My Mentors

107

On a trip earlier this year, a friend of mine asked me who I considered my mentor.  I was driving and the traffic was heavy, so I didn’t give a very good answer to that question.  I have had many mentors, the chief one being my mother.  Sew I decided to pull an earlier post from my archives of my old blog, but looking at it, I realize I have added several additional mentors and so I put those into the post in blue text.  I am so thankful for all the wonderful quilters and sewists who have taught me so much across the years.  Many of them I have never met.

 

AUTHOR: BJ Tatum
TITLE: Let us now praise famous women (and men)
DATE: 8/7/2011 9:35:54 PM
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BODY:
I don’t quite know why, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the
wonderful women and men who have handed down their skills and forged
paths in sewing, engineering, painting, fabric weaving and printing, and
development of all manner of tools and notions  that have brought us to
the fantastic opportunities we have now spread before us.   I thank God
for them.


Let us now praise famous men [and women], and our fathers [and mothers] that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through His great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of
learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing.
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations.
All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though
they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born;
and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

From Ecclesiastics 44, King James Version

Several quilters and sewers have had a huge impact on my appreciation and love of sewing and quilting.  And you know, I’ve only actually met one of the most impactful of them besides my mother.

Zephana Bivens:  She was my dear incredibly brilliant talented mother, who was an advanced sewist and knitter.  She never made quilts to my knowledge, but she taught me to sew and knit and embroider from the time I was about 4 or 5.  I honestly can’t remember exactly when I began, but I do know I made my first dress, with a lot of help from her, at age 6.  Late in her life, she got interested in intricately carved woodworking using a scroll saw and made some wall art that I can only characterize as “wood lace”.  Sadly, she passed away at age 79 from cancer just as she was perfecting her woodworking, and she never got to see my quilting development.  How I would have loved to share it with her, but somehow I believe she knows about it.  She was not famous, but she was clearly an artist.

Martha Pullen: The other day, I was watching  “Martha’s Sewing
Room” where one of her guests (sorry don’t know her name), was showing a
way to sew something and turn it that was remarkable in its result and
simplicity, but required an engineering mind to figure out in the first
place.  Martha has provided some remarkable teaching from her program and I have learned a ton of new methods especially for heirloom sewing.

Sharon Schamber:  The first time I realized that quilts might be a fascinating “hobby” for me was about 7 years ago when I attended the Chantilly Sewing and Quilting Expo where they had one of Sharon Schamber’s quilts on display.  I was astonished and fascinated with her piecing and quilting techniques and, oddly, I didn’t even particularly like her overall quilt.  I realized, though, that she has a remarkable talent.   Since that time, I have studied many of her how-to videos on her network.  She taught me to improve my piecing, my quilting, and especially my binding. [Sharon’s videos are now available in DVD form on her daughter’s site Purple Daisies]

Alex Anderson:  Alex’s TV show Simply Quilts, which never seemed long enough to me but which introduced me to many new concepts and techniques piqued my interest.  Now she and Ricky Tims and their families and colleagues produce The Quilt Show, which has provided me with a huge amount of teaching through the shows, the classes, and the access to other quilters online.

Nancy Zieman: Over the years I have watched every Sewing with Nancy episode I could find and have bought a number of her dvds and books.  I improved my basic sewing skills from her teaching.

Diane Gaudynski: 
Diane is relatively new in my unmet masters.  I bought a couple of her books on machine quilting using a domestic sewing machine and they helped me to vastly improve my quilting. She helped me to realize I don’t have to have a long arm machine to do high-end quilting.

Laura Wausalowski, who I took a workshop from a couple of years back and she taught me how much fun quilting should be and how to improve my fusible applique.

Recently, I have developed a lot of interest in the techniques that are used by Caryl Bryer Fallert, which, remarkably, closely relate to many of my favorite methods, though our quilt subjects are so different and she, of course is the master, and I am just an explorer at this point.

Pepper Cory, from whom I have taken several workshops and with whom have an ongoing friendship.  Now Pepper is mostly a hand quilter, but her knowledge of quilt history, sense of design, and ability to deal with stencils (and other quilting design sources) have been an enormous help to me in seeing some directions I need to take in my future quilting.

Pat Holly and Sue Nickels, and their books Stitched Raw Edge Applique and Machine Quilting: A Primer of Techniques along with their video appearances on The Quilt Show.  I have only briefly met Sue Nickels at her lecture at The Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival this past February, but they are both such effective teachers that their books and videos have been enormous help in improving my quilts.

Everyone develops their own styles and methods, and often they are a mix of things learned from others…but it’s just wonderful how much is out there today to help us get there and we don’t even HAVE to go to their workshops to get that advantage…though it is much more fun if we can!

Have a great week everyone.

Cheers,

Betty Jo

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Progress and Plans

I’ve made a lot of progress on my little silk folk art Chaucer quilt, temporarily titled “Whan That Aprille”.  I have completed the central section, embroidered the text box, and assembled the top with the black border, which I also marked.  I am waiting on my order of additional black Radiance for the back and while I wait, I have been experimenting with threads and settings for the quilting.

I decided I really like the look of the antique gold metallic from Superior Threads.  Now I have discovered that my old Bernina 1230 “Betsy” has no problem with Superior metallics at all, and neither does my little B350 “E-Claire”, but my big old honking “Gibbs”, my Bernina 830 LE has some trouble with it.  It’s all related to the tensions of both the bobbin and the top.  It’s one of the best features of Gibbs, but also one of the most complex that it allows tremendous adjustment for both the bobbin and the top.  I really want to use the big machine to do my quilting so I can use the stitch regulator and the large table arrangement that makes quilting so easy.  I must have spent three full quilting days trying to figure out how to get the setup right and the gold thread to quilt without showing up as “tension problems” on the back that judges simply cannot abide.  But I finally got it, I think.  Here is the setup I have for the black borders that I plan to quilt in antique gold thread:

Silk-Cotton black Radiance for both the top and the back
90/14 Superior titanic top stitch needle
Superior 100 weight silk thread in the bobbin
Top tension 2.0
Bobbin thread for embroidery, but tension is loosened two clicks to the left (there is a special tool for this)
Bottom layer of batting is a thin polyester from Quilter’s Dream
Top layer of batting is Hobb’s wool.

Now yesterday I had no problem with this.  Both the top and the bottom looked absolutely even.  Today I had a few spin out loops on the back, but I think it is because I got overly confident and started sewing too fast.  So I slid the speed control to the left and slowed way down with no more problems.  My other two machines will not sew that fast.  It just needs time to make it right.  I have successfully quilted one of my five little practice mug rugs.  I plan on finishing up four of them and sharing them with some of my friends that I owe mug rugs to.  I will use them as practice painting samplers also, since I am planning on painting the border designs.

Sew what else have I been doing while waiting for the backing fabric?  I have been rejiggering my quilting plans for the rest of this year and beginning of next year.  I put them on my website (did you know I also have a website)?  I have also started updating my quilt show list I keep there, but I figure that will take me a few more weeks to complete.  I’ll let you know.  Anyway, here is my “current projects” list (actually it’s my current plans list, but I like the feel of “projects” as opposed to “plans”…seems more like I’m making lots of progress. 😉

 

  1. Whan That Aprille:  A folk art applique, embroidery and beading experiment.  I combined this with the illuminated manuscript project.  This is a silk and silk/cotton/Radiance quilt.  The main center section is complete, the black border is pieced on and marked, the text box is successfully embroidered and pieced in.  I am ready to make the sandwich and begin the quilting, but I decided I needed considerable experimenting, testing, and practice before I do this, and have put together five small mug-rug sized practice pieces for this purpose.  I estimate completion of this quilt by 1 August.
  2. **NEW** First Flight:  New blue print based whole cloth quilt based on Wright Brothers’ Line Drawings and an applique/embroidery rendition of a plane in the center.  Mostly designed, although not patterned out yet.
  3. Volcanic Fire with Flying Things:  Erupting volcano with dark mountain, smoky orange sky and fiery volcanic lava…in the near orange sky there will be a fight between phoenix and dragon in hopefully magnificent colors.  This was inspired in part by my recent storm-at-sea quilt “Waiting…” in which I placed a rocky lower border.  I enjoyed making that border and it made me think of volcanic rocks.  It was also inspired by my work on “Sky Horse” and I decided the phoenix or dragon should have a large component of Angelina Fibers and crystals as part of the applique.
  4. Peppered Ikebana:  This will draw from old Japanese Sashiko for the background, and will have a Japanese flower arrangement in the foreground.  I am planning on making this largely with Pepper Cory’s shot peppered cotton fabrics, both free motion machine quilting and Sashiko large stitch quilting, and a combination of applique and machine embroidery for the flower arrangement.  Remember, I have my fourth year flower arranging certificate in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana that I got in Japan and I want to use that in a series of flower-arrangements on quilts.
  5. Flower appliques and embroidery:  I am using Beth Tatum’s beautiful flower pictures to design both in-the-hoop appliques and embroideries and out of the hoop free motion embroideries as a joint quilt with her (my DIL).  Working on applique designs.
  6. Jazz On a Crystal Night:  A stylized nighttime city scene with musicians silhouetted in tall building windows and doors.  The music stream will be floating out of the windows and doors to the sky where it “explodes” into “fireworks”.  This quilt will have a lot of crystals. Set in the 1920s.
  7. Light in an Ancient Forest: Very dark forest with great old character and large wonderful trees.  Coming through the trees is a beam of sunlight that lands on the floor of the forest highlighting [something] in  full of color.  The something may be an ancient ruin of church with the light coming through the stained glass or a small patch of colorful flowers.  There may be a woodland creature or two peaking out from behind some of the trees.  🙂
  8. Perspective in Silk:  Second in series of perspectives in thread drawings…I will do this one on silk with colorful threadwork.  This may become the start of a series on American monuments or something else.
  9. Zephana’s (my mother) Gifts:  Using my mother’s unfinished hand-crocheted lace I found in her workbasket after her passing for embellishment and a key design component, this quilt is in her memory.  I will use a background of linen  and silk fabric.
  10. Dragon Dress for Competition: Black quilted silk sheath dress with flared skirt, will have appliqued trapunto dragon wrapped around the dress.  This is for competition and will include machine embroidery, hand embroidery, Angelina Fibers, crystals, beads and sequins.  I just have to figure out how to make the dragon wrap so it looks right.

Sew Happy everyone, and what are you working on or planning now?

 

 

Whan That Aprille: The words section

I am currently in the process of stitching down all those little applique pieces on the red section of my little Chaucer quilt. I’m about halfway through that and my shoulders and neck are kind of hurting now, so I thought I would stop for a bit and work on the words section. Think of this as a page in a Medieval illuminated book. The red part is in the upper center and below that is the verse in a Medieval style text box. The border around the edge is probably still going to be black, but will be quilted in metallic threads (I think…may change my mind on that). I did a mock up of what I am thinking as far as the text box. I am planning on trying a tea-dye on some white silk/cotton Radiance and will try adding some additional aging with a very thin bit of watered down brown Setacolor inks. Here are the words I am going to include. I am going to try to digitize this in Bernina v6 so I can get it embroidered in the hoop.

text box for web

The “W” has to be fabulous and I will probably color it somehow (I’m thinking fabric markers). I have one choice in the mock up, and here are 4 more. If I use the first one, I will probably not use the mermaid somehow, but I kind of like the rest of it. With that in mind which one do you like? (Reference as “Mockup”, Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right)

Whan Ws

Just so you get the idea for the look I’m kind of going for, I thought I’d include this example–I probably will add a decorative border down the side, and maybe even the man on the horse…in keeping with the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales…if it doesn’t fight too much with the red floral center, which represents the opening prologue:

Chaucer_ellesmere

Anyway, as you can tell I am adding a bit of difficulty to the overall quilt, but I think it should be splendid if I can only realize the vision I have in my head. Then there is the matter of quilting it…. 😯

Sew happy Everyone! 😉

Whan That Aprille: Machine Applique

Fused and Ready to Stitch

Fused and Ready to Stitch

I have all the appliques cut and fused down. They are made from silk/cotton blend Radiance that I purchased at a quilt show. The appliques are tiny with little pieces, so I was able to do all of them from the 10 inch squares I bought in a collection of colors. I even have enough left to do a second quilt like this.

I love doing machine stitched appliques both fused stitched raw-edge, like I am doing here, and turned edge, machine stitched. Since these are so tiny with complex edges, I decided on the stitched-raw edge for this quilt. The stitch I use depends on the look I am going for. In this case, this folk-art influenced quilt works well with the blanket/applique stitch. Note that satin stitch, double blanket stitch, and some decorative stitches also work well. Here’s a little example, and I do mean LITTLE!  The flower here is a little more than one inch across.


stitchin-begun
It always interests me how I can miss problems when I’m looking at what I have done, but see them when I photograph them. I had a little tension trouble when I did the black perle cotton number 8 bobbin work at one point. I thought I had found it all and fixed it already, but here you see I missed a couple of spots:


Photo-test
Sew remember to use the photography test for your own work.  I’ll fix this.

I am experimenting with a new setup for my stitched-raw edge applique because it is SO SMALL and requires so much turning to keep the blanket/applique stitch at the right angle. I took an old super slider I had that was a little worn around the stitch hole and cut it so my feed dogs are exposed. I think this will help me move the quilt top around easier and more accurately. You see the disadvantage, though is I have to change thread colors a lot for this quilt, which means taking it up and putting it back every bobbin color change.  I’ll let you know if it makes enough positive advantage to use it despite the thread changes.

New-setup

Sew happy everyone, and happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there.

Whan That Aprille: Begin Again

new-fabric-stitching-web

 

Sew!  I completed the in-the-hoop embroidery on the new piece of wine red dupioni.  I had digitized this from my design and it required five jumbo hoopings for Gibbs (my Bernina 830 LE) to stitch it out.  I have a problem getting those alignment marks they put in there in good places. As far as I know, there is no way to adjust the placement of them, so I ignore them.  This requires that I print out the full sized template from my software, tape it together, mark where the hoops go and the center mark for each hoop, and cross my fingers as I hoop them.  For the most part, I am usually successful, but it requires close watching and sometimes a large amount of adjustment.  For some reason when I get the hoop placement just right so everything is green in the computer (that means they fit in the hoop and the whole design is covered), and then save it to the USB stick, it isn’t the same when I sneaker net it to Gibbs, and is often totally off.

Nevertheless, I generally manage to get it to line up by some finagling, and often have nothing out of place.  This one was tricky though because of that long central trunk vine curving up through three hoopings.  So I got it a little bit off, but just in one spot and I think I can fix it ok using a satin stitch (out of the hoop).  It’s quite narrow, but here’s a close up of the misalignment, and it also shows that one black berry was not stitched fully (it came outside of the hoop on Gibbs despite being in the hoop on my computer, and so I just let it go…to fix that later too:

misalignment-web

 

Anyway, I’m very happy overall with the embroidery, and the next step, after I fix those small errors in the embr is a lot of bobbin embroidery from the back using # 8 Perle Cotton.  Once that is completed, I will start on the appliques.  I have so many lovely colors of Radiance 10 inch squares and a few larger pieces from which to make the appliques.  I think the hooping was the most stressful part of making the quilt top, so I’m glad that is behind me.   I have to embroider the words, but thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I have a new idea for how to go beyond this central part of the quilt that places the words better and will also make them easier to embroider.  Hopefully I can fit them all in one hoop!

I know I  will have to do a dramatically wonderful job of quilting this, and I am planning on marking it pretty fully once I figure out how to quilt it.  I’ll be asking you all for suggestions once I have the top finished.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sew happy!

 

Now that Sky Horse Is Complete…

Detail from Sky Horse
Detail from Sky Horse

As some of you know, I finished Sky Horse and sent in my application to try to get it into IQA Houston this year.  I am not posting a full photo of it until after its first show debut, but thought since I had spent many hours archiving the old blog and figuring out the new blog that I would celebrate by posting a picture of the horsehead itself.

I also decided not to use the start I made on my little Jacobean birds-in-a-tree that I am using with opening words to Chaucer’s prologue to The Canterbury Tales embroidered around the border.  Now I am fully aware that the two periods of history in which Chaucer lived and wrote, and the Jacobean period are separated by several hundred years, but somehow the birds in a tree with all the flowers embroidered on silk seemed just right for Chaucer’s “Whan that Aprille”, which is the name of the quilt.  And besides, I am embroidering and appliqueing the quilt by a modern high-tech computerized sewing machine, and plan on adding buttons and beads and maybe some hot fix beads.  It’s going to be quite an elaborate little quilt.  It clearly is way away from my normal style of quilting, but will be using the same techniques.  You have probably seen my design before, but here it is in case you haven’t:

 

Whan That Aprille Design

Whan That Aprille Design

 

You may not be aware, or perhaps you are, that decades ago I had my own fashion design business during which I designed and made a number of elaborate wedding dresses and special occasion dresses.  I worked a lot with silk, and embroidery, and beads.  I would have LOVED to have had the equipment I have today to work with.  So in its way, this little quilt is a nod to that period of my life when I lived in Ithaca, New York, my children were little, and I did a lot of singing, sewing, gardening, and fashion design.

Well, let me tell you…that first piece of silk that I embroidered the vine on was just poor quality.  I washed it and found it ran and ran and it had way too many slubs, so that it looked almost like raw silk, and clearly was not going to take the heavy amount of work I have to do to accomplish this quilt.  Plus, I decided I wanted a darker shade of red.  So I put it aside and am starting afresh on a gorgeous dark red dupioni that I already tested for color fastness, and even though all dupionis are slubbed, this one is much more refined.  Besides, that other fabric was going to fight me the whole way.  You know, you can tell these things when you start to work with a piece.  You can’t tell the problems in this picture, but you can see it is not the darker red I wanted:

Original piece

Original piece

Sew sometimes you have to start things over…blogs, quilts, plans for the future…either to keep moving forward or to make things come out right in the end.

Unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to restore the list of those subscribed to this blog, so if you want to receive an email when I post a new blog, PLEASE resubscribe.  Thanks!

Sew happy everyone!