Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sewing sleeves


I have a bad habit, or perhaps you could call it a superstition -- I rarely sew the sleeves on the back of new quilts until they have been accepted into a show and are on their way out the door.  Sometimes I plan ahead sufficiently to make the sleeve, even if I don't sew it on right away.  But other times I have to do that too, just before the deadline.

Yesterday I had to deliver a quilt to a local juried show so Tuesday night I found myself in the laundry room, writing my info on the sleeve in bleach.

I never put labels on my quilts because it seems kind of bush league -- did Mark Rothko print out a neat little label on his computer, maybe with a cute little flower on the side, and affix it to the back of his paintings?  But since every quilt needs a hanging sleeve, I have turned that into my ID field.

I write my text with Finish dishwashing gel, which contains enough bleach to discharge beautifully.  I like this brand better than others because the gel is stiff enough to hold the bead perfectly rather than seep into the fabric and ooze into a blurry line.  I apply it with a standard ketchup squeeze bottle.  This time I needed to get some fresh gel to refill my squeeze bottle, and was delighted to find that it had enough oomph to start discharging almost immediately.

By the time I finished the second sleeve, below in the photo, the first one had already developed an enthusiastic discharge.  (If you use old gel sometimes it takes an hour or more before the reaction is complete.)  I let the gel dry for several hours before running the sleeves through the wash, because I don't want the wet gel to offset onto other areas of the sleeve, or worse, onto a Tshirt sharing the wash.  Ask me how I know this can happen.

Then it was only one trash TV program's worth of hand sewing to get the sleeve on the quilt in time to deliver it to the show.

You've seen the quilt before -- it's the bottom half of a larger piece that I made several years ago but just cut in two last fall and finished into companion pieces this spring.

Left Coast

Here's its twin:

Flyover State

With any luck, this one will get to go out in public too someday.  And when that happens, I'll have its sleeve all ready to sew on.


8 comments:

  1. I hadn't thought of discharge to label a quilt, but that is a wonderful idea. I do think though that you should label each and every quilt. It's like putting your name on work you turn in for school - you aren't saying it is a masterpiece, just that you created it. I label all of my quilts, and find it is very helpful in remembering when the quilt was made and other details I happened to add.

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  2. so love both these quilts. Does this mean you sign the front of your quilts? I never thought of using bleach to discharge my name. hmm, now you have me thinking.

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  3. I hope it's the Mazin Art Exhibition and I'll get to see you there. My first juried show...pretty excited!

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  4. yes, it is! let's make sure to meet up at the opening

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  5. Great idea! What's your experience with how this affects fabric over time? What happens if the discharged fabric is washed repeatedly? I'm just wondering in case I would try this for fabric used in the front of the quilt.

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    1. Since I've only ever washed a show quilt with a discharged sleeve once (it had a bad encounter with a leaky pipe, I think) I have little experience to share. But I can't imagine what could possibly happen to the discharged fabric that wouldn't happen equally to the original non-discharged fabric.

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  6. I love this idea in lieu of a label. What brand of Finish dishwasher gel do you use and where do you buy it?
    Thanks!

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    1. Finish is the brand -- it used to be called Electrasol but they changed the name a couple of years ago. Buy it in the grocery store in the dishwasher section.

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