A Sewing Machine and Design Software Fan

Gibbs at work.

Make no mistake, I love my machines and enjoy using my various pieces of design software to help me create art quilts, or just to sew, or just draw, paint, and design digitally.  It’s more than a hobby.  It’s my fun and my full time occupation, though I hardly make much money from it.  Indeed, I spend more than I make at this point.  It would be great to turn that around, especially since I periodically do things to update, add to, or improve my fleet of machines and suite of software because I think it is the right thing to do,

Oh, did I tell you?  They have a new pin point laser light attachment for Fritz that shows exactly where the needle will enter the fabric to help with precision quilting and free motion thread work.  Awesome!  I ordered one (they had a 25 percent off offer).  LOL  I need all the help I can get making my quilting sing.  Last week, I also updated my Electric Quilt to EQ8 (they had a great offer).

Sew now that we have clearly established that I spend too much on my super hobby and I make too little with it,  I keep thinking how I can turn this situation around and start making at least enough to support my quilt-making habit, and even have some for trips to places like Houston or Paducah for the big shows.  For example, I just updated my website gallery last week so you can see my quilts better and see what the sizes and prices are for those that are on sale.  By the way, the exhibit of my quilts is still going on at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, where most, not all, of my quilts are on display through Thanksgiving if you have a chance to go.

Most of you probably know I am a Bernina girl.  I love Berninas.  I have four of them right now, but I am selling my Bernina 1230 to my student/apprentice,  Anita is one of my best friends, a true beginning quilter, and I am teaching her to quilt and improve her sewing, and to use the 1230 all just for fun.   I also have a Baby Lock Serger (yes, really!!!). Now I reluctantly admit that Baby Lock is also a very good brand, and they make wonderful sergers.  If I had to choose a machine other than Bernina, it would probably be Baby Lock.

My Bernina Q20 named Fritz.

Anyway, when Anita takes home the 1230 once she gets her sewing space set up and completes her initial classes on the machine, this will allow me to have all my machines in their own cabinet (except the serger), which makes my playground just plain wonderful.  It’s wonderful already, in fact, though it needs a little reorganizing and cleaning.  It’s a magical space even if it isn’t all slick and spacious.  I have Gibbs, my Bernina 830 LE in Studio Gibbs (meant to be a small bedroom), where I store the bulk of my quilting stash and have a small kitchen island for cutting and painting and the like.  Gibbs has a very large custom cabinet that can be a nice big work table if I simply move Gibbs.  I also have Studio Fritz, another small bedroom, where Fritz, my Bernina Q20 and, my ironing station, and my computers live.  Then there is Studio Betsy, well, actually that’s part of my bedroom, where I have my original Koala cabinet.  That’s where the Bernina 1230, named Betsy (for Betsy Ross) is currently residing, but I will be putting E.Claire (named for Edith Claire Head), my little Bernina 350 that is now on the floor in the cabinet.  Wilcox, my serger, hides under one end of that cabinet.  Plus the bulk of my sewing books are also housed in my still rather nice bedroom.  So nearly my whole upper floor in my modest townhome is pretty much dedicated to my studio.  I even briefly considered working out a way to sleep under a longarm frame when I bought Fritz, but decided the sit down setup for him would be the better option.  😉

My grandson a couple or years ago at  E, Claire, my Berinina 350

I have really neat plans for 2018.  I have several quilts already started or close to being started, and I am writing a couple of books on art quilting and I hope Anita will be my beginner beta tester of the projects in the book once I get her started.  My daughter in law Beth, who is an advanced quilter with a fabulous studio, will be my advanced beta tester.  Additionally, I am working out a few workshops for local teaching, but I seldom really make any money to speak of on those because it takes so much time for me to get them pulled together.  Maybe eventually those will make money too.  I really do them to learn what people want to know and am putting that in my books.  So they are still valuable to me.

Sew maybe 2018 will be my year…I’ll go through a whole year without updating any software or buying any new machines, start selling more quilts, win more and better cash award ribbons, and finish my two books which will, of course, each be a major hit and sell, sell, sell.  Ha-ha-ha-ha,,,,,,,,In the meantime, however, I plan on continuing to thoroughly enjoy my fleet of machines and suite of drawing and design software and endeavor to rein in my desire to have the very latest machines, attachments, and software.  We just won’t mention “adjustments” to my stash of fabrics, threads, yarns, beads, and paints here.  But they are necessary, right?

Sew happy everyone.  I hope you have a play space you enjoy.

 

A Discussion About Wall Art Quilt Sizes

I make art quilts now primarily  to first show them and then sell them (or give them away).  I think that these two goals slightly conflict with each other.  I believe most people would find wall quilts wider than about 50 inches just simply too big for most homes or offices today.  Normally, smaller is better for sale items.  Shows, however, seem to not see it that way, and I kind of understand that, since when they are in the show the impact is increased by the size for the most part.  I have been quite surprised, however, when I have made a quilt that is around 50 inches wide, which seems fairly large at home in my studio, and then go to the show to see it in place where it seems really small hanging there.  Nevertheless, I think the sizes I end up with are right for the styles and may make them more possible to sell later.  So you see, I have a bit of an argument with myself about sizes.   Just so you can see, I usually size my quilts to fit within the American Quilting Society’s guidelines because, truly, they are the least flexible.  Here are next year’s categories with sizes.

Another consideration is the physical challenge of dealing with large quilts. The older and creakier I get the more difficult I find large bed-sized quilts to make, but it helps that I have a large table for my main machine (Bernina 830LE) and my sit-down longarm (Bernina Q20) with a large table.  So I really can work up to about 60 x 60 with no problems.  Currently, I am working on my Bayou quilt, which is 60 inches wide and 30 inches long.  The original art work I am working with is 30 x 15, so when I enlarged it to a size that would be a good show quilt, I had no choice other than 60 x 30 if I were to keep the aspect ratio the same and meet AQS specifications.  Why is that?  Well, I want to enter it into AQS Virginia Beach 2018.  As you can see, if it is any wider than 60 inches it moves to the large quilts category that has a minimum of 60 inches long.  If it is any narrower than 60 inches the length would becomes shorter than the required 30 inches.

Normally, I get the design worked out and decide how I am going to approach making it and then enlarge the design to a showable and saleable size.  I kind of aim at 40 to 50 inches wide, which is really a small quilt for most shows,  but it also is a nice size for most walls.  I might try making a few of the AQS Fiber Art wall quilt sizes this year (24 to 40 inches wide by 24 to 60 inches long).  As a matter of fact, most of my Ancient Manuscript series fit within this size, but as you see, not all their shows support this size.

And finally, some consideration must be given to the cost of fabric.  If I am making a quilt all in silks, I want to use high quality silk fabric and that is expensive.  So smaller is more affordable.

I would love to start a discussion about wall quilt sizes.  What sizes do you think are the best, in general, and do you think the shows should set their sizes by specified width and length groups or by either perimeter inches or square inches, which would allow an ancient manuscript that is 27 x 37 into the wall quilt categories that would not be allowed now?  Or maybe it doesn’t really matter to you, just so you can make your quilt like you want it.  What do you think are the ideal parameters for wall art quilts for home or office?

Canterbury Silk. This all-silk quilt is the first in my Ancient Manuscript inspired series. It is 35 x 44 inches.

Sew happy everyone.  Make yourself a beautiful piece of fabric art for your wall, or make them for gifts.  They make wonderful presents if you know they would fit in the lives of the people you give them to (give that some serious consideration before giving them a quilt).  Also, check out my quilts on my website (link at top of this blog).  I have revamped my site slightly so you can really see the quilts better.  The prices and sizes can also be found there.

 

My Uncle and What’s Happening in My Studio

I’ve taken too long to write a new post.  This past month has had its lows and highs.

My uncle Betterton passed a week and a half ago.  He was 91 and was two years younger than my mom.  I had five aunts and six uncles on my mom’s side and one aunt on my Dad’s side and all are gone now, as well as my parents.   Uncle Betterton was one of my favorite uncles.  He was always close with my mom and someone everyone could rely on for help.  He had various tough illnesses the last several years, mild dementia, and is now no longer suffering.  He was a strong Christian.  Like my father, he was a civil engineer, both served in WWII, and he and Dad enjoyed a strong friendship.  My memories of him are sweet and dear and the pain of losing him is softened by his wonderful long giving life and his final release from the difficulties of his last few years.

Sew what’s going on in my studio these days?  My “apprentice” Anita and I finished the church banner celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  The church members apparently love it, and I was really pleased with how it looks.  I have still not gotten a good photo of it, but I will share as soon as I do.  The big community celebration is next Sunday.  I guess this tells you that I attend a Lutheran church.  I do.  It’s five minutes drive from my house and the it’s a lovely church with services not far in liturgical style from the Episcopal church.  I grew up an Episcopalian.  For many years I drove down to Georgetown to go to the historic St John’s Episcopal in Georgetown where Marvin and I both were very active and sang in the choir.  After Marvin passed, I moved to Ashburn, Virginia, and the drive to Georgetown got even longer, so I looked for somewhere closer.  Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church is in my neighborhood…now that’s a luxury I had not had for decades.

I have gotten a start on my next show quilt.  I’m not sure I would call them “show quilts” any longer, except that’s a term many understand.  I like to show them, but my primary goal for these quilts is to make wonderful art, and hopefully sell most of them in the long run.  Everything I make I hope to meet show quilt level, but sometimes show judges don’t seem to understand why the techniques I choose are done the way they are, or how difficult they really are.  Sometimes they seem to see things and remark on them that I simply cannot see, and sometimes I think they don’t see something about my quilts that I think is especially unique and interesting.  Maybe I need new glasses, a flashlight, and a better magnifying glass.  Or maybe I need a microscope.  LOL  So I have found a lot of freedom in reaching for creating beautiful art the best way I can make it and not worrying too much about what a judge might see or not see.  Competition can be rough on one’s ego.  He-he-he

Anyway, back to my latest project.  It’s based on the art piece I bought the rights for one art quilt from the Disney artist Joel Christopher Payne.  It’s set in the Bayou and has interesting trees, and two rather rundown homes with light peaking out through the cracks in the boards.  One is a houseboat, and the other is a shack built on stilts on a platform.  The scene is at night and there is a little pale light filtering through the trees in a way that suggests a heart shape, and there are fireflies.  This is a huge challenge for me, but really, I am enjoying myself so far.

I have the houseboat “built” and the shack about half done.  Yesterday I did a little low and high lighting with Neocolor II pigment crayons.  When you use them with fabric, you can just color it on and then brush it with water to blend it onto the fabric and then heat set it for a permanent color.  Sometimes when I heat set it, it gets lighter so I have to go back and add more color, but it’s a wonderful way to over color an existing fabric pattern to add shadows and lights where you need them or “correct” colors.  In this case, I have three different wood print fabrics that I have backed with Steam-a-Seam II light and cut into board shapes.  I am using these to “build” the shack and the houseboat.

The picture has really big trees that also have some Spanish moss hanging from them.  I have five different tree bark prints that I will use to make the tree appliqués.  They, too will need to be overpainted to get the right look and color,  I am planning on thread painting the Spanish moss on, and probably it will be more than Joel put in his picture because this is a fabric and threads interpretation of his wonderful art piece.

I have obtained some glow in the dark paints and threads to make the fireflies with, and the paint has some additional pigment so it will look good in light too.  I may add crystals to the fireflies for added dimension.

The biggest challenge as I see it is the light that is getting the back light that is coming through the trees and reflecting across the water right.  I am thinking this will have to be done with paint, but I’m still thinking about it.

Sew I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Try something new and push to get it as well done as possible.  I have a lot going on in my studio besides this new quilt, so I hope I will get back to my weekly blogs for a while.  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Church Banner for Reformation 500

One of my church pastors asked me to make the church a banner for an area wide celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation toward the end of October.  Another pastor asked my friend Anita Born, who is an artist, to make the banner.  The funny thing is that I am teaching Anita to make baby quilts and wall quilts and we get together frequently, so on Tuesday, we discovered that we had both been asked to make the banner.  So we did what any reasonable friends would do, decided to do it together.  We had both drawn up some concepts for the banner.  I had just decided that mine was too formal, and would probably take too long, for this particular kind of celebration and I should probably start over and maybe have some trumpets on the banner when I found out she had also been asked to do the banner.  So here is what I designed at first:

My original design for the reformation banner…too formal and too complex.

So when Anita came over on Tuesday for our usual Tuesday afternoons together, she brought several drawings and one of them had trumpets!  Here is her original drawing:

Anita’s original drawing

So we worked over the design a bit.  She came back yesterday and we finalized our design concept and I redrew it a bit in my drawing software and we decided how we were going to make this. Below is the design we came up with and I just got the fabric. Anita is going to paint us some trumpet appliques and do most of the handwork, and I am going to embroider the words in my Bernina 830 LE (Gibbs). and we are going to do the applique cutting and placing together.  We decided, after talking with our pastors, that we should put the “Reformation 500, 1517 – 2017”  text on a removable text box applique so we can change the text and use it in other ways for the church…something celebratory.

Here is the final design concept. The green ferns will be made from multiple greens and placed in small sections on the banner, so may look different when finished.

 

We are having a lot of fun doing this together and it will speed up the project a lot.  I’m so glad we found out about both being asked before we got two banners made!  I’ll post more on this project as we go.  I need to get back to work now.

Sew happy everyone!  Have a wonderful weekend and week.  Find a friend to do some creative things together.

What a Fun Week!

Wow!  This has been a full week.  First of all, I heard my quilt Pendragon had won something at AQS Paducah.  It turned out it is Third Place in Small Wall Embellishment category.  Now, it started out Honorable Mention but the first place winner moved up to one of the top big-money prizes…and it is a beautiful quilt…sew Pendragon moved up to Third Place, which is totally delightful.

Photo at AQS Fall Paducah with ribbon by Mary Owens.

Then I heard that Drawing Nigh had won Honorable Mention in small wall quilts at Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE).

Drawing Nigh at PNQE with Ribbon. Photo by Lisa Calle.

I have to say, I really liked the judging at PNQE this year.  Some of my favorite quilts by some of my quilty friends won top honors.  Including Deb Levy’s Atomic Synergy, which was Best of Show,

Deb Levy’s Atomic Synergy at PNQE with ribbon. I’m not quite sure who took this picture.

 

and Lisa Calle’s A Silver Lining, which won Best Wall Quilt.

Lisa Calle’s A Silver Lining. Picture by Lisa Calle

Upcoming:  Sew Pendragon will also be at AQS Des Moines, Oct 4-7, in case you are going and want to see it.  I also have Spiral Galaxy Number 3 that will be at MQX Midwest in Springfield, Illinois Sept 27-30.  Right now, I’m working on a new show quilt, a vest and matching tote bag for me, and my books.  I also feel I need to get going on a couple of new quilts because I have plans and they have deadlines.

But amid all this delightful news about my own work, my son David’s new book The Merrimack Event, is bouncing around the top 500 of Amazon Kindles overall books and is currently about 50th in the overall Science Fiction on Amazon.  It looks to be a winner!  If you haven’t gotten yours yet you can find it here by clicking on the picture:

The Merrimack Event

Or you can wait another week or two and get a print copy, which isn’t out yet, but I’ll let you know about it.

Now that things might be getting back to normal this coming week, I will try and talk next weekend about how to take a piece of art you like and turn it, or something that inspires you from it, into a wall art quilt…or something else more fun.

Sew happy everyone!  May you have some delightful times in your own life.  Blessings!

My Son David’s New Book, Art, and New Projects

David’s New Book

We had a lot of excitement in my family this week.  My youngest son David A. Tatum published his fourth novel.  it’s always a wonderful thing when a new book gets published around here.  He has his own small publishing company Fennec Fox Press, and he has assured me that he will publish my quilting books through Fennec Fox also.  His other three books are Fantasy and are wonderful.  This book is his first space opera book and is also a wonderful fun book to read.  He hired a wonderful cover artist Joel Christopher Payne, that I talked about in my last blog. He’s the same artist I bought the rights on one of his paintings to use as inspiration for a new show quilt, and no, it isn’t the same picture.  Here’s the new book cover.  You can click on it and it will take you to the Kindle version in Amazon.  The print version is not yet out, but it will be in a few weeks from now.  That takes more time.

The Merrimack Event

If you want to help a wonderful man, my son David, I would love to have you buy a copy and once you have enjoyed reading it, for I am sure you will, I ask wholeheartedly for you to go to the Amazon site and write a small review, giving it the highest number of stars you feel you can.  It doesn’t have to be long…even a single sentence is enough, but the better review you can truthfully provide, the better off he will be.  He has put a lot of himself in his writing and it is good and getting better all the time.  His writing is his career…he is a novelist.  Reviews are so important, especially in the early days after publishing.  The only money he makes is from the sales of his books, and getting people to discover his work (even know they are there) is the singly hardest thing to do in the publishing world.  His work is really wonderful, and I say that from a reader’s perspective, not a mom’s.  If you don’t believe me, buy a book and read it and see what you think.  LOL  You can see his earlier books all have 4 plus star ratings, and Amazon won’t let me write one–I’m too close to the author.  This one is so new it has no ratings at this time.  Or wait until the print copy comes out and buy it just because you love the cover art…isn’t it fabulous?  It calls out “buy me”, “buy me”….LOL

If you’d rather buy, read, and review a fantasy novel, that helps too. He has written In Treachery Forged, In Forgery Divided, and The Kitsune Stratagem, all available in both ebook format or print copy.

My New Projects

My last blog was about Joel Payne’s art that I purchased and I have already made considerable progress getting this project up and running.  I usually spend three to six months designing my own quilt.  This year I am making three quilts that the art work is already done for me—Joel’s painting, my oldest son Ken is drawing a followup to Pendragon, and then a deep space quilt based on some NASA photos.  This means I can jump right in and start making the patterns, putting me months ahead for the 2018 show season.

Yesterday I took a little time out and cut out a reversible vest and a matching quilted tote bag.  The vest will have embroidery on it that I am using from the collection that came with Gibbs, my Bernina 830 LE, that I have never used.  It’s flower designs for the front and the back. I am using different designs for each front and back, but they are all from the same collection.  I always need a project that isn’t very stressful to work on when I am making a show quilt so I can go work on that when I get stressed out over my show quilt.  It’s a nice system and it works.  Plus, I get some clothes or bags or presents for friends and family out of it. Sometimes it’s another quilt.

OK, next week I will write up my instructions for making a pattern from a painting or photograph.  So look around and find what you would like to use and I’ll tell you how I do this.  If you have either Adobe photoshop, Corel Draw, Bernina design software, or some other drawing or photo editing software, that’s what I use.

Sew happy everyone!  Let’s each make something for those in Houston or Louisiana impacted by the hurricane…cuddle quilts, pillow cases, tote bags…or make a contribution of funds, or even both.  Look around for a good organization to send them through.  I’m going to use Jenny Byer’s studio which is not too far from here. She is collecting quilts.

Working with My Bernina Q20 Sitdown Longarm

As I’ve said before, I really love my Bernina Q20, Fritz, that I have set up as a sitdown longarm. I belong to a couple of Facebook groups, and one in particular, for sharing things about this machine. I decided I would write a blog (with a bit of humility and a lot of experimenting behind me) about how I set my machine up for quilting, because there are a lot of new quilters out there with this machine who seem to have a lot of questions.  Please understand this is how I work best with MY machine, but I thought it might still be of some value to the newer Q20 owners anyway.

Just so we are all singing from the same page, I have attached a pdf of the manual for reference:

036-0625-2-04_2015-06_Manual_Q20-Q24_EN_GZD_Online

To me, the greatest thing about this is how much control I have of the stitching. There are quite a few things that make an impact on that…the thread, the needle, the bobbin thread, the bobbin setup, and all the neat settings provided on the machine, and then there is the wonderful kickstart.  If you haven’t done the upgrade and don’t yet have your kickstart, I hope you will do so right away.

I had my machine for about a month before I realized it has programs where you can set up all your top tensions, speeds, and stitch lengths for all the modes and save it (see pages 73-74). I have mine programed for different weights of threads. 40 wt polyester, 100 wt silk, and 12 weight cotton. The fourth one is the default settings, so really there are only three you can set and save, but that seems enough to me. I felt pretty dumb when I found this out, because I was resetting everything every time I turned it on.  I have worked out a chart of settings for my own use, so I thought I’d share.  First see pages 29-31 in the manual for a discussion of how they see threads and needles, then see my personal preferences chart

chart for Q20

I have all the attachments available for the Q20, but there aren’t many (thank goodness). I already had the feet that work with my Q20 (see page 22 in the manual), mostly because I collected them while I was learning to FMQ on my Bernina 830 LE, and they fit.  I even have the double needle stitch plate (see page 46 through 49 for threading for double needle stitching)  and the horizontal spool pin necessary for straight wound spools (see page 23).

Here are some good tutorials:

Threading for twin needle work

Bobbin tension check

Preparing to stitch (you probably know most of this, but it’s a good reminder)

Stitching with and without the BSR

One of my many practice pieces. This one shows different thread weights and a little bit of yarn couching.

 

Do I use the BSRs?

Yes, I do use my BSRs and love them (read pages 75-78 for a discussion of the various BSR modes). I have the BSR attachment for my 830 LE, but it is slow and a little cumbersome compared to the fabulous BSRs on the Q20. I use BSR1 for most of my free motion, BSR2 for my ruler work, and manual sometimes for really tiny tiny fmq and some special threadwork, and even if I spray baste a quilt, I thread baste it with BSR 3..so fast, so handy, gives that little bit of extra security.  After years of using a BSR on my Bernina 830LE and now my Q20, I find the manual comes pretty naturally, but I still prefer the BSRs for most things.

It is true that good results from the various modes take practice both to learn what YOU like and to get the best benefits from the different modes.  I think, in fact, that you need to practice as if you are learning a musical instrument…frequently and for at least a half hour at a time, and every now and then a long period of practice. I periodically make a bunch of 20 inch or so practice sandwiches…marking some with grids, some with stencils, and nothing on some.  I use solid colors for the practice sandwich tops so I can really see what I’m doing, but it’s a good way to use up that ugly fabric you wonder why you ever bought on the back of your practice sandwiches, and I use joined pieces of leftover batting for my practice sandwiches too.

A practice piece using, surprisingly, polyester satin with wool batting.

Working with the kickstart:

The kickstart lets you stitch without your foot on the pedal, but is very easy to start, pause, and stop. By doing this, you don’t have an uneven feed of power going to the stitching.  Here’s their guide addendum for the manual for the kickstart:

Zusatzblatt_Kick-Start_EN_13-12-2016_GZD

And here’s a link to a youtube tutorial on using it:  kickstart tutorial

When using just the pedal to make it go, it is unlike a regular sewing machine, or the gas pedal on your car. The pedal on the Q20 sitdown does not make the stitching go faster or slower. The pedal is on or off. Pushed down all the way, you get it fully on. Slightly up, sometimes it skips stitches. If your foot slips off your pedal or you lose concentration, it makes it skip or unevenly stitch. Without the kickstart you have to spend part of your concentrated effort making sure you have that pedal fully and evenly compressed all the time you are stitching. So the kickstart is absolutely the most even way to stitch because it is on at full power, paused, or stopped. It may sound a little intimidating to think of turning on the stitching all the time, but you really are still in complete control. You can still kickstart the pedal and make it pause, or you can press the front of the pedal to exit the kickstart program instantly.  I hope you will try it if you haven’t already.

 

Here are some rulers I used to stitch this border piece (stitched, painted, then pieced into the top, then quilted with monopoly and 100 wt silk)

This spiral galaxy quilt is a whole cloth quilt stitched in its entirety on my Q20 (except for the binding and rod pocket, of course).

Sew with all these settings in mind, I hope you will find your own personal settings…make a chart yourself if you want…and then find that working with your Q20 is just as wonderful as I have.

Pendragon
34 x 45

New Design from an Artist Wizard

I think I’m a little nuts. I spotted a picture that I thought would make a fabulous quilt. It just seems magical and it’s by Joel Christopher Payne, a really wonderful artist.  So, since we have been FB friends for a while, I really just wanted to tell him how much I liked his piece and, unable to keep my trap shut about it, I mentioned how I thought it would make a great design inspiration for an art quilt. And, just curious, you see, I asked if he ever gave or sold permission to use his art in such a way.

He told me he had never considered the idea, and that he had a standard price for the rights to most of his work and mentioned what it was.  I told him that was probably appropriate, but my little micro-business could not manage that. Well, he then wanted to know what I would do with it, and I explained a little more and he asked for pictures of my work.  I provided a link to my website so he could see some.

In the end, he came substantially down on the price for the rights to his piece, since I was only going to use it one time for a quilt, and also, I think he was a little intrigued by the idea. He came down enough that I felt it would be well worth it, and so, I now have a new quilt project for an exciting piece.

Yesterday, he sent me the permission and a high-res jpg and I spent most of the day analyzing the colors and figuring out how I would approach this project. I made a little guide with the colors, using my various drawing softwares so I could hunt for the appropriate fabrics.

I had fun this afternoon pulling out fabrics from my stash and have found that I have what I believe to be all the right fabrics, colors, and even a rather large collection of wood-print fabrics (there is a fair amount of wood in the picture), which will require piecing and shading with inks or fabric crayons to make it work.

I just restocked my battings last week, and I even have a piece I can use for the backing. We all know my thread collection is taking over my fabric stash…so there you are.

Let the fun begin! (Sorry, I am not going to be able to share pictures until the project is complete). My goal is to complete it by June to enter it into AQS Virginia Beach 2018. I have two other show quilts in the works too. Exciting time in the old studio.

Sew happy everyone!  NEVER use someones art for your design inspiration that you don’t ask first.  Sometimes it works, sometimes you just have to walk away and find something else.  This is important.

Take care all of you folks caught in the horrible storm and floods.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Space and Quilts

The Heavens declare the glory of God…(Psalm 19:1) 

Wow!  This week with the eclipse and spending that time with my 14 year-old grandson Kevin was soooo special!  We had eighty-five percent of the eclipse in a pure clear sky with the birds and the noisy cicadas in the woods behind us.  His parents, who are serious astronomy hobbyists, headed down to Tennessee to get in a total eclipse area, but he did not want to spend that long in the car.  The traffic for them was aweful and they had to spend an extra night in a motel on the way home, so he clearly made the right choice for him and it gave me and his uncle David a real special time together with Kevin even though it was not total here.  I am told Ken got some photos to process of the eclipse.  I am looking forward to seeing them.

This comes at an interesting time in my quilting life, because I am trying to line up a couple of new deep space quilts to fill out my space series inspired by the fabulous photos found in the NASA gallery.  The pictures have to be copyright free for me.  I have tried a couple of times to get in touch with the astronomers whose pictures NASA sometimes shows that are copyrighted and they simply ignore my inquiries.  But there are many many magnificent copyright free photos available to use for the basis of new quilts.  I will probably also include a couple of space quilts that may use other techniques inspired by Ken’s (oldest son, Kevin’s Dad) and Beth’s (his wife) photography and ideas.  I am planning on writing about making space quilts and including all of these in the book.  This will probably be a part of my ongoing project of Art Quilt Basics:  Surface Design and Embellishment that I hope to get published this year.  These quilts are practically all surface design and embellishment with organic, but well planned, quilting.  They are very hard to photograph because of all the light reflection, but I leave that to Ken, who does a credible job on it.

Spiral Galaxy No. 3: See this quilt in the upcoming MQX Midwest show!

So I am currently on the hunt for my next deep space quilt photo inspirations.  If you have a favorite, let me know in a comment  but do it soon, because I’m going to start working on this next space quilt very soon. 😄

I hope you are all having fun with your art, sewing, or quilting.  I’m busy drawing up a couple of new ideas and making sampler quiltlets to include in my book project Art Quilt Basics:  Machine Quilting for Art Quilters (this book starts with the very basics for machine quilting (both feed dogs up and free motion) and moves through the process ending with a discussion and ideas specific for art quilters.

Sew happy everyone!  Make yourselves a stack of small quilt sandwiches and play.  You’ll be surprised how much fun it is…use all your machines.  You will benefit by improving your skills and having a lot of fun too.  Cheers.

 

Stash Busting: Making a Bag

One side of the bag

While I began finally to recover from a bear of a cold–and yes, I am back from the coughing, sneezing, nose-dripping, energy sapping two week long cold finally–I decided to do something kind of fun and gentle that someone else did most of the thinking for me.  So I finally got around to making bag 1 of Rami Kim’s IQUILT online class.  It is entirely made from scraps in my stash.  Even the zipper was something I must have bought nearly a decade ago just for this bag, but I didn’t know it then.  LOL.  The picture at the top is one side.  I really love it.  I added a couple of pockets in the lining that she didn’t have.  I like it so much I think I will use it for my primary bag for a while.

It was a lot of fun, even though I made a lot of mistakes that had to be corrected.  I made the top piece, which is cut in two pieces for both sides.  First you quilt a 14 x 22 inch piece and then you cut out the corners and cut it into half for the zipper.  I cut one corner too big!  😒  So I had to make another top piece.  I had originally used a darker gray, but since I used it up in the first piece, I hunted around and found a similar piece with the same kind of print but it was a lighter gray.  Then I cut the bottom piece of lining in two, like you were supposed to do for the top, but not for the bottom, so I rejoined it with the leftover piece of folded strip like the one that you use down one side of the folded Chotsky ribbons.  But in the end, I think it came out really nice.  Here’s the other side.

In the past, when I made a bag (and I’ve made quite a few over the years), I was never really happy with the handles.  Rami suggests leather handles for the bags, and they solve a multitude of problems.  I went on a hunt for them, and finally found that Amazon sells them in multiple styles and colors and they aren’t expensive.  So I ordered two pair…this gray one and a nice green one for a future bag totally from my stash.  I have a couple of long multi-zippers in a roll from Nancy’s Notions that I can use for that one.  This is so much fun it could get to be a habit.  In the future, though, I hope I am faster and make fewer mistakes.

Sew happy everyone!  Make yourself a bag.  Hint:  Be sure to build it right…interface the fabrics, put the right kind of stiff batting, and use the zipper a little longer than required to make it easier.  Adding internal pockets is really easy…just make a lined square piece the right size (figure it out from your pattern, remembering where it will bend or be stitched) and stitch it on while the lining is still flat.  Be sure to measure and center the pockets.  You can even make a zipper pocket fairly easily.  Maybe I’ll show you how in one of my future blogs if you want.  I just made patch pockets for this bag and added a couple of lines of stitching to make a place for a pen and a notebook on one side and just left it with no divisions on the other side.