Meet Judith Trager, Craftsy Art Quilting Instructor

Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in Quilting | Comments

Enjoy meeting Judith? Get a special 25% discount and learn more about her online quilting class, Art Quilt Backgrounds: Beyond Log Cabin.


Video transcript:

The inspiration from my work really comes from nature. It really comes from the world around me. Using natural materials is a big part of my work. And really, a lot of that were things learned from childhood: making leaf prints, painting up leaves and pushing them down to use them as stamps. So I just go out there and look around there in different seasons to try to find out what’s out there that I might be able to use.

I print simple desgns. I like the shapes because then I get to into them with the stitching, and make the stitching another layer, another mark on the fabric. I use the stitching as a mark. If it’s fabric I love it. I’m not so interested in making things in certain fabrics because they don’t fit into the designs that I’m looking for. Although, since I’ve been working on the Canyon series, I find that I’m using rougher materials, less refined stuff. The rocks that I’m making, those sorts of things are really different. They reguire that kind of texture.

I buy fabric whenever I see it and it appeals to me, anywhere I might be. I’ve bought it in the bazaars in Istanbul, I’ve bought it in the markets of Europe, fancy fabric stores in Paris. I’ve bought it wherever. I buy it from my local Jo-Anns.

There is a sort of a bookcase thing that I built to put boxes of fabric in. I just organize everything according to color. I really leave the thread according to the spectrum. I want to see it all the time. I don’t want to go hunting for a particular color of yellow that’s in a drawer someplace, when the color of yellow could be on the wall, where I can see all the colors of yellow at once. Then I can pick out the exact right one at that same moment.

I like building layers. I like starting with a complex background, and then I like to add layer upon layer upon layer. Sometimes I’ll have five or six layers of different kinds of silk screen, stamping, two or three kinds of stitching. And sometimes I’ll actually do some fancy threadwork that’s laid on top of all of it. It’s just another tool for creating something different. It’s important to me that my work is part of what is used as an example for the change for the homely quilt to the fine art piece that goes in somebody’s living room.


  1. Loretta says:

    Interesting interview — gotta say though, I’m still a major fan of “…the homely quilt that goes on a bed” and felt compelled to say so! :)

    1. Kathy says:

      Wow. While I appreciate art quilting as Judith here refers to it for display only, I don’t agree that bed quilts and useful quilts are homely. Beautiful art can also be thoroughly functional. Quilts can warm people on a bed or keep them cozy on a sofa or snuggley on a baby in a crib and still be art. A Stickley chair is art and still meant to be sat in. A Revere candlestick was meant to be used with real candles for lighting, and an Arts and Crafts home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was meant to be lived in. Functional art is STILL art!

      1. When I said the word “homely,” I did not mean “ugly.” I was using the word to denote things made for comfort in the home. I didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers–artists sometimes get a little wordy. And, since I have Stickley furniture that I would not trade for anything and consider it art, I couldn’t agree with you more.

        Now, go make art quilts!


  2. Patti Fenby says:

    Ms. Trager, I’ve been quilting for over 25 years – but still consider myself a beginner… I was so inspired by your video! I wonder if your course may be too advanced for me, but still I am inspired to try new things. Thank you so much! Also – the music in the background is familiar to me, absolutely beautiful (chills). Can you tell me what it is?

    thank you again for inspiration! patti

    1. Support says:

      Hi Patti. Judith Trager’s class “Art Quilt Backgrounds” on Craftsy is best suited for intermediate art quilters. However since your access to Craftsy classes never expire once you’re enrolled and you can re-watch lessons as often as possible, give it a try! You can even ask questions directly for your instructor and fellow classmates. If it’s not a good fit, we’ll find another class that is or issue you a full refund.

    2. Hi Patti,

      I doubt you could find a course with simpler technique. All you have to do is be able to cut and sew straight (or sort of straight) lines and loose your dependence on the ruler. These techniques can be done by anyone–especially someone who has been quilting for 25 years!

      Go for it!

      And as questions through the Craftsy plaftorm as you go. Good luck and I hope to hear from you again! –Judith

  3. Linda D says:

    I hope that Judith meant “homey” and not “homely” when she referred to quilts used in the livingroom!

    1. I meant “homely” as refers to things made for comfort and beauty in the home–not “homely” as in “ugly.”

      Thanks for your comment!


  4. Betsy Cannon says:

    I really enjoyed the interview with Judith. She is a very experienced teacher who knows how to teach the inexperienced quilter new techniques in order to advance her work. I’ve never heard a negative comment about her workshops.

    1. Yeah, Betsy! Thank you for being such a big fan!


  5. Lysiane R says:

    J’adore toutes vos vidéos, mais dommage que je ne comprenne rien, car je ne parle que le français. Je fais du patchwork depuis de plusieurs années, il y la traduction sur les textes écris, mais pas sur le son des vidéos et cela est fort dommage. J’espère qu’un jour pas trop lointain cela se fera. Amicalement à vous.

    1. Many thanks. Hope the class is of use to you and I look forward to hearing from you again!



  6. RO says:

    Lighten up ladies!! Ms. Trager didn’t say anything so terrible to get all these comments in turn. There is a difference in art quilts and a quilt made for a bed to be sat on and enjoyed as a covering. For one, an art quilt should never be thrown in a washer. I believe Ms. Trager never said one is superior to another. I make both and I consider myself an intermiediate art quilter. I’ll just take this class to see what I can learn from her. I enjoyed her interview.

    1. Right on! Now go make a quilt–they’re all valuable, be they art quilts or bed quilts. Hey–this summer I made two kids quilts for victims of the Colorado fires. They were fun and easy (I used the same technique I teach in lessons 1 & 2 of my Art Quilt Background class) and I know some kid out there will consider this homely, comforting, and art.

      Thanks for putting things in perspective!


  7. Patti says:

    Just wondering if anyone knows anything about the background music …I’d asked in my first posting; it’s beautiful.

  8. Sharon Podolski says:

    I have been sewing since Jr. sewing class in l964 with Sister Florentine. I consider myself an “imperfectionist” so a project like this Jelly Roll Race quilt is right up my alley. Any suggestions for using my own fabric to make my own jellyrolls???
    Thanks for the inspiration. Sharon

  9. Maria says:

    Hi I love all three videos n I want to buy straight, circles template where do I buy ?? N I’m beginners n I used to use beeswax textiles n die fabric in 1974 in college but things change wow I like to learn new textiles fabrics like u did the leaves I love it smile!! Also learn quilting n I want to buy the templates pls sende information thank u n happy quilting!!!

  10. vsb says:

    I’m in love. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that makes my heart sing! :+)

  11. Karen James says:

    Very enjoyable video. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and point of view. Great music too.

  12. tina says:

    great ideas on this sight i love the tutorial i think this sight is great ty so much i have learned so much…..

  13. Jean says:

    Depends where you grew up oand or your culture. In UK. ‘homely’ means very comforting and useful around the house. this side of hte pond it usually means ugly.

  14. Bonnie Griffith says:

    Your work is beautiful.The background music was so loud i was not able to hear what you were saying I would loved to have heard you talk about your work.

  15. Suzanne Frazier says:

    Great video. Enjoyed learning about your process. Thank you. suzanne