Adventures in Shibori Dyeing

I’ve had this on my “To Do” list for years: literally Finally, after some reading, some dyeing experience and creating some suitable space for the project, I accumulated a few supplies and got started.

  • 100% cotton fabric, prepared for dyeing
  • resist material such as rubber bands, twine, flat templates in simple shapes
  • dye bath using Procion MX Indigo color
  • additives – soda ash, salt –
  • Synthrapol 
  • mask to cover nose and mouth while handling undissolved dye powder
  • elbow length rubber gloves
  • plastic sheeting to protect working surface and floor as needed

The term Shibori refers to a technique used to dye fabric.   In Japan, the earliest evidence of its use dates all the way back to the 8th Century!
Shibori is a type of resist technique in which the fabric itself is manipulated by sewing or wrapping or folding. When the dye is applied it is unable to reach the areas that have been obstructed by the folds etc. Thus, some very appealing patterns can be generated.
I enjoyed this process so much and was able to try out a variety. I folded, fan-folded, flag-folded, bound with rubber bands or twine. I even applied plexiglass shapes to the ends of my folded cloth on several occasions and bound it all together. This variety of Shibori is called Itajime.

Some bundles of Itajime ready for the dye pot:

Itajimi Round SamplesF1Itajimi Rectangle Samples

It can get a little messy – took me until the next day to get all the blue off my fingers. And yes I did wear rubber gloves. Traditional Shibori uses an Indigo dye that is complicated to use. I achieved my results with a Procion MX dye – the color indigo.

All the little bundles sitting in the dye bath

All the Little Bundles of Fabric Sitting in the Dye Bath

What I loved most? After the fabric bundles had “cured” for many hours, rinsing them off and undoing them for the great reveal! A lot of Shibori is predictable according to the specific technique. But there’s always that serendipity that the individual introduces so that each piece is unique.

Some of my results showing the bundle after it has ‘cured’ in the dye bath; then the fabric that resulted following unfolding and rinsing with tap water.

C2FanFold Rolled Bound with Rubber Bands

Fan Folded, Rolled, Secured with Rubber Bands


Fan Folded, Rolled, Secured with Rubber Bands

E2Flag Fold Small Circle Itajime
Itajime, Flag Folded with round templates tied on with twine
E3Flag Fold Circle
Itajime, Flag Folded with round templates tied on with twine
Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine
Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine
A3Random Sections Tied Off

Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine

F2Fan Fold Itajime RectangleMG_4018

Itajime, Fan Folded Fabric, Rectangular Templates attached With Twine

F3Rectangle Itajimi Fan Fold

Itajime, Fan Folded Fabric, Rectangular Templates attached With Twine


The colors lightened slightly after washing, drying and pressing.  In some cases this added to the definition.

flag folded

tied off random

I also threw in a larger piece of fabric “as is”  and now have some mottled Indigo fabric in my stash.

whole cloth dyed

All in all, a VERY satisfying afternoon of work!

I welcome your comments and questions!

The Making of Autumn Barn –

Several years ago I spent the greater part of October in Pennsylvania, readying my late mother’s home for sale. As you can imagine, this was difficult work both physically and emotionally.

One morning I decided that I needed a day off. I got into Mom’s elderly Oldsmobile and headed out in the general direction of Lake Edinboro, being careful to stick to rural roads.

Looking Across Lake Edinboro

Looking Across Lake Edinboro

I was greeted with the most beautiful Autumn displays wherever I looked. As I drove I was also treated to glimpses of rural Pennsylvania that were inspiring and refreshing to the eyes of this California girl.

Pennsylvania Highway 99 Travelling South

Pennsylvania Highway 99 Travelling South

One shabby old barn in particular caught my attention. My camera got a workout.

The Original Barn Photo

I was certain that some of these images would one day find their way into my art

P1000532 copy P1000570 P1000521

 Determine which elements to keep in the photo and which to discard.    Convert image to grey scale. Convert photo into an image suitable for making templates for quilt

IMG_2931      3black and white barn

 Assemble fabrics for construction.   I decided to use my own hand dyes and was successful with the exception of 2 that I found in my stash of commercial fabric. My goal was to use a lot of saturated brilliant color to offset the aged  and washed out look of the barn.


Construct a background – All I needed was some fabric suitable for sky and some greens.  Most would end up being covered up.

Make the templates and adhere them to the fabric

Barn Window Construction

Barn Window Construction

 Determine the order of sewing down all the elements

Thread Paint the details

Sandwich and quilt the quilt

Finish the Edges

Dealing with Setbacks

Of course I was running late finishing the quilt to meet the submission deadline. So I decided to finish it pillowcase style instead of a traditional binding. Well, I tried, but that didn’t work. The quilting was too dense up to the edges and there was no way this quilt was going to be flat with that kind of a backing and edge treatment.

So I had to remove the pillowcase back and come up with something else. I determined that because the barn itself was shabby and had loose boards (think ‘threads’) all over the place, that a casual zig zag finish would be appropriate.

Of course, in the process of “turning the quilt” I had already clipped the corners. But I decided that was just fine. That little imperfection just added to the theme of this dilapidated barn in the midst of the Autumn beauty.

Barn in Autumn

Barn in Autumn

This quilt is part of this year’s SAQA Art Quilt Auction beginning online September 18, 2015

The SAQA Art Quilt Auction Begins 9/18

Prayer Flags Flying High (and mini tutorial)

I thought for sure that I had posted about making prayer flags but not so!  Prayer flags have a long tradition and they can be seen in many different configurations.   There is no right or wrong way.  There is a blog devoted to Prayer Flags at :      There you will find tutorials and many examples of how various artists have interpreted and created their own Prayer Flags.  (mine are posted in March this year 2015)

I had thought about making and hanging some flags for well over a year and was waiting to be inspired it seems :)   A few months ago I was walking down the aisle of a local craft shop and found a package of burlap banner shaped pieces in the clearance section.  The first thing that I thought of was that they would be perfect for Prayer Flags.  And if I messed up, then the investment was minimal.

There were four of these burlap shapes in front of me looking like this:

burlap for flagseach measured 5 1/2 ” by 7 1/2 “

The first thing that I did before anything else was to stay stitch inside all the edges of all the flags to minimize fraying.  Burlap frays. I didn’t mind that,  It enhanced the rustic look that I was trying to achieve.  But I did want to contain the amount.    I used black thread and a zig zag stitch and stitched each flag on every side about 1/4 inch in from the edge.IMG_3498

        I figured there was no hiding of the stay stitching so I incorporated it into the overall design

You are goiing to need to attach a narrow muslin muslin hanging sleeve attachedsleeve to the top.  Do that now by machine UNLESS you are going to use that top space for your hand stitching later.  In which case you will attach the sleeve as the last step with each flag.


Gather your fabrics and threads and design your flags.  I used muslin for the inspirational words, and a variety of fabrics: cheesecloth, bits of organza, felt, burlap.  Use whatever your design calls for!

hope_loveI also added a few beads, some ribbon and buttons and hand stitched with embroidery cotton of various sizes.      

The final step was to string the four finished flags together by running a length of hemp through the sleeves.

Details of the Four Flags Belowdetail_hope




Monoprinting with a Gelli Plate – Yes It’s Addictive!

So I’m trying to get back on track and catch you all up with what I’ve been up to for the past 5+ months.  Only a PART of that time has been non art related – boo-hoo, but it will be in the future :)

Rather than try to squish it all into one post I want to tell you about an exciting day I had about a month ago making mono prints.  How many of you broke down and bough a Gelli plate when they came out?  Or at least were tempted to?

Well, I did, and it has been very busy collecting dust – well except for once when my friend and I got together and messed around with some fabric; neither of us knowing what we were doing.

So a local Art Supply store sponsored a half day workshop – a ‘how to’ to create mono prints with a Gelli Plate and I was first in line.

I can’t go through ALL that I learned that day but it was extremely productive and in addition to some beautiful prints that I brought home with me – here are the main points that I picked up.

1.  It can get messy: Do your printing in an area that can withstand the mess of spattered paint – get dressed with that in mind as well.

2.  Use OPEN acrylics.  Yes they made a huge difference!  I suppose if you’re very sure of yourself and can work very quicky you could get away with the much shorter drying time of regular acrylics.  But for a novice like me – or if you want to work extemporaneously, do use the Open type.

3.  Have a variety of objects at the ready to make marks.  Make sure that none of them are too pointy.  You don’t want to damage your plate.

4.  Use every bit of paint left on your plate – have a journal at the ready for instance so you can use the leftover paint to start backgrounds.

5.  Become intimately familiar with the color wheel and which colors NOT to mix together if you want to avoid mud.

6.  Just let ‘er rip – Use your imagination.  What’s the worst that can happen?  You’ll have an ugly print which you can then gesso over and reuse.

I’m eager to show you some of what I brought home with me that day.  Most of these were done on printing paper; some on card stock, and a few on 140 wt watercolor paper.

Next up – as soon as I can work in a day – will be fabric prints!

Some cards using Monoprint techniques with a Gelli Plate:

2 color monoprinted cardbronze_copper_card

Using Stencils with Monoprints

Using stencils in various combos

Trees blue_monoprint


Some are even suitable for framing themselves; others can be used in whole or in part in other pieces.


bronze and more  monoprint

bronze spiral Monoprit3color_monoprint

And look at what you can do by cleaning off your brayer on a sheet of printing paper!!!   :)


Tee, hee – Not bad for brayer cleaning, huh?  I won’t tell if you won’t tell!

Who wants to try mono printing next?

A Few Christmas Memories from a Jewish Grandmother

Abby peeking

 The earliest memory I have of Christmas was when Santa came into our living room, unannounced, and handed out cookies to my sister and I. We were so young at the time that my brother wasn’t even born yet! We found out later it was our elderly (she was assuredly younger than me at the time) next door neighbor Mrs. Dubs. We should’ve been tipped off by the hermit cookies she was famous for. But at ages 2 and 4 we were too ready and willing to believe it was really Santa. And I must admit, just a teensy bit scared of this bouncy red clad intruder.

A couple of years later – a bigger deeper voiced Santa appeared – very jolly and carrying lots of gifts. I remember not being quite sure of the situation – my little sister wasn’t either – but we were delighted nevertheless. It wasn’t until much later that we learned it was our daddy himself!

It was around that time, maybe a couple of years later that our mom would take us downtown and we’d visit Santa himself at Smith’s Department store. We’d then visit the perennial Christmas exhibit set up on the walkway between Smith’s and Bartlett’s (the snooty store). It was one of those you used to see with miniature mice sitting around playing cards and yet more mice jamming away on their musical instruments with appropriate Christmas music playing in the background.

We LOVED it and couldn’t wait to go see it each year.

 But it wasn’t long before that display was overshadowed by the one across the river. We’d all get on the bus at the Tunnel in downtown Windsor for the short drive across to the states. Once on the other side we’d trek on over to Hudson’s and join the throngs already assembled to ooh and aah at the window displays there. To this day I haven’t seen anything to quite match the magic and fascination of those Christmas scenes. There’d be anything and everything from solemn nativities to Santa’s elves at work to children singing around a beautiful twinkling tree.

 And I am so glad that my elementary school years were well before the years of rigid political correctness.   We had a Christmas pageant every year and for many of those years I got to sing in the choir. And I enjoyed every moment of it. As a little girl from a Jewish home who was simultaneously learning Torah and Hebrew, it didn’t bother me one bit that we were singing Odes to the birth of Christ. To me it was a time of fellowship and joy and I belted out those carols with gusto!

 And so I wish to all of you – whatever your personal beliefs may be – enjoy this time of year for the sheer joy of it. If your personal beliefs differ then take the opportunity to focus on the good in people. I believe that is always essential and especially when day after day we are reminded of the worst.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy 2015 to all!

Tutorial – Fiber Art Collage – Greeting Cards

Fiber Art Collage

Here’s how I approach the process. It’s art, after all, so feel free to bend, change or ignore any of the following steps.    

Supplies: (read through the tute – it’ll make more sense)

  • Blank Greeting Card (or medium of choice for mounting)
  • Background Fabric – a scrap from your stash
  • Batting or stabilizer to match size of background
  • Various scraps of coordinating fabric, threads, fancy fibers, Angelina, cheesecloth, ribbons, other non-cotton scraps such as wool, silk, burlap etc.
  • Glue stick – acid free
  • Thread to sew together layers of the collage. Machine or embroidery thread
  • Other embellishments of your choice: beads, charms etc.


  1. Determine the overall “feel” of the piece – Elegant? Playful? Modern? Romantic?
  1. Gather from your scrap bag and from your stash – pieces and bits that you think might belong in this piece (I often use color as my theme)


Gather scraps and other possible materials to use

Gather scraps and other possible materials to use

  1. Vary these design elements such as you would for any composition
  1. I think of these pieces as mini art quilts and assemble in layers
  • Layer one – background (stabilized)
  • Layer two – texture and color
  • Layer three – focal motif   (just one example of my approach)

5.   If preparing your mini fiber art collage for a greeting card – roughly cut your background fabric to measure at least one inch in from all four sides.


photo 3 (2)

e.g. card is 5 by 7; background fabric no larger than 3 by 5

Your collage will be built on this background; may entirely cover it; may extend from any or all of the sides.   If you prefer a frayed edge, tear your fabric instead of cutting.

6.  Stabilize your background by whichever means you prefer (and happen to have on hand). I like to use something like Pellon Craft-fuse or Décor Bond. Or I may use regular cotton quilt batting.  If you use batting, cover it with muslin so that it will adhere firmly to the card.

Stabilizer of your choice added to wrong side of background fabric

Stabilizer of your choice added to wrong side of background fabric

7.  Add your texture and color elements into a design that pleases your eye. Pin first, then stitch to attach elements to background.   Or just go for it; don’t overthink t!

First layer enhanced by ribbon and hand dyed cheesecloth.

First layer enhanced by ribbon and hand dyed cheeseclot

another possibility explored

another possibility explored

8.  Quilt by machine or by hand with thread of choice. Get crazy!

First pass at the machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  You can see that I was tweaking as I went.

First pass at the machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch. You can see that I was tweaking as I went.

The angelina scrap was pinned to the piece after the stitching.

 9.  Add your final element(s). This may be a focal point OR it may be something (for example a circle of couching or beads) that enhances the focal element.  In this case I isolated one element from some vintage lace trim and painted it.

photo (1)

10.  Affix your completed piece to the front of the card with an acid free glue stick. (I like UHU best but also use Avery or others)

 Have fun!  I’d LOVE to see what you come up with.  Send a pic to me at Honeyquilts at gmail dot com and I’ll post it here!

an aside – I was just looking at the lace on the piece – it looks like a turkey head to me this morning!  Really!!  Is it just me?   gobble gobble :)

© Guila Greer 2014

This tutorial and all photos are the exclusive property of Guila Greer. It is for your personal use only. Please do not copy.
Thank you very much for your understanding.

Class Alert – Gorgeous Autumn Wallhanging (or Table Topper)

Tumbling Leaves Wall Hanging or Table Topper

Tumbling Leaves Wall Hanging or Table Topper

Grace your Thanksgiving table with this beautiful Tumbling Leaves quilt – shown in a versatile size ready to decorate your wall or your table throughout the season.

2 sessions on 2 consecutive Saturdays from 10 AM until 2 PM

 Part 1 October 18  10-2

Part 2  October 25  10-2

Call Quilty Pleasures in Simi Valley today to reserve your spot  805-581-1577


Closeup of Quilting