A Tiny Birdhouse Part 2

commission67The shape of the small birdhouse is now on the fabric through the miracle of Pattern Transfer to a Fused Fabric! Using a really sharp pair of Karen Kay Buckley scissors, small areas are snipped to reveal openings for the birdhouse.

commission68It’s a tiny birdhouse for very tiny birds.

commission69After trimming, a white batik fabric is slipped under the birdhouse shape. This fills in the openings. Should I make black dots for the holes into the birdhouse? No! Why, you ask? Because it looks like a bunch of eyeballs staring out at me from the birdhouse.

commission76Three more birdhouses are created and fused to the quilt top. This commission quilt (detail of center panel above) is coming along but there is a lot of machine work to do. Hope to show you more on that later.




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!


Commission Quilt: Hanging It Up

commission53Once my commission quilt is squared up and cut to size, a sleeve or rod pocket is stitched to the top of the quilt. This way the client can place a slat into the sleeve and hang the quilt on a wall. (Please note that I am using my new Bernina 750QE. Those lessons are really paying off)!

commission55Later the rod pocket (or pod rocket, as Frieda would say) is hand stitched onto the back of the quilt.

commission54I decide to add a second sleeve to the lower edge of the quilt too. An aluminum slat will be slipped inside this sleeve to weigh down the lower edge of the quilt and keep it flat on the wall. Did you notice the fabric on the back of the quilt? It’s my own little secret.

Commission Quilt: Squaring Up


Bell Tower by Laura Wasilowski

When we last saw my commission quilt for the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, the bell town had just been completed. (Now cue scary music.) The delivery deadline looms! And as luck would have it, my time at the sewing machine is interrupted by several teaching trips.

commission51But I manage to squeeze in more free-motion stitching to the base of the bell tower as well as the bell tower itself. Free-motion stitching is sort of like sketching on the surface only with thread instead of a pencil. Once you’re in a rhythm, it’s very relaxing. (Unless there’s scary music playing.)

commission52All the machine work is complete and the quilt is squared up with a ruler and rotary cutter. (Well, actually they don’t do it on their own. I have to help them out.)  The quilt must measure exactly 48″ wide by 36″ high. So glad I added a few extra inches to the size of the quilt when I made the design. Machine stitching always shrinks the size just like puckering up for a kiss. (Cue romantic music here.)

Commission Quilt: Ring a Ding Ding!

commission47Using the famous pattern transfer method for fused fabrics, the 3 bells are cut out. This hand-dyed silk has a finer jacquard weave to it than the other silks for my commission quilt. Don’t you love that brassy color?

commission48The structure for the top of the bell tower is floating in space like a pointy UFO. Time to fasten it to the earth with some skinny legs.

commission49The 1/2″ bias cut strips are place down the edges of the bell tower and across the bells. See that release paper slipped under the legs partway down? The release paper keeps that section of the legs from fusing to the back ground fabric. Why, you ask?

commission50It’s so I can slip 3 strips of fabric under the legs to connect the legs together. The 3 braces keep the bell tower steady during a stiff wind. Now that everything is in place, the entire bell tower is steam set to the background.

Whew! I need another much deserved break. Later I’ll show how I complete the quilt.