Jane Sassaman, quilter, fabric designer, author, and teacher

studio tour with jane sassaman

By guest blogger Jane Sassaman

HARVARD IL  I am a fine art quilter, designer and teacher. I discovered quilting in 1980 after many years as a designer of decorative accessories. In 1980 many painters were also beginning to trade in their paint palette for a pallet of fabric. In 2000 I published my first book, The Quilted Garden. At the time, I was invited to design fabrics for a new company called FreeSpirit. I have been deeply involved in both these activities ever since. So this is the life you will see portrayed here.

My studio is in a separate building on our property. It is my heavenly haven where I spend all day, everyday, when I am home.

Jane Sassaman Studio

Here is Command Central, where most days begin. In this room, there are three printers, two computers, a mailing station, three foam work walls, a wall of design books, and a wall of fabric. The images on the wall above my computer are from some of my favorite designers—from many different times and places They all make me happy to see every day. Some of the artists included here are Josef Frank, Dom Robert, Tony Fitzpatrick, Jon Eric Riis, Kathy Weaver, Bonnie Bower Dennis, Thomas Stream, Eugene Grasset, John Henry Dearle and Pat Holly.

Jane Sassaman Studio

I have a thing about books, especially big picture books. Looking at inspiring pictures is a wonderful way to court my muse. Even if I don’t open a book for months, it’s still comforting to know it is just waiting to be of service! These are mostly books about the decorative arts with some gardening and quilting sprinkled in. Fashion history books are among my favorites.

Jane Sassaman Studio

On the opposite wall is the doorway to the sewing room, the overflow of fabric from next door and a stack of rolled FreeSpirit quilts. A slim slice of wall holds more favorite objects and images.

Jane Sassaman Studio

This is the room where all the fun happens! This is the place where fabric gets fondled. The table is 4’ X 8’ and covered with cutting mats. It’s looking very civilized today, but in the frenzy of a project, it gets pretty wild. The bolts of fabric are a a few seasons’ worth of my fabric designs for FreeSpirit. These are the fabrics I pull from for workshops and lectures and, of course, to use in my own home. The rolls in the forefront are bundled for shipping to my next teaching venue.

Jane Sassaman Studio

For my “personal work” I use mostly solid colored and hand-dyed fabrics. Cherrywood fabrics are some of my favorites. They line the top shelves on the opposite wall, with supplies and notions below. All these fabrics are stored by color; my threads are organized in bins by color and weight.

Jane Sassaman

This is my sewing station—my favorite place in the whole studio!! When I’m sitting here I am a happy girl! My BERNINA 880 mourns when I am absent, as do I. Everything that comes from this place—the fabrics, the books and scarves, the ribbons, the threads, the digitized embroidery, the jewelry and the quilts—both fun and fine, have evolved from my stitched designs. So this is my true seat of creativity!

Jane Sassaman Studio

This is the entrance and exit to my space, which is next to my largest work wall. It also ends up being the depository for more design detritus—small projects, little gifts and personal souvenirs. There is a small framed poster designed by my husband, and a Sally Mavor poster that I got at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts! I love her work, especially this piece, Birds of Beebe Woods. It is a joy to see everyday.

Jane Sassaman Studio

The “Blue Muse” is directly in front of my building, a fitting place to find a symbol of inspired creativity.

Willow, quilt by Jane Sassaman

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Jane wrote The Quilted Garden in 2000, she lived in a small apartment in Chicago. Her sewing table was also the family’s dining table so she would have to clear off her sewing projects for every meal. Jane's approach to quilting was completely innovative as she made up every step of her process—using her graphic design mindset. Her quilt, Willow, was recognized as one of the top 100 quilts of the twentieth century. Jane is truly an inspiration. PB

To visit Jane’s website +click here