Spring Session II Open Studio Schedule

5/12/17: Insert gif of me eating my hat. Sorry, Thursday night First Time Sewing- I didn’t mean to forget you!

5/10/17: OKAY, LAST CHANGE, I SWEAR. No open studio in the sewing room on Friday night’s ’cause we’re makin’ bras, baby. And Frame Loom Weaving is now from 2-5pm on Sunday afternoons in the Print Room. Thanks, everyone!

5/8/17: A couple of tiny edits to the open studio schedule! <3

5/1/17: Hello Lillstreet Textiles Department Community! Second session open studio begins today: here’s the schedule. See you in the studio!



Oaxaca, Mexico Natural Dyeing

I traveled Oaxaca to Huatulco, Mexico. Observed fresh leaf indigo dyeing, natural dyeing, and rare purple shell dyeing.  (Akemi Nakano Cohn)

Mexcan woman (weaver) cut and chopped fresh indigo leaves (different Japanese indigo), then kneed really well to get the juice onto yarn(cotton).  Left it couple hours, washed.  Green color turns to blue.

Purple sea shells are now restricted because not enough resource.  It comes from the juice from the shell like a snail.  After the juice was taken by the licenced expert, he put shell back to the ocean.  It saves to grow.  It is the same as indigo dyeing, oxdize through the air to change the color.


Draw Attention to Trees: Illustration and the Shapes of Things

I started the month of January in the studio drawing tree forms, branches, leaves, and studying books at the Sterling Library at the Morton Arboretum. I was looking at tree silhouettes, the gesture of branches, tree scars, and instructions on pruning. I made new drawings as part of my round sketchbook series and revisited a favorite text: Trees in winter landscape, by Alice Upham Smith.

In early March Eileen Barrett, the head of the Morton Arboretum’s graphic design department, invited me to meet with her team to discuss their upcoming Arbor Day event: Draw Attention to Trees. The Arboretum’s concept was to emphasizes the importance of trees in our daily lives in urban, suburban, rural and wild environments. The public would be invited to color the illustrations on oversized Arbor Day “coloring pages” installed at Daley Plaza and the Morton Arboretum. The installation at Daley Plaza was to be a four-sided structure measuring 16 by 8 feet on each side. The Arboretum installation was to be a single panel outside the visitor center at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois.

The Arboretum needed illustrations of urban, suburban, rural and wild environments as well as numerous tree species, leaves, diagrams that explained proper mulching, watering, planting and photosynthesis, trees in flower and the fruits and seeds of trees. I based my illustrations on photographs and herbarium (museum) plant specimens. All of the drawings were made first with pencil and then with Perma-opaque markers on 8 ½ x 11” office paper. I scanned the images and vectorized them in Adobe Illustrator to make the files that the Arboretum’s Graphic Design department could lay out. They then designed and created the display, adding the text, choosing the color, font etc.

One of the great pleasures of art making is transforming your work from one context to another: from sketchbook, to tracing paper, to burned screen, to printed image on rip-stock rayon, to printed flags on the rooftop of the Lillstreet Art Center. I am often surprised by the formal change that happens in reproducing my own work in a new format. This project was remarkable in this regard: the transitions from drawing to scan, from scan to vectorized art, from vectorized illustrations to layout, and from layout to banner gave the work and entirely different feel.

If you are looking for fun and enjoy learning come on down to Daley Plaza, all day Friday, April, 28th and learn about trees while adding some color to the big coloring book page on display. If you haven’t visited the Arboretum in Lisle, it’s busting out with blossoms and buds in full spring glory. Bring the kids and explore the Children’s garden, it’s a special place. (www.mortonarb.org)

If you’re looking to make some art of your own come visit Lillstreet Art Center, 4401 N.Ravenswood, Chicago, IL. I live in the western suburbs (Downers Grove) and monitor the textile studio one day a week…this place is a gem and full of folks making outstanding pottery, jewelry, paintings, prints, and textiles. New spring session starts next week, check it out. 

— Rachel Davis, Monitor


Don’t forget to follow the Lillstreet Textiles Department on Instagram!

{She Crew} T’s: Foxes Against Facism

{She Crew} is an organization that offers free artistic empowerment programs to girls and trans-spectrum youth in the city of Chicago. Working out of the Jane Addams Hull House, their students learn to cook meals as a group, experiment with theater and improv to build confidence and work in journals to help them develop their own unique voices as writers and artists. Their summer program culminates with a public performance and they’re even working on developing a podcast, Shecast.

You can learn more about {She Crew} on their website! And check out some of their past t-shirt designs on their etsy page.

In this Shop Talk as Lillstreet, you’ll not only learn how to screen print, you’ll also help {She Crew} by producing one of their important revenue sources. Together, we’ll print a run of their newest t-shirt design, Foxes Against Fascism, to be sold at local Spoken cafe, the {She Crew} Etsy shop, and the Lillstreet Gallery. Everyone will leave with their very own, hand printed shirt. (Our very own digital print lab is even printing up some take-away goodies! I’ve heard *rumors* about stickers and maybe even tiny foxy temporary tattoos!)

No experience necessary. Registration required. Children over 10 welcome with adult. BYOB: Must be 21+ to consume alcohol.

Register today! 

Can’t attend but you’d like to support {She Crew}? You can “register” for the workshop without filling up the class PLUS you’ll get to stop by Lillstreet for a complimentary t-shirt printed at the event!Or, you can donate directly through their website.

*(While supplies last!)


SHOP TALK is an ongoing series of events dedicated to benefitting local nonprofit organizations and charities. Shop Talks will be organized on a volunteer basis and are open to the public. All proceeds dedicated to a pre-determined charity organization. The workshop, theme and charity will vary with each event.


Make sure you’re up to date with Lillstreet Textiles Department events and announcements! Follow us on Instagram!

Spring Session I Class and Open Studio Schedule

Hello all!

Spring session is off and running! You still have time to sign up for some of the end-of-week and weekend classes, so don’t miss out. Here’s the session I class and open studio schedule. Open studio will start on Monday, April 3rd. See you all in the studio!


Textile Print Open Studio from 3-5 – Saturday, March 18

Due to the Lillstreet Spring Open House,Textile Print Open Studio will be available from 3-5 on Saturday, March 18.

Join us for the Spring Open House:

Workshop: Fabric Collage as Art: Collage has been around for centuries and still makes its way into crafts today in the form of scrapbooking, fiber art and printmaking. In this drop-in workshop, you’ll learn the basic techniques of heat press, stitching and small-scale print. These techniques can be used in sync or independently across a surface. Come ready to experiment and leave with a one-of-a-kind work of art. 1-3pm, Saturday, March 18  (Ages 13+)

Quiltcon East 2017 in Savannah: A Modern Quilting Conference

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending Quiltcon East 2017 in Savannah, Georgia, a quilt show hosted by The Modern Quilt Guild.  The show showcases a juried and judged selection of contemporary quilts and features a plethora of workshops and lectures by a roster of well known quilt artists and designers.  A sizable vendor area was included at the show, selling fabrics, notions, machines, and more.

Over 300 quilts were on display, and 5000-6000 attendees passed through during the duration of the show, which spanned 4 days, from February 23 to the 27th, 2017.

I did not have a quilt in the show this year, but went to get a look at the quilts, take classes, and to visit and chat with my friends in the quilt industry, and generally nerd out with my fellow quilt lovers.  Savannah was a great host city for the event; it’s full of great restaurants, galleries and lush, manicured green squares.

The Modern Quilt Guild puts on Quiltcon every year; next year (2018) the event will be in Pasadena, California, and the year after (2019) it will take over Nashville, Tennessee.

Find out more about the Modern Quilt Guild and the modern quilt movement here.

A few of the quilts that caught my eye this year are featured below:

by Tara Faughan


by Diana Vandeyar



By Silvia Sutters



There’s a MQG chapter here in the Chicago area, the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild.  They typically meet the 3rd Sunday of every month, from 2-5pm, at Rush Hospital in Oak Park.  Find out more about the CMQG on their blog.


-Tricia Royal


All The freaky People Make The Beauty of the World


So, if you’ve been busy making things for good causes – awesome!

But some days you feel a little angry and feisty-so here are a few ways to express those feelings in a productive way as a maker.

Wikipedia defines Craftivism as a form of activism, typically incorporating elements of anti-capitalism, environmentalism or third-wave feminism, that is centered on practices of craft – or what can traditionally be referred to as “domestic arts”. Craftivism includes, but is not limited to, various forms of needlework. Craftivism is a social process of collective empowerment, action, expression and negotiation. In craftivism, engaging in the social, performative and critical discourse around the work is central to its production and dissemination. [1] Practitioners are known as craftivists.

Let’s make our voice heard!


threads of resistance

The Artist Circle presents “Threads of Resistance,” a juried exhibition of work created to protest the Trump administration’s actions and policies.

They invite you to consider the theme “Threads of Resistance,” and create work – fiber art, art quilts, modern quilts or traditional quilts – to convey your passion, anger, or sadness about an issue that concerns you. Your work can be either positive (encouraging and unifying), or negative (portraying anger, sadness or discouragement).



Nasty Women Art Chicago


Nasty Women is a global art movement that serves to demonstrate solidarity among artists who identify with being a Nasty Woman in the face of threats to roll back women’s rights, individual rights, and abortion rights. With over forty fundraising art exhibitions taking place around the United States and abroad, Nasty Women Exhibitions also serve to support organizations defending these rights and to be a platform for organization and resistance.

In solidarity with sister shows around the globe, come together for Nasty Women Art Chicago: A one-night exhibition and fundraiser to hear and support the voices of artists identifying as Nasty Women.


March 5 Contribute.

Call for artwork begins March 5 for Illinois residents and March 19 for the general public. Spread the word…

May 5 Collect.

Moonlight Studios, 1446 W Kinzie 5:30-10:30pm. Acquire art. Experience the event. Get inspired. We are…





All proceeds from this pattern will be donated monthly to a rotating list of charities that work to make life better for ALL people, not just those in power. These will include Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock Legal Defense Funds, Days for Girls, Environmental Defense Fund, Trans Youth Equality Foundation, Engender Health, Flint Kids, and more.



you are so very beautiful

All it takes are three tiny things:

  • Make a sign (no bigger than palm size, please) that contains an affirmation starting with “You are” on it. Although all types of handmade signs are welcome, for the museum show, we need stitched signs. If you’d like to make other types of signs, we can use them in Atlanta!
  • Tag: It’s up to you if you tag it with your @social_media_handle, but please tag it the back of the sign with #yasvb.
  • Send the sign(s) to the following address:

Betsy Greer

P.O. Box 51816

Durham NC 27717

Want to do a drop in your town? Find out how I can help or how you can do it DIY style here!

For more information about the idea behind the You Are So Very Beautiful project, click here.



craftivist-collective mini-banner


Fly solidarity’s flag for those suffering as a result of the world’s injustices. Craft your own banner, turn heads and influence change.

Imagine walking down the street and spotting a colourful cross-stitched banner out of the corner of your eye. You stop to look more closely and discover a startling fact about human rights abuses, or perhaps an encouraging quote urging you to be the change you want to see in the world



Shop Talks at Lillstreet.

Lillstreet’s new event series: Shop Talk. This is a project spearheaded by our very own Nora Renick-Rinehart, Kimberly Pancoast (the Digital Department Director) and Kate Bek (Head of Promotions for Lill) that is the manifestation of our frustration with the current political climate. It’s our way of staying motivated, engaging our communities and raising money for local organizations. The ceramics department is kicked off the series with a workshop this Friday night.

Pussyhat Virtual Global March!

Let’s join together in support and solidarity for women’s rights! Whether you are marching, striking or wish you could, you can participate in Pussyhat Global Virtual March. This is opportunity to share with feminists around the world what you care about, and to witness others around the world and better understand their concerns. Share information about local issues or global ones. The more we see and know, the more we can support each other!

Join Pussyhat Virtual Global March!

1. Wear! Put on your #pussyhat on March 8 wherever you are,

2. Declare! Make a sign about where you are from and a women’s rights issue that is important to you

3. Share! Take a picture of you wearing your pussyhat and holding your sign and post to social media using #pussyhatglobal (preferred), or email it to us at global@pussyhatproject.com.

You can follow the march on social media or our homepage: www.pussyhatproject.com

Get Together at a Pussyhat Gathering!

We encourage you to find or form your own Pussyhat Gathering before, on, or after March 8.

Pussyhat Gatherings are an opportunity for people to come together and make pussyhats – symbols of solidarity and support for women’s rights. By getting together, making and giving pussyhats, participants are creating community and helping create a strong powerful statement.

Pussyhat Gatherings can be traditional knitting circles, or knit-ins as parts of protests, marches, boycotts, demonstrations, rallies, or strikes. If you are interested in forming a group, contact your Local Yarn Store to see if they can host a space or meet up at a designated time somewhere else. Your event could be a gathering at a park, library, city hall, place of worship, town hall meeting, rally, coffee shop, bar, yarn store, waiting room, hockey rink, mountain top, or anywhere else you can assemble.

If you want to share information about your gathering, you can post here: https://www.pussyhatproject.com/gatherings/. By posting on our website, you are creating a way for more people near and far to find out about your event and potentially join you.  Anyone hosting — individuals, groups, and local ally yarn stores — is welcome to post! In case you are concerned, you can limit the number of people who can RSVP to an event.

Safety note: As with anything on the internet, always be careful. Choose to host or go to events in a public place or a place you trust. Bring a friend! Charge your phone! If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Our GATHERINGS page is a place where hosts can list their own events- we have not vetted them. We also understand that different cultures have different safety issues- we know that some groups may not be able to publicly list their events.


We would love to know more about you. Please share with us links to articles (especially local ones), photos of you in your pussyhat, artwork you have created, original uses of pussyhats, yarn bombings, etc. It is thrilling to see all of your creativity, passion, and humor.

Would you like to help us prepare for our march on social media? We are looking for drawings/collages/etc. in square format of you, in a pussyhat, holding a sign in your native language, and declaring where you are from and what you are for. The image can be as simple or complicated as you would like. Please email it to us at global@pussyhatproject.com



Time for a little #craftivism. Because sometimes all you want to do is stab something, I present the #DoNotTrumpStitch hand embroidery patternstickers and magnets!

Purchase your #DoNotTrumpStitch items here on etsy.

100% of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood! Shipping is on me!

If you stitch up the pattern, please share and tag it with #DoNotTrumpStitch


So many ways we can stay active, engaged and making!

It felt like so much progress was being made and in our complacency, we forgot that we need to fight.

We need to fight for beauty and diversity and the freedom to be who we are.

We cannot take it for granted

Just by being who we are-by making our own clothes, quilts, art…We help create models for a diverse world.

Fight for it everyday by being your freaky self…

Knit, meditate, love, dye your hair purple or your fabric, hold hands with the one you love, be free. Be who you and be proud.

We are all still here and together we will change this world.

Hold tight to your values and the ones you love.

Talk to people you don’t know, who are different from you.

Get out in those streets and protest, but also do it in your simple actions.

Be who you are and help to build this great big beautiful and freaky world!

-Rachael Russ, Monitor.

Printed Patchwork

As a longtime Lillstreet Textiles student/monitor/teacher, I always get the most excited when I’m combining printing/dyeing with sewing.  It feels great to use both sides of the department!  Thus, I’ve been experimenting with silkscreening dye onto patchwork.  This actually started a few years back, when I was still relatively new to silkscreening on fabric.  In the first classes I took, I printed clip art images onto lots of small pieces of quilting fabric.  It was great printing practice, but I also figured the images would look cool in a patchwork quilt someday.  It was a short jump of logic then to try printing images directly onto a patchwork background:

I really liked the result, but the idea was left to simmer on a back burner in my brain for a while.  Then about a year ago, I decided to revisit the concept, but with a twist.  Over the years I’d collected quite a few “white on white” fabrics with a white print on a white (or natural/off-white) background.  I knew that vat dyeing those kind of prints gave a cool effect where the white print resists the dye, resulting in a white (or tinted) print on a colored background.  To add visual interest, I combined some “white on white” prints with some other prints that had white or pale backgrounds.  Then I made some simple 16-patch blocks and then printed some diamonds on top with thickened dye:

I also made some blocks with half-square triangles, using white-on-white and black-and-white prints to create a diamond shape in the patchwork, and then printed that same diamond shape all over it in a few different shades of dye.

dye-printed diamonds on black-and-white patchwork

I’ve since made a few small quilts with these blocks, trying different combinations of colors and quilting stitches to see what I like best.  I’m not usually this scientific in my approach, but quilting has always been a sort of game for me where I set up some (usually pretty arbitrary) rules for a project and then see what I can do within that framework.  So it has been really interesting to see how many variations I can produce on this theme.

Much more recenlty, I started a third branch of the experiment.  Instead of basing my patchwork on a grid, and printing a shape that interacts with it, I’m printing big circles onto improvisational piecing.  I’m really excited about how it’s turning out so far.  These white-on-white and light-background fabrics are known in the quilt world as “low volume” fabrics, and there’s a good cheesy pun here about how I’m “turning up the volume” by splashing dye all over them.

dye-printed circles on improvisational patchwork

I’m sure there will be more to come soon – please stay tuned 🙂

-Jordana Robinson, Instructor