How to Challenge Yourself Improv #5

When you work small you end up with a lot of scrap fabric that is too wonderful to throw away. During the month of September, I gave away a bag of felt scraps like these with each order placed in the Artfabrik Store. Then I challenged myself to create something from one of those scrap bags.

I’m not a big fan of using brown in my work but this brown fabric was the largest piece of fabric in the scrap bag. So it served as a background or canvas for the work. Slowly the warm brown color won me over.

With the central design complete I’ve cut away the surrounding brown felt leaving about 1/4″ of fabric around the edge. I like how this outline of brown creates an organic border that embraces the design.

Bridgehouse #1 by Laura Wasilowski

To complete the piece, I’ve stitched it to a wonderful green batik. It measures about 6″ x 6″ and is named for the Bridgehouse Museum in Chicago.

Making this piece has taught me a few things. First, challenge your use of color and appreciate those colors you usually shun. Second, give yourself permission to improvise. It stimulates and entertains the brain. And finally, a small piece of artwork can give as much joy as a gigantic wall piece.

Improv with Felt #1

Many years ago I purchased stacks of colorful wool felt from Commonwealth Felt. The rich colors and ease of stitching the felt by hand lured me in. But when you work small you end up with a lot of odds and ends that are too wonderful to throw away. So during the month of September, I’m giving away a bag of felt scraps with each order placed in the Artfabrik Store.

As I assemble the gift bags of fabrics I keep thinking, “I wonder how people will use them?” So I gave myself a challenge and set aside one of the bags to improvise a design. (I must admit I chose a bag with colors I liked.)

So far my little bag of scraps has yielded a yellow house on top of a bridge. I used some of the fabric shapes like the 2 green dots and the pointy tree as they were without trimming. Other shapes like the roof and bridge were trimmed from the waste fabrics or remnant fabrics from cutting with a die cutter.

I kind of like this simple design and am excited to move on to my favorite part, hand embroidery!

If you’ve received your little bag of scraps from ordering from Artfabrik, I hope you enjoy improvising a design too. Let me know what you come up with.

Complete Your Nut House: Frieda’s Nut House #6

friedasnuthouseWe are finishing up Frieda’s Nut House Stitch Along and are about to move in and rearrange furniture.

As you complete your little embroidery, I hope to see images of your final designs. Email a photo to me at

Note: If you’re just joining us, see a list of materials on Frieda’s Nut House Stitch-Along Tutorial page and complete Steps 1 – 15.



Step #16


  • Stitch Chain Stitches in a large arc across on the background fabric from the upper edges of the right side of the sky to make the sun. Stitch the arc to measure about 1 1/2″ in diameter making the outline of the sun. Use a size 12 thread (like Butter) and a size 5 or 7 embroidery needle.
  • Continue to stitch Chain Stitches in rows right next to each other following the same arc to fill in the sun shape.

Step #17


  • Stitch wavy rows of Chain Stitches horizontally across the background fabric to make clouds. Use a size 12 thread (like Ocean).
  • Stitch the clouds to within 1/4″ of the sides and top edges of the fabric. 

Step #18


  • Carefully trim the background  fabric square if necessary leaving a scant 1/4″ of fabric around the edges for stitching the design to the backing fabric.
  • Center and pin the embroidery to the backing fabric.
  • Stitch-tack the embroidery onto the backing fabric.

Step #19


  • Stitch Blanket Stitches around the edge of the background fabric attaching it to the backing fabric. Use a size 8 pearl cotton thread (like Lettuce) and a size 3 embroidery needle.
  • Trim the edges of the backing fabric to within 1/4″ of the background fabric.
  • Label your embroidery with your name and date.
  • Congratulations on making your nut house!