Keeping a Good Eye On My Work

This coming Monday, August 23rd 2021, I will be having surgery for a cataract in my left eye.  I know it is often the case that people have both eyes done within weeks of each other, but my right eye is doing just fine at the moment.  I am having a hard time seeing my work lately and so I thought all I needed was a new pair of glasses so I went to my eye doctor and find myself here, preparing for this on Monday.  I am looking forward to the result.  I have had many people tell me what a great result they have had from such surgery and it does not seem to be a big major disruption in their lives.  Still, I would appreciate your prayers for a good result and a quick recovery and thankfulness that this is available to me at this time in my life plus that I have excellent doctors.  The lack of good vision has clearly slowed me down in my work. My eye doctor told me I would be happy.

Sew I think it would be fun to make something celebratory.  I am thinking it might be time to start a Christmas project, and I promised some of my followers that I would come up with another project for wool applique by machine with embellishment.  I am thinking of making a Christmas project, and have already begun working on the design. I still have a bunch of beautiful melton wools and it would be really fun to do one with lots of beautiful stitching with beautiful threads and hundreds of beads, crystals, buttons, and other embellishments…a real decorative piece to celebrate both my improved vision and the Lord’s birth.  Maybe I’ll do two–one in wool and one in cotton or silk!  LOL

In the meantime, progress is finally being made on the project I am calling “two birds” that will be presented with three videos and a detailed pattern.  The pattern is basically done, but it is being tested and the project is being filmed as I make it.  It’s more complex than my introductory projects on my YouTube channel, so I want to complete the work on the project before I publish any of the videos.

Sew me and my family advisory team have come up with some ideas for shorter videos to publish along the way that we think people will like.  These will be showing up periodically, and, before too long, the two birds project will get there.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio and keep an eye out for my upcoming projects and videos.  God bless you all in this perilous time.

 

 

 

Don’t Fear Your Advanced Machine(s)

 

 

Once in a while I see a conversation on one of my groups focused around sitdown longarms or high-end sewing machines where there are advanced or sitdown longarm machine owners saying they have not really used them much since they bought them because they don’t really know how to use them confidently or are afraid they will break them.  Knowing as I do that these machines can add so much fun and ability to accomplish really fine products, these conversations make me a little sad and frustrated.

True, they do require learning, practice, and a determination to move forward and learn to use them.  But they can help accomplish amazing sewing and quilting projects.

It’s important to use them correctly though.  That is not as difficult as it may seem.  Even if there is not a dealer nearby or one who offers good classes, there are some very helpful books, youtube videos, zoom classes and blogs to help.

One thing I have found that makes things work more easily is to get the feet that do those special things, add the attachments that enlarge the use of the machines, buy a handful of rulers.templates, get a nice selection of needles and pay attention to what you are using, and then play and practice!  Test, test, test. Practice. Practice.  Practice.  Play, play, play. And then step forward and do a sewing or quilting project you really want to do.  If the results aren’t terrific, do another project and don’t be too self critical.  Give your machine a name and pet it.  The last thing to do is sell your machine or leave it sitting there getting all lonesome.

My Q20 sitdown longarm with some rulers…and a practice piece.

I love my Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm.  It is great not only for quilting, but also for free motion embroidery.  I have had it for five years now and have had almost no problems.  I do keep a notebook nearby to keep notes.

 

My Bernina 880 plus all ready to play

I also keep a notebook near my other sewing machines so I can write down things I learn along the way.  I always learn something in the process of making a new item.

Sew what can you make that won’t be distressing if it doesn’t come out quite right, but might be really fun if it does?  I have some suggestions:

Dog quilts, baby quilts for charity, wheelchair size quilts for charity, table toppers for your home, lap quilts for you and yours to cuddle under on tv night, simple tote bags with embroidery or applique, or just well made, zipped project bags, panel quilts with borders.

Aprons, simple skirts, easy tops not particularly fitted in style, some of those fun small projects you can find on sewing machine blogs, small zipped pouches for kids and travel, pajamas or nighties, robes for yourself and family

Decorative pillows using pre-made pillow forms, table cloths and napkins, kitted projects with instructions and all the pieces like from Kimberbell

THEN, you can move up to some more advanced decorative wall quilts, or a foot warmer quilt for your bed, make yourself a lovely outfit using a good pattern, put together your own kits and follow my patterns and video classes.

After that, you will be able to make anything!  Just take your time and assemble the parts, test all the parts, and fly with me.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

Time to Use Some of My Fall and Winter Fabrics

Hi everyone!  So today I started thinking about fall.  I am probably a little late on this, but we had a cooler rainy day that seemed to be appropriate for fall thinking.  Then I got an email reminding me that the pattern sale for Butterick patterns was going to expire today.  It was a really good sale, and so I bought several of the new fall patterns that I had seen earlier that really appealed to me, plus, they came in my size!  I probably will have just a few adjustments, but maybe I can just lay out the patterns and mostly simply cut them out without having to redraft the patterns.

I have a nice stash of some silks, woolens and blends for fall and winter that I will try to use for these projects.  I prefer sewing clothes for fall and winter with these wonderful fabrics.

Here are two of them.  The first one is patterned for knits, and I have some black slack weight ponte knit that has been lounging in my stash for a while.  It’s not enough for both the slacks and the jacket, so I will probably get a different color fabric for the jacket, but I will search my clothing fabric stash first to see if maybe I have something that will serve.  I also got the coat and dress combo on the right, although I have pretty much given up wearing dresses.  This was such a lovely combination and I have fabric that would work well for this, so maybe I will make it even if it is a dress or at least I will make the coat and turn the dress into a top to wear with dressier slacks. They will look great, but perhaps not as great as on those models.

Then I got this really nice blouse pattern. I may not have the fabric for this, but I will check first. If it turns out as nice as I think, I will probably make several.

And I also got this tailored jacket for a project I am thinking of making with in-the-hoop embroidery using fabrics in my stash.  I will use this project for videos.  I have everything I need for this as I envision it.

 

Sew I am also working on some project designs for video projects and making progress.  Taping for some of these will begin next week, since I have finally finished the pattern for the first one.  Should I video the making of at least some of the clothes?  I’m wondering.  Tell me what you think.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studios!

 

A New Stitching Adventure

Birds at Play Detail from Pattern

Hi gentle readers,

I am almost ready to start making and filming a fun new wall quilt that focuses on stitching…both free motion and some with feed dogs up.  It also has a small amount of appliques behind some of the stitching and 9 pieces of fabrics to make a simple style quilt background to put all this stitching with some appliques and some paint onto.  The picture above is a single tile from a multi-tile downloadable pattern with instructions and supply list. This project was inspired by a page from a Dover Publications coloring book.

I got the missing fabrics this week and they are all washed and ready to go.  I am still working on the pattern, but the hard part is done so I will be publishing that for sale at a moderate price on my website store to go along with an undetermined number of free YouTube videos to take people through the project…fun to simply watch, and fun to make with me if you want.

I will be adding a page to this blog site with links to my recommended supplies that apply to ongoing projects.  Once it’s there you can just click on “Supply links” above and you can go shopping!

Sew I am excited about making this piece.  I will be testing some products I have not used before I make it and will tell you about them as I go.  This includes some new specialty threads from Wonderfil Threads I have only briefly used and Sulky’s Sticky-Fabri-Solvy printable self adhesive water soluble stabilizer. I think it could be a real blessing for limiting the amount of marking I have to do for this project and stabilizing the stitching.  I might do a 60 second shorts video on my test of all of this just so you can see it even if I decide not to use it for this particular project.  Would you like that?

I should be publishing the first parts of this project in a few weeks.  We’ll see though.  It takes a while to film the making of a complex project like this and get it edited.  In any event, I will let you know how it stands with my next blog post.  Let me know what you are working on.  Do you have any special requests for techniques to discuss? (Please comment here.  I love comments because it helps me know if people really view and like my blog efforts here and the comments stay with my blog if I look back on them a few months later for reference).

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

Working on New Projects and Patterns

I am working on a new, more advanced project for my YouTube channel in which I am also making a downloadable pattern that I hope people will enjoy either making it along with me or just watch for fun.  This is part of my experimental quilting series.

In the course of working on this design I have figured out how to get Bernina v8 design software to create a file that can be used in Electric Quilt 8.  So that means I now have a four-piece design software “suite” that consists of Bernina v8, Electric Quilt 8, Corel Draw (I have the full package, but Corel Draw Essential comes with Bernina V8), and Corel Painter where I can digitally paint a picture that can be printed onto fabric.  It’s a set of programs I have been using for years, and yet, I still feel I have much to learn.  If you didn’t know, several years ago I published a book on Bernina V8 where I provide some skill building projects. It’s still available.  Just click on the picture.

It takes time to put all this together, but the more I learn the faster get. Once I have the  pattern completed, I will make the quilt and film the making of it.  The pattern will be available for purchase on my website shop and people can work through the project following my videos.

So far, I have been watching carefully what has the most viewer interest and gets people to enjoy them.  I concluded that my approach of presenting simplified little quiltlets that are primarily intended to present techniques is ok, but it needs something more to catch people’s attention.

So using what I am learning along the way of this great video adventure, I have great hope of tailoring the site sew lots of quilters will find it fun.  I am planning on adding additional types of content…maybe visits to fabric stores, short videos answering viewers requests.  Can you think of other things you  would like to see?

Above all, I want people to become interested in making or collecting their own fabric art or at least watching it being made.

Sew if you want me to share some techniques, types of art quilting, or some discussion of products to use, please put them in the comments or send me an email at bettyjo@bjfabricartist.com.

Sew happy everyone!  Take some time to try something new and have fun in your studio!

Designing and Picking Supplies for Summer Projects

 

I spent the past couple of days designing new projects for this summer.  I haven’t finished them yet, but I have a clear concept and so it is time to start  hunting down all the supplies I need for them. I will make patterns with step-by-step instructions to be available in my website shop and, of course, videos so you can watch me make them.

Those of you who have followed my blogs for a while know I like to have at least two projects going at once to give me some variety of activities for mental and even physical changes across the days.  That helps me keep from getting too bogged down in things.  So I have three small projects I decided on, all of which are largely thread work and some have a little yarn couching and painting too.

One is a pleasant small scene of evergreen trees of various sizes showing some perspectives in distance and size of the trees, reminding me of a walk or drive through a pine forest.  Beth, my daughter-in-law likes to do pencil drawings that tend to capture her own hikes and camping experiences, and of birds, and flowers.   She did one that really shows a delightful perspective to it in evergreen trees with a path winding through.  In my mind, I can almost smell the sweet pine forest scent. It doesn’t quite work for what I have in mind but it certainly inspires me, and so I have been trying to capture a pattern of an evergreen forest that incorporates all the perspective, sizes, colors, and techniques I want to share. I am not quite there yet.  I have a couple of really lovely linen weaves (they are quilt weight cottons) that I will choose from for the background fabric.  This will include both free motion thread work and couching.  I am even considering making the forest floor using needle punch roving with my little Bernina 350 for which I have that attachment.  It’s so much fun and I haven’t used it nearly enough lately.  I bought it for travel but it has ended up being my workhorse for  several unusual attachments and precision piecing as well.

The second one is a somewhat complex piece featuring a couple of stylized birds from a  Dover coloring book of Paradise Island birds.  That will be all thread work with a little paint.  I was originally thinking that would be entirely a whole cloth quilt, but after working on the design, I decided it would benefit from a simple pieced setting that puts that scene in the focus area and has a simply pieced addition of fabric that can have some light in-the-hoop embroidery embellishment or be made from some lovely printed fabrics of the maker’s choice to set the whole thing off. I completed the design work for this little quilt and most of the pattern today, though I still have to write the workbook and a video script.  It is about 30″ x 40″ and I will be using a lot of beautiful specialty threads on it.  This should be fun, and doable for the advanced beginner or above…so stay tuned.

The third piece is a second Birds of Paradise stylized scene from the same book using thread work.  I will be making that into a pillow.  I found a really nice set of two pillow forms on Amazon recently, so decided to make them in different types of fabric art so I can use them in my home.  That may end up with a little paint too, but I will wait and see.

All three are small and light, and should be something really fun to work on when the weather gets too hot to go out or we are having a rainy day (I love rainy days…no thunder storms, just rain).  Just right for summer projects, don’t you think?

I do have some fun things in mind for fall and winter too, including a more complex pictorial appliqued wool wall hanging using the techniques I presented in my first three videos, and a scene for Halloween, among other things, but I’ll talk more about those later.

So just in case you want to know what I will be using and maybe make one or all three of these along with me, I decided to include a small list of some of the specialty threads and other supplies I like to use, since getting things shipped these days can take some time.  These links are affiliated links, so if you buy them from the links I provide it could help support my little micro business at no additional cost to you.  It is not exactly a list of what I plan on using, but I think it is a nice list of items that could be fun to add to your studio even if you don’t do my projects.  Of course you won’t be buying everything here, but I thought you might enjoy some of them if you don’t have them already.

Pillow forms (2 – 18 x 18)

Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex Cotton 20” x 10 yards

Sulky Temp Spray Adhesive

Setacolor fabric paint

Artists crayons

Light board with cutting mat

Hobbs Tuscany wool batting throw size

Quilter’s Dream 80/20 select loft batting throw

Crayola washable gel pens

Madeira Cotton Stable fusible

OESD Ultra Clean and Tear

A Sampling of Wonderfil Threads

Spageti Packs (12 wt cotton)

Splendor Pack (40 wt rayon)

Invisafil Pack (100 wt polyester)

Accent (12 weight rayon) Evergreen

Glamore (12 wt rayon with one strand metallic

Sew happy everyone!  Come fly with me through these fun summer projects, whether you just watch the progress or make them along with me.  But above all, have fun in your studio!

 

Preparing for Thread & Couching Projects

I am working on the designs for several free motion thread work and couching small quilts.  Essentially these are small whole cloth wall quilts done in multiple colors and styles of threads, cords, and yarns.  They are pictorial in design and include both free motion thread painting and quilting.  I will add some cord or yarn couching and might even add some decorative stitching with my Bernina 880 plus here and there.  It’s kind of exciting for me.

Scanned coloring book page before cleaning up and turning into a pattern. This is not one of the four.

Sew what are these planned pieces?  They include one scene of evergreen trees in the summer, one scene of trees at night with white winter stylized trees and a night sky both designed entirely by me, and four stylized tropical bird scenes based on scenes found in a Dover coloring book that will be colorful and, yes, challenging to stitch. I am  turning them into downloadable pdf patterns to print and tape together ready for tracing onto your fabric. Then I will stitch them out with some additions of quilting designs and embellishments.

I hand stitched this little crewel scene using wool threads years ago. My youngest son took it and had it framed in a museum quality acid free framing to protect it. I believe it is possible to replicate crewel stitching by machine to look nearly like hand stitching.

It’s an adventure!  And yes, there will be videos on YouTube and workbooks and patterns available on my website shop so you can sew along with me.  I am considering the possibility of creating background fabrics for tracing these bird scenes onto that could then be purchased at Spoonflower.  I am not sure this will work, but I will let you know if I am successful.

This is from another Dover coloring book, but I think it would make a wonderful piece of crewel work-like piece.  Maybe I will add this one to my thread-work projects.

Sew I hope very much a lot of you will join me in these projects that will be presented in July and August, and possibly September.  These small wall quilts make wonderful presents or home decor (either one or in groups).  I don’t have the final sizes or supply lists yet because I’m still working on them, but I’ll let you know.  Mostly I will be using threads from Wonderfil Threads and Superior Threads.  I love both brands and they work well together because Wonderfil has some wonderful specialty threads that Superior does not and I have a huge collection of Superior threads in “normal” weights I have collected over the past several years.

If you do one or more of my projects and send me pictures at www.bettyjo@bjfabricartist.com of your projects, I will share them here on my blogs if you would not mind.

I will let you know when the workbooks with patterns and supply lists are available in my shop for each project.  Right now, however, you can join me on the deciduous tree in full bloom quiltlet.  There is a workbook with pattern and the first of two videos already available. The second video will likely be available next weekend. This is a skill-builder project and I think you would enjoy making it.  If you do you would get to practice textured padded applique and broiderie perse by machine that are two great techniques for the fabric artists to have in their tool belts.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Plan for Sharing My Fabric Arts Skills and Techniques

Practice piece for the upper left corner of the border of Pendragon

I am not sure I have adequately expressed what I am trying to do with my YouTube videos and accompanying downloadable workbooks.  I am hoping to pass along the skills and techniques I have learned and use in the making of my wall art quilts and possibly other sewing in an affordable way.  I am thinking about the advanced beginner, intermediate, and even advanced quilter or fabric artist when I am making these.  There are many many many such videos out there for the basic beginning quilter, but not so much for those who are ready for a little more.

Photo at AQS Fall Paducah 2017

I guess you know already that such videos and workbooks are not free to make.  There is a fair amount of technology and equipment involved–sewing machines, cameras, lighting equipment, tripods, computers, software, website maintenance fees, and then there are the fabrics, threads, paints, and other supplies required to test, practice and make the various pieces.  This does not include the hours at all.

For you, the YouTube videos are free.  The accompanying workbooks and patterns are either free downloadables, as in the first set on Wool Applique by Machine, or are or will be downloadable from my website shop normally for something under $10.  The one for my first tree project is just $5.  If you both buy the workbooks and view the videos, you have a full class.

Come fly with me

My blogs and videos will frequently have links to products I recommend and use myself that work with a particular project I present.  Not all, but some of those products are affiliated links, where I get a small percentage of the sale if someone purchases them using that link (not if they just look at them and go buy them somewhere else…I have gotten lots of clicks but no purchases from these links so far).  The cost for the products is not increased in any way from my affiliations.  It is from the affiliations and the workbooks that I hope to make a little money to fund the continuation of the YouTube videos and give me a little play money.  Eventually, if I get as many as 1000 subscribers and 4000 viewing hours within a 12 month period, I might be able to receive a little from YouTube, but it would not cost the viewer anything.  Of course, there are ads on the videos, which is something I have no control over, but that is how YouTube funds itself.  I have had people tell me they won’t watch my YouTube videos because there are ads. I also have found out that some people think that subscribing to a YouTube requires signing up and paying money or filling in a form.  Truly, they should have called it “Follow” because all it requires is clicking the red Subscribe button.  I have had others say I should provide kits, but I have no storage space, time, and money required to do kits.  It takes hours and hours.  I did kits for my classes I taught locally in the past, so I know.  But I do have good instructions with lists of what you need in my workbooks.

I’m not begging here, but want to let you know that if a maker decides they want to contribute to this process to keep these things going in some other way than subscribing to my channel, watching my videos, buying the workbooks or linked products, there is a Donate button on the lower right side of my blogs.

There’s so much to learn, for me as well (from one of my classes at G Street Fabrics)

I decided to give this all a good try until the end of this year.  I have a clear concept of how I am approaching the teaching films for at least the next year.  There are sets of things, like continuing working with wool fabric art by machine, learning how to make Landscape Elements (trees, rocks, mountains, water, and top it off with a larger piece using them all); Experimental Fabric Art (you can watch my video on that to get an idea of this); Heirloom Quilted Fabric Art (this is something I will explain at a later blog, but you can get the idea by seeing Out of Mom’s Workbasket quilt), and other sets. Periodically, I will show the making of a show quilt, but it will not be a class format.  So if you follow my videos, blogs, and download the workbooks over the course of several months, it is my hope you will learn or perfect a fairly sophisticated set of quilted artistic sewing and quilting skills and techniques and can go and have a lot of fun in your studio making your own.  I am trying to figure out how to open a way for you to share what you make some other way than Facebook, but haven’t gotten there yet.

Out of Mom’s Workbasket

Sew happy everyone!  Tell me in the comments what you think of this plan, provide me with some ideas for what you really really wish someone to teach online if you want, and come fly with me through the wonderful world of quilted fabric art.  But above all, have fun in your studio!

 

 

Applique and Thread Work…My Favorites

As a fabric artist the two things I enjoy doing the most are machine applique and thread work.  I just finished this small wall hanging:

              A Deciduous Tree in Full Bloom 18″ x 22″

It is a little imaginary in that I don’t know what kind of tree it really is other than it is kind of fruit tree like.  I made it up primarily to demonstrate textured padded applique for the trunk with wool batting and artist crayon highlights, and machine stitched broiderie perse  for the tree top.  I made it as part of my series on Landscape Quilt Elements and there is a downloadable workbook for just $5 with pattern and free videos on YouTube showing me making it, the first of which I just published today, the last day of May in 2021!  Isn’t it amazing how the time has flown lately?!

Sew what is next?  Well, I have the second half of this tree project video coming in a few weeks, and then I have several other things I am planning:  A similar sized project for evergreen trees scene that is mostly thread work and yarn couching, a few quick tip videos, and a whole cloth bird picture done with thread painting.  Somewhere along the way I am going to make a new show quilt, but I haven’t decided yet what that will be.

I might even slip in some clothes making somewhere, though I doubt I will film that.  I just want to make some of the nice things I have laying around with all the parts and patterns.

Sew happy everyone!  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.  It doesn’t cost anything and you don’t have to answer any questions..it’s just a click on the subscribe button and it helps  me out. Have fun in your studio!

 

My Fabric Art and Video Making Merge to Fun

Sew I was realizing today as I worked in my studio that my fabric art and my video making are fairly well merged together finally and I have really begun to enjoy playing/working in my studio again.  It has definitely been a huge challenge.

I started back about September of last year, thinking I would just take some of the classes I used to teach and add a few more and turn them into videos to share on YouTube and make downloads to accompany them.  Simple, right?  I had no idea what I was about, how to really accomplish it, and the journey I was undertaking.  Using my single little GoPro camera I just made a video and edited it on my video editor that was designed for home videos. I had to learn to edit just for that.

After my family and I saw the video result I had loaded up on YouTube, we all realized it would not do.  It had many problems from lighting to scripting to quality of the filming.  Plus, the talent (me) needed to figure out a little better how to address the watcher.  So I took it down and my family swung in there and helped me get set up, figure out how to do the videos, and are still helping me produce better videos.  It was a period of frustration, especially when my computer failed just after we got started and it it took a couple of months before that was solved.  Now I have a wonderful setup as well as a good computer that is designed for this work (thanks to my family set of professional techies).  Grown kids are the greatest blessing!

It’s been a major change in my studio and the way I work and I’m still learning, but this past few weeks I had a lot of fun. I realized that fun has returned to my studio work, frustration has cooled down, and happiness is centered around fabric art again.

Sew new ideas are flooding in and  I have quite a few  directions I will be taking this newly merged activity based on what I have learned over the years.  And yes, I do still plan to make show quality and experimental quilts, perhaps, though, with some videoing along beside them.

One thing I have been adding to help fund this rather expensive activity and keep the YouTube video teaching free for my followers and friends, is to add some affiliations with companies so I can recommend products I use myself with links for you to use both here on my Blog and on my YouTube in the information box below the videos.  If people use them and purchase something at the time or shortly thereafter, I will get a small percentage from the purchase and it won’t cost them any more for the product and they won’t have to hunt for it.

I so far have only had people reference the links and not purchase enough for anyone to pay me anything (it has to add up to a bit before you get paid), but I hope this will improve as time goes on and my followers understand how it supports my little business to help keep things going.

So far I have an affiliation with Connecting Threads, Dick Blick art supplies, Accuquilt cutters, and yes, Amazon to cover the blank areas the others don’t.

Very recently I added Wonderfil Specialty Threads.  Now you all who know me know I love Superior Threads too, but the thread types I use and like from Wonderfil are not made by Superior Threads, so between the two of them I’ve got the many types I like to use covered.

I am planning on a number of YouTube classes and Quick Tip Videos that will involve extensive thread work using these specialty threads along side of the Superior I like too (even though they don’t have an affiliate program).  It will be fun…small wall art whole cloth quilts that feature things I love like trees, rocks, trains, birds, flowers, and architecture that are sized right for a small space on your home walls or even in an office or for use on pillows or tote bags, etc.  They should be fun…fun to make, fun to watch being made, fun to think about.

Sew happy everyone! Have fun in your studio and treasure your family and friends.  If you have something you want to have me present on my videos, please tell me in the comments.