“Looking Up” (with Sally Manke)!!

Don’t you love it when inspiration strikes?  I was preparing for Sally’s snippet workshop and, quite frankly, I wasn’t all that excited about it.   I wanted to learn the technique and thought that the sample quilt was great but I didn’t want to just make a quilt like all of the others in the class…..in retrospect, I shouldn’t have worried about that as there were LOTS of people with equal and better inspirations!!

Anyway, the idea of the quilt is that you are looking upward thru the branches and leaves of gorgeous trees.  I hit the internet looking for inspiration photos and came upon an Aspen forest….ES6-Blue-Sky-and-Aspen

and knew that I had found my niche.

I had so much fun pulling fabrics and came away with these as the color basis…..IMG_4924

When I was thinking about snippets, I was imagining small bits of fabric, probably  a 1/4 inch in size….boy was I wrong!!  Sally encouraged us to keep on cutting until the pieces were super tiny….almost dust like in some cases.  

She was a master of snippet cutting as evidenced by this VIDEO…..

After this demonstration of her cutting dexterity, we all returned to our stations and started madly cutting fabrics.   I found it a bit disconcerting to have my hands in the way when the first cuts were being made (probably because I already bear the scars from errant rotary cutter blades) so I developed the technique of using a plastic “credit card” to hold the fabrics in place while I made the first cuts…..


The plastic cards were actually part of the supply list and were invaluable for scraping the bits into piles so that more slicing could be done…..


After we all had many piles of confetti fabrics, we started placing them on our backing and batting, trying to emulate the photo that we had chosen.  At this point, my creative process started breaking down!!…..


As I added more and more confetti, it just became more and more muddled and didn’t seem to improve when I started adding the trunks and branches….IMG_4990

Sally showed us a few things that I really liked, including adding small snips of threads to define the smaller branches. 

When I had “finished” my designing, Sally placed a piece of light brown netting over the snippets and we pinned and pinned and pinned until the entire piece was held together enough to get it home.

The next step in the process is to cover the snippet areas with meander quilting to hold the layers together.  That part went well, although my clothes were covered with little bits of yellow when I finished.   Next I worked on the tree trunk and that ended up being the only part of the piece that I really like…..IMG_5018

I used a grey Tsukineko marker to add some interest to the plain grey fabric and then added more interest with the quilting.

At this point, I decided that I wasn’t really interested in finishing the project….


Since leaving it, I have thought about what I liked and didn’t like about it.   Firstly, I should have just used a solid piece of blue fabric for the sky rather than trying to achieve it with confetti.  When I look at the inspiration photo, I realize that I have WAY TOO MANY “leaves” and not enough sky behind them.   I think that this happened because I was paranoid about covering every inch of the batting.

I also can see that my tree trunks are not the right size or at the correct angle for the perspective.  I think that if I had been working on it at home, I would have spent more time and kept working it (or started over) until I got it looking the way that I want.   As it was, we had to pack up and get out of the room so I just finished it where it was.

I really do like this technique and can see using it to depict water, especially when I think about the shiny bits that I can add to it to achieve the sparkle of moving water.

I also learned something about myself……when I am in a classroom setting, I become very shy and uncertain about my work, but when I am in my studio, I am willing to tackle almost anything even though I know that it might fail.    I guess that I simply dont want to fail in front of others!!

In the final analysis, I am glad that I took the class and really enjoyed Sally Manke’s teaching style.   She was open with her comments and suggestions if you wanted them but also let people travel their own paths.   

One of my favorite quilts in the class was by Linda Z. who worked on this marvelous path……IMG_4998

I cant wait to see it finished!!!

Pat Speth Workshop…

Today I had the privilege of spending the day with Pat Speth of “Nickel Quilt” fame. 

 DSC02460 She is a wonderful teacher, with the perfect mix of organization and improvisation!!  She gave us lots of excellent ideas, advice  and techniques and then set us lose to work on our own quilts.

Her “Nickel” method is this…..

Start with two 5 inch squares, one light and one dark..

Draw a diagonal line on one of the fabrics and then sew a scant 1/4 inch seam on each side of the diagonal….


Cut along the diagonal…..DSC02459

Press open to form 2 half-square triangle blocks and trim them to 4-1/2 inchesDSC02461 Now for the important part…..slice this block in half from top to bottom at the 2-1/4 inch mark….


And, without moving the two cut pieces, cut horizontally  at 2-1/4 inches…..DSC02463

And look what you get…..DSC02464 …..two PERFECT 1/2 square triangles, one dark square and one light square.

The VERY best part about this method is that you only square-up ONE square and yet end up with four perfectly sized patches.

These can be used for any block that uses this combination of squares.

My first block came out looking like this…..

DSC02457  and Pat sweetly pointed out that I had a rogue patch facing the wrong direction.  Oh well, I know how to un-sew!!

At the end of the day, I had put together 10 blocks and am happy with this start to my next project…..DSC02493 Pat also showed us how to use her 5 inch squares to make picket fence blocks, hourglass blocks and combination blocks with half square and quarter square blocks.


In looking at this technique, I really like the idea, but think that I might prefer to start with 5-1/2 inch squares, trim to 5 inch and make the sub-cuts at 2-1/2.  This seems to be a format  and size that fits me better.


Now for this next photo, we couldn’t decide if this was cute or just creepy.   Sherry had a stuffed bear that her Mother had made many years ago.   Not really knowing what to do with it, she turned it into a pincushion……


A little more beading (part 2)…..

On the second morning, Lyric went back to beading and showed us a few more neat techniques….


First we made “stacks”.   To do this you bring the needle to the front of the piece, add how ever many beads you want, then add one securing bead and pass the needle thru all of the stacked beads (skipping the securing bead).


The next step was to us the stacks to form a Bezel to hold a Cabochon (flat bead or stone with no hole).   The technique is to trace around the cabochon (button in this case) and build stacks just outside of the line.  You then place the cabochon in place, fold over the stacks and run your thread thru all of the top beads, adding beads between if necessary….DSC02088

Look at all of the different ways that Lyric was able to use her Bezels…..


Here are a couple more of her sample pieces…..DSC02099

Look at these fun stacks…….


Lots of fun inspiration…..

Where to start….

Today, I had the wonderful pleasure of spending the day with Lyric Kinard as a part of a two day “Surface Design Sampler Platter” workshop.   We went full tilt for 6-1/2 hours with about 20 minutes for lunch.  Over the next few posts I will try to show what we did, but I wanted to start out with my favorite…..stamp carving!!!!

We used white rubber erasers as our palette and started out by sketching out a few designs…..

DSC01983 We used these drawings as rubbings to transfer the design to the eraser….


….and then started cutting, first with an X-Acto knife……

DSC01977….and then adding some details with a linoleum carving tool.  DSC01980 The most fun thing to do was to cut a circle.  The technique included inserting the knife point at an angle into the eraser.  You then turned the eraser in a circle until the knife arrived back at the starting point.


The circle popped out easily!!!!

My second design (cut on the other side of the eraser) was done almost entirely with the Lino-tool

DSC01987 Now came the moment of truth….what would this look at when printed!!!

We used a foam brush to pat the paint onto the stamp…..




Lyric has a “signature” fabric where everyone places their stamp and then signs.  It was fun to see all of the designs that have come out of her workshops…..


Well, there is one technique…..we also did beading, screen printing, foiling, and image transfer…..and there is still another day to come!!!!

More later…..

Class Time

A few weeks ago I took a two session class at my local quilt store (Dragonfly Quilt Shop) about doing hand applique.  It was taught by my friend Cleo…..


and she proceeded to teach me several new techniques!!!!

The first thing that she taught was how to applique a stem…..

….  Cut a bias strip that is 1 inch in width.

…..  Fold in half lengthwise.

….. Pin the folded edge to the inside curve  


…..  Applique into placeDSC00519

….  Use sharp scissors and cut away 1/2 of the underside layer of the stem fabric

 DSC00520 ….  fold the wide fabric side over the smaller one

DSC00521 …..pin in place and applique!!!

DSC00523  This method provides a smooth and thin bias strip for stems etc.

Now, my friends cant believe that I am actually planning to do some hand work, so my photo had to be taken…..

DSC00477 Now I just need to find times to actually practice the technique!!!!

A Day With Susan Brubaker Knapp

Today I spent a day at my local quilt shop taking a class with the famous Susan Brubaker Knapp.  Check out her website here or her blog here…..

You have probably seen some of her wonderful thread paintings in many of the popular quilting magazines and today I had the privilege of sitting under her teaching!!!


The class was called “Start with a Photo” and it took us through the process of using a photo as the inspiration and then turning it into a quilt.  She provided a photo and pattern of a red barn……


The first step was to use a sharpie to draw the design onto  a medium weight upholstery clear vinyl.  This is the pattern that we used for the rest of the day.

We then prepared fusible web sections, selected fabrics and fused the piece together.  The full piece was placed on a piece of sew-in interfacing and the FUN BEGAN…..

We took various threads and started to add details with machined threadwork.   Most of the threads were 40 weight, but many of us used whatever we happened to have.   I particularly enjoyed using some variegated threads in the grass areas. 

Here is my piece at the end of the day……


Obviously I have a way to go before it will be finished!!!!

Now, on to the REAL quilts of  the day.  Here are some of the quilts that Susan brought to inspire us……

I loved these spools when I saw them in a magazine……


This is a small quilt (maybe 8×6) and Susan told us that there are only four different pieces of fabric in it….the rest is done with THREAD……


In this one, the slices were done separately, a back was sewn on, they were turned and then appliqued to the top.  The result is that they have a LOT of wonderful dimension……


I love the movement in the grasses……..


Some of these pumpkins are done in trapunto to give them more dimension…..


I am fortunate to be able to take Susan’s Thread Painting Class tomorrow…..I CANT WAIT!!!!

Fun Workshops – Day 2

The second day of Margaret Hunt workshops was about using threads to enhance fabrics.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the entire workshop, but at least had a chance to make this threadwork  butterfly……..



I am most excited to be able to use this type of thread embroidery to enhance some photos or create a thread landscape.  Here are some of Margaret’s examples…..

  _5015103 _5015104 _5015105 

Be sure to check out her wonderful borders….in many cases there is a pieced  border and a tiny, tiny flap border.

AHHHH…something to aspire to!!!!!

Fun Workshops – Day 1


Friday and Saturday I had the privilege of spending the days in workshops with Margaret Hunt from South Carolina.  She is a renowned fiber artist and has won many ribbons and accolades.

The class on Friday was about using Portfolio Oil Pastels to color on fabrics.  These are water soluble so you can draw on the fabric and then brush with water to blend the colors.  Here are some photos from the day……

This is how the fabric looked before the water was added……


Now, brush on water and this is what you get……..


This little piece was quick and fun to do……..



Marilyn did this wonderful bunch of flowers…..I would love to take these to a sewing machine and add a lot of machine embellishment to them…..

Here, Margaret (center) watches Madeline work on her piece while Nancy and Francyne look on……..


After lunch, Margaret donned an apron and demonstrated the use of Seta colors to produce wonderful Sky Dyes……_4305076

This sunset is gorgeous……_4305090

Margaret was fun to watch because she worked quickly and didn’t worry about making a mess.  Her painting method was fun and free…..

Here are a few more of her pieces……._4305067


She even does some on paper……._4305066

Finally, I just had to take a photo of Anita taking a photo….check out her blog for more info about the day…….    _4305050

Kaffe – Day 2

Today I spent another day assisting with a Kaffe Fassett workshop. Last night I got to have dinner with he, Brandon and several of the people from Dragonfly Quilt Shop. It was a relaxing and enjoyable night!!! I found that Kaffe was much more relaxed and talkative during the evening, prompting me to believe that he “puts his game face on” when he enters a classroom.

Today’s workshop was the same design as yesterday, but he introduced it in a totally different manner. The results were just as magnificent as yesterday.

Once again, I enjoyed listening to his and Brandon’s choice of descriptive words, so here are a few more……

In describing what kinds of disasters you can come up with, he discussed quilts looking like “Minestrone soup” (too many colors), “Squashed Tomatoes” (too few fabrics or styles), and “Cat’s vomit” (not sure what causes this look).

In describing the color pallets used in the participant’s quilts, the follow terms were used…….instinctive and sensual, optimistic, elegant, jazzy cocktail dress, fresh and sparkly, smoldering, flittering with light, pure sunshine, playful, natural, strawberry shortcake, summer party, full of wonder and joy, and (his favorite) vintage trunk (meaning the fabrics look like they have come from old tablecloths, napkins, etc.

Some of the colors he described as Brown Sauce, Dark Rhubarb, Buttermilk Yellow, Moldy Wine, and Husky Red.

He encouraged them to “build their color scheme with passion” and to “get out of their brains”. He also suggested not using white for a design wall…. beiges and tans are a much better background for judging colors. He told them not to judge too early, but to let the quilt grow before they started editing and changing fabrics and placements. All of these were wonderful suggestions for the workshop, but also for our own quilts at home!!!

Here are a couple of photos of Brandon (on the left) and Kaffe (on the right) , hard at work ……

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And…..here is one of the Dragonfly staff and helpers……_A293219 (2)

I am in the back right, in the Turquoise shirt.

Another fun day….now onto the Train quilt again tomorrow. My husband returns from Portugal on Saturday and my quilt retreat will be over, so I am highly motivated!!!!!


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The name says it all!!!! Today I helped at a workshop presented by Kaffe Fassett and his partner, Brandon Mably. They are two extraordinary gentlemen and are amazing connoisseurs of color. The workshop was sponsored by Dragonfly Quilt Shop and today had 27 participants. The workshop began with Kaffe and Brandon talking about creativity and color. They worked hard to put people at their ease, but also told them that they would not hold back on their opinions when it came to design quandaries.

After some basic instructions, the ladies headed to their table and design wall and started working. Brandon scooted from wall to wall, helping the women make their first choices, while Kaffe watched from a distance. He even sat down and did a bit of knitting……gorgeous!!!!

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After about 20 minutes, Kaffe got back up and started slowly walking around the room and looking at what people were doing. He spent a great deal of time just staring at the designs on the wall and then would go up and make suggestions.


They encouraged the participants to not “think too much”, but to simply throw up a fabric and make a quick decision about whether or not it would work and then move onto the next one.


Brandon and the Kaffe cookies modeled after one of his fabrics.

Brandon turned on his I-Pod and I asked about how he chose the songs to play. He said that the playlists were arranged based on the age of the participants. He also said that the music helped the women to not talk as much. At one point there was a spontaneous chorus of “Yellow Submarine”, as everyone started singing along and Brandon happily conducted!!

I found it interesting to listen to the phrases that they used to get their points across. Here are a few of my favorites….

“I like this fabric because it has more intrigue”.”

“I think that you need to hike up your skirt and go shopping.”

“You need to lift this fabric or it will look like a pile of ash”

“Having that streak of blue on the yellows looks like mascara on a Whore.”

“That fabric is duller than old mop water”

“Purple and yellow are ghastly together. If you want someone to notice a sign, paint it with those colors.”

“If you make her do it (use a particular piece of fabric), you are going to have to buy her a bottle of Prozac.”

I also loved their descriptions of various colors……

…..Moldy Toast

….Old Sawdust

….Desert heat

…….Leather brown

…..Old dull purple

….Old 30’s knicker’s pink

…..inky grey

…..mustard yellow

…..flaming turquoise

I felt like the best comment of the all day was that you need to pick your colors so that they glow rather than eclipsing them!!

Here is a photo of one side of the room. It will give you an idea of what the workshop was about…..


I am about to leave to have dinner with them and then will help with the workshop again tomorrow……..such fun!!!

The train is still progressing….last night I did the little girl’s clothes and hair and hopefully can get her face done after dinner…….

More tomorrow………