Art Quilt: Applique’

Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete

You saw the other day that I had finished the first layer, or perhaps it was the second layer?

I really kind of liked this look despite the slightly depressing  look, but I was on a mission.

I used a satin stitch, but not a dense one stitch down the River. In some cases I will straight stitch first, but I didn’t in this case. I try to keep track of the settings so I can use the same density again. I often start with the density I used to sew on Merit Badges and then adjust from there. Despite the siren call of temptation, I always test the density before I sew on the actual piece. Have you every tried to rip out a satin stitch. It is doable, but I don’t find it to be fun.

After applique’ing down the River shape, I moved on to the broken hearts.

Art Quilt: with hearts in progress
Art Quilt: with hearts in progress

After making some hearts some time ago I have a trick, so I used it to make the heart shape then cut into them with very sharp scissors (should have used my Karen Kay Buckley scissors) and made the broken part. I put fusible on the back of the hearts and pressed them down. I use Soft Fuse. I have used other products, but that is my current favorite.

I had to play around with the placement of the hearts. I wanted them on the background, not on the borders or covering the River. Once they were placed where I wanted them I satin stitched them down and added the tears. I think tears coming off of a heart is powerful imagery.

Art Quilt: Signs in process
Art Quilt: Signs in process

The signs took a lot longer. I needed to add sticks and get the placement right, trim the shapes and write the messages.

I don’t know why I wanted these Easter Egg colors, but they seemed right. I didn’t even have to hunt for them as they magically appeared in a convenient stack of fabric.


I fused the sticks, then found they didn’t show up very well, so I stitch around them to highlight them. I still don’t think they show up as much as I wanted, but I am okay with the look.

Art Quilt: Top finished
Art Quilt: Top finished

This is very much a quilt where you get one view from afar and need to come closer to get a more detailed view.


Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017
  2. Art Quilt Start: Background – 8/8/2017
  3. Art Quilt: River of Sorrow – 8/10/2017
  4. Art Quilt: Border 1 – 8/13/2017

Art Quilt: Border 1

After sewing the background together, I thought there might be a small chance I was done and could move on. No dice. I would like to say that my Muse gently stroked my hand encouragingly. No such luck. The VIMH #2 was impatient and insistent. “keep going,” she said (loudly). She has no patience because she knows I know what I am supposed to do. When I don’t do it she has no patience for my prevaricating.

I thought the piece needed an inner border to keep the center motifs contained. I thought a dark border would work. Not being done with those 1.5″ squares yet, I cut about a gazillion more out of black and white fabrics. The fabrics were mostly dark, but the white provides a little space.

Down the Drain with border #2
Down the Drain with border #2

I cut enough for two rows, then put them up on the wall.

Down the Drain with border #2- different sizes
Down the Drain with border #2- different sizes

The effect seemed kind of heavy to me, so I put one row up and compared the two. One row seemed best to me, so I sewed those together and put them on to the quilt.


River of Sorrow and border n.1
River of Sorrow and border n.1

I really wanted the ‘River‘ to go underneath the border. I fiddled with that concept a lot, then finally gave up.

Part of the problem was that I was going to have to applique some of the squares and I really didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t think it added anything to the quilt overall. It was hard to tell, though, and it made me sad not to be able to work out the technical details.

Down the Drain: River of Sorrow-detail
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow-detail

I got busy trimming the River as I didn’t want a 20 inch third border.

  1. I needed to make the water filtering into the drain end up in the corner but not on the edge, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to applique the drain.
  2. I was still trying to figure out how to get the inner border over the River shape. This point in the process decided me, because I was already thinking about quilting and how I would manage that with this border on top.
  3. Trimming the bottom of the water going down the drain was also a problem because of the angle of the viewer. I looked at water sluicing into a drain, which didn’t help me, because I was looking at it from on top. Even if I stood on my head **in** the sink, I wouldn’t have been able to get the same angle. Finally, I decided that my viewers weren’t stupid and would figure out what I was trying to say. I am not 100% happy with the outcome, but sometimes one has to make compromises.
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow complete

After trimming, sewing, ripping and sewing again, I finished the second layer.

The weather has been very gray lately, so the quilt, being predominantly grey at this point, looks depressing. It isn’t really. The grey made into the second border is a bright clear grey. Even thought I don’t get the interwoven feel I was trying for, I am pleased with how this came out.

Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017
  2. Art Quilt Start: Background – 8/8/2017
  3. Art Quilt: River of Sorrow – 8/10/2017

Art Quilt: River of Sorrow

Kind of dramatic, huh? I am not sure what else to call the shape. I have used this shape two other times – both on political quilts.

I knew the approximate shape I wanted, so I made a paper template by taping a bunch of pieces of newsprint together.

Then I cut out the fabric. Then I trimmed the fabric. Then I shaped the piece until I had it the way I wanted it.

Down the Drain: River of Sorrow
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow

Finally, I was able to put it on the wall. It didn’t stick, so there are pins you can’t see.

Down the Drain: River of Sorrow-detail
Down the Drain: River of Sorrow-detail
  1. I wanted to make the shape look like it was going down a drain. I needed it to look like it was constrained in some way and forced to flow down.
  2. I wanted the black border squares to go on top of the Shape. At this stage, I pinned the border over the shape to move in that direction.
  3. The part of the ‘water’ that goes down a drain was hard to approximate. The shape you see in this picture is what I ended up with.

After I got the approximate shape, I took fabric ink and a rubber stamp alphabet and wrote on the shape. I wrote words that described what I observed was going down the drain.

I always have a hard time naming my political quilts. Their names end up being straightforward and somewhat unsophisticated. I guess I have learned to go with that.

Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017
  2. Art Quilt Start: Background – 8/8/2017

Art Quilt Start: Background

As I said yesterday, I saw Sarah Ann Smith’s quilt, Speak Up, Speak Out and a whole bunch of stuff coalesced in my mind. Mind you, I didn’t even really know that all that stuff was rolling around. I have been feeling stressed out since the Inauguration and all of the stuff stressing me out suddenly came together.

Background 1
Background 1

As I said, I started working on my project from a couple of drawings in my journal. I had no measurements beyond “not big” when I started working on the  background.

I, again, used Mary Mashuta’s Pushed Neutral technique. I have done this in the past with other neutrals and now I use the same techniques with colors. This time, I worked with grey. Some of the greys are a little dark, but I keep telling myself the darks create disharmony, which is one thing I was trying to do. This quilt should unsettle you. I think, ultimately, the whole idea worked.

Background 2
Background 2

I did move some of the squares around to get the right mix of locations with darks and lights of grey.

This was the first layer.

Posts about Down the Drain

  1. I Have a Secret – 8/6/2017

I Have a Secret

A few weeks ago I posted a Spark about having a secret. It was purely coincidental with the project I was working on.

Down the Drain: basted and ready to quilt
Down the Drain: basted and ready to quilt

I needed to work on this project, but I did not want comments or to provoke the storm I know will come with this post. I wasn’t quite ready. I still am not ready. As long as I still have freedom of speech I will post this quilt. I knew about the Threads of Resistance project and I would love to be a part of that, but I don’t do well with challenges. I wish I did because I’d love to be a part of that show.

The stress started on my birthday, which was January 20, not just because it was inauguration day, but also because I was at an event where people were happy to see President Obama leave office. They didn’t like him because he was black. For them it was No-Bama Day. For me, even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was the beginning of a stressful, distressing time.

I walked around waiting for my ATM card not to work, to be made subhuman, like in the Handmaid’s Tale. I started really to fear that the better country we were making would be dismantled. You might think we don’t need the EPA or the ACA and that is your right. I do not want to create a Sh*tstorm and this is not a political blog. I feel we do need clean air and health care for everyone. My feelings coalesced when I saw Sarah Ann Smith’s quilt, Speak Up, Speak Out.

Sarah Ann Smith's Quilt Speak Up, Speak Out
Sarah Ann Smith’s Quilt Speak Up, Speak Out

When I saw her quilt, I realized that another in my political art quilt series had been brewing in my head without me really knowing. I thought “this is the quilt I wanted to make.” I said so to Sarah and she said to make my version.

I thought about it for a long time, then I drew a picture in my journal. I thought that would be the end of it, but I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I drew it again, a little more refined and more to scale.

I drew it over an over, continually refining, adding detail. The whole process went so smoothly that I kept going into piecing and cutting and sewing and quilting.

As I write this, the piece isn’t quite finished, but it will be soon (YAY! Another finish!). What happens to it after that, I don’t know.

Quilting with the 6600

Shockingly, I have been quilting. I have been working, pretty much, on one quilt for a month and I am finishing up the quilting.You’ll see the quilt soon

Quilting a quilt
Quilting a quilt

Yes, **I** am doing the quilting. Don’t expect greatness, because mostly I am doing straight line or straight-ish (as Kelly would say) line quilting.

I am really happy with the 6600. This machine is made for quilting. It has a built-in walking foot that works like a charm. I had very few tension problems even with different weights of Aurifil. While I miss not being able to piece, I am not dreading quilting like I was with my other machines. I think the larger space between the needle and the harp helps, too.

September 11 Quilts

This year is the 15th anniversary of the September 11.

If anyone says September 11, I don’t, first off, think of our YM’s friend’s birthday. I think of those planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the passengers taking over the flight that eventually crashed in the field in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. I think of how quiet the skies were for days after and waking up to a phone call from my mom telling me to turn on the TV. I think of not being able to get hold of DH and taking the YM to pre-school. I think of going to work and having to turn around and go straight home before the train stations closed and the trains stopped running. I remember watching TV for hours with DH and seeing the same images over and over. I think of the years of violence that followed.

As you know, I don’t always write about September 11. This year I am thinking about it particularly because of the violence that I perceive our election cycle is causing.


I made two quilts to do something to mark-commemorate-remember (I don’t really know the right word. Send a message?). The first was done very quickly and sent off to Houston to be displayed in a commemorative display at Quilt Festival and Market.

Fireball is a reaction to all the fire that was shown on TV. It is a woven quilt. I have made a few woven quilts, though not in a while. I cut the strips and wove them together, then quilted over the top of the weaving. The strips were not finished.

What Comes Next, 2011-2012
What Comes Next, 2011-2012

The second quilt is also an art quilt. It took me longer and was my wish/prayer for the future. It is called What Comes Next. clearly my wishes were not acknowledged because the things I wanted to come out of that terrible day were not what came out of it.

This quilt has similarities to my Blood and Oil quilt in some of the shapes and motifs I used. Someday I’d like to use those paper doll motifs again.

Last Days of Primal Green 2

The last days of the CQFA Show Primal Green 2 is at the San Francisco Public Library. I went to see it one day on a trip to the City, but this is as much a reminder for me to see it again as it is to encourage you to go.

Did you go and see the show? The 24th is the last day to see it. Primal Green2  is a show of environmental art quilts at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.

The Wallace Stegner Environmental Center is one of the special collections at the Main Branch and, after a year of work with the Library, CQFA has over 20 quilts and other fiber art on display. The quilts all have an environmental theme. The show will hang until Friday April 24 and be available to viewers during the Library’s normal open hours. Don’t wait until the last minute! Oops! It is the last minute. Go TODAY!

Primal Green 2, the art quilt exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library, has some information on the Green Stacks portion of the SFPL website. Hope you can see the show.

Hope you can stop by and see it. Check the library’s website for hours.

Serendipity Lady Help and Process

We had a discussion at the CQFA social on Saturday about Workshop projects and how they are not always the kind of projects one wants to finish. There are a lot of variables going into the workshop -the right fabric and supplies, working in an unfamiliar environment, etc. – that conspire to make you learn something, but not always like the end result.

Serendipity Lady - Beginning Work
Serendipity Lady – Beginning Work

That is not the case with Serendipity Lady. I have wanted to do this design ever since I made stained and leaded glass panels back in the dark ages. Caroline’s workshop at CQFA last spring (?) gave me the means in fabric and the inspiration to make this dream a reality.

The problem was that my piece had so many small pieces that cutting out the pieces straight from the fabric became an issue. I went back and tried a few times and failed – or didn’t succeed as thoroughly as I would have liked. I didn’t want to simplify the pattern and I didn’t want to blow it up larger either.  Struggling with the mechanics of making a piece does not make it fun. Finally, I put it aside to mull over.

This was disappointing, because I came home so jazzed about this project after the workshop. Creating is a struggle, but for this one, I just wanted it to work. Sadly, that is not the way ‘making’ works.

In the mulling process, I came up with the idea of making templates for each piece. I was about to embark on that line of thought  using the kind of cardstock (tagboard??) I used to use for cutting the templates for stained and leaded glass panels when I had lunch with Maureen and Dolores.

I mentioned my problem to them and how I wanted to use templates and asked their advice. They both immediately went to freezer paper and patiently explained how to use freezer paper to make the templates. I couldn’t really envision the process in my head. It became clearer when they kind of walked me through the process, reminding me to trace the design backwards.

What Process Looks Like
What Process Looks Like

Again, I was really excited so I came home, taped the design to my sliding glass door and retraced the pattern backwards. Then I traced the backwards pattern on to freezer paper and sat in front of the TV and cut it out.

Again, those tiny little pieces were not my friend. At the moment I have them all paperclipped together, but that is only because I keep forgetting to get an envelope each time I go downstairs.

Serendipity Lady - Weekend Work
Serendipity Lady – Weekend Work

Next I started applying freezer paper to fabric. Then the real fun began. I threw out some fabrics after putting them near other fabrics and the picture really started to take shape. I am not done and I haven’t glued down the pieces yet, but I really had a lot of fun making some serious progress.

My mind is whirling with the possibilities of adding a few beads, embroidering the eyelash, etc. Fun!

Primal Green 2

Primal Green 2
Primal Green 2

The Primal Green 2 show is up at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library. This is a follow up to the previous show.

My friend, the environmental librarian, asked us to do the show again.A lot of the same parameters were applied to this show that we created for the last show.

It is on through April 24, 2015, so you can go and take a look as well and check out some books while you are at it. 😉

I finally was able to go and take a look. I stopped in before going to lunch with a friend who works nearby. I missed the CQFA group viewing because I was in Houston.

Display Cabinet
Display Cabinet

There are a number of quilts displayed there. I thought they were hung very well. One of the display cabinets had Caroline’s fish purse in it. I love that piece, because of the whimsy. I wonder what the general public thinks about it?

The green piece on the top right is from the color challenge (I bought the fabric for that challenge and never did the piece – or haven’t yet done the piece).

The signature book was tucked in a corner so I don’t know if people saw it and were writing in it. The last book for the show had some odd comments, but had some really nice comments as well.

My Quilts in Display Case
My Quilts in Display Case

My quilts were well displayed and I was pleased. You can see Beachtown on the left. What you can’t see is The Flower Garden on the right.

The quilts were all behind glass for security, so they were difficult to photograph. Still, they have to be there, because they will get stolen and touched. I was just taking photos so you could get an idea of how the show was hung not so you could get a perfect rendition of the quilts.

My Whole Cloth Quilt is also in the show. I didn’t get much of a better photo of it than I already have . The stitching is too subtle for a regular camera.

Virginia's Quilt
Virginia’s Quilt

One of the quilts is so great. It is a regular traditional quilt from far away. If you look closer at the quilt, you will see that the fabrics are covered with bugs. LOL! This is by Virginia and I love the bugs.

There are many more quilts and I will see about creating another post about them. The show is really worthwhile and I hope you will go and take a look.

Finished: See


Finished: See
Finished: See

After YEARS, this piece is finished. I am pretty pleased with it. I think it looks good and I did a good job on the quilting (click on the photo to see the quilting close up).

Please do look at the quilting, because it was a pain to do and I am pretty proud of it.

As you may already know, I started this piece in a class with David Walker, held in Capitola, in 2003. I can’t remember who sponsored the class. I want to say a shop, but I am not sure that is right.

The piece includes Machine quilting, fusible Applique’ with satin stitching, and reverse machine applique’. This is one of the few art quilts where I have not added beading or hand embroidery with Perl cotton. I just didn’t think the piece need it even though I had planned on doing both.

Finished: See - back
Finished: See – back

I was pretty proud of how you could see the quilting so well on the back, but after facing and labeling, there isn’t much to see.

I actually sewed the label on by hand, which I don’t like to do, but really had no other choice. The piece didn’tlend itself to including the label into the back.

This piece is based on a Chinese character, the character for our word “See”. I made it as a reminder to really look at things, not just glance at them, snap a picture and move on. It is an ongoing process for me to really look and see things.

This has more significance than just a finish, because it means I can cross it off my UFO list. When I do that, it will mean that I am one step closer to having only current projects, albeit a lot of them, but current projects only.

Previous Posts

Serendipity Lady Starts

Serendipity Lady Start
Serendipity Lady Start

I didn’t think I would actually start with fabric, but last week was a challenging week and I did! I had about an hour before life started in again, so I stood at my cutting table, cut fabric and glued it to my pattern. Having a limited amount of time was good, because I didn’t get overwhelmed with the thought of starting.

I know she looks like a big helmet haired weirdo, but I promise she will get better. I am putting all the dark pinks on parts of the hair that are supposed to be farther away and lighter fabrics on hair that is supposed to be closer. That is what my research told me to do, so hopefully it will look ok.

I am making the roses (perhaps some other flower, but I think of them as roses) blue and am working with the same principle.

So far all of the fabrics are from my scrap bin.

Two products you MUST try: Karen Kay Buckley Perfect scissors and Sewline Glue Pen. DH bought me the scissors for Christmas. I don’t do much hand work and thought this would be a great project on which to use them. It is! They are a fabulous tool! They are sharp and precise and you absolutely need them. I recently spoke about being interested in the Sewline Glue Pen. I came across one and bought it. Again I thought it would be good for this project and, again, it is perfect. The glue is just sticky enough to keep the pieces down. It is also very smooth, so it doesn’t pull as much as a glue stick. I feel like I got a lot done in a short amount of time and these two tools really helped.

Stay tuned as I progress.

Serendipity Quilt

Last weekend was the CQFA meeting. I mentioned this project briefly when I talked about Attack of the Hexies.

Caroline taught a workshop using Susan Carlson’s techniques from her Serendipity Quilts book.

To start we got an email with prep instructions and when I finally got a minute (work really gets in the way of my quiltmaking!) I started getting the materials I would need together. One of the items was Drawing of simple object, ( Think little kid’s coloring book.)

I have one coloring book left from when I was a kid and couldn’t find it. I did find my old stained and leaded glass pattern books. Those drawings are simple enough and I perused them. Two stuck out for me. One was in the book and one was a drawing, probably a tracing of an image from another book, I had done that was stuck in the book. No attribution on the second one, nothing. If you have an Ed Sibbett, Jr book with the image below, please send me the citation. I do want to attribute it properly.

I decided to do them both, one at a time, but both. I have been lamenting, in my head, the fact that I haven’t been doing much art quiltmaking lately, which seems kind of lame, considering the name of this blog. I tell myself that all of my other quilts are ‘color work’, but I might be fooling myself. I do work a lot on color, but….

Stained Glass image
Stained Glass image

This image shows the first piece I will work on. the idea is to use scraps to make up the image. Everyone was working on it at the meeting and I was ‘in process.’

I will use pink for the hair and blue for the roses. I will probably use one piece of fabric for the face. It will not be green, but other than that I don’t know what color it will be. I might do the eyelash in embroidery.

According to Caroline, our workshop leader, the first step was to transfer the image to fabric. My actual first step was to enlarge the image. The original was smaller than 6×6 and I wanted to do something a bit larger. It is now in the 20×16″ range. It was a painful process, but I finally figured out how to do it and went ahead to the transfer-to-fabric stage.

Design on fabric
Design on fabric

I used a piece of the linen colorway of an Art Gallery solid. I still had some left even after using bunches on the Flower Sugar Hexagon (Attack of the Hexies) quilt top. I simply traced over the printout with a Sewline pencil. It worked like a charm when I was able to keep the fabric in the right place over the printout.

My next task is to remind myself of the rules of light and dark: “if I put a light in a front piece of hair, will it look closer or farther?” and then I will get to it. I have the scraps already chosen and am eager to get to work.

I suppose I could check more thoroughly to see if I have Susan Carlson’s book, too.


Vintage Tuesday: Pink Spider

Pink Spider Looking at the Stars
Pink Spider Looking at the Stars

Periodically, I will find something interesting that is old and post it under the Vintage Tuesday tag. In this case, I am showing you an old quilt of mine. It can’t really be called vintage as it is only 24 years old, but you get the idea.

There are a few things that you should immediately see in this piece. They are:

  • another hexagon quilt – I really have done a few of them
  • not my colors
  • gradated to a certain extent – as much as could be with the colors I was using
  • similar to the EPP stars

Here is the story:

This isn’t my first quilt, but I believe it was the first quilt I actually finished (the Sampler took me awhile, because of the hand quilting). It was finished in 1990.

I did in response to a challenge posed by one of the members of the quilt group of which I was a member at the time. We were all on board and one of the other members went to pick the fabric. It is all machine pieced-NOT paper pieced- and machine quilted as well.

Do you like that binding? I put the binding on by machine and then sewed all those miters down by hand.

It was really a challenge to hang.


Review, Blog Hop & Giveaway: Sarah Ann Smith


Sarah was kind enough to ask me to participate in this blog hop. Although I did write a bag review for Purse Palooza at the request of Sara over a Sew Sweetness, I feel like this is a different kind of thing. Thus I am sticking to my guns and saying that this is my first blog hop! Please be kind! I am so thrilled to be part of this blog hop. There are so many great artists who did the September round and now another group of fabulous artists doing the November round.

Bonus and Prizes

There will be a giveaway on my blog.  I have one DVD to give away thanks to Sarah and Interweave Press. You can win this DVD by leaving a substantive comment (e.g. ‘s,ign me up!’ will not work), such as telling me what you thought of the video if you saw it or a clip, telling me what you thought of the review or something else. Sarah may read the posts and comments as well, so throw the girl a bone. 😉 You must leave the comment on THIS post.


I will pick the winner, contact the lucky winner and then send the contact info to Sarah who will get the DVD to the winner.

Sarah will be having a Grand Finale at the end, sometime in late November or early December (I’ll let you know), which will include additional goodies to win from MistyFuse and Havel’s Scissors!

Background and Purchase Details

I have known Sarah for awhile, mostly through an online group to which we both belong. I have enjoyed watching her career and cheered her on as she has reported her quiltmaking successes. This DVD/online workshop is just the most recent in a long line.

The following is from the Interweave email announcing her video, which I thought was a great description: “According to Sarah Ann Smith, not creating would be like not breathing: not possible! Sarah learned to sew after a neighbor girl made an apron for her doll when she was 6; when she found quilting, she knew she had found her passion: art and sewing. A former US diplomat, she draws on her years living in South America, Africa and North America, as well as her travels to Asia and Europe. She specializes in machine work and coloring with thread. Sarah is the author of ThreadWork Unraveled, lives in Hope, Maine, and has a husband, two sons, four cats, a pug and too many ideas!” Sarah’s website is a gateway to all things Sarah Ann Smith. You can reach her blog, store and a gallery of her quilts as well as tutorials, videos, her free bibliography, class supply lists and much more. Her site is very well done.

Art Quilt Design
Art Quilt Design

The video, a $14.95 download from Interweave Press, is called Quilting Arts Workshop: Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting by Sarah Ann Smith.

The video is a workshop which teaches you her “collage process, from selecting the best photo for your first effort at this technique, to fabric selection, patterning, fused collage, to threadwork at either the top or quilting stage.”

  • Digital download or DVD
  • Available from Interweave
  • Available to international quiltmakers
  • 1 hour 16 minutes in length (first 30 second or so are the FBI warning)

Meat and Potatoes

The first thing I noticed was that the video started in my browser kind of suddenly after I clicked on the link in the email. I don’t watch a lot of videos-I have to actually watch them, which interferes with my sewing productivity, so I prefer audio only so I can sew while I listen-so I don’t know if this is normal. I was able to stop the video with the normal type of computer video controls, so it was no problem. I am thinking that this is a setting on my computer that I would do well to adjust.

I was under the impression that this was a free motion quilting video and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was so much more. Students learn how to:

  • Select a photo for your composition.
  • Choose fabrics, prepare them with fusible web, and alter them with textile paint.
  • Create the working pattern.
  • Fuse the quilt top.
  • Use free-motion machine quilting to bring the fused design to life.
  • Discover Sarah’s strategies for creating an artful machine-stitched fabric collage!

The workshop starts out with an interview with Sarah. One thing that stuck out in my mind, from that interview, is that she says to “learn and be proud of every project you do.” This is absolutely right. You cannot get better without practice. Sometimes the practice means ending up with projects that are not as successful as your next one will be.

The interview sets a tone of encouragement. The tone is positive and upbeat and made me feel like I could do whatever Sarah taught. This tone is continued throughout the video.

The next section discussed materials. After a brief introduction Sarah gets right into the discussion about the supplies, starting with the photo. I liked this part, because she doesn’t just say “take a photo”; she tells us what makes the photo good for her process, the things to look for in a photo and what to avoid. Even in this early stage of the video (2:03), I get the impression that she has thought a lot about the process.

I am skeptical when people describe products which they would like me to use. Do you know how many specialty items I have from classes and projects? I always wonder if I have to have that particular brand or if I can use something I already have on hand. When describing the materials, Sarah tells you why she likes a particular product. She mentioned Saral (remember I told you about that in one of my tutorials?), but also mentioned something similar called Transdoodle (3:58). In the discussion about the two products, she gives the pros and cons. One thing she said about Transdoodle is that it had a heavier chalk layer. That means that I can get more uses out of one sheet. I may have to get some and try it out.

Five minutes in, Sarah is showing the student her method of selecting fabric and giving some hints on painting on fabric. Sarah talks about commercial prints, batiks and hand-dyes. She gives her preferences, but doesn’t disparage the use of any types of fabrics (6:10).

The fabric selection includes modifying fabric using materials such as paints, pencils and judicious cutting to get the right shades and textures. Throughout Sarah tells us why a particular fabric works or doesn’t for the piece.

I also liked it that Sarah gave some practical and useful tips on fusing (9:30): why she uses a certain type of iron, what she uses to clean it in case of a fusing mishap and maintenance of her pressing sheets. The whole time I watched I was thinking of Pam and her Miss Jingle quilt and SherriD with her Unicorn quilt. I am sure they could have used some of the techniques that Sarah shows. I was really impressed with the amount of detail included. It was really useful. It made me think that fusing wasn’t so bad.

Design and composition follow fabric selection (17:55). This is the longest section of the video and really gets into making the bones of the piece. The first part of this section talks about the photo. Sarah gives some examples of variations of the photo she eventually started to use. I was pleased to hear her use terms that we have learned about in the design series.

I was also very interested when Sarah talked about the light in relation to how the light source was positioned and how our eyes perceived the light (20:50). I think that little tips like this, even if I never do her technique, will help me be a better quiltmaker.

Sarah shows two methods of creating shapes (~30:00) for your composition. This is a great addition to the video, because not all of us learn or work in the same way. Having a variety of methods from which to choose makes the video more useful. I also think that there is an appropriate amount of detail. Not too much so as to be boring and not allow for creativity, but enough so that the viewer can make the project while having a bit of leeway to inject what s/he knows about art quiltmaking.

Sarah's Thread
Sarah’s Thread

Remember I said I thought this was a free motion quilting video? Well, Sarah doesn’t disappoint in the free motion quilting department (43:08), though she does not show you in detail how to FMQ. She gives an overview of the important parts in relation to her workshop: needles, thread, FMQ design. Her information will be helpful in conjunction with some of the other FMQ workshops, books and videos out there.

The beginning of this section is really appealing, because of the way she has the thread laid out. During the thread preparation section, she reiterates the issues with the darks and lights that she brought up at the beginning. She also talks about her process, including describing how she works at the machine. For those of not used to working with a lot of thread changes, this conversation is very helpful.

I was pretty impressed with her stitching. She uses a darning type foot (not hopping) and has set the feed dogs to the down position. With these parameters, her stitch quality is excellent. The stitches are small, but not microscopic and relatively even in terms of length. I was also impressed with how a fabric blob suddenly turned into a shadow with nothing more than a little stitching over the top of the fabric. The stitching really smoothed out the lines of the fabric pieces.

The last part of the video is called Gallery and Conclusion (1:10:30) and this is the place where Sarah talks about moving on to your own photo. Using some of her quilts, she explains what she did to make certain quilts work, including where she used precision vs blob fabric pieces. I liked her tip on quilting with light thread in the background to enhance contrast.

Throughout the video, there are hints. Some include such things as protecting your furniture, features of products, details of using particular products and things to watch out for when using her preferred products. Sarah gives examples from particular pieces of her work in relation to the tips. She also gives alternatives, where possible, for tools and supplies that the viewer may not own and may be too expensive or too specialized to purchase. While some of them may seem like pure common sense, the way she interjects them at just the right moment makes the tips and hints even more helpful. They are in context, which helps me remember them when I am actually doing the same action. Something along the lines of muscle memory, I think. This workshop reminds me so much of being in an EBHQ class!

Clearly the techniques take practice if the viewer wants to get as good as Sarah, but she takes the fear out of a lot of the steps with her clear instructions and tips and tricks.

Technical Difficulties

When watching a video, I find that my computers stops and downloads/processes in the middle of the video, which degrades my viewing experience. As a result, I have learned to let the video download and then start watching after most (or a lot) of it has downloaded. I had some trouble with this video. I really think that it had something to do with my computer or the user (me!). This has nothing to do with the production or quality of Interweave/Quilting Arts products. I downloaded the video twice and even after turning off the sleep and hibernate modes on my computer, I wasn’t able to download past about 55 minutes within my browser (Firefox). I was able to fix this by going to my Interweave account, finding the download link and saving the video to my computer. The video took about an hour to download, but then I was able to watch the last 20 minutes.

Wrap Up

I was reluctant about this video in the beginning, but also determined since I committed to helping Sarah with her blog hop. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a great video and I don’t think you would be disappointed. From early on in the video, I felt that not only that could I do Sarah’s collage technique, but that I wanted to do it. Throughout the video, I added some of the supplies she mentions to my Amazon Wishlist and felt excited about using some of the products that had inspired some reluctance in me in the past.

Mean Mom Stuff

The giveaway will be open for 3 days only. It closes officially on Nov.22 at 6pm PDT, so leave a substantive comment NOW. I may not actually get to choose the winner until November 23, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm.

More Chances to Win:

  • November 14:       Marie Johansen
  • November 16:     Brenda Gael Smith
  • November  19:    Jaye Lapachet (You are here! That’s me!)
  • November 21:     Susan Brubaker Knapp
  • November 23:     Lisa Walton
  • November 26:     Daphne Greig
  • November 28:     Sarah Ann Smith     Sarah writes “Yep–it is US Thanksgiving that day…I’ll write mine up in advance!  Or maybe I should do mine on Black Friday (the beginning of the holiday shopping season the day after…)” Sarah claims this will be The Grand Finale including goodies from MistyFuse and Havel’s Scissors!

Nota bene: I have included some time codes where appropriate as a kind of citation. I hope this is helpful.