Sunday, December 22, 2019

First Christmas In The New House

It has been a different Christmas season here at the Bula home in Bakersfield. It’s a new house, new area and new weather. Warm and very nice. I did have to put on a sweater the other day it did drop to 40 overnights.   Problem with the new house is you must spend time figuring out where all the Christmas decorations will go in the new floor plan. It was quick and easy at the other homes.  OH, But I forgot, I have no decorations so you would think this will be easy. It’s not. 36 years of Christmas decorations (or as Joe calls it, "Christmas crap" all gone, all lost in the Camp Fire. Which I’m not really feeling that bad about losing.  Some of that Christmas “crap” needed to be burned.
I do look forward to the day when we hit a holiday or life’s milestone and not always be remind of what we lost in the fire. Looks like that may not happen for a few years. But we are so blessed.
It has been a different Christmas season here at the Bula home in Bakersfield. It’s a new house, new area and new weather. Warm and very nice. I did have to put on a sweater the other day it did drop to 40 overnights.   Problem with the new house is you must spend time figuring out where all the Christmas decorations will go in the new floor plan. It was quick and easy at the other homes.  OH, But I forgot, I have no decorations so you would think this will be easy. It’s not. 36 years of Christmas decorations (or as Joe calls it, "Christmas crap" all gone, all lost in the Camp Fire. Which I’m not really feeling that bad about losing.  Some of that Christmas “crap” needed to be burned.

I do look forward to the day when we hit a holiday or life’s milestone and not always be remind of what we lost in the fire. Looks like that may not happen for a few years. 
With the new house comes new stuff!  Which is what I’m focusing on. I wanted to share with you some of the new Christmas items I have found for our new life and house.
This neighborhood is very festive. More than 75% of the family have some sort of decor up on their homes. Some are very elegant, and few make you giggle. We have never been in such a Christmas-y neighborhood. I love it. I make Joe drive down every street to see the lights. He hates that. but doses it anyways. Everyone is in the spirit of the holiday. And of course, I want to keep up with Jones. but I don’t have any decorations and it will take some years of collecting to build back up our Christmas stash. Just like fabric. So, I did some research and found out you can rent lights and have them installed and taken down. WOW! How much can that be? Well its $1,200! I don’t think so.

So, I made some big red bows, there are YouTube videos show you how. The Magnolia Housewife was a great one. I bought some holly and lighted garlands (Amazon).  Some ornaments at Home Goods. love the Home Goods. I even have 2 cross stitch ornaments I made last year while driving 7 hours (one way) to visit Matthew and his family for the holidays. Now I can walk to his house. but I drive, its is 2 miles.

 I’ve also been looking to replace my Christmas china. Haven’t found anything that goes with my house which is blues and greens. But I follow a blogger Miss Mustard Seed and she posted about finding these vintage (1970) 12 Day of Christmas plate set on eBay. She too was having trouble with Christmas colors. I found them! Let the biding begin. So much fun. Then I needed a dinner plate or charger that would go with my new finds and I found a very classic Lenox pattern called Opal Innocence. I bought 8 dinner plates for now. I’m still looking for a silverware pattern. But the wine goblets on the table are the real find. Again eBay, I liked them because of their white snowy design and a gold rim that goes with the Lenox dinner plates. They are called, Arby's Winter Wineglasses. I did a little research on them and found out they were a giveaway gift in the 80's from Arby fast food restaurant. Buy a burger get a free glass. Too funny!  but they are perfect! 
So, when we are having that big dinner party (ha ha) and invited the president, please don't tell him the glasses are from Arby's!

But instead of mopping over what we lost. Which I can easily do. I’m focusing of the future and enjoying being able to make new memory. So, I made a video of the house to give you a peek of the Bula's simple Christmas time.

 Oh, and how can I forget the beautiful Nativity set I’m collecting by artist Patrice’sBrewster. Love collecting. Because this is the real reason why we are celebrating with family and friends, enjoy feasts of food and presents under the tree.  Its Christs our Savors birth. Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Joy of Piecing a Quilt!

I am having so much fun making quilts. Traditional quilts not art quilts. I been working hard and have taken some time off in Dec and Jan to just play in fabrics. Most of you know we lost everything in the Camp Fire that wiped out the town of Paradise California. Which mean for the last year I have had to replace a lot of personal possessions. One thing we are dearly missing is cuddle quilts. Which to me are the quilts you throw over the sofa and are there when you want to cuddle watching TV. And they should always go with the decor of your house. I was raised by an interiors decorator and that’s how we roll. Plus I now have a grandchild and you need quilts to cuddle your grandees in.

This first quilt I wanted to make was a kit I bought a month after the fire. My idea was to hand piece this. i lost all my sewing machines and I thought it would keep my mind busy while we where transitioning through all the fire trauma. I have to keep my hands busy or I’ll go crazy.
The kit was a pre-cut from #LaundryBasketQuilts. What a beauty. The quilt is called Alaska.  

I have not pieced a traditional quilt in at least  5 or more years and I was a little rusty. I spent a lot of time with my new favorite sewing tool “ the seam ripper”.  At one point I wondered how many time can you remove stitch from the same fabric and it still holds up. 4 if you want to know. I soon came to realization that I need to find my perfect scant 1/4”. Scant being the important part. My BERNINA 765 arrived and I adjusted my 1/4” and all was well with the world and my piecing. Just like riding a bike.

When Margot came over she really liked the quilt so I’m now making her a cuddle quilt. That will be in the next post. This has been so much fun.  Now to decide if I will quilt these myself or send it out?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Upcoming Retreat Feb 23-28 2020 Pacific Grove

Have you ever wanted to learn how I do this kind of art quilting? Or should I say painting? Actually, there is no paint used on any of my quilts to create these flowers - it's just luscious fabrics like batiks, hand-dyes and mono-colored prints . I have an independent study class February 23-28, 2020 at Empty Spools Seminars. February is a great time to visit the beautiful beaches in central California, so fly right into nearby Monterey and get out of the cold.

This quilt started out with a photo for inspiration. I took this photo in my backyard in El Dorado Hills, CA 4 years ago. I did a drawing, then a tracing and then the most important part, selecting my fabrics. I hand-dyed a lot fabrics for this Camellia. Batiks work great, too. Avoid solid fabrics - they don't work because they are too flat. Your fabrics can have little prints on them as that gives some great texture. The key, as always, is to have more fabrics than you think you will need.

Don't forget about the values in your fabrics. You will need the lightest lights to the darkest darks. Watch me select and arrange my fabric palette in this video.

At this retreat you may want to work on your Thread Painting. 
My quilting technique is called Renegade Thread Play because I had to invent a new way to quilt my flower quilts. I've been doing this a long time and back in the 90's it was pretty wild, if you can believe that. Traditional quilting did not work so I had to be a Renegade
The threads soften the bold fabric shapes and adds details like veins in the petals and leaves. It can also add more shading or accentuate the highlights on the edges of a petal.
It's another tool for adding more color and value to finish off your beautiful flower quilt.

 This is called Fresh As A Daisy. I am also showing you the back of the quilt and my thread painting.

And yes, I wind a lot of bobbins.

 I'll show you how to curve your threads as you quilt to give your flower that 3-dimensional look.  I'll also share a secret for how to sew through thick fusible web. 

 Let's say you want to relax, play with fabric, and enjoy the great venue without all the thinking that goes with creating from your own picture. Well, I have another option for you. I have many beautiful patterns you can choose from that will guide you through the complete process of creating a beautiful flower.  If this appeals to you, go to my site, and decide which pattern you want to do.  Let me know your choice and I will email you the supply list for the flower you want to make and you're ready to select fabrics for your visit to the beach. If you want, I can make up a fabric kit for the flower you select.

 I hope you will  join me this Feb 23-28 at Empty Spools Seminars . any question email me at,

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tips and Tricks Video

Let’s get educated. Iv spent the last month working on making some “how to”or Tips and Tricks videos on how I do my technique for making my Art. Or as some of you may call it Quilt Art or Art Quilting! Call whatever you want but I’m creating and making stuff so I call it, Art and I use my sewing machine so that quilting so we have Quilt Art!

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! 

Let’s talk about fusible webs first. There are many fusible webs on the market today. The last time I counted it was close to 20 and growing. Here what you need to Know! They are not the SAME and are used for different fusing and quilting techniques!   When your pattern or the instructor says to bring a certain kind of fusible web! Bring that fusible! That pattern and the instructors technique is based on that fusible web they are asking for. This is so important! all of us so called fusers are not doing the same thing! its like we are called Quilters but under our sewing machine we are all doing different quilting techniques. Right! Same with fusing.

 You can’t use just one fusible web for all these techniques.  Just like the threads we use today, you have to buy the right thread for the technique you are doing. We now have many choices and that may not be all good. Are you confused yet? 

In this blog and my first 2 videos  I’m just going to talk about the one I use. Steam-A- Seam 2. I have tried most of them. But come back to SAS2 for my technique. I’m always up for something new! They are all good products. But Fusing is not the same for every creative person out there. We are doing many different and unique techniques with fusible web. 
And don"t get mad at your quilt shop owner. They can't afford to carry all 20 fusible webs under the cutting tables. That is why  bring yards with me to classes when I teach. 
Every time you see a color change its another piece of fabric.
Ok, what’s my technique? I am laying or overlapping layers of fused fabric on top of each other just like you lay paint on top of other paint. That’s how I make my art quilt. Iv layered up to 6 layers and still been able to sew through it.  The threads i add when quilting are another layer of color added to the composition. Steam-A-Seam 2 allow me to do that. And of course I have developed some tips and tricks I want to share with you.
And I don’t use the Lite Steam-A-Seam (Tip)  It’s dose not stay adhered. When I’m trying to quilt my piece it lifts up off the fabric.   when peeling it off the release paper half of it stay on one paper and the other half is on the other release paper. Which makes my students panic and have a bad experience!
First #1 video is about how to put the fusible web on the fabric! There are tricks that make it easy to use.
Video #2 is how to deal with all the sticky and how to clean it off all your sewing tools. That means your scissors also. Did you know there are special scissors that work better with sticky fusible web?

Hope these videos will answer some of questions? You can leave questions below or on YouTube and I will try and answer them. Remember the video is just talking about my technique and using Steam-A-Seam 2.
NOTE: no company is asking me or paying me to do this. I just have a lot of experience with this fusible and watching 1,000's of students using it. I figure last year I bought about 2,000 yards of the sticky stuff for myself and student. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

And it began. The rebirth of my creative space, the studio! This is the room I value the most beside the kitchen. Not so much because I love to cook; I do, but I really like to eat more! 
The studio is my other right arm, a part of my body and extension of myself, I thought, and then it was all was destroyed, burnt to the ground, melted in the fire. It made me stop, take a deep breath and reflect on who I am as an artist. Everything is gone - what does that mean?  What would it mean for you?

If you’re like me, you can't stop making things or creating even when I have no paints, fabric, or tools of the trade. Then I realized that creativity has nothing to do with what is on your studio walls or in your drawers but what is in your head and heart.  It’s not stuff!  I feel a new freshness arising that can go any direction I want. I'm not tied to the past but still have all the sweet lessons I learned from each piece I created. So maybe this is more of a blessing than a loss - can a new direction be the ultimate creative gift?

So, I am looking forward to the future but first I need some tools to start my new journey. The first thing I needed and did not have was a pencil! Just a simple yellow # 2 pencil. l wanted to draw but all we had were pens from Holiday Inn Express. That just didn't do it for me. Another thing the fire does to you is make you value little things that you never valued before. Like the pencil. I have neglected how important this item is in my world.  As the young man expressed to me at the store counter, "Do people really still use pencils?"  I guess I'm not the only one who has taken the lowly pencil for granted. Happy to say I now have 10 pencils, very sharp and ready to go at a moment’s notice. I'm so happy.

I thought I would share the rebuilding of my studio and this crazy next phase of my creative life. You can survive without all that stuff but the pencil is still a much-needed tool.

And always get good insurance!
Studio Tour: This room is big enough to have my computer and sewing stuff all in the same room. Probably because I have no stash to store. We will see how this works in the future.

Right behind the computer table are my 2 IKEA tables that can be raised to 36" high if need be. The tall book shelves are also from IKEA. This side of the table is where I have been doing my cross stitches.
"Long and Winding Road" by Black Bird Designs. 

I just got a shipment of Hoffman of California batiks to make fabric kits for my classes, the web site and retreat. My new BERNINA 770 QE is on order! Can’t wait but in the meantime, I ordered a JUKI straight stitch machine off Amazon!  I also lost my previous JUKI in the fire. I had 8 sewing machines which included a Brother embroidery machine, Brother serger, 2 older BERNINAs and a BERNINA 750 QE.  Not to mention the Kenmore my sister and I used to make most of our clothes in high school. I kept all the machines together, when not in use, in my studio closet.  When we were finally able to see our melted property, I started digging around looking for anything left. I found 3 BERNINA knee lifts all in a pile and in pretty good condition. But no sewing machines.

My new large cutting table. It can also be raised and lowered. Got on Amazon. 2 sets of IKEA dressers that will hold future fabrics. The wall with the dog quilt will soon be a design wall.


I now have 2 rulers and a rotary cutter thanks to the great goodie bags teaches get when teaching at IQF.  
My first fabric where gifts from Paula Nadelstern and Kimberly Einmo. Thanks, girls!

And, to top it all off, the view!  It may not be the mountains with trees but will be a beautiful swimming pool. I look forward to the future.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wedding China!

This morning I was going through a list in my head of some possession I lost in the fire. I am trying not to do this because it makes me sad but I keep reminding myself that it’s only stuff and I really did want to downsize some of our stuff. We have accumulated a lot of stuff over 36 years of marriage but having the largest fire in California history doing it for you wasn’t the way I wanted to do it! I was thinking more like a garage sale.

So as I laid in bed this morning, thoughts went through my head.  Oh, my grandmother’s pretty pink flowered China that I inherited.  I know it was expensive and she didn’t have many expensive items. It was given to her by a wealthy church member from the years my grandfather and grandmother pastored a church in Portland, Oregon. This lady loved my grandmother so much!  It was back in the day when most pastors where on a very limited budget and grandmother loved to serve tea in it when the church ladies came over.

During my morning reminiscing this is what my sweet husband Joe is hearing from the other room.  “Oh my grandmother’s pink china!  And, oh, my wedding china!”  He calls back from the other room, “What about your vagina?”....  I said china!   “Good, because I’m pretty sure we’re not covered for vaginas!”

Back to reality, I safely landed, in a pool of laughter!

Have a blessed day! And, remember, it’s only stuff! 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Day Paradise Burned Down!

Here is our #CampFire story. I was Houston, TX teaching 6 classes at the International Quilt Festival. This is the largest quilt show in the world.  Joe was planning to meet me there, bringing more patterns and books and to help me sell stuff at the Saturday Samplers.  I think he was afraid I would lose all the money I’d made before I got home or trade it for magic beans!

Thursday morning, after packing his suitcase, he was watering my new dahlia garden when he saw dark clouds in the sky. His cell rang, it was our son, Matt, who lives in Bakersfield (7 hours away) saying, Dad, I just got an alert for Paradise -  you’re under mandatory evacuations!  Joe got no warning, very few got any warning alert.  Then the phone went dead. Matt thought Joe was dead when power went out and the call dropped.   Joe saw large ashes falling from the sky and it got really dark really fast.  He started grabbing stuff and throwing them in the back of his truck.

 Now the miraculous part of this story. Two weeks before the fire we where watching TV and had a conversation about what he would do if there was a fire here and I was out of town. What would you grab?  He remembered that conversation and grabbed the meds, cash, computers and hard drives, financial papers and then got my quilts and wearable arts.  Some were in the studio but the award-winning valuable ones where rolled and stored in a closet in the guest room. He then grabbed the photo albums. My hero!  He thought he had time for a sewing machine or 2 (I had 7) when he saw flames across the street on our side of the creek advancing toward our home.  He jumped in his truck and started to turn to go out towards a main road we always used when he saw 2 good old boys in their lifted 4WD trucks  (his angels) doing about 50 miles an hour coming the other way to take the back way out of our little development.  He figured they knew something he didn’t  so he turned and followed them out and down Pentz road to safety at the bottom of the mountain.  He said that when they where filing down the hill, the car in front of him had a personal plate that read, wait for it..,  “itl b ok”.  He said he reached for his phone to take a picture and fat-fingered the camera into selfie mode and only got a poor quality picture of himself.

We are now feeling very blessed that Joe was so protected.  Yes, I lost 7 sewing machines, all my fabrics and many other projects, paintings, and quilts but it’s only stuff and can all be replaced.  Good news is,  I don’t have any UFOs (that’s unfinished projects in the quilting world) so I guess I win the guild challenge!  We are not sure what we will do or where we will live in the long term but, as everyone has seen,.  Paradise is devastated.  It will take years to rebuild.  There was already a shortage of builders in Northern California from the Santa Rosa fire last fall and the fire this summer up in the Redding area.

Everything is gone but we have each other and a new sweet baby girl to focus on. We are so blessed.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress and I send my love to all of you who have offered houses, sewing machines, fabrics, and even to do our laundry!  Thank you!  Please keep praying for us and you may want to talk to your family about what to grab if you only had 15 minutes to evacuate. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Renegade Thread Play class

I know I haven't posted in a while. Oh you lucky people I'm back and ready to blog.
I just got back from a week teaching at Empty Spools Seminars session 2. I taught a new class this time. Renegade Thread Play it was a hit if I do say so myself.

They got so much done and went home feeling more confident about "how to" finishing those nagging projects that they where afraid of  completing.
Most of the students have taking one of my fusible classes either Beachscapes class of the Fusible Flower class.

  When they got home they either froze on how to finish it or when they get home they have to go back to work and wont have the time to quilt.
We started out with a practice piece where they were allowed the freedom to make mistakes while learning a new technique.It’s very easy for me to give them permission but harder for them to relax and know its OK to make ugly stitches while you are figure this out and no one is judging them. 
Then they went to my simple flower pattern the Sunflower. Its broad petal are perfect for quilting and using what they just learned.
Then when they felt ready they went to their unfinished projects and with my guidance. They made great progress.

These are some of the quilts they now know how to finish!

I once asked some very skilled and talented quilters this question. “Did you start out with great stitch right from the beginning? And they all said, “NO, we have closets full of ugly quilts.” 

 So my new mantra is, You have to make ugly stitches to get to the beautiful stitches!  
We all have crapy quilts in the closet only no one is telling! So I'm telling you! 

So after 5 days of non stop quilting these gals where changed and a lot better at quilting than when they arrived. 
Cant wait to teach this again.