Alex Anderson, A Bit of Progress, and Some Plans

ALEX
Today I went to G Street in Falls Church, Virginia, to attend a lecture by Alex Anderson. I had a lot of fun. I got there early enough that I could get a seat close to the front just behind the chair Alex came and sat down in while waiting for the time to start, and we had a lovely conversation about Bernina sewing machines. A Bernina representative was sitting next to Alex and joined in. I never expected to have time to chat with her, so this was an added treat for me.

Her lecture was entirely fun and very inspiring.  She told us about her life centered around quilting, family, and quilting friends, and how many times she had taken one step at a time to learn something new for her books, for her quilting, for her job as a show hostess.  In all of that and in clear statements she encouraged us to try new things and take one step at a time no matter how difficult they seemed at first to accomplish, learn, improve, and experiment in quilting.  I loved her speech, I enjoyed meeting her, and found myself wishing that we lived close so I could become a good friend of hers.  Thank you Alex for such a fun time today and all the shows and teaching you have provided.

I have been slowly building a network of really fine quilting friends across the country and occasionally I meet them face to face.  I hope to continue this as the years roll out in front of me.

Anyway, as to the progress on my clothing project.  I have now finished making the black embroidered reversible vest and embroidered slacks.  The vest fits nicely, but I’m not as happy with the slacks.  I have one idea for improving the slacks, and will do that, but I think I’m going to have to improve my slacks pattern before I make the other two pairs.

I also finished the silk brocade vest and it fits to perfection.  I will make the black blouse and slacks next, and hope I can improve the slacks pattern enough to be really happy with them.  If I can, I have at least one more pair I will make, and I found a nice piece of Rayon Batik I had stashed in the closet that will make a great loose casual lightweight jacket.  I’m going to make at least one bag and then I’m going to stop with the clothes for a while.  Later on, I want to use one of my four nice pieces of heavy wool I have to make an overcoat.  I even have all the specialized interfacing and lining for two of them and some faux fur to make cuffs and a collar.  But I will do that closer to winter.  I think I’ll blog the making of the overcoat when I do.  It should be interesting.

I have two quilts I want to make.  One has an end of the year deadline, and I will wait until early in the new year to tell you about it.  The other one is a quilt based on some line drawings by the Wright Brothers of their planes that I found on The Wright Brothers organization site and obtained their permission to use for the quilt.

The Wright Plane quilt will be one in my line-drawing series.  The first of that was Perspective in Threads, which has been juried into the Houston special architectural quilts exhibit this year, that will be traveling for a year.  The second is Dad’s House Plan that will soon be in AQS Chattanooga.

Sew I’ll put in a few pictures of my clothes when I get them done.

Sew happy! Teach someone to sew or quilt…your BFF, your brother, your daughter, your pets.

 

Stress Reduction: Read a Fun Book and Relax!

Cover art

Cover art

Life is sometimes hard to take, and the news seems ghastly lately.  One of the things you can do to lower your stress level is to read a really good book.  My youngest son, the writer, just published his second full length fantasy novel.  It is a great read and I wish you would all rush to your favorite e-reader store and purchase a copy.

After you read it, if you’d like, I would love it if you would go to the e-reader store where you bought it, and give it a short review, or a five-star rating (if you liked it, that is).  Of course, you don’t have to, but such reviews are very helpful in getting the book launched and seen by prospective buyers–much more than I realized before his first book was published.  OR, if you really would rather read it in print, it will be available in print from Amazon in a couple of weeks (you can review that too, if you’d like).  His books are fun, have a lot of research behind them, and are an easy read.  Here’s the link to Fennec Fox Press where you can find the links to the various online bookstores.

OK, Back to my clothing upgrade project.  I’ll post a blogpost on my progress there soon.

Sew Happy Everyone!

 

 

Upgrading My Wardrobe from Dowdy to ??????

fitting shell

I have finished my show quilts.  I still have to sew the labels on “Sky Horse” and my Chaucer quilt, which I have named “Canterbury Silk”, but I am ready to start an upgrade to my wardrobe.  Like I said in my last post:

One of the things that has occurred to me is that my wardrobe is looking a little on the dowdy side.  I managed to get to my retirement with a handful of slacks suits that have seen their better days and some blouses.  I made a few summer clothes last year, but I have to do something about my wardrobe.  It’s a very good thing I know how to sew and have a wonderful stash of fabrics fit for clothing, because my clothing funds are slim since I am going to Houston.

Sew I am starting my sewing plan for my wardrobe upgrade.  I found a good basic sloper in my massive pattern collection (not the one pictured here), an out of print pattern in the approximate right size. (Definition: A custom-fitted basic pattern from which patterns for many different styles can be created).  I’ll make one in muslin with wide seams and long stitches, and work it until I get it into a perfect fit, mark the sloper and take it carefully apart and fuse it to a woven interfacing.  Once you have one of these treasures, you can use it to design your own fashions or flat-fit patterns with.  It’s been many years since I have done one for myself. High time!

I have patterns for everything…not all the styles available but absolutely every type of thing…hats, bags, gloves, vests, coats, dresses, slacks, tops, tailored suits, intimates, swimsuits, special occasion, costumes, and retro garments.  Some of them are a little dated, or not even approaching the right size, but often have good lines to use with my sloper and my own ideas in an update.   I’ve usually dressed to my own drumbeat, and especially when it was not for my old workplace, which required mostly black, tan, or gray tailored suits with simple blouses.  But now I’m free, free, free…I am retired and playing in the artist world. Though in truth, I am wondering how well I will be able to break away from that fashion environment as I upgrade my wardrobe.  I do know I look  best in blacks, teals, and wines, and I have a nice stash of fashion fabrics that I must draw from (this is a tiny expenditure upgrade).  We’ll see what happens. 😎

Sew come along with me on this journey in my blog posts.  I’ll try to post the journey with pics and interesting pointers.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…yourself, your loved ones, your fur babies, your coach.  🙂

Lots of Fun

I don’t have pictures for you all this time, because I am keeping final pictures of quilts under wraps until after they debut.  Sky Horse was juried into Houston, if you don’t know that already.  You probably do, because I was obviously having a lot of fun on Facebook after I announced it there, but there may be a few of you who are not FB fans.

So today I finalized my plans for going to the International Quilt Festival in October.  I have the hotel, I have a roomie to split the cost, and I have the tickets.  I’m going!  I’ve never been to the show.

I also have just now finished my Chaucer quilt.  I am trying to decide its name.  I am thinking “Illuminated Chaucer” or “Illuminated Aprille” or just
“Aprille”.  What do you like?  I don’t have to put the label on it until August.

So this means that I am going to spend the next three months making a new wardrobe, cleaning my house, and getting into somewhat better physical shape so I can manage that huge quilt show and the flight.

One of the things that has occurred to me is that my wardrobe is looking a little on the dowdy side.  I managed to get to my retirement with a handful of slacks suits that have seen their better days and some blouses.  I made a few summer clothes last year, but I have to do something about my wardrobe.

It’s a very good thing I know how to sew and have a wonderful stash of fabrics fit for clothing, because my clothing funds are slim since I am going to Houston.  I figure I can make an embroidered black denim slacks suit I have had in the plans to make for some time now.  But I will also need something kinda dressy to wear to the rewards ceremony, since I decided to attend that.  And if I can squeeze it in, I should probably make a fall quilted vest and maybe a nice tote bag and clutch too.

It’s all very exciting.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew or quilt…your mom, your dad, your husband, your married son, your grandkids, your dog, your cats.  🙂

 

 

Progress Report and Thoughts on Quilting Economics

Saturday Morning 12 July

Saturday Morning 12 July

Hi. It’s been a while since I wrote a post mainly because I didn’t have anything more interesting to say than “I’m still quilting.” 😀  Well, I finally finished the quilting and moved on to painting the border.

Now I thought that painting the border would not take me more than a day or two, but I have been painting about three full days so far and as you can see, I have less than half of it done.  I’m using a combination of  Lumiere and Setacolor paints.  I found if I accidentally paint a little outside the stitching, it can easily be removed if I act quickly with a dampened paper towel.  Then I finish off the leaves and flowers with a coat of SoSoft glitter finish.  I actually like the Setacolor glitter finish also, but the glitter pieces are much larger in it and I thought the subtlety of the SoSoft works better for this quilt.  SoSoft takes a couple of days to stop being sticky, but it dries to a level where it doesn’t disturb it if you touch it in about 10 minutes.  Setacolor dries faster and better than any of the paints.  After the paint dries for a couple of days, I will turn the quilt upside down into a soft towel to prevent the trapunto effect from being squashed and heat set them by ironing from the back of the quilt.  I’ve already tried this with my sample pieces and know it works well. 

I estimate that I will finish the painting in about three more days of work.   I am using multiple paint colors on each leaf, flower, and swirl and this takes time. Then I will bind it and I have a lot of beading I want to add to the quilt…beads in the middle of the flowers, around the center of the faux sashing between the red center block and the border, and I ‘m debating whether to scatter some beads on the border.  The original design from the illuminated manuscript has some scattered spots of paint that could easily be beads on the quilt.  Here it is.  See the spots?

My design...border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

My design…border taken directly from digital picture of an illuminated manuscript.

 

Sew that’s why I haven’t been around to post anything much lately.  But I have been taking periodic breaks and watching entries in Facebook, The Quilt Show, and so forth.  I have noticed that there is a bit of disturbance in the quilting world regarding what threads and fabrics to buy, what fabrics “require” what threads, and where “responsible shoppers” buy them.  Sigh.  I may lose some of my followers here, but this is what I think about all of this.  Buy the best grade of fabrics and threads you can, because you are spending so much of your time and effort making these wonderful quilts and garments, but sometimes you can find real bargains of fine quality threads and fabrics.  So buy them where you can get the best for the best price.  If you buy them from JoAnns, or the big box store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping supply badly-needed jobs for your neighbors.  If you buy them at your local quilt store, you can take comfort in the fact that you are helping to keep them in business.  If you buy them from the Internet for a particularly good price and convenience without spending gas to go get them, you can rejoice in having saved enough over time to make one more quilt—perhaps even a charity quilt.  Don’t feel guilty for where you shop or what you buy, but DO pay attention to the quality.

Sometimes it is just as cheap or cheaper to buy a high quality thread in a cone on sale than it is to buy a low quality thread in smaller quantities at a discount store.  The lower quality thread also can damage your machine, so that has to enter into your thinking about the economics behind your purchases.  Also, it is not necessary to use cotton threads on cotton fabrics.  The quality of the higher end threads, especially, are so high now that no longer applies.

Sew those of you out there who have developed into–for good reason–thread snobs or fabric snobs, please be gentle with those who shop where you think they should not and buy the threads you think they should not, and vice-a-versa.  Love thy fellow quilter or sewist as thyself.

Sew happy everyone!  Teach someone to sew…your son, your granddaughter, your nephew, your niece, your fiance, your neighbor down the street, your cat, your dog. 😀

Aprille with Chaucer…slow but steady progress

I probably quilted more than 40 hours for both the past two weeks, and all of it was on my silk Chaucer quilt.  I estimate at least another 50 hours of quilting plus the painting, beading, and binding that comes after that.  Do my quilting muscles hurt?  Truly!  Am I having fun?  Absolutely!  I have been making quilting decisions as I go along.

Some of you have asked how I was doing the text box, so I thought I’d show you.  I first digitized it in my Bernina v6 software, embroidered it on a piece of black Radiance, and pieced it into the quilt.  Yesterday I finished the quilting around all the words and the rest of the text box, adding some soon-to-be-painted flourishes on each side of the text.  Here is the result so far:

textbox quilted

textbox quilted

As you see I also have a 1 1/4 inch faux sashing.  I plan to edge this by couching some Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle on either side, but I have not figured how I’m going to quilt it yet.

All the stitching around the embroidered vine and the appliques is complete, but I haven’t done much with the background stitching, nor have I completed the quilting of the appliques themselves.  I had to do a lot of frogging and restitching to get it up close like I wanted it.  I still see a few places where I still need to do this.  But here’s a sampling of the center:

Applique sampling

I still have a lot of stippling around the border and, after much thought and searching through books and Electric Quilt, I figured out generally what I will use for the background stippling of the central theme.  Originally I was going to do a diagonal decorative stitch  from my Bernina, but decided it just won’t work with all that stopping and starting.  So I THINK I’m going to use a nice vine/leaf style I found on one of my EQ designs.  I have to practice first to see if that works before I stitch that part.

I have been happy to see the waves and wrinkly parts go away the more I quilt, as I had thought they would.  Here’s a view across the quilt.

Across the quilt

Across the quilt

Sew I am making slow but steady progress on this challenge to myself.  I’ve also been enjoying a lot of music and audiobooks on my ipod as I quilt.  I just “read” the final in Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarian series “Crown of Renewal”.  I give it about 4 stars.  I thought the ending could be better, but I won’t say how here because I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you are reading it.

Sew happy my friends!  Teach the young and old alike to quilt and sew, men, boys, girls, women, dogs, cats!  😀

 

 

My Mentors

107

On a trip earlier this year, a friend of mine asked me who I considered my mentor.  I was driving and the traffic was heavy, so I didn’t give a very good answer to that question.  I have had many mentors, the chief one being my mother.  Sew I decided to pull an earlier post from my archives of my old blog, but looking at it, I realize I have added several additional mentors and so I put those into the post in blue text.  I am so thankful for all the wonderful quilters and sewists who have taught me so much across the years.  Many of them I have never met.

 

AUTHOR: BJ Tatum
TITLE: Let us now praise famous women (and men)
DATE: 8/7/2011 9:35:54 PM
—–
BODY:
I don’t quite know why, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the
wonderful women and men who have handed down their skills and forged
paths in sewing, engineering, painting, fabric weaving and printing, and
development of all manner of tools and notions  that have brought us to
the fantastic opportunities we have now spread before us.   I thank God
for them.


Let us now praise famous men [and women], and our fathers [and mothers] that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through His great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of
learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing.
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations.
All these were honored in their generations, and were the glory of their times.

There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported.

And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though
they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born;
and their children after them.

But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.

With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant.

From Ecclesiastics 44, King James Version

Several quilters and sewers have had a huge impact on my appreciation and love of sewing and quilting.  And you know, I’ve only actually met one of the most impactful of them besides my mother.

Zephana Bivens:  She was my dear incredibly brilliant talented mother, who was an advanced sewist and knitter.  She never made quilts to my knowledge, but she taught me to sew and knit and embroider from the time I was about 4 or 5.  I honestly can’t remember exactly when I began, but I do know I made my first dress, with a lot of help from her, at age 6.  Late in her life, she got interested in intricately carved woodworking using a scroll saw and made some wall art that I can only characterize as “wood lace”.  Sadly, she passed away at age 79 from cancer just as she was perfecting her woodworking, and she never got to see my quilting development.  How I would have loved to share it with her, but somehow I believe she knows about it.  She was not famous, but she was clearly an artist.

Martha Pullen: The other day, I was watching  “Martha’s Sewing
Room” where one of her guests (sorry don’t know her name), was showing a
way to sew something and turn it that was remarkable in its result and
simplicity, but required an engineering mind to figure out in the first
place.  Martha has provided some remarkable teaching from her program and I have learned a ton of new methods especially for heirloom sewing.

Sharon Schamber:  The first time I realized that quilts might be a fascinating “hobby” for me was about 7 years ago when I attended the Chantilly Sewing and Quilting Expo where they had one of Sharon Schamber’s quilts on display.  I was astonished and fascinated with her piecing and quilting techniques and, oddly, I didn’t even particularly like her overall quilt.  I realized, though, that she has a remarkable talent.   Since that time, I have studied many of her how-to videos on her network.  She taught me to improve my piecing, my quilting, and especially my binding. [Sharon’s videos are now available in DVD form on her daughter’s site Purple Daisies]

Alex Anderson:  Alex’s TV show Simply Quilts, which never seemed long enough to me but which introduced me to many new concepts and techniques piqued my interest.  Now she and Ricky Tims and their families and colleagues produce The Quilt Show, which has provided me with a huge amount of teaching through the shows, the classes, and the access to other quilters online.

Nancy Zieman: Over the years I have watched every Sewing with Nancy episode I could find and have bought a number of her dvds and books.  I improved my basic sewing skills from her teaching.

Diane Gaudynski: 
Diane is relatively new in my unmet masters.  I bought a couple of her books on machine quilting using a domestic sewing machine and they helped me to vastly improve my quilting. She helped me to realize I don’t have to have a long arm machine to do high-end quilting.

Laura Wausalowski, who I took a workshop from a couple of years back and she taught me how much fun quilting should be and how to improve my fusible applique.

Recently, I have developed a lot of interest in the techniques that are used by Caryl Bryer Fallert, which, remarkably, closely relate to many of my favorite methods, though our quilt subjects are so different and she, of course is the master, and I am just an explorer at this point.

Pepper Cory, from whom I have taken several workshops and with whom have an ongoing friendship.  Now Pepper is mostly a hand quilter, but her knowledge of quilt history, sense of design, and ability to deal with stencils (and other quilting design sources) have been an enormous help to me in seeing some directions I need to take in my future quilting.

Pat Holly and Sue Nickels, and their books Stitched Raw Edge Applique and Machine Quilting: A Primer of Techniques along with their video appearances on The Quilt Show.  I have only briefly met Sue Nickels at her lecture at The Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival this past February, but they are both such effective teachers that their books and videos have been enormous help in improving my quilts.

Everyone develops their own styles and methods, and often they are a mix of things learned from others…but it’s just wonderful how much is out there today to help us get there and we don’t even HAVE to go to their workshops to get that advantage…though it is much more fun if we can!

Have a great week everyone.

Cheers,

Betty Jo

—–

Progress and Plans

I’ve made a lot of progress on my little silk folk art Chaucer quilt, temporarily titled “Whan That Aprille”.  I have completed the central section, embroidered the text box, and assembled the top with the black border, which I also marked.  I am waiting on my order of additional black Radiance for the back and while I wait, I have been experimenting with threads and settings for the quilting.

I decided I really like the look of the antique gold metallic from Superior Threads.  Now I have discovered that my old Bernina 1230 “Betsy” has no problem with Superior metallics at all, and neither does my little B350 “E-Claire”, but my big old honking “Gibbs”, my Bernina 830 LE has some trouble with it.  It’s all related to the tensions of both the bobbin and the top.  It’s one of the best features of Gibbs, but also one of the most complex that it allows tremendous adjustment for both the bobbin and the top.  I really want to use the big machine to do my quilting so I can use the stitch regulator and the large table arrangement that makes quilting so easy.  I must have spent three full quilting days trying to figure out how to get the setup right and the gold thread to quilt without showing up as “tension problems” on the back that judges simply cannot abide.  But I finally got it, I think.  Here is the setup I have for the black borders that I plan to quilt in antique gold thread:

Silk-Cotton black Radiance for both the top and the back
90/14 Superior titanic top stitch needle
Superior 100 weight silk thread in the bobbin
Top tension 2.0
Bobbin thread for embroidery, but tension is loosened two clicks to the left (there is a special tool for this)
Bottom layer of batting is a thin polyester from Quilter’s Dream
Top layer of batting is Hobb’s wool.

Now yesterday I had no problem with this.  Both the top and the bottom looked absolutely even.  Today I had a few spin out loops on the back, but I think it is because I got overly confident and started sewing too fast.  So I slid the speed control to the left and slowed way down with no more problems.  My other two machines will not sew that fast.  It just needs time to make it right.  I have successfully quilted one of my five little practice mug rugs.  I plan on finishing up four of them and sharing them with some of my friends that I owe mug rugs to.  I will use them as practice painting samplers also, since I am planning on painting the border designs.

Sew what else have I been doing while waiting for the backing fabric?  I have been rejiggering my quilting plans for the rest of this year and beginning of next year.  I put them on my website (did you know I also have a website)?  I have also started updating my quilt show list I keep there, but I figure that will take me a few more weeks to complete.  I’ll let you know.  Anyway, here is my “current projects” list (actually it’s my current plans list, but I like the feel of “projects” as opposed to “plans”…seems more like I’m making lots of progress. 😉

 

  1. Whan That Aprille:  A folk art applique, embroidery and beading experiment.  I combined this with the illuminated manuscript project.  This is a silk and silk/cotton/Radiance quilt.  The main center section is complete, the black border is pieced on and marked, the text box is successfully embroidered and pieced in.  I am ready to make the sandwich and begin the quilting, but I decided I needed considerable experimenting, testing, and practice before I do this, and have put together five small mug-rug sized practice pieces for this purpose.  I estimate completion of this quilt by 1 August.
  2. **NEW** First Flight:  New blue print based whole cloth quilt based on Wright Brothers’ Line Drawings and an applique/embroidery rendition of a plane in the center.  Mostly designed, although not patterned out yet.
  3. Volcanic Fire with Flying Things:  Erupting volcano with dark mountain, smoky orange sky and fiery volcanic lava…in the near orange sky there will be a fight between phoenix and dragon in hopefully magnificent colors.  This was inspired in part by my recent storm-at-sea quilt “Waiting…” in which I placed a rocky lower border.  I enjoyed making that border and it made me think of volcanic rocks.  It was also inspired by my work on “Sky Horse” and I decided the phoenix or dragon should have a large component of Angelina Fibers and crystals as part of the applique.
  4. Peppered Ikebana:  This will draw from old Japanese Sashiko for the background, and will have a Japanese flower arrangement in the foreground.  I am planning on making this largely with Pepper Cory’s shot peppered cotton fabrics, both free motion machine quilting and Sashiko large stitch quilting, and a combination of applique and machine embroidery for the flower arrangement.  Remember, I have my fourth year flower arranging certificate in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana that I got in Japan and I want to use that in a series of flower-arrangements on quilts.
  5. Flower appliques and embroidery:  I am using Beth Tatum’s beautiful flower pictures to design both in-the-hoop appliques and embroideries and out of the hoop free motion embroideries as a joint quilt with her (my DIL).  Working on applique designs.
  6. Jazz On a Crystal Night:  A stylized nighttime city scene with musicians silhouetted in tall building windows and doors.  The music stream will be floating out of the windows and doors to the sky where it “explodes” into “fireworks”.  This quilt will have a lot of crystals. Set in the 1920s.
  7. Light in an Ancient Forest: Very dark forest with great old character and large wonderful trees.  Coming through the trees is a beam of sunlight that lands on the floor of the forest highlighting [something] in  full of color.  The something may be an ancient ruin of church with the light coming through the stained glass or a small patch of colorful flowers.  There may be a woodland creature or two peaking out from behind some of the trees.  🙂
  8. Perspective in Silk:  Second in series of perspectives in thread drawings…I will do this one on silk with colorful threadwork.  This may become the start of a series on American monuments or something else.
  9. Zephana’s (my mother) Gifts:  Using my mother’s unfinished hand-crocheted lace I found in her workbasket after her passing for embellishment and a key design component, this quilt is in her memory.  I will use a background of linen  and silk fabric.
  10. Dragon Dress for Competition: Black quilted silk sheath dress with flared skirt, will have appliqued trapunto dragon wrapped around the dress.  This is for competition and will include machine embroidery, hand embroidery, Angelina Fibers, crystals, beads and sequins.  I just have to figure out how to make the dragon wrap so it looks right.

Sew Happy everyone, and what are you working on or planning now?

 

 

Playing in My Studio: Combining Multiple Techniques

I really love taking the different techniques I have managed to gather over the decades and apply them to make an art quilt, a decorated vest, or a beautiful bag. Since my retirement a couple of years ago I have spent a lot of my time learning and perfecting new and old techniques with the goal of being able to call on anything to produce the look I want. In my quilt “Waiting…”, for instance, I used drawing, paper piecing, regular piecing, applique, trapunto, fabric painting, digital art printed fabrics, thread painting, free motion quilting, and embellishment.

Waiting...

Waiting…

So whether you are a traditional, contemporary, art, or modern quilter, I encourage you to gather your techniques and tools and put them all together to realize your own masterpieces. It’s really fun to not be limited by not knowing how to do some technique and you can end up with some delightful items while you learn. While it’s always nice to have a face-to-face class with an expert, one of the nice things today is there are many sources for learning these techniques online, sometimes with accompanying books.

First of all, If you haven’t already, I suggest you spend the modest amount of money to buy a membership on The Quilt Show and watch the shows, the classes, and the videos that accompany the BOM (Block of the Month) even if you are not making the BOMS. This has been a big resource for me in improving my quilt making, learning about who are the major quilters in the world today, and being inspired when I get discouraged.

Secondly, I discovered that Nancy Zieman has many of her Sewing With Nancy available free to watch on Wisconsin Public Television online website, many of which relate to quilting, but in fact, most any kind of sewing relates to quilting.  Also, you can purchase her dvds with accompanying books from Nancy’s Notions.

Sharon Schamber has dvds available now on some of her techniques from her daughter’s website that she used to have on a downloadable website. I subscribed to that website that is now defunct, and downloaded and watched everything available, even the long arm ones. I fortunately still have them.  Some of the videos seem a little primitive in format, but her techniques are wonderful. I particularly recommend The Quilt Fairy, which shows a painting method that has stood me in good stead for many places on my show quilts.  Now that brings up another point.  Fabric painting has different styles and materials just like applique or piecing, and each one has its place and learning as many of them as you can is helpful.  On “Waiting…” I used Sharon Schamber’s method presented in The Quilt Fairy to put the lowlights and highlights in the woman’s dress and cape.  I used my own computerized digital painting to paint her face and hands and printed them on fabric and appliqued them.  I used watered down Setacolor fabric paints to wash paint the sky fabric as demonstrated by Mickey Lawler show number 1305 on The Quilt Show.  Her hair is thread painted, which is another key technique especially useful for art quilts.  While I developed my own technique for this, it closely matches that shown by Nancy Prince on show number 1004 on TQS.

 

finished detail as shot 2

Wind-tossed woman showing the high and lowlights on her clothing, her digitally painted face and hands, her thread painted hair, and a little embellishment.

 

tatum-detail-waiting-AQS

The clipper ship has wool batting between the sails and the quilt. Together with the dual bats (one 80/20 and one wool) I used in the quilt itself, this provided a wind look behind the sails.

If you are going to be at AQS Charlotte in July, my quilt “Waiting…” will be in the show and you can go see it for yourself.  It may not place.  I have had it in two shows so far and it did not.  One judge at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival thought my borders were too large.  Another judge at HMQS really didn’t like it.  She didn’t like my color choices, my overall design impact, and my quilting.  But hey, to each his own, right?  I would make it in the same colors today even after that critique, and I happen to like what I call “organic” quilting for a story landscape quilt like this.  The winners for that show are magnificent quilts, I will say.  Nevertheless, I am honored to have my quilt show in the big shows even without a ribbon.

I want to show you one other quilt, because it has a heavy dose of in-the-hoop machine embroidery, which isn’t used in Waiting…,  that I digitized myself and also motifs I used from my Bernina software that I enlarged and painted after it was quilted.

The Storyteller...now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

The Storyteller…now touring with Hoffman Challenge 2013 show

The phoenix and dragon in front of the sun is the story she is writing.  The word on her tablet is “Betty” in Japanese Katakana.  I drew and painted her on my computer myself, printed her on fabric and appliqued her down.  After that I added some highlights with real paint.  Then I drew and digitized the tree trunk myself from scratch.  It was a bear to stitch.  I stitched it out twice on a piece of brown fabric.  It required two hoopings on my jumbo hoop on my Bernina 830 LE, and then I turned the edge of the brown fabric behind the stitching and appliqued it to the quilt.  Even though the tree trunk was tough to do, I like it so much I am planning on using this kind of tree trunk in a deep dark forest quilt that I am planning, which will have a beam of light making it through the trees to a color-filled spot on the forest (perhaps the ruin of a beautiful little church with the light shining through the stained glass window to the floor of the forest where flowers are blooming.  It’s been in my head for a long time now.

I am telling you all of this because I am thinking of writing a book about some or all of these techniques.  I am working on a book proposal now, but I can’t share much about this with you because of the publisher rules, who understandably does not want things published before the book gets published.  I have temporarily put aside the Bernina book because I understand that many of my frustrations have been dealt with in the latest v7 software upgrade, but I need to obtain this product before I can see for sure.

Sew happy everyone!  And pull those techniques together–even hand quilting and embroidery–to realize your dream quilts.

 

From the Archives: “Waiting…” The Saga Continues

(5/22/2014)  Hi, as promised I am continuing to republish the blogs I wrote as I worked through the making of “Waiting…”  Several times I had put this aside for some months while I made other quilts.  These posts talk about my experiment with piecing, and continues on about my work on digitizing this applique/embroidery piece in Bernina v6 software.  In the end, I did not use it.  It was too large for the hoop and I wanted a more delicate stitch-down of the sales.  Instead I worked freehand directly on the quilt and used trapunto to puff out the sails.  Nevertheless, it is a pretty  nice clipper ship that fits in my jumbo hoop. 

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TITLE: Storm at Sea: Clipper ship applique and an idea
DATE: 2/16/2012 11:46:22 PM
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clipper_ship_larger

I’ve been learning more about how to use Bernina 6.0 design software and was able to clean up my original in-the-hoop clipper ship considerably.  I found how to remove overlap, and fixed a lot of other little things that make it look a lot better I think (you can scroll down and see the original from an earlier blog if you want).  Here’s a pic of how the design looks now (it’s just an image, not the real applique/embroidery piece).  The sails and ship are appliqued and everything else is embroidery.  The ship fabric, of course, is not what I will use, but it’s what they have in the selection and I haven’t scanned in anything else.  I will probably hand piece or digitally paint a special piece of fabric for the boat to use with the in-the-hoop design that will show the wooden sides of the boat properly oriented.  I find it so exciting that I can put this together in the hoop.  We’ll see what it looks like when I stitch it out.Anyway, I plan on using this on my storm at sea quilt.  This fits into a jumbo hoop for the Bernina 830.  We’ll see how it stitches out.  Idea:  Eventually, I hope to have a variety of items like this for download from my website for people who have Berninas.  I haven’t figured out if it can be done for other machines or not, nor do I know what, if anything, I have to do legally before I can share or sell my own designs I make in Bernina software.  But I’ll find out both of those things and take care of any obstacles before or if  I do that.  I have in mind making in-the-hoop applique/embroidery items such as Nativity figures, old tall ships of several varieties, women and men in historic poses and costumes, and other items for others to be able to download and use on their own quilts and wall hangings.  Some would be accompanied by digital pictures that could be printed on fabric and used in the appliques (like the faces of the people or the boat sides, for instance).  What do you think about this idea?

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TITLE: Traditional Block Inspiration: Storm at Sea, part 1
DATE: 8/27/2013 9:18:13 PM
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I have started a new art quilt to accompany my work on the Horsehead Nebula quilt because I like to have several quilts going at once, and this one requires piecing some traditional blocks.  I have several of these quilts in mind to make over the next year–Storm at Sea, Jacob’s Ladder, Bear Paw.  All will be pictorial quilts, but somewhere in the quilt there will be the traditional block that inspired the quilt.  Sew I’m starting with Storm at Sea.

Now I have talked about this quilt before way back early in my blogging, but I have finally really started it now.  It requires somewhere between 6 and 11 of the traditional block, which is fairly difficult.  But I have been able to figure out how to do it with paper piecing, which is something I have always found difficult.  Thanks to a video posted on The Quilt Show this month by Carol Doak, I think I have finally figured it out.  Anyway, here is my first Storm at Sea block:

block1_web

It’s square even though the picture doesn’t look like it.  It takes for-ev-er to make.  I got the foundation pattern from Electric Quilt 7.  I’ll show you more as I get more done.

Sew happy everyone.

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TITLE: Storm at Sea: One of these things is not like the other!
DATE: 9/24/2013 6:15:08 PM
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not_like_the_other_web

I have developed a keen appreciation for those of you who do a lot of piecing.  This has been one challenging project so far.  I finally have the wave constructed, though I must rip out one of the blocks, fix it, and put it back.  Can you spot the errant block and tell me what is wrong with it…hint…there is more than one thing?

Anyway, as you can see, I am making progress. Today I have been correcting a lot of little places where the points weren’t quite matching, and as soon as I fix the one block, I will have completed the wave for my storm at sea pictorial quilt.

Storm at Sea concept

Storm at Sea concept


Here is a picture to let you know how I am going to use this.  The ship is the wrong ship, and there is a lot more to the quilt, but thought you’d like to know how this is “the big wave” as I think of it.

Anyway, we are having one of those times when the weather is absolutely exquisite.  It’s clear, just the right temperature and altogether lovely.   Already it is well after noon and I haven’t had lunch yet.  Perhaps I will take a walk and then light late lunch on the deck.

I would love to hear your responses on the overall look and, of course, the identification of the mistakes.  Truly!

Sew happy!

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