Saturday, November 19, 2022
Fixing White Poinsette Pattern
Thursday, September 29, 2022
New Studio Space
It is so important to have yet so hard to figure out the perfect studio space. I started quilting professionally in 2005, and my sewing/studio room was 11' X 11'. Surprisingly, I made my first 3 award-winning quilts in that space. That same house was locally notorious as The Yellow House in our town of El Dorado Hills. Later, when Matt went to college, I took over the bonus room above the three-car garage, about 550 square feet with 2 design walls and a trundle bed for guests. Even though the space was big I still had to organize the space wisely, but it was a dream space. We lived there for over 20 years. I used that space for about 14 of the 20 years.
|The Yellow House studio|
The next studio was in our Paradise house. It was a vaulted-ceiling loft room, again above our 3-car garage with no straight walls - they all vaulted after 4 feet. It was going to be tricky to decide where to put the design wall BUT this space had views from every window AND perfect light. I started out designing the space to get maximum use out of the area. Sadly, I never got to implement that design because 13 months after we moved in, on November 11, 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed 95% of the town of Paradise, including our home.
|View from the Paradise studio|
|When we first moved into the new Bakersfield house|
Now to the new space in this new house that we call my studio. I started with just the basics. A folding table and chair. I was getting over the loss of my house and all my belongings, and I was very scared to make a new space. It was a fear of losing it all again. That fear can paralyze you if you let it. I soon learned this is not what God wants for my life, so we are moving on. What a gift it is to be able to have a room just for creating and making things. Then to be able to call it MY studio. I realized I'm living the dream that I had as a little girl. - don't let a fire take your light.
I have spent hours looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for studio inspirations. Most of the rooms are designed stylishly with wallpaper and painted in beautiful colors like no one has ever worked on a project in that room, EVER. We all know those images are not true studios. So, I read most of the studio design books by quilters and even non-quilters. Well, really, I mostly looked at the pictures. They were all saying, when it comes down to it, you need to start with a measuring tape, ruler, pencil, and graph paper, and consider what the purpose of the space is right now.
|New studio layout|
My new space is 16 ' x 18'. Not that big for a pattern design business and an art studio. Yes, I am also taking over another adjoining room, but I am very happy with how this is working out. Plus, because of the fire, I have pared down, a lot! Maybe a little too much.
And now I can shop for just me, which is fun. Joe made a comment the other day about how I get all the deliveries. So, I let him have one that had just arrived - it was our new broom and mop. See, I'm a giver.Here are some fun pictures of what I/we have done so far in the studio and some cool storage finds I wanted to share with you. And, like all wonderful things, your studio design is always in the process of development. New tools, and new ideas, can change the shape of your space over time. Who knows, I might find a great wallpaper out there that I can't live without. You do not want to see Joe's face when I ask him to help me move those bookcases again. studio supplies I purchased on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/1KRR3GJIU2T9J?ref_=wl_share
Thursday, August 18, 2022
Dos and Don’ts When Choosing Fabrics for Your Flower Art Quilt
I’m writing this blog because I know many new-be quilters out there may need some guidance when choosing fabrics for a specific project. Specifically, one of my flower patterns or a landscaped, something that you want to give a realist/painterly look. It matters what kind of fabric you use. I’m going to speak specifically about my technique and using my flower patterns, but the concept works across the board. You can’t use any run-of-the-mill quilters stash for making these art quilts. So, what is my technique? I’m painting a painting using use fabrics. So, when you buy my patterns, you are to?
Batik fabrics were designed back in the day (thank you, Hoffman, of California); I had the idea of using them like paint because they had this watercolor feel, and I thought they would look like a painting. It is dyed in such a way to give a multi-colored and value feel like you look like it was painted, and they did, and they still do. Most realistic quilt artists use batiks and hand-dyed textures, even tone-on tones, to get that look.
First DON’T. Don’t use solid fabrics when you want a painterly look in your flower quilts. It doesn’t work. It gives a very flat look with no dimension. Now, if that’s what you want? Go for it. But my patterns were designed, and the pieces are layered to give a watercolor look by using the right kind of fabrics with fabrics. We want the viewer to come up close and say,” did they paint that?”
Now for all the solid fabric designers out there, I love your fabrics and the colors. I buy them. They are beautiful. But not for making my realistic flower or landscape quilt.
Use the color chart in the pattern as a color and value reference. Look at how the colors relate to each other.” Is this one darker or lighter than the one on top?
Do you have value in your fabrics? The range of lights to darks is so essential. Remember, dark colors reseed, and light colors come towards you, just like painting a still life. And my flower patterns are a “still life.” The value rules change when doing landscapes. We will talk about that at another time.
Don’t skip making the color chart in every pattern. The pattern instructed you to make the color chart in your chosen colors first. Please do it! It’s a visual reference guide to help as you build your flower. Very important.
I hope this helps you when making your flower quilts. I have been working on turning some of my patterns into digital downloads, but I worry you will use the wrong fabrics.
I use batiks and hand-dyed fabrics to make my quits look like a painting without using paint. This is my secret for achieving that look.
When I had a student bring their own fabrics to class, only 1% understood what to bring to class. But 99% of the students brought the wrong fabrics and went home unsuccessful. Not good. When I started making kits for the classes, all were successful, and learned how to make a flower look real by using the right fabrics. They discovered that fabric is now a painting tool.
Check out my video above for more fabric information.
Remember being a quilter require us to have many kinds of fabrics.
Monday, April 18, 2022
Empty Spools Retreat 2023
I'm excited to announce that I will be teaching at Empty Spools next year. I have had a lot of inquiries for classes and retreats, so here is your chance. I'm taking this year off from traveling and teaching except for a few local quilt guilds because of COVID and family and personal health issues. So, if you're looking for classes from me, you will have to wait until 2023 (unless you're a member of one of this year's guilds). I do have some YouTube classes, but in-person is so much better.
|Waratah: Commercial fabrics, batiks, and hand-dyes .|
|Camellia: Photo above and quilt below - hand-dyed and batik fabrics|
I started to rebuild my stash and then COVID-19 hit and shops closed down. Not having a fabric stash has changed how I work, think,and create. So, last week, I broke down and started using paints. I know! I'm working on a hydrangea quilt (my second try) and I just don't have the fabric stash to make it work. I will be posting my progress on the hydrangea and, so far, it is coming along nicely thanks to the paint. And yes, it is easier with paint and I am learning a new technique to implement with my old technique. So sign up for my Empty Spools Seminar workshop and I will be sending you a new supply list that will go along with the one on the retreat website. You can email me when any questions and I will share with you all my tips, tricks, and insights for using fabric, fusible web, and paint. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
How to use a scan and cut machine with a Melinda Bula Designs pattern
Today is the day! After 5 years of researching and playing around and a lot of trial and error, I have figured out how to use my cutting machine to cut out one of my patterns. Big deal, you say. Well, if you have ever taken a class with me, you know there is a lot of cutting with scissors around sometimes very tiny pieces to make one of my flower quilts. I love to cut but I also love to make flowers fast.
Over the years at quilt festivals, I have watched many demonstrations at the Brother booth on how to use their cutting machines but I just could not figure it out, until my house burnt down and COVID-19 hit and I finally had time to focus. So, I bought the machine with the intention of scrapbooking but started experimenting with fabrics in the machine right away. Oh, the messes I made.
Yes, you could always use your cutting machine before with fabrics but not with Steam A Seam 2. All my art quilts and patterns are made using my preferred fusible web, Steam a Seam 2 and, before you start an email to me, yes, I have tried them all and continue to experiment with new fusibles. Then I go back to S-A-S 2.
So that is what I did. I have no idea if you will like these or use them but they are so fun and fast and now I am addicted to the process.
The NEW Rose is the first pattern that comes with the scanning sheets OR as a regular pattern. The YouTube class here on the blog is also for using the regular New Rose Pattern. If want to skip ahead in the video to the flower building part of the class, at about the 35 minute mark, go for it. Please let me know if you have questions - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For patterns and supplies got to Etsy.com/shop/MelindaBulaDesigns or click on the SHOP button on the top bar of this blog.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Keys to Successful Renegade Thread Play
|Clematis Flower Pattern and Kits|
The Keys to successful Renegade Thread Play are to have a few of the right tools and follow your cut fused piece on each petal. All the work you did of cutting out those little strips and wedges or vines in the petals are your hit lines for how to curve your thread when quilting.
1. Do not go fast. Medium fast is great.
2. Having something on you hand is a must for better control. Aka, Gloves. It really makes for better stitches.
4. Heat is your friend when sewing through Steam-A-Seam 2. Warm up the area that you are about to quilt with your hot DRY iron. Steam will make your quilt wet. You can't quilt through a wet quilt. The heat melts and softens the fusible web. This makes its easy to sew through. This only works with Steam A Seam 2. That is why I use it. You can iron it over and over. Not all fusible can take over ironing.
5. Lower your top thread tension. I wish I could give you a magical number, but every sewing machine has its own number, and that number can change from day to day. Depending on how moody your machine is. The manufactures number for regular domestic sewing is around 4, 5. But when doing free motion quilting you are pulling and tugging on the fabric under the needle which means you need the tension to be looser than normal. You need to have the tension at a lower number like 3, 2, or 1. I move the number down a little at a time, always looking at the front and back of my stitches, to see if I have equal tension on both sides.
6. I am using Rayon thread to do Renegade Thread Play. I love this thread because of it shine and comes in vibrant colors. Rayon is very delicate and can break or fray very easily if you do not know how to handle it. I coat every spool of rayon thread before I thread my machine and after I wind my bobbin with Sewers Aid. Its a lubricate that keeps the thread from being nicked or frayed while moving through the sewing machine and needle. I squeeze 3 to 4 lines of sewers aid a crossed the spool, length wise and squish it in.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Nasturtium Class Video "How to Use Ombre Fabric's in A Flower Quilt."
If you would like a pattern or a complete fabric and pattern kit, go to Etsy.com/shop/MelindaBulaDesigns
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
NEW Nasturtium Pattern and Class
It's mind-blowing to me how many businesses have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and those of us in the quilting, sewing, and fabric industries have not escaped the pain. Fortunately, the quilting business is made up of creative minds and that ingenuity, along with some tricky tap dancing, has kept most folks upright and moving forward. I don’t know about you, but when I'm given a challenge, and I've faced several big ones in my life, I need to overcome and conquer. That does not mean I don’t have a good cry or get really mad - I do. But I eventually put the self-pity aside and find a creative solution to move forward.
My creative solution was to make some How To tutorial videos of a few of my patterns, like a recorded class, then post them to my YouTube channel. I was pleased (and a little surprised) to see how many quilters watched them, proving that even in this crazy time, you still love to be creative, too. Sales through my Etsy shop have been a genuinely nice surprise. THANK YOU. I love making videos - everything about it, from editing to lighting to adding graphics, even picking the right music, I love it all. It is just the spelling I have trouble with but thank God I married a great speller.
I also love to design NEW patterns for you to make and enjoy the creative process so, when I was asked by international quilting icon American Quilters Society to be part of a new project using a new pattern I designed, I jumped at the chance. It's called QuiltCLASS@Home and my new teaching video will be part of their lineup. So, while we wait for the traditional venues to come back, and they will, we can continue to support the teachers, designers, and industry we all love by taking classes and visiting quilt shows online. I think it’s a great idea.
For information about my NEW class with AQS and to sign up, click HERE. The class will be through a private Facebook group.
Then order your pattern from my Etsy Shop. You can get a complete pattern and fabric kit or you can get a downloadable version of the same pattern and use your own fabrics. The downloadable pattern also has a color chart to help you find the right colors from your own stash.
In the class I demonstrate how I used Ombre batik fabrics in this quilt - the process is incredibly fun.
- The Ombre fabrics I use (and sell) are from Hoffman of Californian and Robert Kauffman. The complete kit, pattern and fabrics is $75. Background fabric is included.
- Digital pattern is $12 - use a color printer when printing - all pages are letter size.
- Traditional pattern through my shop is $20.
Hope this helps.
If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com.
Friday, November 27, 2020
Texas Wildflower Class Starts Today
If you have any questions you can contact me on my Etsy shop or message me on FB. But I would watch the whole video be for you write because I cover a lot. Enjoy! firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Texas Wildflower Quilt
New class is coming Saturday November 28. That just means that I will post the class on that date but you can watch it any time you want. You can always watch my classes here on my blog or on my YouTube channel. This is a free class about 2 1/2 hours long. I have broken it up into 2 parts, the second part will post on Saturday Dec 5, and covers how to thread play this quilt.
I thought you may want to know the history of this quilt. It was originally made for an auction that The Quilt Show had to raise money for a special quilter Libby Lehman who had a stroke plus other complication. If you don't know who Libby is you need to google her. She is a true Quilt Star. And helped paved the way for many quilters including myself.
The below video is my process of making the auction quilt back in 2014. I hand dyed most of the fabric for this quilt. After I watch video I wish I had some more of that background fabric. I love that print.
Later when making this pattern I had to simplified the number of fabrics in the quilt. I originally had 60 different colors of fabrics, which is not good for a pattern for the public. Now it has 20 and you can always add more.
I also found this beautiful song by Oran. It's call Every Flower. So appropriate don't you think?
If you would like to make this quilt you can find all the supplies on my Etsy shop. There is a Shop Botton above on the tab bar. I have patterns, kits that included fabrics and the pattern, yards of Steam-A-Seam 2 which is the fusible web I use and thread packs for the Texas Wildflower.
I hope you get inspired by this video and want to make your own Wildflower Quilt. You don't have to use Texas in the name. If you are from Illinois you can call it the Illinois Wildflower. It's all ok with me. But Libby is a Texan and I'm a Californian and we can all be wildflowers. Hope to see you back here for class on Saturday Nov 28.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Refresher Course's- How to work with and deal with Steam-A-Seam 2
Video's at at the bottom. So you will read the post!
I get asked a lot of question about how I do what I do, why I use Steam-A-Seam 2 and how to handle the sticky that comes with this product. I thought I’d answer those question by doing a few videos. They will also be posted here on my blog so you can come back anytime and watch your favorites. They will also be on YouTube under Melinda Bula if I do all this tech-y stuff this right!
Saturday, September 5, 2020
Is It Orange or Is It Yellow?
Video is at the bottom of this post.
I am not sure if this is an orange or yellow dahlia. But oh, I love them so much. There are some beautiful dahlias on show at certain times of the year at the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens. I was in heaven. This is one of the pictures I took and started when I got home. Could not wait to make it into an art quilt. I did a video of the process of making this flower. I am also showing you the steps I take to make my art quilts. I also was using my Color Finder tool I invented for my students when I do a week long retreat. It helps them find the right value and color in their photo. I have a retreat coming up in February 21-26, 2021. I so hope we get to go. It is with Empty Spools Seminars in beautiful Pacific Grove, California. I love being there and teaching students that have never done art quilts on how to do it. Or encourage the creative person that just needs a gentle push with a few tips and tricks thrown in for good measure. Check out their web site if you are interested.
But the sad thing is I did not get to finish this beautiful flower quilt. I got busy teaching and traveling. Then we moved but I was still longing to get back to it right a way. Then we had this fire……
You guess it. Its gone. But I still have the photo and my love for this picture and the colors has now intensified. And now I have time. So, this is a video of how I do my flower art quilts. I call them paintings with out using any paint. All my quilts are made with just fabric and then thread. There is no paint. I hope you enjoy.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
3 ZINNIA Quilt-Class #2
It is so exciting to get this NEW 3 Zinnia quilt done. I hope this class will help you through the process of making this spectacular flower quilt.
I give a lot of tips and tricks to handling 3 flowers at once that will help even if you are only making one flower. I have put some chapter time stamps on this video so you can easily find something you want to review again or if you want to skip ahead.
9:08 Numbering Your Petals
10:40 Layering the Centers
13:48 Arranging the Centers
20:53 Changing My Mind
24:09 Adding Layer #2
30:45 The Shadow Layer – Color D, E, F, G and H
34:00 Let's Press
36:03 Auditioning Background Fabrics
39:11 Free-Cutting Leaves
45:35 Arranging the Leaves
Friday, July 10, 2020
3 Zinnia: Class #1
The history of making the 3 Zinnia quilt starts several years ago with me dying fabrics for my upcoming classes at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I had seen past students having trouble with color and values and I thought that if I could make kits, they would all be successful and that is all a good instructor wants - for their students to be successful. So I became a dyeing machine. Morning, noon, and night, I was in the dying studio (the garage) working on perfecting my colors. It was a lot of hard work but it paid off. Then, fear set in and I panicked - what if these colors suck together. I decided I'd better make some flowers and be sure the colors worked together. 100 of yards of fabric were already dyed, so I spent the remaining days before I left to teach this class making the 3 Zinnia quilt. Thank God it all worked out. That was back in 2005 and I kept it up for a few years but I had to stop dying because I couldn't keep up with the demand and still have a life. Luckily, I found that Hoffman of California has a Watercolor collection that looks just like my hand-dye fabrics. Okay, maybe better.
This class is about how to make the 3 Zinnia using one pattern in 3 different colorways. I’m not showing you how to fuse - you can go to (How I use Steam A Seam 2) or how to quilt - you can go to (Dogwood finishing class #5, Renegade Thread Play or iQuilt.com ) for all that. I will be showing you how to make 3 zinnias at once using one pattern.
If you have taken this class with me in the past and can find your pattern (and maybe an unfinished flower), this video will help you complete that project and make even more flowers, if you want. If you need more fabrics in other colorways to turn that single flower into a 3 Zinnia, I have fabric packs on my Etsy shop - look for Just Zinnia Fabric Packs - there are 4 colorways available.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Zinnias on Parade
What is a Saturday without a new video post from me? I made a new video called Zinnias on Parade - these are pictures from classes I've taught all over the country and at big shows. I thought you might like to see students' progress in a one day, 6-hour class. These beauties are in different stages of development and some of the fabrics used for these flowers were made from my hand-dyed fabrics (made in my garage) from back in the day. Some are the student’s own fabrics, too, and they are all beautiful no matter what fabric they used. One of my favorite zinnias in the video is the green one made by my friend, Pam Hough. I hadn't met her until this class and when she walked in with these green fabrics, I squealed with joy. I think I scared her at first but that's how I roll.
Now here is the reason for this blog. There are a lot of these zinnia flowers out there in the world and some of you have not finished yours. Don't worry, I'm not going to name names. I would just like to help you finish them since we are still in lock-down. OK, is it just me that’s still in lock-down? You never know these days. Anyways, lets finishes these zinnia quilts.