A Plan Formulation

Finally a plan for my Vishuddha Quilt is starting to come together in my head. I make things a little more difficult by trying to only use what fabrics I have on hand… but that also makes for a more interesting quilt!

The Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) is energetically based in the neck region and is connected to our power of communication. It also connects our physical attributes with our mental ones. When this chakra is blocked we can experience fear of conflict, inability to speak up or speak out when necessary, and more physically: neck, jaw, and shoulder pain – and thyroid problems.

So I’ve been envisioning the shape of the thyroid gland as a base design element. It’s often described as being the shape of a butterfly – and I’m also thinking of the pattern metal shavings make with a magnetic field.  I was having a hard time translating that look to a quilt pattern idea… but I think I got it! I’m going to try a New York Beauty Block – make it big and split it down the center.

One of the main symbols of this chakra are 16 petals. These petals represent each vowel in the Sanskrit language. Without those sacred letters, speech would be impossible. Instead of going super literal and making petal shapes, I’m going to make the NYBeauty block with 16 points.  I drafted my own pattern, and traced it onto newsprint:

The color associated with this chakra is blue – a more aqua blue to be exact. This is where I have to put a little time into planning so that the quilt will be balanced. My blue fabric selection is all over the place, but I really want to make it work without having to purchase anything new.
See what I mean:

This is all my blue – and none of the pieces are over 1/4 yard, many are scraps… I have to dig though my solid stash and see how much in white and blues I have to work with. I think with the right solids, you can make anything work!

I’m off to separate these into color/value order and see what’s there. Wish me luck!

Throat Chakra Musings

So I’m beginning to contemplate my next Chakra Quilt. This time I’m going to be working on the Throat Chakra or Vishuddha.

This is an interesting chakra for me personally because it deals with “speaking out” or communication.  I would love to be a public speaker and talk about color and quilting… but I get so nervous that my voice stops working after a short time. I also have so many issues with ears, throat, mouth, and neck… so it’s time to spend my creativity exploring this chakra.

The main challenge for this fifth chakra is doubt and negative thinking.
When knowledge is gained through meditation and direct experience, then doubt and negativity are removed. This is something I’ve been actively working on for a few years, and I have noticed much more positivity in my world because of it.

The throat chakra is symbolized as blue/turquoise in color, and has 16 petals with an inverted pyramid, within a circle. Lots of visuals to work with, but I’m still struggling with a layout idea.

My fabric pull for this so far:

This constitutes pretty much ALL of my blue fabrics from my stash… I’m pretty set on trying to use all of them in this quilt, and to make them play nicely together – it will be a challenge. I think once I come up with a good layout idea, this is going to flow really well!

This is the mantra that goes with Vishuddha – what I will be repeating as I work on this:

• I speak my truth and honor my commitment to it.
• I express myself as honestly as I can.
• I share feelings with ease and comfort.
• I live from my integrity.
• I communicate what is so for me without projecting my truth onto others.
• I express myself as creatively as possible.
• I listen to my inner truth.

I want to share my gratitude to the few followers I have who read my posts. Positive feedback is what fuels me – even if it’s critical!  I love it, so I really do appreciate that you are here right now.  Thanks!
… and if there is anything you’d like to read about, let me know – I’m open for ideas on content.  😉

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

 

 

Quilt Finish!

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

Finished front:

Quilt Label – screen printed:

Finished back – pieced too!

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

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

What are your quilting goals for the year?

Age and Positivity

I have a birthday coming up and so age has been on my mind a lot lately. I think the only way I got to this point in life is through active positivity.

If I did not constantly work on positivity, I would be the most negative person.  I know this because I was nihilistic as a young person, and that is what drove me to drink and use any and every intoxicant that came my way. Because of my lifestyle, I was sure I would die by the age of 25.

In a way… I was extremely fortunate to become pregnant when I did. Even though I was young, homeless, and depressed. I didn’t even want to be a parent – but I bonded to my belly bump early on, and that is what gave me the reason to take on the major struggle to make things better in my life.

To do that, I needed to make drastic changes, and I did.
The biggest change was to be positive. Not just about my future – but in the way I look at *judge* others and myself… how I internalize politics and religion… how I internalize everything – all of it needs to have a positive tone or I start to swirl down the depression spiral.

This is part of why I quilt. Fabric and color make me happy! Working with my hands keeps me super busy, and the elation I feel when I complete a project is better than any high I’ve ever had. If you’ve ever had issues with addiction, you may also understand how things usually never get finished – how the house becomes full of half-finished projects… so to finish anything is exciting, and makes me feel good.

Celebrations and gifts are not my type of birthday thing. I like to take a little time to meditate on the upcoming new year and send a little positivity ahead of myself. Just getting here is the best gift.

I’m still working on my NEPP Kaleidoscope quilt (Not English Paper Pieced) – the chunks I’m currently working on are taking about 16 hours each to complete… and there are 10 of them! At this point, I have 143 hours logged in hand stitching time.

Which leads me to the most exciting thing I’m trying this year: retail sales. My husband and I are working on NEPP kits and pieces as well as hand printed fabric panels and T-shirts of course!  The plan is for the ChickenScratch Store to open 2.12.18 and we’ve been working hard over the last few months to print product and prepare the online store. Now it’s time for some photography! Another thing to keep me positively busy.

NEPP Kits – full sheets ready to cut!

#loveislove #resist #persist
Hand printed fabric panels – ready to be serged, washed and pressed.

Grasshopper Fabric Panels

 

 

Holiday Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stitching Away

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

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

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

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!

Hand-Pulled Screen Printed Fabric Panels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ants in the Stars Hand Printed Fabric

Kaleidoscope Quilt – In Progress

treasure

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

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

treasure

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

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

KaleidoscopeStart

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

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

 

 

Manic…

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

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

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

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

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

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. 😉

Giveaway Winner!

I’ve never done a giveaway before, I was able to use a plug-in that did the automatic drawing (I always wondered how those worked!) and a friend from my guild won! You win a Jellyfish pattern, Denise!

That was fun… I really appreciate the people who follow me! You keep me inspired to keep this blog rolling.

 

Fire and Ashes

I have never been as close to a forest fire as we are right now. Currently the Eagle Creek Fire is at Multnomah Falls, threatening to burn the lodge there. The smoke and ash here in Portland is heavy, the sun is orange through it all. We are about 35 miles away from the actual fire… which is only one of many in the Pacific Northwest right now.

We are heartbroken.

So many trees, animals, parks, trails, homes, businesses along the Columbia Gorge and throughout the PNW – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen (and hence my move here) currently looks like a scene out of an apocalyptic movie. We are sending positive energy out to all the firefighters risking their lives to try to stop this devastation, as well as wishing for some real rain.

I’m currently sitting in our closed-up house trying to deal with its stagnant heat. The air quality outside is terrible and my throat/lungs hurt. Wishing we had air conditioning right now, but at least we don’t have to evacuate as so many others have.

accumulation of ash on our clean car this morning

Meanwhile, hurricane Irma is set to hit the East Coast, and people in are still in dire need after Harvey. Can we just agree that climate change is real – and start actually doing something about it?

I do have a small quilt project in the works that I’m looking forward to sharing… but for now, all my energy is spent. Love to all – especially the firefighters and others who risk their lives for the rest of us.

Hexie Patterns – Ready!

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

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

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

Never Again.

This is a political post – and one I think is extremely important.
After our president gave speeches which supported Nazi movements after the violence in Charlottesville, I felt so frustrated – and overwhelmed by the numbers of people who are fighting for ethnic cleansing, and by our supposed national leader egging them on. I’m not surprised at all… but definitely on watch.

Then 2 days ago I saw an image online that really spoke to me. I kept going back to it all day – then I decided I just had to make a quilt of this image… so I did! It’s entitled: “Never Again – or – No War, No KKK, No Fascist USA” and I quilted the words: never again all over in the background.Never Again Quilt

 

It was cathartic and felt great to do something… even as bitty as making a little quilt. I made it in one day so I could take it to my Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting last night where it met with great support! (I love my guild!) I posted it on IG and FB and I started getting compliments on the design – and I realized I need to do due diligence to find the original artist and get approval before trying to enter to shows, …or in case it goes viral.

Luckily for me, a friend knew who created it and I was able to contact him and he gave approval to share as much as I like. His name is Mike Mitchell and is an amazing artist – please go see his work and be supportive – that is one clever guy, and really sweet too. I’m so thankful – I should have asked prior to making it… but I was totally caught up in the moment.

I’m thinking that the ACLU really needs to re-evaluate standing up for fascist movements having free speech. Any speech that pushes the idea ethnic cleansing – should never be protected. When the fight is murder vs. humanity – the lines should be clear and simple. No one should have to fear extermination due to their sexuality, the color of their skin, where they were born, or for what they spiritually believe (unless that belief entails killing others).

To be tolerant of all things – one must never be tolerant of intolerance itself.

Heat Lag

It’s been warm here in the Pacific Northwest over the last few weeks. Some days made it into the 100’s even… luckily we don’t get any real humidity here, so it can be tolerable – but just barely.

I think the heat affects my motivation in a big way. It makes me swell up and get tired, so I just want to sleep all the time. Plus, this is our busy time of year for work, so I haven’t done much sewing lately – except for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild Block of the Month project. It’s been really fun so far! I just finished #7 of 9. Only 2 blocks left, so I get to practice my patience while I wait for the next two patterns to be released.

I posted on IG and FB yesterday and got a lot of great feedback on my color choices. I’m thrilled because I’m trying to use up my stash, and didn’t allow myself to buy anything new for this quilt. Since it finishes at 76″ x 76″ – there is a lot of fabric to pull. I had a vague idea of how much I needed for the background squares, and I knew I wanted a night sky… so I pulled all my dark blues – which wasn’t much. I had to amend with greys and light blues, and the mixing of these seemingly un-matching colors really makes it sparkle!

Another thing I’m working on right now is making patterns for all my hexie quilts. The Dragon and Squid were done in the past, but I’m re-vamping them to match the newer patterns for the Jellyfish, Hummingbird, and that little placemat. I’m almost done, and when I am, I think I’m going to try to do a give-away. I’ve never done one of those before, but I think it would be fun, and I’d love to share my work that way!

Good Photos Matter

Manipura final

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

Manipura final

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

Manipura Quilt Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisters and Sleep

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:

  1. If I could drive the whole 3.5 hours there and back through the mountains.
  2. If my exhaustion levels would hold up through a day of seeing many people.
  3. If my digestion could tolerate the time changes and food options.
  4. If I would swell up in the heat.
  5. 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!

 

 

New Project!

pmqg2017bom mar

After spinning a bit, I finally decided that the my next project will be the PMQG Block of the Month quilt!  I’ve never done one before, and of course… I’m 5 months late to start with the rest of the group – but better late than never!

Now that I’ve started something, the ‘obsession’ has set in and I don’t want to stop. It’s the way I’m wired – but it’s also the reason I chose this project to work on right now. Up to now, I’ve never really followed a pattern before, and I’m not so great at making Half Square Triangles, so it’s a real learning curve for me… and I’m really enjoying the challenge of it!

I’ve made a block each day this week and just finished the block for March. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

pmqg2017bom jan

pmqg2017bom feb

pmqg2017bom  mar

It feels really good to have something to work on and get lost in for a bit. It’s also going to be a really pretty quilt when it’s done, and kind of large. It is supposed to finish at 72″ square, but I think I’ll be adding a border so none of the star points are minimized being right up next to the binding.

I have a sneaking suspicion that once I’m caught up here in June, that I’ll be going crazy waiting for the last 3 blocks – sort of like reading a series of novels only to catch up to the author before getting to the end of the story. We’ll see how that goes!

The sun is out right now and I have another block to work on, so I’m going to go and enjoy both!

Meditating on Direction

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

Right now my top 5 ideas are:

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

 

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

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

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