Frantically Designing a New Class

libbysleavesnumber3detailbDon’t tell anyone, but I’m not quite prepared for a new class I’m teaching at the International Quilt Festival. My new class, Libby’s Leaves, premiers on Friday, November 1.

It’s not like I haven’t been thinking a lot about how to present the class. It’s just that I don’t have is a finished quilt to show the class.

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Libby’s Leaves by Laura Wasilowski

See the original Libby’s Leaves quilt (above) that the class is based upon has been sold. And, making it a rule to never replicate a quilt design, I have to invent a new design in the spirit of the original. It also has to be something that illustrates the construction methods of the design. Plus I need step-outs and an outline for teaching the class.

So as I scramble to catch up with my ambitions, I ask that you wish me luck.

And again, please don’t tell anyone.

State of the Studio: Packing

packingIt’s that time of year when packing up for the Houston show consumes two weeks of October. This year I’m teaching 5 (!) classes with each class of 30 people requiring a kit. Here you see kit preparation for class #366, Felt Like Gardening. 

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Felt Like Gardening #3 by Laura Wasilowski

This class is the most labor intensive kit. I’ve cut about 100 pre-cut felt shapes for each student to use in their creations, loaded thread rings with hand-dyed threads, cut felt for the backgrounds, and printed my booklets with embroidery stitch information. Sigh…….

And I’m giving one lecture called Art Quilts: The Musical on October 31 at 10 am. As this date also coincides with Halloween, you can expect a scary yet sweet production about quilt making.

What’s Stitching? Wheat Ears

wheatear3I’ve recently revisited this fun embroidery stitch, the Wheat Ear. Isn’t it cute? Looks like a little bug waving hello. It’s a looping stitch but pointy at the same time that creates texture when stitched separately. 

wheatear5The Wheat Ear also works as a linear stitch when stacked like this. Fill in the loop with a French Knot and the Wheat Ear gets all dressed up and dances.

wheatear2Learn how to make the Wheat Ear stitch here.

A Museum Near You: Crystal Bridges

crystalbridgesOne of the many joys of being a traveling textile teacher is the opportunity to visit great museums. With my gracious hostess, Laura, I recently visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art before giving a lecture to her guild, Q.U.I.L.T of Northwest Arkansas.

mirrorroomWhat a fabulous museum! The buildings, setting, and artwork were a delight to see.  We stepped into a work by Yayoi Kusama called the Infinity Mirrored Room – My Heart is Dancing into the Universe and viewed gallery after gallery artwork from early American to contemporary work. Thank you Laura for your generosity!

What are the benefits of visiting a museum (other than the gift shop)?

A visit to a museum:

  • stimulates new ideas for your own artwork,
  • expands your knowledge of the world and humanity, and
  • is a refreshing break from reality.

Make a date with a museum today. Trust me, you’ll fall in love.

Soft Color for a Beautiful Quilt

wildricesample2It is always a thrill to meet up with those who use my hand dyed threads. Christie brought her beautiful quilt to a meeting of the Prairie Star Guild in St. Charles IL. Here you see a detail of her hand embroidery on the quilt using my Wild Rice pearl cotton threads in sizes 8 and 12.

wildricesample3She did an extraordinary job of stitching and picking out the perfect thread color to match the sashing fabrics. Thank you Christie for using my threads and for sharing your artwork with us!

A Gentle Fabric for Stitching

stitchingonwool1For those of you who love to hand stitch, I highly recommend hand embroidery on wool. Thread glides smoothly through the cloth, no hoop is needed, your hands are caressed by the fabric, and knots (if you use them) hide in the bulky fabric. It’s a rich, gentle fabric ideal for hand embroidery.

Cut out wool shapes with sharp scissors and attach them to the background fabric with a pin or tacking stitches.Usually I stitch a Blanket Stitch around the edges to hold the shape in place.

stitchingonwool3Here you see that the Blanket Stitch in red has a second thread (green) whipped through the top edge of the stitch to give more definition to the outline of the shape. I’m also experimenting with stacking Fly Stitches to make leaf shapes using a variegated size 8 thread called Lettuce. Although the Fly Stitches are stitched closely together, it is easy to stitch through the wool.

tracytrevethanwoolMy favorite source for colorful wool is hand dyed by Tracy Trevethan. The Wooly Ladies also carry wool suitable for hand work as do many of your local quilt shops. In the Rare Songbird project from my book, Joyful Stitching, I use a hand-dyed wool for the background. And many of these free tutorials on my Rare Songbird project from my book, Tutorial Page use their hand dyed wools as well. Give it a try. Your hands will thank you!