Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today's Tip


I’m working on a new sample quilt that was inspired by a student.  She had incorporated three of my patterns in one awesome quilt which I am in the process of making. I’ll show you the finished quilt later in my next blog.

Three patterns is a lot of cutting and my cutting arm/hand got tweaked by all the 50 pound bags I cart around the country.  I was cutting out 45 small green leaves and I ran out of straight pins, which always happens. I don’t know where they all go, I just bought a new pack. I think they are friends of that odd sock that keeps disappearing in the dryer.


I don’t really like that the pins also keep bending as I push them through the pattern paper and the fusible web.  I hate bent pins. Plus, when the pieces get really small and they do get really small, the pin are in the way when I cut.  I need the pattern pieces to stay with the cut pieces until I lay it in its proper place on the pattern background fabric or layout guide so I know what number it is. 
video
Light bulb moment! I jump up and grab my Wonder Clips!  So much easier.  Here is a short movie on how I use them. Give it a try.   If you can’t find the Wonder Clips I am expecting a shipment next week for my web shop.  $19.00 for 50 clips. Click on the Shop  link above.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Quilting Adventures in Arkansas


OK, I have been in 7 cities in 40 days and that doesn't include the 14 stops in Denver along the way.  Yes, I am tired but it’s been so fun and very exciting.  When God answers your prayers you'd better be ready. It's all good! 

Yes, Joe has no underwear, as he told me today but he is getting so good at shopping and laundry these days. Yesterday, the checker at the grocery story referred to me as “Oh, you're Joe's wife!” 

Hey, I've been shopping there for the last 18 years and now I’m somebody?



But I couldn’t do any of this if Joe wasn’t 100 percent behind me - plus he loves that I make money now, so it all works out. 

So here is a short video of my adventure in Arkansas. I was there twice in 2 weeks.
When I got home, I went online and found that my grandmother and her sister and their father, my great-grandfather Isaac Standlee, were all born in Arkansas.  
Lois and Ruby Standlee
Enjoy the clips and song and I'll have more of my adventures to come and, if you like BBQ, I highly recommend #Lindsey's in North Little Rock. Awesome food.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Dogwoods Are Blooming!

Well, spring is finally here and for most of last winter, when I was not in an airplane flying off to teach and lecture,  I have been in the studio working on my new pattern idea.  The idea came after visiting in Paducah, Kentucky in April when the Dogwoods began to bloom.  It was breathtaking!
They even have a Dogwood Trail, which I followed (and it's beautiful).

 This really is a lesson in values.  How many values of white can you find to make a white Dogwood?But first, start by looking for the lightest colors you can find of the pink, blues, greens, yellows and so on.
By the way, my drawers are not always that neat!
 Now I have my painting palette. But don't worry, the pattern comes with a color chart and if you just get close to the color it will work.  It's more important to have the right value.

I built the flower first on parchment paper, which is laying over my drawing. I have found some great thin parchment paper which is larger than the product we have been buying at the grocery store. 
See my web store for this product.


After I  got the first flower halfway done, I started to audition background fabrics.  I tried at least 5 other colors before I found this one. I like the dark, woody coloration with the white flower.
Here I am adding more flowers and auditioning some greens for leaves. The greens you use can make or break your quilt.  These greens did not work, they were too teal.
 Here I have used one of my ice-dye green fabrics that has lots of sparkle and it works much better.
Now I am ready to quilt and sketch with thread.

 I love the shiny Sulky 30-weight rayon thread. This is also in my bobbin.
I am using a Top Stitch 80/12 needle.
 Starting to add the veins in my petal with thread.  I am changing thread color as I go.
I love the stitch I get with my #BERNINA 750 QE. 


 I add a little Sewer's Aid to my thread as I quilt to help it glide through the machine smoothly.  Rayon is a delicate thread, so if it hits a metal burr somewhere in your machine it will ravel.


I hope you enjoy working on your dogwood flower.
This pattern is now available in my web shop.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Madeleine Island School of the Arts-October 5-9 2015

I want to invite you to come and create with me at Madeline Island one of the 22 Jewels of Lake Superior known as The Apostle Islands.  This is a  unique blend of cultural, historic, artistic and natural resources to discover.



21 of the 22 Apostle Islands, along with 12 miles of mainland make up the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a federally protected National Park. Here you can see some of the most amazing sandscapes in the world including the famous “singing sands” on Stockton Island’s Julian Bay. Kayakers flock to the area to paddle through the breathtaking sea caves, and when the winter weather is just right, these same caves transform into magnificent ice caves. 

Madeleine School of the Arts
Voted one of the "Coolest Small Town in the US" Madeline Island is the only year-round inhabited town in the island chain. 
Bring your adventure for miles of sandy beaches, hiking, and biking.  you can even reat a mopped to tour the island.   
To see a video about all the island click here.
Recently it become one of the newest and most sot-after art/quilting retreats destination. I am so excited to have been asked to teach here.  After  class there will be time to explore.

You’ll also need a hearty appetite as many of the restaurants serve up the freshest white fish and trout you’ll ever taste.  

The island represents over 100 artists. You can explore the many galleries and shops that feature the artist works in a verity of media- all inspired by islands of Lake Superior.  Then you can come back to class with me to create your own master pieces in fabrics. 

The 3 photos below are of pasted students work. They all came to class a little timid, but look what they accomplished in 5 days.

Students Work in progress.
In this class you will create your own flower quilt inspired by your flower photo. I will walk you through the steps of building and layering your fabric colors just like a painter layers there paint.  I will show you tricks about seeing and using color and how to feel more confident in picking the right colors.  
Students Work in progress.
I get asked all the time Why Flowers?  Well, if I can get you to see at all the colors and values that are  in one flower petal you can create any subject matter in the future. 
 And lastly you will learn how I finish my quilts with Renegade Thread Play that adds so much more detail and depth to the finished art quilt. 
students work in process
The date is October 5-9 2015 in the midst of Fall and the changing colors.  I'm pretty sure it will be breathtaking.  So bring your camera to capture new photos for the next time we meet.
Madeleine Island School of the Arts-October 5-9 2015
You can email me if you have any questions and we can talk about what you want to create. melbula@comcast.net  
Hope to see you in October.






















Monday, March 2, 2015

Keepsake Quilting Catalog


So excited about my quilt being in the Keepsake Quilting catalog. 
I got a call last year from RJR Fabrics about doing a pattern design for them using their fabrics. They wanted a pattern that was big and bold and thought of me. What an honor!  I don’t think they really knew what I do but someone dropped my name.

Texas Wildflower is on page 7.
They sent me samples of all their colorways.  You would think that if you had all those colors in your studio you could just take one of my flower patterns and translate it into their fabrics but that is not quite the way it happens.
 My Poppy pattern.
You see, I learned that I have a look which has its own color palette.  That is why I have been dyeing my fabrics.  I also use commercial fabrics when I can find my colors but for my quilts I want a certain color look.  Just like a painter mixes the right color, I have to find or make that right fabric color and value.  Remember, the fabric is my paint.  It is all about the color for me.


The first flower I wanted to try in RJR fabrics was my Poppy pattern!  It’s a show-stopper and the pattern has 3 different color charts for 3 different kinds of poppies so I thought this would be perfect.  But it wasn't.  Their red palette was not my red palette.  There was a big difference.  Who knew?
laying out the Texas Wildflower laser cut fabric kit.
The more I study and teach about color, the more I learn.  As I was making the poppy, it just was dead.  No pop, no wow factor.  I had to call RJR and tell them I couldn't do it.  I don’t care how much money (by the way, it wasn't that much) it pays - I can’t put my name on something that is not me and not my colors. At this same time I was making my Libby Quilt for the auction to raise funds to help Libby Lehman with her treatments. This flower, by nature, was in the RJR color palette with its orange reds and peach pinks.  

So I simplified the pattern so it didn't have as many fabrics as the original and started working on this new quilt.  RJR liked the quilt so we had a deal. Now you can buy my pattern and a laser-cut fabric kit with the RJR fabrics that go perfect with this flower. 

Just for fun I made the quilt in another colorway using RJR fabrics again.  I like purples but there is no kit for this one but there is a color chart in the pattern to help you pick your own colorway.  
In Purple and reds.
I have also put together a thread pack for the the Texas Wildflower that goes with the RJR fabrics. You can the pattern and the thread pack at my web shop.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Something Out Of Nothing

I made this soft and cuddly knitted shawl two years ago. I got it out to wear to dinner the other night and found, of course after I got home, that there were holes in the fabric. It looked like it had been chewed. I tried to fix them but another hole showed up and then another. It made me sick. This was expensive yarn!


With a disgusted look on my face I grabbed the whole thing and threw it in the trash.  I think I even stomped my foot as I walked by the over-stuffed trash can. By the time I got to the door of my studio I paused and went back to the trash can and pulled the shawl out.  It’s just so soft.  I know there is something I can do with this, but what? 
What if I used my sewing machine and zig-zagged with black thread over the holes?  How about doing straight lines of zig-zag stitches all down the shawl?  It needed more. And then I remembered I have a bag of laser cut wool circles I bought two years ago at Quilters Affair in Sisters, OR. 
I think they were made up for the Sue Spargo class. I had no idea what I would use them for at the time.


I started by laying the circles on the three holes to be fixed.  Then I added more and layered them randomly all over the shawl.  I stitched them into the knitted shawl.

Then I did some more zig-zag stitches up and down the shawl.  With an extra ball of yarn I crocheted a ruffle on the ends of the shawl to give it a nice finishing touch. 
Then added a big vintage Bakelite button.
Front
I think I like this better than the original! I love creativity!
Back






Thursday, January 15, 2015

Retreat, March 11-15 2015


Our House in Milford, Texas -  Retreat from March 11-15, 2015

Directions? 

Hop on your horse, your plane or whatever sweet ride you choose to get you to Dallas. Go down the road and get on the highway - 35E, I think?  You will pass a town called Waxahachie but go past that, then turn at the big water tower with the word Italy on it. It’s pronounced Itly.  You won’t mistake it for the gondola-riding, pasta-eating, pizza-making country but you will be able to get some gas.
As you drive, you may notice some strange round houses on the right of the highway. These are called Monolific Domes. Italy is the capitol of the domes and even has a visitor center, if you care. 

Then you turn right at the armadillo laying in the field of bluebonnets and you’ll be in Milford, Texas. 
Milford, Texas. This is the view from the porch.
Go a few miles more and when you see nothing but green valleys and cute vintage white houses, turn right into the driveway of one of the most hospitable places to ever have a retreat:  Our House in Milford, Texas.
The wrap-around porch lined with rocking chairs is there to welcome you.  Your hostesses, Ann and Angie, are a mother and daughter team from North Carolina. They are the true representation of southern hospitality in Texas and, maybe best of all, their food is gourmet and healthy so you can eat more!  


The classroom is big and bright with windows all around. You have large tables to spread out, which means you can bring lots of stuff to work on. 

If you want to relax away the day’s stitching stresses there is a Jacuzzi, so bring your suit.  There is a refrigerator where you can bring your favorite beverages and snacks and Ann and Angie keep it well-stocked with bottled waters for when you get parched from all the visiting and laughing. 
This will be the first time showing my new pattern, the
 Texas Wildflower.  It's 32" x 32" and is a stunner.
I made the original quilt  for the Libby Lehman auction this last year and it sold for $5,000.
Now for the best part - making your quilt masterpiece. I want this retreat to be a place where you can finish something you started in one of my past classes or you can start a new piece, choosing from a variety of my patterns. 
Clematis, size 28"x 22", can be done in any color
 you like and I can hand-dye kits for this pattern.
This is called 3 Zinnias, and for our class you will have time to do one flower.
 Hand-dyed fabric kits are available for this pattern.
These are big, bold art pieces. I call them “LQQ”: Living room Quality Quilts because they turn out so stunning that you'll be proud to display them in a prominent spot in your home.
Peach Rose, size 32" x 32",  is a pattern from my first book, Cutting Garden Quilts.  For this class,  I have turned it into a single flower  pattern with a large layout guide and all the pattern pieces drawn for you.  Also included is a color chart that can be modified for any color you like.  Sorry, there are no hand-dyed kits for this pattern. 
You can email me before class and we can talk about which one you would like to do and if you want to change the color or add something. I will send you a color chart with fabric amounts so you can get ready. I can also hand-dye fabric kits for some of the flowers. 

Poppies is a big, beautiful quilt that is a show-stopper.  It can be made in any color you like and
 hand-dyed fabric kits are available.
Each pattern comes with a color chart and all the pattern pieces drawn for you, so there's no tracing.  You can change the colors, too.  I will demonstrate how to finish your quilt with Renegade Thread Play and If you want to finish your quilt during the retreat, I will be there to hold your hand.

If you want to work on another of my patterns that is not pictured here, go to my web site to view more patterns.  HERE is my shop.

We will arrive on Wednesday after 4 pm, have a wonderful dinner, then spend the evening setting up and enjoying a meet and greet. You can get up early and go to bed late and the class room is open all the time. 

The next 3 days are full of creativity and learning some of my quilting tricks. Then Sunday we will have a wonderful brunch and prepare to leave by noon. 

This class is for you to be creative in a safe environment with no outside interruptions - except for the dinner bell. It’s a place to refresh yourself and this is the kind of retreat you can come by yourself and go home with new friends. We do a lot of laughing!


For more information and the right directions, please contacted Ann or Angie at OUR HOUSE IN MILFORD.