May 21st, 2015
This lingering spring has been a delight. But after a week away from home for the #International Spring Quilt Market I was greeted by plants that where twice the size… including the weeds! I walked the park this morning to exercise and enjoy the cool spring morning. This tree was on my route.
I have enjoyed designing fabric for 15 years, but recently I have been aching to get back to the fine craftsmanship of art quilting. So I try to steal a bit of time for some quality interaction with my BERNINA, @BERNINAUSA. I am very excited to have the next few weeks to devote to some new quilting ideas.
I have been wanting to incorporate silk in my work for a long time. So during the last year, I have been mixing my beautiful #Cherrywood hand-dyed fabrics with dupioni silks and have been very pleased with the combination. Of course, it is the contrast between the depth of the matte and the glow of the shiny that creates the drama.
Simple shapes are also very appealing these days. This is a simple abstraction of feather shapes and the colors are reminiscent of peacocks plumes. This quilt really glows and the silk makes the quilting stand out nicely.
The quilting is done with my favorite two-fisted topstitching thread, Sew Sassy, so the heavy lines of stitching are quite definite. The silk edges are embroidered with rayon thread to extend the shininess and matte cotton satin stitch on the cotton fabrics.
Here is my second silk and cotton quilt. This is my interpretation of the Coral Bean Pod from the Coral Trees that I was delighted to discovered in California. These silks are a little less shiny, but still very rich and a nice foil for the resonate hand-dyed cotton.
Here is a detail so you can see all the fun I had putting this piece together! I quilted a blanket stitch around each bean to create a little movement or animation and several passes of black thread to add the depth of a shadow.
My plan is to use this gift of time to make a handful of smaller quilts and try some other ideas that have been percolating in my brain. I will post them here as they evolve. And I will bring them to class at Madeline Island School of the Arts in July!! Hope to see you there!
April 10th, 2015
Today you would never guess that there was tremendous storm last night. It is sunny with misty clouds scattered about a blue sky. Greg has done a spring burn in the prairie sections of our property, so the sprouts are easy to see as they poke out of hibernation. These are Bloodroot, one of our yearly favorites.
Last week I promised to show you a variation on the Pocket Purse pattern. So here it is.
This purse has a very different attitude than the bright hand-embroidered Prairie Chic one. Feminine, elegant and refined would be a good way to describe this new bag. It is embellished with digitized machine embroidery, also inspired by Prairie Chic motifs. These designs come from the HoopSisters Design Embroidery Series: Prairie Chic.
I took individual motifs from the collection and arranged them to fit the purse pattern right inside the sewing machine. The largest hoops I have for my BERNINA 880 are the Large Oval and the Mega hoop, so I rehooped for each of the 3 groupings. I am getting more confident and adventurous playing with the embroidery module. Of course, having my own designs to play with has doubled my incentive.
Also, since I naturally work in a collage technique with my appliqued art quilts, it feels quite natural to “Ouija” these motifs into new and interesting compositions.
My BERNINA 880 also has many utilitarian and fancy stitches which I love to explore. I like to use the built-in stitches to enhance my quilts. Embroidery is an easy way to add another layer of interest. But I am always striving to make the application of embroidery look natural and organic, as opposed to stiff and mechanical. Here, I deliberately stitched the design so the pattern doesn’t line up. The embroidery is also repeated on the shoulder strap. And, as always, we have dingle-ball fringe at the bottom… icing on the cake.
The outer body of the purse is black linen. The inside is lined with one of my favorite vintage FreeSpirit designs, Sprigs from the Sunshine and Shadow collection.
This will be another busy week in the Sassaman studio in preparation for my trip to Huntsville and several impending deadlines. Stay tuned for our next bit of stitching inspiration.
April 6th, 2015
We are making tiny steps toward the greening of our world everyday. Although the landscape is still pretty beige, there are little points of color peeking through the layers of dead leaves and debris. It is an inspiring time of year!
But, as always, it is a riot of color in the Sassaman studio. Here is one of the latest projects to be made with the current Prairie Chic collection for FreeSpirit. This is also my Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse pattern. We must have made this bag a dozen times with different fabrics and it always turns out beautifully even though the attitude changes. This version definitely has the spirit of FUN about it!
And notice the hand embroidered details… little french knots, running stitches and more. I think this folk art style is perfect for casual use and would be excellent to wear with jeans and an embroidered denim jacket.
Of course, we could not resist adding sassy felt dingle-balls!
The back and strap are made of red denim and hand stitched with Sew Sassy 12 weight threads. This could also be done by machine, depending on your schedule and level of patience. Dingle-balls are also used as the zipper pull.
We used a nice bright lining so it will be easier to find stuff inside. Plus this Wild Wiggles fabric just makes you chuckle and kind of rounds out the whole “happy” concept. Next week we will show you the same pattern made with an entirely different theme and technique, so stay tuned!
March 31st, 2015
Howdy, everyone. Well, it appears that I am still struggling to come out of my winter hibernation. There are so many new ideas percolating in my brain and I am anxious to have some time to play and experiment. But there seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it! Yes, I need an assistant or some elves to take up some of the cutting, packing, typing and even some basic stitching. Anyone interested?
On the brighter side, I think the snow has finished and we are on to the next phase. Now the energy and color of Spring is just beginning. Here in the Midwest we are preparing for the inevitable surge of growth that will soon dominate our days. So I have chosen this colorful project to get us in a blooming mood.
This garden fresh quilt is a made from the Prairie Chic collection for FreeSpirit. Each of the three colorways in this line have a distinctly different temperament. These fabrics are from the Cardinal colorway, bright and spirited. The quilt design is based on a traditional log cabin block, except in this case one block makes the whole top. We are letting the fabric do the work, a necessity when you are using “personality” prints. Here is a Prairie Chic Magic Carpet diagram with yardage that you can print. Remember that all the measurements are finished sizes, so don’t forget to add your seam allowance. For quilting basics and guidance for making other simple quilts with big prints check out Patchwork Sassaman Style. Enjoy!
March 11th, 2015
Today we have a blue theme in honor of this beautiful day! The temperature is finally rising and it’s heading toward spring. The squirrels have been racing around and the cats are actually anxious to go outside. Spring is in the air and some ambitious critter has laid this enormous egg in the Blue Muse’s nest!! I wonder what will hatch and when it will happen. Maybe it will be something BLUE!
So today I am posting two blue quilts made with the Prairie Chic fabric for FreeSpirit. The Barn Raising pattern has always been a favorite traditional quilt pattern of mine. It is so graphic and dramatic that I have done it many times with many different fabric lines. Take a peek in Patchwork Sassaman Style to see them. In fact, that book will walk you through the steps for making this quilt. Here is also a Prairie Chic – Barn Raising diagram with measurements and yardage. All the measurements are finished dimensions, so don’t forget to add your extra seam allowance. I chose some simple prints from the line to keep the quilt as uncomplicated and clean as possible.
Here is another favorite quilt block, Monkey Puzzle or Churn Dash. It is a perfect design for a beginning quilter to learn the basics. But it is also the simplicity that makes this pattern so striking. I have also mixed some Designer Solids with the very usable triangle print. The quilting is done with my two-fisted 12 weight top-stitching thread, Sew Sassy from Superior. It really adds another layer of interest to the composition. You can also download a diagram for this Prairie Chic – Monkey Puzzle. Again, don’t forget to add your seam allowance to the finished dimensions.
There are more Prairie Chic quilts to share soon, so stay tuned.
March 7th, 2015
The teaching year is getting off to a productive start, after being at the Empty Spools Seminar, Session 2, last week. It is a favorite environment for quilt teachers and students for many years. Located in the quaint town of Pacific Grove, California and a skip away from Carmel, it is an ideal place to take a break from your everyday routine and infuse your spirit with beauty and inspiration. I was teaching Abstracting from Nature and got to be in a favorite classrooms in a building designed by Julia Morgan, a renowned California Arts & Crafts architect.
Here is the classroom during the glorious mess of creation. Doesn’t it look like fun? The class went for five days. On the end of the fourth day, everyone cleans their space and prepares their work to be displayed for the “walk-around”. This is when the students from all the other classes can visit to see what other methods and ideas everyone else has been working on. It has become such a tradition, that many people come from outside the seminar come to see all the new work that has been created.
Here the room is all cleaned up and ready for inspection. My students were hard-working and very diligent, as you can see. I am always amazed and pleased with the results, which is why I enjoy these longer classes so much. Most folks got to stitching on the last two days, so they really have experienced the whole technique.
I will be teaching the same five-day class this summer at Madeline Island School of the Arts, another fabulous place for rejuvenation and inspiration.
I hope to see some of you there!
February 20th, 2015
This week has been devoted to playing with my new Prairie Chic Embroidery designs for HoopSisters. I have so many ideas that it is keeping me awake at night! Now I need to bone-up on my new BERNINA V7 Embroidery software so I can mix and match the designs in a more efficient way. But this is a good beginning and each project inspires a new one.
This is the Medallion Brooch design that I demonstrated on Quilting Arts TV, so you can see how these are constructed. But for these I simply embroidered the fabric for the covered button. The ruffled fabric frame is the Seed Matrix fabric from the new Prairie Chic collection for FreeSpirit. The jacket is made with Triangle Twist in the Lapis colorway, a design that has turned out to be very usable.
This little bee brooch has a very romantic and old-fashioned feeling. It was inspired by some of the Victorian cameos that I like so much. I am very interested in one color and tone-on-tone embroidery, especially to use in my art quilts. It is so exciting to get some of these ideas into physical form!
The snow is gently falling now, so I am anticipating a cozy and productive day in the studio. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do! See you next week.
February 13th, 2015
Hello to whoever is out there! Some of you have noticed that this blog has been inactive for a few months. Yes, I have been wrestling with my soul these days and overwhelmed by a persistent feeling that I have been chasing a “carrot on a stick”. Frankly, I was exhausted! As a rather quiet and solitary artist, the nagging persistence to fulfill all these social media duties began to feel quite hollow. I felt that the social broadcasting was a sorry substitution for doing my “real” work. Also, I have realized that my brain is not oriented toward business and it was tired trying to bend in that direction.
I needed to fondle some fabric, to look at my wonderful books and get reacquainted with my priorities. So now I am quietly approaching the blog with a new spirit. I hope you will check in occasionally to see where all this soul searching will lead.
This is one of the things that has brought me back to life! I have been dreaming about adding embroidery to my work for years and now that idea has come to fruition! Thanks to the digitizing talents of the fabulous HoopSisters, I can use my awesome #BERNINA to embroider almost anything. The HoopSisters have taken motifs from my new fabric designs (Prairie Chic for FreeSpirit) and turned them into elegant stitchable decorations. Here are some of the projects we have worked on so far.
I collect old damask tablecloths and napkins to use as background fabric for quilts. So I used some of the napkins to apply the new embroidery designs. You can see the original fabric (Meadow Mix) in the background with the oak leaves, dollar plants and coneflowers. This combination create quite a cozy feeling in this autumnal colorway.
Here it is in another colorway of the same fabric. As you embroider these motifs you can obviously choose any color of threads, depending on their application. I have plans to enhance many things with these new designs, especially clothing, so check in next week to see some new samples.
PS… during my hiatus I have finally surrendered to the lure of Pinterest and have started some inspiration boards of my own. If you are looking for some more eye-candy, feel free to check them out.
August 23rd, 2014
It is a delightfully dark and dreary day… my favorite kind! A good way to wrap up a satisfying week of work. We stitched out some new machine embroidery designs (more about these in the next few weeks), I received my copy of 500 Traditional Quilts (believe it or not, I have a quilt included in it) and my two favorite magazines arrived on the same day (World of Interiors and Selvedge)! And if that wasn’t enough to make me happy, the new silk scarves were also delivered this week!
This scarf is an original design exclusively for my friends at Dragon Threads, inspired by the Gregory’s Garden fabrics. They are 100% silk twill and 20″ X 70″ with a hand-rolled hem. I think they turned out beautifully and I even have the perfect blue and black raincoat to wear it with.
I like to let my scarves hang long and comfortably over my shoulders for the free-flowing Isadora Duncan effect. But here you can see that there are many other ways to drape them. I really like the contrast of the stripes with the florals as they twist in and around each other.
Best of all, they are reasonably priced and will fit anybody. So, perhaps this could be a wonderful way to get your holiday shopping done early this year!
Heading for All In Stitches in Zumbrota, MN tomorrow. Hope to see some of you there!
August 12th, 2014
This week we have plucked some new produce from Gregory’s Garden! In Patchwork Sassaman Style I listed some principles for using “personality” prints and this graphic quilt exemplifies several of them:
Keep it simple!
The bigger the print, the bigger the block.
Use simple fabrics as supporting players.
Contrast creates drama!
Symmetrical fabrics yearn to be fussy cut.
One print can be used in several colors.
Let the fabric do the work!
As you can see this is a very easy quilt to construct, it’s the fabric that make it look sophisticated! In fact, this would be a very good quilt for beginners to learn the basics of sewing and quilt making. And it is large enough to be used as a family lap blanket. Feel free to print out the pattern and FreeSpirit fabric yardage, which is shown below.