Sofft Tools, Brushes and Water

I should be posting more.  I have  new toysaccesories I’m playing with and want to share my fun.  Today I’m excited about my recent purchase of the Pan Pastel Sofft Tools


Yeah, I bought the big pack. I have had none of these and no idea if they were worth my time or $$. But I do like to experiment and having all at once meant having lots to play with.  My sample is cotton/polyester loose weave with a 60’s print but 2012 colors:

Actually, I like the fabric, color and print.  I made a sleeveless blouse for summer and had this scrap left over.

I tested 1 of each the tools above.  Because contolled application  is my issue, I didn’t spent much time with the large sponges. Just kinda of swipe pan with color; swipe fabric with sponge. As expected, they lay down large swathes of color quite nicely.  More importantly, the sponge tissue lived up to its reputation.  Each of the tools (large and small) easily pick up color from the pan and spread onto the surface.  Finally, the promise of no dust was fulfilled.  I’ve been using brushes. While not as messy a chalk sticks, there was still appreciable dust on top of each pan.  No matter how gently I touched the top of the pan. No matter whether I stroked or dabbed. By the end of a session, there was considerable dust not on my work but in the pan. With the Sofft Tools NO DUST is left behind.

Onto the Samples.  #1 is the printed fabric without any pastel application. Flower #2 has pan pastel gold and Ox Blood Tint, applied using the soft tools.  #3 was painted with the  1/8″ flat brush and a 3/8″ angled brushes I picked up with this order.  I dipped the brushes into water. Shook them off. Stroked the Pan Pastel and then the fabric. I still want more control but I’d be happy to use this in place of acrylic paint. My only objection being that I’m sure to spill an open container of water — it’s just a matter of time.

I’m already working on a project. But this is something that takes time. Lots of time.

A lovely ponte

Read the rest of my post here.

Don’t want to sew a wardrobe?

Yesterday, I shared my Autumn 6PAC and ranted about one of my favorite soap box topics:  People who join wardrobe sewing but don’t want to plan and  sew a wardrobe.

I see this all the time, not just on the 6PAC topics.  Every SWAP someone wants to deviate from the format or not do any planning. Hey it is sewing WITH a plan. Planning is a good mental exercise. Planning your wardrobe could get you out of the Monday morning “I don’t have anything to wear” blues.  I’ll also read “why does everything have to work with everything?”.  Do you want to look good? Do you want to look put together? Then your clothes need to look put together.  They need to look good together. At the end of nearly every SWAP there is someone who confesses that the whole experience, (including the detested planning, including making sure the garments worked together and the proportions are good)  was one of the best experiences of their life. One issue that doesn’t always crop up until well after SWAP is “I didn’t sew for the life I have”.  But that’s another subject.

What I really want to do in this post is offer alternatives to mindless, boring wardrobe sewing.

  • Sew what you want and don’t worry about us. It’s OK. Sewing isn’t likely to save that much money. Not really. Not if you include the costs of your machine, thread, patterns, fabric and the endless notions we buy.  I do believe that sewing should first and foremost be a creative experience that is enjoyed. IMO, you should sew what rewards your psyche and not worry about us. Plus, once you accept that this is a creative endeavor, you won’t worry about the costs.  You buy the machine(s) that you want. The fabric that makes your heart sing.  The patterns that make you drool. Let yourself go. Do you want to share whatever it is you did sew.  As of Oct 2014 SG has 32 Sharing and Inspiration topics.  Let me tell you, there is some real eye-candy in these topics.  We’d love to see what you’ve done, too!
  • Do you really need 6 blouses?  Join the Shirt A Month group. You won’t be exiled if you can’t make a shirt every month or if you make all 6 blouses in the first month. You will get lots of help, moral support and compliments
  • There are also threads for Pants (if that’s what you want to sew)
  • Want to explore a particular pattern line?  Like Marfy, Burda, Ottobre or Style Arc.  Each has their own following and thread at SG and these aren’t all.
  • I can’t think of a sewing topic not to be found at SG. Do an Advanced Search with a key word.  ( I usually select “Search in Topics Only”) Find what you are interest in, read and share your own experience and ideas.


I don’t mean to be obnoxious. Truthfully, I don’t think this post will change people wanting to join a wardrobe sewing top but not sew a wardrobe. I think what happens is that SWAP draws people into SG. They get fired up and want to join but they want to sew what they want to sew. That’s OK. I hope I’ve offered at least a little encouragement and some topics you can use to share your particular sewing interest. You don’t have to sew a wardrobe. We’d love to see anything you are sewing or have completed.

My Autumn 2014 6PAC

My wardrobe planning was greatly simplified about 25 years ago when I discovered my colors.  I am a Spring and I’m happiest when I clothe myself in Spring colors. So when Pantone  announced the Fall 2014 colors which includes Royal Blue, Cognac and Bright Cobalt, I immediately settled upon a color scheme of warm browns and bright blues.  Because I’ve been collecting my colors for years, it didn’t take long to sort through the stash and decide upon fabrics and patterns.  Without further ado, here is my 6PAC

3rd layer, Coat:

Two plain tops:

Two pairs of pants:

Dang those jeans need serious pressing!

Yes that’s only 5 but I also have

a 2nd coat:

2 patterned blouses:


Are you wondering if I’ve totally cheated on the sewing?


Sort of. Added to the fact that I know my colors and pretty much stick to using my colors, I’ve also been participating in Elizabeth’s 6PAC sewing since the very first. And I’m faithful to the formula of building a basic wardrobe in neutral colors. My neutrals are black, navy blue and brown.  Color derivatives like warm brown mix really well with plain dark brown so I don’t feel like I’ve strayed from my brown neutral.  Same goes for grey and black or the various shades of blue. So back to the warm brown/bright blue fall color scheme….. Turns out, I’ve been sewing and shopping with these colors for quite some times.  The two plain tops are purchased long-sleeve T’s. One is cotton, the other polyester. The bog coat was sewn several years ago.  It’s not heavily used but I also did a good job when sewing.  It is fully lined; and even though the Bog Coat is a simplistic design, I added shoulder pads and some interfacing to support the jacket during it’s long-life.  Those jeans that need pressing? Were sewn last spring along with the 3/4 sleeve, polyester, geometric-patterned top.  The polyester, cowl-neck, extended shoulder was sewn at least 6 years ago. Again it doesn’t get a lot of wear. It says dressy to me; and while most poly’s don’t bother me, this crepe-weave feels a bit warm. Not a good trait for a garment that is intended for warm temps.  The 2nd jacket is a fake suede made before I’d even heard of ejvc or her 6PACs.  It gets a lot of wear.  That jacket is perfect for a windy day or cool but not freezing weather.  The pockets are stuffed with mittens because my hands  object to any cooling. The jacket is still in nearly new shape because I added the interfacing, shoulder pads and lining while carefully constructing this garment nearly 10 years ago.  That leaves only the pants on the left of the pants picture. I made them 3 days ago.  I found a lovely, beefy, heavenly Ponte in Ft Collins Co last spring. I knew it would make great pants. I use PP118 adapted for a knit fabric.

I like to share my 6PAC’s as an example of what happens when you stick with the 6PAC plan.  So often we have people join-in the sewing and they want to sew *6 dresses or blouses. Or they don’t want to make the 3rd layers. Most notably, they don’t want to make boring garments which wardrobe building often turns out to be. It’s the boring garments that make your other garments look delicious. It’s the boring garments that get you through the work week and into the weekend. Boring garments can take you from day to night activities with a change of accessories. Plus if every garment you wear is stellar in its own right, you look disorganized; NOT put together.

Eventually, if you keep plugging away at creating the basic pieces,  6PAC sewing stops being endless boring sewing. I’m now at the point that I decided upon my colors and then check my closet for existing garments . I note what I have, check it’s condition (and discard if needed). Once I know what’s missing from the 6 piece formula (2 bottoms, 2 tops, a dress and 3rd layer ), I check my fabric stash and pull fabrics in the colors I want to use. Then I match them with patterns.  This 6PAC, I pulled only 1 piece of fabric for the pants I knew I needed.  1 piece and my Autumn 6PAC is done!


*I’m not a fan of dresses. I do wear a few in the summer but the rest of the year, dresses and skirts hang in my closet never touched from the time they come out of the season’s box until they go back in. I’ve also seen times when I needed 6 blouses. (A work environment that required white tops and blue bottoms) So I do understand why someone might not stick with the 6PAC formula. I do agree you should sew what you need. Also for sewing to be really rewarding, you need to sew what you want to sew. But if you want to build a wardrobe, don’t kid yourself. If you needs tops, bottoms and layers but only sew tops….. Well Monday morning you’ll look into your closet and whine “I don’t have anything to wear” because you can’t put together a complete outfit.

Up to this point, I haven’t mentioned accessories.  I’m disappointed with the shoes in the photos.  I thought they would work well with this color scheme but that color is too red.  I have one pair of pants that they might work well with. Too bad, because they are comfortable. Those shoes can easily be worn around the house but are spiffy enough for shopping or a trip to the doctor’s office.  I may try painting them because I don’t like shoes that can only be worn with 1 garment.  My purse, however, is a winner.  It’s about 18 months old. I used the Clover Templates Nancy Zieman is always pushing. I chose 2 threads to couch onto the fabric hoping that would make it more versatile. Along with the slight padding and multiple pockets, this purse has become a favorite year-round.


Ready for Fall!

PanPastels: Dabbling

One of the downsides of small communities (it’s an upside too) is that everyone knows everyone. The Fedex Driver is a friend of DH and generally arranges his schedule to accommodate a short chat. While they were chatting, I snuck up behind DH and snagged my package.

I cut index-card sized pieces from my chosen fabric, a cotton decorator fabric in a rose woven-jacquard design.My fabrics are all pre-washed. No stabilizers to hide the true characteristics of the fabric or, in this case, keep the decorative element from adhering. To apply the pastels, I selected both round and flat brushes all under 1/2″ and added a 1″ foam brush for playing.  Thought I had some makeup sponges, the wand kind, but I hate those so much that I have managed to discard all of them. So I hunted until I found the very small – and usually worthless stencil daubers.  These are about 3/8′ and 5/8″ in diameter.  (I’m sure some creative person would find them wonderful, but me  not-so-much.

I specifically wanted the PanPastels because of my experience and final thoughts about my Inktense Pencil project.  At the end of that project I lamented the ache and soreness which my wrist and arms were feeling. I felt that the pencils would best be used to add details and something else should be used to cover large areas before detail work commenced.  My hope is that PanPastels will be a superior experience to the Inktense blocks. IOW I want to work in my easy chair without spilling water or color all over me, my chair and living room.

My first experience was SHOCK! I looked at the top of the first pan and assumed there was a printed label beneath the lid and I would find the color beneath slightly different (just due to media).  To my surprise the lid was clear and the color I was seeing would be the color I would be using.

I planned 3 samples or tests. One would be a control. Nothing would be done to this test other than playing with the various brushes and the 4 purchased colors (Red Oxide, Red Oxide Dark, Red Oxide Tint and Titanium White).

Not surprising, my 1″ foam brush spread colors nice and fast. Wonderfully, there’s not a lot of dust. I did not get dirty (a pastel stick experience). My clothing, chair, work all stayed wonderfully clean. But it was hard to develop detail. I went down to a size 2 flat and used the corner to develop any detail at all.

Test 02

Truth is pastels, even these PanPastels, are soft and spread slightly. Crisp lines, at least using a brush, are difficult to achieve. In the sample above, I started layering details using Inktense Pencils.  It is a wonderful mix. The PanPastel covers quickly. Titanium white not only mixes easily with the basic hue to form tints, but it can be opaque and cover up previous layers.

The much touted eraser did not work on fabric.  It smudges and lightens but does not completely remove PanPastels from fabric.

I’m working dry-into-dry i.e. my fabric is dry and so are my paints. No water added. No water needed and none spilled at my chair.  While there wasn’t much dust during my “painting”, I knew that an unfixed work will eventually smudge — and no telling how much.  I did one sample in which I simply brushed the PanPastels in a line and then sprayed with Krylon, Clear, Satin Finish.  I am pleased to say that the colors were unaffected by the fixative:

Test 03

You might not realize it but that is one of the big concerns of “real” artists.  They’ve spent their time carefully crafting and don’t want it spoiled today or 500 years from today by a fixative.  Fixatives should stabilize and project not add or change color.  So I’m really happy that my colors were unchanged by the application of the Krylon Fixative.

But that’s not the end for me.  I know that I will be making items of apparel either garments or accessories. Now for a purse or something similar, the Krylon might be sufficient for the life of the item. For clothing,  I’ve found Delta Textile Medium is my salvation. So far DTM has worked with acrylic paints, Inktense pencils and blocks but I wasn’t 100% sure it would be equally effective with PanPastels.  I tend to think of pastels – any pastels- as a fugitive medium. So I took the Test 2, added some details with the Inktense Pencils and coated it with DTM.  I let that dry overnight and then into the wash it went. The result?

I slopped DTM over and beyond the edges of each design. The DTM moved color slightly and by itself discolored the plain fabrics.  The Inktense pencil colors were, of course, made much more brilliant. anticipated and OK, as far as I’m concerned.  I do like the final Inktense penciled details.

As an experiment (because how do you know if you don’t try) I colored with PanPastels, coated with DTM and allowed the DTM to dry. Then I added details with Inktense pencils and coated them with DTM.

I like the end result but I don’t think it is necessary to make 2 coats of DTM; one carefully applied to only the added color is good…. and enough.


So there will be a sewing project coming up.  I need more colors and have decided to invest in the tools. There could be a chance of the tools creating the detail for which  I needed Inktense Pencils to achieve.  However the project is weeks if not months away.  I wrote these posts now because I wanted to record my experience immediately while I could remember it.   Sigh, getting old is not for sissies.

PanPastel: First Steps

BTW, this has not become an art blog.  Because I like to add design and color to fabric and garments, I’m always looking for new ideas. I’m just as interested in folding, stitching and dying (activities more often associated with garments). PanPastels will be utilized in my garment sewing too, but first I have to explore the medium a little.

Dick Blick has been my source for art supplies since the 80’s. But there are many other quality sources. Should you desire to purchase, by all means, choose your favorite vendor.

I experimented with chalk pastels during my student art days. These are hardly the same animal.  The first thing I noticed  is that they come in a pan (a large pan and hence the name PANpastel) instead of a stick. Instead of talc, they are created with an oil base which makes them creamy.  Never did I see any chalk pastels with this intensity of color which I’m told is because they are pigment rich achievable due to the pan format.    They are available for purchase in sets or individually. No matter where purchased, more than one will be a pricey proposition.  I looked at sets which is the least expensive option (when you divide total price by number of pans). My problem with sets is that it would take a large set to achieve the color range that I use. In that large set would, undoubtedly, be many colors I’d never use. Also at this time I’m experimenting. Exploring.  I’m not even sure I want to complete a single project let alone multiple projects that would justify the expense of the largish set.


And then the tools….


This set at Dick Blick as of 10/4/2014 is $25.70.  I did see several people using, with some skill I might add, brushes.  I love brushes myself, but most demonstrations included and were very enthusiastic about the effects achieved with these tools which were engineered to work with PanPastels.

OK so what to do because obviously I was going to sample these. I decided to control some of the cost by remembering my watercolour training. In watercolour shape, form, texture, dimension etc is achieved by reserving your whites and carving out the shapes with your hue, tints and tones.  I discovered in Machine Embroidery that I didn’t need thread in every color of the rainbow or its many tints and tones. A hue, its tint and dark (3 spools)  would be more than sufficient for any embroidery that I do.  So I looked through my stash of possible artsy projects (I’m a person with multiple stashes) and decided upon a project that I had been considering for fabric paints that would need 2 hues along with their respective tints and tones. I chose Red Iron Oxide and it’s dark. I added Titanium white to my cart then hesitated. Purportedly, the tint can be created from the basic hue. But I had no idea how much mixing would be required. I decided to stack-the-deck in my favor by adding the Red Iron Oxide tint.

I looked at the tools…. and looked at the tools. Each item in the set above is available individually. I was questioning did I want to spend $26 for tools I would use once and then allow to gather dust.  I’m not poor. I worked hard and consistently during my working career and retired comfortably but not stinking-rich either.  I have some disposable income and when wisely used I feel no lack in my life.  Would buying all these tool at the onset be a wise use of my $$$ or wasting money that could add to my life in other areas???

I didn’t add tools to the cart. I wanted to be sure I would use these PanPastels more than once. Seriously, there have been so many mediums and tools I’ve dabbled with that didn’t interest me beyond the first experiment. I often rein-myself-in with the same questions. Am I really going to use this?  Is this really a good use of my resources (time, money, materials)???

So I checked out with 4 PanPastels. Less than $21. Not bad for experimenting with a new medium. Then there was shipping. This was going to cost me $8.95 for shipping. I’ve cancelled many an order because of high shipping costs. I do have a problem in that I can’t buy these without driving 180 miles; and then 180 miles home. Oh I can buy pastel sticks, but I want PanPastels. and I want them in colors that I will use (if I like PanPastels) for multiple projects.   So I re-thought this purchase. I decided that I not only wanted these but I wanted them immediately. After all, $14.95 was less than an $60 road-trip to Sioux Falls and I could have my goodies in 2 days. Yes, I nearly doubled the cost of my items because I was so eager to use them.  We all have faults; impatience is one of mine.


PanPastels, Why?

I love taking a tone-on-tone fabric and adding a bit of color.  I’ve done this frequently with stitches pre-programmed in my various machines and again with machine embroidery.  This last few years I’ve experimented with many mediums, dye, thin paints, markers and my favorites Inktense pencils and Fabric paints.  I enjoy all these techniques but I can complain about each.  Creating a design for machine embroidery is time-consuming. The scan and stitch methods are never satisfactory for me.   In fact, the way I’ve done it, I can spend more time creating a design than the garment’s life.  I like fabric paints. I use acrylic paints which are quick to set up, use and clean-up. But I do need to set-up and clean-up either of which can take longer than actually painting my design.   (Stenciling takes even longer, but I do like it too.) Also, I’m confined to working downstairs in the area which is prepared for — uh– the expected and unexpected activity of paints.  I loved the ease of using InkTense pencils. So neat. Transportable. Could be used while sitting in my easy chair. I loved the  final effect of Intense Pencils too. The hours spent  adding color to this vest:

didn’t seem long; but I needed nearly a week to  layer colors and scrub the pencil tip into the fabric covering it with ink.  It was a wonderful experience, which I’ve always wanted to repeat. Except my arm ached from the hours of dragging the pencil back-and-forth over the fabric imparting color.   I concluded that the pencils were wonderful for detail, but not for covering large areas.; at least for me.  I did try the Ink Blocks. They tend to break, make a mess on my hands and being big don’t work well in small detailed areas.  I also tried wetting a brush, stroking the block and applying the brush (with liquid ink) to the fabric. I did like the result. I was working wet-onto-dry (fabric). The ink would spread easily or could be controlled and confined to small details.  Adding Inktense Pencils  before applying Textile Medium, allowed me to add all the extra detailing I thought needed. Problem? I like to work on these projects in my easy chair while watching TV.  If it’s a wet-medium, I need a sure-to-be-spilled liquid next to me. I considered projects and delayed because I would need to buy more blocks and pencils. Individuals or sets was the question.  Per piece, buying individuals was 1/3 to 1/2 as again as much as sets. Sets however were a big initial investment, especially since I would want one set of pencils and one set of blocks.  Also sets are guaranteed to contain colors I don’t want to use.

So I dwaddled, until I came across a quilter who uses PanPastels to color miniature quilts and hangings. I can’t find my link or her name so I can’t give credit as I would like. I sat and watched in fascination as she neatly painted using pan pastels while seated in her comfortable chair.  She used a small brush which she dipped into water and then brushed across her pan to pick up color. Intrigued, I searched the net to see how others are using PanPastels. Not unsurprising, scrap booking and art journaling are the two top choices. The variety of ways PanPastels are used was astonishing, including that many times users preferred dry medium which would then be finished with a fixative.  In each video, the mess is minimal. Not at all like my experiments with chalk pastels in my art student days.   So I just had to try…..

Tanking the Otto Tank

I do like the Otto Tank as previously fit. It is to me the perfect, sleeveless, knit-top pattern. But during the dog days of summer, I like a little less coverage. Also, this pattern was titled as a “tank”.  In the magazine it looked like a “tank”. But my finished garment didn’t look like a tank.  Read the rest of the story here.

So Darn Cute

Read about this sheers project here.


Craftsy Course: Exciting World of Fabric Paints

It’s a well-known phenomenon amongst those that sew:  If you can’t sew — you shop.  I didn’t add to my stash last month, but I did buy a couple of Craftsy Courses.

I’ve been dabbling with adding color to my projects for a few years.  I feel like I’m alone in my efforts to use something other than dye. Yet puzzled. If I’m alone, why is there such a vast and varied amount of supplies readily available?  So I was quite pleased when this course popped up on Craftsy and completed it during my  er down time.

The instructor, Cindy Walter, is primarily a quilter but does some garment sewing and some multi-media art. She is calmer than the instructor of my previous class (reviewed yesterday). That along with her good organization and speaking skills made the class a delight.  If I have a complaint, it would be that she’s almost an@l at keeping her area clean and organized. Not only does she use a drop cloth, but also a stack of paper to set her paints upon, rolls of paper towels and despite the fact acrylic paints are non-toxic, she wears gloves.  I’m not really complaining. I’m more amused. She herself repeatedly says you don’t need the gloves. She wears them because paints get on her hands and then she will inadvertently transfer it to other items (clothes, completed projects, etc).

Why I like acrylic paints and have pretty much settled into using are the same things the Cindy points out as advantages. They are non-toxic. Other possibly toxic chemicals are not needed because acrylic paints set themselves.   They can be reliably mixed and thinned. In fact she recommends a 50/50 water/paint solution to create thin dye-consistency paints (about the thickness of milk). (Think Dy-Ne-flow other very thin paints).  Although Textile Medium can be added to artist grade acrylic paints, she recommends looking for paints that are intended for use on fabric or textiles. Also to determine consistency (thin or thick), shake the bottle. Thin paints will slop about rapidly and make a very “liquid” sound like shaking a carton of milk.  Thick paints have a consistency similar to Yogurt and will not slop around. They kind of clunk from end to end when shaken.  I also like the “clean up” with acrylic paints. Cindy cleans up in the sink and reuses brushes, sponges, everything with just a quick wash in the sink. In the final lessons, Cindy also introduces Inktense pencils/blocks, mica powders and PaintStiks. I’ve played with and love all of them. She does point out that the mica powders are toxic if you breathe them.  One thing she left out is that Inktense pencils can be set using Textile Medium which at the same times dissolves the Inktense pigment bringing out their saturated colors (that’s what I did here).  She discusses the limitation of metallic paints as well as demonstrating their beauty in multiple uses.

Cindy demonstrate many beautiful techniques for using acrylic paints. She adds water, salt; scrunches, brushes and dabs. Pulls out her stencils, stamps (not all stamps are commercially made) and rubbing plates. Explaining why as well as how she is getting the results that you see.  She shares an adaptive Shibori technique. She corrects mistakes and over-paints freely. In fact she recommends buying white on white, black and white or beige fabrics on sale and painting them for marvelous results. She shares 2 garments she painted and a series of miniature quilts in addition to completed quilts of various sizes and a host of painted fat quarters.

I took away from class a knowledge of when to use thick paint, thin paint or other media as well as a host of ideas for experimenting with paint. Definitely gets 5 STARS from me.