A Tiny Bird House in Fabric

commission75One of the many elements in the design of the commission quilt I’m working is a purple martin house. This image was sent to me by the people who have requested the quilts and plays a part in their family story. 

Heres how I translated the birdhouse image into fabric.

Using the Photo Shop Elements program on my computer, I converted the photo into a black and white image, enhanced the contrast, and sized it to measure about 1.25″ wide by 1.5″ high.

commission62After it was saved as a jpeg, I printed it on paper and colored in the areas that will be green fabric. This becomes the pattern for the birdhouse.

commission63The first step in transfering the green shape to fused fabric is to trace it on to silicone release paper or parchment paper with a black marker. 

commission64The drawn or ink side of the paper is placed on to the glue or fused side of the green fabric.


The paper is ironed into place with a hot iron.


After cooling, the paper is removed. See how the lines transfer to the fabric? This method of transfering shapes to fused fabric is so easy and fast. Try it at home! 

More on making the bird house soon.



Learning as You Create

commission60Usually I’m making small art quilts all the time. But since early January, I’ve only worked on one project. Why only one project? Because the one project occupying all my time is a commission quilt. Or rather, three commission quilts.

A lovely family has requested three panels measuring about 32″ x 48″ that tell stories about their family and places dear to their hearts. Here you see the sketches and color swatches submitted for the commissioned pieces. In the process of making these three panels, I’ve learned new methods of constructing a fused art quilt and how to translate other people’s stories into fabric.

commission71I’ve also learned that documenting the creation of a work of art, hampers the creation of that art. So I’ve taken very few photos of the panels in process. But there are a few things I can share with you. Like how to make a purple martin house. Get your fused fabrics ready and stay tuned!


Practicing Good Habits


Studio Clean Up Time: Before

I’m back in the studio for a few weeks and have to remind myself to practice good habits. Those habits seem to go out the window when I’m on the road. Good habits like brushing and flossing, eating right, and most importantly, looking both ways before crossing a street.

How to form that good habit? By repetition! (Or by getting hit by a car.)


Studio Clean Up Time: After

Here are a few life saving habits I practice when making art in my studio.They are the reason I am here today:

  • Closing the rotary cutter blades after cutting,
  • Turning off my iron when not in use,
  • Cleaning up the studio after each project,
  • Avoiding fabric sales at quilt shops,
  • And, my favorite, setting aside time to play.

Anything else I should be doing?

Earth Day in the Studio

Happy Earth Day! In celebration I’d like to show you three ways to reuse all those plastic containers we encounter every day and how to use them in your studio. My geraniums came in these cute little baskets (above) from a gardening store. Perfect for thread storage, fat quarters, or sewing tools.

The flowers from this plastic planter are long gone but I’ve been using a set of these for dyeing for years.

And here is why drinking orange juice can pay off. Not only do you get lots of vitamin C but a container for your dyes as well. Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them.

And just so you know. This post was also recycled from years ago.

Spring: Fact or Fiction?


Young Corn (1931) by Grant Wood at the Art Institute of Chicago

Here is Illinois the weather has been unusually sunny, warm, and very Spring-like. Now as a hardy mid-westerner I know this can not last. But as an optimist, I can image it lasting forever. And that is why I love this painting by Grant Wood called Young Corn. It is a lovely ode to the promise of the greening of Spring.

greenfabricWhich leads me to collecting this set of green fabrics. It’s time to construct something fresh with lots of green fields and the promise of Spring. Wonder what it will be.

The Quiet of Winter

birdhousesinwinter In the olden days, I hated the dark months of winter. Where was the sunshine, the greenery, the warmth of the great outdoors? But not any more. Now I treasure the quiet days of winter.

randomacts5My favorite days are the days when I’m snowed in and dare not leave the house. On those days (after shoveling the walks, ha!) I play in my studio and make new art work.

randomacts7The quiet is an opportunity to exercise my art making brain. The challenge of improvising a design from fused fabric scraps keeps me warm.

randomacts8It’s also a time for me to reflect on what it’s like to be one of my students. In several of my classes I demand that they make up a design on the spot. “This is hard!” they say.

I know. I have the same problem. But like any exercise, it is worth it in the end.Save