Quilt Published!

It's official! I've been published internationally in Magnet! Might sound a bit more important than it is, but I see it as a milestone anyway. Two complimentary copies arrived today from over the pond.

Amy K. Johnson's quilt in this issue

The artworks used in this magazine are absolutely amazing! And the articles are powerful, touching, and thought-provoking. It's a Christian magazine originally by the Women's Network of the Methodist Church, but is now a collaborative effort spanning many different Christian backgrounds. A British publication, it has a global focus.

Magnet magazine, Poured Out 2

After an initial snag with getting magazine quality photos of my Poured Out 2 quilt, I sent my huge graphic file off and this is what they did with it. I think it turned out well. In case you wondered, I did not write the article.

In the article, Amy Boucher Pye writes, "When we pray, we might sense something from God through an imagine in our minds. I once pictured a gorgeous crystal vase, filled with a sludgy, murky water. I saw God pouring in living water, displacing what was unclean. This showed me that I was created to be beautiful, reflecting God's light and life when the spirit cleansed me."

The following is my 'Artist's Statement' submitted with my entry of the quilt into the upcoming Sacred Threads Exhibit: "Second in a series inspired by my church's logo, this quilt represents the feelings, good and bad, that I experienced during my husband's battle with cancer. Time and time again, negative feelings threatened to choke my spirit only to be conquered by a pouring out of love and grace that washed away the scary thoughts. At the same time, I was pouring myself out for my husband and children, one still an infant and I was desperate to fill myself with the Living Water of God's love."

I am so happy to see my quilt used this way. When I made the original Poured Out and then this version, I had no idea what to do with them, other than to present the first to my church and to enter the second into Sacred Threads. It is hard to even think about what I poured into these quilts without tearing up and yet I can look at each of them and feel almost like I am looking at the work of someone else and be awed. It is clear to me that I did not make these by myself.

Artspeak mumbo jumbo perhaps, but that's how it is. And looking at the other artworks they use in this magazine, I can see that I am not alone.

You can also find Magnet on Facebook. And have I mentioned, you can find a Facebook page for Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures also?

Road Trip! With an Artistic Rest Stop

I apologize for A Pause in Quilting, possibly my worst post ever. I was in the woods of Indiana and the internet connection was horrible!

I drove off with my three kids, ages 3, 6 and 8, to our annual family reunion. That's 640 miles in the car with no other adult. I was afraid it was going to be a horrible time, but it worked out pretty well! My kids really enjoyed the audio books I had brought along. There were three major down times, two involving vomit and the other a really tired and cranky mommy. But I did get a nap before anyone was driven completely crazy,  hotel rugs are amazingly resilient (and the housekeeper was so kind) and rural highways have great spots to pull over in a hurry. Ugh.

We've done portions of this route several times over the years so we have certain places we stop whenever we go that way. One of them is Tamarack, the "Best of West Virginia" where all sorts of arts and crafts are displayed, sold, and even, in the case of their artists in residence, made. The kids were pleased that the textile artists in residence weren't present as they know I would stall out at their studio. Seems I've heard of Elaine Bliss, I checked out her site, but I can't quite figure out where I've come across either her or her work before.

Look at all the space! But no privacy. Quilter in a fishbowl!

I spy a Janome, but couldn't make out the model.

There was a quilter selling table runners and fabrics in the hall too, but I didn't get a chance to chat. The little guy needed to keep moving right through. Besides playing on the modern art sculpture inspired play ground, the only places that caught their attention for long were the glass blowers in their studio and (be still my homeschooling heart!) the gallery exhibit!

There were some beautiful pieces, some strange pieces, some mind-blowing works and even a few textile pieces. It was a great variety that led to discussion on what art is, might be, and what it might be telling us. There was also a lot of "Don't touch! Keep back! They want how much?! and "The artist was expressing a thought or feeling and we might never know exactly what he or she was saying".

Look at the detail on those gourds! At least I think they were gourds. It's hard to tell after seeing these:

Dinosaur balloons? As art, thought I? These are actually ceramic! All the way down to the little brass "valve stem" for inflation. Fooled me. Really thrilled the kids.

Stegosaurus by Brett Kern

 I'm not up on rug terminology, but this locker hooked (maybe?) rug/runner by Susan Feller of Hampshire WV sure makes me want to start some applique designs. Beautiful!

 This piece spoke to me, not surprisingly with its water and hands. It's called Healing Waters by Jean Gilbert Kellogg, an acrylic painting on canvas.

 This oil painting by Linda Stonestreet had what seem to be my favorite colors lately! I find myself being inspired by so many watery images and their colors.

Now after multiple loads of laundry, I just need to finish unpacking and catch up on a few things so I can take the inspiration and get back to quilting!

A Pause in Quilting

Sitting around a bonfire in a park in Indiana! Is it wrong to want to ditch the family reunion and find some fabric shops?

Finshing Quilt Binding by Machine

I've got another set of videos for you! This time I'm sharing a great method for finishing quilt binding by machine that works so well, it takes a close look to see that it wasn't done by hand.


The above video shows the technique with a few adjustments so that you can actually see it. Instead of my walking foot, I'm using an open toe embroidery foot and more importantly, I'm using black thread so you can see the stitching.

The basics of the technique is that the binding is first stitched to the back of the quilt and then it is stitched down on the front with a very small blanket stitch with a mono-filament thread or a very fine matching thread.

For my Janome 6600P, I am using Mode 2, stitch 38 with a width of .5 or 1 and a length of 2-3. The stitch must be mirrored in order to have the stitch land properly on the binding. This technique can also work with a blind hem stitch, but I am unable to adjust that stitch to fall as I need it on my Janome, so I stick to the blanket stitch.

The second video is shot as I actually finish stitching the binding as I would normally finish it, using the walking foot and mono filament thread. At the end, I show you a very close up view of the binding to show how well the machine stitching hides.

I challenge you to give this technique a try! It's pretty straight forward and yield very good results.

How to Free Motion Quilt: The Designs

Hopefully, you've read the two previous parts to this series, if not, you can check them out here:

How to Free Motion Quilt: The Set Up

How to Free Motion Quilt: The Basic Motion and Tension

Keep in mind that we could probably camp out for a while on the basic motion of FMQ'ing and tension issues. It takes a lot of practice! As you and your machine get used to moving together, some of your tension issues will go away as you get better at moving smoothly. Don't forget to have a good slick surface! When you are in the beginning stages, any extra pulling or jerking of the quilt in relation to the needle and speed will cause extra tension on the needle (called needle deflection), causing it to flex slightly which leads to tension issues and skipped stitches.

Practice, practice, practice! Doodle quilting designs on paper too! Which brings us to designs...

I divide quilting designs into 4 major types:
  • Overall Designs- These are designs that do not pay attention to the piecing. Similar to a pantograph used by a longarmer, these are great designs for utility, bed and comfort quilts.
  • Block and piecing designs- These are designs that are based on the piecing. Designs for blocks, squares, triangles, borders and sashing.
  • Fills- These smaller designs are for filling in spaces between other types of quilting, adding texture and interest along the way, sometimes they are even used as larger design elements in the quilting.
  • Motif Designs- These are the ones we love to see in fancier quilts; the scrolls, feathers, floral motifs and more that are major parts of the design of a quilt in of themselves.

The four types are not overly segregated and mix and mingle quite often. While overall designs are usually loners, typically, motif and fill designs work together and are pretty much mutually necessary.  Block and piecing designs are good mixers in a quilt, and I think are the unsung heroes of FMQ.

Overall FMQ design
Some simple overall designs
Overall Designs- Also called edge-to-edge designs. These are some of the easiest designs to begin with, but not all overall designs are simple. They can be large stippling, other larger meandering designs, or even feathers  as an overall design. You can get ideas for these types of designs by looking at quilts done by longarmers with pantographs. Some can even be quite complex, featuring horses, bears, flowers, stars, etc. For a complicated overall design, you might need to mark it or use a length of marked paper, preferably something like Golden Threads Quilting Paper. More on this in an upcoming post.

Free Motion Quilting designs
Block and piecing designs

Block and Piecing Designs- This includes the tedious but many times necessary "Stitch in the Ditch" which can also be done with a walking foot without using FMQ. Once you have a good grasp of FMQ, doing stitch in  the ditch with the darning or free motion foot means no turning of the quilt as you stitch. Block and piecing designs can really enhance the piecing in a quilt. In the above pic, the top left drawing is "continuous curves"  and the bottom left is "Terry's Twists" which is my go-to for lots of small squares. I have three great books that give a ton of ideas on not only block and piecing designs, but the other types of quilting as well:Quilting Possibilities...Freehand Filler Patterns , Adaptable Quilting Designs , Machine Freehand Patterns by Nan Moore, which doesn't seem to be available through Amazon any more, but I saw she has another book out that might be similar. The first two books are by Sue Patten who is a very creative longarmer and a hoot if you've seen any of her videos online. 

Design books for Free Motion Quilting

Fills- Pebbles, smaller stipples, even closely spaced lines of stitching are in this category. Leah Day's site does a great job of categorizing and teaching many, many fills at the Free Motion Quilting Project. She's also produced three books of designs, one of which is From Daisy to Paisley: 50 Beginner Level Free Motion Quilting Designs. Keep in  mind that because of the scope of the project and the stitched samples, these designs are shown quite small. At the small size these are great for filling in around larger motif designs or in conjunction with block and piecing designs. It is up to you to decide at what size you want to quilt these for your quilt! Make them bigger and many can even be overall designs.

Motif Designs- Many of these designs benefit from good planning and marking. There's the classic feather wreath and all of its variations, feathered swags and borders. Some motifs are suitable for block and piecing designs too. Traditional whole cloth quilts are fabulous examples of motif designs coupled with fills. Two wonderful books by Karen McTavish (I have most of her books; they're great) The Secrets of Elemental Quilting  and Whitework Quilting: Creative Techniques for Designing Wholecloth and Adding Trapunto to Your Quilts give great examples of using motifs in quilts along with some great tips.

Some general tips for choosing designs:

The denser the quilting, the stiffer the quilt. And of course, dense quilting takes longer and uses more thread. Save really dense quilting for wall quilts, fancy quilts, and yes, show quilts. No one wants to snuggle down with a stiff quilt, so for comfy quilts, choose an overall design or fairly simple block and piecing designs.

One of the big differences between what we can quilt with our domestic sewing machines versus those of the longarm machines has to do with our range of motion. We can only quilt in the space between our hands before we have to reposition our hands and quilt. Those using longarm machines, have a range of motion for stitching that is pretty much the range of their upper body motion. This means the designs we choose either have smaller shapes, well-planned changes of direction, or we have to be really good with our stops and starts when repositioning our hands. Usually, it's a mix of all three factors.

Many quilts benefit from "Stitch in the Ditch", stitching along piecing lines to stabilize the seams, keep things square and subdivide the quilt to keep shifting of batting and backing to a minimum. For the most part this type of quilting is done first and many choose to use a walking foot with the feed dogs up. But, again, once you become proficient at FMQ, doing it in free motion can be a lot faster with little or no rotation of the quilt needed.

Applique quilts can also benefit from stitching around the applique shapes. Ann Fahl's book, Dancing With Thread: Your Guide to Free-Motion Quilting, describes this type of quilting and regular stitch in the ditch quilting as stabilizing the quilt and recommends using clear monofilament for this type of stitching in case the stitches wiggle from one side of the seam or applique to the other. I agree. I will be doing a post soon on using monofilament thread.

Large motif designs with inadequate fills around them lose their impact and when properly surrounded with fills can really pop, making a faux trapunto effect. Couple motifs and small fills with a lofty batting and you've got some great dimension and texture. Larger areas of "white space" are prime real estate for motifs.

Once again, I feel like we've just scratched the surface of choosing FMQ designs! There are so many great designs out there and used in so many way it can boggle the mind. But I think by dividing the types of quilting, it helps to choose the right kinds of designs.

Finished: Sherwood Forest Love- A Wholecloth Quilt for Lovebirds

Sherwood Forest Love

My "Sherwood Forest Love" tree quilt is finally done! (If we don't count that as a wall quilt, it still needs a sleeve.) I am so glad to have gotten this piece done so I can send it out to the newlyweds.

I really like how this has turned out. It had me stumped (I'm punny) for a while on the overall concept and then how to fill the background. Even though I'm not incredibly thrilled with the pine trees in the background, I like the overall effect.

I love, love, love, the dimensionality on this piece!

Sherwood Forest Love: detail

I finished the binding by machine and even shot two videos of the process for a future post. My method gives pretty great results and it takes a close look to tell that it wasn't finished by hand!

To see this quilt in process, you can see the following posts:

Free Motion Quilting: Tree Wall Hanging
More of my Robin Hood Quilted Tree Wall Hanging
Sherwood Forest Quilt; A Video Blog

I'm linking up with Leah Day's FMQ Friday and Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday. Check them out to see all the fabulous quilty stuff folks are up to!

Sherwood Forest Quilt, A Video Blog

I've been a bit busy with nothing much to report since Memorial Day, but I finally finished the quilting on my Sherwood Forest wall quilt, a gift for a newlywed couple.

I shot a video of it and also showed how I trimmed the quilt square with a sheet of Plexiglass.

Big rulers are expensive! But to get good square quilts, it's so helpful to have a big square for cutting those corners. I get my Plexiglass at the local hardware store, and this 18x24 inch sheet cost maybe $14.00.

I really like how this quilt turned out. The dimensionality of the quilting with some trapunto turned out so well. You can see more of the process on a previous post, Robin Hood Tree Wall Hanging.

You can also see all of my Youtube videos here on the Amy Johnson channel.

I hope the couple like this wall hanging. All I had to go on was the Robin Hood bridal shower, knowing they consider themselves geeky, and that they have gray sheets.

I hope to get some new posts up as soon as possible, and have some nifty things in the works!

What have you been up to, my quilty friends?