Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FAQ

Well, here it is. Grab some coffee, tea or maybe a nice glass of wine. You may need it to make it through this! I hope I didn't miss anyone's question. If I did, just drop me an email. I finished the back for this quilt. I think I like it all on its own!

In the beginning...
I really haven't been quilting very long. I made two quilts back in the early 90's (one of those is still a ufo). I started quilting again for real in December of 2007 when I started this blog, so it's been a year and a half. However, I've been sewing all my life. All the women in my life sew and do handwork. My grandmother was an crochet expert. My mom taught me to sew. She was my 4-H leader and I took the usual home ec classes in school. My mom made all my clothes as a kid and sewed just about everything in our home, pillows, curtains, placemats etc. She can upholster couches and chairs. She can sew anything. When I need to know something I can ask her.

As for how I learned to quilt...I used what I knew about sewing and applied it to quilting. I read books and taught myself. The internet has been an amazing learning tool. I've never had a quilting class. Someday I'm going to remedy that!

One of you asked what level of quilter I would consider myself. I don't think I'm a beginner, but I'm not an expert either...so I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle. There are some things I do really well, other things I can't do at all. I consider myself a learner...there is so much in quilting I don't know.

Inspiration...
So, what happened in December 2007 that I became a quilter for real? I spent the last 10 years of my career as an educator traveling and working with troubled schools across the country. With a demanding job, lots of time on the road and a family to raise there really wasn't time in the day to feed my creative soul. In December I quit my job and decided to find work locally and focus on myself and my family. (There are lots of circumstances surrounding the job change, but mostly I felt I had lost myself and I found I was working in an organization which didn't have the same philosophy or ethical beliefs as I did.)

Then I happened upon an exhibit of the Quilts of Gees Bend. The quilts and the ladies of Gees Bend inspired me to pull out and dust off my sewing machine. I bought all the books and read about those quilters. Their attitude and philosophy about quilting touched something in me. The freedom, the whimsy, the confidence to do their own thing inspired me.

I stumbled onto Denyse Schmidt. A light bulb went off in my head when I discovered her...quilts can be modern. That opened a door for me. I bought her book and was ready to learn about improvisation. I was disappointed to find little in the book about process. I researched improvisational quilting and found little. Through my blog friends I learned more about Gwen Marston and some other quilters who had been working improvisationally. I looked at their work and told myself I could do that. So I gave it a try. I simply struck out on my own.
Someone asked how long it took me to do my own thing....I didn't wait until I learned the basics...I just went for it and learned as I went along. I used patterns and tutorials to practice the skills and then I did my own thing, a little at a time. It was all about one step at a time for me. There were/are lots of missteps along the way, but that's just part of the process. Mistakes are learning opportunities.
When I need an infusion of inspiration I always go back to Gee's Bend.

Tools, Tips and Quilting...
I have access to two sewing machines. My machine is a mechanical Singer. It sews a nice straight stitch and it's fine for piecing. That's about it. I bought it back in the 90's when I made my first quilt. I think it cost me less than 100 dollars. My mom has a Bernina artista 165. I sew with that as much as I can. I do all my quilting on that Bernina. I like to do my own quilting...there's something so satisfying about making a quilt from beginning to end.

I do wear gloves when I quilt. I find that they help me move the quilt smoothly.

I'd love to get access to a longarm and give it a try. I have some blog friends that rent time on longarms to quilt their quilts.

The wavy quilting on this quilt is done using a stitch on my Bernina. Victoria shared how she does that quilting. I learned from her. Check out her blog...she does amazing work!

How do I get those nice mitered corners? The best binding tutorial on the web is from Heather Bailey...you can find it here. I do it that way.

Kigwit asked about wrangling large quilts. I wish I had an answer for this. I baste my quilts on the floor on hands and knees. Then it's quilt wrestling with my machine. I do roll my quilts to help handle the bulk. Sometimes I just move and squish and move and scrunch.

Rachel asked about how I might put these little city cabins together into a quilt. Here's a link to how to "quilt as you go." I've never done it, but I've talked to a few folks who have used this technique and they tell me it works. This is the best explanation I've found.

Fabric....
It's an obsession, an addiction....I love fabric. It inspires me. I find fabric everywhere. I love to shop at thrift stores, antique stores, vintage stores to look for interesting fabrics. I do a lot of online shopping as well. Some of my favs are:
Pink Chalk Studio
Sew Mama Sew
Cia's Palette
Contemporary Cloth
Fabric Shack
Fabricworm
J Caroline Creative
There are many more. My blog friends Anina, Jane, Kathy and Kerri have fabric shops. I try to support my blog friends businesses. There are a few etsy sellers that I like as well.

I subscribe to many fabric designer blogs as well as to fabric company blogs. I love to read about fabric and see what's new. True Up and the Fabric Shopper are two great blogs to read if you want to keep up with fabric trends.

Virtual Quilting Bees...
I belong to three virtual quilting bees: Common Threads, Block Party and Sew Connected. Common Threads was my first bee experience. What I love most about virtual bees is that they have given me the opportunity to push myself creatively. It's been a wonderful learning experience to work within another quilter's parameters: a limited amount of fabric, a time limit, and a design idea. The more open ended the idea, the more opportunity for me to stretch and develop my design skills. You can see the quilt that I did with my common threads buddies here. I highly recommend joining or starting a bee. Find a group of like minded quilters, establish a set of rules and go for it! A bee takes work...it's important to be on time, do your best work and the organizer(s) has to be vigilant and nurture the group to keep people motivated. It is a commitment. I'm am fortunate to be involved in great groups with great organizers!

A Business....
Until the show this summer, I have only sold quilts that I've done on commission. I have considered an online store many times. I still wonder if there is a market for speculation quilts. Quilts seem to me to be so personal, your colors, your style. I enjoy working directly with clients to design and make a quilt that is perfect just for them.
Tallgrass Prairie Studio is now an officially registered business. I'm doing talks to guilds, selling quilts, and yes, paying taxes. I don't know the direction of my business as of yet. I can tell you, I'm sure working on it. Could there be an online store in my future?

Time...
Finding time in the studio is always a challenge. For the first time in a very long time I don't have any children in the house. It's only been a month, but an empty nest helps! I work in the studio every morning and every evening if I can.

We're early risers here...the coffee is brewed by 5:00 a.m. at the latest. My hubby is out of town, sometimes a week at a time. That's a lot of time to fill in the evenings when he's not here. Quilting doesn't take the place of my hubby, but it helps me not miss him quite so much.
I don't sew much on weekends because hubby is at home and we like to do things together. Weekends are also the time to get all those things done that get ignored during the week. Though if he heads to his home office to work, I head to the studio.

My Process...
This was probably the hardest question to answer, but I wanted to give it a shot. Inspiration for me comes from so many places. Sometimes it's a fabric, or a set of fabrics and they just seem to tell me what should be done...at least where to start. Sometimes it's a thought, a conversation, an idea that sparks a quilt.

The other day I knocked a stack of flying geese from Anina's Geese in the Forest quilt off the table onto the floor. The way the blocks landed on the floor got me thinking. The word 'contrary' got stuck in my mind. I picked up a few of the blocks (left the rest on the floor) and made two quilts...this little one...'common ground?'

and this one 'a new direction'.

I was thinking about President Obama and the polarization of issues in our country. All from a few little flying geese blocks.

I have little moleskin sketchbooks everywhere...by my bed, in my purse, on my desk and in my car. When an idea comes to mind I jot it down...could be a couple of words, or a quick sketch or even a question..."what might happen if." I love museums...art inspires me....music too.

I'm a work as you go, quilter. I start with an idea, but it almost always changes significantly along the way. I use my design wall all the time. I audition fabrics, arrangements etc. I have lots of starts that go nowhere...maybe for months at a time, maybe never. I rarely go from a full drawing/plan to a finished quilt. I have many days where I have no ideas at all and wonder if I'll ever make another quilt.

Things in my house...
The comforter in this post came from Target. It was on the clearance rack when I bought it last fall. I don't know if it's still available.

I did my stenciled floor a long time ago. The floor boards were cleaned and run through a planer, installed and then I stenciled them. I used a purchased stencil and a stiff stencil brush. The trick to crisp lines is using a dry brush (dip in the paint and then blot till almost dry on a paper towel.) Use only an up and down stenciling motion. Make sure your stencil is flate and taped down securely. There is no stain on the floor. I used minwax polyurethane over the wood. I think I put on three coats.

How did you get so gosh darned awesome?...
I think this is a trick question. I don't know about awesome, but I can tell you that I work hard and I love what I do. I did a trunk show a month ago and a friend came up to me afterward and asked, " do you think you were always meant to do this?" I think she heard in my talk, my passion for quilting. Each quilt is an opportunity to succeed, to fail, to learn. 'Think you can, work hard, get smarter' is a phrase I used with my students when I was teaching. Success isn't a matter of luck, it's a matter of hard work. Those are words I live by.

I said earlier that with my busy life I didn't have time to feed my creative soul. Quilting does that for me. I am a better, happier person because I quilt.

Henny said in a comment the other day that Tallgrass Prairie Studio has a mission. I thought about it after her comment. My mission is to create beautiful work and to do a little good in the process.

55 comments:

Teodolinda said...

Thanks all these explanations are a treasure for me.
ciao ciao

Alissa said...

So great to read all of this and have it put together in one place! Nice!!

henny said...

wow...such a ...(sigh! I just can't explain exactly what I'm feeling). Just a BIG Thanks for sharing this. reading all your journey into who you're now in quilting world really precious for me. I love to learn from you :)

Rose said...

Wow, great post. You sound content, and I suppose that's all any of us can ask for.

kat said...

oh jacquie. thank you. i read your blog daily yet rarely make time for comments; i just wanted you to know that you are truly an inspiration for me. i have such limited time these days, staying at home with my two boys (1 and 4), but staying in touch with your work and the work of a few others in blogland keeps me motivated to use the time i do have to quilt. it's a slow process for me (only 5 finishes so far this year) but so very worth every minute. anyway, since i've now been interrupted twice while trying to write this comment, i suppose i should run. really, i just wanted to say thanks.

Vicki W said...

What a great post. It was really nice to get to know you better!

Kritta22 said...

You answered all of them!

I was just trying to give you somwething to work with.

I really love your blog. I feel like I know you even better now!

jedigirlz said...

that was so personal and well written. Thanks for taking the time to share some of yourself with everyone.

~D Spack~ said...

Oh Oh Oh I can't stay!gotta run to the grocery, library, post, etc. etc. I'll be back! with my glass of banana slush~can't wait! You are awesome Jacquie! I'm so glad I know you, seriously.

Artfulife said...

So fun to read this.

connie said...

Thank you so much Jacquie, I love the way you write and the way you look at things! I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of this with us. I hope to have such a clear thought process some day. Keep up the good work and I love the back of the new quilt, it is good enough to be the front!!! Have a good one, you are a continued inspiration to me!

Stephanie said...

I know you will achieve your goals. Your work is an inspiration to many.

apple cyder said...

oh, jacquie! this is great. you are such a generous and sweet person.

Cheryl said...

This is great... but I didn't see my question answered. (Which was a little tongue in cheek, I guess.) Do you still want more selvages? I sent you a bunch a couple weeks ago; I hope you got it!

Sherri said...

I just really enjoyed reading this post...so inspiring! Thanks so much!

shellysquilts said...

Jacquie, You're AWESOME! Your rock! Happy quilting, my friend!

Kristin L said...

Phew, that's a lot! Thanks for sharing more about yourself and your process. I think we are very similar in the applying what we knew about sewing to quilting department. It's taken me ten years to get to where you've gotten in just a few though. Your energy and dedication is inspiring. AND, the back of your latest quilt may be even better than the front!

FrancisMoore said...

I think you have great artistic ability. I have trouble thinking outside the box. Thanks for sharing your passion for life and quilting. Francis C. Moore

~D Spack~ said...

Wonderful, thank you so much. You are an excellent writer too!

MadeByMeaghan said...

I have followed your blog for a long time and always love seeing your creations, but it was really nice to get to know you better in this posting. Thanks for sharing!

Jackie Russell said...

Thanks for sharing with us. It was nice to get to know you a little better. If you want to get your hands on a longarm I have a Gammill you can vist with for the day!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Thanks, Jacquie. This is better than any meme or bio. But I can think of more questions...
Do you think you have a style?
What frustrates you most about quilting - whether it is a specific step in the process, the craft itself, or some aspect of the business?
Do you consider yourself a quilter, an artist, a quilt artist, or do you even care about a title?

True Blue Nana said...

Thanks for answering all those questions. I am shocked at our similarities. My mother was a home ec teacher and she taught me all about sewing. I remember only two or three store bought dresses growing up. She would even sew for me and send it to me when I went off to college. I started quilting in the fall of 2006 because I also retired from education and was expecting our first grandson. I also had a light bulb moment when my aunt who is a quilter showed me Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking. I said to myself this is so exciting and I think I can do it. I have been hooked ever since. I have yet to sell a quilt. Maybe I should think about doing that.

Trisha said...

It was fun to read more about you!

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Thanks for the wonderful insight into Tallgrass Prairie Studio!

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Oh my goodness, this post must have taken you hours, I want to thank you, it was such a joy to read. I need to check out some of your links, especially the quilt as you go. Thank you so much for your kind shout out!
Your quilt in the first picture, could hang as a work of art. I just love it. Thank you for taking us into your world, it was a joy!

jaybird said...

thanks for sharing.. i've got 3 jobs.. and even though i have no kids its a struggle trying to find time to sew as much as i want to.. but i love it ... it fuels me... and i hope one day it can be my job... we'll see!!

Shari said...

Thank you so much Jacquie! You are lucky you came across the Gee's Bend exhibit - I love those quilts! I love the freedom in your designs. And your incredible generosity in sharing so much - we so appreciate you!
Hugs - Shari

Jodi@SimplyThisThat n.. said...

It is a complete honor to be one of your blog readers. What an amazing post. Every post you publish I receive some sort of inspiration. Your blog is one of the first's I started reading on a regular basis. And I am so glad I did. ooxx`jod

G'G'ma said...

I recently discovered your blog and right away became a fan. Wow, you must have put so much time into this post. You express your thoughts and feelings so well. After looking at the photos of your show (I was reading it at midnight) I couldn't get to sleep. My mind was spinning at high speed with thoughts and ideas for quilts to make!!! Sure was tired in the morning!

Krista said...

Great FAQ responses and I love the friendly, chatty format. I feel like you and I have just had coffee together. Wish we could...I, too am struggling with working P/T, mothering F/T and wanting to just quilt, quilt, quilt. I thought I'd tell you that I saw 7 of the Gee's Bend quilters on Saturday in Sisters, Oregon. It was a total surprise for me that they would be there..I bought the new "Architecture of the Quilt" book and they all signed it (while singing a goosebump-inducing hymn!!!). I took a wee video on my camera so I could hear them over and over. Have you ever been to the Sisters show? It was my first trek down there from Vancouver, BC and I SO LOVED it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all. I cannot believe you've only been quilting 1.5 years. The body & quality of work you've produced is staggering!
-Krista

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions from the heart. It was great to read these answers and to know more about your creative self.

em's scrapbag said...

So nice to learn more about you and your process. I think you are doing a wonderful job fulfilling you mission.

Dena said...

It's always nice to hear how others came into their creative side. Thank you for sharing.

Victoria said...

This is a beautiful post Jacquie, really wonderful o learn more about you and how you work. I am struck by how similar our methods and inspirations are... from Gees Bend and Gwen Marston, to moleskins notebooks everywhere, to Heather Bailey's binding tutorial! I think you and I were cut from similar cloth! You are an inspiration, and one of these days I am going to wrangle a large quilt myself, (it's been a long time since I tackled anything much larger then a crib quilt.) Thank you so much for including me in this post. I was not only surprised, but very touched and honored. Here's to you and Tallgrass Prairie Studio... I love your work and eagerly anticipate what marvelous creations you have yet to birth!

Amy - Park City Girl said...

Love your explanations! My fav is that you are happier and better because you quilt! me too - it is my creative therapy - however I work it in :)

pattynubs said...

Great post!

Jackie said...

Jacquie, What a wonderful post! It is amazing to read all of your thoughts. I can relate to so many of them on a variety of different levels. I guess sometimes it is just difficult to parlay them into words or in writing. I am truly amazed that you only started quilting 2 years ago. Look at how far you have come, my friend. Simply awesome! By the way, if you ever want to play on a long arm, the invitation is still open for you to come visit!

beth said...

Thank you for such a nice post today. I enjoyed reading about your journey and hearing answers to the questions. Keep up the good work!

Cher said...

I too loved hearing your answers..your hard work and dedication/passion has resulted in a stunning collection of work. you inspire me as much as the wonderful women I have been talking about at my blog from the Sisters Quilt time.
I know you will continue to be a huge success in your studio! thanks so much for being a fellow improv - do your own quilting gal.

Tricia said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of our questions! It was so much fun to read your(obviously very thoughtful)answers. I so enjoy your blog and appreciate the time and effort you put into it!
Have a great day!
Tricia

AJ said...

Thanks for sharing all this, it is really inspirational.

Brenda said...

I am a faithful reader of your blog and love your work. Thanks for sharing!

audreypawdrey said...

Thanks for posting this! It is so neat to be able to read more in-depth information about the creative process and how you got your start. Keep your posts coming, I love them!

MightyMom said...

oooo fun! and that reminds me...I have a nice LOOOONG selvage (green) sitting here for you. I'll try to get it in the mail this week or early next week.

it was great getting more insight into your life!

upstateLisa said...

Oh Jacquie, you are truly inspirational....you just soared, didn't you???? I have been plugging away a long time but feel like the last year and a half starting a blog and a flickr account has truly taken my quilting to another level. Would like to start a business too but can't seem to find out what my niche is! thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

ellen said...

Jacquie..I love reading this post. I've read it three times.
Thank you for letting me follow you down the path that you have taken.
It's a wonderful journey.

Rebekah said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and learning more about you! Thanks for taking the time to answer all of the questions that you received

amandajean said...

this is a great post. it's wonderful to read more about you and your process! congrats on being an official business....paying taxes and all! LOL.

RAE said...

Great post Jacquie! Thanks for sharing so much about your creativity and passion. You are one of my inspiration blogs. Congratulations on your show! keep on quilting.

nicolette said...

Thanks for sharing your quilting adventure! I loved every word!!

You’re an inspiration to me!

Rita said...

"My mission is to create beautiful work and to do a little good in the process" -- that is such a beautiful thing to say! YOU do create amazingly beautiful work all the time and look at how many many people you've inspired! that's doing ALOT of good in the proess! Thank you for sharing your story and your passion with. Yes you are so gosh darned awesome in our eyes and I'm happy to be continually inspired by the wonderful sewing and quilting that you do! Many blessesings...

Kerri said...

What a fun post to read!! Thanks for sharing, and I appreciate you adding my name in there with fabric shops!! ;)

susan said...

i thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. very very interesting!!

Bekhy said...

Jacquie, have been on vacation for the past month or so, and just catching up on the quilt blogs. LOVE this post! Thank you for it. Hope your hands get better soon!