Spiral Galaxy Completed and a Few Thoughts

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

detail picture by BJ

detail picture by BJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thoughts On Wall Quilt Sizes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quilt Making for OSWLC needlework group

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

 

Finishing Things So I Can Start New Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Waiting… Series of Quilts and Other News

Waiting...

Waiting…

I just sold Waiting… yesterday.  It has been hanging in G Street Fabrics Bernina section for about a month now, along with a couple of my other quilts I have decided to sell. I love this quilt.  It took me over a year to make (off and on…probably about six months full time).  I sent it through several national shows, and used it a bit for my show and tell trunk shows, but the judges thought the borders were too wide and so forth.  I actually agree with them now, but I will tell you that feedback to me personally from people who have seen it was the most positive of any quilt I have made before or since.  Several people–even men–have actually wept over the quilt, as did the buyer.

The one-on-one responses have been so strong that I decided to make a whole series of quilts based on the heart-tugging circumstance of women (and some children) waiting at home for their men to return from war or other dangerous and totally necessary jobs down through history.  The women faced difficult and sometimes dangerous lives while their husbands were gone, and many kept the home going, raised their children, and fed their families while their husbands went and came back from their important jobs. Or they did not come back!  Currently, I am working on the second in the series.  This will be very similar to the one above, except the borders are different, or non -existent, and the woman is a little better dressed and has her daughter with her.  The ship is going to be better also, I hope, and there will be a distant light house.  I have been working hard to get the sky and sea fabrics right, and I think I have finally done that, so I am constructing the top and trying to come up with a name.

It is hard for me to sell my quilts.  I put a lot of myself into them.  But it is also an honor when someone loves one so much that they buy it.  I am so happy it is going to a couple who love it and told me personally they are planning to cherish it and pass it down to their family.  I need the money, I need the space in my home for more quilts, and I need to sell more quilts for these reasons.

Day before yesterday I took down my online shop where I had my quilts for sale because it was getting no response and I had originally been told that they were going to have downloadable product capabilities by the end of last year. They have changed that apparently.  So yesterday while I was investigating different ways to sell my quilts and downloadables I got the call from G Street.  I’ll leave the other two quilts at G Street for a little longer and then maybe make some changes.  They are beautiful, but don’t have the same emotional tug, so we’ll see what happens.  They are:

Quiet Celebration

Quiet Celebration, Second Place winner in Hoffman Challenge 2011 in its category and also shown in Ireland, and

 

The Storyteller

The Storyteller, Hoffman Challenge 2013

Sew happy, everyone!  Go make yourself some art for your walls.  By the way, I haven’t forgotten the idea of a quilt work-along that I advanced some weeks back.  I’m working on the pattern now.  Also, I am working on samples for my first book.