Using Those Scraps of Special Elements in the Studio

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Hi everyone! I have been thinking about my crowded stash and studio tools amassed from decades of professional and personal sewing and quilting. I want to make something special with a lot of them…or maybe strive to build more than one amazing masterpiece project using these wonderful elements.

A collection of beautiful threads from Wonderfil.

This idea has been growing in my head for some time now and I have recently had conversations with two fabulous important quilters about this that further encouraged me.  When I couple these elements with  all the interesting things I have been learning about what I can do with my machines, it becomes very interesting indeed.  I haven’t fully decided whether this is exactly going to be a Victorial style crazy quilt or a somewhat different design of my own with a crazy quilt and Victorian steam punk slant.

crepe back satin from my stash

Over my many decades of sewing and quilting, I have accumulated bits and leftover pieces of silk palace brocades, satins and dupionis, batiks, velveteens, wools, small bits of fabulous laces, vintage handkerchiefs, pieces of crochet that my Mom left me, small leftover lengths of silk ribbons and other special trims, and a collection of beautiful threads of a wide variety of sizes, fibers, and weights.  To helo draw all of this together are my Berninas…my little B350 with several special attachments, my big Bernina 880 plus with its embroidry module and nice set of feet, and my Q20 sitdown longarm.

Sew, what would YOU do with this collection of elements and tools?

Edna Mode, waiting for an answer as to what to do with all these beautiful scraps and threads and interesting machines.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studios.

 

 

 

Capturing An Explosion of New Ideas for Future Projects

Hi everybody!  I think we all need a diversion and some quilting to help deal with the roiling of events in the news lately.  As for me, I have been starting two new projects after my last one that was going to be entirely on painting quilts took a nose dive.  By the way, if you want to know about painting quilted fabrics stay tuned. I will still present these techniques scattered throughout my other projects as needed, but not a whole video series for those techniques after all.  Mostly I have to work on camera placement and filming techniques for painting quilted fabrics. The problem was entirely related to painting while filming.

Sew what are these new projects?  Well, one of them, and the next video project, is a second dive into wool applique by machine in which I will be making a pretty scene with a Kingfisher bird on black wool that will be sized for use as a decorative pillow top.  I am nearly finished making the pattern and I will be using my Scan and Cut digital cutter to cut the pieces.  The downloadable pattern will be available on my shop for a small amount and will include both a pdf file for those who do not have a digital cutter and the svg files divided by color for those who do.  I will be providing videos showing how I do them for this project, including the use of my new Scan and Cut.

The second project is a new “show quilt”! Sew there will be a video exhibiting only some of the making of this quilt and there will be no pattern.  I am  making my fourth deep space quilt and as soon as my fabric arrives this week I’m ready to start construction.  I will be using Deep Space II #98 Peppered Cotton designed by Pepper Cory to build the scene, inspired by NASA photos of M51 Galaxy (there are many), which is a spiral galaxy that has a second spiral galaxy farther away and kind of behind it on the edge, making it look like a small spiral is attached to the larger M51’s tail.  Unlike most of the other peppered cottons, this one is not a shot cotton but is yarn dyed intensely black. It makes me happy that the name of the fabric is “Deep Space II”. Thank you Pepper for bringing it to my attention.  I love making deep space quilts.  They are a whole cloth quilt, built entirely with free motion stitching and almost no marking.  It includes a  little paint, a large Angelina Fibers applique, and covered with black veiling, then quilted together in ways that make sense, and adding some free motion embroidery to represent the space dust. After that, I add a lot of hot fix crystals, kind of using the NASA photo as a guide for placement to represent stars. Some of the larger stars or star clusters are sometimes backed with an embroidered representation of the light that shoots out around it from the lens flair often in a cross shape that is highlighted on the NASA photos. This adds to the interest and beauty of the quilt in my humble opinion.

Practicing for making a deep space quilt.

 

I like having two very different style projects going at once because it allows me to move from one to the other when I need a break from some aspect of a project.

Sew this past week I spent a fair amount of time thinking about and updating my Quilt Project Plans spreadsheet for the remainder of this year and into next year.  It is way more than I can possibly do in that space of time perhaps, but it is wonderful to look forward to the near future projects and be able to pick from some of those I have already thought through a lot.  I also keep a handwritten notebook where I describe most of the projects more fully and sometimes keep outlines and notes to help me make them.  I have been doing this for many years.  Way back to when I only did clothing designs and sewing.  It’s sometimes fun to take one of the old notebooks and look through them to see just what I actually made of the many plans that have floated by.  I sometimes pull a long-forgotten project out and make it.

Here are some pages from my Pendragon quilt project that I did complete and that was shown in several prestigious quilt shows, including Houston.  The sample shown here is a test for the upper left corner of the border.

Sew happy everyone!  And remember, sometimes you need to abandon a project and not feel like it is a fail. Doing so can often open up an explosion of new ideas when you realize you no longer have to struggle to complete something that just isn’t working, and sometimes persistence through the challenges helps you to finish works and you come out with a real winner.  Give yourself permission to take the path that works best and be sure to have fun in your studios!

 

“Hand Work” by Machine

I am sure you’ve noticed that there is a recent renewal of interest in embroidery and quilting by hand.  I can appreciate this.  I used to do a lot of it myself.  It looks wonderful and can give the stitcher a sense of meditative happiness and quiet, plus you end up with a beautiful piece to quilt and/or put on the wall, make into a pillow, or frame for a gift.  These are often small and exquisite little jewels that are a great pleasure to make and view.

As wonderful as these are, I am thinking that with today’s machines, specialty threads, specialty feet and attachments, plus a community of sewers and quilters who are constantly developing new techniques, it is possible to create equally exquisite little pieces by machine.  Mind, I am not advocating giving up hand work, just using it as inspiration for some extraordinary stitching by machine, or using both together on a single piece. While this might enable one to make such a treasure in a  shorter space of time, it may not be that much faster, but interestingly challenging in a different way.  Machine work is especially nice if one is facing arthritic or injured hands that make doing the hand stitching difficult or painful. Yes, it will almost certainly look a little different, but the texture and beauty that can be accomplished may be equally extraordinary.

I have two sources of inspiration that has made me want to try this.  Alex Anderson recently ran a free class on The Quilt Show and YouTube called Make It Your Own stitch along lessons.  I watched it.  I did not make one, but I found some of the results truly beautiful.  Trying to make a similar piece  by machine may be very interesting.

The second one is the Royal School of Needlework posts in Instagram. Their work is truly incredible. I am particularly fond of their gold work which is often a combination of couched on gold cord and padded embroidery. But I also love many of their other colored embroidery pieces. Can I approximate the looks of these pieces?  Well, I don’t know, but it is worth a try.  I do know that it is possible to do padded embroidery in-the-hoop, and I have done a lot of couched work on all three of my machines.

I will do a little experimenting first, and then demonstrate some of the techniques on my YouTube channel.  What do you think?  Would you enjoy that? This will take me months before I am ready to record the work, but I will keep you apprised here on my blog of my progress.

The first thing I need to do, and, in fact, am already doing, is to make myself an interesting “library” of stitches I can do on my machines using different threads, different settings, and including the default settings.  This actually came about because I ended up with a small stack of sheets of fabric all prepared for testing decorative stitches that I had put together for a class that I never ran due to the pandemic.  They are nice white on white quilting fabric backed with a stabilizer and I drew in lines and added a selection of needles up in the corner.  I think I will add some darker fabrics and interesting designs that I can get from my Bernina 880 plus.  Once I get this done, I will be better able to decide how to make some of my ideas and draw up instructions or a pattern.  I tell you, it is almost equally as meditative and calming to me to stitch these library sheets as it would be by hand.  I think the key is to not try to rush this project, but to sew at whatever speed it takes to get things to work right.

I am using all kinds of threads and weights I have in my stash, primarily from Wonderfil Threads (a relatively new passion of mine), but also from Superior Threads (which I developed a huge stash of over the years.  It differs a bit from Wonderfil, so they work well together).  I believe my thread stash is bigger than my fabric stash at the moment. When I finally get to the first project, I will give you a list of the threads I use so you can try them if you want.

In the process of putting together the right fabrics for these types of projects I thought you might like to know favorites that I’m sure you would love too that would make great fabrics for such projects (beyond our stand by of high quality quilting cotton).  These include Kaufman Essex Linen, a wonderful linen/cotton blend good for a multitude of sewing projects, and Kaufman silk/cotton Radiance.  Surprisingly, I also found that faux silk polyester dupioni (the 58 inch wide) makes a wonderful choice, but it needs to be backed with a lightweight iron on fusible such as  Pellon SF101 iron on woven interfacing.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio.

 

 

Busy Developing New Projects

Test and practice piece using all wool machine applique and embellishment

Hi gentle readers! As the title says, I have been very busy lately developing new projects that I hope you all will fully enjoy when I publish them here and in my YouTube channel.

For the first of these projects…exploring painting on quilted fabric…I will include any additional information that accompanies my video(s) that you might want here on my blog.  So the the entire exploration information and demonstrating videos that result in a handful of painted quiltlets will be free to you.  I am really having fun doing all the prep work for the videos and practicing the techniques and am nearly ready to start “filming” the videos.

For years I have been exploring how various types of fabric paints, artist crayons. and pencils, work with different types of fibers and weaves that are already quilted.  Or rather, I already know more or less how this works so I will be show the matching of the types of paints, crayons, and pencils with the different fabrics to get the best results.  I believe that by doing this, you will be able to take what I share and use it to get the looks you want on your own projects, or at least to explore your own ideas with some success. I am hopeful to get these published in April and May. 

In the process of working out the sampler quiltlets I came up with an idea I want to make for a cuddle lap quilt that I may or may not put into a video if I make it.  I haven’t decided if I can fit it into my work plan or not, but if I do make it, at the very least I will share it here on my blog. It involves in-the-hoop quilting designs coupled with free motion quilting and possibly quilt-as-I-go construction, but I haven’t fully decided on all of that yet.  It’s just an idea at this point.  I will be able to use some of my pretty threads for this project.

Anyway, in addition to working on the painting project hours daily for some time now I have been trying to design some new wool applique by machine projects to present on my channel for fall and winter. One will be quick and less complex and presented sometime soon, and others will be presented across the rest of the year.  But  I am also working to come up with a really good design with dimensional texture that uses the wonderful characteristics of wool for a small very artistic wall hanging. It will be what I think of as 2 1/2 D rather than 3D.  LOL

3D stump work dragonfly I made in the hoop has wire hidden in the stitching on the wings. This was so much fun to make, I want to do more in-the-hoop stumpwork.  Would you like a video on how I do this?

I am thinking, after much consideration, that the background fabric for this textural wall hanging will be on cotton, and the appliques will be wool.  I also am considering adding some couching of  wool yarns and maybe even some wool roving that I would needle punch with the needle punch attachment on my little baby machine, my Bernina 350, which I usually use for piecing and travel, but it also has several attachments I like to use on that machine because it has a 5.5 width maximum stitch that allows some interesting results.  I might also add stump work object that I make in-the-hoop from lighter fabrics.  Anyway, I’m working on a complete design that I am very hopeful will be really beautiful and interesting to watch me make on my YouTube channel.  It would be so delightful if some of you decide to make one yourself because it is so interesting and the result will be lovely.

If I get the design right, it will involve the use of three of my machines…my B350, my Bernina 880+. and my Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm, but will be doable on a single domestic machine and a hand needle punch tool if that is all one has or wants to use.  For this project, I will be developing a downloadable pattern that I will sell in my website store. This pattern would include svg files for cutting out the appliques using a digital cutter and line drawings for use with scissors.  Anyway, it’s rumbling around in my head and I am working on various designs to come up with the best one.  It should be fun.  I have long known that it takes me longer to design a project and develop the pattern than to make it.  So this project will take some time, consist of multiple videos, and hopefully will be published over the summer.  It would make a wonderful present for someone, even if it is for your own sewing space.

Sew you may want to know where the third and last video of my two birds project is. My video director and editor has had some minor delays in getting it done as work and life got in the way.  We are hopeful that it will be out sometime in the first week of April. There is a downloadable pattern for this project available for only $5 on my website shop, but as of this writing I have only sold one copy, even though I have almost 400 views of the first two videos.  Since it would be very difficult to make this project without the pattern, I guess my hope that some of my viewers would try to make it themselves has not yet happened.  I am still hopeful that some quilters will decide to do the project and share their results with me so I can show you all.  Maybe they want to see the finish before they decide.  Or maybe people are not aware that it is almost a complete book on how to do this kind of project that they may find informative and interesting even if they don’t make it. It is accompanied by svg files for cutting the appliques.  You don’t have to have a digital cutter though, because it also has the line drawings to cutout the appliques with scissors.  Here are the links to video one and video two.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adding Paint to Quilts

Hi everybody!  My Two Birds Project, video one and the workbook with the pattern are published! Video Two will come in February and Video Three in March.  There will likely be some additional smaller videos out in February and March also.  Please watch them, and, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel.  It’s free and doesn’t ask any questions or pester you after you subscribed.  Here’s the link to the video: Two Birds Video

And here’s the link to the pattern with workbook if you want to join me in making one for yourself (it is only $5):  Two Birds Pattern

Sew I had the idea that it might be a good idea to make a set of five small quiltlets of different fabric types and use commercial embroidery on them that would look nice with the addition of painting.  I plan to use several different types of paints, inks, and markers that I have hanging around my studio in order to compare the paints and the way they work with the different fabrics.  That way I can reference them when I am making a quilt to decide which paints I need to use.  That’s what I’m working on now.

Test sampler I made before starting my Mom’s memory quilt.  I Quilted it first and then painted the bird and the flowers.

Hawaiian Garden:  I quilted, then painted the borders.

I think this will be a fun project.  I will video it so you can see what I do and write a blog or two about it also.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

 

Merry Christmas and New Adventures for 2022

I digitized and embroidered this star as an applique. It is on one of my Christmas quilts now owned by my church.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you are already enjoying this wonderful season.  It is one of my very most favorite times of the year. We are having a relatively simple celebration this year, but it is still joyous. Right now I have The Piano Guys YouTube videos of Christmas music playing while I write this.  They are fun.  Have you seen the one with the Christmas scene and all the cameras riding around in the little train, on the Christmas tree, and in the drone flying in the room?  Here’s the link. It’s really fun.  Or how about the one all done in legos.  Here’s that link.  So creative and beautifully performed.

Well, I finished the Two Birds quilt along with completing the filming of the videos. The whole stack of hours and hours of videos I made while I made the quilt, along with the voice over reading, and the intro and exits parts we filmed together last weekend are now being edited by my oldest son.

I have written the pattern and workbook that goes with it, and that too is being edited by the family team.  I don’t know when we will get the first video of that project published but hopefully not long now.  It’s a big job to edit such a tangle of videos, voice overs and corrections into three publishable videos that make sense and are also interesting.  It has already taken much longer than any of us anticipated, but that was primarily due to my unrelated circumstances this year that delayed things, such as my cataract surgery among other things.  But that is all behind me now and I greatly look forward to the coming new year.

I have every expectation that we will produce much more content for my YouTube channel at a bit faster pace and with ever increasingly interesting projects and building professionalism.  I have gotten to where I don’t get bothered by the cameras, know how to set them up properly, and have lots of fun ideas for new stitching/quilting/videoing projects.  I have learned that the videography is as important as the making of the fabric art piece to make it all work and find it also very interesting.

I still have only about a third of the subscribers and a fourth of the viewership needed to monetize the YouTube channel, but it is growing and I nevertheless enjoy being able to share my projects with my viewers.  I hope you all enjoy the videos and will be happy to see them when a new one is published.  We have several projects already planned for the new year.

First of all, I want to create some new wool applique by machine projects, because I think it is possible to make some stunningly beautiful pieces in this category that has hardly been touched in the quilting/fabric art world using the machine and my initial project was only a basic introductory layout of the techniques. It’s an adventure to see how far this can go.

Then I have three new show quilts in mind for 2o22 that I think you will all love or at least enjoy watching me make them.  I hope I can succeed in getting all three made.

There will be a number of short and shorter videos showing techniques and use of tools.

And then I need to make some new clothes.  I have everything I need for them and will try to spread them across the year so I have something new and fun to wear once in a while.  I probably won’t buy any ready-made clothing this year just as a sort of challenge to myself for fun.  I haven’t decided whether or not to video these projects.  What do you think?

Sew happy everyone!  Have a wonderful holiday season and I hope you also Have Fun in Your Studios!!!

 

 

 

 

It’s Spring…Finishing Up the Wool Project!

Here is the finished wool applique by machine prototype.

Hi everybody!  Spring is pushing up the flowers and the trees are leafing out.  The birds have donned their spring mating feathers and are laying eggs and having a spring party.  I have just finished the embellished wool applique by machine final video in which I sandwiched, quilted, and bound the prototype piece. I also added some hot fix pearls to the centers of some of the flowers because I had some left from another project and I thought it needed a little more something.

Here’s the video link:  Wool 3

Here is the downloadable pdf of free motion fills that you may want to use for practice either before you quilt your own wool applique piece or just for free motion practice. This is the only handout for this third video.  So before you quilt your piece, print this out, build yourself a practice sandwich, put on that audio book, and have some fun practicing stitching.

FMQ Basic fills

You will notice that in my video I used the red Bernina Gripper rings to help me in my quilting but I forgot to mention them there.  They really make a big difference in my control, and I don’t have to wear gloves. They are designed for sitdown longarms and sewing machines with a longer harp space.   They have to be purchased directly from a Bernina dealer.  I got mine on sale, but even so they are kind of expensive. You can also get a very similar product by Martelli that are slightly cheaper and you can buy the sizes seperately. They are worth the price, though. Lots of people saw the center front hole on the Martellis rings in a similar fashion to match the Bernina rings, but I don’t know if that is necessary. I have heard that Martelli makes the Bernina rings anyway, so they are almost the same except for the gap in the front and the color.

I would love for you to watch this video, and the others if you haven’t yet. If you made a wool sampler along with me, please send me a picture bettyjo@bjfabricartist.com and I can show them on my blog, if you don’t mind.  Or at least tell me you made one in the comments.

You can use these same techniques I showed on some of those absolutely beautiful commercial patterns intended for hand sewing of wool applique I have seen out there.  My hope is by the fall, I will have some patterns of my own available.  I might even do another video or two on wool applique using my own patterns, but not next.

Keeping the Experimental Quilting Process Going

I am so excited about all of this.  I am finally getting in the swing of working through the design and creative process of the projects in a similar fashion to my show quilting work, and just filming most of what I am doing so I can share it with you.  It has required a fair amount of adjustment to my studio and my thinking, but I believe I will be able to produce some really fun and professional-looking fabric art even while I film the process and I hope you will enjoy it too.

I am planning to do a little show and tell VLOG and talk about my experimental fabric art quilting.  I think you might enjoy it, and it will give you an idea of where I may be headed in the future.

Oh and don’t forget to get my son David’s latest book (if you have a Kindle reader, you can read it for free) and we would be most grateful if you  review it when you are done.

In Division Imperiled (The Law of Swords Book 3) by [David A. Tatum]

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studios!

 

 

 

 

 

Computer and Looking Ahead in My Studio

Hooray!  I have my new computer and it is all set up.  It is lovely, fast, and has all it needs to serve me well for digital design, video editing, book writing, online demos and other computer draining activities.  I am soooo grateful to my family members who gave this to me and helped me get it in place and so forth.  Sew I’m off and running here in my wonderful studio.

In case you haven’t seen them I now have two videos of the three on Embellished Wool Applique by Machine, coupled with two blogs here that include free downloadables for accompanying handouts.  I also have my first quick tips video.  All of the videos can be found on the Betty Jo Tatum YouTube channel for free. Of course, I hope to make money from this endeavor eventually, but in a way that the videos remain free to you. Downloadable workbooks,  patterns, and so forth will be available for a modest amount from the new little store I have on my main website.  There’s nothing to buy there right now though but those will be published on the same subjects as new videos that are better with such downloadables.  These all will be uploaded at the same time so you can follow along the easy way.

Other things are also in the plans for that little store.  I will sell some of my quilts from there, and I am considering other things that can be downloaded.  If you haven’t looked yet, I recently upgraded my main website.  Go take a look at my gallery, if you’d like.

Now it takes some time to put together these things so I probably will need two or three weeks between each video, or even a month.  They will cover a variety of sewing and art quilting techniques that I have learned over the years and really want to share because I think some of you will find them fun and you may even want to try them yourselves.  So if you want to support this effort, I hope you subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch my videos.  It doesn’t cost you anything, you don’t give them any information, and it helps me.

Owl French Artist Painter

And now that I have my computer…all KINDS of things are running thro0ugh my head that might be accomplished.  After I complete the next wool applique video, I am thinking of making a video or a set of videos on landscape quilting elements in both stylized types and more natural looking art quilts.  There are lots of those to do, so I won’t bunch them all up together, but will spread them across the year with topics like trees, mountains and rocks, water, geologic strata, and so forth.  It should be really fun for us.  I have lots of other ideas and I think you will enjoy them as they come out.  They will all be presented in small projects or technique demonstrations, but I will likely draw up some digital patterns for larger pieces and maybe even paint some digital fabrics for backgrounds that I might place for sale on a print on demand fabric company if I can work that out so you can buy them to use.  What do you think?

If you have something in the way of art quilting techniques you wish you could find how tos for or would like to just see how I approach them, please let me know.  I’ll see what I can do about it.

Sew happy everyone!  Let’s have some fun in our studios.

 

A Book, Videos, Sons, and A New Project Idea

 

Books

My youngest son David, the author who shares my home with me and helps me in so many ways, will release a brand new book within a few days.  It’s the third book in his Law of Swords fantasy series.  I have read it and it’s terrific.  Truly, I think each book he writes is better than the last one and this one is no exception.

I am so proud and excited about this because David had to overcome a series of major difficulties (starting with a computer crash that somehow took both his regular data and all his backups in one event that included years of research, databases, and even bunches of writing.  Even the very skilled professional data recoverers were unable to get the data back.  He now has a new and better computer setup with all kinds of backups so it is unlikely to happen again. This and a handful of other obstacles has delayed his books for several years beyond the expected.

Now, though, he is rapidly producing what I am sure are wonderful writings right and left.  There is this book, as well as a requested short story for an anthology are written and nearly out the door, and he is diligently working hard on the second book in his sci-fi space series too with plans of completing that one by the end of the year.  Please wish him well on these endeavors. He is now a full time author without a secondary job so success is imperative. I’ll let you know when the new one is actually available for purchase.

My Videos

With a great deal of assistance from my oldest son Ken, the second in my video series about embellished wool applique by machine, is likely to be published early next week (there will be a blog for that one with a second downloadable handout).

I ask you please to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already.  This is a great help to me with YouTube.  I need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and lots and lots of views before I can sign up for the small monetary return to support this work.  If you don’t know, “subscribe” is like “follow” on other sites and doesn’t sign you up for anything more than letting you know the videos are there.  You have to be logged on to Google or YouTube to subscribe and then to make a comment there or ask a question.

Ken is doing the video editing at least until I get my new computer (which has been delayed “because of Covid”).  I hope it gets shipped within a day or so, but in the meantime Ken is editing and publishing my videos for me.  He is so professional at this. I will have to try really hard to match that level when I finally get my computer and take back a lot of this work.  The third video will probably be out about two weeks later.  It is my plan to publish a video about once every two or three weeks for now.

In case you are wondering, all on my own I “film” the parts where I am at the machine and you only see my hands, and Ken helps with the part where you see my face.  Ken has, in fact, set it up so I can eventually do that part of the filming too, but I really like having his directing and filming with his fancy camera.  He does, however, have a job and a family.  LOL But he came to my rescue with microphones and  brackets and lights and instructions and editing.

My Idea for the Next Project

Ok.  The wool applique set will be done soon, so what am I going to do next?  Well, I have a long list of techniques and projects that I am considering on presenting in 2021. Only a few are wool based.  The videos on my YouTube site are and will be continuously free.  However, I am planning on offering downloadable workbooks and sometimes patterns to go with them for a reasonably low price (on my new website shop) that you can purchase to use with the videos.  This will hopefully help underpin the video work, which so far has required considerable investment.

Sew I have given it a lot of thought and decided the next subject will be “Trees”.  This will be really fun, but I leave it to you to wonder…what will BJ do with trees?  Later…I’ll tell you later.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio and try making/learning something new that makes you stretch every now and then.

 

Way More than a Hobby and Memories of a Great Seamstress

This sewing machine is like the one I remember Mom having when I started to sew.

For me, sewing and quilting is and has been for most of my life far more than a hobby.

My earliest memories of sewing are from when my family lived in Paducah, Kentucky (interesting considering Paducah’s position in the quilt world today!). My Dad was working with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on their power plant there.  I clearly remember sitting beside my mother at her pretty black Singer sewing machine when I was very young.  She was telling me how important it was to clean and oil your machine and keep a good fresh needle in it.  That was my first lesson that I never forgot.  She was a true expert “seamstress” and we shared the love of sewing throughout her life.

Mom and me in May 1967. We are both wearing clothes we made.

We made most of our own clothes together for as long as I lived at home.  With her guidance, I made some of my more complex clothing like tailored wool suits, overcoats, and stylish clothing of all types.  She made my prom dresses and accompanying gorgeous wraps and I made the bags.

We never did quilt together. I don’t know if she ever quilted. She made some lovely stuffed dolls and stuffed toys..not just rag dolls, sails for the sailboat, tents, in addition to the gorgeous clothes at couture level.  I still have the Victorian doll  that she made and I dressed so long ago. The jacket and skirt satin fabric is sun faded, but I love it. I miss her.

Throughout my life, it has been a key  skill for me to be able to sew.  It enabled me to make not only my own work clothes when I went out to work, but my husband’s too.  I made Marvin suits and a gorgeous Harris Tweed jacket he loved.  I even made him a tuxedo from tropical wool with silk satin lapels using a stylish Bill Blass pattern from Vogue that required substantial resizing (he was a big tall guy).  It turned out well and he wore that for years especially when he sang. He got many compliments on it. I, of course, made things for my boys too…clothes, overcoats, backpacks, pup tents, bedroom curtains, and so forth.

Until I went out to work and got so busy I had little time to sew, I never had to wear anything that wasn’t stylish and well fitted when I went out because I could make what I wanted and alter what I bought to fit right.  Even then, I was able to make things fit better.  It is my hope to keep on sewing  to the end of my life,  Mostly, however, that will probably be making quilted fabric art with the occasional clothing item.

I still do a small amount of clothes sewing, but I work from home now as a fabric artist, and don’t sing with semi-professional choral groups anymore or even often go to concerts.  So my work uniform is jeans and a simple shirt or sweater.  I have a closet full of nice clothes that are timeless in style and I mostly manage to keep well maintained so they fit me.  I have been slowly loosing weight so I do need to do some altering now. I made myself a new overcoat from my stash last year with a faux fur collar.  It’s wonderful. I also made my youngest son a rather nice faux leather jacket.

Making quilted art seemed a natural progression for me towards the end of my government career and I decided to retire a little earlier than I might have otherwise to be a full time fabric artist.  I started quilting about a year after Marvin died at my sweet daughter-in-law’s suggestion.  It helped me cope a lot and still does.

I have occasionally made a cuddle quilt, but creating quilted art for the wall or the occasional piece of wearable art,  is really exciting for me. I took multiple art classes in both high school and college, and have taken private art lessons in addition, practiced on my own, and have my fourth year certificate in Japanese Ikebana I obtained in Japan.  Ikebana is also an art form that inspires some of my wall quilts.

I particularly love to see how far I can push the sewing boundaries working with the power of my machines, the great advances in threads, notions, and fabrics, and even working with leather or fur (mostly faux unless it is recycled), cork, fibers, trims, and beads.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because I have launched my YouTube video channel and am also writing workbooks and patterns to go along with them.  I want you to know that what I am teaching is based on a solid background of study and experience and hope you will join me in many of the projects I will be presenting.

Fabric art is a great way to decorate your home or cheer up your office–wherever it is–celebrate the seasons or family landmark events, help you deal with the more difficult times of life, and fill you with joy and peace.  You can express things through fabric art…praise, thanksgiving, love…This is true even if you get a little frustrated over problems you will encounter and sometimes have to walk away, or throw the project in the back of your storage area for a “time out.”

The fact is, though, that figuring out how to overcome problems you encounter in your projects can help you keep a sharp mind and give you a real satisfaction when done.  Experimenting with new techniques, materials, and designs adds to the whole enjoyment.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studios. Subscribe to my YouTube channel so you will know when a new video arrives.