Quick project: Laptop Cover

I’m starting to check things of my “to do” list. I even got to a non-quilting project: a laptop case! One of my best friends wanted me to make her a cover for her laptop using very old felt she had gotten from her grandfather. Thick green felt… and I was clueless as to what to do at first.

I started looking online for a pattern and found a few, but landed on this one by Amy a la Mode. I liked it because it was lined and good for thick fabric.

We have a very similar esthetic, so when I found some orange plaid wool in my scraps, I had to use them somehow and came up with a quick little appliqué flower.

Appliqué test

I fused some interfacing on the back of the fabric to keep the edges from raveling, and sewed them on raw-edge style with a zigzag stitch. My friend really liked this flower so I had a direction to go in, but it still seemed a little bland on the green felt, so I pretended it was a quilt and free-motion-stitched all over:

back of laptop cover

The curly stitching really made it fun and look pretty nice!

front of laptop cover

This is the front – instead of buttons, I used a strip of felt with seam binding on the edges to make a loop for the flap to fold into – I put a couple wool circles on there too – just too cute not to.

This cover is fully lined with more of the green felt, so it is pretty sturdy and thick… AND it fit her laptop perfectly!

Now I can work on some quilting without this little project looking at me all the time. 😉

Time Slip

Wow! I just realized it’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything – Happy Belated New Year!! Lots of things happening, but not much time to write about it all, let’s see if I can recap a little bit.

One great thing I’ve been able to do this month was go to Just Quilting for a longarm class with Nancy Stovall. What fun, I loved it completely. Now that I have a class under my belt, I can rent time on the machine whenever I have a quilt top/back finished!!

Sam Hunter put together a pretty quilt top for charity, and when I said I wanted to practice on the longarm some more, she promptly handed me a bag with that top, a back, batting and pre-made binding in it and said I could use it for practice! FANTASTIC – Thank you!

So I went back to Nancy’s studio last week and worked on an actual quilt. I got the whole thing quilted in my 2 hours on the machine. I had so much fun!

One thing that is a little daunting is picking a pattern to use. This particular quilt was one that my husband was really attracted to, and while I was thinking of doing an all-over floral pattern, I thought that might be too ‘girly’, so I changed my mind and took an idea from Christina Camelli’s new book: Step By Step: Free Motion Quilting.

Mind you, I’m a total beginner, so there is a lot I want to work on in the skills department, but I’m still really happy with how this turned out:

I came home after doing this quilting with a million new ideas in my head for quilt designs and patterns that would lend well to longarm quilting… hopefully I can get rolling on those soon.

Another HUGE thing that happened this month was that my little brother has contacted me! My mom & dad had just found out they were pregnant for the 5th time right before I was kicked out/left home. So, after all these years, I had never talked to him.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I get a message on Facebook that just says: “Hey Sister”. That was it… I responded right away, and we have been in contact everyday since!! He has also left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the family is no longer speaking to him either… so we really connected. He is 27 now and is in a whirlwind of emotions. He lives in CA, and he has plans to come visit within the next few months – SO EXCITING!

It seems like it could almost be like reconnecting with a child you gave up for adoption… I don’t know… but it’s strange (to say the least) to get to know a stranger (basically) who shares the same parents. It’s kind of neat to find similarities between us, and I’m elated that I now have a bit of my family back.

Last week was my birthday… and we got to go to the coast out by Cannon Beach for the weekend. It was a long-needed break, I don’t think Gregg and I have taken 3 days off together in at least 5 years! The best thing was that it was above 60 degrees and super sunny! At night the sky was so clear you could almost touch the stars… and they came all the way down to meet he waves on the horizon. Just beautiful!

 …and we also got our 3 new trees! They are incense cedars to replace the big firs we recently had to take down. They are so cute and green – and they help fill the yard and that makes me happy.

I’m still working on the quilting of the Jellyfish – right now I have about a quarter of the “water” left to quilt… and then I’ll be ready to add a few more French knots before putting the binding on. I’m planning to hand sew the binding too so I can say the whole quilt is hand stitched!

There are a few more projects currently on my plate right now, I’ll tell you about them in the next post.
What will you be working on next month?

PMQG

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!

Pillow Front
Pillow Back

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.

charity blocks 
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!

Jellyfish Hexie Top Finished!

I finished the top!!!! Happy dance!

I waited to post pics until I had showed this to my guild last night – I was really excited to show it in person – the PMQG is the best group ever! I’m very happy with how it turned out, the colors are vibrant and the background works. My favorite parts are the “bubbles” in the background… and how it looks almost glow-in-the-dark in some areas… and so many friends donated scraps for this quilt. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of the extremely sweet people in my life.

This was started January 14, 2014 – today is September 19th… so nine months of work so far. There are 2373 1/2″ hexies in this piece, and I used (re-used) papers from Paperpieces.com Now it’s time to think about quilting. So much to ponder…

In Print!

I’m totally buzzing! Not only did the Blazers go into the next round of playoffs on an amazing buzzer beater (basketball), but I’m also in print in 2 magazines this month!

First is the new issue of The Quilt Life – on page 54.
My friend Bill and I were talking one day and after relating some of my life story, he said I had to meet his friend Victoria because our stories were so similar. I was like: “sure – why not?” and in a few days I received a very sweet email from her asking if I would be willing to do an interview for a magazine she was writing for. I said yes, and then we had a wonderful phone conversation in which we totally connected. Our families come from the same small town in Minnesota, we both had some crazy life struggles and worked hard to get our shit together… and we both found quilting!

After our conversation, I was super excited and a bit nervous about how she was going to write what we talked about, but there was no need… she took what I said and made it all sound wonderful. If you get a copy and read it, let me know what you think!

I knew it was coming out in the June issue, so when I saw the current The Quilt Life at Fabric Depot the other day, I had to buy it immediately… actually two. The woman at the counter asked why I was getting two and I told her about the article – and she went right to it, right there (while people waited in line) and started reading! She made me feel all giddy inside and my walk home was a great one.

The second is the new issue of GenerationQ – on page 14.
I entered a quick block building contest a month or so ago – and they picked my entry as one of the winners! This is pretty exciting to me – I haven’t entered many contests, so it feels great.

Life is good – from basketball to quilting and everything in between!

A Good Day!

I had a great day yesterday. For the first time in a while, I was able to walk all the way to our local library without too much physical ado. This is big… really big for me. I used to walk all the time, and before that I worked out all the time, but I have become less physically active due to pain issues. So to be able to get out on a walk right now is wonderful. I can’t contain my joy 🙂

I was fantastically rewarded too:

Look at all the awesome quilting books I found at the library!!  I can’t wait to go through them.

A New Year

A little late for a new year’s blog, but still… HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I can hardly believe it’s 2014. I feel like I’m in a Sci-Fi novel, except it’s kind of boring. The plot is old and the politics are always the same. And where are the jet-paks and house-cleaning robots?

All joking aside, I’m happy to start a new year with new goals and new quilty friends!

This year, my main focus is my health and pain control. I’ve been working with a PT and a massage therapist to try to twist my back back to where it should be (scoliosis) and take the pressure off my hips (sciatica, pulled psoas, inguinal strain) and give relief to my knees and ankles. It just means I have to make sure to do daily exercises, and work back up to long walks and eventually back to the gym. My diet is a constant consideration, and if I focus on a paleo plan, I think my abdominal issues will be better too. I can do it!

Another goal I have is making 6 quilts this year.  I know some people can crank out a quilt in a couple days, but I’m a very slow seamstress, and I don’t have that much free time for sewing. After a few weeks of work, here is the “unbe-weevil-ble” quilt as of today: 

Unbe-weevil-ble quilt blocks on floor for layout

I have them all laid out on the floor, and am going to figure out the best way to fit them together and which side to make the top, and how much of a border to add around the sides and top.  Each of the (9) blocks are 24″ square.  I was able to get a lot done at the PMQG All Day Sew last Saturday – it’s always inspirational to see what others are making, and that’s good when you need to plow through some big blocks!

Unbe-weevil-ble quilt blocks

I’m all about the process of this quilt.  Been trying to get my 1/4″ seams perfected on my machine, it’s a bit tough… but I’m into the challenge. The circles got better with each block, but most of them look a little fractured, and I kinda like it. Following a pattern was hard for me, and I spent a lot of time taking seams out because I sewed something upsidedown or backwards.

Sewing area – block patterns to the right

Blogging is also big on my “goals” list this year. Going to try to blog at least once a week – and hopefully share fun stuff like a quilt-along or something…

Beyond that, there are goals we have for our business, which include a big website update and basic organization. We are also thinking of mixing some screen printing with some quilting this year, and that should be fun!

And there will always be the new house with a long project list. Once I get our taxes done this year, I’m hoping to get a return and be able to fix our fence so we can get a new dog (or two).  I can’t tell you how hard this winter has been without a warm cuddly creature to snuggle with, however… I DO really like how clean the house stays without the constant in and out of a dog, so I guess I can deal for a little while longer. So if you see some strange woman on the street careening towards your dog for some affection… yeah, that’ll be me.

A Little Quilt Finish

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!

So Much…

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!
Finished Hexie Top
Fully quilted on my Singer after it was basted professionally by Nancy Stovall / Just Quilting
Super proud of my woodgrain free motion quilting pattern.
How to quilt the dragon?? French knots to the rescue!
Finished top.

What to do… what to do?

Last night the PMQG held their 3 year anniversary party with the guild meeting, and it was great in so many ways!

First off, Michael Miller sent our guild some neon fabrics for a quilt challenge.  I’m not immediately attracted to neon, however, I do love a challenge… and using neon in anything I do will be a BIG challenge.  I’ve been looking at this all day trying to find my inspiration chanting “what to do?”

Here are the fat eighths we were given (so super generous:  thanks MM and PMQG!!) The neon solids are oversaturated with dye so they are very stiff.  I’m curious how they will wash, they absolutely need pre-washing!!  I’m still just thinking on this one… all that comes to mind is a side ponytail scrunchy and matching layered skirt… I don’t know *yet* how this will translate into: QUILT.

Another fun thing about the meeting last night was hearing about QuiltCon, and finding out 4 of our members won awards for their quilts in the show!!  Congratulations to Heather, Katie, Monica, and Pétra… for representing for the PMQG so beautifully! 

My favorite last night was show and tell… Luke Haynes came down from Seattle to share some of his quilts with us!  He uses found fabrics to create a traditional background, then photographs a subject, uses the clothes they actually wore in the photo and creates a portrait in those fabrics in applique on top of the background quilt.  They are truly amazing and he was super friendly too.

Seeing all my quilty friends at these meetings is something I look forward to all month ~ I love it when the meetings exceed my expectations!

Finally…

I have some photos to share!  Here’s my caveat: these are home photos… when the sun actually makes an appearance here in Portland, I’ll get outside and get some decent pics.  I just didn’t want to make you wait much longer 😉

Details:  4,132 1/2″ hand-pieced hexies in this quilt.  Stitched from Oct. 2011 to Feb. 2013.  Partially free-motion-quilted on my domestic Singer sewing machine, partially by hand using french knots. 

Here’s a couple photos of the back too:

And one last photo of me and my quilt at the PMQG meeting on Thursday:

That meeting was really fun!  We actually did a hexie demo and everyone got to try their hand at them… it was great, and I think we may have a few more hexie addicts soon 😉  There were a lot of amazing quilts shown (as usual!), if you’d like to see them go here.  That group is just amazing when it comes to support and motivation ~ I love my guild!

Happy Holidays!

This makes for a great day to do a little writing, since it feels like the whole city shut down.  It’s very calming and I like it. 

Just thought I’d post what I received for the Holiday Swap at the last PMQG meeting.
I got this AWESOME bag and little pouch:

Here’s the pretty yellow inside, it has a hard bottom too so it can sit on it’s own:

I was super happy with this… and I REALLY needed a bag like this too ~ thanks so much Tamara King!  You rocked it!   Although I think I would have been happy with anything on that gifty table, (see photos here) there are some amazing creative types in our group! 

This is what I made my swap partner:

It’s a pillow cover… I fell in love with the deer fabric.  So Northwest. I might have to get some of my own! 

I also started quilting the hexie dragon quilt this week!!  After a few weeks of practicing hand quilting, I’ve decided to free motion quilt most of it with my machine. 

It’s a basic Singer dometic machine with a darning foot attached.  I set the stitch length to zero and away I go.  I used to tape over the feed dogs, but I find it doesn’t seem to matter on this machine if I do or not. 

I went around the whole outer edge of the patterned hexies, and around the dragon itself.  Then I started a wood-grain looking pattern… I think it’s looking pretty good, but I’m concerned about the color of the thread.  I want the wood grain affect to go vertically, but the hexies go from light to dark… so if I use dark thread you’ll see it on top, and if I use light thread you’ll see it on the bottom.  I’m considering two thread colors??  but am unsure how to have them meet in the middle.

While I’m thinking about this, I’ve started straight-line quilting the dark brown border horizontally.  It’s looking really cool.  Since it has wool batting, the quilting is very dimensional and dynamic!  In these shots you can also see the blue basting thread which will be pulled out after I’m done quilting. 
Oh… I’m so relieved to have started!  My quilting is by no means perfect… at this point, I’m just going for overall effect. 

So that’s what I’m off to:  a little family time and some sewing.  Doesn’t that sound like the perfect holiday?
Hope your holiday is just as great!! 

New Ink

A little off topic today… nothing to do with quilting, but I want to share my new ink:

I had the old rose tattoo done on my 23rd birthday 20 years ago… for my 43rd b-day I wanted to expand on the original rose since I’m living and loving Portland, OR or Rose City.  I picked a Japanese style rose because I thought it was prettier than the original old-school one, and these days I’m “into” pretty tattoos. 

This marks my 8th tattoo, and my 17th time under the needle (some tats take several sessions).  People always ask if it hurts… and I always say “Well… of course it does, silly!”  For me, the pain is worth the beauty, and yes ~ I do think some tattoos are quite beautiful.  I would much rather have pink, orange, green, purple and blue skin than pale white… but that’s just me.  

Now off to do some hexie stitching and give this time to heal up!

And now… time for somthing completely different!

I wasn’t going to talk “work” on this blog at all… but…

My husband and I are working with a couple of Portland clowns:  Olive Rootbeer and Dingo Dizmal who have super rad skills with balloon animals, and entertainment in general.  You may have seen them riding their tall bikes in the first episode of Portlandia

Anyway, in their spare time, they paint rubber chicken paintings… that’s right:  rubber chicken paintings.   Since our business name is Phantom Chicken, we are especially partial to anything chicken! So when they came to us last week,  to print this Seahorse image (from their coloring book) on some shirts, we wanted to help:

Do you see the little rubber chickens? So cute! 
So we are offering the opportunity to pre-order this t-shirt before we print ~ the more pre-orders we get, the more it helps Dingo & Olive.  So… if you’re in need of a new shirt… check it out here 🙂

I haven’t been able to get any sewing time in 3 whole days!  I’m going a little stir crazy… but an idea for another paper-pieced project has entered my head:  can you say DRAGON.   I keep imagining a hexagon/triangle pieced image of a dragon in reds and creams and pale blues ~ maybe today I’ll get some time to layout another design ~ I feel a little empty inside now that my squid quilt is done!

Portlandia

Yesterday, on my walk, I saw a kilted man riding a unicycle and playing bagpipes!  I love Portland.  Have you seen the first episode of Portlandia yet?  If not, check it out ~ so funny, so Portland! 

Our Portland Story

Our Portland Story is having a release party tomorrow Sept. 23!  Last year I was asked to do a design for a page in this book… and now I’m SO excited to see my design in print… in a book!  

The concept is really cool ~  Melissa Delzio, who had the idea for the book, spent the last two years putting it all together.  She asked people to write a story about the ONE thing they like best about Portland.  Then she paired the authors up with graphic designers to design a page around the written story.  I was lucky enough to be asked to do a design for this project ~ and I loved working on it. 

The story I received was about growing gardens in the rich soil around Mt. Tabor due to the volcanic ash embedded in it.  I also received a photo of lettuce to work with.  I had a lot of fun with it and was pretty happy with how the design turned out.  You can check out the whole story here: Our Portland Story

This isn’t about sewing… but any good creativity makes me happy.

Chicken Love


Chicken Love, originally uploaded by RamonaX.

Wow time flies! I guess I’ve been fairly wrapped up planning for tomorrow. My husband and I have a screen printing business called Phantom Chicken and we cleared out our studio this week and have over 500 t-shirts of all styles and colors that we’re going to sell for $5 ea… and we pulled out a few of 40 different show posters that Gregg hand printed going all the way back to 1995 and those are going to go for $10 ea. and hand printed cards for 2 for $5.

So my house is in disarray with shirts, posters and display materials getting piled up at the door getting ready to set up in the parking lot of Red Square Cafe / Red Star Machine Works at 4505 SE Belmont from 10 am to 5pm tomorrow!

I think I will also be bringing my pillows that I’ve been working on… I’ll see if what kind of reception they get. My friend Sian Alexander will be with us too ~ she makes amazing ceramics! We’ll also be visited by Dingo Dizmal and his partner Olive Rootbeer who will be performing sporadic bouts of circus sideshow fun throughout the day. Dingo will also have his infamous Rubber Chicken Paintings available for sale!

So if you have time Sunday Sept 12 ~ come down and say hi! There will be free trolleys running all day from 20th to 48th and Belmont ~ so enjoy a trolley ride and come enjoy some Chicken Love.