Archive for the ‘Happenings’ Category

New Show, New Book, New Raccoon

Monday, September 30th, 2013

906 Cicada SongNext week I’m shipping a show off to Blanco TX

The studio is crammed with boxes and quilts and photo set ups and a racoon trap. Yes you heard me right. A raccoon trap.

I will have  a series of 35 works, large and small at the Uptown Blanco Quilt Show October 11-13th. It should be a grand display of a number of quilters work, but I’m proud that they’re featuring such a nice body of work display for me . If you’re near either Austin or San Jose, you’re near enough to get to Blanco

 Uptown Blanco Quilt Show3rd Annual Uptown Blanco Quilt Show

Uptown Blanco’s 3rd annual quilt show, “Colors of the Sky” hosted by the Uptown Blanco Textile Studio runs Friday, October 11 – Sunday, October 13. In addition to the 200 quilts on display, there will be special exhibits of quilts by internationally renowned quilters Louisa Smith and Ellen Anne Eddy. Ellen is our guest teacher and lecturer.

The Uptown Blanco Arts & Entertainment, Ltd. complex will be filled with quilts, wearable art, vendors and on display will be the patchwork smart car quilt that was created as a Breast Cancer Fundraising Campaign in Europe. The life size patchwork quilt completely covers a smart car and is made entirely of fabric donated and signed by over 20 celebrities including Russell Brand, Ryan Giggs, Sara Cox, Elizabeth Hurley, Rachel Stevens, Twiggy Lawson, Joanna Lumley, and Jane McDonald each selecting personal swatches of pink fabric from worn articles of clothing all used to create this special quilt.

Events Details:

This special exhibition showcases the vast wealth of quilts created in Blanco County and throughout the Texas Hill Country.

Event: Friday, October 11th
Reception: 5pm – 6:30pm
Show Hours: 12 noon – 7pm

Event: Saturday, October 12th
Show Hours: 10am – 5pm

Event: Sunday, October 13th
Show Hours: 12 noon – 4pm

Price: $5 entrance fee, children under 12 are free

Download 2013 Flyer ->
2013 Press Release ->

New Book !

9780982290156-many creatures front coverIn case you’re no where near or you’re wishing you could have a souvenir, I’ve made a small show catalog, Many Creatures under Many Skies, for sale at  the show and on my web site. You can pre order them on my site. It’s a grouping of some of the most exciting quilts I’ll be sending to the show in a cool little booklet.  You’ll find a preorder for it on my web site at



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raccoonLast night as I was finishing up the last three quilts there was a  series of odd bumps coming from the studio bathroom. My neighbor Mary and I were  there. She’d used the bathroom. I went in. And an odd churring noise coming from the closet. We spent this morning, the exterminator and myself, emptying the closet in search of racoons. No Luck. There’s a trap in the studio bathroom.  I’m going up to finish the last 2 quilts. I may choose to wear stomping boots.

It’s all to the glory of art.

Ann Arbor and then Thread Magic Summer School

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Tomorrow I’m heading up for Ann Arbor the their Quilting Unlimited Festival, where I’ll be teaching this weekend. I’ve got my usual pile of  thread, books, kits, toys and quilts and I’m ready to go. I’ll be teaching the Stitch Mastery Book, Applique Master, Bobbin work Flowers and Button hole Binding. If you’re anywhere near, come and join us. You’ll find more information on their web site at

QU_2013_flyer898 Dragonfly in the Clearing

When I get back I’m going to start up Thread Magic Summer School Session. If you joined us last year, you know it’s an intense week of blog classes, this time on color theory outside the box.We’re going to talk about how and why color works the way it does. It’s kind of like class camp for grownups, where we focus on quilting, color, art, expression and fiber. The first lesson will start August 12. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a great way to stretch your knowledge. 

Join me both places! This is going to be fun.


Dragonfly Sky Class at Smith Owen’s in Grand Rapids, MI

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Even though it’s unreasonably early, we expect a dragonfly sighting at Smith Owens Sewing Center in Grand Rapids.802+Dragonfly+cloud on  February 23rd. You could even take one home!

Here’s the information on my class!

Ellen Ann Eddy is coming to Smith-Owen to teach her most popular class, Dragonfly Sky. It focuses on soft edge applique, angelina fiber, and bobbin work with fabulous thick threads.

dragonfly sEllen Anne Eddy is an internationally known fiber artist whose wall art goes beyond the traditional concept of quilting, and now she is coming to teach you her specialty techniques using bobbin work, soft edge appliqué techniques and more.

Join us for this 6 hour workshop and leave with a beautiful finished wall art and the confidence to do more.

  Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM – 4PM
Location: 4051 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
Phone: 616-361-5484 800-383-3238
Smith Owen Sewing Center is a fabulous Viking/Pfaff store with a magnificent thread and fabric collection that has been a legend in Grand Rapids for years. Join me there for this very fun class day!

New Apron Class!

Sunday, October 7th, 2012


It’s  no secret I love aprons! It was one of my mother’s few kitchen sensibilities. She would have died rather than sew on a button, but she found a woman who made new aprons for us twice a year. None of those silly half aprons either. If you’re short, you know that the top half of you is the target area whether you’re eating a salad or mixing a cake. They were full length and had huge pockets. When I learned to sew I made them for us. But the first fabric I remember picking out was for aprons.

But what about the rest? Since  I have a garden, a studio and a house I’ve noticed messes are a 360 degree situations. They just don’t happen in front. I’ve sat in my fair number of mud puddles and dye muddles. What you need is a full coverage apron.


Enter my favorite apron pattern! This came out around ten years ago. It’s so much nicer that they keep the good patterns available nowadays. This dolly covers the full fundament. I still make them several times a year and wear them into the ground.

But I have a secret! I use  two special tricks to make this apron really slick and easy to make. First off, I use a rotary cutter, mat and bias tube to whip out miles of bias tape in a flash. Bias is always the most beautiful finish for aprons and quilts, but hand cut bias takes forever. Commercial bias doesn’t match, and is made of miserable poly cotton prints. And it’s expensive. Your own bias can be specially chosen for your project, and with this method is very fast and easy.

Secondly, I use a serger and an edging foot to apply it. There’s not a hand stitch in it. Hand is a four letter word. I don’t do hand sewing.

This class is not just about aprons. You’ll learn the quickest method for making bias and the slickest method applying it.  And a new use for sergers that will turn your head around. And f you’re new to sergers, here’s a way to try them out that’s quick, easy and has instant help for you. 

I consider sergers the safest machines in my studio.  I often start kids out sewing with them because of that. The needles are safely tucked where little fingers don’t go, and they have instant success with them. So will you. Once you start serging, you won’t want  to stop.

So with great pride I’m offering this project as a class at
Gingers Spyceware Sewing Center,
116 North Main Street in Crown Point, Indiana,

Saturday, October 27th. 219-663-6973
From 10-5 

Don’t have a serger? Don’t want to have to pack up your machine for class?  Spyceware has Bernina’s in the classroom, both sergers and sewing machines so you don’t need to pack up your machine and carry it around. Or worry about knowing sergers. We’ll help you through.  It’s a stress free class. 

Spyceware Sewing Center is located at  116 North Main Street in Crown Point, Indiana, just over the Illinois border. 

Come and join us! Call today to reserve your place.  You’ll have a new apron for the holidays and two great new skills in making and applying bias.

Check out my earlier blog on aprons, In Praise of Pockets, and more information about Spyceware Sewing Center in a blog called Little Store Miracles.



Classes at the National Quilt Museum

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Source: via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

There’s two really great things about quilt classes at the National Quilt Museum. One is that it’s the National Quilt Museum and the people who come to class here are spectacular. The other is that it’s the National Quilt Museum, which is the epicenter of support, information, and exposure for quilters and especially art quilters. Don’t think you won’t see spectacular traditional quilts. You will. But the art quilts there are of a caliber that makes my heart sing. It’s a bit of quilt heaven in every way.

I taught a three day class here that made my heart sing too. Astonishing students! We worked mostly on flower studies out of my new book Thread Magic Garden. But what they came up with was their very own.


Top it off with a lunch at Caryl Bryer Fallert’s Bryer Patch Studio.Caryl is a quilting legend whose work has revolutionized the quilt world for 30 years.  Caryl graciously had us all to lunch and showed off her latest work and her fabulous Paducah studio.


Here are some images from class. If you’d like to see more, check my facebook page at Thread Magic Studio.

What a class like this does is really build all kinds of skills. The luxury of three days in class (and a late evening session) means that people get to refine what they’re learning into what they do.

From my point of view, I’m still bending my head around the notion that these people have a quilt of mine in the museum. It’s still a moment standing in front of Dancing in the Light in a museum setting and saying, “Yep. That one’s mine. I’m still looking for the other Ellen Eddy who must have quilted it.

So support the National Quilt Museum either by visiting or by becoming a friend of the museum. Take lovely 3 day classes when you get the chance to really dive into a new technique with a teacher.  And celebrate this brave new world where we have real museums that support, preserve, show and educate quilters as the artists we know that we are.

You’ll find  information about the National Quilt Museum on their web site at

You’ll find more information about Caryl Bryer Fallert on her web site at

You’ll find the gallery pictures on my face book page at If you’re from class and you want to tell more about those pictures, log in and you can!

Mary Annis: Moms, Other Moms and Language Confusion

Monday, May 14th, 2012


Feathered Persian



I had an odd childhood. Most of it was after my thirties, so I’m still quite young, actually. Margaret Eddy, my birth mother was a school teacher who really didn’t know what you did with children if you didn’t have a desk between them and you. We figured that out before she and I came to major blows.  I was an only child so she had no earlier practice. So my childhood with my mother consisted of lessons. Piano lessons. Poetry readings. Diagramming sentences. Homework. Odd histories. Writing. Art history. Musicals. Singing music from musicals. And a tendency to try to make money out of the very odd crafts I insisted on doing. She managed practicalities fairly well. I was fed and washed as cleanly as any child with a passion for mud pies can be.

But my other mother taught me the important things.

No, I wasn’t adopted. But I had a neighbor lady who took me in. 


Mary Annis moved next store when I was eight. She lived in Mrs. Zilm’s crazy huge old house with four children, one who was my age. And she just folded me in.


Mary was the original lunatic fringe.It was like visiting OZ. In Mary’s house, people made messes. Out of art. They were late. They didn’t answer phones. Oddly enough they also didn’t care about food, because no one really cooked. I spent days tucked in making doll clothes, embroidering pillow cases, melting crayons, and making my real mother insane. It was perfect. Mary even had a cat who attacked my mother through the ferns when Margaret came to get me. It was wonderful!

An odd thing happened. As an adult, I know how adults just take their children’s friends wherever they’re going. But I had a taste for crafts and antiques her children didn’t share. We bonded over a million craft projects and piles of fabric. Somewhere she became more than my friend’s mom, and more than a neighbor. Words fail me.  Mother comes close. Friend comes closer, but an adult’s friendship with a child is a different friendship. If I wanted mothering, God knows she was a much better at it than my mother.  She was also my champion. She fought my mother for crucial things for me: art lessons, my first cat, space to create. Her fights with Margaret always made me want to head under the couch. She took them on clear eyed and gladly, and Margaret never had a chance. She made my childhood sane.

Why did she do that? I can only guess. She knew it was needful. And a woman who knows that the phone doesn’t need to be answered, also knows what really does.

Mary Shirley Annis

Mary was my friend past my childhood, all my life. I dedicated each of my books to her, for, in truth, they couldn’t have happened without her.  My art wouldn’t have happened without her. Was she my friend? My mother? Words fail us often and they fail us here. I only know she lit my corner of the world and coaxed me out.

Mary Annis passed away on May 8th. For her, I’m sure it’s a graduation, a celebration, a feast of joy to be home. We’ll celebrate her life at a memorial this coming Saturday. I intend to celebrate her life every day, as I live surrounded by her love, working on the art she only understood, with odd children running in and out my door.

You’ll find Mary Annis’s tribute by her daughter Barbara Gail Simons here. There are notes from Betsy and Chuck, her other surviving children, as well.

You’ll find a loving blog of Mary’s life in Indianapolis written by her daughter Betsy Fladung here.

I wrote another blog about Mary called The Mentor Waltz. I hope you find other mothers everywhere, because, God knows, we need them.

Experimental Art by Accident: Plumbing

Sunday, May 6th, 2012



All of life is an art form. I’ve always maintained that how we live our lives, structure our stories, organize or not organize our space is in it’s own way a creative act. Sometimes it features beauty, or courage, or growth. Sometimes it’s a rare moment of survival in the midst of craziness. It is, however a creative act in response to the world we live in.

Several weeks ago, my neighbor Liam told me he wanted to make a volcano. Not  a problem. Got a soda bottle, vinegar and some baking soda. Mix and explode. It was a lovely afternoon.

Yesterday,  I recreated the LaBrea Tar Pits pit in my kitchen. Honest to God. I can barely wait to show Liam.

We wash dishes here every six weeks or when we run out of forks, whichever happens first.This time I decided I’d have a clean kitchen for my birthday which was yesterday. At least it’s a novelty

I had a very slow drain and thought it was risky to run the dish hider ( I haven’t noticed that it washes dishes. But it’s very good at hiding them.) I knew it was a dicy situation, so I went and looked up drain cleaning on the internet. As always, every product had at least one one star review and five five star reviews. Thus equipped, I went over to the hardware store and picked up a product I will not name. It was buffered sulfuric acid. Should cut through anything. Right?

Not exactly. Home again and we put it down the sink. Looked good. Made significant noises. ( I always find those encouraging). I waited 15 minutes and ran cold water. Out of the depth black bubbly goo started to rise. And take over one side of the sink and then the other. I went to the living room and started to pray for a faith healing experience. That didn’t happen. Two hours later I had everything from the black lagoon in the kitchen sink except, thank God, the creature.

Then I heard the drip. I looked down to see a streak of black goo on the pipe. Ran to get a bucket from the studio. Ran some more cold water to dilute it.

This situation is what we call a busted comode. Full of something and going no where. When I though again about plunging and plungers, I remembered that we could have sulfuric acid and black goo everywhere.

Back to Liam’s volcano. I got the box of baking soda and started to pour it in. Black bubbles rushed up one side of the sink. The other side burbled in response. An odd black greasy crust formed on the surface, broken temporarily by more bubble action. It went on all night.Blump. Burbble burbble, blump,plip,plip plip. Grirrrirrrgle. A symphony in black tarry substances. More baking soda in the other side. More blurble sounds. It was the symphony of the swamp.

I plunged at 10:30. At 3 am. More burbling noises but no other changes. The swamp is still extant and bubbling at nine am.

Why is this art? It’s too funny to be anything else at this point. But in the middle of this, when I called a friend to ask what to do about it, she said” Have you seen the moon?” No, it wasn’t a non-sequetur. If you’re going to have the worst plumbing night of your life you might as well have the best moon too. And I bet there was a spectacular moon over the tar pits as the dinosaurs went down. You’ve got to enjoy what’s there. And it’s a new form of surface design. But you might not want to try this at home.

So I hope you have a super moon to light your plumbing disasters. I’m also hoping the plumber works on Sunday.

You’ll find more information about the super moon at

Update: The plumber doesn’t work on Sunday. And he thinks it’s the whole drainage system. Anyone wanting to buy a quilt today, contact me and we’ll have a half off sale. 



The Land of Giants

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I’m vertically challenged. This is, at this age, no surprise for me. The tallest person in my family topped out at 5 ft 4. I realized I’d lost a half inch ( they count if you’re short enough) at the doctor’s office. At least I think I lost it at the doctors office. It was there we noticed it was gone.

So much of the time I live in the land of Giants. Most people seem to be so over tall. When  I came out to teach there was a very catchy and unfortunate little song going around called Short People. It was about acceptance but you really had to listen to the lyrics to catch that.  Every room I substitute taught in had a kid who sang it and I developed a tap dance to it I would do as I entered the room.

It’s no surprise that important people have  used short people as fools, buffoons,  jokes and oddities. What is cool about that it alternatively gave them a voice within the power structure. How cool can your king/leader/president/guru be if he can’t listen to what a short person says? They’re little. Are you going to beat up on someone who’s little? It’s really poor pr. And so, we short folk  can speak the unspeakable truth.

Do I speak the unspeakable truth? Not very often. Mostly I stand as the cheering section. Because that, too, is a fool’s place. The part of us that refuses failure as anything but a resting spot, that believes in one more time, that believes that it’s perfect even if and especially it means we do it differently next time, that’s my unspeakable truth. I spend a lot of time shouting it, largely because the people I’m speaking to are actually very high up. I’m also shouting against my own fear.

I went and taped several weeks ago at Quilting Arts. It’s an honor to do that kind of thing. It’s also incredibly humbling. If nothing else, it shot any theory of mine about personal organization in the foot. I tried to find a picture of myself with my mouth shut. There were none.

So when I was in the green room for the Quilting Arts show I was seeing giants. Wonderful Giants!Not just Pokey Bolton, who has opened creative doors for all of the fiber art community in fabulous ways. People with gifts and voices that deserve a cheerleader’s  best. Just don’t ask me to do the splits.



So I snuck in between Judy Coats Perez and Michele  Muska, partially because they were both so tall and it was funny, and partially because its my job to cheer all of us on. Giants all.

You’ll find Judy Coats Perez’s fabulous work and blog at

You’ll find Michele’s amazing felt work on her Facebook page.

You’ll find Quilting Arts at

And you’ll find giants everywhere.


Schamburg Expo

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Introducing people to bobbin work on the H Q Sweet Sixteen









I was at the Schamburg Show at Quilters’ Haven’s booth on Friday Showing off the Sweet Sixteen. I sat most of the day doing bobbin work. There is nothing like watching people try something new. It occurred to me afterwards that that is exactly what expos are for.

Where else can you talk to dozens of different shopkeepers in one place? Or try out new paint sticks? Or buy all kinds of new notions. Wade through the thread booth. Or see all the new fabric. Or drool quite so over all the quilts ( albeit at a distance). It’s easy at this point in my career to be a bit jaded. I felt that way until  I stumbled into Laura Murray’s booth and walked out with an indecent amount of paint sticks which she’d graceously showed me how to use correctly. (Don’t ask. Trust me. I was doing it wrong.)

There’s a miracle that happens when you see new things. Your mind grows to take them in. Just a little. There’s also a miracle that happens when you show people new things. You remember just how cool at that is.

Now who wants to pass up a miracle?

You’ll find Quilters’ Haven at

Quilters Haven
4616 E. STATE ST.
(815) 227-1659

They’re an awsome store committed to helping you find the best new cool way to make you able to make  what you want to happen with your quilting, happen.

You’ll find Sweet Sixteens

there too, and you may well fall in love. I have.

You’ll find Laura Murray’s very cool stuff at her site,

And you’ll need to wait for another expo to luck out and find them all neatly in one room.


The Quilt and Sewing Expo

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I’ll be at the Quilters Haven/ Handi Quilters booth (Booth 722) in Schamburg, IL on Friday. at the Schamburg Quilting and Sewing Expo. I’ll be playing with the HQ Sweet Sixteen and signing copies of my new book, Thread Magic Garden.

I’ll be working with some special thick threads and showing how you can do bobbin work on long/mid arm machines.  This zentangle inspired flower is part of a sampler series I’ve been working on.

I’ll also have copies of Thread Magic Garden, Thread Magic, and other smaller Thread Magic press books available for sale. Come and play with us. I promise to let you touch the quilts.

The Expo is open from 10:00am – 6:00pm, same hours tomorrow and Saturday: 10:00am – 5:30pm. Schaumburg Convention Center1551 North Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg, IL 60173.

Interview on Thread with Frieda Anderson!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012


Frieda Anderson, another fabulous fiber artist haling from Illinois, has posted her interview on thread and  thread work with me on her blog at Check it out!

Eastern Iowa Heritage Quilters

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Holding up the World

I  just came home from a day at the East Iowa Heritage Quilters

at Cedar Rapids.I did two lectures and a half day class. How

much fun. EIHQ is a large enough group to have both a morning

and an evening session. For the morning lecture we had The Color

Cook Book Lecture, a gentle discussion of color theory as recipes,

and for the evening we did The Visual Path, a look at how to design

quilts that move.


For the afternoon, I taught a class on landscape design.These ladies

were so good.

For a half day class, they really created some great beginnings.





I can’t wait to see what they’ll do. Hopefully they’ll send me pictures and I’ll show them to you.

You’ll find East Iowa Heritage Quilters  at and and

Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What a great group of Quilters!

New Article in Quilt Magazine

Sunday, February 12th, 2012


I have an interview on thread in the new April/ May Quilt Magazine! Cynthia Van Hazinga interviewed me for a great article called the Art of Thread in the new issue. She also interviewed Linda Mathews and Susan Brisco. Talk about three very different approaches and three very different kinds of work.  It’s amazing and wonderful to see how endless the possibilities are!







My part starts on page 65 if your looking!

Thanks Cynthia for doing such a good article! It was fun.

You’ll find Quilt Magazine at on newstands everywhere.

Linda Mathews web page is at

Susan Brisco is at

Check it out! And try a really different thread today!



Taping at Quilt It! with Jodi Davis

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I just got home from taping a session of Quilt It! with Jodi Davis!

Jodi is a love! She keeps horses and has done a gazillion books on all kinds of needle craft. She’s famous for her rubber duckie books. She helped me keep on track and not babble.

What a wild day! We had three quilters tape that day, including myself. I went first or they would have had to fold me in the end like a quilt and put me in my suitcase to get me home.

Quilt It! is part of QNN, Quilter’s News Network. It’s a great site with numerous available quilt shows you can watch any time on your computer or any other streaming electric gadget. How cool is that? Quilt It! focuses on working with long arm machines.

The other two women couldn’t have been more different from me if they tried. Judy Allen was making incredible digitized and drawn feather patterns and Leslie Main from Country Traditions Quilt Store in Freemont, NE pieced a place mat on a long arm. Who knew? They were both awesome!

seed pod

I showed off the Zentangle Inspired Flowers I’ve been doing on the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. I’ve loved doing these quick and flashy pieces.  Because the long arm accommodates a 20 needle, I could stitch these with yummy extra thick #12 weight pearl cotton thread through the needle. We’ll be offering this as a class! I also showed off some quilts from my new book, Thread Magic Garden.

We also got a tour of Handi Quilter. I had, of course, known about Handi Quilter’s commitment to quality. It wasn’t until I saw the HQ Sweet Sixteen that I realized there was a way for me with my really bad knees to sit and sew at a long arm. What a neat new open door! But it was when I saw room after room of the company decorated in every kind of quilt that I understood how deep their commitment is to quilters of all kinds. The walls are covered with quilts and statements and sayings of quilters. They are an amazing support to the quilt community, as well as the manufacturer of an amazing machine.

My segment will be featured in August. Make sure to watch it there and then!

My First Report Card: Thread Magic Garden Reviews

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Comes a day in every proud parent’s life when you get your first report card. Your kid comes in the door, runs into your arms and says, “Mom, my teacher said to give you this.” And you hold your breath. At that age they don’t know to hide it from you if  it isn’t going to meet expectations.

I’ve always argued that art is not your child. A book isn’t either. They don’t ever hug you and they rarely are a reason for you to visit the police station at 3 AM. So that’s the good and the bad of it. They are, however, your creation, and they have a life of their own. They will go places you can’t and do things you can’t. They will, with luck and grace, live past you. And they do get report cards. They’re called reviews

So I’ve been watching the reviews come in in fear and trepidation. Does my child speak when spoken to? Run with Scissors? Follow Directions? Tie her shoes?

Maybe not.

But this is what people have been saying on Amazon.

Share your thoughts with other customers:
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, January 23, 2012
This review is from: Thread Magic Garden: Create Enchanted Quilts with Thread Painting & Pattern-Free Appliqué (Paperback)

An astonishing book for we learners from this extravagantly talented artist, Ellen Eddy. She is as down-to-earth as can be, and her directions are clear to quilters everywhere. This is an incredible follow-through to Thread Magic. I admire the quality of this book. The pictures are good and instructions superb from this witty and brilliant woman. I am taking this to my quilting club so we can invite Ellen to come to town to give us her famous lessons.

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent how-to-book, January 20, 2012
Margaret L West (Tinley Park, IL United States) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Thread Magic Garden: Create Enchanted Quilts with Thread Painting & Pattern-Free Appliqué (Paperback)

One look at Ellen’s artistry with thread and fabric and the first thought is–I could never do that! Ellen’s book fixes that! The directions are clear and concise, a unique art form made simple. The photography is wonderful, the pictures of Ellen’s work inspire all from the novice to the expert. Do not pass up this book if you yearn to do more with a sewing machine than just sew straight stitches. Ellen makes this an achievable art form!

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars What a picnic!, January 18, 2012
This review is from: Thread Magic Garden: Create Enchanted Quilts with Thread Painting & Pattern-Free Appliqué (Paperback)

Take a picnic basket full of threads and fun fabric, and let Ellen lead you into her garden. Meet all the flowers and creatures that live there and take them home with the fantastic directions that Ellen has shared. What wonderful talents and simple tricks she gives to help us on our journey.

Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No
Share your thoughts with other customers: Create your own review

Do I know these people? Some yes, some no. Did I tell them what to say? I wouldn’t dare. It’s my report card.

The  second batch of Thread Magic Garden books arrived yesterday and are back in stock. You can order yours today!

Thread Magic Garden is Here!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Have you ever had something you really had to wait for? Christmas? Your birthday? The end of the school year? A baby?

A book is like that. After a mad dash of deadlines and info and rewrites and editorial decisions, you come to this maddening place where you just sit and wait. And Wait.  AND WAIT.

Yesterday, two big boxes brought the wait to and end. Today I sent out most of the first preorders. It’s here!

So I’m going to give you  another look of some pages you haven’t seen.



Like every proud mom, I’m prejudiced. But it’s got an intuitive method for making 25 kinds of applique flowers, crusted with embroidery, and 50 new quilts in print. Would you have waited for that?

You’ll find Thread Magic Garden for sale on my site at Ask me and I’ll sign your copy.

Did you miss the first Thread Magic? We have that too.  Order yours today!

Moving Day

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

No one ever believes I’m organized. That may because I’m not. I live simply in howling chaos. I also know where mostly everything is. Unless it’s my camera, my scissors,my glasses, or perhaps my wallet.

Perhaps you can see the hole in that theory. I’m trying to be organized and that may well be the best we can do.With that in mind, I’m moving my blog over to my web page at It’s easier for you to find and easier for me to share with you.You’ll find all my blog posts here now at, in one spot

We’ll see you here!

Who Me?

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


Quilter  Magazine offers a Teacher of the Year award. It’s one of those rare moments when someone says thank you. Class is always a rush. Quilters are the best folk on earth and if anyone will follow the niceties, it’s quilters. But it’s rare and lovely to hear a thank you.

I grew up in a teaching family. Everyone in my family had a teaching degree although not everyone taught. But even though I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, it was assumed that that was true if I wanted to be a teacher. I did want to be an archeologist, but that involved bugs and snakes. Bugs I like. Snakes I don’t. Eventually, the snakes and the need for serious organization intruded into the dream and I took my degree in primary education.

It was with serious shock that I realized I wasn’t suited to teach in a regular classroom. It should have been a clue when I realized that I was leading the riot. I’m great at communicating and setting up learning environment. Not so good at crowd control.

So when I began to teach quilters, I knew I found a home. But I also found that my students have always taught me.

They’ve taught me the kindness and personal support quilters give each other.

They’ve taught me to laugh at myself most.

They’ve taught me that the worst disaster is only a comedy in process.

They’ve taught me that nothing is impossible. It just takes more time.

They’ve taught me that physical limits are simply an invitation to do it differently.

They’ve taught me that most things can be fixed with chocolate, duct tape and ice cream, at least for a while.

They’ve taught me to ask for help.

They’ve taught me that accepting someone’s help or gift is a gift in itself, and it’s selfish not to do so.

So, since someone nominated me for teacher of the year, I have one thing to say. After all you’ve taught me, thank you.

Find the Flakes

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Every season I offer three quilts on my web site at a silly low price, just to see if you’re watching.

I just posted up my three winter ones. We’re calling it the Snow Flake price because I really flaked out on it.

Here’s a secret: They’re all in the new Thread Magic Garden Book.

 See if you can find them! They’re at
Thread Magic Studio Gallery

Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Theater

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
 I was wandering around on the web  today and found this great segment that AQS taped for me at the Des Moines Show this Fall.

This is a very nice tutorial for making flowers out of simple shapes. They taped this the last day of the show. I ran in and babbled like a brook.

But I found it and listened to it today. I didn’t ummm. And it felt as good to listen to it as to do it.

Build some cool flowers. For heaven’s sake leave the patterns out.  Build something wild, while you’re under the gun. It is, after all, time honored.

Thread Magic Garden Is Ready for Pre-order!

Friday, December 30th, 2011
Thread Magic Garden will be arriving for shipment around January 20th. You can pre-order your copy today!
You never really know what a project will take until you see it done. Perhaps that’s good. A good dream well done should take your whole heart’s effort and give you your heart back in return.

When I started this book, I had no idea it would take 2 years to finish. Part of that is that I had to learn so much to do this book.  Part of that is the meticulous process C&T puts into every book.  I got my premier copy a week ago.I’m still scraping myself off the ceiling. It’s past my expectations. I’m hoping you’ll feel that way too.

When I started this book, I wanted to continue what I’d accomplished with Thread Magic. I wanted to show folk ways of adding wild free motion to quilts that set things hearts and imaginations on fire. I wanted to set up instructions that would take you through your own process with this. You’ll have to let me know how I’ve  done when you read the book.
But for those of you who’ve known me in class or in print, you know I don’t give recipes for cakes that don’t rise. I tell you everything I know. I also don’t do anything really hard. I just do things that are time consuming and compulsive.
So here is what we have.
  • Fifty eye popping new quilts in the gallery
  • A patternless approach to design
  • Intuitive applique that makes creating flowers  easy and fun

Tutorials in

  • Color theory for flowers
  • Corded buttonhole  binding
  • Angelina Fiber
  • 6 Free motion zigzag stitches
  • Machine Beading
  • Globbing
  • Sandwich stabilizing

I’m hoping I’ve done a good job of opening doors, traveling a new path, leaving good bread crumbs for anyone who wants to follow, and breaking the best rules I could find to break. See you on the trail.

You can  pre-order your copy of Thread Magic Garden at

The Butterfly Effect

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I Never Saw Another Butterfly
The last, the very last,

So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow
Perhaps if the sun’s tears would sing 
against a white stone…. 

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly ’way up high.
It went away I’m sure 
because it wished 
to kiss the world good-bye.

 For seven weeks I’ve lived in here
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.

Only I never saw another butterfly. 
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live in here, in the ghetto. 

Written  by Pavel Friedman, June 4, 1942 

I don’t remember the first time. I heard about the butterfly effect. Was it Jurrasic Park? The movie of that name was not a favorite. But the concept made complete sense to me. The smallest things effect everything. The flick of a butterfly’s wing in my garden effects the weather in China. 

Is it true? I’m not a scientist. I don’t know. But I do know that much of my life is made up of tiny interludes with people as I travel. Moments, really. I don’t get years with people except for a few rare and dear friends. Those are also celebrated in moments. So, true or not, I believe in butterflies.

Trudi Sissons from  Two Dresses Studio  has joined with the Holocaust Museum in Huston to help bring to flight an amazing exhibit. There were 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.

Think about it. I really quite can’t. I have no idea what 1.5 million looks like as a number. So they are collecting 1.5 million butterflies from artists, one for each child, to exhibit there.
What did we lose with those children?1.5 million symphonies, lullabies, amazing stories, astonishing art………… 

We can never know. We are in a 
way, as much a victim to the hate that killed them as they. Our world cannot afford hate. Each child is a treasure house, and hate is a vicious thief.
If each child were a butterfly and the wings of their life change the world, what have we lost?

So I’ve made my butterfly to be sent off. To remember what was lost and to hope we can learn the evil math behind hate. And my job today is to take someone I truly fear and hate and find why I’m wrong. Hard as it is, I think it better than Christmas shopping.  And after all, it’s what I really want for Christmas,  both to give and receive.

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