I completed the above quilt, which I named Lagoon, last week.
I made this quilt to document the process for the final Advanced Landscape Video in my Artful Quilting Course. It was quite a challenge to create a big landscape quilt while trying to break the whole process down into manageable steps.
It was also a challenge to stop and rearrange my studio with lights, camera, and microphone to all be in optimal positions while trying not to trip over cords while making the quilt. In a simple quilt that’s all manageable but in this one, not so much.
To be clear, this is not a quilt where I will be giving out the exact pattern for making this quilt. It is a documentation of my method with downloads of some elements used. Each quilter will have to design and execute their own unique scene.
My creative process is not necessarily very linear. For example, some of the leaves I used in this quilt were actually made 18 months ago. I loved these leaves (the design image was given to me by Betty Busby) and knew I would use them some day but just wasn’t sure when. I kept them pinned to my design wall all that time, hoping for a perfect moment. Two weeks ago, as I started planning this quilt, I had that “bingo” moment. The colors of the background and the colors of those big caladium leaves were a perfect team.
I spent some long hours drawing and being thankful for my Photoshop skills as I designed and came up with a new caladium leaf for my students. It’s not as gorgeous as Betty’s but it will have to suffice.
Just to explain, the willow leaves, the iris, and the caladium leaves are made from evolon, a nylon/polyester microfiber product which is painted, cut out with a cutting machine, then stitched to the surface of the quilt. The logic behind using this product is that it loves ink and does not fray. Thus, it is ideal for those quilters who enjoy experimenting with surface
The iris are actually colored with Inktense Pencils rather than paint. These pencils are great since they turn into ink when you add water to them. Magical things happen in terms of shading and blending. They are then heat set to make them colorfast.
The tree trunk is a commercial striped batik and I used my dressmaking skills to add lots of darts here and there to make it behave the way I wanted it to behave. I wanted to keep the grain of the batik stripe flowing in a logical way.
Here you can see the couching of yarn I did on the tree trunk. Lots of couching to hide the darts and create texture. I also added some spiky satin stitched organza leaves behind the caladiums.
Lisa Reber’s lovely hand dyed fabric is used for the background and the lily pad blossoms. Her work is always so inspiring.
Best news of all, I posted this on Facebook when it was finished and it found a new home within hours. It will be going to a lake house in New York. How great is that?
January is always a super creative time for me. The weather is so cold I sometimes don’t leave the house for days. The distractions of the holidays are over and I go into hibernation mode. I’m a big fan of online learning so this is the time of year I just hunker down with laptop and earbuds and take a class.
Well, this year is the same with a new twist. I’m going to be the teacher of online classes and I have a lot to learn before I do that. I’ve created a new website to launch my online quilting and sewing classes. I’m also learning the techniques of how to set up lighting, camera, and microphone. Let me tell you, YouTube is a great resource! It’s also a great place to test the waters and see how people respond to my videos.
Here is my latest quilt, Winter Night, 20″ x 26″ , with which I’ve created a landscape quilting tutorial on YouTube. It has only one pieced horizon line, the moon is blanket stitched, the trees are fused and raw edge appliqued, the snowflakes are screen printed, and it is, of course, quilted. If you wish to purchase the quilt just click on the above picture for the link.
I made this quilt three times in the process of making the video. I experimented with camera angles (too far away, to close), lighting (extra lighting creates glare when quilting a pure white moon), and microphone placement (it absolutely must follow me around the studio). Editing is tedious but fun at the same time. Sounds like quilting and sewing, right? But, trust me, you’ll be glad I turned down the sound every time I got going on the longarm machine.
So that’s part one. It’s not perfect and I still have a lot to learn. I’m working on part two which will show pattern layout and tracing for those who like to use a pattern, quilting the trees, facing the quilt, making the hanging sleeve and embroidered signature. If you wish to see all the links mentioned in the video, you will find them here.
I’ve also made a little PDF Guide to the Best Threads. It certainly is not all encompassing but tells you my favorites and why I like them. You may get that by following this link which will also ensure that you are notified when classes launch.
Many of you ask about my process of constructing an art quilt. In this post I want to show you a little glimpse behind the scenes. I’d like to use my latest quilt, Maples on Water, to show how I go about coming up with an idea and executing it.
My first step in building a quilt is to find fabric which truly inspires me. To me, this is the absolute most important step in the process. If I don’t have a strong emotional connection with the fabric I will be unable to move forward. When I do feel drawn in by the fabric and can’t stop staring at it, we have the “bingo” moment. I’m hooked and I have to have that fabric.
This past September I was in Lisa Reber’s (DippyDyes) booth at the Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza. Lisa is a master at creating beautiful hand dyed fabrics. As my friend, Karen, and I started pulling fabrics off the hangers and opening them up we started having a “bingo” fiesta. One after the other, we found color combinations and patterning in the dyes that just sparked the imagination.
These were a sampling of what I purchased from Lisa. I think the bottom green is what I used in Maples Over Water. Some of these other fabrics you will, no doubt, be seeing as spring of 2018 approaches.
I pinned the large piece of fabric on my design wall and just let it sit there for a few days. It reminded me of Monet’s Water Lilies. I also determined that I wanted to keep this quilt very serene and uncluttered. I wanted it to be a work that truly showcased this beautiful fabric without covering it all up.
To come up with the above design I simply googled “images of maple branches over water” and gathered the best photos I could find. I drew, freehand, the above branch designs on freezer paper and cut them out for my pattern. I ironed “Mistyfuse”, to the back of all my fabrics to be used for branches and rocks, cut them out and pinned them to my background.
Once I was happy with the arrangement I fused them with my iron and stitched them down. Even though they were fused, I needed to stitch down these shapes and this time I chose to just stitch them with a straight stitch near the raw edges. I know many of you do this all the time but, for some reason, it’s really hard for me to just leave the edges raw. Part of me is just screaming “but it doesn’t look finished!” Oh well, “be brave”, I told myself.
The next step: maple leaves. I painted sheets ofEvolon, a non-woven polyester and nylon product, in shades of red and yellow with my fabric paints. I gathered leaves from my maple tree right outside my front door and scanned them into my computer. With a little Photoshop magic I came up with this image which I scanned into my software for my Cricut cutting machine.
This image can be enlarged, shrunk, flipped, and rotated so I can get a variety of sizes. I simply feed my painted Evolon, which also has Mistyfuse ironed to the back, into my machine and click the button to cut out all the shapes.
I think the hardest part of this quilt was coming up with good shades of color for the leaves. Many of my paints were too bright and flat. I mixed darker shades of paint and also shaded with Inktense pencils until I got the colors which would look good with the mottled dark shades of the background fabric.
After much trial and error, I decided to coat real leaves with Lumiere Acrylic fabric paint and stamp the Evolon leaves with this copper color to get the veins to show. I was so happy with the result. The stems ended up being too skinny to stitch so at times I had to resort to stitching back and forth across them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I painted and cut the ferns in the same way that I made the maple leaves and pinned every single piece up before sewing.
Looks great, right? Now, how could I save this arrangement but take all these little pieces off to quilt the background? I wanted an overall water-like quilting design with circular ripples around a few leaves that had touched the surface of the water. My solution was to take a picture of the arrangement of leaves and ferns in each section, then take them off and put them in separate zip-lock bags labeled with the section number. I then stitched down the few single leaves which were on the surface of the water with only a few stitches and loaded the quilt onto the longarm quilting machine.
In the lower right corner of this picture you can see the circular ripples of water I quilted around the leaf. It took me no time at all the quilt the rest of the water design on the quilt without having to stitch around all those little leaves. Big time and sanity saver!
After that, I simply looked at the section picture, pulled the leaves and ferns out of the corresponding ziplock bag, arranged them on the quilt and stitched them down on with the longarm machine. The nice thing about Evolon is that it doesn’t fray. I only stitched the leaves down on the veins and not the edges. Scary, huh? I think it looks better this way without so many needle punctures in the leaves. There is also more dimension in the leaves.
One more thing you might notice in the above picture is the shading of the water below the rocks. I did that with grey and brown dye based markers.
I learned a couple of important things in this process. Keep trying out new ways of achieving what you want. Who says you can’t paint or use markers on a quilt? Research your basic design, looking at lots of images. Make your own composite design. Use the elements that you find most pleasing. Add or subtract elements as you go. Notice the rocks in the foreground which weren’t there at the start? Thanks, Shiela! Next time make the stems of the maple leaves bigger. Also, round out the shapes at the tip of the leaves a little before cutting. I had to snip and shape the tips of lots of the leaves because they were so skinny I couldn’t stitch them down – just like the stems. Now I know. Lastly, get over yourself about the raw edges.
I know many of you enjoy reading these posts about my process. Many of you have come into my booth at shows and asked many questions about my process. Now I have a two requests for you:
Would you be willing to fill out a short survey so I can hear your most pressing questions about quilting or sewing? Obviously, if you are not interested in quilting or sewing, this survey is not for you. Your email is required in the survey but you will not be spammed. If you fill out the survey I will know this is something you are interested in and I’d like to send you more information like this post or some “how to” videos.
If you wish to comment on this blog post, you may, but I would much prefer that you save your comments and put them in the survey. It’s very short.
I’ll be giving my power point lecture, “My Quilting Journey: Boundaries and Beyond” at the Heartstrings Quilt Guild tomorrow evening at 7PM. This guild meets at Lankenau Hospital so is fairly local to me and anyone living in the Philly area. Please check out http://heartstringquilters.com/index.php/about/meetings for details and directions. If you’d like to know more about my process and would like to attend, please feel free to come as a guest for a $5 fee. I always enjoy presenting process photos, studio photos and I’ll also have a few quilts to show. I will also have some bags and printed products for sale.
I can’t believe it’s our last show of the season is this weekend! We’ll be in beautiful Rittenhouse Square in Philly for the Fall PA Fine Crafts Show. It’s a free event running from 11AM to 6PM both Friday, Oct. 13 & Saturday, Oct. 14. Sunday, Oct. 15, we’ll be there from 11AM – 5PM. It looks like we’ll actually have some lovely fall weather in store.
I’m eager to show some of my new work and would love for you to come visit and see it in person. I’ll be in booth #116 on 18th street across from Parc restaurant.
I’ve had so many customers come into my booth and tell me about their ugly utility panels near their kitchens. They are usually customers who have just moved into recently built condos and they are searching for a decorating solution to this unsightly problem.
We are currently staying in a lovely little condo in Breckenridge, CO. I can now see, first hand, what everyone is talking about!
Who were the architects who thought this was a good idea? Why could they not have placed this ugly thing in a closet??
If this is a problem with which you are confronted I do have a couple of options for you. Quilts are light weight and easily removable, should you need to access the utility panel.
Here is a photo sent to me by one customer of a piece I custom made for her. It was similar in size to my “Wall Hanging – Red Purple Orbs”. We changed it to a vertical orientation and made it a bit longer for the space.
The hanger is one that I often recommend to customers for easy hanging of my small to medium quilts. They are from Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade company. They are made in Vietnam and fit my work well. They come in four sizes and only require that you put one or two small nails or hooks in your wall. I must warn you, though, that shipping on these items can be very pricey so look for a local store. I also have them for sale at my shows.
Another option for a solution to the ugly utility panel problem would be my Blue Raindrops and Green Raindrops.
I did not have a chance to list these yet but they are currently for sale at $400 each. They are framed with black metal frames and measure 33″x 14″. Just contact me if you are interested. They can also be made a few inches wider if you desire. The photo was taken in my booth with the black mesh wall.
This past weekend I was scheduled to do the Old Town Fine Art Fair but Rod was invited to speak at the Dock Mennonite Academy commencement so I needed an assistant. Our daughter, Katie, stepped up to the plate and drove up from Virginia to join me for a road trip to Chicago.
We had all day to see the sights before the 3:45PM load in so we took in as much as possible. We started at Cloud Gate (“the bean”), then checked out the Tiffany Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center.
We walk the Magnificent Mile, had lunch at Eataly, drove to the Art Fair site and set up our booth. We had just enough time to check into our Airbnb and change for dinner and an evening at The Second City comedy club.
What an experience! So much young talent and how exciting to know that so many of today’s big comedy stars made their start right here.
Parking was truly a challenge in Chicago. Our Airbnb host told us to use the SpotHero App and that was very helpful. We also learned that the best way to ensure a timely load out on Sunday evening was to just find street parking near the Art Fair and cart everything out with our hand truck. The best spot we could find was 4 blocks away so we left the car there for the rest of the weekend and used Uber to get around town. We figured it out between the two of us and now we’re hooked!
There was decent customer traffic during the show until the late afternoon hours. I sold several smaller and mid size quilts and table runners. On Sunday I said goodbye to one of my favorites, “Forest Windows”.
Katie’s friends, Steve and Monica Kniss stopped by to say high with their most adorable baby.
Katie was a trooper and trucked my whole booth the four blocks to the car while I broke everything down. We drove late into the wee hours of the morning, stopping in a Toledo area hotel to grab some winks before driving the rest of the way home.
Katie was so helpful bringing me lots of water, lunch, spotting my booth while I took short breaks and walks. The Old Town neighborhood was lovely. The home right behind my booth was for sale at 2.2 million. Any takers?
Katie said that for the next show we will pack a cooler with lots of ice. The temps were 90+ degrees but we, thankfully, had shade trees. I’m so glad she’s willing to consider a “next show”! Thanks, Katie!!!
A synopsis of last week’s road trip to Chevy Chase to lecture and teach.
Kim Kellman visited my booth while at a show in Bethesda in October of 2015. She is program chair for NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase and asked if I’d consider lecturing or offering a workshop for her quilt guild. Thus began a series of emails back and forth over the next months. This week I presented a lecture and workshop for them.
I was told that this was a great group and that I’d truly enjoy them. I can confirm that this was definitely the case. Guilds have very different personalities and this one topped them all. They were a very eclectic group but they interacted with a strikingly positive spirit. I was graciously hosted by Kim and her husband, Peter, in their Bethesda home. Kim gave me a complete tour which included a considerable number of her many amazing wall quilts. She is a talented quilter with skills in hand stitching which she often incorporates into her quilts.
Teaching quilting classes is a relatively new venture for me. The class I taught at NeedleChasers was the Artful Couching class. In this class we were to make a small square within a square quilt and do some simple couching on the surface.
It turns out that making a square within a square quilt took quite a bit longer than I had anticipated. Fortunately, I had some beautiful striped batiks with me in case some students didn’t have time to complete the squares. Many students took advantage of this option and enjoyed trying out stitching circles and fiddleheads on whole cloth. It’s a technique which is not very difficult and produces much texture on the quilt surface.
Responses on my class evaluations were very positive but nearly all expressed a desire for more time to learn the couching technique.
I have modified my class listings with this in mind. More options for couching classes have been posted on my lecture/workshop page. You can check them out here.
Thanks to NeedleChasers for being such supportive students and hanging in there with me! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them and am looking forward to seeing pictures of their finished quilts!
I was commissioned by Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville, PA, to make an Easter Quilt this spring. Here is a short summary of my process.
After multiple sketches and consultations with Beth Yoder, one of the pastors, and hand dyer, Vicki Welsh, we settled on a design.
This time I took the advice of a guild member during one of my lectures. She suggested I take my line drawing to Staples to have them print it out to scale. They were able to print it on three very long rolls of paper. I was ever so happy to learn of this great option.
I used this scale drawing to trace all my pattern pieces onto freezer paper. The fabrics were then cut out using these freezer paper pieces and they were then appliqued to the whole cloth background.
Here you can get an idea of the size. My friend, Karen, is holding it from my upstairs banister and it reaches nearly to the lower floor.
I made the grave portion from a dark, almost black, fabric that looked like stone. The interior of the grave is a series of squares sewn into a checker board pattern of light and medium yellows. This is a picture of the quilt hanging on my 8 foot design wall with a portion of the quilt laying on the floor.
The background is a gradation of purple from dark to medium and the flares are combinations of Vicki’s “Under the Sea”, “Key West” and “Solar Flare” gradients. She was ever so patient in working with me to get a beautiful and vibrant combination of colors. You can check out her website here.
Rod took this picture this morning. Don’t you love how the choice of flowers complement the colors of the Easter Quilt, too?
Thanks to Salford for the opportunity to make another commission quilt.
I had not entered a quilt into a quilt competition for over a year. I’m not sure why. I had just been focusing on my Windows series for most of the year. It’s hard to focus your attention on creating a body of work plus have the time to respond to all the calls for entry. Also, I wasn’t sure that my new direction would be recognized or understood by quilt show judges.
As art quilters, we walk this narrow line between the art world and the quilting world. Sometimes I feel like we are looked at as though we are strange creatures by both sides. Nevertheless, I decided to enter two quilts into the Quilting and Sewing Fest of New Jersey this year.
I was pleased to learn that both quilts got a ribbon. Autumn Windows won Best Innovative Style Quilt.
Dialogue won Judges Choice.
I’m grateful for the positive comments from the judges and for the acknowledgement that there is a place for new direction in the quilt competition world.
I still have lots to learn from the technical precision of the traditional quilting realm. One comment spoke to the fact that Dialogue had not been “blocked”. No, I’ve never blocked any of my quilts. Blocking means you soak the quilt in a bath tub and then lay it out completely flat to dry. This is done before binding or facing the quilt. I probably will never block a quilt since I use a lot of silk but I do understand that the goal is a quilt which lays completely flat against the wall. I’ve often redone facings to make them shorter when I’ve realized one side of the quilt has a slight wave to the edge. Sure enough, when I took “Dialogue” out of the box upon it’s return from quilt fest, it had a slight wave on one side. Back to shortening that facing a little bit!
My new venture will start in a few weeks when I teach my first quilting workshop at NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase. We’ll be learning the art of couching (stitching) yarn to the quilt surface for added definition and texture. I’ve presented lectures to quilt guilds and have learned to relax in front of a crowded room. How is it that I’ve performed music so many times in public but lecturing could be so terrifying? The first time was torture but now it’s very enjoyable.
The new part of this is teaching a quilting class in a more intimate setting. I love my craft and can’t wait to show others how I make it. I’ve also taught music for years so the instruction part is also not a problem. I’ve been told that some of what I consider “easy” is not so for others. I also work very fast. I hope I’ll be able to break down construction elements into easy to understand increments so that it becomes easy for everyone. Wish me luck!
I currently have one lecture and two workshop topics to offer and you can find them here.