Quilting My Heart Out

I’m having a lot of fun with puns for my Heart Chakra Quilt. All joking aside, this is going to be a fairly major project.

Here’s the finished look of the top:

Heart Chakra Quilt
Planning the quilting.

This is NOT a perfect quilt or a quilt for a perfectionist. I purposefully left mistakes in because this quilt is turning out to be a pretty good representation of me. The more I think of how my physical body interacts with the spiritual world (which is what the center star represents) the more I realize how bumpy and imperfect my path has been.

Since it’s not perfect, straight line quilting just won’t do. It would show the imperfections in a bad way. So I pulled out my free motion quilting foot for my Juki machine and decided to free hand the whole thing.

Heart Chakra Quilt
Printed quilting image on newsprint, will pull paper out after quilting.

The center hexies deserved a little more planning, so I created this ‘flower’, printed it on newsprint and used it as a quilting template. After doing these initial lines, I pulled the paper and added more in detail.

Heart Chakra Quilt
Free motion quilting results on the back

Here is the back after I quilted the center – again… not perfect, but I really like the organic nature of how it came out.

Now I’m working my way out from this center piece and working on being okay with all the imperfections – this fully correlates to my life.

Little Pieces of My Heart

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve been working on a Chakra Quilt series – to help myself work through some past emotional baggage.

I’ve been currently working on the Heart Chakra Quilt, and it has taken much longer than anticipated only due to the improv nature of the quilt – and me not knowing exactly how to create what I wanted to see. Making this quilt top created a lot of waste and as fabric costs have gone up, it just kills me to throw it away.

fabric scraps from Heart Chakra Quilt top

Thinking I could create a back for the Heart Chakra Quilt, I pieced together every bit of scrap I had from the front. The way I did it was to divide the pieces by size, or match two sides together that are exactly the same length. Then I just started sewing them together, chain piecing until I had no more pieces, or pieces that didn’t fit anything yet. I would try to add as many pieces as I could before needing to press and trim.

Chain piecing like-sized sides together

Once I had the smaller pieces put together, they started matching up with larger pieces, and I really just kept sewing onto each piece until one side got to 13″. Then I had about 30 blocks of varying heights, all with the same width of 13″ – from there, I could put them into rows and play with layout.

Putting rows on the design wall to figure final layout

It was at this point I thought it looked cool enough that it should be its own quilt, so I made a much faster pieced backing from larger pieces, and added the green on the sides just to make it a bit wider on top and now I have a very unexpected quilt finish!! I’m calling it Little Pieces of My Heart.

Little Pieces of My Heart Quilt top

Sewing is very meditative, and with these Chakra quilts, I give myself mantras to repeat while sewing to keep a certain mindfulness while creating. With this scrap quilt, I didn’t really have a specific practice – but I did think a lot about the children locked in cages with no one for emotional support. It tears me up inside what we are doing to other people. I say WE due to the fact it’s OUR tax dollars paying some private firm $750+ a day to keep kids in concentration camps.

This is future damage. We are creating future war and terrorism with this act alone (don’t get me started on global warming). So… I may be donating this quilt to try to either raise money for RAICES or giving directly to a child in need.

Summertime

sewing small pieces

… and all I want to do is sew.

I sometimes feel a little guilt when it’s gorgeous out and I’m inside. I’m happy to have a patio door that opens to our backyard in my sewing space. I have a million ideas for the backyard as far as setting pavers and making a path to the print studio, fixing the patio, and adding some planters for some gardening. All these ideas flow in my head constantly… and because I can’t seem to make a decision, nothing gets finished – or started even. I’m spending time out there today and hoping some resolution comes into focus.

Scraps from the Heart Chakra Quilt.

As far as the sewing goes… I’m pretty happy with my progress. I have the top completed for the Heart Chakra Quilt! I love it. I ended up with a bunch of scraps – more than usual, and I’m feeling pressure to piece the back of this one so I can use them up. I made this whole quilt without buying any fabric, confining myself to what I already had in my stash. So it seems appropriate to make do with what I have for the back too.

Heart Chakra Quilt top almost completed on design wall.

Piecing all those little pieces will take some time, so I don’t think I’ll have this one done for the next PMQG meeting Show and Tell.

I’ve also been working on the Paintbrush Painter’s Palette Solids Challenge quilt. After signing up, we received 9 fat quarters of pre-chosen solids to create a mini-quilt which will be judged on:

  • Best use of provided fabrics
  • Piecing Perfection
  • Awesome Quilting (machine or hand)
Each piece was cut and sewn individually, testing accuracy.

So… I made a design using all 9 fabric colors. I’m not positive of the actual names of the fabric colors, but in the mix was: light blue, royal blue, avocado green, olive green, tangerine, coral, hot pink, and red. It was a bit tough coming up with something that made each color look good next to the others.

My design and finished quilt top.

I’m very happy with how it came out! Now to think of some “awesome quilting” to put this into challenge contention. I’m thinking of hand quilting using thicker thread and big stitches… but can’t decide on thread color or quilting pattern just yet. I’m going to do a faced binding on this one so all that shows will be the quilt top. A little more time is needed before I can say this one is finished – but it’s getting close!

What are you working on this summer?

Fighting Through Creative Drought

This last month has been brutal. Especially being a woman in the United States. Debilitating emotion overwhelms creativity. You have to fight hard for your creative self.

I’ve been working a lot (Phantom Chicken) and that has been great. I really enjoy being able to pay bills! The work has me busy through lots of off hours which has put a stop to my sewing time. I’m also using work as an excuse for just not knowing how or what to do next to get this quilt to look like how it is in my head. I keep looking at it on the design wall, but the math is stumping me.

I decided to make the triangle shapes I want to use, lay them out on the design wall, and just fill in the empty spaces as I go.

Mapping out placement

The Heart Chakra has many symbols, I’m gleaning and reinterpreting the ones that resonate with me personally as I’m making this quilt for my own healing purposes.

I’m learning as much as I can as I go along in this project. I’m finding that there are many different ways to ‘see’ the symbology of each Chakra. The best thing I’ve read so far was “The Chakra systems are prescriptive, not descriptive” – Chris Wallis

There are 12 outer (white) triangles that represent the 12 Vrittas of the Heart we want to quell or sooth.

  • Fraud
  • Lustfulness
  • Indecision
  • Hope
  • Anxiety
  • Repentance
  • Possessiveness
  • Incompetence
  • Discrimination
  • Impartiality
  • Arrogance
  • Defiance

Imagine these emotions creating a whirlpool of thoughts in your mind (busy – non stop). The point of meditating on these 12 white lotus petals is settle or lessen these ‘vritties’ to create a calm stillness of the mind, much like a calm, still pool of water.

The 8 inner (green) triangles are representative of the smaller Hrit Chakra, also in the heart region. Those represent the feelings of the heart: Resolution, Atomization, Lightness, Largeness, Attaining, Irresistible Will, Control, Mastery

I haven’t found much information on this smaller Chakra, but I liked the idea of the two rounds of triangles to represent the lotus flowers of each heart related Chakra. I have all these ideas, but I’m having problems making a decision, so I’ve been creatively blocked for a bit.

I’m pushing through this one. As I study and think about the Vrittas, it seems to me that Hope and Repentance are things I used to think of as virtuous, now I’m starting to see them in a negative light. Hope is fantasy – it allows a person to be inactive. Repentance is a way to get out of responsibility. The others are much more understandable.

For this quilt, I’m trying (with difficulty) to create nice, even circles out of the triangles – it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Improv Quilting – trying to keep a circular shape with the triangles.

The white triangles on the outer round will be surrounded with many greens. When I was making the white triangles, I found this sweet white fabric in my stash. When I posted the photo below on IG, my friend Nicole let me know it is called: Dotted Swiss. If it wasn’t for quilty friends, I would be lost. ;) It is a very sheer fabric. I didn’t think it would do well on its own in a quilt, so I backed it with this old neon green fabric I’ve had forever… then I realized I was making a pocket of sorts, and added silver embroidery threads in each triangle. I feel like this represents the goodness one can attain by calming the Vritties of the mind.

Hidden treasure – silver threads

The best part right now is that I’ve been able to sew a little every day for the last few days – I’m not fully stumped and afraid to cut fabric anymore. I’ve been meditating and doing yoga nightly – and trying to resonate with all that I’ve been learning. This is in direct opposition to the world right now where everything is seeming to be competitive, hateful, selfish, and willfully ignorant. The clash is draining mentally… and I know I’m not the only one feeling this way right now.

I am very grateful to have the ability (physically, financially, and time) to sew!

Heart Chakra Quilt Progress

This quilt is kind of kicking my ass. It is mimicking my life in ways I would never have noticed if I wasn’t making this as a therapeutic tool. I’m happy for new perspectives, but they can be hard to mentally and emotionally digest.

For example, the center of this quilt features a 6 pointed star made of two triangles. One triangle pointing up to represent spirituality, and one triangle pointing down to represent physicality – and where they meet and overlap is the heart.

I decided to make the center out of hexies, because… hexies! I love them. So I start in the center with absolutely no plan on how to incorporate them into the rest of the quilt! Just like in real life, I did not plan this out well. I still don’t know how I’m going to sew it all together and still add a circle of 8 inner triangles and a circle of 12 outer triangles to finish the quilt per my original intention.

I find myself tripping up on math and I’ve made a few mistakes already with fabric calculations! Every mistake means a new decision to make – and each decision is like hitting a brick wall mentally. I can’t even work on other projects right now because I’m confused as to how I’ll finish this one. I hate making decisions – I always question myself and then question myself again. Then I get stuck in the ‘not knowing what to do next’ brain fog.

Decision-making seems to be a main theme of this quilt.

My dreams have been hard too. Not full on nightmares, but dream memories… ? Memories from childhood have been re-playing currently as dreams and they’ve taken on aspects of my old recurring nightmares too – but with new twists. This type of dreaming has been happening a lot and I wake up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep… so much happening in my dreams. I’m also having pain dreams… where you dream about a specific pain till it wakes you up. Like my new recent recurring dream is I’m tied up in a backless chair, and someone is cutting my back with razor blades – this is because my spine aches so much in my sleep. This is something I have to fix because when I become over-tired, I start getting paranoid about other little things.

So… I’ve been trying to sleep a lot and keep pushing forward on this quilt project – even though it’s really hard. I feel like scrapping it and starting something new, but if I do, I’ll never come back to it – so I’m going to follow through and push through some decision making!

Whipstitched Hexie Rows

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!

All rows sewn together in layout. One row flipped to show work on backside.

I start from the left side – I have the first smaller rows stitched together already and now I’m adding the fourth row.

Planning where to start stitching.

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…

Picking up where you plan to start.

… and flip them over. I use a bolster pillow to rest them on while I get the stitch started.

Resting on a bolster pillow (or stuffed animal in this case) hold the two hexie sides to be sewn together.

From here, start your stitch in the middle of the two hexie sides you’re going to sew together.

Start your stitch in the middle.

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.

Whipstitch down to the bottom edge.

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.

After getting to bottom edge, work back up. Keep seam allowances out of the way when stitching these ends.
Keep whipstitching up the hexie row.

Knot at each corner and keep going.

Knot at corners 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.

Up close.

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.

Happy Hexies!

Back To It: Hand Sewing Hexies – Tutorial

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
  • Small Scissor
  • Superior Kimono Silk Thread #100
  • Thimble
  • 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.

My hexie layout.

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:

Start from center – sew out to one end.

Then I flip the hexies in my hand and stitch back into the center:

Flip hexies in hand and sew from end to center.

Keep going… ladder stitch all the way to the other end.

Keep stitching to the end.

Flip the hexies in your hand again, and sew back to the centerpoint.

Flip hexies in hand, and sew from end 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.

Pass the needle through to the backside.

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 and move onto the next seam.

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.

Knot again. Then pass the needle up through the center along the edge of the hexie.

Start your next hexie – just as before: ladder stitch to one end… and follow all steps again.

Start again. Sew all the way to one side.

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!

No stitches showing.

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.

Happy Hexies!

A Fresh Start

I’m very excited to tackle the next quilt in my Chakra quilt series.
I finally have a layout I’m going to use as my base:

Heart Chakra Quilt – Initial Design

The Anahata Chakra is based near the heart and connects our physical with our spiritual presence. The two triangles in the center depict the physical / spiritual connection within the hexagon they create. Twelve aspects of the heart are normally symbolized with a 12-petaled lotus flower, but I plan to use triangles for this part.

Each lotus petal contains a Sanskrit syllable in this Chakra – representing 12 vrittis. These are: lust, fraud, indecision, repentance, hope, anxiety, longing, impartiality, arrogance, competence, discrimination and defiance. “They are called ‘vrittis’ which can be best explained as waves of the mind. If we achieve to silent the vrittis that wave our mind, we will be able to see beyond. To see the bottom of our hearts.” – Anahata Yoga

So… next step is to pick fabrics. Here are all the greens I have:

Fabric pull: greens
Fabric pull: maybe greens

Some neutrals will be added to all this too – this is the hardest, but most fun part of making a quilt for me: working with what I have! It makes me re-think things in ways I would have never considered if I purchased new fabric based on my pattern idea.

Since the center created a hexagon shape, I decided to make some hexies for that area! They’re going to be 3/4″ hexies… and there are not that many needed, so it will be a fun addition – if I can get them to look good… so much is still up in the air on this one. I’m just happy to have chosen one to start and can focus my energy and start to get some sewing done!