Monday, December 17, 2012


Greetings, my friends! I have had my website and blog reconfigured. Please got to the new site and don't forget to bookmark it. The web store has also been spiffed up and some new items added, including the Folk Art Flag Kit and some fun fabric bundles. See you there!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Year Dragon Threads Contest!

Today Dragon Threads, publisher of Patchwork Sassaman Style, has announced a new contest which is open to stitchers around the world! It begins on January 2.

For January's event you are invited to design and stitch a quilt top using a recipe from Patchwork Sassaman Style, but you can use ANY FABRIC that you like... Kaffe, Amy, Lonnie? Just stitch up your top and send us a photo. No size restrictions and no quilting required!

The particular recipe to interpret will be announced in our January blog posts. We want to prove that my patchwork recipes and design principles work with "Personality Prints"of all kinds.

So put on your designing caps and prepare to submit the photo of your quilt top by Jan. 25 to We will put all entries on the Dragon Threads blog and let readers vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced on Jan. 30.

The PRIZE is eight half yard cuts of my Early Birds fabric in the plum colorway. That makes a total of 4 yards of beautiful fabric to add to your stash! Then we test a new recipe in February. All other quilt tops will be entered for the final Grand Prize to be selected by me. I will be looking for the quilts that best express the "Principles for using Personality Prints" as described in Patchwork Sassaman Style.

This week we have been making some Sassaman Style kitchen accessories for the holidays. I have decided to use the large red/pink and white Cheeky Checks (Early Birds, Strawberry) for my main table dressing. It is a contemporary interpretation of old fashioned gingham and I think it lends a clean, bright and classic Scandinavian feeling. The Early Birds collection has several fabrics that combine traditional Christmas colors but with a contemporary look. We used some of these to make a variety of fun holiday oven mitts and pot holders. The two designs above both have double pockets for extra usability.

These classic little pot holders are simply quilted and bound with colorful bias tape. They are almost too pretty to use! We used rich red terry toweling for the reverse sides.

Here are two solid colored dish towels that we spiced up with raw edged fabric strips, stitched about a quarter inch from the edge. Then we laundered them and fluffed them up in the drier, which created a nicely frayed look. 

Stay tuned for more holiday decorating ideas in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to the Drawing Board

Well, it's that time of year again. Time to nestle into the studio and get into the designing mode. The deadline was bumped up a month so I have to start a little sooner this season. In the mean time, I am still waiting for the final strike-offs for the spring line. This is the first time I've have simultaneous lines to juggle... a bit tricky for a girl with tunnel vision.

But it occurred to me that I haven't shown you the finished Illinois Album quilt which had its debut at Art Quilt Tahoe. So here are a few details for my fabric fondling friends.

Here it is in full view. It is a continuation of the "totem" series. The shapes are all representations of natural objects in my Midwestern environment. The characters are arranged symmetrically which affects the movement and rhythm of the composition.

A detail of the border shows the black quilted leaves. Different brands of black thread are not all the same black, which I think is more interesting for a tone-on-tone design.

I often like to use blocks of embroidery stitches for quilting which creates a different texture that continuous line quilting. In this case, you will see blocks of satin stitch in the top wing. The feather stitched vine with leaves are also quilting motifs.

These pods also utilize another embroidery stitch that I have found useful in many quilts. This little sequential radiating stitch creates a glowing center inside each unit.

In the center of the quilt you may notice that the simple satin stitch changes width according to the shape it is applied to. Hopefully, this variety will make a machine stitch look more organic and less mechanical. The trick is finding the right stitch for the job. This quilt was made on my Bernina 730 which has obviously become a very loyal and obedient friend.

The back side was made with my Night Life fabric from the FreeSpirit collection called Prairie Gothic
from a few years ago. I think it nicely carries the nature theme all the way through the piece.

OK, back to the drawing board!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Art Quilt Tahoe

I have just returned from one of my favorite teaching venues, Art Quilt Tahoe. In recent years it has been held at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center on the south end of the lake. This year the weather was unusually warn for the first few days. The sun was shining and the water was a beautiful clear turquoise blue.

The classroom was bright and roomy as the students jumped into their plant studies. By the second day they were finally fondling fabric and their compositions began to take form.

Here are a few samples of the quilt tops that evolved over the four days of class. I have grouped these by color and adjusted the scale to fit this blog format.  Every project was unique even though some people worked with the same subject. Above is Leslie Bixel's Borage Plant and Carole Rouin's Lotus interpretation.

This is one of the most satisfying aspects of teaching... to see the subjects filtered through each individual head, heart and hands. For example, look how Sara Roche's Lotus above is so different than Carole's.  I love Jo Kellar's version of the Red Hot Pokers in her garden.

On the last day of class the weather began to change and the conversation shifted. Everyone was anticipating the snow and a safe trip home. As you may have learned reading this blog, I love exciting weather and quite look forward to the drama it creates. As predicted, it began to snow late in the afternoon of the last day of class. Being the final teaching job of the year, I was delighted for such a lovely introduction to the holiday season.

This is how it looked as I packed my suitcase for the trip home the next morning. Beautiful!!!! The sky show was astounding all the way to Reno airport.

When I arrived home, it was much warmer, but our blooming Christmas cactus was yet another indication that the holiday season is on its way!

Friday, November 2, 2012

International Quilt Market

I'm back from the International Quilt Market in Houston. This year I was in the Dragon Threads booth to promote Patchwork Sassaman Style and did some book signing at the beautiful new Westminster booth, too. I didn't get far beyond the booth this year but, of course, made time to visit the quilts on display.

I was so surprised that Fairfield, my favorite batting company, had my Willow quilt on display! It was great to see "my baby" again. I could get close enough to examine the stitches that I made so many years ago.

But the real treat was to see my friend Pat Holly's entries in the quilt show. Her work is achingly beautiful!! Here is Imagining India in silk and lame... it just glowed. Check out the details...

And details are what Pat's work is famous for. There are tiny little blanket stitches around even the tiniest appliqued shape. Amazing!

OK, now that we are feeling overwhelmed, take a look at her next piece...

This is a miniature quilt is called Tiny Tigers. I love that it mimics the shape of the big quilt but is only about 10" wide. These vibrant treasures have got me itching to stitch! I think I'll pull out my little collection of silks and see where they take me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn Inspiration

The landscape is washed with oranges. They sparkle in the sunshine and become fluorescent in the rain. The weekend was divinely dark, wet and windy. I hibernated in the studio and finished my big quilt... bound and rod pocket attached. All I have to do now is embroider the name and date on the back!

Preparations for Houston Market are underway and there are lots of little details to wrap up. Even so, there is a feeling of anticipation as the list gets checked off. Looking for that next quilt idea... here are
a few possibilities....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Second Wind

Well, I'm back. It has been a busy year. The large landmarks are writing a book, a month teaching in Australia, attending the Festival of Quilts and visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum. In September I had three teaching jobs. This quilter needed some quiet time. Plus autumn is a natural season for reflection.

This fall has been particularly sublime. The colors are exceptional and the mood changes by the hour. Greg has been covering the plants for the past two nights and yesterday he harvested the remaining peppers and tomatoes. Our kitchen counter is overwhelmed... so chili for supper tonight.

For a little extra excitement our furnace has died, so we have electric heaters running and are waiting for the repairman to get back from vacation. It's almost like camping out. My studio is still cozy, though, so no progress will be interrupted here.

I have been steadily adding quilted leaves to my quilt. I can do a row a day, both sewing and burying threads. Just five more rows to go. This is very therapeutic for a quiet quilter, who is easily overwhelmed by too much chatter and activity. So I'm beginning to resurface for the finishing events of the year.

I am anxious to get back to work, so I'll leave you with some more nice photos taken this week. And I promise to be more communicative in the future.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Festival of Quilts 2012

I am back from my first visit to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham followed by two fabulous days at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. There were so many beautiful sights to remember that I have given myself the gift of a weeks peace and quiet to digest it all. So I have been hibernating in the studio and doing some meditative quilting on the Illinois Album quilt.

I have been working on this piece off and on for two years... more off. But my goal is to have it finished by the end of the year. As I stitch leaf after leaf and bury every thread a therapeutic calm envelopes me... my ideal summer vacation. And I think how lucky I am to be part of this exciting world of art and design.

The Festival of Quilts lived up to all my expectations. The exhibits featured some of my all time favorite fiber artists. Pauline Burbidge and Anne Woringer had breath taking displays of their work.
In fact, most of the inner galleries showed very exceptional and contemporary work. But the competition quilts were a sampling of traditional to modern. I spent a lot of time signing books, Patchwork Sassaman Style, in the busy Lady Sew & Sew booth.

While at the Festival we stayed in a nearby town called Solihull. One evening after the show I went for a stroll to look at all the quintessential English houses... just like the ones on the BBC Mysteries that I love so much. When I came upon this house I was floored!! Any other Inspector Morse fan will understand why. The red Jaguar is the clue.

After the Festival we took the train to London. Our hotel was in walking distance to our object of desire, the Victoria and Albert Museum!! This is a place I've wanted to visit since my college days so my anticipation was peaked. My heart palpitations were audible. Here is the dramatic front entrance. Safety cones, believe it or not.

This is the courtyard in the center of the museum, a very popular place to have coffee (in a William Morris paper cup, ahhh) and cool off by the wading pool. The cafe had wonderful food, which just enhanced the special atmosphere. The weather was warmer than expected and by the end of the day we were ready for a pint and a pub meal.

Between the museum and our hotel there were lots of high end boutiques and shops. One of the best surprises was that the Conran Shop was just down the block! It is built around an old Michelin tire building. I have been a fan of Sir Terence Conran since working at the Crate and Barrel 35 years ago.  He is one of this centuries grand guru's of design. In fact, his famous The House Book was one of the initial books in my extensive design library and has influenced my own adventures in design.

So you can see that I was in "designers heaven" for the entire trip! But this month brings several teaching jobs, which lead up to Houston Market. It's hard to believe the year is three quarters over.
Time to start sewing and crafting for the autumn season, so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Rainy Day At Last!

It is a delightfully dark and rainy day as I do the countdown for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England next week. The forecast predicts that it may be raining there, too. If so, I will be prepared because my wonderful Susan has whipped up this fabulous raincoat!

It is made, of course, with the Early Birds laminated plum Curlicues fabric and lined inside and under the collar with refreshing plum Prairie Poppies. The pattern, McCall's 7204, is another that has been in my collection for years.

Sewing with laminated fabrics can be tricky because the plastic laminate can stick to itself and to your sewing machine. To overcome this dilemma you can purchase a Teflon coated sewing foot or try using painters tape on the bottom of your existing foot.

Susan even made the perfect hat for an exhilarating ensemble from Vogue Accessories pattern V8405. The hat band repeats the Prairie Poppies and is finished with a rosette topped with a felt bead.

I love this photograph! Susan looks very mysterious... like a character in a Miss Marple story! It started to rain just as we finished shooting.

Don't forget to stop by the Lady Sew and Sew Booth, attend the Designer's Dinner or drop in for my Fabric Design lecture if you are at the Festival of Quilts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Dress & Birmingham Exclusive!!

It seems as if the deadlines are a constant dilemma here in the Sassaman studio! But I love to design and stitch, so any excuse to spend quality time in the studio works for me.

Happily the new fabric designs are beginning to gel and I hope to have them submitted before I leave for my first visit to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England.

I am so excited about this adventure and I am especially pleased that my fabrics will be sold for the first time in the UK. Lady Sew and Sew will be the exclusive vendor for the Early Birds fabric which will be featured in their festival booth. They also carry it in their stores and on their website.

I get letters from fabric fondles from aboard looking for Sassaman fabrics, so I am hoping that the introduction of Early Birds will open the door to a further exchange of creativity with my European fabric friends.

I will also be doing book signings at Lady Sew and Sew and a lecture about designing fabric at 4 pm on Thursday, Aug 18. If you have European quilting buddies attending the festival, please encourage them to come to the lecture. They can pre-book lecture tickets at the Twisted Thread site.

Hope to see you there!

My super helper, Susan, has been busy, too! I'm a fan of the fashion designer Claire McCardell, so this wonderful pattern adapted from a McCardell halter dress has been patiently waiting in my collection for several years. It is Folkwear pattern #258. Susan is a skilled dress maker and she did a beautiful job.

This design features a gathered skirt, a beautiful fitted bodice with tucks at the neckline and topped with a sassy white collar. It has pearl buttons, side pockets and a zipper under the arm. Doesn't the poka dotted bow and white belt finish it off perfectly? White pumps or red?

Such a beautiful fit! The perfect summer dress. The fabric is, of course, from the Early Birds fabric line. The dress is made with the Strawberry Serenade design in the blueberry colorway. The classic poka dots are from the Strawberry group.

The coordinating bag is one of Melissa Peda's timeless designs. The wooden handles and green ball fringe place it in the same romantic fashion era as it's counterpart.