So here's what I've been up to, instead of blogging the past few weeks... that is, besides doing our income tax returns, no small feat for a non-accountant type like me. Whoever invented Turbo Tax, you are a genius!!! Even though it's still pretty complicated... it makes my brain hurt, imagining what torture it would be to do all that stuff manually.
Anyway, a few posts back, I mentioned that I'd bought some Inkjet Printing Cotton by Jacquard to experiment with, since my new cheapo Epson C120 printer uses Durabrite inks, which are supposedly (and so far, so good!) water resistant. Above is a small 11" square quilt, which was the first piece I made using this inkjet fabric. Both the flower/math table image fabric and the striped fabric are printed on the inkjet cotton, which comes ready to use out of the package. It's smooth white cotton percale mounted on a backing paper similar to freezer paper. You feed it just as you would any good inkjet paper (I do one sheet at a time) and then remove the backing paper when you're ready to use the fabric.
It took me a few tries to tweak the print color, as the fabric doesn't accept ink the same way a paper would, it absorbs differently. So I found that I had to overintensify the color a bit and use the "best photo" and high-end matte paper printer settings to get the best results. Even then, the fabric print was not as brilliant as its paper counterpart; but picky, picky...it was darn good!
So with that bit of success, I moved on to use the same process to create fabric panels to incorporate in some handbags I'd been itching to make.
The small bag in the center was the first project I tackled, and for that one, I just made up my own pattern, it's very basic. I pieced the front fabrics and then fused the fabric as a unit to Pellon 987F, which is like a thin fusible fleece "batting", and machine quilted the black and fuchsia sections before completing the bag assembly.
The floral tote was next; it is based on a pattern called Bow Tucks Tote which I'd gotten at a local quilt fabric shop, after seeing a sample made up. My versions vary a bit on the pocket measurements, and I pieced the upper section of the bag to include my inkjet fabric panels. On each of these totes, I put a floral inkjet fabric panel on one side of the tote, and then a butterfly inkjet fabric panel as the pocket on the button side. Again, the "batting" is the Pellon 987F fusible fleece (great stuff!) and the front, back, lining, pocket and handle sections are machine quilted after fusing to the Pellon, but before assembling the bag.
Even in its most basic version, this is a really nice tote. The side ties give you the option of tucking in the sides, which makes it a much more secure bag (flower version); but if you have lots of stuff to carry, you can loosely knot the ties so that the sides are fully extended (butterfly version). The handles are padded and long enough to carry the bag up under your arm comfortably. For me, the size is perfect. And what you can't see here is that the pattern includes directions for making pockets inside the tote too, which you can even customize for yourself. Great for organizing!
Apart from deciding on the fabrics/design, the machine quilting is the most time consuming part of this process. But for me, machine sewing is always a lovely zen-like escape that frees my worrying mind. So I try to take time to do nice stitching and even to handknot threads when necessary, so that the surface looks good. Several years ago I took a class with Jane Sassaman, the absolute queen of beautiful machine quilting workmanship (not to mention an amazing artist) and I had the pleasure of closely examining her magnificent quilts. She inspired me to take my machine stitch craftsmanship much more seriously, although my work still falls far short of her level of excellence.
Back to the inkjet fabric, it seems to me the creative possibilities are endless. Anything you can print, from sophisticated artwork, to family photos, to a child's scanned drawing, can become fabric for all sorts of wonderful projects. I found the Jacquard Inkjet Cotton locally at The Paper Studio, but it's also available online at DickBlick.com.