My Own Quilting Retreat

On Monday my new Q20 Fritz was setup in the part of my studio that also houses my office with my computer, and recently iquilt has been having sales on their video classes and I purchased several.  Starting on Tuesday I have been having my own private quilting retreat (and I’m not finished). Actually, I kind of fell into this little quilting retreat by coincidence of the two things happening in close proximity to each other.

Here is Fritz:

My new Bernina Q20 named Fritz.

My new Bernina Q20 named Fritz.

 

The days have flown by as I watched the classes, put together practice quilt sandwiches, and practiced on my new machine.  I have spent four or five hours a day practicing quilting on Fritz, and sometimes, I just put the class videos on and let them play through, and sometimes I stopped and went carefully through the classes.  I have really enjoyed myself.

The classes are all great, by the way, and I am learning a lot.  Sew what classes am I taking?

I also have run thr0ugh a couple of The Quilt Show shows while I was practicing quilting and testing various threads and settings on Fritz.   It’s kind of been like I was taking a summer school in quilting.  I am planning a similar week next week.

I need much more practice on Fritz to produce show quality quilting, but I feel encouraged to see some progress.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….  I do need to get to quality quilting fairly soon because I have a lot of ongoing quilting plans and book samples to do, and the quilting on these needs to be beautiful and well done. Here are a couple of photos from my first practice:

 

Day 1...it's a beginning. The black thread is the very first, the blue varigated is next, and the stitching in the lower right includes both metallic and 12 wt thread.

Day 1…it’s a beginning

 

Day 1 specialty threads. I had to do some adjustments to the tensions to make these work. The metallic in the upper left worked well with just a little loosening of the upper tension. The 12 wt thread required loosening the bobbin and tightening the upper thread just slightly for both.

Day 1 specialty threads. I had to do some adjustments to the tensions to make these work. The metallic in the upper left worked well with just a little loosening of the upper tension. The 12 wt thread required loosening the bobbin and tightening the upper thread just slightly for both.

 

Day 2...some improvement in this pattern

Day 2…some improvement in this pattern.  See the first try in the upper left of Day 1 first picture.

 

Practice 2 a

Day 2, practicing ruler work with Lisa Calle’s pro pebble rulers

 

Practice 2 b

Day 2…very fast free form spiral…clearly needs a lot of work!!!

Sew happy everyone!  I know not many of you can take a lot of time for your own retreat, but I highly recommend it if you can manage it.  Nevertheless, I hope you can take some time to learn and practice, whichever machines, needles, and techniques you use.  This brings many rewards. I’m off to do some more practice!

 

A Visit to the “New” Old G Street Fabrics

 

This past week my big Bernina 830 (aka Gibbs), decided he would not sew another stitch until he had his spa treatment.  I would say his “annual” spa treatment, but it had been two years since he had been to the machine vet and I had put on about 1.3 million stitches in that time. Last year, G Street Fabrics where my dealer was had closed two of their stores in the area and drawn back to a single store in Rockville, Maryland.  They recently moved to another building in Rockville.  When I took him there, Mei-Ling Huang, the head of their Bernina section and my same dealer that was in a closer store that closed, showed me around.  I decided to take my camera when I went back to pick up Gibbs, which apparently had only some minor things wrong that Lew, the technician wizard, fixed quickly for me and did the “annual” clean and check, upon learning that I have several quilt deadlines coming up fast.  He fussed at me though about taking so long, pointing out that I have about 460 hours on the machine and suggested I divide the workload with a longarm.  Frankly, I was surprised it was that low.  Thank you Lew!!!!!!!

There is kind of a warehouse feel about the new store, but this may not be a bad thing.  It is much like some stores in New York I have been to that have some great fabrics, trims, buttons, and notions.  Two of the most outstanding things about the new location are the Bernina section, which I will talk about separately, and a bunch of classrooms that have windows and light and look fabulous to teach in.  The selection of fabrics is fairly substantial, though not to the level it used to be in its old glory days over a decade ago, but a good place to go when you are starting a project.  They have a very nice selection of home decorator fabrics, which make wonderful bags, coats, and costume segments, by the way.

The Back Wall of Home Dec Fabrics

The Back Wall of Home Dec Fabrics

One of several home dec lanes

One of several home dec lanes

Their quilting fabrics are ok, but I hope that as they pull themselves out of the hole that they will increase this section substantially.  Nevertheless, you can probably find the quilting cottons you need for a nice quilt project.

Quilting cottons

Quilting cottons

They also have a nice selection of buttons and trims, though substantially smaller than the great old store of yore.  Still, if you need buttons or trim for clothing, you can probably find what you need here.

Button wall

Button wall

Sew did I find the general part of the new G Street to be the fabulous, exciting place that it was in its glory days with its stages where the tailoring and the special occasion fabrics were shown in all their magnificent beauty and the quilting section was wonderful?…no.  Is it still the mecca for fabraholics the world over as it used to be?  No.  But I do think it has the possibility of reaching that place again and the class rooms really offer a wonderful possibility for building the future.  This seems a very good move on the whole for the store.  I found that they do not carry any thread brand I would use in the general store…they need to think about that.  Perhaps they don’t realize that some of us really dislike some of the brands they carry.  They have some wonderful fabrics that make one drool.

Most of all, however, I loved the Bernina section, which is still in process after the move.  It is in a separate smaller wing of the building. Mei-Ling and her crew have already given it an atmosphere of coziness and inspiration.  She told me that they are still organizing, so I anticipate that it will be downright fabulous in a month or so.  They run their new owner classes in this part of the store.

G Street 1

Walking in to the Bernina section

 

Feet and other notions

Feet and other notions

 

G Street 9

What I really want.

As you probably know, I am trying to sell some of my quilts.  You can see which ones here.  Mei-Ling has generously offered to hang some of these quilts on her walls, so I took three of them there…”Waiting…”, “Quiet Celebration”, and “The Storyteller”.

What do I hope the store will do?  I have a few suggestions:

  • Increase the quilting fabric section, and emphasize it as much as clothing and home dec sections.
  • I didn’t check it out, so I don’t know how this is, but be sure to have a solid and good offering of battings, fusibles, interfacings, and other underpinnings for clothes, quilts, bags, and fabric art of all kinds.
  • Start carrying Superior, Aurifil, and/or Wonderfill threads..in a broad selection of weights and fibers.
  • Emphasize the wonderful class rooms and fill them up.  Carry the threads, fabrics, books, and supplies needed for these classes so once someone learns something they can find what they need there.
  • Remember the store’s legacy and try to reach that again, and don’t try to be another Jo Ann’s or some such.  High quality fabrics with proper pricing (not 25 percent higher  than anywhere else, in other words), draw people in.

If you are near Rockville, I hope you will stop by and see what you think of this “new” old G Street Fabrics for yourself.  Be sure to look in the Bernina section and say “Hi” to Mei-Ling and look at my quilts on the wall. This nice store is about 50 minutes away over heavily traveled highways in heavy traffic, making it a little cumbersome for me to use on a regular basis, but I will certainly continue to go there for my Bernina needs.

Sew happy everyone.  I hope you have a good fabric store near you.

Planning for the New Year in My Studio

031As I look at my fabric art plans for the coming year, and take a hard analytical look at where I stand in my fabric art today, I am really excited about 2016 in my studio.

Here are my plans for the coming year.  I hope you find them fun and potentially interesting, and invite your comments.

Books: During the past couple of years I have been fiddling around with writing several books for sharing what I have learned over the past sixty years of sewing, art, and past ten years of art quilting.  I looked first at one and then another subject, trying to get a focus.  Very recently, after much thought, my direction has solidified in such a way that I can use what I have already done and direct my writing in a more focused way.  While I am using “techniques for fabric art” as the focus, I believe these books can apply to traditional work also.  These will be short books, complete with practice projects.   I may get all four done, but I only really expect to complete two this year and two next.

  1. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Applique Methods
  2. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Surface Design
  3. Techniques for Fabric Art:  Threads and Threadwork
  4. Techniques for Fabric Art:  From Digital to Fabric Art

Lectures/Workshops/Videos:  Develop these along the same subjects as the books listed above, using the same samples.

2016 Show Quilts:

  1. Quick quilt 1: Hawaiian Garden…a vintage panel central theme (for MQX special exhibit, not a long project).
  2. Major quilt 1:  Waiting 2…a storm at sea…second in the series of women (wives, mothers, sisters, friends) and children through history waiting for their men to return from difficult missions while keeping the home front.  (note:  while I realize that women have also fought in wars and carried out difficult missions throughout history, that is another subject that I may address at some point in another series).  Underway
  3. Quick Quilt 2: Hoffman Challenge 2016.  A two week project, more or less…just a small quilt.
  4. Major Quilt 2: Deep Space 3:  Spiral Galaxy M51
  5. Major Quilt 3:  Ancient Manuscript Series 3…TBD

I know this seems a lot, but realize that I work on this full time, have already been working on much of this for the past year, and some of this is bringing that work to completion.  I’ve already written much of book 1 and some of the other three books, I’ve already designed and begun construction of Quilts 1, 2, and 3, so I think it is a viable plan.

In the process of planning this work, I have decided to abandon the Bernina v7 workbook I was working on.  I got it about 80 percent complete and couldn’t seem to get it any further.  So instead, I will use it here in my blog and share it in sections  across the year.

I am considering developing a project for my readers to work along with me..kind of like a block of the month…but focused on making a small wall quilt.  Would you be interested in this?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Let me know what you are working on, and if you have any suggestions for me.

Sew Happy everyone!

 

Video Classes and Online Programs I Recommend

031OK, I couldn’t go to any quilt shows this year because of big unexpected expenses this year.  So instead, I have taken several excellent video classes to help me improve some of my techniques or just for fun and practice.  These are not all quilting classes, but all the techniques learned are things I use in my quilt creation.

I have five classes I particularly recommend and I see a bunch more out there I would like to take.  I love this way of learning.  It is there for me to refer back to and take again if there is something I forgot or just wanted to see again.  So here are my recommendations so far:

  •  Step by Step Quilted Landscapes by Kathy McNeil was part of the launch on 3 November of IQuilt by American Quilters Society (and I see “Bernina” also on the page, so it is probably a joint project).  Kathy McNeil does a superb job covering the range of complexities involved in creating a landscape quilt. I found I learned a lot even though I am an advanced landscape/art quilter myself. I particularly liked the way she covers building a depth of field in a landscape scene that is not visually flat and her discussion of values and colors throughout the class. She also adeptly covers a lot of the basic techniques required to build such a quilt in a way advanced beginners through expert sewists that might be moving from garment sewing to landscape quilting would need to know. I highly recommend this class for any sewist or quilter interested in building landscape quilts to decorate their walls or give as memorable gifts. Many of the techniques covered would also be useful in additional types of pictorial or other styles of art quilts.

 

  • Learn to Hand Quilt by Pepper Cory found on Annie’s Craft Store, may seem outside of what you may think I am interested in, but I found this class really fun, and yes, I have an interest in all kinds of quilting.  Pepper is a friend of mine too and I have taken several classes in person from Pepper, and this online class is an excellent addition to my studies with Pepper. I am encouraged by this to add some hand quilting to my repertoire of quilting techniques, but the class is also a good review of the use of stencils and of the marking and threads for any quilt project.

 

  • The Machine Embroidery Inspired Quilt by Susan Stewart is so much fun for those of us with embroidery modules or machines.  Susan is a fabulous sewist and heirloom quilter who uses machine embroidery in her award winning quilts in a way few can reach.  This class provides some of her techniques that I am interested in using myself.  Here she provides a clear and excellent class.  I only linked her name to her site instead of to the class because right now there is a discount if you use the link she provides from her site.

 

  • Photo Challenge Class by Ricky Tims has finally gotten me over the mental block I had against learning to how to properly use my camera and taught me a lot about using Adobe Photoshop as well, which I can also use in my digital fabric design work.  I took the 52 week challenge he offered this year, and he has recently launched his photo class website where he provides his planned classes for 2016.  I found this class really important for my work, but I also found it really difficult to try to meet the weekly challenge through several physical challenges that happened this year that I am making progress on getting over, but still have a little ways to go.  I think I may be his worst student, but I still managed to learn a great deal so far and there is the rest of the year to go.  So if you want to learn a lot, and I mean a lot, about using your camera and processing your photographs I really recommend this class.

 

  • Corel Painter classes and instructional videos by Aaron Rutton has taken my ability to use Corel Painter from very amateur to wildly fun abilities to paint what I want to paint for fun and also for my digital appliques for my quilts.  Aaron’s classes require that you watch a little, stop and work a little, and then watch a little, etc.  But there is no question he is a master digital painter.  I have really enjoyed learning from him and also have downloaded his workspace that provides his own set of brushes and so forth.  If you want to learn Corel Painter, I highly recommend his classes and videos.  Some of his videos are free, but if you support him with just a few dollars a month through Patreon, you will get a lot more access to his videos and extras.  I found his classes well worth the price, and he is very responsive if you have a question.  I’d really love to see the quilting world incorporate digital art more into their work and also support this young painter.

Sew happy everyone.  I hope you have the opportunity to explore some of these classes.  If you have one you took and really would recommend, please add them in a comment.  Cheers.