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My class of attentive and hard working ladies of Prairie Star Quilters.

My visit this week to Prairie Star Quilters, just outside Chicago, was short but sweet. For two days we concentrated on fish, bugs, and butterflies.

I like it when a class limits the subject matter this way. I found early on when I started making these small collage quilts that fish, bugs, and butterflies allowed me to really play with the color, pattern, and texture I so love in fabric.

Why? Because their inherent colors can be translated into fabric in really fun ways. For example, fish come in all colors and shapes. So if you cut a flower out of a piece of fabric and use it as a fin, who cares if it doesn’t match one on a particular fish? All you really need to make it recognizable as a fish is a nose, a tail, and an eye. Everything that happens in between can go in so many very different directions. Of course, the same can be said for bugs and butterflies. These subjects allows quilters to let the fabric take precedence over the design.

Limiting the subject matter is especially good for beginners in this technique. It takes away a lot of the stress involved in creating especially realistic images, because these subjects can be interpreted in playful ways.

The Prairie Star Quilters class exemplified this perfectly. Some made their own designs, but many used patterns that I have created and have been used dozens if not hundreds of times each. Yet, I’ve never seen any two fish, bugs, or butterflies alike.

Here’s a slideshow of their work:

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The first day of class finished with an evening guild banquet where I was the speaker. My contact Joanne Sattler, who also took the class, was as pleasant in person as she had been via email.
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Once-in-awhile I walk into a class and see a familiar face. Jackie Zydeck attended my Maine Retreat last June. This year she flew along on this striking scarab specimen.

Windy City Sights

I’ve made connecting flights through Chicago numerous times (actually, to be honest, I now avoid it when possible because of the missed flights and airport overnights I’ve suffered there), but this is the first time Chicago was my destination.

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My host and colleague, Barb Vlack, on a beautiful morning walk near her lovely home. 
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My mini-Sue souvenir from the Field Museum says “yum” to some wild phlox along our walk.
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Quiltasaurus Rex. When you stay at a quilter’s home, you often get to sleep under a vintage quilt. What a treat!

With an extra day, my host and fellow teacher Barb Vlack and I did the tourist thing in the city. The sightseeing started with a trip by water taxi from the train station into the heart of the city. At the Field Museum of Natural History we saw my famous namesake, Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Sue is one of the most complete and best-preserved T-Rex skeletons ever discovered. While there were also took in the exhibit of Terracotta Warriors of China’s first emperor’s tomb. After that, Barb treated me with a river tour of the city’s architecture.

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24 Comments

  • Such a treat to see all of the student samples in progress. Tell me, is Kaffe/Rowan fabric a dominant choice for these little quilts or is that my imagination. Thank you so much for the inspirational blog posts.

    • Thanks Rochelle! Working with the designs and colors found in printed fabrics is definitely part of this process, and the Kaffe/Rowan fabrics are prime examples of both. They often show up as part of the stash brought to class. Printed batiks are also a great choice.

  • Such a treat to see all of the student samples in progress. Tell me, is Kaffe/Rowan fabric a dominant choice for these little quilts or is that my imagination. Thank you so much for the inspirational blog posts.

    • Thanks Rochelle! Working with the designs and colors found in printed fabrics is definitely part of this process, and the Kaffe/Rowan fabrics are prime examples of both. They often show up as part of the stash brought to class. Printed batiks are also a great choice.

  • Such a treat to see all of the student samples in progress. Tell me, is Kaffe/Rowan fabric a dominant choice for these little quilts or is that my imagination. Thank you so much for the inspirational blog posts.

    • Thanks Rochelle! Working with the designs and colors found in printed fabrics is definitely part of this process, and the Kaffe/Rowan fabrics are prime examples of both. They often show up as part of the stash brought to class. Printed batiks are also a great choice.

  • Beautiful pics of Chicago, a city I just love. The architecture is fantastic, as you caught, and so much history there as well as beautiful museums. I also LOVE your pics of your student work. I’m about to begin a project of a heron and I think I will use your glue technique in the collage. I’ve never tried it, but it’s the ony way I think I can get the texture and detail I want. Wish me luck!

  • Beautiful pics of Chicago, a city I just love. The architecture is fantastic, as you caught, and so much history there as well as beautiful museums. I also LOVE your pics of your student work. I’m about to begin a project of a heron and I think I will use your glue technique in the collage. I’ve never tried it, but it’s the ony way I think I can get the texture and detail I want. Wish me luck!

  • Beautiful pics of Chicago, a city I just love. The architecture is fantastic, as you caught, and so much history there as well as beautiful museums. I also LOVE your pics of your student work. I’m about to begin a project of a heron and I think I will use your glue technique in the collage. I’ve never tried it, but it’s the ony way I think I can get the texture and detail I want. Wish me luck!

  • In my humble opinion, the BEST reflection in Chicago (I am a native) is Cloud Gate, also locally referred to as “The Bean.” It is an amazing sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop. When you stand in front of it, looking at your reflection you become wrapped in the Chicago cityscape as a background. I dream of making my portrait in this setting for so many reasons. If you ever return to Chicago, I highly recommend a visit!

  • In my humble opinion, the BEST reflection in Chicago (I am a native) is Cloud Gate, also locally referred to as “The Bean.” It is an amazing sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop. When you stand in front of it, looking at your reflection you become wrapped in the Chicago cityscape as a background. I dream of making my portrait in this setting for so many reasons. If you ever return to Chicago, I highly recommend a visit!

  • In my humble opinion, the BEST reflection in Chicago (I am a native) is Cloud Gate, also locally referred to as “The Bean.” It is an amazing sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop. When you stand in front of it, looking at your reflection you become wrapped in the Chicago cityscape as a background. I dream of making my portrait in this setting for so many reasons. If you ever return to Chicago, I highly recommend a visit!

  • Susan, I have your book Serendipity Quilts–was wondering which fish pattern would be the easiest for my first try at collage. Love your blog! Thanks Margaret

  • Susan, I have your book Serendipity Quilts–was wondering which fish pattern would be the easiest for my first try at collage. Love your blog! Thanks Margaret

  • Susan, I have your book Serendipity Quilts–was wondering which fish pattern would be the easiest for my first try at collage. Love your blog! Thanks Margaret

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