Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fabric Postcard Brief Tutorial

I've gotten a ton of emails from people asking about how to make fabric postcards, so I thought I'd present this very brief tutorial. If you *really" want to get inspired, head on over to Vicki Welsh's blog where she will stun and amaze you with her huge variety of projects.

Postcard Batch #1 ran out way before I ran out of addresses, so it was time for Batch #2. This is the fabric I started with. It's a snow-dyed hand dye in beautiful shades of greeny teals, blues, and lavenders. It has a cold, glacial look, which makes it perfect for this project.

Then I dug out all of my leftover Timtex to see how many cards I could make. Note to self; buy more Timtex.

Careful cutting got me seven 4 by 6 postcards and, after trimming my fabric to size, I started ransacking the embellishment shelf in my closet. The booty for this project includes a Shiva Paintstick in 'Iridescent Turquoise,' Stewart Gill 'Galactica' paint in 'Stratosphere,' 'Peacock' and 'Royal,' and Cedar Canyon's 'Snowflake' stencils. You'll also need high count muslin for the back of the cards (high count muslin is easier to write on than loosely woven muslin.), some Heavy Duty Wonder Under, wax paper to use as a pallette, cheap foam paint brushes, stenciling brushes, and paper towels. I also grabbed some Angelina Fibers, but they were too flashy and got voted off the island in the end.

Usin Paintsticks is easy. Using your thumbnail, peel away the 'skin' on the tip of your paintstick and make a little puddle of paint on your wax paper. Load the stencil brush with paint from that puddle and apply it to the fabric using a stencil and a brisk swirling rubbing motion. You want to almost scrub the brush into the fabric so that you get good contact between brush and fabric. A little paint goes a long way, so don't get too carried away, please.

When executing this technique, layering is key to adding interest, so think carefully about how you want to lay down your design work in each pass. It's easiest to work from dark to light, and from back to front. If you look closely, you will see that I very lightly sketched in pencil lines to show me the parameters of my 4 by 6 inch design space. These guidelines helped me balance my design work, increasing the likelihood that everything would end up where I wanted it to be.
This is my first pass across the fabric, using the Iridescent Turquoise paintstick and a medium sized snowflake stencil.

The paintstick appeared a bit too flat for my liking, so my second pass was with some Stewart Gill 'Galactica' paint in 'Stratosphere' directly on top of the paint stick to spark things up a bit. This was much better. The color didn't change much, but the glitter in the Galactica added a lot of dimension.

Third pass. This time, I used Galactica in 'Peacock' and a larger snowflake stencil. This paint is wonderful, as it gives good color without drastically changing the hand of your fabric. It's not stiff and flaky like cheaper paints, so you can use a lot of it and still have fabric that feels like fabric. To apply it, I just use those little foam paintbrushes and then rinse them out well when I'm done.

To dress up the back of the cards, I penciled in my my guidelines again and then used some Galactica in 'Royal' to add medium sized snowflakes in the corners for just a little sparkle.

Let the paints dry for several hours (or better yet, overnight) and apply the Wonder Under to the back of both the main and backing fabrics. If your Timtex is all in one piece, fuse it all at once to the back of your main fabric and then to the back of your backing fabric. If your Timtex is in pieces, as mine was, cut your fabric up into 4 by 6 inch pieces and fuse one at a time. **When fusing, be sure to use parchment paper between your iron and your fabric to protect your iron from the paint.** Next, trim away excess fabric using your rotary cutter and ruler.

Here are my cards, cut to size and ready to go to the domestic machine, where I will overcast the edges with Sulky Holoshimmer thread.

And here are the finished cards, with edges overcast, ready to be popped into the 4 1/2 by 6 1/2 inch envelopes they sell at Staples. (they're meant to be used for sending 4 by 6 photos.) If you go to Staples this week, the envelopes are on sale for $5.00 for a box of 50. Bonus!

See? I told you! These are so easy, anyone can make them. They're fun, not too messy, and everyone who gets them loves them. You'll look like a hero.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why Getting Almost 2 Feet of Snow is a Very Bad Idea

Wow, what a week that was! From Tuesday through Friday, my web site had a sale that went viral, which is great, and I spent every waking moment packaging orders, which is even better. (and explains the lack of posts on this blog)

Then, over the weekend, we got some snow. Here in Minnesota, we normally don't care too much about snow because, well, it's Minnesota. If you live here you know that the only month it's never snowed is July, and this isn't July so, really, what can we expect? Anyway. It started snowing Friday evening and it forgot to stop. As you might have heard, we got kind of a lot. So much, in fact, that the roof of the Metrodome caved in from the weight. Here's a link to a video, if you haven't seen it yet. Metrodome Cave-In

At our house, the roof didn't cave in (whew!) but we did briefly lose a snowmobile. Once the snow stopped, the wind started howling, which formed huge drifts everywhere (the drift at the end of my street is so tall that I have to pull my SUV more than halfway out into the intersection before I can see if there's any oncoming traffic. I wonder how long it will take before I get broadsided?) and one drift totally buried the Arctic Cat. Jenna, the trooper that she is, went out with a shovel to see if she could find it. In this picture, she has uncovered the top half, but she still has to dig out the bottom half and then dig a path to drive out of the drift.

The snow is interfering just a wee bit with the view from our windows...

And it doesn't look like we'll be sitting on the lawn swing any time soon...

But other than that, it's just December in Minnesota.

The fabric postcards are almost finished. Since the roads were closed for most of the weekend, I put on my comfy flannel jammie pants, stayed home, and baked Christmas cookies and sewed. (yay!) Eight postcards from the end, I ran out of silver Sulky Sliver but managed to find some old turquoise and blue spools of Sliver from about 15 years ago. This did not have a happy ending. The thread on the old spools was so fragile that I could only stitch an inch at most before the thread would either begin to shred or just snap completely. Shred, shred, shred, snap. What a drag. So today I'll run to JoAnns and get some new Sliver and come home to try to see if I can somehow restore my tension settings and get the postcards done and in the mail.

I bought this fridge magnet at Houston. It sums up my outlook on life so perfectly.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's Newsletter

In case you missed it, below is a copy of the newsletter that went out from the web site today. I usually run my sales a little later in the month, but as soon as we finish the rough edit on the new DVD I will need to spend about three weeks doing really intense and nonstop quiting for the two DVD quilts. Since 'running a sale on the web site' and 'intense and nonstop quilting' are really not phrases that are normally used in the same sentence, I have decided to run the sale now so the sale hubbub dies down in time for me to go nose down at the quilting machines.

The quilts I'm doing for the DVD are very different in appearance. One was inspired by the colors of the movie 'Avatar' and is being quilted on my Millennium. The other is a pointed Dresden Plate done in 1930s reproduction fabrics with huge blank white borders. It's being quilted on my Avante. As you might have guessed, I plan to get rather carried away with the quilting. I'll take pictures and post them here soon so that you can have a little preview.

Here's the newsletter~

Happy Holidays to you and yours from!

Wow, what a year this was! I can hardly believe how quickly it flew by or how action-packed it was. For me, two of the many highlights of 2010 were winning Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year in March and being invited to teach at the Australian Machine Quilting Festival in Adelaide in October. The Teacher of the Year award is given based on essays written by students explaining why they believe that their favorite teacher should be honored, so it is an award that is especially meaningful. No less exciting was my visit Down Under, where I was thrilled to find that the astonishing beauty of the country itself is dwarfed by the charm of the Australians. What an unforgettable trip!

2011 will be a quieter year, but not by much. I was asked to write an article for Mark Lipinski’s new machine quilting magazine which will debut in January. In February, I will return to Salt Lake City to film another segment of ‘Quilt It! The Longarm Quilting Show’ with Jodie Davis and then of course there’s the spring quilt shows, MQX, HMQS and MQS where I will not only be teaching but will also be making my debut as Mistress of Ceremonies at the IMQA Audacious Auction For Education, sponsored by the American Quilting Society. This popular event raises money to be used as educational grants for quilters. If you’d like to help, please consider donating a quilted item for auction. For more information, please click here.

At a time when traveling to shows can seem like a big expense, DVDs can be a much more affordable way to continue your education. For this reason, I promise to do my best to continue to provide the best instructional DVDs in the industry. My newest project, ‘Bordering On Lunacy For Beginners’ is in the editing process right now and should be ready to launch shortly before the spring shows begin. As the name suggests, the subject this time is borders. I will post periodic progress updates on my blog, A Fabric Playground, which has been moved to a new host. Please update your bookmark so we can keep in touch! is running a Happy Holidays through Friday, December 10th. If you’ve been thinking about picking up some templates, you might want to pay a visit as the Nested Circles Template Sets are 20% off. The bestselling DVD ‘Machine Quilting For Beginners’ is on sale for $25.00, and we have a small (and getting smaller fast!) selection of slightly used templates that were used very briefly during my classes at Houston Quilt Festival. These ‘Scratch and Dent’ templates are on sale for rock bottom prices and will sell quickly, so make your move. Carol Selepec’s Multipurpose rulers (my favorite ruler ever) are back in stock, so if you’ve been waiting, here they are!

Thank you so much for your business in the past. I greatly appreciate your trust in me and I hope that you will consider doing business with me again in the future. I value our relationship and I look forward to serving you!

Kimmy Brunner

Monday, December 6, 2010

Well, now. That was a welcome break!

Playing with the fabric postcards yesterday was a welcome break in what has become an all-too-familiar busy schedule. I just love those spontaneous little 'mini vacations'! While I absolutely do love my job, it was nice to take some time away to do some creative work, blow the spiderwebs out of my head, and give me a little break in the schedule of editing the new DVD.

Amazing Video Man Kirk and I have taken the four hours of original footage and edited it down to 2:11:54 meaning that I still need to whittle away about 20 more minutes so we have time for voiceovers, photo insertion, chapters, credits, etc. If we have over 2:30:00 of footage, we'll have to make 'Bordering On Lunacy' a two DVD set and I'd rather not do that. Editing is so agonizing. Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch yourself doing the same thing over and over and over? Not to even mention the fact that I say "Okay!" about once every three seconds while being filmed and we have to search out and listen for every single one of those annoyingly perky little "Okay!"s so we can delete them. I think everyone should have to watch themselves on video. It teaches you really fast about your irritating habits. LOL!

Jodie Davis asked if I'd like to appear on Quilt It! The Longarm TV Show again. Boy, would I! It was so much fun last year that I'd love to do it again. The fantastic team at Handi Quilter hosts the filming and there is just no way that anyone could ever do a better job than they do. So now all I have to do is come up with an idea for another segment. And make some quilts, and buy new TV clothes, and lose 50 pounds by February, and, and, and...

I finally finished unpacking everything from the Fall shows and found some gently used Large Melon and Nested Circle Templates from my hands-on classes in Houston. If you're interested in buying these at a deeply discounted price, head to the web site, click on Shop, click on Gizmos and Gadgets and look for the Scratch and Dent Templates. There aren't very many, and they'll go fast, so if you're interested you'd better go quick! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Postcards

Vicki Welsh, who has a really cool and inspirational blog, has got me totally hooked on fabric postcards. Postcards are a fun, fast, satisfying (and did I mention addicting?) project that allows you to use up a lot of smaller, hard-to-use fabric bits and also gives you complete freedom to mess around with new stuff.

I just love messing around with new stuff.

On these Christmas postcards, I messed around with Paintsticks, snowflake stencils, Stewart Gill glitter paints, and a whole bunch of old Sulky metallic thread. I made a big glorious mess, got deep blue paint stuck under all of my fingernails, and had a blast.

Following Vicki's lead, I laid out my fabric, stenciled and painted and dabbed away, moveing from dark to light, adding layer after layer of snowflakes to my fabric. Once everything had dried, I used Mistyfuse (love it!) to fuse my fabric to Timtex. For the back of the postcards, I started with a plain white muslin, fused it to the opposite side of the Timtex, foiled it with silver foil to create a snowflake on each card, then used a silver felt tip marker to divide the space for addressing. Like this:

The unfinished edges looked a little raw, so I dug through my thread stash, found some old spools of Sulky Silver Sliver metallic and overcast the edges of the cards to dress them up a bit. Spending my Sunday sitting next to the window, listening to Christmas music on my ipod, watching the real snow fall while adorning my snowy postcards with silvery tinsel has definitely improved my holiday spirit.

The tinselly edges give a much cleaner, crisper finish to the cards, and I am very happy with how they're turning out.They just need some Swarovski crystals and they'll be perfect! Here's a peek at some almost-finished pieces;

Thank you, Vicki, for giving me a kick in the fanny and sending me out to play with my new toys!