Monday, February 23, 2015

Book review and giveaway! Adventures in Fabric: La Todera Style

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Julie Creus’ new book, Adventures in Fabric: La Todera Style (Stash Books 2014, 143 pages, $25.95). It contains 20 fun projects – jewelry, table decor, pillows, sewing accessories, holiday decorations, children’s sofites and balls — using techniques such as fabric folding, fusing, weaving and thread wrapping. 

(Note that items made from these patterns are for personal use only; they are not to make and sell.)

Just look what I made from one of the patterns in her book! This is the “Zaftig Zinnia Brooch.” I used a blue ombré fabric from SAQA’s Urban Textures fabric line from Andover (I got mine from I found Julie’s directions to be very easy to follow. While it did take some time to prepare the petals, I was able to complete this project in only a few hours, I got great results, and I love it!

Julie has a real gift of thinking in three dimensions using fabric. It’s like she’s half sewist and half engineer. I’m not sure how she figures all of this stuff out (my brain doesn’t work this way!), but she makes amazing and beautiful things.

The book has a large pull-out pattern sheet that makes it easy to trace the shapes you need to create templates for the projects. The photography is wonderful, and there are tons of step-by-step photos to guide you through the directions, so that everything makes perfect sense. There is also information about the exact fabric lines Julie used for her samples, as well as sections on construction techniques, hand sewing stitches, knots, and choosing fabrics. 

Here are photos of more of the great projects in this book (with many thanks to Julie and  Stash Books/C&T Publishing for the photos):

I first met Julie Creus at the first Quilt Market at which she exhibited, 2010 in Houston.

Here’s how I met Julie: I walked into the booth for her company, La Todera. We chatted for a bit, and then she got a phone call. I was looking around at all her cool stuff, and when she got off, she said, “Oh my gosh, I just found out that Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy are coming to my booth right now!” She asked if I’d take photos, and I agreed. Sure enough, a few minutes later, here come Kaffe and Lucy. (If you don’t know them, Kaffe is a very famous artist, well known in the quilting world for his luscious floral fabrics. Liza often partners with him, and designs many beautiful quilts with his fabrics.) I clicked away, both on my camera and on Julie’s, and got a bunch of photos of them admiring her work, including the one above.

Julie makes many of her flower pins with Kaffe’s fabrics, and gave him one to take home. She said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I named my pattern Kafflowers after you, because they look great in your fabrics!” (He didn’t mind at all.)

I stayed in touch with Julie in the years since then, and we see each other at Quilt Market or Quilt Festival. It’s been so fun to see her company grow. Last year, she came to Cleveland to shoot two segments for Series 1400 and one for Series 1500 of Quilting Arts TV.

Here’s your chance to win Julie’s book. First, take a look at the La Todera website. Then leave a comment after this post and tell me which of Julie’s designs you like best, and why. I’ll pull one name at random on noon on Sunday, March 1. (Yes, this give-away is open to international readers!) Please note that your comment might not appear right away, because I have to moderate/approve all comments. I am doing this because in the past, my blog has been slammed with Japanese porn spammers... and you really don't want to see that in the comments, do you? ;-)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith and Rayna Gillman teaching in Charlotte this spring

The Charlotte Quilters’ Guild has two wonderful instructors coming in April and May, and there are still spots available! They’ve now opened the classes to the general public, so even if you are not a member of the guild, you can still take the classes. 

Sarah Ann Smith is teaching a two-day workshop called “Photo to Flower Collage” April 9-10, and a one-day workshop called “Thread Coloring the Flower” on April 11.  Sarah and I have taught together at several big quilt shows, and she’s been a guest on Quilting Arts TV. She really knows her stuff, and is an excellent and thorough teacher. Sarah is the author of Threadwork Unraveled, a fabulous resource on everything you need to know about thread.


Rayna Gillman is teaching a two-day workshop called “Cinderella Quilts: Reinventing the UFO” May 7-8. Check out how students transformed old blocks and projects into beautiful new pieces here On May 9, Rayna is teaching “Fearless Color,” a class she says will “free you forever from the same old color combinations.”
Rayna is the author of Create your Own Hand-Printed Cloth, and Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts.

Final Cover  Free Form Quilts
I’ve taken a class from Rayna, and I can tell you two things about workshops: you will learn a lot, and you will have a blast!

You can register online for these classes on the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild website

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“Fancy Goldfish”

“Fancy Goldfish” (copyright 2015) by Susan Brubaker Knapp
It’s done! After quilting around all the scales, and the details on the goldfish, I quilted lots of water currents and bubbles in the background. But I wasn’t entirely pleased with it, so I rubbed some purple-blue shimmery paint on the bubbles, which made them stand out a lot more. 

It was very tricky getting good photos of this piece. I had to shoot it five times – at different times of day today – to get the photos in this post. Some of the shots were too washed out, some were too flat. The photos here are pretty true to color, and Im pleased with how the texture of the quilting shows. 

 This spring, I’ll be sending this piece off to the Quilt Alliance, who will auction it to benefit their programs. Stay tuned, and I’ll tell you how to bid on it if you are interested!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

“Fancy Goldfish” in progress

I’m working on this piece to submit to The Alliance for American Quilts’ 2015 Contest, “Animals We Love.” It will be 16" square when finished. The photo above shows it painted but not yet quilted. I just painted the background tonight, and may do some additional work on it tomorrow before I start stitching it.

All submissions to this contest become the property of the Quilt Alliance, and are auctioned to support the mission of the organization: “to document, preserve, and share our American quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation’s diverse peoples and their communities.” This group does amazing work, and I’ve wanted to create a piece to donate to them for several years, but never had time. 

My piece is based on drawings I made of some fancy varieties of goldfish. It is wholecloth painted, and once I finish the background, I’ll quilt it. Here are some photos showing its progression. 

My ink drawings of goldfish:

The first goldfish painted on fabric:

The second goldfish in progress:

and finished:

and all three goldfish painted, before the background:

Have questions about this technique? Check out my post “FAQs: Wholecloth Painting.”

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“Le Poisson Bleu-Vert”

Here is my latest piece, “Le Poisson Bleu-Vert” (“The Blue-Green Fish”). I have not faced it yet, but I think it will be about 30" x 20" when finished. The fins, scales and letters are made from Lutradur®.

Lutradur® is a spun-bonded polyester. It takes paint and inks very well, and has the key advantage of not fraying. So when you cut it, you get nice clean edges. It is also somewhat transparent, which can be nice for adding depth. 

If you want to try out Lutradur®, you can get a pack that contains some lightweight (70 grams) and some heavyweight (100 grams) from C&T Publishing

I painted some sheets of it with ProChemical & Dye’s Profab transparent and pearlescent acrylic textile paints in shades of blue and green, and cut the scales out by hand, in arcs. Then I machine stitched them down, starting at the tail and working my way toward the front of the fish. The stitching on each row is hidden by the row that covers it.


I painted the fish’s body before I stitched the scales on. (Aside from the scales and words, this piece is one piece of white fabric – Robert Kaufman Pimatex PFD – that I’ve painted.) After the fish was mostly done, I thought the composition could use something else, and decided on type. I’ve always love the French word for fish, “poisson,” and decided it would be fun to describe the fish in French. I cut the letters from the Lutradur®, too, then simply stitched them down.

The free-motion stitching in the background was so much fun. I did it without marking, and stitched shapes suggesting coral at the bottom, and then filled in around it with a tight, small meander in shades of yellow, green and blue. Above, I stitched wavy lines filled with bubbles, suggestive of water currents.

I love how dimensional the scales are, but there are a few spots where they are standing up a bit too much. I’m going to try leaving it under some heavy books tonight to see if I can flatten it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

“Look, See”

"Look, See" by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2014)
Several months ago, I was contacted by Matt Reese and Stevii Graves, who were organizing an invitational exhibition called “My Personal App” that would debut at Road to California later this month.

Here is my piece for the exhibition: "Look, See." It is based on a closeup photo of my eye in bright sunshine, and is wholecloth painted and quilted. Quilters invited to participate in this exhibition were asked to create a 36" square quilt that looks like an app icon, representing their personal app. This piece is wholecloth painted and then quilted, and is based on a photo of my eye. I believe it is the mind, heart, and eye of the photographer, and not the camera, that makes a good shot. It is learning to see – not just look at – things.

I am excited to teach at Road To California next year, in January 2016!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Sunny" is done for THE 100

“Sunny” (10.5" x 10.5") Copyright 2014 by Susan Brubaker Knapp
Done! This is my donation to Virginia Spiegel’s “THE 100” fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Based on my sketch of a sunfish, then wholecloth painted and quilted. Someone will win him in February – maybe you! Check out the details on Virginia’s website.

… and Happy New Year to all my blog readers! I hope the new year brings you much joy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sneak Peek: The 100

Piece (in progress) that I'm donating to THE 100
On Wed., Feb. 4, 2015, Virginia Spiegel is attempting to raise $10,000 in one day for the American Cancer Society. Fiberart For A Cause has already raised $240,000 through the generosity of fiber artists and patrons. In 2015, her goal with THE 100 is to bump that amount up to a nice, round quarter of a million dollars.

On that day, 100 patrons who donate $100 will be randomly assigned artwork from an extraordinary line-up of international fiber artists (including me!). All the details, including the list of participating artists, are here:
I’ve finished painting my piece, and will stitch and quilt it next!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Catherine Redford’s “Modern Machine Quilting” Workshop


If you are fairly new to quilting, and want to learn some basic machine quilting techniques that can make your quilts look polished and sophisticated right out of the gate, here is a Quilting Arts Workshop for you! In her new workshop, Modern Machine Quilting: Straight Lines, Spirals, Serpentines, and More!, fiber artist and teacher Catherine Redford shares wonderful tips and techniques for using a walking foot on a regular domestic sewing machine to accomplish straight lines, organic curves, serpentines, and square and circular spirals. 

Despite the title, this is a great workshop for all quilters, not just those who work in the “modern” style. These quilting techniques would be wonderful on traditional quilts, contemporary quilts, and art quilts. And the things she teaches are not just for beginners, either; I learned a lot of things I’ll be incorporating in my work in the future.

Me, with Catherine on the set of Quilting Arts TV
Catherine’s been a guest on several seasons of Quilting Arts TV, and here’s why: she’s a great teacher who is able to break things down into simple steps and explain them in ways that make perfect sense. 

I consider myself a fairly accomplished machine quilter, but I learned a lot from this workshop. When I started machine quilting about 20 years ago, I stuck to what I thought was the easiest method: the basic stitch-in-the-ditch way, going around all the shapes in my traditional blocks. The results were not pretty. It took me a while to realize that stitch in the ditch is not easy! 

Quilt and photo by Catherine Redford
Catherine gives great tips for getting better results when you do stitch in the ditch, and then goes on to show you how to add nice graphic elements — such as grids that look like tartan/plaid — and how to adjust the width and length of some of the basic stitches built into most modern sewing machines (such as the gentle wave and zigzag) so that they look great as quilting lines.

Quilt and photo by Catherine Redford
Beginning quilters will also appreciate her thorough coverage of how to choose battings, threads, needles, marking tools, and walking feet before she jumps into preparing the quilt top for quilting. Along the way, she offers many valuable tips that will save you time and heartache.

The DVD is $24.99, and the high definition video download is $19.99; you can order them both at the Quilting Daily Shop

Catherine is giving away two copies of her new workshop on DVD! So head on over to her blog, and leave a comment there by Dec. 25 for a chance to win!

Want to read what others think about Catherine’s workshop? Check out these blogs:
Faith Jones
Bonnie Hunter
Cheryl Sleboda
Maddie Kertay
Svetlana Sotak
Julia Wood
Laura Wasilowski

Pokey Bolton