Sunday, July 5, 2009

Vermont Quilt Festival (part two)

On Saturday, June 18, i took the "Wee Willow" class with Jane Sassaman. "Wee Willow" is one of four small seasonal quilts that Jane designed. "Wee Willow" is the summer quilt, and it's a much much smaller version of Jane's famous "Willow" quilt, which was named one of the Best 100 Quilts of the 20th Century (she made it in 1996 for her daughter, who was 12 at the time).
Jane Sassaman is well known for her use of forms derived from nature...lots of curves and squiggles, lots of flowers, leaves, thorns, her own inimitable graphic style. Her technique involves cutting the basic design out of a piece of fabric that has been backed with lightweight nonwoven fusible interfacing and then layering on other pieces that are backed with a fusible (except for the pieces that overlap a dark/light intersection where you don't want the color to show through, and those pieces are backed with the nonwoven fusible interfacing as well). The advantage of having the whole quilt backed with nonwoven interfacing is that she heavily machine embroiders her quilt tops and the interfacing stabilizes it without having to use tearaway stabilizer.
Here's all i accomplished in a 6-hour's the foundation on which the rest of the quilt will be assembled (this is a small piece, about 18" square. (The white piece is also backed with nonwoven fusible interfacing and is set in behind the black, which is all one piece.) Here's the pattern envelope, and some of my many little pieces of flowers, all traced, fused, and ready to go. There's a lot of work left after they get fused to the background: Jane edges each piece with a straight stitch, with a medium zig zag stitch, and then many get some sort of fancy edge stitch. The quilting should be fun...she uses a thick (12-weight) topstitching thread with fairly long stitches, so it almost looks like hand quilting.
Jane brought a whole pile of her quilts to class which were great fun to look through. This is the class sample for her other class at the Vermont Quilt Festival that i didn't get into, called The Personality of a Leaf. Students made a sampler with multiples of pretty much the same leaf and stem, but they're all embellished with different stitches, which changes their appearance a lot. Here's a close up. What fun! I think the cute moth is from one of her fabrics.
And here's a huge moth quilt...the quilt is big (maybe 50 inches square) and moths are big, too! I read somewhere that she made this quilt when she and her family moved from the city to the country and exchanged the wild city life for the wildlife and clear night skies of the country.


  1. Those are beautiful quilts! You have done a good job on yours. Will you show it again when it is finished?

  2. Beautiful! That's a lot more work than Mom ever attempted in a quilt! Mom wishes she had learned about doing a machine stitch that looked like hand-quilting as she always hand-quilted hers.

  3. Hi Angel and Kirby. I'll be sure to show it again when it's finished, but that might be quite a long time from now!

    Hi Gandalf, Grayson, and Whitey. I love hand quilting but at some point a few years ago i realized i was going to have to learn how to machine quilt if i ever wanted to finish up more than one or two of my projects. I haven't tried Jane's technique yet, but it seems like it's just a long straight stitch with a thicker thread.

  4. I've admired Jane's work for years! How great that you had a class with her. Love what you've got started... Keep us posted on your progress. K-

  5. I am not sure how I missed this post, but glad I found it! I love Jane Sassaman's work - and I envy you for getting to take a class with her. That moth quilt is really amazing and so is "Personality of A Leaf". Looking forward to seeing more of your willow quilt!

  6. Such beautiful work ~ Mom thought it was really special. We look forward to seeing your quilt.
    We missed this post initially too ~ we think it was 'cos it had a similar title and we saw the feed we thort we'd already read it!