Scandia Ribbon Project

January 13th, 2017

Happy January! I just wanted to share these traditional dish towels ornamented with my new Renaissance Ribbon. They were designed to coordinate with the new FreeSpirit Scandia fabric.

Such a classic domestic object never goes out of style. The ribbon really enhances the folky farmhouse feeling that blue and white always evokes.

I have included this picture of all the Scandia fabrics to get your imagination kick started for other sewing and decorating projects. Perfect for St. Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

a kick of color

December 27th, 2016

Winter is officially here, the longest day of the year has passed and we are headed back to the light. But that journey still extends through a few more months of cold and snow. So, we Midwesterners are always hungry for a dose of color to add some zest to the gray days. Well, here is a kick of color to get you through the last week of the year. These projects are all made with fabric from my Cool Breeze collection for FreeSpirit, designs so cheerful that they’ll make you grin in spite of the gloom.

First up we have this graphic lap size quilt, 48” square. The pattern is based on a traditional square in a square block with sashing and borders. It combines all three color ways of the Cool Breeze fabrics.

The block begins with 6” fussy cut Butterfly square (cut 6 1/2”). The butterfly is surrounded by half square triangles from the Dapper Dandy design. The dandelions are then framed by half square triangles of Plaid fabric, fussy cut so the stripes change color with the right angle of the shape.

These blocks are framed with fussy cut sashing of Over-the-Top Dots. The blue color way of Pinks make the border along with some more fussy cut butterflies in the corners.

The piecing is very easy, it is the fabric which makes it look so fancy. And the beautiful quilting my Carol Ann McCandless is the icing on the cake. She has a steady hand and a good eye! She has also perfected the technique of using two threads through the needle of her long arm machine to make the heavy line of stitching that I love. Wouldn’t this make a happy baby quilt?

We liked this little quilt so much that we had to make some matching pillowcases, too! The body of these cases are Cool Breeze fabrics and the others are “vintage” Sassaman from my stash. If you have your own Sassaman stash, you will find that the fabrics play together nicely from season to season.

But wait! A good quilt top deserves a good backing, too. Here is the back. It was pieced with 6 1/2” strips of Plaid fabric in all three colorways. Then the pieced strips were cut again into crossways strips and rearranged before they were sewn back together. After that the side borders were added. I think I like the back as much as the front!

Holy cow, we can’t stop now! Here’s a super pieced pillow to top it all off.
The four blocks are composed of fussy cut squares of the Pinks fabric, blue colorway, for a kaleidoscope effect. The blocks are framed with sashing.

The pillow top is quilted with 12 weight Sew Sassy thread. The back has simple overlapping halves and some nice big buttons for closures. It is bound with bias strips of the Plaid fabric. Diagrams for both the quilt top and the pieced pillow are below. The pillowcase pattern can be purchased in is my webstore.

All fabric is from FreeSpirit

Cool Breeze Butterfly Quilt top yardage:

Butterflies – blue, pink – PWJS 086 – 1/4 yard each
Butterflies – yellow – PWJS 086 – 1/2 yard
Plaid – blue, pink, yellow – PWJS 090 – 2/3 yard each
Dapper Dandies – blue, pink, yellow – PWJS – 1/4 yard each
Pretty Pinks – blue – PWJS 087 – 2/3 yard
Over-the-Top Dots – blue – PWJS 089 – 2/3 yard
Over-the-Top Dots – yellow – PWJS 089 – 1/2 yard

Mod Stockings

December 15th, 2016

It is blistering cold here on this sunny December day! And we are counting down the days until Christmas, a mere ten days to go. So what better way to chase the cold away and get into the holiday spirit than with some bright color! Obviously, muted hues are not in my decorating lexicon, as our house is done in a vibrant color scheme. So, of course, that applies to seasonal decorations, too. These contemporary Christmas stockings are made with a mix of some of my most recent FreeSpirit fabric collections… Leaf Dance, Cool Breeze and the latest, Scandia, which will arrive in stores in a few weeks. These stockings should please the hippest Santas.

The elves have been hard at work!! Each sock has been lovingly crafted and the details are delightful. They are machine quilted with Superior’s 12 weight Sew Sassy threads and further enhanced with some hand embroidery.

We are very fond of felt beads and ball fringe in the Sassaman studio and could not resist a little woolly bling to send these stockings over the top. Sassy socks!

Even the linings are specially chosen for a little extra visual surprise. Like quilts, they are bound to become favorite holiday heirlooms, just like Grandma Ellen’s Santas that she made for every grandchild. These are Oliver and Willow’s beloved Christmas treasures and some of the very few real decorating necessities every year.

Sewing can make memories!

Autumn Ambience

November 21st, 2016

Sassaman pillowcase-leaf-dance-2

Colder weather is upon us after an unbelievably mild introduction to autumn. There are just a few more days to enjoy the fall season before Thanksgiving ushers in the spirit of winter. So we are celebrating these last quiet days before the holidays begin with another seasonal Leaf Dance project.

Sassaman pillowcase-leaf-dance

Personally, I LOVE the combination of fabrics in this pillowcase! I always include some geometric designs in my FreeSpirit fabric collections because they are such good foils for all the flowers and leaves. This is a wonderful example of contrasting patterns complimenting one another. I’m also very pleased with the rich and crisp color combination. We used my Pint Size Pillowcase pattern to make these, as always. And you can find the free pattern for making the Leaf Dance quilt here.

Sassaman pillowcase-leaf-dance-3

Sleeping-over at my house is a pretty colorful affair. After 16 years of fabric design our pillowcase collection is monumental! And luckily, I find ironing pillowcases very therapeutic.

Wishing you all a cozy and colorful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Table

November 14th, 2016

Sassaman Leaf Dance Tablecloth

With little more than a week until Thanksgiving Day you may be looking for an easy way to jazz up your routine holiday table. Napkins are a quick way to add some spice to conventional seasonal place settings.

Sassaman Leaf Dance Napkin-1

We have simply cut 21″ squares of my FreeSpirit fabrics, mostly from the Leaf Dance collection, and sewn a line of topstitching thread a half inch from the the edge. Then the edges are frayed by hand.

Sassaman Leaf Dance Napkin-2

So you probably have a collection of Autumnish fabrics or some that matches your festive dinnerware in your stash already. It’s a great excuse to fondle some fabric over the busy week ahead!

Sassaman Leaf Dance Napkin

Happy holiday to all!

Sassaman Leaf Dance Napkin

Awesome Autumn

October 31st, 2016

autumn-leaves

It has been a spectacular autumn this year. The colors have been grand and seem to get more dramatic every day. So my next few posts will be a celebration of this wonderful time of year with the assistance of some of my FreeSpirit fabrics.

Sassaman Pocket Purse

Leaf Dance is a collection that was designed for this season and inspired by the nature that surrounds me. This area of Illinois is noted for its Oak Savannas. These powerful clusters of magnificent trees are sprinkled generously throughout my daily routes. Our own property has several kinds of oaks, but mostly red oak, which is the basis of this leafy fabric design.

Sassaman Pocket Purse

Our Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse is the featured pattern. I must have made a dozen of these practical purses over the years for different collections and it is the bag that I use everyday. Sometimes we trim them with rick rack, sometimes with felt beads, but for this version we added a crocheted ball trim. It mimicked  the turquoise bees nicely.

Sassaman Pocket Purse

I always line my bags with a light bright color so it is easier to find things inside. Triple Dots, Triangles and Color Bars are also from the Leaf Dance collection, Golden colorway. I love the mix of patterns. And, of course, the topstitching is done with Sew Sassy thread!

Sassaman Pocket Purse

We have more Leaf Dance projects to share, so stay tuned!

The Urn Quilt Evolves

July 27th, 2016

Sassaman Urn Quilt 1

Many people think that making art just happens by magic. They think that it comes out effortlessly and fully formed. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. There are hours and days of trial and error, fits and starts. One of my students once said that she was surprised by the emotional highs and lows she went through my the 5 day Abstracting from Nature workshop. She had discovered that the creative process is not always comfortable and sometimes just downright frustrating.

So I thought I would take you through a sequence of design dilemmas that I struggled though in the past two weeks while working on a new quilt idea.

For the past year I have been concentrating on mostly smaller abstract quilts, as a way to play through some new ideas. But I was feeling the urge to work in a larger scale again. I had also been thinking about the opulent and symbolic Dutch still life paintings called “vanitas”. Vanitas paintings portrayed life’s brevity through symbols like watches, skulls, smoking oil lamps, partially consumed food, etc. Since I have always been attracted to divine
decadence in art, over the years I have accumulated my own slightly subversive symbols that often appear in my work… skulls, spiders, dandelions, moths, spiky seeds, dangerous plants.

So this is where my idea started. I imagined a skull sprouting dark leafy plants. The skull became an urn. An urn brings to mind Victorian plants and lavish layers of composition. So these are the subjects that I started with… skull/urn, elephants ears, purple black sweet potato vines, coleus, moths and an egg behind it all.

The scale of the urn determined the size of the leaves. I have pinned the urn to a piece of tracing paper to make it easier to move and hold itself together. Most of the fabrics are hand dyed Cherrywoods.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 2

I made some paper clouds to act as frames, almost like curtains on a stage, and some oversized moths in lovely subdued colors. The Passion Flowers have been in my orphan file for years! Looking good.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 3

The clouds are now in fabric. Then I thought I could fit in some of my favorite dandelions, so I cut them out of paper to test them. The moths had to move.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 4

I made the dandies in fabric and added a spider, for good measure, and some smaller moths.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 5

But the dandelions are floating in space, so how to anchor the dandelions to the ground? By adding a forward layer of leaves and a darker horizon line.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 6

But the whole thing is just too damned busy, too many small scale shapes. So a couple more elephant ears are added and that seems to help… but not enough.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 7

I hated to remove the dandelions before I had another direction to head toward. So I took a picture of the composition and blocked out the dandies in Photoshop. Yes, it is better without them. Rats! Out they go, but now I have some nice leaves and stems already made for another project.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 8

What about adding some more clouds? I pulled out the paper models again. Too curly!!

Sassaman Urn Quilt 9

Back to Photoshop to take out the busy spirals. Nope, try again.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 10

How about a moon to add some nocturnal mystery. I seem to have moths and moons on the brain lately! But it’s working. Less seems to be more in this composition and I’m feeling pretty good about it. And yes, the blue background will go all the way to the top eventually.

Sassaman Urn Quilt 11

A moth to block part of the moon and a bit of tweaking here and there and we are good to go! Now as I begin to embroider each individual character, I can study the piece from my sewing station and make adjustments over the next weeks of stitching.

I hope this gives you a little insight into my collage process. Yes, there are lots of decisions to make, but that is what makes this appliqué technique so satisfying. If you would like to join me on this creative exploration, you are invited to come to one of my 5 day workshops and see what transpires. I hope to see you there!

a trio of summer frocks

July 15th, 2016

Sassaman Summer Frocks 1

I am so excited about these gay summer frocks that came out of the studio this week! Thank you, Susan! They are all made from jumper pattern, McCall’s M6739. This design would work nicely for any season. I’m hoping to make them in wool and corduroy for fall and winter.

The front two jumpers are made with my new FreeSpirit fabric collection, Cool Breeze. The black and white one is made with fabrics from my archives, Enchanted and Wild Child designs.I love the mix of prints. This is a great opportunity for combining motifs. The possibilities are endless.

Sassaman Frock 4

I think this is an ideal way to use the Cool Breeze line, since it was designed to be sunny and light-hearted. The big plaid fabric is proving to be extremely useful in almost every project we have made this season and really contributes a contemporary flavor.

Sassaman frock 6

Because of the airy cut of this pattern, I plan to add light tee shirts and perhaps leggings or capris, depending on the weather and the occasion. And we couldn’t resist adding our latest silk scarf to the black and white medley. Superb!

Sassaman Frock Labels

Susan even added little tags of my Renaissance ribbon to signify the back of each dress! A perfect little detail that makes such a big difference.

Sassaman Frock 5

Red Barn Special for Madeline Island School of the Arts!!

July 7th, 2016

MISA 3

In case you are still thinking about registering for my August 22-26, 2016 workshop at Madeline Island School of the Arts you can save $100 on your on-site lodging reservation when you register for my workshop by July 20, 2016.

MISA Lg

To read more about my class and to register, click here, or call MISA at 715.747.2054, or email misa@cheqnet.net. I have included photos of some previous classes and their inspiring projects, in case you just need a little nudge.

MISA 2

The classrooms here at Madeline Island School of the Arts are some of the best I have ever experienced… lots of elbow room, natural light and power for irons and sewing machines. Above, you can see the space in action. I love to see the glorious mess of creativity! Sometimes there are other classes on campus and we get to cross-pollinate ideas and experiences during mealtimes and after hours. Oh! Did I mention the cookies?

MISA 1

The grounds are idyllic, the perfect place to relax, let the imagination wonder and to spend some quality time time fondling fabric. It is truly a wonderful destination. I hope to see you there!

Embroidery for Summer Sewing

June 28th, 2016

Embroidered Sassaman Jumpers

Welcome back to the Ideas Blog! It has been a very busy spring of teaching and travel, but now I have some time in the studio to catch up on lots of projects. There is so much going on here and I want to share some of it with all of you!

First of all, did you know that my friends, the HoopSisters, have digitized some of my designs for machine embroidery? These talented gals have taken some FreeSpirit fabric designs and turned them into charming motifs for stitching. They are formatted to work on any contemporary  embroidery machine. So the BERNINA has been working overtime!

Here are two new outfits that have been embellished with designs from the Enchanted Embroideries collection. Each jumper has big practical pockets decorated with Sassaman posies… very feminine and very chic.  As a little surprise, the pockets have been lined with the original fabric from which the embroideries were inspired.

Embroidered Sassaman Pockets

This pretty little purse was decorated with designs from the Prairie Chic Embroidery collection. Plus we have added decorative stitches to the strap, as well. The sewing pattern is my Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse. So you can see what potential these have for other projects like linens, napkins and housewares of all kinds. I would love to see how you use them, too.

Sassaman Embroidery Purse

These designs are on a DVD and available in my store. If you would prefer a downloadable version, please visit the HoopSisters website.

Sassaman Embroidery Covers