Timekeeping

I have kept pretty good track of my actual time spent sewing the Kaleidoscope Quilt together. It was very accurate time-keeping for the most part. I used the timer on my phone and would deduct for bathroom breaks and any other time I stopped sewing for a while.

I kept track of minutes: 28,738

This is stitching time only. The design, layout, printing of pieces and cutting them to size were not figured into this time.  Yes!! We screen printed the pieces on the back to show the stitch and cut lines for each piece… I call them NEPP Kits and Pieces for NOT English Paper Pieced.

28,738 minutes = 478.9 hours = Approx. 3 months at full time (40hrs/week).

Very Last Stitch

Have you ever kept track of your time when sewing? I highly recommend trying it. It really helps to value your quilting work properly!! Plus, when people ask how long it took, you can answer confidently!

When I get a good photo of the fully completed top, I will post… for now here it is: almost done!

Picking Up The Pace

I’m so excited right now… I finished all the smaller chunks of my Kaleidoscope Quilt, and I’ve started sewing them onto the center piece of the quilt. It’s going much fast than anticipated and it’s making it really fun!

Here are some of the outer chunk pieces laid out on my cutting table:

chunksOnTable

And here are my progress shots so far:

As you can see, I have added 4 outer chunks out of the remaining 15… so only 9 left. I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing the finished top to the next PMQG meeting in August – if you belong to our guild and will be at the meeting, you can see all the stitching on the back before I get it quilted.

I have kits and pieces of these fabric shapes in our store, if you’re interested in trying straight stitching hand work. I really like it. Here’s a link to check out.

Still not sure what I’m going to do for quilting… I have a couple options, but still am unsure.

I’m very happy to see an end in sight for this project.  Pretty soon  I can really focus on my Vishuddha Quilt. I’ve realized I can only really work on one project at a time.

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress Report

I’ve been pushing through life lately. I’m sure you can relate.

I’m working on my emotional issues and that has been draining. I just keep going back to sewing when I start to spin out mentally. – Do you know that feeling? When there is so much going on AND so much to do, you start to go from one idea to another – not giving anything the needed time and attention it deserves… not getting anything done…?
I call it spinning out.

But –  I have been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt and it is coming along very nicely. I only have 3 chunks left in the whole quilt!  SQUEEE!
Then I need to sew these larger chunks onto my centerpiece, so I still have a bit to do, BUT I think I’ll be able to finish the top to show it at Show and Tell at PMQG in August!
If so, that will mean I hand stitched a 60″x80″ quilt in 10 months. NOT BAD!

The time saved is all because of the stitch lines on the back – not having to use paper pieces saves so much time! If you’re interested in trying them, we have some in stock in our store here. I call them NEPP pieces or Not English Paper Pieced pieces.  I’m already starting to plan a second quilt like this… in a totally different color story.

I think the only negative compared to EPP is that when you press the fabric, the back looks messy. With EPP, the seam allowances are all neatly basted into place. With a good pressing… it doesn’t really matter.

I’m really excited to finish this project… but it’s sort of like being halfway through the last book in a long series – I’m going to be a little lost until I find another hand-sewing project!

A Whirlwind

My life has been a bit of a whirlwind recently – many things happening including work is starting to really pick up for the summer. This keeps my days full of customer service and design work.

I’m also working on writing a new quilt pattern for machine piecing! It’s going pretty well, even though I have not done a lot of writing or reading of other quilt patterns.  I will definitely need to test it before releasing it. If you feel like trying out a free pattern – let me know! I should have it ready to test in about 2 weeks.

Been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt, but not as much as I would like. I would prefer to hand sew 2 hours every night to achieve my time goals for this quilt… but it’s turning out I might sew for maybe an hour every other night or so. It’s going to take a little longer than planned. All good!  I’m totally loving the process and having something to work on any time.

Here is a chunk of the round I’m currently working on:

kaleidoscopequilt

This hasn’t been ironed yet. Here is what the back looks like pre-ironing:

kaleidoscopequilt

The one question people ask all the time is: How do you iron these?
I press straight down from the top and manipulate the pieces as necessary.  Here is what the back looks like after pressing:kaleidoscopequilt

and the front looks like this:

kaleidoscopequilt

I just added it to the rest of the quilt that is hanging on my design wall:

kaleidoscopequilt

I have 8 of these HUGE 4th round chunks to make! Luckily only 3 of them are complete, the other 5 are partials as they hit the sides of the quilt.

I do have a pattern for this quilt. It took me about 2 months to lay it out and choose colors. Once I finish piecing this quilt top, and confirming my counts in the pattern, I’m going to set up a pattern for anyone else crazy enough to give it a try. I’v been keeping track of my time on this quilt too – right now I’m a little over 304 hours of actual stitching time in on this quilt!

keeping time

Right now I’m also working on the Vishuddha Quilt. I usually only do one project at a time, but the Kaleidoscope quilt is going to take time and I need some instant gratification… at least be able to piece a little faster than when I hand stitch.

I’m creating from my current stash so I’m limited in fabric choices. Because of that, I’m trying this crazy technique of sewing, cutting, and sewing again, etc. to get a well blended, almost sparkly look to my blocks:

vishuddhaQuiltvishuddhaQuilt

Of course, this is taking almost as long as hand stitching… I don’t know what I was thinking exactly!? I’m currently stuck on choosing the fabrics for the next portion of this quilt. It’s all about contrast, so I want to make sure whichever fabrics I choose will stand out against this first block. Wish me luck! 😉

Another part of my whirlwind this month was being able to see my little neice Lily! She came with her mom, who is my amazing SIL from NYC. We all had a great time visiting and checking out Portland, but the best was when these cousins got to spend time together – so sweet.

cousins cousins

I’m off to enjoy some sunshine – it’s gorgeous out today!

Our Retail (Ad)Venture

It’s up… our online store is up!!
It’s a store that combines my love of fabric and quilting with Gregg’s (my husband/partner)  screen printing ability.  It’s what I’ve been working on this winter to keep me busy. Pretty exiting!

Our approach to business is a low-tech, slow-grow, and hands-on. We don’t plan on automating or investing in a digital printer. We want to keep the craft of hand-pulled screen printing alive and well . This is what makes us very different from most ‘printers’ you find online who either use their own digital printer or they use a third-party printing platform like Society6, Printful, Cafepress, or Spoonflower.
Digital printing technologies have made big advancements over the last few years. It is this technology that makes it difficult to compete as a manual printer, and is part of the reason why we are trying this retail adventure!

Here are a few things we offer:

Fabric Panels.
Our screen printing studio is not large enough to print large bolts of fabric like they do for quilting cottons (see video here), but we can print fabric on a small scale! We are hand printing fabric panels to be used whole as a centerpiece for a pillow or quilt block. However you can cut them up and use them however you wish! Since the inks used require washing, we are serging the edges, washing and pressing the fabric panels. Their finished size is approx. 11.5″ x 13″


NEPP Hand Sewing Kits.
This is the most exciting thing for us to try! Being a hand stitcher myself, I have often used the EPP method (English Paper Piecing) for sewing shapes together. This is where you use die-cut paper templates to baste fabric around to make your ‘pieces’, then you stitch all the pieces together. This takes a bit of time, so I tried tracing my sew lines on the back of the fabric and using a running stitch with y-seams, and that was much quicker, but less accurate. Then I thought that we could screen print the cut and sew lines on the back of fabric very accurately… and I had to try it! Now that I’ve been using my NEPP (Not English Paper Pieced) pieces, I’m flying through my current hand sewing project!
So –
we are creating NEPP Hand Sewing Kits! I’m designing the color layouts and we are currently using Kona Solids for fabric. The kits will have all the pre-cut fabric pieces with accurate stitch lines and Y-seam start/stop points for smaller, less daunting projects. Each kit will have tracing templates to give the project right angles so you can easily add it into any other patchwork. Kona colors are listed for matching purposes.

Quilt Patterns
I put my Hexie patterns up and plan to try to write at least two other patterns for machine-stitched quilts by the end of the year… it’s good to set goals, right…?

Handmade
We made a category called Handmade for things that don’t fit anywhere else. I have a few quilts and other quilted things, and we have old printers-proof posters, and cards we hand-printed years ago and when we did hand printed flat stock. It’s time to let go.

Pre-Orders
We’ve done a few of these over the years… it’s a great way to offer a featured design on many different apparel items without having to keep inventory! These are limited edition prints in every way. There is a set ORDER BY date – usually allowing for 2-3 weeks time for people to place their orders, and there is a SHIP BY date stating when we will have the shirts printed and shipped by. We plan to do one Pre-Order a month.

Featured Designer
This month for our opening Pre-Order Sale, we are working with Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio as our Featured Designer!  The design is: Respect The Power Tool.
We are so excited to be able to work with other creative types in this way. It helps our sales and the designers get a percentage of every purchase using their design.

 

You’ll find our store in the menu above, and at PhantomChicken.com/store.html

 

 

Quilt Finish!

I finished the Portland Modern Quilt Guild (PMQG) Block of the Month (BOM) quilt a while back and I finally got the label printed and sewn on, so I was able to show it at our last meeting:

Finished front:

Quilt Label – screen printed:

Finished back – pieced too!

I rarely have quilt finishes to share, I’m always so thrilled to finish a quilt… especially a big one like this! It finished at 80″ square! I’ll be able to use this on my bed! It will be awesome too because I used wool batting, so it’s all puffy and soft.

My quilting goal for this year is to finish my Kaleidoscope quilt top, and I’d love to be work on the other 5 Chakra quilts to finish that series. That’s a bit more than I think I can do, but I want to challenge myself.

What are your quilting goals for the year?

Holiday Time

This time of year is difficult for me, but it’s almost over! I can still find enjoyment during this time because our clients take time off work so we get a little time off too – it’s good for mental stability, and I love the down time with my family!

I have a lot on my plate to accomplish before we open our online store. Today I’m playing with color for our NEPP Hand Sewing Kits. As we start out, we can only afford to purchase a limited amount of fabric to work with, and that makes the color layouts really challenging and fun! Here are a few I’m getting ready:

The 4 on the left are smaller and much less difficult and will finish at about 8″ around. The kits will come with tracing templates to finish all edges to be at 90 degree angles so they will be easy to work into other projects. The larger ones on the right are made of 275 pieces each and will be approx. 22″ around. Such a fun project – so pretty!

The best part is that I know they work! All the points are lining up, even as the piece gets bigger on my Kaleidoscope Quilt – I’m on the third round and just finished the first chunk of that round:

This piece is almost double the size of the secondary chunks – this one piece took me 16 hours and 10 minutes to sew together. Currently at 118 hours in sewing time on this quilt – yes, I’m timing myself. The stopwatch app works great for keeping track, and I haven’t forgotten to keep track yet either, so this is a very accurate number. I would guess I’m about 1/4 of the way finished. I can only wonder how much longer it would take if I was paper piecing the whole thing?!

Time to get back to it –
BTW.. Thanks for following my blog, I really appreciate all the support and feedback you all have given me this year. Happy Holidays!

Stitching Away

I’ve been stitching away this weekend! Thought I’d do a quick post to show where I’m at on my Kaleidoscope Quilt project!

secondary Chunks DoneI recently finished the last two “secondary” chunks and got them up on the design wall. I found pressing was the easiest when just pressing from the top down, and not caring what the back will end up looking like.Here is how they look pressed from front:And here is what the back looks like:A little messy for sure, but having the stitch lines printed really helps when piecing these chunks together… check it out:I’m so excited by this… everything is matching up perfectly and giving me really crisp points!  I’m also quite thrilled to start on a different looking section, I’m done with this secondary ring!

On a more home-based note: It’s been very windy here in Portland, so my husband built a little squirrel wall to protect their water dish.  He now has crows, songbirds, and squirrels that come running when they hear the door open in the morning. Yep… he’s definitely a squirrel whisperer!

Helloooo

Okay folks, I’m back!

I just looked at my drafts for this blog and I have 6 unpublished posts from last month that I will not be posting. Each one of them is about dental pain, and anxiety, and the frustration of not having decent healthcare… and we each have our own version of that stress – so no need to hear it from me! This is the reason for my lack of presence lately.

Luckily, I did have an infected tooth extracted last week and I’m feeling like a different person altogether. Now I can focus on some really exciting new things in my world!
What am I talking about…?
Well, as you may, or may not know… my husband and I have a screen printing business and we’ve been printing t-shirts locally over 20 years here in Portland. T-shirts are great, but I’ve been wanting to get into fabric printing for a while!

Since our studio is set up for T-shirt printing, we are not capable of printing full yardage sizes of fabric, so we’ve been trying what we are calling “fabric panels” using our largest possible print size of 12″ x 13″.  We are also using discharge and waterbased inks so that the fabric can be ironed directly and after washing.  The ink is set into the fabric, rather than ON the fabric. These inks leave a residue on the fabric that should be washed prior to use.  We’ve decided to serge the edges so we can wash and press each piece before selling. That way, they will be ready to use.  I think they would be great as a quilt center or sewn into a tote bag… but since the edges are serged, they can be hung on the wall or sewn to a jacket back, or used as a pillow front. Of course they can also be cut up and used as quilting pieces too.

Resist Fabric Panels:

Honeybee Fabric Panels:

Love Is Love Fabric Panels:

Persist Fabric Panels:

Another new thing we are creating are Hand-Sewing Kits. NEPP (Not English Paper Pieced) is what I’m calling them. I’ve been working on my own hand-sewing projects for years and I’ve usually used the EPP (English Paper Pieced) method. I had a big epiphany on my last project that I could print the stitch lines onto the back of fabric and use a running stitch to piece them together.  This saves a whole lot of time compared to EPP. When we first started thinking about this, we didn’t know how long the cutting would take (much longer than the printing!) but we think that the best thing about a kit is that you don’t have to do much extra other than sew. So… we will be doing all the cutting here so these kits will come ready to stitch together! If you’ve ever made an EPP project yourself, you would understand the value of this in time conservation! I also wanted to make something that wasn’t too daunting so that a first-time hand sewist can try a very small project before jumping into something larger.

Lucy NEPP Pattern Sample:

Myrtle NEPP Pattern Layout – each kit has it’s own colors.

Lucy NEPP Pattern Layout

Hand stitching using a running stitch and knotting at each corner.

Opal NEPP Layout

Putting individual kits together:

Our online store will be opening 2/12/18 with these items plus T-shirts and Hoodies, of course. We are starting to connect with other designers for quilt-related designs that we can feature on our site. This is fantastic because we love to work with other artists – it will also keeps things on our site fun and fresh!

Our main business is printing commercially for other groups and businesses, this is a brand new venture since it’s retail oriented. I’m very excited to start this new adventure…and I’m ready to be successful at it! You will notice a new tab in the menu for our online store ChickenScratch – next February, it will be open and ready to use!

Animation Play

I really like to sew… but I do have some other skills that I try to sharpen at times. I’m self-taught on the computer and learned Illustrator well enough to become a graphic designer for our screen printing business…  I also learned how to make a website for our business too!

So now I’m dabbling in some stop-motion animation, and I paired it up with my hand-stitching, and I made a fun little video:

 

This is the first “chunk” section that I’m making on the Kaleidoscope Quilt. This one is No.4 of 10, so I’ll be sewing these for the next month before I get to start on the next big chunk on the quilt. Here are 3 of the chunks with the center ring:

By themselves, they are very strange looking, but as they get added to the center piece, the pattern is starting to stand out – so exciting!

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress

center Ring Back

Now that I have a hand-sewing project, I feel so much more at ease. Having something in my hands at night is great – keeps me from spinning out into negativity. Having the sew lines printed on the fabric makes this project pretty quick and easy! The hardest part is sewing in the diamond shapes in the right direction. (notice the gold diamonds below… they are sewn in the wrong direction here and I didn’t catch it till adding the next row)

gold RingStitching on the lines is pretty easy – I just pin the end points to make sure they line up.hand stitchingFinally got all the diamonds sewn in the correct direction. banana RingThen I finished the center rosette – which is the same rosette used in the La Passacaglia quilt by Willyne Hammerstein.  This is the back before pressing:center Ring BackThis reminds me of those crepe paper things we did in elementary school, where you had little paper squares that you smooshed around a pencil end, dipped in glue and placed on a poster board… almost didn’t want to iron it.center Ring PressedBut I did, and I love it!! The back is a bit messy, but because of the sew lines, my shapes and points are pretty sweet! I’m doing the rest in bits or chunks to make the piecing easier. The next ring will consist of 10 matching chunks. I picked a size that would take 3-7 days to piece, so I can get through them at a timely pace. So this is my ‘chunk’ pattern:There are 4 different yellows, and 4 different light greys – so I had to make the pattern bigger to see what was what. I also have this to follow as I add pieces on – so they are stitched in the right place.hand stitchingMy first chunk also had a neat looking back before I pressed it:chunk oneNow I only have 9 left of these guys to make, then I’ll sew them onto the center and start another round of chunks!center Plus Chunk oneActually, now I only have 8 more to stitch – just finished another chunk last night. Looking back over my notes, I have approximately 35 hours in sewing time already. Sounds like a lot of time, but it’s going much faster than EPP using a running stitch!

I would have to say this is a successful try at printing the stitch and sew lines on the back of these Kona solids! We are going to be printing more pieces and plan on opening an online store in February if all goes according to plan!

Hand-Pulled Screen Printed Fabric Panels

That’s right! Gregg and I are putting some new designs together to create some limited edition hand-printed fabric… and I couldn’t be more excited!

This is something we’ve discussed ever since I started quilting, and I think I’m ready to give it a try. The part that has always held me back was the amount of labor and materials involved in screen printing which makes it a bit costly to produce. Our print studio is quite small… only one press and when we are busy printing t-shirts, it’s hard to schedule time on the press for fabric printing.
BUT..
we have come up with an idea that will alleviate the problem: setting up a separate 1-color press. So we decided to give it a trial run – and so for our first run, Gregg laid out some stars and ants randomly on the screen as a serigraph print.

What do all these words mean: serigraph, screen print, hand-pulled…?
The way we print at Phantom Chicken is old-school. We get film positives (or cut rubylith film) and use it to create a screen. If we trash the screen after printing, we cannot reproduce the same image in the future, so those prints would be very limited, or serigraph prints. The screen is used as a stencil and with a squeegee, ink is pushed through the holes in the screen and onto the t-shirt or fabric. When you pull the squeegee by hand, it’s called: hand-pulled. Most screen print shops used automated presses or digital print machines now to print on shirts, but we want to keep this craft alive.

How does it work exactly? I’ll show you! *get ready for a lot of photos*

  1. A screen is carefully coated with photosensitive emulsion in a darkroom and after it dries we can use it. Here you see a screen with a paper marker cut at 12″ x 14″ to mark image area.darkRoomEmulsion2. Gregg carefully laid out some small pieces of film with stars and ants to create his print design. Film positives are used – the opposite of negatives used in photography.3. A strong light is turned on, and the screen gets ‘burned’. This means that all the exposed emulsion hardens, while the emulsion under the opaque black films stays soft.4. After burning the screen, water is used to wash out the soft emulsion.washingScreen5. Then the screen needs to dry completely. dryingScreen6. When it’s dry, small pinholes and edges are ‘blocked-out’ so they don’t print.7. Now the screen is ready to use. FYI: screen printing set up is what takes the most time in printing, and why there is a set-up fee for print orders. Here is a close-up of the image:8. Now we can put the screen on the press! (Yes, more set up!)screenSetUp9. Since we are printing on fabric that people may want to iron, we want to use waterbase or discharge inks for printing. That way the end user can freely wash and iron the fabric. These inks need special mixing which requires exact measurements.mixingInk10. Ink is mixed and screen is on press, so now we can actually print! Time to put some ink on the screen.inkOnScreen11. We charge the screen with ink by pushing the ink over the image area with the squeegee. Here is the screen full of ink, ready to print:inkInScreen12. The screen is put directly onto the fabric or shirt and the squeegee is used to push the ink through the holes and onto the fabric.printOnShirtprint1You can see the detail Gregg can hold – after 22 years of printing, his skills shine! I can print too, but I have a much harder time keeping the edges of the print image clean. The tool he uses the most while printing is a tweezers:He has to keep the print board flat – threads can really affect a print. And fabric is full of threads!!The end result is totally worth the work! These “Ants in the Stars” printed panels will be available for purchase soon! Gregg and I are working on a new business plan – we will have an online store opening in February 2018 where we will offer more serigraph print panels like this (12″ x 14″), and possibly: custom printed quilt labels.

We are still figuring cost and shipping and all that goes with retail sales, but I’m so excited – I wanted to share! Plus I’m going to fish for image ideas – what would you like to see on fabric that you can’t find anywhere else?

We finally set up an IG account for Phantom Chicken, so if you’d like to follow our printing adventures follow us: PhantomChickenStudio

Ants in the Stars Hand Printed Fabric

Kaleidoscope Quilt – In Progress

treasure

Pretty thrilled to report that I’ve started stitching my Kaleidoscope quilt last night! I put a lot of time and figuring into the design and layout and am happy with the look of it. The center is based off of the La Passacaglia Pattern by Willyne Hammerstein

I design on Adobe Illustrator. For this quilt I really wanted to save time – so my husband screen printed the sew and cut lines on the backs of all the solid fabric colors I needed. I used 3/4 yard of 21 different colors – which made a lot of little pieces! So many that it took two weeks to get them all cut – I can only cut for an hour or so before my joints start talking to me.

treasure

Once they were all printed, I could count how many of each piece I had in each color – and I had to adjust my layout often to accommodate my limited color palate. I like challenges like that! My whole idea for this quilt was: kaleidoscope… and the colors I chose are what I remember looking through one as a kid. I really like it where it’s at (I could re-work in a million different ways) so this is it!

Now I’m really curious as to how long it will take me to put this together! I spent 1.5 hours last night using a running stitch and this is how far I got:

KaleidoscopeStart

There are approximately 3500 pieces in this which is fewer than my Wood Dragon Hexie Quilt – and that took me a year and a half to make. My hope is to finish this Kaleidoscope quilt within 6 months, but honestly, I really don’t know how long it will take. I do plan on keeping track of my time, so I’ll have a better estimation for future projects.

For now I’m just trying not to obsess too much and get other work done too, but I am really happy to have another hand project to be working on!

 

 

Manic…

I’m doing a lot of pacing and cleaning lately… and today after hearing about the terrorist attack in Las Vegas, I feel like I’m spinning. You know that feeling when you just can’t relax…? That’s where I’m at right now.

So… I’m working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt today. Not really sewing yet, just working on the design in Illustrator. I need to have a plan before sewing all these little guys together.

It’s going to be 60″ x 80″ when finished, and I think I’ll just be cutting into the edges to make straight lines for binding. The biggest shape in this is a pentagon that measures 1.25″ per side. Still don’t know just how many pieces it will be, but I really like how it’s starting to come together!

I still have a way to go before I’ll start doing the sewing. I’m even thinking of sewing on the machine using Y-seams since I have all my pieces marked! I’m going to go obsess over this today, and maybe for the next few days… I find the design takes the longest. Once complete, the sewing will go pretty quickly I think. I’m going to be timing this one too – very curious about time.

Love to all out there in this crazy world affected by the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the fires, the terrorism, and the outlandish antics of our president who continues to make things worse. I feel you.

Hexie Patterns – Ready!

I’ve been working hard over the last month or so to create patterns for all of my hexie quilts and projects, and I finally finished them all! I have them up at Craftsy.com where they might be seen a bit more than here. I’m really happy with the work I put in, I think they’ll be good.

It was interesting going back in time and looking at my notes to how to do certain things, and how those things evolved over time. I really do love working with the hexie shape!

Do you EPP? Which one would be your favorite? Leave a message below telling which pattern you’d choose and why.  I’ll do a random drawing for a winner who will get the pattern of their choice in a digital .pdf format! Drawing will be on September 5, 2017.

Meditating on Direction

I’m very ready to start a new quilt.
However, I’m a little lost in the direction I’d like to go. Does this ever happen to you? I have so many ideas, but I’m always unsure which to run with first. Since quilts take a chunk of time, I want to be sure before I start.

Right now my top 5 ideas are:

  1. Throat Chakra Quilt – (blue with yellow and purple) to go with my chakra-series quilts
  2. Scrappy Rainbow Unicorn Quilt – an idea given by a friend, and I’d love to use up some of my scraps
  3. PMQG Block of the Month – I’d like to catch up on this project with my guild
  4. Word Quilt – for PMQG group show next year… still haven’t figured out which word(s) I want to use
  5. La Passacaglia quilt test – instead of EPP, I’d like to try printing seam lines on the back of fabric and just sew together without papers. This is something that if it works, it could be an amazingly fast way to sew one of these together!

 

I may need to make the Throat Chakra quilt first – I’m still working on some healing and this Chakra seems rule gut-brain connection and the Vagus Nerve. I think completing this quilt will be a therapeutic boost to help me muster the energy to work on these other ideas.

The other big thing on my mind is working on trying to create a good well-written quilt pattern. I don’t use patterns myself, but I make one for every quilt I’ve sewn. I just would have to write it so it’s understandable to others… which is a lot harder than it sounds!

I’m open to suggestions for my next piece… I plan to start one new hand-pieced project and one machine-pieced project. I like the hand work for traveling, or even in front of the tv, however, the pace of creating and finishing a quilt on a machine is extremely satisfying – so I like to have two projects going at a time now (instead of just one).

 

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?

Quilt Show Thoughts

Last week on Instagram and Facebook, lots of people were posting about their quilts that were rejected by QuiltCon, and a few were posting pictures of their quilts that have been juried in.  I want to say: Congratulations to everyone whose quilt was accepted! I really do think it’s great, and someday I may submit a quilt again, and I hope that if I am accepted, I don’t get any hateful or envious comments about it.

I didn’t enter this year — partly because the quilt I would have entered is all about self care and self worth.  I’m caring for myself by not entering and not having to deal with another rejection letter — especially this year!  So my opinions are not coming from a place of rejection, but of observation.

For you non-quilters reading this, QuiltCon is the yearly quilt show sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild, which is the national organization that many modern quilt guilds belong to.  Because of the number of people who enter, there are always lots of hurt feelings when the rejection emails go out.  Over 1800 quilts were submitted to the 2016 show, and only about 300 were chosen, so just a little over 15% of the submissions are accepted!

In addition to a lack of showing space compared to quilt entries, I think a big problem with QuiltCon is that there just hasn’t been much transparency about how they jury quilts into the show. Earlier this year, they published a post about derivatives that was questionable in its take on copyright law. This caused a big stir on social media (check out the comments!), and the post has since been taken down – it is a big deal because some quilts have been rejected from QuiltCon due to a conflict based on MQG’s definition of derivative, and membership was not included in creating those definitions.

Another huge issue with the MQG is how national leadership came to be in the first place – and how those leaders approached the local guilds.  Our local guild was started years before the national guild.  Some of our members seemed to be very tight with the national leadership, and perhaps saw this new organization as a great opportunity to market their patterns and books and further their fabric design aspirations.  Not surprisingly, many of these same people tended to have quilts accepted into the first QuiltCon.

Many of us who did not have aspirations of being quilt industry professionals questioned the need for a national modern quilt guild and wondered why we should join it.  The self-appointed leaders sent a spokesperson (who became the Executive Director of the MQG) to our guild, supposedly to explain to us how it would work and what benefits they would be offering to local guilds.

When we asked questions like, “How will joining a national group help our local guild?” and “Will we get to vote on the leadership?”, she was very short with us, as well as very short on any useful information.  People felt intimidated by her aggressive attitude and stopped asking questions.  All the while, our local leaders were strongly pushing us to join.  The scene that night was so uncomfortable that some of my guild friends never came to another meeting.

The MQG representative promised us that electing national leaders would be a democratic process and that we would have the opportunity to vote within a year.  She said that we were the largest local guild, and that the national guild needed our financial support.  Our local leaders insisted that we had to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by the end of that year. They may been heavily persuaded by the national group… I’m not sure why we needed to jump on that so quickly, no one explained the rush to us. 

Based on those promises and the urging of local leaders, we voted to join the national guild. I missed the vote because I missed that meeting, but I was against it personally. Not against a national guild forming and connecting members, but against the way it formed: how it excluded most of its existing members, and how it seemed to become a platform for marketing… as if national MQG was becoming a professional guild for those in the industry. 

Well, we never did get that leadership vote, and those roles are now permanent paid positions. It may look like we chose them at some point, but we never did. They never let us.
I think that is a very important distinction to make as we move forward.

This is the reason why I’ve had some issues with the national guild, and why I understand others’ frustration with them. In fact, I just listened to a great interview with Quilters_Without_Leaders (QWOL)– on Katies Quilting Corner.  I want to tell her: “I feel you!” This interview has given me a little courage to speak out on this taboo topic, and to give perspective from my non-industry eyes. 

Since we can’t go back in time, I just needed to ‘clear the air’ in my head on this topic since our local guild looks like it will continue national membership. I’m also writing this because there are many newer members who have questions about why some people are not as excited as others about the national guild.

That said, I am super excited for our new local board this year and its plans interact with the MQG to express our concerns, try to open lines of communication, and implement some changes. This makes me happy… and it’s why I’m speaking out now! I want it all to work out for everyone. I would like the national guild to be used as a tool towards the purpose of promoting and connecting it’s membership,  while curating a diverse quilt show that includes as many members, and guilds as possible. We can’t change the past, but we can come together to and be more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive as we move forward into the future.

I was really happy to see a new friend get a quilt accepted into QuiltCon this year *Congrats Karen!*  —  I’m always happy for the friends who make it in, and it’s really cool when it’s someone from our guild! It’s an awesome feeling to see your quilt hanging in a show, and if that’s you, you should feel great about it!!

There are so many quilt shows now that have added Modern categories, too — so QuiltCon is not the only place to show a modern quilt! I’m thinking of trying a few new shows in 2017, but I want to build up my emotional well being first so that I can be ready for rejection if it happens — because that truly is part of the process of showing quilts 😉

Monday Doldrums

kitty

Today is the 5th day of the 31 Day Blogging Challenge sponsored by Cheryl Sleboda, and here in Portland, it’s dark, grey, and rainy… and I’m having a hard time finding something fun to write about.

Luckily, I found a great podcast today to listen to. Crafty Planner interviewed my friend Sam Hunter today… and it was a great listen! They talked about art and the quilt world, ageism, about competition amongst quilters, derivatives, health, and about the ability to ask for help when needed.

Their discussion gave me a lot to think about. The idea of self-worth and valuing our art has been on my mind a lot, along with self-care and healing. Especially in regards to the current Modern quilt scene.

For instance, there is a really big quilt show every year called Quiltcon that the MQG sponsors. Every year there are so many entries into this show that only a certain few actually get in. The competition is fierce, and many people are very hurt when their quilts are not accepted into the show. I’ve entered every year and never made the grade, and I have to admit – it made me question my own aesthetic the first few times. However, I do understand the process a bit more than most since I organized shows for our local guild. I know that there is only a certain amount of room or number of quilts that can be accepted… and ALL of them can be awesome! I can understand how my quilts may not be strong enough visually to pop on a page of thumbnails.

Even so, it hurts a bit and I do wish we would get specific feedback on why our quilts are rejected. I asked MQG about it, and the answer is that they receive too many entries to have time to write a single sentence for each quilt rejection. So… since I have no idea what they want to see, and there is no theme – I can only look at my rejected quilts and try to figure out something the jurors might like. Then I catch myself… I don’t want to make a quilt just for a show, and constrain myself to what I hope they want to see! So I decided not to enter this year.

That means yet another year of not getting into Quiltcon – but, at least this time, it’s of my own accord. *self-care-win!*

My plan is to enter my quilts at other shows that have modern categories. I think I’ll have better success at showing my quilts that way, and I won’t have to ‘work the modern scene’ as Sam and Sandi were discussing on the podcast.

I’m hoping to do a little more stitching tonight, but for now I need to do a little more work for the day. I do graphic work and all the bookkeeping for our small screen printing business, and I have a lot to do before the end of the year… but I try to sew a little every day.

And, just because he’s so cute, I’m adding a picture of Kitty Karryall who has been keeping me company today. 🙂

kitty

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!

 

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.

Manipura blocks

Basically, I’m making an unaffordable quilt. So… another reason I quilt is to share. To share in the process of making, my reasons for certain choices, the emotions I have while making… and to eventually show quilts at quilt shows.  I don’t care about winning any prizes (although I would not complain!) but I do care about having opportunities to share my work. This blog is pretty small – so showing at shows is a great way to connect with others. I’m going to be researching shows to enter other than QuiltCon for my quilts, since I don’t think my style fits their aesthetic – been rejected every year.

My quilts mean a lot to me because of how I piece them together and all the charged emotion that goes into them. When I see them, I feel things. That’s how I hope others’ see my work too – however, I find that each quilt speaks differently to each person, and I don’t hold it personally if someone is indifferent to my work. I just know that when I share my quilts, I’m sharing a part of me that I can’t articulate with words – and I love that voice!Manipura Quilt fabrics

So… why do you quilt?

Manipura Quilt

solar plexus chakra quilt

A few weeks back I had an intense emotional release during my yoga practice, I wrote about it here. Ever since, I’ve been envisioning how to purge those emotions through quilting. I’ve also been dreaming about sewing a yellow quilt, so I designed one!solar plexus chakra quilt

I spoke with my Cranial Sacral Therapist about all this. I told her how I wrote about it on my blog and she found it interesting that I’m being so open about my emotions in that very public way. She reminded me of how I felt like an outsider when I was a kid, and how I usually try to be invisible as an adult. It’s a protective act – not be seen or noticed – to keep myself safe from ridicule/pain/nerves. This new ‘showing of emotions’ should be taken as a sign to move past the fear, and to believe in my self-worth.  I showed her my design, and we both think my Solar Plexus Chakra that is screaming for attention.

The Solar Plexus Chakra, also called Manipura, is the 3rd chakra and is based just below the diaphram. It is where our will power comes from, and our ability to achieve, self-esteem, raw emotions, and self-discipline are seated there. This energy system governs the large intestines, the stomach, the digestive system, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the liver and the lungs. When you have a ‘gut’ feeling about something, it is this energy source that is communicating to your brain.

Yellow, fire, and sunflowers are all positive symbols of this chakra, and so is a downward pointing triangle. My design is perfect for this project.

With my anxiety, liver, digestive issues, it makes total sense that this is where I need to work energetically. I need a better sense of self. To help heal this chakra, the mantra I need to keep repeating is:

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

So I’m repeating this over and over as I stitch away. One fun fact is that this is my second try at foundation paper piecing, and I’m learning a lot as I go!

solar plexus chakra quilt

solar plexus chakra quilt

The paper piecing technique using freezer paper that my friend Rozina showed me, works great! I’m going to work on a tutorial for that soon!

solar plexus chakra quilt

Looking at the design again I see so much more symbolism – there is the center triangle standing apart from the background. That is representing my self-worth – and it’s made up of many other smaller triangles, that represents my friends and family who are super supportive. The darker edges around the center triangle sort of look like feathers, but really represent all the tears and negativity shed over the years, so I could find myself.

It might seem weird to use quilting as therapy, but for me – it works. I think it’s extremely therapeutic to work with texture and color, and to work and create something completely new with your own hands. While working on the Root Chakra quilt, I connected with that quilt, that project, everything about it, was healing for me. I’m happy to work through emotional baggage as I sew. Plus, I think the end result radiates the energy I put into it.

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

 

Hexie Hummingbird Quilt Finish!

Hexie Hummingbird Finish

Super excited to share my last quilt finish – the Hexie Hummingbird! This was a super fun project – especially trying to make-do with the fabric I have on hand. It’s a smaller quilt, finishing at 34″ wide x 39″ tall, perfect for a wall hanging.

Hexie Hummingbird Finish

When I last blogged about this project, I was trying to decide on a background fabric to appliqué the Hummingbird to… well, I think I found the best thing hidden in my stash. This is Petals in Violet by Alison Glass, and I think the hand-dyed nature of it makes the Hummingbird look magical. I also thought it was neat to use a hand-dyed fabric for my hand stitching work!

I had a small piece of Tula Pink’s Free Fall backing fabric that just barely covered the back of this piece, it was very dreamy to hand quilt. I only hand-quilted the Hummingbird itself – the background was free-motion-quilted with my Juki. I really loved how the hand quilting made a neat pattern on the back.

BackHandQuilting

The hummingbird idea came to me while I was having cranial sacral work done, and I feel it has a deeper meaning than just an idea for a quilt. I know it’s a sacred totem for certain native tribes, but I do not know what exactly it symbolizes to them. For me, right now, I’m just seeing it as a good sign that I’m on the right path forward – where ever that may lead me.

Finish Closeup

I was able to finish up the binding at our PMQG monthly All-Day-Sew yesterday, which was really fun! I got to meet up with a quilter-fried from Minneapolis who is here visiting – we have many mutual friends, so it was really sweet to catch up. It also felt a little like worlds colliding, talking about people and experiences from years ago, all while happily quilting the day away. It was really grounding for me, and that is a good thing.

Yellow-Fabrics

Lately, I’ve also been thinking and dreaming of making a yellow quilt, so I recently came up with a new design. At first, I wanted to try to make it monochromatic, but I decided it needed a little grey, white, and cream to make the yellow pop. The design is done and ready to go, but my yellow fabric supply is looking orange. Funny how yellow is… and then isn’t – as soon as you change the shade! I think it’s one of the hardest colors to work with, but I’m plugging forward. More about this quilt to come!

 

 

 

Hexie Quilt Patterns

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I’m making some progress over here! I have a new page on this blog called “Hexie Portal“. I’m hoping it will be a good resource for tips and tricks for hexie stitching.

I have a few links listed there with tutorials I’ve written in the past. I’m also sharing new illustrations that show my stitching technique.

Last but not least, I have my Wood Dragon Hexie EPP Pattern finished and now available on Craftsy!

I will be following up with patterns for the Squid, Jellyfish, and Placemat as I get them finished. YAY for progress!

Moving Soon!

Boy oh boy, have things been crazy around here! Our busy time for t-shirt printing has begun – many summer events keep us working pretty constantly through September. While it’s great to pay some bills, it eats into my quilting time quite drastically.

I think because I can’t take a chunk of time to focus on my sewing, I start getting a little edgy. I really believe quilting is super-therapeutic… at least for me!
So I pushed myself to start working on my only UFO and finished a top! Here’s a pic of it almost finished:

teal sparkles quilt top
Teal Sparkles quilt top in progress

It’s going to be a tall and skinny quilt at approximately: 56″ x 77″. I love the colors and the half-square-triangle section – the rest of it I’ve been piecing in my free time and it turned out pretty blocky – but I think it will look great as a throw quilt for a couch.

I started the back today. I’m using ALL the left-over fabric from the front, and I may need to add one more yard of something to fill it all in – but I’m having fun with the challenge.

Recently, I’ve been made aware that my comment section may not be working properly (Thanks Dawn!)… and I’m kind of hoping that’s the case since I haven’t had much feedback lately. When checking with Blogger, I realized there is no real customer service, and I can’t seem to get it figured out.
SO…

I am moving my blog soon to a WordPress format. It shouldn’t affect anything on your end, but I’ll have better control over both content and dealing with issues like the comment section not working!

With the blog switch, I’ll be introducing a new section for hexie tutorials and patterns! It’s something I’ve been working on for a few months, and I’m so excited to show my work – it’s just so hard to wait until the full finish sometimes! I’m hoping to unveil it all soon.