Archive for the ‘Embroidery’ Category

Embroidery for Summer Sewing

Tuesday, 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

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


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

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!

Back to Business!

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Blue Muse Winter 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.

Sassaman Bee Embroidery Web

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.

Sassaman Oak Leaf Embroidery

Sassaman Dollar Plant Embroidery

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.

Sassaman Coneflower Embroidery

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.