It has been a wild ride the last few weeks in the land of the interwebs! It was a real practice of patience for me… and perseverance.
You hopefully will notice nothing different, but I did change host servers, moved my whole site, and added SSL security. This included moving and reconnecting databases and reworking all links. Like I said, it’s amazing you are even seeing this now!
My apologies for the last few weeks of many error messages. I’m still working out some bugs, so please bear with me… and feel free to let me know if you see a link that is not working, it is helpful for making fixes!
During the long waits between uploading files to the server, I made very good use of my time. I started a new quilt pattern design! This one is called: Interlaced Orbs. I think it will be a great scrap-busting, and skill-building pattern. I’m writing it so there is no trimming needed, meaning accuracy is important… but I think I’ll add the extra measurements if someone wants to cut extra, and then trim to perfection.
There are also some curves in this pattern. There is a template for accurate cutting which makes the accurate sewing much easier. I made my first sample with unpressed fabric, so my squares were not as accurate as they could have been… and the quilt still looks fine to me, even with some mismatched points. I know with some diligence in pressing, and accurate cutting, I could have done a lot better.
I used about 6-8 different “whites” ranging from Kona Snow to Kona White with some white on white prints for the background. The effect is subtle, but I like how the background has more interest. The circles could “sparkle” with different shades of dark pink too… but I didn’t have any other fabrics close to that color on hand.
Now that my site is up and running (for the most part), I will be adding the finishing edits to this pattern, then I’ll be ready to hand it off to someone for some pattern testing… would YOU be interested? I’m going to divide it into 3 sizes: 28″x 28″, 52″x 52″, and 76″x 76″ – 1, 4, or 9 (24″) blocks with a 2″ border. Let me know, I should have the test pattern ready in a week or two.
Oh… HAPPY FxxKING NEW YEAR!!! Can’t believe it’s 2019 already! My biggest resolutions for the year are: to drink more water, do more outdoor meditations, cook more, and to learn to let anxiety go.
Recently, I entered a quilt into another show: QuiltCon. It was a big decision this year. I have to be patient and wait to find out if it’s accepted or not. My expectations are set very low as I’ve entered every year and have never had a quilt accepted.
I entered my Manipura quilt. I’m hoping it has enough visual power to make it through the jury stage where I’m not sure if they see full sized photos of the quilts or if they are seen in an album as large thumbnails. I know it’s all about those photos – and that first impression. I don’t care about winning any prizes, but it sure would feel good to be able to get in the show.
Luckily I was able to trade with my friend Bill for some photography. I finished a couple amazing Hawaiian quilt tops he’s been collecting. He has a nice camera and is very skilled. He got an amazing photo for me! It’s the reason I feel I have a chance this year.
When thinking about entering this show, it dawned on me just how privileged I am to be a quilter in general. I’ve entered and shown at other shows, and having the ability to not only make a quilt, but to take pictures, send in entries, pay for shipping – it’s really amazing I’m able to participate at all. There was a time I could only wish to have my own place, my own business, and the time to make things. Even though I still have to save up to make some fabric purchases, I’m feeling overwhelmingly grateful right now.
So… whether or not the quilt is accepted I already feel accomplished!
Oh… I’m so close to being finished with the quilt I’m currently working on – and it is my favorite quilt so far. Isn’t that always the case?!
I thought I’d write a little about it here before showing it tomorrow night at PMQG because this one is packed with back story and I know I won’t get through it all, while up in front of all those people. Hopefully I get my blog mentioned before forgetting!
I started a series of Chakra quilts two years ago when I made my Root Chakra Quilt, then made the Manipura Quilt last year. With each quilt I explore my own energy relating to that Chakra, check it to see if it’s positive or negative, and then work hard to correct any terrible learned behaviors. I’m not going in order they are in… I’m going with what my meditations and my heart say I personally need to work on.
This one, Vishuddha, is the one I needed to work on the most. It’s about ‘speaking your truth’ and centers around the throat area of the body. By not voicing certain emotions, we can end up with a ‘blocked’ Throat Chakra which can cause physical ailments. I would love to feel better. Read more about this Chakra here.
The idea for this quilt came with our PMQG Word Quilt Challenge last year. I wasn’t sure of the exact words I would use, but I knew I had something important to say.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I wanted to say with this quilt, but while sewing, the Kavanaugh hearings were happening. The rage I felt building in my body while hearing this man talk was overwhelming and completely surprising. I then knew what this quilt was going to be: it was going to encapsulate the feeling of humiliation and isolation one feels when someone assaults you and no one believes you, or worse – people blame you for what happened. Hearing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford give testimony made me shiver with understanding.
In the religion I was raised in, women were objects. You were taught to be happy about being subjected. If someone wanted you, you were to be elated and thankful. My upbringing was all about cooking, cleaning, and caring for babies. We were told that we would not need an education because our men would provide for us. When women were abused by husbands, they were told to be more submissive, kind, … and more pleasing sexually. When children were molested, they were told to dress differently, not be so seductive, and to be forgiving. This way of thinking has done lasting damage to me.
Because of low self esteem, I pretty much could blame myself for anything bad that happened to me. When I was date-raped at 16, I could not tell anyone because I had snuck out of my house, went to a party and got drunk… all behind my parent’s backs. I knew if I told anyone, I would be reprimanded and kicked out of my house, and I was terrified.
This first time led to other times, other situations, other people… and I could always find a reason to write it off. I was kicked out when I decided not to go door to door preaching anymore (religious differences), and spent my young adulthood as a homeless gutter punk. I drank and did drugs to forget. The drinking and loneliness led to more bad decisions, and more guilt. I became very good at finding the greatest guys for abusive relationships.
The thing that saved me was getting pregnant and having a daughter. Thinking about things in a parent’s perspective has really helped me get some of my own self esteem back. If she deserves to be heard, so should I!
When she was five, I met my husband, who was the first guy in my life to show me what love really is. We’ve been together over 20 years and he’s adopted my daughter and things have definitely gotten better in my world after starting our own business and buying our first home.
The tough part is with stability and soberness, feelings from the past come up from out of nowhere and I just need to feel these things without exploding.
So, I’m using quilting as art therapy. With fabric and color, I’m somehow able to work through some of these overwhelming waves of emotion. Completing a quilt gives me a sense of accomplishment that feels great.
Opening up about some of my past is a good thing, and I saw a counselor this year for a few sessions. She encouraged me to talk about past traumas, and everything always ended up coming back to abandonment issues and having no self worth.
All this cutting and sewing, and cutting and sewing ended up making something really beautiful and powerful to look at, and I like that metaphor for my own life. Every time something has happened to me, I go over it and over it and over it trying to figure out what I could have done better. I’ve cut myself apart and put all the pieces back together again a million different times… it might look pretty, but there are a lot of bumpy seams or imperfections if you look closely.
At the center of it all is light energy that sustains us and propels us to continue moving forward. I used Violet Craft’s “Flight” fabric in the center with the gold birds to show freedom from within. This quilt also has 16 rays that signify the 16 vowels in the Sanskrit language. Vowels are necessary to speak words, and the words I needed to say…?
I’ve been working a lot lately which leaves little room for writing. Not just work work, but emotional healing work too. I’ve been getting close to finishing the top of my Vishuddha Quilt and I’m very happy with how it’s turning out, and how I feel when I look at it.
We watched Leah Remini: The Jehovah’s Witnesses last night. It aired on A&E and is probably still accessible, and if you’re interested in what the JW’s are all about – this is an excellent program. It touched on all the main problems I have with that religion, and the control it has over its followers. Seeing video of that lifestyle, and those speakers – it stimulated all sorts of memories. It’s still hard… and I really don’t want to think about it much anymore – but there are some real feelings there that I need to address. What makes it hard to work through is that most people you might talk to have no idea what it was like growing up in that environment, they don’t have any real advice on how to recover.
I’ve been wanting to just ‘be normal’ and enjoy being around people. Unfortunately, I get overwhelmed so easily, so in groups I have a hard time focusing on one-on-one conversations. My anxiety hasn’t been that bad lately – and for that I am so grateful!! The issue that’s bugging me now is just how tired I get all the time. I feel like I can’t get enough sleep… and when I eat, I have to be ready to nap – because when my body is digesting, I have no energy at all. This makes me super spacey and it’s hard to get focused on any project… or on any conversations.
So I’ve been working on the Throat Chakra quilt and letting all this emotional crap work itself out while I’m sewing. I have been tears and shouting with frustration and anger and love and more frustration while working on this. It’s a personal piece. It is me. How many times have I cut myself apart and put the pieces back together hoping something different would come of it? Too many times to count. Every time being necessary.
I’m so excited to share my newest quilt pattern: Swirling Oceans. This pattern is for machine-piecing, which is different than my other hand-piecing patterns.
This pattern will require a bit of accuracy in cutting the fabric, using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance and in the trimming or squaring up of the blocks. There are a lot of half square triangles (HST) in the quilt, and many steps that require pressing and trimming. That said, you can chain piece through most of the steps making it go pretty quickly for what it is.
I re-wrote this pattern 3 different times and I’ve made a few test quilt tops to get the right flow to the pattern. I’m dyslexic, so that was my biggest problem. Once I know the issue is me and not the writing, I could move on.
While writing this pattern, I also released The Kaleidoscope Quilt Pattern for hand-piecing. I wasn’t going to make that quilt into a pattern until someone asked for one… and I had all the ‘maps’ and math already laid out in Illustrator, so it wasn’t too difficult to wrap it up and make it a pattern – or so I thought! Only AFTER I released it, I realized there were some additions and a couple edits that were needed. My heart sinks when I make mistakes like that… but all changes were made and the revised version is now accurate.
So, when it came to releasing Swirling Oceans, I’ve been a bit reluctant. I really wanted to make sure there were no edits to make – that it was all accurate BEFORE I publish it. Even now I’m a bit nervous to let it go… I want to create patterns that are easy to understand and make – not cause headaches.
I feel as though I’ve spent my whole summer in ‘recovery mode’. I’ve been working hard on my digestive and pain issues with diet and exercise. I’ve been working on my emotional issues with meditation and quilting. And I’ve been working on financial issues with extra time working, budgeting and flushing out new ideas.
Needless to say… this year is flying by. I think I’m pushing myself a little harder lately because I’m having a mid-life ‘thing’. I have a big birthday coming up and I feel (sometimes) I should be doing better – or have more – or at least feel better than I do. One of my new affirmations is to have compassion for myself, so I’m trying not to be too harsh… but it’s a difficult task to be kind to yourself when you see so many areas of potential improvement.
I am excited about pattern-making right now. THAT has been keeping me super motivated. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time writing my first machine-pieced quilt pattern. It’s been a huge learning curve and I’m enjoying the challenge of it. Even though I’ve spent more time on it than I should have… I really like the process. I’m so close to releasing it too – I just have to get my best test quilt quilted up and photographed, and it will be ready. Or as ready as I can make it 😉
I’ll be posting again as soon as I publish my pattern! Pretty excited about it. I’ve tested it enough to know my math is all correct, and I think it has a good flow to it. I designed the cover quilt to be blue – and had specific Kona Solid colors chosen, but when I went to the fabric store, there were only 8 blues all together to choose from – I was lucky to find this gradation.
I had to get a print for the lightest color since there were no blue shades lighter than Capri available. I also was not planning to take it to turquoise in color – I wanted to keep it in the royal to baby blue family. Oh well! On the plus side, it turned out the print I chose was designed by Violet Craft, who is very sweet and local to Portland too!
Here’s a peek at some of the blocks in the pattern – so happy with my points… and the math that led to them. Can’t wait to be done – so close!
I’m excited to show it at guild tonight – and to publish the pattern to this in the next few days! More to come as I figure out how I’m going to quilt it, or have it quilted – just wanted to share the finished top!!
I have kept pretty good track of my actual time spent sewing the Kaleidoscope Quilt together. It was very accurate time-keeping for the most part. I used the timer on my phone and would deduct for bathroom breaks and any other time I stopped sewing for a while.
I kept track of minutes: 28,738
This is stitching time only. The design, layout, printing of pieces and cutting them to size were not figured into this time. Yes!! We screen printed the pieces on the back to show the stitch and cut lines for each piece… I call them NEPP Kits and Pieces for NOT English Paper Pieced.
28,738 minutes = 478.9 hours = Approx. 3 months at full time (40hrs/week).
Have you ever kept track of your time when sewing? I highly recommend trying it. It really helps to value your quilting work properly!! Plus, when people ask how long it took, you can answer confidently!
When I get a good photo of the fully completed top, I will post… for now here it is: almost done!
I’m so excited right now… I finished all the smaller chunks of my Kaleidoscope Quilt, and I’ve started sewing them onto the center piece of the quilt. It’s going much fast than anticipated and it’s making it really fun!
Here are some of the outer chunk pieces laid out on my cutting table:
And here are my progress shots so far:
As you can see, I have added 4 outer chunks out of the remaining 15… so only 9 left. I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing the finished top to the next PMQG meeting in August – if you belong to our guild and will be at the meeting, you can see all the stitching on the back before I get it quilted.
I have kits and pieces of these fabric shapes in our store, if you’re interested in trying straight stitching hand work. I really like it. Here’s a link to check out.
Still not sure what I’m going to do for quilting… I have a couple options, but still am unsure.
I’m very happy to see an end in sight for this project. Pretty soon I can really focus on my Vishuddha Quilt. I’ve realized I can only really work on one project at a time.
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!
With all that is happening in our world at this moment, I have been working hard on not letting it get to me, so I don’t become overwhelmed and depressed. It’s very difficult to live in a dichotomy where you KNOW things are wrong with our government (and globally too), yet you still need to eat and pay bills – so you continue to go to work and pay taxes and continue to do what you can. Meanwhile, more horrible things happen.
I’m not sure what to do, but I do know we need solutions and not just memes. So… I’m trying to live my best life and to be positive. At least by adding positivity to the world, I feel like I’m helping… even if it’s miniscule.
I’ve also started some emotional therapy that has been very hard and exhausting… but obviously necessary. I’m still stuck in my past and I really need to live in ‘the now’ – but it is hard to try to re-wire my thought processes. It’s just hard to unlearn certain negative ways of dealing with people… and now I’m hyper-aware of them, and realizing I come from a negative point of view almost all the time. It’s going to take a little work, but I’m doing it.
I’m so thankful to have my quilting to keep me sane… quite literally. I really process a lot while sewing. Because it can be so meditative, I can ponder things deeply. Then all this shows itself in the actual quilt work. Right now I’m working on the Vishuddha Quilt and just finished the center New York Beauty block sections. It’s getting close to being done, but I can tell there is still something more I need to do with it.
I’m also getting close to finishing the Kaleidoscope Quilt!! I’m so thrilled to have only 7 sections left! I think I might be able to finish within the next month – Squeeeee!!!! My design wall is fun to look at right now!
I’ve been writing a post almost every other day for a while, but haven’t published any of them. They are all so depressing. I guess that’s what happens when you’re feeling blue.
Quite literally too – feeling blue. I’ve been working on my Vishuddha Quilt and it’s slowly (but beautifully) coming along. It’s such a slow process, but that’s what this quilt is asking for.
The Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) is the 5th major Chakra of the body and it is all about speaking out – speaking your truth. This is something I have difficulty with as I don’t really even know what my truth is.
I’m still in a healing phase, and feeling a little lost emotionally. There are a lot of things coming up in counseling and in my body / energy work that are difficult to process. There are big hurdles. Even though it has been a long time since I’ve had any mental or emotional trauma, I guess I still carry quite a load.
I’m really ready to drop it all, heal, start fresh. My counselor asked if I hadn’t been raised the way I was, and money & health weren’t issues, what would I want to do with my life… what did I want to be when I was a kid before being brainwashed? This question is extremely difficult, and I still have no answer.
Before I go off on another ‘feel sorry for me’ tangent, I’m stopping myself and am going to share pictures of the Vishuddha Quilt in progress instead! Then I’ll be able to publish a post this month!
For me, the best weekends are when I get a lot accomplished. I like to work on personal design projects, either for T-shirt printing, or surface design for digital printing, or quilt layouts for sewing. I also try to get in extra sewing time… and now that it’s getting nice outside again, I like to spend some time in the yard. This year I’m planning a garden with greens like kale, romaine, basil, and cilantro.
Anyway – after I write this post and pull some weeds outside… I’m back to working on the Swirling Oceans quilt pattern I’ve started. I don’t know why, but I think I chose the most difficult pattern to write out of the quilts I’ve made! There are so many half-square-triangles (HST’s), so I’ve had to make a lot of samples to get the math right:
I think these are the ugliest blocks ever… but my points are on point!
Now the hard part is keeping this pattern easy to understand. It’s based on a Snail Trail quilt pattern, but the color layouts are a bit different. I’m also dyslexic so things that look the same, but are different because they’re reversed – are extremely tricky for me. When I made the original quilt, I had to remake many of the blocks, because I kept making them the same.
The other quilt patterns I’ve written are very simple in comparison. Those are mostly color layouts – all the stitching is done the same. This new pattern is a regular quilt pattern – for use with a sewing machine! So there are many different techniques and steps to describe.
I learn mostly through diagrams. So I am creating a lot of diagrams to go with my pattern. The trick is to keep it simple enough so it’s not a 30 page book! So far it’s going pretty well – hope to have a finished pattern in 2 weeks. I’ll be looking for a pattern tester *wink wink*. I’m going to make it myself too – but a fresh set of eyes is important.
My life has been a bit of a whirlwind recently – many things happening including work is starting to really pick up for the summer. This keeps my days full of customer service and design work.
I’m also working on writing a new quilt pattern for machine piecing! It’s going pretty well, even though I have not done a lot of writing or reading of other quilt patterns. I will definitely need to test it before releasing it. If you feel like trying out a free pattern – let me know! I should have it ready to test in about 2 weeks.
Been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt, but not as much as I would like. I would prefer to hand sew 2 hours every night to achieve my time goals for this quilt… but it’s turning out I might sew for maybe an hour every other night or so. It’s going to take a little longer than planned. All good! I’m totally loving the process and having something to work on any time.
Here is a chunk of the round I’m currently working on:
This hasn’t been ironed yet. Here is what the back looks like pre-ironing:
The one question people ask all the time is: How do you iron these?
I press straight down from the top and manipulate the pieces as necessary. Here is what the back looks like after pressing:
and the front looks like this:
I just added it to the rest of the quilt that is hanging on my design wall:
I have 8 of these HUGE 4th round chunks to make! Luckily only 3 of them are complete, the other 5 are partials as they hit the sides of the quilt.
I do have a pattern for this quilt. It took me about 2 months to lay it out and choose colors. Once I finish piecing this quilt top, and confirming my counts in the pattern, I’m going to set up a pattern for anyone else crazy enough to give it a try. I’v been keeping track of my time on this quilt too – right now I’m a little over 304 hours of actual stitching time in on this quilt!
Right now I’m also working on the Vishuddha Quilt. I usually only do one project at a time, but the Kaleidoscope quilt is going to take time and I need some instant gratification… at least be able to piece a little faster than when I hand stitch.
I’m creating from my current stash so I’m limited in fabric choices. Because of that, I’m trying this crazy technique of sewing, cutting, and sewing again, etc. to get a well blended, almost sparkly look to my blocks:
Of course, this is taking almost as long as hand stitching… I don’t know what I was thinking exactly!? I’m currently stuck on choosing the fabrics for the next portion of this quilt. It’s all about contrast, so I want to make sure whichever fabrics I choose will stand out against this first block. Wish me luck! 😉
Another part of my whirlwind this month was being able to see my little neice Lily! She came with her mom, who is my amazing SIL from NYC. We all had a great time visiting and checking out Portland, but the best was when these cousins got to spend time together – so sweet.
I’m off to enjoy some sunshine – it’s gorgeous out today!
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!
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. 😉
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!
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:
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!
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.
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…?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
I’ve been stitching away this weekend! Thought I’d do a quick post to show where I’m at on my Kaleidoscope Quilt project!
I recently finished the last two “secondary” chunks and got them up on the design wall. I found pressing was the easiest when just pressing from the top down, and not caring what the back will end up looking like.Here is how they look pressed from front:And here is what the back looks like:A little messy for sure, but having the stitch lines printed really helps when piecing these chunks together… check it out:I’m so excited by this… everything is matching up perfectly and giving me really crisp points! I’m also quite thrilled to start on a different looking section, I’m done with this secondary ring!
On a more home-based note: It’s been very windy here in Portland, so my husband built a little squirrel wall to protect their water dish. He now has crows, songbirds, and squirrels that come running when they hear the door open in the morning. Yep… he’s definitely a squirrel whisperer!
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
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:
I 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:
Now, 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.
Time 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:I always check the backside to make sure the points are lining up before starting:Then run your needle from the back to the front a stitch away from the point:This 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:From here I take a backstitch to the first point:Then it’s time for the actual running stitch:I take about 3-5 stitches, then check the back before pulling it through:Adjust 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:Continue on to the end point – bring the needle to the top:Always check your backside (*giggle*):Take a backstitch:Tie a knot:YAY!! 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:Check your placement and put the next piece on by connecting it at the point:Pin the other end in place:Pull 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!!:Tie a knot, backstitch to the point:Check the backside:Start your running stitch and continue:Keep 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!
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!
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!