There’s A Whole Lot of Piecing Going On

My fall sewing retreat took place in October. The autumn group is called The Hauties. The spring group is called Sew Sistas. Many of us attend both. It always amazes me how many new ideas spring up from twenty women who have taken classes or tried something new in the previous six months. We come together to share these marvelous fiber adventures, new patterns, purchased treasures and unconventional ideas in this safe environment with others of like mind.

This year seemed to be the year for piecing fabric together. Some random. Some planned. All embellished! Most of it made and layered with raw edges and meandering stitches. A delightfully freeing exercise for using up those precious scraps and seeing them come to life in a new way. Hang on for the barrage of pictures….50 of them!

I’m going to begin with Helen because, well, Helen is awesome! A diminutive dynamo of creative energy. She can and will use everything and anything to express herself. She can take a man’s suit vest and give it nine lives. We love her.

A bounty of buttons and a boa on her blouse.

Do you have some old gloves you’ve inherited? Want to give yourself one continuous hug?

Now let’s head on over to the hardware store for some cables and flexible tubing.

And now one last piece from Helen. It’s still in the “pinned” stage in these pictures. What a great way to use up those precious pieces of ribbons and trim.

Sharon always brings good examples of her workshop projects. This simple pullover vest is a creative way to contain disparate pieces from your stash. Here is the front.

Here is the back.

And here are some close ups. It made me wonder how many sample and practice pieces of screen printing do we have tucked away? A logo from a beloved t-shirt? Or what if you screen printed over a t-shirt logo?

And there’s cardiac stitching everywhere to hold it all in place.

Heidi’s Terrific Tabard would be the ideal pattern for this surface design. Here’s another super creative vest featured in an older Threads magazine. It’s a Vogue pattern, 8430, without the sleeves. It’s been raw edged pieced and it’s reversible.

Gayle is our cashmere queen. She eco dyes recycled cashmere sweaters, cuts them up and pieces them back together with hand stitching. They are gorgeous to look at and even better to touch. Here she displays a large throw. Can you imagine cuddling up under that?!?

This darling little vest is from Diane Ericson’s Faultline pattern.

Don’t you love that running stitch throughout the whole piece? The little squares of cashmere are sewn onto a backing of netting. It was so soft and drapey.Gayle’s next top is a dream for any of us who like black and white and red. There were so many clever little places to look on this piece, I had to share them all.Front


Tiny running stitches!Cardiac stitching!Striped piping!All three! Be still my heart!

Here’s Sarah making easy work of embellishing. Buy printed fabric and just take a black marker to it with random abandon. Why didn’t I think of this?

Daniella modeling her kantha jacket.

A true artist, Daniella brought some silk she had “embellished” at home by BURNING it! Yup, those are burned holes. Cool, eh? Can’t wait to see what she makes with it and what she chooses for lining.

Gwen quietly sits and hand stitches many of her projects. They are absolutely gorgeous and thoughtful. She chose to work on a tea cozy pieced together with random fabrics, mostly decorator pieces. Then she began embroidery embellishments to tie them together. 

Some more of her work with leaves.

Using duct tape and plastic, Gwen created this rain coat and shared it with us. I know this is a Marcy Tilton pattern. I’m guessing Vogue 9287. If someone knows differently please let me know.

She also brought another rain coat made from a taffeta type polka dot. Embellished with simple tulle donuts, I must put this on my list of things to try.

Jenny attended a wool bead jewelry class in Mendocino. They made the beads themselves, beaded the balls, threaded them and built the necklaces. These are just so cute and colorful.

Vicky looked so put together with her purchased necklace and her repurposed men’s shirt top. Excellent creative vision.

 If you want to try this piecing idea on a small scale, this journal cover is perfect. Cute and clever.

Wynne, Helen’s daughter, spent her time embellishing onesies. We affectionately called them Wynnesies as she gave each one a new and different personality.Another small but effective detail that I want to try are these tiny tiny strips sewn on in a series of stripes. 

And this fabric necklace reminded me of Heidi’s necklaces. Cute! These could be made with scrapbooking paper too.

And finally, a nod to the freebie table. No one had any idea what this was but I thought it was amazing. I felt I had won the jackpot. Just look at all those treasures on it! Who knows what could be done with those! Dice, mah jhang tiles, scrabble letters and pieces of yard sticks. 

Outside of sewing machines and sergers, these tools get plenty of use.

Keep creating!

Heidi Emmett’s Workshop-Upcycling and Creative Art to Wear!

By Heidi Emmett    What a creative bunch I had for my workshop at our 5th annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat. Ahhh…the beautiful views from Zephyr Point below.

We had an amazing time and it was just like I told you it would be, fresh air, great friends, lots of learning, and fun, fun, fun! Below are mainly pictures of my group of students. There is no particular order for the pictures. First, the intrepid teachers: Mary, me, Jane, & Sandra. We make up, Artistic Alchemy.

Check out Janet’s upcycled sweatshirt. She was so excited to upcycle sweatshirts in the workshop that she couldn’t help herself. She had to try one BEFORE she came. Love it!

Susan, one of my students, won a complete painting package from Dharma Trading. There were many, many, FABULOUS giveaways at our 5th annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat! 

Sharon had some painted pieces and favorite fabric pieces that she wants to incorporate into her sweatshirt. Great idea. 

The almost finished sweatshirt project will show up again in another picture.

Kathy is just thinking (not praying, or sleeping) about fabric placement for her Off The Grid vest from the “Art to Wear” portion of my workshop. 

Here I am wearing my pattern called “Off The Grid Vest” This pattern is a perfect choice for this retreat as you will have plenty of time to work on your own version. 

Her bright colorways really pop on the black fabric.

Garments are beginning to go up on “The Wall.” Kathy’s almost finished sweatshirt (gray one on the left), makes use of her leftover blocks from a quilt.Love that! 

Aprons from men’s shirts. Sweat shirts, their way. And I spy a Sparky Top and a Terrific Tabard. The dark gray sweat shirt has Sharon’s fabric pieces (from an older top she just loved so much,which I think is a great idea and I sure have a few of those myself).  Very cool. She isn’t quite sure yet where they will finish (pieces still hanging off the bottom). It’s good to put them on a wall and stand back and think a bit. 

The Wall keeps growing.I spy another Terrific Tabard way over to the upper right. The Terrific Tabard on the left has some lovely ladies on it(Susan got those from England). Everyone really worked outside of the box and I was so proud of ALL my students. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. 

Terrific Tabard on the right, Sandra had a rounded piece on one side and cut it off on the other. Why have I never thought to do that. Great asymmetric design idea. 

Janet, created an Amazing Sweat shirt, bottom right and I think she has 5 different shirts in the blouse above on the right. 

A glimpse of the dining room. The view, oh, we love that Lake Tahoe view. 

Sandra jumped right in to create an apron using sleeves only. 

Susan made her apron with contrasting fabrics for pockets and ties. I have to say that all my students have come full circle. When I ask what their first sewing experience was, the usual answer (for those in middle grades) is an apron. And they didn’t have fun at all. Whaat? Look at all the smiling faces, and we’re working on APRONS! But these are NOT YOUR MOTHER”S aprons. What a hoot. We all had a great laugh over this. 

Susan whipped up her first apron so fast, that she made a second one using the men’s sleeves only. All sewing rules pretty much go “out the window” as we create these one-of-a-kind pieces. 

My students were so great this year (as in other years too!). I learn so many good ideas from them. It’s always a fabulous meeting of the minds for all of us.

All of A.A. Retreat teachers are in the planning stages for next years 6th Annual Artistic Alchemy Retreat. I have been doing more upcycling since returning from the retreat(considering some new additions for my workshop). I want to show you a really simple idea AND I invite you to hop on over to my companies blog:  to see all the different things I LOVE to do! Look at the vest below. Now, REALLY look at how it is placed on the mannequin.Scroll down one more picture and see it out flat. Basically, put your hands one through each hole with the middle sweater section across your front. The long ends are now going to your back. Bring one corner edge across your back, over your shoulder and to your front just a bit over your shoulder. Pin in place with a cool pin (this one is by Orna Lalo). So simple and chic.


What are you going to create this weekend? Make it Up, Make it Fun, and get it Done! Hugs, Heidi

Autumn has Begun…

This is Jane Haworth and although it is now Autumn or Fall, the weather is just beginning to cooperate and it feels like its been some time since I was enjoying late summer at the retreat at Zephyr Point. It was my first year to visit and to be one of the teachers at this wonderful place. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t ever attended. The surroundings are beautiful, the weather perfect, the food wonderful as you don’t have to think about it, and being surrounded by all those creatives is very inspiring. I loved it and will be back next year, September 2-6 2019 with my fellow teachers; Heidi Emmett, Sandra Bruce and Mary Boalt.


These are some of the projects my students worked on whilst attending my Fabric Collage Addiction workshop. I love the variety of images they chose to work on and didn’t they do a great job.

My busy autumn began shortly after the retreat as I was heading to Ohio to tape my three segments for QATV, then off to visit family in England, I was teaching in Auburn and visited the PIQF quilt show in Santa Clara. I have now been preparing for my upcoming classes at IQF in Houston in just a few days time.  Not to mention keeping up with my Christmas orders for T-shirt and memory quilts for my Etsy shop. It is so hard to say no to customers who want a quilt made for a Christmas gift!

Quilting Arts TV recording series 2300

Susan Brusker Knapp host of QATV, Zeke and I

My time spent in Ohio was an amazing experience and taping went pretty smoothly and I’m happy to report I didn’t feel that nervous. I traveled out from Sacramento with Kris Sazaki and Deb Cashatt, the Pixeladies, what a laugh we had! From the variety of Uber drivers we met, the ribbing I got for scoring an upgrade on our flight and then exploring  and eating in Little Italy, Cleveland.

QATV series 2300

Before the taping at Quilting Arts TV

As I said I recorded three segments. This one is for my upcycled tote bags I make using left over food wrappers/bags and denim from old jeans for handles. Its funny I took 2 dresses I made over 10 years ago from plastic carrier bags that fitted the theme perfectly and so we put them on these 2 manikins as props for the background.


I also got to work with Jeanine the Bernina rep who was lovely and helped me familiarize myself with the Bernini sewing machine. I don’t use one at home and here I used it in all three of my projects. I think this next series 2300 is out in the new year. QATV can be watched on PBS2 or if not you’ll have to buy or borrow the DVD set.


I did get back to England for a week and was lucky to take my eldest daughter, Lucy who was between jobs! We traveled to Tiverton, Devon which is in the Westcountry, almost Poldark country, to stay with my family. It was also a girls weekend as I booked an Airbnb on a small deer farm, just a few miles from my mums house, where my daughter, sister-in-law, best friend and my niece all stayed together. We couldn’t avoid the rain so in this photo we are standing outside Exeter Cathedral on our shopping trip. Heres a few more shots of Devon and London.


I also got to do a presentation and teach my workshop, Love of Pets, to my own local guild, Foothill Quilters Guild here in Auburn. The first lecture I ever did was in 2014 and that was to the aforementioned guild and I must say this time I was far less nervous. It was a lot of fun sharing the progress of my work with friends. And here are some of the portraits they made in class.

Love of Pets workshop Jane Haworth

A sampler of some of the “works in progress” from Foothill Quilt Guild

This next photo is a quilt I recently made and is to be a special gift to someone.

Love of Pets Jane Haworth

A special Golden Labrador

In preparation for Houston my bags are not packed but my quilts are! I’m still working on some samples to take that I can demo on and then a bit more prep for my ‘Meet the Teachers’ presentation and Demo and then I will say I’m ready. I am very excited to meet all the new quilters and teachers but I know my schedule is going to be grueling especially with class start times of 8am ET!


Finally I still having openings in my Succulent class at Craft Napa in January 2019 so click on the link to read more details. This is a retreat I have attended for the last three years and again highly recommend. If you are interested in seeing where I am teaching before next years retreat look at my website and even read my blog to see what I’ve been up to.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy our wonderful Autumnal weather.


The four of us, Sandra, Heidi, Jane and myself all belong to extra groups outside of Artistic Alchemy. These groups continue to teach us new techniques and keep our creative juices flowing. My local wearable art group, Sierra Wearable Art Group is once again joining with the wearable art group in Lincoln to hold another pop-up sale. The spring event was a huge success and we are grateful to everyone who came to visit and shop with us.

If you live in the area, my apologies to those of you who do not, we would love to see you this Saturday at the Lincoln public library. There will be 15-20 artists selling their treasures, both for personal use and for gifts. Hope to see you there.


Year 5 at Zephyr with Material Matrix

by Sandra Bruce

Our retreat this September was our 5th, in which we welcomed Jane Haworth into our group. Every year seems to get better than the last, and for me this year was no exception. I have never had a more hard-working group of students. I’ll show you in this post some of their work and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s a shot of the beautiful “Inspiration Point”, set up before anyone arrived. A gorgeous classroom….….but much better filled with enthusiastic ladies! We shared this room with the Open Studio ladies who were delightful.

Returning for another Matrix experience was Canadian Rejeanne, who brought her Matrix quilt top from her time with me at Zephyr 2 years ago, of her photographer husband Gene. She shared it at Show and Tell, and brought it for me to take to my longarm studio to quilt….a pleasure, I can assure you! Photo to come!

Rejeanne sat in class next to France, also a Canadian, and a friendship began. France worked on an image of her beloved dog, while Rejeanne worked on an image of her grandson.

Ellen, who had taken my Matrix workshop at her guild, brought her “Wake Up Cup” to show, completed.

At Zephyr they have added a coffee bar. A latte in the early morning with a lake view could not be beat.

Here’s a great overhead shot.

Trish Morris-Plise was our helper extraordinaire this year. She was a big help and found a few spare moments to work on her Hawaiian quilt project.

As mentioned, there was an incredible amount of work and concentration in the classroom which was so gratifying to witness. Below, Hazel, Marion and Ellen, intently working.

Some magical moments included finding the perfect fabric among scraps…yay Rejeanne !!

So much was accomplished! Below Beth, and Pam.

Sophia, with her piece so far, of her grandson. A terrific start!

Sue brought a beautiful photo of a landscape that meant a lot to her. It’s a great way to memorialize a favorite photo. I’ve seen Sue since the retreat and she tells me it’s coming along nicely!

Ann worked on a photo of an egret in a very ballet-like position, and was pleased with her progress.

The lake is always calming, and it’s such a pleasure to have this view all week.

We always do a group shot before departing, thanks to Gene for the photo!

Thanks to Heidi, Mary, and Jane, for being the best group-mates. We mesh in a wonderful way, and it’s an honor to spend a week with these talented ladies at Zephyr.

Before I stop, I’ll mention that I have been working on other projects since Zephyr, but will be starting a new Matrix quilt in the next few days. My subject? Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

There’s plenty of time before we start thinking about next year, but I hope you will consider taking my Matrix workshop if you have not taken it before. I already have a few interested people. As we roll into Fall, stay well and happy creating!

Time to Breathe


Heidi, Mary, Sandra and Jane want to say a huge “Thank You” to all the students who attended our 5th annual retreat at Zephyr Point. We all had an amazing, creative and inspiring time and we will be back with our usual blog posts come October. Now we are taking a well deserved break.

Looks like all our attendees had wonderful fun time too!


Sign up or keep looking up the blog for details of when to sign up for the retreat 2019