For the Love of Wool!

New Wool Works™  Magazine

Premier Issue Ships January 10, 2017 . . .

Yvonne Buus – Vintage Heart Rug Design

Wool Works™ Magazine is full of good things.  It is a place to learn about wool, from its simple beginnings among grassy pastures to the cherished applique pillows, family quilts and warm hooked rugs that grace our homes.  As you turn the pages, you’ll see beautiful projects from the best designers in the industry who join us in enriching your love of wool.

Wool Works™ Magazine is a commitment to the love of wool.  If you enjoy wool applique, rug hooking or quilting with wool, each issue will contain several projects to inspire you to create something special for your home, your family, your friends.  These beautiful projects deserve to be paired with articles that celebrate our strengths and imagination as women, and our contributing designers share those values.

Laurie Lausen – LJ Fibers at The Wooly Red Rug

Step back in time with us, to a place where life was simpler.  Learn the secrets of dyeing your own wool, visit quilting and rug hooking guilds and meet women who use their handcrafts to give back to their communities.  Master the art of fancy embroidery stitches and learn the best methods for perfect wool applique. Want to learn the best foundation cloth for rug hooking, how to recycle wool and which rug hooks are favored by designers? You’ve come to the right place.

Wool Works™ Magazine is published four times a year in the spring, summer, fall and winter.  Subscribe now and join us in celebrating our love of everything wool.

Cathy Wagner – Cath’s Pennies Designs


Karen Hahn – Horse and Buggy Country


Subscribe Now!  Premier Issue Ships January 10, 2017!

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Soft and Cozy Keepsakes


Soft and Cozy Keepsakes -Faux Rag Quilting is a new book by Margo Yang.

Margo’s quilting hobby started when she quit her computer career over 25 years ago to become a mother. In 1991, her young family moved into a home, and soon she decided to make a tablecloth for her bare dining table. She chose a nine patch block but didn’t finish it because her blocks turned out uneven. Having no clue of how to fix them, she put those blocks in a closet where they languished until she found them again and finished those blocks into a lap quilt.

She and her sewing friends from church often made baby gifts and rag quilts because rag quilts were warm and fast to finish. After making rag quilts for a couple years, she was weary of always making rag quilts full of squares and rectangles. From there, she wondered, another way to make rag quilts that would still be fast but more varied in design and possibly, use less fabric? After much thought, she came up with what seemed like a fantastic idea. She put it to the test and in 2010, her Faux Rag quilting technique was born. She got published in The Quilt Life magazine in December 2013 and got a book contract from AQS in 2014. Her new book Soft & Cozy Keepsakes: Faux Rag Quilting came out in March of this year.

Soft & Cozy Keepsakes will show you how to make unique rag quilts and craft projects using Faux Rag Quilting technique. All the rag quilts in this book are nothing like you have seen or made before. We all know that rag quilts are fast to make. They are soft, snugly and comfy to have wrapped around you. You will enjoy making them for yourself and friends.

Nancy’s review

“I thought rag quilting was as easy as it gets but designer Margo Yang has made it even easier! This method is so easy and so forgiving that anyone can be a quilter without ever sewing a seam. And talk about fast – this would be great if you need a quick baby gift or a donation. This method also allows you to make any shapes you want with curves and angles being no problem. The quilts in this book will only be a kick start as your imagination will run wild with ideas!”

Soft and Cozy Keepsakes – Faux Rag Quilting is available for purchase at  Book also includes CD-ROM that contains all patterns and templates.


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After the Storm

“As I left the barn, I felt the wind strengthen and the first drops of rain began to fall. I called to Sunny and told the children to wash up while I returned to the cabin to prepare dinner.

“By the time I tucked Sarah and Jacob into bed, the storm had struck full force. The wind and rain hurtled down the lake, churning the water into white froth. When it reached our cove at the south end, it slammed into the woods, whipping trees around in a frenzied dance. Flashes of jagged lightening cut the night sky and thunder crashed so close to the house that the log walls shuddered….

“Inside our little fortress, I kept a fire blazing in the large fireplace, and two kerosene lamps shone brightly in an attempt to ward off the darkness and fury of the storm. The windows rattled ominously and the walls vibrated while all around the cabin I heard trees snapping like matchsticks and the wind moaned and howled.

“Sarah and Jacob were frightened and huddled under one of my patchwork quilts near the fire. I comforted them as best I could…. I was frightened too.”

After the Storm is a new book published by Cary Flanagan and available now on A story of Hannah, a young quilter growing up in a New England farming community during the tumultuous 19th and early 20th century. It is a poignant tale of love, loss, and resilience. Orphaned very young and raised by her Aunt Rebecca, she matures from a frightened child to a self-confident and successful quilt designer and businesswoman at a time when few opportunities were open to women.

Nancy’s review:

“I really enjoyed relaxing with this book after a long work day. The story of Hannah’s life makes one appreciate the modern conveniences we have today and that women of that era forged a path for women to be successful in the future. The book made me smile at many points and brought me to tears at others as author Cary Flanagan put heartfelt emotion into her words. She showed that only family and friends’ love and support can carry one through the dark times and make the celebration of the good times worthwhile.”

Purchase your copy today at!


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Adorable Characters without Applique

Lisa Muilenburg is a stay at home mom that started designing quilts for her mother, so she could make new baby quilts for each of her grandchildren.  She now designs them for you!  She loves to get ideas from friends and family and see what she can make for them.

Lisa’s daughter asked her one day when they were going to make their next “Quilt that Counts”.  Lisa told her that her shop was called Counted Quilts, but she thinks her daughter had it right.  Lisa loves being part of making a gift that really counts.

How to make Counted Quilts

These quilts are a quick and easy way to make an adorable character without using applique.

Only Straight Seams! First, cut the fabric into a given number of strips of varying sizes. Second, cut those strips into the given number of pieces. Third, sew the entire quilt top together, using straight 1/4″ seams, following a large labeled picture map. All of Counted Quilts patterns use a similar method.

1. Cut Strips

2. Cut Pieces

3. Follow Labeled Map





These are Perfect Patterns for Beginning Quilters!  And the perfect patterns for making quilts for boys.

Here are a few of our favorites.

Train Quilt Pattern

Octopus Quilt Pattern

Tractor Quilt Pattern

Visit us at to see the full selection of Counted Quilts Patterns.

Happy Counting!!!

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Recipes for Perfect Embroidery

By Lee Fletcher, Sulky Freelance National Educator

Embroidery, whether it is Free Motion or Digitized Embroidery, is a great way to make the ordinary outfit, quilt or fashion accessory extraordinary. Like cooking in the kitchen, there are basic recipes with all sorts of variations. We are going to pass along a few hints for you to use as basics as you expand your cookbook of possibilities.

Let us look at the basic ingredients for your embroidery project:

♦ Threads of various densities. 40 wt. & 30 wt. polyester and rayon are common for embroidery, however, 12wt & 30wt. Cotton Blendables® and Solid Colors are beautiful options along with Sulky’s brand new 60wt. PolyLite™ thread for fine embroidery and lettering and in the bobbin.

♦ A garment, quilt, accessory or whatever you want embroidery onto with a unique thread count.

♦ An embroidery design with varying stitch density.

♦ Stabilizers

♦ Placement

♦ Hooping

Think about the fact that your fabric has a thread count, your embroidery has a density of stitches and the thread has its own thickness. You are going to add more thread to a fabric that already has thread in it. The thread going into the fabric needs to have a foundation to keep the fabric from puckering. Your stabilizer is meant to do just that, stabilize the fabric and absorb all of the extra stress of adding the embroidery thread to it.

Now, stabilizers seem to be very confusing to many people. Let’s break them down to their basic ingredients. There are only 4 categories for stabilizers:

  • 1. Cut Away (Purple Labeled) stabilizers are designed to be trimmed away after the stitching is done. They protect the outer stitches and are permanent. They are meant for unstable fabrics like knits or soft woven fabrics. Within this category there are several choices to make from very soft to very stiff.

a. Soft ’n Sheer™ is a soft and light stabilizer. It is now available in an iron-on called Soft ’n Sheer Extra.

b. Cut Away Plus™ is a bit sturdier for projects with high density embroidery. It can be used for templates and the insides of handbags and wall hangings.

c. Fuse ’n Stitch™ is a very stiff iron-on that can handle the densest of embroidery. It can also be used inside of purses, purse straps and wall hangings that need to be sturdy.

d. Tender Touch™ is an iron-on, tricot-like fabric and is predominantly used for covering a finished embroidery on the inside of a garment. It is a wonderful interfacing for delicate fabrics like silk, satin, and lightweight cottons and knits. It does not change the hand of the fabric and stretches with the garment.

  • 2. Tear Away (Green Labeled) stabilizers do just what the name implies. The stitches perforate the stabilizer and can be torn away when the embroidery is complete. This is not a permanent stabilizer. It is for use with sturdier fabrics like heavier cottons and as an add-on underneath cut-away stabilizers. Following are the Tear Away choices:

a. Tear Easy™ is a soft, lightweight temporary stabilizer. It is easy to tear away when the embroidery is complete. The beauty of Tear Easy is that it is so versatile. It can be combined with other stabilizers and you can use as many layers as needed. Tear each layer away one at a time when the embroidery is complete.

b. Stiffy™ is a crisp and firm medium–weight temporary stabilizer that is used for denser embroideries.

c. Sticky+™ is a non-woven, self-adhesive temporary stabilizer for items that cannot be hooped. Hoop the Sticky+. Score the release sheet and removed and the item is then adhered to the Sticky+ can be used as a backing when painting T-Shirts as it will keep the paint from bleeding through the layers and keeps the knit grain stable while painting.

d. Totally Stable™ is an iron-on that tears away easily. It is also great for making re-useable templates that are repositionable for appliqué and quilt pieces.

  • 3. Water Soluble Stabilizers are very versatile. They can be used on the “top” of the embroidery fabric to keep the stitches from sinking down into the fabric. Some people use them just for napped fabrics or knits. I use them 100% of the time. They make the embroidery crisper. Water Soluble stabilizers are temporary and wash away easily. They can also be used for free-motion work or freestanding lace projects. Trace the design onto the stabilizer with a permanent marker, complete your work and the markings wash away with the stabilizer.

a. Solvy® (Blue Labeled) is a light weight soluble which can be used in layers if necessary to achieve the desired results.

b. Super Solvy™ is twice as thick as Solvy for heavier needs. It is great for making thread scarves and bowls. Solvy and Super Solvy can be fused together by layering them and applying a warm iron or misting one layer with water and smoothing another layer over it.

c. Ultra Solvy™ is four times thicker than Solvy.

d. Fabri-Solvy™ is unique in that it has the feel of a soft fabric and is great for cut-work, lace making and appliqué. It washes away very easily (don’t sneeze on it!).

e. PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy™ is a self-adhesive with a release sheet that makes it printable. Copy your design onto the PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy, stick it onto fabric that will be hand embroidered or sewn with free-motion or other techniques. PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy can also be hooped with the release sheet up. Score the release sheet and then stick your fabric or towel to the stabilizer.

f. Paper Solvy™ can be used in an ink jet or bubble jet printer. It is great for copying paper pieced designs onto and stitching them out. By using a short stitch, the “paper is perforated” and tears away easily.

  • 4. Heat Away™ (Red Labeled) is a fabulous new stabilizer that just goes away when ironed. There is little or no residue and there is no need to use a pressing sheet to protect the iron. I love it as a topper on towels and fabrics that I don’t want to wet down.

Stabilizers should be stored in air tight containers to keep them fresh, especially the Water Soluble category. Sulky’s clam shell packaging keeps everything sealed and fresh with the directions handy. Sulky labels their Cut Away stabilizers in Purple; Tear Away in Green; Wash Away in Blue and Heat Away in red.

Now you have the ingredients for your embroidery whether it is digitized, free motion or appliqué. These same ingredients are used over and over again. You only need to know the basic guidelines for creating your recipe.

1. Analyze your design.

a. High Density design? Almost always use a Cut Away. The thickness or layers depend on the thread count of the fabric and the density of the stitches. Test the design first on the actual fabric or one with the same fiber content and feel. You can increase or decrease the layers of stabilizer as needed to prevent puckering.

b. Lower Density design? If the fabric is stable and of a high thread count, a Tear Away may be used. Test it first. If the fabric is a knit or unstable woven, it will almost always need a Cut Away. If it needs more than one layer of stabilizer, it may be okay to use a Tear away, but most often there needs to be a Cut Away next to the fabric.

2. Analyze your fabric.

a. Knits almost always require a Cut Away. In addition, it helps to iron on a layer of Tender Touch to the knit and then use the Cut Away. The thickness of the Cut Away will depend upon the density of the design. Test the design first on a like fabric or if you have scraps, use them.

b. Stable woven fabrics may be able to use a Tear Away if the design is not too dense. Test the embroidery first on a like fabric or if you have scraps, use them.

c. Towels are happy with a Tear Away on the wrong side and a water soluble or heat away topper on the top. Some towels do not hoop well. Use Sulky KK 2000™ Temporary Spray Adhesive to adhere it to the hooped stabilizer. Take care to position the towel so that the design is where you want it. Many machines have the ability to adjust the position of the design inside of the hoop, so know your machine. For a perfect, reversible towel, use the same colors in the bobbin as on top and use Sulky Fabri-Solvy as the stabilizer on the bottom. The stabilizer disappears and no stabilizer is showing.

d. Normally hooping fabrics Velvet or Corduroy will leave a mark (hoop burn) that can be difficult to remove. Use Sulky KK2000 to adhere the fabric the chosen stabilizer. Water Soluble stabilizer can be also be used for the stabilizer, but, again, test first.

e. For small objects, Sulky Sticky+™ is great. Never use Sticky on fleece or the right side of napped fabrics.

f. For a name on fleece, a Tear Away is fine. Some stabilizer might remain on the wrong side so for a perfectly clean back side, use Sulky PRINTABLE Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Solvy on the top of the work will keep the stitches from shrinking into the nap of the fleece. Test first.

For design placement, print the design from your computer and position it where it looks best on your garment. If you are working on a collar make sure to consider the fold. If working on a towel, print out the design on paper, fold it like it will be on the towel rack and find the right placement. Mark the fabric where the design will be placed with a disappearing marker or chalk lines.

The consistent ingredient to all of the above is to test first. It saves time and tears, especially if you are working on a purchased garment. If you are testing the design for color and density, it can be stitched out on Sulky Soft ‘n Sheer. When done, trim away the excess stabilizer. From the wrong side, burn the excess stabilizer away using a wood-burning tool or heat-stencil-cutter to eliminate the excess stabilizer. The test design can then be used as an appliqué by sewing it on with Sulky Invisible Thread or fusing with double sided fusible web. It is best, however, to do the test stitch-out on the actual or similar fabric.

Most of all; have fun. What you have here are guidelines. Everyone has their own experience and own opinions about what works best. Testing is the key. Keep a notebook with the ingredients you used in your stitch-outs. In no time, you will have a good idea of the exact mixture of ingredients for success every time. The Sulky books offer more information on embroidery and are full of great instructions for specific projects and fabrics.

Sulky Books for more embroidery information:
Sew, Craft, Quilt and Embroider Confidently™ 900B-19
An Updated Supplement to Sulky’s® Secrets to Successful Stabilizing™ 900B-17
Sulky® Secrets to Successful Embroidery™900-B15

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Summertime with Aunt Em

School got out this week and Memorial Day was last weekend.  Its official, summer is here!  YEAH!  Time for picnic’s and gardens. Aunt Em’s Beeline quilt is perfect for both.

Bee Line Quilt Pattern

Beeline Quilt Pattern

And heaven knows when that garden gets going you’re going to have produce to share with your neighbors. There will also be block parties and BBQ’s. So here we have Suburbia.

Suburbia Quilt Pattern

Finally while the adults enjoy a little down time the kids will be busy creating their own space. A Club House of course.

Club House Quilt Pattern

So let summer begin. We are ready at Aunt Em’s.   And if you’d like to join me on the porch one of these lazy summer days, so to speak I’m always available at Em’s Scrap Bag and I’d love to have you come and visit.

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Successful Sewing with Specialty Threads

By Lee Fletcher,
Sulky National Freelance Educator
Designer of Pat-e-Patterns
Inventor of TheThread Director

It has been my privilege and pleasure to teach how to sew with the beautiful decorative threads that are available today from Sulky of America.  When I started sewing, there were only basic 50 wt. threads available.  There has been an explosion of beautiful threads introduced for home sewing enthusiasts since then.  Sulky has led the way by introducing specialty quilting, embroidery and metallic threads for home sewing.

In order to enjoy the full benefits of these threads, we need to understand some thread basics.  Our normal sewing thread is considered 50 wt.  This is determined by how much thread length it takes to reach a standardized weight.  So, if your thread is thicker, it doesn’t take quite so much thread to reach that standard weight.  The process for determining this number is complicated, but at the end of the day, we just have to remember that the higher the designated number, the finer the thread.  It does seem backwards, but it is what it is.  So, 12 wt. threads are much heavier than 50 wt. thread.  60 wt. threads are much finer than 50 wt. thread.

There are so many of us who can remember that when we purchased our sewing machines years ago, we were told not to touch the tension!  Well, at that time, we only had 50 wt. standard sewing threads to work with.  Now we have everything from stunning 12 weight cottons, to the fantastic 60 wt. embroidery and sewing threads.  We also have shiny arrays of metallic threads that can be a flat polyester core infused with aluminum, or a single filament core with small strands of aluminum wrapped around the core.  So what happens to this thread when we run it through our machines?

In order to be successful with these great threads, we need to understand the tension system in our machines.  The tension is the part of the machine that the thread passes through to make the perfect stitch.  Most machines are preset from the factory for 50 wt. threads used for  garment construction or piecing.  Most machines have two tension discs for the thread to pass through which are positioned perfectly to make that stitch. Consult your machine manual to see if your machine is set differently.  So what happens if you want to put a heavier thread through your machine?  If you try to put a 40 wt. thread through a tension that is set for 50 wt. thread, the thread may shred and break.  The industry standard for the digitized machine embroidery thread is 40 wt.  When you put your embroidery unit onto your machine and you hear the whirring and buzzing and clicking, it is re-setting the machine for the machine embroidery unit and it is lowering the tension to accept the heavier 40 wt. thread.

So now this question always comes up.  “How much do I lower my tension?”  Well, I can’t answer that!  A lot depends upon the moisture in the air, whether you are running heat or air conditioning, etc.  You have to test before beginning to sew.  In general, you will want the top thread to slightly show on the bottom of your work.  Just test a few times until you are satisfied.  Keep in mind that you will need to test first every time you start working.  I have a good friend, Suzy Seed, Sulky National Educator, who says “There are those who test . . . and those who wish they had!”   Another extremely important component of successful thread work is the needle.  In general, the eye of the needle needs to be large enough for the standard 50 wt. thread to pass through without stress.  Topstitch needles are designed for specialty threads.

  • The eye is elongated and wider.
  • The scarf, or the indentation on the back of the needle, is designed for the specialty threads. I encourage you to visit to learn more about needles. There is a series of 6 videos by Rhonda Pearce that will help you understand the difference.

Positioning the thread correctly on the machine is extremely important.  If you position the thread on the horizontal spool pin, the thread will twist as it comes off of the end of the spool.  This rarely bothers spun cotton or rayon threads, except on some of the newer high-end machines with very long thread paths, but can be a problem with metallic or the heavier 12 wt. threads.

If you position the thread on the vertical spool pin, it does roll into the machine flat, which works great as long as you sew slowly and evenly.  There is a tendency for the polyester core of the thread to stretch as it pulls the thread off of the spool.  When you stop sewing, the thread retracts to its original size and then pools around the base of the spool pin.  When you start sewing again, the thread can snap.  Also, you need to remember that on a vertical spool pin, the weight of the spool being pulled is adding tension.

Sigh, you say!   But the thread is so beautiful and I want to create this unique project.  What am I going to do?

Here is your answer.  The Thread Director™, a horizontal spool pin adapter, will reposition the thread so that it spans horizontally across the top of your machine, allowing the metallic and specialty threads to feed flat into the sewing machine.  There is no stress on the thread, which eliminates the breakage, stretching and puckering.  Even the 12 wt. cottons will not twist on themselves and break when positioned on The Thread Director.

The Thread Director will fit on a vertical spool pin or bobbin winder.  It can be used on 10 needle embroidery machines, long arms, and sergers.  You can visit for photos and videos showing how to position The Thread Director on most machines along with some fun project ideas.

Now that you have all the information you need to create spectacular projects, go forth and have fun!  We hope that you will share your projects with us and keep the conversation going.

Posted in Helpful Tips, Notions, Techniques | 2 Comments

Great New Northcott Pattern

A great new pattern from the girls at Upper Canada Quiltworks Publishing.

Modern Vibe

Nellie Holmes and Christine Baker are the co-owners and designers at Upper Canada Quiltworks Publishing. They have been designing quilt patterns and writing books for over 15 years and between them have a HUGE number of designs. Many of the designs they publish are collaborations with Northcott Fabrics including their four new patterns.

Christine and Nellie love working with Northcott and love the challenge of designing with fabrics that are a bit out of their comfort zone. Their new pattern “Modern Vibe” uses Northcott’s ColorWorks Concepts fabric line which is certainly different than what they usually gravitate to. But the quilt is amazing and they found it so much fun to make. Christine quilted the sample on her Gammill with lime green thread and showed her quilting designs on her own blog.

Here is the link to their Modern Vibe pattern on our website:

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Interview with Diane Phalen, Quilt Painter

Nancy: We first met at a quilt show many years ago where you were representing your line of fabric. I was completely drawn to the beauty of your prints and immediately knew I had met someone I would like to call a friend. I have wanted to collaborate on a project with you ever since and finally I am delighted that you have agreed to let me help you create this wonderful coloring book.


Nancy: Would that first meeting have been at Quilt Market? How many fabric lines have you designed, for what companies, and in what years?

Diane: I remember meeting you and liking you instantly!  I believe our first time we met was at Quilt Market in Houston. We then met again at the Quilt Show in Rochester, New York.  I was surprised to see you again.  We were exhibiting at the same show! My first fabric line was with Erlanger Blumgart in 1995.  At that time my designs were simplified and repainted by hand and done by hand in repeat.  The next company I designed fabric for was P & B Textiles in Burlingame, California.  I hand-painted all the designs, even doing a design right in their studio when they needed one more!  I did fabric for E. E. Schenck of Portland Oregon next. We took designs from my Spring and Summer paintings.  We focused on my Spring Garden painting and recreated the flowers and trees in repeat patterns.  I did several fabric lines for Elizabeth Studios in Milltown, New Jersey. They did a wonderful Spring collection followed by a Winter and Autumn collection. I loved designing fabric and am now looking for a fabric company to work with to do more fabric lines. My collectors of my art ask me all the time for more fabric!

Nancy: I read in one of your two quilt pattern books (still available on that you have never made a quilt. Is that still true? So someone else wrote those patterns on your behalf? Where do you get the designs for the quilts you use in your paintings?

Diane: No, I have never made a quilt!  I always loved quilts and was fascinated by the colors and the patterns. I worked with several quilters in writing the patterns.  Some of the patterns are from my Grandmother’s quilts and traditional patterns. Some patterns I designed on my own.  When I first started drawing I would doodle and fill in colors of patterns.

Fabric 2310-B
One of Diane’s former fabric lines – now sold out.

Nancy: Did you attend college and if so where and what degree(s) did you earn? When you finished school, what did you envision yourself doing for a living?

Diane: I did attend college!  I moved to California when I was 26 to go to College.  It was free to attend the Community colleges there.  I attended Diablo Valley College in Concord, California.  I wanted to take art but was encouraged to take engineering classes.  I took drafting and mechanical design.  I worked full time attending classes in the afternoon and evenings.  I worked drafting for Mare Island Shipyard. I did drawings of the Navy ships and submarines. I decided to go to San Jose State College.  I moved to San Jose, California and worked full-time for FMC Corporation doing welding drafting on the Military tanks!  I loved my time in California.  I never got my full degree.  I was in an auto accident and took time to recuperate.  I also married my husband, Mike.  He encouraged me to do my art full-time.  I worked at Amdahl Corporation before making the transition.  At Amdahl I was introduced to the beginning of CAD (computer aided design). After I married Mike we moved to Oregon. We wanted a house and some land. We lived on 17 beautiful wooded acres surrounded by woods. My studio was in the woods. I loved it!  We eventually opened a Diane Phalen Watercolors storefront in downtown Banks, Oregon. Sadly, my marriage to Mike ended after 22 years. I moved back to Pennsylvania to be closer to my parents and sisters.

Nancy: So you grew up in Amish country in PA? Was that part of the inspiration for your career goal?

Diane: I did grow up in Pennsylvania and love being close to Amish Country and seeing the dramatic seasons once again. I do some painting of my memories of California. I still paint Oregon too, especially the snow-capped mountains. I do miss the West!

Nancy: Thank you Diane for all the inspiration!

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Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings
Today I’m going to take you on a little journey behind the scenes. Let’s go all the way back to a quilt’s very humble beginnings, the cotton plant.
clip_image002Cotton plant

Now this is what I call a blank canvas. What do you see: quilts, a summer dress, soft towels, or hard working jeans?

clip_image004Cotton field in Suffolk, Virginia
Two innovations that helped create the growth of the cotton industry in the United States were the cotton gin and mechanical spinners. Once cotton was easy to clean and spin, it didn’t take long for it to become an affordable and universally worn fabric.
clip_image006Picked cotton waiting to be processed

This is where the magic really begins. The cotton gin separates the plant into two products, the seed and the fiber.

Cotton seed is high in protein and oil. It’s sent off to become a variety of products from mayonnaise to rubber. Did you know cottonseed oil is on the American Heart Association list of “good foods”?
clip_image008A cotton gin, Virginia
The fiber, now called lint, is bundled into large bales. One bale could make 1200 pillowcases!
clip_image010Cotton bale

Next it’s off to the textile mill where it’s pulled, combed, twisted, and eventually woven into fabric. You may have heard the term greige goods, pronounced like the color grey. That’s the plain cloth from the loom.

How It’s Made Fabrics by Ian Collier on Youtube
Finally, our favorite fabric companies dye and print lovely yards of fabric for us to pet, purchase, and turn into quilts.
That’s a lot of people involved in the making of your quilt!
Printed Fabric Production by Avlyn Fabrics on Youtube
Grab a trip souvenir while you’re here. carries a variety of fun kits!
19” Vintage Patchwork Snowman Kit DML-201 $15.50
This pattern and kit includes an antique beehive bobbin, complete instructions for making fringed snowman, mini quilt with template, fringed trees and fringed snowman pincushion.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
Vintage Spool Pincushion Kit DML-177 $11.00
Kit includes quilted time worn fabric, 4″ tall x 3″ diameter genuine antique yarn wrapped silk spool with wood core, one jumbo button for top of pincushion and complete easy instructions.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
DML – Down Memory Lane – Nancy Hughes
Star Spin Kit ROG-1014K $26.99
Kit includes all fabrics (100% cotton) for quilt top, back, and binding. Also included are batting, quilting designs, precise patterns and complete illustrated instructions.
Finished Size: 22″ x 22″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield
Midnight Snowman Kit ROG-9205K $15.99
Kit includes foundation fabric, iron-on transfer pattern, ALL floss to complete the project (DMC cottons), and illustrated instructions.

Finished Size: 3″ x 4″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by:
ROG – Rachel’s of Greenfield

Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs
Posted in Fabric, Helpful Tips, patterns, Trends, Video | 2 Comments