I’ve been working on my ability to photograph quilts by myself. Quilt photography is very tricky and a bit expensive if you have to pay for it. However, it’s worth every penny to get a photo that will really show a quilt in its best light.
I recently got a portable quilt-hanger, and now I feel like I can really get good photos. I know I still need work, and a better camera always helps… but for what I have, I think these are pretty good.
Below find new final photos of the Vishuddha Quilt I finished last year, as well as the full photo for Neopolitan Interlaced Orbs… not too bad – eh?
This is another quick tutorial on how I sew my hexies together. After a layout, and sewing all the rows together as in my last post, I’m ready to start sewing the rows together!
I start from the left side – I have the first smaller rows stitched together already and now I’m adding the fourth row.
I’m going to start at the bottom here – with the yellow green print and the sage green solid half-hexies. I grab the hexies where I’m going to start sewing…
… and flip them over. I use a bolster pillow to rest them on while I get the stitch started.
From here, start your stitch in the middle of the two hexie sides you’re going to sew together.
From here, use a whipstitch and skim the papers to grab the edges of the hexie without pulling the fabric from the top of the hexie piece, and work your way down to the bottom edge. Avoid the seam allowance.
When you get to the bottom, start working your way back up, going over the stitches you just did. This will reinforce all your edges.
Knot at each corner and keep going.
When you get to the end of the row, go all the way to the edge and then work your way back in halfway on the first hexie before tying off your stitch. I don’t have this pictured, but it looks the same as how you start and reinforces the edges of the piece.
For these stitches, I used Gutterman Polyester thread – it works well for whipstitching.
That is all for now… I’ll post when I get this little center piece done for the Heart Chakra Quilt. Then I’ll have to figure out what I’m going to do from there… I have a plan, but it’s very vague.
I’m sewing some hexies together for the center of the Heart Chakra quilt project I’m currently working on. I’ve sewn a few whole quilts with hexies and I’m going to share with you how I sew my hexies together without any stitching showing on the front.
To start, these are the notions I use:
Needle: John James #12 Sharp
Superior Kimono Silk Thread #100
Thread Heaven (thread conditioner)
I’m starting with basted hexies. If you would like to see how I baste my hexies, please go here , or here for a full hexie tutorial. Be ready for lots of photos!
I start by laying out my hexies exactly how I’m going to sew them together. This layout is small, so it’s easy to layout just about anywhere. Sometimes I use a card table with batting stretched on top and taped down to layout hexies – the batting keeps them in place a little better.
I then sew my hexies together in rows. I start by knotting my thread with a quilters knot and pulling it up through my first hexie in the center. I personally think that sewing them with WRONG sides together gives the best results. I use a ladder stitch and sew to one end:
Then I flip the hexies in my hand and stitch back into the center:
Keep going… ladder stitch all the way to the other end.
Flip the hexies in your hand again, and sew back to the centerpoint.
Yes… this doubles the stitching. It may be overkill, but I like to use my quilts and I wash them as any other thing I own, so they have to be durable. Open the hexies and push the needle through to the back. The trick here is to avoid catching any fabric on the pass-through. If you do, you may see the stitch on top.
Then knot on the back side, close to where the needle came out. After knotting, slide the needle up to the next side to be sewn.
Knot here – one more time – this ensures that if a thread is cut anywhere, it will not unravel all your stitching. Pass the needle up through the center of the hexie, right on the edge.
Start your next hexie – just as before: ladder stitch to one end… and follow all steps again.
You can see that when you open your hexies after sewing this way, you don’t see any stitches on the outside of your work!
The running threads from one hexie to the next can be snipped when removing the hexie papers, or they can stay in place and you can pull the papers out around them.
Once I have all my rows sewn up, I sew them together using a whip stitch. I’ll do another tutorial on that as soon as I get there with this project.
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 have kept pretty good track of my actual time spent sewing the Kaleidoscope Quilt together. It was very accurate time-keeping for the most part. I used the timer on my phone and would deduct for bathroom breaks and any other time I stopped sewing for a while.
I kept track of minutes: 28,738
This is stitching time only. The design, layout, printing of pieces and cutting them to size were not figured into this time. Yes!! We screen printed the pieces on the back to show the stitch and cut lines for each piece… I call them NEPP Kits and Pieces for NOT English Paper Pieced.
28,738 minutes = 478.9 hours = Approx. 3 months at full time (40hrs/week).
Have you ever kept track of your time when sewing? I highly recommend trying it. It really helps to value your quilting work properly!! Plus, when people ask how long it took, you can answer confidently!
When I get a good photo of the fully completed top, I will post… for now here it is: almost done!
I’ve been pushing through life lately. I’m sure you can relate.
I’m working on my emotional issues and that has been draining. I just keep going back to sewing when I start to spin out mentally. – Do you know that feeling? When there is so much going on AND so much to do, you start to go from one idea to another – not giving anything the needed time and attention it deserves… not getting anything done…?
I call it spinning out.
But – I have been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt and it is coming along very nicely. I only have 3 chunks left in the whole quilt! SQUEEE!
Then I need to sew these larger chunks onto my centerpiece, so I still have a bit to do, BUT I think I’ll be able to finish the top to show it at Show and Tell at PMQG in August!
If so, that will mean I hand stitched a 60″x80″ quilt in 10 months. NOT BAD!
The time saved is all because of the stitch lines on the back – not having to use paper pieces saves so much time! If you’re interested in trying them, we have some in stock in our store here. I call them NEPP pieces or Not English Paper Pieced pieces. I’m already starting to plan a second quilt like this… in a totally different color story.
I think the only negative compared to EPP is that when you press the fabric, the back looks messy. With EPP, the seam allowances are all neatly basted into place. With a good pressing… it doesn’t really matter.
I’m really excited to finish this project… but it’s sort of like being halfway through the last book in a long series – I’m going to be a little lost until I find another hand-sewing project!
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!
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!
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
I was able to get a good photo of my Manipura quilt this week and I’m so thrilled with the results!
This is the photo I had taken before. You know the kind, where you plead with your husband or partner to stand on a chair and hold up the quilt all nice and straight… and this is the best we could get:
See the difference? Wow! Lighting is very important – indirect is best, and having a stand to keep things flat really helps too… and a good camera! I’m lucky I have a friend who helps me with all this, because people only look at photos when they pick quilts for quilt shows – so it really matters that it looks as good as possible.
The more I look at this quilt, the more I love it. It is charged emotionally for me. The story behind the quilt is as follows:
I was doing my nightly yoga practice and a thought popped into my head. It was the realization that it has been 30 years since I’ve seen or talked to any of my 3 younger sisters. I was kicked out of the family home due to religious differences, and they have avoided me ever since. This thought brought me to tears. I cried through my whole yoga routine, it was a deep, ugly cry – you know the type – where you wake up the next day with a puffy face and tired body – that kind of cry.
I knew I needed to process these intense emotions, and I thought of making a quilt, of course. For the next few weeks, I started dreaming about yellow quilts. Yellow fabric, yellow thread, wearing yellow, eating bananas, sewing in the sunshine… all yellow and bright. I also knew I wanted to use triangles to symbolize 30 years / 3 sisters. While these thoughts were bubbling around in my head, I saw my massage therapist who told me about the Manipura Chakra which governs our self-esteem and uses an inverted yellow triangle as its symbol. It also governs all the physical organs that are giving me health issues. That was all I needed to be motivated to create this design!
I wanted to use both green-shade yellows and red-shade yellows in the same quilt – to really show how seemingly very slight differences of opinion can be so glaringly different from each other. The only way I could do that was to add in some neutrals (browns and greys) and I made them look like tears to represent my sadness. What’s interesting is those darker colors really make that center triangle pop out, almost 3-dimensionally! The whole time I stitched on this quilt, I repeated the mantra:
I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this reality effortlessly.
I would say this quilt is my statement of independence from both the prescribed religion and family I was born into. I have found myself, my people, and my spirituality all on my own and this quilt reflects that nicely.
Quilting for therapy is probably the best thing I’ve ever stumbled upon… it’s such a great way to process emotion: cutting pretty things apart, then putting them back together to create something completely new and beautiful in a different way. It is so much better than the way I use to deal with emotions, which was to drink them away. Now I have something to show for my time instead of daily hangovers!
I have to stay positive mentally, or my mind goes into a downhill spiral real fast. This time of year is hard to not get a little down, and this year especially – I think it has been tough with everything that has been happening in our world.
As I reflect over the past year, I realize there has been a big shift for me. In some ways, I’ve grown a lot… but in other ways, I feel like sometimes it’s 1 step forward, 2 steps back. I feel like I’m learning so much, which makes me feel great, but because I’m learning so much, I’m exposed to some realities that make me feel extremely nihilistic.
This feeling is very similar to when Reagan was in office. I have always considered myself a ‘damaged Reagan youth’ because when he was in office, I was afraid of an atomic bomb going off at any minute. So much so, that I was afraid to go to sleep. My dad moved us close enough to a nuclear silo so that, in his words: “if there ever was a nuclear war, we would be the first to go, and we wouldn’t suffer”. It was meant to be calming. Also, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, we were constantly being prepared for the end of the world or Armageddon… I remember a couple times when we thought it was the beginning of ‘the end’.
This fear ‘of the end of the world’ turned to anxiety and now, many years later, I’m experiencing the same phenomena of being so scared of dying at any moment, that I can’t sleep. I know it sounds silly – especially reading this out loud – but it’s my reality right now. I feel safer now than ever before in my life… but I still have this fear, and it frustrates me to no end, because I know better than to succumb to it.
The best thing I can do is keep busy. Keep my mind off spinning inside my own thoughts. I’ve been cleaning and re-organizing, and I’m also making progress on my Hummingbird Quilt No.2. Here is a picture of the backside so far:
Today marks the time when the days will start to get lighter again: Solstice! The days will become longer starting now.
It’s a great reason to celebrate, and it’s the reason we put lights on trees! Before electricity, people would put candles in trees outside to light their way this time of year because it got so dark out.
Who doesn’t love sunshine – I can totally understand why people have celebrated this time of year throughout the centuries. I made this Rooster Quilt years ago – the sun is paper pieced, and I think it’s the perfect Solstice art! 🙂
So on this darkest of dark days, I have much hope for the future and wish you all the best during this holiday season!
Phew… boy oh boy. I have been on a crazy physical and emotional rollercoaster lately, and I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to getting older and being female. Ugh. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Yeah, I think it’s that time. I’m 47 and the average age is 51, so it looks like I’m right on schedule. This is one of those times I wish I could talk to my mom and find out more about her health issues. Instead I’m reading up on the subject and learning a lot on my own about this somewhat intangible thing called peri-menopause.
This could be the base of a lot of my recent ‘mystery symptoms’! The thing that tipped me off was I recently started getting morning sickness… and I’m definitely not pregnant. Who knew this can be a symptom?!? I sure didn’t, and if it’s anything like the morning sickness I had while pregnant 26 years ago, I will be miserable every morning till it’s over. This along with many other fun things like hot flashes are my new reality.
As you know, I need to find a silver lining in everything, or else my depression can take hold and pull me to never never land. So… I’m excited that this may be the cause of other awful symptoms… and it all could be going away soon!! I just have to get over the hump. To do that, I’m immersing myself in quilting.
I brought my Juki in for a cleaning and tune-up and since I’m now without a machine, I started another hexie project! Hexies always cheer me up – they are so freaking cute!
A good friend purchased my Hexie Hummingbird Quilt recently, so I decided to make another one with my left-over hexies. This was much harder to lay out than the first one due to my dwindling resource of made hexies… but I’m still happy with it. This photo is close to the layout I ended up with:
Pretty cute, right? I like it because I’m using bright, big patterned fabrics. Very different than the usual monochromatic patterned fabrics I usually choose. This is going to be fun to sew! I’m going to keep track of my time on this too. It was very interesting to see my time spent on my last quilt, and that helps give me confidence to value my work more accurately.
Speaking of which… this is me with the Manipura Quilt at our most recent PMQG meeting – thanks to Kimberly Lumapas for the photo! I was so nervous I don’t think I was even making any sense up there… but my guild is so supportive! As soon as the quilt unfolded, there was a bunch of applause and it made me feel like a rock star! (a little embarrassed too – if I’m being honest)
I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out, but – I really enjoyed the process of making it more than any other quilt I’ve made so far. Now that I’ve made two Chakra quilts, I think I’m going to follow through and do all seven. It will be a fun design challenge, and if I use the process of quilting for healing – it can only be good!
I have been actively working on The Manipura Quilt. It’s a quilt made of 792 long isosceles triangles that combine and create one large downward pointing triangle in the center. It is a quilt based on healing or opening the Third Chakra – more about that here.
The 99 blocks are all finished, and I’m following my printed pattern – so it’s just a matter of going through the motions of accurately sewing the blocks together. This gives me a lot of time to think, and honestly… maybe there is too much to think about right now. I keep referring back to the mantra that goes with the making of this quilt:
“I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this reality – effortlessly.”
Confident, successful, and effortless are not words I’ve used to describe myself… ever, so – this is real work for me personally.
Success is a hot topic on my social media feeds lately (a couple great reads listed below). It means different things to different people. Most people seem to want a success that looks like fame and wealth. Don’t get me wrong… I’d love more funds to cover health and dental work, and get out of debt. However, I need success to be attainable to me, and I may never be ‘successful’ in making money in the art or quilting world.
So I will allow myself to feel successful for: 1. Leaving a religiously fundamentalist family which was/is very hard, 2. Leaving an abusive relationship or two, 3. Stopping the use of alcohol, meth, and cigarettes, 4. Owning a home after being homeless, 5. Creating a family business that pays the bills, 6. Creating a family full of love, communication, and compassion, and 7. Creating time, space and funds to actively quilt.
These things make me feel good, which will help in the confidence department. There are a slew of other things that make me feel like crap about myself, so it’s a real work in progress to feel any confidence. Anxiety, on the other hand, seems to be my best friend… and is constantly whispering thoughts of ineptitude into my brain.
As I circle around my personal thoughts, I realize I have much to work on emotionally. I’m so thankful I found quilting – it’s a sort of vent or release for me for many issues. I love working through my emotions to a place of feeling accomplished… just with some fabric and thread. On top of that, you create a beautiful source of reference for when those bad feelings may re-emerge, and you need strength to move on.
With all the craziness in the world today, between corrupt politicians, corporations, and media – I look forward to every bit of time I have to sew – time to clear my head and have success in making something comforting out of nothing.
Here are some great reads on success and art that I was turned onto by some FB friends:
I recently designed a new quilt that will need to employ foundation paper piecing for accuracy. I was pretty hesitant to start making blocks until I was shown a really neat technique at our PMQG sew day by Rozina who was working on a Pickle-Dish block.
After she showed me how she did paper piecing, I went out and bought a roll of freezer paper and just jumped right in. This is a pretty easy way to get accurate piecing… AND not have to rip papers out at the end.
I haven’t managed to film a good working video yet, so get ready for a lot of photos!
The blocks of this quilt are all the same – using different fabrics. There are 15 blocks in the quilt pattern that are split on an angle to make the inner triangle. Each block finishes at 6.5″ x 9″ – I inversed my pattern and printed it on a piece of lightweight newsprint paper.
From there, I cut freezer paper to 8″x10″ sheets – this gives me plenty of room for additional seam allowance. I took 8 sheets of FP with the paper side up (wax side down) and stapled the paper pattern to the top. I stitched through all layers without thread, then carefully took out the staple. I trimmed the paper to 3/8″ around the pattern to account for seam allowance. This gave me 8 freezer paper templates with perforated lines, ready to use. These templates can be re-used quite a few times, but I opted to make a template for each block to keep things organized better. My machine did fine with 8 sheets, you may need to test yours.
Now the tricky part:
Here is the section of the paper pattern I’m going to demonstrate – it’s highlighted – Block #B1.
I marked the freezer paper with pencil on the paper side – so the marking is inversed. That is a hard thing for my brain to get around due to my dyslexia – I have to triple-check my markings before sewing, and I still get some things mixed up… but basically, if I flip the freezer paper over, the markings will match my pattern.
Heat up the iron, I’m ready to start sewing!
I start from the center section of the block – for this demo, “X” is for solid yellow. I put the fabric right side down, and lay the freezer paper over it (wax side down) and press. Don’t worry about the wax paper on your ironing surface – it peels up easily without residue while still warm.
You can see here while I’m holding this up that the fabric is now adhered to the freezer paper. See how there is at least 1/4″ of extra fabric around the whole “X” section. There is excess on this piece I used, I need to trim that off.So… lay the paper/fabric piece on your cutting table, fabric side down – and carefully peel back the wax paper to the perforated line that marks the “X” section:
Now you are ready to trim that extra piece off, but make sure you add 1/4″ seam allowance first.
Now you are ready to add your second piece of fabric- which, for me are these dots!
With the paper folded over, you can check to see if the fabric is large enough to cover the perforated shape plus seam allowance.
Once you have your fabrics together (right sides together), it’s time to sew. I sew right next to the freezer paper fold. Sometimes I catch a little of the paper, but that’s okay, as long as it is very close to the fold.
Now it’s back to the iron. I lay the piece down so both fabrics are on top,
then I fold one fabric back and press out, just on the seam (very careful NOT to touch the freezer paper!)
Then I flip the whole thing,
double-check the seam matches up to the perforated line,
fold the paper back over the fabric and press.
Now I have two pieces stitched together, and I’m ready to trim the dots and add my next section.
So, I fold back the paper to the perforated line that denotes this section,
And trim adding 1/4″ seam allowance.
Add next piece of fabric (solid yellow in this case) and sew closely to the folded paper line.
Open and press as before, careful not to iron over the wax part of the paper.
And… as you can see… I make mistakes sometimes! This second solid yellow piece is sewn on backwards – it doesn’t cover it’s “X” section the way I sewed it on, so I had to do a little seam ripping. It didn’t affect the paper at all.
I was able to reuse the piece, I just had to carefully place it before stitching so it would cover the whole section, and still have seam allowance.
After stitching and pressing, this is how it is supposed to look!
I keep adding sections, one at a time, out to one edge,
then start in the center again to work toward the other side.
Once all the sections are covered, I consider the block DONE! I’m leaving the paper on and not trimming the sides until I’m ready to start sewing them together.
All my markings are still on the back – which should make layout a snap.
Here are three finished blocks all lined up:
I’m so excited to start sewing this quilt together! I guess you could say I’m a little obsessive – all I want to do is sew. Things like eating, cleaning, and work tend to become frustrating distractions, and I have to check myself to make sure I stay grounded. I have to say, with corporations trying to destroy our planet, and politicians just helping them along… it’s extremely easy for me to lose myself in a project like this.
I hope this little tutorial was as informative and inspiring for you as it was when it was shown to me!
The sun is out today here in Portland, and it is beautiful! My sewing machine is currently in front of a patio door looking into the backyard and it is very soothing and motivating to sew. I’ve been a little obsessive with this new quilt, and sewing every free minute I have.
Recently, a quilter I recently started following- Cheryl Arkison, wrote a wonderful blog post on why she quilts. For her, it’s a way to show kindness to others – to share her love by creating something for others to use. I think this is how many quilters feel.
I thought about this question though, because I don’t give my quilts away very often. So… why do I quilt?
For me, quilting is meditative. I ponder over life decisions at the same time I’m picking fabrics, and each piece I choose is for a reason, and has a purpose. As I’m stitching, I’m healing. Sewing is such a positive action, you are creating something from nothing… and we have the ability to make any choice we want, which makes each quilt artistic, unique, and valuable in it’s own right.
I’m not going to lie, it feels wonderful to make beautiful things! The feeling of accomplishment I get from finishing a project that I am proud of, is one of the best drug-free experiences I’ve had.
The quilt I’m currently working on is the Manipura Quilt. It is all about the third chakra and self-worth, so I am keeping track of all my time spent on making it. I have a stopwatch app and so my figures for value will be accurate when I’m finished. I feel I’m a slow stitcher on the machine, but to be precise, I need to take my time.
This quilt has (99) blocks that finish at 6.5″ x 9″. They are all paper pieced, and some have a few more elements than others. So far, I have 52 blocks completed – and I have spent over 32 hours just on sewing them together. I spent another 12 hours creating the design, creating the patterns, picking fabrics and cutting strips.
Basically, I’m making an unaffordable quilt. So… another reason I quilt is to share. To share in the process of making, my reasons for certain choices, the emotions I have while making… and to eventually show quilts at quilt shows. I don’t care about winning any prizes (although I would not complain!) but I do care about having opportunities to share my work. This blog is pretty small – so showing at shows is a great way to connect with others. I’m going to be researching shows to enter other than QuiltCon for my quilts, since I don’t think my style fits their aesthetic – been rejected every year.
My quilts mean a lot to me because of how I piece them together and all the charged emotion that goes into them. When I see them, I feel things. That’s how I hope others’ see my work too – however, I find that each quilt speaks differently to each person, and I don’t hold it personally if someone is indifferent to my work. I just know that when I share my quilts, I’m sharing a part of me that I can’t articulate with words – and I love that voice!
A few weeks back I had an intense emotional release during my yoga practice, I wrote about it here. Ever since, I’ve been envisioning how to purge those emotions through quilting. I’ve also been dreaming about sewing a yellow quilt, so I designed one!
I spoke with my Cranial Sacral Therapist about all this. I told her how I wrote about it on my blog and she found it interesting that I’m being so open about my emotions in that very public way. She reminded me of how I felt like an outsider when I was a kid, and how I usually try to be invisible as an adult. It’s a protective act – not be seen or noticed – to keep myself safe from ridicule/pain/nerves. This new ‘showing of emotions’ should be taken as a sign to move past the fear, and to believe in my self-worth. I showed her my design, and we both think my Solar Plexus Chakra that is screaming for attention.
The Solar Plexus Chakra, also called Manipura, is the 3rd chakra and is based just below the diaphram. It is where our will power comes from, and our ability to achieve, self-esteem, raw emotions, and self-discipline are seated there. This energy system governs the large intestines, the stomach, the digestive system, the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the liver and the lungs. When you have a ‘gut’ feeling about something, it is this energy source that is communicating to your brain.
Yellow, fire, and sunflowers are all positive symbols of this chakra, and so is a downward pointing triangle. My design is perfect for this project.
With my anxiety, liver, digestive issues, it makes total sense that this is where I need to work energetically. I need a better sense of self. To help heal this chakra, the mantra I need to keep repeating is:
I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this Reality, effortlessly.
So I’m repeating this over and over as I stitch away. One fun fact is that this is my second try at foundation paper piecing, and I’m learning a lot as I go!
The paper piecing technique using freezer paper that my friend Rozina showed me, works great! I’m going to work on a tutorial for that soon!
Looking at the design again I see so much more symbolism – there is the center triangle standing apart from the background. That is representing my self-worth – and it’s made up of many other smaller triangles, that represents my friends and family who are super supportive. The darker edges around the center triangle sort of look like feathers, but really represent all the tears and negativity shed over the years, so I could find myself.
It might seem weird to use quilting as therapy, but for me – it works. I think it’s extremely therapeutic to work with texture and color, and to work and create something completely new with your own hands. While working on the Root Chakra quilt, I connected with that quilt, that project, everything about it, was healing for me. I’m happy to work through emotional baggage as I sew. Plus, I think the end result radiates the energy I put into it.
I am confident in all that I do. I am successful and release my creative energy into this Reality, effortlessly.
There have been many times where I have felt socially awkward, and I’m trying to change that. I’m always enamored with people who feel comfortable in most situations – the ones who can always speak their minds, no matter what anyone thinks. I’d love to be one of those people!
If you read my blog, you know I have some health issues: fatty liver, IBS, SIBO, degenerative disc disease, vertigo, low thyroid, and gluten intolerance. I don’t have insurance and work on my own behalf with the help of a Naturopathic Doctor towards health. This has brought me to a place where I practice yoga and meditation every night before going to sleep, along with dietary changes, suppliments, and bodywork. I thoroughly believe I can heal my liver, and that will help all bodily systems.
Why am I writing all this openly…? Well, last night during my meditation, I was overcome with a wave of extreme emotion – as in immediate sobbing – I think it was a sort of breakthrough.
I was thinking about how next year is my 30th HS reunion year – which is big. I graduated early in January 1987, and I was kicked out of my family’s house that February over religious differences… locked out, actually. My memory went right to my 3 younger sisters crying behind the oval window in the big front door of my house after the folks locking me out because I spent the night at a friends house who wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness.
The realization that that was my last encounter with any of my sisters -seeing or talking to them… and it has been almost 30 years! It hit me like a ton of bricks. I worked through my whole routine while crying. I thought I was emotionally ‘over’ all of this stuff – it has been 3 decades after all… but no, all I could think about was the family I lost due to religion. Three sisters, 30 years. I don’t even know their last names since they’ve all been married. So sad. I also have a brother who was born after I left home – I have yet to meet him, but he recently left the religion too! I may have a bit of family after all… but, my real question is this: How do I grieve a family that is not even dead, people who only choose not to talk to me…?
It also made me think of my youth, and how separated from everyone else I was. I was 5 when my parents ‘found God’ and we moved to the middle of nowhere in the country. I was isolated just by where I lived. Plus,we weren’t allowed to celebrate holidays, so I had to sit in the hallway at school for every event. I was also not allowed to pledge allegiance to the flag, and many people gave me the stink-eye for that too. I didn’t get to do any extra-curricular activities, or have friends that weren’t JW’s. To top it off, most of the JW friends I did have, didn’t hang with me much due to the fact my dad was an elder in the congregation, I think they avoided me so they wouldn’t get it trouble themselves. So… I’ve always been a bit of a loner.
After a bit of memory flash, I started thinking of the relationship with my own daughter, how wonderful it is – how wonderful she is. And I just can’t, for the life of me, imagine kicking her out of my life – over a difference in belief. I love her so much… makes me wonder just HOW my parent’s can hold tight to their “tough love” approach for all this time. I just don’t understand.
I think it’s important for me to figure this out. I need to vent or release these emotions – of course what comes to mind is making a quilt. I think I need to make a quilt that will help remember my family with love and forgiveness, and then be able to move on. I had hopes that at some point they would open their eyes and see things for what they are, and leave that religion… or at least be open to respecting my beliefs so we can have a relationship again. Those hopes are dwindling down to nothing, and I have to come to terms with the fact I may never see or hear from them again, which I have to admit, seems worse than if they had died.
I have always been set apart from the group, and the one group I thought truly loved me (my family) has separated themselves from me. I think this is all part of why I feel so awkward and uncomfortable in most social situations, but I’m getting better. It just makes me think of all the multiple reasons some people are socially awkward… and I have a lot of empathy when I see it. You just never know what someones’ experience might be.
Thanks for reading my thought release from this emotionally heavy meditation. Sharing is very therapeutic in ways I can’t quite put my finger on… and it is also inspiring me to start a new quilt project.
It will be interesting to see what visually comes with this release. I did the same thing when I made my Root Chakra quilt as I was dealing with emotions that dealt with fear of death, a need for health, and a foundation to base it all on. That quilt really speaks to me and I’m proud of the work I did on it, both visually and emotionally.