Canterbury Knight…At the quilting stage finally

I finally got to the quilting stage on my Canterbury Knight, and am having a lot of fun on it.  I just haven’t yet decided how I am going to quilt the grassy parts.  The castle is done and looks like a castle, instead of a white silhouette of a Disney castle. 🙂  LOL  Here it is about half-way through the quilting of the little castle.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on this small part of my quilt.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

Using my Bernina BSR with Superior 100 wt silk on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin.

 

I quilted the roofs of the castle in dark gray, and then I inked in the windows and the roofs with medium gray.  It looks pretty good, but it made the roofs too close in value to the sky fabric.  I don’t know if I will do anything about that.  Not sure what I can do.  I like it a lot as it is, but I think the judges will think there is not enough contrast.  The towers are all still white, though, so that may be sufficient.

For those of you with Berninas and BSRs, you may be interested in my settings (sewing slowly):

For the castle:  100 wt. silk thread, 70 titanium top stitch needle, 2.75 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.0 stitch length.  I then changed to 40 wt (set like sky settings below) gray and re-outlined the towers, and did roof tiles like tiny clam sells.  After that was done, I did the inking.

For the sky:  40 wt. polyester Superior Rainbow, 90 titanium top stitch needle, 2.5 top tension, Bottom Line 60 wt. poly in the bobbin threaded for embroidery, 2.10 stitch length.  I did the wind roses from this practice piece:

Practice for the sky and water

Practice for the sky and water

I still haven’t decided what to do with the grassy parts, and since the marks on the black border are really disappearing, I think I will move on to that next.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to cook or sew…your grandson, your son, your husband, your father.  Share the fun.

Announcing “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts” and What I Plan to Do With It

S009EEEK!  I’ve actually done it.  I’ve gone and set up a micro-business!!!

This week I received the finished paperwork on establishing my micro-business “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”.    I have a few more more steps before I can start offering downloadable items, and those are getting a shopping cart arranged and filling the shop part of my business with items you might want.

As some of you know, I retired from my intense US Government job on 31 December 2012, and have been slowly pursuing my plans to open this micro-business ever since.   My expectations are to make enough money to pay for my fabric arts pursuits, provide money for attending some of those marvelous quilt shows, have a little spending money for fun and to travel to see my family in California.  Sew it is very much a “Micro” business.  This will also provide me a way to share more of what I have learned in my sixty plus years of sewing and art pursuits and eight or so years of taking art quilting seriously.

The first three years of my retirement I spent largely in setting up my workspace and learning, learning, learning…filling in all those gaps that exist between expert sewing and expert art quilting. I hope that I will continue to learn.  There is so MUCH to learn.  That’s part of what makes fabric arts so great…lots to learn, lots to experiment with, lots to share.

The process I used to set this up, as requested by my friend Maggie:  As you may be aware, over the past few years I built my website and blog, and shared where I felt I could.  Last week, I also registered the website name www.bettyjosfabricarts.com with GoDaddy and connected it to my existing website www.bjfabricartist.com This past month I went through Legalzoom.com and set up my “Doing Business As” or DBA.  The cool thing about them is by using their questionnaire and putting in what you want, what state you are in, and so on, they take it from there.  They work out the paper work, they send it to you.  You take it and get it notarized, and send it back to them.  They deal with the government entities and send you your license.  They have lawyers available to talk to if you need to.  I think it is just right for a micro business like mine.  If you are setting up a more involved business, you might want to talk with a lawyer and get them to take this on.  But this only cost me right around $150, plus the cost of my GoDaddy and Blog accounts.  Not so bad, considering.  I’m sort of a do-everything-myself kind of person, so I built my own website through GoDaddy.  There are some really good tax and record keeping programs out there to help you with keeping the books too.  I use Intuit who make TurboTax, but there are several good ones.  This is a vast improvement over the way I had to work more than 30 years ago when I set up my own fashion design business in Ithaca, NY. and did everything on paper.  The bookwork was dreadful, and took a large chunk of time.  Of course, then I had two employees, the hiring of whom cost me all of my profits for a while, but I will not have employees for this little business.

You may be wondering what I am planning on offering for downloads.  My intent is to provide you with the tools you need to make the fabric art visions in your head or improve the projects you purchase from someone else.  Here is my initial list and it is truly subject to change:

1.  Embroidery items for your embroidery machines like trees, flowers, flags, other small items to spice up your landscape quilts, or small in-the-hoop projects.  I am currently working on a set of trees.  Trees seem to be something I have needed a lot over the past few years and I have been unhappy with downloads I have purchased in the past, so I am digitizing them myself.

2.  Patterns and/or step-by-step instructions for building your own incredible pieces of wall art.

3.  I am writing two books (or is it a series of worksheets?).  One is on all the different techniques I use for machine applique, and when to use each type.  The second is on surface design…painting, thread work, beading.  It’s entirely possible these will boil down to a series of worksheets complete with some projects and step-by-step instructions that will help you practice, rather than actual books.

4.  Digitally painted items you may wish to download and print on fabric using your own inkjet printer, such as faces and hands, horses ready to applique and add threadwork for their tales and manes, small characters for appliqueing on your landscape quilt.  These will come with instructions.

5.  And finally, worksheets with learning projects on using technology in your sewing and quilting studio.  This would include, for instance, how to use Corel Draw with Bernina v7 software to produce a provided wall art project.  Or using a digital painting program, such as Corel Painter 2015 and a Wacom tablet to paint and draw your own faces and hands, or horses and dogs for printing on fabric.  Or even a project with worksheet in taking your advanced sewing machines through their paces to help you to create that incredible piece of fabric art of your own.

6.  Videos may accompany some of the items above.

In truth, I don’t expect many downloads to be available much before summer, and after that, they will be added from time to time.  I plan on putting just a few up in the spring to help test the download, and shoppng cart system.  I will be looking for guinea pigs, ur, testers and reviewers for some of my things as they come out, sew keep that in mind if you are interested.  Sew this will probably take me a few months to get really rolling even though I now have the structure set up…kind of like building a house.  I have the foundation made and the walls up, but I have to put all the inside finishes in.

Sew happy everyone!  Learn a new technique every now and then and practice, practice, practice.

 

Canterbury Knight: Inking fusible appliques

Some of the border items on my Canterbury Knight quilt need to be created off quilt and appliqued on, as opposed to painting directly onto the border.   Sew I had an idea to just take the item, cut it out of the full sized print version (digitally, using Corel Draw), and reverse it, and print it onto some fusible web with the protective paper still on it.  Originally, I was going to just iron it onto some appropriately colored pieces of cotton/silk Radiance and applique them on.  But when I got the printout (in color), I decided to put the web onto prepared-for-dye radiance and see if I could ink in the designs.  This is how it worked:

1.  Here is my design printed onto the 8 1/2 x 11 inch fusible web piece.  It is sitting on my light box.

DSCN0075

 

2.  Sew then I ironed it onto the radiance, turned it over, and taped it all to the light box.  I also found a small piece of the black silk, that I would be appliqueing it to, in order to place it under the white PFD radiance and test how the inks looked before I inked it.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

Working on the boy musician who is announcing the arrival of the knight to the castle.

 

Here is another one ready to ink.

I think of this character as "the angry bird" in the border.  He's fun.

I think of this character as “the angry bird” in the border. He’s fun.

And then I begin the inking.  Note that I went over the line in a few places and some of  the edges are a little smudgy, because the inks run a little more on the Radiance than they do on cotton.  It’s ok, the edges will be cut smoothly or outlined with quilting.  Pressing with a hot dry iron will stop the run.

Inking

Inking

Here are the small birds I placed around the text box.  These were the first ones I did this way.

My painted birds ready to applique

My painted birds ready to applique, their feet will be added after appliqueing.

And here you see the completely inked boy.  I cut him carefully out.  The bright colors get slightly muted when appliqued onto the black fabric.

DSCN0085

 

I used Pitt’s Artist Markers.  These markers are India inks, acid free, and appear to be permanent on cotton after heat setting.  i am not planning to wash this quilt at all, so I have not tested the colorfastness through the washing process for the silk/cotton.  I had noticed a note on Dick Blick’s where I order my markers from that they are not recommended for fabrics.  This concerned me, since I have been using them for years on my fabric arts.  So I wrote to Faber Castell and asked them why.  This was their response the very next day:

“Dear Ms. Tatum:

Thank you for your interest in Faber-Castell and the Art & Graphic Brand.

PITT Artist pens are not intended to be used on fabrics that are laundered because it will not remain on all fabrics when washed.  Therefore, testing is always recommended, depending on different variables some things work, some don’t.   Could you tell me how you are heat setting them, as this helps them endure a washing?

Please let me know if I can assist any further as I will surely do my best to help.”

 

I will say that I usually use prepared for dye fabrics for inking, but not always.  I always heat set the inking with steam.  If it is silk, I turn it over onto a piece of fine cotton and heat set from the back.  I have washed several of my cotton quilts with Pitt Artist Markers several times, and some of them have been around nine years now with no fading or running.  If you plan to use this product, do your own tests please.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to quilt or sew…your grand kids, your grown kids, your young kids, your cat, your dog…Cheers!

 

 

Inch by Inch: Updated Tools and Canterbury Knight

Inch by inch I am getting closer to my goals for “Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts”, which is my new name for my coming micro-business.  Up until now, it has been a hobby, but I need to make enough money to keep on, and I want to be able to share things I have learned and my journey with my friends.  It will just be a micro business.  I am not going to take in quilting, for instance.  I may do more workshops and lectures, but I’m not going to get into the big circuit that requires a lot of travel.  I want to work here in my studio for the most part with an occasional visit elsewhere.  I plan on selling the how-to books I’m currently writing, a few quilts, some downloadable videos, in-the-hoop embroidery (software), and some print-on-your-own fabric digitally painted appliques…just enough to keep on buying supplies and equipment with maybe a little on the side for fun.

I updated my Bernina embroidery software to v7 this week.  It’s pretty fancy, and it does seem to have a lot of new tools.  It also has a completely different interface and it will take a while to find all the old tools and figure out how to use the new ones, but I think it is going to be a big improvement overall.  I’m going to take advantage of my dealer’s class on the software on the 31st.

Digitizing has become an important part of my quilting artwork.  Nearly every quilt now has at least one thing on it that I drew myself and then digitized myself and embroidered in my Bernina Embroidery module.   I have also been developing a flower quilt using my daughter in law’s wonderful photographs for in-the-hoop applique.  I felt I needed to update from v6.  V6 is a powerful program, but there are some things I believe v7 has that will help me a lot.

For a long time I have recorded my quilting progress with a little Nikon Coolpix pocket camera that I bought about ten years ago.  Most of the photos I share here were taken with that.  Last week, the motor that drives the lens died.  I bought a Nikon Coolpix s9700 to replace it.  It’s very like the old dead camera except that it’s a little bigger (but still fits in a pocket), the zoom is much more extensive in both directions, the macro can be much closer so I can really show stitches, the controls are much more extensive, so I can use manual aperture and other manual or auto settings.  It has several scene settings, like my old one did, so I can get a quick picture, but they are more extensive.  And it has the cutest little pop up flash.  My old camera could do a little video, but this one can do a really nice video…up to 29 minutes long.  I tried it out successfully, setting it up on a tripod and demonstrating how to cut out a fabric square just for practice.  I will be doing a lot more practice over the next few weeks.  Once I get handy at this, and figure out how, I will share some videos with you, and eventually, will make some downloadable videos for sale from my website.

Between all the nice technology, machines, cameras, and computer software I have assembled over the past three years since I retired, and the additional video and audio equipment my son Ken gave me, I should be able to realize my plan of  writing books and making videos to share my techniques and some patterns, embroidery software, and downloadable printable fabric designs from my website by the middle of the year.  Inch by inch I’m getting there.

Canterbury Knight Rides Forward:  I have just completed getting the big central block properly set into the seamless border.  Let me tell you, this was a HUGE struggle.  The fabric of the central block is 100% silk charmeuse…hand dyed…and the appliques are silk/cotton Radiance.  It is slippery, drapey, soft, and decidedly hard to control.  The challenge was to get the central block into the seamless black piece of black radiance in a perfect rectangle and perfectly aligned with the straight of grain of the black radiance.  It has taken me a full week, but I just accomplished this.  It probably would not have been so long if I had done two things…not gotten it in upside down in the first place, 🙂  and used more stabilizer from the beginning.  I ended up stabilizing BOTH the border AND the block.  I used Madeira Cotton Soft tearaway, which I love.  Contrary to its name, it is stiff.  It tears away easily, but stays together until you are ready for it to come away.  I have also found that the little bits that get left in soften when washed.  Perhaps that’s why they call it “Soft”.

I also used my fairly new laser square, designed for builders and carpenters, to make the rectangle as perfect as soft drapy, slippery silk can be.  I marked my central block cutting line with it with a thin chalk line and then cut it out with my rotary cutter.  I then marked the stabilizer along both the cutting and the seam lines for the border.  Here’s a picture of that (ignore the stuff in the background.).  See the red laser line and the level on the laser?  When it is level, it makes a perfect 90 degree angle and marks it for as far out as the table goes.

Using my laser square

Using my laser square

Sew happy everyone!  Learn how to do a new technique or practice one you know!  Inch by inch we can learn the techniques and gather the tools to realize our dreams.  It does not have to be done all at once.

Canterbury Knight: How to Make a Horse’s Tail

Stitching the appliques

Stitching the appliques

After stitching down the appliques, I did some free motion embroidery to make the tail, but it looked like a ghost tail, both because it did not have enough contrast from the background fabric and because it did not have enough stitching.  If I did any more it would have pulled the fabric too much.

The ghost tail

The ghost tail

So I decided to layer a new tail over the existing one by stitching one on black bridal veiling.  I layered two layers of washaway clear stabilizer, on which I had drawn the outline of the tail I needed to make, and covered it with the veiling.  Then I put this in my springform embroidery hoop, set up my machine for free motion stitching,

the setup

the setup

stitching independent tail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and stitched a new tail using two different Superior Rainbow threads.

two rainbows

two rainbows

And then I trimmed the veiling applique, soaked off the stabilizer and appliqued the new tail over the old one, using a few more free motion lines similar to those on the tail.  I had to remove only a few stitches from the original ghost tail that did not add to the shape and were outside the appliqued veil tail.  Voila!  A new tail any appliqued horse could be proud of!  😀

Horse with newly groomed tail

Horse with newly groomed tail

In the process, my little faithful Nikon Coolpix 600 pocket camera that I have used for at least a decade now died.  The motor that runs the lens focus appears to be the culprit.  It would cost me almost as much to repair it as to replace it, if it even could be repaired.  I have carried that little light pocket camera almost everywhere I went since I retired.  I use it to keep records of my work, and to make the photographs for this blog. The picture above of the rainbow threads is the last picture it ever took. (Insert “Farewell to my little camera” aria here–those of you who are opera buffs will understand this reference).  So I have to use my lovely big Nikon D200 camera that is kind fo heavy, and definitely not a pocket camera, until I replace it.  Thank the Lord I have a camera though.

Additionally, I have joined the fun with Ricky Tim’s 52 week photography class.  It is decidedly going to be a challenge for me, and my goal is to come out at the end with some fun photographs, but mostly to really learn to use my camera for artistic purposes.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt or take a picture.  God bless you all!

 

 

Canterbury Knight: Fixing mistakes and a marker test

At the end of the day yesterday I was feeling fairly depressed because I thought I had ruined my center block and would have to start all over.  But I decided to try today to fix it.  What happened is that I had added the mote stream behind the knight, and had failed to mostly cut out the fabric under the horse.  I forget how sensitive silk is to things, sometimes.  It is thinner and drapier, and so it showed the edges of the stream right through the horse.  I had steamed it down, so I didn’t think it would come up.

But I was wrong.  Today I found my little Clover ball point awl and a tiny bit of heating the applique with my iron enabled me to slip the awl under the edge without damaging the applique and remove it from the background, as well as separate the horse from the stream.  I recut it, reironed it down and it looks great.  The picture below  shows all the wrinkles and things of the background, but trust me, it is in good shape and all those will disappear with careful ironing and as I work it through. So I am ready now to start the edge stitching, threadwork, and details that go on before adding the border, the word block, the birds and then sandwiching it, which aren’t many.  Most of the details are quilted on.  The horse gets most of his tail and his main.  but beyond that, it is mostly edge stitching.  I am so grateful I managed to fix this!  On to the next challenge!

Ready for the edge stitching.

Ready for the edge stitching.

 

Sew I assembled a bunch of markers to see what I can do about marking the border, which has to be carefully marked, quilted, and then painted.  The border is black cotton/silk Radiance and I am not going to wash this quilt.  I will probably spritz and steam it a little for the blocking, but not enough to remove my favorite marker…the Crayola Washables.  I love those markers, because you can see them, iron over them, and they wash out completely. But you have to wash the quilt to use them.

Anyway, I tested everything from Frixion, Clover White Marking Pen, Fons and Porter mechanical pencil markers, Quilter’s Choice chalk silver and white pencils to White Mark Be Gone.  The Mark Be Gone works on black cotton but not on black Radiance.  You can’t see it.  The Frixion is completely unseeable.  The only ones that you could see are the Quilter’s Choice chalk pencils and the Fons and Porter mechanical markers.  They both rub off fairly quickly.  The Fons and Porter is what I used for Canterbury Silk, and it was very hard to keep on.  I kept having to remark frequently.

The winner, is Quilter’s Choice, both silver and white.  But even they rub off, just not as fast.  The Frixion works great on the other colors*.  And I only need those marks a little for placement of things, so I can do them in such a way that even if the quilt gets frozen in transit and they come back, it won’t be visible.  I do have to mark the light grey castle (yes, it’s grey, not white) for quilting.  I will use the silver chalk pencil for those.

Sew happy everyone!  Don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake.  It can often be fixed, and if not, you CAN remake something, though often there is another solution.

UPDATE:  I also have tested Pismacolor colored pencils, upon the suggestion of Hollis Chatelain.  These are very visible and remove easily with a fabric eraser.  I found they rub off, but not as easily as most markers.

*  If you use Frixion, be sure you place it in such a way that even if it comes back that won’t be a problem.  In my case I am only using it for placements of objects on the central block and it will not show even if it does not go away.  I have been told that quilts that sometimes get in very freezing weather when shipped have been known to arrive with the marks all showing because Frixion returns if frozen.

Happy New Year!!!!

Happy New Year!!!! May 2015 be one of your best years ever, and God’s blessings be upon you.

Do you have some quilt related resolutions or goals for the new year? I have several quilterly goals. I call them goals because I think they are much more attainable than “resolutions” which seem black and white…you do it or you don’t…success or failure…whereas a goal has measured steps you can take toward it and eventually reach it or change it as you develop understanding and abilities.

So my primary quilt-related goals this year include:

  • Solid improvement in my actual quilting.  My quilting is ok now, even better than average, but not as good as I want it to be.  This will be something I work on a lot this year.
  • Completion of two books I have begun writing and the patterns and videos that accompany them…one on applique and one of surface design
  • Share what I learn as much as possible.
  • Make some money from my quilt skills.
  • Complete several new show quilts.
  • Make several quilt projects just for fun and charity.

I know this seems a lot, but they interrelate and merge, and I believe it is possible and will provide me with a lot of fun.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt in the new year…yourself, your child, your crazy uncle, your dog or cat.  😀  Happy New Year!

Canterbury Knight: Ready to Start Making the Quilt

I’m pretty happy with my overall design for this quilt now.  Canterbury Silk is 36 x 44.  This quilt ended up a little longer…still 36 wide, but 50 long.  It was just the proportions needed for the design were a bit longer.  Anyway, I turned the design into a black and white and got it printed on 11 x 17 inch sheets ready to tape together.  I use Corel Draw for this.  If you have the Bernina Software, that has a Corel Draw part of it that will do the same thing for you.  Or if you don’t have either, your spreadsheet software will probably work.  I know that Microsoft Excel works.  You open a new document and place an image in the software and size it to the size you want.  All these programs will automatically break up your document into tiles for printing on the paper size you specify.  It’s a wonderful way to get a full sized pattern.  Here is how it looks on the screen all ready to print in Corel:

Printsnap

 

Now that I have the completed design properly sized, I can measure the central block and all the pieces I need to work with further.  I still need to paint the horse and face of the knight and print them on fabric.  I may do that for the birds, too.  Not sure.  Anyway, I can start to actually make this quilt now.  I love it when I get to this point.

Oh, you may want to see the finished design in color.  I took the horns off the little musician fellow.  That makes him more of a musician announcing the arrival of the knight and not such a jester.

Canterbury-Knight-final-design

 

Sew Happy Holidays everyone!

Merry Merry Blessed Happy Christmas to All of You!

129

Thank you all my friends and family who take the time to read my mutterings on this blog.  Merry Christmas to you and to those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, have a blessed week. I am greatly looking forward to the new year and all our adventures together…quilts, books, family, music, love, faith, and joy…may they all be part of your life and mine.  We are going to the candles and carols service tonight at church at 7, and then come home and have the chicken and dumplings I have cooking away in my slow cooker.  Thank the Lord for slow cookers and sewing machines, and computers, and all the material blessings that make my life easier and more fun.  And thank Him especially for His coming to save me and mine and fill me with happiness and for my family and friends.  Merry Christmas to all and let the celebration begin!   Can I say it again?  Merry Christmas to all!

Merry-Christmas-to-all

Canterbury Knight: Reworked Border Design

Reworked border design

Reworked border design

I decided the other border did not fit the series theme, so I spent much of the day reworking the border design, and here is my latest result.  This border was inspired by a Medieval border design found in Dover Pictura Art of Illuminated Manuscript, but I substantially changed and reworked it.  This border is much more in keeping with its sister quilt “Canterbury Silk”.

So I think this design is almost complete.  I was thinking about how to approach the horse and knight and the background castle, and decided it will have to be done in a number of steps. First of all, I will digitally paint the horse all by himself, without any of his armor or tackle, and without his mane and tail.  Then print it on fabric.  The mane and tail will be threadwork, and the tackle will be fabric applique or machine embroidery or both.  The knight will be approached in much the same way, with a digital painting of his face and hair, and the armor and tunic will be fabric appliques and machine embroidery for the details.  I am thinking of just a simple applique with detailed machine stitching of the castle in the background.  This approach will put more emphasis on the knight.

I’m still trying to decide if I really want the court musician or jester or whatever he is in the border with the trumpet, or if I want to replace him with more leaves and a bird.  In any event the whole border will be quilted and then painted, like I did on Canterbury Silk.

What do you think?

Sew Happy everyone…Merry Christmas!