An Extrordinary Present

This year for my birthday (Mar 3) my oldest son Ken and his wife Beth gave me a most extraordinarily delightful present…a set of fabrics, a box of fabulous Superior threads, a stack of reference books, and some digital design elements that all related to a quilt he designed for me to make in one of my main quilt series.

I am not going to share the design or the making of this quilt with you all until it is completed and has made its debut on the show scene, but trust me when I say it is a most wonderful design.

He knew I was casting around trying to find my next design in this series, and I have discovered in recent years that he is a really good artist.  This design is well throught out with Beth’s excellent consultation, extremely beautiful and challenging.  I hope I will be able to do it justice, but I will certainly do my best effort.  I am most decidedly touched that he thinks I can make such a quilt and that they made the effort to pull this whole package together for me.

I felt like a little girl when I saw the extent and nature of this present…I opened the box and listened to his explanations, and found a magical treasure.  It came with a digital to-scale design with some of the details pulled out and prepared in scale for me to use in digitizing small elements of the quilt in my Bernina v7 software.  Extraordinary!

Sew when I get this quilt finished and it has had a debut, sometime later this year, I will share the making of it with you on this blog.  I plan on taking lots of pictures, and keeping extensive notes as I construct it, so I can later put it together into a series of blogposts.

My tentative target date for this is sometime in August (his birth month), but that is likely to be too early, so we will have to see.

In the meantime, sew happy everyone.

While I was at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival…


…I had a lot of fun at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival (MAQF).  I had several items on my agenda.

  1.  One of the things I did was to go around and try out almost every machine on the floor designed for quilting.  Now there is no way I can put a long arm on a 10  or 12 foot frame in my townhome and I am not in the market for a new machine at the moment, but I still like to keep up with developments in the industry.  Besides, I might win the HGTV dreamhome one day or something.  😀 😀 😀

    I found some of the longarms heavy and difficult to move in smooth curves, and some moved smoothly and easily but had a feeling of flimsiness about them.  The floor did not have Innovas or Gammills.  My DIL has a Gammill and I have tried them during previous shows and found them quite wonderful  But of the machines on the floor I really liked the Bernina longarm on a frame the best.  It was smooth, the stitch is beautiful, and it seemed solid.

Bernina’s long arm (taken in G Street Fabrics). I really want one, but as you see it’s enormous.

  1. I also tried sit down longarms.  The most interesting thing about this that I discovered almost no advantage from any of them over my Bernina 830 in its custom made cabinet that I have in my studio.  I also like to use decorative stitches from time to time for my quilting as well as straight stitch.  So I’m hoping that Bernina will continue to make the 8 series sized machines.  I may need to invest in a longarm in a few years for one reason or another, but right now I am quite happy with quilting on my 830.
Quilting on my 830 in my studio

Quilting on my 830 in my studio

  1. I hunted for hand dyed fabrics for landscape quilts, but was unsuccessful.  I only found some intriguingly beautiful hand dyed wools.  I don’t have a wool project in my plans for this coming year, so I passed them by.
  2. I walked through the entire vendors sections and concluded that the things I might call “secondary items” to quilters and sewists are growing and make up nearly half of the vendors.  These would include such things as jewelry, glasses, shoes, vibrating pillows, and so on.  There really weren’t as many fabrics, threads, and notions that directly relate to our craft as I would have liked to see.  I did buy some threads at Superior Threads, and a few other notions.
    My loot from MAQF 2016

    My loot from MAQF 2016

  3. Of course I looked at every quilt in the show.  I was extremely impressed with how well MAQF had displayed the quilts.  Each quilt was well shown and you could get close to them (without touching, of course) and see them really well.  They weren’t roped off.  I like that.  I’ve been to shows (Quilt Odyssey comes to mind, especially) where you could hardly see any quilts in the cubicles other than the one directly ahead because the ones on the sides were roped off and you couldn’t get directly in front of them.  There were white glovers there to keep an eye on things for the most part.  I really don’t object to roping as long as it isn’t at the cost of really seeing the quilts well, but it’s especially nice to get close.
  4. I hung around my own quilts observing reactions and answering questions.  That was really fun one moment in particular when Stevii Graves showed up with Karen Sievert.  Stevii was the judge who awarded my Canterbury Knight her Judge’s Choice ribbon.
Stevii Graves and me in front of Canterbury Knight.  Stevii awarded the quilt her Judge's Choice Ribbon.. I was so honored by this.

Stevii Graves and me in front of Canterbury Knight. Stevii awarded the quilt her Judge’s Choice Ribbon.. I was so honored by this.

Sew happy everyone.  Have a wonderful week.

Note:  Once again my blog is being constantly attacked by hackers and bots.  I have removed the subscribe button which was attracting hundreds of hacker subscriber attempts.  I only can leave the comment section open about a week for this reason.  I did improve the overall security of this blog by subscribing to Wordfence, so they aren’t getting through.  I apologize to my readers and am looking for further measures I can take to prevent these attacks.

Famous Quotes 3 of 3: Impossible Things

Finishing up with the three days of famous quotes challenge from my friend Marla (thanks again, Marla), I thought I would continue with some words about impossible things.  This one comes from Walt Disney’s Cinderella, when the fairy godmother is getting everything ready for Cinderella.  I have always loved this particular scene in the old version movie.   She sings a lot in this scene, but the part I love the most is when she sings:

Fairy Godmother

“…Such fol-der-ol and fid-dle-dy dee of course, is— Impossible!
But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don’t believe in sensible rules
And won’t believe what sensible people say.
And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible
Impossible things are happening every day.”

From Rogers and Hammerstein’s music for the movie

I also loved the book and movie The Martian where he takes all of his seemingly impossible challenges and conquers them one by one even when things happen that set him back again and again.  I don’t know whether it would be possible in real life to have conquered the situation like that, but real life does have seemingly impossible challenges for each of us from time to time.

Sew happy everyone!  Do you ever look back at something you have done or made and wonder how in the world you did that or look forward to a project you really want to do and wonder if it is even possible?  Impossible (good) things are happening every day because “daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes” and don’t give up.  It also helps a lot to have faith in God who probably gave you that dream in the first place.



Famous Quotes 2 of 3: Impossible?

If you read my post from yesterday you will see that I have accepted the challenge from my friend Marla (thank you again, Marla).  If you haven’t, I’ll wait a bit while you go back and read it………………..So, you see the challenge.  😀

Today I pass the challenge to my friend Jenny Lyon, a very busy quilter who writes a delightful blog about her work:  Quilt Skipper  I would be pleased if she can accept this challenge (see last post for “rules”).

I love working in fabric, threads, and fabric paints for my medium for creating art.  I also enjoy making simple quilts for use around the home and giving away that are not in the art quilt category.

Recently, I have divided my professional quilt making into wall quilts that are simply fun to make and MAY end up as a show quilt but I won’t be unhappy if they don’t, and the more complex and challenging art show quilts that are specifically FOR show quilts.  I needed to do this because some of my show quilts are really really challenging and I need some less so for psychological purposes. 😀

In thinking about the quilts I have planned for 2016 these two quotes from Walt Disney come to mind:

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. and

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

 There I go again, bending the rules a bit…2 quotes instead of one today.  😀

Sew happy everyone…let’s go make some magic and do the impossible, or simply get started.

Famous Quotes: A Challenge from My Friend Marla

One of my best friends is a delightful woman I have known for well over 25 years now.  Marla recently retired and began writing her interesting and well written blog.  She challenged me to write some blogs with famous quotes on her post on  Explorations In Place.  Thank you Marla, for this fun and rather different challenge.

The rules are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you.
2) Post a quote each day for three days.
3) Each day nominate three new bloggers to take part.

As Marla knows, I am not one for following rules very closely, and this time I’m going to follow 1 and 2 and change three to one new blogger each day.  The blogger I nominate for today is Terry Knott who runs the fun blog On Going Projects

For my quote today I am sharing something that so seems to fit the quilting and sewing world I work in using my wonderful Bernina machines and my design software on my computer, which seem almost magical to me from time to time in what I can do with them:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke
Sew happy everyone.  Tomorrow I will share another quote and tap another victim, um, I mean blogger friend.

The Waiting… Series of Quilts and Other News



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.





Paints in My Stash

When I first began to quilt in 2004, painting on quilts was not as common as it is today.  Now when you go to a show many of the quilts, even traditional quilts, may have touches of paints or be whole cloth quilts with paints.  At that time, I somewhat arrogantly thought I would never use paint on any of my quilts, but over time I realized a little bit of paint can make a really big difference in the outcome of the pictorial quilts I like to make.  Over the past few years I have used paints on most of my quilts, even if it is only to add high or low lights.  I think it was Sharon Schamber’s Quilt Fairy video class that convinced me to try using some paints.

So once I started using them, I discovered that the many types of paints, dyes, and inks for fabric painting all have different results.  These differing results can at once be confusing and useful for the fabric artist.  I am constantly learning on this topic, and in no way consider myself a true expert, but thought I’d share what I have found useful for my own stash that I have collected over the years.  There are a lot of them out there and I certainly haven’t tried them all, but these are in my stash and give me a pretty complete coverage of things I want to do with my own fabric art.

  • Shiva Oil Paint Sticks:  These are particularly nice for adding shading, highlighting and lowlighting on cotton quilts and for making well-blended coloration.  Once heat set they are washable.  I don’t know how often you could wash it, but at least twice  (I used cold water and woolite), and that’s enough to get the quilt made and properly blocked.
    Rivewr and reeds highlighted by Shiva Oil Sticks.

    River flow highlighted by Shiva Oil Sticks.

  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens:  I use these frequently for many purposes.  I wrote to the company and they do not claim these are for fabrics, but I have found them successfully remaining on both prepared for dye cotton and silk after heat setting through one cold water wash with Woolite.  I have not tried more than that, but that is sufficient to remove markings and block a quilt.  I used them to color silk appliques for Canterbury Knight, cover small imperfections in thread work, and add depth to thread paintings.  They are great for when your machine embroidery leaves a small space between the outline and the fill work, skips a line of stitches, and if you have just the right color.  I note that Nancy Zieman uses Sharpies on her landscape quilts, and I think they would probably work fine for the same purposes.  I like the Artist Pens, though, because the tips are fine and their are a lot of colors, but I have a set of Sharpie colored markers.
    From Canterbury Knight...I inked both the boy and the birds onto silk/cotton white Radiance (prepared for dye).

    From Canterbury Knight…I inked both the boy and the birds you see here onto silk/cotton white Radiance (prepared for dye).

  • Setacolor and Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints:  I use these extensively when I quilt first and then paint.  I lump them together because I use them together interchangeably.  The Setacolor seem a little thinner than the Jacquard, which I like.  I have found they are permanent once dry and heat set at least through one washing for both silk and cotton.  The Setacolor Glitter finish I did not wash, but put on the quilts after they were blocked and heat set them.  They add a lot of beauty for just the right thing.
    The border swirls and leaves were all painted after quilting using Setacolor and Jacquard paints.

    The border swirls and leaves were all painted after quilting using Setacolor and Jacquard paints, then glittered after blocking.

  • Then there is my newest discovery, thanks to Kathy McNeil, Fabric paint crayons, which I have just begun playing with and have not tested them for washing, but Kathy says they are permanent once heat set, and she certainly should know.  I find these are really great for adding low and high lights in particular…for instance darkening one side of a tree trunk to give it a sense of depth and establish where the light is coming from, giving the sky and sea depth.  You can use these crayons like water colors too, and that’s really fun.  I have plans for these, but don’t have any quilt to show you just yet.  Anyway, here’s a video of her using them:  Painting on Fabrics
  • Inktense Pencils: I tried using these a couple of times.  For me, and perhaps I wasn’t using them right, they tended to change the hand of the fabric a little more than I liked, giving a slightly rough feel, but you can get a very crisp edge or blend them easily.  I used an aloevera gel for the medium with them.  I do know a lot of fabric artists use these with success.  I did find a large number of tutorial videos on you tube, and here is one link showing painting on silk and another fairly complete video on using them and Shiva oil sticks too.
  • Jacquard Procion MX Dyes:  I just got some of these and haven’t tried them yet.  I know that Hollis Chatelain uses these for most of her fabric painting.

Sew there you have it…what I have in my ever growing paint stash. That reminds me, I need to replace some of the Setacolors that I used up recently.  LOL

Sew happy everyone.  A spot of paint on your quilts may be just the thing to accomplish a look you have not been able to achieve otherwise.

A NOTE:  Rather than shutting down comments like I said I would, I found a new security software for this blog and hope it will do the job.  I still haven’t added back the subscribe to button, but might in the future.


A Hawaiian Garden Quilt and Other News

For fun and profit I decided to take the MQX show challenge and make a quilt using an Alfred Shaheen vintage panel as the basis of the quilt.  There are just a few rules…one needs to use the whole panel (after it is squared up), and it can’t be more than 200 inches perimeter after all the additions of borders are made.  I found one for just $12.  It came in wonderful condition and looks wonderful.  Here’s a peak at a portion of a similar panel.  Mine has slightly different greens and blues. I’ll show you pictures of the quilt later.

s.  il_570xN.845839697_mt7l

Then I ordered three solid colors by matching the colors directly on the screen with the painted colors on the fabric.  They came and are a really close matches to the colors in the pattern.  So I put on two borders…one 2 inches wide and one 5 inches wide with cornerstone blocks from the third color.  I was not planning on spending a lot of time on it, because it is not really a show quilt, except for the MQX special exhibit.  But I do plan on selling it if I can.  So it has to be really good…just as good as a show quilt.  😀

I’ve really enjoyed making this quilt, although it is taking me longer than I wanted.  It’s been fun the whole way.  The only time I got frustrated was when I was having trouble squaring up the panel, but friends of mine reminded me to use my laser square and blue painter’s tape and it helped a lot. The panel is linen with a fairly loose weave and has a tendency to stretch, so the blue painter’s tape helped to keep it from stretching out of shape and I taped it along the laser light, giving it a nice edge to follow when I cut it.  It’s nice and square and the borders and cornerstones went on nicely.  and now I’m quilting, quilting, quilting….

In other news, I’m removing the foundation paper from my Storm At Sea portion of my second in my “Waiting…” series.  My oldest son suggested the pieced portion of the sea and the non-pieced portion might ought to be closer in tones and less busy.  So I decided to over-dye both pieces together, because I agree with him.  The foundation paper I use is Electric Quilt printable, which can stay in the quilt if you want, or can be removed if you want.  It is a little fibrous and slightly more difficult to remove than paper paper, although I really find it wonderful for accuracy.  I spent hours on that piece, and it is a risk that I may end up having to do it again, but it also could be just what the quilt needs.  So I’m going to risk it, It’s an adventure.  😀

Also, I’m working hard on my first book.  I need to start making the samples for that.

In my last post, I asked if you would be interested in a block-of-the-month type of project.  I decided to do one.  It won’t be blocks of course, and so I’m calling it an Art Quilt Techniques Step by Step quilt.  It will be a Japanese Ikebana quilt with a vase in front of a moon in front of a background, and I will provide the flowers for download and printing on your printer. I will include Ikebana concepts for you to arrange the flower appliques in your own arrangement and there will be a selection of vases.

I probably won’t get this started until March after I get back from Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival, but I’m already working on the design, and I expect it to be about six techniques/steps, so we should be finished around September or October.  I think it will be fun.  I hope you will be generous with your feedback on these steps. 

Anyone got an idea for a short name for this kind of quilt challenge? 

Sew happy everyone!  In this new year let us love, learn, share, sew, and quilt.  Hugs to you all.

Competition Quilting and Dealing With Judges’ Comments

Make no mistake.  I am competitive and it helps me to create my fabric art and improve it to have a show ribbon to reach for.  I also like to share my work with my friends and others who may find them fun, happy, uplifting or something positive when they see them and shows provide me with a venue in which to do this.  But after competing since 2009, and moving up in competitive venues, I have found it necessary to take the judges’ comments, and the lack of ribbons, with some humor and a certain amount of fortitude.

When I first started down this path, the judges’ comments were really helpful in figuring out where my biggest weaknesses were and how to improve.  More recently though I have reached the level where most of the comments are generally an opinion of whether or not the judge liked my design. I will say this is not always the case, but usually when they tell me something is wrong I already know it (like there is not enough value difference between the foreground and the background) or it is something that developed in the shipping from humidity, folding, or heat (like not laying flat).  So I have developed a pretty thick skin.  Nevertheless, when I read three judges comments on the same quilt that looks like they are talking about three different quilts, I have to wonder if maybe I should scratch that show off my list.  Afterall, competing is expensive and when I get no or very little prize money, almost ever, I need to carefully select which shows I will use. in the future.

Here are a couple examples:


Canterbury Knight just returned from Houston IQF with these comments or marks that stood out (I am not giving the judges names because I happen to like these quilters and think they have a huge job looking at all these quilts.  Maybe they just had an off day or didn’t know they were looking at a representation of an illuminated manuscript.  Maybe they didn’t even know what an eleventh century illuminated manuscript looks like:
Judge 1:  pluses on use of color; + on integration of all design elements, best features circled were “Appropriate use of embroidery and/or embellishment; Pleasing overall appearance; Bindings full and well applied”; suggestions for improvement circled included “More uniform quilting stitches”, “Quilt should lay flat” [note, I can only think it was the humidity there, because it lays flat here now and I can’t really figure out what they were seeing] and written comment “Very nice storybook arts classic.”

Judge 2: minuses (no pluses) on Visual impact, use of color, balance of design, integration of all design elements, overall appearance; No best features were circled; suggested improvements circled included “color impact could be improved”, “quilt should lay flat”.  Written comment “Outer border overpowers center; surface distortion on center”.

Judge 3: no pluses or minuses at top section; Best features circled:  “Very original, Stood up well against strong competition”; nothing circled in suggestions for improvement.  Written comment “Outer border overwhelms the center design.”

Those were all about this quilt:

Canterbury Knight - F - 2015 web

I also will show you these comments, or lack thereof, about Sky Horse from last year.  Now I freely admit Sky Horse is such a different kind of quilt that it has real trouble being recognized as a deep space nebula unless you are someone who is interested in astronomy and have viewed some of the great photos available of these great natural wonders God created in the heavens.  And also, you may not be a magpie, which I am sort of…so you may not like this kind of approach at all.  Anyway, here are the Houston comments from last year on Sky Horse:

Judge 1: minus on visual impact, no other pluses or minuses, nothing is circled in the lower section and no written comment.

Judge 2: no pluses in top section, minuses on “use of color, balance of design, and overall appearance”.  Nothing is circled in lower section and no written comment.

Judge 3: no pluses or minuses on top section, nothing is circles, no written comment.

OK, so here are the comments from the judges at PA Nat’l Quilt Competition on Sky Horse:

All written:  “Congratulations. Use of Angelina Fiber very effective. Outline of horse head with bobbin free motion well done. Quilting well done. Quilt hangs flat and square. Great use of color and design.”  They awarded the quilt “Best Use of Color” in its category.

Tatum_SkyHorse_Full 2014

This quilt is hard to catch the full impact in a photograph. The Angelina Fibers are so light reflective that, even after obtaining a special filter, I was unable to get a great photograph, but you may be able to get an idea here.


Sew what is the point here?  Take away the things you, yourself, think are helpful from judges comments and ignore the rest.  Prepare your quilts for really tough use if you are going to show them, because things affect them (like humidity, folding, shipping, heat, etc), and choose your shows to fit your lifestyle, quilting style, location, etc.  Compete with yourself rather than anyone else and enter shows just to show off what you have done, without worrying about ribbons and comments too much (easier said than done, but it is doeable).  Sometimes one judge will hate your work and another will love it.  You can get panned in one show and awarded a ribbon in another.

Sew here is what I have planned for next year…though I admit they may change:

I plan to skip Houston next year and save myself the money and stress.  It just doesn’t seem to fit me and they require months with your quilt. I have decided to participate in the shows I can drive to for the most part and a few others.  So this coming year I have my eye on:  Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in Williamsburg, VA; PA National Quilt Festival in Philadelphia; AQS Chattanooga; MQX Midwest and maybe NE, depending on what I finish when.  I have the two quilts above entered into Road 2 California, which is just a short distance from some of my family members. Oh, and Hoffman Challenge 2016 because I like the fabric.  I don’t have anything for Paducah this year, though I have entered that show for five years now and never gotten a quilt in, so I’m probably dropping the effort.  This will probably be all and depends on what I really get done when.  I am writing, working on developing classes; and continuing to make quilts for competition and for sale.

Sew happy everyone!  Keep on making everything as great as you can and improving throughout your sewing and quilting life.  Creating beautiful and/or cozy things can help friends and family and even strangers in times of stress and horrible events like the Paris terrorist attacks.  Keep on praying and sewing.



Canterbury Quilts Both to Go to Shows

Most of you probably already know this, but I just had to put up a post in case you don’t read Facebook.

Canterbury Silk has been juried into AQS Chattanooga

Canterbury Silk - retake

Canterbury Knight has been juried into IQF Houston

Betty Jo Tatum--Canterbury Knight 2--May 2015

I hope I get the right quilt to the right show…LOL….If  you go to either or both of these shows, please look them up.  It’s been a pretty nice few days!

Sew happy everyone!