Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Asilomar and Melinda Bula

I had the great opportunity to go to Asilomar, in Pacific Grove, California in April to attend Empty Spools Seminars.  This is the fourth year I've done this, and it is an incredible experience.  (I've blogged about it previously here.)

This year I took a class from Melinda Bula.  She is a great teacher, and a lot of fun, too.  There were eleven of us in the class, so it wasn't too big, which is always good.  My classmates were fun, too.  Some felt like real friends before the week was over.

For this class we were making flower quilts.  Melinda is very well-known for her flower quilts.  (Really, you should go to her website and look at them.  Here's the link for her flower quilts.  Go now.  I'll wait for you.)

Original Poppy Photo I Chose

So we were told to come armed with a flower picture that we would like to turn into a quilt.  I absolutely love California poppies, so this is the photo I chose.  I wish I could say I took the photo, but it was just one I found on the internet.

It's not complicated, but there is a specific process to follow.  We traced our photos, drawing in shading marks, and other details, as well as the petal outlines.  We took those tracings to a copy shop downtown and had them enlarged very big; mine went up 325%.  We then used that blown-up copy to make our pattern pieces.

First Iteration of Poppy
Here you can see the first version of my poppy.  Then I stood back and decided that there was too much darkness in it.  So I made some changes.  This was relatively easy, as all the fabric pieces are on Steam-A-Seam II, and nothing was ironed down permanently yet.  You might be able to tell from the photo that my poppy is lying on a backing sheet from Steam-A-Seam.  Underneath it is lying my enlarged photocopy with the pattern markings on it.

Second Version of Poppy
Here is my second version.  I like it better.  As you can see, there are about a gazillion little (and big) pieces of fabric on it.  But it's no where near done yet!  There is a long ways to go.

Current Version
Here you can see the current version.  It is temporarily placed on this bright blue backing fabric.  I'm liking how it looks now.  The next step is to add some leaves to the background.  When I'm finished with that, I will have a lot of thread-painting to do on the machine to add even more detail to it.

Detail Photo
Here is a detail photo showing part of the flower.  I've added this photo just to show you how many little pieces of fabric we used to make the whole flower.  Like an impressionistic painting, you can't really tell from this tiny portion that it's a flower.  You have to back up from this quilt to see the whole thing.

I'll keep you posted with my progress on this quilt.


  1. I love it! And I forgot to tell you that Saturday I met a woman in the shop who knows you, I think from Empty Spools. What a pleasant surprise!

  2. Jan, This is really cooming along! The pansies that I did are still on lying out on the floor waiting for some additional background details before I can add the threadwork. Your poppy is really stunning on that blue background! You get an "Ata girl!"

  3. Ok, her quilts don't even look like quilts, they look like paintings! WOW! Can't wait to see yours finished. :)

  4. Mom! It doesn't even look like a quilt, I kept thinking your photos were paintings! I love the colors! Can't wait to see it when its done!

  5. Thank you, everyone! It's amazing to see it all come together from little snippets of fabric.

  6. I just ran across your blog and saw your Poppy. Wow! its wonderful. You did an amazing job. I just love the blue background. It was so fun to have you in class and Go Giants!!!!!