Design, Screen Capture, Write…Repeat

The haul from Houston
I’ve been making slow, but steady, progress on “Ten Projects to Bernina V7 Software Effectiveness”, a book that starts with the setup and carries through with ten skill-building projects.  It ends with appendixes full of additional helpful information. I have had this idea for a couple of years, and had actually started it with v6 just before Bernina came out with their V7 version. I gave myself the upgrade for Christmas, and set about to learn the differences and the new things introduced in V7.

I really like v7 and learning it has opened up some new possibilities for use with my Bernina 830 LE, but the software also works for many other brands of embroidery machines, complete with hooping and formatting options.

I am writing this by having three programs open..a screen capturing software, my word processing software, and V7. First I carry out a bit of design work on a project, screen capture the various stages, and write the step-by-step project with lots of illustrations.

When I finish the manuscript, I will then work through the entire book and stitch out all the projects as if I were a newby on the program, and then ask someone else to do the same.

I hope to complete this for publication by the end of May through my son David’s Fennec Fox Press.

If this works well, I have other books in mind that I actually have already blocked out.

Please let me know if you have some skill you particularly want to have included.

Sew happy everyone! Teach someone to sew or quilt. You’ll learn a lot in the process.

Forks in the Road

Forks in the road--My picture for the Ricky Tims 52 week photo class

Forks in the road:  My Photo from Ricky Tim’s 52 Week photo class

 

Now that I have completed my Canterbury Knight I am going to take a few months off from making show quilts to complete a book and its accompanying projects I have begun.  I also am going to plow into getting the online shop set up for my new micro business “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”, which will offer short technique videos, downloadable embroidery items for use on landscape quilts, and downloadable print-on-fabric appliques also for use on art quilts.  All I have left to do is get my shopping cart set up, oh, and complete the items for sale.  😀

We’ll see where this leads, but I’m sure it will be fun and I’ll be blogging about the journey at least once a week again.  After I get all that going, I’ll make another show quilt.  Lots of forks in the fabric arts road….:D

Sew happy everyone!

Quilting as an Art Form–Pursuit of Excellence

I have been thinking a lot lately, for some inexplicable reason, about some negative comments I have heard or read about art quilts. First off, let me say that MOST quilters of all sorts have a broad acceptance of quilting and quilters of any style and appreciate each others’ works, but there are some who view art quilts with a jaundiced eye, erroneously believing that art quilting is somehow easier and less exacting than traditional quilting. Unfortunately, there are also some “art quilters” who may, in fact, deserve this criticism, or view traditional quilting negatively.  Silly views like these should be thrown completely out of the quilting world, and both should accept the other as fine art and fine craft and include continuous training and healthy pursuit of good techniques into their own particular crafts.

I also note that there is also a decided group of artists and media personnel who regard modern day art quilts as unacceptable for the art world, and it is high time museums,  art collectors, and the media take a good hard unbiased look at what is going on in the quilting world today.  Some of them have begun to accept some traditional historic quilts as worthy. But this is another issue than the one I am thinking about today.

Quilting, in any form, should be fulfilling, happy, fun, and emotionally beneficial.  I also believe that, just as traditional quilters mostly strive for those perfectly crafted points and properly sized seams, that art quilters are called upon to also pursue the truthfully unattainable goal of perfectly designed and exquisitely constructed quilts. I am well aware how difficult this pursuit is, because I always end up with quilts that are less than my original vision–sometimes a lot less–even as I can see great progress in my techniques and designs over the years when I look at some of my original quilts and those I make now.

In truth,  quilting of any style requires an understanding of both good design and good quilting techniques.  They also require making multiple decisions on how to reach the goal of your envisioned quilt and solving problems along the way.

Original designs, especially in pictorial quilts, frequently start off one way and end up with big differences,  This is because of finding another, more exciting technique or another design element change that works better than the original.  Art quilts, in my humble opinion, should be pursued to be the best in the quilting world to hold up in techniques and design to the best in the traditional world.  You can’t just slap some fabric and paint on a background and quilt it down.

That is why, quilting as an art form and art that uses fabrics, threads, paints, and beads in concert as its medium requires learning many different techniques and using them like a carpenter uses a tool belt full of fine tools.  Pursuing the full understanding of those techniques is something I have been doing for some time now, and it is wonderful and fun each time I learn something new, or perfect something I thought I already knew how to do.  I am very thankful for the great new world of online classes, shows, and videos that enable me to learn and learn and have a professional and fun time in my studio.

Sew whether you are a traditional or an art quilter or both, go learn and perfect your skills and find the joy of using these new or perfected tools to reach the visions in your head.  Don’t, however, be too hard on yourself.  Perfection is not a human thing…it is only God that is perfect.  Enjoy those little things you know are not quite right in your quilts as a point that shows it is hand-crafted.

OK, I’ll climb down from my soapbox now and go back to work.  😀 😀  Cheers

B.J.

Progress in the Studio

Hooray!  I finished Canterbury Knight.  Oh, I still have to put the label on, but otherwise it is complete.  This quilt is far from perfect, and yet it has absorbed so much of my time and efforts that I have sadly neglected my blogging, my house cleaning, and a few other things.  And to top it all off, when I completed the squaring up and binding, it ended up too small for American Quilter’s Society shows…or too big.  They have a six inch gap between their small wall quilts and their miniature quilts.  It’s not a miniature anyway.  It’s 26 x 35 inches.  Not to worry, there are many other shows, including Houston, that believes that art quilts “of any size” are acceptable.  And why shouldn’t they be.  They take just as much effort.

Anyway, I love this little quilt with all its flaws.  Here’s hoping I can get it into a few shows so some of you can see it in person.  You should see the quilt at the top of this post and here’s a detail zoom:

Detail

Detail

Now I will turn to completing at least one of the books I have started.  The one I am sure to finish first is 10 Projects to Help Master Bernina V7 Design Software.  That title is way too long, so I’ll try to find something shorter.  The next one will be on the different types of machine applique and which to choose for what purpose.  I have a third one on surface design lightly outlined also, but let’s see if I can get the first one completed and somehow published.

I plan on blogging more often for a little while, and hopefully will get some feedback along the way.  I love to hear from you.  Sew happy everyone…takes some time to enjoy the spring, but also spend a little time creating.

Inch by Inch: Updated Tools and Canterbury Knight

Inch by inch I am getting closer to my goals for “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”, which is my new name for my coming micro-business.  Up until now, it has been a hobby, but I need to make enough money to keep on, and I want to be able to share things I have learned and my journey with my friends.  It will just be a micro business.  I am not going to take in quilting, for instance.  I may do more workshops and lectures, but I’m not going to get into the big circuit that requires a lot of travel.  I want to work here in my studio for the most part with an occasional visit elsewhere.  I plan on selling the how-to books I’m currently writing, a few quilts, some downloadable videos, in-the-hoop embroidery (software), and some print-on-your-own fabric digitally painted appliques…just enough to keep on buying supplies and equipment with maybe a little on the side for fun.

I updated my Bernina embroidery software to v7 this week.  It’s pretty fancy, and it does seem to have a lot of new tools.  It also has a completely different interface and it will take a while to find all the old tools and figure out how to use the new ones, but I think it is going to be a big improvement overall.  I’m going to take advantage of my dealer’s class on the software on the 31st.

Digitizing has become an important part of my quilting artwork.  Nearly every quilt now has at least one thing on it that I drew myself and then digitized myself and embroidered in my Bernina Embroidery module.   I have also been developing a flower quilt using my daughter in law’s wonderful photographs for in-the-hoop applique.  I felt I needed to update from v6.  V6 is a powerful program, but there are some things I believe v7 has that will help me a lot.

For a long time I have recorded my quilting progress with a little Nikon Coolpix pocket camera that I bought about ten years ago.  Most of the photos I share here were taken with that.  Last week, the motor that drives the lens died.  I bought a Nikon Coolpix s9700 to replace it.  It’s very like the old dead camera except that it’s a little bigger (but still fits in a pocket), the zoom is much more extensive in both directions, the macro can be much closer so I can really show stitches, the controls are much more extensive, so I can use manual aperture and other manual or auto settings.  It has several scene settings, like my old one did, so I can get a quick picture, but they are more extensive.  And it has the cutest little pop up flash.  My old camera could do a little video, but this one can do a really nice video…up to 29 minutes long.  I tried it out successfully, setting it up on a tripod and demonstrating how to cut out a fabric square just for practice.  I will be doing a lot more practice over the next few weeks.  Once I get handy at this, and figure out how, I will share some videos with you, and eventually, will make some downloadable videos for sale from my website.

Between all the nice technology, machines, cameras, and computer software I have assembled over the past three years since I retired, and the additional video and audio equipment my son Ken gave me, I should be able to realize my plan of  writing books and making videos to share my techniques and some patterns, embroidery software, and downloadable printable fabric designs from my website by the middle of the year.  Inch by inch I’m getting there.

Canterbury Knight Rides Forward:  I have just completed getting the big central block properly set into the seamless border.  Let me tell you, this was a HUGE struggle.  The fabric of the central block is 100% silk charmeuse…hand dyed…and the appliques are silk/cotton Radiance.  It is slippery, drapey, soft, and decidedly hard to control.  The challenge was to get the central block into the seamless black piece of black radiance in a perfect rectangle and perfectly aligned with the straight of grain of the black radiance.  It has taken me a full week, but I just accomplished this.  It probably would not have been so long if I had done two things…not gotten it in upside down in the first place, 🙂  and used more stabilizer from the beginning.  I ended up stabilizing BOTH the border AND the block.  I used Madeira Cotton Soft tearaway, which I love.  Contrary to its name, it is stiff.  It tears away easily, but stays together until you are ready for it to come away.  I have also found that the little bits that get left in soften when washed.  Perhaps that’s why they call it “Soft”.

I also used my fairly new laser square, designed for builders and carpenters, to make the rectangle as perfect as soft drapy, slippery silk can be.  I marked my central block cutting line with it with a thin chalk line and then cut it out with my rotary cutter.  I then marked the stabilizer along both the cutting and the seam lines for the border.  Here’s a picture of that (ignore the stuff in the background.).  See the red laser line and the level on the laser?  When it is level, it makes a perfect 90 degree angle and marks it for as far out as the table goes.

Using my laser square

Using my laser square

Sew happy everyone!  Learn how to do a new technique or practice one you know!  Inch by inch we can learn the techniques and gather the tools to realize our dreams.  It does not have to be done all at once.

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!!! May 2015 be one of your best years ever, and God’s blessings be upon you.

Do you have some quilt related resolutions or goals for the new year? I have several quilterly goals. I call them goals because I think they are much more attainable than “resolutions” which seem black and white…you do it or you don’t…success or failure…whereas a goal has measured steps you can take toward it and eventually reach it or change it as you develop understanding and abilities.

So my primary quilt-related goals this year include:

  • Solid improvement in my actual quilting.  My quilting is ok now, even better than average, but not as good as I want it to be.  This will be something I work on a lot this year.
  • Completion of two books I have begun writing and the patterns and videos that accompany them…one on applique and one of surface design
  • Share what I learn as much as possible.
  • Make some money from my quilt skills.
  • Complete several new show quilts.
  • Make several quilt projects just for fun and charity.

I know this seems a lot, but they interrelate and merge, and I believe it is possible and will provide me with a lot of fun.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt in the new year…yourself, your child, your crazy uncle, your dog or cat.  😀  Happy New Year!

Time for Christmas Sewing

Christmas Sewing

I realize that some of you are way ahead of me on this.  I see it on Facebook…my friends with their houses already decorated, Christmas baking is started, and Christmas sewing is finished.  I am, nevertheless, way ahead of my usual pace for December this year though.

I already have the house sort of clean and ready to decorate for Christmas, which I hope my youngest son and I will get done this weekend.  I even got my studio clean and ready for the next project.  That will be a few Christmas sewing projects I have planned.  I’m not saying what they are here, because the recipients may read this, but I am looking forward to it,

I still have not come up with the designs for my next couple of show quilts, so I’ll be working on that a little next week also.

Sew good wishes for a wonderful week to you all!  God’s blessings be upon you.

Sew happy!  Take time to learn a new technique or practice to polish an old one.  Christmas presents are a good place to do that with.  🙂  Teach someone to sew…your brother, your sister, your impossible relative, your cat, your dog….Merry Christmas!

On Designing New Show Quilts for 2015

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I have been struggling with design plans for my next couple of show quilts for 2015.  I have plenty of ideas, but not enough focus.  So I am spending a fair amount of time looking through some design sources…Dover Publications royalty free drawings in their books, my own and my family’s photographs, NASA’s deep space copyright free photos, and drawing things myself on my software.  I want to make a new illuminated manuscript quilt, a new story landscape, an Ikebana/Sashiko quilt, and a new deep space quilt for starters.  And really, I love the design at the top that I downloaded from Dover Pictura.

I think I have my new story landscape concept.  It will be a deep dark forest with light coming through the roof of the forest.  More on that later.  I have the Ikebana Sashiko concept in mind and only need to draw up the overall quilt pattern before I can start that one.

I have multiple deep space ideas.  The choices have to have some distinct features…some of the NASA picture are beautiful, but still are mostly gaseous clouds, and they won’t work because they would look like just blobs of color on the flat quilt.  It’s already hard to get viewers and judges to know they are looking at representations of real pictures when they see deep space quilts if they aren’t familiar with the NASA pictures, and many are not.  One of the best things I heard at Houston was when I walked up to my quilt behind some viewers who were saying “This is my favorite here.  It looks like something from outer space.”  They didn’t know who I was, but clearly they got what I was trying to do with Sky Horse.  Between my kids and me, we have found six candidates.

But the quilt I want to make first, the next illuminated manuscript, is still escaping me.  There is a plethora of inspirations, and perhaps that’s the problem.  I think I will just have to take a stab at one to pin down the idea when it floats by.  LOL

In any event, I will be making a few Christmas presents over the next couple of weeks, and working on my designs.  I’ll share my next show quilt journey with you, unless I encounter an important reason not to.

Have a wonderful week.  Sew happy everyone.  Take time to practice.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

997324-176Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  God’s blessings be upon you and I hope you have a Thanksgiving full of love and hope, be you together with family or alone with your furry friends or just a nice dinner and a movie.  I am very thankful for my friends, family, and internet friends and for all God has done for me through the years.

Hugs

Thinking About 2015 Quilt Activities

studio1

Now that I’m back from the trip to Houston and San Diego, and am almost finished with my little special exhibit quilt, it is time to decide what is going to happen next in my studio.  This is an exciting time for me.  I love Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and I also love planning for the new quilting year.  Several new things will be happening.

First of all, I have finally gotten really going on writing a new book.  From the several subjects I have in mind I chose to write about machine applique first.   I chose this because I frequently hear that applique is something a lot of quilters and fashion sewists find difficult or dread.  Applique is fun and not difficult, so this book will include multiple techniques for machine applique and discuss when to use which type.  I plan on having several projects in the book for you to play with.  It is my intention to record a video to accompany this book.  So it will have the book, the dvd, and the projects.  This will take me a lot of time, and unfortunately, I will probably not be able to share specific progress with you along the way, but I hope it will be a good addition to the information already out there and be clear and easy to use.

Next, my plans require that I finally set up as a small business in order to sell the resulting project above from my web site along with some other smaller projects I am thinking of having available.  It will be a very low key business, designed primarily to finance my quilting activities, going to shows, and pay for this blog and my website.  If I make some real profit, that will be icing on the cake.

And finally, I am planning to make three or four new show quilts for 2015 shows.  I haven’t gotten the specific concepts together yet, but in general they will include one new illuminated manuscript quilt on silk (or silk/cotton blend) (to continue my series begun with Canterbury Silk), one new story landscape (this would be my fourth such quilt), one new line drawing quilt (third in my architectural/design lines series), and one new deep space quilt (third in the series).   If these go well and faster than anticipated, I could make another quilt or two, but I also have to allow space for a few articles of clothing and a couple of utility/charity quilts.  Seems like a fun but busy year ahead, starting now!

The other day I realized how important my Bernina 830 LE machine has become to my overall quilting activities.  I have now put nearly 8 million stitches on this machine that I bought at the end of 2011.  It is still going strong, but I think I need to start saving for a new machine in a couple of years.

Sew here is what I want to know from you…Do you like the idea of an applique book with DVD?  What are you working on now or plan to work on for 2015?  I’d love to hear from you.  I really like comments on my blog.

Sew happy everyone!