Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You are Invited!

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Hello Friends!

I’m just writing to remind you that there are three big events that will round out my teaching year. You are invited to join me. Let’s share some quality classroom time together.

October 7-11, I will be teaching at Madeline Island School of the Arts, on one of the Apostle Islands in scenic northern Wisconsin. This is one of my favorite venues! You will be rubbing elbows with other creative types while enjoying concentrated work time in their airy and bright studios. My workshop this year is “Shape Shifting”. This is a wonderful way to play with some favorite motifs while learning my technique of collage art appliqué. Great company, stimulating conversations and fabulous scenery guaranteed.

The next exciting venue is the International Quilt Festival in Houston,October 28 – November 3. You have aways wanted to go, right? Well, go for it!! I am doing a handful of one day classes there along with many other talented teachers. This is an event you will never forget!

And finally, my absolute favorite way to wrap up the teaching year is a week at the idyllic Hudson Valley Fiber Art Workshop, December 1-7 for the Abstracting from Nature class. With Christmas holidays just around the corner, this “Courier and Ives” victorian setting is magical. The meals are excellent and the company is superb. The classroom is in the coachhouse which inspires camaraderie and exploration. Plus their homemade holiday chocolate business is in full swing and just the aroma will lift your spirits. I would love to share this special time and place with you.

leaps and bounds

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Good day! There is much to report from the Sassaman Studio this week. Lots of intermittent sunshine and showers have made for extreme greens and optimism all around! I have tried to harness this spring energy to launch several new products and projects.

The web store has some more exciting new entries! I have been selling my Sew Sassy thread in class for a while, but now it is also available on my website! Hooray!! I have bundled them into two economical sets of 33 spools each, Prime Colors (brights) and Sublime Colors (rich and deep).

Superior’s Sew Sassy is a creative quilter’s dream thread. It is a two fisted 12 weight topstitching thread for dramatic sewing results. Sew Sassy is a great thread choice for projects where you want the stitching to be very visible. Use Sew Sassy for big stitch quilting to give your larger hand quilting stitches a bold look. Sew Sassy is a popular thread for Redwork or hand embroidery. The thick stitches provide the heirloom look of old-fashioned hand embroidery designs. In the machine Sew Sassy can be used in the top with a Topstitch 100/16 needle for quilting or decorative stitching (use either a 40 wt. or 50 wt. thread in the bobbin). And don’t forget Sew Sassy for your needle punch projects too.

12 wt./3-ply Spun Polyester thread.

Superior’s Recommended Needle and Tension Settings:

Home Machines: Topstitch #100/16. Set tension to 2.0

Longarm Machines: #21 (MR 5.0). Reduce tension as necessary.

I recommend a 4-5 stitch length.

I have also added some new limited edition Art Prints derived from my favorite FreeSpirit fabric designs. I think of my fabrics as “art by the yard”. Unfortunately, the fabric always disappears too quickly!! So prints are a wonderful way to enjoy the designs everyday. The new large archival prints are on lovely 13” X 19” rag paper, numbered and signed by hand. The printed image is 10” X 16”. Perfect for framing.

Thanks to all of you who keep in touch via Instagram and Facebook, too! My next post will cover the step by step process of several new quilts. Stay tuned.

Fresh Produce

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

After a productive winter hibernation, I am sprouting some new products this spring!

The much requested Cactus Parade pattern is finally available!! I have designed the pattern to be fused, so it is easy for everyone. But any adventurous quilter can interpret it into hand turned or wool appliqué to suit their own style. It is 14.5” X 48”, so it would make a terrific table runner or an awesome wall quilt. Bring in some sunshine with Cactus Parade.

I have also added a new set of Simple Silhouette quilt patterns to the store. Wildflowers gracefully portray some of my native spring favorites: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Trillium, Columbine and Bloodroot. Very Art Nouveau!

Just three pieces of fabric are required: a fancy border fabric, a simple print for the background and a solid color for the silhouette. They as 18” square, individually, but can also be combined together in a larger quilt.

Another recent addition to the store is the Moths & Moons pattern. The three dramatic moths on a simple background can be lively or subdued, depending on the fabrics you choose… sublime hand dyed fabric or exuberant prints. It’s up to you.

And don’t miss the giant SALE on our big SILK scarf!! There are just a few of these limited edition scarves left and at an extraordinary price. Just $35 dollars for a 50” silk scarf. Stock up on gifts or gift one for yourself!

Planting some seeds of inspiration at:

Also visit me on Instagram & Facebook

Quilt Progress Report

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I have posted on my blog. It seems that Instagram has become my main social media outlet these days. So for those of you that don’t go that route, I am reposting some process shots of my most recent appliqué quilt project.

When spring comes to the Midwest the natives take a deep breath and buckle their seat belts, because once things start growing they can’t be stopped. In a matter of weeks the bare gray landscape is transformed into a mass of undulating greenness. This quilt is a celebration of that energy of growth and portrays several of my yearly spring favorites, Bloodroot and Trillium.

I started by designing six prototype leaf patterns, each approximately 12” to 14” wide. I picked stacks of green hand dyed cottons (lots of Cherrywood) and some dupioni silks. Each leaf graduates from light colors at the top to dark at the bottom to suggest depth in the shadowy woods.

You can see one of my leaf patterns in the picture below. Each was assembled in sections with a quarter inch underlap built into the design. The parts were Tacky Glued very sparingly to hold them together for easy portability. As I made each leaf I placed it on the table covered with white paper. I like to work flat these days because it is easier and more spontaneous to move the pieces for composing. The stems and flowers here are made of construction paper, just to test out the possibilities.

I almost always make my shapes first without a definite composition in mind. As the shapes begin to interact the composition evolves.

I also like to make contrasting shapes, because contrast creates DRAMA! The spiral represents growth, energy and movement and it is a symbol that I use often. So why not give them a try. I have lots of cardboard spiral templates in my collection and I picked the largest ones in the drawer. Yep! These big round shapes definitely add some energy! You can see that I am toying with some construction paper Trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit, too.

Next I laid in a trial background of two dark browns. I chose this color because I always see these plants peeking through a carpet of dark dead oak leaves. And brown seemed richer than black, in this instance. The Trillium are filling in the corner and two spirals have been cut in deep blue fabric. I have also made some sprouts to add to the upward momentum and to supply another contrasting shape. Note the two leaves on the right that will get rejected. They are now in my file of “orphan” shapes and perhaps will appear in a future project.

A purple spiral and more sprouts have been added. The composition is settling in. Now It just needs tweaking and the flowers and stems to be made in fabric.

Here is the final composition, 64″ X 34″. The sprouts have been angled to look more natural. All the spaces are filled and arranged from front to back to give a feeling of depth and layers. This is all laying on a table! How the heck am I going to keep track of all the pieces and then put this thing together? The answer is to make a tracing of the entire composition on large sheets of tracing paper (I use Gold Threads tracing paper on rolls).

Of course, I have a photograph, too. So now can I take the composition apart and put it back together again in sections? I hope so, as it would make my job much easier. I use the photograph to determine the least obtrusive way to dissect the background into smaller workable sections.
Ideally, I want to hide my background joints under my appliqué, so no one can see them. I’m afraid I have created a logistical nightmare. But here is my final working map for the different sections. There will still be lots of layers to keep track of. But I enjoy a good engineering dilemma!!

But before I start work on the sections, I need to do the inner embroidery on all of my appliqué shapes. For this quilt I am using a simple satin stitch to finish all the edges and adjusting the width of the stitch to taper off toward the outer edges. Each shape has it’s own stitching formula… all the Bloodroot leaves are stitches the same way and all the Trillium leaves are done the same, etc. After all the shapes are embroidered, I can begin assembling the sections.

I decide to begin construction in the bottom left corner. Using my tracing as a blueprint, I cut the background to size and back it with interfacing. All my appliqué shapes are already backed with interfacing, too. Then the blue spiral is attached with a matching color straight stitch and then finished with satin stitch, except where other shapes need to be tucked underneath, like the sprouts here. After each shape is attached and finished with embroidery, the fabric behind it is cut away.

Then on to the top left corner with the Trillium. Always using my tracing as a guide, the stems were attached first since they are behind everything else. Then the leaves were stitched down, always working from the background up. “Straight stitch, finish with embroidery and cut away from behind” is the mantra for each shape as it is put in place.

Now the two left sections can be put together.

Here we have the right and left sections shown in relation to each other and the center section still to be made. Followed by the almost completed right side.

After the middle section is completed, all the units can be combined. First the center and left areas are stitched, then the right side is slid into place and stitched. Now it is just the top most details that are waiting to be added and the top will be finished!

But you will have to wait for the next installment because I will be busy teaching and it may be a few weeks before I can get back to my project. But if you would like to join me for a creative and restorative retreat this summer, you can work on your own exciting project! I will be doing 5 day workshops with the wonderful folks at Quilting Adventures at the Jordan Ranch in Schulenburg Texas, July 9 to 13 and the bucolic Madeline Island School of the Arts, La Pointe, Wisconsin, July 31 to August 4. I would LOVE to see you there!

Scandia Star Pattern

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

This has been a busy week after returning from a fun visit to The Quilter’s Studio  and the Annapolis Quilt Guild. I packed and shipped ten FreeSpirit Quilts, 5 garments and mannequins for  AQS Lancaster Quilt Week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Of course it had to be on one of the windiest days of the year and the boxes and I could barely get from the car to the door of FedX. Now I am packing supplies for my classes in Lancaster, March 29 – April 1. So my focus has been mostly practical.

But it occurred to me that I have not shared patterns for two of my Scandia quilts. This one is called Scandia Star and is made from one of my favorite Le Moyne Star designs using Jan Krentz’s fast2cut Diamond Ruler. I have made this pattern about a dozen times, see Patchwork Sassaman Style. This patterns just loves symmetrical prints. And it is surprisingly easy to construct, Y-seams on this scale are a piece of cake. Here it is made with the purple Scandia colorway, which has a rich and somewhat subdued pallet for a Sassaman fabric. You can download the Scandia Star pattern here.

The quilt above is called Edelweiss. It makes me think of Scandinavian tile stoves, Swedish flags and yellow Baltic summer houses. Yellow and blue have always been a favorite color combination, very refreshing! This quilt is made of 10″ 45 degree triangles in the blue Scandia colorway. This quilt will be displayed at the Lancaster show, so perhaps you will get to visit it in person. You can download the Edelweiss.pdf pattern here.

Teaching travel ramps up this week. Please check my schedule because I’d love to see you in class!

Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day

Friday, February 24th, 2017


Susan’s Delicious Irish Soda Bread
Caraway & Currant
Rosemary & Cheddar

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda

Mix all the above with
2 tablespoons butter

Add 1-1 1/4 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar
Or 1-1//4 cups buttermilk

For Caraway & Currant add
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup currants or raisins

For Rosemary and Cheddar add
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Pat into an 8” round pan and make 1/2” deep crosshatches the top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30- 35 minutes.

These bread covers were made to keep our tasty bread warm. We used Leaf Dance fabric in the top photos and Scandia fabrics in the lower pictures. They started as 17″ squares of fabric with half circles cut out on each side. The corner detail can be plain or fancy. Place right sides together and sew around the edges with a half inch seam. Leave a few inches open. Clip the seams and turn it right side out. Whip stitch the open edge closed.

Thanks, Susan, for all your help in the studio! You are invaluable!

a kick of color

Tuesday, 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

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

Thursday, July 7th, 2016


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.


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


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?


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!

Busy Winter Wrap Up

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Sassaman Scandia Fabric

Winter is a time that I usually reserve for rejuvenation and nesting. It is the season for concentrating on new ideas and designs. As this period of introspection comes to its end I’m realizing how productive it has been. My first assignment was to design a line of FreeSpirit fabric for an Autumn introduction. Above, is a little sneak peek at what evolved. It is called Scandia, a very Nordic inspired collection.

Sassaman Color My Garden

Upon completion of those designs, I dove directly into the coloring book project for Dragon Threads. This involved sifting through sixteen years of my textile designs and pulling out the most befitting compositions and turning them into black outline drawings. This was pretty laborious at times, but I actually enjoy working on very detailed projects, so it was really quite absorbing. And look at that beautiful cover!

So sharpen your pencils and go to the Dragon Threads website to pre-order your copy. They will be in circulation by the end of the month!!

Early Bird Scarf Small 2

Sassaman Early Bird Scarf 2

And while you are at the Dragon Threads site you can also pre-0rder this scrumptious limited edition Early Birds scarf! It is 100 percent silk twill and a practical 20″ X 70″. Doesn’t it look like Spring? I am very fond of creating millefleurs patterns and this is one of my favorites. This is an homage to William Morris and his famous Strawberry Thief design; rich color and opulent composition.

So this week the teaching and travel begin again. There is lots to do in preparation, but I am looking forward to this next phase. I think I am a lucky girl to have this mix of isolation and stimulation. And I’m looking forward to seeing some old quilting friends and making some new ones in the coming months. Check my workshop schedule, perhaps I’ll be able to meet YOU.

Red Barn Special!

Friday, January 29th, 2016


I am so excited to be returning to teach a 5 day quilting workshop at Madeline Island School of the Arts, August 22-26, 2016. This is an inspiring setting to concentrate on your work, absorb new ideas and practice your skills!

I wanted to let you know that you can save $100 on your on-site lodging reservation when you register for my workshop by February 29, 2016.


A 25% deposit is all you need to hold your place in my workshop.  To read more about my class and to register, click here, or call MISA at 715.747.2054, or email