I live in Redlands, CA, which has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters and is located midway between LA and Palm Springs. This means I have just about perfect weather for dyeing and can can dye outside about 350 days of every year. I’ve installed my “custom dyeing sink of awesomeness” in the side yard of my 101 year old Craftsman bungalow, beneath the shade of a large pecan tree.

My sewing machines and fabric are located in the largest bedroom of my bungalow, with windows that look out onto my backyard, it’s a lovely place to stitch the day away (when I have the time!)

Tour of my dyeing and sewing studio
The newest addition to my studio! (A Bernina Q16 sit down long arm quilting machine)

Free Motion Machine Quilting

My stitching designs are what is called “Free Motion Machine Quilting”. Quilting is done to hold 3 layers of fabric together (called a “quilt sandwich” = the front, the fluffy batting in the center and the back). It’s a thing of practicality (to hold heavy coverlets together) that has evolved into a thing of beauty (it adds a lovely texture to something that design wise is pretty 2 dimensional). Of course, this was once done exclusively by hand, as sewing machines  had yet to be invented, but it can also be done with a sewing machine. Basically, I lower the feed dogs (the little teeth under the needle that usually pull the fabric forward) and run the machine pretty fast, and move my hands holding the quilt sandwich under the needle. Many people call this “drawing with an electric needle”. I do not mark the lines beforehand, I just simply go!  The machine I’m using in the videos is a Juki TL-98Q. I talk all about my machine here, it’s a simple, strong, fast machine.

This 1st video illustrates “classic” free motion quilting, a process where you’re trying to create a single line of complex stitching, and if you do need to retrace your steps, you try to retrace them exactly so that it the retracing isn’t seen!

Free Motion Machine Sketching

This video shows me creating one of my Botanical Sketches. When I’m sketching, I am purposefully retracing my steps and trying to miss on purpose; this took some practice after years of trying to follow lines exactly. 😉  What I’m trying to emphasize here is that although I’m using a machine, the process is still created by my hands! I love the beautiful imperfection of a strong line that is created by drawing it over and over – it’s just my pencil is an electric sewing machine.

And another one: