Saturday, May 30, 2009

Needle-felted bag

I just finished the outside of this needle-felted bag. I took a thin layer of a silk hankie, and felted it down before adding swirls of beautiful varigated wool yarn. I bought the bag from the Artgirlz about a year ago, and now I don’t see this particular style still available. Then I stitched it with some spectacular hand-dyed cotton embroidery thread called “Painter’s Threads” by Tentakulum. They are distributed in the U.S. through YLI. This color is called Rousseau.

If you’ve never done needlefelting, here’s a little information about it: You work with a very heavy-duty felting needle, which is extremely sharp and has little barbs on it. You place a piece of heavy foam (like the kind for seat cushions) underneath, and repeatedly stab it until the fibers mesh together. You can use wool roving or yarn, or silk hankies (thin layers of silk roving) to create your designs.

I also stitched and attached some Artgirlz felt balls to the top.

I don’t own an embellishing machine, which allows you to needlefelt much more quickly. (A machine like this has been on my wishlist for more than a year!) I did this project with a single felting needle. It took a long time, but it is very fun and relaxing, as long as you avoid stabbing yourself with the needle.

Next I’m going to make a lining with some interior pockets.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Connecting Threads catalog offering my Tulip Bag pattern

Connecting Threads catalog is selling my pattern “The Tulip Bag” and they made it up in some of their fabulous fabrics. The collection they used in these photos from the catalog is called “Impressions of Kyoto.” Love that chocolate brown and spa blue together!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Art of Cloth

Some local fiber artists I know in a group called The FAB are having their first exhibition, “The Art of Cloth,” June 4 through July 4. It is sponsored by the Arts Council of Lincoln County. These are wonderfully talented women, and I’m very eager to see their show.

Opening reception
Lincoln Cultural Center
403 E. Main Street, Lincolnton
Friday, June 12
6:30 p.m.

Jean H. Funderburk, Lincolnton, NC
K. Grace Howes, Huntersville NC

DeLane Rosenau, Denver, NC

Christine Scholz, Stanley, NC
Judy Whitehead, Cleveland, NC

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My big news!

Here it is, my big news … C&T Publishing is releasing my first title in October 2009!

It is called Appliqué Petal Party: A bouquet of 16 blocks & flowering border. It will include full-size patterns for all 16 of the 12-1/2" blocks and the scalloped floral border in the quilt shown below, plus a booklet with my needle turn applique basics and step-by-step instructions for the quilt, which is 73" square. Everything is packaged in an envelope, so the patterns are easy to pull out and use. It will retail for $17.95.

I’m very grateful to some of my appliqué friends who contributed to the book by doing some of the blocks in their own color combinations (as hard as it is for me to believe, some people are not as crazy about pink as I am!). I also offer a big thank-you to all the wonderful people at C&T Publishing who have helped me.

I’ll be posting details about the book as I find out more.

If you want to pre-order an autographed copy, just e-mail me at, and I'll put you on a list to contact in October with more information!

2010 Quilting Arts Calendar pre-order

Well, lookeee here! The 2010 Quilting Arts Calendar is already available for pre-order through Interweave’s online store. They are pretty darn speedy. That is my piece, “Citrus Slices,” on the front cover!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quilt Market, Part II

This is the second installment of news from Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh.

Now, here are two women who know how to have fun! You can tell from their smiles. Jane Davila (left) and Elin Waterston are the authors of two art quilt surface design books (Art Quilt Workbook and Art Quilts at Play, from C&T Publishing). I took a workshop from Jane at Market and got to see all the marvelous projects from the latest book up close. This is a terrific book for people who want to learn a ton of techniques (see my review in a previous post).

A few months ago, Elin and I discovered through Facebook that we have some friends in common. Some of my old high school buddies met her in the 80s, and she even knows the guy who played Rolf to my Liesl in my high school production of The Sound of Music! She is also a Pittsburgh native. Small world.

Here is Della Quimby of Della Q in her booth. Della sells beautiful fabrics, including drop-dead silk taffeta, and patterns for handbags and bags to hold knitting needles and yarn. Della also donates a portion of her profits to Vietnam Quilts, a non-profit Vietnam women’s organization, to provide equipment purchases, fabric donations and industry education.

This is Pearl P. Pereira (below), owner of P3 Designs standing in front of her incredibly cute “Baltimore Halloween” quilt. I had been seeing and hearing great things about this design from one of the appliqué Yahoo groups to which I belong, so it was neat to see the actual quilt and meet its designer.

One of the things I like to do at Market is to meet and talk with other designers who make patterns like mine (in this case, block-of-the-month patterns). I try to get a sense of whether I am pricing my patterns correctly, whether I should be laying out and printing them differently, and if my marketing techniques are good. While a few designers refuse to share this information, most of them (including Pearl) were wonderfully helpful. Thanks, Pearl!

This is Lesley Riley, author of the newly released book Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur by C&T Publishing. I took Lesley’s 1-1/2 hour class at Market. I had never worked with Lutradur and was eager to test it out. What fun!

Lutrafur is a Pellon fabric designed for roofing and furniture applications that looks like semi-transparent paper. You can paint it, dye it, stamp it, fold it, cut it, burn it, stitch it, run it through an inkjet printer and use it for photo transfer … needless to say it is very versatile, and offers a multitude of possibilities for art quilters, book makers and crafters. We had a lot of fun in Lesley’s class, and when I’m completely done with the project we started in class, I’ll post it on the blog. I also bought Lesley’s book, so you might see some of my work with her techniques showing up here!

I just had to swing by and introduce myself to Karen Kay Buckley (below, at right, with Bonnie McCaffery), because I think I’ve sold about a million people on her product called “Perfect Circles” that has revolutionized the way I applique circles. Bonnie has just created a DVD for Karen called “Applique The Karen Kay Buckley Way.”

I absolutely adore Kaari Meng’s new line for Moda called “French General,” based on her collection of vintage French linens. Oooh la la! They are to die for. She has a wonderful book out, too, (French General Home Sewn) which features these fabrics in delightful projects for every room in the house. This is Kaari modeling a bag made with French General Fabrics that is available through Moda/United Notions:

Linda Teufel (right) is publisher of Dragon Threads, which has books by some top-notch fiber artists. We first met last year at the Spring Quilt Market in Portland, in an airport gift shop! It was great to see her again in the booth of Libas Limited, purveyors of fine fabrics and luscious silks, with Barbara Wing (left). Barbara’s work is featured in the book Silk Unraveled by Lorna Moffat.

And this is Susan Knapp (below). No, really! Susan Knapp and I have been corresponding for a while, once we realized that we had a double in the quilt pattern design world. Susan designs under the name The Quilt Branch in Magnolia, Illinois. She’s part of the reason I use my maiden name, Brubaker, as my middle name. It was fun to finally meet her in person.

Oh, wait! What is that little blue ribbon on my nametag, you ask? Come back for tomorrow’s post to find out! (Yes, this is a blatant tease.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quilt Market, Part I

I had planned to blog and post photos and video from Quilt Market, but alas, it was not meant to be. No internet access in my hotel room, and I was running around from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Now I’m back at home, but there is so much to tell that I’ve decided to post it in chunks. Here’s today’s installment:

For those who don’t know about Quilt Market, it is a trade show (not open to the public) for everyone who makes a living through quilting: fabric companies and designers, pattern designers, book publishers and authors, magazine companies, thread companies, and anyone who makes and sells stuff to quilters. It is organized by Quilts, Inc., the same folks who bring us International Quilt Festival and its sister shows. Every fall, it is held right before International Quilt Festival in Houston. Every spring, it is held in a different U.S. city. This year it was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I am a proud Pittsburgh native, and it was wonderful to see my hometown again! I have not lived in the Burgh since 1985. A lot of the steel mills are gone, and while it is very sad to think of all the industry and jobs that have departed, Pittsburgh is re-inventing itself, and there are many new commercial buildings and condos lining the riverbanks where the steel mills used to stand.

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center is very impressive, with clean, modern architecture and skylights that beautifully illuminate the convention exhibition hall with natural light. Large windows on the exterior look out on historic structures and new buildings.

On the ground floor, a road runs right through the center, below the exhibition hall. There’s a beautiful fountain flowing down the middle, echoing the three rivers that flow through Pittsburgh.

These great little shuttle buses schlepped Market-goers from hotels to the convention center. They are modeled after the trolleys my dad used to take from our home in Mt. Lebanon, a southern suburb, to his workplace downtown. Remember the trolley from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood? Ding, ding! Mister Roger’s was a Presbyterian minister, and his show was created and filmed in Pittsburgh. I actually got to meet and sit in his lap when I was a very young child. I’m still a fan today.

Thursday is very busy with the “Schoolhouse Series,” where you can learn about new products and hear from designers, industry leaders and book authors on a range of topics. Lots of things are offered simultaneously and you get to pick where you want to go. Lots of great little give-aways, too! Here’s a shot of the crowd charging toward their next session:

My friend, fellow fiber artist, and traveling companion Janet A. Lasher was excited to discover her gorgeous Bernina Fashion Show garment on display (they rotated new ones in each day). It is the rust-colored one with the embellished bodice, directly behind her. There were several exhibits from the International Quilt Association on display at the center of the convention center floor, and it was nice to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of commerce and visit them every now and then.

Nothing but Heinz (a Pittsburgh company) for condiment choices inside the convention center!

On the top level, there is a walkway that connects the two sides of the convention center. Here’s the view in one direction on Thursday, during set-up, when only exhibitors are permitted inside:

And here is a shot looking the other way (needless to say, it is a bit overwhelming, and you had to wear sensible walking shoes!):

My “Bohemian Bouquet” pattern was displayed in the Moda booth. I had been hand quilting like a fiend for several weeks beforehand, but it still wasn’t completely done!

Here are quilt shop owners talking to Moda/United Notions sales reps about the new Moda fabric lines:

Here’s the warm and helpful crew in the Aurifil thread booth (from left:) Davide Moro, Alex Veronelli, and Elena Gregotti. Somehow I managed to get Alex with his eyes shut in both the photos I took! (Sorry, Alex!)

Lovely Aurifil wool threads in luscious colors:

My quilt “Lepidoptera” was hung front and center in the Aurifil booth. Aurifil has the most beautiful display racks; they are like works of modern art.

At Schoolhouse, Janet and I were walking past a room and saw a gigantic pile of tote bags waiting for the Andover attendees. I spotted Loni Rossi’s fabric right away and was commenting on how much I love her stuff when I heard a voice say “Thank you!” right behind me, and it was her!

Loni has had a line of Geisha quilt designs out for a while, but is launching a smaller size panel with three smaller Geishas on it. They come as black line drawings on white fabric, and you apply fused fabric on top. Beautiful!

Susan Nelson (left) is a quilt pattern designer and owner of Prairie Sky Quilting. Many of her patterns feature a very cool technique she calls “Fun and done!” Her friend, Shelli Ricci from Apple Valley MN, (right) is Miss September in the 2010 Quilting Arts calendar with her piece called “The Garden of Eva.”

Kay Mackenzie (left, below) is the author of Easy Applique Blocks, which came out this spring. Kathy Mack (center, below) is a pattern designer who has authored several things for Quilting Arts Gifts magazine. She is also the owner of Pink Chalk Studio, a neato-keeno online quilting store. This is the second spring Market where I’ve met up with Kathy, but the first time I’d met Kay face to face. It is amazing how FaceBook and Twitter and other social networking sites and Yahoo groups have changed the way quilt designers are interacting.

Iris Karp was demonstrating how to use Mistyfuse, a fabulous lightweight fusible product:

Janet and I met with Bonnie McCaffery (center) on Sunday morning to be videotaped for a VidCast she will feature on her website later this year. Bonnie got me started in art quilting in 2005, when I took her “Painted Faces” workshop, and I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. (I had been doing only traditional quilting until then, and taking her class really changed my life.) Bonnie is a busy author and teacher, but she also works as a videographer, producing DVDs for other quilters.

Cheep, cheep!! P&B Textiles had the cutest fabric birds everywhere in their booth, all made from some of their wonderful new fabric lines. I got to bring one home with me. I really enjoy looking at all the creative displays and merchandising at Market. They give out awards and ribbons for the best booths, and I witnessed one excited designer finding out she had won when Karey Bresenhan (president of Quilts, Inc.) presented it to her.

Make sure to check back tomorrow, because there is lots more to come!

I’m in the 2010 Quilting Arts Calendar!

I was at Quilt Market last week and found out there that two of my pieces will be featured in the 2010 Quilting Arts calendar! I’m on the cover and October. Pokey Bolton, the editor of Quilting Arts, made the announcement today on her blog, with a video shot at Market (by my friend and fellow fiber artist, Janet Lasher).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I got a Flip video recorder for Mother’s Day. Check it out!

Make one of my evening bags

If you missed last year’s issue of Quilting Arts Gifts, which contained my designs for three different evening bags, you can now download the patterns and instructions for free! It’s in a new ebook called “7 Quilted Bag Patterns: Handmade Quilt Bags from Quilting Arts.” My bags are #2, 3 and 4. Just go to the Quilting Arts website by clicking here. If you make up one of my bags, I’d love to see photos and hear about it!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lepidoptera finished and off to Quilt Market

by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2009)
Cotton fabric, wool/polyester batting, fabric paint, cotton thread. 39" x 39"

I finished this piece, “Lepidoptera,” a while ago, but we’ve had so much rain here lately that I couldn’t find a good time to take nice photos. I usually shoot them outside. This aftternoon, after a day of much fog and gloom, the clouds parted and I ran outside to take a few detail shots. Here they are:

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths.
Can you tell that it started with this photo I took in my garden a few years ago?

This is a Painted Lady butterfly. It has wonderful patterns on its wings, but it is not very brightly colored. I used the patterns and completely changed the colors. My quilt is a bit psychedelic in comparison to the butterfly!

Besides being the first wholecloth painted quilt I’ve ever done, it is the first quilt I faced, rather than bound, and the first quilt I made using batting made of wool and polyester (recommended by my friend Nancy G. Cook, who uses it in all her work). I liked it a lot.

“Lepidoptera” is also the first piece I have quilted with Aurifil threads. I had heard many quilters raving about Aurifil, and purchased some thread from them specifically to try on this piece.

I had used Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 thread for needleturn appliqué, but never for quilting or threadpainting. And I must say that I absolutely LOVED using it on this piece. It is very strong, so it didn’t break or shred, unlike other threads I’ve used. Even when my needle was flying.

I also tried piecing with Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 thread, and I love it for that, too. It is so fine that your seams lie nice and flat. I’m eager to try the Cotton Mako 40, which is a little heavier, and good for places you want your quilting to show up more. That’s my next experiment.

I had heard other quilters say that Aurifil thread leaves little to no lint in your machine, and this is definitely true. I made a point of checking every now and then inside my machine, and there’s no comparison between Aurifil and other brands of thread I’ve used (and I’ve pretty much used them all!) I think I’m hooked!

Aurifil noticed I was using their thread, and asked if they could display “Lepidoptera” in the Aurifil threads booth at Quilt Market next week. I was thrilled. If you are going, check it out there!