Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Something Out Of Nothing

I made this soft and cuddly knitted shawl two years ago. I got it out to wear to dinner the other night and found, of course after I got home, that there were holes in the fabric. It looked like it had been chewed. I tried to fix them but another hole showed up and then another. It made me sick. This was expensive yarn!

With a disgusted look on my face I grabbed the whole thing and threw it in the trash.  I think I even stomped my foot as I walked by the over-stuffed trash can. By the time I got to the door of my studio I paused and went back to the trash can and pulled the shawl out.  It’s just so soft.  I know there is something I can do with this, but what? 
What if I used my sewing machine and zig-zagged with black thread over the holes?  How about doing straight lines of zig-zag stitches all down the shawl?  It needed more. And then I remembered I have a bag of laser cut wool circles I bought two years ago at Quilters Affair in Sisters, OR. 
I think they were made up for the Sue Spargo class. I had no idea what I would use them for at the time.

I started by laying the circles on the three holes to be fixed.  Then I added more and layered them randomly all over the shawl.  I stitched them into the knitted shawl.

Then I did some more zig-zag stitches up and down the shawl.  With an extra ball of yarn I crocheted a ruffle on the ends of the shawl to give it a nice finishing touch. 
Then added a big vintage Bakelite button.
I think I like this better than the original! I love creativity!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Retreat, March 11-15 2015

Our House in Milford, Texas -  Retreat from March 11-15, 2015


Hop on your horse, your plane or whatever sweet ride you choose to get you to Dallas. Go down the road and get on the highway - 35E, I think?  You will pass a town called Waxahachie but go past that, then turn at the big water tower with the word Italy on it. It’s pronounced Itly.  You won’t mistake it for the gondola-riding, pasta-eating, pizza-making country but you will be able to get some gas.
As you drive, you may notice some strange round houses on the right of the highway. These are called Monolific Domes. Italy is the capitol of the domes and even has a visitor center, if you care. 

Then you turn right at the armadillo laying in the field of bluebonnets and you’ll be in Milford, Texas. 
Milford, Texas. This is the view from the porch.
Go a few miles more and when you see nothing but green valleys and cute vintage white houses, turn right into the driveway of one of the most hospitable places to ever have a retreat:  Our House in Milford, Texas.
The wrap-around porch lined with rocking chairs is there to welcome you.  Your hostesses, Ann and Angie, are a mother and daughter team from North Carolina. They are the true representation of southern hospitality in Texas and, maybe best of all, their food is gourmet and healthy so you can eat more!  

The classroom is big and bright with windows all around. You have large tables to spread out, which means you can bring lots of stuff to work on. 

If you want to relax away the day’s stitching stresses there is a Jacuzzi, so bring your suit.  There is a refrigerator where you can bring your favorite beverages and snacks and Ann and Angie keep it well-stocked with bottled waters for when you get parched from all the visiting and laughing. 
This will be the first time showing my new pattern, the
 Texas Wildflower.  It's 32" x 32" and is a stunner.
I made the original quilt  for the Libby Lehman auction this last year and it sold for $5,000.
Now for the best part - making your quilt masterpiece. I want this retreat to be a place where you can finish something you started in one of my past classes or you can start a new piece, choosing from a variety of my patterns. 
Clematis, size 28"x 22", can be done in any color
 you like and I can hand-dye kits for this pattern.
This is called 3 Zinnias, and for our class you will have time to do one flower.
 Hand-dyed fabric kits are available for this pattern.
These are big, bold art pieces. I call them “LQQ”: Living room Quality Quilts because they turn out so stunning that you'll be proud to display them in a prominent spot in your home.
Peach Rose, size 32" x 32",  is a pattern from my first book, Cutting Garden Quilts.  For this class,  I have turned it into a single flower  pattern with a large layout guide and all the pattern pieces drawn for you.  Also included is a color chart that can be modified for any color you like.  Sorry, there are no hand-dyed kits for this pattern. 
You can email me before class and we can talk about which one you would like to do and if you want to change the color or add something. I will send you a color chart with fabric amounts so you can get ready. I can also hand-dye fabric kits for some of the flowers. 

Poppies is a big, beautiful quilt that is a show-stopper.  It can be made in any color you like and
 hand-dyed fabric kits are available.
Each pattern comes with a color chart and all the pattern pieces drawn for you, so there's no tracing.  You can change the colors, too.  I will demonstrate how to finish your quilt with Renegade Thread Play and If you want to finish your quilt during the retreat, I will be there to hold your hand.

If you want to work on another of my patterns that is not pictured here, go to my web site to view more patterns.  HERE is my shop.

We will arrive on Wednesday after 4 pm, have a wonderful dinner, then spend the evening setting up and enjoying a meet and greet. You can get up early and go to bed late and the class room is open all the time. 

The next 3 days are full of creativity and learning some of my quilting tricks. Then Sunday we will have a wonderful brunch and prepare to leave by noon. 

This class is for you to be creative in a safe environment with no outside interruptions - except for the dinner bell. It’s a place to refresh yourself and this is the kind of retreat you can come by yourself and go home with new friends. We do a lot of laughing!

For more information and the right directions, please contacted Ann or Angie at OUR HOUSE IN MILFORD.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Modern Fusing

It all started with a free(!) day to play and a pile of scraps I have been collecting for a while. I call this quilt "Modern Fusing."
I started cutting little leaves out of the leftover scraps I had after making my hand-dyed fabric packs for Houston this year.   They were already fused so why not make leaves? I had no ideas on how or where I would use them, but they were so cute and so easy and mindless to make.  Let's just call this therapy!  So I stuffed then into a plastic bag and would add to them with each new color I dyed and fused. Well, the next thing I know, I have piles of these little leaves in different values of green.

Here, I've separated them by values and started to play with them on a white piece of fabric. White will always make your colors POP!
I stared with the darkest green values and worked outward to the lightest green which was a robin's egg blue.  They took on a pattern of their own as I worked.  It's kind of a leaf flower. 

I always take pictures of the messes I make when being creative. I don't know why but I like looking at controlled chaos.

 Now for the pressing of my quilt top.
Now the fun part, quilting!  I layered the quilt top with batting and a white backing fabric and put green Sulky Variegated Blendable thread in the bobbin and on top of my BERNINA 750.
I free-motion quilted veins in the little leaves and did a simple echo stitch on the background, still using the variegated green thread.

I found this robin’s egg blue stripe for the binding in my stash . This is why I LOVE my fabric stash - I think the stripe gives the quilt a fresh look.
Keeping with the theme of Modern Fusing, I folded the binding to the back and placed a ¼ inch strip of Steam-a-Seam 2 (which is back and better than ever) on the edge of the binding and fused the binding down to the back of my quilt.  

Can I get a shout out from the crowd?
Then I added this twisted piping to the edge of the binding. I have been making this braided, or twist, cording using the leftover strips from my hand-dyed fabrics.  I'll show you how to make this in the next blog.
I played around with different presser feet to find the right foot for couching this twist down. That was tricky but with the right presser foot BERNINA # 20C it was a breeze. The open foot held the piping up against the binding.  The needle would catch one side of the twist up against the binding edge.  As I sewed I was also caughting the back of the fused binding. 

 I added seed beads to the leave for a little bling. 

 Here you go, my Modern Fusing wall hanging.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I have some new patterns coming out in the New Year! This is creatively called...wait for it... DOGWOOD!  I have been mulling over  this class idea for some time - I'll be using a white flower to show how to use values of white fabric in your art work. 
After I got the first flower done and placed it on the dark background fabric I could see the dark fabrics showing through and dulling the pure white fabric color that I am trying to keep REALLY white. 

The solution was to  flip over the flower and add another layer of pure white fabric to the back of the flower, but only in certain places. Then I could purposely use the shadowing in other places as another shade of white.  
So far I am up to 19 fabrics for this flower and as soon as Christmas is over I will be back in the dye studio figuring out how to dye 19 shades of white or light fabrics.

Unfortunately, right now the dye studio is full of suitcases, Christmas decorations, and patio furniture because it has been raining for the last 3 weeks.
19 white or light fabrics means light threads. Oh, and I love my #BERNINA 750 QE.  It sews through the layers of fusible web like butter.
style="box-shadow: 3px 3px 3px #88800;" Now to the computer to write all this down.  The pattern should be ready by the end of January. I will be teaching this pattern for the first time at AQS in Paducah, Kentucky in April.  See you there!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Product Testing

I was so excited to receive a surprise package from the Pellon Company full of EZ-Steam ll and EZ-Steam ll Lite.  I had talked to their VP of marketing about the problems my students where having with their fusible web but I had no idea they were working on improving their EZ-Steam ll. 

So I ran to my studio with the boxes under my arm and started to play around with this NEW fusible web. I also plugged in my video camera and started filming the results of the testing. The video below shows the results I found for the EZ-Steam ll. The best thing is that I am using it totally differently than they intended it to be used and it works great for my technique.
EZ Steam ll
So what?  some may ask. Well, you may not want to follow my blog if you’re going to have that attitude!

My livelihood has been in a tailspin since the product I used for the last 12 years went off the market to be reworked. That was almost 2 years ago.  It was Steam-A-Seam 2 and I loved it.  I am sure it has been a bigger nightmare for the Warn Company.

So I have been scrambling for 2 years to have some kind of fusible web for my students.  I buy about 3,000 yards of fusible in a  year.  Yes, I said 3,000 yards.  This is why it’s been a big deal to me.

                                                                   EZ Steam ll Lite

 Just this year, 2014, I will have taught about 36 classes and events over 10 months (I take 2 months off for good behavior).  Each class has an average of 15-25 students, so let’s say 20 students in each class.  4 of those where 4 -5 day retreats.  So if all the students just bought one yard that would be 720 yards of fusible web.  But that is not what happens, they buy from 4 -6 yards each.  That comes out to about 3,600 yards of fusible web that I need to teach my classes for one year.  So how much do you think one quilt shop would sell in a year?  Maybe 4 rolls at 25 yards each or 100 yards.  Can you see why I have been freaking out for the last 2 years? 

I recently saw a post on Facebook that made me mad!  This person thought the argument of Misty Fuse versus Steam a Seam 2 was like the fighting between the Democrats and the Republicans.  I think this person is not very educated on the matter.
There is no controversy!  Both products are good but are used in different ways for different techniques.  Did you get that? 
Hopefully these videos will help you make the right choice in the future. 

Yes, I do know that Steam-A-Seam 2 is coming back. I have ordered 4 bolts and I look forward to testing their new product and blogging what I find but I haven't seen it yet.

In the meantime I am very happy to say that we now have a choice of fusible webs to try for My Technique

 Misty Fuse works best if you stitch around the edges of each and every piece of fabric. It does not like the heavy quilting I do and i don't stitch it down on the edges.  All fusible techniques are NOT the same.  
Please educate yourself on this before you comment. This really makes me mad. Learn what artists are doing with the fusible before you post that there is a controversy.                                                             
P.S. We are artist we are suppose to be doing things differently!

Monday, July 28, 2014

IQF Houston 2014

It's never too early to start getting ready for Houston. When I say Houston all quilters know that means, the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.
This will be my 7th year teaching at Festival. What an honor it is to be part of this amazing  faculty.  I'm teaching 6 classes this year which is the most I've ever done. Yes, I am crazy!

Quilt shop booths at the IQA Show.
I thought I would share with you, a little bit about each one of the classes.
Zinnia and Bluebonnets
First are the Zinnia and the Bluebonnet classes of course, are back. The flowers from these classes always turn out great no matter what skill level you're at. Which I had no idea when I designed these quilts. The photo above was sent to me by an ingenious student who took both classes last year and incorporated the Bluebonnet and the Zinnia in 1 quilt. It always amazes me how creative my students are. Which makes teaching so much fun.
The Bluebonnet has always been a fun class. There's so many different ways that you can customize this pattern.  It is turned out really great. I will be hand dying fabric kits for all these classes.
Making the Bluebonnet.

Bluebonnet and Indian Paintbrush
 I have remade the Indian paint brush pattern to coordinate with the Bluebonnet pattern. this is a separate pattern you can purchase to go with the bluebonnet.
I thought that some of my students that have taken both of these classes in the passed, would  like to try something new. So this year were doing the Clematis flower. Which can be done in many colors, not just purple. So I'm hand dying fabric packs for this class in at least 3 different color ways. I cannot wait to see how these flowers turn out. They hopefully will be beautiful. At least in my head they are.
Then like this isn't enough.  I have 3 Renegade Thread Play class. Yes, I said 3! What was I thinking!
This is going to be great because all 3 classes will be in the BERNINA  room. Which is my favorite sewing machine.  In this class we will go through all the techniques you need to know, to finish your flower quilts. Then all the students will receive in their kit my Fresh Picked Pansy pattern to try out these new techniques on a flower. We will only make 1 or 2 pansy flowers to practice on and then they can make the whole quilt at home.
Fresh Picked Pansy's
Hope to see you in one of my classes. If you have any question about the class supply list, please email me at: melbula@comcast.net and hopefully I can answer your questions. If you can't get in the class, I'm sorry ahead of time.  But I have no control over that process. 
You can always invite me to your guild and we can make beautiful flowers there also. 
See you soon!