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Sew! Let’s Get Dressed – Inspiring Play on Labor Day

On Labor Day it seems appropriate to take a break from work for an enjoyable diversion.  When your work and your favorite hobby converge, as mine do, and your studio is in your home, this can be a challenge.  But yesterday I devised an excellent diversion — playing with Shiva Paint Sticks.

Carrie and I had purchased a 12 pack of these excellent fabric paints from our friend Laura Murray in 2012.  On our 2013 winter retreat, we spent some time experimenting with them and with Laura’s painted quilt square stamps.  It was lots of fun and inspired me to begin planning a Tabula Rasa Jacket with tumbling or spiraling blocks on leftover cross woven silk.

My September schedule has a few days of design time scheduled in, so this jacket has become my focus.  First I dug out all the fabric and ideas I have collected for this jacket including the silk fabric, silk lining, painted samples, stamps for rubbing, paints and broadcloth to be painted.  Even with the design elements in my hands, the detailed jacket design has not been coming into focus.

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Having fun with paints, stamps and fabric!

I had planned to paint the squares once I had finalized a design, but I could see that I needed some completed squares to inform the design process. Yesterday I covered the table in my sunny dining room with newspaper and began rubbing squares onto black and navy prewashed broadcloth.  At first the paint rubbing process seemed unnatural, but as I relaxed and began introducting new colors and combinations, my confidence increased.  I kept Laura’s excellent directions close at hand and in a couple of hours I had made several dozen squares.

Pleased with my first efforts, I moved each strip of painted fabric to the studio cutting table to dry.  Thursday morning I will heat set the paint, fuse the fabric strips to light fusible web and cut them into individual squares.  Then I will have the most important element of the jacket’s decoration in my hands.  It will be time to begin moving the shapes around on the fabric to finalize my design.

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A selection of painted blocks.

It is always fun to play with a new toy, especially on a holiday designed for play.  Even though the design is still unfinished in my mind, I am one step closer to visualizing the possibilities and I had a great time working with the paints and fabrics.

Are you looking for design inspiration for your next jacket?  Do you have  a new embellishment tool in your stash that you have not used?  It can be a great launching point for fresh design ideas.  Get it out, read the directions, collect materials you might need and play a little.  Often your playful exercise will lead to a new design idea.

Read along next week to see how the jacket design is taking shape!  You can find Laura Murray’s Rubbing Stamps, direction books, Shiva Paint Stick 12 pack and more at  Laura teaches classes on using paint sticks at sewing expos and quilt shows, too.  Catch her classes at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI at the end of September and at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Fredericksburg ,VA the first weekend in October.  I will also be teaching at each of those events.  We hope to see you if you live in the area!  Fit for Art has some fun new fabric bundles to introduce at these shows PLUS you can see our new patterns and samples.  We know they will inspire your fall sewing adventures.