The focus for this week is on fabric basics. Modern quilters tend to purchase fabric for a specific project as well as building up a stash they pull from. Quilters like my great-grandmother used clothing scraps and even grain bags in their quilts. For the practice of a spiritual discipline, I’m usually somewhere in between.
Each year I purchase a bolt (25 yards) of unbleached muslin, bleached muslin and tea-dyed muslin. I like to use muslin for three reasons:
1. It’s easy to work with when doing embroidery.
2. The three types give me three different colors when I dye them at the same time.
3. It’s reasonably priced. With a coupon or on sale, they can be purchased for around $2 per yard.
I dye the fabric using Rit liquid dyes in small batches. I cut the fabric off the bolt in 9″ strips and soak in buckets of water to remove fabric treatment. I put it through three rinses before putting it in the dye. There may be some residual chemicals, which can create a resist to the dye but I’ve decided it just creates an area of interest for later.
I use Rit because they offer recipes for creating Pantone seasonal colors. Now here’s where I get a real range of colors. Instead of just mixing with the quart of water as suggested. I make my first dye batch with two cups of water, then depending on how dark the first batch is I add one or two cups for the second batch. I do a batch with the correct amount of water and usually a batch with twice as much water. By putting the three muslins through at the same strengths of dye, I get 12 shades of one color in about an hour. The unbleached muslin provides an uneven dye or what my mother refers to as “muckedly-duck,” the bleached provides a crisp color and the tea-dyed gives an earthier tone of the color.
Once the fabric drys, I iron it to set the color and then cut the strip in half. One half goes into my working stash and the other half is set aside for surface design. This gives me two 9″ x 22″ pieces if I begin with 45″ wide fabric.
I work this way because once I’m working on a particular block inspired by the passage I don’t have to worry about designs that don’t quite fit. One of the trends in fabrics now is text, but I don’t want text that doesn’t apply to the passage. I can add the relevant text to the fabric in a few different ways, which I’ll get to in a later post. The same thing for adding specific images in a size that works for my block.
Prompts from the Past
To do this project you will need fine or very fine pens in different colors or a sharpener handy for your colored pencils. Begin by reading through the Scripture and selecting which one of the “blossomings” you want to draw. For instance, you might want to draw a crocus blooming in the desert or streams in the desert. Begin by “drawing” the background by writing as small as you can about the things around you where it seems like God needs to intervene. Curve your writing to create hills and valleys. Then reflect on the happiness in your life and the times when you have felt God intervene. You can use the same “drawing” technique or draw in the joyous image.
I want to concentrate on verse 6, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Begin journaling by asking yourself why anyone would take offense at Jesus or what he might have done to offend people and who those people would be.
Then reverse it and ask yourself who it was that Jesus didn’t offend or who was it that was happy to see him and what about his actions were a relief to them.
Finally ask yourself how you can live your life more like Jesus. Draw yourself as you want people to see you. How can you be the image of God in the lives of the people around you?