Travel is a Wonder!

cornpalace1One of the advantages of being a traveling quilt teacher is visiting quilt guilds located in exotic places. So imagine my delight when I popped into the Corn Palace in the town of Mitchell while visiting the Quilters of South Dakota!

cornpalace3What a thrill it is to see a larger than life Willy Nelson made from corn and rye. There are 13 different colorways of corn grown for the Corn Palace construction.

cornpalace2And it was great to see that Elvis has finally left the building. Travel is important. It broadens your horizons, inspires you, and gives you joy. Just like a good batch of popcorn.

My Baking Career?

parchmentpaperLooks like I’m about to bake a massive batch of cookies, right? If you believe this, you would be very, very wrong. The last time I baked cookies dinosaurs roamed Illinois. No, this recent supply of parchment paper has a different destiny. It was purchased at my local Costco for your class projects.

stripfusing2See, parchment paper works just like the release paper that comes with fusible web. Used when making fused art quilts, this paper has a silicone coating that releases fused fabrics glued together like this collage of green fabric strips. I am told that parchment paper also releases large chocolate chip cookies that someone else bakes. I hope to meet that person someday.

Rejection: A 12 Step Program for You


Songbird #5 by Laura Wasilowski (REJECTED!)

Two decades ago I made a list of how to deal with rejection when entering quilt shows. And to this day I still get the dreaded rejection letter. REJECTED I tell you! But do I feel rejected? No! I am as happy as a little bird flying home for the night. How did I get this optimistic point of view? I follow this 12 -Step Rejection Recovery Program:

1. Burn the rejection notice.  Rip it up into tiny little pieces and light a match.  As the bad news goes up in flames chant, “There are no bad quilts, just bad eyesight.”

2. Have a day of mourning.  Drape the quilt in black ribbons and remember the good times: cutting the fabric, fusing the little pieces together, and binding the quilt while watching soap operas.  Those were the days.

3. Have a good cry.  Use newly purchased fabric from your local quilt shop to dry your tears.

4. Get a tattoo.  My friend Frieda’s tattoo says, “I love my quilts!”  Make sure to get large type so you can still read it at age 90.

5. Document the entry fees as charitable donations on your tax forms.  Consider yourself a patron of the arts and get a refund as well.

6. Write a tune of lament like my song “Everybody Gets Rejected Sometime”.  I like a song you can dance to or at least shake you fists.

7. Eat chocolate.  The smell of baking brownies always calms me down.  Once I eat a pan-full of gooey chocolate goodies, hurtful memories are completely erased.

8. Complain to your friends.  There is nothing like a good rant to cheer you up.  Make audacious claims of incompetence in the quilt judging system, the crazier the better.

9. Consider a new occupation.  I, for instance, pursued my dream to be a rocket scientist.  Then I realized I was on the wrong trajectory and returned to earth.

10. Buy the quilt show.  If you own the quilt show you can have your quilts on display any time.  Award yourself prizes.

11. Hang the rejected quilt in a prominent spot in your home. Kiss it every morning, pat it on the binding, and tell it how pretty it is.

12. Make a new quilt.  Make something cheerful and colorful like this Songbird returning home. And just like a little bird in flight, you too will be happy.


How to Cut Wiggly Trees

prairielights2Living on the prairie makes you appreciate a good tree line. It assures you that as you approach the horizon you will at least have a tree to hang on to when you reach the edges of the earth. (Us flatlanders are very cautious.)

Therefore I have introduced the Chicago School of Fusing Method of Cutting Wiggly Trees!


  • Cut a 2 inch wide strip of fused fabric on the bias. (The bias is a 45 degree angle to the grain of the fabric. Bias fabrics don’t fray and will curve when fused.)
  • Using a real sharp pair of scissors, begin cutting the strip in half down the length of the strip.
  • As you cut, wiggly the scissors.
  • Wiggle them up to make one side of the tree.
  • Wiggle them down to make the other side of the tree.
  • Don’t cut through the edge of the strip! You want to keep the strip whole.
  • Save the other side of the strip and use it too.

trees1As you iron the tree line across the horizon, curve the fused strip of fabric. And rejoice in being a flatlander with a tree to hang on to.

How to Make a Nice Abutment

fusingabutHere’s a tip brought to you by the Chicago School of Fusing. When adding another piece of fusible web to fabric, don’t overlap the fusible web papers like what I’ve done above. This is a no no!

fusingabut1Instead, do this: abut the 2 edges of the fusible web paper. This way when you fuse, you don’t get glue on the paper underneath. If you overlap the papers, you get glue on the paper. Your iron picks up the glue on the paper when you use it later and then transfers the glue to your beautiful quilt top. The paper that comes with the fusible web  (release paper) is so useful. You can fuse fabric to release paper over and over again and it always releases the fabric.

lauraandironSo save the release paper that comes with fusible web. By placing the release paper on your quilt top, you protect the iron from fabric shapes that are place upside down on the quilt. Remember: protect your quilts from filthy irons and don’t tempt them with glue on the paper.

Think Big: Making Large Scale Embroideries


Wie das Gras (Like the Grass) by Lizzy Funk

This large piece of art work by Swiss artist, Lissy Funk, is stunning! You can see it at the Art Institute of Chicago in the Textile department through September 18. What makes its stunning is the size (I estimate it measures around 50″ x 50″). And here is the really amazing part: it is made with hand embroidery.


Wie das Gras (Like the Grass), detail by Lizzy Funk

Created in 1977, Lizzy Funk used your standard embroidery stitches like the stem, satin, long/short, and buttonhole stitch. Then she threw in some French knots and couching for effect. Imagine the time and planning and just plain sitting around stitching for long lengths of time to create this huge embroidery. She invested so much into the making of this art work, I wish you could see it in person. It truly belongs in the Art Institute.