Announcing “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts” and What I Plan to Do With It

S009EEEK!  I’ve actually done it.  I’ve gone and set up a micro-business!!!

This week I received the finished paperwork on establishing my micro-business “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”.    I have a few more more steps before I can start offering downloadable items, and those are getting a shopping cart arranged and filling the shop part of my business with items you might want.

As some of you know, I retired from my intense US Government job on 31 December 2012, and have been slowly pursuing my plans to open this micro-business ever since.   My expectations are to make enough money to pay for my fabric arts pursuits, provide money for attending some of those marvelous quilt shows, have a little spending money for fun and to travel to see my family in California.  Sew it is very much a “Micro” business.  This will also provide me a way to share more of what I have learned in my sixty plus years of sewing and art pursuits and eight or so years of taking art quilting seriously.

The first three years of my retirement I spent largely in setting up my workspace and learning, learning, learning…filling in all those gaps that exist between expert sewing and expert art quilting. I hope that I will continue to learn.  There is so MUCH to learn.  That’s part of what makes fabric arts so great…lots to learn, lots to experiment with, lots to share.

The process I used to set this up, as requested by my friend Maggie:  As you may be aware, over the past few years I built my website and blog, and shared where I felt I could.  Last week, I also registered the website name www.bettyjosfabricarts.com with GoDaddy and connected it to my existing website www.bjfabricartist.com This past month I went through Legalzoom.com and set up my “Doing Business As” or DBA.  The cool thing about them is by using their questionnaire and putting in what you want, what state you are in, and so on, they take it from there.  They work out the paper work, they send it to you.  You take it and get it notarized, and send it back to them.  They deal with the government entities and send you your license.  They have lawyers available to talk to if you need to.  I think it is just right for a micro business like mine.  If you are setting up a more involved business, you might want to talk with a lawyer and get them to take this on.  But this only cost me right around $150, plus the cost of my GoDaddy and Blog accounts.  Not so bad, considering.  I’m sort of a do-everything-myself kind of person, so I built my own website through GoDaddy.  There are some really good tax and record keeping programs out there to help you with keeping the books too.  I use Intuit who make TurboTax, but there are several good ones.  This is a vast improvement over the way I had to work more than 30 years ago when I set up my own fashion design business in Ithaca, NY. and did everything on paper.  The bookwork was dreadful, and took a large chunk of time.  Of course, then I had two employees, the hiring of whom cost me all of my profits for a while, but I will not have employees for this little business.

You may be wondering what I am planning on offering for downloads.  My intent is to provide you with the tools you need to make the fabric art visions in your head or improve the projects you purchase from someone else.  Here is my initial list and it is truly subject to change:

1.  Embroidery items for your embroidery machines like trees, flowers, flags, other small items to spice up your landscape quilts, or small in-the-hoop projects.  I am currently working on a set of trees.  Trees seem to be something I have needed a lot over the past few years and I have been unhappy with downloads I have purchased in the past, so I am digitizing them myself.

2.  Patterns and/or step-by-step instructions for building your own incredible pieces of wall art.

3.  I am writing two books (or is it a series of worksheets?).  One is on all the different techniques I use for machine applique, and when to use each type.  The second is on surface design…painting, thread work, beading.  It’s entirely possible these will boil down to a series of worksheets complete with some projects and step-by-step instructions that will help you practice, rather than actual books.

4.  Digitally painted items you may wish to download and print on fabric using your own inkjet printer, such as faces and hands, horses ready to applique and add threadwork for their tales and manes, small characters for appliqueing on your landscape quilt.  These will come with instructions.

5.  And finally, worksheets with learning projects on using technology in your sewing and quilting studio.  This would include, for instance, how to use Corel Draw with Bernina v7 software to produce a provided wall art project.  Or using a digital painting program, such as Corel Painter 2015 and a Wacom tablet to paint and draw your own faces and hands, or horses and dogs for printing on fabric.  Or even a project with worksheet in taking your advanced sewing machines through their paces to help you to create that incredible piece of fabric art of your own.

6.  Videos may accompany some of the items above.

In truth, I don’t expect many downloads to be available much before summer, and after that, they will be added from time to time.  I plan on putting just a few up in the spring to help test the download, and shoppng cart system.  I will be looking for guinea pigs, ur, testers and reviewers for some of my things as they come out, sew keep that in mind if you are interested.  Sew this will probably take me a few months to get really rolling even though I now have the structure set up…kind of like building a house.  I have the foundation made and the walls up, but I have to put all the inside finishes in.

Sew happy everyone!  Learn a new technique every now and then and practice, practice, practice.

 

Canterbury Knight: Inking fusible appliques

Some of the border items on my Canterbury Knight quilt need to be created off quilt and appliqued on, as opposed to painting directly onto the border.   Sew I had an idea to just take the item, cut it out of the full sized print version (digitally, using Corel Draw), and reverse it, and print it onto some fusible web with the protective paper still on it.  Originally, I was going to just iron it onto some appropriately colored pieces of cotton/silk Radiance and applique them on.  But when I got the printout (in color), I decided to put the web onto prepared-for-dye radiance and see if I could ink in the designs.  This is how it worked:

1.  Here is my design printed onto the 8 1/2 x 11 inch fusible web piece.  It is sitting on my light box.

DSCN0075

 

2.  Sew then I ironed it onto the radiance, turned it over, and taped it all to the light box.  I also found a small piece of the black silk, that I would be appliqueing it to, in order to place it under the white PFD radiance and test how the inks looked before I inked it.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

 

Here is another one ready to ink.

I think of this character as "the angry bird" in the border.  He's fun.

I think of this character as “the angry bird” in the border. He’s fun.

And then I begin the inking.  Note that I went over the line in a few places and some of  the edges are a little smudgy, because the inks run a little more on the Radiance than they do on cotton.  It’s ok, the edges will be cut smoothly or outlined with quilting.  Pressing with a hot dry iron will stop the run.

Inking

Inking

Here are the small birds I placed around the text box.  These were the first ones I did this way.

My painted birds ready to applique

My painted birds ready to applique, their feet will be added after appliqueing.

And here you see the completely inked boy.  I cut him carefully out.  The bright colors get slightly muted when appliqued onto the black fabric.

DSCN0085

 

I used Pitt’s Artist Markers.  These markers are India inks, acid free, and appear to be permanent on cotton after heat setting.  i am not planning to wash this quilt at all, so I have not tested the colorfastness through the washing process for the silk/cotton.  I had noticed a note on Dick Blick’s where I order my markers from that they are not recommended for fabrics.  This concerned me, since I have been using them for years on my fabric arts.  So I wrote to Faber Castell and asked them why.  This was their response the very next day:

“Dear Ms. Tatum:

Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Art & Graphic Brand.

PITT Artist pens are not intended to be used on fabrics that are laundered because it will not remain on all fabrics when washed.  Therefore, testing is always recommended, depending on different variables some things work, some don’t.   Could you tell me how you are heat setting them, as this helps them endure a washing?

Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help.”

 

I will say that I usually use prepared for dye fabrics for inking, but not always.  I always heat set the inking with steam.  If it is silk, I turn it over onto a piece of fine cotton and heat set from the back.  I have washed several of my cotton quilts with Pitt Artist Markers several times, and some of them have been around nine years now with no fading or running.  If you plan to use this product, do your own tests please.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to quilt or sew…your grand kids, your grown kids, your young kids, your cat, your dog…Cheers!

 

 

Canterbury Knight: How to Make a Horse’s Tail

Stitching the appliques

Stitching the appliques

After stitching down the appliques, I did some free motion embroidery to make the tail, but it looked like a ghost tail, both because it did not have enough contrast from the background fabric and because it did not have enough stitching.  If I did any more it would have pulled the fabric too much.

The ghost tail

The ghost tail

So I decided to layer a new tail over the existing one by stitching one on black bridal veiling.  I layered two layers of washaway clear stabilizer, on which I had drawn the outline of the tail I needed to make, and covered it with the veiling.  Then I put this in my springform embroidery hoop, set up my machine for free motion stitching,

the setup

the setup

stitching independent tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stitched a new tail using two different Superior Rainbow threads.

two rainbows

two rainbows

And then I trimmed the veiling applique, soaked off the stabilizer and appliqued the new tail over the old one, using a few more free motion lines similar to those on the tail.  I had to remove only a few stitches from the original ghost tail that did not add to the shape and were outside the appliqued veil tail.  Voila!  A new tail any appliqued horse could be proud of!  😀

Horse with newly groomed tail

Horse with newly groomed tail

In the process, my little faithful Nikon Coolpix 600 pocket camera that I have used for at least a decade now died.  The motor that runs the lens focus appears to be the culprit.  It would cost me almost as much to repair it as to replace it, if it even could be repaired.  I have carried that little light pocket camera almost everywhere I went since I retired.  I use it to keep records of my work, and to make the photographs for this blog. The picture above of the rainbow threads is the last picture it ever took. (Insert “Farewell to my little camera” aria here–those of you who are opera buffs will understand this reference).  So I have to use my lovely big Nikon D200 camera that is kind fo heavy, and definitely not a pocket camera, until I replace it.  Thank the Lord I have a camera though.

Additionally, I have joined the fun with Ricky Tim’s 52 week photography class.  It is decidedly going to be a challenge for me, and my goal is to come out at the end with some fun photographs, but mostly to really learn to use my camera for artistic purposes.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or take a picture.  God bless you all!

 

 

Canterbury Knight: Fixing mistakes and a marker test

At the end of the day yesterday I was feeling fairly depressed because I thought I had ruined my center block and would have to start all over.  But I decided to try today to fix it.  What happened is that I had added the mote stream behind the knight, and had failed to mostly cut out the fabric under the horse.  I forget how sensitive silk is to things, sometimes.  It is thinner and drapier, and so it showed the edges of the stream right through the horse.  I had steamed it down, so I didn’t think it would come up.

But I was wrong.  Today I found my little Clover ball point awl and a tiny bit of heating the applique with my iron enabled me to slip the awl under the edge without damaging the applique and remove it from the background, as well as separate the horse from the stream.  I recut it, reironed it down and it looks great.  The picture below  shows all the wrinkles and things of the background, but trust me, it is in good shape and all those will disappear with careful ironing and as I work it through. So I am ready now to start the edge stitching, threadwork, and details that go on before adding the border, the word block, the birds and then sandwiching it, which aren’t many.  Most of the details are quilted on.  The horse gets most of his tail and his main.  but beyond that, it is mostly edge stitching.  I am so grateful I managed to fix this!  On to the next challenge!

Ready for the edge stitching.

Ready for the edge stitching.

 

Sew I assembled a bunch of markers to see what I can do about marking the border, which has to be carefully marked, quilted, and then painted.  The border is black cotton/silk Radiance and I am not going to wash this quilt.  I will probably spritz and steam it a little for the blocking, but not enough to remove my favorite marker…the Crayola Washables.  I love those markers, because you can see them, iron over them, and they wash out completely. But you have to wash the quilt to use them.

Anyway, I tested everything from Frixion, Clover White Marking Pen, Fons and Porter mechanical pencil markers, Quilter’s Choice chalk silver and white pencils to White Mark Be Gone.  The Mark Be Gone works on black cotton but not on black Radiance.  You can’t see it.  The Frixion is completely unseeable.  The only ones that you could see are the Quilter’s Choice chalk pencils and the Fons and Porter mechanical markers.  They both rub off fairly quickly.  The Fons and Porter is what I used for Canterbury Silk, and it was very hard to keep on.  I kept having to remark frequently.

The winner, is Quilter’s Choice, both silver and white.  But even they rub off, just not as fast.  The Frixion works great on the other colors*.  And I only need those marks a little for placement of things, so I can do them in such a way that even if the quilt gets frozen in transit and they come back, it won’t be visible.  I do have to mark the light grey castle (yes, it’s grey, not white) for quilting.  I will use the silver chalk pencil for those.

Sew happy everyone!  Don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake.  It can often be fixed, and if not, you CAN remake something, though often there is another solution.

UPDATE:  I also have tested Pismacolor colored pencils, upon the suggestion of Hollis Chatelain.  These are very visible and remove easily with a fabric eraser.  I found they rub off, but not as easily as most markers.

*  If you use Frixion, be sure you place it in such a way that even if it comes back that won’t be a problem.  In my case I am only using it for placements of objects on the central block and it will not show even if it does not go away.  I have been told that quilts that sometimes get in very freezing weather when shipped have been known to arrive with the marks all showing because Frixion returns if frozen.

Canterbury Knight: Ready to Start Making the Quilt

I’m pretty happy with my overall design for this quilt now.  Canterbury Silk is 36 x 44.  This quilt ended up a little longer…still 36 wide, but 50 long.  It was just the proportions needed for the design were a bit longer.  Anyway, I turned the design into a black and white and got it printed on 11 x 17 inch sheets ready to tape together.  I use Corel Draw for this.  If you have the Bernina Software, that has a Corel Draw part of it that will do the same thing for you.  Or if you don’t have either, your spreadsheet software will probably work.  I know that Microsoft Excel works.  You open a new document and place an image in the software and size it to the size you want.  All these programs will automatically break up your document into tiles for printing on the paper size you specify.  It’s a wonderful way to get a full sized pattern.  Here is how it looks on the screen all ready to print in Corel:

Printsnap

 

Now that I have the completed design properly sized, I can measure the central block and all the pieces I need to work with further.  I still need to paint the horse and face of the knight and print them on fabric.  I may do that for the birds, too.  Not sure.  Anyway, I can start to actually make this quilt now.  I love it when I get to this point.

Oh, you may want to see the finished design in color.  I took the horns off the little musician fellow.  That makes him more of a musician announcing the arrival of the knight and not such a jester.

Canterbury-Knight-final-design

 

Sew Happy Holidays everyone!

Printing on Silk/Cotton Test Results

In preparation for some of my planned quilts using silk/cotton blend Radiance by Kaufman fabrics, I decided to try some printing on the fabric to see how it came out. I chose a picture from Dover Pictura Fantasy collection because it is rich with colors that could fade or bleed. Here is the picture as it appears on the screen:

Test:  Screen shot

Test: Screen shot

I ironed two layers of freezer paper onto the back of prepared for dye white radiance and using a rotary cutter and ruler, I cut the edges carefully to fit a letter size 8.5 x 11 inch sheet. I set up my printer as described in The Quilt Show episode 702 and taking into consideration some information that Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero provided on TQS–increasing the saturation, contrast, and darkening the picture a bit. Then I printed it in my Epson Workforce printer. Here is how it looked after printing and removal of the freezer paper:

After printing and before rinsing

After printing and before rinsing

Then I heat set it, rinsed it in cold water. squeezed it out, and ironed it dry (thereby adding to the heat setting). Since silk is easy to over-press and damage the look of the sheen, I pressed it from the back placing the right side on a fine piece of cotton on the ironing board. Here is how it looked after all of that:

post rinse and heat set

My eye cannot see a difference. My camera shows a very slight difference, but my camera skills may be responsible for some color differences, so take that into consideration. I believe this is a successful print test. I have not washed it with soap or hot water, but rinsing in cold is sufficient for my purposes, because that allows me to soak off glues and markings and properly block my quilts I might use this method for. More wash testing should be done before using it in a quilt that will be washed repeatedly.

I think it is necessary to use “prepared for dye” fabric, and back it stiffly and all over with freezer paper and set the ink intensity up to make this a success. Also be prepared for slight lightening of your printout on the first rinse. I did repeat rinse and had no additional lightening that I could see.

Sew happy everyone! Hope you find this of some use.

Working With Hot Fix Fibers (Angelina Fibers)

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of "Mountains of Creation".  My first deep space quilt.

Stellar Nursery, inspired by NASA photos of “Mountains of Creation”. My first deep space quilt.

I have made two deep space quilts that used large “appliques” of Angelina Fibers…or holographic fibers that make a “fabric” when ironed together and their sister fibers that do not iron together.  I used these fibers to try to represent the exquisite colorful gas clouds pictured in NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer telescope photographs.  I also have used this product to represent foamy tops of waves on a stormy sea on other quilts.  I believe they would also make wonderful steam clouds from a steam locomotive, wings of butterflies, dragon flies, fairies, or angels.

Working with the fibers is not really difficult, but I have discovered some things that make them work better for my purposes.  First of all, one cannot simply place a pile of fibers down and iron them flat if they are to look right. It’s more like painting with your fingers.

You need the following tools:

  • sheets of either a teflon pressing cloth or a saved sheet of backing paper from fusible webbing (note the hot fix fibers only stick to themselves and the bottom of your iron…you can work directly on your ironing board, though I cover mine with backing paper).
  • an iron
  • a pointy something, like a chop stick or a bamboo cooking skewer or a sewing awl to move the fibers around.
  • a hard pressing surface works better than a well-padded ironing board
Set up ready to start

Set up ready to start

Working with very thin layers, I laid the fibers on a backing paper and arranged them as much like I wanted them as possible with such a lively set of fibers, and carefully placed the teflon sheet over the top.

Really thin layer

Really thin layer

Blues change color the most

Blues change color

Sometimes, sliding the pointy thing under the pressing sheet, I made a few adjustments.  I then  ironed over the sheet, drawing the iron across slowly but steadily and without stopping.  That is all it needs to turn it into a “fabric”.

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Carefully cover with pressing sheet

Here are some of the other things I learned about it:

  • If you iron the fibers too long….and that may be just a few more seconds…it will darken.  This can be useful if you are making a dark nebula, for instance, like the Horse Head.
  • They tend to change colors a bit.  Blue fibers are the hardest to keep their colors.
  • Not all Angelina Fibers are hot fix, but if you are going to cover the fibers with a nylon veiling and sew down, you can use them if they are the color you need by sandwiching them between a very thin layer of the hot fix crystal colors.
  • Work like you are finger painting…round shapes, good for cloud puffiness, are best done in circular motions with your fingers, and carefully laying the pressing sheet over them and pressing. ‘
  • You can kind of comb the fibers with your fingers and the pointy thing if you need them to stretch out sort of straight.
  • The only way to get a hard edge is to make a flat sheet of the fabric and then cut it.  If you want a soft edge (in appearance), don’t cut it, but pull it straight out flat with your fingers until it  tears  off in order to fit into your desired shape.
  • Once the fiber is made into a fabric, this fabric cannot be pulled into any additional shape…there is absolutely no stretch.
  • Sometimes it is possible to remove a layer if you haven’t over-melted your fibers together and don’t like what you have done.

 

layer ready for horsehead

layer ready for horsehead

If you are working out a pattern of some sort, you need to realize you will not be able to mark it except perhaps with a soft chalk marker that will just go away while you are working with it.  I worked on black fabric and printed out a smaller picture of what I was trying to accomplish in color.  Laying it next to my work, I referenced it.  I did mark approximate sections within the nebula on my black fabric using a chalk for sizing purposes.

The resulting artwork should not be washed after completion, so you have to be aware of that during the entire time.  It is possible to block your quilt by laying it on the floor and spritzing it with a fine mist of water, but do not wash it in your washer.  Also, once quilted, don’t pull your quilt too forcefully to try to block it.  So I use a quilt sandwich somewhat larger than I need and square it up by cutting rather than blocking.  The blocking is so it lays nice and flat.

I also printed the horsehead full sized and cut it out like a pattern.  This enabled me to cut out the horsehead part of the nebula by holding it together with the fiber applique before applying it.

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber "painting"

Horsehead cut out after making as close as possible with fiber “painting”

The background needs to be completed before you start adding the Angelina Fibers.  In the case of the Sky Horse, I painted some of it first, sandwiched the quilt, spray basting it together, then laid the appliques on the background and covered them with black nylon veiling.  Black veiling virtually disappears in this case.  Then I placed my pressing sheet over that and did a light ironing to join all the appliques together.  Once I did that, I pinned it together with safety pins and did the quilting.

Horsehead layer in place

Horsehead layer in place

I used both black 100 wt silk thread and Superior’s Glitter.   This thread looks almost like the Angelina Fibers and works well for special places, such as the horse’s head.  I heavily quilted it.  Once it is quilted together with the nylon veiling it is much less fragile and I found it went through the shipping to and from and the showing at the Houston show with no apparent damage at all.  Before it is quilted, though, it is kind of easy to crease it.

You can't mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

You can’t mark this, so lay a picture beside your work.

When used as just a small accent on a quilt, you don’t necessarily need a veiling, but you do need a heavy amount of quilting.  I found that Superior’s Glitter works very well for this also, since it looks like the fiber, but it sews easily.

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

Sew there you go….that’s how I work with  Angelina Fibers.  It’s harder to describe than it is to do, sew give it a try.  I’d love you to let me know how you find working with it yourself and if you have any tips to add.

Sew happy everyone!

 

I Like Machine Applique

appliques

Appliques from Canterbury Silk at the beginning of the quilting process. These are fused, stitched raw edge applique with narrow single blanket stitch.

I have noticed lately quite a few statements by sewists and quilters about how they really dislike doing, are afraid of, or simply won’t do applique.  I have a little arthritis in these aging hands and find machine applique much more user friendly for this situation than by hand, but it is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt.  I use several applique methods and use each for different purposes.  I decided to share a few of my favorite applique points.

1.  For  very complex edge appliques I always use fused raw edge machine stitched applique.  I decide what look I want to determine if I use a satin stitch, a single blanket stitch, or a double blanket stitch.  I almost always use a really narrow stitch, but once, when I made seaweeds, I used a wider double blanket stitch and it looks really cool. 

 

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

Thread painted coral and seaweed with wider double blanket stitched edge.

For the printed appliques I digitally paint of faces and small appliques, I sometimes use a very small straight stitch with 10o wt silk very very close to the edge.  It depends on what I want to accomplish.

The Storyteller–This quilt relies heavily on appliques. Even the tree trunk, which is embroidered, was embroidered on a separate piece of fabric, cut out, and turned edge machine stitched. You just cannot see it was machine stitched down. The sun is turned edge also. All the other appliques are fused and edge stitched.

2.  For very smooth edged, larger appliques, I usually use a double layer of freezer paper template pressed to the wrong side, and do a turned edge by painting starch on the edge, turning it, and ironing just a small bit of the edge at first to make a smooth edge, and then ironing the whole turned edge down.  Once that’s all starched and heat set, I remove the freezer paper and iron it all flat.  I then stitch it down with 100 wt silk using a very narrow applique stitch.  It virtually disappears and closely approximates hand turned applique.

3.  Occasionally, I have done a reverse applique.  It’s not hard at all and has a unique look.

4.  And finally, there is the painted “applique”.  I will either paint it on the quilt and then quilt or quilt and then paint.  This is good for when you want to shade the applique or make it have a particularly unique look.  Although I use fabric paints that are washable after heat setting, I do not consider these quilts very washable.  They are blockable, but I would not wash these frequently.

Sew try some appliques on your next project. If you don’t like one method…try another. Teach someone to quilt, yourself, your son, your daughter, your BFF, your cat, your dog.

 

 

 

 

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

Playing in My Studio: Combining Multiple Techniques

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.

Waiting...

Waiting…

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.

 

finished detail as shot 2

Wind-tossed woman showing the high and lowlights on her clothing, her digitally painted face and hands, her thread painted hair, and a little embellishment.

 

tatum-detail-waiting-AQS

The clipper ship has wool batting between the sails and the quilt. Together with the dual bats (one 80/20 and one wool) I used in the quilt itself, this provided a wind look behind the sails.

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 Storyteller...now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

The Storyteller…now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

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.