I always chuckle when I see “bitterly cold” in the weather forecast, but that was about the best description for our weather last weekend. We dodged the snow storm that buried the Twin Cities, but it was colder than cold and the wind was howling. Definitely a good weekend to hibernate in my studio. I had an itch to try something new, so I pulled out the beautiful pieces of yummy colored suede that I acquired at the Houston Quilt Market. (Yes, one of the dangers of attending quilt market is the temptation to do a little shopping with the other vendors…)
Jayme Crowe and Megan Cook over at Bella Nonna Design Studio have introduced a new line of sewing leather. They sell it in 4″ squares and 8.5″ x 11″ pieces. Megan brought a few squares over to our booth at Houston to see if we could stencil designs on the leather with paintstiks. I’m happy to say the answer is most definitely yes! Here’s what I did this weekend.
Paintstiks on Leather
I started by cutting just 3″ off the end of several jewel colored pieces of suede. I had been reading an article in Quilting Arts by an author who cut up bits of felted sweaters to make fun little creations, and I thought I would try out this concept in leather.
Next, I put all 3 strips next to each other on my Grip-n-Grip mat and pulled out several of the Cedar Canyon stencils. I was looking for texture rather than full images, and I found great possibilities in the Celebrate, Snowflakes and Ornaments stencils. Since I was planning to cut the leather into small pieces, I wanted fairly compact designs and I really didn’t care so much about the actual image.
I found that the suede really soaks up the paint. I had to put 5 or 6 applications of paint on each shape and make sure I really scrubbed the paint into the suede, using the brush in several directions to make sure the image came out bright.
Here are my 3 strips of suede after I finished painting. I’m so glad I remembered to take my camera home with me!
Cutting it Up
I decided on 1.5″ squares for my project. That was big enough to see the designs but small enough to keep it abstract. I cut two 8.5″ x 1.5″ strips from each painted piece. I cut one strip into 1.5″ squares and saved the other one for later. Now I needed to figure out what to do with them.
Putting it Back Together
I thought about putting a contrasting square of leather underneath the painted squares, but I nixed that idea in pretty short order. Leather is expensive and it’s quite difficult to stitch through. I poked around in my multitude of drawers and found a pile of felt in a whole range of colors. Just craft felt – nothing fancy. I chose three colors, cut out some squares, and attached the layers together with pearl cotton. I thought that squares on squares was a little too formal, so I trimmed the felt to make the shapes more interesting.
Next I had to choose a background. Back to the stash! I first auditioned this piece of gold silk. Yummy, but a bit too gold.
Then I dug out this green striped print. Better, but still not quite what I had in mind.
Then I hit the jackpot. I found a piece of hand-dyed fabric with a rubbing make with gold paintstik color that I made years ago and forgot about. (The rubbing was made from a piece of wavy corrugated cardboard that someone gave me.) Perfect! It had the colors that I was looking for and a great texture to boot – from paintstik, no less.
I haven’t finished this little quilt yet, but I’m thrilled with my Paintstiks on Leather experiment. I love the look of the random images. I think that strips of the painted leather would make wonderful bookmarks, bracelets and who knows what else. If you have great ideas for this leather, add a comment and let me know!