Judy Coates Perez

Judy and I meet several years ago when Judy moved to the Chicago land area. It has been fun getting to know such a talented quilter. Judy has a degree in graphic design and it shows in her work. Judy paints and uses inks in most of her quilts, so her take on using thread is a little different then most of us. I asked Judy if she would share with us her experience quilting on painted and inked fabrics.
Here are her responses to my questions.
Judy you have machine quilted all of your wonderful painted quilts. What threads have you used that you really like to work with?  And why.
For a lustrous sheen I really like Superior Rainbows.
For a bold quilting line I like Superior King Tut cotton.
For a little glitz I prefer Superior metallic thread, it’s very strong.
For general fill quilting I use a lot of Madeira Polyneon, it’s strong and comes in hundreds of colors.
When I want the thread to be least noticeable I like Superior MonoPoly. I like that it comes in clear for light colors and smoke for dark colors and is very strong.
Because I hate stopping to wind bobbins, I really like Superior Bottom Line, its a strong lightweight polyester thread that will go a lot further when quilting.
Illustrated Document No 1 by Judy Perez

What is your favorite type of needle to use with these threads and why?

I use Organ titanium needles for everything. They are strong and stay sharp longer. If the needle hits the throat plate when sewing, the needle will bend into a hook shape instead of snapping off and flying through the air. Evidently titanium also stays cooler creating less heat friction so it’s easier on specialty threads. Superior now sells the same needles under their own brand name.

You create your own quilting designs where do you get your inspiration from? Can you tell us about that?

8 of Cups by Judy Perez
I am very drawn to medieval floral imagery and find that I can stitch leaf and flower inspired forms to fill all sorts of unusual shaped spaces. So that is my preferred “meandering” type fill for quilting in backgrounds.

What kind of problems have you encountered with machine quilting on your painted quilts?
Fauna by Judy Perez

Painted fabric is not very forgiving to quilting mistakes. Because the fabric has a surface of paint, the fibers are essentially glued together and can’t move apart to allow the needle to slide between the woven threads, instead the needle literally punches a hole through the fabric that does not close up. With thread going over the surface of the quilt and through the holes it’s not a problem, but if you stitch in the wrong area and remove the thread, there can be noticeable holes left in the quilt and there is really no way to fix that.

What else would you like to talk about related to thread?

I’m of a mind that often less is more. Like in cooking too much sauce can ruin an entrée, overwhelming and smothering the flavors of the main ingredient, but just the right amount compliments it and brings out the richness the dish.
Because the integration of thread is such an important aspect of the process, choosing the right threads for a project is so important. I’m not a big fan of what I see as the current trend of excessive quilting. At exhibition venues, I notice people are often impressed by how much thread has been used or how tiny the quilting motifs are on some work. I think the thread choice and the quilting lines should enhance the imagery on the quilt not obscure the fabric beneath, unless the work is really about “thread painting” where the thread becomes the medium for creating imagery. 
I spend a lot of time painting my fabric because I love painting and the way the painted surface looks. I can create visuals that would not be possible with fabric alone. I don’t want to cover all the subtle textures and details of the painting with thread, but I want the quilting lines to add another element of visual imagery to the work, that relates to the style and theme of the piece. The quilting thread should look like an integrated part of the design not like a last step in the process added simply to hold all the fabric together.
Primordial Sea by Judy Perez
Thank you so much Judy. Your work is amazing and an inspiration to us all. I studied the quilting you did in this quilt and it led me to develop my own version, I call it Bark.
Jack in the Pulpits by Frieda Anderson

3 responses on “Judy Coates Perez

  1. Cornwoman

    I love Judy’s work, and it was really interesting to hear what her choices for thread (as well as the needles) are. I just bought some of those needles for the first time and am trying the first one now. Thanks for the interview with her!

  2. Deb

    Two friends and I had the good fortune of taking Judy’s Tsunikeno Inks class in St. Paul last year. She and her lovely daughter joined us for dinner. It was a pleasure getting to know her a little bit. Thanks for sharing the information about the thread. Her quilting is marvelous and I will certainly put this information to good use. Thanks for sharing.

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