Guild Goodies!

So… I belong to the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and we have meetings and group sew days every month. Our guild is a fantastic group of creative and motivated people, and I just found out we are at 175 members! That’s BIG.

Anyway, I’m helping our guild organize a group show for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (if you’re a member and reading this – Enter your quilts here) … and honestly I got a little frustrated with how unorganized I can be. So before the meeting, I took the time to layout a timeline for the event and list all pertinent information in one place. It felt good to get that done… and I feel I was karmically rewarded for that effort – because I won an awesome door prize at the meeting!

Check out all these goodies: Awesome fabrics, especially the new line from Violet Craft called Brambleberry Ridge… some super fun pins from Sam Hunter, a Modern Quilts Day Planner, a marking pencil – and to top it off, a free 3-month subscription to Creative Bug where I can take a log cabin class from Susan Beal.

I was SO excited! I keep petting my new fabrics. My daughter is in love with the deer and the bird prints, and has already called “dibs” on whatever quilt I make with that fabric.

I was able to make a bunch of hexies at the meeting too – starting my second round of Cerise hexies around the border. Trying to decide if I should change it up a little to a darker shade for the next round… what do you think?

Since the sun has been out here and there this spring, we’re trying to do some planting around the house too – we recently planted this forsythia bush in the SW corner of our yard.  Hoping to fill the whole front with bushes and trees – we live on a busy street. Can’t wait to see it all yellow next spring!!

My last bit to share is our new kitty:

His name is “Cat” for now… he’s an outdoor dude. When we moved here 8 months ago, there was a house fire down the street, and this cat was displaced when that family moved. My husband noticed him hanging out on the neighbors porch, asked them about the cat and they said it belongs to the family of the house fire. Gregg felt so bad for the homeless kitty, he covered a pillow in plastic (to sit on in the wet grass) and went over and sat with the kitty for an hour or so everyday for a few months. Eventually he started coming to our place, and now when I open the curtain to the patio door, this is what I see in the morning:

We thought of bringing him inside, but he gets really freaked out when we shut a door – and Gregg is fairly allergic to cats (yes, he has to wash body/clothing after every kitty hang out session). So we bought him some food, give him some water and just love him whenever he wants some attention. It’s so great to have a little furry creature around again… although I’m still dying to get a new doggie when we can.

New Fabric

New fabric is always fun to get! I’m pretty lucky that a big fabric store is now walking distance from my house… yesterday I got some very pretty solid fabric for the border of the Jellyfish Hexie quilt. It’s called Cerise and I pretty much love it.

I’m also adding a row of white hexies so that this quilt will sort of match the Squid Quilt I made a few years back and they can hang together.  I think I will do a few rows of the Cerise hexies instead of adding strips of fabric for the border, which means I’ll have to make some half-hexies for the edges so it will have a straight edge on the sides.

Finished Squid Hexie Quilt

I haven’t been too happy with all the blue hexies I made, so I’m making more… this is making this part of the layout take more time than I was hoping, but I’ve learned to wait until I’m happy before moving forward on a project, otherwise it may never get finished.

My daughter has been using my sewing machine for her latest cosplay costume… and I’m jonesin’ to get it back. I have two quilt backs to make and I like to do those as improv pieces, I have fabric and a general plan – I just need my machine back. Luckily this is a good push for me to finish the layout and get to the piecing part of the Jellyfish.

What are you working on this week?

Jellyfish Layout

Trying something new here… a video! (hope it works!) Really, it’s just a bunch of photos of my layout process of the Jellyfish Hexie Quilt. This spans about 4 days of puttering around with 1/2″ hexies.

When I laid out the Dragon Quilt, it took over 2 months playing around before I came up with a layout I was happy with. I’m hoping this one goes quicker! This is the hardest and most important part of this whole project. I’m wanting to make sure I’m happy with it before I start stitching it all together.

This is how it works when your pattern is made of flat colors. It’s the patterns in the fabric that really give it life.

My work world has become super busy… and I still have a couple other quilts to finish. I’m hoping I can continue to make good progress on this quilt through it all.

This Is Happening

Starting layout for jellyfish hexie quilt

Sometimes you just need to “do” rather than talk… or blog.  This is what is happening with my jellyfish hexie quilt right now. I have more pictures and info about how I got to this point and what I’m doing, but I am compelled to work on this quilt rather than type, so for now all you get is a photo.  Enjoy!

A Hexie Count Check

My little pile of current hexies was starting to overflow this morning:

I make them until this plastic container gets full, then I empty it out and divide colors and do a count

Then I add them to the bags of hexies I have already

As of today, I have about 350 left to make!! Lucky for me, the PMQG is having a hand-sew day this afternoon – and I’m going to take advantage of it.  I need to start thinking of my design board… it’s going to be time to lay this out soon!

Blocks… Part Of The Process

Recently, there has been a new project in the mix. I have an idea that I want to see to fruition, but I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get there. I plan to put an image over a finished quilt top using screen printing… but my plans keep changing as I move further through the process.

To start, I wanted a basic quilt top to use as test, so I have to make one. I decided to use the Anita’s Arrowheads technique to make blocks. It’s a really fun a quick technique to make this block

 I changed my size to make the block a little bigger than her original… and after a test, I went into production mode.

A note as to fabric choices here… I found some Lucky Penny fabric on sale at Fabric Depot and decided it would work great for a saturated colorway. I am purposely choosing dark and saturated colors because the printing will be more visible that way.  After bringing home these two patterned fabrics, I went through my solids to use to finish the top. I don’t have a huge stash, so the colorways are a little random, but I love how random things turn out, so I’m going with it.

Even fabric scraps are pretty!

After piecing these guys all together and doing some trimming, I have 22 blocks of which I only need 20 for a 4×5 block front. 

I’ve just started this layout… this is not how it will finish, in fact I took this photo to use to check tonality. When I change it to black and white and pump up the contrast, it really helps to see what I want to see, and make needed changes
Of course it would help to get it off the carpet and have a neutral background, but you get the idea. From here I will move pieces around until I’m happy.
Then the fun part starts.  I’ll tell you more about the screen print process in my next post on this quilt.
I’m keeping myself soooo busy. I have to – been having many headaches and pain issues and these things kind of get me down. Sometimes really down. Keeping busy and making things takes my mind off.
…and I’m still making hexies – aren’t they cute!

One Month In

I’m exactly one month into the Jellyfish Hexie quilt project – and I’m happy to report I have over half of the hexies made already! I need just over 2000 pieces, just counted today and I’m at 1,042!

This is the point where I try to cement my other colorways. Here is what I have for the tentacles so far:

yellow, light grey, red-orange, aqua, light orange, pink, green, and light purple at this point… but I still may change my mind. I only need 40-50 pieces for each tentacle, so I can make up a few other colorways and have some to choose from.

Thanks Juline, Cherri, and Cath… I think I now have all the blue fabrics I need for this project!

Getting these little packets of scraps was so exciting – very much like a birthday that never ends.

This week, I also started cutting into my next project. I’m calling it:  *SPQ*

It’s a quilt of which I am unsure of how it will come out… a test of sorts. I started by picking my fabrics and cutting 10.5″ rough squares.

They will be paired up, to make 22 sets. They will be starched and ironed, then will be cut down to 10″ squares – then I can start sewing. Since this is a work in progress, or maybe more of a thought in process, I’m just going to share what I’m doing as I go along.

Back At It

Last week I stopped progress on the Jellyfish quilt because I ran out of fabrics I wanted to use. Luckily, I got reinforcements at the PMQG meeting on Tues *thanks!*, and last night I was able to get a bunch of squares cut… and another 50 little hexies made:

I did a count… I’m at 950 pieces made! 75 more to halfway – I’m feeling really good about the progress.

I’m thinking this quilt will look a little different than my last two hexie quilts where I struggled to find monochromatic fabrics so that the quilt image would be more visible. This time, I’m using way more patterned fabrics.  Should be interesting!  I’m also making extra hexies so I have colorway options to play with when I’m in the layout phase.

This week we started another quilt project. When I say “we” I mean me and my hubby – which is super exciting. We work best in tandem when it comes to creative projects – we collaborate well! I just did a fabric pull of solids for this project:

It’s kind of a “figure it out as we go along” type of thing, and I think I’ll share the journey. To me, process is the BEST part of quilting, and it’s usually different for each quilt I make. More to come…

Snow Days

Here in Portland, it’s been snowing for a few days! This is a bit strange for this town… everything shuts down because there seems to be no snow removal system here.  I even see people on cross country skis on the roads! Here’s a view from my living room window:

So pretty! I’m about ready to go out to make snow angels myself since there are no little kids in the house 😉

Since we’ve been staying home a lot, I was able to make a little more progress on my Jellfyfish Hexie Quilt.  Here’s all my baggies of little goodies:

You can see how my color palates are coming out… I need one more jellyfish pink/purple to go between the pink polka-dot and the burgundy above it.  I’m also going to get more of those polka dots! I need more deep aqua/teal-y colors for the “water” too… but I have over 900 of those left – so I can still make it look more watery. On the left are all the tentacle colors… took a count this morning, and I have 600 hexies done!!  Pretty close to a third of the way.

What are you working on today?

Superbowl Sewing!

I love scheduled “tv time” like the Superbowl. To me it means time to sew! I was able to get all the blue/purple hexies to the left done during the game and two Dexter episodes, about 125 total. That’s a good day in my hexie world!

I’m more of a soccer and basketball fan, so I didn’t really care about watching the game, but I’m happy Seattle took the win! I’m hoping the Blazers can follow suit this year, that would be awesome, and would mean more sewing time for me!

Digging through boxes from moving, I found my box of used hexies from the dragon quilt, so now I have plenty of papers – a quick press with an iron and they are ready to re-use.

I probably have around 350 hexies made so far – that’s about 35 per day. At this pace I should have all the pieces made in a little over 2 months. I guess we’ll see how that goes 😉

It’s A Start

I pulled some fabrics for the Jellyfish hexie quilt – and have got some hexies done over the last two days. I’m going to need a LOT more deep blue/aqua/teal fabrics for the “water” part. Anyone up for a fabric swap?

These little 1/2″ hexies are so cute! I love making them, they are super addictive… and that’s a good thing! It’s time to work on my diet again.  Hi. My name is Gail and I’m a sugar addict.

It’s not like I eat a ton of sugary things and have to have a hard candy in my mouth at all times, I just have been having some blood sugar issues and I feel better when I cut my carb consumption down and delete sugar from my diet.

You’d think the benefit of avoiding diabetic status would make this easy, but it’s not for me. I’m working to get through a whole day without sugar. Chocolate is my big downfall, and… since I had some yesterday, I’m freshly starting this journey anew today. I feel more like an addict than while on any other drug in my past. No joke.

That’s why I needed this project, I need something to keep me from putting sweet things in my mouth. Keeping fingers busy with stitching is a great way to do that. I’ll make sweet things for the eyes and try to give my pancreas a rest.

A Hexie Way

A friend of mine just asked me a bunch of questions about how I make paper-pieced hexies, thanks for the inspiration to write about it, Karen D.

There are many steps and procedures to making an English Paper-Pieced (EPP) project. Since I’m a hexie addict, I thought I’d share a little about my process.

**I should mention: I’m a self taught graphic designer and beginning quilter with a passion for hexies and color. While I’m creating, I don’t worry about how I’m “supposed to” do things, or the “quilt police”. I just do things the way that works best for me until I’m shown something better. You may already know way more than I do… and that’s okay.**

DESIGN:
Most people think of the Grandmothers Flower Garden design when they think of hexagons. It’s a great place to start – they make beautiful quilts, and you don’t have to think too much about the design until you are sewing the actual “flowers” together.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt – maker unknown (found by my neighbor) – Quilt top quilted by Nancy Stovall

Personally, I love the idea of quilts with more of an iconic design and bright colors, almost like a show poster. When I was shown how to make hexies for the first time at a PMQG meeting in 2010, I finally realized a way to create the type of quilts I wanted to make.

I use Adobe Illustrator to design my quilts. It’s a great program, but sometimes I wish I used a program that figured out your fabric requirements for you. One of those programs is the Threadbias Design Tool, I’ve heard great things about this one, but haven’t used it myself.

In Illustrator I work with color to differentiate between colorways… but I may not use the same colors in fabric as the design illustrates. I create the design in actual size on the computer so I know how big it will be. The image size is reduced to fit on a sheet of paper and I print it out, and that becomes my pattern. I name each colorway, and count how many hexies are in it.

PREP
As you can see, I labeled my colors: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H plus the background color, and a border color (which is not represented on my pattern).  I counted how many hexies for each color way and wrote them down on a piece of paper, cut them up and put in individual baggies ready to collect hexies in that colorway

Once I have my counts, I get my hexies out. Before I do ANY sewing, I take the time to punch a hole in each hexie. This step is very important! It will save you so much time when you are done with your quilt top and need to take these papers out. I use paper pieces from Paperpieces.com. It is worth the money to have exact sized pre-made hexagaons! I only wish they came with a pre -punched hole.

I’ve never used plastic templates or cut them myself from old cardstock. I know some have had great experience with this… but not me. Seems to take way too much time.

The last thing I do to get ready is to prep a layout board. You can use a design board (rigid foam insulation covered with batting that rolls over to the back and is taped to the backside – here is a tutorial) to lie on a table and hold your hexies for layout before sewing them together. The board should be bigger than your finished quilt size.  When I laid out the Dragon quilt, I used a 4’x6′ board which was just barely enough space to work within.

This board will need to find a good flat home for as long as you are sewing this quilt together. I was lucky enough to have the space in the corner of my sewing room, but while I was sewing it together, I was very limited in what I could do in my workspace. The Jellyfish I’m currently working on will be about 2’x4′, much smaller, but still tough to find space for it. It’s an issue I’m still pondering.

NOTIONS
Once you have your board ready, design done, and hexie pieces prepped, it’s time to put a sewing kit together! You’ll want something that can hold 50 finished paper pieces (you have to work hard to make that many in a day), a small scissors, a whole package of needles, a thimble, a spool of thread, and space for 50 fabric squares.

MAKING EACH HEXIE
For the 1/2″ hexies, I prefer 1.5″ squares of fabric instead of an actual hexie shape with a 1/4″ seam allowance. It’s much faster to cut the fabric pieces that way, and I like how they bulk up (after being quilted) with the extra layer of fabric on the backside of the hexie.

Here is a ‘not so great’ video I quickly made just to show how I sew each one together. I don’t sew through the paper template, just the fabric. The main trick is to make sure the fabric is tight around the paper template each time you make a stitch.  Because these are 1/2″ hexies, I only need to sew the corners. The same works for 3/4″ hexies too, but once I get to 1″ or larger, I have to sew through the paper.

LAYOUT
Once I have all my hexies made for a quilt, I lay them all out on the layout board I discussed earlier. This part is super fun, but I can become obsessive with finding just the right spot for each hexie. By laying them out before sewing, you have full control of how the design will look before stitching them all together.

SEWING ROWS
When the hexie pattern is complete on the layout board, I pick a diagonal row to start stitching together. Here in the squid quilt, you can see the row I was working on because it’s missing.

To stitch the hexies up into rows, I start with two hexies WRONG sides together. Using a ladder stitch, I start from the center, work to one side, then the other, then back to the center to tie a knot and secure it before moving onto the next hexie in the row.

How did I keep my pieces straight to know exactly how to sew them together?
I made a “tool”: I used a 2″ wide x 18″ strip of batting to carefully set my row of hexies on in the order they were to be stitched, then I covered that with a 1.5″ wide x 18″ piece of fabric. Then, starting from the furthest hexie, roll it up. As you open your “roll” for work, it should start with the next hexie in the design.
                                   
I stick the roll in a little plastic container with the batting on the bottom and carefully pull the batting as you need hexies, they will pop out like a little Pez dispenser, and you can roll the “used” batting under the other side as you go.  I may need to make a little video for this at some point too!

Sewing these strips takes some time, as they are finished I put them back on the layout board and keep going. In this photo, you can see the middle strips are sewn. You WILL need a thimble for this work, and even still I ended up with a nice callous on a couple fingers.

STITCHING ROWS TOGETHER
The last bit is to sew these rows of hexies together. I personally found that it worked best (for me) to lay the piece flat and whip stitch together making knots at every corner point. Here is a picture of the seams on the back of the dragon quilt before I took out the basting and papers.

When all the rows are stitched up, you can take out all the papers. First I go over the whole quilt snipping the basting on each hexie, I leave the thread in place. Then I use a toothpick and “grab” the hexie by the punched hole with the toothpick and just pop them out.

When you’re done you end up with a big pile of hexie papers. On this quilt I also picked out all the basting thread.

After a little press with the iron, most of these pieces are reusable! Once you get to this point, you need a big pat on the back… maybe even a celebration! It’s the best feeling in the world to finish a project like this… maybe that’s why I’ve started another one 🙂

So that’s about it for the way I make my hexies… how about you? Do you have any fantastic hexie tips to share?

Jellyfish On My Mind

Gaaahhh…. I have jellyfish on the brain!!  
I’ve been keeping up with the news about Fukushima, and it’s distressing to say the least. I don’t plan on getting political on this post… but I keep reading an articles, like this one, about how the jellyfish in the oceans are so prolific (due to fishing of their natural predators) that they are being attracted to, and then get sucked into nuclear reactors so the reactors need to be shut down to clean them out.  
I don’t know what to make of it, other than our planet is definitely changing… and maybe these amazing creatures are trying to save us. Unlikely, yes – but I like to think big!
While pondering my possible translucent global allies, I decided they would be the focus of my next hexie quilt. Here is the base design I made last night:
Jelly Hexie Quilt design – Gail Weiss

I think a jellyfish would look great with The Squid Quilt.  On this quilt I really want deep turquoises, aquas, blues… so deep they are almost black for the background.  A hot pink top and bright colors will make up the rest of him. Since this design is flat with no patterns depicted, it will look completely different as a quilt. I love that element of surprise!

As it’s laid out, it will be approx 24″ x 48″ made out of 1/2″ hexies. I just printed the pattern out so I can count how many hexies in each color way I’ll need. Oh… it’s just so exciting!  Who would have thought I could miss hand stitching so much?