Using Hand-Dyed Fabric like Paints

fabric color wheel

I think I’m the luckiest quilter in the world. My best friend’s mother has an addiction to dying fabric. She gave me all of these hand-dyed “scraps”. Yes, I used the verb, GAVE. I feel like a kid with a new box of crayons!


When she gave them to me they were in various bags, folded in different ways. I had the best time sorting them by color using one of my favorite tools, the Ultimate 3 in 1 Color Tool. I use it all the time to match my colors both for fabric and embroidery thread.  I used this tool to make this wall quilt of my precious little cockatiel, Sammy.

I started with a photo of Sammy. I printed it out in black and white on my printer. To get his shape for the fabrics, I turned the photocopy over on my light board and traced simple shapes of his eye, cheek patch, gray and yellow feathers.

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I then traced the shapes onto fusible webbing. I have found the best webbing for machine and hand stitching is Pellon Wonder Under 805. Good stuff. I cut out the shapes and matched hand-dyed fabrics to Sammy’s coloring.

I picked found scraps from a previous project to be the background and fused him to it.

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Then, my favorite part. Thread painting! I added stabilizer to the quilt top and stitched using thread colors that would match Sammy’s feathers and added contrast and depth.


Voila! A finished Sammy art quilt.

Now off to discover what else will come from my rainbow of fabrics!

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean


Beyond Canned Ravioli

Cooking isn’t my favorite

Being an artsy family has its pros and cons.  One of the cons is that cooking is pretty low on the list of priorities. Who wants to cook when you can quilt, play piano or take photos?  We’ve all gotta eat, though, so I’m always looking for short cuts to make cooking easy and quick. 

On my most recent trip to the store, Tom asked me to pick up some quick and easy meals for his lunches for work.  He suggested canned ravioli.  Yuck.  But, okay, it’s your lunch. 


Aldi has been our store of choice lately.  I like the prices and the fact that I can shop in 30 minutes without having to make choices between brands.  But, when I looked at the label of the ravioli, I was kinda grossed out.  Not only were the calories high, who knows how many preservatives are in there, not to mention the “mystery” meat.

Plus, I know Tom.  Although the label says it serves “about 2”, he’s going to eat the whole can, which doubles the calories, sodium and fat. This seemed to be a 69 cent can of evil.  I decided I could not feed this to my husband!  I needed to find a healthier yet quick replacement to canned ravioli.


Instant Ravioli

I grabbed a jar of spaghetti sauce, a set of freezer containers and a bag of frozen ravioli (I had to head to Pick N Save for this).  I think the cost was about $8 for everything.



When I got home from the store I immediately started on my food project.  After washing the freezer containers, I divided the frozen ravioli in 4 containers, which was about 10 raviolis in each. Then I popped open the spaghetti sauce and poured it over top.



I added the covers and, voila, four lunches ready for the freezer!  I swear it only took me about 5 minutes and it cost less than $2 a meal. Easy peasy! Plus the fat, calories and sodium all came down to a much healthier choice.  Sigh of relief.



Now, back to the sewing machine for the real fun.


Do you have an easy meal to share with me?  I’m always looking for ideas for this crazy family.  Share your ideas below in the comments.

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean



Quilt in Process…

I’ve been going through my ufos (un-finished objects). I found this quilt top I pieced a couple years ago. Poor thing has been sitting in a box on my top shelf. So I blew off the dust and unpacked it.  I’m determinded to finish it and bring it back to life.


The colors are great, but to make it more appealing, I’ve decided to add a boarder using white fabric with embroidered flowers.  I love doing hand embroidery! Thankfully, I kept the extra fabric in the box, so I was able to use coordinating fabrics.  So far, so good…


I can’t wait to show you the finished project, especially since the last photo is kinda fuzzy.  I’m hoping to have it ready to quilt by the end of the weekend.  Quilting is my favorite part, so yippee!


What quilting goals do you have for the following week?  Do you have any nagging ufos on your shelf? Post your goals below and we can hold each other accountable.

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean

Quick Tea Cosy out of a Mug Rug

Wisconsin is cold in the winter, but this is ridiculous. My thermometer read -15 degrees this past week and the wind chill made it feel like -49 degrees! I don’t remember it ever being this cold. Ever.

Light bulb!

So when I made tea this morning, I wanted it to stay hot. Really hot. I have been meaning to make a tea cosy for my teapot, but hadn’t gotten around to it.

Quick Tea Cosy out of a Mug Rug

For my birthday my mom had made me some mug rugs. They are very nice for breakfast tea and muffins. The backside is made from a soft flannel which makes it insulated. I figured I could spare one for a re-purposed project. I headed to my sewing machine to make a tea cosy before my tea cooled off.


Impromptu Project

Quick Tea Cosy out of a Mug Rug

I had some hair elastics I keep on hand for various projects. I grabbed four of them, one for each corner.



I attached them securely with a zig zag stitch and trimmed the loose threads.

5 Minutes later…

Quick Tea Cosy out of a Mug Rug

Quick Tea Cosy out of a Mug Rug

With my tea pot in the middle, I looped the elastics around the top of the cover.

3e0fd-quickcosy09And, voila! A Quicky Tea Cosy!

And my tea wasn’t even cooled off yet.

This project took me like 5 minutes. So quick. And I re-purposed a really cute thing I will use day after day.

If you don’t have a mug rug, how about a pot holder or thick towel? Keep thinking and adapting to your own style.


 Now my tea will stay warm, even in the sub-zero weather.

Do you have a good re-purposed idea?  Post it below!


Kid’s favorite shirt repurposed as a bookbag

I’m sure everyone has a stack of kids clothes from years gone by that have become treasured keepsakes. Eventually I would like to make a T-shirt quilt for each kid but Nora had a toddler shirt that was just too cute to pack away.  I also really like the back of the T-shirt and didn’t want it to get lost in a quilt top.  After a bit of brainstorming, I decided to make a cute little book bag.

Kitty shirt 06

Materials used

Nostalgic Toddler T-shirt (a backside print is optional)

Blue Jean Skirt

Embroidered Belt


Fusible webbing (I use Pellon Wonder Under 805)


Clear Ruler

Sewing Machine


Before you cut

Making that first cut is always so hard because it feels wrong to cut up something you really love.  Sometimes it’s wise to listen to your gut because not every piece of fabric or clothing should be re-purposed. Before you make a cut, answer these questions to decide to save or cut:

  • Is the original fabric free of stains or rips? 
  • If it’s clothing, will it something that will pretty much never go out of style?
  • Will the new project be used less than it’s original design?
  • Does my child mind if I cut it up for a project?

 If you answered “YES” to any of the questions it may mean you are not ready to re-purpose this item. The shirt I used in this project did have a few permanent stains and although it doesn’t seem to be something that would go out of style, Nora really loved this shirt and didn’t want to part with it.  It seemed more useful to re-purpose it instead of tucking it away in a box.


As you can see in the above picture, I cut up the sides of the shirt and around the sleeves. I also cut away the seams because they are bulky and weird looking. I did the same on the backside of the shirt.


Add the webbing to make an applique

Before cutting the final shape I wanted for the applique, I took the unfinished shirt and cut a piece of webbing to attach.  My favorite fusible webbing is Pellon 805, but use whatever you like.  You will want webbing that is able to be sewn through or you will gum up your sewing machine.

Helpful Tip: Be sure to measure the webbing with the glue/rough side facing the back of your shirt. Lightly iron the webbing to make it stick slightly to the shirt.  You can permanently fuse it later.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce the webbing was lightly attached I used my clear ruler to cut the applique down to about 10” X 12″.  Trimming the rectangle to a rounded edge gave the piece a softer look. 

I did the exact same for the backside piece/applique.  Now on to the bag.

Make a simple bag

Remember what I said about making sure your kid doesn’t mind if you re-purpose the clothing before you cut?  That advice is from experience.  The belt I used in this project was one Nora had wanted to keep.  She was kinda upset I cut it up for this project.  Oops.


I also used a skirt I had from long ago before I gave birth to three kids.  Yeah, it’s never going to fit me again so it felt really good to cut it up with scissors. It was also a great choice for a bag because it’s very heavy denim and will be very durable.


The bottom of the skirt lended itself well for a bag shape. The hem became the top of the bag so I would automatically have a finished edge.  Before sewing up the seams I added the appliques.  I have learned the hard way the importance of checking and rechecking the placement of appliques before ironing.  Wish I had a picture to show you, but I got so into the project, I forgot to take a shot!

After the appliques were fused I added a tight zig zag stitch along the edge to secure it and add texture. Plus, this will make the bag more durable and easy to wash in the machine.  

I turned it right sides together and sewed along the side and bottom to close.  I felt the bag winged out a bit so folded in the bottom corners a bit and stitched along there to make it more symmetrical.

I halved the belt and added the loops to the bag. Easy peasy!  

And there you have it.  A finished bag that will be used for years to come!

Kitty shirt 06

Do you have an idea to re-purpose favorite clothes or fabric?  List them below in the comments. I’d love to hear them.  

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean