Ok, now that I gave you enough information to make a quick art quilt if you wanted to, let's back up a bit and look at some ideas for inspiration. This part is usually not super hard for people; they often have ideas, they just are uncertain as to how to make them happen. But just in case you do struggle with that, we'll cover some options.
Really, inspiration is everywhere! You might see a color you like in the tile in a restaurant bathroom, or some other random place 😂 (Quilters and other artists are notorious for taking photos of things like that!) Or, you might have a favorite flower, or other photo you'd like to turn into a quilt. You have probably noticed by now that I don't tend to be an artist with lots of drama and needing to make a statement. I generally stick to landscape type designs. (I do have a purpose beyond just making pretty things though... I believe we were created to create!) But maybe that's where you get your inspiration. And of course, being outside or traveling can offer endless ideas for art quilts.
I'm often inspired by plants, animals, or scenery. But really, I often start a new design with color rather than an idea for a subject! We'll get to that in a couple of weeks. I take SOOO many photos. If you want to photograph something intentionally, try to get it from different angles if that's possible for your subject.
A tricky thing can be when we are inspired by someone else's artwork. It can be very hard to find the line between 'inspired by' and 'copied from'. This is why it is always best to get your inspiration from real life instead of other artwork. It's still ok to try techniques, or color schemes, but not to recreate someone else's design, at least not without permission.
On a similar note, if you are inspired by a photograph, you should always get permission from its owner before using. Sometimes a photographer will give permission, others will charge for it. It's their creation, so they have the right to do that. I wasn't always as mindful of that early on, but I definitely am now, and even more so after seeing my designs copied enough times. 🤪
Your artwork will be more meaningful if you are the source of the inspiration anyway. It's fun to make a quilt that reminds you of a place or event where you took the photo! And of course it helps if you live in a spectacular place like I do, but it's really not necessary. Inspiration is everywhere; we just have to slow down a bit and look for it!
Next week is borders, which, as you might suspect, I don't do like regular people 😂
PS: Here’s a tip! If you are thinking of joining along with my Simple Secrets class ‘more structured edition’ this fall, take lots of pictures between now and then! And of course, you can join the class anytime and still participate in the fall.
This is the second week in my Basic Art Quilting series. Last week I said the simplest background to start with is just a piece of pretty fabric, especially one that looks like it was hand painted. This week is about the simplest way ever to add a foreground, and that is to use a silhouette. Just the outside shape, no details required. Of course I'm not opposed to details, I'm just trying to give you the absolute simplest way to get from zero to a cool art quilt 😃
Here are a few examples, and remember, silhouettes don't have to be black. Even my raven silhouettes are rarely black! I usually make them a dark version of one of the colors in my background, this one is teal. I think they look less harsh that way. (this one has a more complicated background, using collage. However, the middle third of it IS just one fabric! And this one landed on the cover of Art Quilting Studio magazine even😊) But they don't even have to be dark, as you can see here. I don't often use both of these super simple techniques in the same quilt, but the canoeing one, Seagull Lake Sunset, pretty much is. Aside from the borders, there are only two fabrics in that quilt, and two pieces of each! And the polar bear greeting card just has one more fabric in the background. The Moonlight Moose has several different colors for the shapes, but they are all still silhouettes, just the outline of the shapes.
So, if you did rummage through your stash and find a fun background fabric, I hope you will be inspired to put a silhouette on it, and of course, share it with me! Either in my On the Trail Creations VIP group, or the Simple Secrets group if you are in the class, or just send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week we'll talk about where to get inspiration for art quilts. That may seem out of order, but remember, I wanted to you be able to make something as soon as possible. So, if you already had an idea that would work for a silhouette, you're ready to go. There are many other simple backgrounds and foregrounds, but I think this combination is the very simplest for getting started! I can't wait to see what you do 😃
Happy sewing! Beret
If you are new here, you still may have already noticed that I am quite passionate about helping people with art quilting. Whether it's getting started in the first place, or improving your skills, or simply gaining some confidence to try it, I'm here for it! So I decided to do a short series covering the basics, probably 5-6 weeks. Nothing as involved as the free motion series, which some of you are still working your way through! (If not, sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar to get that😃)
I always like to break things down into bite sized pieces. Most of my art quilts, if you dissect them a bit, are not very complicated at all. I just have lots of tricks/secrets 😀 A whole class full, in fact, but I will share some of them here! (I've been starting to take notes for a 'next level' class too, lots of ideas!) For this series, I will share a few of my 'secrets' in these categories:
I also really like to get people to have success as soon as possible, because that's what motivates us to do more, right? For example, if you are working on something like saving money or losing weight, it's usually more motivating to continue if you have had some success. If things keep getting worse, it's more discouraging than motivating. (And as it turns out, success in something like art quilting can actually increase your confidence and motivation in other areas too, so it's a win win! It's good for our hearts and brains to create!) After next week's segment of the series, you will have enough information to make a very simple but potentially effective art quilt.
So here's this week's 'secret'. (I need a better word though, I'm not too fond of either 'tricks' or 'secrets', don't really love 'hacks' either, but I haven't been able to come up with a better idea.... anyone??) The most simple background you can do is just to find a pretty fabric that does it for you. I love the ones that look hand painted; they are great for landscapes. Here are a few examples:
I didn't add a lot to any of those, because the background fabric did all the work for me! If you have any of these in your stash, maybe dig it out for next week!
If you are already in my Simple Secrets for Art Quilting class, I've been working my way through and updating a bit and getting rid of bugs. (Like photos that magically replaced themselves with something totally unrelated...🤨😑🤷♀️)
Also, at first I really loved the format of this class, because I could keep updating it. However, I have discovered a few issues with it! The biggest one is it's so self guided that it's easy for people to forget to get in there and do it. I hoped the fb group would serve as a reminder, but if people aren't in it, or there isn't a lot of activity, then that falls by the wayside too, including for me! SOOOO..... I think I'm going to try to do a more structured version, maybe twice a year or something? It might even be just 4 weeks of a Zoom call each week, plus some emails, still working on details. I'm thinking September for the first one, kind of a back to school month anyway, right? Stay tuned for details!
Happy Sewing, Beret
This week I did something I never thought I would do! Actually, it was more that I DIDN'T do something... When I get the application in the mail for the UAF Women's bazaar, I usually fill it out and get it immediately to the nearest post office. But even before the bazaar last fall, both my husband and I (he carves wooden spoons and things if you are new!) had decided that bazaars mostly don't fit into our plans anymore. I will probably still do the Raven Art Show, and maybe a smaller one here and there, but I can no longer afford the three months it takes me to get ready for bazaar season. I have too many other fun things going on! So while it was a hard decision, we're both still confident that it's the right one.
For now, the only place I'm selling finished quilted cards is the Quilt Tree in Anchorage. They ordered some more this week, which was good timing, because as usual I didn't have enough in stock and had to make some. That's fun for a day, but it was a good reminder that I don't want to do 50 of those days 😂😅
I challenged myself to use only scraps, and mostly only scraps from collage quilts, which are really accumulating... I started with one bin, now two are stuffed full. I made 13 cards today, all collage backgrounds, and didn't make a dent! I did do a couple of cool new things though, so I'm going to show you those, then scroll to the end to see them all!
All of the cards I made started like this... random pieces laid on batting, with interfacing for the backing. (which is my process for most things I do, sometimes muslin instead of interfacing.) Then I covered them with netting, and quilted it all together. But for this one, before I put the netting on, I covered the scraps with a bunch of thread I had saved, probably after a class when all of my threads were all tangled up😂
Remember the messy middle from last week's newsletter? This is it 😂 It doesn't look too promising, right? Before I get to the final photo of this one, I'll show you my second unusual technique (and tell you what I SHOULD have done 😛😅)
I wanted birch trees for a few of them, but I thought it would be fun to collage those too. So I took strips of fusible web and covered them with scraps. I then had to tack down all of the overlapping pieces, so I should have just put fusible web on the scraps to start with. I could have fused them together on the pressing sheet, and then peeled the chunk off and cut out trees after it cooled. But this still worked ok. I saw someone this week do a similar technique, (@busy_quilting on IG!) but she had traced her design onto parchment paper, fused the scraps to that, and then she could cut it out from the back where she could see her line on the parchment paper. Brilliant!
I had planned to have my trees go all the way across the card, but they were a bit short. So I rounded the bottoms and moved them up a bit. Problem solved!
Ok, here are all of the cards. They are such a great way to try a design, color scheme or technique. I hadn't made any in awhile, so it was fun. It's pretty easy to spot the birch trees and the crazy thread, but they look better now! Even the moose screen prints were kind of scraps, as they all had imperfect feet so I didn't want to put them in kits, but I knew stitching some willows would fix that! The bindings were all from the leftover binding bin. I hope you are taking time to play too! Happy sewing, Beret
This one was from June 2:
Last week I asked if you like to dream big. This week, my question is about curiosity. Are you the type of person who wants to try every new technique you see, or wait for someone else to be the guinea pig and learn from them? 😂 Either way, you are in the right place here! I love to be the guinea pig and try everything, and then I love to pass on what I've learned. Hopefully I can save you some time in your experimenting, but I also hope to encourage you to do more on your own too! Curiosity is also a big part of designing art quilts. I tend to notice things regular people don't, like if a flower I see often is a slightly different shade than usual, for example. (I don't, however, notice things like dishes needing to be done... 👀) Do you tend to notice things like designs in the frost on the window, or like the bright green in my photo below? That's my challenge for this week, try to notice little things that you normally don't! You have to slow down a little though... the first rock picture looks like they are all gray, but if you look closer, they're definitely not! And maybe think about how you might use something you see in a design 😃
It's a good thing my husband doesn't usually mind stopping for a lot of photos in the car or RV, because I am constantly seeing things on the side of the road! I do try to exercise a little restraint, but I still stop a lot for pictures 😂 I got a really great idea for another collage kit on our recent trip though! We went to Tok and Chicken, and got to see the great gift shop in Chicken that carries my products. It's definitely remote, but I loved the drive in the mountains, and now I'm reading the book Tisha again, which took place there. Maxwell the dog had a rough first day, but after that (and a few doses of Benadryl😛) he did great!
Happy sewing! Beret
I completely dropped the ball on my blog recently! I even had newsletter emails that I wrote, and just needed to copy and paste, and I just forgot! I've been quite busy with my 40+ Ways to Use Your Free Motion Foot series, and I guess that took over my brain...
So, I thought I would at least post the last couple of them even though they are late, because they still have good things to think about!
This one should have been on May 26, 2023:
This might be short, as I'm getting ready to hit the road for the first RV trip of the season! As usual, it involves work for at least one of us 😂, but it's still always fun! It will be the maiden trip for our giant oaf of a 'puppy', Maxwell, so... wish us luck... Our husky, Tundra, is a pro, so hopefully she will help him. 😀 The first time I let Maxwell into the RV to meet it, he jumped up into the over the cab bed, so... should be fun... 😅 The bottom photo will give you an idea of his personality and regard for personal space... and he wasn't even full grown yet 😅 (the yellow lab is Roger, my son's dog who spends a lot of time at our house)
Here's my question... are you the type of person who dreams big? If so, do you usually see at least some of the big dreams through to completion? If not, what stops you? I'd love for you to respond and tell me a little bit! Not everyone is that type of person, and that's totally ok too. I want to do more than just help people make pretty things. I want to help you see that you can do big things if you want to, or at least more than you maybe think you can! I have definitely found that fear is a bigger hindrance to people learning art quilting than information and knowledge. (I'm not implying fear is the only thing that stops people, there are a bazillion other legitimate things that make things hard!) But I'm always hoping that the encouragement you get from me won't just stop at art quilting, but will translate into confidence in other areas of your life too! And you can start small, you don't have to jump right into a huge dream. Did you know if you spend 15 minutes per day working on something, it will add up to 90 hours in a year? If you have a big dream, is there anything you could start doing just a few minutes per day to start working toward it? Something to thing about over your long weekend!
Happy sewing! Beret
This past year, I’ve been doing lots of training in several areas, but mostly business related. The people I’ve been learning from start with the success of customers as the top priority, so it’s been a lot of marketing stuff from a very ethical and value based perspective, which I love! (I realized years ago that I don’t make anything without ‘talking’ to you guys in my head, 🤣 must be the teacher in me. 😄 So I already have had you in mind all along!) It’s been like drinking from a fire hose, but so good, and I’m excited to start sharing some of it with anyone who will listen! (more on that below)
Quilt making decisions
Because of that, I’ve been doing more long term planning, and getting out of the ‘daily scramble’ of just reacting to what comes in my business every day. I have a much better idea of the ‘bigger picture’. But planning comes with lots of DECISIONS… That has made me realize that much of what I want to do for YOU is help you make some of the many decisions involved in art quilting.
Making a quilt, and even more so an art quilt, involves a lot of decisions, and it can be overwhelming to the point where it stops people before they start. You have to decide the subject, the colors, the actual fabrics, the size, the techniques, the quilting, the embellishments, and more. My goal with my kits is to do that for you, but my goal with my classes is to teach you some actual steps and tricks for doing it for yourself. Hopefully even the kits are a boost toward making those decisions for yourself on future projects!
I always hope to save you from some of the overwhelm and decision paralysis that can come with trying something new like art quilting. Even if you have been doing it for awhile, having a structure for planning a project can be helpful!
So, I’m adding a free downloadable form that you can use to help plan your next project to the freebies that come with signing up for my newsletter. It will give you a framework to start with to take away some of the overwhelm, and help you see the bigger picture before you start a project. (I’ve been on a roll with the new free stuff lately, it might not happen every week, 😂!) And of course, there is a lot more information on each of these steps in my Simple Secrets for Starting Art Quilting class!
And for the business minded…
I’m working on a plan for those of you who either would like to start a business, or have one already and would like to grow it! (Maybe it’s time for your hobby to start carrying some of its own weight, ha!) I’ve spent a ton of time, and literally thousands of dollars, to gain some great knowledge that is definitely helping my business, (and my sanity😅) and I’d like to save you some of that time and money by passing on what I’ve learned in a more economical way. I think it will be in the form of a membership, with monthly topics and a live Zoom call to ask questions. And how about a road map for you to follow to either start or grow a business? I wish I had had one! Stay tuned for more information as I get that sorted out!
I’m definitely excited to see where this is all going to go. My head is bursting with new ideas and ways to help YOU, whether it is with quilting or business. And that is ultimately what helps my business, helping YOU in whatever way I can.
Sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar on the right to get the checklist, plus two more things!
Happy sewing! Beret
Almost every day in art quilt groups online I see people saying they want to try art quilting but aren't sure where to start. And I can't tell them I'd love to help, because that would be considered advertising, which I understand. But it's still torture 😂 It makes me want to work harder at helping YOU, the people who have already found me 😀 The success of my business depends on the success of the people who learn from me!
So, here's another quick weekend project for beginners, but of course this project is fun for more experienced people too! It involves no measuring at all, and should easily be under an hour once you choose your design and fabric. (And don’t spend too much time on that; if you don’t like it, make another one!) I do always assume some basic sewing knowledge.
Here is the project:
Possibly the quickest/simplest art quilt design ever is a silhouette and well chosen background fabric. The silhouette doesn’t have to be black, and the background fabric doesn’t have to be ‘landscapy’. The fabrics that look like they are hand painted are always awesome, but there are lots of other options. I put in a couple that I auditioned and decided not to use.
I also put them in a frame, which does several things. One, you don’t have to finish the edges if you don’t want to. Two, the mat can help you choose the right location on your fabric. And three, the mat also becomes the template for cutting out your project when it’s done. I used a 5x7 frame, but you can use whatever. (And you can skip the frame, but it’s easier with!)
Step One: find or draw a silhouette. A branch is pretty easy, or you can trace a photo (that you have permission to use.) Trace it onto the paper side of fusible web. Iron that to the back of your silhouette fabric and cut it out. Now you can lay that on background fabrics to try them.
Step Two: when you find a background fabric you like, use the mat to cut it out, but leave about 1/2” extra all around. No need for measuring or even cutting straight at this point!
Step Three: peel the paper off of your applique and iron it to your background. You can use the mat again for placement. Just don’t put anything right in the center usually!
Step Four: cut batting or fusible fleece the same size (ish) as your background fabric, and also something for backing. I often use interfacing, but fabric works too. Stack them with backing on the bottom, then fleece/batting, then your design.
Step Five: using straight lines no more than 1/4” apart, quilt the whole piece, through all layers, even the silhouette. I purposely chose a lighter thread for the sailboat so you can see it’s fine if it shows on the appliqués, don’t stress over thread color!
Step Six: use your mat again to cut it, this time exactly the size of the mat. That’s it, pop it in the frame! No need to even finish the edges.
Of course there are endless ways to vary these and/or add more details, I just wanted to start with the very simplest! I could have added a moon to my owl, or birds with the sailboat. The best way to learn is to just try things, so I hope this gives you a starting place. What will you do? A cat, horse, bird, person, fence, cityscape, endless possibilities. If you do it, please share it with me! Either by email, or in my On the Trail Creations VIP Group page, or tag me on IG (onthetrailcreations)
And of course, I'd love to have you join one of my online classes if you haven't yet! Framed Collage, or Simple Secrets for Starting Art Quilting 😊
Happy Valentine's Day! As a thank you for choosing to follow me, I made a little heart/flower card tutorial for you. I also realized that today was supposed to be the last day for the sale on my new card templates, but I have been forgetting to mention it, so I'm extending it through Saturday, Feb. 18! (Buy two card kits or three printed patterns and get the new acrylic card template free. Photo below, no code necessary)
I've been up to my neck in some really fun stuff that's coming, but it makes me forget to stay in touch now! I'm moving my classes over to a new platform (nothing will change for students yet, and we'll give you plenty of time and overlap between the two when we make the switch. But I promise it will be worth it!) I have also had an idea brewing for another big thing, stay tuned! Hmm...
Heart/Flower greeting card tutorial
Did you notice that all of the applique pieces are heart shaped, even the leaves? I happened to have not only fabric with fusible web on it, but even some already cut into hearts. But in case you don't routinely find things like this in your sewing room like I do, either trace several hearts onto the paper side of fusible web, OR, put fusible web on the back of your fabric and cut them freehand. Mine were anywhere from 1" to 2". It's not only ok if they are all different, I think it's better! I used 8 of them for the flower, but anywhere from 5-12 would work. If you use 10-12, I'd maybe do an outer and inner row of them. (I'd love to see if if you try that!)
Next, cut two more, mine are a little larger, for the leaves. Then cut a background piece, batting, and a backing layer, 5 x 6" each. (I use interfacing for backing, but fabric works as well). Stack them with the background on top and interfacing/backing on the bottom. You can quilt the background now if you'd like, I usually wait until after the appliques are on.
Peel the paper off of the hearts, arrange them on your background fabric and fuse them down. OK if the center has a gap, it will be covered by the button. The background just needs to have contrast. I used one fabric, but it could be pieced or collaged as well! Just make sure it doesn't interfere with the flower.
Then add some stitching around the petals and leaves. I used the free motion foot, and I stitched through all of the layers like I usually do. Then quilt the background if you haven't, I used parallel but wiggly lines.
Trim it down to 4" x 5 1/4" (or use the handy template!). Cut binding pieces about 5 1/2" x 1 1/4". See my youtube video here for how to apply it. Add your button, and glue your mini quilt to card stock, which is also covered in the video.
That's it, I hope you have a great day and enjoy this fun little project! Beret
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I had so much fun with the Talkeetna ladies last weekend! They were adventurous quilters, which is a little bit necessary for my classes/projects 😂 They did wall hangings and journal covers, and did great with both! One star student even brought me an apple. 😊And The Patchwork Moose is such a nice shop. These were the first two classes in their brand new classroom!
I'm working on transferring my online classes to a new platform that is SOOO much nicer than trying to make my website do something it wasn't intended to. Nothing will change for awhile if you are in one, but I'm giving you a heads up that it's coming, hopefully in a few weeks. We can keep both going for awhile too for people to transition over. With this platform ONE SIGN IN gets you into all of my classes that you have signed up for, yay! And it's so much prettier and easier to navigate, and even has its own community option. Still trying to decide how best to use that one... students only, open to anyone, a membership? I don't have to choose just one, so we'll see. The class lessons also have a comments option to make it easier to ask questions, so that might take the place of the student community.
New Product! And sale in its honor 😀
I am so excited about this one, I've been wanting to do it for years! I have these for myself, but I had not found a good way to manufacture them for you, until now! They are clear acrylic templates for my greeting cards. If you make more than one or two of these, it's so worth having! You can see through it to choose the best spot to trim them down. And of course you can use it for your own designs as well! (They come with a paper backing, which is why it looks brown in the first photo)
They are only $6, but from now through Valentine's Day, you can get one free with the purchase of any two card kits or three printed patterns! No code needed. I think we're up to 12 different card kit designs! And almost that many pattern only designs also, with more coming, whew!
Click here to see them all better than the fuzzy photos below 😛 Templates on that page also if you just want to order one.
Happy Sewing! Beret
Beret Nelson's On The Trail Creations Blog Page
I am a homeschooling mom of three fun kids, who are now old enough that I have a little time to pursue my passion for sewing! After several years of making quilted cards and art quilts, I'm now designing kits and patterns. Some of my designs have been in Keepsake Quilting and Art Quilting Studios magazine! I teach classes online, and am starting to do more traveling and teaching. I also have many tutorials, including some on YouTube. I am blessed to live in Alaska where I am surrounded by the inspiration provided by the beauty of God's creation!
Free card pattern and also an e-book, and a quilt planning checklist!
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I am also an independent distributor for Plexus supplements, since I credit them with enabling me to be healthy enough to do all these fun things! They target blood sugar and gut health, which are at the root of so many modern health issues. E-mail me for more info, or check out my website! I am as passionate about getting people healthy as I am about getting people creating :-)