Planning the Day

I retired on January 1st of 2012 to become a full time fabric artist.  When I think about it, it is a surprise to me that is 8 years plus a few months! During this time I have developed a loosely professional approach to ordering my day and I have found it really makes me feel right about the day.  I guess it is because I spent decades working in sometimes pretty intense situations in my work life and got kind of use to having to put order in the day by necessity.

Now, even though I am home-based in my studio for work, I still like to take a professional approach to the day, and if you are sheltering in place at home you may find this really helpful.  So I start like I am planning to go to work at my former job, only I have a little more relaxing time about it, and my wardrobe is more casual (all happy things).   Here’s the list I give myself.

  1. Make my bed
  2. Get dressed
  3. Read my email and make a plan for the day…a to do list if you will…which I may or may not write down, but I thoughtfully think it through.
  4. Have breakfast
  5. Clean the kitchen
  6. Go to “work”.  I put it in quotes because it is so much fun for me to work in my studio working with with fabrics and threads, or designing my next project.  Remember that work can and should include some educational activities (like TQS offers and Bluprint or Iquilt) sometime during the week.
  7. Listen to podcasts, music, and audio books as I work.
  8. Keep to a (loose) schedule and actually have a “quitting time”, a day for chores (cleaning, bill paying, shopping), a day or a couple of half days I don’t “work” and just chill out.  Sometimes I chill out in my studio though because I love this fabric art thing so much.  Try hard to stick to this schedule.
  9. Eat well
  10. Try to get some exercise every day, even if it is just stretching or walking around in my house.
  11. Enjoy a relaxed evening during and after dinner (I might do some handwork here and watch a movie with my son).
  12. Get a good night’s sleep, but don’t set an alarm (that’s partly the fun of being home-based) unless I find I am way over sleeping more than one day a week

These may seem fundamental to many of you, and a lot of you would have a different list, but I know from watching myself and my youngest son, who is a writer and also a home-based self employed person) that it is easy to get sloppy about things and before I know it my production and self esteem suffer.  This helps me to stay away from that.

Sew happy everyone!  I hope I don’t sound preachy here, but I thought you may find thinking about this helpful in this stuck at home by yourself, especially if you are new to it.  Personally, I love working in my studio most all the time so that the only thing I miss is a few social activities, but I am somewhat making up for that with Facebook and YouTube videos.  There are lots of fun things out there for that…The Quilt Show, Pat Sloan videos…look around on the Internet.  I’m sure you’ll find some you really like.  And stay mostly away from the news so you don’t get all scared or depressed.  Just check briefly now and again or online.  That’s all from grandma BJ here.  LOL

Christmas is coming! Quilted Art Makes Wonderful Presents

Night on the Bayou $2080 59″ x 31″ Just back from Houston IQA 2019!

Hi everyone!  I have a few quilts for which I have recently reduced the prices until 20 January 2020.  I am going to California in late January to visit my brother and his family and to attend the Road to California quilt show.  I’m so excited, but I would really love to have some spending money for this trip and to pay a few bills.  Also, my walls are full.  LOL.  I rotate them, but really, it would be lovely to have some people who like them to have them to enjoy on their walls.  Yes, they are kind of pricey, but we can arrange some kind of payment schedule with half up front and all payments are to be made through PayPal.  Contact me through my email BettyJo@bjfabricartist.com  if  you are interested I can arrange to send you some additional photographs or descriptions if you’d like.  These quilts have all been in national/international quilt shows in the United States.  They are totally original designs, except that Night on the Bayou is based on a painting by Disney Artist Joel Christopher Payne (I purchased the rights for one quilt) but I did some changes to accommodate the very textural quilted art. All quilts have a rod pocket and label on the back.

Summer Melody A 2016 Hoffman Challenge Quilt $220 33.5″ x 29″

 

Drawing Nigh $2080 39.5 x 44.5

And this little quilt

The Storyteller
A Hoffman Challenge 2013 quilt
$325
35.5″ x 37.5″

I have others for purchase.  You can see them here:  Gallery

Sew happy everyone!  There are some wonderful fabric art adventures you can make out  there.  Watch this space for ideas, techniques, and other related news.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Whether you are celebrating with family or by yourself, may you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of peace and joy.  My oldest son Ken is cooking this year in his newly redecorated kitchen.  I am thankful to have a lot of wonderful time to spend in my studio sewing, quilting, and writing.

God bless you dear readers!

Machine Problems, Good Response

Well gentle readers, my new Bernina 880 Plus sewed a few hours the first day, and the second day it was increasingly problematic (last Friday), and then I got the gears of death…removed the threads in the bobbin, and got them again, looked and found a little more thread, and got them again.  Finally, it would not sew at all.  😒

So today I took it in to my wonderful Bernina tech at the dealership.  He spent some time looking at it and said he would try to get Bernina to send me a new machine, but they definately will make it right.  It wouldn’t sew for him either and it even had some odd sensor notices.  He said the timing is already off, it has a little clink when the bobbin opens and closes.  So let us all hope Bernina sends me a new one. I believe they will. They are an honorable company.  But I know they will make it right.

So I am back to waiting for my new machine.  I will still call the new one Odette, since I only used this one a few hours.

Don’t worry, I have plenty to do.  Between my computer work, my Bernina 350, and my Bernina Q20, there is much on my plate that I can move forward on while I wait.

  1. I’m writing two books right now…one is skill-building projects for fabric embellishments, and the other is a more general book on making pictorial art quilts.
  2. I’m also working on a fall workshop on embellishment.  So it would be very good to finish my book in time for that class..time to be determined.
  3. I have completed the design for my Mom’s memorial quilt centering around her crocheted pieces, and much of that is free motion quilting, with a little bit of piecing.  The little B 350 is great for piecing, actually maybe better than the bigger machines.  And so I can move forward with making samples and testing a few ideas I have for completing the design.  I also have some in-the-hoop items I hope to complete for it, but they can be added late in the process.
  4. And I have a train quilt, a rock strata with dinasaur fossils quilt, a polyester satin and dupioni quilt, and a tree quilt all swimming around in my head that I have only touched a little of the design work for those.  So if I have a long wait, I can get these things designed, cut out, and even some techniques tested for them.

Sew when I finally do end up with a workable big 8 series machine, I will have a stack of projects ready to go…lots of sewing then.

Am I a little dismayed over this?  Of course I am, but I realize that even the best companies sometimes have problems with a product every now and then.  It’s how they respond to it that makes the difference.

Sew happy everyone!  Tell me what you are working on.  I love comments.

 

 

Catching Up

Workshop 1: Applique techniques sampler (covers multiple techniques)

I am finally beginning to feel a little less overwhelmed.  Working with my BFF Anita, we are making real progress on the Easter banner and I estimate completion sometime early next week.  We have the top or front, completed except for a little free motion embroidery of grasses at the base of the lilies and the cross.  Then we will square it up and complete it with a very thin batting (Thermore…almost is like a thicker interfacing) and a facing back with a knife edge stitched around it, and add a gold fringe at the shaped bottom.  I will also do a little light quilting to keep it together nicely.  We have bells to tie on the banner’s hanger with long colorful ribbons on each side of the banner…very joyful!

This is the project for Fabric Arts Workshop II: Quilting with feed dogs up.

Also, I got all the kits ready (except for a few missing parts that are arriving on Monday) for Quilted Arts Workshop 1: Applique Techniques.  I did an inventory of my solid fabrics and made an order for making up the kits for Workshops 2 through 4, and today I worked out the quilting designs for Workshop 4 sampler (Ruler Work for Sit down Quilting). 

Quilting Template Letter

I found out that all my classes are filled and some I even allowed an additional student…so they are more than filled.  I can’t let any more in now.  How exciting! 

Additionally, I got my first video out.  This is a video stumbling my way through digitizing a wreath design with a lace background on Bernina V8 software.  It was my learning video…I had to learn the software and get all the settings to work right.  I have more learning to do, but it is kind of exciting to get a start on instructional short videos I have wanted to do for several years now. 

So with all that accomplished, I am feeling a lot less overwhelmed.  But I still have a lot to do…get the quilt sandwiches marked and sandwiched for the three quilting workshops, and I really want to make that Bob Ross challenge quilt for the Cherrywood fabric challenge this year.  It’s due in the summer, and I have the fabric, have worked out the design, and am excited about it.  Besides it is only 20″ x 20″, so I think I can get it done.

I also want to make my youngest son a shirt to wear to his next sci-fi writing conference due about the same time as the Bob Ross challenge.  And FINALLY, then I will go back to the train quilt which I hope to complete in time for entering into the early 2020 shows that have deadlines late this year (and I’d like to do another too). 

Besides, I lost ten pounds the past couple of months (I lose really slowly and have much more to go).  So I am feeling happy.

Sew happy everyone!  Spring and Summer are also for quilting just not as much maybe.  So go make a little quilted art. 

Making a Coat and Other Things

Sew I have put on my inner Edna Mode and am tailoring myself an overcoat as my regular readers already know.  I used to do quite a bit of tailoring and know serious tailoring techniques, but it has been quite a few years since I’ve done this kind of work.  So I’m slow, and get distracted, and have to look things up in my old notes because they don’t really include these high-end techniques in most patterns of the day.  It’s worth it though.  The results provide good fit, hang beautifully, and last and last.

 

Messy work table with coat pieces

 

Today I just finished the outer shell of my overcoat and am moving on to the lining, which also includes the fur collar.  At least I was able to try it on and it seems to be fitting okay, though it is kind of hard to tell without the lining and all.  I know, I should have made a muslin fitting first, but I didn’t.  I did do extensive measuring and adjusting.  I really love this pattern, and I’m making it in almost the exact same fabrics shown on the cover.  Of course, I am a rather large woman, so it won’t look quite like this, and I changed the sleeves a little and shortened it to knee length because I didn’t have enough fabric for this version.  Still, it’s going to be quite nice I think.

Butterick B6604

The very nice wool fabric from my long-held stash is, nevertheless, quite loosely woven almost like a hand-woven piece, and requires fully finished edges despite the fact that the seams will be hidden within the lining.  I’m lining it in a beautiful red crepe back satin and I have a wonderful faux fur for the collar that I bought years ago at G Street Fabrics from their remainder table.  Even as a small piece like that it was expensive then, but I have had it long enough that I consider it free…LOL.  I might make this pattern in another color in a long length with these interesting sleeves next year if this one turns out well since I still have a fair amount of the most beautiful black faux fur for the collar.

I don’t know why I’ve been so distracted on this project, so I haven’t sewn steadily on it every day like I normally do in such a case.  Still, I am making progress.  My “deadline” I set for myself is Thanksgiving.

What has distracted me, you might ask.  Among other things I am working out a new workshop to teach at G Street Fabrics next spring  for sit-down quilting with rulers using Bernina’s basic sit down ruler set.  My problem with this is the rulers are really basic and limiting, but I have learned I can add lines to them with Sharpie markers and later remove them with alcoholic swabs…(thank you Bethanne Nemesh for that tip).  This opens up many new possibilities.  I want to do something other than a set of rectangles to fill in standard looking designs for the class project.  I haven’t yet come up with a quilting pattern design I want to make into the workshop project, but I will eventually.   Then I will have to make one or more samplers and write a handout to go with it.

In the process I have been developing some templates to print out and use as quilting design frameworks.  I have managed to get my printer to use the biggest paper it is supposed to use…13 x 19 inch paper…and make these framework templates to fit on two sheets.  They are 16″ x 16″ and should work well as a basis for a 20 x 20 inch sampler.

In every printer there is a small amount of distortion, and so keeping the number of sheets down is very helpful in something like this.  That’s why I don’t think printing it in standard letter size sheets that need to be taped together works as well.  After printing them out and taping them together I tape them to the table and put a piece of tracing paper over them to work out some designs, while making notes so I can remember what I did (Thank you Lisa Calle for introducing me to this technique).  It has taken a good amount of time so far since I have made several of these framework templates.  I was thinking of eventually having these frameworks made into stencils for people to use in a similar way, but I haven’t yet decided what to do about that.

Additionally, I am working hard on finishing my Ten Skill-Building Projects for Bernina v7 design software book.  I plan to also write another similar book for Bernina v8 software.   I’ve also been working on working out some aspects of how I will approach my next show quilt, and new ideas keep rolling in, so I make notes in hopes of capturing the concepts as they fly by.

All of this is why I haven’t yet finished my overcoat.  LOL.

Sew happy everyone!  May you all live in God’s safety and happiness in this troubled time.

 

Fabric Art Workshops…Some done, more to come

Today I completed teaching the second in a series of Fabric Art Workshops that cover my basic techniques for creating quilted fabric art.  So far I have addressed my multiple techniques for machine applique and today I covered quilting with feed dogs up.  This gives the new quilter a chance to get used to handling a small quilt and learn how much you can do with the feed dogs engages.  On October 27th I am going to finish the three part series with Organic free motion quilting.  This is not formal feathery quilting, but rather how to approach quilting in a way that adds texture and enhances the design…often of pictorial quilts and the like.

This series sets up a nicely finished piece, but it does not include several things I also use…ruler work and the real biggy, which is surface design and embellishment.  So while I was there they asked me to run this series again next spring, and I agreed.  We also talked about how I might cover the missing elements…ruler work as well as surface design & embellishment.  So I will be developing some new workshops to go with the first three.  IF, therefore, someone wants to have the techniques to make quilted fabric art (and even use the techniques for more traditional quilting), they will be started down that path. Once they learn the techniques they can fly, as Bob Ross once said.  I am also mulling around in the back of my mind the possibility ofoffering these to quilt shows close enough to drive to from here (Ashburn, Virginia) and other shops.

I may not do that other than a possible local business or two because I don’t want to get so busy with these that I don’t have time to spend a lot of time making new art in my studio, because I am, after-all, basically a studio artist.  It is my biggest joy.  I do find I like teaching also, though.  I just don’t want to have the art overwhelmed by the teaching.  It is fun, however, to think of providing this whole series of what may work out to be five or six classes.  I want to do what I can to keep this sport alive and growing.

Sew there is more to come.  I have also been encouraged to complete my book on Bernina V7 design software, even though v8 is already out, because there are still people using v7.  It is almost finished and might actually be ready for the editor in a matter of a couple of weaks.  We’ll see. And then I am well over half-way through my techniques for fabric arts book.  I think I need a super power…Zap!   This is finished…that is finished…hahahaha


Exciting times…I want to start a new show quilt.  Tee hee

Sew happy everyone!..Teach someone to sew or quilt…your next door neighbor, your best friend, your grandson, your granddaughter, your dog….lol.  I love having you along on this great adventure!

An Infinite Horizon

Creating art with fabric and thread, plus some surface design and embellishments provides us with an infinite horizon.  No matter where we are with our creative expression and techniques, we can always get better.  Design and creative possibilities are nearly limitless in today’s sewing and quilting world.  So much can be done with even the most basic equipment (as long as it is in good working order). It’s so exciting!

I think I must be a little bit crazy because I see inspiration everywhere.  Sometimes I have so many ideas in my mind about what to try next that I have a hard time focusing in on a project, and then just as I almost have figured out how I will do my next project, I see a new inspirational technique or design.  I have to rein myself in and focus…LOL.

I have also realized that I am basically a magpie. .  I love love love sparkly, shiny designs, but then I also am fascinating with what I can do to make interesting looks and near three dimensional art quilts (I think of it as 2 1/2 Dimension)  Recently I have been thinking about what I can do with Bernina v7 design software.  This software has so many interesting techniques that go so far beyond simple embroidery designs.  So I have been spending considerable time thinking about and working on designs that might end up being my next show quilt.   Oh look, there’s another neat idea!!!!

In the meantime, I am making an overcoat.  I got the outer fabric cut out, but still have the fur collar (from a gorgeous piece of black faux fur), the lining, and interfacing to go.  I also am continuing the making of my applique bed quilt for my own bed.  I have completed the large middle block and six of the twelve little blocks.

Life in my studio is fun, and I’m sew excited about this brand new sewing and quilting season.   If you are in the area, maybe we can work out a play date to sew together sometime this fall. What are you working on?

Don’t forget…I am teaching a workshop next Saturday at G Street Fabrics in Rockville on quilting with feed dogs up for fabric art.  In this class you will learn how you can do some very interesting quilting in place of or to work with free motion quilting.

Sew happy everyone!  Wishing you a wonderful fall and winter sewing season.