Published in Quilting Arts Magazine

I’m absolutely thrilled to have my art quilts and an article in the latest Quilting Arts  magazine!!!! I’ve subscribed to this magazine for many, many years and truly never dreamed I’d see my own work (and face!) in the publication. But there it is—the Oct/Nov 2014 issue, “In the Spotlight” article.

Quilting Arts Magazine
Latest issue of Quilting Arts magaine

The article features photos of 2 of my quilts (admittedly my favorites), “Peeking” and “Trail Riding”. The first is an art quilt of a little kitten peeking out from under a barn door. The other is a quilt of my husband and me on our horses at Matthiessen State Park here in north-central Illinois. A third quilt is described in the article and displayed on the website.

So grab a copy here to read my article and all the rest—a really fabulous magazine! Every issue has interesting new techniques, new bios of quilt artists and tons of inspiration!!

If you are interested in commissioning an art quilt walling hanging, please contact me. I am accepting commissions for 2015! [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

This is my latest quilted wall hanging, “Amy & Ernie Riding”. (That’s my husband and me on our valiant steeds, Cody and Destiny.) On the left is my inspiration photograph, taken last fall in Matthiessen State Park, here in Illinois. It’s a beautiful park with deep ravines, creeks, woods, fields, and 9 miles of riding trails.

Note: This wall hanging is NOT completed. I just thought I would share my work in-process. So far, I have not done any sewing or quilting. I think it’s important for people to know that they can create some quite nice fabric art without being able to sew. I hope to add some glimpses of earlier stages another time. 

The photograph, as I said, was inspiration. In my art quilt wall hanging, I’m not wearing glasses and my husband is sporting a nice cowboy hat (because I have a thing for cowboys!) I realized, after the fact, that I could have dropped 40 pounds between the photo and my version, but oh, well, I’m just keeping it (fairly) real!


Below is an earlier version—the foreground is naked here. I also had a different hat on Ernie. Great example of “I can’t draw”! I tried to make a cowboy hat from a picture in my mind. Well, don’t go there! I found a photo on my computer that I was able to create a better hat from.



I decided to add a lot of texture with the foliage. Here’s a glimpse at my technique. I cut lots of little pieces of green fabrics and laid them on a piece of freezer paper. This keeps them together and protects my wall hanging from any messes from my glue. Yes, I use watered down glue in lieu of pins to hold pieces of fabric in place. I use just little dots of glue, applied with a toothpick or piece of straw. The pieces are generally easy to remove and there are no glue blobs to sew through.




I used the same technique to apply the fabrics to the foreground.

Next step is thread work: thread painting and quilting! Stay tuned!






My husband, Ernie, has a big family reunion every year in far southern Illinois.  It’s held on an acreage that has been in his family for generations.  Uncle Ray built a pavilion, enclosed on 3 sides and landscaped the area with beautiful flowers.  He works really hard each summer getting everything in top shape for the September get-together.  One year, as a thank-you, I created this wall-hanging from panoramic photos I had taken.

This wall hanging is done in raw-edge applique, embellished with thread painting and decorative yarns/threads.  I didn’t use any pattern for this—I just eye-balled it, as they say.  Doing it this way gives it more of a folk-art look, which I like. What I really wanted to do was experiment with texture.  Texture draws people into the piece, and touching is allowed on my quilts.

The pavillion is has cedar siding, so I used a scrap of wide-wale corduroy to make mine.  I used a satin stitch around the roof line and on the appliqued windows.  For the flag, I had some flag-print fabric from which I cut a little flag and folded it as it hung from the flag pole (no breeze down there on that hot summer day!)
The trees on the hillside are done in a variety of batiks, commercial prints, and maybe a hand-dyed cotton or 2.  I cut basic blob shapes similar to what I saw in the picture, then did various free-form stitching around the edges—trying to soften them a bit.  Then I thread painted (a machine technique I’ve posted a tutorial for) the trunks and branches with various shades of brown embroidery thread.  I also thread painted some of the flowers in the garden, as well s the 2 bushes behind the fence.

The other, very textured flowers and greenery are made by couching decorative threads.  I used long tweezers  (like what come with a serger, or what you use in surgery if you, dear reader, happen to be a surgeon) to hold the threads/yarns in place as I free-motion stitch them into place with clear nylon thread.  Bunching and scrunching the yarns give a very full look, which also screams “feel me”—-so you may not want to do this if you don’t want people touching your wall hangings!


Here are a couple of my landscape quilts/wall hangings.

The one of the left was a commission. A gal sent me 3 pictures she wanted combined into 1 picture.  The 3 are shown together above the wallhanging.  One is a picture (taken through a glass window) of a sunset.  Below it is a painting of 3 horses running through water.  The 3rd is a photo of her friend’s view from his house.

The job was to combine the 3 pictures into a single landscape, which I think I did successfully.  (She was quite thrilled with the result!)  The wall hanging is all fabric.  I used a combination of commercial prints and batiks and hand-dyed cottons.  I also painted (with water color pencils) the sunset, as I couldn’t find a fabric that looked like what I needed.  “When in need, make it yourself!”

The landscape on the right is also created completely in fabric and thread (as that is what I do!)  I made this for my cousin’s 50th birthday.  He lives in Phoenix and I found a photo on Google Earth of Camel Back Mountain there.  I used the photo as inspiration for my artwork.  I have to say, this was the hardest landscape I have ever done.  I will also admit that I like how it came out!

Batiks and hand-dyes were a great source for most of the fabrics. I also did a lot of thread painting for details like grasses. (See the detailed photo)  And, once again, I painted the sunset with my water color pencils.  I love the challenge of finding just the right textures and colors in various fabrics to create pieces of my pictures, but the skies, if I want them to look somewhat realistic, have been too much of a challenge to find!

I had scraps of fabric from my experiments with the sky and decided to use a piece for my label on the back, which is also pictured.



 Dad and Jack

I’ve documented my process here on my blog and it’s finally finished!

I used the dark blue from the bottom of the quilt on the back.
I put a rod pocket across the top and I added a couple of other special touches.  I added a pocket to hold the copy of the photograph.  I also added a label for the name of the quilt, my name and date, and that this quilt was a gift for my father’s 85th birthday.

I absolutely loved working on this project.  It was like a jigsaw puzzle—-I kept thinking “OK, I’ll just add this one more detail” before I could get out of my studio.

The fabric pieces were an interesting challenge.  I love using hand-dyed and batiks, with all kinds of variations in color and tone.  Finding just the right piece can be overwhelming, but having my fabrics sorted by shade to start with really helps.  I keep in mind that I will be doing some stitching where needed for extra detail.

And the stitching===it’s so meditative. I do free-motion stitching throughout.  Sometimes when I do these quilts I use fine clear thread, but on this piece I used colored thread, changing as I needed to.  I don’t worry about matching the fabric exactly—a little contrast adds interest.

I’m looking forward to doing more portraits and landscapes in fabric.  I think this may be a new direction for my business!

>I just found this cute idea and thought I’d share it with you all. Artist’s Trading Cards (ATC’s) have been around for quite a while, but this is a much simpler way to create an “artsy” postcard. And if you’re creating invitations, that’s what you need–easy!

I also like that this idea would be perfect to use with the other 2 techniques I’ve done tutorials on.

Broderie Perse applique could be featured on the postcard, rather than a printed fabric—a cut-out motif bonded to a solid background would make a perfect little picture! You could probably even find fabric with a motif or design that relates to your party theme!

This is a great little project to practice your thread painting! Simple highlights on your fabric would really add a lot. Try out some of those special threads in your collection!

Here’s the link. I get the newsletter from this site–they have some great ideas:

>Thread painting is being featured in a lot of books and classes recently. I think many people see the word “painting” and think “Oh my gosh, I can’t paint!”. The fact is, thread painting is basically the same thing as free-motion embroidery. Free-motion embroidery is just sewing without the feed dogs up on your sewing machine. It’s not very hard, really, and like anything else, you can improve with practice.
Thread painting can be used to add detail to projects that would be too tedious to applique. It can also add nice highlights to pre-printed fabrics and works as a quilting technique. Layers of thread can be built up to resemble textures like bark and fur.

I have some suggestions for getting started with this technique. Like my tutorial on broderie perse, let’s use the fabric designer’s talents to make our work easier and look great!

(Click on any picture to enlarge it if you cannot see details.)

First, the machine set up:

  1. Put the feed dogs down. If you cannot do this, put tape over the feed dogs. You need to be in control of the direction the fabric goes.
  2. Use a regular 80/12 needle or embroidery needle. Have extras at the ready and allow for the possibility that some might break! if you plan to use shiny threads, like rayon, be sure to use embroidery needles.
  3. Take off the regular sewing foot and attach an embroidery foot. Open toed embroidery feet are nice because you can see where you are going better.
  4. Thread your machine as usual. The color or type of thread isn’t really important to start with—regular or embroidery threads will work fine. Use the same type in the bobbin. I’m using black in this tutorial so it can be seen more easily.
  5. Thread tension can be adjusted so that the TOP tension is LOOSER than normal. You don’t want your bobbin thread to be pulled up to the surface of the fabric. If you loosen the top tension a little, the top thread will be pulled under the fabric by the bobbin thread. (If you don’t want to try this, be sure to use matching top and bobbin thread colors.)
  6. Set a straight stitch. Length doesn’t matter because you will be controlling that aspect.
    Needle stop down, if you have it.

The fabric:

  1. Pick a piece of fabric from your stash that has a large graphic design like a floral, leaves, etc. I’ve had fun with Laurel Burch fabrics, which have cartoonish cats, horses, etc. plus foliage and graphic designs. We want some graphics that are at least 1 ½ inches across to start with.
  2. Make sure the piece of fabric is at least 12 inches across, so you have plenty to hold on to.
  3. Under your fabric you can add a layer of thin batting if you like. This will give your stitching more impact and texture.
  4. On the bottom you want a piece of stabilizer. There are many on the market to choose from. Sometimes I just use a piece of cotton canvas. If your stabilizer is not iron-on, you can use spray adhesive.
  5. If you don’t have spray adhesive, try this: Lay your stabilizer flat on the table, your batting (if you’re using it), and your fabric on top. Pin your layers together all around, then stitch or hand baste around the edges to secure everything together. You can even baste a big “X” across the center of your piece—the basting can be removed when you’re done.

Ready? Let’s sew!

  1. Slide your fabric under the needle and put the presser foot down to engage the thread tension.

  2. Choose a graphic detail—say, a leaf. Let’s outline the leaf. Take a couple of stitches in place at your starting point on the leaf edge. Some people prefer to take a stitch and pull up the bobbin thread, then stitch a couple of stitches and cut off the bobbin thread. That way you don’t get any tangles on the back. Personally, I rarely have this problem so I rarely bother!
  3. Make an “L” with your fingers and thumbs and place your hands around your chosen design with your thumbs about 2-3 inches apart.

  4. Now you’re ready to start stitching. You’ll have to experiment with how fast to stitch and move the fabric. Believe it or not, when you stitch/move a little faster, you can make smoother lines. It’s kind of like riding a bike. When you go really slow, trying to keep your balance, you’re more likely to wobble around. So don’t be afraid to step on the gas!
  5. Outline your leaf (or whatever). You can move sideways and backwards, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time stopping to rearrange your fabric like when you stitch with feed dogs. But if you can’t see what you’re doing, turn the fabric so you can!
  6. Deep breath…..exhale…..relax your shoulders, elbows and wrists……
  7. Now go around again! One thing I love about thread painting is building up lines of thread. And any little “wobbles” can be smoothed over with another line or 2 of stitching.
  • DON’T AIM FOR PERFECTION!! And needles sometimes break! I’ve broken A LOT of needles doing free-motion work. It happens, it’s OK. Just put in a new needle and keep practicing.
  • Now that that’s established, move on to another part of the design. If you’re doing a leaf, try the veins. On a flower, try the stem/leaves.
  • REMEMBER: when you’re ready, you’ll probably use matching or blending thread colors. This time we’re just concentrating on moving around.
  • You can practice stitch all over your fabric. This is a nice technique for quilting those printed panels used for pillows and wall hangings.

Here’s a “before and after” on another section of my fabric. I used thread colors that blend with the design. The difference isn’t dramatic, but it isn’t supposed to be. What we’re doing is embellishing, enhancing a design.
After: the next 3 pictures:

Add Image

Next time we’ll look at how color is used within an object in the design and focus on highlights.