Good Photos Matter

Manipura final

I was able to get a good photo of my Manipura quilt this week and I’m so thrilled with the results!

Manipura final

This is the photo I had taken before. You know the kind, where you plead with your husband or partner to stand on a chair and hold up the quilt all nice and straight… and this is the best we could get:

Manipura Quilt Front

See the difference? Wow! Lighting is very important – indirect is best, and having a stand to keep things flat really helps too… and a good camera! I’m lucky I have a friend who helps me with all this, because people only look at photos when they pick quilts for quilt shows – so it really matters that it looks as good as possible.

The more I look at this quilt, the more I love it. It is charged emotionally for me. The story behind the quilt is as follows:

I was doing my nightly yoga practice and a thought popped into my head. It was the realization that it has been 30 years since I’ve seen or talked to any of my 3 younger sisters. I was kicked out of the family home due to religious differences, and they have avoided me ever since. This thought brought me to tears. I cried through my whole yoga routine, it was a deep, ugly cry – you know the type – where you wake up the next day with a puffy face and tired body – that kind of cry.

I knew I needed to process these intense emotions, and I thought of making a quilt, of course. For the next few weeks, I started dreaming about yellow quilts. Yellow fabric, yellow thread, wearing yellow, eating bananas, sewing in the sunshine… all yellow and bright. I also knew I wanted to use triangles to symbolize 30 years / 3 sisters. While these thoughts were bubbling around in my head, I saw my massage therapist who told me about the Manipura Chakra which governs our self-esteem and uses an inverted yellow triangle as its symbol. It also governs all the physical organs that are giving me health issues. That was all I needed to be motivated to create this design!

I wanted to use both green-shade yellows and red-shade yellows in the same quilt – to really show how seemingly very slight differences of opinion can be so glaringly different from each other. The only way I could do that was to add in some neutrals (browns and greys) and I made them look like tears to represent my sadness. What’s interesting is those darker colors really make that center triangle pop out, almost 3-dimensionally! The whole time I stitched on this quilt, I repeated the mantra:

I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this reality effortlessly.

I would say this quilt is my statement of independence from both the prescribed religion and family I was born into. I have found myself, my people, and my spirituality all on my own and this quilt reflects that nicely.

Quilting for therapy is probably the best thing I’ve ever stumbled upon… it’s such a great way to process emotion: cutting pretty things apart, then putting them back together to create something completely new and beautiful in a different way. It is so much better than the way I use to deal with emotions, which was to drink them away. Now I have something to show for my time instead of daily hangovers!

2016 Quilt Finishes

Oceans Of Blue Quilt

When I look back over this crazy year, I realize that I’ve been quite productive in my quilting efforts compared to previous years. I think it’s because I’m loving my new Juki machine!

Here are all the quilts I finished this year:

Green Cross Quilt #3
Green Cross Series #3
Green Cross Series #4
Green Cross Series #4
Earth Energy Quilt
Earth Energy Quilt
Green Gardens Quilt
Green Gardens
Oceans Of Blue Quilt
Ocean’s of Blue – Swirling Oceans Quilt Pattern
Big Hexies
POP – Big Hexie Quilt using my own fabric designs from Spoonflower
Root Chakra quilt
Root Chakra Quilt
Hexie Hummingbird Finish
Hexie Hummingbird
Manipura Quilt Front
Manipura Quilt

I hope 2017 proves to be just as productive for me. I want to follow through and do 5 more quilts based on the Chakra system to complete that as a series, finish my 2nd Hexie Hummingbird, and possibly start a new hexie project!

What are your 2017 quilt goals?

Changes…

Hexie Hummingbird No.2 Layout

Phew… boy oh boy. I have been on a crazy physical and emotional rollercoaster lately, and I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to getting older and being female. Ugh. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Yeah, I think it’s that time. I’m 47 and the average age is 51, so it looks like I’m right on schedule. This is one of those times I wish I could talk to my mom and find out more about her health issues. Instead I’m reading up on the subject and learning a lot on my own about this somewhat intangible thing called peri-menopause.

This could be the base of a lot of my recent ‘mystery symptoms’! The thing that tipped me off was I recently started getting morning sickness… and I’m definitely not pregnant. Who knew this can be a symptom?!? I sure didn’t, and if it’s anything like the morning sickness I had while pregnant 26 years ago, I will be miserable every morning till it’s over. This along with many other fun things like hot flashes are my new reality.

As you know, I need to find a silver lining in everything, or else my depression can take hold and pull me to never never land. So… I’m excited that this may be the cause of other awful symptoms… and it all could be going away soon!!  I just have to get over the hump. To do that, I’m immersing myself in quilting.

I brought my Juki in for a cleaning and tune-up and since I’m now without a machine, I started another hexie project! Hexies always cheer me up – they are so freaking cute!

Hexie Hummingbird Finish

A good friend purchased my Hexie Hummingbird Quilt recently, so I decided to make another one with my left-over hexies. This was much harder to lay out than the first one due to my dwindling resource of made hexies… but I’m still happy with it. This photo is close to the layout I ended up with:

Hexie Hummingbird No.2 Layout

Pretty cute, right? I like it because I’m using bright, big patterned fabrics. Very different than the usual monochromatic patterned fabrics I usually choose. This is going to be fun to sew! I’m going to keep track of my time on this too. It was very interesting to see my time spent on my last quilt, and that helps give me confidence to value my work more accurately.

manipura quilt-gail weiss

Speaking of which… this is me with the Manipura Quilt at our most recent PMQG meeting – thanks to Kimberly Lumapas for the photo! I was so nervous I don’t think I was even making any sense up there… but my guild is so supportive! As soon as the quilt unfolded, there was a bunch of applause and it made me feel like a rock star! (a little embarrassed too – if I’m being honest)

I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out, but – I really enjoyed the process of making it more than any other quilt I’ve made so far.  Now that I’ve made two Chakra quilts, I think I’m going to follow through and do all seven. It will be a fun design challenge, and if I use the process of quilting for healing – it can only be good!

 

Manipura Quilt Finish!

Manipura Quilt Front

Oh… I am so excited to have finished this quilt today! It’s our Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting tonight, and I’ll be able to share this thing!Manipura Quilt Front

I also wanted to write a quick post about this quilt just because when I speak in front of our group (150+?), I get quite nervous. I never remember all that I want to say, and even if I do, my voice shakes so hard I’m amazed anyone can understand me.

So… this quilt is called the Manipura quilt. Manipura is another name for the 3rd Chakra, also called the Solar Plexus Chakra. Here is more information about healing and the Chakra (or energy) system of the body, but generally speaking, it’s a way of moving energy toward healing… very much like the practice of Qi Gong.

Manipura quilted back

I have many chronic pains, along with liver and digestive issues, so I try to do self-care in as many ways as possible. Working with color and texture is extremely therapeutic for me! This yellow quilt has been a ‘safe-space’ to go for me during the last few weeks, with all the political crap happening here – I’ve been very thankful to have this escape.

I used wool batting and a basic muslin back because I plan to sleep with this quilt, and it really feels awesome! It’s part of the reason the quilting is very plain – just stitch in the ditch – I wanted it puffy and soft for sleeping with. Sometimes: Less is More.

I dreamt about making yellow quilts for days *nights* before designing this one – so it seems like it was important, even if I don’t understand why. After dreaming about it, I was inspired to study more about the 3rd Chakra. Turns out, it’s all about self-worth… which is fitting for a quilter, and especially me.

binding

For this quilt, I kept track of every minute I stitched. It took 91 hours and 4 minutes to cut fabric and sew it together, as well as baste, quilt, and bind it. I did not include any time for design, fabric choices or figuring out how to sew this pattern together. (It’s the first time I made it, and it’s my own pattern).  It’s a valuable quilt.  More so to me personally – I put so much positive energy into this quilt while sewing, it’s totally charged!

For more about why I made this quilt, you can read all the posts about it here. Suffice to say, I’m thrilled it’s done, but a little sad too – I need another project STAT!

 

Next Step… Quilting!

Manipura Quilting

Quilting is made up of so many steps… by the time you get to the actual quilting stage of the game you realize there is a whole new layer of design to contemplate.

Manipura Quilting

I think I’m going to ‘stitch in the ditch’ and after I go over all the seams, I’ll see if, and where, I would want to quilt more. The quilting of this piece can be simple to offset the busyness of the patchwork.

For this quilt, I used a plain muslin backing and wool batting – it’s already feeling quite yummy! Wool batting works really well for spray basting because it holds it’s shape better than a cotton batting.

Manipura basting

Look how awesome it looks already… and I haven’t even quilted it yet!! I’m loving everything about this – especially the process of making it.

Because this quilt is based on the Third Chakra or Manipura, I’m focusing on my personal self-worth while creating this physical piece. I’ve actually kept track of every minute I’ve spent.

Manipura NotesSo far, I’m over 70 hours into this project – cutting and sewing time only. Design, layout, fabric and decision making ponderings are not included in this time. I still have quite a few hours to put in for quilting and binding. At a wage of $20/hr, I’m making an “over-priced quilt” by the standards of today’s marketplace. However it’s priceless to me, due to how helps me emotionally.

Right now, I can use all the calm I can get… I know I’m not the only one reeling from the upcoming election. I can’t wait for it all to be over with and we can move on and stop this awful feeling of overwhelming stagnation. I’m also pulled to North Dakota and Standing Rock Sioux, and to the hundreds of other indigenous tribes from around the globe, who are trying to protect our planet and the water on it.  I give thanks daily for their efforts, and have donated funds. If you’d like to help, here is a good site to contribute to: StandingRock.org

I found out the other day that I have some nerve damage in my mouth, and it causes pain that can’t really be fixed. I noticed it gets worse with inflammation, so now with PMS, I get dental pain – so fun. There are also a bunch of failing crowns and inlays that are only a few years old that will need to be replaced. I’m trying to cut down on stress, and having to go to the dentist isn’t helping.

To top things off- we wrecked our car the other night.

wreckedsubie

This is what happens when someone randomly stops in the flow of traffic. Luckily no one was hurt, and we were able to drive it home (only a few blocks away). The bummer part of it all is that this was our only car… and I would be surprised if it’s not a total – the airbags even went off.  So instead of quilting, I’ve been on the phone with insurance agents, and looking at cars for sale. I’m hoping to find an inexpensive, good running car – I don’t think we’re able to swing a monthly car payment.

**Deep Breathing**
I have to keep reminding myself that good often comes from change.

Speaking of which, here is where I do my meditation, yoga, and more recently – inversions. (see the inversion table?) yogaspace

This photo was taken around midnight (I practice late) so it’s a bit dark. When the sun is out, this room is bright and wonderful. I’m lucky we don’t have living room furniture yet…it leaves plenty of room for movement. You can see how calming this space is. There is no video in this room either – just plants. It’s simple and awesome at the same time!

…And very much needed.

What are you doing to stay sane this week?

 

Pondering…

Manipura Quilt in progress

I have been actively working on The Manipura Quilt. It’s a quilt made of 792 long isosceles triangles that combine and create one large downward pointing triangle in the center.  It is a quilt based on healing or opening the Third Chakra – more about that here.

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The 99 blocks are all finished, and I’m following my printed pattern – so it’s just a matter of going through the motions of  accurately sewing the blocks together. This gives me a lot of time to think, and honestly… maybe there is too much to think about right now.  I keep referring back to the mantra that goes with the making of this quilt:

“I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this reality – effortlessly.”

Confident, successful, and effortless are not words I’ve used to describe myself… ever, so – this is real work for me personally.

Manipura Quilt in progress

Success is a hot topic on my social media feeds lately (a couple great reads listed below). It means different things to different people.  Most people seem to want a success that looks like fame and wealth. Don’t get me wrong… I’d love more funds to cover health and dental work, and get out of debt. However, I need success to be attainable to me, and I may never be ‘successful’ in making money in the art or quilting world.

Manipura Quilt in progress

So I will allow myself to feel successful for: 1. Leaving a religiously fundamentalist family which was/is very hard, 2. Leaving an abusive relationship or two, 3. Stopping the use of alcohol, meth, and cigarettes, 4. Owning a home after being homeless, 5. Creating a family business that pays the bills, 6. Creating a family full of love, communication, and compassion, and 7. Creating time, space and funds to actively quilt.

These things make me feel good, which will help in the confidence department. There are a slew of other things that make me feel like crap about myself, so it’s a real work in progress to feel any confidence. Anxiety, on the other hand, seems to be my best friend… and is constantly whispering thoughts of ineptitude into my brain.

blocks4

As I circle around my personal thoughts, I realize I have much to work on emotionally. I’m so thankful I found quilting – it’s a sort of vent or release for me for many issues. I love working through my emotions to a place of feeling accomplished… just with some fabric and thread. On top of that, you create a beautiful source of reference for when those bad feelings may re-emerge, and you need strength to move on.

With all the craziness in the world today, between corrupt politicians, corporations, and media – I look forward to every bit of time I have to sew – time to clear my head and have success in making something comforting out of nothing.

Manipura Quilt in progress

Here are some great reads on success and art that I was turned onto by some FB friends:

Snarling Girl by Elisa Albert

Cynthia Daignault on not commodfiying your art

Ahnoni on art, corporations, and the music industry

 

A New Method – Foundation Paper Piecing

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

I recently designed a new quilt that will need to employ foundation paper piecing for accuracy. I was pretty hesitant to start making blocks until I was shown a really neat technique at our PMQG sew day by Rozina who was working on a Pickle-Dish block.

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Manipura Quilt design by Gail Lizette Weiss

After she showed me how she did paper piecing, I went out and bought a roll of freezer paper and just jumped right in. This is a pretty easy way to get accurate piecing… AND not have to rip papers out at the end.

I haven’t managed to film a good working video yet, so get ready for a lot of photos!

The blocks of this quilt are all the same – using different fabrics. There are 15 blocks in the quilt pattern that are split on an angle to make the inner triangle. Each block finishes at 6.5″ x 9″ –  I inversed my pattern and printed it on a piece of lightweight newsprint paper.

From there, I cut freezer paper to 8″x10″ sheets – this gives me plenty of room for additional seam allowance. I took 8 sheets of FP with the paper side up  (wax side down) and stapled the paper pattern to the top. I stitched through all layers without thread, then carefully took out the staple. I trimmed the paper to 3/8″ around the pattern to account for seam allowance. This gave me 8 freezer paper templates with perforated lines, ready to use. These templates can be re-used quite a few times, but I opted to make a template for each block to keep things organized better. My machine did fine with 8 sheets, you may need to test yours.

Now the tricky part:

Patternfreezer paper template

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the section of the paper pattern I’m going to demonstrate – it’s highlighted – Block #B1.

I marked the freezer paper with pencil on the paper side – so the marking is inversed. That is a hard thing for my brain to get around due to my dyslexia – I have to triple-check my markings before sewing, and I still get some things mixed up… but basically, if I flip the freezer paper over, the markings will match my pattern.

Heat up the iron, I’m ready to start sewing!

I start from the center section of the block – for this demo, “X” is for solid yellow. I put the fabric right side down, and lay the freezer paper over it (wax side down) and press. Don’t worry about the wax paper on your ironing surface – it peels up easily without residue while still warm.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

You can see here while I’m holding this up that the fabric is now adhered to the freezer paper.  See how there is at least 1/4″ of extra fabric around the whole “X” section. There is excess on this piece I used, I need to trim that off.stucktopaperSo… lay the paper/fabric piece on your cutting table, fabric side down – and carefully peel back the wax paper to the perforated line that marks the “X” section:

Foundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you are ready to trim that extra piece off, but make sure you add 1/4″ seam allowance first.

Foundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing TutorialFoundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you are ready to add your second piece of fabric- which, for me are these dots!Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

With the paper folded over, you can check to see if the fabric is large enough to cover the perforated shape plus seam allowance.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

Once you have your fabrics together (right sides together), it’s time to sew. I sew right next to the freezer paper fold. Sometimes I catch a little of the paper, but that’s okay, as long as it is very close to the fold.

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

Now it’s back to the iron. I lay the piece down so both fabrics are on top,

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial

then I fold one fabric back and press out, just on the seam (very careful NOT to touch the freezer paper!)

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Then I flip the whole thing,

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double-check the seam matches up to the perforated line,

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fold the paper back over the fabric and press.

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Now I have two pieces stitched together, and I’m ready to trim the dots and add my next section.

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So, I fold back the paper to the perforated line that denotes this section,

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And trim adding 1/4″ seam allowance.

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Add next piece of fabric (solid yellow in this case) and sew closely to the folded paper line.

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Open and press as before, careful not to iron over the wax part of the paper.

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And… as you can see… I make mistakes sometimes! This second solid yellow piece is sewn on backwards – it doesn’t cover it’s “X” section the way I sewed it on, so I had to do a little seam ripping. It didn’t affect the paper at all.

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I was able to reuse the piece, I just had to carefully place it before stitching so it would cover the whole section, and still have seam allowance.

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After stitching and pressing, this is how it is supposed to look!

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I keep adding sections, one at a time, out to one edge,

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then start in the center again to work toward the other side.

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Once all the sections are covered, I consider the block DONE! I’m leaving the paper on and not trimming the sides until I’m ready to start sewing them together.tut057

All my markings are still on the back – which should make layout a snap.

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Here are three finished blocks all lined up:

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I’m so excited to start sewing this quilt together! I guess you could say I’m a little obsessive – all I want to do is sew. Things like eating, cleaning, and work tend to become frustrating distractions, and I have to check myself to make sure I stay grounded. I have to say, with corporations trying to destroy our planet, and politicians just helping them along… it’s extremely easy for me to lose myself in a project like this.

I hope this little tutorial was as informative and inspiring for you as it was when it was shown to me!

Why Do You Quilt?

Manipura blocks

The sun is out today here in Portland, and it is beautiful! My sewing machine is currently in front of a patio door looking into the backyard and it is very soothing and motivating to sew. I’ve been a little obsessive with this new quilt, and sewing every free minute I have.

Stack of Manipura Quilt blocks
Stack of Manipura Quilt blocks

Recently, a quilter I recently started following- Cheryl Arkison, wrote a wonderful blog post on why she quilts. For her, it’s a way to show kindness to others – to share her love by creating something for others to use. I think this is how many quilters feel.

I thought about this question though, because I don’t give my quilts away very often. So… why do I quilt?

For me, quilting is meditative. I ponder over life decisions at the same time I’m picking fabrics, and each piece I choose is for a reason, and has a purpose.  As I’m stitching, I’m healing. Sewing is such a positive action, you are creating something from nothing… and we have the ability to make any choice we want, which makes each quilt artistic, unique, and valuable in it’s own right.

I’m not going to lie, it feels wonderful to make beautiful things! The feeling of accomplishment I get from finishing a project that I am proud of, is one of the best drug-free experiences I’ve had.

The quilt I’m currently working on is the Manipura Quilt. It is all about the third chakra and self-worth, so I am keeping track of all my time spent on making it. I have a stopwatch app and so my figures for value will be accurate when I’m finished. I feel I’m a slow stitcher on the machine, but to be precise, I need to take my time.

Manipura Quilt notes

This quilt has (99) blocks that finish at 6.5″ x 9″. They are all paper pieced, and some have a few more elements than others. So far, I have 52 blocks completed – and I have spent over 32 hours just on sewing them together. I spent another 12 hours creating the design, creating the patterns, picking fabrics and cutting strips.