Canterbury Knight: Adjusting Following Judge’s Comments

Following HMQS in Salt Lake City, I got my two quilts home with judge’s comments. At first, I didn’t see what now is totally obvious, especially for Canterbury Knight, that there were some flaws in the quilt that needed attention. Sky Horse has a few comments, only one of which I can address…I need to stitch down the binding with closer stitching…the rest of the comments were things to store away for future quilts.

The thing that first threw me off and got me to fuming was the comment indicating the outside edge of “the quilt” was not straight. I took it up to my studio and measured it with my t-square and it is almost perfectly square. So after I calmed down, and took a real hard look at the quilt, I wondered why it took me all that time to actually see what the problem was. The judge did not mean the outside edge of the “quilt” but the outside edge of the central theme block. I had placed the braid that divided the central theme from the border on decidedly unstraight.

Who can tell what caused me to miss it before (along with all the starts and stops that needed more attention and a few track backs that weren’t very good). I think it might have been the many months I spent on the thing and a mind that didn’t want to admit I wasn’t finished with it.

But now that I have it home after not seeing it for a while, and got my nose back in joint, I could see them like beacons flashing there before me. OK, so could I fix it? I decided to try, by removing the braid where it was crooked and restitching it. Now it is much improved. Indeed, I think it is pretty darn straight. Note that I had done this four times before declaring it finished before. This fifth time, however, seems quite successful to me. I also did what I could about the trackbacks and starts and stops, which were the other negative remarks from the judges.

I just now rephotographed it. Here are the two photographs (note, the picture is better too, since I applied some of what I have since learned from my Ricky Tims 52 week photography class:

Canterbury Knight Complete

Canterbury Knight Complete

Betty Jo Tatum--Canterbury Knight 2--May 2015

Canterbury Knight with the central theme braid straightened.

If you can’t immediately see the crooks and wiggles, look especially at the left side of the central theme around the tail of the bird. There are a few corrections on the right too.

I am now going to try to update the photograph with Houston. I was thinking I had entered it elsewhere too, but I found after checking that I haven’t yet. Phew!

Sew happy everyone! I have learned I need to look harder at my quilts before entering and to not immediately assume the judges don’t know what they are talking about. In this case, I knew the judges were the best, so I knew these were valid comments. Have a great week everyone.


Practice a Little Bit Every Day


Lately I have been taking a hard look at the direction I am heading in my fabric arts adventure.  Asking myself what do I strive toward in making a good wall art quilt worthy of ribbons or hanging on the wall in some particularly visible area of a nice home or office?  A timely and fascinating discussion about judging in shows lately also occurred this week on Facebook, begun by Marilyn Badger, an extraordinary long-arm quilt artist.  This discussion centered around a perceived recent trend toward judging decisions being based mostly on the quilting and a lessening of emphasis on good design and color decisions by the quiltmaker.   This has been remarkable to see what the top quilt makers and judges who chimed in on this topic had to say.  Most agreed that this has been the trend and most felt the pendulum needs to swing back the other way to better balance.

In my humble opinion, winning quilters should strive to gain a solid balance among solid design, artistic color and value, exacting technique for embroidery, piecing and applique, and beautiful quilting.  Unless the quilt is for a specific category that is well defined, such as whole cloth quilts, none of these should be rated above the other in a well judged show.  The artful impact should also be considered.  And also, I believe that if two people make a quilt…one the top and the other the quilter, or some other division of labor, they should both be considered equals in the quilt judging.

Art quilts should be no exception to these…although paint and other surface designs may replace applique and piecing in some cases, and if so, they should be exquisitely executed.   Art quilts may also call for different kinds of quilting than judges may think are the best, and sometimes this type of quilting is even harder than traditional feathers and other traditional patterns.

I am certain that I will not always agree with the judges decisions, but I do hope to see that I see better balance in the judging in the future and I end up agreeing more often.

So where do I think I stand in all of this?  My designs are unique but are artistic…whether that’s a good thing for a show depends on the judges tastes, I think.  My quilting is above average, but it needs to move higher.  My embroidery, applique, piecing when needed, color and value choices are either very dramatic or very muted, but overall pretty good.  Occasionally I see where I could have improved in the value selection, but overall, my tops are pretty good.  Sometimes I have trouble getting things squared up, especially when making silk quilts, but I am aware of that and do what I can to fix it when it occurs.  My painting is pretty good for how I use it.  Borders sometimes get me into trouble, because I like wide dramatic borders if I have them at all, and some judges think they overpower the central theme…but I think they are part of the overall theme.  It’s a matter of opinion.  So given all that, when a quilt of mine does not place in a show, I can pretty much pinpoint a disagreement between my tastes and the judges (something I can’t help) or my quilting as the culprit.

Taking all of this into consideration I feel for my show quilts I need to improve my quilting a lot.  So I will start practicing like I did my music back when I was a semi-professional musician…almost everyday for at least an hour.  And I will pay closer attention to the color values and the balance between borders and central themes. At least I have decided after all of this to continue making show quality quilts and for a while, at least, to continue showing them in the national shows if they will have them.  😀

But my question still is…How do I balance quilting of an art quilt between the traditional tastes of the judges and my more organic tastes for pictorial art?  What do you think?

Sew happy everyone.  Practice your art a little bit most every day.




Back at Square One?

Background stippling the central theme

Several things have happened since my last blog that have made me begin to rethink my plans for the future of Betty Jo’s Fabric Arts. First of all, my little online store I had set up proved to not have the ability for me to put downloadable products on it safely for my customers. So I have canceled the store before the free trial month was over. I am, however, somewhat relieved. After I set it up, I realized I had been a little precipitous about starting it up anyway, and need to have more downloadable products ready to sell before I relaunch it.

There have been several other things…some involving oral surgery and so forth…that I won’t go into here, but they do make it more necessary that I succeed in this little micro business that started out just to support my quilting/art habit. It’s a very expensive habit, as you may know, and especially if you are a little geeky and like the really cool new technologies that can be brought into the process.

Sew I am busily working on books and downloadables. As soon as I am ready, and have done a bit more research, I will relaunch. I don’t know how long this will take. I’ll keep you informed. At that time I will have embroidery designs, printable appliques, and quilts for sale. I anticipate the first book following shortly after that.

It’s only a little bit of a shift and reset in my plans, as you see, although you can be sure that I am going to continue on this great fabric arts adventure, even as the road forks and winds. I will continue to make fabric art in the form of wall quilts, and I will continue to experiment with new techniques, try to improve my existing ones, and share the road with you. I hope I can provide some inspiration to others along the way.

Sew happy everyone! Life is an adventure and quilting and fabric arts of all kinds can be a great part of it.

Peppered Ikebana: Starting the Journey

For several years I have wanted to make a quilt based on the two Japanese arts of Sashiko and Ikebana.  As some of you know, I hold a fourth year certificate in Sogetsu School of Ikebana that I received in Japan decades ago and have continued to try to practice.  I also have studied the fine art of Sashiko not only by observing it in museums and other exhibits, but also I took a Sashiko workshop with Pepper Cory, quilt historian and hand quilter extraordinaire.

Melding these two great Japanese arts together should produce an interesting and beautiful wall quilt.  I have worked out a design in EQ7 for the pieced Sashiko embroidered background.  The picture below shows only place-holder Sashiko designs. I purchased a couple of books on Sashiko that have wonderful designs in them.  Here’s the background concept which I plan to piece in Peppered Cotton:

Peppered Ikebana background

The foreground will be an appliqued or embroidered or both flower arrangement, Sogetsu Ikebana style.  I will have to digitally or truly paint a vase applique.  The foreground arrangement may have to be done without a drawn out plan and may include some 3 dimensional stumpwork.  I haven’t made all the decisions on how this will play out.  This is a kind of design-as-I-go quilt.  I believe I will face it rather than bind the edges, but we’ll see.  Sew you just have to imagine that one.  I’m thinking of replicating a sunflower/broom arrangement that I won a ribbon on in Kanazawa Japan.  It was fun and happy.  Broom stick will bend like wire and you can sweep it around your arrangement in very interesting ways.  Now where is that sketch of that?  My teacher made me sketch every single flower arrangement I did while studying with her.

If you want, you can make one along with me.  I will be blogging this whole quilt.  This design is currently 54″ x 54″and I used one of the EQ7 predesigned layouts and just removed the outer border…I may adjust that a little.

Sew happy everyone!  Try something new and creative.


Filling the Art Quilter’s Toolbelt–a Friend’s New Book and DVD

Developing a toolbelt full of different techniques and the accompanying supplies has added a lot to my quilts especially in the past couple of years.  I have done this primarily over the Internet, Books, and from DVDs, as well as workshops at quilt shows.  This week I received a new book and DVD that provides an excellent clear overview of techniques needed to make wonderful landscape quilts.  Even as an experienced landscape quilter I found a host of new techniques and tips I have not yet tried.  If you are interested in making your own landscape quilts, I highly recommend Kathy McNeil’s new book Landscape Quilts with CD and the DVD Learning Landscapes.  It’s almost like having her come and give you a private workshop.