I’m so excited to share my newest quilt pattern: Swirling Oceans. This pattern is for machine-piecing, which is different than my other hand-piecing patterns.
This pattern will require a bit of accuracy in cutting the fabric, using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance and in the trimming or squaring up of the blocks. There are a lot of half square triangles (HST) in the quilt, and many steps that require pressing and trimming. That said, you can chain piece through most of the steps making it go pretty quickly for what it is.
I re-wrote this pattern 3 different times and I’ve made a few test quilt tops to get the right flow to the pattern. I’m dyslexic, so that was my biggest problem. Once I know the issue is me and not the writing, I could move on.
While writing this pattern, I also released The Kaleidoscope Quilt Pattern for hand-piecing. I wasn’t going to make that quilt into a pattern until someone asked for one… and I had all the ‘maps’ and math already laid out in Illustrator, so it wasn’t too difficult to wrap it up and make it a pattern – or so I thought! Only AFTER I released it, I realized there were some additions and a couple edits that were needed. My heart sinks when I make mistakes like that… but all changes were made and the revised version is now accurate.
So, when it came to releasing Swirling Oceans, I’ve been a bit reluctant. I really wanted to make sure there were no edits to make – that it was all accurate BEFORE I publish it. Even now I’m a bit nervous to let it go… I want to create patterns that are easy to understand and make – not cause headaches.
I’m excited to show it at guild tonight – and to publish the pattern to this in the next few days! More to come as I figure out how I’m going to quilt it, or have it quilted – just wanted to share the finished top!!
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).
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!
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!
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:
This hasn’t been ironed yet. Here is what the back looks like pre-ironing:
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:
and the front looks like this:
I just added it to the rest of the quilt that is hanging on my design wall:
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!
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:
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.
I’m off to enjoy some sunshine – it’s gorgeous out today!
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!
I 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!
I was able to get a good photo of my Manipura quilt this week and I’m so thrilled with the results!
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:
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!
I was super lucky to be able to go to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show last week! What an amazing show – I’m so thrilled I was able to go see it!!
This trip was a self-test. I have some health issues that prevent me from going too far away from home, but I wanted to see:
If I could drive the whole 3.5 hours there and back through the mountains.
If my exhaustion levels would hold up through a day of seeing many people.
If my digestion could tolerate the time changes and food options.
If I would swell up in the heat.
If I could hold my anxiety in check.
I have to say that I did much better than I expected – even through massive traffic on the way down making my trip closer to 5 hours in the car, I made it there with only a bit of anxiety on the road (steep mountain curves with strobing sunlight through the trees). I would have ridden the bus down if I didn’t have such bad motion sickness.
The best part of the trip was getting to know a few of my guild friends a little better – they were great fun! We sewed together and ate together and laughed a lot. It was really sweet. Everyone had a project and it was nice to discuss the thoughts behind the quilt making. Sometimes our guild meetings are so big, we don’t get to hear about the whole story behind the quilt, so I really enjoyed getting to know these ladies a bit better through their creative process. Totally fun!!
However, I forgot all my nighttime pills/suppliments so I did not sleep well, and we had plans to meet more friends around 7:30am, so I was up early – and if you know me, this is much earlier than I’m used to. Since I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, I decided to enjoy the morning – and it was beautiful! It was even a bit chilly, so it was an easy, gorgeous drive into Sisters. Once I was there, I was happy we left early – the temperature was warm in the sun, but not bad at all!
The show was great, I saw a lot of inspirational quilts! Our PMQG section was beautiful too – many of the Row by Row quilts made last year were on display. I was able to see many people there and meet a few new friends too! I really enjoy meeting people in real life that I’ve only ever met online. It’s part of the reason I really wanted to go – I usually feel a little left out when my body does not have the allowance that others’ have. So I had a lot of fun talking to people and meeting new friends… and seeing some amazing quilts to boot!
Around noon my body started to give way a bit – I started getting tired. Exhausted tired, the kind where you could just fall asleep in the middle of the road if the sun wasn’t glaring down on it right now- kind of tired. Then I started some swelling from ankles and elbows down, and my feet started to have nerve pain, and I knew it was time to go.
It was only 12:30-1pm when I left… and there were a few more people I wanted to see and talk to while I was there – but I was fading fast, and I knew I had a long drive ahead of me, so I decided to leave. I was a little tired while driving, but I got to a rest stop about an hour out of Sisters and stopped and ate some food, drank some water, and stretched… then laid down on the grass in the shade under a tree and closed my eyes for a bit. That little pit stop allowed me to get home without stopping again, so I was home by 5. I said hello to my husband, ate a little and fell asleep.
That was Saturday, it is now Tuesday, and I’m just starting to feel like I can keep my eyes open, and have a desire to eat. While I did well on the trip, it really knocked me out physically. I’m still fairly exhausted, but I’m able to write, so here I am…
There were so many people in Sisters who seemed older, or with health problems… or both. I always wonder how much planning goes into their trips, how do they do it? Is it weird to be so jealous of an able body? I don’t feel I’m that feeble, yet these events are really hard to recover from, so maybe I am…? It certainly colors my future a certain way – and is a little saddening.
So… onto some more positive thinking! I’ve been working on some hand work – La Passacaglia to be exact. I’m only doing a few rosettes for a charity quilt. This pattern is really intense using a pentagon for a base shape rather than a hexagon. There are a lot of small pieces – I did one that was English Paper-Pieced, and one where I traced the shapes on the back of the fabric and stitched them together with a running stitch and Y-seams. The one without EPP went together really fast, so I’m trying another that way using a different size. I have some ideas that are still incubating for this kind of piecing… I hope they lead me to something cool! I’ll be sharing more soon!
I’ve been having fun playing with designs lately, and I just made another that I like enough to offer to others!
My husband hand-pulls all the prints out of our screen printing studio – I love that it’s so hands-on and low-tech. When we set up to print this shirt, I’ll try to take a video. I put a link to our store here on my quilt blog – I figure, my world is mixed between screen printing and quilting… so I think it’s okay to mix them in cyberspace too. 😉
On the quilting front, I finished my #cannabis pillows! I think they came out great!
This is the front and back of one of the pillows – they are both close to the same, a few differences to make them unique. The cannabis print was done using discharge ink. Discharge ink is actually more of a chemical reaction than an ink – it releases the dye of the fabric leaving the base fabric as the ‘print’. This means the print is a part of the fabric and can be ironed over and is just as soft as the fabric – no layer of ink! It’s a fantastic print method for fabric.
I have a few print/quilt related ideas in process right now to see which, if any, may pan out to push further. A work in progress!
… At least to me they are!
One thing I’ve noticed, being in a quilt guild, is how generous most quilters are. They make and give quilts to friends and family members… and to many different charities. It’s part of why I love the quilting community – they really want to wrap the whole world in love by way of beautiful quilts.
Many years ago, I was a recipient of one of these quilts. It’s a simple block quilt, hand-tied in yarn… and as you can see, very well used.
I got this quilt when I was staying at a homeless shelter, right after I found out I was pregnant (1990). I had been squatting abandoned buildings or sleeping outside for about 6 months, then got into the Waller Street Family Shelter in San Francisco.
While it was not the most pleasant experience of my life, staying there for a few months allowed me to get myself into housing before my daughter was born. My daughter used this quilt while growing up, and so it has been well loved and very used.
It means even more to me now that I quilt too! I want to repair it. The bright colors always remind me that there can be bright lights, even in darkness – and that some random, unknown person is out there trying to help by wrapping us in love.
As a charity-quilt recipient, I just want to say: “Thank You!” to all the charity quilters out there who diligently work to make others feel loved and cared for. You and the quilts you make, are very important and really do matter to a lot of people – like me!
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.
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.
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.
So 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.
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.
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?)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some great reads on success and art that I was turned onto by some FB friends:
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.
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:
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.
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.So… 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:
Now you are ready to trim that extra piece off, but make sure you add 1/4″ seam allowance first.
Now you are ready to add your second piece of fabric- which, for me are these dots!
With the paper folded over, you can check to see if the fabric is large enough to cover the perforated shape plus seam allowance.
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.
Now it’s back to the iron. I lay the piece down so both fabrics are on top,
then I fold one fabric back and press out, just on the seam (very careful NOT to touch the freezer paper!)
Then I flip the whole thing,
double-check the seam matches up to the perforated line,
fold the paper back over the fabric and press.
Now I have two pieces stitched together, and I’m ready to trim the dots and add my next section.
So, I fold back the paper to the perforated line that denotes this section,
And trim adding 1/4″ seam allowance.
Add next piece of fabric (solid yellow in this case) and sew closely to the folded paper line.
Open and press as before, careful not to iron over the wax part of the paper.
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.
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.
After stitching and pressing, this is how it is supposed to look!
I keep adding sections, one at a time, out to one edge,
then start in the center again to work toward the other side.
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.
All my markings are still on the back – which should make layout a snap.
Here are three finished blocks all lined up:
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!
While it’s been a while since posting, I have been getting a lot of sewing done! I’m very close to my 3rd quilt finish of the year. As soon as this binding is on, and we get some sunshine, I will be taking (and sharing) photos!
I also wanted to share that I have 3 quilts hanging publicly right now… and I’m so thrilled!
First, I had entered two quilts to QuiltCon that were rejected. I had expected as much as my photos were not that great… I was not disappointed either as I understand how these things work. Luckily, Modern Domestic decided to show the quilt rejects from our area, so my quilts get to show publicly anyway… and in a local quilt shop! I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. So if you’re in NE on Alberta and 14th – go check out MD and see my quilts along with some other stunners from our PMQG!
Second, I have one of my small Green Cross Series quilts hanging on display at: Quilt Making: A Modern Practice in Wisconsin at Madison College in the Gallery @ Truax.
I’m very happy to have this quilt in this show… times are certainly changing, and it will be interesting to see how this quilt is received by the public in the Midwest. There is a reception on January 28th where you can meet some of the quilters. The show runs until Feb. 19th, if you’re close to Madison – you should go check it out!
I finished the last two quilts in my Green Cross Series, making four smaller Cannabis quilts altogether. Two are spoken for, one is in the show in Madison, and the last one will probably be a gift for one of my friends. I feel good about getting so much done already this year… I hope to share (good) photos soon!
YAY! I have finished the screen printed quilt! I’m considering calling it “Orbital Spotting” but I’m open to suggestions. *wink wink*
Super happy with this one! I made the blocks based on “Anita’s Arrowheads” technique by Anita Grossman. You cut all your pieces for one block with just a few rotary cuts. It’s a really fun technique – try it out sometime, it makes for nice clean looking blocks with pretty accurate points.
The top sat while I worked on the back. The back actually took way longer to make than the front, but I did use up all my scraps from the front! I even used an older creamy/brown calico-ish type of print to punch up the more modern fabrics. I kind of like the back better than the front… but that’s just me.
I worked with my husband on this quilt as a collaboration. He is a screen printer, and he did the decision making as to what to print and where. He used discharge ink which releases the dye of the fabric rather than laying a layer of ink over the fabric. This means that after it’s washed, the printed area is just as soft as the rest of the fabric – and you can iron over it!
Here are some screen printing process pics:
“big ring” film. The black of the film is opaque and can block light.
Mixing discharge ink – 3 part chemical process that needs specific measurements
Screens are made by using light-sensitive emulsion, opaqued film, and a light source
‘pulling ink’ over the stencil or hole in the screen and onto the quilt top
Printing over seams can get messy, and there are a few spots in the printing that are not perfect, but all in all, it came out beautifully! It sat for another long bit while I was saving up for my new Juki 2010Q. Now it’s the first quilt I’ve quilted on my new machine!
It worked so well! I used a walking foot for some parts, then switched to free-motion-quilting for all the fills. I ‘eyeballed’ all the lines – I don’t like taking time to mark up the quilt, and I don’t really care about perfection. As long as it is sewn well and will hold up in the wash, I’m good.
After it was all quilted I had a big decision to make as to what to used for binding… but I found this darker grey Peppered Cotton that I think works so well. It ties all the other colors together – so fun! Now that it’s finished, I can bring it to show and tell at PMQG tonight! Hope to see you there!
As some of you know, my husband and I have a small business printing custom t-shirts for local groups and businesses called Phantom Chicken. What you might not know is that we have been trying to mix this and quilting into one piece of work… and we are getting close to a finish!
I made a quilt top last summer and I had planned an elaborate print for it. Because my first plan was so daunting, it just never came to fruition… so we altered the idea a bit. Instead of one big image that would need to be broken down into many interlocking parts, we made a couple images to print randomly over the top.
Finished quilt top from Summer 2014
Since screen printing is a bit elusive to some, I thought I would share our process for printing here. In time I would love to set up a workshop so people could try this hands-on… maybe someday!
Even though screen printing has been done for thousands of years, and technology is pushing things to the digital world, you can still screen print old-school – by hand, which hasn’t changed much since it’s inception.
For this project, we used a special ink called Plasticharge – it’s a two-part system that is heat activated and instead of laying ink over the fabric, it actually releases the dye of the fabric, leaving the feel of the print as soft as the rest of the unprinted fabric. The ink comes in 2 parts that need to be mixed about 45 minutes before printing. Mixing needs to be precise.
Mixing dishcarge inks for small project
We used an old cream cheese container to mix in since we did not need much for this project. Besides the ink, we also need screens! To get a screen made, we first start with a design from the computer and send it to a camera-house that creates “film positives” for us. It’s just like a negative, only the parts you want to see (or print) are black and the rest stays clear.
Big circle – film positive, ready to shoot a screen
Above is the film for a large ring – what we want to print is black and opaque, and the rest is clear. We put this film on a screen covered in photosensitive emulsion and shine a light on it (shoot it) for about 15 minutes. The light hardens everything except what is under the opaque part. Water is then used to wash out the soft emulsion leaving a “hole” in the screen.
2 screens ready for set up
Once the screens are made, they can be set up on press. Luckily for this project, registration was not needed since everything is one-color and printing randomly… otherwise registration can be the longest part of setting up.
screen on press
This was a fun project for Gregg, as I told him to print as desired – he had a lot of decisions to make
Mid-print decision making time
Once he figured out where to put the next print, he put the quilt top on the press and
put the discharge ink on the screen and used a tool called a squeegee to “pull” the ink across the screen and onto the quilt…
… and voila
printed quilt top
print on quilt! After this, the print needs time under a heating unit to “set” the ink into the fabric.
heating discharge print
Now this one part of the print is complete – but Gregg had many circles and dots to use and each print was done individually, so this took two afternoons to finish.
This top will need to be washed before quilting. The ink leaves a bit of a residue until washed, so today I am stitching around the sides to prevent fraying in the wash. I’m hoping to have this one finished for the next PMQG meeting. Time to think about ‘how to quilt this’… YAY!
I love my guild… The Portland Modern Quilt Guild – what an amazing group of people. Our holiday party was a blast, and now I can finally share what I made for our gift swap!
The swap was fun, we each brought in a sandwich baggie full of fabric to our Nov. meeting where we randomly received a bag of fabric from someone else. We used the fabrics in the baggie to make something for them from their own stash and brought it to our Dec. meeting. I received fabrics from Katie Blakesley of SwimBikeQuilt.com and I had never met her before… I was a bit nervous to make something for someone so prolific, but she liked the pillow I made for her, and that made my day!
I received a great little needle-book from Pamela Barber – it’s a ‘book’ made of fabric with felt ‘pages’ so I have a neat little place to keep my needles and scissors for hand sewing. It’s so sweet, and the quilting on it is fantastic!
The board members this year really did an amazing job at wrangling the 230+ members of our guild to keep things happily rolling along! Thanks to Mary Ann, Kelly, Suzanne, Lisa, and Cath – they all really excelled at making it a fun year with lots of things to do, and I, for one, am appreciative of all the work that they put into it.
One event PMQG hosts is a monthly charity sew organized by Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts. Each time a group meets, there is a simple block pattern to make using a bunch of scrap fabrics donated by individual members of the guild. This time we made a scrappy 7.5″ block with 2″ white borders. There were about 10 of us there and we made enough of these blocks for another quilt top for Project Linus.
PMQG members at charity sew day at Modern Domestic – Quilts on display by: Elizabeth Hartman
Scrap Station… so fun to dig!
This is such a fun way to get involved and meet people from our guild, I really enjoyed this – there is nothing like working with a group of people all focused on the same project. We got a lot done, and for a good cause too!
At the last PMQG meeting, I was a lucky door prize winner. One of the awesome goodies was a 3-month subscription to Creativebug which is an online education site for all sorts of crafty-ness. It’s super cool! One of the classes offered is taught by my friend Susan Beal. It’s all about log cabin quilting. This first class centered on making a pillow… and here’s what I made:
My log cabin block
Close up of my center block using the new Brambelberry Ridge by Violet Craft
I think it took me about 2 hours from start to finish… including picking fabrics. I used some Violet Craft’s new line Brambleberry Ridge. The metallics make this a really fun pillow.
I followed Susan’s direction up to the quilting where I wanted to just play around with echo quilting – I think it gives it more of an organic feel which I like.
It was nice to take a break from hexies. I got a little frustrated with my layout the other day… so I just picked up all the blues and will start over. Since this is the most important part, I want to make sure I get it just right. I will also be making more blue hexies and pull aside some of the ones I don’t like. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets frustrated and starts over… right? 😉
I started a project quilt a few months back, one that I planned to screen print onto – I have the quilt made, the design done… and now I need to do the pre-press to get it ready for printing. I thought you might enjoy this process, so I’m sharing!
As with quilting, screen printing is very “set-up” oriented. You have to plan, measure, and cut before you can start stitching on a quilt. For screen printing, we need to make and set up a screen before we think about pulling ink. Pre-press is what this part of printing is called, and it’s what I do everyday for our t-shirt business.
Printing on a pre-made quilt top will be a first for me and my husband, who is collaborating with me for the actual printing. This is because our screen size is usually maxed out at a 10″x 12″ size, this quilt is about 54″x 65″… and with seams! So, the BIG question is: how are we going to print a large image? We decided to break it up into smaller bits and print in small sections with an 3/8″overlap. Fingers will be crossed tightly through this part to see if this will work.
So… To start I made a grid in Illustrator the size of my quilt blocks – the actual quilt blocks do vary about 1/4″ here and there, so it’s a general guideline:
Then I took a photo of my quilt and dropped it into the file and stretched it to fit my grid – which is closer to accurate:
From here I laid out my design and put it where I want to see it. The plan is to use a white discharge ink which will release the dye of the fabric, rather than putting a layer of ink over the top of the fabric.
Eventually I will need to make film positives from this artwork, so everything I want to print needs to be black. It also makes it easier to do the prepress.
Now I have my design over my grid where I want it to be, so I no longer need the photo of the quilt top:
Now I need to divide the black artwork up into smaller printable sections, instead of 13 different photos, I made a little video:
Here’s a close-up of one of the sections:
The solid black parts will print, everything else is there to help Gregg set it up “in registration” with all the other sections. These sections will become screens. The small lines are marks for where the seams of the quilt should end up, and I also have marked which block they should be in.
From here, I would normally send each one of these sections out to get a piece of film positive made at a pre-press company. One of these sections would be $35 as a piece of film, since I do not want to spend that on one-time prints, I’m going to make copies on transparency stock at Kinkos. Once we have the films made, we can start the next part of the process: shooting screens.
This quilt is all about process – which takes time, however… I will post as soon as we start on the screens!
An idea has sprung up in my head, so I’m working on something different.
I’ve seen other screen printers print on fabrics and quilt blocks, but I’m hoping to pull off printing on a finished quilt top. Actually, it would be my husband Gregg making the print magic happen. He’s been an independent screen printer for 19 years, and luckily for me I just talked him into this major project.
Screen printing is like stenciling, and it’s a very simple process to use a screen and pull a print onto fabric or a t-shirt. However, making the screen is where all the work comes in, and before you can make a screen – you need a design. I thought I’d walk you through my process.
Here is the finished quilt top I made using Anita Grossman’s “Anita’s Arrowheads” technique for making blocks. This one measures 52″ wide x 64″ tall.
Finished quilt top
I spent a few days laying out these blocks till I was happy, then sewed them together and added a 3″ border just to make it a bit bigger. Once this part was done, I could play around with some of my images and see what would work best with this particular quilt top.
Adobe Illustrator is my go-to design program, then I use Photoshop to overlay my design on the quilt top photo to check design size and placement. The colors in this quilt made me think of mermaids, so I was stuck on making a mermaid image. It took a little while, but I made something I liked… unfortunately, I didn’t really like it on the actual quilt top:
It was too busy with all that background pattern, so I took it off and got this:
Better… but maybe not the best image for this quilt. So I set it aside for another quilt some other day… I was getting frustrated trying to think of what I wanted to print on this quilt. The room I was working in had a really cool fan in it, and so I thought maybe a fan would look cool on this quilt. I took some photos, worked them up and got another design idea going:
Obviously still needs work, and I decided that it too was too busy for this quilt top – then I tried simplifying to a basic image within my busy mermaid background and this is how that looked:
Kinda cool… but still not right! I was showing these images to Gregg and complaining about how I suck at being a designer or artist and that even though it’s a great idea… I just can’t come up with the right imagery. I was telling him how I really wanted something super simple that wouldn’t compete too much with the actual quilt top. As I was talking I started to draw circles on my mock-ups… and in just a few minutes my quilt top screen print design was in process – and a bit later, I had my final design:
It’s thrilling to finally be at this stage! Next up is to divide this image into bits that are small enough to fit on our screens. The largest image area we can use is 11″x 12″. This size works for us because our t-shirt screens are the same size – no new screens need to be purchased.
So… we are looking at dividing the image up into 20 screens and Gregg will have to work his magic to make the screens match up. That is where the real difficulty will come in. We plan to use a discharge ink actually releases the dye of the fabric, some fabrics may come out looking really white, others maybe not so much.
Circle Dot design by Gail Weiss
It’s a big challenge for Gregg too – we would much prefer a large format press so we could print the whole thing at the same time… but we have to work with what we got. You can see the 20 divisions above. We usually get film positives to use to make our screens, but just like film negatives, this can get expensive. Instead we are going to use transparency sheets.
Next up in this project is actually making the screens and getting them ready to print. Depending on the issues we come across, we may tweak the design a bit… or we might just scrap the whole idea altogether. I’m just happy I have someone willing to try something new with me!
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.**
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Wow… feels great to say I have finished a quilt! It’s been a while! Here it is:
Rosetta Baby Quilt Front
I’m really loving this little quilt. The piecing was done fairly quickly a few months back when we were packing and getting ready to move. I used fabrics that weren’t packed away yet, and this is the improv I came up with. I particularly love the quilting on this, I just made a flower and echoed it adding more flowers here and there. I used some super nice fabric for the back that my friend Rachel gave me a while back ~ it’s so soft and luxurious… makes the quilt super special.
Rosetta Quilt Back
In fact, Rachel has been an inspiration to me ever since I started going to PMQG meetings. She has been there every time I needed help with quilting… and even in some social settings. She recently wrote a bit for “Quilting Happiness” that wasn’t included in the book, but is published here. It was such an inspirational piece about volunteering in a women’s correctional facility, the difficulties these women face, and how quilting helped her bridge a major communication gap with them. I highly recommend reading it. Now I understand why she has always had such patience with me, she’s had practice!!
Ready to go…
I want to donate my new little quilt! It will be a first for me… I usually make quilts as gifts for friends and family, or just for myself. I’ve never made one to give away to a charity before. (I know, I know… I should have been donating quilts already) Anyway, I want to give it to a family shelter because I was given a quilt many years ago when I was pregnant and staying in a shelter, and it really meant a lot to me… and to my daughter.
Baby quilt given to me at a shelter 23 years ago
There are some holes, and the binding is worn completely through, it’s only string tied… but I’ve loved this quilt, and still do. I hope the one I made will be just as loved by someone who needs it as much as I did! As Rachel always says: Quilters Rock!
There is just so much to write about. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t blog for as long as I have.
We are now in our new home, working from our new studio (we print t-shirts), and I even have a new sewing space! Everything is still in boxes, so no great ‘new house’ photos today.
Instead I wanted to tell you that my Wood Dragon Hexie Quilt was accepted into the NW Quilting Expo which is happening next weekend 9/19 – 9/21 at the Expo Center here in Portland. I’m so excited… and a bit nervous. It’s really hard to let go of that quilt. It felt like leaving my daughter at the airport to go to Europe by herself… but at some point you just have to do it and move on.
I’m super excited to share this quilt with others. It’s the best part about making a quilt… especially one that took 18 months to complete!!
I am getting the quilt judged at the show. I had the squid quilt judged there last year and their comments were very helpful. I’m always interested in critiques by people “in the know”. Seems there is a lot of judgement on quilts these days based only on design. I thrive on learning more about the actual construction of the quilt and how to make it better, than on the design. But that’s just me, and honestly, the design part comes naturally to me… it’s the actual stitching, piecing, and quilting that I stumble over and want to get better at.
Hope to see you at the show… and I promise new pictures next post!
Here are some pictures of my hexie process:
Lots of 1/2″ hexies… and notes to keep it all straight!
dime for size
Getting the layout right took over a month in itself!!
This is how I looked for about a year… my hexies were always a reach away.
My daughters’ long pillow worked great as a form to roll the growing quilt onto as I stitched.
Back of the dragon… my hexies completely covered the paper hexies making the whole quilt a little thicker.
Picking the papers out… good thing I punched holes in them before sewing – a toothpick made the work quick!