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Preview: Fiber Fabrications

Fiber Fabrications

FIBER FABRICATIONS by Judy Alexander, Fiber Artist

Updated: 2017-07-23T07:13:14.994-04:00


A New Level of Quilting? Got Any Tips or Advice?


Yes, I have done it......bought a long-arm.  These are pictures taken this morning.  My studio is in our unfinished basement but as you can see I have lots of windows and light.  My Tin Lizzie was delivered and setup last Thursday and I have been trying to get in some practice everyday.  I have gotten pretty good at free motion quilting with my Juki QE but this is a whole new ball game.

I had the frame set up at the whole 12 feet since I have the room even though I have never made a quilt bigger than 5 feet wide.  I am hopping to get good at the long-arm and use it for most of my quilting.  Since I mostly do art quilts I also hope to be able to use this for thread painting.  Do any of you fellow long-armers have any tips or advice on how to get up to speed.  Do you have any books, videos, websites or other sources of training you can recommend?  Thanks!.

A Little Bit of Catch-up


I know it has been a while since my last post (this is an understatement!) so I thought I'd start where I left off.  Here are my last 3 12x12 challenge quilts created for my art group.

 This first quilt is called 'Inca Man'.  The theme for this challenge was Mexican and I was not inspired by the subject so of course I waited until about 3 day before it was due. I got out my Stewart Gill paints and here is the result.  I did a little hand stitching and added a pile of beads for the eye.

This next piece is called 'Strata' and the challenge was metal.  My idea was to create a quilt that showed the source of gold under the earth.  For this I started with the 'slap and stitch' method.  I put a piece of backing on the table and covered it with batting then started slapping scraps of fabric on top that reminded me of earth.  I then free-motioned them in place.  Then I added gold leaf, melted tyvek and lutradur that I painted. Finally I added some hand stitching and more quilting. 

This last piece. is called 'Regatta' and the challenge was to use one of the elements of water, wind, fire or earth for inspiration. We used to own a cabin on a lake and on Sunday mornings a small sail boat club would meet.  We would sit on the dock and watch them.. I started this by digging in my scrap bin for any fabric that looked like sky and/or water.  I cut them in stripes and pieced about a 14' x 14' block.  Then I cut it in 5 random widths, staggered them and pieced them back together.  I then placed the sailboat reflections, covered them with a little Angelina fiber and a layer of organza.  Next some quilting and then a layer of tulle and more quilting.  I then put the sailboats on  top and stitched them down.  Finally a little yellow glitter paint for the suns reflection and hand stitching in the sky.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time


This is the latest 12 x 12 quilt I created for my art group.  The theme was shoes and I was not excited about it.  My first thought was the Ruby slippers from the Wizard of OZ.  I usually don't go with my first though on these things since I think if it's my first thought it must also be someone else s. As you can see, I couldn't get the slippers out of my mind. 

What I'm working on


Here is my latest project.  This is for a challenge by the Georgia Quilt Council to create a quilt celebrating GA.  The waterfall is made from leftovers from my Bald River Falls quilt.  Georgia does have many great waterfalls.  I love the sky on the right.  The quilting really added a lot to enhance the fabric.  I think of this as a sunrise since part of GA in on the Atlantic.

Finally I added the Atlanta skyline.  I also love the funky cityscape fabric.  Got this at Red Hen Fabrics here in Marietta and thanks to Maryann who is great at finding just what I need.  I still have some quilting to do and I plan to face the edges.   Finished size will be about 30" x 20" and I need to have it done in the next 3 weeks. This has been a fun little quilt to work on.



I can hardly believe that I have finished this quilt.  It was actually completed about a month ago but I have been so busy that I have not posted this update.   I am so happy to be done with this and I am really pleased with myself for not giving up on this project. At times it really seemed like I would never get done.

Finished size is 78" x 58" and this is my biggest quilt to date.   Total elapsed time has been 7 months.  I have sent off entries to 2 quilt shows so wish me luck.  For now I will be sticking to smaller projects.....

Double Doodle


This is the latest 12" x 12" quilt I created for the art quilt group I am in.  The challenge was to do a 'doodle' quilt.  I put down a backing fabric, then layered batting and a background fabric.  I then randomly cut shapes and arranged  (doodled) them on top.  When I was happy with the design I put a layer of black tulle over everything.  I used free motion quilting to 'doodle' the layers together.  Sorry for the crooked photo.... BYW...Happy Birthday to me  ( :

I'm Quilting!


I really do think the end is in sight.  I have been quilting for the last week or so.  I have had some sort cold  so I have only been working a couple of hours a day.   The water has been a real  challenge.  The top picture shows water at the bottom of the falls.  This section has 7 layers of fabric.  Starting from the back:  backing fabric, wool batting, base fabric, water fabric, organza and 2 layers of tulle.  You can see the texture created by the quilting. 

The second pic shows the quilted falls.  I took this on an angle so you could see the texture.  These were the toughest sections to do so no I think I am home free.  I hope to have this done by the end of next week so wish me luck.

Borders! Big step forward.


(image) I have added borders to my quilt! The first picture is the quilt on my design wall which is 4' x 8' and you can see the width of the quilt is too large for my wall. You might also notice that the rocks have more dimension and there are shadows at the waters edge. This was done with fabrics paint. My favorite fabric paint is Stewart Gill which can be found at the larger quilt shows.

The second picture is of the border fabric when I was auditioning it. I love these fabrics. I actually bought these on and am really pleased with the quality and price.

I now want to extend the design into the lower borders. The water also needs an overlay of organza and tulle. This is and exciting step since now I see the end in sight. This will be a bear to quilt!

Looks like the final size will be around 60 inches wide by 80 inches tall.

Best Quilting Teacher I have Ever Had!


This week I was lucky enough to take a class from Sharon Schamber . I think I have mentioned before that I belong to a large quilt guild (almost 300 members) which give us the funds to book top notch quilters.

The name of the class was Domestic Feathers Borders, Corners and Blocks. Now I don't do traditional quilts or quilting but this class was full of tips and tricks to improve your free motion quilting. I actually have started a "real" quilt at our house in NC and must say I am having a devil of a time getting blocks to come out all the same. Any tips will be greatly appreciated!

Sharon was an excellent teacher. She explained everything in great detail and made sure everyone understood. One of the most interesting things she does in to dip all of her spools of thread in mineral oil for a few seconds before the first time she uses them. She says that this keep her machine oiled and extends the life of the thread. I was excite to find out that she uses a Juki QE98 for her domestic machine.....this is the same machine that I use so I guess I should have no excuses for my quilting.

If you ever have a chance to take a class from Sharon, don't miss the opportunity. She really was the best quilting teacher I have ever had.

Dogwood Days in GA


(image) This is my favorite time of the year in GA. The Dogwood trees are at their peek and these are views from my back deck. Our house backs up to a Civil War national park and I love the sun streaming through the tree in the morning. One of these days I need to make a quilt based on these pictures.



(image) I am in a small art group that meets every other month. Our last challenge was to create a 12' x 12' quilt using strips and pokadots. This is my quilt.

First Stitch Down Complete!


(image) I have had a big boost in enthusiasm for this project. I gave a short talk and trunk show at the East Cobb Quilt Guild about my work last Friday and was really re-energized by the feedback I received

This is really a major step forward in completing this project. I have spent about 12 hours in the last 4 days stitching down all of the pieces on this quilt. If you are new to my process here is what I do: first I create a base to work on, then I free form cut fabrics to create the design and use a glue stick to hold them in place. Next I stitch down all of the pieces that I have put on the quilt with clear thread.

This quilt measures about 4ft wide by 6ft tall and it must have at least a couple hundred pieces. The water was the hardest part since I used so much angle hair, shredded batting and Angelina, I really didn't think I was going to be able to move the piece from the design wall to the sewing machine. It has 1 to several layers of light pink tulle over it to hold it in place. I am thrilled to be done with this step since I find this part to be my least favorite!

Tomorrow I plan to get out my fabric paints and add more depth to the rocks and shadows on the shoreline and in the water. I am starting to believe I will be able to have this complete in time to enter it into the Houston quilt show in the fall. Stay tuned!

What is your traditional Christmas dinner?


(image) Merry Christmas to all! I have just finished my prep for tonights dinner. My mom and mother-in-law were both Polish so we always have ham and polish sausage. Lucky for us we do have a eastern European meat market close and get a traditional polish ham and sausage. We waited in line for 1 1/2 hours on Wed but it is well worth it. Much less salty than the grocery store hams and sausage is fresh.

Also having sweet and sour cabbage, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, veggie and rolls. For desert a coconut cream pie, Hungarian (my father-in-law was Hungarian) nut roll and poppy seed roll (we call them kolach) and some assorted cookies.

Also as you can see my tree has tinsel. Another tradition. My mom loved tinsel. One year we had an aluminum tree and she still put tinsel on it. Do you tinsel?

What is your traditional dinner? Hope all of you have happy and safe holidays.

A little progress


I have been working on this off and on for the last few weeks. Progress has been slow with all of the holiday prep going on. I think I am also suffering from a little project fatigue. This thing is really big and still sooooo much to do.I spent several hours glue basting before I could start working on the water. Then I spent about 2 days creating the water fall. I really enjoy this part since water is a real challenge and something I find very satisfying.As you saw in my previous post, I use chalk to sketch out the flow of the water. The next step is to put down the base water fabric and chalk in the flow again. I spend a lot of time contemplating what I want to do and redrawing the flow helps me through this process. The flowing water is created using angle hair, batting and very thin sheets of Angelina fibers that I rip into small shreds. The angle hair is made of spun glass so I wear gloves while working with this. The water still needs a layer of tulle over it to keep it all in place. When I quilt the water I will follow the flow of the falls with clear thread and then maybe use a few metallic threads for highlights.I also added this small tree to the right of the falls. These are the kind of details that get me in trouble since I can literally spend hours rearranging leaves and branches and will probably do more work on this tree when I look at it again.Here is a closeup of the foliage. I used 3 different greens and you can see from the picture that nothing is glued down yet. Te create leaves I cut a hunk of fabric and use a snipping motion with small sharp scissors while turning the fabric in different directions to get a more natural look. The amount of holes I cut in the fabric varries depending on how dense I want the leaves to appear. This makes a really big mess on the floor but that is part of the fun. I'll keep plugging away and keep you updated.[...]

Project update


(image) Here are the last set of pics that I took last Friday. I have only had about 3 hours to work on this in the last week and most of that time was using my glue stick and 'basting' things in place. I use just enough glue to hold things down so I can get the piece to the sewing machine. I am still far away from that step as you can see.

The major changes you can see since my last post is the addition of the base water fabric and the rough in of the land at the base of the falls. I have been trying to refine the rocks and have also added some layers of small trees at the top of the falls.

At this point since I have the basic layout done I kind of bounce around and work on small sections of details based on the mood I am in and what grabs my attention for the moment. I am wanting to start on the waterfall but I still need to get more details done around it. I hope I can get in several hours tomorrow so stay tuned.



I want to catch everyone up on the project I talked about yesterday. Even though the previous post is dated Sat, I finished it last night and posted it then. I actually started this piece on Sunday 11/6 and have worked on it 5 of the last 9 days. I have been in NC for the last couple of days and just got home tonight and am looking forward the working on this quilt for a few hours tomorrow.

This is a good thing since I was really engrossed for the fist 6 days. I haven't looked at it yet since I got home and want a fresh perspective tomorrow. So here is more on my process and progress.

In the post yesterday I talked about how I first just block in the basic design. I have no fear in cutting up my fabric and try to make choices that will be used in the final quilt. At this point the only fabric that is attached to the base is the distant trees at the top.

On day 2 I only did a little bit of refining the tree shapes at the top. Day 3 was busy. I took down the rock fabric and started to work on creating detailed rocks. I also added the brown fabric (used front and back) for the ground. These are still no where near finished but this is a good start.

Here is the left side and a picture of the start of drawing in some tree details with fabric marker.

At this point I do a lot of stepping back and just looking. I work on both sides of the quilt. I free form cut all the pieces and place them on the background. No gluing yet so a big sneeze or draft could wipe away hours of work. Well, late again so I will try to post again tomorrow.

New project


About 3 weeks ago Maria Elkins spoke at our guild. If you are not familiar with her work you can read about her here. She had just found out that one of her quilts had won one of the major awards at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. She started the quilt on May 16th and had it finished in time to meet the show deadline of June 1st! Here is the picture I took of her quilt 'Windswept' at the show.

Hearing her story really inspired and motivated me to create something I haven't done in quite a while.....make a quilt that I consider show quality. It seems like I have had a lot of starts and stops in the last year or so and haven't seemed to be able to stay focused on creating a piece I am really proud of.

Now you might think that I would do a small to medium piece but noooooo..... I have started a landscape that is 4ft wide and 6ft tall. The piece is based on a picture that I took about 4 weeks ago when we took a drive on the Cherohala Skyway which is close to our home in NC. I plan to share my process and post progress here on a regular basis. So here is what I did on day 1 of the project.

(image) I use raw edge applique to make my landscape quilts and step 1 is to create a base to work on. The sky fabric is a hand dye by Stacy Michelle and the bottom is a piece of an old sheet. I find starting the most difficult step since now I am facing a big blank space that needs to be filled.

Next I start adding large pieces of fabric to give me more insight into where I am going and I seem to work better once I can get something up on the wall. You can have now fear in cutting up your fabrics and I do adulation and try to select fabrics that will be used in the final piece. The next picture shows what it looks like after about 5 hours on day 1.

(image) I know this isn't very impressive but now I have a better idea of where I want to go with this. I used chalk to sketch in the basic flow of the water. I didn't crop this picture so you can see the size of the piece. That is a chair just to the right of the quilt. I will post more tomorrow.

I must be on a roll....


(image) This has been quit a week! On Monday I found out about the viewers choice award mentioned below. On Wednesday I got an email informing me that the above picture of my granddaughter Julia (on the left) and her BFF Kassidy was accepted into the photo exhibit for the IQF in Houston.

Yesterday I picked up 3 other quilts that were in the Misty Mountain Quilt show and found out that I had also won a 3ard place for my quilt 'The Face of Envy, a second place for 'On the Riverbank' and a first place for 'Birthday Wishes'.

I also found out yesterday that my quilt 'Countryside' (shown under the 'Another Landscape' post) won an honorable mention in the Georgia Quilts show that is this weekend. So I think it has been a pretty good week.....

A first for me!


(image) This is a picture of my quilt 'Peak Performance' being awarded the viewers choice award at the Misty Mountain Quiltfest held last weekend in northern Georgia. It also won 1st place in its category of mixed technique.

This was really exciting news since I have never won a viewers choice award before. I can hardly believe that the people voted for my quilt over all of the other 250+ quilts in this show. I wish I could thank each and everyone of them!

Another Landscape


(image) Here is 'Countryside'. The picture is not a good one and the color looks faded out. I had fun creating this and have decided to refocus on my first love in quilting which is landscapes.

My 'Creating Realistic Landscape Quilts' class starts on on 9/20 and you can read the details about it here.

Texture reveal



I had no plan for this quilt only the looming deadline to get it done. I started by pulling fabrics and finally found this golden yellow piece that had rust and olive lines that reminded me of distant trees. I also found some crinkled organza, a brown and black large onion print, a blue gray with random thin black lines and green silk roving.

I put the design together in a couple of hours and quilted it the next day. I usually don't like works that I 'throw' together but for some reason I do like this. I started by pinning the background to my design wall. I folded the blue gray and brown onion print in half and cut the bushes and trees so each would have a mirror image.

I put some tan organza behind the trees to try to get a feeling of fog or mist and put the crinkled organza on top of the reflected trees to get a feeling of water. Lastly I scrunched up the green roving to look like shrubs ove the trees and stitched black tulle over it to hold it in place.

See the other 'texture' pieces by clicking on the 'Fiberactions' button on the right.

So do you really want a critique?


I find this an interesting subject. I have been in several art quilt groups and I really would like constructive feedback on my work. I have given several suggestions to have feedback sessions included on a regular basis for those who would like it and have always been turned down with the reason being that people really didn't want to hear what we really thought about their work.

I know this is a sensitive subject and can be hard to take but how can you learn and grow as an artist if you cannot get true feedback about what you produce. The piece I made for the 'departure' challenge in my eyes is marginal at best and when I put up the post I really wanted feedback on what you really thought. I find it interesting that I only have 1 comment so maybe some of you did not like the piece. I know that everyone has different taste and that art is subjective but do most people only just want to hear how wonderful their work is? Back to my friend Suzanne's statement, "Is it art or just crap?"

I would love to start a group where critique sessions where accepted and appreciated. It is so hard to subjectively or objectively evaluate your own creations. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Brave New World......


(image) Yes, this is me! Last night I did a presentation for the Spirited Quilters Guild in Duluth GA. This was my first guild presentation and I think it went well. I want to give a special thanks to Karen Gornall, the programs coordinator, for giving this novice the opportunity and to everyone else for making me feel so welcome.

I had a great time and am looking forward to more guild engagements.

Look What My Students Did!


(image) Rhonda's quilt

(image) Connie's Quilt

(image) Betty's quilt

Last Saturday I taught another 'Beginning Landscape Quilting ' class. It was a lot of fun and the students did a great job. Look at some of the fabulous results.

Departure reveal - 'Off The Grid'


(image) Here is my piece for the Fiberactions 'departure' challenge. Check out everyone's work here. This is a 'departure' for me. It all started with the 4 blocks below that I handpainted and then quilted and then decided 'what was I thinking'....

(image) I cut apart the four squars and then cut each into 4 pieces. I arranged and rearranged until I was happy with the layout and zizzagged it together. Thought it still needed more and used puffy paint to paint the squiggley squars on top and then rubbed them with copper paint. Still need more and found some nylon screening material and cut out some to add to the top.

My friend Suzanne has a saying she uses to describe some quilts: 'is it art or just crap'. Does this apply to this piece. What do you think?