What’s holding you back?

Is there something holding you back from what you would like to do or try?

There are many things that can hold us back from achieving our desires.

One of the top ones is self doubt. If we think that we cannot do something we are right. Interestingly, though, is if we think that we can do something we are also right!

Mindset plays a huge part in what we can accomplish. If we think we can we are more likely to try and therefore to succeed. If you don’t try, you will never succeed and you will never get anywhere.

Sometimes we need to act “as if”.

As if we were an art quilter of fibre artist. The idea is to think about what someone like that would do to further their skills and take action accordingly.

A second factor

–  being a perfectionist. I struggle with this one. I had a father who would rip out half a sweater that he was knitting because of one tiny mistake (barely visible) he had made early on. It is very tough to try to live to that standard of perfection as it is unattainable and makes us miserable in its pursuit.

You are never able to appreciate what you have created but instead, see all the things you could/should have done differently.

I liked my Mother’s philosophy when she was teaching to wallpaper – yes, back in the days of wallpaper! She said that I needed to learn to fix mistakes, as it was inevitable that I would make some. A much more freeing idea! And one that I try to use to this day.

The third factor

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

–  “going it alone“. You search the internet for clues and follow a bunch of different people to see what they are doing and try to decipher it all by yourself.

This can work for some but it takes a lot of time and energy and it is a lot easier if you seek out a course or workshop for advice, tips and tricks and get support to learn something new.

As Margaret Burger said about my workshop Facial Expressions (everything you want to know about fabric faces):

Older woman wearing glasses and smiling

“I wanted to learn how to do faces in fabric. I was looking all over the internet and could not find the specific way I would like to do it.

The live sessions in the workshop helped me to see that other people also struggle with the same issues.

I would recommend this workshop to anybody who is passionate about fabric and art. It put me on another level.

It helped me to realize that I can be an artist. I always wanted to be one! ”

quilted portrait of a man


Would you like to feel like an artist too and be able create a fabric portrait of someone you love?

Check out my workshop Facial Expressions which is open on an ongoing basis for registration.

There are lots of great bonuses included:

  • The Eyes Have It mini-course
  • PDF on Choosing a Good Photo 
  • PDF on Accurate Shading of a Face


Creating your Pattern for your Fabric Portrait

What to use for creating the pattern for your fabric portrait?

When I’m creating a fabric portrait I often use tracing paper. This is what I’m used to and find that it meets my needs. Besides, I have a lightbox to use if I have difficulty seeing the detail.

However, when teaching classes I’ve found that students like something easier to see through than tracing paper.

I’ve suggested clear plastic. The kind you find in inexpensive table covers or shower curtains as it’s easy to find and very affordable.

One of the problems with using plastic though is that the Sharpie used to create the pattern doesn’t always erase well with rubbing alcohol and leaves faint lines.

pattern for fabric portrait

pattern for fabric portrait

This can create problems when you do a lot of edits.

What is the best material to use when creating your pattern for a fabric portrait?

Recently I took a class where the instructor asked for Duralar (for wet media) as one of the supplies. This was a wonderful discovery!

The Sharpie erases completely which makes the Duralar reuseable. It is expensive but is a valuable tool for those who love creating fabric portraits.

A friend invested in a roll of it so she can use it for any project that she has in mind. Duralar is available in art supply stores and on Amazon.

What do you like to use for creating your pattern for a fabric portrait?


If you need help choosing a photograph for your portrait, check out this blog post.

Interested in the Facial Expressions course? This is where you’ll  learn all about creating fabric portraits. 

Getting Started the Right Way

Starting something new can be tough. You’re not sure where to start or what to do. It is the great unknown.

Will I be able to do it?

What materials will I need?

Will this be more than I can handle?

What are the steps inthe process?

This photo represents fear and confusion of starting something new.

It is amazing what runs through your head and stops you from even trying.

That little voice that says “you can’t do it, you will fail, no point in trying”, or worse yet “you’ll never be able to do it”. This nasty little voice is often called the “inner critic”.

Dealing with the Fear of Starting

A really good book that I recommend reading is “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers, where she addresses this problem. Jeffers states that to deal with this fear you need to train your mind to respond differently.

The key is to realize that at the basis of all fears is the thought that I can’t handle it or I am not capable of doing it.

Jeffers also states that it is normal to feel fear when we are about to try something new because it is unfamiliar to us. That we will feel fear as long as we grow.

We need to be able to develop trust in ourselves. Watch out for the When/then thoughts. These run along the lines of “When I have done or feel x, then I will…..” This puts roadblocks in the way of moving forward.

The other thing to watch out for is wish-washy self-talk. For example “I hope…. or Perhaps I…” rather than “I am looking forward to… or I will…”.  These final words are more definite and indicate that you are taking responsibility for your actions.

The only way to feel better is to go out and try it, whether it is learning to dance, trying a new technique, taking a class in an area that will require you to stretch, or anything else new. If you don’t try, you will remain stuck and never find out whether you really could do it!

It is freeing and exhilarating just to try something new and to be able to say “I did it!”

Photo represents accomplishment.

An example

Quilters state that the greatest challenges with creating fabric portraits are “getting started” and “fear of not making a realistic portrait“.

Here is a way to get around that fear. The Facial Expressions workshop is a step-by-step program that helps students to progress from selecting a photograph to having a finished portrait.

It includes group and individual support and walks you through where and how to start.

Then with guided steps, you work toward creating your realistic family heirloom portrait that you will be proud to hang on your wall.

And you don’t need to know how to draw!  So no fears there!

Are you up for trying something new?

Critiquing art in a positive way

What is critiquing art in a positive way?

First, we need to understand the difference between just generally giving feedback and critiquing art.

I feel strongly that we all need to learn how and when to critique or give feedback on someone’s art.

For me, feedback is given when someone presents their finished work for public view…..

and they have not asked for ideas for changes.

Giving feedback is a great opportunity for you as the viewer to describe what you like about the work:

  • Do the colours create a pleasing contrast or composition?
  • Did the artist capture a particular look or expression?
  • Does the design look balanced?
  • Is there something unique you like about it?
  • What do you see that you particularly like?

These type of comments helps the artist (quilter) to know what resonates with the viewer.

It’s fun for me to hear the comments people make about my portraits as it allows me to see all the different perspectives people bring to my art.

Unless someone is asking for comments on what they could have done differently, don’t offer your opinion.  

Leave those comments for a critique. Do not offer a critique unless it has been requested.

It’s important to realize that if something isn’t to your taste/style you don’t need to comment on it. 

Just pass it by, ignore it and don’t comment, or look for something in the composition that you do like and comment on that point.

So what is critiquing?

Critiques give many people the willies!

surprise and fright

The thought of other people making critical comments about our work sends chills down our spines.

We too often have an overly critical inner critic so to think of anyone else making those kinds of comments about our work is a no-go zone.

A well-done critique however should offer insight and suggestions for improvement.

It can, and should, include comments on what was done successfully and suggestions for change.

It’s helpful when requesting a critique of our work to be as specific as possible about what parts we think are OK and what areas don’t seem to be working.

When this happens, you as the viewer should comment generally on what appeals to you in the piece. Any other comments are to be directed only to the areas where advice was sought.

For example, in presenting a landscape someone says that they’re happy with the sky and the water but feel that there is something not quite right with the trees.

You can comment on what appeals to you about the different areas of the landscape and then offer suggestions for changing the trees.

In this example, you wouldn’t offer ideas on what the person could have done differently in the sky or the water. Or make disparaging remarks about the person’s work.

Critiquing art effectively

Remember these points:

  1. Critique the work, not the person.
  2. Avoid statements like “you should have,  you should do “x”,  or why didn’t you…?”
  3. Don’t malign the person’s judgement.
  4. Be polite. No harmful language.

If you’re not sure why the artist (quilter) thinks there’s something wrong with an area, ask for clarification. 

Going back to the previous example, you could say something like “What don’t you like about the trees?” This helps them to be more specific –  maybe it’s the size or the colour or the fabric used.

Offer suggestions for improvement using statements such as:

  • What if you……?
  • Have you considered……?
  • What about trying…..?
  • Maybe consider…..
  • Have you thought of…..?

These comments leave it open for the person whose piece is being reviewed to accept or reject the ideas presented. It may even spur further ideas for them.

Because in the end, it’s that person’s own taste that’s important and we need to respect that they are the artist.

“Creativity takes courage” – Henri Matisse.


Photo represents accomplishment.


Interested in improving your own art?

You can ask yourself these questions about your own art to see if there are ways in which you can improve your own technique. This is the way to grow!

Does this help you to know what to do when asked for feedback (critique)?

Comments welcome!

The Use of Values in a Fabric Portrait

I have had a number of quilters say that their biggest challenge in creating a fabric portrait is figuring out how to use values effectively in a fabric portrait, both to get a 3D look and to avoid the patchy look.

If this is you, here is a guide to help you out.

The most important thing is a good understanding of what values are and how they are used both in art and in quilts.

This is where a gray scale comes in handy! It is used to select the values of the fabrics you will use for your portrait.

Used to determine value.

gray scale

Gray scales come in a variety of shapes and some start with the lightest value as a very pale gray. My preference is for the gray scales that start with white, as I sometimes want that really light value in my portrait. You can find gray scales in art supply stores or in my store.

A gray scale and how to use it to determine value

You lay the gray scale over each of your fabrics and try to match the values on the scale to the values of your fabrics. Sometimes it helps to cover most of the scale so you can concentrate on just one value at a time. 

How many values?

I generally use 5 values in the skin values in a portrait, although occasionally I will use 4 or 6. It really depends on the results of posterizing the photo. 

As you will be posterizing your photo to bring out the values, it is a good idea to convert the photo to black and white first, so that the variable of colour is eliminated.

Photo of a woman in a vintage dress. Fits with the xt about head and shoulders photos.


The key element to creating a portrait that doesn’t look patchy is to have a subtle gradation of values. This gradual shift in value from one piece of fabric to the next allows the eye to perceive the face as a whole rather than as separate shapes.

You don’t want one piece to stand out on its own. While that is wonderful in a traditional quilt, it doesn’t work well in a face.

 The  use of values in selecting fabrics for a fabric portrait

As discussed, you want a subtle shift in value. Thus you want to look for fabrics that have values that are next to each other on the value scale. It helps to first pick the lightest or darkest value for your fabrics and then work from there in trying to gather together the fabrics that will create a gradation of values.

An important thing to remember is that colour is deceiving when trying to determine value. It distracts and thus makes it harder to see the value. 

One way to see the values of your fabrics more easily is to take a picture of them and convert it to black and white as seen below.

photo showing the use of values in selecting fabrics for a fabric portrait.

And don’t feel that you have to use skin tone fabric! You can use any colour, or colours, to create a portrait. Perhaps choose that person’s favourite colour as the basis for your portrait of them.

It is critical to use a subtle shift in value between your fabrics. This creates a smooth looking face and is the key to avoiding the dreaded patchy look.

A tool that is very handy for determining value is a gray scale. Learn to use one well and you will find that you can choose your fabrics much more easily. 

If you would like to hear my complete talk on this subject, you can hear it on my  Facebook page.


If you would like to learn more about using value effectively in a fabric portrait join my 5 Day Values Challenge which starts September 13. You can learn what values are, how to determine them and use them well, posterizing, and how to choose fabrics that will work well in a portrait.

Registration opens in early September. Sign up for my Studio updates to get the early notification!

A Picture of Innocence

Here is my picture that I am titling Innocence.
This portrait is of a baby stitched on fabric.

If you’ve been following me for any period of time you know that I love working from vintage photographs.

The original photo showed the baby seated on a fur throw that had been placed over a chair. I fell in love with the photo.

I created this piece for an exhibit with the Fibre Art Network called Chromatopia. The rules are that we had to do two 12″ x 12″ pieces and wrap them on canvas. We were provided with 2 paint chips and told that we could only use one colour on each piece. 

The green paint chip is an odd shade of green and I couldn’t find a suitable fabric in my stash.

Initially, I did find one piece of fabric that had the right green and I was thrilled!

Until I realized that some yellow showed in spots. I was unlikely to be able to cover that yellow with anything without getting a yellow-green which this colour is not.

Creating the picture.

To improve the lighting in the photo. I edited it in Adobe Photoshop Elements. In the next step, I cropped the photo and enlarged the section that I wanted to use.

I painted some white fabric with some green paint that I found in my stash. I’m not sure when I created that mix of paint but it was perfect!

I then traced the main lines that I wanted onto tracing paper and then pinned it to my fabric sandwich (top green fabric, batting, and backing fabric). As a result, I now had the design ready to stitch on to the fabric.

Next, I stitched through all the layers to create my design and quilt it at the same time.

After quilting, I decided the background was blah, so I carefully lifted the top fabric and placed some lace underneath, pushing it as close to the child’s head as possible.

I then used an Inktense pencil in Hooker’s Green to rub over the lace giving me some texture in the background. I lightly sprayed the background with water to get a more intense colour and blended it slightly with a paintbrush. More shading was added to the baby’s face and gown as well.

It turned out to be a fun project. 

Now on to the second piece that will be in yellow-orange. I picked a different photo for that one. I am thinking of hand-stitching it.

Watch for a future post!

Fabric Portraits

Picture of a book cover with a quilted portrait

This latest piece I’ve just created is different from what I normally do.

Here you can see one of my previous portraits.

This portrait was created for my beginner portrait course – Introduction to Portraits.

And that is the one that I used in my recently published book that is the essence of that course in book form.

Watch for an announcement on a study group to go along with this book.

If you already have the book, you may be interested in checking out the kit that has all the essentials for creating the portrait.

I’m Published in Art quilting Studio magazine!

A few months ago an editor at Art Quilting Studio magazine approached me about submitting some of my work for the magazine. Some wonderful news came shortly afterward.

Firstly, my work was accepted for publication! Secondly, it would be a Series Showcase feature article that they scheduled for the September (Fall) issue of the magazine.

Much happy dancing here!

That issue of the magazine is now on the newsstands. 

Cover of the Fall issue of Art Quilting Magazine

Picture of art quilt with man and motorized bicycle

Capturing Character in Fabric

Photo of magazine spread showing art quilts


I hope that you will check it out!

Can’t find a copy? You can get one here.

8 Ways to Get Yourself Unstuck

Getting unstuck can be hard to do.

Quilters, and others, are having trouble getting going these days. It’s tricky because we’re all feeling a little discombobulated. Don’t you just love that word! For those of you who are not familiar with that word, it means disconcerted and confused which to me describes the feeling perfectly!

We’re feeling stuck. We’re feeling like we don’t want to do much of anything. We don’t feel well. Things aren’t normal. I know they call it the “new normal”, but it just makes it so difficult sometimes to get up the enthusiasm to get going and actually work on some projects and/or be creative in any way.

Here are eight ways to get unstuck

A Survey

The Canadian Quilters’ Association did a survey of their members to see how quilters were dealing with the current circumstances. Making masks was a biggie.


piles of fabric masks

These are ones made by the Rayside Balfour Quilt Guild

A lot of people have been making masks. And that is a really good thing to do because it gives one a sense of control. You feel like you’re doing something about the issues that we’re dealing with right at the moment and helping others out. 

There is that good feeling of accomplishment. One which, hopefully at some point, leads to looking at what projects you have lying around that you would also like to work on.

Finishing UFO’s

A lot of people are pulling out all their UFO’s and actually completing them. Again achieving a sense of control. Believe me, I think that’s a wonderful idea. I’ve got a few I should be working on!


floral quilt


Another idea was cleaning your quilting area.  Get into the quilting area or studio and start tidying, putting stuff away, and sorting stuff out. This, again, can give you a real sense of control over your environment and a feeling of satisfaction with a job well done. And it feels so good to have everything nice and tidy again and often leads to finding something that sparks your interest.

picture of quilt studio

When I’m working on a project, stuff gets everywhere. I end up with piles of fabric all over the place. Although, I do have to be kind of careful about that. I have a cat who, if I leave any fabric out whatsoever, likes to lie on it and therefore it gets very furry, very fast. So I tend to have a big basket where I put things away at the end of each day.

But I’m getting a bit sidetracked here!

A Sense of Play

Another idea that people had was playing with scraps, taking out all your scraps and trying to find things you could do with them. Perhaps sewing a bunch of little scraps together or making fabric out of all your little scraps. Fabric beads are really cool to do too. Check Google or YouTube for tutorials online.

Fabric Leftovers – Simple Adaptable Ways to Use up Scraps” by D’Arcy-Jean Milne is one book that is all about using little scraps of fabric. Another book is “Quilters Playtime” – Games with Fabrics” by Dianne S. Hire, where the author takes you through a variety of games with bits of fabric that create interesting blocks or segments and shows you how you can combine those pieces into art quilts.

By doing that, you’re getting back to a sense of play which gives you joy. And I think it’s joy that we need so much now and that feeling of hope that we’re moving forward, that we’re actually doing something. We’re not just sitting and stagnating. It is a really good feeling to have at this point in time.

Fondling Fabric

We’re quilters and we love fondling fabric! So decide to go through your fabrics and see which ones are being used the most? Maybe they should be front and centre. Are there ones that are used for other times when you just need to make a block for a quilt for a friend or a quilting group and can be stored elsewhere.

Do you like to sort your fabrics by colour or design? Have they gotten mixed up and could use some sorting? Or just look at all your fabrics and take them out and dream about a future project!


Connecting with Friends (or Family)

One big thing that has been helpful for me during this time is getting online on Zoom, with my regular quilt group.  We meet once a month online for about five hours and we can still have our lunch together and we can still see what everybody is doing.

People can hold things up and show us exactly what they’re working on, ask for advice and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to reconnect with people, at least in some way. Definitely not the same as person to person. Well, in person, so to speak. But it’s kind of cool because you can see what people are working on and sometimes you get a little mini-tour of their quilting area if you’re lucky. 

woman at a design wallOnline get-togethers

On a Zoom call recently with my class (fabric portraits), one woman said she’d never been in Zoom meeting before. She had had a number of opportunities to meet up with other quilters on Zoom but hadn’t because she thought it would be too difficult and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that it was really, really easy. Her plans are now to take advantage of more of those opportunities and she is very excited about the prospect.

So, this is something to keep in mind if you’re feeling like you’re missing your friends and/or family. Give yourself a break and just try it. You might find out like she did, that it’s really quite a simple process.

Here are some simple instructions for using Zoom:

Once a meeting is set up and someone sends you the link, all you do is click the Zoom link. If it says to download, you download Zoom and boom you’re in and you can see people face to face and you can share whatever it is that you are working on. And if you’re on a big computer especially, you’ve got a really big field of view.


Browsing through Books

stack of art quilting books

Sometimes you have the feeling that you just don’t want to do anything. That feeling of being very heavy and like the energy has departed and gone elsewhere. Try pulling out some of those quilting or art quilting books and flip through them. Who knows what treasures you may find!

And if you’re like me, you buy all those books and you browse through them when you first get them, but you don’t necessarily spend a lot of time reading and trying things out.  Now you discover that there are all kinds of cool ideas in there and you get inspired to try something new!

What about those Quilting Arts magazines that you bought and never looked at again? Pull them out and look through them. Look for things that you can try with the supplies you have on hand so that you won’t have to go out and find them. Trying new things can really get your energy levels up and you unstuck.

It can be simple things that really help to generate that feeling of excitement, feeling up, and wanting to play again. 

A News Diet

Have you become just a touch obsessive about checking the news all the time. You know, how many cases were there lately? What are the restrictions now? What is the latest thing to worry about?

Try cutting back to once a day.

My plan is five to 10 minutes to check out what’s happening in the world, and that’s it. And I have found now that some days I don’t even look anymore. So it’s gotten to be every couple of days.

I recognize that we’re very, very lucky here in Manitoba as there are very, very few cases of Covid 19. So we’ve been very blessed that way. We’re kind of trying to keep it that way. But still, I’m trying to avoid too much exposure to too much negativity. So I’m really reducing my exposure to the news.

Favourite Shows

Have you found any fun TV shows? Maybe you have a favourite show that you like and you can just kind of bliss out, not thinking about anything too much. Just follow the show and see what happens there and that can be a really comforting kind of thing too.

I love mysteries, particularly British mystery shows on TV. I know that I am currently addicted to Acorn TV! And that’s my evening perk – to pick one of those shows and take the time to watch it.

Finding Your Sense of Play

The trick is to find any little thing that feels more like play rather than a “have to”.   That will provide a really good opportunity to move forward with your creativity and get unstuck!

You know, digging in your drawer of goodies, maybe it’s not a drawer or maybe it’s shelves. Digging through all those wonderful art supplies that you bought once upon a time and thought that you were going to do a lot with.

What art supplies do you have hidden away?

I just pulled some out. I think they are called gel pastels or something like that. And they were really fun to play with. And I hadn’t really done very much with them. That playtime gave me some ideas for how I might use them in future projects.


Maybe you have a set of Inktense pencils. Have you done much with them?

I had a couple from a little mini-workshop that I had attended. I really wasn’t sure how to use them so therefore I wasn’t doing much with them. But I wanted to learn so I bought a set as a treat for myself and the first thing I did, which was really fun, useful too, was a chart of all the different colours. That wasn’t anything particularly earthshaking, but it didn’t have to be.

It’s just finding an activity that is going to lead you back into a sense of calm, a sense of wanting to create again. And for some people that may not be quilting, but instead knitting or crocheting, or maybe playing with paper.


Which brings me to my friend, Geesje Baron, look her up on YouTube. She does some really interesting different multimedia kinds of things. One I played with the other day was using a napkin, a piece of sheer and some tea leaves and created a textured paper-like piece. 

And that was really, really fun. How much I’ll use it, I don’t know. The pieces have been tucked away for now, but I’ve been thinking about them. For a small art piece, the “paper” would be a very interesting kind of textural background. The fun was in the doing – just trying something new. Check YouTube out as Geesje’s been doing a number of other things such as creating books and doing stamping. So if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, YouTube can be a source of inspiration.

What will you try?

It’s all about figuring out what is going to help you move forward because we can get really, really stuck.  Then we are afraid of trying things or of doing anything creative at all. It’s really important to try to keep that flow of creativity going so that you don’t get totally stuck.

So, again, dig into that pile of art supplies that you’ve got. See what might be interesting there. Play with your fabrics. Pull them out. Sort them. It can reacquaint you with all the beautiful colours and patterns you have in your fabrics. Clean your quilting area or play with scraps. All these kinds of things can really help you move forward. 

One of the big things is getting together with friends (online) because that really gives you a sense of connection. Other than my quilting group, I also meet once a week with a couple of friends who do hand embroidery. And we chat about anything and everything and how things are going at our end, that kind of thing. How the gardens are growing and our families. It feels afterwards like you have had a little mini vacation.

Hopefully, the weather is wonderful where you are and you can get outside and maybe enjoy the great outdoors and maybe take some photographs, which you might decide later to turn into something new and wonderful or not. Maybe just do a little gardening.

Whatever “it” is give it a try!

It is my hope that these suggestions will help you to get unstuck!

For further resources check out:

Choosing a Photograph for a Fabric Portrait

Choosing a Photograph for a Fabric Portrait

When teaching a fabric portrait workshop, the question I get asked most often is “How can I know that I am choosing a good photograph to use for my portrait?” 

Choosing a photograph can be an easy process by paying attention to the following tips.

Use these tips for a stress-free experience!


1. Head and shoulders photograph

For someone starting out doing fabric portraits, it is best to start with a photo that shows only the head and shoulders of a subject.

This generally means that the photographer got closer to their subject and that you have a clearer, larger image to use.

This also means that it will be a manageable size for a first attempt

Portrait photo of a older woman. Fits with the text about a head and shoulders photo.

Head and Shoulders Photo

2. The lighting is balanced.

You want a photo that shows good light and dark areas (contrast) like this one:

Example of photo with good lighting. Fits with the text on lighting.

Even lighting

a. Avoid Photos where the lighting is Not balanced

If the lighting is too bright, it will be hard to distinguish the planes of the face and will make it very difficult to create a pattern for the portrait.

Here you can see that the detail on one side of the face is lost. 

Face overexposed in a photo.

Too bright

b. On the other hand, if the lighting is inadequate, the face will be all dark and it will again be hard to distinguish the correct values and the details of the features.

Underexposed photo of a man. Relevant to the text on lighting.

Too dark

 Lighting is insufficient. Photo is too dark.

 3. Copyright-free Photograph

You want to be sure that you have the right to use the photograph that you choose. 

The person in the photo has some say in how the photo is used and the photographer holds the copyright for the photo, particularly if it is one taken of a famous person.

Ask for permission to use a photo and get that permission stated in writing (emails are OK).

There are a number of free image sites that provide copyright-free photos.

Just be sure to check their rules of use.

Some sites for free photos are:





4. Have a good quality photograph

size and quality matter

Since you will be enlarging the photo for your fabric portrait it is a good idea to choose a good quality photo in the beginning.

The best size to have is no smaller than 6″ x 8″ (15cm x 20cm), taking into account tip #1 above.

Or at least 1mb in size when scanned into the computer.

Small photos with a number of people in them generally do not enlarge well for a portrait.

As well, blurry photos make it difficult to accurately determine the outlines of the features and without this critical element; the resulting portrait will look distorted.


5. Choose a photo for your fabric portrait that tells a story

Choose a photo that intrigues you. You will find it more interesting to work on the portrait if it tells a story.

My method for choosing photos is to look at the expression on a face, the clothes and or/the stance of the person. The combination of these elements adds to the interest and appeal of the portrait.

For example:

You may want to create a portrait of a grandchild.

Do you have a photo that shows them doing something memorable?

If the photo is of a parent or spouse, is there one that shows them as you most like to think of them? 

Does it tell a story or create a mood?

These are all elements that add interest to a portrait.

Lite Steam A Seam 2® – Top 10 Tips for Success

Tackiness and Lite Steam A Seam 2® 

1. Buy the Steam A Seam 2 Lite® on the roll. In my classes, we have found that the sheets in the packages seem less tacky and are more difficult to get to stick to the fabric.

2. Be sure to wash all fabrics before using  Lite Steam A Seam 2 as it will then stick to the fabric better.

3. If the Lite Steam A Seam 2 will not stick to a particular fabric, then layer (sandwich) the fabric, with fusible, with one side of the paper removed (sticky side against the back (wrong side) of the fabric), and the other piece of release paper still in place.

Place this sandwich on your ironing board and quickly run an iron, set on medium heat, over the fabric side of the sandwich. Check to see if the Steam a Seam is sticking to the fabric. If not, then repeat this procedure.

Be careful to not allow the iron to stay in one place too long or the fusible will melt and stick to the paper and the fabric and be a mess!

4. Instead of pins, use Wonderclips (see picture below), or a similar product. The problem with pins is that they will get a sitcky residue on them and then will leave black glue dots on lighter fabrics!

wonder clip, binding clip


Fusing Lite Steam A Seam 2®

5. Use steam when fusing for effective fusing.

6. Fusing requires a lot of time (30 sec per section). If you have multiple layers it will take even longer. I fuse from the front and again from the back of the fabric.

7. Be sure that the faceplate of your iron is clean. You don’t want black marks on your art!


8. If when you are stitching and your sewing machine needle gets too gummed up, try going back to the fusing phase.

9. You can clean your sewing machine needle with rubbing alcohol. Put some on a piece of paper towel and rub the needle.

10. Use the right size needle for the thread that you are using. I tend to use finer threads 60 wt to 100wt). The advantage is that the finer needle size leaves smaller holes too.


I hope that these tips help you out when using Lite Steam A Seam 2 ®.