Hi everybody! My Two Birds Project, video one and the workbook with the pattern are published! Video Two will come in February and Video Three in March. There will likely be some additional smaller videos out in February and March also. Please watch them, and, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel. It’s free and doesn’t ask any questions or pester you after you subscribed. Here’s the link to the video: Two Birds Video
And here’s the link to the pattern with workbook if you want to join me in making one for yourself (it is only $5): Two Birds Pattern
Sew I had the idea that it might be a good idea to make a set of five small quiltlets of different fabric types and use commercial embroidery on them that would look nice with the addition of painting. I plan to use several different types of paints, inks, and markers that I have hanging around my studio in order to compare the paints and the way they work with the different fabrics. That way I can reference them when I am making a quilt to decide which paints I need to use. That’s what I’m working on now.
Test sampler I made before starting my Mom’s memory quilt. I Quilted it first and then painted the bird and the flowers.
Hawaiian Garden: I quilted, then painted the borders.
I think this will be a fun project. I will video it so you can see what I do and write a blog or two about it also.
We made it through 2021! Hooray! Happy New Year everyone! I am taking a positive approach for 2022…expecting it to be a good year full of light, love, peace, and productivity! So what’s first up for Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts?
I talked a little about this in my last blog post.
I will soon be presenting the first in a three-part series of videos coupled with the publishing of a workbook with pattern for the Two Birds Project. The first part is completely filmed and being edited, and the workbook is fully written and being edited. The two remaining videos are filmed all but the short openings and I need to record the voice-over scripts for them. It will be a fun set for my followers and I’m excited to get to this point.
I am working on putting together a wool applique by machine project. Wait until you see what can be done with these techniques and materials! It’s really going to be fun!
I have worked up a production plan for the first part of the year that includes show quilts (to fit within my architectural, ancient manuscript, and deep space genres), applique projects (both wool and other fabrics), and multiple shorter technique skill project videos that I think you will enjoy. There may be other things too along the way. Plus a little bit of clothes sewing.
I got a fun addition to my studio for Christmas, a Brother Scan and Cut DX. I have been spending the last several days learning all about it and how best to use it. It adds lots of new possibilities and a great help for the applique quilts for sure, but I can also make some quilting stencils and other things I am thinking about. I now have both the Applique Go! with a nice collection of dies to help me cut multiple layers of fabric for snuggle/quick-to-make quilts and the Scan and Cut for cutting digitally created shapes for more complex individual applique designs among other things…how wonderful. Truly, except for wishing I had more space and storage (doesn’t everyone?), I have a marvelous studio for designing, quilting, and stitching adventures complete with the video equipment well set up for filming them. And yes, I also have significant help from my delightful family. Oh, and don’t forget, I have newly improved eyesight to help with all of this! I am totally thankful both to my kids and my Lord for all of this.
Sew I am making a kind of fresh move in my YouTube channel, pattern making, and books now at the beginning of 2022. Last year seems like kind of a rehearsal and learning period for me. So I’m excited. I hope to get a lot of new subscribers/readers and provide significant content you all will enjoy. I love sharing my work with you.
Let me know if there is a particular subject you want me to cover either in comments here or on my videos on YouTube. I will see what can be done.
Hi everyone. I can’t believe it’s already October! I love that it is fall, because it was a hot and somewhat rough summer for me, but it occurs to me that I have several projects I have in mind for fall and for the Christmas/winter season that aren’t even started yet. Yikes! I better stretch my time in the studio a bit more!
I have been working really hard on the complex multi-video two birds project. I am about three fourths of the way. I want mostly to complete the whole project before publishing the first video because I need to make sure the accompanying workbook and pattern with all its techniques are good and actually work with the videos. That will be available from my shop on my website and together with the videos presents a fairly complete class. This class presents a lot of the techniques I have used in the past on some of my show quilts and I think quilters will enjoy making it. Besides, it makes up into a really nice wall or lap quilt that would be a wonderful present or enjoyable quilt for yourself.
Sew, kind of as step one on this project, I uploaded a video that discusses how to turn a line drawing, like a coloring book page, into a pattern similar to my two birds to use in your own designs. I know everyone may not have all the software or want to play with it in that way, but I know some will and may not have thought of using it for that or really know how. If you have Bernina software v8, for instance, you have Corel Draw elements. Anyway, take a look at the video and see what you think.
Here is a picture of some luscious Wonderfil threads (see link on the right). I love their specialty threads and am using a lot of them in my two birds project.
I have a couple of wool applique by machine decorative wall hangings–one for fall and one for Christmas–coming too, if I succeed in getting them all done in time.
In the meantime, I have my right eye cataract surgery on the 14th of this month. I will be glad to get that taken care of. I can see so well out of my left eye now and not well at all out of the right eye.
Then to top off everything, I have clothes I need to make. We’ll see how much of all of this I get done.
The Simplicity pattern from my substantial pattern stash. Note the pants have a simple full elastic waist and no pockets…not what I want, but I have a better slacks pattern. The long sleeve tunic provides a suggestion for the embellishment. I would be adding something more for fun.
I always plan more than I can do it seems. But it is so much to look forward to and have fun with in my studio as we drift into fall and winter.
Hi everybody. The subject recently came up about how to sew stitched raw-edge applique so it can be washed and used without a fraying edge. I have used these appliques for years now and have found that there are ways to minimize or even eliminate fraying regardless of the stitch I use for the edge.
Canterbury silk. All the appliques in the central block are silk and stitched with narrow matching lightweight thread using a blanket stitch.
First of all, one needs to consider the fabric. If you are using a relatively loosely woven cotton, it probably would be best to turn the edge even if you are machine stitching it or use a satin stitch with a fray edge treatment, such as fray check if you machine stitch it down. Most current day high quality quilting cottons, however, are tightly woven enough to withstand a raw-edge applique treatment if the stitching is properly set up and the washing is done on a gentle cycle or by hand.
Night on the Bayou. The big cyprus trees are turned edge, machine stitched and the remaining appliques are fused raw edge. All the applique stitching was machine blanket stitched.
I use a light fusible web to tack down my appliques that usually washes away. I have also used a simple wash away glue stick and it works too with the right stitch settings. So for blanket stitch:
Set the stitch narrow with a short length. I use about 1.7 width by 1.5 length on my Bernina 880 plus for most quilting cotton.
I move the needle as far to the right as possible.
I use an open toed embroidery foot 20D
I engage the dual feed to make it really even, but if you don’t have such, stitch at a slow even speed
Run the edge of the applique up close to the inside right toe of the foot so that the straight stitch runs close to the edge of the applique in the background and the swing left to right stitch goes into the applique
Turn the applique as it curves so the swing left-right stitch points to the center of the circle or roundish shape
When turning at a sharp angle, stop as close to the end as possible, preferably with the needle to the right in the background. Then turn, and begin the stitch pattern by hitting the restart pattern button if your machine has one. This makes a pretty point and seals the sharp shape of the applique down with thread. Don’t fret if you miss it a bit, just get it as close to this ideal as you can.
When quilting this type of applique you may wish to use a matching light weight thread or monopoly to blend into the background, or a heavier thread in a dark gray stitched close to the edge to make a shadow-like appearance. It all depends on how you want the end result, so do a test first.
If you do all of this, the result is usually a straight stitch running close to the cut edge of the applique on the background and the left-right stitches close enough together that they help to prevent fraying. Use this stitch with matching thread when you want your edges to blend into the applique more. If you want the blanket stitch to stand out, see if your machine has a double blanket stitch. The double blanket stitch is beautiful and pretty completely seals the edges but stands out.
If you are using wool felt appliques, you can use wider and longer blanket stitches and possibly a 12 weight wool thread for a very hand-appliqued look. You are likely not to wash these items, but felt does not fray in any event.
If you decide you would rather use a satin stitched edge it requires careful even stitching and points and corners require care because this stitch can look fairly amateurish with wiggles and bumpy corners and poorly stitched points. I really prefer to do this by first digitizing it in my Bernina software and then stitch in-the-hoop appliques because it gives a much more professional finish than is easy to achieve otherwise. However, I have been successful at stitching this with first a narrower satin stitch around the applique and follow that with a slightly wider stitch over the original stitch. This gives a nicer smoother look. Use this stitch when you want your edges to stand out.
Detail from Summer Melody, in which all the butterflies are appliqued with narrow satin stitch.
Then there is the time you actually want a little fraying to add to the character of the applique. For this, I just use a straight stitch close to the edge of the applique in a matching thread.
Regardless of the applique you use, when you wash these quilts use gentle cycle or wash by hand and dry flat and they will last for many years.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and don’t fear the applique.
This coming Monday, August 23rd 2021, I will be having surgery for a cataract in my left eye. I know it is often the case that people have both eyes done within weeks of each other, but my right eye is doing just fine at the moment. I am having a hard time seeing my work lately and so I thought all I needed was a new pair of glasses so I went to my eye doctor and find myself here, preparing for this on Monday. I am looking forward to the result. I have had many people tell me what a great result they have had from such surgery and it does not seem to be a big major disruption in their lives. Still, I would appreciate your prayers for a good result and a quick recovery and thankfulness that this is available to me at this time in my life plus that I have excellent doctors. The lack of good vision has clearly slowed me down in my work. My eye doctor told me I would be happy.
Sew I think it would be fun to make something celebratory. I am thinking it might be time to start a Christmas project, and I promised some of my followers that I would come up with another project for wool applique by machine with embellishment. I am thinking of making a Christmas project, and have already begun working on the design. I still have a bunch of beautiful melton wools and it would be really fun to do one with lots of beautiful stitching with beautiful threads and hundreds of beads, crystals, buttons, and other embellishments…a real decorative piece to celebrate both my improved vision and the Lord’s birth. Maybe I’ll do two–one in wool and one in cotton or silk! LOL
In the meantime, progress is finally being made on the project I am calling “two birds” that will be presented with three videos and a detailed pattern. The pattern is basically done, but it is being tested and the project is being filmed as I make it. It’s more complex than my introductory projects on my YouTube channel, so I want to complete the work on the project before I publish any of the videos.
Sew me and my family advisory team have come up with some ideas for shorter videos to publish along the way that we think people will like. These will be showing up periodically, and, before too long, the two birds project will get there.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and keep an eye out for my upcoming projects and videos. God bless you all in this perilous time.
I am almost ready to start making and filming a fun new wall quilt that focuses on stitching…both free motion and some with feed dogs up. It also has a small amount of appliques behind some of the stitching and 9 pieces of fabrics to make a simple style quilt background to put all this stitching with some appliques and some paint onto. The picture above is a single tile from a multi-tile downloadable pattern with instructions and supply list. This project was inspired by a page from a Dover Publications coloring book.
I got the missing fabrics this week and they are all washed and ready to go. I am still working on the pattern, but the hard part is done so I will be publishing that for sale at a moderate price on my website store to go along with an undetermined number of free YouTube videos to take people through the project…fun to simply watch, and fun to make with me if you want.
I will be adding a page to this blog site with links to my recommended supplies that apply to ongoing projects. Once it’s there you can just click on “Supply links” above and you can go shopping!
Sew I am excited about making this piece. I will be testing some products I have not used before I make it and will tell you about them as I go. This includes some new specialty threads from Wonderfil Threads I have only briefly used and Sulky’s Sticky-Fabri-Solvy printable self adhesive water soluble stabilizer. I think it could be a real blessing for limiting the amount of marking I have to do for this project and stabilizing the stitching. I might do a 60 second shorts video on my test of all of this just so you can see it even if I decide not to use it for this particular project. Would you like that?
I should be publishing the first parts of this project in a few weeks. We’ll see though. It takes a while to film the making of a complex project like this and get it edited. In any event, I will let you know how it stands with my next blog post. Let me know what you are working on. Do you have any special requests for techniques to discuss? (Please comment here. I love comments because it helps me know if people really view and like my blog efforts here and the comments stay with my blog if I look back on them a few months later for reference).
I am working on the designs for several free motion thread work and couching small quilts. Essentially these are small whole cloth wall quilts done in multiple colors and styles of threads, cords, and yarns. They are pictorial in design and include both free motion thread painting and quilting. I will add some cord or yarn couching and might even add some decorative stitching with my Bernina 880 plus here and there. It’s kind of exciting for me.
Scanned coloring book page before cleaning up and turning into a pattern. This is not one of the four.
Sew what are these planned pieces? They include one scene of evergreen trees in the summer, one scene of trees at night with white winter stylized trees and a night sky both designed entirely by me, and four stylized tropical bird scenes based on scenes found in a Dover coloring book that will be colorful and, yes, challenging to stitch. I am turning them into downloadable pdf patterns to print and tape together ready for tracing onto your fabric. Then I will stitch them out with some additions of quilting designs and embellishments.
I hand stitched this little crewel scene using wool threads years ago. My youngest son took it and had it framed in a museum quality acid free framing to protect it. I believe it is possible to replicate crewel stitching by machine to look nearly like hand stitching.
It’s an adventure! And yes, there will be videos on YouTube and workbooks and patterns available on my website shop so you can sew along with me. I am considering the possibility of creating background fabrics for tracing these bird scenes onto that could then be purchased at Spoonflower. I am not sure this will work, but I will let you know if I am successful.
This is from another Dover coloring book, but I think it would make a wonderful piece of crewel work-like piece. Maybe I will add this one to my thread-work projects.
Sew I hope very much a lot of you will join me in these projects that will be presented in July and August, and possibly September. These small wall quilts make wonderful presents or home decor (either one or in groups). I don’t have the final sizes or supply lists yet because I’m still working on them, but I’ll let you know. Mostly I will be using threads from Wonderfil Threads and Superior Threads. I love both brands and they work well together because Wonderfil has some wonderful specialty threads that Superior does not and I have a huge collection of Superior threads in “normal” weights I have collected over the past several years.
If you do one or more of my projects and send me pictures at email@example.com of your projects, I will share them here on my blogs if you would not mind.
I will let you know when the workbooks with patterns and supply lists are available in my shop for each project. Right now, however, you can join me on the deciduous tree in full bloom quiltlet. There is a workbook with pattern and the first of two videos already available. The second video will likely be available next weekend. This is a skill-builder project and I think you would enjoy making it. If you do you would get to practice textured padded applique and broiderie perse by machine that are two great techniques for the fabric artists to have in their tool belts.
My family helped me produce a new video I could never have done on my own for my YouTube channel that is a discussion and trunk show of my experimental quilting. I think you might enjoy seeing it. Here’s the link: video
For years I have thought of much of my work as experimental fabric art, where I try to get certain looks in my quilts and sometimes had to develop a new technique or figure out how to apply a known technique to produce the look I wanted or just to see what something would look like. It has been a bit of a wild ride over the years and so it seemed the thing to produce a show and tell for you all.
Thanks to my family for their help and encouragement both for the videos and the quilting. There are some fun things on the way.
Textured appliques can be derived from using a combination of techniques. Such appliques can add major interest, even take center stage, on an art quilt and I find them really fun to do and a little challenging to figure out what needs to be done. The detail shown in the picture above started off as white basic quilting cotton that I washed and steam pressed. Then I traced the applique outlines on the fabric using my light table, painted with artists water soluble crayons, backed the applique itself with wool batting, quilted (I think of this as “prequilting”), backed with fusible web, cut out closely to the applique, fused it down. Then I and edge stitched it to the top. After the quilt top was completely ready, I sandwiched the quilt with a double bat of wool on top and 80/20 cotton/poly on the bottom and did some more stitching to improve the look of the appliques. I was particularly trying to help show muscles and shapes on the dragon and so I added more paint highlights, this time with iridescent Shiva sticks.
Here’s a little closer picture of the dragon so you can see it better.
That’s just an example, but I have used a lot of other techniques to get textured appliques for my work. I’ll probably do a video on this…maybe within my upcoming tree series. They need a lot of texture.
First of all, I am celebrating today, because my youngest son David just released his latest novel (click on the book to find it)! Congratulations to him.
Setting up for free motion quilting or thread play
While my communiques (blogs, vlogs, and YouTube videos) are intended for everyone who wants to play, regardless of their machines, sometimes I also address some quick specifics for working on Berninas. Please don’t stop reading when you come across those if you are not a Bernina owner, because you might find some of what I say interesting anyway.
I have three Berninas: a Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm, a Bernina 880 Plus, and a Bernina 350. I also have a simple older BabyLock serger. I am truly grateful to have this collection of machines I obtained over the years through trade ups, gifts, and so forth. This is a wonderful set of machines for me to play with here in my studio. It’s like playing inside my own wonderland with favorite toys. But it does require practice, sometimes research, testing tools and techniques, and (gasp!) reading my manuals to get the most from this stable of machines. So I want to share what I have learned from this.
Setting Up For Free Motion
The setup for free motion on these machines is relatively simple.
If you don’t have a Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR attachment) or want to work without it, simply put on a darning or quilting foot like foot #73, #24, #29 or #9. Drop your feed dogs.
If you have a Bernina stitch regulator attachment that works on your machine, attach it and set it for your chosen BSR mode. BSR1 runs smoothly and constantly, idling with a little stitching, which is great for smooth free motion quilting and free motion embroidery. The idling allows you to stitch several stitches at the corner of a sharp turn in addition, which makes a nice turn. BSR2 stops when you stop and starts when you start, so you may prefer this setting. I find with this attachment I have to use a slightly shorter stitch length and not sew too fast for best results.
One of the interesting things you can do with this BSR attachment, is free motion zig zag with stitch regulation, which can’t be done on a sitdown longarm with a stitch regulator. This can provide some unique thread play opportunities and looks.
For most domestic machines you probably won’t need to make any adjustment in tension from the default for normal threads. For specialty threads, however, you may need to lower or raise the top tension to accommodate specialty thread weights and types. It’s a good idea to do a test using similar fabrics and write down your changes before working on your project piece.
When doing free motion it helps a lot to have a slick supporting surface, so I use a silicone mat, such as a Supreme Slider. I tape mine down with that indispensable studio tool blue painters tape because I have ruined more than one mat by stitching it to the back of my project. I have repaired them a bit with clear packing tape if they aren’t too badly torn. Yes, I know the stickiness returns if you rinse the back, but you have to remember to do that periodically and also the heavier and larger your quilt the more likely it is to dis-attach from the table and get caught in the stitching.
A queen sized Supreme Slider taped down with blue painters tape at my old Bernina 830 LE (I traded it for my 880 Plus last year). This works well and is easy to remove when you need to.
Setting Up the Q20 and the Q16 sitdown longarms
These machines are built for free motion quilting and free motion thread work and truly you can dive right in just as they are. But there are a few things that are helpful to know to make your free motion stitching work better. Note that I have had my Q20 now for nearly five years and I love it.
Free motion is always better when the supporting base is slick and the fabric can slide easily. There are some very large silicone mats available for these machines, where you cut the square carefully around the BSR/Bobbin square area (whatever do you call that?!!!).
Some people like using these extra large silicone mats with their sitdowns, I don’t have one. I spray the table before each project with Sullivan’s silicone spray, and wipe it fully dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. But before I spray it, I cover the BSR/Bobbin area under the needle and the vent area at the back of the machine with blue painter’s tape to prevent the spray from going down into the machine works. Alternatively, you can spray into the cloth and wipe the table but I think you get a little less silicone on the table that way (not scientific, just an opinion). From personal experience I know the spray works very well.
These machines have two BSRs built in which provide excellent stitch regulation.
BSR1 constantly runs and has a speed setting to make it cruise along easily at the pace you like. I use it for most of my free motion quilting and all of my free motion embroidery. I like to start off with a relatively slow “idle” speed of 250 to 300 and will raise that if I need to. The machine will run very fast if you want it to.
BSR2 stops when you stop and starts when you start. I use this mostly for ruler work.
BSR3 is a basting stitch with multiple stitch lengths to choose from. I use it a lot for larger quilts. I will spray baste the sandwich and then do some large segments of thread basting. This is especially good for your masterpiece or show quilting that will take a long time just to keep everything in good placement.
Then there is manual setting that does not engage the BSR, of course, but it does have a speed control on it so you can set it at a comfortable pace for you. I like this for micro-quilting, but I don’t use it for much else. It is smooth running and quieter and makes it easy to do those tiny bubbles for instance, but I still prefer the BSRs for most of my quilting. It’s a personal preference. Some people prefer this mode for everything, but if you are new to the machine, I urge you to try the BSRs first. They are wonderful.
I often get the question about what thread will the Berninas use. All my Berninas will work well with almost any good quality thread. I just have to be sure I have the right needle, tensions, stitch length, and the speeds set up right for that.
Keeping notes on how you set things up is always helpful, but these machines have four savable programs for various thread settings, which is really nice. Once you set it all up like you like it, you can save it and even tell it what thread and needle it is for in the naming of the programs.
I like to use the kickstart feature, which allows me to free motion stitch/quilt with a very steady power feed. This helps me relax while stitching and eliminates most stitch skips and the like, without my foot on the pedal. This is because the pedal is basically on/off and if you don’t keep your foot fully down it might skip a stitch, though not usually.
For using the kickstart, get your BSR mode chosen and make sure you are all set up, then kick the pedal at the heel and the machine will sew until you press the pedal at the front to stop it. I love it. You don’t have to concentrate on anything other then where you place your stitching once you get used to it. Here’s a youtube with cute fluffy slippers on using it:
And last, but not least be sure to set your bobbin tension to match your thread in the bobbin. I use mostly Superior Bottom Line in my bobbin…even mostly their prewound M sized bobbins, which are Bottom Line…and set my tension to 180 using the Towa Guage that comes with the machine. The Bernina default setting is 220, but I find you really need to adjust per thread size. If you somehow didn’t get one, be sure your dealer gives you one. It’s not like a domestic…it’s a real longarm.
Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio. I hope you found this helpful. I will be posting my next video probably this weekend. Cheers.