Malaysian Batik

One of the side benefits to having a husband who travels internationally for work, is you can beg ask him to bring you back interesting items and fabric.batik3

Recently, he traveled to Penang, Malaysia, and the employees in his group were kind enough to scout out a handmade batik place for Joe to visit.  This is a company that does the traditional art of wax resist printing or painting, then dyeing the fabric to create batik.

First rule of thumb when asking for Malaysian batik is the pronunciation.  Here in the US, we pronounce this work as baa (sound a sheep makes) teak’ (like the wood).  The emphasis is on the second syllable.   In Malaysia, they pronounce it Baa’ (sound a sheep makes) tick (as in tick tock).  The emphasis is on the first syllable.

Once we had the correct pronunciation sorted out, the first few times I asked Joe to bring me back some batik, he picked up the imitation batik made for tourists.  The weave of the cotton was very loose, indicating low thread count per inch.  Also, anything with the words, “Malaysia” or “Penang” printed on it was another indication it was not what I wanted.  The last thing to look for is whether the print goes through to both sides or not.  Batik looks the same front and back due to the dying process.  When you work with fabric for a living, you tend to become fabric snobs and desire good quality materials.

This trip, Joe finally was able to find the real deal.   He didn’t know my taste, but what he brought back was fabulous!  Here is a sneak peek at some of the hand made batik he found:batikred

batik2batik4Now that he knows of a good location for batik in Penang, I will have lots of handmade batik prints in my future direct from the artisans who made it!  I will also educate him on choosing designs… the butterflies are great, but the helmet-looking image is odd not my taste.  (Carla note:  Thanks to wonderful blog readers who correctly informed me that the helmet looking image is in fact a “Wau,”  a type of Malaysian kite.)

Hope you have enjoyed this post about Malaysian batik.  Regards, Carla

Recycled T-shirt Scarf Tutorial


I had an hour of free time last night, so I decided to recycle one of Joe’s old t-shirts and make myself a scarf out of it.  This project was fast, easy, and only took me less than an hour start to finish (not counting the paint drying time).

Supply List:  tshirtsupplylist




Tip: Cut off the t-shirt hem and under the arms as directed in the photo above.  Notice how the t-shirt material curls and rolls as you tear?  You will want to paint on the top side, which may mean you turn the shirt inside out before painting

Once the above items were gathered, I laid down the plastic trash bag to protect my kitchen counter and just started painting.  In the photo below, I used some purple, blue and silver metallic fabric paints.  I work very fast, so it took me only 10 minutes to paint the t-shirt.  Note that I used an inexpensive foam paint brush and some fabric paint I had on hand.

tshirtpaintThe painted t-shirt was then taken outside to my garden faucet.  I scrunched up the shirt and lightly soaked it to blend the paint.  I used my fingers to blend any white areas or would simply rub the damp fabric to saturate the t-shirt fabric.  Here is what my painted fabric looks like after wet blending the paint:


Next, I hung up the fabric outside until dry.  Notice that I left the hem on, knowing I would tear it off later.


Tip: Once your fabric is dry, I recommend you heat set it, depending on your brand of fabric paint.  If you are not sure, go ahead and heat set the fabric to prevent color bleed.

The next step is to cut and tear the fabric into strips.  Here is a helpful illustration to show you visually what I plan to do next:


I found that by snipping through the side seam first, then tearing until reaching the other side (about an inch away), you could then use the scissors to cut your t-shirt strips to create a long loop.  Here is another visual for you:



Here is what your loop will look like:


To make the t-shirt fabric roll nicely, you just need to stretch it gently.  Here is what my finished strips looked like once I bundled them together and used other rolled t-shirt strips to tie them into a lovely scarf:


At this point, you could embellish your scarf, add beads or tie charms to it.  Braiding some of the strips is another option to try. Really, how you finish it off is up to you.  I used the leftover strips to make dangling bits and for added texture.

If you make one, I would love to see it!  My contact info is above.  Hope you enjoyed this free tutorial.  If so, go ahead and leave me a comment.  Regards, Carla

When Creativity Hits…

Do you ever get the urge to create- and just have to create something, anything?  I sure do, and sometimes this happens if I go too long in between projects.

This time, I knew to act while the craving desire was at an all time high.  So I pulled out a fast project, a package of Mokuba Free Lace water soluble, and loaded it on my longarm table.  I took photos of all the steps, but here is what my finished scarf looked like:

Mokuba Scarf by Carla Barrett

Mokuba Scarf by Carla Barrett

This scarf looks fabulous on, and I may sew on a beaded closure and add some beaded bling towards the ends.  It is very soft, too.

Love fast and easy projects- especially when you just have to create something!  Hugs, Carla

Work in Progress Quilt

I am testing out one of my quilting designs, and decided to pull out my pigment paint to color this quilt.  Here are a series of pictures:

Quilted sample featuring my design in the center:

Starting adding color.  Notice how vibrant the color becomes when I add aloe vera gel to the pigment color?

Now working on the background behind my design:

This center design is available from Digitech Designs located here.  

Back to coloring!  Carla


Quilt Tops

I often mention in my classes that new quilters should pick up eBay quilt tops in order to practice their skills.  Today, I decided to pick up a few “US-made quilt tops” and quilt them as “eBay Quilt Top” examples to show students.  I guess you could say I am going to practice what I teach.

So what did I buy?   Check out this log cabin quilt from eBay seller, jeano1961:

Look at all that lovely blank spaces to place some cool designs?

Here is a 1930’s vintage Dresden Plate quilt pattern using feed sack material in the Dresden Plates.  This beauty is in excellent shape:

Again, can you see some stunning quilting motifs in the yellow blocks?

And here is a lovely Pineapple Blossom scrap quilt:

Can’t wait to quilt them later in the year!  I will have fun designing them!

Anyone else ever buy nice quilt tops off of eBay?   Take care, Carla



Inktense Fabric Paint Tutorial

Santa brought me a large pack of Inktense pencils by Derwent, so I decided to stitch a block design using my new IQ, and then paint it.  This is a work in progress (WIP), but I thought I would share a tutorial.

What you need:

Inktense set of pencils (comes in different sized packs.  I own a 36 set and a 24 set)

Small fabric brushes (bought at Michaels.  Read the label as it will say it is used on fabric)

Stitched quilted fabric design (I used a digital design by Karen McTavish, but you could stitch a stencil or any design.)

Fabric or Textile medium- I used 2 types on the sample- Aloe Vera gel and Liquidtex Fabric Medium diluted 50/50% with water (see baby jar in photo above).  Jo Sonja also makes a fabulous medium for use on fabric, some with added sheen.  (Google “Jo Sonya” to buy online).

Pencil sharpener

_________________________________   Let’s Begin!

Step One:  Stitch your fabric first.  This is a quilted project, so use any high quality fabric.  I used whatever I had on hand.  For the design portion, you may use any design available- either hand-drawn, digitized or a stencil.  My sample uses a Karen McTavish design stitched out on my A1 brand of longarm quilting machine using an Intelliquilter (IQ).

Step Two: Using your diluted fabric/textile medium or aloe vera gel, carefully saturate the quilted fabric design where you plan to paint.  I discovered through trial and error that the diluted fabric medium worked best and dried less stiff than either the full strength fabric medium or the aloe vera gel.  Use what works best for you.

Step Three:  While your quilted fabric area is wet, carefully color in using the Inktense pencils.  I used 2-3 colors on my sample.

Step Four:  Last step, you dip your brush in the diluted fabric/textile medium and carefully blend the Inktense colors.  Go slow, and strive for accuracy.  Once dry, the Inktense is permanent, according to the manufacturer.  In the future, I plan to test this by washing and drying a test sample, then comparing to my control sample.

That’s all you do!  Very easy, beginner project.  Here is the finished piece:

This is just a test sample, so I think I will keep it green/white, then frame it for my studio.  In the future, one of my goals is to do a wholecloth quilt design.

Final Note:  In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due, the first artist to color a quilt (that I am aware of) is Helen Stubbings from Australia.  Helen has been most generous to share her Colorque technique with others, many who now show and teach across the US.  You can purchase Helen’s book from Amazon here.

Another shout out to Sherry Rogers-Harrison, who uses a variety of products in her Inklique work to color quilts.  I hope you will visit both websites if you have enjoyed my free tutorial.

Regards, Carla

Handmade Ornaments

Happy Holidays to you!  Today, I thought I would share my Christmas tree and all the handmade ornaments from past years.  When the kids were little, each year I made them a new Christmas ornament, with their name and date.

Here is my tree.  I have to confess that I still need to add the angel at the top, and ornaments, too.  Plus start wrapping the gifts. Note to self- bring in the ladder!

Here is my favorite ornament, though I did not make it:

   I own a few of these cute sock cows, plus some sock monkeys.

Now for the homemade ornaments:

  This ornament is special as it was made by my crafty grandmother about 30 years ago.

Cookie cutter and painted dough star.

Tin punch ornament using frozen orange juice lid.

Large Jingle Bell- writing using a white paint pen.  Used to have a ribbon bow top, but oh- well.

Beaded Santa.  This was given to me by my MIL.

Ribbon Candy wreath.

  Fabric horse ornament on a dowel.

Potpourri angel with lace and stainless steel pad hair.

  Victorian lace roses.

  Plastic straw ornament.

  Cross-stitch kitty circa 1985 for my daughter Amy.

  Amy made this cute snowman ornament when she was 9 out of painted tin can.

Anyone care to share their homemade or favorite ornaments on their blog, too?  I would love to see yours.  The ornaments above remind me of happy memories of Christmas past.  Hugs, Carla



Sketches and Dresses

Thanks for all the comments regarding my last post about copyright and people who help themselves to my art work  This does tell me that people like my work, perhaps I should offer them for sale as cards, framed art, calendar, etc.?

Here is a quick sketch that I do not mind anyone “borrowing.”  LOL

Some days, I just have to draw, you know?

Creative wise, I think I will design a dress for my granddaughter, Kate.  My dear daughter-in-law showed me a pillowcase dress she was thinking of making, but I think I can improve on the pattern and make my own variation.  Here is my sketch:

So that means I need some new fabric.  I have a huge fabric stash, but I can’t bring myself to use fabric from the stash.  After all, what if I need them for something else- like a quilt?  LOL  Does anyone else think this way?

If my Kate dress comes out cute, I will write a tutorial.  I haven’t written a tutorial in awhile, so I guess it is time.  Off to the fabric store now!

Successful Class!

With my 3 week long Quilt Whisperer 101 Online Class wrapping up, I have the free time to blog again!  I am happy to report that the class went well, and the live meetings were fun to do.  Thanks to all the students in the July QW Class for your hard work and for taking my class.

So what’s next?  Next up is a Tablet Design Class, which is already written.  However, I still need to shoot and edit the videos for the weekly lessons.  Here are examples of what the class will teach.  How to draw a wholecloth quilt using a tablet:


How to design quilt tops using a tablet.  Here is the before:

Quilt top by Debby B.

Here is the designed quilt:

(Thanks to Debby B. for allowing me to share her lovely quilt top)

The class teaches many other skills, too.  How to design Edge-2-Edge designs and pantos, and how to PPP with your tablet, and more!

Once I finish my videos for this class, the class will be announced and my mailing list notified by an email newsletter.  If you wish to be on the class list, just post a reply here- or on my class page.

Other news:  With an adorable grandbaby in the home, Joe and I lives are enriched!  Ethan is now 3 months and is so cute… a Gerber baby really!  He is a good natured baby, healthy, and even sleeps through the night!  He is a precious gift.

My next speaking and workshop is scheduled for September in Phoenix, Arizona.  I am honored they asked me to come.  I will be giving a lecture on Quilt Whispering, and my workshop will be my Doodle Art Fill Class.  Students will go home with their own original doodle art quilt to later quilt:

How have YOU been?    Happy Summer, Carla

Registration Update!

I am pleased to report that the class is now half full!  Registration continues until the first week of the class- usually I close it on July 15th, 2011.  For more info, here is a link to the class description.

This class has a wonderful mix of all types of quilters.  From domestic machine (home sewing machine) users to professional quilters.  Plus some art quilters, too.  Thank you for signing up so quickly!

WIP stands for “work in progress.”  You all know I always have several projects going on at any given time.  Quilty wise, I am working on a special “story quilt” for a friend, Virginia.  What makes this quilt special is that it memorializes her husband, who passed away about 2 years ago.  Virginia took a class from Mary Lou Weidman, who is known for her whimsical story quilts.  With Virginia’s permission, I will show you the quilt when I am done.

Other news:  Congrats to Jayne Moore, who won “Best of Show” at the local Fair show.  You all might remember Jayne’s quilt, which I quilted last year:

Here is a close-up of a random block:

Apparently, it won a first in the “professionally quilted division,” so I get a ribbon, too!

That’s all for now!  What are YOU up to?  Carla