Working on a Book, A Couple of Ideas

I haven’t got any real news for you this week, but I thought you might like to hear my musings about my books and a couple of ideas.  I have had a bad cold all week and am beginning to feel better, but it took a lot of energy out of me, so I made almost no progress on anything recently.

Nevertheless, I have not been without some interesting ideas.  About the only thing I did all last week was to reorganize my disorganized transcripts for art quilting into more directed and solid projects.

The first book (or is it books?) will be “Art Quilt Basics”, which will focus largely on design, applique, and quilting techniques to help the artist take the ideas floating around their heads and move them into finished wall art quilts.  It will be short on design and long on construction techniques and quilting. The quilting section is nearly complete, and the applique section is well along the way.  I need to make more samples.  Once I get those completed, then I am hoping my son Ken, who does all my quilt photos, can help me get the photos well done, and my son David, who has his own independent publishing company, will help me get it published.  Sew I am hopeful this will be complete by late fall just in time for Christmas.

The second book “Surface Design and Embellishment for Art Quilts: Sling That Bling” is basically an outline at this point with loads of concepts in small notes here and there, but I am going to use some of my already completed quilts for most of the pictures, necessitating only a few additional sample items.

Now I know there are lots of books out there about quilt making techniques and surface design and embellishment, but only a few of them seem to focus on realizing a piece of wall art in quilt form. I hope I can provide some original concepts and a place to look when you have an idea but don’t know how to get it from a great idea, or even a good design, to the finished project or need a reference for a technique you may have seen before but need instructions or refreshing.

Anyway, in addition to doing a lot of thinking and some limited work on my books, I have also been doing a lot of thinking about a couple of quilts I am going to make.  One of them is to turn into a quilt this piece of fabric I painted digitally and had printed by FabricOnDemand

I painted this one digitally in Corel Painter 17 and had it printed 28″ x 38″.

I bought some darker blue for the border, which I want to use as a base for an Art Nouveau style border.  I have a concept now but I haven’t yet drawn it up.  I hope I can get it drawn before the concept poufs away like a soap bubble popping…LOL.  I think I can.  I’m working on that today.

On Thursday a friend of mine and I are planning on attending Sacred Threads Quilt show, which is only about fifteen minutes from my home.  I am excited about that. 

Sew happy everyone! 

 

 

 

An Exhibit of My Quilts at G Street Fabrics

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!

On MAQF, Antiques, and Tutorials

MAQF

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.

The loot from the show

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).

Pendragon
34 x 45

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.

On Antiques

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.

On Tutorials

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.

    Draw shape and in object properties box make these selections (sorry the text box got cut off, but that’s what is said more or less).

 

    These are the selections I made..sizes will depend on your own project size and requires a little experimentation to get it right.

 

  • 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.

Finished chain mail in place

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.

The Making of Pendragon

I promised you I would write some posts about the making of Pendragon after it was accepted into its debut quilt show.  Pendragon will be shown in the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival on Feb 23-26.  I am so excited because I am planning on attending this show.  When you read this post, I will probably be there, since I am setting this up for posting on the day I leave for the show.  Because of this, I can finally reveal the finished quilt picture.

Pendragon
34 x 45 Text from “The Legend of King Arthur” by Thomas Percy (1729-1811)

I actually made a few small changes since this picture was taken.  There was some stitching that went on a downhill decline under the lower left of the pictorial center on the top of the black text box.  I spent a whole day frogging (ripping out the stitching) of about five inches of decorative stitching and restitching it. It was worth it.  I think it was the only thing that would stand in the way of a judge who likes the design deciding it is a good quilt.  I’m not sure you can see it here on this web-sized picture, but I also added some interesting quilting below the text in the block.  I had to enlarge the text box just a bit to make the borders I made fit just right.

So here is a web-sized picture of the design that Ken gave me for my birthday last year, along with the threads and fabrics.  I blogged about this gift here.  He gave me the throne room background in a separate full-sized file without banners or people or the table, which I had printed on cotton by Spoonflower.

You can see there are some differences.  The banners are all a little different, the text box is longer than the one shown here to make everything fit together, and the border designs, which were a huge challenge, all have slight differences.  Also, there were three more swords pointing on the table from off-picture knights that I eliminated.

So first of all, I sent out the thrown room to be printed, as I said, and then I tried to dye the prepared for dye cotton/silk radiance he gave me to get that nice rich dark green for the Celtic borders. It came out a very pretty color, but not dark enough.  Here’s a picture of the fabric.  It will make a wonderful green for another quilt, so it isn’t a lost effort (I’m thinking a whole cloth pictograph).

My green dyed Radiance

So I talked to some of my quilting friends, particularly Jerry Granata, who has one specialty of working in unusual fabrics, and bought some (much less expensive) poly satin of exactly the right color of dark emerald green and did some testing.  That is what I ended up using.  I also had some green cotton of the right color that I used to work out the design and way to achieve the Celtic border designs on.  Quilters, I will tell you that getting these borders worked out was one of the biggest challenges of my entire fabric arts career.  I wrote a little about it in previous blogs: One and two and three.

After that, I decided it would be best for me to withhold additional photos and construction information until it actually debuts at its first show, which will be the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in just a week.  I’m so excited.  I decided to go to the show, not only because Pendragon got in, but so many of my quilting friends and mentors will be there.  I’m not taking any classes, but I am going to attend several lectures, try to spend some time with my friends, do some quilt gazing and shopping, and stand by my quilt a bit even if it doesn’t place.  And it may not place.  I love it, but it does incorporate digitally printed fabrics, which is not an altogether accepted method yet, and I am all too aware that my quilting is not traditional in any way and needs to grow.  I plan on showing it as much as I can over the next couple of years regardless of the reception by the judges just because it is a meaningful quilt that I want people to see.  When it finally comes home for its retirement, I plan on giving it to Ken if he wants it.  I am thinking it will also be at my exhibit of my quilts at G Street Fabrics in April or May (I’ll give you the dates when I get them).

Anyway, back to the making of the quilt.  I loved the way the people came out mostly.  I particularly like the queen.  Her dress is a small print with gold that I outlined all the little flowers with gold thread quilting.  I used a matching sheer for the sleeves and actually made tiny sleeves for her arms.  All their hair is free motion thread work.  The guys’ tabards and the little banners all have machine embroidered designs.  The little banners are independent banners that I made, then hand stitched on top of the quilt.

I digitized the mens’ chain mail shirts using some of the powerful software in Bernina V7.  It was a fun challenge and took me several days to make it come out with the appropriate differences that fit their bodies.  Then it was embroidered on black and after applique I added some free motion chain work around them to make them look more real and smooth some of the joinings.  The swords were so challenging to figure out that (after much consideration and discussion with Ken and Beth) I ended up printing the digital design of the swords from Ken’s design and appliqueing them on with monopoly.  Getting the hands properly tucked around the handles was a bit of a challenge, but in the end, I was happy with the swords.  I added black crystals on King Arthur’s sword.   The crowns are free motion stitching using metallic threads with the addition of hot fix crystals.

All the quilting of the throne room was done with the idea of bringing out a 3D concept.  I am generally happy with that result.

Then I faced the challenge of piecing it together.  The border was in pieces and had to match up square and with the pictorial center.  I should have had the throne room printed slightly larger, because by the time it was quilted and squared up, it was a bit smaller than the intended design.  I dealt with this by adding a bit of black below the text box (to make up for the lengthwise shrinking), where I placed some quilting designs, and slightly narrowing the top and bottom small Celtic border pieces (to make up for the crosswise shrinking).  But in the end, after a few bits of frogging and restitching, it actually came out very square and flat.  I was  ecstatic.  Getting quilts square and flat, especially my art quilts that have so many different types of techniques, stitching, painting, etc, is a huge challenge every time.  This one worked.  I used my laser devices (a laser square and a laser cross hair lamp) to help get it square.  If the judges measure it, and it doesn’t get shifted in any way in the transport and hanging, they will find it a square quilt.

I used Quilters Dream thin poly batting and Hobbs wool batting.  I ended up using 6 titanium top stitch needles on this quilt…I think the gold paint dulled the points quicker.  Constructed on my Bernina 830LE and quilted on my Bernina Q20.  All Superior threads (variety of weights and colors).

Sew happy everyone!  Will I see you at MAQF?  Do you have any questions?

 

Marathon of Quilting

Whew!  You haven’t heard from me here for a while because I was finishing making the quilt my son Ken designed for me to add to my Ancient Manuscript series in a marathon of quilt making and got my entry into the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival (MAQF) just under the wire of the deadline.  This quilt is a tribute to King Arthur and the knights of the round table and is now named “Pendragon“.  I have been working nearly full time on this quilt since last March, with just a few breaks here and there. Without question it was the most difficult quilt I’ve ever made, but I was so happy to make it and am quite happy with its outcome.  I made this quilt for the love of my son, but I am going to enter it as extensively as possible in quilt shows so my friends and other quilt lovers can see it.  I will be posting photos of this quilt sometime in February along with a short series of blog posts on making the quilt.

I had planned on entering Drawing Nigh into MAQF, but it unexpectedly got into AQS Lancaster, and so will not be available for MAQF.

Today, I’m sewing the rod pocket and label onto Pendragon, and trying to rest my creaking quilting muscles.  No one will ever convince me that intense quilting like this is not something of a sport…it requires practice, muscles, sweat, blood, tears, and determination, and a marathon of such quilting leaves me tired and a bit achy…but I’ll recover.

Sew next I will be working on several less taxing quilts to go into my exhibit at G Street Fabrics in Rockville in the spring.  It should be really fun and I can provide photos of those along the way.

Sew happy everyone!  Will I see you at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival?

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts About My Fabric Art for 2017

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:

Drawing Nigh, completed 4/17/2016, 39.5 x 44.5 inches. Original design by BJ

 

Spiral Galaxy No. 3 (Best Interpretation of Theme in PNQE earlier this year)

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!

 

 

 

Preparing for an Exhibit in the Spring

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.

hawaiian-garden-web

Hawaiian Garden: I made this for MQX Albert Shaheen exhibit quilts this year. I recently gave this quilt to my brother Pat and his wife Carol in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary this year. So I no longer have this quilt.  The central panel is a vintage Shaheen panel and I designed and painted the border based on the panel design.

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.

What If You Can’t Go to Houston?…..Then…

Background stippling the central theme

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.

 

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!