About Me

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Great Falls, Montana, United States
I love creating art. I love the Creator! And through that love, I find a little slice of heaven on earth and I give Him all the glory! It's a great adventure and I'm excited to see what's around the bend! Come join me, won't you?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bernina Foot #39; a couching technique

This is a (Bernina) must-have foot for lots of reasons! Most machines will have something similar... Tomorrow, I plan to showcase a project that shows this technique on an entire easy table runner project, utilizing some left-over scraps of silk I was given.  (There's a teaser photo at the end)... YOU too, can creatively apply this easy-to-use and very simple technique on your quilts and garments!  Why should you own this foot?  Here's a few of my reasons:
  • Visibility! 
  • Most folks don't realize/see that it has a small hole in the front of the foot that enables you to load a thick thread (like Razzle Dazzle/Superior or YLI Candlelight and more), and couch it on perfectly, and perfectly centered --- easy!
  • The red marks provide ease for exact placement, especially the middle mark, as the thread will stay aligned in the center position, and so the red middle mark is a wonderful guide in itself, couching or not!
Choose a narrow zig zag; mine in this photo is 1.2mm wide by 2.35 long.  You can adjust as you see fit depending on your type of machine.  Basically it's 1.5mm by 2.5 in length.
In the pic below, you may be able to  see the very tiny zig zag stitch on the thread where it's been stitched and then cut.  To load the thread into the foot, I usually have to wet (lick!) the end of the thread, inserting it into the front, and feeding it to the back of the foot. 
When I couch with a silver thread, I use a white top thread; but this is strictly a personal preference, depending on what look you're going for.  I like several different kinds; choose either a 40 weight white polyester or a 50 weight, such as masterpiece cotton for blending with the silver thread.  I also love this foot for it's clear visibility when it comes to top stitching!   And.. don't forget your needle position adjustment is a great tool to use... (Bernina's have 9-11 different needle positions)... all of which can be moved/adjusted  while you are sewing!
Perfect placement for both techniques is where it really shines! I top stitched the fabric first, using my far left or far right needle position, (and lengthened the stitch too!), aligning  the edge of the foot as it worked for easy placement as a guide.  With it 's clear visibility, it's easy to keep a perfectly straight line, too!  Once all pieces were top stitched, then I switched to the thick (Razzle Dazzle or YLI)  thread, threaded it through the center hole, from front to back, set my zig zag (as mentioned in the dimensions above), center needle position, and stitch!  Watch tomorrow for the full showcase on what the final project looks like!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Latigo and Lace Feathers

Just a little piece I thought I'd show y'all, in support of practicing FEATHERS!

This is a piece I did as a kind of "dress rehearsal" type of practice session; that is practice without it being on muslin!  Sometimes I really need the "for real" fabric in order to 'put my best face on' you know?  Although it's uncommon for feathers to be done with variegated threads, I really think it's kind of cool.  I enjoyed how the King Tut thread performed in the color segments...

I used King Tut for both the brown and the blue threads.  One thing about King Tut is that it is a very subtle color change, and that is why I think it did well... you can still notice the spine lines... which are important in the overall look of a feather. I used an Isacord polyester for the "fill-in" stitching in the center... it was really HARD to see!  I won't be doing that again anytime soon, although I liked how they really did 'disappear' into the background fabric.
Silver metallic (Yenmet metallic in silver) for the inner  border...
It was FUN to try something different with the threads... and see how it might work, yet build on my feather free motion skills. Using "real" fabrics is a technique I like to use when I first begin to see my quilting or technique improve.  A kind of  'investment' psychologically, if you will! When I use muslin, I can have a tendency to get sloppy and 'not care' kind of attitude when I am quilting on it.  When it's
 material I really LIKE... then it's different for me!  I try harder!  Kind of just like a real dress-rehearsal does for actors! It builds your skills, while giving you something tangible to show for your best effort, and it also serves a valuable role in that you can have a piece to judge where you may you need to improve. And those  fledgling skills ... turn into REAL SKILLS!  Yay!

And don't forgetthe "hidden advantage" of using a straight stitch foot!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Recipe: one small piece bold Batik fabric
Add generous portion of paintstiks in several colorways
After drying, add decorative stitching; use your BEST variegated thread; no substitutes!
Add texture of your taste
Bind as desired -- make it easy, simple, and fun.

Recipe equals  One small art quilt

Friday, January 28, 2011

JoyFUL we Adore Thee!

My current project is one in the works for today's blog.... and it all started with this: THE BIG SHOT! I do alot of fusing... and I love it!  But sometimes cutting with the hands is well... hard on the hands!  So have been waiting ... thinking... contemplating about the Accuquilt GO and those cool quick cut dies for several years... and am glad I went the Sizzix direction. SAVED me lots of moo-lah!  Now I am not saying Accuquilt isn't fabulous... it sure is.  But that much money out-of-pocket (about $500 just to get started with the GO)... wasn't happening for me, personally!  
Many thanks to Patsy Thompson and Kelly Jackson, both of whom were gracious, knowledgeable ... and really helped me decide about which machine to purchase... and showed the "how-to's"  through their terrific blogs,  being KIND and taking TIME...to answer my emails and the many questions I had!  The gal at Patsy's store (whom I have now forgot - maybe it's Nicki) is SWEET to help when I CALLED -- she even checked the box to tell me what it actually contained so I could get all the info I needed about accessories... YAY! I dearly adore... personal service!  Don't you?!
Batik fabrics, Steam-A-Seam, and a pressing sheet... and some time... time to play... rearrange... re-organize... and then... Poof!  It's like...

           h   a   p   p  y...
a ... bit... addictive.... and.... 
m  a  g  i  c  a  l !
Turning to some hand-dyed fabric of mine... hmmm... let's try this 'marveles' orangy-tango piece...  a touch of paintstiks, bubble wrap as texture.... stencils...textile paint, a mesh bag... throw in some fusible circles... (just because I can!)

 and then  a  ...   z  i  p  p  e  r  !
and... if necessary... use words!

v  i   b  r  a  n  t  !
and don't forget.... the.... 

a   n  g  e  l  i  n  a  !!!
and "sew ye shall reap... so shall ye sow..."
J   o   y ...

It's a  p  l  a  y  t  i  m  e  in progress!  
more to come...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Oh gosh, I had hours and hours of delight designing this quilt, painting the leaves, fusing and adding trapunto to the leaves... and quilting metallic, swirly whirly lines of wind sweeping among the fall leaves floating through the air in my front window from my Antique Crab Apple Tree!  I designed this pattern, after using a stamp to initially "rub" the leaf images using Paintstiks.  Come!  Join me in he Paintstik class at the QUILT-A-WAY on February 5th and  February 8th.  These are two separate classes, one in the evening and one in the daytime.  See my BLOG entry on CLASSES I'm offering here!

This piece is for SALE at GALLERY 16 in Great Falls, Montana.

 I absolutely adore Paintstiks!  Such a fun paint medium to play with.  It's so easy to blend and create your own colorways and creative design.  If you haven't tried them... check it out!  Paintstiks should be available at your favorite quilt store, and if not, ask them to stock them!  You can also find them here and here.  Laura Murray, a designer who has created many treasures, and she has  fabulous site in which you will be greatly inspired! (The first link).  The second link is Quilting Arts.

Lots and lots of free motion stitching applique style around the edges of these leaves... oh how fun it was!

I started with  King Tut in the variegated cotton... and Glitter thread in blue hologram for the "wind."  Oh yes... and don't forget the silver metallic... Yenmet is my Go-to Gal for "gettin' er' done' the fun way!  You can get Yenmet metallic threads at any quilt store, but if not, ask them!  It's simply one of the BEST metallic threads out there.

See my thread info-tutorial blog "TNT: Thread, Needles and Tension"  December 28, 2010
for more information and how-to's regarding threadplay and needles!

The paintstik class will explore color blending, rubbings, using materials from around your home to add texture, mica pigments for polish and shine... and some good resource information in hand outs I've worked up for all my students!

Monday, January 24, 2011

LACE Flowers

I call them "Lace Flowers" but perhaps someone has a better...more creative or original name?  I'd LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!!  (pretty please!?)  Hey... anyone out there???  Hmmm... well as I wait with  baited breath, let me tell you a bit about these little jewels of threadplay....

Quite simple to do... and make them as fun as you'd like with variegated and solid polyesters, rayons, or cotton threads.  Start with:
  • 90/14 topstitch needles, or a microtex needle
  • bobbin wound with the same thread as your top thread (I love the Bernina 830 with the JUMBO bobbin which holds 40% more thread... add that with the Bottom Line polyester thread, adding an additional 40% more on a bobbin... and you are REALLY SET UP NICELY!!!! Yahoo!
  • a free motion foot; for this technique, I love my #9 closed toe, smaller metal foot, as it allows me to get closer to the wooden hoop edges
  • wooden hoop 8" or 9" that will fit conveniently underneath your foot
  • tulle netting
  • pattern
  • water soluble sticky back stabilizer
  • water soluble clear film for topping
Here's my hand-drawn flower traced onto the sticky backed stabilizer (Aqua Mesh Plus with a sticky back)... (you could use Aqua Bond as well... whatever you choose; it's sandwiched with a layer of white tulle and the Aqua Film topping which was ever so slight sprayed with temporary adhesive to make it easier to hoop it all.  I also used a sharpie marker in black, but any color will work, just use a fine tip.

No you don't have to draw flowers... How about a hankerchief? Will post pictures of the one I made in another blog entry... or how about lace edging on a collar?  I've done some on jean jackets... but this would be great for dragonfly wings... and lots of other designs...
 Anyone have any other ideas?  And YES... this is the technique I use for "Jamie's Angel"  wings and lace edging on her dress... see that post here.

You can see here that I have loaded a black thread; my choice is KING TUT 40 weight in solid BLACK, with a bobbin-weight black polyester on the bobbin... I like the King Tut for it's heavier presence with outlining the flower.  My favorite foot... #9 closed toe, a smaller free motion foot makes it easy to work around a hoop. Drop your feed dogs, GO!  I trace around each line TWICE.... for extra boldness and presence...

Don't forget to llllllooooooowwwwwerrrrr your top tension!  Lower it at least 1-2 settings.

These are the threads I used to make the flower shown... all of them tri-lobal polyesters from Superior Threads --- "Rainbows" in variegated colors... Preetttttyyyyyyy!!!

Just go in circles... small, big, overlapping, and filling in until it pleases you!   Go slow to medium speed, or your threads may frazzzle... as well as you?! 

I like to trace a bunch of them in varying sizes on a large piece of stabilizer fabric and free motion them together, which also makes it easier to hoop them, and getting them all done at once, means you have less thread changes and you also don't waste as much material product...

IF you'd like my pattern.... comment and I'll send one to you!!!!

Just another shot... some of the black details get covered up by the surface colored threads... but no problem!  I will go over them again when I attach them to my quilting surface, to give the flower dimension, and to attach it in a "no see" way!  That post coming another day!

Here's a picture of another flower, which was done in blue variegated tri-lobal polyester threads...

There will be a white 'laced edging' I've added to the outside petals, which was done in a 40 weight white rayon (Sulky) thread, with white Bottom Line polyester thread on the bobbin!  Love it!

And here are a couple pics of the finished lace flowers, trimmed of excess tulle, after washing out all the stabilizer product...

I hope you'll tell me what you think...?  What other creative ideas does it prompt you to contemplate?!!  Hmmm?

I'd love to hear from you!


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Oh gosh...I really hope you will want to try this project, if you haven't already!!  These scarves are not only beautiful, and one-of-a-kind, but functional, AND a great way for anyone who is new to free motion, to get the 'feel' of stitching without alot of other distracting issues such as tension.  And one gets to play with texture, color, and 'found items' such as laces, ribbons, threads, cording, and more. I have made well over a 100 of these! Currently they are for sale at Gallery 16 in Great Falls.  You can expect the supplies to cost you around $25.00, give or take.  When I add that cost, it means I charge a minimum of $75.00.   The "Fiber-Art Scarf" class I teach is popular for a good reason.  We hope to have at least several of these classes scheduled at the BERNINA SILVER THIMBLE in Great Falls, in March, April and May!  Stay tuned, or email me for further details. 

Easy and fun; the hardest part is in knowing when to stop!  Classes are popular prior to Christmas and then again for Mother's Day and Easter, but this is an easy project for any occasion... easily FINISHED in less than 3-4 hours!  *note: hand beading will take you an extra 1-2 hours depending on how handy you are with beads and a needle! 

The items in the first picture below are the basic stabilizers & supplies  you need to get started:
  • 505 temporary adhesive spray
  • Aqua Film topping
  • Aqua Bond water soluble adhesive stabilizer
  • Polyester thread is recommended for strength and durability, but you can use cottons and metallics as well
  • Aqua Bond is available at the shop at Quilting Arts or ask your local quilt shop or machine dealer to get it in stock for you.
  • 90/14 microtex, topstitch needle
  • free motion foot of your choice
  • ribbons, lace, cording, yarns, bits and pieces of fabric (batiks are great because they don't fray as much
  • Set your machine up for free motion by lowering your feed dogs, and inserting a FRESH  90/14 microtex or topstitch needle.
  • LOWER your top tension as needed
  •  Expect to use two new needles... don't hesitate to change it if you start having thread breakage. This project is hard on needles as those thicker fibers will dull the tip rather quickly.  Remember... you're going through stabilizer, glue, and thick yarns, ribbons, etc... don't be stingy with that needle... it's not worth it!
  • roll up the scarf as you are 'quilting' it, to make it easier to handle (see pics below)
  • don't forget to check your stitching from the back... just in case you really have serious tension issues!  And sometimes it's easier to look at the back to see where you may have missed some stitching, due to the reflection and shiny surface stabilizer on the top...
  • be sure to 'intertwine' all the stitches, making big and small circles all over the scarf surface, making sure they overlap each other.  You can choose circles, or you can choose straight lines... or a bit of both!  Be sure to catch the edges of the scarf in the stitching so that everything is JOINED together.
How about laying a bit of Razzle Dazzle thread in with the ribbons and yarns... fabulous sparkle, and it adds that 'crisp' factor I adore... but choose and play with anything that strikes your fancy!

Don't hesitate to throw on some of those metallic threads, and I do mean "throw!"  They can be quite dazzling, and easy to sew over as they are just trapped in between the two stabilizers... try it by just unravelling the thread from the cone on the top of your yarns and threads before laying on the top aqua film topping... letting them fall where they may! 
HINT: Be sure to wind the bobbin with the same thread that you have in your top, as both sides of the scarf will show!

"Santa Fe" Hand-dyed yarns
Luscious hand-dyed yarns make up this scarf in it's entirety... with the exception of adding a bit of silver Razzle Dazzle in with the gorgeous southwest colors!  Simplicity... AND... what a blank slate to add a few creative 'thread buttons' with silver metallic thread!!!
Beads... these are attached by hand, and you can expect the beading to take you at least an hour, unless you are an experienced beader.  I can do one in less than an hour, but in the beginning, it took me about two hours to complete both ends of the scarf with beading.  They are optional... your scarf will be quite beautiful without them too!

I use only beading thread for it's  strength, and a long, slim, beading needle is the absolute perfect TOOL for attaching beads.
 Silver metallic thread buttons... I love adding them!
Don't think you need to do only straight lines... making lines wavy... angular, and 'plaid-like' is terrific fun!

I've used chenille, rayon ribbons, wool yarns, and synthetic laces... just keep in mind that sometimes the "fuzzier" fibers (like wool) have a tendency to attract the glue, and that makes it much harder to wash out.
Be sure to soak your scarf in lukewarm water for at least 20 minutes or even overnight, but before leaving it to soak, rinse the glue that starts to fall away, so that it doesn't reattach to the fibers while the scarf sits in the water.... and rinse, rinse, and RINSE... making sure all that  glue is completely washed out!  You could also sing the song "I'm gonna wash that man glue right out of my hair - scarf!"  See the pictures of the scarves the girls made in the scarf class... my blog entry on here: DECEMBER 7, 2010

Roll up the ends as you work... and don't forget you can turn the scarf over and work from the 'plain paper' side, which really helps visibility, and to see where you may need to place stitches... and there is no light reflecting from the topping, so it sometimes makes it easier to see!
 I like to secure the ends with 4-5 rows of straight stitching, to give strength and a bit of stability so beads can be secured at the scarf ends if desired. This is the picture to the right.

The beads on the blue/green scarf below were "looped" and secured in between the loops.  You can also choose to just "dangle" them, in single fringes... and use a small bead as a knot at the end, and bring your thread and needle back up through the row of beads, to continue adding each line of beaded fringe.

Friday, January 21, 2011


This piece was a bit of an experiment... I wanted to play with  my newly dyed fabric, and with my new Zenspirations embroidery designs (love the USB stick to plug n play!)  The embroidery design is the the framed box, and the "Big L" only. (check out my post on the "BLOOM" towel a few weeks ago here)
After I finished the embroidery, I added the letters: "ove" on my own, free motion style. Using the same black thread I embroidered with, which was an Isacord 40 weight polyester, I switched to a zig zag stitch, keeping my needle at a 45 degree angle.  I set my zig zag stitch to a width that I felt looked good in relation to the size of the big "L" - about 2.5 inches wide, (feed dogs are still dropped), and using the #29 clear free motion foot, (you want visibility for this!), I began free motion stitching the letters "ove" to finish...  extending a little "flair" shall we say... so the zig zag line curves, and flows it's way all the way through the framed border, which I personally thought looked more attractive than if I was to just stop it at the inside border of the frame.

Why not add a sticker?! I found this clear sticker in my scrapbooking area (which is quite sadly neglected these days)... How I loved doing this!  Just "run right over it!" --- using of course, a pretty thread in a pinky-green-mango color scheme!!!  There's fibers under it... paint.... all added to lutradur; a kind of newer 'space-age' fabric (for lack of a better term!)  I'm not sure I know how to describe lutradur... a man-made polyester-type product that can be painted, stamped, cut, sewn, burned... you name it!

This is a shot of the three little squares of lutradur, and  further experimentation --I mean embellishment that I added!  ...further 'enhanced' with a my free motion #43 couching foot using a hand-dyed yarn... just for kicks and giggles! Don't forget to LAUGH!!!  (and for practice!)

I took design motif cues from the embroidery design, keeping it a very simple loopdee-loo free motion circles...in solid black, and then like a pitcher on a baseball field... CHANGE IT UP!  Bat 1000 when you grab a beautiful variegated thread - my personal favorite, which is Superior Threads "Rainbow threads --- they are lovely tri-lobal polyesters that have shine and brilliant colors (love them!).  The tip is to use a 90/14 topstitch needle... drop your top tension a notch (or two!), and use a bobbin weight or lighter, 50 weight cotton thread on the bottom.

I added some stamping to one of the little squares... in a bit of white paint, right onto the lutradur.  It didn't come out quite as bold as I was anticipating... but hey, that's how you learn!  (and have fun!)
Leftover pieces cut deliberately into triangle shapes... and "doodled" over randomly!! Raw edge borders... no need to spend time hand stitching on this piece.  Also, I left the center commercial green batik (with the black circles) deliberately "off kilter" --- one of my favorite ways to play!
And I ripped the fabrics, so I could get those fluffy edges... 
and don't forget it's
"love... binding it all together!"
and the finished piece looks like:
 "...love  binds everything together in perfect harmony" --- Colossians 3:14
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