How Long Did That Quilt Take to Make?

Here I am back from the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE), where I actually won a ribbon for my Spiral Galaxy Number 3.  I will be blogging about that also (waiting on some pics from one of my friends).  While I was there, and at other times about other quilts, I got the ever present question “How long did it take you to make?”

First of all, with the exception of the one I’m working on right now my quilts are my own design.  I may, however, be inspired by, or use a piece, character, or portion  from another source…like a set of NASA photographs, or a Dover flower, or a traditional quilt block for part of a wave, or a border from an eleventh century manuscript, for instance…but it still is my own design.  My current project is a design drawn by my oldest son for inclusion in my ancient manuscript series, but it is a pictorial design and still requires solving how to make elements of this design.  It isn’t a pattern.

So this is my usual workflow.  Each quilt is different, of course:

  1. A design concept pops into my head.
  2. I may capture the concept in a simple quick drawing and notes in paper and pencil so I can remember it.
    quilt designing002

    The design concept notes for Canterbury Knight

  3. I let it “marinate” in my head for a while, meanwhile I research various elements of the design, figuring out the approach I want to take to accomplish the quilt.  The research consists of any historical design information, techniques that may be needed, and types of fabrics I should probably use.
    An illuminated page from Book of Hours

    An illuminated page from Book of Hours

  4. I draw it using a combination of Corel Painter for the picture part, Corel Draw to make it full size, smooth some of the lines and turn it into a vector line drawing for a pattern, and maybe even Electric Quilt to see whether or not it needs borders, and get the sizes between the central theme and the borders all working together.
    My completed digital design for Canterbury Silk

    My completed digital design for Canterbury Silk

  5. I print out a full sized picture using Corel Draw, which divides it into printer paper sized tiles.  Then I tape that together.
  6. If I decide some of it needs to be digitized and embroidered in the hoop, I digitize it, test stitch, fix the digitized version.
    Betty Jo Tatum, "Canterbury Silk"

    Betty Jo Tatum, “Canterbury Silk”

  7. I do some testing and practice to see how to do some of the parts.
    practice pieces for Canterbury Silk

    practice pieces for Canterbury Silk

  8. I gather my fabrics and threads.  I start by shopping my stash, then shop elsewhere to fill in what is missing.
  9. I finally construct the quilt top, including appliques, embroidery, painting before-quilting items, and piecing.
  10. I mark the completed top for quilting.
  11. I sandwich and quilt
  12. I paint any post-quilting paintables, and add any bead-work or other embellishments
  13. I bind the quilt and add the rod pocket and label
  14. With a flashlight and a magnifying glass I go over the quilt looking for thread ends and any problems that need to be corrected.
    You may remember the completed quilt Canterbury Silk. It has already completed its show season. It won Best Surface Design from MQX Midwest in 2014, but no other ribbons.

    You may remember the completed quilt Canterbury Silk. It has already completed its show season. It won Best Surface Design from MQX Midwest in 2014, but no other ribbons.

You’ll notice that it is not until step 9 that I actually start constructing the quilt.  I think for most quilts it is between half and two-thirds of the way from concept to construction where one might say I started “making” the quilt. Also, I am not only working one quilt at a time.  Usually I have two or even three in the works over the same period of time.

So when I’m trying to answer “how long did it take you?”, don’t be surprised if I look like a fish out of water gasping for an answer.  I could give an answer like “I’m not quite sure, but I started the quilt about a year ago” or “I worked on the design about six months, and it took about three to construct it.”  Usually, though, I will just take a stab at the whole thing and say “about xxx months”.

Sew happy everyone!  How long did it take you to make your last quilt? 🙂

Put on Some Music and Sew/Quilt!

I have a big list of sewing I am attempting between now and mid September, when I’m planning on going to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Oak, PA, and sewing and quilting between now and December.  I bought a robe, because I didn’t have the fabric for that anyway and needed a new one.  I am planning on making a couple of shirts and an embroidered vest for the PNQE, and finishing Ken’s quilt and making a new overcoat by Christmas.

One night this past week I was eating dinner alone, because my son David was out.  I made myself a pretty good light chicken dinner and put on “The Martian”.  I love the way Mark, who faces impossible odds, solves problems as they come along and manages to stay alive long enough, and to accomplish the long trip on Mars he needs to in spite of everything in order to be rescued.  It is immaterial  whether it could really happen that way or not in real life, it’s the concept that is vividly presented of facing overwhelming odds and not giving up when setbacks occur.  It’s the way my wonderful parents, who are both gone now, always urged me and my brother Pat to live our lives and it’s the way they lived theirs.  It’s how I’m trying to approach my sewing and quilting and my life as I age now.  Here’s the last of the border design tests I did for Ken’s quilt.  This is the one I didn’t think I could make.  I’m so happy with it.  I hope it comes out as well on the green polyester satin I finally settled on for the green Celtic border.

I ended up digitizing this manually, because I couldn't get the original ancient design, that had been scanned in and was blotchy, cleaned enough to auto digitize. I'm now through with the tests and have begun making the quilt.

I ended up digitizing this manually, because I couldn’t get the original ancient design, that had been scanned in and was blotchy, cleaned enough to auto digitize. I’m now through with the digitizing and the tests and have begun making the quilt.

I chose the three patterns I showed in my last blog post for the shirts that I am flat fitting (with only a few minor changes, I use Nancy Zieman’s swing method for fitting shown here and here and it works well). I’ve got one fitted and cut out.  I’m going to make a bunch of shirts across the next year in between quilting from the same three patterns.  My “uniform” for my studio work is a good pair of jeans and a pretty, but comfortable shirt.  Then I can throw on a decorative vest or jacket for going out. I can even use the same patterns to make some dressier shirts by changing the fabric and adding some embellishments and wearing it with some nice slacks (I have a slacks pattern already fitted to me) and perhaps one of my silk vests.  I’ve come a long ways from my days of making and wearing designer clothing or professional tailored suits, but I have a much more relaxed lifestyle now and I love it.  I am planning to make a tailored slacks suit from one of my nice three-season suit wools I have laying around.  But that might not happen until after winter sets in.

Sew happy everyone!  Let’s put on some music and rock your projects out along with me, solving challenges along the way!  Woohoo!  Also, let’s practice FM and ruler-work quilting a little bit every day.  I’m also spending a little time every day practicing work with my digital design software.  I have a new quilt idea that requires that.  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Encouraging Enthusiasm in Quilting and Sewing

Woman sewing

Gloomy feelings are prevalent in the quilting community recently at the announcements of the closures of several quilt-related magazines and businesses, or parts of businesses.  I was recently talking with a close friend of mine about this. These things have a way of being self-fulfilling prophesies by making people hesitate to dive in and do things because they think the industry is closing and they don’t want to invest their time and money in a failing pursuit if supplies, or when fellow quilters might not be around.  Linda Thielfoldt captured it well in her blog post in which she ends up by calling on us to mentor a child.

Sew let us think about this a bit and brush the dust off of our dreams for making that piece of funky or pretty art for your wall,  a well-tailored jacket, a set of decorative pillows to spruce up your living space, a really nice outfit to wear to special occasions, some new pot holders, or how about that costume for your favorite fun festival or party.  Sewing and quilting can be calming and also a fun adventure.

I’ve actually seen recent comments from quilters or sewists criticizing other sewists for the way they shop or buy a class, or blaming problems on the “aging” quilters, who, they assume, don’t buy anything anymore (WRONG!!!); or on young sewists and quilters who have very little time and not so much money so they pull learning and patterns from where they can. Such comments are not helpful.

I call upon these naysayers and those who are worried to welcome all manner of quilting and sewing into our folds…the costume maker, the art quilter, the modern quilter, the traditional quilter, the tailored clothes maker, the hat maker, the bag maker, the doll maker, the sewist who makes items for charity, the ten minutes-at-a-time stitcher, the incredibly talented hand stitcher, and those who do all of these things just because they can.

man sewing 1912

Sewing and quilting is an adventure, an occupation that takes our minds off of the difficulties of life, the politics, the horrible things happening in the world, and gives us the opportunity to think about how to construct that tote bag, or make that art quilt, or tailor that jacket to wear to work.  In the end, moreover, we often end up with something truly wonderful.

I do also hope we can stop categorizing the sewists of this world into preconceived ideas in a way that may limit opportunities.  The younger quilter is not always interested in modern quilting.  The older quilter is not always interested in traditional quilting.  The middle-aged quilter is often ignored in discussions of this type.  The art quilter is often as committed to excellence in their craft as the traditional quilter.  Some people have jobs or other responsibilities that don’t allow them time to take half a day to shop or  go to that show.  Sew, wonderfully, they download classes (some of which are wonderful and thereby they support that teacher), they order on the Internet (maybe even from their local fabric store)…but they order and they take classes, they buy that fabric and thread and machines.  This activity will keep the industry alive even if it doesn’t help our neighborhood fabric store with the owners who have been in business for decades and are ready to retire to do their own sewing.

Red, my favorite color, is not as plentiful in my home as I would have expected. I staged this in my studio using the red things I could find that seemed to go together. Interesting challenge. Shot with my Nikon D200 on tripod, no flash, f14.

I hope we will continue to support each other and encourage the “ancient quilter” making something spectacularly different, the middle-aged man sewing a vintage costume, the college student making something for their dorm room, or the twelve year old boy quilting.  Let’s keep this industry alive with enthusiasm even as it changes to encompass the new methods of communication and shopping!

DSCN0129

Sew happy everyone!  I loved Linda Thielfoldt’s blog about mentoring new young sewers.  This is important.  Might I suggest, also, that it does not just have to be a young person (though, again, this is important)…an older person with a little more time and money on their hands might also want to get in on the fun and then pass it on to their young person.

Spiral Galaxy Completed and a Few Thoughts

I finished the quilt!  It hasn’t been professionally photographed yet, so full pictures will come later, maybe after its debut at a quilt show.  Here’s a detail shot I took myself in which you can sort of see my quilting:

detail picture by BJ

detail picture by BJ

When I finish a show quilt I really enjoy making I experience mixed feelings of delight that I have made a new quilt and a little let down on not having it to work on any longer.  This is at least in part because I am driven to create.

To me, creating is a most wonderful privilege given to me as a blessing by my Creator and encouraged by my family and friends.  Ever since I was a small child, I have been blessed with many talents, the strongest of these being sewing, art, and music. I do not engage in all of these at once, but like many artists, I have traveled from one to the other through my life with some overlaps from time to time.  For the past ten years, and drawing in more than sixty years (!) of sewing, I have worked to develop quilting as an art form and I have retired from music making. What I find so wonderful about quilting as an art form is that it draws together many of my interests and talents, even applying some of what I learned in the decades of my music, but that’s another topic.  Quilting has its ups and downs, but it’s very fulfilling to me to create a quilt of any kind and especially wall art quilts.  I intend to continue making quilts until I can no longer hold a needle or run a sewing machine…perhaps into my hundreds.  😀

I love showing my quilts to share the fun with my friends and in the hope that it makes people happy or inspired.  It adds a little spice and fun to that when I win a ribbon too.  I love sharing my techniques and quilt adventures because I would be delighted to see what I have learned become useful for other quilters.

Here’s where you can see my quilts as of publication of this blog post:

  • First of all, you can see pictures of many of my quilts either on my website gallery  or you can also see them here on The Quilt Show.  If you click on the photos in my website gallery, you’ll get the full view and look at the caption on the bottom of each quilt for the name of the quilt and the price of the quilt if they are for sale.  If you are interested in purchasing one of my quilts, or just want to know more about it, just contact me at BettyJo@bjfabricartist.com and I’ll get back to you shortly with more details about them.  I have a paypal account that enables purchases safely, so just contact me at BettyJo@bjfabricartist.com and I’ll get back to you shortly.
  • If you are going to AQS Syracuse at the end of this week and over the weekend, my little quilt Canterbury Knight is in the show.  It’s been through several shows and received Stevii Graves Judge’s Choice ribbon at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival earlier this year.  I would be very surprised if it takes a ribbon, but it is a very nice little quilt you would probably enjoy seeing.  I’m thinking this is probably the end of its show season and I plan on hanging it in my living room when it comes home.  It’s sister quilt Canterbury Silk is already hanging, and I think it will be a nice addition. So I’m keeping these two quilts and not putting them up for sale.
  • G Street Fabrics in Rockville has generously hung several of my quilts in their Bernina section.  Those are for sale, and include Dad’s House Plan, Kanazawa Memories, and The Storyteller.  I periodically change the quilts hanging there.
  • If you live or are coming near Ashburn, Virginia, send me an email and we can arrange for you to come see any quilts that happen to be here at the time.

Next it’s full speed ahead on the quilt my son Ken designed for me and continued work on my book.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to quilt…your child, grandchild, husband, wife, or neighbor.  It can be fun for everyone and a great stress reliever in these troubled times.

 

Thoughts On Wall Quilt Sizes

American Quilters Society (AQS) recently issued their new rules, which includes sizes by category, for their 2017 shows.  Regardless of whether they are made for shows, size of quilts meant for display on a wall is an important topic to me.  I would particularly appreciate comments back so we can actually have a dialogue about this.

Why is this important? There are a number of reasons:

  • They have to fit on the wall of people’s homes and businesses if they are ever going to be anything other than a flash in the pan for showing at quilt shows. I want to sell or give away to family and friends many of my quilts after they have been through their show season, so having them sized for people’s homes and businesses is an important issue.
  • I know from my own work that the size is often not a big factor in how difficult, how high the technique, how long a quilt takes to make.  Indeed, some of the smaller ones have been the hardest things I have made.
  • I believe that is true that a large quilt can have a bigger impact when displayed at a show among a lot of other quilts.
  • Larger quilts are more likely to be traditional and are intended to fit on a bed, although show quilts may not be.
  • Many quilters, including myself, have difficulties that make creating a large sized quilt nearly impossible.
  • Some shows do not award Best of Show (BOS) ribbons to “small” wall quilts.  Some of these can be as big as 59 inches in both directions, which is a large size for home displays and still are considered “small”.  In these cases, even if they have special prizes for exceptional small wall sized quilts, the financial awards for AQS, at least, are about half the BOS award.

Oddly AQS has a gap between their miniature quilt, which is 24 inches by 24 inches maximum and their small wall quilt, which is 30 inches by 30 inches.  They don’t have a square inch requirement, so if your quilt is 27″ x 37″, for instance, they cannot be entered in many of their shows despite the fact they are larger by square inches for the small wall quilt.  My Canterbury Knight quilt is 27 x 37 and could never be entered into Paducah, for instance.  Houston IQA is more inclusive.

Sew what do I find the ideal size for me to work in?  I like to make quilts smaller than about 48 x 48 and larger than 30 x 30.  The main reason for that is that my son Ken’s space for photographing my show quilts is 48 x 48, and it’s a really nice size to work in and the AQS 30 x 30 cutoff.  Also, I think it can fit on a normal home wall better than anything bigger.  while I may make a very small quilt, I am not a miniature show quilter.  That is a whole different set of techniques and design and it is not something I wish to get into.

Even for charity quilts a smaller quilt can be good.  I once did a survey for my church to find out what an ideal size would be that would serve as a wheelchair quilt, a crib quilt, or a lap quilt, and found to my surprise that the oft touted 36 inches width is sometimes frustrating to people who find it too narrow.  So after the survey I found that 40 to 45 inches wide and 45 to 50 inches long makes a very appreciated quilt size that can function for wheelchairs, children’s quilts,  and lap quilts.  Here’s my little guide I wrote up for the church, if you are interested.  It has several easy and quick simple patterns and other information:

Quilt Making for OSWLC needlework group

Sew happy everyone.  I would love to hear from you to tell me what your favorite sizes are for quilt making and what you think about sizes for quilts designed for the walls of homes and businesses?

 

Finishing Things So I Can Start New Things

I love finishing projects of all kinds.  It means I have accomplished something, but chiefly, it means I can start something new.  Currently, I am working on finishing my Hoffman Challenge 2016 small wall quilt.  It is such a happy project…full of butterflies and bunnies, and set in a whimsical forest.  I am quilting it now.    I know that you don’t HAVE to finish one project before starting another, but it’s really nice to do it that way.  I have a hard time not finishing before starting another, simply because of all the years I had to finish things for really important reasons, and way back when I had my own fashion design/tailoring business when I HAD to finish projects for my clients’ sake.

I am also getting my studio rearranged so I can put my new Bernina Q20 where it will be easily available.  To do this, I had to start with reorganizing my bedroom so I could eliminate one of my two dressers and move the Koala cabinet that I use with my Bernina 1230 and Bernina 350 into my bedroom.  I have finished preparations for that part of the reorg.  Next I will be putting the Q20 where the Koala cabinet is now.  It all starts tomorrow with a scheduled pickup of no-longer-in-use clothing and shoes (six bags so far).  Then on Tuesday the 31st, the guys come who are taking the dresser away to charity and moving the koala cabinet in place.  Then the following Monday, June 6th, I am expecting the delivery and setup of the Q20.  And finally, on Wednesday, the 8th, my dear friend and Bernina dealer Mei Ling, and the magician machine tech Lew, who fixed my 830LE, are coming to provide me with a day of training on the use and servicing of the Q20.

Wow!  I mean WOW!!!  When they have finished on Wednesday, I will be ready to begin a new phase in being a studio fabric artist.  I’ve recently learned that is what I am, because I am not an extrovert who wishes to travel all over and teach.  I am not particularly an introvert either, because I love people.  But I love my studio and my work as an artist whose medium is fabric and quilting.  I feel inspired when I’m in the studio working (and usually listening to music).

Upon completion of all of this, I will have available for my creative use two standard workhorse machines for use in clothing and some piece work (and the 350 to take to classes), my Bernina 830LE (Gibbs) for machine embroidery, specialized applique, and decorative stitch work, and my new Q20 set up as a sit down longarm for my quilting work.  I will still use Gibbs for quilting when I want to quilt with decorative stitching, but that is only about one percent of my quilting.  I also have a small kitchen island that is my cutting and painting station, a nearby small bathroom where I do some occasional hand dyes and for use with cleaning up after painting, and my computer station with a good ink jet printer.  In the process of all of this, I am removing a couple of old printers and putting in a second monitor for my computer station (at no cost…just work) to assist me with the design work.

I am most grateful to the Lord, my kids, and my Bernina friends who have or are all pitching in one way or another to help me make this happen.  It is a dream studio.  Sew I am a healthy, albeit overweight, 69 now.  In the past, I sewed decades using lesser machines and after work and weekends, and then spent a lot of time learning the art quilt craft after I retired a little over three years ago.  This seams a very good time to raise the level of my work up another notch, don’t you think?  It would also be a great help to me to start winning more ribbons and selling more quilts (and even completing and selling my books) to help pay for my fabric art work and maybe even add a little additional income.

I just completed “Drawing Nigh” and am about to finish the Hoffman Challenge quilt.  So what is next after my studio revamp?  Ahhh.,..I have a lot of plans that seem to be growing all the time.  First off, I want badly to make a new show quilt by 15 August for the PA Nat’l Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia because I’m going up there for that show and am staying with a long term friend who recently retired and moved nearby there.  So I want something to show off with…LOL…I don’t think I can complete Ken’s wonderful quilt by then, so I am planning on attempting the next quilt in my deep space series, which may be doable.  After all, it was that show last year that gave Sky Horse it’s ribbon (Best color choice for its category).  I think I probably can.  More than half of the work on those quilts is free motion quilting.  It will be a good tryout for my new Q20.  I hope to complete Ken’s quilt by the end of the year or early next.  It is much the most difficult piece of art I have ever attempted, so I refuse to rush it.  And then, I am considering making a couple of whole cloth quilts inspired by really ancient historical quilts.  Oh, and don’t forget the orange/gold dragon flying over volcanos and possibly fighting a phoenix, or the third in my “waiting…” series, or my memorial quilt for my mom, or the deep dark forest in nearly three dimensions, oh, and there’s Jacob’s ladder, and Adam naming the animals, and…and….

Sew happy everyone!  Do a little spring cleaning and reorganizing and start something new and fun.

A New Birdfeeder

This week I replaced my birdfeeder.  The old one had gotten really beaten up with that huge snow storm and the subsequent wind storms we have had here this year.  It never worked well anyway.  It had mostly plastic and it blew sideways, dumping the birdseed in a windstorm.  It got the seed stuck at the bottom with every rainstorm because the drain holes were ill placed and inadequate, and finally the place the birds stood broke off altogether.  So I replaced it with a nice heavier and sturdier feeder made with brass, stainless steel, and glass (I hope the glass doesn’t break in future storms since we sometimes get a lot of wind here).  It seems really nicely shaped for the birds to use too.

The birds like it.  I put it up a few days ago and already I have had a constant crew of various finches, mourning doves, black birds, cardinals, and the ever plentiful sparrows.  But the real treat was two bird varieties I have never had at my feeder (or seen there at least).

The first day an American gold finch paid a call.  Here is a picture of one from Cornell’s All About Birds site:

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

I’ve seen them fly by occasionally but they never paid a visit when I watched until yesterday.

Today, I had a bird visit that I have never had the pleasure of seeing.  He not only visited, but he stayed long enough for me to get a real good look at him with my binoculars.  This picture is also from Cornell’s All About Birds.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

I walked out onto my back deck today and listened for a few minutes while the birds were singing and chattering, and the air felt wonderful, and went out front where my azalea is blooming its head off, and then I went upstairs into my delightful studio and worked on a quilt while I thought about my great family and how I have had many wonderful opportunities and experiences, and I came back down to my kitchen and used my floor scrubber to clean the kitchen floor without having to get down on my aging knees with a scrub brush like my grandmother did, and then I made myself a wonderful low-carb chicken dinner and watched The Martian and it made me think about all the good ways I have been taught to take one problem in life at a time and figure out how to solve it.  Yes!! That WAS a very long run on sentence.  😀   😀  😀

I am very blessed.

Sew happy everyone.  May you all be so blessed and may birds and flowers bling up your space in this world.

 

When Projects Go Awry

One of my wonderful mom’s favorite jingles was a song taken from an old movie that was as old as I am.  It was You gotta stick to it tivity:  You’re gonna do all right, you’re gonna do all right.  She sang that to me when things I was trying to accomplish needed more work or went really awry. I can still hear her from time to time singing to me from heaven.  😀  I did see that movie, So Dear to My Heart sometime in my childhood and remember it a bit.

5" x 5" fabric greeting card or mug rug

A little heart mug rug…just showing it because this story touches my heart strings.

It didn’t seem like it at the time, but over the years I realized her singing that little jingle to me repeatedly was a gift that has served me well across the years, and most recently in my quilting.  While working on the past several quilts I have had things go awry rather badly and I thought it may be the end for both of those quilt projects.

Just this week, I started embroidering an element on my Hoffman Challenge 16 quilt and took extra care to place it perfectly along the cross hairs with my brand new laser cross hair light.  It was stitching wonderfully, until I looked at it and….

Gasp!  I had put the hoop on sideways!  Oh no.  The element was turned a perfect 90 degrees wrong.  I stopped the embroidery machine immediately, but it had already stitched quite a lot.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it before I did.

Well, I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to fix it.  Machine embroidery is very much harder to remove than ordinary machine stitching.

073

So I started the process with my stitch remover and tweezers and realized I was simply not making any significant progress and I had put a small hole in the fabric. So I thought I would not be able to repair this quilt.  But I was wrong.

I decided the next morning to research what other people do when this happens and found a couple of videos on you tube of people using a hand held shaver and and another with an electric shaver-like device to remove such embroidery from the bobbin side.  Someone noted in the comments that it was a regular small razor, which is what it appeared to me to be also.  I bought a “Peanut” razor by Wahl, which is a very small palm sized razor and significantly less expensive than the embroidery specific razor.

peanut razor

It came and I successfully removed the embroidery with no further damage to the fabric.  Woohoo! I turned it to the back, braced it on my sewing ham to give it a solid rounded basis and shaved the bobbin side holding the razor kind of upside down as shown in the videos.  I didn’t think it did anything until I turned it over and scratched at the embroidery with my tweezers, and it started coming up!  It took me a couple of hours, but it all came and left no further damage than the small hole I made earlier.

So yesterday I starched and ironed the area and restitched the embroidery off quilt on nylon veiling, which I will applique on.  It will cover the small damage to the fabric with no problem and it looks wonderful.

This event follows on the heels of my completing Drawing Nigh which I just finished after having multiple problems and nearly giving up on it more than once.

Sew this is what I think.  It is all right to abandon a project, but if you have spent hours and money on it, it can pay you to try to fix it.  You may want to step back from it for a while and give it some thought. Do some research on what you can do to fix a problem you may not know how to fix, and keep on trying through one problem after another.  If, in the end, you just can’t fix it to look like you want, you may be able to cut part of it into another project,  or simply throw it away.  But i suggest you don’t do that until you really try to fix it. You may end up with a wonderful end result.

Sew happy everyone and “stick to it tivity: you’re gonna be all right!”

031

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!