Friday, June 13, 2014

New Project and Jane Sassaman Class

Back in April my mom and I went to a five day Empty Spools seminar with Jane Sassaman.  Her class was really fabulous, all about abstracting from nature, and it was wonderful to learn her design approach.  Her graphic abstract floral quilts are really outstanding and seeing them in person was remarkable.  We spent the first day and a half just drawing, sketching, and abstracting from our drawings.  Drawing has never been one of my strengths, so forcing myself through the exercise and acknowledging how much I learned from the process reminds me that it can really be a valuable tool for understanding what I see.

Of course we were all working on our own designs, and the plant/flower I chose was the yucca. Going in I wanted to work with metallics, and I thought the gold/warm feeling of the desert and yuccas would really go well with that idea.  Jane's design process (which we were learning in the class) is much more organic than mine usually is- definitely not a draw-out-the-whole-composition-at-the-beginning approach.  Here are a few in progress shots of what I was working on.

That backing fabric is some sort of soft shimmery polyester looking light brown fabric with wrinkles part of the fabric itself.  I love the texture it has.  Metallic fabric in general is so hard to photograph, I included the shot above because you can really see the glow from the gold lame accent leaves.

I've spent a bunch of time in the last few months auditioning different arrangements, and recently settled on what you see below (which I then stitched down).  The top isn't quite finished, there are a few more flower buds to be added at the tops of each stem.

The funny bubbles in the background are where the fabric isn't quite stuck to the interfacing.  They won't be there after quilting.  One of my biggest struggles with this project was the appliqueing.  I usually use raw edge applique or a sort of appli-piecing combo I learned from Caryl Fallert. Jane appliques all her pieces (some raw edge some turned) with a satin or decorative stitch, and all her work is so perfect!  Lots of my satin stitch really looks terrible- not smooth and even. Alas, I'm not sure I can do anything about it, so it may just have to be a practice-practice-practice or a different-technique-next-time situation.

One of Jane's working guidelines for abstracting from nature is "Twice as big, half as many" which I had a really hard time with, but I did try!

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the overall composition, its something I really struggled with and am not opposed to continuing to work on if anyone has any great suggestions.

Linking up with Nina-Marie as always!


  1. Very interesting fabrics and quilt top!
    I just found out AQS is having a regional show in Albuquerque in January 2015. Do you think you'll be visiting for it?

  2. Actually, I like the bubbles on your background fabric

  3. I can totally see the twice as big, half as many concept. I love what you've done. Such a departure for you, I'm sure it was great learning this. And so cool you got to go with your mom!

  4. It's very modern, you managed to abstract the plant shapes. I am really attracted to the background. I used something like that once and it was a challenging fabric as it wanted to travel. It did iron well thought which surprised me. You always take great care in the workmanship so I have no concerns there, it's just hard to tell much from a photo. Does it feel satisfying to you? It reads cool in the photo, not warm desert. I just love Jane!! She is probably one of my all time fave 3 teachers. She just makes a student believe they can do it, so they do.
    LeeAnna Paylor