Filling the Art Quilter’s Toolbelt–a Friend’s New Book and DVD

Developing a toolbelt full of different techniques and the accompanying supplies has added a lot to my quilts especially in the past couple of years.  I have done this primarily over the Internet, Books, and from DVDs, as well as workshops at quilt shows.  This week I received a new book and DVD that provides an excellent clear overview of techniques needed to make wonderful landscape quilts.  Even as an experienced landscape quilter I found a host of new techniques and tips I have not yet tried.  If you are interested in making your own landscape quilts, I highly recommend Kathy McNeil’s new book Landscape Quilts with CD and the DVD Learning Landscapes.  It’s almost like having her come and give you a private workshop.

http://www.kathymcneilquilts.com/shop/dvd-workshops-for-quilters/

 

 

 

Scheduling for Maximum Creativity

OK, after publishing my last blog post I decided I needed to readjust how I work to keep the fabric artist in me happier.  It’s just plain silly to go around feeling sorry for myself when I am in control of my own work schedule.  So I have decided to carve out time for making show quilts, playing with my camera,  and limiting my work on my little microbusiness downloadables and books to something less than all the time.  I also need some time to just chill.  All of these things are important, and all are needed for maximum creativity.

So I am going to be a tough boss and tell myself I have to:

  • Take breaks
  • Take vacations (probably will be quilt shows)
  • Adjust work on sale items to a more comfortable level…it is, after all, a micro business just to supplement my retirement income.
  • Find time for other creative outlets (photography, painting, exercise)
  • Do my very best at everything…reach to make the most beautiful fabric art I can and not be concerned if my quilts do not place (or even get in a show like Paducah).

Sew I am working on the design for my next two show quilts.  I’ve told you before that I like having two quilt projects going at once.  I am an oddball in that I don’t have UFOs hanging around  I think it came from my whole work background where finishing was not an option..I had to finish projects on time.  So I like to run two quilts at once for when I get stuck on one and need to leave it alone until I suddenly know how to solve it.

The first quilt will be a three dimensional deep forest quilt with woodland creatures and oversized three dimensional insects.  It’s something I’ve had in my mind for some time, but I am finally working on the full design and digitizing the embroidery for this quilt (I plan on having a lot of embroidery for this quilt).  I find it hard to describe, but think about it like a pop up book with multiple layers of paper providing some dimension.

The second quilt is finally going to be my Sashiko/Ikebana quilt I have had in mind for several years.  This will have a background of irregular rectangular blocks with Sashiko and the foreground will be as Japanese Ikebana “flower arrangement” probably using broiderie perse and possibly some embroidery for the flowers and a digitally painted vase.  I will be making this with Peppered Cottons, which I have been collecting for a while now.  They seem perfect to me for this quilt.  I’m thinking I might even do the Sashiko by hand…that remains to be seen.  I’ll try a block and see what I think.

Oh, and yes, I will continue to work on my book and downloadable for my little online store, probably three days a week, and not expect so much of my sole employee (me).  😀

My next blog will star a new quilt journal for one of the two quilts, or maybe both. Looking forward to sharing the journeys with you.

Sew happy everyone!  Adjust your schedule  to help reach maximum creativity.

Painting and Writing and Missing Quilting

004Over the past couple of weeks I have been working hard to complete my book “Ten Skill-Building Projects for Bernina V7 Effectiveness”.   I have all but two of the eleven chapters and accompanying project designs complete and have only the two hardest ones left.  I also have several informative appendixes partly written. I will have to test everything, working through the book and making any corrections.

I also have been “painting” horse appliques and preparing a package for each horse that will include instructions for printing and appliqueing and patterns for stitching the tails and manes.  I have two horse designs ready to test and am making progress on learning the things I need to consider for building each applique package.  I will have to test everything for these too.

I have not, however, been working on a quilt.  I miss it.  But this is a temporary situation.  My plan is that after I finish the first book manuscript I will set up a weekly schedule that will divide my time equally between writing, embroidery and applique designs, and quilting so I can still make several new show quilts every year.  Eventually I will finish the writing too.

It’s all wonderfully creative work though, sew I’m still having fun.

Sew happy everyone!

New Online Storefront All Set Up

I have finally gotten everything in place to start selling some of my fabric arts and downloadables.  In case you are considering doing something like this, here are the steps I have taken so far:

  1. Obtained my county and state licenses (I used Legal Zoom.com to do this).
  2. Set up my online store front through my website supplier (GoDaddy)
  3. Used one of the storefront themes available with the software and customized it myself.
  4. Added four of my show quilts and the categories for my downloadable products.  These will include embroidery designs for you to buy and use on your own embroidery machine; Prepared-for-applique downloadable images with instructions for how to use them; Free videos showing techniques and product reviews; and finally books I am currently writing on digitizing embroidery using Bernina v7, machine applique using different techniques for different types of applique, and surface design for fabric art.

So here it is…Ta-daaaaa…

storefront

 

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know when I have the downloadables and the books ready to go (I estimate a week or two for that to start happening).

Sew happy everyone!

Painted borders

I have had a lot of questions about how I did the borders on Canterbury Silk and Canterbury Knight. Here’s a brief little description in case you’d like to try it.  First of all, here is the list of supplies:

  1. Black Radiance…sandwiched and quilted in the pattern you wish to paint.  I quilted mine with Superior Magnifico gold thread.  It looks almost metallic, and it absorbs the paint if you want to cover it in places.  Real metallic paints also work, but the stitching is harder to cover. (I like to cover the central parts of the flowers and leaves, and leave the edges unpainted).
  2. Paint used:
  3. Q-tips:  When dipped in water and rung out with your finger tips a little, these make an fairly adequate eraser if used within a few minutes.
  4. Small flat good quality brushes
  5. Water with brush washer:  Here is a list:  http://www.dickblick.com/categories/brushwashers/

Look at this close up detail of some of my border:  The leaves were first painted bronze metallic color, then I used two layers of different greens after that to get a more natural looking leaves.  I did similar layers for depth of color on all the rest of the swirls and flowers.  Then I painted the red peppers, red swirl areas, and gold swirls with gold glitter finish (it goes on kind of milky in color and it dries clear.  I used silver glitter finish on the blue swirls and flowers.  After it had all dried a couple of hours or more, I heat set it.  In this  case, I turned it upside down onto a soft towel and steamed it from the back without resting my iron too hard on the quilt because I wanted that trapunto-like texture to stay in place.  Coincidentally, I used this steam press to block the quilt at the same time since I did not wash these quilts after completion.

Corner detail

Corner detail

You can also see there are other painted items on Canterbury Knight, like the birds and the music boy.

Canterbury Knight Complete

Canterbury Knight Complete

 

I talked about those, which I inked on white prepared for dye silk, in my earlier  blogpost here:  https://www.blog.bjfabricartist.com/2015/02/canterbury-knight-painting-fusible-appliques/

Sew there you have it. That’s how I prepared my painted borders for both Canterbury quilts.  I am planning at least one more in the Canterbury series and I will likely use this technique on other quilts too.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your creative space.  Cheers!

A Greeting in Fabric from the Heart

As I work through writing and building the projects for my Bernina v7 Skill-Builder book, I am delighted with how much is there to use.  Some of my projects are fairly simple in design because I want to concentrate on the techniques and design elements available in the software.  Yesterday I worked through a project to develop a little fabric greeting card…or it could be a mug rug…about 5 inchs by 5 inches.  It discusses using the art canvas Basic Vector Shapes, turn the heart shape into Advanced Applique, using Pattern Run to fancy it up, and working out the quilting in the hoop.  Here is the resulting design, ready to be stitched out:

5" x 5" fabric greeting card or mug rug

5″ x 5″ fabric greeting card or mug rug

It is my hope that by the time someone works through all ten projects that they will be able to develop almost anything they want with it.  I did set aside my hope to include making lace in the book, because I am thinking of writing a second book if this one is successful for more advanced projects. And in case you are wondering, I have no connection with Bernina other than I love their products. This software goes well beyond Bernina, and I thought this might be helpful to those of you who use it or want to use it. I had quite a struggle to learn it myself, so I thought I might be able to save you some time and frustration.

Sew Happy everyone!

A Whimsical Cat Applique

Hi there.  I just digitized this cat applique for my Bernina v7 software book.  I am going to stitch it out later, when I go through the book to test everything.  I really love Dover Pictura, which has the following statement on their website:

“Whether you’re a crafter, craftsman, artist or designer you’ll find something that will excite your eye and inspire your work. Best of all, all of our image collections are royalty (and worry) free. Use them however you’d like as often as you wish.”

Wow!  “However you’d like”!!!!!  Imagine the possibilities! 😀 😀 So I am using their designs for most of the art basis of my Bernina v7 instructions.  Anyway, here’s the art from their American Folk Art Designs collection next to my applique design in Bernina v7 ready to stitch out where I left out some of the details:

Drawing Beside the Applique

Drawing Beside the Applique

For some appliques, I am not real crazy about the thick satin stitch around the edge, or even the alternate blanket stitch.  So I’m going to do a project in the book showing how you can change that.  Can you tell, I’m having fun?  I hope you are.

Sew happy everyone!

Design, Screen Capture, Write…Repeat

The haul from Houston
I’ve been making slow, but steady, progress on “Ten Projects to Bernina V7 Software Effectiveness”, a book that starts with the setup and carries through with ten skill-building projects.  It ends with appendixes full of additional helpful information. I have had this idea for a couple of years, and had actually started it with v6 just before Bernina came out with their V7 version. I gave myself the upgrade for Christmas, and set about to learn the differences and the new things introduced in V7.

I really like v7 and learning it has opened up some new possibilities for use with my Bernina 830 LE, but the software also works for many other brands of embroidery machines, complete with hooping and formatting options.

I am writing this by having three programs open..a screen capturing software, my word processing software, and V7. First I carry out a bit of design work on a project, screen capture the various stages, and write the step-by-step project with lots of illustrations.

When I finish the manuscript, I will then work through the entire book and stitch out all the projects as if I were a newby on the program, and then ask someone else to do the same.

I hope to complete this for publication by the end of May through my son David’s Fennec Fox Press.

If this works well, I have other books in mind that I actually have already blocked out.

Please let me know if you have some skill you particularly want to have included.

Sew happy everyone! Teach someone to sew or quilt. You’ll learn a lot in the process.

In My Studio on This Good Friday

On this quiet Holy day, I have been spending time in my studio working on digitizing an embroidery design and also doing some practice on ruler work at my domestic Bernina 830 LE.

The result of today's little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

My little digitizing practice in Bernina v7 embroidery software.

I bought a ruler foot by an an Australian company Westalee and a #77 Bernina adapter foot so I actually have a ruler foot.

Ruler foot assembly

Ruler foot assembly

I borrowed some longarm rulers from my daughter-in-law, Beth, to see how this works.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

Just a few of the handful of rulers Beth loaned me.

 

I will be making a second video sometime this week using these rulers and this foot.

I learned a few things about this.

  • I really needed something on the ruler to make it grab and hold the foot.  I put some small squares of that spongy shelf paper backed with double sided basting tape in a couple of places on each ruler, careful not to cover up an important line or intersection.
  • I tried both with and without my supreme slider, and found the slider was a must to make it work well.
queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

queen sized supreme slider taped down at my machine with blue painters tape.

  • Beth loaned me one ruler that was thicker than than 1/4 inch and I found this would run into the screw on the adapter part of the foot assembly and make the ruler scoot out of alignment, but the normal quarter inch long arm ruler works just fine.
  • I found the smaller, shorter rulers are much easier to use than longer bigger ones, and I only have one of her small-medium ones.  She can use a much bigger ruler on her longarm.
  • I need practice, but I like the way this is heading.  The loan of her rulers has really helped me determine what I need to buy in the future (I have to give them back…LOL).

I have a vast collection of classical music, and some of it I’ve loaded onto my little Nano, which I listen to while I work.  Today I chose some appropriate and beautiful music for Good Friday.  It has so far been a blessed day, except my water heater has stopped heating water and we are waiting for the plumber rather than going to church.  They said he may come as late as midnight!  So be it.  It is still Good Friday and a blessed day.

Sew happy everyone.  Try some new technique for your creativity this week to celebrate Easter and spring.  Cheers!

Smaller Wall Art Quilts as a Valid Show Quilt

I usually make my show quilts sized to comfortably  fit the design I envision rather than stretching to make them really large.   I believe smaller quilt (not miniatures)  have become more acceptable as show quilts in recent years for most shows, as they should be.  I don’t normally work in quilts over 60 inches in either direction, and mostly my quilts end up fitting within the lower end of the small wall quilt sizes of most quilt shows. I believe this slightly disadvantages them because the bigger the quilt the more it seems to have impact, though that just makes me work all the harder on my smaller quilts.

Impact is one of the most important parts of getting the attention of a judge.  When they are looking at miniatures, they are expecting to see small, and miniatures are frequently impressive for how intricate they are in such a small space.

I was hoping to complete my most recent quilt Canterbury Knight by the entry deadline for American Quilter’s Society Grand Rapids, and then subsequently to enter it into the other AQS shows.  I almost made the deadline.  I probably would have if I had not discovered that it would not qualify for the show.  There is a gap of six inches between the smallest of their small wall quilt size and the miniature, and my quilt was only 27 inches wide, right in that gap.

So yesterday I said something about it on my Facebook, and got a response from AQS that lead to an email exchange with AQS’s quilt show coordinator Andrea Ray.  She contacted me and asked what my question was.  Here is the exchange:

From me to Andrea:

Hi Andrea,

Actually, I first asked through the website contact page, because I am wondering why there is a gap on sizing between your small wall quilt and your miniature quilt, so that anything between 30 and 24 inches wide or long is not enterable in an AQS show.  I just completed a 27 x37 inch quilt that took me about six months to make, and I must say was probably my biggest challenge yet in quilt making…but it is not enterable.

I have two points on this. The first is that my 27 x 37 inch quilt is 999 square inches and a 30 x 30 inch quilt is 900 square inches.  The second is that this is not a miniature quilt in the usual thoughts about miniatures, and such a size is wonderful for a small home or office wall.  I make wall quilts for people’s homes or offices.  It just seems right to include this size in a major show like the AQS shows.  Besides, I love to go up to Lancaster, in particular, and now you’ve opened one in Chattanooga where I grew up and in Syracuse, close to Ithaca NY where I have many friends.  I am sorry I can’t show my quilt in those locations in particular.

From Andrea to me:

Betty Jo,

Thank you for your feedback. You are not alone. We have heard this about the sizes before, which is why we included the Wall Quilts- Fiber Art category (Width 24” – 40” and Length 24” or more). This category is available in Paducah and Syracuse in 2015.

We are currently working on our rules for 2016 where the size question was brought up again. I hope to include this size range in Des Moines as well.

Thanks,

Andrea

I appreciate the very nice rapid response, but I urge AQS to consider adding this new smaller size category for all of their shows.  The final point about this is that some very talented quilters live in a small space and have a small sewing space where making a larger quilt is physically taxing or even next to impossible.  Opening this smaller size is not compromising in any way.

Such quilts should be beautifully created…good in design as well as construction techniques and fabulous quilting.  It would also help spread the joy of beautiful quilts for decoration of home and office.

Sew happy everyone!