Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell to 2011!

It's been a wonderful year full of great things happening in my life, thank you all for sharing it with me!I wish you all the best for the coming year!
Check out what I have planned by subscribing to Design Notes, my newsletter written especially for you1 Great ideas, inspiring projects and exciting art! There's a new issue coming out on Tuesday, a terrific way to start the New Year!
Just add your name on the bar to the right:
Now, as Peter Pan said....straight on til morning!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teaching my Shattered Angles Technique?

Are you thinking of teaching or promoting my Shattered Angles technique from the Accent on Angles - Easy Strip Set Quilts? I love when other quilters get enthusiastic about new ideas and inspiration.
If you like the book and would appreciate some help with teaching, then I can offer you a ready-made Lesson Plan to help you. All you need to do is email me at and request the PDF, its ready to go!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Join Me at Quilt Canada 2012 in Halifax

Are you planning a trip to Halifax in May for Quilt Canada?
Here's some news about Workshop Registration:

Are you waiting for the Conference handbook to arrive in the mail before you register for a workshop at Quilt Canada in Halifax? Please don’t wait any more because the handbook is not being mailed this year! It is on the website at:
For a printed copy of the handbook please send $4 and your mailing address to:

Jackie Philpott
Administrative Assistant, CQA/ACC
Registrar, Quilt Canada 2012
6 Spruce Street
Pasadena, NL, Canada A0L 1K0

Registration is now wide open to all quilters, whether you choose to attend as a full delegate or simply want to take a class or two as a day student. There will be quilt shows, great teachers, interesting classes, sewing machines in the classrooms, special events and the Merchant Mall. Please act soon because some classes are filling up. You can see which classes are already full at:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Image Transfer

I was teaching in Saskatoon last month and one of the classes was my popular Tasters Choice, where students get to try a number of different surface design techniques, including paint sticks, Angelina, foils and more. My personal favourite is using Gel Transfers to put images onto fabric.

I made this little hanging using gel transfer onto silk noile. I had indigo-dyed some linen for the outer border and also fused on a piece of batik as the inner border. Then I hand quilted the piece with some dyed perle cotton. It was a great take along project, simple but effective. Just remember its close to impossible to hand stitch through the gel transfers!

To make image transfers such as this you will need:
  • a photo copied image -not inkjet
  • soft gel medium - I prefer the matte finish
  • a brayer - any size
  • fabric-white or light coloured 
  • brush-I prefer bristle brushes-get them cheap at the hardware store

 Apply gel to copy, covering image. It may take a little practice to get the right amount, make certain the surface is covered but not gooey. Do the same of the fabric. Cover the same size area as the image.
Place gel covered copy face down onto the fabric. Sandwich in between layers of wax paper to protect your table surface and run the brayer over several times, using a medium amount of pressure.
Brayer over all the area in one direction. Flip over and do this again. Remove the wax paper and let dry for 24 hours. Do not iron.
To remove the paper: soak in a tub of medium hot water.
Starting from the centre, gently rub the paper off in a circular motion using your finger tips. Blot dry with a towel. Don't put the paper fibres down the sink, they will often clog the drain!

After the transfer dries, you may find some excess fibres showing up. Soak again and rub gently to remove them, repeat if needed.

The Koi fish in these pictures is from this book, I highly recommend Dover books, have a look at all the possibilities at

Keep in mind that images will be reversed in this technique, so you will want to make a mirror image of any text and such.
Make several transfers at one time and you are ready to use them when the mood strikes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cathy Miller - the Singing Quilter

Cathy Miller and I met a few years back shortly after she and her husband, John Bunge, moved to Victoria. Our friendship evolved over the years as we spent time going to quilt retreats, teaching on quilt cruises and sharing stories and ideas about quilting.

Tell us a bit about the beginnings of the Singing Quilter?

The first quilting CD "One Stitch at a Time" came out in September 2000, but I was writing songs about quilting as far back as 1991. I had been hired to write music for a play about quilting which was put on as part of Quilt Canada that year, and the playwright and I did a huge amount of research about quilting traditions, society, superstitions, and practices (neither of us were quilters). It was fascinating. As part of my own research, I took a quilting class and got - slowly - hooked. My passion for quilting was really solidified when John and I lived in Darwin Australia for 8 months (1999-2000) and I learned much more about making quilts, and also about the community, history and wonderful stories associated with it. By the time we returned to Canada I had enough songs written about these stories to record a whole CD of quilting songs. John had to talk me into recording these songs (I didn't think anyone would be interested in buying a CD about quilting.....!) and we haven't looked back since.

Do you travel a lot as part of your singing career?

We generally spend between 6 and 8 months every year on the road. It doesn't leave me much time for quilting! In 2010 we traveled to Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and Europe - we sang for the first time at European Patchwork, which was amazing, and very different from what I'm used to. I did a part of each of the 8 shows in French (which was a challenge!), and taught quilting classes for a week in Belgium. When we travel, I try to keep everyone up to date on our adventures on my blog at During the recording of the most recent CD "Little Crazy Quilt" in Toronto in August 2010 I blogged every evening about what we did that day. I thought that quilters might be interested in how we go about constructing a CD. In many ways, it's similar to how you make a quilt. (I wrote an article comparing the two for Canadian Quilter in the Spring 2011 issue.)

Your songs often evolve from a story. Do you have a couple of favourite songs or stories that you could tell us about?

There are so many amazing stories where quilts feature prominently. I was so fortunate to see the Rajah Quilt when we lived in Darwin. It is still the most important quilt story I've ever found. The quilt is the only known surviving convict ship quilt in the world. It was made in 1841 by female convicts aboard the ship "Rajah" on its way to Van Diemens Land (as Tasmania was known back then). Thanks to the compassionate work of Elizabeth Fry, an early English prison reformer, the women were taught how to quilt (a marketable skill back then) and given a bundle of sewing supplies. They made the quilt as a thank you to Mrs. Fry while they were on the ship taking them to seven years' transportation. It was found in Edinburgh in 1988 by an American quilt historian Janet Rae, while she was researching her book "Quilts of the British Isles". Janet connected the owners of the quilt with the National Gallery of Australia and Australian quilters, and negotiated its return to Australia, where it is now considered a national treasure.

I also write about contemporary quilts I consider important. Several years ago I learned about the making of the Quilt of Belonging in Ontario (Canada) - Esther Bryan took on the daunting task of making a huge quilt that would feature an 11" block from every country whose people have emigrated to Canada - 263 in all. That's every country in the world! She has also included 90 blocks made by native nations in Canada. The quilt measures 36 metres by 3.5 metres - a truly extraordinary effort by many volunteers. I finally wrote the song about this story and recorded it on my latest CD: Little Crazy Quilt.

Last year I decided to finally write a book with all the stories from my songs - in as full a format as I could. Because many of the history tales "ripple back" to me after I've written them (ie, I've met descendants of Elizabeth Fry, as well as Janet Rae and visited the "Female Factory" in Tasmania where the convict women ended up), I wanted to include the complete stories as I know them now. While I was at it, I decided to include all the sheet music for the songs from all the CDs, as well as many (mostly funny) little stories that people have told me over the years. The result is the "Singing Quilter Songbook", which came out in September of 2011. It was a huge job, and I'm very proud of the results.

It sounds like you keep very busy, but you have other projects you’re working on, right?

In recent years I've started to teach quilting as well as singing about it. I have long experience teaching - I taught private singing classes for 25 years, and also songwriting workshops. It has felt very natural to include teaching quilting in our schedule. I'm having a lot of fun with this - especially a class I call "Mock Mola Applique", which is a design class as well as a very effective way to use bright hand-dyes and batiks to spectacular effect. When we're on tour, teaching a class is a great way for me to connect more deeply with people, rather than just coming in to do a concert and leaving town the next morning. It's also given me the opportunity to participate in quilting cruises! We're just about to go on our 4th quilting cruise, this time to the Caribbean, and there'll be more in the future. It's a great way to travel!

I certainly couldn't do all this without the full partnership of my husband John Bunge. Not only is he the tour manager, CD seller and (mostly) driver, but he also sings harmony and plays harmonica during the concerts. He also finishes every one of our shows with the "hit" song: "Quilter's Husband's Lament", which usually brings down the house!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Soy Wax Batik

I've spent a few hours in the dye room playing with coloured soy wax and have been absolutely thrilled with the results! I had purchased Lisa Kerpoe and Jane Dunnewolds book Vibrant Color and made up some wax paste to begin. I used the paste on some already coloured fabric and found the paste easy to use, especially through some Thermofax screens. It was the consistency of shoe polish, I could also rub it on, use stiff brushes or stamp with it. I realize I need to spent more time with the paste, my results so far have been less than thrilling.
BUT, I then made up some pans of coloured wax and had an absolute blast using the coloured wax on soda soaked fabrics, then painting in the open areas with dye solution. I batched the fabrics overnight to set the liquid dyes, steamed the fabrics to set the waxed areas and then washed the fabrics with Synthrapol to remove the wax. I should mention that I have used soy wax a lot in the past but never as a coloured medium, now I am hooked!
Here's some of my results, I've already cut and pieced the first fabric and am eagerly looking forward to some machine quilting:

Here's a second piece, coloured with black wax and then painted with fushia and scarlet dyes. Its being cut up for one of my Shattered Angles quilts.

I used bronze, golden yellow and turquoise wax with fushia, purple, and emerald dyes. I think I'll dye some more colours to co-ordinate with this fabric.

Next time, I'll be working with larger pieces of fabric and I'd love to try the coloured wax on the Radiance fabric that is a blend of silk and cotton. The silk threads will pick up the colour in such an exciting way. More ideas and inspiration are always generated by work in the studio!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sunday Brunch Project

When you are out doing some holiday shopping be sure to buy the latest copy of McCall's Quilting Special Issue America Loves Scrap Quilts 2011.

My project Sunday Brunch has a wonderful project for placemats and a table runner that can use a planned selection of fabrics or a terrific stash buster. Its a great way to get ready for spring (I know, Christmas hasn't even happened yet....)
Check out the article here: and remember, you can't go wrong with a blue and yellow combination!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Give and Take Applique on YouTube!

I finally made it to YouTube, I'm a movie star! Check out this link to see our introduction to the Give and Take Applique DVD from Nine Patch Media.
It was fun taping the DVD and even more fun creating great designs from our book Give and Take Fabric Applique!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Canadian Christmas Blog Hop

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I was in Saskatoon last weekend and we visited the Festival of Trees at the Western Development Museum. Part of their display was old Christmas displays taken from the Eatons store windows. You probably remember them as elves, animals, little children and Santa made toys or were part of a reminded me of gazing for what seemed like hours watching these wonderful displays at Christmas time-long ago!

Here's a recipe from my childhood to share with you:

Toad in the Hole

We have this every Christmas morning after the stockings have been looked at, but before the gifts are opened! I cook the sausages the night before so the little ones don’t have to wait too long….

Makes enough for 4 people, I usually triple the recipe for Christmas morning.

  • 8 links pork sausage
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.               Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2.               Pour the oil into the bottom of a baking dish, and arrange the sausages over it in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

3.               Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, and half of the milk until smooth. Gradually mix in the rest of the milk until a smooth batter is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.

4.               Remove the sausages from the oven, and ladle the batter over them until the sausages are 3/4 covered. Return to the oven, and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the center is risen and browned.

I like to serve it with maple syrup or chutney, a fresh fruit salad is a lovely accompaniment.

Merry Christmas!

Blue Glue Batik Blast
Since I've been working on a number of surface design projects, pattern for you is a little different!
This is a great technique to use with kids or the whole family can join in and be creative over the holiday season.
You can achieve great results with this simple technique and Elmer's School Glue Washable Gel as a resist! This gel glue can be found in most office and discount stores. I like to use the gel with prepared fabric and Dye-Na-Flow™ paint or diluted fabric paint. You can use any natural fiber such as cotton, linen, hemp or blends.
°        Lay fabric on wax paper or the shiny side of freezer paper and draw a design onto the fabric. Think of lines, wiggles, circles, simple shapes, landscapes flowers and more....
°        Remember that the fabric will not colour under the glue so those areas will remain white. Let the glue dry for 12 hours.
°        Place dyes/paints in a styrofoam plate or egg tray and dilute if needed.
°        Colour the open areas with paint or dye. Try blending the colours, playing with lines or shapes, be open and have fun with the adventure. (If you are using Procion MX dye, cover with plastic wrap and batch in a warm place for 12-18 hours)
°        When the fabric is dry, soak it in a warm (almost hot) water bath. Depending on the fabric's weight this soak can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 1/2 an hour, (heavier fabrics take longer).
°        Use fabric in your next project! This is also great to do with kids or as a craft day.
°        Try drawing the glue onto dark fabric and using discharge paste to take the colour out, this yields amazing results!
© 2010 Susan Purney Mark
Visit for great fabrics, threads, books and more!

New Thermofax Screens

I've justed posted four great new designs for my Thermofax Screens category at
I had so much fun designing these and they will be perefect for some of your surface design techniques. There are three different sizes available and as usual, I also offer custom screens with your own images. Have a look:

 Chain Links
Crazy Keys

Knobbly Bark

 Odd Orbs

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dragon Bones and Fish Fingers

I just returned from a fabulous five day teaching trip to Saskatoon Quilters Guild. The snow arrived my first night when the temperature dropped to -22 C, a nice brisk cold! Luckily, being Canadian, I had my warm woolies!
The first two day workshop was Dragon Bones and Fish Fingers, a playful technique that's featured in my book Accent on Angles. In this workshop students are using insertion strips to divide up their fabrics that can be cut into squares, rectangles or other shapes. There aren't many rule sin this workshop!
Here are some of my students work, I'm sure you'll agree that they are outstanding!

I'll be teaching this workshop at Quilt Canada in Halifax next May, hope to see you there!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pippa Moore - Quilter with a Mission!

I don’t remember when I first met Pippa Moore but I’m sure it was at a quilting or art event. We’ve been friends for a number of years and have each had a booth at Quilt Market to promote our patterns as well as attending art quilt retreats together.

I’ve followed Pippa’s blog  when she travels and have always enjoyed reading her stories and adventures.

I’ll let Pippa tell you about herself:

I first started quilting as the stay-at-home mother of twins. I desperately needed an occasional break from the babies, and my university student husband had Thursday afternoons off. A quilt teacher and author - Frances Fournier - offered to teach me in her home, in exchange for which I proof-read her manuscript for a book on making quilted clothing. A year later we moved to rural Manitoba, where I was asked to teach the local women what I knew - the sum total of which was the making of a Sampler quilt - and I have been making quilts and teaching ever since.

So how did Pippa get involved with Africa and cloth? Through love, of course!

I married a man who had already lived in Africa for 5 years - in Burundi, to be more specific - before I met him. We had the opportunity to return to the continent - Lesotho this time - in the early nineties. While there, I had two fantastic jobs. Both involved working with grass roots development, particularly with respect to women and income generation projects. My husband has been working in East Africa - mainly Uganda - since that time. When I resigned from my full-time job, my dream was to begin a project with grandmothers and widows, and that's what I've been doing for the last 4 years.

Pippa began a business to help women learn to sew and produce items for sale, thus helping them earn a living.

“Kitambaa” is the Swahili word for cloth, and the baobab tree that I use for my logo is a tree prevalent in many equatorial African countries. There is a legend, variously told in several countries, that it once was the most beautiful tree in the forest. But it became proud, and the gods were not pleased. They plucked it out of the earth and planted it upside down with its roots in the air, so it could never boast again. And that explains the root-like shapes of the ugly-beautiful branches. Both the logo and the name were chosen in recognition of the years I spent living and working in Southern Africa, and the importance for me of this experience.

In February 2009, the first Kitambaa Designs workshop was held in Mbarara, Uganda. Twelve women, mostly widows and grandmothers, and chosen from existing grandmothers’ and widows’ groups, began learning how to sew using a treadle sewing machine, and how to quilt. These twelve came to the workshop knowing little about cutting fabric and using an iron and sewing, but at the end of three weeks, had developed the skills required to make saleable products. Previously most of them had been subsistence farmers, working in the fields from six in the morning until six at night. They brought such enthusiasm and determination to the project, and have been sewing on an ongoing basis ever since then. Many of them has at least one child in school who was not in school previously, and other proceeds from their work has been used to purchase things like a bed, a cow, a table, as well as for food and for medicine.
 This photo is taken at the closing ceremonies of our third workshop with the ladies I work with. Alice is the amazing Coordinator of this group - patient, skillful, with a sense of professionalism and a sense of humour. Here she is being presented with a solar operated desk lamp, so that she can keep sewing in the evenings. Working with Alice, and getting to know her, has been one of the highlights of recent years.

In between her travels to Africa, Pippa has designed an exciting range of patterns and kits. She has shown her quilts in international shows and has received rave reviews. I particularly love her exuberant use of colour and her stylized Art Deco designs.

"There's an Elephant in my Garden is inspired by the Art Deco period, and combines many of the motifs that have been drawn from the early part of that period, with a love for saturated colours. I like the improbability of it, the marvel of it.

Pippa is also strongly influenced by the cloth of Africa as you see in this piece.

The Kente-inspired piece is one of a series of quilts I plan to make, honouring the textiles of Africa, in this case Ghanaian hand woven Kente cloth. I use diverse techniques in my quilts - whatever suits my purposes - but must admit that my favourite is machine piecing.

I’m sure that you will enjoy a visit to Pippa’s website and blog, be sure to sign up for her newsletter and keep up to date with all her wonderful adventures!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Susan's Book Report

Masters Art Quilts, Vol. 2
This inspirational and simply beautiful book presents the work of 40 of the most creative and talented art quilters in the world. It features approximately a dozen quilts for each artist, sumptuously spread over ten pages. the pieces showcase the leading techniques in contemporary quilting and present an array of themes including portraits, nature, abstraction, realism and political commentary. Fully international in scope , the book includes quilters from the US, Canada, France, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa, Italy, England, Australia, the Netherlands, South Korea, Norway, Israel and Japan.
Theis book was featured at International Quilt Festival in Houston last week and recieved rave reviews. I picked out three of my favourites: Jan Myers Newbury, Rosalie Dace and Izabella Baykova
Each artist works very differently but all of them move me with their use of colour and imagery.
I strongly recommend this book as a wonderful addition to your library. You can get more information and order it here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Image Transfer

I made a sample for the Imagery class I am teaching at Quilters Dream in Edmonton next March. I used transparency transfer with 3M Transparency film and gel medium, also used some TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) and lines from a poem.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Font and Fabric

I taught a day long class on creating design with lettering. We used a variety of different techniques including stencils, image transfer, foiling and markers.
Students began by using every marker I brought to test the colours, the brush strokes, and how they laid on the fabric. they discovered that each marker acted a little differently and they preferred some over others.

Paulette used stencils to create negative images. Don`t forget that there is both a positive and a negative image when you are cutting out stencils.

Laine added details to her letter with a contrasting colour in acrylic inks.

Carol got inspiration from a calligraphy book she brought to class.

Ruth played with repetition to create interesting design.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Accent on Angles-More Quilts

I`m adding more images of quilts from my book Accent on Angles-Easy Strip Set quilts. These quilts all feature my Shattered Angles technique - lots of fun and a great way to add details such as a border around a pre-printed panel:

Making Waves uses the same Shattered Angles technique but this time with curved strip piecing, half square triangles and raw edge applique. Lots to learn with this quilt!
More ideas to come another day. In the meantime, you can order the book at Remember to ask for an autograph!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Design Ideas

I spent the day in Old Montreal last weekend and looked around at the buildings for some design inspiration. Here`s some photos I took:

I think some of the cutouts could be good Give and Take Applique Designs.

Curves and swags are perfect quilting designs.

These carvings are great designs for applique in the setting triangles in a quilt with on point blocks.

My favourite: an Art Deco design with ferns and a centred rosette. What ideas can you come up withÉ

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dragon Bones and Fish Fingers

I developed this technique after cutting through some blocks by accident! Have you ever had that happen? I didn't clear my cutting table properly and the blocks were tucked under some other fabric....big oooppps! So remember the adage about making "lemonade"?  I joined the blocks back together with a contrast strip and thought the style worked quite well.
So I'm teaching Dragon Bones at the Creativ Festival in Toronto, in Saskatoon next month and at Quilt Canada in Halifax, NS. I've made  lots of samples, because there are SO many different designs you can do with this technique and I've got ideas for many, many more quilts!
Now I need some help naming the quilt, put your thinking caps on and help me with this. My husband will pick the one he likes best. Leave the name in the Comments section or on my Facebook.

Now if you are wondering how to make the blocks there's a couple of cool projects in my Accent on Angles book available here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mountain View Art Festival

As a member of the Fibre Arts Network, I'd like to invite you to attend the Mountian View Arts Festival in Didsbury, AB this coming weekend. I have a piece in the Fibre Arts Exhibit but there's so many other activities going on, be sure to take it all in! Visit

My piece, All the Difference, is in the show.

Plus there will be a Mennonite Quilt Exhibit, October 1st and 2nd

Hosted by the Bergthal Mennonite Community at Victoria Square Mall, 2034 - 19th Ave

Didsbury was founded by Mennonites and the Bergthal community is known for its beautiful quilts. Most are made for refugee camps and most are hand-knotted, although some hand quilted or machine quilts may be on display - all various themes and colours. All fabric is donated so if you want to bring some with you, the ladies would be delighted! Quilters will be on hand to visit.