Friday, August 24, 2012

Best Christmas Quilts 2012 BlogTour

I'm so excited to be participating in the blog tour for my "Christmas Critters" quilt in the new issue of Best Christmas Quilts 2012 by Quilters Newsletter! I met the editor in Houston last fall, where she fell in love with my "Cuddle Buddies Quilt" and invited me to design a Christmas quilt for their awesome magazine, of course I was thrilled. I've kept the basic design very easy, and I used Woolfelt for the critter applique and orange peels for simplicity, no need to fuse or turn under raw edges, as it doesn't ravel. Do be sure to pre-shrink your fabrics, and especially the Woolfelt, it will add a wonderful texture to it and it does shrink just a bit when it goes in the dryer. (I allowed for shrinkage in my yardage in the materials list.) I've used some basic hand-embroidery stitches on my sample: blanket-stitch around the critters, a pretty decorative herringbone stitch around the orange peels, stem-stitch for the reindeer antlers. All of these can be done by machine too if you prefer, I just like to do hand-work.

I chose animals that would have a special meaning for Christmas: of course the rein-deer at upper left, giving Santa a ride to all the good little boys and girls; the polar bear bringing to mind the North Pole where we all know Santa lives; what would Christmas be without the lamb, and every little boy and girl needs a Christmas puppy frolicking around! The 4-patch blocks reminded me of presents, so I added a little bow to the center of each one. If you're making this cuddle quilt for a small one, I would recommend not to use buttons; instead you can fuse or stitch penny-circles on the Christmas tree and at the corners. Ditto for beads, I would use French knots instead, and instructions and diagrams are included in the magazine for doing all the decorative stitches. I also had a thought as I was looking at the magazine photo: wouldn't it be cute to use chenille or minkee fabric on those outer borders? And so soft and cuddly for your little one, too. If you don't have a young one at home, this would also make a great wall hanging as well. My sample was quilted in a Christmas motif by Judy Whitehead, more info on Judy's beautiful work at

If you'd like to see more of my patterns including my inspiration quilt #150 "Cuddle Buddies Quilt & Accessories", please visit the Patterns page of my web-site Hard to believe, we are celebrating 22 years in the business this year! Lots of patterns and magazine projects have been designed over the years, and we're still going strong! I also have the Woolfelt kit for the critter appliques and green orange peels for this "Christmas Critters" quilt.

And most important: if you'd like to be entered in the blog tour drawing, please leave a comment on this blog post before 11:59 MDT tonight, August 24, for a chance to win this "Hugs and Holly" fabric bundle by Red Rooster Fabrics and a copy of Best Christmas Quilts. Be sure to include your email address in your comment so we will know how to get in touch with you. I will draw one name at random. One comment per person, please. Open to those who haven't won something from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days. Good luck, and happy sewing!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sawtooth Strappy Bag Class

Not long ago I was honored to be invited to teach at the Sawtooth School of Visual Art in Winston-Salem, what an incredible venue this school is! This historic brick building used to be a mill, and its architecture has the unique "sawtooth" roof that lends it's name to the school. Located in downtown Winston, the building is actually right across the street from where my grandfather had a Texaco gas station years ago. I have such fond memories of downtown Winston: visiting my grandpa at the service station, often we would stop by the local Woolworth's and shop, maybe having lunch at the little diner there. We always did my back-to-school shopping downtown too, as this was before the mall was built; I guess I loved clothes even then, and enjoyed going with my mom to the local dept stores to pick out some new things for the upcoming school year..boy how things have changed! Now downtown Winston on Trade St. is a veritable art mecca full of galleries and artsy boutiques, no surprise though; Winston has always been  full of artistic talent, and can even boast having the very first arts council in the entire country! Oh, in case you haven't guessed by now, Winston-Salem is actually my hometown and holds a very special place in my heart, I guess it always will.

At any rate, the Sawtooth School is an awesome place for classes, offering a range from photoshop to painting, ceramics, drawing, fiber art, pretty much anything you want! This particular Saturday I taught my "Strappy Shoulder Bag", wet-felted of hand-dyed wool fibers along with a collage of other fibers such as silk, curly locks, lace, wool nepps, some Angelina fibers for a bit of bling, and whatever else we might have on hand to throw in the mix. We had a grand time felting and rolling, and the girls made some gorgeous and very usable bags; 2 of the girls even chose the same wine-colored fiber kits, still their bags turned out very different. All in all a very enjoyable day with these wonderful gals, I look forward to teaching at Sawtooth again! If you're ever in the neighborhood, do stop into their shop, lots of wonderfully artsy goodies for sale there, including some of my own hand-felted jewelry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Fiber Retreat 2012

Twice a year I head to the artsy town of Asheville to teach fiber art at a retreat hosted by the Friends & Fiberworks yarn shop at Biltmore Square Mall. I always feel like I'm going on a vacation instead of working, we have such a great time networking with other fiber-lovers! It's getting to be like family as we see lots of folks coming back every year to learn more skills and have fun in the mountains too. There are lots of class choices, knittting, crochet, spinning, weaving, drum-carding, and of course my fave felting! This year I taught classes in nuno-felting, where we start with a hand-dyed silk chiffon scarf and add wool fibers and other goodies to make a one-of-a-kind wearable art scarf; dimensional wet-felted wooly flower brooches; and my needle-felt cloak with a majestic swirling tree needle-felted onto the back of a wool coat, jacket, cape or wrap.

We have our classes in some of the shops that are in between renters, and I am so blessed as to have a room for my classes the entire weekend! This year though, my room happened to be in a former Spencer's shop. Now, I don't know if you're familiar with Spencer's, but they have lots of neat stuff, black lights and such, but not a lot of lighting, and that enhances their look. However, not great for creative uses! So I was able to move my actual classes out into the center of the mall right underneath the skylights, it was wonderful! We had so much space and lots of natural light, and also got to visit with folks walking around the mall, too. One of the neatest things were the trees; they have real small trees growing in the middle of the mall, and at Christmas, they decorate them with lights. So there are electrical outlets near the trees. When we had our needle-felt cloak class, we set up my felting machine near one of these outlets...first time I've ever had a class needle-felting under a tree! All my students made such amazing felted art, and I am so proud of each and every one, I know they're enjoying showing off their treasured work!

And Saturday night worked out to be Girls' Night Out! Here I am at a restaurant across the street from the retreat hangin' out with (l-r) my awesome roomie Suzanne ( who is a fabulous felter and dyer), Lisa the owner of Friends & Fiberworks, Pat who makes beautiful hats, earrings, scarves and you name it she does it, me of course, Kim a creative soul who has a passion for our feathered friends, and Angie who teaches and also raises alpacas. I always look forward to seeing my friends at these gatherings, and to making new ones too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Felted Jewelry

Thought you might like to see some of the wool geode pins and felted jewelry I have made, I did these for the Sawtooth School of Visual Art shop in Winston-Salem. This is what the wool geode looks like on the inside, you can use the bottom for a pincushion (your pins and needles will love the natural lanolin of the wool!) and use the slice off the top for a pin or to add some color to a purse, hat, or other creation. The flowers are wet-felted as well, as are the wool bead earrings and rings.

Raleigh Classes

Here's some photos from our Wool Geode classes at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Raleigh, my daughter Maxi came with me on Saturday and helped in the booth while I taught, what a great time we had! She modeled my little top hat from my "Fascinator Fun" pattern and dressed the part for the day in a steam-punk style, everyone at the show just loved her look and youthful energy. I had to snap a pic with her just as we got to the convention center, the quilters had decked out the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in a quilt and garters to celebrate the show, that had to be a first for him!

The Wool Geode classes were so much fun too, it's always hard to photograph their work, as the geodes have to be cut after they dry, usually after the students get home. But one of my students did come back the next day, and as I had brought my cutting utensil, we went ahead and cut hers right there in the booth, it turned out gorgeous! These make great pincushions and the students can use the slice off the top to make a brooch to wear or embellish a hat or purse. All in all it was a fantastic show, made even better because I got to visit with my daughter too. Had to get a pic of the awesome cobb salad she made one night complete with grilled chicken and bacon, fresh avacado, and fresh slices of mango, yum!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo - Raleigh

What an exciting show the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Raleigh turned out to be! I was so blessed, I was able to stay with my daughter Maxi for the duration of the show, and she totally spoiled me with home-cooked healthy meals and lively company every evening...and even a little shopping too. She and her friend Sharon even helped me during the show, with Sharon lending her very talented touches to the booth set-up and helping in the booth the first day, and Maxi helping the last day and with the booth break-down...not the fun part. But they did such a wonderful job, they were willing models for my new "Fascinator Fun" hat, and Sharon even got to be a part in a videotape made by the show staff, lucky girl!

I love to teach, and was thrilled to be invited to teach 3 classes at this show. The first one was a zipper flower brooch class, and I put together kits of all colors of metal-teeth zippers for the students. Did you know you can dye vintage metal-teeth zippers? I used Rit dye to over-dye some of the zippers in my kits, even the metal teeth and zipper pulls dyed! I just dyed them like you would dye any fabric, keeping in mind if you start with one color, that will affect the finished hue. For example, I had a lot of yellow zippers; I over-dyed some of them in a very diluted dye-bath of royal blue, and voila! A beautiful shade of chartreuse. Ditto for some old grungy gold zippers, I over-dyed them in dark brown to get a nice chocolate brown for sunflower centers etc. The girls really did a beautiful job stitching up their zipper flower brooches, each one turned out different and truly a show-stopper!

Flower Class at The Fibre Studio

What a wonderfully cozy class we had making our Wild Wooly Flowers at The Fibre Studio in Charlotte! I always love teaching here, the shop is so inspiring with all the beautiful colors of fibres and yarn, and the classroom set-up is a teacher's dream. Nice high tables we don't have to break our back to felt on, hot water right in the same room, good lighting, and Debbie, the owner, even provided our morning Keurig coffee, yum! Both these talented gals had taken my nuno-felted scarf class, and it was a joy to share the day with them making these gorgeous flowers to wear with their scarf, purse, hat, or just to enhance their home. They really did a phenomenal job felting them as you can see, love the colors they chose, and their layouts were spectacular! I know they'll enjoy their felted flowers for years to come.