Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Tree for the Birds

A beautiful dusting of snow appeared over Friday night. Yesterday was delightfully gray... a perfect studio day. After a foggy evening we awoke to bright blue sky and a sparkling coat of frost over everything. It is never boring here!

This week I worked on the new book and did a little holiday shopping, very little. I like to keep the holiday simple, especially after such a busy year. Handmade holidays are always best. Greg found a nice tree, as always, with room for ornaments to dangle. It looked like the perfect tree for birds to nest in. So I went to work making nests.

I went through my scraps and cut random squares of brightly colored fabrics. Then I piled them in loose stacks and free-motion quilted a big spiral in the middle of each one. After that I slashed them all around the edges and popped them into the washing machine.

Next I sent them through the drier twice to fray and tangle the flaps until a grand bouquet of nests emerged.

Melissa Peda made us a bunch of sassy birds for our Early Birds booth at Houston Market, so of course, they will warm all the new nests. After the birds are all settled in we will add the next layer of ornaments.

It's starting to feel like Christmas. Remember to take some time to stitch this week... and bake and wrap...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jack Frost Arrives

This week we had our first sprinkling of snow and the chill felt blistering. The scarves, hats, gloves and boots were put into service. I had many good work hours in the studio, but it has been hard to adjust to it getting dark so early.

For this weeks "show and tell" I'm keeping with the holiday color theme. Here are two purses made with the Pretty Perfect Pocket Purse pattern. This is the purse design that I use everyday. It's just big enough for everything I need. These are both featuring fabrics from the new Early Birds collection. Above is the Primrose Posy and the Poka Dots, both in the Strawberry colorway accented with yellow rick rack, red ball fringe and felt balls on the zipper pull. Both bags were made by my quilting buddy Juanita Whiting.

The extra little details make all the difference. The primroses have been free-motion quilted and there is hand stitching around the pocket and top band. She has also enhanced the black fabric with a simple, but very effective, machine embroidery stitch done on the "to die for" Bernina 830. The back of the bag is also black and covered with the same embroidery.

This pattern is fun because the front panel is like a little quilt that you can embellish any way you'd like.
This version uses Prairie Poppy with gentle echo quilting with top-stitching thread. The pocket lining is made with the lime Curlicue design. Ball fringe adds to it's optimistic attitude.

This time we chose a hand dyed green cotton for the top band and back. Juanita used a variegated thread for the machine embroidery detail. Again the hand stitches really give this little bag some class. Wonderful workmanship!

So this is your little dash of seasonal color from the Sassaman studio this week. Next week we hope to feature the Christmas tree decorated with a few Early Bird ornaments.

Thank you, too, to everyone who put in your scarf vote over at the Dragon Threads blog. Looks like the Spiderweb design was the big winner.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Fair and Fabrics

The holiday season officially began yesterday with the annual Chicago Waldorf Holiday Fair. Our children went to Waldorf School from preschool through high school and the seasonal fairs were always huge events in our lives. I always looked forward to decorating the greenery for the winter fair and making May crowns for the spring fair.

This year Willow had her own colorful booth to vend her wonderful wares. You can see she has access to the "mother load" of Sassaman fabrics. So I journeyed down to support her enterprise. The pillowcases were a big hit, as always, and quite a few reversible ties found good homes, too.

It was so nice to see many of my old friends and know that the school is still as active and vital as ever.

So in the holiday spirit, I'd like to share these monkey puzzle quilts that certainly have some traditional colors and shapes for this season. I love the simplicity and graphic punch of this quilt pattern. The piece above is made with the two colorways of the Willow Wand from the Garden Diva's collection. The blocks were arranged to take advantage of the linear design of the stems. They were also placed so the light and dark blocks alternate for exciting contrast. This quilt was elegantly quilted by Janice Head of Head to Sew Quilting.

Since discovering this quilt pattern I have made several versions. Here are two sides of a pillow that I've made with this season in mind. They are made with the two colorways of the Leaf Dance fabric in the new Early Birds line. You can see the third colorway in the heading of this blog above.

This design always reminds me of a wreath, so it seemed the perfect way to play with these fabrics, which have Christmas colors but in a modern way. I like how the black background of the print and the solid black surround blend into each other.

I am happy that Early Birds was delivered to many stores this week, so hopefully some of these fabrics will be used for Christmas crafting. Press the button in the right column above to find a list of Early Bird vendors.

My other big news is that my friends at Dragon Threads want to make some beautiful silk scarves from one of my FreeSpirit quilt designs!! They have posted several candidates on their Open Books blog and are looking for your opinion. So scoot over and put in your vote.