Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dragon Threads Gift Workshop

For the second year in a row, my friend Vicki and I made Christmas presents for our dear friends. It feels GREAT! Of course, I couldn't post what I was doing before or our friends would know what they were getting.

Our projects didn’t take much time. We started organizing what we needed this fall, completing out our lovely gifts little by little. We didn’t feel pressured at all. In fact, these projects are a great way to use up some of that fabric you have in your stash. Believe me, that feels good, too.

We used a terrific (and free!) pattern from Beth Wheeler, changing just a little.  I made about 20 of these "padfolios". They honestly they don't take more than an hour or so to make. I had so much fun coordinating fabrics from my huge stash. It was surprising how many things went together perfectly. Here is the link to the project:

Padfolio by Beth Wheeler from the C&T Publishing Blog (a great source of neat project ideas). Here’s hers:


Here’s mine:

I made the following changes:

  1. I cut a 4" sq of fabric,pressed it on the diagonal and tucked it in the corner for a business card holder.  That is also where I attached my label.
  2. To cover the top of the pad of paper, I pressed a piece of steam-a-seam 2 about the size of 2.5" x 5.5" to the back of fabric, then cut it down to 2" x 5" and peeled off the paper backing and pressed it over the paper top of the notepad and folded it over to the back. I didn't like seeing the store brand name when I opened up the book.
  3. Also the zigzag were length of  0.4 and width of 3.0 for the first pass and then 3.7 for the second pass.

Here is the inside of mine (Sorry! The label is blurry):

inside portfolio

Vicki and I had such a good time these past two years that we’ve already started planning next year’s gifts, made and delivered of course with love. I

Last year’s project was a bag from an Indygo Junction pattern.

If you can’t recall from yesterday, here’s how they turned out:

colorful bags

Later this month I’m going to post a couple of good ideas to use as inspiration for next year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Dragon Threads Elves

To all my wonderful readers, friends, quilters, and everybody in between, happiest of holidays!

I was a very busy elf this year, making lovely little portfolios and bags. I’ve been a busy elf this week delivering them.

More details to come in a blog post coming up but for now, back to the cookies.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Master Machine Stitching Thread Sketching WINNER!

WOW! 123 total in email and comments. Thank you to everybody who participated. The winner is .... (drum roll please) ... Creative Dawn!

So much coming up on Dragon Threads Open Book. Right after Christmas is the much-anticipated Jane Sassaman giveaway, then a Judith Montano prize for the New Year. Lots of other great stuff coming up.

In the meantime, thanks to Susan Brubaker Knapp and to all of you. Congratulations Creative Dawn! If you didn't win, be sure to head over to Blue Moon River and pick up a copy. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics DVD by Susan Brubaker Knapp. A Giveaway!

Funny story about how I met Susan Brubaker Knapp a few years ago. We had both just finished attending the Portland, OR Quilt Market. I was shopping for a chocolate snack at the airport gift shop. Susan and her mother were in the store, too. Her mom admired the necklace I was wearing. We all stopped to chat. Susan knew of Dragon Threads. We exchanged business cards and soon started emailing.  Since then, Susan and I have become friends.

The first thing I think of about Susan is that she is generous: of spirit, of heart, and of information. Her generous and creative spirit shows on her brand new DVD by Quilting Arts Workshop.  I’ve followed Susan’s terrific work in Quilting Arts magazine articles for years. I was really interested to dig in to the DVD and see how it compared to her magazine articles.

Well, I loved it! The DVD is so well done and easy to understand. Susan’s instruction could not be more clear as she walks you through her workflow. Susan is full of good advice and makes thread sketching seem easy and eminently possible. She starts at the beginning, including what materials you' will need, then moves right through thread sketching demonstrations right on the machine.

The DVD is divided into 5 chapters: Getting Ready, Color, Dimension, Line & Movement and Texture & Pattern. Each chapter is short and concise, but thorough. The information is nicely organized, and the chapters make it easy to go back and find anything you want or need to review. Susan shows how a few lines of straight stitches adds the texture or desired effect such as shading or highlights by the color of thread or the spacing of the lines. Simple right? Here are some samples of the work (photos courtesy Susan Brubaker Knapp):

The techniques Susan demonstrates are straightforward, particularly with such an expert guide. Susan has an artist's eye, and manages to show how and where to place the stitching to successfully achieve a given effect. She illustrates each effect with lots of outstanding quilt samples with amazing details. Objects are sometimes so realistic that they look like photographs! Check these details out (photos courtesy Susan Brubaker Knapp):

When Susan demonstrates stitching on her machine it is mesmerizing. She is so smooth and flowing. She is a natural in front of the camera. I asked her if she did this entire DVD in one take, off the top of her head and basically she did! Here’s a short sample of Susan at work:


Sewing is in Susan's genes. Her mom is a retired home economics teacher who taught Susan to sew at age 10. A co-worker literally 'forced' Susan to take a quilting class with her in her 20's. Despite no formal art training (hard to believe when you see her work) it's now her full-time career of choice! In 2005, she started making her first art quilts and credits a 'life-changing' class by quilt teacher, Bonnie Mc Caffery with giving her the inspiration to start designing her own art quilts.

Susan is everywhere. She's going to continue to be in Quilting Arts magazine. She is very active on Facebook. Her blog, Blue Moon River is terrific and every bit as vibrant, colorful, and interesting as Susan is in person. Go visit. Shop! This week she is giving away a copy of a Dragon Threads book by Noriko Endo, titled Confetti Naturescapes.

One of my lucky readers is going to win a copy of Susan’s new DVD.  Post a comment here or sign up for our newsletter. I promise if you’ve already signed up I won’t send you two copies of the newsletter. Do both for two chances to win!  We'll pick one person at random on Dec. 22 to get a copy of Master Machine Stitching!

Fabric to Dye For Winner!

Sophie W was the big winner in last week's giveaway. Congratulations, Sophie! Your book is on the way.

Stay tuned.....This week's giveaway coming up soon. It's a good one.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Fabric to Dye for by Frieda Anderson

Disclaimer: I've admired Frieda Anderson’s work since I saw a quilt from her first book years ago. I visit her website from time to time to see what she’s doing; it’s always something interesting. Finally last week I got a chance to meet her when she was in town to teach a class for my old quilting guild. After the class we went out to dinner. Frieda is great company: nice and easy to talk to. Given that we’ve both been working in the industry for years we have mutual friends and lots of common ground to cover. She’s no diva, rather very open and down to earth, an “old” new friend.

Now, I’ve never dyed before. I’ve been interested in it for quite a while, in fact I have a 30 yard roll of PFD fabric waiting. But how to get started? Well, Frieda is famous for hand-dying all her fabrics, so at dinner I picked her brain. She gave me a synopsis of her latest book, Fabric to Dye For . Her method—eliminating urea—seemed easy. (And not too messy!) I was intrigued.

I went home and bought the book. Over the next week I studied both Frieda’s book and another dyeing technique book somebody loaned me. It was like a high school homework assignment: “compare and contrast….”

No contest! Frieda's book is so clear and concise, perfect for the beginner. She skillfully uses full-color photographs (see below) to walk readers through the process from beginning to end, including setting up a place to work, sourcing materials, fabric preparation, etc. And she does it in only 79 pages, which will set you back only $23.95. The things you need you might already have sitting around. Here are two pictures from the book to show you what I mean:

The book is very nicely organized, something I really appreciate as I organize and produce books for a living. She includes easy-to-understand charts of formulas to mix dyes. She suggests a 12-step gradation to avoid dyeing too many odd colors. Her method demonstrates how to dye a value family of a color. The quilt projects included in the book will not only make it easy to use your new perfectly colored fabric to create beautiful effects, but will inspire you to get creative. You will not be able to help yourself! Here are two pictures, courtesy of Frieda, to pique your interest:

I am sold on Frieda’s method of dyeing and I have my quilting friends fired up to get colorful with me. We’re planning a “dyeing party” as soon as the weather is over 70 degrees. As I look out at the snow falling here in central Ohio, I realize we have some time to plan.

Ready to plan your own project? Can’t wait to get a copy of the book? We’re giving one away! Everybody has up to 2 chance to win. Here’s how:

  1. Post a comment below. If you were dyeing fabric, tell me what color you’d choose to do first. Then tell me what you’d use it for.
  2. Sign up for the Dragon Threads email newsletter (click here). In the “How can we help you” field write “Frieda sent me!” Even if you’re already on the list, signing up again will give you another chance to win (and I promise not to send you two newsletters unless you send me two different email addresses).

One winner will be chosen at random. Contest ends at midnight on December 14th. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a copy, or you want to send one to every quilter you know then start planning your own “dyeing party”, head over to Frieda’s site. Tell her Dragon Threads sent you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Joan Lintault Book Winners; Nick of Time Sale

Our first contest was such a great success. Thank you to everybody who commented; who emailed me; who "poked" me on Facebook; and who signed up for the Dragon Threads newsletter.

And now...Drum Roll please....


Eugenie.qs, Li Hertzi, and Vickie Clontz


Our month full of giveaways continues Wednesday. Stay tuned to this station! (Better yet, subscribe to our feed.)

If you didn't win the Joan Lintault book, I bring you tidings of great joy. Head on over to Dragon Threads where Joan's spectacular book is on sale. Lots of other books are on sale, too. They make great gifts for your quilting friends....or for you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dragon Threads Giveaway: Joan Lintault in your Mailbox

Last Friday, my dear friend Candace and I went to have lunch with Joan Lintault, one of my authors. Joan’s sister, Jaimee Uhlenbrock came, too. Joan's house is in a beautiful wooded setting in new Paltz, NY. Joan’s studio is large, fully equipped with everything one could want or need to make fiber art. She even has a full kitchen for dyeing (indigo dyeing in the summer) and silk screen printing!

While we were there, I got a peek at the quilt Joan is making for me. Gorgeous. Check out a few of the silk-screened pieces:
silkscreen 1

silkscreen 2

I can’t wait for the finished product.

When I visit studios, I always love to see what is on artists’ inspirations walls. It’s always interesting, and well, inspiring. Joan’s, of course, is no exception:


door to studio
This is what is in her sewing machine now…
jl on machine

Joan has a Japanese tea house on a small pond in her backyard. I can just imagine how it must look in the summer with everything in full bloom!

I can’t say enough about Joan’s quilts. She’s been creating amazing fiber art pieces since 1965. Her works has been exhibited at the Smithsonian, the American Crafts Museum, the American Museum of Quilts and Textiles. (And soon my house!) Her quilts are masterpieces: exquisite, dimensional, sculptural, deeply personal. Take these, for example:

Quilt #1


Quilt #2


Quilt #3


Quilt #4


Working with Joan was a delight from beginning to end. She is delightful and as unique as her quilts. Her book is a tour of sorts demonstrating how a talented, experienced, creative master craftsman and artist translates an idea into art. Joan’s warm, clear guidance, instruction, and ideas will have you anxious to fire up your inner artist.

To get those creative juices going for the holidays, Dragon Threads is having a giveaway! Three lucky winners will bring Joan right into their homes/studios via her wonderful book. Everybody has up to three chances to win a signed copy of Joan's book:

  1. Leave a comment below letting me know which of the pictures above is your favorite and why.
  2. Head over to the Dragon Threads newsletter signup page and sign-up. In the “How can we help you” field, type “Joan sent me”.
  3. Go to the Dragon Threads Facebook page and post “Joan sent me” on the wall.

I'll put all the entries into a big virtual hat, and 3 winners, randomly chosen, will be announced this weekend. Lots more contests and giveaways coming up in the next few weeks! Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in New York


Last week for Thanksgiving we drove to upstate New York to visit our best friends, Candace and Derek James.  Candace, Derek, and I were all together at the Pratt Institute a few years ago. Okay, a few decades ago but who’s counting? (Hint: I am NOT.)

Derek is a fine artist/painter. His work is many private collections including those of Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen...and that’s right, my house.

Dinner this year was a formal sit-down affair for 37 in his barn studio. China, stemware, sterling silver, twinkling lights, great friends, and great art! It was fabulous from soup to salad, to buffet turkey and trimmings.

Here’s the barn:


Inside, before dinner:

barn side 

barn front 

And after the transformation:



The day after Thanksgiving I went snooping in the barn. I can’t help myself! I opened a flat file drawer; my jaw dropped. Another drawer; another jaw-drop. Derek has hundreds of beautiful drawings and amazing small paintings.




While in the neighborhood, I couldn’t pass up a chance to visit my dear friend and author, the amazing Joan Lintault. Details about the visit, pictures of a work in progress and (drum roll please) a giveaway coming up this week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quilt Market Part III

Last June I tried long-arm quilting and discovered I’m more of a mid-arm woman. Ever since I took a class on the mid-arm Handi-Quilter machine, I’ve been looking at quilting patterns very carefully. In Houston this year I had plenty of gorgeous quilts to study. So much inspiration! Although I'm a long, long way from duplicating any of this master stitching, I’m determined to hone my skills. Look at these amazing quilts:

Whimsical, by Claudia Clark Meyers


Our Divine Miss Beetle, by Sonia Grasvik


Multiple Personalities, by Cynthia Goodwin




These quilts bowled me over with their use of color. Simply beautiful:

Harvest Tie-me, Frances Krupka


Joyful Garden, by Stephanie Nordlin


Ring Around the Aloe, by Lois Podolny




I am looking forward to next year’s trip to Houston already! I promise to take more photos next time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

International Quilt Market Part II

I’ve been back for a while, now, sorting through my pictures from my trip to Houston. I swear there were more quilts than usual this year and a few things you don’t normally see at a quilt show. I'm not even sure you can even classify these as a quilts but they sure are beautiful and make me laugh!




Take that Maidenform (and Madonna)!

I’ve been trying to pick a favorite from the show. It’s overwhelming and it’s impossible. There are so many quilts, so many talented, creative artists. I have a shortlist, though. One is this Asian quilt. I’m always partial to dragons and this particular piece was breathtaking. Called, Eastern Elements, and created by an Australian quilter, Linda Steele, it was an Asian version of a crazy quilt. Oh, how I’d like to hang this one in my home!

IMG_2864 IMG_2868

Keiko Goke, a really great Japanese fabric designer, did her amazing, fabulous version of a Wedding Ring quilt. I love the use of color and the non-traditional way she assembled the quilt.



Of course now that I am on my way to being a mid-arm quilt master (after one lesson….) I am studying at the stitch patterns in the quilting very closely. Hers is beautiful!

This weekend, a few more quilts that caught my eye, and next week (drum roll please) the first Dragon Thread Open Book Giveaway.