Sunday, May 5, 2019

“Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower”

“Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower” (24x19")
Copyright 2019 by Susan Brubaker Knapp
This is my latest: “Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower” at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is approximately 24" x 19". (I don’t have the facing on yet, so I don’t know the exact size.) I took the photo on which this piece is based several years ago. I attended UNC-CH in the late 1980s, and earned my master's degree in journalism there. Both my daughters go there now, with one graduating in a week. The bell tower is perhaps my favorite structure on campus. I love the Carolina blue tile ceiling, with its reflective tiles that make you feel like you are looking up to the sky. The base is airy and open and joyful. 

This is a wholecloth painted piece; it started out as white fabric, and I painted the design first, then quilted the piece, spending most of my time going around every single tile and brick with thread. Here are some detail shots:

More daffodils

“Praise Be” (8-1/4" square)
Copyright 2019 by Susan Brubaker Knapp
These are two more pieces in what has become a daffodil series. Both are based on a drawing I made about three years ago of daffodils in my garden. They are my favorite flowers, bright and cheerful and joyful.  

“Praise Be” is a donation to “Seeds of Peace,” a fundraiser for the Georgia Conflict Center, which works in Athens-area schools, jails, churches and community groups to teach ways of reducing conflict and violence. 

“For Danielle,” the piece below, is based on the same drawing, but I added a little pink hand-dyed linen frame. It’s a thank you for a very special friend who used to be a neighbor. 

“For Danielle”
Copyright 2019 by Susan Brubaker Knapp

Monday, February 11, 2019

“Daffodils” and “Blue Crab, Green Water”

12" x 17" (Copyright 2019) White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, ink, cotton threads, wool batting. Based on an original drawing. Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted

For these two new pieces, I worked in a slightly different way. First, I traced two of my drawings onto white PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric, and layered it with batting and backing fabric. I stitched over the pencil lines with black thread. Then I painted, using PRO Chemical & Dye's transparent textile paints, base extender and water. My goal was to get a water color look and to avoid letting the colors bleed. I also used a black Micron Pima pen for cross hatching in the background, and some dots for shading. I liked this technique and will be trying it again.

“Blue Crab, Green Water” 19" x 19" (Copyright 2019) White cotton fabric; acrylic textile paint, commercial cotton fabric backing, cotton thread, wool batting. Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hand Sewing Magic

My friend Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Design Studio has a great new book out. I got it more than a month ago, and have been reading and absorbing it since then. It’s called “Hand Sewing Magic,” (Quarto Publishing, 144 pages, $24.99) and it includes instructions – and fabulously detailed directions and photos– for 35 stitches and many variations. There are also tips from nine “pro stitchers” (I’m one of them!) and small projects to make to practice the stitches.

Lynn on the set of “Quilting Arts TV” a few years ago.
The book starts off with key information about materials and tools (needles, threads, fabric, etc.) and techniques (how to use an embroidery hoop, tips and tricks for working with thread).

I learned how wrapping the inner hoop with bias tape can help decrease fabric distortion; I never knew this! I also love Lynn's cute trick of storing threads and flosses on wooden clothespins for storage.

This book would make a great gift for a young person or a new stitcher who needs a book that offers basic information with a healthy dose of inspiration. It’s also a terrific resource for people like me, who need a reference book every now and then, or need ideas for different ways to use a stitch they already know. 

Here’s an example of one of the stitch pages. Lynn carefully describes the stitch in words, and also includes step-by-step instructional photos. At the bottom, she shows some different ways to use the stitches.

Lynn also includes some fun projects, like this Boro Sketchbook Cover, to show how you can use basic embroidery stitches to make items you’ll use and love.

There are great detailed instructions for every stitch and every project:

Here’s the page with my stitched jacket, which uses a simple overall “chicken scratch stitch.”

You can order a copy of “Hand Sewing Magic” on Amazon here.

For links to purchase the book online outside the U.S., go here:

Lynn is also the author of The Hand-Stitched Surface: Slow Stitching and Mixed-Media Techniques for Fabric and Paper (2017) and Intentional Printing: Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art (2014). She also has a Quilting Arts Workshop, “Print, Design, Compose: From Surface Design to Fabric Art,” DVD. All are available on