Friday, October 17, 2008

Dear Brooke,
If I didn't respect you so much as an artist I wouldn't write what I did below. I think your work has vastly improved over what some of these quilts show, and I understand that you had issues with the machine, the rotary blades etc. I am pointing out these weak areas to help you achieve your full potential. Please know that this is not a critique of you personally, since I love and respect you. I know it is hard to see this when you are struggling to make something for the first time, but I feel you have now graduated and are past these minor hiccups.
Critiquing Your Quilts: I meant to help

This is the best executed of all the quilts you left with me. It shows the most care and concern for details.

It's obvious that you have mastered the machine quilting by the perfection of your signature. When you sign your quilts you are taking your time to do it right. The care you are showing here is to make it beautiful and readable, as well as to make it look like your signature.

This quilt is well designed but some parts of the quilting is better than others. The wiggly lines are not so great, but the machine may have not been on your side when you did these. However I see some examples of areas that missed the mark and could have easily been done better.

The top line is either not quite in the ditch or runs right over the ditch into the design area. It looks like you were rushing and didn't have control. I would have taken out the bad areas and requilted them. The needle up quilting is perfectly neat except for the back stitching. It is better to just stitch in place and then go forward rather than backstitch. Stitch in place like three times and go forward. Clip or pull threads to the back and clip. With your new machine you will hit the scissor button and it will do this for you. Sigh, never mind the quarter inch tails on the back.

The design of this quilt is delicious and the colors are wonderful. However the quilting is not supporting the design of the quilt.

I get what you were aiming at, but it is not working here. If you want the design to say what you did with the quilting, then make a quilt with that design. In this case, the quilting detracts from your design. It would have been better to just stitch in the ditch around the squares. The design would come out clearer that way and be a bit more work, but it would be worth it in the end.

Also, the irregular shape of the quilt is not attractive when so much of the work is squares. You have done this with several of these pieces and by now I think you have it out of your system. Nothing wrong with irregular designs, but not that much is helping them either. If it really has to be irregular for a design reason then do it. But make sure it enhances the design rather than just doing it for no good reason.

This is a well executed quilt but the design is weaker than most of your pieces. This looks like the bottom piece was a leftover and was just stuck on.

This piece is well executed, and perfectly quilted where you did. But it needs to be finished. The hand is not finished and now I wish you had done this while you were here. I am sure the new machine would make it so simple. Also, this quilt should be squared. The binding is messy too and I could have showed you a better way to finish off the corners.

This quilt is simple yet effective, but the quilting is just not good.

It is not a good idea to topstitch next to the edge of a fused piece. In the ditch but not on top. And your quilting over the tree branches is just not good. Better to outline them and again next to but not on top of the piece.

This piece is one of your best designs, until you get up close.

I know you could line these pieces up better than this. Good design means that pieces are trimmed to meet in spots like this. And the new machine will help with the quilting, especially in the pivoting at corners.
Make sure you have enough underlap so the batting doesn't show like it does here.

The new machine will take care of thread messes like this one below.

This quilt is great but could be even better. Squaring it off and quilting it the ditch would have made it a prize winner. As I shot it, I couldn't decide when it was straight.

I am also concerned about all the raveling I am seeing. This shouldn't be happening. I am sure it is the blade or scissors that aren't sharp enough. Blame it on the blade rusting from the humidity.

We agree that this is your best work. Care, finesse, perfect hand work and lovely color.

The only improvement would be in your quilting. The yellow top area has flat ends rather than pointed ends like in the minty green area. This looks better to meet the shape, square it off, and then return the line.

Click on this and you will see that the yellow squared off ends are following the shape of your hand stitching and it looks so much nicer than the pointing ends of the other parts.

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