Exhibition Update

Well, I didn’t get them all sewn down before I left for Quilt Canada, but I was happy with what I had done. I knew, that I only had a few more pieces of fabric to sew down, once I got back home.

The plan is to get these guy done by mid-June, for my solo exhibition, so I have to concentrate and work hard!


The kids were cut off the backing that I had used – in this case, stabilizer. I will never use this again as it is too stiff, and wrinkles badly. Lesson learned! I was able to cut some of it away but left the rest in place.

The kids were then placed on the background that I created.


I found a lovely fabric, at a local quilt shop, that looked to me a lot like falling snow. Wonderful for the sky! 

The trees I had painted were appliqued to the background. I played with positioning them as I wanted them to act as a frame for the kids on the sleigh.

Then on to sewing everything down. It always surprises me how long it takes. Why I don’t know, as I have done this many times. Maybe wishful thinking that it will be faster this time!

As seen below this piece had more snow added and further detail on the faces.


The next step is the quilting. First, the detail quilting the boys, and then on to the background.

I always have a hard time coming up with names for my art. Is this a problem for you too?

I am trying to think of a name for this quilt. Perhaps the Four Musketeers. What do you think? What name would you give this piece? Can you help me out? I would love it if you would!

Last minute changes

Based on a comment by a reader – Thanks Marg – I added further detail to the eyes of the boy at the front of the sleigh. My husband says “he is now looking at you and not staring”. Check it out below:

Eyes on boy at front of sleigh have added detail.

Eyes on the boy in front of sleigh have added detail.

I like the change!

Preparing for a New Exhibit

Exciting news! I will have an exhibit in the Portage & District Arts Centre Gallery, in Portage la Prairie, MB next year, from April 4 – May 14, 2016.

The exhibit will be called “Past Lives“, and it will feature my portraits created from vintage black and white photographs.

To celebrate, I am planning on featuring my progress here in my blog, as I work on various portraits for the show.

The first one is four little boys on a sled.

Original photograph of four kids on a sleigh.

Original photograph of four kids on a sleigh.

I loved the four children piled on to the sleigh. They looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Note: In my research on this unusual design of this sleigh, I found out that this is considered a bobsled. The definition is a sled, or sleigh, with the front runners moving independently of the rear ones.  I found some pictures of log pulling sleighs with similar runners. The idea is if the front runners move separately from the back, the sleigh will go around corners easily.


Enlarged photo and line drawing of 4 chidlren on bob sled

Enlarged photo and line drawing of 4 children on a bobsled

Having recently learned how to select part of a photo, through a Photoshop Elements class at Pixeladies  I removed the kids from their background – a rather boring part of a house and changed the direction they were heading. I plan on creating an outdoor setting for them.

I then enlarged the photo to the size that I wanted. I traced the main elements on to a plastic overlay this time. Usually, I use tracing paper but thought that I would give this method a try.

It didn’t work that well for me, although I know of many artists who use plastic all the time. First, I found the plastic much heavier to lift, and second, that somehow some of the fabric pieces ended up stuck to the plastic when I raised it to add another piece. Very irritating! I think that I will probably go back to using tracing paper.

Anyone else with a preference for or any hints for using plastic as an overlay?

Once I got started on the kids, I really enjoyed putting the pieces together. I had discovered some cotton fabrics at a local quilt store, Quilt as Desired, that looked like various woven or linen fabrics, and came in 3 or 4 values of the same colour. A real bonus when doing portraits!

Here are two of the guys with all the fabrics in place:

Picture showing part of the enlaged photo of four small boys on a sleigh and the line tracing.

Picture showing tracing overlay on plastic and two children completed in fabric

A lot of the fun of doing these vintage portraits is researching the elements in the photos. All the kids had those old fashioned rubber boots with the metal closures and big loose mitts. It was fun finding different fabrics for the mitts and socks. Did you know that in the 1930s McCall’s patterns had patterns for these snowsuits complete with the helmet-like caps?

Now on to finishing these four guys before I go to Quilt Canada on June 2! I have two quilts, Stepping Out and The Bather, in the Juried show and am soooo excited about seeing them hanging in the show.

Keep posted for future developments in the work involved in getting ready for a solo show. To easily follow my blog, subscribe to my Studio Updates (the box on the lower left).


Let there be light! Adding an LED lighting strip to Your Sewing Machine.

The thing that I most wanted for a Christmas present this year was LED lighting for my sewing machine. And, oh joy!, I go it!  The LED light strip, with self-adhesive backing, mounts under the throat of your sewing machine. Once switched on you have lots of light, exactly where you want it!


LED Brightness

This is the light that I get with the LED lighting! This picture looks dark, as my camera registered all that extra glow. A great improvement from my earlier situation, see below:


Janome sewing machineThis was my sewing machine before, with just the usual sewing machine light turned on. A pool of light around the needle.

LED-Lighting strip-on-sewing-machin

Here is how the LED strip looks on my machine. I have tape holding the connector in place, but will replace this with double-sided tape, placed behind the connector.

I added a dimmer switch for those times when I don’t need as much light. You could add a regular switch or plug it into a receptacle. The whole setup cost $44.50, before tax, at Lee Valley Tools

The parts purchased were one foot of LEDs (minimum length you can buy), a lead wire to connect the LED strip to the switch, a dimmer switch and a power supply.

Since I only used half of the light strip on this sewing machine, I have another 6″ to use elsewhere. The cost without the switch was $21.00.

The dimmer switch sits just behind my machine:



And the power supply sits next to the sewing machine.



I am quite pleased with how these lights work! I can now easily see my stitching, but find it especially helpful when I do free motion quilting with light thread on a light background.

Cool Quilting Gadgets – Wonder Clips

A lot of you may know about Clover’s Wonder Clips already, but I just recently tried them out, and I am thrilled. This is one of those cool quilting gadgets!

Close-up of Wonder Clip - cool quilting gadgets

Close-up of a Wonder Clip

These clips work well for holding the binding on the edge of the quilt when you are sewing the binding to the quilt by machine; are great for when you are hand sewing the edge of the binding down, or for holding the edge of the facing in place for sewing.

The back of the clip is flat, and this allows the layers of fabric to move smoothly towards the presser foot, when machine sewing. The rounded top edge allows for all those layers of fabric and batting to lie flat. The  clips are easy to remove as you sew, and do not distort the edge of the quilt, as happens when you use straight pins. The clips have a good firm grip as well.

Wonder Clips -cool quilting gadgets

Wonder Clips holding the binding for machine sewing

I can see a further use for these amazing clips, such as holding the layers of fabric together while I sew a tote, or other bag.

Note that Clover has just recently come out with Jumbo size Wonder clips for those bigger projects.

The smaller clips, reviewed here, come in two different size packages. The small pack contains 10 clips, while the larger pack contains 50 clips. I bought the smaller pack, but quickly realized that the larger pack is a better deal. With more clips, I can clip all along at least 2 sides of a big quilt, so when I am sewing I spend less time moving the clips, and more time on the actual sewing. With a wall hanging, I can clip and go. I keep a small container close by to put the clips in, as I remove them from the project. No more getting poked by straight pins!

At first I thought that they were too pricey, so avoided trying them, but I am so glad that I did! Definitely a product worth the cost.

Have you tried these clips? What did you think of them? Tell us about it here!

Portraits Class

A recent class on Portraits was a lot of fun, and the students did some really great work!

Class members at work.

They were a quiet group, as they were concentrating hard!

They started by making a tracing of their enlarged photos. The tracing is shown here used as the overlay, for help in positioning the pieces of the portrait.

Adeline's tracing

Adeline adding small pieces of fabric for the face.They then progressed to adding small pieces of fabric, like a jigsaw puzzle, to a base fabric. Adeline was doing a portrait of her grandfather.

Adeline's grandfather finished

Adeline found some great fabric, that mimicked the 70`s print, that was in her grandfather’s shirt in the original photo. Her portrait looks great now, but will look even better, when the final details are added with the stitching!

Ricky had some initial problems with values in her fabrics:

Ricky working on portrait

But was able to overcome these early problems to create a good likeness of her husband:

Rickys portrait of her husband

Of course, this portrait is still in progress. Here Ricky was auditioning fabric for his hair.

Helen chose a photo of a friend, who had been in a Passion play with her. Although, the fabrics that she had brought to work with were a little on the green side, they made for a dramatic portrait.

Helen's start

Here is Helen hard at work:

Helen at work

The face done:

Helen's man

Adeline said that she had had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I can hardly wait to see the completed portraits!


Flowers, leaves and ribbons in free motion quilting.

Portrait of a Grand Lady

This woman is the subject of  my latest portrait, painted in fabric. I loved the photo of this woman as she looked so regal, and had just a hint of a smile.A lady wearing a lacy gown.

I decided that she needed a rich colour for her dress; and chose a deep burgundy fabric that I had hand-dyed.

It took a lot of searching to get the lace for her dress. I wanted a good quality lace in white, and  a large enough size to fill the bodice area. I  ended up using two pieces of lace for the front of her dress, to get the look that I wanted.

I glued the lace on using tiny drops of fabric glue to get it to stay in place, until I could sew the edges.

Detail shot of a ladies portrait in fabric.

Close-up of Milady

I debated what motif to use for the background as I wanted a vintage look. A friend Julia, from New Zealand, suggested trying to use the motifs from the lace.

It worked out really well, with a few ideas from a fabulous book called Doodle Quilting by Cheryl Malkowski. This is a great book for learning how to start free motion quilting and then how to combine different motifs. You can find the book here.


Flowers, leaves and ribbons in free motion quilting.

Floral free motion quilted background

I stitched this lady’s hair extensively as I wanted the upswept look and the little wisps sticking out.

This is the final result:

Portrait of a lady circa 1900 in a lacy ball gown.

Milady finished!


I am now on to my next portrait. Another portrait of a lady. This one in a white debutante gown. I’m not sure about doing a white dress, but I will give it my best shot!





An Insiders Look at Creating an Art Quilt.

People often ask how I create my art quilts, so I have gathered together some process photos for you to enjoy.

My piece, The Ladies, evolved from a black and white photo taken of a garden party, sometime in the 1920’s. What fascinated me the most, about this photo, was all the hats, so they became the focus of the design. One woman, wearing a trench coat and beret, seems quite daring, in comparison to the rest of the “ladies”. The faces were less important to me, than the hats, but still convey a lot of character through the use of hand-dyed and batik fabrics.

These women belong to that era when women were called “ladies”, and thus, the name of the piece – The Ladies.

Sketch for The Ladies art quilt.

Sketch for The Ladies art quilt.

With each piece, I start out by enlarging the photo, or sketch, to my desired size. Then I create a tracing to overlay the foundation piece of fabric. This helps me to be sure that I am placing the pieces in the correct spot. I use a fusible web, on the back of the fabric, and temporarily stick the fabric pieces to the foundation.

This is what the start of the process looks like:

Detail of hat

Detail of hat

I start placing small pieces of fabric, fitting them together, in a similar fashion to piecing a puzzle.

Gradually the picture develops:

Four ladies in various stage of dress.

Four ladies in various stage of dress.

If I am satisfied with the look of the picture as it develops, I keep going. Otherwise, I can replace pieces, as needed, to get the correct shading, and look, that I want.


The Ladies showing the progress.

The Ladies showing the progress.

I love adding little details, such as the purse, that the woman in mauve is holding.

Finally, I look at the whole piece, and decide what background I need, to accent the piece.

A process photo of The Ladies art quilt.

A process photo of The Ladies art quilt.

In this case, this lovely, multicoloured fabric creates the look of a garden behind the ladies. Just the look that I wanted!

Next I add stitching to hold everything in place and to bring out all the finer details.

Here is the finished piece:

Full view of The Ladies art quilt.

The Ladies – full view

And a detail view:

Detail of The Ladies art quilt, showing a close-up of the hats and faces.

The Ladies – Detail

I hope that this glimpse in to my process, answers some of your questions. If you have further questions, please leave me a comment. I would be delighted to help out!




Have you tried Lumi’s Inkodye?

A friend and I recently tried out the Lumi Inkodyes, a photosensitive dye product that goes on clear, and changes colour (rapidly) in the sun.

  • First the product is painted on the fabric. (It can de diluted with water to make it thinner.)
  •  Then a variety of objects were placed on top.
  • The fabric (on a piece of cardboard) was then placed in the sun.

Using all kinds of objects on top of the wet dye, we created different effects:

Stamp and brush marks with Inkodye.

Result of stamps placed on the Inkodye, and brush marks with Inkodye.

Stamping with blue Inkodye and effects of mustard seed on the Inkodye

Stamping with blue Inkodye and effects of mustard seed placed on the Inkodye.

Ghost images of maple leaves on red and purple Inkodye.

Ghost images of maple leaves.

Ghost images of maple leaves on red and purple Inkodye.

The effects of maple leaves and thread on Inkodye.


One issue is the initial ammonia smell.  Another is the cost. Each 8 oz. bottle, of one colour,  cost us $14.95, so if you want the basic colours it does get expensive.

  • The Inkodye can also be used to transfer an image from an ink jet transparency to a piece of fabric (or a T-shirt). In this case, the picture is made black and white in a photo program, and then the colours are inverted to create the negative.
  • This negative is then printed on to an inkjet transparency.
  • The Inkodye (colour of choice) is painted on the fabric, then the transparency (ink side up) is placed over the Inkodye. Clips at the outer edge can help to hold all the layers together.
  • The assembly is placed in the sun. Whatever was black on the negative, stays the colour of the original fabric, and the clear parts turn the colour of the Inkodye chosen.

This product works amazingly fast, as you can see the colour changing, as soon as you are close to sunlight. We used it indoors, as well as outdoors with great success.

There are some comments, in other reviews,  that in afternoon light, or on a cloudy day, the Inkodye takes a longer time in the sun, to fully develop the colour. We did notice, that initially we got weird colours, when the dye was just starting to develop its colour. For example, initially the purple looked a weird shade of brown.

Working on a sunny day, in the morning, we found that anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes developed the colour fully.

There are lots of videos on-line if anyone is interested. Here are a few links to get you started:



Jacquard also has a similar product called Solar Fast. Jacquard has already reformulated it recently, and without the ammonia, and improved the colours. It would be interesting to compare these two products in the future.

I have used the Setacolour paints in the past, and enjoyed the results. The Inkodyes certainly change colour faster. I haven’t compared pricing for these two products.

Have you tried the Inkodyes? Let us know what you liked or disliked about them?

Have you used  Setacolour paints, and how would you compare the two products?

Inspiration in Downtown Winnipeg?

Last Sunday I went on a Photo walk in downtown Winnipeg, organized by Don’s Photo . People were encouraged to bring their cameras (not camera phones) and focus on Colour. I was looking for something fun to do and this sounded like it! About 40 people showed up and we had a beautiful sunny, warm day. We wandered along a predetermined route, and were encouraged to take photos of whatever inspired us. Staff were available to answer questions about photography, and help with cameras, if needed.  I had a ball! I really had my doubts that I would see much that I would find interesting. It turned out not to be a problem. I have over a hundred photos! Here is a sample of a few:   Reflection, modern buildings   This reflection was really neat! It looks as though one building is inset into another one. Nice contrast between the modern buildings and the old church too.

leaves, plants, nature

This plant was very colourful and fit the criteria for  the day.

 flowers, nature, plants, photography

These flowers were great too!

 shadows, silhouette, photography   A photo of me, taking a picture of my shadow. You can see how lovely and sunny it was that day.

spire, churches, cathedral, photography  A unique view of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

reflections, cathedral, church, modern buildings

reflections, glass walls, photography, modern buildings

These reflections on the sides of buildings were very captivating!

Will any of these find their way into quilts? I am thinking about the leaves and the flowers. The reflection might be interesting in an abstract quilt. Hmmmm…. Tell me where you have found inspiration in unexpected places.

Stepping Out – my latest portrait

My latest portrait is done! This little girl looks as though she has just started walking, and is delighted to be able to get around on her own.

I was thrilled to have it finished! The next thing then was to decide on a title for this portrait. I have a difficult time naming quilts. Do you? My husband suggested “Spokesperson”.  Funny, but no.  After some deliberation, I finally decided on “Stepping Out”.



I did some research on the car, to try and date the photo. I love researching the details! It helps to bring the person, and the piece, to life. I found out that this car was probably a 1920 – 30’s car.

Then at a recent vintage car show in Selkirk, MB I found a 1925 model, beautifully restored! I was thrilled! I took several photos and used these to help with some of the details that were “flashed out” in the original photo.


Vintage 1925 car

Vintage 1925 car


One major part of this quilt was done twice, to get the look that I wanted. I redid the entire car as I decided that, although looking great, it was too bright in relationship to the little girl. I wanted the girl to be the focus, not the car.

Little girl with vintage car

Stepping Out – first attempt

I find that I always resist changing anything, as I see all the work that needs to be done again. I try to talk myself out of changing anything. So I go away for a break, and as soon as I get back, I look at the portrait. If something is still bugging me, I resolve to change it. I am always happier with the result in the end. I then take a deep breath, and just start.

Have you ever had to redo part of your quilt? How did you meet the challenge? Do you have any advice for people facing the same situation?