Embroidery for Summer Sewing

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

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

Busy Winter Wrap Up

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.

English Tea Cozy in Blue

February 12th, 2016

Sassaman Tea Cozy 3

This week I want to share one of the latest projects using the new Leaf Dance fabrics, this niffy tea cozy. It is like a quilt for your teapot. Dark electric blue seems to be one of my favorite colors these days, so I chose the blue colorway to play with here. We have made this Pint Size Pattern with many different FreeSpirit collections and with great results every time.

Sassaman Tea Cozy 5

It is lined with the Triangle fabric, which has turned out to be extremely practical and a perfect foil for all those Sassaman leaves and flowers. The striped edge also supplies some nice contrast and a bit of extra weight to hold the cozy in place.

Sassaman Tea Cozy 6

And a yo-yo and some felt balls to top it all off. This is one of our Pint Size Patterns that is designed to be a nice gift for a beginning stitcher combined with a fine stack of favorite fabrics.

Tea Cozy Cover 1

Print and Color Valentine

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.

Red Barn Special!

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 misa@cheqnet.net.


A Tale of Two Quilts

January 25th, 2016

Sassaman Moths and Moons Quilt

Welcome back to the the Sassaman Ideas Blog. After suffering a case of digital burn-out and creative discontent, I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging. But in the meantime I’ve discovered the more immediate joys of communicating via instagram and Pinterest. These social formats have revived my interest in weekly blogging. So I am hoping to come back with more “heart” this time.

I wear two professional hats, one the beret of an artist and the other the practical ball cap of a designer. I intend to share both these roles with you in this new series of posts.

The quilts above are a rare mix of both these roles. They were made to feature the FreeSpirit Leaf Dance collection. My personal art quilts are usually made with solid colored fabric cut into shapes to be appliqued. Even though, my commercial fabric has an identifiable Sassaman style the repeat pattern of the yardage requires that it be used in its own unique way, as traditional pieced quilts, for example. These moth quilts show a little bit of both worlds.

The original quilt is on the left. It was intensely machine quilted before the moths were applied. Each little leaf is individually stitched with thread tails tied and buried at both ends… quite unreasonable and ridiculously time consuming. But I have a very high tolerance  for meditative and tedious craftsmanship. Yet this quilt design seemed like a good candidate to become a commercial pattern, as it could be made successfully with all kinds of fabrics, in which case the construction needed to become more accessible.

So in the second version, the wreaths are appliqued and the moths are beefed up to have a grander presence. There are features that I like in both pieces.

Sassaman Moths & Moons 1 Quilt

Here is a detail of Moths and Moons One. I used lots of Sew Sassy topstitching thread in both translations. You can see why I had to quilt the background before I added the applique. I could never make the wreath embroidery stop and start at such weird angles.

Sassaman Moths & Moons 2 Quilt

Here is a detail of version two. I am pleased with the contrast of the gray wreath on the white brocade moon. Do you have a favorite? Now to get the pattern written! By the way, there are two free Leaf Dance patterns available on my home page that you can  print and make without any waiting. Enjoy.

Prairie Chic Pillowcases

June 24th, 2015

Hosta Flower

This season is flying by! It’s hard to believe that July 4th is just a week away. There has been so much rain that garden planting has been put on hold and I am crossing my fingers that we will have tomatoes this year.

I have been concentrating on applique in the studio, but my angel, Susan, has been busy whipping up these super summer pillowcases from the Prairie Chic fabrics.

Sassaman Brambles Pillowcase

Here are some cases ” with attitude” for your ultra modern son-in-law. The are using the Triangle Twist and Brambles designs.

Sassaman Wiggles Pillowcases

Sassaman Dandy Pillowcases

These cases have a retro look with Dancing Dandies and Wild Wiggles.

Sassaman Pink Clover PillowcaseSassaman Clover Pillowcases

Here the feeling is a little more rustic with the Field of Clover fabric in two different colorways. As you can see, we have great fun dressing the beds in this house!

New Small Quilts

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

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

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