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: 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!

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 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.

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.