Archive for the ‘flowers’ Category

The Urn Quilt Evolves

Wednesday, 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

Friday, 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

Print and Color Valentine

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Sassaman Valentine

Just for fun I’ve created two Valentine card to print, color and send to your favorite folks. Just cut the page in half and fold to make a card that fits a standard A2 envelope. Just click here to get your Sassaman Valentine.

Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse Variation

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Blood Root Sprouts

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.

Sassaman Embroidery Purse

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.

Sassaman Embroidery 4

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.

Sassaman Embroidery Purese 2

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.

Sassaman Embroidery Purse 3

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.

Prairie Chic Pocket Purse

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Spring Flower

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!

Sassaman Prairie Chic Bag 1

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!

Sassaman Prairie Chic Bag 2

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.

Sassaman Prairie Chic Bag 3

Of course, we could not resist adding sassy felt dingle-balls!

Sassaman Prairie Chic Bag 4

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.

Sassaman Prairie Chic Bag 5

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!

Preparing for the Feast

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Sassaman Wild Child Napkin

This week has sped by! There was a hint of snow this morning and the rich smell of burning leaves fill the cold air. As usual, we are anticipating a large family gathering for next weeks Thanksgiving celebration. So today we are experimenting with table settings, of which our Wild Child fabrics will be featured.

Wild Child Reversible Napkins

Of all the Wild Child designs and colorways the Blue versions of Gaillardia, Fiesta Flowers, Delirious Dots and Sassy Stripes seemed the most fitting. So our first project was to make several Reversible Party Napkins & Button Down Napkin Rings (our Pint Size Pattern)… Gaillardia on one side, Dots on the other and Striped rings. I love the oversized button stitches.

Sassaman Quilted Placemat

Then we made some placemats. We quilted them with heavy black top-stitching thread. The striped border and solid colored Fiesta Ware help to brighten things up.

Sassaman Ribbon Bouquet

We are depending on our floral bouquet to add some color contrast and spice up the composition. This is a little white ceramic cube with holes on top to hold flowers. It is wrapped like a gift with my blue and white Night Life Ribbon (Renaissance Ribbon). This could be a nice placecard holder or party favor, too.

Sassaman Wild Child Placemat

Things are coming together nicely! But lets see some more variations…

Sassaman Fabric Place Setting

Oh yes! Those new splashes of orange and red really jazz things up!

Willoware Sassaman Fabric

I couldn’t resist trying traditional Willowware in the mix. Which combination wins your vote? Well, it’s starting to look like Thanksgiving here! I’m thankful for all of my fabric friends who stop in to see our weekly ideas and inspiration! Happy Holiday!!

Quilt Market and Festival here we come!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

We had our first hard frost this week and they are even predicting a few snowflakes this afternoon. All the while, the elves in Sassaman Land have been busy with Houston Quilt Market preparations. If you are attending Fall Market please stop by the Westminster booth # 708 and the Renaissance Ribbons booth # 2300 to see my latest designs.

Sweet Lady Jane Sassaman

The new FreeSpirit Fabric line is called Sweet Lady Jane and it will have its official debut this week at my Schoolhouse presentation. These designs are Over-the-Top optimistic and very versatile with plenty of pretty tone-on-tone patterns that will be useful in anyone’s stash. But I can only give you a sneak preview today!

Sassaman Ribbon Brooches

Here are some brooches that we’ve made for the Renaissance Ribbon Booth. Lately, I’ve been attracted to the idea of award ribbons and heroic medals. There are some days when a little symbolic sympathy and a pat on the back would help a great deal. So these are first place ribbons that you can bestow on yourself or a deserving friend; just like the Cowardly Lion’s Medal of Courage, the Tin Man’s Heart and the Scarecrow’s diploma.

I am fortunate to be attending Quilt Festival for the first time in many years. This is because I have a quilt in the show and I am thrilled. It has been many years since I have even entered, so this is a very special occasion for me. If you are lucky enough to attend, too, please stop by to see my Illinois Album Quilt in person. I look forward to seeing you all there!!

Illinois Album 500px

Wild Child in the Garden

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Wild Child Petunia Garden

After a week of sticky summer weather, it is now quite comfortable outside. The garden enjoys the hot days more than I do. This year we have an abundant crop of raspberries which are best plucked warm with sunshine and eaten right in the garden. The bee balm has just opened and the clematis are very happy. In the evenings the fireflies are like golden stars floating above the cornfields. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are plentiful, too.

Sassaman Wild Child Petunia Quilt

So this week we are featuring a perfect little summer quilt project. It is constructed in the broderie perse technique. This simply means that you are fussy cutting characters from printed fabrics and rearranging then into your own creation. In this case we are using the Pink colorway of the Petunia fabric from the new Wild Child collection for FreeSpirit.

I especially designed this fabric so that each flower is whole… without overlapping any of its neighbors. This way each flower can be fussy cut and applied to any number of crafting projects. In this quilt the entire bouquet is a single section of fabric. Here you can see the design in the Blue and Pink colorways as well.

Wild Child Petunia Blue & Red Fabric

The frame (Gaillardia in the Pink colorway), background and flowerpot were constructed first and then the bouquet was appliqued on top. The black background square matches the floral background so they blend easily together. I also added some extra leaves for interest. There is a detailed description of this technique in Patchwork Sassaman Style.

Sassaman Wild Child Petunia Quilt 2

The black background was quilted with a decorative stitch to suggest wallpaper, thus putting the flowers in a domestic location.Sassaman Wild Child Petunia Quilt 3

This is also a nice project to practice your free-motion quilting skills. The finished piece is 24″ X 26″, a perfect scale for home display.

So until next week… don’t forget to take some time to fondle your fabric.

Spring is Bustin’ Out All Over!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013


Fasten your seat belts, here comes Spring! This week has brought many changes to our landscape. The birds are singing, the wild flowers are beginning to bloom and jackets are being shed. The cats are spending the whole day outside and farmers are dusting off their tractors.


On the Woodstock Square folks are taking their coffee outdoors and sunning themselves on the park benches. The whole world seems to be waking up again. Hibernation time is finally over. In the studio we have been sewing in preparation for Spring Quilt Market. So far I have finished 5 quilts tops and backs. Now it is time to baste and quilt!

Sassaman-Scarf-Wild-Child It is also time for your first peek at my new fabric collection for Westminster!!! The collection is called Wild Child. For you “Flower Children” some of the color combinations may bring back memories. To celebrate the arrival of these new designs, Dragon Threads is having this stunning silk scarf printed. It measures 20″ X 70″, perfect for neck wear or even as a belt. You can pre-order your exclusive Sassaman scarf at the Dragon Threads Store. Stay tuned for more premier peeks in the coming weeks.


Who is the Winner?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Here in the Midwest and probably anywhere in the States the weather is a month ahead of itself. Even the lilacs are beginning to bloom. Its wonderful, but a little disturbing, too. There are weeds we have never seen before spreading over the lawn. Their little seeds must have lain dormant for ages just waiting for the right conditions to sprout. It must be my Iowa roots that keeps me waiting for the inevitable spring snow storm to even the score.

But you have to rejoice when the daffodils come out! They seem to be the most optimistic and refreshing of all the spring flowers. So here they set the scene for some equally enthusiastic little bags. They are made from our Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse pattern and some of the Early Birds fabrics.

The wonderful details show nicely in this photograph. The pocket is lined with the daffodil yellow Curlicue fabric and outlined with mint green rick rack. The long hand stitches add to the one-of-a-kind sensibility.

The top and back panels are decorated with a fancy machine stitch in variegated colored thread. The body is made with the Berry Patch Border fabric in the plum colorway and quilted in a scalloped pattern with top stitching thread.

We chose different quilting stitches for this Pocket Purse variation. I love how the pink rick rack sets off the blue lining. The happy Strawberry Serenade fabric in blueberry makes the body of the purse. Again there is variegated thread to ornament the top and back panels. Both bags have a felt bead as a zipper pull and some fun trim.

On the left we used common ball fringe and for the other we added a row of confetti colored felt beads. Perfect accessories to celebrate spring.

This is another wonderful bag pattern using the Early Birds fabric. Look at all those pockets!!! A lot of thought and engineering has gone into this marvelous Studio Kat design. This looks like the ideal traveling bag, as you can use each unit individually or combine them into a single bag. The green lining also makes it easy to see what’s inside. Bravo! It is great to see the fabric put to such good use!

And finally, thanks to all of you who left comments this week. It is encouraging to know you are all out there! The winner of the drawing is lucky Martha Lorshbaugh of New York state. Congratulations!