My 10 Favorite Quilting Arts Tips

17 Feb 2011

quilting arts fiber postcardspokey boltonEvery time I come back to our editorial offices back east I'm greeting with more Quilting Arts @10 anniversary postcards. I love it! We'll be featuring some in the next issue of the magazine, so watch for them.

Each postcard reminds me of the techniques we've shared with you over the years, and the things we've learned from the artists who brought them to us. So I made up a list of some of my favorite tips and lessons from the past 10 years of Quilting Arts Magazine.

Here they are:

1. No piece of fiber art is irredeemable. It can be printed over, painted over, needle-felted, or even cut up and reworked, the way Terry Grant did in "Blast from the Past" in the April/May 2010 issue.

2. The best design tools are often the simplest. An example of this that has really stuck with me is Jane Dunnewold's article on "The Expanded Square" in the June/July 2007 issue. With little more than a pencil, paper, a glue stick, and a craft knife, Jane reveals how you can create infinite patterns that will serve your surface design well.

3. Don't hide the batting! A quilt with batting peeking out from the edges (no binding) can give a piece an organic quality and even act as a quilt embellishment. Or, as Judy Coates Perez showed us in the December/January 2008 issue, you can make a unique piece of textile art by painting, dyeing, and stitching cotton batting all on its own.

4. Stabilizers are an art quilter's best friend. They can help you work with silk or sheer fabric without shredding it, make lacy fabric out of threads, create dimensional shapes with free-motion stitching, and much more. In the Winter 2006 issue, I wrote an overview of stabilizers and how to use them, with tips and examples from Heidi Lund, Patti Medaris Culea, and Dale Rollerson.

glue gel resist5. Use what you have. No wax for resist? No problem. Our intrepid artists have shown how to use flour paste, snow, freezer paper, stitch, and India ink to create resist patterns on fabric. But one of my favorites was Cynthia St. Charles's "Color Therapy" article in the February/March 2009 issue where she used Elmer's® Washable School Glue and fabric paints to infuse cloth with color and pattern.

6. Contrast is key. Ever step back from your fiber art piece and think it's missing something, but you can't quite figure out what? It's probably contrast. Linda and Laura Kemshall did a terrific job of explaining this design principle and showing how to achieve contrast through stitch, color, fabric embellishing, and texture in the October/November 2007 issue.

7. Make your free-motion motifs meaningful. The shapes of your motifs have an effect on the overall design and message of your quilt. Some stitchers, especially beginners, are intimidated by committing to a motif. But in the Fall 2003 issue, Robbi Joy Eklow described her process of "organized meandering" that I think has helped a lot of quilters relax and have fun with free-motion quilting.

8. Never underestimate the power of a French knot. Using this simple embroidery stitch is an invaluable way to add texture and pattern, replicate plant parts, create a line, or embellish a border. Pick up just about any issue of Quilting Arts and you'll probably find a French knot somewhere within the pages. But one of my favorite articles is Julia Caprara's description of how to use French knots and eyelets as design elements, in the Fall 2005 issue.

9. Work in a series. This is one of the best ways to explore a medium, motif, or technique without putting pressure on yourself to create one great piece. It's also one of the best ways to learn. Jane LaFazio gave us a great example of this in her article on "Needle-felted and Hand-stitched Fiber Art" in the June/July 2010 issue.

10. Don't be afraid to show off. So many artists never submit their work to shows or galleries because they think they're not good enough. Or they do, and get rejected, and have no idea why. In the October/November 2007 issue, Lyric Kinard explained "Where and How to Show Your Artwork," with practical tips and plenty of encouragement.

Just writing about some of these articles makes me want to head for my Quilting Arts back issues shelf and revisit many of these tips and techniques. Paging through back issues is a great way to get inspiration. If you're missing any of the ones mentioned above, now's a good time to get it!


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Marjorie@5 wrote
on 17 Feb 2011 9:26 AM

Thanks for this reminder--All of these are things I saw at the time and then forgot. All of these are great lessons.  Marjorie