Monday, March 20, 2017

BERNINA Ambassadors: Telling Our Stories

Hello there! I'm stopping by today as part of a BERNINA Ambassador blog tour. This week (March 20 - 24, 2017) seventeen of us are sharing our stories and experiences. Be sure to visit some of their wonderful blogs this week, links are at the bottom of this post.

Everyday Magic

When I think back over all the years I've been sewing, and then quilting, the word "magic" keeps popping into my head. That's how I think of sewing; as a form of everyday magic. 

I learned to sew from my mother. Her love of sewing was a wonderful example for both me and my sister. It seemed that Mama could make anything that she put her mind to. From the card table cover that looked like the Three Little Pigs' brick house, to Wizard of Oz dolls, to matching Christmas pajamas and Easter outfits (for myself, my two brothers, and my sister), Mama's ability to sew was a gift she gave to us over and over again. I still remember fondly the many garments she made me over the years.
My sister wearing perhaps my favorite dress of all time. After I grew out of it she loved it just as much as I did.
Better still, my mom taught me to sew and gave me the confidence to believe that I could also create anything that I envisioned. And if that isn't magic, I don't know what is! She encouraged me endlessly, and starting in about 6th grade I began sewing many of my own clothes. I can't say that everything I made was super stylish, and I did get made fun of now and again for some of my creations, but I loved being able to make things that were uniquely mine.

Through years of sewing my own garments, then discovering the *amazing* world of quilting, and eventually creating Halloween costumes and party decorations for my kids, the wonder of it is still there for me. And now, when I lecture at a guild, write an article, or teach any of a variety of techniques, part of the magic is the look of joy and accomplishment on a student's face when I've been able to help them gain confidence and skill as a quilter. Isn't it magical that using some fabric, needle, and thread, we can create things that are so beautiful and full of love?
Blossoming ©2016 Diane Rusin Doran
Finally, getting to spend time with others who are as passionate about sewing and quilting as I am is magical in and of itself. Attending quilt shows and visiting guilds is always a joyous occasion for me, and I know this holds true for all of the other BERNINA Ambassadors as well. 

Each Ambassador has their own story of why they love to create garments, or quilts, or anything else they might imagine. We all love sharing the joy of sewing through a variety of means, whether teaching, writing, or mentoring. That's what being a BERNINA Ambassador is most about to me, having more opportunities to share the things that I love about quilting and that fascinate me most.

A sample I made for a blog post on the WeAllSew blog about double needle quilting
Be sure to stop by the blogs of some of my fellow Ambassadors this week to learn more about each of them. They are a wonderfully talented group with loads of expertise to share! 

If you’re a shop, show coordinator, or guild program chair, please know that each one listed above is available to teach!

As a reminder, I've been blogging up a storm over at Machine Quilting Unlimited, so please be sure to stop over there and check it out.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Houston International Quilt Festival 2016

For quite some time now I've been devoting all my blogging energy to the Machine Quilting Unlimited blog. I've posted lots of tips, video tutorials, and loads of eye candy, so be sure to check it out! I also posted on the BERNINA WeAllSew blog about double needle free motion quilting. It's a fun technique, so be sure to hop over there at some point as well.

That said, I'm still here! I just returned from a fabulous trip to the Houston International Quilt Festival. I had three quilts there, two in the International Quilt Association judged show, and one in the Dinner at Eight special exhibit "Patterns". Without further ado, photos!

I'm very pleased and honored that I won two ribbons in the Digital Imagery catalog. Below you can see me with my quilt "Paint the Town Red", which won second place. I'm delighted that my quilt was hanging right next to that of my friend, Suzan Cloud Engler, who won first place with her wonderful quilt "GMO?". My quilt is the same size as hers, but the space available to stand in led to a little bit of a skewed perspective here. Thanks to Lisa Brehm Ellis who took the photo despite her very busy schedule. Lisa also had two wonderful quilts in the show that she made using a special technique she developed to make cathedral windows.
Me with "Paint the Town Red", Suzan Cloud Engler with her first place winner "GMO?" photo credit Lisa Brehm Ellis

I also won an honorable mention with "Winter's Tarnish". Yeah!

As always, the best part of Quilt Festival is seeing friends and meeting new people. My lovely friend Sarah Anne Smith was kind enough to take this photo of me doing my best Vanna White impression by "Blossoming", my Dinner at Eight quilt. Sarah had a quilt in the judged show as well as one in the Dinner at Eight exhibit, and both are stunning.
"Blossoming" by Diane Rusin Doran, photo credit Sarah Anne Smith

All three of these quilts, as well as every other quilt I've made, were sewn on domestic BERNINA machines. "Blossoming" is the first quilt I've completed on my new 770 QE and I loved using it!

All in all it was a wonderful adventure. I'm not sure how many photos from the show I'll post here, but I'll definitely posting some on the Machine Quilting Unlimited blog later this week. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


My creative friend Misty Cole has designed an unusual and intriguing block of the month - poison bottles! She asked me to interpret two of them, so here they are.

The first bottle looks a lot like Misty's sample. I chose a brown background, and because of the word "poison" I couldn't stop thinking about poison ivy, so I added some. I thought it looked sort of like an old bottle you might find tucked in the back of a barn, and wouldn't it be ironic for it to be sitting in some poison ivy?


The background and bottle were created from fabrics I designed in photoshop, while the leaves are hand dyed.

I think it's kind of fun.

The next bottle Misty calls a "coffin" bottle. Well, it looked kind of like a vase to me, so I went with that. I went a little wild and carefree with this one, screen printing the flowers and using some fabric I designed for the vase.


After quilting.

I was going for sort of a retro cut glass look on the bottle.

I like the flowers, but feel that the white ones still need something - maybe a few lazy daisies in the centers and some French knots?

If you'd like to join in the fun head over to Misty's blog and download these free patterns.

Thanks for inviting me to play, Misty!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy "B" Day to Me!

I have some really big news that I've been remiss in not sharing earlier. To get right to the point, I'm a BERNINA Ambassador!!! What does this mean? I get the privilege of sewing on a fabulous new BERNINA 770 QE, and in return I'll be sharing some of my quilting and sewing expertise in a variety of ways for BERNINA. Here's a photo of my beautiful machine:

We've all read gushy blog posts using terms like "over the moon" and "beyond excited", but in this case those terms genuinely apply. I've been a "BERNINA girl" since about 1987, and never looked back. I truly feel at one with both my workhorse 1130 and this beauty due to the amazing responsiveness of the foot pedal. The electronics of their foot pedals give me perfect control when free motion quilting, which makes all the difference.

So, in order to get acquainted with my 770 QE I was given lessons at Bear's Paw Fabrics in Towson, Maryland. The staff was so kind, welcoming, and knowledgeable! Here's Judy Munro, the owner, and Noreen, one of my teachers, on the day I got my first lesson.
Judy Munro of Bear's Paw Fabrics in Towson, MD

My amazing teacher Noreen. She really knows her stuff, and her enthusiasm is contagious!
I'm working on a "top secret" project right now (shown folded to the left of the machine in the photo above), and it's going great. Some of the things I already love about the 770 QE include:

- The light, look at all of that light!
- The large harp.
- Can't live without a knee lift.
- The thread cutter and needle threader.
- The machine is sophisticated, yet quite user friendly.
- The touch screen provides loads of information about the settings with just the touch of a button.
- The huge bobbin.
- As always, the phenomenal stitch quality.

In short, I love it, and am honored to have this opportunity to use it.

In other news, as an extension of my editorial duties for Machine Quilting Unlimited I've been blogging for the magazine twice a week. Look for posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays at . In my latest post (yesterday's) I share 10 of my best tips for free motion quilting success, so why not go check it out?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 01, 2016

Dinner at Eight - Affinity

Last year I once again had the pleasure of being juried into the invitational exhibit for the Dinner at Eight Artists. The theme was "Affinity", and I chose to represent my affinity for color (see blog name). I never really posted much about my quilt, but better late than never!
Paint the Town Red ©2015 Diane Rusin Doran

Detail Paint the Town Red ©2015 Diane Rusin Doran

Here's a link to a youtube video where I discuss the quilt for the Quilt Alliance Go Tell it at the Quilt Show! project.

As usual, I created a digital collage for my 40 x 40 inch piece. I began with a photo I took on my first iPhone about five years ago. It was a chance snapshot of a very bright door in Fort Worth, Texas. We were visiting my sister-in-law and had just finished eating breakfast at a local eatery. I took an antsy child to the car, and saw this beautiful doorway across the street. Here's the original photo with it's inspirational bright red door framed by an amazing tree:
And if you look very closely, my reflection is in the window pane to the left of the door. (I hadn't even noticed that reflection until today!)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sacred Threads - A Little Bird Told Me

I've been remiss in blogging about this year's wonderful Sacred Threads exhibit. We were out of town for most of the duration of the show, but I was delighted to go Friday morning and record an interview for Quilter's SOS and, more importantly, look at the exhibit. I didn't expect to be as moved as I was; it was a remarkable experience.

As I wandered through the exhibit several other quilters were being filmed for their interviews. Hearing the stories of the quilts in their own words and voices was wonderful. There was also an audio tour, available by phone, and again hearing the voices of the artists made the exhibit even more meaningful.

I had two quilts in the exhibit, California Dreaming, which I've blogged about before, and a new quilt made expressly to enter in Sacred Threads. It's called A Little Bird Told Me.
A Little Bird Told Me copyright 2015 Diane Rusin Doran

Detail, A Little Bird Told Me copyright 2015 Diane Rusin Doran
Here's an approximation of what I recorded for the audio tour for this quilt:

We found out in August 2013 that my mother had malignant melanoma. After months of enduring surgery, infection, infusions, and many hospitalizations for a variety of serious side effects, we knew that most likely she was nearing the end. In May of 2014 I went to stay with her for the weekend, as my father was in the hospital and my mother could not care for herself. She had become more and more forgetful and depressed, but never complained. We finally took her off one of her medications, for cholesterol, and it seemed to really perk her up. She was still somewhat forgetful, but so pleasant to be around. That weekend, to my surprise, she took me up on my suggestion to go for a walk in the park behind her house. It was a stunningly beautiful, perfect spring day, glowing with light and new growth. As we walked, I realized that it almost seemed as if she were already in heaven, and I was visiting her there. It was a dreamlike experience, and I’m so grateful not only that I shared it with her, but also that when it happened I had the presence of mind to recognize the beauty of it. This piece represents the glow of that day. The two birds are my mother and I, both blue as that is the color we both wear so much. As a child, when I asked her how she knew something, she often said “a little bird told me”, so that’s why I chose the birds and the title. The buttercups are a melancholy touch, as she could not remember what kind of flower they were and asked me their name during the walk. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Things

A couple of fun and exciting things have happened recently.

- I went to the AQS show in Lancaster. It was wonderful to see so many lovely quilts.

- I won a Judge's Choice award at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival for California Dreaming. Yeah!
California Dreaming copyright Diane Rusin Doran

- I'm so pleased to have two of my quilts (Winter's Tarnish and Return of the Grackle) featured in the April/May issue of Quilting Arts in Jane Davila's article on filler stitching, plus a full page ad for Craft Daily featuring Sunrise Serenade as the backdrop. (All these quilts are on my "Recent Quilts" page.)

- I finished a small quilt! When I find out if it was accepted to the exhibit I entered it in I'll share all the details.

I was so wishing spring would have arrived by now, but alas, this is how it looks in my neck of the woods today:

Here's hoping spring has already sprung for you.