Archive for the ‘applique’ 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!

collage quilt step by step

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Sassaman Quilt 2016

I finally had a little free time after all the design projects to fondle some actual fabric!! So I wanted to dive  in immediately. So I get out my collection of “orphans”, these are shapes and templates left over from other projects which I file away in baggies for just such an opportunity. I peruse my collection to find the shapes that interest me and that I think will play nicely together.

Sassaman Orphan Shapes

This is when the play begins. I “Ouiji” the shapes around and let them start talking to each other. Eventually, a composition begins to settle in, but not until lots of options have been tried.

Sassaman Shape Shifting

It is a stream-of-consciousness exercise as I listen to the conversation of shapes. I really enjoy this part of the process, as I have very little idea of where the shapes will take me. But part of the trick is starting with shapes that speak your language… shapes that are personally meaningful. You may have noticed that there are shapes that have become a regular part of my design vocabulary, spirals, dandelion leaves, bugs, blossoms, etc. These are motifs that I have collected over the years and that I can use in any combination. I am always on the look-out for new shapes that will work for me.

Sassaman Quilt Top

When the composition is finalized I make a tracing to record the arrangement and then applique each shape, starting with the back most pieces. Each piece gets finished with embroidery and the background behind it gets cut away. Then I pin baste with batting and backing.

Sassaman Quilting

The first quilting I always do is to outline each shape in the ditch with 12 wt. topstitching thread using my open- toed walking foot and a long stitch length. Each brand of 12 wt. thread gives a slightly different look and performs a little differently. For this outlining, Sew Sassy by Superior supplies the nice heavy outline that I really like.

Sassaman Bury Thread

Because I want these nice outlines to start and stop cleanly, the threads at the beginning and end of each stitched row must be tied and buried on the back side of the quilt. This job is made much easier using an easy-threading or self-threading needle. With these needles the threads simply snap into the eye from the top of the needle. This can be an extremely tedious job, but I love it… very meditative and also a nice time to listen to books-on-tape.

Sassaman Quilting Detail

After the quilted outlines are done the other quilted details get filled in, like the extra stitching on the flowers and the echo quilting on the cloud.

Sassaman Golden Threads

In this case, I was not satisfied with basic quilting. The quilt was not dramatic enough, it needed some punch and “attitude”. So I decided to quilt over the whole piece with a series of spiky brambles. But first I needed a guide, so I drew the guidelines on Golden Threads tracing paper. The paper was pinned to the quilt and stitched through, again with 12 wt. thread.

Sassaman Golden Threads 2

The stitching perforates the paper, making it easy to tear away. Now I have a baseline to build from. I echo quilted very closely on either side. Then I added the brambles with a simple blind hem stitch. I think this final addition makes a world of difference. The final piece is 17.5″ X 19″.

Sassaman Quilting Detail

New Small Quilts

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Peonies

The landscape is lush with Peonies and Irises this week. And the first summer heat is steaming things up after some dark rainy days.

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been yearning to get back to the craftsmanship of art quilting. I seem to be doing way too much piecing (with my FreeSpirit fabrics) and not enough applique. So after seeing Gwen Marston’s exquisite small quilts at Empty Spools Seminars this spring, I have decided to make as many small quilts as possible during the month of June. I’m having a blast with two quilts completed and one ready for stitching so far.

Since I had no special subject in mind when I started, I decided to pull shapes from my “orphan” collection… all the left over pieces from previous quilts that didn’t get used. Then I let the shapes start talking to each other and see where they take me. I love working in this collage technique, as the results are always a surprise.

Sassaman Spring Bud Quilt

Here is the first composition, Spring Bud, which is 14.5″ square. As the shapes fell into place a little bud started to develop. The wavy shapes hopefully imply the energy of growth. I did have to make a couple new pieces to fill out the idea, but basically, this little quilt was sitting in my scrap box just waiting to be discovered.

Sassaman Spring Bud Quilt Detail

Here is a detail of the stitching. The edges were finished with satin stitch on the quilt top. All the other stitching is quilting, including the small zig-zagged squares. All the straight stitching is done with Sew Sassy 12 weight thread by Superior. I love the confidence that the heavy threads supply.

Sassaman Spring Sprouts Quilt

Quilt number two, Spring Sprouts, is 14.5″ wide by 15.5″ tall. I am pleased with this abstract little piece. Obviously I gravitate to very graphic shapes. The power of combining contrasting shapes is quite evident here. The quilting was the icing-on-the-cake, though.

Sassaman Spring Sprouts Quilt Detail

Using some decorative stitches on my BERNINA 880, I quilted the black sprouts with branches and leaves. It was a pleasant surprise to see how this softened and enriched the whole composition. The little leaf motif was also used for quilting the background spaces. Lots of threads to bury, but worth the effort.

I hope these photos give you some inspiration to get into the sewing room and do some stitching and perhaps to sign up for a quilting workshop one day soon!

Madeline Island 1

Madeline Island School of the Arts, Jane Sassaman Workshop, July 13-17, 2015

@BERNINAUSA, #BERNINAUSA, @SuperiorThreads, #SuperiorThreads

New Silk and Cotton Quilts at Madeline Island School of the Arts

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Spring Tree

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.

Sassaman Feather Quilt

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.

Sassaman Feather Quilt

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.

Sassaman Coral Bean Quilt

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.

Sassaman Coral Bean Quilt

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!

Madeline Island School of the Arts

Bloomington Heritage Quilt Show

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Mickey Lawler

I have just returned from a wonderful visit to the Bloomington, Indiana Heritage Quilt show. Three great days filled with workshops, quilt envy, conversation and dinners that were amazing. My journey began at the airport, of course. At the Indianapolis airport I met up with my fellow teacher, Mickey Lawler. I thought how clever to make a seat from her luggage! But then I looked again to see that her chair was actually made from old suitcases! Look behind her head, there are more interesting details to discover!

Indiana Airport Seat

How fun! This bench was across the way. Look underneath the seats to find a miniature traveling scene. Infact, the whole airport had interesting and colorful art to keep us travelers happy.

Indiana Airport seat 2

The Indiana Heritage Quilt Show had some good vendors and a ton of exciting quilts to enjoy. There was lots of extraordinary machine quilting among this years entries. Many clean modern quilts were making bold graphic statements and, of course, lots of lovely traditional pieces, too.

Marie Webster by Carolyn Rider

Here is a beautiful interpretation of Marie Webster’s Poppy pattern. How refreshing! It is both modern and traditional at the same time. Looks like spring. It was made by Carolyn Rider of Portsmouth, Ohio.

L. Welklin Quilt

Here is a delightful miniature quilt that really tickled me! I had to visit it everyday. It was machine made with silk threads by Laura Welklin of Noblesville, Ohio.

This weekend I will be visiting The West Alabama Quilter’s Guild in Tuscaloosa. Rumor is that it will be at least 60degrees! I feel myself melting already!

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

A Quilt for your Valentine

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Valentine 2013

This has been a busy week in the Sassaman studio. I finally had some time to stitch… a good thing since I was suffering from sewing withdrawal. This little Valentine quilt is made from my Bleeding Heart/Simple Silhouette pattern. The border fabric is from the Early Birds collection and the solids are hand dyed. These patterns are a nice way to use personality prints.

Thanks to all of you who have entered the Patchwork Sassaman Style contest this month. You can see all the wonderful entries on the Dragon Threads Open Book Blog. They are all very different from one another, even though they all grew from the same recipe! The winner will be announced on Friday and the February quilt challenge will be introduced.

Communication Breakdown

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
I feel like I have just returned from the Twilight Zone. After the big power outage we have been hit with storm after storm. I love storms, but it seems that it can’t just “rain” anymore. Lightning hit our Internet tower and we were without a connection for over two weeks… not amusing when you are getting ready for a teaching trip. I really felt disconnected and discombobulated. Boo hoo! This is my apology for being absence for so long. The Internet was down again yesterday, too! So I rushed to get this posted today before something else happens.
It was also 100 degrees and humid during the communication breakdown and we had to begin taking photographs for the new book (more on that later). At this point, I have at least 50 quilts made with my fabrics that need recording and more on their way. So we soldiered on and prepared the studio for a photo shoot.
Greg set up a clever rigging for the lights and I was his assistant. Technology has changed since our last big shoot, so it was a bit nerve racking, especially since I couldn’t go on line to get any tips. All went well, however, and we have another batch to do this week. But the weather is cool and lovely, so the studio will be more comfortable and the routine is established.
Here is a stack of quilts awaiting their turn in the limelight. It has really been fun to dig through all these past projects and revisit some of my favorite fabric designs. The book will be a nice record of the past eleven years of designing for FreeSpirit.
I am also making some new pieces for this venture and this is the latest. I am a minimalist at heart, even though some of my quilts are over-the-top with pattern. I quite like the simplicity and starkness of this design. The quilting should be just as clean and clear as the top.
I appliqued the quarter circles to 12″ whole blocks and attached then with topstitching. The Willow Wands fabric is from the current Garden Divas collection and the rest of the fabrics are from various previous lines. This is a good design for mixing and matching from your stash. In this case, I used blues, green and pinks for a comforting and cool feeling. It also has huge graphic impact but is easy to put together… perfect for a dorm or baby quilt.
Here are some pillow cases that would be welcome in the dorm room, too. School started here this week and there were scrubbed and bright little kids and their parents on almost every corner waiting for the school bus… such memories.
Next week I’ll take you on a tour of the vegetable garden, beware of mosquitoes!

Communication Breakdown

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
I feel like I have just returned from the Twilight Zone. After the big power outage we have been hit with storm after storm. I love storms, but it seems that it can’t just “rain” anymore. Lightning hit our Internet tower and we were without a connection for over two weeks… not amusing when you are getting ready for a teaching trip. I really felt disconnected and discombobulated. Boo hoo! This is my apology for being absence for so long. The Internet was down again yesterday, too! So I rushed to get this posted today before something else happens.
It was also 100 degrees and humid during the communication breakdown and we had to begin taking photographs for the new book (more on that later). At this point, I have at least 50 quilts made with my fabrics that need recording and more on their way. So we soldiered on and prepared the studio for a photo shoot.
Greg set up a clever rigging for the lights and I was his assistant. Technology has changed since our last big shoot, so it was a bit nerve racking, especially since I couldn’t go on line to get any tips. All went well, however, and we have another batch to do this week. But the weather is cool and lovely, so the studio will be more comfortable and the routine is established.
Here is a stack of quilts awaiting their turn in the limelight. It has really been fun to dig through all these past projects and revisit some of my favorite fabric designs. The book will be a nice record of the past eleven years of designing for FreeSpirit.
I am also making some new pieces for this venture and this is the latest. I am a minimalist at heart, even though some of my quilts are over-the-top with pattern. I quite like the simplicity and starkness of this design. The quilting should be just as clean and clear as the top.
I appliqued the quarter circles to 12″ whole blocks and attached then with topstitching. The Willow Wands fabric is from the current Garden Divas collection and the rest of the fabrics are from various previous lines. This is a good design for mixing and matching from your stash. In this case, I used blues, green and pinks for a comforting and cool feeling. It also has huge graphic impact but is easy to put together… perfect for a dorm or baby quilt.
Here are some pillow cases that would be welcome in the dorm room, too. School started here this week and there were scrubbed and bright little kids and their parents on almost every corner waiting for the school bus… such memories.
Next week I’ll take you on a tour of the vegetable garden, beware of mosquitoes!

Garden Divas Finally Materialize!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010


 

Welcome to the new season of inspiration from the Idea Book. This week I have been busy sewing things with my new FreeSpirit fabric, Garden Divas. There are so many possibilities and ideas that I want to try, so I have been trying to organize my time in the most advantageous way. Basically, it comes down to serious sewing, designing and office work during the day, handwork (burying threads) for relaxation in the evening and dreaming about new projects at night. I actually have several jobs going at the same time, which is unusual.

Here is a little broderie perse quilt that is hot off the sewing machine. This was made by fussy cutting Zinnias from the Pastel colorway that are backed with interfacing. The interfacing adds stability and also helps to keep the colors bright. I was careful to keep a bit of the blue background surrounding each flower, so the applique stitching would not eat into the blossoms and blend into the blue background.

The pot, background and border ( Lively Silhouette- Green) are also backed with interfacing. After arranging the bouquet, the pieces are appliqued from the bottom up and the background is cut away from underneath. This keeps the quilt nice and flat by removing the multiple layers.

Then I got to practice my free-motion quilting by stitching in the white outlines. It’s not perfect, but it really gives the piece a wonderful texture. I used 12 weight (topstitching) thread to quilt the flower pot and around the border.

Here is an extension of the idea, through the magic of Photoshop. The butterflies are too regular, but that would be easy to change in “real life.” This could be a wonderful quilt to hang over a bed or above an entryway. The quilt could be made in any of the colorways by matching your background fabrics… red for the Exotic colorway and black for the Peacock Zinnias.

This has been wonderful fabric to brighten the cold and cloudy days this week. I hope it has brought a little cheer into your life, too!