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!