Monday, February 20, 2017

Behind the Scenes - Creating a Solo Quilt Exhibition

If you're reading this when it was posted, then I'm already in Georgia, getting ready for an exciting time at QuiltCon. I will be back to regular blogging, hopefully with a recap of the event, next week... or the week after (see below for why).

I'm excited because my first solo exhibition is next week! "Jessica Skultety: My Quilty Habit" will feature 20 of my original quilts (some modern, some modern traditional, some questionable? Who needs labels?) and lots of dense free motion and walking foot quilting. If you're available and local, it's March 2-5 at the Mancuso show, Quilt and Sewing Fest of New Jersey. I'll be there Friday afternoon after my class and all weekend, so please come say hi!

A LOT of preparation has gone into this. I knew I'd lose a huge chunk of time beforehand because of traveling to Georgia. So, I needed to finish all work at least 3 weeks before the show. Maybe you've thought about exhibiting your quilts publicly (outside of being juried into a quilt show), so I wanted to address how it works from my perspective.


How does one have the opportunity for a solo quilt show? You could get asked, but the most direct way is to apply. Lots of quilt shows have this option on their websites. You could also have a show at a local shop, museum, etc. Inquire! Keep in mind you'll probably have to attach good-quality photos of your work to your application, plus information 

Determining a theme. When the staff at Mancuso presented the idea of a one-woman show, I decided on machine quilting ("My Quilty Habit") - not just because that name defines me everywhere on the internet, but because quilting is my favorite part of the process. I also do all of my quilting on my home machine; compared to many traditional show quilts, mine are not longarmed and are made by me 100%. Note: if you're putting together a solo show, just having your quilts together might be enough of a theme.

For my theme, I wrote this description:
Do you love bright, bold, and uniquely quilted quilts? If so, you’re coming to the right place! Jessica Skultety, a 27-year-old New Jersey quilter, teacher, lecturer, and writer, is a serial maker of improvisational and modern quilts. A self-taught quilter (thanks, Google!), she started quilting all of her work on a domestic machine and fell head over heels in love with creating "perfectly imperfect" stitches. Her current passions are creating wholecloth word quilts and dreaming up new ways to modernize traditional blocks. In addition to this special exhibit, Jessica will be teaching two classes centered around modernizing traditional blocks and improvisational techniques.

 Crown of Orchids, which is better seen in person, will be at the show!

What do you need for a solo exhibition? Most importantly, you need to have a significant amount of your work completed and in your own hands. Quilters in particular are infamous for gifting or giving their work away. Think about projects you might have made for family members, guild challenges, and the like. Perhaps you can finish up a couple more projects before you apply for an exhibit or before it opens. I did! - I'll be premiering the "Today I Feel" quilt (which is definitely better seen in person - it's so difficult to take photos of) and "Fall Spectrum" quilt.

What else?
  • Sew quilt sleeves on each piece. My show contains 20 original quilts, some of which (luckily) already had sleeves from other quilt shows. For the rest, I got to work back in November and I've been hand sewing like the wind (which resulted in tips for sewing on quilt sleeves. My pain is your gain!).
  • Sew labels on each quilt. If you've slacked on labeling your quilts like me over the past couple years, check out the Quilt Alliance labeling pledge. Perhaps it will kick your butt into gear like it did for me.
  • Doctor each piece. As in: clip all stray threads and lint roll. This can take ages. I'm no perfectionist, but whenever one of my quilts is going to hang in a show, I make them look as good as possible.
  • Write, proofread, and print descriptions. For our past guild quilt exhibits, we printed directly onto cardstock. I decided to save a trip to the printer and printed all 20 sheets at home. Then, I glued them onto colored cardstock for a little pop of color. Hopefully they will look just as professional.
  • Determine prices. If you're selling your work, add contact information (email address) to your descriptions. Some of my quilts are indeed for sale, and while I can't reveal prices through the show itself, I was instructed to direct people to email me. If I receive email, I'll know what to answer with.
  • Determine an order for hanging your quilts. Shows and spaces have different capabilities. For example, this show has poles that extend to 10 feet, and I'll have a certain amount of poles to hang my show. So, I have to figure out where each quilt will fit and what order I want them to be seen. It's enough to boggle your mind, but in the end it will be worth it!

 Fractured Cathedral Window will be there, too!

What to anticipate close to show day:
  • Pack your quilts in order and go hang them up. You'll probably need at least 2 people if you have large quilts. Since my exhibit is part of a larger show, the friendly staff will be available to help me the day before the show opens.
  • Tell everyone about it and invite them! My friends and family have told me what days they are coming to visit (because you can bet I'll be there), and we are planning meals together. It's a really fun and exciting way to share your work with the world. I also let you and my newsletter subscribers know, because this is probably my biggest 2017 event. 
  • Take pictures! You know I'll be sharing! During the event I won't have time to blog, but I'll be over on Instagram (@quiltyhabit).
I'm sure there will be other things that come up close to show day, but this is what I can think of right now. Perhaps I'll write a follow up post. Anyway, I'm new at all this, but I hope this post helps someone out there!

Additional reading/viewing:
  • Check out the first video - this is a recent exhibit by Luke Haynes (I think you have to be logged into Facebook to watch).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Bottled" - A Finished Quilt

My brother has several quilts now. In the past, I made him a t-shirt quilt (actually, two different ones - the first was one of my very first quilts, and it was not made well, so I sewed another one later on). I also made him this custom Game of Thrones quilt for his birthday last year. His bachelor pad needs more decoration/color, though, so I've been begging him to let me make him a quilt for his living area. Thus, the beer bottle quilt was born.

My husband actually designed the quilt, and my brother got on board, so I had to make it, right? I sewed most of the quilt at our guild's November retreat - a great time to make distinct progress on projects. I pieced the beer bottle together using my favorite piecing technique, brick by brick improvisation. My friends Jess, Shannon, and Maggie helped me determine when the label and beer bottle actually looked legitimate. Never did I think I'd spend so much time thinking whether or not a beer bottle label was large enough (I'm not a beer drinker myself).

 Then, I appliqued the now-cut bottle onto a previously improvised blue background (blue is Sean's favorite color). I quilted the beer bottle in a quick, fun square motif using Aurifil 2360 (brown) and 2024 (white). After that, I had to figure out how to quilt the background.

I wanted the quilt to be extra cuddly (the backing is Mammoth Flannel by Robert Kaufman - below) and not as densely quilted, so straight lines seemed to be a good idea. I decided to use Aurifil 2735 (a pretty medium blue) to blend in, but that was the easy part. What to quilt?

Then, somehow the idea came about to highlight the beer bottle with diagonal lines (almost like a product being showcased in a commercial) rather than just vertical or horizontal lines in the background. It's definitely an unexpected element, but I love it! I used my quilting ruler and Fons and Porter chalk pencils to mark the lines, and then just quilted over them with my walking foot. So easy.

Sean left me a 5-star review: "Just because she's my sister, that doesn't mean I have to like her, but this quilt is top quality. I like beer, and I like quilts. What else is there to say? As a non-quilter and a craft beer enthusiast, this is the best combination I could ask for." (He laughed through this entire review).

When he came home for the weekend and saw the quilt laying on the guest bed, he immediately took advantage. :) It's been a while since I made a super custom quilt for someone; it was a really fun project to engage in over the last few months. It's even extra long to accommodate his 6 foot+ frame (now you can estimate how large the beer bottle itself is - it's huge!). This will probably be the only beer bottle quilt I ever make!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 BOM List

This is the second year I've compiled a list of Block of the Months (BOMs) and monthly subscriptions for my free newsletter, The Wonky Press. My subscribers exclusively received this list in the January 15th issue, and now I'm sharing it with the wider online community, in case you are looking to find a program to follow yourself!

Please let me know if I'm missing any - I'd be happy to add them to the list, as long as they follow these requirements:

1. They start(ed) in January or February 2017.
2. There is significant information about them available on the internet.
3. They connect with quilting in some way.

I organized the BOMs into four categories. Any new discoveries since the January 15 Wonky Press list are marked with an asterisk*

Finally, check out The Wonky Press Issue 7 for more info about what BOMs are, and The Wonky Press Issue 8 for my tips on joining a BOM. Enjoy - I hope you find the program that's right for you!

Aurifil Design Team BOM - Aurifil

*Bella Skillbuilder - Sherri McConnell for Fat Quarter Shop
Blazing Star - Nancy McNally and Craftsy (free video tutorials, too!)
Constellations BOM - Mari of The Academic Quilter
Have A Jolly Little Christmas - Sew Fresh Quilts
Honey Pot Bee - Molli Sparkles
Milky Way QAL - Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts
Modern Quilt Along - Simple Simon & Company

*Quilting With Nancy - Fat Quarter Mystery Quilt - Nancy Zieman
Scrappy Stash Buster Club - The Intrepid Thread
Sweetie Pie Sew-a-long - Lori Holt (Bee In My Bonnet)

Patterns with Concurrent Online Quilt-A-Longs:
52 Weeks with The Quilter’s Planner - Angie of Gnome Angel (must purchase planner to be eligible for prizes)

*Cabin Fever - Sherri Noel (Rebecca Mae Designs)

*Jul I Scandinavia - Sherri Noel (Rebecca Mae Designs)
Machine Quilting Block Party - Leah Day Quilting
Patchwork Quilt Along - Fat Quarter Shop (benefitting Make A Wish Foundation)
Snail Paced Slow-Along Sew-Along - Angie of Gnome Angel (pattern by Pen and Paper Patterns)
Swoonalong - Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms (purchase pattern here)
The Cookbook QAL - Amy Gibson (with purchase of The Quilt Block Cookbook)

Patterns Available for Purchase:

Dear Jane - Paper Pieces (also available - self-regulated quilt-a-long with auto-ship program)

*Quicker By The Dozen - Cotton & Steel and Lynette Jensen (available through these shops)

Chocolatier BOM - AnneMarie Chany of Gen X Quilters
Designer Mystery BOM - Fat Quarter Shop (receive a free small Aurifil Thread spool with first month’s purchase)
Down the Rabbit Hole - Sarah Fielke
Halo Medallion Quilt - Sue Garman and The Quilt Show (must be a Star Member)
Mighty Lucky Quilting Club - Lucky Spool Media (also available: individual monthly purchase)
Project 48 Quilt -  Linden of Vine Lines Quilting and Crystal of Raspberry Spool
Urbanologie BOM - The Intrepid Thread (with Sew Kind of Wonderful)
Zakka Project of the Month - The Intrepid Thread (with Sew Illustrated book)

Thank you to @sarahmgoer, @aquilterstable, @auntipami, @marci_girl, @lindsaypindsay33, @leahdayquilting, @adrianneonthewindyside, @vinelines, and @kilnofintention for your help!

Quick Valentine Makes

How did mid-February creep up on us? I'm not really sure. What I do know is that I don't take much stock in Valentine's Day. It's fun for the kids I work with, but that's really the extent of celebration around here. So, like last year, I decided to make handmade valentines for my class - just without sewing this time. It's so fast and easy!

I created a quick cardboard heart template, traced onto fabric, cut them out with pinking shears, and glued them onto scrapbook paper. There's plenty of room to write "to" and "from," and they have that handmade touch. No sewing needed! I hope the kiddos like them. It was fun to pick out colors and fabrics for each child, based on what they like. That's the best thing about working at a school: getting to know the kids so well!


Despite our general non-celebration of Valentine's Day, I like to give my husband a mini mini quilt for holidays, and once the idea popped into my head, I couldn't pass it up.

This is Baymax, the main sidekick from Disney's Big Hero 6. If you haven't seen the movie before and you like animated movies in general, you should definitely watch this one. It's absolutely hilarious. Anyway, we love Baymax around here, and somehow I envisioned him simply holding a heart balloon.

I drew him freehand onto the white fabric (not without incident - you can see where I had to fix his legs - the darn needle holes show up too well on white fabric). Then, I traced/sketched around him a couple times with my free motion foot, and filled in a balloon. Whenever I make one of these for Mike (I haven't posted them all to the blog), I add a little message on the back, echo quilt around the middle, and bind in gray.

In case you celebrate Galentine's Day with the ladies in your life (Feb. 13), Alison of Little Bunny Quilts whipped up a cute mug rug quoting Parks and Recreation (where Galentine's Day originates from, as far as I can tell). I happen to love Parks and Rec with a thousand hearts, and I know some of you do, too.

What have you made for Valentine's Day in the past?
Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday
and Needle and Thread Thursday.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Teaching Wonky Crosses: Behind the Scenes

This is my second post about my classes coming up at Quilt & Sewing Fest of New Jersey on March 2-5 (first post was here). There are spots available in both Orange Peels and Improv (my most popular class overall) and Wonky Crosses, if you'd like to join in!

Teaching the Wonky Cross workshop is a really fun endeavor for me. I don't know if teachers are supposed to have *that* much fun, but I certainly do. *cheeky grin* This class is appropriate for all levels, and it's especially perfect for those who want to feel out improvisational sewing. I've found that traditional quilters, especially those who are accustomed to accuracy and block making, enjoy a chance to "let loose" in a structured way. 

My favorite part of this class is working with students on an individual level. Each quilter comes in with a plan for their quilt, and it's my job to affirm their decisions or help push them whichever direction they're meant to go. In one memorable discussion, I sat with a quilter for about 15 minutes to help her decide on bolder pops of colors. As a group, we delve into how to line up up crosses, color play, and techniques for planning improvisation.

Thelma's Wonky Crosses - used with permission. There are several more examples in my Student Gallery, at the bottom of this page.

One of the main elements of this class is using fabric that contrasts from the background(s). Past students have played with that idea by sewing some blocks that are just barely showing up. It's amazing to see what you all come up with!

Trisha's wonky crosses - shared with permission

At the end of class, we always have show and tell, and I share some quilting ideas for final quilt tops, plus extra block ideas. In a 3 hour session, students usually complete 3-5 blocks, and many more for an all day class (this particular show is the shorter class). I'm excited to see what my new group of students will create, and I'm looking forward to sharing some quality sewing time with them in just a few short weeks (hi, Christine, I'm so glad you're joining me! :) ).

Country Quilters Guild, Pine Bush, NY

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

3 things to pack for a quilting conference

I'm attending the annual QuiltCon in Savannah, Georgia in about 2.5 weeks (ah!) and I've started making a packing list. If you've never heard of QuiltCon, imagine a huge convention center full of quilts (there's the largest modern quilt show in the world), fabric, and hundreds of quilters. Or, Comic Con with quilts instead of fandoms.

I've been to this shindig once before (2015 in Austin, TX - here's part three of my recap, which includes links to the other parts) and it was a blast. So, in anticipation of this year's event:

3 Things to Pack for a Quilting Conference
1. Business cards. Or pins or stickers or what have you. It's a fun way to meet people and make connections. In the past, making pins was a huge "thing" - though I never participated, I did collect them from others. Quite honestly, though, they take up more room than cards and they don't really have a purpose after the conference (unless you display them). Anyway, the cards were especially helpful.

2. Good walking shoes. Or put some inserts in your boots. You'll be walking miles and miles without quite realizing it (unless you're in one of the 9 hour classes, bless you). The only other time my feet have hurt so much was when I traipsed around Europe during college. In addition, I've never been to Quilt Market (the quilting industry's trade show), but I've heard many times that good shoes are a must.

3. Hand sewing. Whether you're in the airport, on a plane, or trying to relax in your hotel room, you might want something to keep your hands busy. I am already having a little anxiety about being away from my sewing machine for a week (I know, that seems crazy, but it's true - I sew every day). I didn't bring anything to sew last time and I sorely regretted it. Therefore, I'll be packing a sashiko panel to finish and one to start.

These are my top three picks. I'm curious - what do YOU recommend (besides the obvious clothes, toiletries, etc.)? And will I see you in Savannah this year? If you see me wandering around, please feel free to say hi!

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Note To Self" - A Wholecloth Quilt inspired by the Lumineers

Do you leave yourself Post-its on your desk or little pop-up reminders on your computer? I do, but sometimes there are too many notes to keep track of. This message was so important I decided to make an entire quilt, so I can see it as soon as I walk up to my sewing room.

"And when she stood, she stood tall."

The quote is from the song "Slow It Down" by the Lumineers (hear this phrase at 3:27, though I thoroughly recommend listening to the whole song; I've loved it for years). As I've mentioned a couple of times, last year was a really rough year for my family health-wise. In the last half of the year, I felt like I needed a reminder to keep on powering through all the little parts of everyday life. This certainly paid off towards the end of the year in a lot of ways. When your family is suffering, you suffer, too. Things are better now health-wise, which I'm most grateful for every single day.

I'm fascinated with pairing lettering with free motion quilting, so I used three fonts I've experimented with before. I love using fonts and thread density to emphasize different parts of the quote - here I used Aurifil 2024 and 2600, 40 and 28 weight (I also traced over the words to make them even more prominent - related, my tips for working with heavy weight Aurifil threads). There's a lot of thought that goes into it! I usually don't trace the letters beforehand; I just mark the lines to quilt on. But I highly encourage marking if you are just starting out with quilting words.

 Some of my original thread choices.

To accompany the word "tall," I traced out some organic trees with my handy Fons and Porter chalk pencils, which I then quilted over using several different threads (Aurifil 1100, 2250, and 2277). My favorite ones are the pink trees.

I wanted the middle motif to separate the phrase in half but also speak for itself. I had to get the thread colors juuuust right so they wouldn't overpower the words. Orange peels are my favorite quilting theme, so I made use of them in a few ways - some subtle, some not so much. I also LOVE quilting pebbles, so I really went to town on them. Those itty bitty ones took forever, but the texture is so worth it!

I used a ton of different threads to achieve the balance I was looking for. My favorite was the variegated purple thread (3840), which glimmers at a distance. You can see it in the "organic"/imperfect straight lines at the right of the picture below. It's really hard to photograph accurately; the thread is much better seen in person. Thank you to Aurifil for allowing me a chance to work with it.

This quilt provided some much needed self-reflection and an outlet for my free motion quilting whims. I couldn't ask for anything more. Making in times of stress is so important. Also, it gave new meaning to a song I already love.

If you'd like to learn more about how to write with free motion, I'll be sharing my finished large wholecloth quilt soon (Today I Feel), and I have a special announcement coming up.

There's the quilt on top of my mini quilt wall, ready to greet me every day. It's happy, fulfilling sight!

If you could make a quilt with a song lyric, what would the lyric be? Or have you made one already? I'd love to hear about it/see a picture!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...