Whan That Aprille: Machine Applique

Fused and Ready to Stitch

Fused and Ready to Stitch

I have all the appliques cut and fused down. They are made from silk/cotton blend Radiance that I purchased at a quilt show. The appliques are tiny with little pieces, so I was able to do all of them from the 10 inch squares I bought in a collection of colors. I even have enough left to do a second quilt like this.

I love doing machine stitched appliques both fused stitched raw-edge, like I am doing here, and turned edge, machine stitched. Since these are so tiny with complex edges, I decided on the stitched-raw edge for this quilt. The stitch I use depends on the look I am going for. In this case, this folk-art influenced quilt works well with the blanket/applique stitch. Note that satin stitch, double blanket stitch, and some decorative stitches also work well. Here’s a little example, and I do mean LITTLE!  The flower here is a little more than one inch across.


stitchin-begun
It always interests me how I can miss problems when I’m looking at what I have done, but see them when I photograph them. I had a little tension trouble when I did the black perle cotton number 8 bobbin work at one point. I thought I had found it all and fixed it already, but here you see I missed a couple of spots:


Photo-test
Sew remember to use the photography test for your own work.  I’ll fix this.

I am experimenting with a new setup for my stitched-raw edge applique because it is SO SMALL and requires so much turning to keep the blanket/applique stitch at the right angle. I took an old super slider I had that was a little worn around the stitch hole and cut it so my feed dogs are exposed. I think this will help me move the quilt top around easier and more accurately. You see the disadvantage, though is I have to change thread colors a lot for this quilt, which means taking it up and putting it back every bobbin color change.  I’ll let you know if it makes enough positive advantage to use it despite the thread changes.

New-setup

Sew happy everyone, and happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there.

From the Archives: First entry –5/29/2011 Let Me Introduce Myself

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AUTHOR: BJ Tatum
TITLE: Let Me Introduce Myself
STATUS: publish
ALLOW COMMENTS: 1

DATE: 5/29/2011 10:19:53 PM
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BODY: 8

Hi there.  So glad you stopped by to pay me a visit.  I have established this website to share my quilting and sewing journey and techniques with anyone who may be interested.  Eventually, I may sell my quilts and other items I make from this site, but not yet.

I love fabric art of all kinds, including art quilting, traditional quilting, wearable art, bags, heirloom sewing, and even basic sewing and tailoring.  I love looking at it, making it, wearing it, hanging it on the wall, photographing it, and studying it. 

Years ago, I had my own fashion design and tailoring business where I designed and made clothing for both men and women.   I made everything from men’s suits and tuxedos to bridal gowns and tailored women’s clothing.  In more recent years, I have taken up quilting at the urging of my delightful daughter-in-law, Beth, who is also a quilter.  It was a wonderful solace for me following my dear husband Marvin’s passing a few years ago.  I now find that I have a real and abiding passion for making wall art quilts of various sizes primarily for competition and have spent the last couple of years honing my techniques and turning my fashion making skills into quilt making skills.

I have a long background of work with fabrics and threads, having learned to sew from my mother, who started teaching me when I was 5 or 6.  She also taught me to knit, hand embroider, and crochet, though I was never very good at the latter.  She was a very advanced fabric artist herself, although she trended toward the traditional highly advanced needlearts.  I wish she were still here today to share our needlework.

Now, I love the new techniques, supplies, and technologies that have enabled me to go so far beyond what I ever thought I could, even though I have a full time job elsewhere.  But I am nearing my retirement, and hope to dedicate a lot more time to play with fabrics and thread and even paint on fabrics.

I have a bit of an art background, though not as much as I would like.  I took many art classes in both high school and college and occasionally private lessons.  Perhaps I will take more such classes after I retire.  I studied music at the University of Iowa and also graduated from George Washington University in International Affairs.  I have traveled all over the world and the United States to many interesting places over the years  But now, my favorite place is at home in my small, but almost adequate, quilt studio, or at quilt shows.

I have two wonderful grown sons, one of whom is married to Beth, and one who still lives with me.  I have a grandson, Kevin, who is eight at the time of this writing.  I believe that the Lord has given me the talents and the opportunities I have to be creative, and that belief is often reflected in my art quilts in particular.  Some of the quilts I have made are actually banners designed for churches.

I hope we will have a lot of fun together, and I will be able to provide a little help to other fabric artists and also hope I will learn from you all.  My favorite websites for these pursuits include The Quilt Show, MQResource, and Ravelry.

I also love photography and writing.  Oh my, there just simply is not enough time in a day!!!

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Whan That Aprille: Basic Embroidery Completed

I’ve been making some progress.  I completed the basic embroidery, fixed the spots that didn’t quite work in the hoop computerized embroidery, and even sewed the thin vines using free motion bobbin embroidery in number 8 Perle Cotton.  Here’s a picture:

 

Ready for the applique

Ready for the applique

Sew next I started testing out the applique methods.  Here’s my first test–stitched raw edge applique using Bernina’s single blanket/applique stitch set at 1.5 width and 1.5 length,  The blue thread is Superior Rainbow, and the Black is Superior Bottom Line.  Wing details and the like would be quilted in, and the eye would be a bead.  I put some items in the picture so you can see how really small the bird is.  For some reason close-up photos like this don’t show the nice sheen that the silk dupioni and the Radiance has, but you can get the idea I think.

test-bird-1-web

Sew Happy Everyone!  🙂

Subscriber news

News:  I figured out how to transfer my subscribers list…a few were lost in the process because I failed to copy one of the pages before the old blog was deleted that I didn’t realize I had, but it should not have been more than 3 or 4.  I hope you catch it if you were one of those.  If you don’t want the subscription click on your profile link under the subscrib2 section on the right. There is a button to click to unsubscribe.  Hooray!  That makes it all complete.  The old back blogs will start appearing this Thursday as “From the Archives” posts.

On Managing Stashes for Busy Sewists

stash-building-web

I hear a lot of embarrassment out there from my sewing friends about the size of their stashes, but I say don’t be embarrassed, but be grateful and manage those stashed right into productivity.  It just needs a realization that there is a huge value to having well-stocked stashes  collected over time and properly managed.  I began this practice decades ago when I first used sewing as a supplemental income when my children were very small and improved it substantially since retiring a couple of years ago.

Since retiring and reorganizing my stashes I have found the value of spending just a little time each week making sure things are put where they belong and taking note of what needs replacing.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not very good at this.  Instead of carefully ironing and folding my fabrics and organizing them carefully on shelves, as some of you do, I sort of fold them straight from the dryer, and then stuff them into my generically labeled drawers.  I just dump my threads in similar plastic bins according to type.  Libby Lehman, bless her dear heart, had a magnificently organized studio, properly labeled (I would guess it sits there waiting for her full recovery still in its organized splendor).  She was my inspiration, but I will never reach her level of organization.   Still, she helped me see that at least SOME organization is needed.  I’m sure some of you would be horrified if you saw what I considered “organized”…LOL

studio3

Imagine that you have a great idea, found that perfect pattern, or have designed a special project in Electric Quilt whatever version and want to get going on it.  In your dreamworld, you go into your studio, select your fabrics from your impeccably organized stash, and get started.  Then you pull the perfect threads out of your thread stash just right for your project.  Your small amount of time is well spent and you make significant progress on your project in that little bit of time.  Now I know it is fun to go shopping in your local quilt shop, but my time and budget is limited even since I retired, so I needed to develop a list of what I needed for several projects ahead.   Since retiring to full-time fabric artist, I have had to organize my projects, deadlines, show quilt schedules.  It saves me far more time than it cost to set this up initially and keep it going.  I use simple computerized spreadsheets and it seems to work.  I also put deadlines on my computer calendar so it reminds me when I need to do something to help counter that vanishing-time problem.  🙂

What kinds of stashes do you have?  I have several types of stashes–quilting cottons, various types of silks, light woolens, denims, etc. in the fabrics sections.  But my thread stashes have significantly grown since I retired.  My favorite threads are #30 and #40 polyester solids and variegated embroidery threads,  #100 silk threads, #12 and #16 perle cotton threads, and #8 perle cottons and Razzle Dazzle and other decorative bobbin and hand embroidery threads, and hand quilting threads that I use for hand sewing beads onto my creations.  I also have a collection of buttons, beads, sequins, fabric paints and markers, brushes, stabilizers, interfacing, bag making specialty parts, and needles of all descriptions.  I also have a very nice collection of tools.  I did not collect these all at once, but over the course of many decades and some of these items are inherited and older than me.

In the past few years I have given away a large amount of fabrics for clothing that I know I will never make.  I had decided I need to give away a lot out of my quilting fabrics stash because they no longer appeal to my tastes (funny how that happens), but instead I decided to design several very quick to make quilts that are still pretty, and take those fabrics and make them into pre-cut kits, using my die cutter, that I will either sew up myself or convince some of my friends to sew for people in need.  We’ll see if this works  or not.  I’ve only just started this. 

My ultimate goal is to reach a point where the fabrics in my stash are the ones I will use so my stuffed full drawers will once again resemble a nicely organized stash, that I have the stabilizers, battings, beads, buttons, and threads I need most of the time and don’t have to delay a project to order them (my “local” quilt shop is 45 minutes away, and the brands I like are not often available, so I buy my threads online).

Sew I have learned that a small part of my in-the-studio time has to go to managing my projects and stashes in order to keep more productive  and the costs spread out across time (as you know threads and fabrics are so expensive…it just helps to have built a stash and keep it stocked so I don’t have to spend a big amount at the beginning of each project), and my fabric art humming along.  I realize a lot of you are far better organized than me, but I encourage you if you haven’t done so to take a look at your own stashes and projects and do a little managing and organizing and your productivity and imagination may just take off and soar in ways you don’t expect.  And you’ll probably save a little money too.

Sew happy everyone!

Whan That Aprille: Begin Again

new-fabric-stitching-web

 

Sew!  I completed the in-the-hoop embroidery on the new piece of wine red dupioni.  I had digitized this from my design and it required five jumbo hoopings for Gibbs (my Bernina 830 LE) to stitch it out.  I have a problem getting those alignment marks they put in there in good places. As far as I know, there is no way to adjust the placement of them, so I ignore them.  This requires that I print out the full sized template from my software, tape it together, mark where the hoops go and the center mark for each hoop, and cross my fingers as I hoop them.  For the most part, I am usually successful, but it requires close watching and sometimes a large amount of adjustment.  For some reason when I get the hoop placement just right so everything is green in the computer (that means they fit in the hoop and the whole design is covered), and then save it to the USB stick, it isn’t the same when I sneaker net it to Gibbs, and is often totally off.

Nevertheless, I generally manage to get it to line up by some finagling, and often have nothing out of place.  This one was tricky though because of that long central trunk vine curving up through three hoopings.  So I got it a little bit off, but just in one spot and I think I can fix it ok using a satin stitch (out of the hoop).  It’s quite narrow, but here’s a close up of the misalignment, and it also shows that one black berry was not stitched fully (it came outside of the hoop on Gibbs despite being in the hoop on my computer, and so I just let it go…to fix that later too:

misalignment-web

 

Anyway, I’m very happy overall with the embroidery, and the next step, after I fix those small errors in the embr is a lot of bobbin embroidery from the back using # 8 Perle Cotton.  Once that is completed, I will start on the appliques.  I have so many lovely colors of Radiance 10 inch squares and a few larger pieces from which to make the appliques.  I think the hooping was the most stressful part of making the quilt top, so I’m glad that is behind me.   I have to embroider the words, but thanks to a friend’s suggestion, I have a new idea for how to go beyond this central part of the quilt that places the words better and will also make them easier to embroider.  Hopefully I can fit them all in one hoop!

I know I  will have to do a dramatically wonderful job of quilting this, and I am planning on marking it pretty fully once I figure out how to quilt it.  I’ll be asking you all for suggestions once I have the top finished.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sew happy!

 

Now that Sky Horse Is Complete…

Detail from Sky Horse
Detail from Sky Horse

As some of you know, I finished Sky Horse and sent in my application to try to get it into IQA Houston this year.  I am not posting a full photo of it until after its first show debut, but thought since I had spent many hours archiving the old blog and figuring out the new blog that I would celebrate by posting a picture of the horsehead itself.

I also decided not to use the start I made on my little Jacobean birds-in-a-tree that I am using with opening words to Chaucer’s prologue to The Canterbury Tales embroidered around the border.  Now I am fully aware that the two periods of history in which Chaucer lived and wrote, and the Jacobean period are separated by several hundred years, but somehow the birds in a tree with all the flowers embroidered on silk seemed just right for Chaucer’s “Whan that Aprille”, which is the name of the quilt.  And besides, I am embroidering and appliqueing the quilt by a modern high-tech computerized sewing machine, and plan on adding buttons and beads and maybe some hot fix beads.  It’s going to be quite an elaborate little quilt.  It clearly is way away from my normal style of quilting, but will be using the same techniques.  You have probably seen my design before, but here it is in case you haven’t:

 

Whan That Aprille Design

Whan That Aprille Design

 

You may not be aware, or perhaps you are, that decades ago I had my own fashion design business during which I designed and made a number of elaborate wedding dresses and special occasion dresses.  I worked a lot with silk, and embroidery, and beads.  I would have LOVED to have had the equipment I have today to work with.  So in its way, this little quilt is a nod to that period of my life when I lived in Ithaca, New York, my children were little, and I did a lot of singing, sewing, gardening, and fashion design.

Well, let me tell you…that first piece of silk that I embroidered the vine on was just poor quality.  I washed it and found it ran and ran and it had way too many slubs, so that it looked almost like raw silk, and clearly was not going to take the heavy amount of work I have to do to accomplish this quilt.  Plus, I decided I wanted a darker shade of red.  So I put it aside and am starting afresh on a gorgeous dark red dupioni that I already tested for color fastness, and even though all dupionis are slubbed, this one is much more refined.  Besides, that other fabric was going to fight me the whole way.  You know, you can tell these things when you start to work with a piece.  You can’t tell the problems in this picture, but you can see it is not the darker red I wanted:

Original piece

Original piece

Sew sometimes you have to start things over…blogs, quilts, plans for the future…either to keep moving forward or to make things come out right in the end.

Unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to restore the list of those subscribed to this blog, so if you want to receive an email when I post a new blog, PLEASE resubscribe.  Thanks!

Sew happy everyone!

A Fresh Start

writing wizardWell here we are with a whole new blog.

I am still struggling a bit with the new blog software. There is a lot to learn to provide a nice looking, easy to read, and easy to operate blog.  Nevertheless, I am glad to get this up and running.  I will tell you that it was most definitely NOT my choice to change.  Indeed, it was a bit of a blow to my time space continuum management plans.  😀  But I do appreciate the fact that GoDaddy gave me adequate warning and have been very helpful in getting this done so far.  Truly, I understand the need sometimes for a company to make some changes to improve their bottom line, but when they do, I just hope it doesn’t impact mine.  🙂

I have decided that beginning next week I will bring in one of my older posts from the other blog every Thursday for a while.  It has taken me some effort to archive it all, including the pictures.   In the process of archiving everything, I found several series on making specific quilts and a few independent posts that I think may be kind of fun for our throwback Thursday “From the Archive” posts.  If you remember a specific post you liked to reference and have a request, please let me know and I will post it.

Sew let us begin anew.  Actually it feels kind of nice to have a bold new start.  If you have any requests for topics to cover, suggested ideas for this new blog, or other comments toward improvement, please add a comment.  I read all the comments I get and try to answer them in a timely fashion

Coincidentally…or perhaps not…I have also restarted my little Jacobean-like folkish birds-in-a-tree silk quilt.  I was unhappy with the silk dupioni I was originally using and so I have changed to a lovely darker red dupioni that my test indicates will not run or fade and is soooo much prettier.  As soon as I get this up and running I am going to re-embroider the central big vine and leaves in black, and rework the thin vines with bobbin work using number 8 perle cotton.

Sew happy everyone!   Let the fun begin on this new playground!