Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wrapping the war wounded in a big quilt hug: Quilts of Valor Tink Linhart's story

When her son was deployed to Iraq, Tink and other parents of her son's United States Marine Corp group got together and made quilts -- 74 of them! Amazing dedication! And that's BEFORE she got involved in Quilts of Valor. Shown here is one of the 74 quilts the parents pieced and quilted. Note the second photo shows the grid key for quilt square placement. The third photo features a Marine Star pattern Tink made for Lt. Col. AJ Kostic, USMC.

Below is Tink's own story of her journey to quilting and beyond. And don't forget the contributions from her husband, Dick. -- Dawn

In her own words: Tink Linhart

I love quilts. I have always loved quilts. My first quilt memory was as a child visiting my parents’ friends at their Stowe, VT home. I was snuggled under several quilts in a tiny bedroom under the eves - feeling much like Laura & Mary in their Little House on the Prairie.

Like so many of my generation, I learned to sew clothing in home economics (sewing took, cooking didn’t). I started making most of my clothes -- still have that wrap skirt pattern (which might fit around one thigh today). I college I learned to crochet and do counted cross stitch, and continued to sew clothing, including a bathing suit that my parents wouldn’t let me wear until I added at least an inch of lace to the top of the bra.

I met my husband, Dick, in college (don’t recall if he ever saw that bathing suit). I even made a wild shirt or two for him -- reflective of the style of the early 70’s (am I a catch or what?) Being the ever practical and not particularly romantic guy that he was/is, in lieu of an engagement ring, he presented me with a used Pfaff 130 sewing machine that pre-dates me by at least a decade! (It’s a work horse and still my favorite machine all these years later).

Our first quilt creation was foisted upon us by my mother. When we announced our engagement my mother purchased yards and yards of calico fabrics. She graphed out a quilt design and for our first anniversary presented us with the box and the graph. All through graduate school Dick worked to re-design the flip side of the quilt, cut out the blocks, sewed three sides of the blocks together, turned them, and then neatly layered batting in that little pillow. Assembling this king size quilt got me a new Kenmore with cams so that I could piece the blocks together using a decorative stitch (after blind stitching all those fourth sides closed by hand). Dick finished the master piece by hand tying each square in five places. That quilt has travelled thousands of miles and survived years of wear, and one day will rest inside a duvet cover.

Flash forward 20+ years and we are waving goodbye to our son as the Marines drive him off into the July 2003 sunset, just weeks after his high school graduation. During those intervening years I’d added English smocking to my repertoire of hand crafts and created a handful of quilts - mostly “cheater cloth” baby quilts. I did managed to piece a Christmas quilt for us and quilt it with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting.

I took a leap and adapted the eagle quilt in Eleanor Burns Star Spangled Favorites and made it a two sided signature quilt for Jon’s graduation/farewell party. October 2004 found Dick semi-retired and loving his new job, Jon hanging around Kuwait awaiting the airlift into Iraq for the re-taking of Fallujah, and me gainfully Unemployed (and loving it), and having just been diagnosed with breast cancer. We were fortunate to make connections on with other parents in USMC 1 / 3 and, ultimately, became part of the “unofficial” 1 / 3 parent group.

By February 2005, when our guys are finally heading home, we parents started talking about meeting them when they returned to their home base in Hawaii. Being in a radiation haze, I suggest that we make quilts for the families of our fallen (48 Marines and 5 sailors did not return from that deployment). The handful of us thinking about this had just about no quilting experience, but who cared? I started thinking wall hangings….

Pretty soon we’re just talking “whatever” and the quilts will include a large memorial square with the name, rank, company, and dates of the fallen Marine or sailor, as well as the EGA embroidered on it (EGA in this case is Eagle, Globe, & Anchor - the Marine emblem - not Embroiderer’s Guild of America).

Over the course of the next 11 ½ months, 3,317 10.5” quilt blocks came through the door of our little house and were squared on my cutting table. Using the floor between our living & dining rooms, Dick laid out 74 quilts. Another Marine mom tracked down a P&B white star on navy ground that we used for sashing in the 72 Memorial Quilts and the quilt for our most severely wounded Marine (the 74th quilt was a “thank you” to the wife of our sons’ executive officer for holding us all together throughout an exceptionally difficult and deadly deployment). The quilt rows were numbered, the quilts kitted, and they were assembled and then quilted by people from all over the United States and Okinawa.

During this time, I was introduced via email to Marcia Stevens (who came to our rescue and found long arm quilters for the remaining 20 quilts) and to Catherine Roberts, the founder and energy behind Quilts of Valor.

It took a year for me to emotionally heal from our USMC 1 / 3 Memorial Quilts Project; it took Dick a little longer. After creating some fun pieces, and having a blast with art bras, I was ready to jump in to Quilts of Valor.

Catherine Roberts founded Quilts of Valor in 2003. One quilt was presented that year. Her intent was to unite quilters in creating and presenting Quilts of Valor to any and all service members who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, whether or not their wounds are visible, including TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). By August of 2009 over 24,000 Quilts of Valor had been delivered. In August our mission statement changed to include all those “touched” by any war. I haven’t seen official numbers yet, but I think I can confidentially say that 30,000 Quilts of Valor have been delivered as of the end of 2009.

Quilts of Valor is an all volunteer non-profit organization. We are about people, not politics. Our standards are high: all 100% cotton quilt shop quality fabrics, 80/20 cotton/poly batting (no 100% polyester). Patriotic colors are preferred. All quilts must be machine quilted - not tied - and have to include quilting beyond stitch-in-the-ditch. All QOVs must be nicely labeled (not iron-on stuff that peels off with little handling) and include “Quilt of Valor” and the names of those involved in creating the quilt. Sizes preferred are 54” x 67” up to 72” x 87” with 50” x 60” being the absolute minimum (remember, our servicemembers and veterans deserve our best work).

Each Quilt of Valor needs to include a presentation case -- simply a pillow case for transit and presentation. We ask that everyone involved in creating a QOV also include either a letter to the recipient or a journal (I know it can be a challenge to write a letter to someone you don’t know). Photos of the quilters and/or the quilt in progress are fun for the recipient to view. Recipients have told us that they really appreciate reading about the people involved in creating their quilt and the process. They are also very touched that a stranger would care enough about them to create a quilt.

What’s really cool is that if you’re a piecer - like me - you don’t have to struggle with attempting to quilt your creation -- we have long arm quilters who volunteer their time and talents to do what they like to do! You just go to the QOV website ( and request a long armer! If you know of veterans or service members in your area who should receive a Quilt of Valor, but you don’t have one available, you can request one from the website. Should you have a completed quilt but don’t know who to give it to, you can visit the website and request a destination.

You can also use the website to find other QOV groups in your area. I do have to note that the website was hacked last fall and is still being re-worked. If you do not find what you are looking for, and cannot get a response to a question, please feel free to email me directly ( and I’ll get the information for you or find the person who can.

Dick and I are partners in our Quilts of Valor endeavors. He is actually the design eye behind this. Dick is also the one the quilt shop owners love to see coming -- not just because a man in a quilt shop who is not pouting is rare, but because HE is the one who starts pulling bolts of fabric and telling me what I need to purchase! (Eat your hearts out ladies!) The only down side to this aspect of our QOV partnership is that he is light years ahead of me in designs; it would take several of us sewing 40+ hours per week to keep up with him (interested in trying??? See my email address above!) After tiptoeing around all those quilts laid out on the floor, I finally gave Dick his own portable design wall. Now he’s talking about taking over one end of the basement (“Magic Sewing Cave”) and hanging a permanent design wall as well as having the portable design wall (help!!!)

We have had the opportunity to travel for Quilts of Valor. We made a quick overnight trip to St. Louis in June 2009 when Catherine & Gail (and her parents) were driving a van from California to Camp LeJeune, NC, picking up quilts along the way (videos of that adventure can be found on the blog: ) We handed over 17 quilts that joined the 1,204 that were presented to the Marines of 1 / 8 upon their return from Afghanistan.

In August we joined a group of QOVers in Washington, DC. It was a wonderful opportunity to finally put names and faces together. During our personal behind-the-scenes tour of Arlington National Cemetery, Dick and I were thrilled to meet Cindy & Dave from Connecticut whose son had served with our son! We also found three of “our” Marines in Section 60 at ANC.

Thanks to Pauline’s efforts, several of us were able to have a short guided tour of the Pentagon to see the quilt Gail had created that was hanging in the 9-11 display case (the “sister” to that quilt had been presented that morning at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington). As Marine parents, I guess we would have to say that the culminating event was the reception at the Marine Commandant’s home, followed by the last Evening Parade of the summer.

Dick and I talk about Quilts of Valor at every opportunity, and that includes farmers’ markets and quilt guild meetings and shows. I am blessed in so many ways, and that includes a very creative printer who graciously keeps me stocked with my QOV business cards. I leave cards and information flyers everywhere - and have had calls/emails from folks who picked up my flyer in Duluth (never been there) or Ohio (haven’t been there recently) or Eastern Pennsylvania (ditto Ohio).

I post on the QOV blog and then post links to those posts on Facebook and Connecting Threads. I love what I do and I want to share this passion with anyone who will listen. What is more joyful than to get to play with fabrics, colors, layouts (okay, so Dick gets to do most of that), sing while I sew, and then present a quilted hug of gratitude to a service member or veteran?

Wrapping each of our wounded in one of these quilted hugs of gratitude sounds impossible, but it is simple. There are over 25 MILLION quilters in this country. If each of us creates one patriotic quilt we can hug lots and lots of veterans and active duty service members returning from the war zones (we’ve got over 3,200 recently home right here in Wisconsin!) Individually and together, we truly can make a difference.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Judy Niemeyer's signature design: Paper Pieced Points

One look and you know who designed this quilt. And anyone familiar with the designer knows this is a challenge for the paper piecer. Traditional in origin, but using today's techniques, technology and equipment to create a project in perfection, Judy Niemeyer brings us yet another year of her luscious, intricate and oh so beautiful paper piecing designs. And now she's joined us at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles.

It was on the Subversive Stitchers facebook page that we had a friendly discussion of paper piecing that immediately pointed to Judy. Thanks everyone who contributed to that discussion which led to this guest blog.

The photograph is a quilt made using Judy's paper piecing pattern: Golden Harvest.

Welcome Judy!

by Judy Niemeyer

My family and I embarked on publishing paper pieced patterns in the late 1990s as a family project driven by my desire to see traditional patterns re-thought…brought into the modern world.

Photo: Cattails in the Meadow pattern, new for 2010.

My family, including my husband and three children, is much different from me. They are engineering and technology addicts. They believe in what I do, which I am grateful for, both as a business owner and as their mother! My daughter, Judel, has recently taken a role with the company as Business Manager. Bradley, my oldest son, is crucial to the pattern design process as he completes the drafting required to produce the foundation units. My youngest son, Billy, does graphic design and website maintenance and development for the company. My husband, Del, keeps the day to day computer systems running and helps out wherever necessary to keep the company moving. His most recent endeavor was the extensive remodel of a building that I am excited to announce is the new home of Judy Niemeyer Quilting!

Photo: Bed runner in the Bali Wedding Star, new for 2010

I, on the other hand, spend most days working with my hands, perfecting details, and focusing my attention on what I can see, what I can mold, and what I can visually influence. What I learned by watching them function in their world while I functioned in mine, was that there is a place where these two worlds can come together…and in the quilting world, that place is paper piecing.

When someone asks me what inspires me, I often don’t know how to answer the question. I’ve even felt awkward in the past as it seems the world expects a “designer” to create by being “inspired.” In fact, I am almost never inspired by an idea, or a moment, a passion, a thought, etc. More often, I design by what I see in front of me at the time, and what I intuitively understand about the details necessary to successfully complete a project.
Photo: Celtic Wave pattern, new for 2010.

It’s true that I begin with something in mind, which is not usually a creative thought of my own, but rather something I’ve grown to love over time…something traditional and complicated that I think I can bring to everyone in a new way, and with techniques I’ve developed to make it possible for anyone to make.

Techniques I feel are critical to successful paper piecing include floating points, strip-piecing and speed-sewing, pre-cutting techniques that always keep your fabric cut on the grain and keep a quilter organized while saving time, and stepwise processes that take complicated ideas and break them down to keep quilters on track.

Photo: Barbed Rail Fence design for 2010.

Paper piecing helps to make sure that a design I create is not only beautiful, but is functional as well. Knowing that I can pass along techniques and tools to help organize quilters in a manner that leads to beautiful quilts over and over again is why I design and teach paper piecing. I feel so strongly about it, in fact, I doubt that in my life, I will ever create another design without paper piecing.

In 2010, I have a number of patterns that will be published that continue to build on ideas I’ve already had, along with some new ones as well.

We’ve redesigned color layouts, expanded the size of existing patterns, used units from other patterns in new layouts, and cut them up and combined more than one block together to present new ideas.

We’ve also expanded our list of table runners and are beginning publication of a line of bed runners to provide smaller projects to our customers without time to take on a full-size quilt or wall hanging.

We are even working with new instructors and a few select shops to roll out a technique of the month quilt, we are sure that paper-piecers will love!

Photo: Meandering Star Sampler new for 2010.

Many of our early 2010 publications will focus on quilts that lend themselves wonderfully to using up a stash of fabrics, focusing on color, value, and texture rather than a central fabric theme to communicate an idea to an audience.

The Coxcomb is my newest endeavor, bringing a traditional design pattern into the world of paper piecing. This project has been on my mind for over a year and I’ve had to change some of the paper piecing rules a bit to pull it off.

I’m excited to reveal this project in the coming months! I hope that it becomes a staple for quilters, pulling together paper piecing, traditional piecing, and appliqué. It is a true example of what technology has given to the world of quilters, with thoughtful consideration for helping even the newest of quilters to develop the skills necessary to complete it.

I continue to be proud of my part in bringing these designs to quilters in both the patterns that I publish and the workshops that I teach. I’m pleased when someone sends me a picture of a completed project or I hear that one of my patterns has helped them to win an award for their efforts. It’s a wonderful accomplishment to be recognized for being artistic and creating something that is a visual draw, particularly as it compares to others.
Photo: Weeping Willow quilt design, new for 2010.
I cannot wait to see where this endeavor continues to take us and look forward to many more years of designing paper pieced patterns in the quilting industry.  -- Judy Niemeyer
For a peek at more of Judy's designs and patterns, visit her website: Quiltworx.

Judy's daughter, Judel Buls wrote in answer to my question about Judy's involvement in sewing the quilts. She started out in her capacity as public relations representative and ended up as a daughter talking about her Mom. So here's Judel in her own words:

Judy has been making quilts since she was a child. She's been selling them since she graduated from highschool. She made quilts for others and handquilted them when we were in grade school. She is an unbelievably talented hand quilter, but doesn't have much time to do it anymore because she is working on her business. But, as part of the business, she does tons of sewing. She makes part or all of at least one of every quilt she designs.

Every once in awhile, she pulls a project aside for her own. She did that with the Hawaiian Star, the Amazon Star, now she's doing it with a new patterns she's working on based on the Coxcomb. The quilt will have a new paper piecing technique (at least for Judy's patterns) in it involving curved sewing lines in the units. It's something she hasn't put into her patterns before. She does all of the applique on the quilts she makes.

She is by far most satisfied with the finished product. She's usually up late into the night sewing and designing and she finishes almost everything she works on. Probably the one challenge she has been most happy in finding a solution for is when she started floating the points in all of her patterns.

Putting her older designs together can still be complicated because matching the points up is the most complicated part of many of her patterns. She spent a lot of time herself pulling seams and also helping her students learn to get the points in the right place. When she started floating them in the background, she not only cut hours of time out of her own sewing, but did the same for students. She spends quite a bit of time making sure that when people sew her units together in all her newer designs, that the process does not require careful piecing to accomplish success.

As far as I am concerned, I'm OK admitting I don't sew or quilt. I have done it a few times, but only for a really good reason. Everything I've ever done has been a gift and Judy usually finished it. I'm an engineer, a business manager, and a mom. -- Judel Buls

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Finds: A couple techniques you might want to try

I've been on the hunt for the new, unusual, or useful. You may or may not already enjoy the projects I discovered today and what I began working on. Both topics made me smile and made my fingers itch to get started. I hope you'll join in and share some of the projects you're working on along these lines.

First up is plarn. Love the word. Love the concept. It is, if I understand correctly, yarn made by recycling plastic bags.

Directions for making plarn can be found here at My Recycled A great Earth Day project for all year around. I stumbled upon this site that has excellent directions for a purse crocheted out of VCR tapes and a basket crocheted out of plastic bags/plarn with a base that is a plastic microwave dinner tray. If you have other sites or projects to add to this, please do!

The second technique is the Disappearing 9-Patch quilt. It is a simple concept involving my beloved 9-patches. And made even simpler by starting with charm packages. Charm packs, in case you're confused, are what Moda calls a collection of 5-inch precut squares that you can purchase usually in packs of 40-50 for around $6-$8 dollars. It takes several packs to make a full size quilt of course. These packages of smaller cuts of fabric that are packaged together to introduce you to a whole collection are excellent ways to add to your stash.

The Disappearing 9-Patch begins with piecing together nine of the 5-inch squares together into a traditional nine-patch square. Make sure it is absolutely square, well pressed and starched or sized. Then cut this square down the center both horizontally and vertically. One person described it with a plus sign which is exactly how you cut this nine-patch square. +

For better directions and visual aids. Visit the blog "p.s. I quilt. This makes a quick and easy pattern for charity quilts or lap quilts for nursing homes or hospitals. Quick baby quilts, too.

Send me photos of your plarn and or Disappearing 9-Patch projects and I'll post them here. Send to my Subversive Stitchers email.

Hi Dawn
Here are some pictures of the disappearing 9 patch I used for a comfort quilt.  I added some random rectangles in between the disappearing 9 patch blocks.  This project really goes fast when you start with large size blocks, like 10".  You can find more on my blog here.  --Karen

What a great idea for a comfort quilt. Love the words and messages.
It gives me ideas for the ALS quilt(s) I am making. Thanks so much!  -- Dawn

Diane of O'Quilts sent along a photo of her solid color Disappearing 9 patch quilt. She wrote: "This is fun....Here is mine :)"

You can view more of her quilts at her blog that features old, new and antique quilts.

Thanks Diane for letting us see your Disappearing 9-Patch quilt.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pitch Me Your Best

I'm a freelance writer as well as manager of the Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles blog. I've been freelancing and writing since 1981. (Yes, I'm getting old). Some of my work is available online or through my other blog. I've written for Quilters World Magazine, Quilt, Country Quilts, etc. And national general interest markets such as The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, NBC News, Catholic Today, Notre Dame Magazine, Birds and Blooms, well you get the picture.

Recently I have been writing regularly for a number of markets for quilt and fabric art related topics and artists. I have some ideas for articles that will be published in various issues, but I'm always looking for more!

If anyone has a unique or valuable experience or talent or body of work to share, please let me know. You can send me information or story ideas to a special email set up for Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles. Machine quilting is a topic I will be covering extensively as well as rare fabric art and fabric art forms. And I'm open to anything else that is noteworthy. And I do not have a good definition of 'noteworthy.' Other than something you haven't seen or read about and feel needs attention.

Perhaps there are some who would like to suggest a blog idea for Subversive Stitchers or a topic we should cover here or discuss. I'm open to all suggestions.

Thanks so much for your contributions!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My View: AQS Quilt Art Calendar

The 2011 Calendars are available from American Quilters Society! As usual they are a quilt lovers collection of beautiful prizewinning quilts from around the United States.

Klaudeen Hansen researched and selected the featured quilts. The front cover is of Sylvia Gegaregian's "In Full Bloom" which won Best Use of Embellishment at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA. Gegaregian is from Portola Valley, CA.

Alternating pages of quilt photo and calendar keeps a quilt always in sight. I particularly like the information given about the quilts. Not only the maker, where he or she is from, the size of the quilt and who quilted it and what method used. It also tells a bit about inspiration, pattern origins, what award(s) have been won and even why the quilt was made. I always want to know more about techniques and materials used in these quilts, but I realize this is a calendar first, photo art second, and the cutlines are down the list of priorities.

Under Hendersonville, NC quilter Judith Heyward's 86-87-inch Swamp Hibiscus quilt it reads: "The beauty of the swamp hibiscus plant is so perfect, but each bloom only lasts for one day! Usually Judy designs spontaneously, but this particular quilt came toher as a complete vision in a 'wow' moment! Machine pieced, appliqued, and quilted. Best of Show winner at Cobblestone Quilt Show, Charleston, SC; Best Use of Color winnre at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show, Hampton, VA."

The background colors used on the pages sporting quilt photos is bright, some neon and well chosen to enhance the display of the quilts.

Judith has generously agreed to let Subversive Stitchers post a photo of her lovely Swamp Hibiscus quilt and includes the comments made on her website concerning the inspiration for this quilt.

"...And now I have entered a new faze of my life. We have moved back to the mountains of North Carolina--in Hendersonville. We love it here and I know that it is already begining to influence my quilting life. One of my recent quilts, Swamp Hibiscus, was designed early one morning as I was seated in my new living room and reflecting on how very fortunate I was to be able to return to this beautiful part of the world. In a way that was quite unusual for me, the design for this new work came to me as a completed quilt and I knew I would absolutely love it when it was finished. I feel as if I have new eyes now--eyes that are more open than ever before. And there is much to see all around me." -- Judith Heyward  

The assortment of quilts meets every technique, color, and construction inspiration and is not limited to traditional or contemporary. Many are a mixture of familiar patterns with a twist that takes it into a whole new realm of quilting. A helpful tool to keep you organized, this calendar also serves to inspire and entertain, filling the need for beauty that we all can never quite quench.

Okay, there is one quilt that each time I see it makes me head for the sewing room or start searching for the right fabrics. There is something about African prints that speak to me and the way Jan Hall of Des Moines, Iowa incorporates them into her 52x56-inch Africana VII -- The Dark Continent quilt makes me drool, drool, drool. Sorry, I don't have a photo to show you. I have a request in to AQS, but so far no response.

The paper choice, glossy, yes, but a bit lightweight for my taste, is not flimsy just not rich. Not quite up to the qulaity of the quilt images printed on it. Overall I would say it is a good product for the $13.95 price. The spiral binder makes it much easier to use. Not exactly keepsake quality, but the quilts will inspire you for the whole year -- maybe your own creativity will increase.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Karen McTavish featured in The Quilter Magazine

Just a little blatant self promotion here.

The article I wrote about Karen McTavish machine quilter extrordinaire is available now in The Quilter Magazine. It is in the July issue.

She is one of the most talented and giving people I've had the opportunity to interview. She does not censor her responses and totally trusts the interviewer to get it right. I certainly hope I did! And that the editor didn't make any drastic changes. I haven't seen the final copy, so I'm as anxious to see the article as everyone else.

Let me know if you've seen it!

Karen is truly a Subversive Stitcher. She's guest blogged here before. Check the column 'Guest Bloggers' to take you to her guest blog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Question of the Day: Stash Confessions

Let's talk stash!

We all talk about our need to amass fabric. So please confess your dirty little pleasures for fabric purchases or aquisition.

Do you plan your purchases for each project? Do you buy on impulse? Do you wait for a sale?

Where is your favorite place to shop?

What's your best bargain or purchase that still makes you smile whenever you think about it?

Tell us -- how many yards of fabric do you estimate is in your stash?

Any advice on maintaining a stash?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Finished: Conversation with a Fairy by Beth Wheeler

Dang! I'm a day late and a dollar short! It was the perfect post for May Day when the fairies are rustling in the hedge rows and sprucing up their world for the Fairy Queen's visit! Please forgive me my tardiness -- fairies and subversive stitchers alike.

Beth Wheeler sent me photos of the great reveal of her Conversation with a Fairy piece which was the subject of her recent guest blog: Evolution of a Fantasy.

Beth wrote in an email: "The hanger is cold-forged copper tubing that has been flashed with a torch and stitched to the quilt. I love the way the colors in the flashed copper brings out the colors in the quilt. The translucent paints are from a formula I came up with, using Earth Safe Finishes Colorants, fabric medium, and mica powders.

Of course, I'm now afraid to go on to the next piece, for fear I'll mess the whole thing up."

She's is probably relaxing after having whipped her studio in shape for an open house that was scheduled for yesterday. She has photos of her studio on her blog and I am soooo jealous!

She also included detail shots. No need to fear messing up, Beth. I believe even your mistakes would be exceptional!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My View: Fibreart Montage by Judith Baker Montano

As you can see by a recent guest blog by Judith, she's an interesting woman, talented Canadian fiber artist, photographer and dedicated preservationist. She travels the globe spreading good will, and sharing her techniques and talent. Not to mention that she loves her home town, family, students and fabric art community.

That sweet smile and can-do nature has made her a valuable spokesperson for several major companies including the Kanagawa Silk Company of Tokyo, Japan and W.F.R. Ribbons a USA distributor for Mokuba Ribbons also of Tokyo. She designs for Treenway Silks and Robert Kaufman Fabrics Company and has author several other books as well as tutorial videos and DVDs.

Whatever she is working on, crazy quilting seems to creep into the design. She has turned this Victorian technique into a contemporary art form. Now Montano has written a compelling book: Fibreart Montage.

This 266 page book focuses on combining quilting, embroidery and photography with embellishments. It is part memoir, part instruction, part inspiration, and part discussion of products, materials and tools. Published by Dragon Threads of Worthington, Ohio, the title speaks of creative fibre works used in the quilting, needlework or fibre art field. And Montage -- "A picture or other work of art composed by assembling overlaying and overlapping of many different materials or pieces collected from different sources."

It is divided into nine sections that begin with a simple 'Getting Started' section that addresses skills the reader may have learned, supplies and tools including computers that the reader may already have. It progresses to what Judith may be best known for -- crazy quilts.

Building upon the crazy quilt technique, section three addresses the collage and tells more about the cottage quilt she wrote about in her guest blog. Since photography is an important aspect of her collage quilts, section four gives basic rules of photography, editing and choosing photos and storage. Of course included in each section are exceptional four-color photography and examples of her work.

Each section builds on what came before in the book. Thus section five references silk dying, painting silk fabric, ways of dying using plastic bags and the intriguing title "Dyeing with dye blobs." From here Montano moves on to landscapes and seascapes as well as underwater scapes that incorporate some unexpected fabrics and techniques that bring them to life.

Never fear, it wouldn't be complete without a section on patterns and an embroidery stitch guide. Throughout the book you'll be treated to a luscious display of her photography, watercolors, pen and ink illustrations. The book reads like a conversation over tea. Informal and friendly, a joy to read.

When describing constructing an aquarium scene, she doesn't miss any aspect to consider when planning it. For example she writes, "Remember that everything in the far distance is hard to see and therefore you will be working with the finest threads and using very simple stitches...." Materials used in this scene include anything and everything from netting to "Thai silk that has been punctured with the Embellisher machine." Every minute detail is included, no short cuts.

The book construction uses a convenient spiral binding so the book will lay flat for easier use and enjoyment.

You see on every page that this is a book that was written with heart and passion and a tremendous talent and wealth of experience. She's one of the masters and this is a valuable keepsake for anyone who has come to appreciate Judith Baker Montano's contribution to fiber art and the quilting community.

Cost is $36 for this hardcover beautifully illustrated book. Two thumbs up on this one, for sure!