a little more.  I’m being quite stingy with the BJS, actually, but do want to make sure that the fabric is sufficiently soaked.  I repeated this until all four sheets were saturated.

Prepared Fabric DryingI lay down some towels underneath my improvised clothesline in the garage (some say you can put containers to catch the extra drips, but I didn’t have that much excess) and hung up my sheets of fabric until dry.  In our summer heat, it only took about an hour.  Meanwhile, I washed and thoroughly dried my container, and when the fabric was dry, put them in the container until I could get to them.  I read one blog where the crafter cautioned about letting too much time pass between treatment and printing. I had a space of about 4 days, and that was fine.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about how I created my art conceptually, but what I did technically was begin with a good photo of the square in Budapest.  I overlaid the baseball backstop photo, sized it, then took it down to 20% transparency, and used the Eraser tool to start erasing a space to let the statuary shine through.  I could have created a Path and selected it, but sometimes I think the Erase Tool does just fine.  I did change out the size of brush I was using, from 1 pixel in some places to 75 pixels in other places.  I did the same with Ted and Maurice, first flipping them around so they faced the other way, as that’s where I had some space to put them.  I merged the layers, as I know from experience that when printing on fabric, it’s wise to pump up the Saturation of colors (enhancing the image without making it garish), and to Lighten/Brighten the entire image.

Four Squares of 9Patch

For the border pieces, I sized each combination of colors to four inches, then pasted them into one document so I could print all the colors at once, first flattening, then then increasing the Contrast/Saturation and then adjusting the darkness through the Lighten/Brighten menu.

Trimming Fabric

When I was ready to print, I backed the prepared fabric in freezer paper, ironing it thoroughly but using NO steam at all — I wanted the freezer paper to really bond with the fabric.  I trimmed it to exactly 8 1/2″ by 11″ inches, and used a High Quality photo setting to print.

Image Printed on Cloth 4-in-art_1

It worked like a charm!  I let it set for the recommended 30 minutes then peeled off the freezer paper.  I let it set some more to let it thoroughly dry–a caution I read on many blogs.

Bubble Jet Set Rinsing

I put four capfuls of Bubble Jet Set Rinse in my container, then added about a gallon of water (about 3 inches) and set the first printed sheet in the water.  I kept it agitating the whole time of two minutes, as you see above.  I held up the sheet to let it drain and in the other sink, I rinsed the sheet well and laid it out on towels that I had set on the counter.  I did the same process with all the other prints, agitating them (apparently to keep the dye from the printing to re-settle back onto the fabric — they cautioned several times to keep it flat, and to not let it crease!).

Leftover Rinse Water

This was the color of the rinse water after I did all four sheets.  The Bubble Jet Set Rinse is a mild detergent formulated to remove excess dye.  In my reading, many said that Synthrapol would work also, but I had this so I used it.

Blotting Printed Sheets

I blotted the sheets gently, pressing out the excess moisture.  I did not wring or crumple the printed fabrics at all, working to keep them flat.

Sheet to Dry in Garage

I hung them in the garage again to let them dry, again taking only a short time.  I was pretty happy with the results.  The colors were vibrant and the fabric was soft and I knew it was washable, although there are cautions about what type of detergent you use.  I never wash my art quilts so it wasn’t a concern, but if you plan on doing so, here are some good websites with information on their experience with using BJS:





The C J Jenkins Company manufactures the Bubble Jet Set, and I thought their page on printers was helpful, although I swear by my EPSON with their Archival Inks.

First Layout of Printed Sheets

After this, the construction was pretty straight forward, although I had to do some cutting and stitching to get the dimensions correct around the central image.

Sashing Printed Sheeets

I sashed the central image because I felt it might get lost in the tiny square borders.

Quilted 4-in-art_Aug2014

I quilted it, using matching threads (mostly lots and lots of gray).  Detail below.  I didn’t want to “over-quilt” this, but did want to emphasize the various elements.

Lorinc Pap Ter_detail front

Lorinc Pap Ter_front

And that’s it!  I’m pretty happy with how the BJS and BJR turned out, and glad that I had this little art quilt to nudge me into trying that preparing-fabric technique.

Circles EPP Button

Next up? The third block in my Circles English Paper Piecing Sew-Along.  I’ve remade this thing twice, so I’m ready to put it up and move on to the next block.  See the above tab if you haven’t started yet.


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Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a Four-in-Art Quilt, August 2014


Lorinc Pap Ter_front

Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter

No. 4 in the Urban Series

small plaza

It all started here, in a small square in Budapest right outside our hotel, on a recent overseas trip.  We walked through it several times a day, enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Matryoshka Bistro in the background, sat and ate ice cream on a bench the night before we left.  “Why don’t we have small squares like this?” I wondered outloud to my husband.  “A place where you can get an ice cream and enjoy the evening, and see your neighbors?” for several people had greeted each other as they walked through.  Another group gathered at the pub (just out of sight) for an end-of-the-day gab session.

Baker Ballfield Backstop

Then the next week, trying to recover from an extended case of jet lag, I went walking at our local park — part walking path, part baseball fields, part tennis courts, with lots of benches.

Ted and Maurice

I chatted with Ted and Maurice, two regulars that we see walking in the morning.

Other Regulars at the Park

And these three men who walk together, who do have names, but who I refer to as The Retired Guys.

Ball players

And on Saturday mornings I see the Little Leaguers warming up to play their early morning games.  It was after talking to Ted and Maurice one morning (both retired) that I realized that while my “square” is a contrast to that sweet little Lorinc Pap Ter in Budapest (“ter” means “square” in Hungarian), it is also fundamentally the same.  Of course, I want to go back to Budapest yesterday, but I’m content to notice the contrasts and take what I have.

Some of the obvious contrasts are the commercial enterprises: we work really hard to separate them in the United States, but interestingly more and more shopping centers are trying to recreate that “square” feel, setting out benches, have shaded trees to sit by, and playgrounds for tired children and their shopping parents.  Another obvious contrast is the size, and the purpose.  I think that Lorinc Pap Ter was meant to pay homage to Count Zichy (who is atop the statue, being honored by The Common Man, and The Neighborhood Priest, for the church is right behind me in the photo) and while the park where I walk in the morning is named for a local land donor, there isn’t a bit of statuary in sight.

small plaza+multicolor

I first thought of contrasting the differences felt in times of day, how many people were there, and certainly the colors do provide some visual interest, but I felt it was really a cliche, and didn’t point up the contrast like I wanted to.  So I got the idea to merge the two parks and some of the people, overlaying the backstop and adding Ted and Maurice. It’s a jolt to see a Little League backstop in a Budapest city square, and certainly most ballparks don’t have statues holding laurel wreaths.  By mashing them together it pointed out the contrasts in a quick sort of shorthand.

Walkers at Park

I felt like I’d lucked out to get a photo with the tricolor bunting on the backstop (it’s gone now).  I now was much happier with the outcome, and didn’t let the colorful square of squares go to waste: I shrunk them down and used them for the border.

Ted and Maurice and Quilt

And to end it off, here’s Ted and Maurice, holding my quilt.  They were thrilled to be honored that way, and told me about more regulars (they get there earlier than I do).  Ted took photos of my creation having never seen something like this, and we all laughed and joked around, especially as The Retired Guys came loping around to join us.  All we needed was some ice cream.

Tiny Nine-Patch

Please take time to visit the other Four-in-Arters, who have also put up their Challenge Quilts today:

Amanda  at whatthebobbin.com
Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com
Elizabeth at opquilt.com (you are here)
Leanne at shecanquilt.ca
Tiny Nine-Patch
And come back for the next post, with instructions on how you can make your own little art quilt, including the use of Bubble Jet Set!
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Making My Own Quilt Labels

Something I did last month was rewarding: I joined a quilt guild again.  I am a member of one for a while, then time or distance or a crazy life overtakes me and I forgot and I don’t go. . . but I’ve joined the Raincross Quilters Guild here in my hometown.  When I attended in February, they were having a Round Robin of tricks and techniques and one of them was making your own labels.  I’ll have to try hers sometimes (she had some really good tips), but here’s how I usually do my labels.

Making a Quilt Label 1

Open your word processing program and figure out what you want to say.  Name of the quilt, your name and who quilted it, the date finished (but sometimes I also add when I began to make the quilt) are musts.  I usually add the dimensions, too.  And often I like to add a verse, or a few words about the quilt, especially if it is made for someone else.  I print this off on my Epson printer, because Epson has the best inks.  The preferred printer would have a straight paper path all the way through, but I was in a hurry last time and forgot to check for that, and now it feeds from the bottom tray making a U-turn into the delivery tray.  I can make this one work, but if you are buying a new one, look for that.

Making a Quilt Label 2

I use light-colored fabric for my label–sometimes I use something with a small print.  I cut a shape about 2″ larger than the “label” and iron that fabric to freezer paper.  I tape it to the same paper I proofed the label on, using three pieces of blue painters’ tape.  That way I know the placement of the fabric so it will come out right.

Printer SEttings

I go into the print settings, choosing what I think is thick paper and high quality printing.  The printer will lay down more ink and will go more slowly, and you have a better chance that it won’t distort the fabric. I feed that prepared paper through the printer, then take off the tape, and the freezer paper.  I use a clean sheet of paper and press the label in between folds of paper, setting the inks.

Making a Quilt Label 3

Trim, lining up the ruler with the printed words to keep it square.  I like a bigger border on top (about 1 1/4″) than on the bottom (although sometimes I goof, like today).  I trim 3/4″ out from the sides of the words.

Making a Quilt Label 4

I sew 1 1/4″ strips on all four sides, trimming them up.

Making a Quilt Label 5

Iron the raw edges 1/4″ under, then. . .

Making a Quilt Label 6

. . . pin to the lower left corner of your quilt.  Why there?  Because when people face your quilt, they always seem to go for the right corner to pick up and check for your label, and you don’t want to disappoint them.  Sew it down securely around all the outside edges, and then I also stitch invisibly around the interior of the edge strips on the label, securing it twice.  That’s it!