I’ve been making art quilts now on a serious basis for about 10 years and full time for five!
It surprised me when I realized that. While thinking about that and looking at my bulging and dripping over stash storage, I realize that my quilt needs have changed as I developed my styles over the past ten years.
So how has it changed?
I have enormously increased my thread stash over the years, and recently I jaw-droppingly won Superior Threads giveaway of 30 cones of all 30 colors of their new Microquilter 100 weight. This is a thread I will use a lot and recognized when they introduced it that if it was as good as I expected that I would want a lot of it. What a nice thing! Thanks Superior! So I bought new cone holder to accommodate that. I store my smaller spools in the plastic drawers where I used to store more fabric. I would have a hard time adding much thread into my stash now. I am thankful for this stash and expect to use most of it over the next few years. I use a lot of thread in my wall art quilts.
I had originally stocked in a lot of Oriental fabric prints, story prints, and landscape prints in the strong reds, browns, and blues I really love.
I have increased those fabrics that are either solid or read solid, and I also have large quantity of blacks and whites, and I even have a lot of prepared for dye fabrics. Truly, I could use bolts of blacks, whites, and solid dark blues. I recently used up a bolt of black and had to buy some more.
I still love landscape fabrics, and have lots of plans for those.
I originally told myself I would never paint a quilt. Sew how has it happened that paints, inks, and other fabric markers have grown into a big stash…not huge, but big? He he he he.
Then there are crystals, beads, and sequins, which I use mostly on space and ancient manuscript quilts with a crystal or two on some of my others. These are small and take little space, but I use them up rapidly when I make one deep space quilt. I don’t buy a lot ahead because it is so expensive. I do watch for big sales in bulk though.
I can’t seem to keep enough stabilizers and battings in stock, since I use them a lot and mostly buy them as I need them, so those spaces are about the same.
I plan on a little stash busting by making a quilt for my bed and maybe a couple of lap quilts for my home and a charity quilt or two from the parts of the stash I no longer anticipate using in professional art quilts.
I will be reducing my stashes throughout this year. The last time I did this was about five years ago when I retired and started full time, and it held up well, but is once again in need of some attention.
I refuse to let myself add more storage, because I have plenty to keep enough fabrics, threads, and paints to last me the rest of my life! I must reduce what I have to make it all fit again and make room for the few things I need for specific projects that aren’t already there. This will be an ongoing effort for the next several months, I think…maybe longer.
Sew I am well stocked for quilting and sewing, though I could use more cotton-silk Radiance and a few more neutrals.
With apologies to those of you who are interested, I will be late in my promise for part two of our stylized landscape project next steps. I have to work through the background to get pictures and maybe even videos and that is taking longer than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I will get part two done in this month.
Sew how has your stash changed since you started this activity? Do you need to reduce or add or both? I would love to hear from you about this.
I am enjoying a new fabric adventure into the world of exhibiting of the body of my art quilting work at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, which is a two-part exhibit. The first part is in the Bernina section of the store. The second part will start in mid-July and my quilts will be displayed throughout the store. I believe this part will run for an additional two months and I am hoping to complete several new quilts for this part. So in effect, my quilts will be on display from now through August.
Yesterday I took eight of my quilts over to the store for part one. This part includes all three of my Ancient Manuscript quilts, four of my Hoffman Challenge quilts that demonstrate my growth as a quilter from 2008 to 2013, and Dad’s House Plan from 2013. I had such a good time while I was there and am very excited about this two-part exhibit. I am honored that G Street Fabrics wants to do this exhibit for me.
In June, I will be teaching a three hour workshop on quilting there at G Street…primarily free motion quilting but I am also going to briefly talk about quilting with a walking foot. Sometime while my quilts are there I will be providing a walking lecture around the store to talk about my quilts and related things in the store.
G Street is a wonderful store. It is getting better all the time after it clearly moved to save itself from failing. It closed two stores in Virginia to my chagrin and moved from it’s old Rockville location to its new one. The new store is less showy and slightly smaller than the old Rockville one, but I looked over it yesterday and found it has a fine selection of fabrics and notions and seemed busy again. It also has a kind of interesting atmosphere similar to some fabric stores I encountered in New York years ago…not flashy, but full of wonderful things for the sewist, quilter, and fabric artists of all kinds. The Bernina section is in a setting like its own store, and it has a wonderful set of classrooms for teaching. They have a Bernina Q24 longarm set up in the store that is available for in-store rental of time on the longarm. And Lew is the best Bernina tech I have ever encountered over my many years of sewing on Berninas. I encourage you to go pay it a visit if you are ever in the area, or even make a trip there if you are close enough. You can even order from them online.
Sew happy everyone! I hope you can make it to G Street and see my exhibits. I better get to work…I have several new quilts in the works for the second part of the exhibit!
I just came home all inspired by a delightful few days at Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival where I had “Pendragon”. I put together some of my pictures from the show. Here is a link to the picture file: Smugmug/MAQF 17
I stayed a day longer than I usually do for this show and it gave me lots of time to see every quilt, take all four lectures I was interested in and see the Show and Tell that I usually miss. I also did a lot of shopping. Well, afterall, my 70th birthday will be this coming Friday on March 3rd, so I gave myself some presents…threads, new rulers (a set of circles and a set of ovals), and one of those spinning cutting mats among a few additional small items.
Pendragon did not place, but I believe it to be mostly because the theme of the show was modern quilting and that quilt has nothing to say that is even remotely modern quiltish. I still believe it is a ribbon worthy quilt, so we will see what it does in the future. I decided to see if they would include it anyway because I sort of consider MAQF my main show. It is within driving distance and I have relatives in the area, so going there is always a treat for me. I did get some nice comments from the judges:
Your original design effective in telling your story; Embroidery well executed; Piecing well done; Quilting motifs compliments the design; Quilt hangs flat and square; Back of quilt should be free of loose threads and lint” (note: I sticky rolled it and examined it with my big magnifying lamp when I packed it…lint may have happened on their end. That backing fabric I used was a little lint grabbing…not using that again).
A New Page Is Turned
Now, however, I am turning a page on my work. From here I am focusing on the quilt work itself, and on figuring out how to pass on what I have learned even as I maintain my studio artist status (not a lot of travel, a little teaching within driving distance, writing books and creating tutorials), rather than so much focus on the competition work. I will still enter shows, and still plan on making show quilts (they teach me a lot and give me a chance to stretch my work), but it’s an attitude and work flow adjustment in my studio that is on this nice new page in my life. You can see more about this in one of my past blogposts here.
There are lots of definitions of “antique”. The one I like the best for this discussion is “an object such as … a work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.” Tomorrow (Friday, March 3rd), I will be 70 years old. I am a work (in progress) maybe even a “work of art” and have considerable age. I think every human being has high value…so there you are. I could probably be called “an antique” fabric artist. I feel physically great (have also lost some weight recently and hope to lose more) and I believe I am as mentally alert as ever (always a little daphy). Many of my ancestors lived well into their hundreds. I have a wonderful plan for my future and my kids are nearby. My studio is well stocked, and my fleet of machines is wonderful and in good working order. I’m excited about the future. Thank the good Lord and I hope you will continue to join me on my quilting journey.
One of the things I am going to begin on this blog post is a regular short tutorial (every week or month?). This week’s tutorial is answering a question I got a lot at the show…how I made the chain mail on my characters in Pendragon using Bernina v7. I haven’t yet gotten v8, but I suspect this would work there also.
Digitizing Chain Mail for Small Applique (Or using special fills to create what you want)
I wanted to make the characters’ chain mail shirts look right, and decided the best approach was to digitize the chain mail in my Bernina v7 software and embroider it in the hoop. This took me a while to discover how to do it. I think I spent two or three days on figuring this out, but I just did a chain mail heart shape and took snap pictures for this tutorial all in about three minutes. So I thought I’d share this with you in case you wanted to create something special with interesting fills and shapes. Using Bernina v7 software:
- Draw a closed shape…you can put the picture in the art canvas side and trace it on the embroidery side
- Right click on the object and bring up the Object Properties dialogue box.
- I had to turn my shirts upside down and move them around to get the wave fill to match where the parts of the wave needed to be to show the expansion and contraction of the chain…like a shirt on a beautifully muscled knight. 😀 I also gave each shirt their own color to help me figure out which belonged where when complete. I embroidered them all in Superior Fantastico 5169..a silvery variegated gray on black fabric. I cut them out close to the embroidery and glued them on with Roxanne basting glue and blanket stitched the edges in the same thread to give them a finish.
So there you are. I can see this method working for a wide variety of appliques and purposes. The software is so flexible, but finding out how to do something you want to do that is a little different can take time.
On Upcoming Events:
- For the month of May and a couple of weeks into June, G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland, is hosting an exhibit of my quilts. I will have one day where I will provide a walking lecture tour of my approximately 15 quilts that will be placed around the store. I’ll let you know when that is.
- In June, I will be providing a workshop on machine quilting at G Street.
- My quilt “Drawing Nigh” will be at AQS in Lancaster, PA, March 20-April 1. If you attend and see my quilt, let me know.
Sew happy everyone. Focus on your creative projects to have the most fun, put in your best effort, learn a little bit, and share, and don’t let it stress you out. I would really appreciate comments.
I have made some adjustments in my thinking about my fabric art direction over the last few months that will lead to my putting less focus on competition art quilting and more on the adventure of making art as fabulous as I can. You may not see much difference, because I probably will continue to enter some of my work into shows, but the emphasis in my studio and in my mind is more on the art work and less on the show work.
I am very excited about this because I have so many things I want to try to make and I want to share with you, gentle readers, what I learn along the way.
This new direction came about because two quilts of mine that I know are quite show worthy and people would emjoy seeing them, were both rejected from Road to California 2017. That puzzled me (I have several theories about this, but I won’t share them here). They are wonderful quilts and deserved to be in the show. Here they are:
Yes, I know all the things that are said about this by friends trying to comfort me (I am not upset, by the way. It is a good thing that helped me think I needed to move in new directions)…”make what you love”, “even if they are rejected it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your quilt”, “they probably had too many in that category”, and so on. I appreciate it. But think about this: It costs money to enter a show, and my desire when I enter is chiefly to share my quilts with people.
If I win something it is icing on the cake, so not to get into a show is really harder for me to take than not placing. I used to clearly understand it if my quilt was rejected, since I was such a junior quilt maker and I could see the problems in the quilts myself. But my recent quilts are flat, square, quilted well, full of impact, individual, good designs, and worthy of sharing.
So I have decided to loosen my focus on shows a bit and look for new ways to share my quilts, sell my quilts, and share what I have learned (books, classes within driving distance, this blog, and so forth). I am having an exhibit of my quilts next spring at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. I still will try to get some quilts in if I think they fit well in a particular show, because that is the best way to share them with more people. But that will not be my focus for making a new quilt. I have so many quilts I want to make…fabric and thread experiments I want to try…digital to fabric experiments…and embellishment and applique adventures I want to go on. Without having to worry about the judges, I will have more freedom (though they will all still be made to show quality). It is so exciting.
I am currently working on my wonderful oldest son Ken’s design he gave me for my birthday in March. This quilt has taken me longer in actual hours than any other quilt so far. I have at last completed the central pictorial theme this week, made all the special border pieces and the text box. I only have to cover a tiny cord for inclusion in the quilt and I will be putting together all the pieces of the top very soon. I already have figured out how I am going to quilt it once I get it to that stage, and with my wonderful new Bernina Q20 (Fritz), I expect that to go well and faster than past quilts. I am hoping to get that into Houston next fall, since it’s always been intended as a show quilt, and if I do, I will hope to attend the show myself.
In addition to the creation of fabric art, I am planning on blogging several series of how-tos like my recent five-parter here, including one with a few months of a step-of-the-month project. I will be teaching some classes at G Street Fabrics in Rockville next year, and will be looking for other nearby possibilities for workshops (I don’t like to fly). I will finally finish writing the three books I already have been working on (Applique for fabric artists, Embellishment and surface design, and Quilting for art quilts) to be published by Fennec Fox Press (my youngest son’s small publishing company).
Sew happy everyone! Join me in this exciting new adventure in 2017!
I haven’t finished my blog series on quilting for domestic machine artists, but I thought I’d tell you about a coming happening. G Street Fabrics will be hosting an exhibit of my quilts in the spring of 2017.
I have taken a hard look at the quilts I will have available and have decided it would be good if I can make several new quilts for that. I’m excited about this. So I will be backing off from showing my quilts in quilt shows around the country.
I recently purchased a new Shaheen vintage panel and will make a second quilt along the same lines of “Hawaiian Garden” shown below and offer it for sale at the exhibit. The panel is different, but I will be adding a similar border drawing the design from that panel.
In addition to that one, I have some ideas for additional quilts that I think I might be able to make in the time I have. Some of these involve some new techniques I want to try and I will be sharing these with you along the way. I am also going to complete my son Ken’s quilt, and I do plan to enter that one into a show or two, but I want it home for the spring exhibit.
This will be a kind of departure from the direction I have been moving–away from shows and toward other avenues for sharing my work. I have become fairly puzzled by what is going on in the show quilting world recently. Last week two of my best quilts were rejected from Road to California, one of which has already won a ribbon and one that has already been shown in two AQS shows. I was encouraged by the Houston judging by what won. I did not enter this year, but in many, maybe even most, of the other shows the winners and losers have been an absolute puzzle to me. Some of the most exquisite quilts, beautifully designed and quilted, that might remotely be considered an art quilt did not do well, and the winners also seemed surprising.
So I have decided to concentrate on making my quilts equally as well as I would if they were a show quilt, and show or sell them as I can in other avenues, and to work also on my books and teach a few workshops locally. This decision already seems to have unlocked my creativity that felt like it was grinding to a slow halt. I’ll keep you up to date on that in case you are in the area and can come see my quilts or take one of my workshops. I will probably enter something in Houston for 2017, but we’ll see. I will take a new look at this situation after the exhibit or later.
Sew I am happily working away in my studio, perhaps at an even higher level than I have up until now, and we’ll see just how much of the ideas will actually make it on time.
Sew happy everyone. Follow your leanings in your quilting. If you don’t you may find it hard to work.
This is kind of a repeat subject, but I thought it might be fun for you to consider if you can’t go to Houston. Develop and take your own personal quilting retreat with a certain amount of commitment while other quilting friends are off carousing in Houston.
Shortly after I bought Fritz (my Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm), I took a week and had my own private quilting retreat that inspired me, gave me time to practice quilting on my new machine, and to take some really fun online classes. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel I should be doing something else when I’m spending time on these activities. So setting aside a period of time and designating it as “a retreat” to myself and family gave me a lot of fun without that nagging thought that maybe I should be working on something else or cleaning or some such. It actually felt like I was at a retreat and it helped me learn a lot and just have some fun. The cost was limited to the purchase of the online classes and the supplies for them, and I bought them on sale and pulled most of the supplies from my own stash. The cost of going Houston is quite a significant amount more unless you live there, and you can review the classes whenever you want to.
I approached this just as I would have preparing for any retreat: I put together a stack of small quilt sandwiches, some of which I marked with grids and lines, and some had no marking for my practice. I bought several online classes and made sure I had all the supplies for them, and I did do a little cleaning prep of my studio beforehand. These are some classes I recommend from iquilt.
- Divide, Design, and Fill for Beautiful Quilting: Lisa H. Calle
- Machine Quilting on the Grid: Gina Perkes
- English Paper Piecing by Machine: Karen K. Stone
- Step by Step Quilted Landscapes: Kathy McNeil
- Three Embellished Fabric Bags: Rami Kim
I also recommend these classes from Craftsy.
- The Perfect Finish: How to Bind a Quilt: Susan Cleveland
- The Machine Embroidery Inspired Quilt: Susan Stewart
- Scrap Quilting: Pepper Cory
In addition, if you are a member of The Quilt Show, (and if you aren’t, why not?) it’s a nice time to review or see some of the shows and the little Bernina videos (most techniques applicable to other than Bernina machines).
- Select TQS shows, which I played while I was quilting (I have a small TV in Studio Fritz). I think this moved my quilting forward.
The first thing I did was just play the classes through while I was practicing my quilting on Fritz. Then I watched a couple of them with care and did some form of the projects. I think it would be fun to have a friend join me for a similar private retreat sometime here in my studio. Any volunteers?
Sew happy everyone! I highly recommend you carry out your own personal quilting or sewing retreat and let me know how it goes for you and what classes you took.
At this point in my life, I am really amazed to find myself blessed with my two-and-a-partial room studio set up with all my machines in great working order; the fabric, the thread, the paints, the inks, the sequins, crystals, and beads; and the collection of wonderful and interesting sewing tools and notions from decades of sewing. I even have hoops, needles, and thimbles for hand quilting. These things have been collected over half a century and include some of inherited items from my mother and mother-in-law.
Currently, I am making the hardest quilt I have ever undertaken…the one my son Ken designed for me and gave me the supplies to make it (see my blog about this here). I will not be showing that one here until after it is complete, and probably after it has debuted in a show. I am hoping to finish this quilt by the end of November. As I work through this quilt I am pondering what directions I should take now that I have what is needed to make most anything I can think of.
I do have a 2017 list of quilts concepts (not in any kind of working order):
|Ancient Manuscripts: Ken’s (underway)||Designed by Ken Tatum, and gifted design, threads, and fabrics for this magnificent design.|
|Marvin Memory quilt: Like a Tree||Psalm 1 (Tree by river with words) with fabulous landscape work, the Psalm somehow incorporated in the quilting|
|Deep Space 4||TBD|
|Dark Forest in 3D||This is kind of a three dimensional|
|Waiting…3||At the airport|
|Volcanic Scene with Dragon and Phoenix||Mostly in reds, oranges, browns, and golds|
|Heirloom Quilt in memory of Mom||Using Mom’s unfinished needlework and sepia pictures with beads, crystals. lace, decorative stitching…crazy quilt blocks alternating with sepia pics. This may not be a show quilt…I’ll decide during or after making it.|
|Deep Space 5||TBD|
|Ancient Manuscripts 4||TBD|
|Wool applique and embellishment||TBD|
|Whole Cloth||Unusual whole cloth tbd…I have several ideas.|
|Jacob’s Ladder||Jacob’s Ladder pictorial using Jacob’s Ladder traditional blocks for the ladder itself…kind of goes along with Waiting… and Drawing Nigh.|
|In Full Bloom||Flower Applique/Embroidery laden quilt, from Beth’s photographs/Joint with Beth|
|Swarkovski crystal music/Houston special||Jazz 1920s, city with musical notes coming from lit windows with silhouettes, and rising and exploding into fireworks..try to make it almost pulsing with the music beat.|
Sew I’m thinking about all of this while making Ken’s quilt. I keep coming up with new ideas. I am also considering what to do with these quilts considering everything that is going on in the quilting world. While they will all be made at show quilt level, I am not sure they will all end up at shows.
Additionally, I am also slowly working on several books and planning to provide some videos and tutorials here.
Sew happy everyone! What are you working on now or planning?
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:
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.
On Monday my new Q20 Fritz was setup in the part of my studio that also houses my office with my computer, and recently iquilt has been having sales on their video classes and I purchased several. Starting on Tuesday I have been having my own private quilting retreat (and I’m not finished). Actually, I kind of fell into this little quilting retreat by coincidence of the two things happening in close proximity to each other.
Here is Fritz:
The days have flown by as I watched the classes, put together practice quilt sandwiches, and practiced on my new machine. I have spent four or five hours a day practicing quilting on Fritz, and sometimes, I just put the class videos on and let them play through, and sometimes I stopped and went carefully through the classes. I have really enjoyed myself.
The classes are all great, by the way, and I am learning a lot. Sew what classes am I taking?
- Divide, Design & Fill for Beautiful Quilting by Lisa Calle
- Mastering the Mini: Wholecloth Designs by Lisa Calle
- Machine Quilting on the Grid by Gina Perkes
- English Paper Piecing by Machine by Karen Stone
- and reviewing Step by Step Quilted Landscapes by Kathy McNeil, which I already had.
I also have run thr0ugh a couple of The Quilt Show shows while I was practicing quilting and testing various threads and settings on Fritz. It’s kind of been like I was taking a summer school in quilting. I am planning a similar week next week.
I need much more practice on Fritz to produce show quality quilting, but I feel encouraged to see some progress. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…. I do need to get to quality quilting fairly soon because I have a lot of ongoing quilting plans and book samples to do, and the quilting on these needs to be beautiful and well done. Here are a couple of photos from my first practice:
Sew happy everyone! I know not many of you can take a lot of time for your own retreat, but I highly recommend it if you can manage it. Nevertheless, I hope you can take some time to learn and practice, whichever machines, needles, and techniques you use. This brings many rewards. I’m off to do some more practice!