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? ;-)

We have a winner! Donna A. has won the book. Thanks, everyone!

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.”