Not one of my favourite jobs to do - but if you are going to do something , do it properly, and a nicely made and decently sewn on hanging sleeve makes or breaks even the most amazing quilt. If you don't put it on straight, then the quilt will hang forever wonky. If you make it too tight, then the batton will leave an ugly bump in the front of the quilt. If you put it to high it will show above the top line of the quilt, but too low and the top will droop, or even worse, flop down. So maybe, it is more important to spend time on this little loved part of art quilt making than anything else!
This is the technique I use for all my quilts that are to hang freely. I find it makes an excellent hanging sleeve and the instructions are foolproof. I have taken them from the Contemporary Quilt challenge website, and have copied and pasted the appropriate section from the website. If you would like to visit the website please clickhere. (While you are there, you may want to consider making a quilt to enter the challenge - go on, what have you got to lose??)
"D" Sleeve (instructions taken from the contemporary quilt challenge website)
These instructions are for a 4 inch wide sleeve. If it is set 1inch down from the top edge and 1in in from the sides it will not show once the quilt is hanging. It will be able to accommodate a wooden batten and not create a bulge in the fromt of the quilt.
and now on to something a little more exciting........
Mouldy agar agar plates
Back just before Christmas I was busy experimenting with a vegetarian alternative to gelatine plates. You can read the blog post I made and see the recipes for a selection of different types of gelli type plates here.
Well, it is now 1st of March (already!!) and my weekly look at the agar agar plates has revealed..... mould!. Drat.
Perhaps it should not be a surprise. I have not refridgerated them and they have been sitting on a shelf in my garage which hasn't dropped below 25 degrees.They were stored in between 2 sheets of freezer paper and in a plastic bag to keep the dust off.
Interestingly, the gelatine based plate is still fine.
So what to do? I obviously don't want to inhale any dodgy spores; not sure if they are bad or not, but I would rather not find out the hard way. So I have a choice - throw them away, or see if I can 'refresh' them in some way.
In the interest of science, I chose the latter, but if you feel the risk is too high, then do throw yours away.
Refreshing an agar agar gelli type plate
This is what I did:
With a face mask on I washed the plate under running water, rubbing off the blobs of mould and any furry bits. I then cut it up into small chunks with a pair of scissors, and placed it into a glass microwave proof bowl (not for food use). I chose this method as this is what I do with my gelatine based plates - and it works a treat.
I started by zapping the agar agar chunks in the microwave on full power for 2 minutes. This would normally see my gelatine turn to liquid and the process would be almost complete. However, the agar agar did not budge. So, I gave it another minute, but nothing was happening.
Being mindful of the process I went through when making the agar agar plate, I decided to abandon the microwave as a method of melting the lumps and tipped the whole lot into my old dyeing saucepan. And I was very glad I did!
After 10 minutes on a medium heat this is how the agar agar lumps looked. I was worried about it catching on the bottom of the pan, so I stayed with it and stirred approximately every minute.
Here we are after 15 minutes. About half melted. Stay with it and keep stirring!
It took around 20 minutes in total to melt all of the lumps and get a thin, runny liquid. To be on the safe side I decided to give it a good boil, to kill any spores and / or lurgy. Then I poured it back into my mould and waited to see if it would set.
Good news!! I think the newly reformed agar agar plate is even better than before - and no more mould either!
As ever, I will keep you posted on how it keeps. I am going to leave it in the garage again - so will see how long it lasts.
Sorry for it being a short one this week - I'm working on a large project this week and if it turns out well I will share next time.
Thanks for reading.
Happy New Year!
A slightly different way to use the gel plate
As I had the gel plates out today I decided to use the large plate to help me create a piece of fabric for a new quilt I have in mind.
The quilt needs a long thin piece of fabric with foliage hanging downwards. Whilst I was walking through Sydenham Botanic Park this morning I collected a small bag full of organic bits and bobs from the ground. One of them was a small piece of twig from a beautiful Jacaranda tree which I thought would be perfect for the job. It was the right size and scale and was flexible enough to make the gently curving foliage.
I decided to use the Jacaranda twig to print the delicate little leaf shapes onto the fabric. As each twiglet (I don't think that is the real name, I just made that up) has 20 or more tiny leaves it was going to be tricky to ink up the whole thing for printing. Normally I would use a sponge or roller to put the ink on - but I knew this would probably damage the delicate little leaves - so I decided to put the ink onto the gel plate paint and then press the leaves gently onto the plate to apply the ink. When I pulled the ink covered twig away from the plate it was ready to print onto the fabric.
I now need to work on this piece of fabric some more, to add more interest and depth. I'm not exactly sure how it will turn out yet, but that is all part of the excitement and fun!
Thanks for reading.
So - this is what you do...........................
Re-forming the plates
Cut or rip the gel plate you wish to recycle into chunks. This helps speed up the melting process.
Put it into a microwave bowl and heat for around 1 to 2 minutes on full power (I have a 750W microwave). Keep your eye on it and give it a stir after a minute. If you need to add more time do it in short bursts and watch it at all times. You want the mixture to just bubble up but not over the edges.
If it spills over, don't wipe it up - just allow the hot gel to cool then peel it off and stir it back into your molten gel.
Glycerine and gelatine from MM ingredients
Glycerine BP (that means pharmaceutical grade) can a be bought more cheaply in chemists (such as Boots) than in supermarkets where you find edible grade glycerine.
Isopropyl alcohol - also commonly known as 'surgical spirit' or rubbing alohol in the UK. Don't bother with Boots for this one - the thought police have been there and they just give you 'the look' when you ask for it. Last time I tried Superdrug still sell it.
Glycerine and Isopropyl alcohol from Pure Nature
Gelatine I buy at the supermarket
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