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!

Keeping Busy

I find I become a little manic when I’m anxious. I tend to do a lot of cleaning and organizing – and I’ve had a lot to do recently in that regard, so it’s been a good year so far.

We put some new shelving in the closets of my sewing room/office and I got a new desk, so I emptied my whole room, cleaned and rearranged a bit, now it feels much better. I still need to go through my fabric stash and organize it, but once that is done, I’ll be ready to start working on some new quilt ideas that have been rumbling around my head.

Another thing keeping me busy is the launch of our new online store. This entails so many things! Photography, marketing, designing, data entry, shipping, etc. – but I’m getting a little better at it all, and found some really great apps that help a lot. I’m so thankful for all the fantastic and supportive feedback we’ve received – I know this was a good thing to do.

I’m still working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt. I’m currently on the 7th chunk of the third round.  Not sure if that makes sense… but I’m definitely making progress! I’m keeping track of my time and I’m currently over 210 hours of actual stitching time!  It seems like a lot, but I try to dedicate at least 2 hours a day to sew, so I can see progress.

Since I’m going through my fabric stash, I’ve also been contemplating the Chakra quilts I’d like to do to go with the other two Chakra Quilts I’ve made. I think the first I will tackle will be the Throat Chakra. If you don’t speak your truth, this chakra can become blocked and causes all sorts of issues. A good description of the Throat Chakra here.

I don’t have many blues left in the fabrics I have… I will really need to think about how I want to go about this. I think to start, I’ll just start sewing little bits of scraps together to make larger pieces to work with. I really just want to work on my machine – hand work is great, but machine sewing is so fast and satisfying!

What are you working on 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

 

 

NEPP Hand Sewing Tutorial

backstitch2

This tutorial for our NEPP Hand Sewing Kits, but can work for any running stitch application.
*Note: I am self taught. I tend to over-do things with hand sewing because I want it to last. I am always learning – if I learn something new to make this process better, I will update as necessary!

To start, I use these tools:
Thimble – Dritz Soft Comfort Thimble size M – it’s inexpensive and works pretty well.
Needle – John James Sharps 12
Thread – Superior Kimono Silk Thread #100
Small Scissors

For our kits, I would recommend laying out all the pieces before sewing – it’s easier to check placement that way, but it’s not necessary.

Get ready for some photos and sorry for the few blurry ones…

Start by taking some thread from the spool, and threading your needle (don’t cut the thread – making sure it’s the right end to use), then tie a knot in the thread directly to the needle:

Tying Knot on NeedleI use a very fine silk thread, so I tie it twice – really tight and it still has no problem going through the fabric with the needle:

Knotted NeedleNow, pull about 12-18″ of thread from the needle to the spool and cut. You don’t want it too long, just enough to go from your hand to your elbow – to make a nice one-pull stitch. Make a quilters knot at the other end. There is a tutorial here by Amanda Lipscomb on how to do that. Again, since I’m using fine thread, I “wrap” the thread about 6 times instead of 2.

Quilters KnotTime to pick the two pieces you want to sew together. From your layout, start at the center and flip one piece over another at your chosen seam, to make sure you are sewing the seam in the right direction. I’m right-handed, so I pin the left side, then stick my needle in the right side, connecting the two points on both fabrics:Pin And Needle In PlaceI always check the backside to make sure the points are lining up before starting:Check Backside 1Then run your needle from the back to the front a stitch away from the point:First StitchThis is where I go a little overboard and tie another knot here – I like to knot at every corner just in case I sew a wrong piece in, or the wrong side… I can take out any one stitch without any other stitches coming out:Overkill KnotFrom here I take a backstitch to the first point:backstitchThen it’s time for the actual running stitch:First Running StitchI take about 3-5 stitches, then check the back before pulling it through:Check Backside 2Adjust as necessary to make the stitch lines line up as much as possible – this will give you very accurate seams. Pull the thread through and take a backstitch before your next running stitch:backstitch2Continue on to the end point – bring the needle to the top:Running Stitch To EndAlways check your backside (*giggle*):Check Backside3Take a backstitch:Backstitch To Make KnotTie a knot:Knot At EndYAY!! You made your first Y-seam!
Every seam is done the same way… to get to the next seam, put your needle from the back to the front, right on the point. Be very careful not to catch any other fabric:Bring Needle Up From BackCheck your placement and put the next piece on by connecting it at the point:Connect Third PiecePin the other end in place:Pin And Needle In Place2Pull needle to the back then back to the front about a stitch away from the point. I also use a wonder clip here to make sure the seam allowance of the first piece does not interfere with the stitching. The most important thing: Only sew two pieces of fabric together at a time, do not catch any other fabric, especially when knotting at the ends!!:First Stitch2Tie a knot, backstitch to the point:Overkill Knot2Check the backside:Running Stitch2 backsideStart your running stitch and continue:Runningstitch2Keep going until you get close to the end of your thread. Get to the end of a seam and tie a knot as usual, then tie another knot into the seam allowance of the top fabric (only one piece of fabric) – do not tie the ending knot into both fabrics in the seam allowance.

I really hope this is helpful in getting someone new to feel comfortable in starting a hand sewing project like this. Happy Sewing!

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!

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.

Obsessing Again

Thanks to my friend Miranda, I was inspired to try sewing a La Passacaglia rosette a few months back, and stitched it using the EPP (English Paper Piecing) method. It took some real time to get it done. I really liked how it came out and wanted to make another, but felt there had to be a better, faster way.

I had the *oh-so-original* idea of tracing the stitch lines from a template on the back of fabric and using a running stitch and no paper pieces – this worked really well. The only two negatives were:

  1. The running stitch doesn’t seem as strong as a whipstitch.
  2. Tracing the shape and cutting took almost as much time as EPP method.

After some research, I found out that many people use the running stitch, and if you’re really good, sewing the 1/4″ Y-seams comes naturally. For the rest of us, we need to draw in those stitch lines to know where to sew and where to stop for the corner of the Y-seam – and that is some seriously tedious work. So then, I had the idea of screen printing those shapes with cut and stitch lines on the back of solid fabrics to see if I could cut some time.

While we have a screen printing business, there is still some time and cost involved to create a print. After I design something on the computer, I send the final to a camera-house that outputs a piece of film-positive (opposite of a negative) that we can use to ‘shoot’ a screen. Once we have a piece of film-positive, we lay that onto a screen that has been coated with photo-sensitive emulsion and shine a light on it to ‘burn the screen’. The light hardens all the exposed emulsion, leaving the part under the opaque black of the film to stay soft, and after washing it out with water, there is a hole or ‘open’ part of the screen where we can push ink through and onto the fabric. read more

Since screen printing is quite a process, I wanted to make use of the time spent.
Then Fabric Depot ran a sale on Kona solids for $5/yard and I knew it was time to try this crazy plan.

I purchased 3/4 of a yard of fabric in 21 different colors – one of the biggest fabric purchases I’ve ever made… so it’s a little scary not knowing how this will all work out!

My husband printed 4 different layouts for me, using as much of the fabric as possible in printing, while leaving good cut lines. I appreciate him taking the 2 days in set up and printing time to print for me…  he likes my idea and has always been completely supportive! The part I wasn’t planning on was the cutting. I’ve been cutting fabric pieces for 2 weeks on and off. I can only cut for an hour or two at a time without hurting my wrists. I honestly did not think that the cutting would take so long…  but I’m close to having all the pieces from all 21 fabric colors cut and ready to sew!

I have a few patterns, and my idea was of a kaleidoscope – so the colors are bright and contrasting. I started with the La Passacaglia layout, but wanted to try my own layout. I think I have enough pieces to do a full sized quilt and still have some left over! I even have an idea of possibly selling these pieces in kits for smaller projects so people can try hand-stitching for a small project. I’ve been playing with a decagon layout that would make an awesome pillow cover – here are 3 versions:

There are so many possibilities!! My goal this next week is to try to do enough layouts to use up all the pieces we printed… or all in one quilt – not sure just yet how I’m going to use these, but it will come! It looks like treasure on this table right now… part of me wants to throw them all up into the air and roll around in them – but the organizer in me wouldn’t allow me to make a mess of this. 😉

Have you ever hand stitched using a running stitch? Do you have any tips to share?
So excited to have finished all the cutting for all the pieces we printed.  I think that’s why it hasn’t been done before – the cutting has to be done by hand to work with the printing… and that is extremely labor intensive.

This whole project is a learning process, but I also think it’s going to make a kick-ass quilt! I’ve been having a hard time keeping this to myself… I wanted to be done with the cutting before sharing. Or maybe I should say I’ve been totally obsessing on the cutting and so haven’t spent much time doing anything else!

I’m so excited to start sewing on this… but I need to finish some layout plans first. Time to practice a little patience and focus on the designs.
THEN I can jump in 100% and sew to my little hearts content. 😉