Alegre Quilt Retreat – Amazing Scholarship Available!

4 02 2013

For those of you who do not know about the Alegre Retreat, you must check out their website. It is a 5 to 7 day retreat based in the canyon lands of Colorado, the setting is breathtaking and the learning, even better. This is a unique opportunity to learn from world-class fibre artists and art quilters while experiencing nature and gourmet food. Anyone can go, but what I’m really excited about is their YEA Scholarship, or the Young Emerging Artist Scholarship. This is a scholarship for quilters under 30 to go to this retreat for FREE!!! The winner must get themselves to the resort, but from there, everything is paid for. Accommodation and food at the stunning Gateway Canyons Resort and a 5 day workshop of their choosing with either Katie Pasquini Masopust, Jan Myers Newbury, or Joan Schulze.

Alegre Retreat setting

I was fortunate enough to receive this scholarship last year, and attended Katie’s Color and Composition class. The creativity and inspiration among the 50 some quilters who attend this retreat is outstanding! I am writing this blog post to encourage all quilters under 30 to apply for this scholarship! It’s easy to apply for, you just have to send in 10 pictures of past work and a short essay about why you would like to attend. Not very many people know about the scholarship, and so few applications are received…AKA if you apply, you are very likely to win. The website says the deadline was February 1st, but I believe they have extended it to February 22nd, so please apply – you will not regret this experience – it is truly AMAZING!!!! Click here for more information.

Here are the projects I worked on in Katie’s class.

Alegre scholarship projects

Salisbury Farmer’s Market

14 06 2012

Thursdays this December, the 6th, 13th and 20th from 4:30-8:00 pm

Salisbury Greenhouse, Sherwood Park

I am very excited to be a vendor this december at the Salisbury Farmer’s Market. I’ll be selling my blankets and pillows along with gift card holders – perfect for holiday gift giving! I’d love to see you there. Plus there are so many other great vendors to come and see. To find out more about the market and it’s vendors visit

Salisbury Farmer's Market Table

Pysanky: Ukrainian Easter Eggs

21 05 2012

My Path to Pysanky

(pronounced “PIH-sahn-kih” with all short vowels)

Being of partial Ukrainian descent, I learned to make Ukrainian Easter eggs as a child. The process consists of applying wax to eggs and dyeing them in various colors. The wax acts as a resist, like in batik dyeing, to protect the color below it from the color that follows.

Many years ago, my mother picked up all the necessary supplies for making pysanky, at our local Ukrainian bookstore,  along with an easy to follow how-to book. As kids and teenagers, my sister and I would sit for hours at the kitchen table, during the Easter season, creating intricate designs on eggs. At some point, our lives got too busy and we stopped making eggs at Easter. It has been years since I made my last pysanka (this is the singular form of pysanky, pronounced “PIH-sahn-kah”).

A few times over the last decade or so, I have bugged my mom to make eggs with me once more, but we always seem to let life get in the way. This year when I asked her again to make eggs, she said she was too busy, but I was welcome to come get the supplies and make them on my own. I did, and I am so glad I did!

From the moment I started to apply my design to the eggs, I remembered why I liked making them so much. For one, the process connects me to my roots and the past. It feels good to keep an old tradition alive. Second, as I began to concentrate on the design and use a steady hand, I was instantly absorbed into the process and felt a wave of relaxation fall upon me. Finally, as I became more relaxed and absorbed, a feeling of happiness and joy came over me. In that moment, I realized why I had enjoyed making these wonderful eggs as child, and why I had longed to make them once more as an adult.

The History of Pysanky

I sat downwith the book: Eggs Beautiful: How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs, by Johanna Luciow, Ann Kmit and Loretta Luciow, the one my mother had bought so many years ago, to learn a little more about the tradition. I was surprised to learn that the tradition of decorating eggs is well over 2000 years old and pre-dates Christianity. Once a Pagan symbol of the renewal of nature and life in the spring, Christians adopted the craft and merged the Pagan meanings with the Christian beliefs of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the Easter celebrations.

Traditional patterns are made up of symbols from 3 general categories: plants, animals, and geometry. By combining various symbols and layouts, one can create a multitude of eggs in varying designs. Traditionally, one chooses the design and symbols with the recipient in mind. For example, if a woman were having difficulty conceiving a child, you would give her an egg with the symbol of a chicken on it, as the chicken represents fertility. For myself, I usually find a pattern I like from the book and copy it, because there are just so many patterns to choose from.

Making Pysanky

I started by unveiling the dyes I had picked up from my mom to see what I had to work with. It turned out that almost half the dyes were all dried up, and I was left with yellow, orange (which wasn’t looking so hot), red, pink, and turquoise. I decided not to use the pink, but tried using the other colors. I found a couple designs that I thought would work with the dye colors I had and got to work. In the end, the orange turned out the same as the red, and the turquoise like black, but thankfully, the designs looked good anyway.


  1. Eggs: I used large chicken eggs from the supermarket. Make sure you get ones that are not stamped because the ink will bleed through the design. Check them over for cracks and thinning shells – you want to make sure they are in great condition because if the shells are free from blemishes and imperfections, the finished pysanky can last a lifetime. Also, bring the eggs to room temperature before starting, to prevent condensation from forming on the shells.
  2. Kistka (stylus): this is what you use to apply the wax to the eggs. You want one that has a small opening so that the wax comes out slowly and in a fine line for more intricate designs. You will heat the kistka in the flame of a candle and add small amounts of beeswax to it to use for the resist.
  3. Candle: any candle will work. I would suggest using one of decent size so that it lasts for the duration of the project (a good few hours).
  4. Beeswax: you want to use beeswax because it has a high melting point. This helps create even lines that do not smear. This is important because you do not want the dye to seep under the wax and ruin your carefully applied design. Do not replace beeswax with candle wax.
  5. Dyes: make sure to use dyes designed for pysanky. Regular food dyes will not give you the same results. Search your area for a supplier. In Edmonton, visit The Ukrainian Book Store (10215 – 97 St
  6. Spoons: used to gently lower the egg into the dyes.
  7. Paper Towels: I suggest covering your worktable with paper towel. This is helpful incase you drip wax on your way back from the candle with your kistka, and to try out your kistka and make sure the wax is flowing well. You will also use paper towel to blot excess dye from the eggs after there time in the dyes. They will be used again to wipe the wax off the eggs when the design is complete (or you can use a soft cloth).
  8. Gloss Coating: required if you want to varnish your eggs – I never have. Use a clear gloss varnish, shellac, or art spray.
  9. Pencil: to apply the basic design lines to your egg before the wax. Use a hard lead (H or #3) in order to apply a fine, faint, line to the egg.
  10. Egg Rack: to set the eggs on while working, in the oven to melt the wax and to rest on while the varnish is drying. Mine is made from a piece of 2×4 wood with nails partially driven through the top, leaving about 1 inch out, creating a grid of egg supports.

The Process

  1. Start with a clean egg (how they come from the store is fine). Make sure your hands are clean too – no hand cream allowed – this will keep oils away from the egg, which can prevent the wax and dyes from adhering properly. 
  2. Using your pencil, mark the egg with the basic design lines. Divide the egg into symmetrical sections and then use these as guidelines when you apply the wax. 
  3. Warm up the kistka and get the wax flowing. You will start by covering all the areas of the egg that are to stay white in the final design. This is often your design lines and a few other symbols and patterns. 
  4. Once all the white areas are covered with wax, you will lower the egg into the yellow dye, or whatever dye is the lightest in your design. The egg sits in the dye bath for 5-10 minutes. When ready, remove the egg and blot dry with paper towel – do not rub. 
  5. Next, apply wax to all the areas that you want to remain yellow, just as you did on the white egg. When finished, place in your next color of dye, in my case, orange.  
  6. Continue this process, working from lightest to darkest dyes, until you have applied the entire design to the egg. 
    1. The dyeing order is generally: yellow, gold, light green, light blue, turquoise, orange, brown (if you want it lighter), brick (if you want it lighter), pink, bright red (scarlet), red (cherry), brown (if you want it darker), brick (if you want it darker), dark red.
    2. Finish off with the final color of your choosing: black, purple, royal blue, or dark green (dark red can also be used as a final color). This last color does not need to be covered in wax, as it will not go into any other dye bath.
    3. Of course, not all eggs will use all these colors, but if you follow this order, omitting any not used, the colors you do use will turn out the way you would expect them to.
  7. Once the final color is applied, remove the egg from the dye and allow it to dry for around 15 minutes to ensure the color is set. 
  8. Next, you will remove the beeswax and reveal you beautiful, colorful, egg. There are 2 options for this. 
    1. The first option is to use your candle to heat small sections of the egg. After a few seconds next to the flame, the wax will become shiny and melt. Use a clean paper towel and gently wipe the melted wax off the egg. Continue this process until all the wax is removed. Be careful not to hold the egg in the flame for too long as this will darken the colors on the egg. 
    2. The other option, which is best if making many pysanky, is to heat the eggs in the oven to melt the wax. Place all your eggs on your egg rack and put them in the oven at 180°F. Allow the eggs to heat gently for 15-20 minutes, watch that they do not overheat. Once the eggs are warm and glossy, you can take them out of the oven, one at a time, and remove the wax by gently rubbing them with paper towel or a soft cloth. 
  9. If desired, varnish you eggs.

Resources – great resource for basic information about pysanky, as well as an extensive list of suppliers inCanada, the UnitedStated,Australia andGreat Britain – a fairly extension site with lots of great info about the traditional and modern pysanky

Where to buy the book: Eggs Beautiful: How to Make Ukrainian Easter Eggs, by Johanna Luciow, Ann Kmit and Loretta Luciow


New & used:

New & used:

a dog lover’s quilt

31 01 2012

About  two and a half years ago I met my now fiance and he had a lot of pets. If you asked anyone I knew then if I was into these pets – they’d say heck no! But something told me this guy was worth the animal invasion – and he was. Anyway, when we met he had 2 dogs, a cat and a rabbit. It didn’t take long to get rid of the rabbit, one dog went with the ex and the cat stayed until I officially moved in. Well if you’ve followed along, that left us with one dog. A number I could handle – having never had any pets growing up and never wanting them either. Well over the past 2 years you might say I’ve fallen in love. With my fiancee, of course, but also with his dog – Pebbles.

pebbles on rag quilt on floor

I’ve fallen in love so much so that I felt the urge to first buy her that fabulous pink croc collar (complete with rhinestones), and second to make her a quilt for her crate. While on a shopping trip to Crate & Barrel, we spotted a neat plaid patchwork dog blanket and my fiance asked, with full puppy-dog eyes, if I could make something similar for Pebbles. Since I’ve been making rag quilts for my Etsy shop, that was the first thing that came to mind – I also thought it would a cozy bed for her to lie on at night. He wanted manly plaids so when I saw these fabrics while out shopping one day and they had pink and purple in them I picked them up and got started.

brushed cotton yarn dye plaids

These yarn dyed brushed cotton plaids are perfect for rag quilt as they have a soft texture and  loose weave that responds well to the ragging process. Now, because this is a dog blanket, I wanted the backing to be something quite sturdy and hefty. Luckily I had some black-brown denim in my stash that just happened to match my great fabric finds. I decided to add cotton batting (I used Warm and Natural because I had scraps on hand) between the fabric layers to make the blanket softer and cozier, but also to help prevent it from getting all bunched up at the back of her crate.

As you can see in the picture above, I attached the 3 layers of fabric (the plaid, cotton batting and denim) using diagonal stitching across each section of the quilt. When making rag quilts with cotton batting, make sure to cut the batting to the finished size of the quilt square and sandwich it before you sew your squares together. The diagonal stitching ensures the batting stays securely in place through usage and washing. Cutting the batting to the finished dimensions ensures you won’t see the batting poking out of the seam allowance that will be clipped and ragged.

Planning this quilt was super easy and fun. First I measured the dimensions of the bottom of her crate and added about 1 inch to that to get a finished size of 12″ x 20″. Then I took out my graph paper and got planning. I didn’t want super tiny squares because I wanted to be able to see the different fabrics through the ragging, but I also wanted small enough squares that the top would still be visually interesting. The picture above is my final result. Once I settled on a layout I used different coloured sharpies to layout the various fabrics I would use. This enabled me to picture the finished product well before cutting into my fabric. The numbers on the side of the plan are the various squares I would need from each fabric. In all, I used about 4″ by width of fabric of each plaid, and about 8″ by width of fabric of my denim. All you need for batting is the finished size of your quilt cut into corresponding squares to your quilt design.

Here’s the finished quilt before I clipped the seam allowance.

And here’s the finished quilt inside Pebbles’ crate – with her cozying up on it.

And because I can’t get enough of my cute little doggy, one more photo.

DIY aprons

18 01 2012

So this Christmas, in an effort to cut costs a little, I thought I would use my talents and make some gifts. My mom had been bugging me to make her an apron just like one I had bought from Anthropologie. I love their selection of cute and stylish aprons and own a couple myself.

black and white toile print

My mother has often borrowed mine for entertaining events in her home – something a little dressier than her apple apron from when she taught kindergarten. Using my pattern drafting and sewing skills, I decided to copy this great creation for her and came up with the apron below.

black and white damask print apron

To achieve this yourself all you need is some pattern paper (parchment type paper would work too), some pins and tape, rulers and patience. To make a pattern from the original apron, I first copied the main bodice piece. I folded the apron in half and laid it flat on my cutting table. I then laid my pattern drafting paper over top and pinned the two together, keeping the layers as flat as possible. From there, I traced the edges of the bodice and the seam where the ruffle attaches. I also marked the location of the ties and pockets.

black and white damask print apron

Next, I traced the ruffle piece. This was a lot trickier. To help the ruffle lay flat, I actually taped it down to my table – again folding the apron in half. Then, like the bodice, laid and pinned down pattern drafting paper and trace the ruffle piece.

black and white damask apron

After tracing the two pieces, I added seam allowance and hem. I also traced the pocket shape and determined how much fabric I would need for the ties and bow. These are made from 3.5″ strips of fabric sewn into tubes and finished on the end. With all the parts traced, and seam allowance added, you now have a pattern you can layout as you would any other commercial or homemade pattern.

This method can be used to copy all kinds of garments and since aprons are one size fits all, I now have a pattern to use for many more apron gifts in the future – no sizing needed. In fact, a couple weeks ago, I made a second apron for my Grandmother for her 80th birthday.

pink and orange floral print apron

The fabrics I used were from my stash – aka free – and all I needed to buy was about 10cm of the black polka dot fabric for the ties which cost less than $1. So for the cost of 1 meter of fabric – which you can easily get for $5-$10, you can make these cute aprons that cost $30-$50 from Anthropologie. Best of all, I’m super proud that I hand made these gifts for my family. Next time someone admires something of yours, try your hand at making another one yourself – it’s pretty simple in the end.

Here’s an image of the original apron laying flat. I hope that helps you see it’s overall shape and design a little more easily.


blogger’s choice fat quarter bundle contest

15 01 2012

I’ve just spent my morning searching through Fat Quarter Shop’s amazing selection of fabrics to put together my very own fat quarter bundle. Why you might ask, well Quokka Quilts is hosting a Blogger’s Choice Fat Quarter Bundle contest. All you have to do is put together your very own fat quarter bundle from any fabrics on the Fat Quarter Shop website and post a link on the Quokka Quilts website to enter. Then the winner will win 1/2 yard cuts of their chosen fabrics – 12 prints and 3 solids.

I came across this Art Gallery print and decided to base my scheme around it.

Coquette by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics

Coquette Pale Flower Bed Yardage by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics

I searched through many fabric manufacturers and ended up with a mixture of Art Gallery, Rylie Blake, and Clothworks fabrics. Here is the result.

If you like any of these fabrics, just hover over the images below and a link will take you to it’s page on the Fat Quarter Shop website. If I don’t win, I might just have to buy these fabrics anyway…

Riley Blake Designs Slate Blender Yardage SKU# C200-10 Sunny Happy Skies Pink Lace Yardage SKU# C2733-PINK Farm Fresh Yellow Plaid Yardage SKU# C9007-YELLOW

Tuxedo Collection  Yardage SKU# C2691-GRAY Coquette Pale Flower Bed Yardage SKU# CO-8200 Riley Blake Designs Sundrop Blender Yardage SKU# C200-60

Tuxedo Collection Gray Ta Dots Yardage SKU# C2692-GRAY Riley Blake Designs Cotton Candy Blender Yardage SKU# C200-80 Froggin' Yellow Water Vines Yardage SKU# Y0844-9

Tuxedo Collection Gray Small Damask Yardage SKU# C2696-GRAY Daisy Cottage Pink Small Daisies Yardage SKU# C2756-PINK Promenade Yellow Dots Yardage SKU# C2645-Yellow

Coquette by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics Daisy Cottage Pink Tossed Daisies Yardage SKU# C2750-PINK Sunny Happy Skies Yellow Lace Yardage SKU# C2733-YELLOW


i’m on etsy!

6 01 2012

So…I’m super excited to announce that I have finally opened up my very own Etsy shop. That’s right, susansalukcreates in now on etsy. I only have a couple items listed so far, but more to come very soon, so keep checking back for new items.


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