Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In The Heat Of Summer!

Well summer is here and it's been really hot at my house. I've been spending time planting flowers and watering them the best I can when your are in the middle of a big drought. Our neighborhood looks pitiful. Well, it always did, but now it's even worse because nobody is watering there lawns except on Tuesdays and Sundays.  You can hand water all you want. So my flowers don't go thirsty.  But our lawns are dead and nothing is worse on a hot day of 103 to look down the street at a dry, desolate, dirty, neighborhood that you are paying way too much to live in. Yuck!

 Today when I woke up I noticed my house shows the signs of a quilt teacher getting ready to go out on the road. The living room is filled patterns, the dining room is filled with patterns, and even the family room is filled with patterns. So if you're waiting for an invitation for dinner you better think again.Unless you want to help fold patterns. And it's pizza again tonight.
Being an entrepreneur is exciting, inventive and a lot of hard work. And when you work out of your home that creative endeavor somehow takes over every nook and cranny of your house. Then add on top of that, the beginnings of remodeling your kitchen. You can just shoot me now.

Family room.
The guitar, banjo, and ukulele have also arrived with my son for the summer.

This was a beautiful dining room at one time.
So when my best friend called over for the 4th of July and mentioned she was in town and of course, I want to get together with her and her family.  I tried to explain to her, really I have no room for you.  i can make dinner but where will we sit? And I meant it.
Thank God for my sweet husband who puts up with all this. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm finally making some money for us.

So my summer has been filled with planting flowers, designing some new patterns and trying to update our kitchen. So far, the flowers have been the easiest thing to achieve. Oh, and I almost forgot. On top of everything else I've been trying to put together an online quilt shop that highlighting my patterns and hand dyed fabric kits. Plus a place where you can get the fusible web I use and Sulky thread. You can click on the shop link at the top of this page if you'd like to check it out.
So I guess I'm looking forward to being back on the road so I can catch up on my sleep and live in a clean hotel room.
Now! What's for dinner?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Libby's Texas Wildflower


I've been in Houston teaching for a week. I love Texas and would probably move there except for I'm a California girl and we don't do sweat.
I'm at the airport last night about 8:30 pm going through my emails and see an email from Alex Anderson who is letting me know that she has posting my latest movie on The Quilt Show.com. It’s about making my Libby quilt. I think I let out a little scream right there in the restaurant. I went right away to the website and watch my own movie, 3 times. I love making movies especially when you find the right music. I also loved making this quilt for the Libby Lehman auction. Can you bid on your own quilt?

The 1st time I met Libby was when she came to our quilt guild in Folsom, California. She showed us her beautiful quilts and technique and I was blown away on how she could control her sewing machine and make those beautiful thread ribbons. I was so inspired to see this quilt artists who was so passionate about art, fabric and thread. I felt she was a little like me, or let’s say, I was a little like her. “Little” is the operative word. But she encouraged me.
Years later I would be teaching at Quilting in the Desert in Phoenix and she invited me to dinner. I quickly called my husband to inform him I had just been invited to dinner by 2 of the biggest quilters in the world. The 2 being Libby Lehman and Jean Wells. OMG!  I soon found out about her loves of good food.  One of her students had told her about this really cute restaurant. And off we went. Could you just die?

So over a glass of wine and wonderful food I listen to her wonderful, funny stories, which either involved "Mother or Lester".  I laugh so hard. I realized then she is a true one of a kind. I was very entertained by this vibrant, beautiful, storyteller. Libby and Jean were very generous with advice about being a quilt teacher on the road. I’m so grateful.

So when I was asked Clara Lawrence, if I wanted to make a quilt for this auction. Of course!  I already knew what I wanted to do. The quilts are supposed to be inspired by Libby and her style. I can't do Libby, but I can do me and she's is a Texas Wildflower.
But which wildflower? Well, she is definitely not a Bluebonnet, she's not really an Indian Paintbrush, either. But she is a Texas Fire Wheel!  That’s it! 

I hope you enjoy this video. I will let you know the date and time of the auction. But today when you watch this video please pray for Libby and her family they are going through so much. I know God has them in His hands and he is his faithful. But sometimes life just stinks.


 You will want toTurn on your speakers to view this.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Fusible Dilemma

…and the saga continues (sigh).  This crazy story is driving me to the funny farm. It's been almost 2 years in my quest to find the perfect fusible web to replace Steam A Seam 2.

The requirements are: 
  • Has to have a sticky back
  • Layering ability for up to 5 layers of fabric 
  • Can handle being ironed multiple times 
  • All layers can easily be quilted through   
If you can't wait until the end of the blog here's the conclusion: I'm still looking for that fusible. Oh, I think I just screamed!  I hope the neighbor didn't hear me (again)!

First of all, I need to get a couple things straight for all of you in the fusing world.  There are probably 15 different fusible webs on the market today, which means we have a lot of choices and that each quilt artist is using a different fusible web with a different technique in a different way.  This is not your grandma's fusing.  Most of us don't ever draw on the stuff anymore.

Don't assume because you have taken a particular person's class that I or others are using fusible web in the same manner. We’re not!  So make sure when the teacher says on their supply list to bring a certain fusible web, you bring it!



Now, let's get down and dirty about the fusible web dilemma, hopefully without crying.

My first realization is that manufacturers of these fusible products really have no idea how quilt artists are using their product and most of them don't care.  I estimated that last year I sold, in class, to my students, 3,000 yards of fusible web and that's not including what I used on my own artwork.  I’m pretty sure that's more than most shops sell in one year.


I guarantee you that most of the artists out there have never read the stupid instructions, either. We pick it up, we play around and see how we can manipulate it. Then bingo, there's a new book and were teaching all over the world and selling 3,000 yards of fusible web.


 Over the last 12 years I've been using Steam-A-Seam 2.  We all know by now that the Warm Company has taken it off the market. I don't really know what happened so don't ask me. I've heard all kinds of stories ranging from the building burned down to the company went bankrupt, to they all joined a cult and are now wearing purple. But I don't think any of those are true.

So now you, like me, are probably looking for something else to work with.
I have written this blog to share with you some of the information I found out about different fusible webs.  


NOTE: This information may not help you when taking somebody else's class. This is just for my technique and others who share my style. I think you are reading this blog because you've either been one of my students or are about to be or you just want to see what I found out.

y        
Misty Fuse - Misty Fuse is a great product but does not work the way I need it to for my technique.  Now remember, I'm talking about my technique. The problem I had was when I went to do the quilting.  The edges of the Misty Fused fabric started to lift up and curl on the edges as I quilted.  I’d press it down and it would come up again.  I don't like that look. Otherwise, it's a good product with a lot of creative ways to use it - but not for me.

Wonder Under 805 - There are famous art quilters that love this product but I DO NOT! This product does not work with my technique. Remember the requirement list from above?  I have used up to 6 layers of fabric on top of each other and Wonder Under is difficult to quilt through with that many layers and it seems to stiffen up the more I iron it, also. This is not good as I iron over and over.


Heat and Bond Lite – With Heat and Bond Lite you can quilt through it, which is good. I have used up to 5 layers of this product with no problem sewing through it but it does not have a sticky back, which means I have to use straight pins to hold it in place on my design wall and that gets kind of tricky when you have layers on top of each other and then try to move it - often the layers will fall off.
NOTE: If you buy the regular Heat Bond, not the LITE you will really be in trouble because it is too thick.


Soft Fuse - I get asked about Soft Fuse in every class. We did a classroom experiment in one class and found that Soft Fuse was just too thick to sew through when you started layering the fusible fabrics. 

Okay, so what does work?

EZ Steam by Pellon - It is sticky once you iron on the fabric. You can use multiple layers and still sew through it, plus you can iron it many times. The problem is it is really sticky so be careful when removing the release paper because if the sticky side flips back on its self you can't pull it apart like you could SAS2.
DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT buy EZ Steam ll or Lite EZ Steam ll, manufactured by the same company. You may want to reread that last line and embed it in your brain, especially if you're taking a class from me.  It’s a disaster to use. Don't assume that your quilt shop knows my technique or how we are using the fusible web in class, either.


OK, now stop panicking, I know it's hard to find but I have a solution.  If you are taking a class from me you can be guaranteed that I will be bringing bolts of this fusible web with me for each class. Yes, it raises my baggage fee for the guild another hundred dollars round-trip but I can't do anything about the extortion in the airline industry.  

I need you to have the right fusible web so you can be successful in my class and if the guilds don't pay for the extra bag, I pay for it so you will have what you need in my classes. I will also have it by the yard on my web site shop soon so check back. Plus, there might be a YouTube in the future on how to use it and the other products I am talking about.

Thanks for hanging in there with me in this blog.  Email me with questions and check out my new web site.



Happy fusing!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Cleaning the Studio

This week my new Bernina 750 QE arrived. Something happens to you when you receive a new sewing machine. 
I couldn't put this beautiful new sewing machine in my messy studio and you can't put a brand-new Mercedes in a messy garage. 

So I cleaned her table, scrubbed the floor, organized my threads and my sewing tools so I could welcome her to her new home properly.

I am pretty sure if she saw her new home in the state it was looking, she would have called Mr. BERNINA to come take her back. 

So now her home is clean and beautiful and I'm ready to be creative with her.

The 1st thing I needed to organize was my threads. They were in chaos after my last sewing project which is still not finished. 

I have an organized system for my thread but I haven't been home enough to keep things organized or even unpack my suitcase.

When I can see what I have more clearly I can always be more creative. Chaos does not equal creativity. Chaos equals frustration.

On the right side of my sewing machine I have a tin box that I keep my threads in while I'm working on a project. This way they don't roll all over the floor and I can keep them contained while I'm working.

But when the thread tin started to look more like Mount Fuji it was time to clean things up and get organized.



The funny thing is what I found in this messy little tin box.
There was some odd pairs of scissors, knitting needles, a bent crochet hook that I used to pry something and the cap to my glue stick that had rolled away.
I found a chip; yes, a potato chip, a big purple curler, fingernail file, toothpick, screwdriver for my sewing machine I'd been looking for, an ear plug, only one of course, and a Sierra Nevada beer bottle cap which I know belongs to my son who is lives in San Diego. How long has that been there?
But best of all I found 4 pairs of glasses I've been looking for since January.

Finally, I got around to organizing my threads and thought you would like to see how I keep my threads in order (sort of).

I like to organize things by color, of course.  So I have a bin for every color group. These are bins I got at Michael's in the scrap booking department.
I took the wheels off the cart that came with the bins and the whole unit slides right under the drawer of my sewing machine table. I've labeled all the bins with a Sharpie marker because I can't find my label maker which is in another mess I have to clean up. 
When I need a thread color I just pull out the appropriate bin.  When the little tin box on the side of my brand-new sewing machine piles up with colorful thread I know it's time to stop and organize for the next project.

Now I just NEED time for the next project.








Friday, March 14, 2014

International Quilting Day



“Celebrate International Quilting Day with me and TheQuiltShow.com beginning Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16. Everyone who signs on to TheQuiltShow.com will have FREE access to over 160 WebTV shows featuring some of the top quilting instructors in the world. You can also enter the TQS prize drawing with a grand prize of a BERNINA 550QE and wonderful fabric prizes. So check in at www.thequiltshow.com on Friday, March 14, and enjoy the shows and exploring The Quilt Show website. You can start with my show, Episode #501.”



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mr. Toucan

Mr.Toucan is the name of this quilt. It really could be Mrs.Toucan but I don't know how to tell the difference. Oh well, whatever it is he's getting stitch today.
This is a new pattern I designed for my upcoming Panama Canal Cruise.
In this blog I am showing the process of creating him from the beginning layers of fabric to the finished quilt top.
 Started with a pale lavender background fabric. The lavender gives depth and perspective it could be a rainy tropical jungle on a foggy day.
I made the leaves using an ice dying technique on the fabric. Which gives them so much color on one leaf. I think it gives the fabric the look of a watercolor painting. I can't wait to see the stitching.
When I get done quilting Mr. Toucan I will show you the detail of that also.
 My drawing is underneath my lavender background fabric. Because it's sheer I can see the lines of my drawing through it. But if you can't see through your background fabric. You could place a Teflon pressing sheet like, Fat Goddess by Misty Fuse size 21 x 27. This is my new favorite pressing sheet plus I like the name also.  Lay this pressing sheet over your drawing or pattern then build your flower or bird right on the pressing sheet. 
 
 When finished, press all the pieces together. Then peel up your bird and lay it on your background fabric.
I think this quilt will make a great class and will soon be a pattern on my web site.
For all of you that are dealing with snow and ice storms this blog is for you. Hopefully it'll take you away for a few minutes to tropical paradise.
Stay warm!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Addicted To Stitching

I think it's obvious by now that I have been addicted to stitching. 
Yes, I'm finally coming out of the closet to let you all know I have this serious problem. I can't seem to sit anywhere for any period of time without something in my hands that involves a needle and thread. Whether I'm in the airport, at a ballgame, watching TV, sitting in a doctor's office, I have to have a project in my hands at all times.

Maybe it has something to do with this longing to create.
I've been like this since I was a small girl whether it was designing Barbie clothes or teaching myself how to knit. I just loved always having a project in my lap.

So I've been working on turning one of my quilts "Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush"into a cross stitch project.  I'm using these beautiful DMC stranded cotton floss. I love the color combination. Its bright and cheery.
 Two flowers done, four more to go, plus the dragon fly.
This year in Houston I bought a very nice wooden scroll  frame that you can sit in your lap or you can sit on the table. I like using the table method with my work light over my canvas. 
Which makes the sitching go really fast.  
 I have about seven needles threaded with different color ready to go. I then put something really delicious like Downton Abby on the TV and start stitching like a mad woman.

Once I work out all the bugs in the design.  And there are a few. I will put this up on my website.  I know there's other mad stitchers out there following my blog. So stay tuned.
 I'm also working on turning my Three Zinnia quilt into a cross-stitch design also. 
This is so much fun.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On News Stand Now

 My January 2014 AQS American Quilter magazine just arrived.  I am so excited to have my Poppy quilt on the cover of the magazine.  She looks good as a cover girl.  
I also wrote a story about the Secret and Power of Color which I will be lecturing about in January at the AQS Phoenix Quilt Festival. Jan 5-7 2014. Can’t wait.

It’s fun to have your words and ideas printed in the pages of a magazine.  
American Quilter also did a very nice feature story about me and how I got started 
in this business called "It’s Never too Late “ by Marjorie L. Russell. 
Thank you Marjorie for the very nice story. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pansy Thread Play Video!


My pansy video is ready to view.
This is a 28 minute free thread play lesson
This is also a follow up and a refresher course to my Renegade Thread Play classes.
I designed a new pattern called “Fresh Picked Pansy”.  
Easy to put together and a great piece to practice on.
When I teach my Renegade Thread Play class I notice that what everyone is short of, is practice time.  So here is the perfect pattern to practice on. 
This is to help you build your confident doing free motion quilting.  It’s all about logging in the hours behind the sewing machine that makes you more skilled.
So here is a project to practice on.  Pansy can be made in any colors.  
This is beginner friendly. 
Watch the video.
 Are you brave enough to try? I think you will be!

The pattern is available NOW on my web site shop for $10. Click in the link about to access the shop.



Monday, September 16, 2013

It All Started With a Prayer

Well this is the Big Week I have been looking forward to, planning for and a little worried  about for months.  In 3 days I will be standing on stage in Pasco, Washington alongside Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson doing my first Super Seminar.   How did this all happen?

Well, it started with a prayer.

And yes, I was lost, sad, depressed, and without direction. I had just lost my wallpaper/fabric design business that I had loved doing for the last 10 years.  Now what?  Is my life over?
Monterrey at Dusk
Someone had given me a book called The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I like the title, I am driven. So one day after being very depressed I finally picked up the book. I don’t think I read more than 4 chapters when I knew this ride was not over.  God is not done with me and there is more ahead of me than I could ever know. I cried!  But, then again, I am always crying.  

I reached for a piece of paper and wrote down 10 things that I wanted to accomplish in my life with the gifts God had given me. Now, mind you, he has not given me the gift of math or the gift of spelling but he has given me creativity. Now what can you do with that?  He has given all of us gifts and he has a plan for those gifts.  Then I felt guilty about the gifts. I need to get over this.

I started to write down things I would never tell anyone about: my dreams, ambitions, even a few things that I thought where fantasies at the time.  I said a prayer asking God's guidance over the list and put it back in the book and left the room.  I probably went and did the laundry.  Back in those days someone was always running out of underwear or socks.

I found that list recently and everything on that list I have accomplished and now I am about to join 2 of my favorite quilt artists on stage. I am so ready to teach, inspire, and encourage you in your creative path. 
Monet in Pasadena
But mostly I am grateful to God for not letting me go.







Sunday, August 11, 2013

You Can't Ever Start TOO Young


I love this next generation of quilter and her mom's not bad, either. I started sewing sitting on my mother's lap when I was about 5 and she has told me that I was trying to climb up to the machine even before that. Mom has been telling a lot of funny stories lately and loves to repeat the one about how I threw my shoes in the fireplace because I didn't want to go to school.  Which is true but she tells it to everyone, over and over.


Eventually, the hum of the sewing machine just rocked this precious babe to sleep.  She never made a peep in 6 hours because she was with mommy and sewing.  Makes me happy, too.  This is why I love quilters.  I used to put Matthew on the dryer or in the car to rock him to sleep after he cried nonstop for 3 hours.  Who new?

This is my Renegade Thread Play class last week in Long Beach.  The class was full with many different skill levels.  They gave me the Bernina class room which is a teacher's dream.


I am proud to say that I am now a Bernina Ambassador.  Pretty fancy if I do say so myself.  I am not yet sure what this all entails but I am very excited to be associated with Bernina.

So, if I am an Ambassador, do they assign me to an embassy?   Will the president be closing the embassy soon?  Can I bring my buff Marine?   I have trained him and so has the government to protect my Bernina at any cost.  And he has a gun (and the awards to prove his excellent aim).

There is just something about the power of a Bernina motor that lets me make the art I produce.  It just flows through the fusible web.  Some in this class had never free-motioned before.  I am so happy they had the Bernina because with that machine there were no problems.  Having the right tool for the job is a must. 

I have a few new ideas for this class in Houston.  More sewing and less cutting.  
And for those of you that don’t like funny stories, you may want to take a different class.  
I can’t help myself so be prepared to laugh and sew at the same time.  It's a requirement.

Monterey at Dusk and Monet in Pasadena 
After 3 days of teaching classes I finally got to the show floor to see the quilts. couldn't believe my eyes as I walked in the doors and saw both of my quilts in the West Coast Wonders exhibit greeting the guests as they walked in. Wow!  This is a traveling exhibit so these girls will be visiting  major cities near you over the next year. I already miss them. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

More Quilters Affair in Sisters...

 There is nothing like the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon.


 Beautiful displays throughout the shop.

 Sue Spargo's quilt and her new book on display.

 On Monday night, teachers and staff were wined and dined at Jean and Bob's house.
 This is Jean's studio, which was thrilling to stand in. She has been hand-dyeing some fabulous fabrics. I can see something wonderful coming from this.
 Dining in the backyard with the view of a green field with mommy cows and the new babes. The Sisters mountain range in the background and 2 of my favorite artists hamming it up.  
Lynn Koolish and Laura Wasilowski

 It was a catered affair for the Quilters Affair staff.
 
What a great time we all had.