The Importance of Feet

Hi all y’all.  I bet you think this is all about sewing machine feet, and yes, I have something to say about them, but I have been dealing with a sore foot for a couple of weeks.  I normally don’t talk about health things on my blog, but this seems ok to tell you about.  I had a blister on the bottom edge of my foot and it infected and I went to my doctor. This is the second time this year this has happened, the first being when I went to Road to California in January.  Please, you must go to the doctor if you have this happen to you…these things can get bad, really bad, very fast I was told.

This was brought on by a push to lose weight and get in shape.  So I have been on antibiotics and told to stay off my foot until it gets all better for a little over a week now. It is getting all better fairly rapidly.  That’s a relief, but one of the things I have figured out from all of this is that the fabric arts really do normally require a fair amount of standing and walking around!  LOL   I think if this were to go on much longer I would eventually work out how to do everything I need to in a sit down manner, but I figure it won’t be long now and I want to do more on my feet.

I used the time so far in sewing up what was already cut out using my left foot (a challenge to learn to do), doing some computer work I had kind of put off, and organizing what can be done from my three work chairs, limping from one chair to another around my studio in as logical a way as possible.  I get to see the foot doctor on the 13th again so maybe I will get the blessing to do more standing and walking then. I was told I have a “big bony bunion” and probably need to “pay more attention to my shoes” (I’m thinking ugly and expensive shoes, but we’ll see, and no I’m  not interested in surgery at this time).  Anyway, that’s enough of that but I thought you may have wondered where I was lately.

But it kind of reminds me how important it is to use the right foot on your sewing machine. The correct foot can sometimes nearly magically make a huge difference in what you can accomplish, how ell you can do it, and how easy it is to accomplish.  I must say that I have a Bernina foot fetish.  I have a large collection of feet for my Berninas and I love them.  Every now and then I just make something just because it has the opportunity to use some of the fancy feet to do some fun embellishments.  I particularly like to make vests, bags, and mug rugs for this kind of playtime.  But it requires cutting out these items.  I can cut out the mug rugs, but the bags and vests are best to stand to cut them out.

5″ x 5″ fabric greeting card or mug rug

I am planning on making several quilts this year that have extensive thread embellishment just because I think it will be a lot of fun, and coincidentally, use some of those really neat feet I have for my Berninas.

I have been working on another blog all about stabilizers and interfacings, but for some reason it is taking me a lot of time, since I am trying to find links and proper descriptions other than “that lightweight stuff I use to back that fabric”…LOL I hope to finish it for my next blog.

Sew happy everyone!  Go make a fun project that lets you play with your machine’s feet and attachments.  Cheers!

Finishing Up the Quilt: Beads, Butterflies, Rod Pocket, and Labels

These are the five 10 inch squares of crocheted lace that I found in Mom’s workbasket. They inspired the quilt.

Oh goody!  I have finally finished the construction of my Mom’s memory quilt.  I still have to add the beads, labels, the rod pocket, and a small set of pretty crocheted butterflies Mom made that I plan to add to the back.  I have a few spots where the paint soaked through to the back when I had my brush too wet.  There is no removing it, and I originally thought I would cover it with an additional label that gave a little bio and pictures of Mom.  But then I remembered the colorful crocheted butterflies.  They are just right to add a lot of fun to the back and will completely cover the paint spots.  I know there are some out there who think it is “cheating” to cover problems on the back of a quilt, but I believe that if you address the problem in some creative way it is just another part of making the quilt right. Besides, they are cute and I should add them regardless.  That way, the bio/picture label can still go on, but on the lower left side of the quilt oposite the info label on the lower right side of the quilt.  I will look around and see if there are more of the butterflies to sweep across the back of the quilt, but even if not, it will be a fun solution.

I was going to sew on the beads today…the hand sewing part.  There is also a machine sewing part and a hot fix part.  I have to test the hot fix first.  Chores and disintangling some bead strings took up most of the day and now it is really getting warm in my studio.  I may still get to some bead work, but it is Saturday.  I usually go a little easier on Saturday…a habit I picked up from all my years of my demanding job for the government…do a little more rest and recreation on your days off!  Same now…I still consider this a light or no work day and Sundays the same.

In any event, I think this quilt will be completed this coming week.  Hooray!  Then I have a long list of exciting future projects.  I have spent more than a year on this quilt.  During this time I had my main sewing machine die and I bought a new Bernina 880 plus and spent a while getting to know it.  I love it.  It works magnificently.  I usually make three to four show quilts in a year, but last year there were none, and this is the first one this year.  I will be making smaller quilts for the rest of this show quilt making season.  They will be art quilts and I will hope to sell them.  Selling smaller quilts is a little easier, because people are more likely to have the space on their wall for them.  They aren’t necessarily cheaper, but it depends on the techniques I have to deplow.  But I am also using them for book samples.  That way I will hope to get double duty out of the coming quilts,  and I will not be selling Mom’s memory quilt.  It’s just the right size to fold in half and place on the foot of my bed, or even unfold and use as a topper.  I don’t have a space big enough for hanging it, and even so it is considered a “small wall quilt”.  I guess I just am not cutout to make bed sized quilts.  They aren’t my thing.  Besides, I truly love making pictorial art quilts.

I really have no idea how to categorize this quilt.  It is truly not a traditional quilt, and it is not an art quilt exactly. In any event, I hope my Mom can see it from heaven and likes it.  It’s a tribute to my magnificent talented Mom, Zephana Compton Bivens.

Sew happy everyone!  Stay safe, well, and happy in spite of all the chaos swirling around us.  Take some time off just to goof off, read, take a walk, or sit outside. Cheers.

 

Risk Taking in the Studio

Test sampler I made before starting my Mom’s memory quilt.

When I make a show quilt I have a variety of steps that can be a little bit scary, even if they are also fun. I have to take the risk or I would never accomplish the things I want to do. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I pretest, when I am actually working through the quilt project, things come up that are unexpected and must be either corrected or otherwise dealt with.  I am currently trying hard to finish my Mom’s memory quilt, which proves my point.  It has been a real challenge from the start and seems even more so the closer I get to the end.

Sew I finished the loooooooooong period of heavy quilting, unquilting, quilting, unquilting, quilting.  Each part of the quilt had a different sort of quilting that required much thought and practice, but even so, I have not been as happy with it as I had hoped.  I have been working on this quilt for mny hours over the course of a year.  The top looks really pretty good, but I am not as happy with the back.  Still, I love the quilt.

Today, I have been painting the flowers and birds on the white satin that I spent mnths quilting.  The painting is going fairly well on the top, but a few spots have soaked through to the white back.  I think I have control over that now and will not have any more soaking through, and if so, I can use the upper corner where that happened as the place to put the additional label I have planned for all along that will give a little bio and a picture of my mom.  I don’t think I can get away with more thanone of those, however…lol.  So if I do have more trouble with soaking through, I will have to color the back flowers and leaves using something that I know won’t soak through like fabric crayons, which would look nice, but I would rather not do that.  Hopefully I will be able to complete the painting without additional problems of the paint soaking through (I got my brush too wet).   Before I started this I made the sampler above and had no problems with the paints soaking through.  I have painted after quilting on many quilts, and I am pretty sure it was just that I got my brush too wet. Sigh!

Earlier this week we (or rather my son David, who is in control of  our washer that is on his level in our townhome..lol) washed the quilt to get the Crayola washable gel pen markings out of it and set it up for blocking.  I  had told him to wash it on the hand wash cycle with cold water and Wooolite.  It did not entirely come out.  I have to say I was stressed over that.  But anyway, he rewashed it another time using the same directions and more of it came out but not all.  So I suggested warm wash with Synthrapol, and then it all came out.  It also did not damage it in any way and looks fabulous overall.  The quilt has a double bat with an 80/20 bat on the back and a wool bat on the top.  I had done a bunch of testing of the Crayola washable gel pens before I marked the quilt top using the same fabric.  But when I did the test I washed it out with Synthrapol, not Woolite, and I only dried it a few hours and ironed it instead of having it sit in the fabric a year.  So I suspect that is what the difference is, but it might just have been the warm water or the third wash. The point is, it came out and it was a great help while it was in the quilt. I would most certainly use it again even if I have to wash my quilt several times.  But I kind of think just one wash in warm water with the Synthrapol would have done the job.

Oddly, the part that I was most worried about when washing/blocking…the appliqued on crocheted ten inch lace blocks my Mom made…came through the wash without a bit of trouble and they even look refreshed and truly beautiful.

I had originally thought this quilt would end up a little over 60 x 60 inches, but all the quilting drew it in to about 58 x 58 in the end.  I haven’t bound it yet, but that’s what I think it will end up.  It will, therefore, be a small wall quilt in whatever shows it is in, if they will even let it in, or if they even open.

Sew you see, when I make a show quilt, there are lots of things that can and often do go wrong.  What I have found is that I have had to develop a set of approaches to fix problems when they happen, or criteria to help decide when I can let it go and stay as it is.  Afterall, I am not a machine.  I do not make perfect quilts.  I think small flaws can actually add to the beauty and magic of a quilt. I’m not sure judges agree. But sometimes, I may even have to let it go and not enter them into shows.  I think this one will be ok for entry.  We’ll see when I’m done. I am sure those keen eyed judges will see every little flaw and tell me about them if they provide feedback.  They always do.  Hahahah.

In addition to binding, I still have the painting and to add lots of pearls to the quilt. Some of those pearls are possibly going to be Swarowski hot fix pearls, but I have to test that first, because my quilt top is made from polyester crepe back satin and polyester dupioni…it’s gorgeous.  It quilted beautifully, but I will have to test to see if the hot fix pearls go on ok without a hitch, and stay, and don’t melt or burn the fabric.  I once slightly burned a silk dupioni quilt in one spot with the hot fix crystals I started to add.  I ended up glueing the crystals all on, which I found I didn’t like doing at all.  Later on, I learned that I could use the transfer tape to help apply the crystals.  It holds them in place and provides a bit of heat protection of the fabric when I used the hot fix applicator.  So I am hopeful I can use the hot fix pearls for this quilt.  But it is another risk, and the last thing I do to complete the quilt I have spent so many hours on for a year now.

I am planning on making slightly smaller art quilts for a while.  They might actually sell better, since people may be able to find spaces on their walls for them.  But I will continue to do those risky techniques that make the end quilt look so fabulous.  I hope you will too.

I am hoping we are all able to begin to come out of our homes and are still stay well.  Just like a show quilt, risks are required if we are to accomplish anything good.  I personally don’t think we as a country can stay away from work for much longer without the entire world economy collapsing, which is also a massive threat to peoples’ lives, health, and overall well being…even more threatening than the Covid 19.  But we can take precautions as we go out, wearing our pretty face masks we probably all made or had made for us and washing our hands, using sanitization methods in our houses, cars, and places of business, and keeping our distance for a while.  There has been much progress in understanding this thing and how to treat it and they are still moving forward.

Sew happy everyone!  Make something fun.

 

 

Appliqueing, Writing, and Quilting…Fun in My Studio

One of the blocks of my bed quilt I am making with my wonderful Bernina 880 plus I bought about six months ago.

I have been totally enjoying my time in my studio this week. I have been working on two quilts…a quilt in my Mom’s memory, and an appliqued bed quilt for my bed.  Oddly, they both pull in some of the same colors.  LOL

I have been working on my bed quilt for a couple of years now, just doing a few blocks at a time, but I now have all of them fused, and more than half of them sitched.  It’s a pattern by Sue Nickels I bought from her when I took her class at Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in 2018.  Then I will have to put it together with a sashing and borders to make it large enough for my bed.  Here’s a picture with the large center  and a couple of the small blocks I finished.  I love the colors (I chose them, so I should love them..hahah), and it will go very nicely with my bedroom.  This is for fun and relaxation only.  It will not be a show quilt. I find machine applique particularly fun to do especially after it is fused and ready to stitch.

I finished quilting the large off white satin section of Mom’s memory quilt.  It was intensive quilting and took a very long time, but I still have more quilting for the center pentagon which has Mom’s crocheted lace squares on it that  I found in her work basket after she passed. I have to quilt the border, and  I have some quilting on the pentagon center, but more is needed.  I decided I would do the border first.

The central pentagon before the quilt top was constructed.

 

I have figured out how I want to quilt the border  after much thought and practice…feathers!  Yikes!!! Yes, for me that is something I have never done for a show quilt, and that is what I hope this will end up being.  So I have had to learn to make decent feathers, and I do like the styles I have come up with by using ruler work for the center spines and then free-motion quilting the feathers.  So I made a practice piece to figure out how I want the feathers to go.  From this, I decided I will be doing the bump and hump feathers on a ruler work central spine.  It looks pretty good on the top, but there are some trackback issues those keen-eyed judges will see right away. I also haven’t gotten the back to look like I want yet, though I’m close enough to start on the quilt itself, I think, I just have to be very careful.  I decided I need another new quilting ruler to make the end curls and puffs look right, and that is Lily Lines 3 by Bethanne Nemesh.  It should arrive today or tomorrow I think.  It has already shipped.  i have a couple of her other rulers and they are terrific. I am thinking the one closest to what I will do is the border that is directly under the foot of my machine in the picture below, although I want a tighter curl at the end.  I also will be doing a tight simple stipple for the background.  Simple and effective, although I am not sure if this will bore the judges or not.  But it is what the quilt calls for.

My feather border sampler using the actual fabrics and threads I plan to use on Mom’s memory quilt.

And then I am continuing to work on my current ongoing book on embellishment.  I haven’t yet decided if it will be one book or several.  It kind of depends on how the chapters come out.  I am currently working on the wool machine applique embellishment chapter/book.

Sew happy everyone!  I hope you are finding peace and some fun in your own studios and offices in spite of the terrible situation in the world and the country today.  Stay well and safe!

 

Happy Easter!

Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church, Ashburn Virginia,  Easter Banner designed and made by Betty Jo and Anita Born, completed 4/15/19

Have a blessed Easter everyone!

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.