I really love taking the different techniques I have managed to gather over the decades and apply them to make an art quilt, a decorated vest, or a beautiful bag. Since my retirement a couple of years ago I have spent a lot of my time learning and perfecting new and old techniques with the goal of being able to call on anything to produce the look I want. In my quilt “Waiting…”, for instance, I used drawing, paper piecing, regular piecing, applique, trapunto, fabric painting, digital art printed fabrics, thread painting, free motion quilting, and embellishment.
So whether you are a traditional, contemporary, art, or modern quilter, I encourage you to gather your techniques and tools and put them all together to realize your own masterpieces. It’s really fun to not be limited by not knowing how to do some technique and you can end up with some delightful items while you learn. While it’s always nice to have a face-to-face class with an expert, one of the nice things today is there are many sources for learning these techniques online, sometimes with accompanying books.
First of all, If you haven’t already, I suggest you spend the modest amount of money to buy a membership on The Quilt Show and watch the shows, the classes, and the videos that accompany the BOM (Block of the Month) even if you are not making the BOMS. This has been a big resource for me in improving my quilt making, learning about who are the major quilters in the world today, and being inspired when I get discouraged.
Secondly, I discovered that Nancy Zieman has many of her Sewing With Nancy available free to watch on Wisconsin Public Television online website, many of which relate to quilting, but in fact, most any kind of sewing relates to quilting. Also, you can purchase her dvds with accompanying books from Nancy’s Notions.
Sharon Schamber has dvds available now on some of her techniques from her daughter’s website that she used to have on a downloadable website. I subscribed to that website that is now defunct, and downloaded and watched everything available, even the long arm ones. I fortunately still have them. Some of the videos seem a little primitive in format, but her techniques are wonderful. I particularly recommend The Quilt Fairy, which shows a painting method that has stood me in good stead for many places on my show quilts. Now that brings up another point. Fabric painting has different styles and materials just like applique or piecing, and each one has its place and learning as many of them as you can is helpful. On “Waiting…” I used Sharon Schamber’s method presented in The Quilt Fairy to put the lowlights and highlights in the woman’s dress and cape. I used my own computerized digital painting to paint her face and hands and printed them on fabric and appliqued them. I used watered down Setacolor fabric paints to wash paint the sky fabric as demonstrated by Mickey Lawler show number 1305 on The Quilt Show. Her hair is thread painted, which is another key technique especially useful for art quilts. While I developed my own technique for this, it closely matches that shown by Nancy Prince on show number 1004 on TQS.
If you are going to be at AQS Charlotte in July, my quilt “Waiting…” will be in the show and you can go see it for yourself. It may not place. I have had it in two shows so far and it did not. One judge at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival thought my borders were too large. Another judge at HMQS really didn’t like it. She didn’t like my color choices, my overall design impact, and my quilting. But hey, to each his own, right? I would make it in the same colors today even after that critique, and I happen to like what I call “organic” quilting for a story landscape quilt like this. The winners for that show are magnificent quilts, I will say. Nevertheless, I am honored to have my quilt show in the big shows even without a ribbon.
I want to show you one other quilt, because it has a heavy dose of in-the-hoop machine embroidery, which isn’t used in Waiting…, that I digitized myself and also motifs I used from my Bernina software that I enlarged and painted after it was quilted.
The phoenix and dragon in front of the sun is the story she is writing. The word on her tablet is “Betty” in Japanese Katakana. I drew and painted her on my computer myself, printed her on fabric and appliqued her down. After that I added some highlights with real paint. Then I drew and digitized the tree trunk myself from scratch. It was a bear to stitch. I stitched it out twice on a piece of brown fabric. It required two hoopings on my jumbo hoop on my Bernina 830 LE, and then I turned the edge of the brown fabric behind the stitching and appliqued it to the quilt. Even though the tree trunk was tough to do, I like it so much I am planning on using this kind of tree trunk in a deep dark forest quilt that I am planning, which will have a beam of light making it through the trees to a color-filled spot on the forest (perhaps the ruin of a beautiful little church with the light shining through the stained glass window to the floor of the forest where flowers are blooming. It’s been in my head for a long time now.
I am telling you all of this because I am thinking of writing a book about some or all of these techniques. I am working on a book proposal now, but I can’t share much about this with you because of the publisher rules, who understandably does not want things published before the book gets published. I have temporarily put aside the Bernina book because I understand that many of my frustrations have been dealt with in the latest v7 software upgrade, but I need to obtain this product before I can see for sure.
Sew happy everyone! And pull those techniques together–even hand quilting and embroidery–to realize your dream quilts.