Getting Photos

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?

Vishuddha Quilt by Gail Lizette Weiss
“I AM WORTHY” front center of Vishuddha Quilt
Vishuddha Quilt Label – hand printed by my husband Gregg.
Neopolitan Interlaced Orbs (Pattern Available Here)

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!

Selfish Quilting

Yep. That’s what I feel I’m doing right now:
quilting for myself.

I know many people who are very creative, and they make and make and make – and all for other people. It’s amazingly beautiful to see. I want to be that person someday… but for now, I’m working on personal mental health, and quilting is the best way into my psyche – for me to see from a different perspective from within myself. It’s hard to explain, but basically, it’s my therapy.

Not having insurance keeps me very industrious when it comes to healthcare. I need to be constantly pro-active and in tune without playing “the victim”. I change my diet, take suppliments, and exercise according to things I read and hear… and based on how I actually feel.

Now I’m tackling the mental aspect of my health and I’m doing it with fabric!

I started with the Root Chakra quilt after a few old friends passed away from liver failure – and I wanted to focus on my own liver issues. Then I created the Manipura quilt after a deep-seeded realization came up during a yoga meditation about my family. After that I made the Vishuddha quilt. This one was all about finding some self-esteem and learning to find and speak my own truth – something I’m still working on.

I have 4 quilts left to make in this series, and I feel blocked for all of them. This is already telling me there are some serious issues here to delve into and work out. I have ideas for three of the quilts, but still need some focus and study time before I start stitching.

The Interlaced Orbs quilt is almost finished – I decided to use my sample as the cover quilt and change the colors of the pattern to match. After I finish, I need to get some pictures so I can publish the pattern already!!

Interlaced Orbs Quilt Pattern
Getting ready to quilt Interlaced Orbs

So Much Good Stuff

So many interesting things have been happening in my world, it’s a trip… and I want to share to help emotionally digest it all myself.

Family.
If you’ve read any of my past blog posts, you know that I have lost all connection to my immediate family due to religious cult they are part of.
I have a cousin whose family is also part of this cult religion, and he left it when he was 16, and is now also expelled from his family. We recently reconnected through FB after at least 30 years, and he came out to visit me on my birthday last week! It’s been great to talk with him, to hear his amazingly crazy story, and to tell mine. He is one of the very few people I have been able to relate to, on that level, in a very long time. It just feels good to connect.

Close to the last time I saw my cousin – probably 1983, or 84. We are the two on the right hand side. My mom is on the left. His mom is behind him next to me.
This is us just last week. We explored downtown and he got a haircut and had them take a photo of us with his hairdresser.

More Family:
I have a good friend back in Minnesota who I still talk to every once in a while, and she recently started dating this guy. She really likes him and has been telling me about him. A couple weeks ago they were talking and it came up that he was adopted when he was really young and had a name change. His birth name is the same as my maiden name and so my friend contacted me immediately to tell me that we (me and her new boyfriend) might be related! After a few questions and confirmations, we found out he is definitely my first cousin. My dad’s brother’s son. WOW! So now there is another person that is my family to meet, and he’s dating a great friend – it’s pretty cool living in such a small world!!

New Quilt Pattern
I had my new quilt pattern tested recently by Belinda Betts and I’m so thankful for the input. It’s always scary putting a pattern out there and hoping that you got it right and that there’s not some sort of mistake that will wreck the whole quilt… but it wasn’t that bad. A few typos and changes and it will be ready to publish soon! I’m very grateful for another set of eyes on that work before it goes out.

Quilt Show
Currently at Lincoln Hall at Portland State University, there is a quilt show hanging called: Outspoken: Modern Quilts. It will be hanging until March 15, 2019. I am very honored to have a quilt in this show. It is my Never Again Quilt made from the design by Mike Mitchell. It’s a small, but very powerful quilt. It’s a beautiful show, and if you can arrange to see it, I highly recommend it.

Never Again Quilt
Never Again Quilt

A New Year
Since my birthday, I’ve been able to eat well and do a good daily yoga practice every day so far, and I want to keep it that way for the whole year. I’m seeing my ND next week for new bloodwork and checkup. I’m hoping I got my blood sugar, CRP, and cholesterol numbers down, and my iron, thyroid, and Vit D. numbers up. I also need to check on my hormone levels. I think I’m in full on peri-menapausal right now and my emotional state is not where I’d like it to be, and I can’t seem to control it, or those heat flashes, at all.

This is a very good time for me to be working on my Chakra Quilts – I should use this emotional time to focus that cruddy energy into fabric. I just need that spark of an idea to know which direction to go first. Plus… I REALLY need to clean my work space! When everything is put away, I get so much more done!

So… I’m off to clean and get ready for a busy, productive, and hopefully lucrative new year!

Website Woes

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.

Interlaced Orbs Quilt Pattern Test – Quilt Top Finished
Interlaced Orbs
Chain piecing curved units on Interlaced Orbs Quilt Pattern Test

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.

The Privilege of Quilting

Manipura basting

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.

Seriously grateful. 

So… whether or not the quilt is accepted
I already feel accomplished!

Manipura final
Manipura Quilt

Timekeeping

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).

Very Last Stitch

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!

Picking Up The Pace

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:

chunksOnTable

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.

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress Report

I’ve been pushing through life lately. I’m sure you can relate.

I’m working on my emotional issues and that has been draining. I just keep going back to sewing when I start to spin out mentally. – Do you know that feeling? When there is so much going on AND so much to do, you start to go from one idea to another – not giving anything the needed time and attention it deserves… not getting anything done…?
I call it spinning out.

But –  I have been working on my Kaleidoscope Quilt and it is coming along very nicely. I only have 3 chunks left in the whole quilt!  SQUEEE!
Then I need to sew these larger chunks onto my centerpiece, so I still have a bit to do, BUT I think I’ll be able to finish the top to show it at Show and Tell at PMQG in August!
If so, that will mean I hand stitched a 60″x80″ quilt in 10 months. NOT BAD!

The time saved is all because of the stitch lines on the back – not having to use paper pieces saves so much time! If you’re interested in trying them, we have some in stock in our store here. I call them NEPP pieces or Not English Paper Pieced pieces.  I’m already starting to plan a second quilt like this… in a totally different color story.

I think the only negative compared to EPP is that when you press the fabric, the back looks messy. With EPP, the seam allowances are all neatly basted into place. With a good pressing… it doesn’t really matter.

I’m really excited to finish this project… but it’s sort of like being halfway through the last book in a long series – I’m going to be a little lost until I find another hand-sewing project!

A Whirlwind

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:

kaleidoscopequilt

This hasn’t been ironed yet. Here is what the back looks like pre-ironing:

kaleidoscopequilt

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:kaleidoscopequilt

and the front looks like this:

kaleidoscopequilt

I just added it to the rest of the quilt that is hanging on my design wall:

kaleidoscopequilt

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!

keeping time

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:

vishuddhaQuiltvishuddhaQuilt

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.

cousins cousins

I’m off to enjoy some sunshine – it’s gorgeous out today!

Our Retail (Ad)Venture

It’s up… our online store is up!!
It’s a store that combines my love of fabric and quilting with Gregg’s (my husband/partner)  screen printing ability.  It’s what I’ve been working on this winter to keep me busy. Pretty exiting!

Our approach to business is a low-tech, slow-grow, and hands-on. We don’t plan on automating or investing in a digital printer. We want to keep the craft of hand-pulled screen printing alive and well . This is what makes us very different from most ‘printers’ you find online who either use their own digital printer or they use a third-party printing platform like Society6, Printful, Cafepress, or Spoonflower.
Digital printing technologies have made big advancements over the last few years. It is this technology that makes it difficult to compete as a manual printer, and is part of the reason why we are trying this retail adventure!

Here are a few things we offer:

Fabric Panels.
Our screen printing studio is not large enough to print large bolts of fabric like they do for quilting cottons (see video here), but we can print fabric on a small scale! We are hand printing fabric panels to be used whole as a centerpiece for a pillow or quilt block. However you can cut them up and use them however you wish! Since the inks used require washing, we are serging the edges, washing and pressing the fabric panels. Their finished size is approx. 11.5″ x 13″


NEPP Hand Sewing Kits.
This is the most exciting thing for us to try! Being a hand stitcher myself, I have often used the EPP method (English Paper Piecing) for sewing shapes together. This is where you use die-cut paper templates to baste fabric around to make your ‘pieces’, then you stitch all the pieces together. This takes a bit of time, so I tried tracing my sew lines on the back of the fabric and using a running stitch with y-seams, and that was much quicker, but less accurate. Then I thought that we could screen print the cut and sew lines on the back of fabric very accurately… and I had to try it! Now that I’ve been using my NEPP (Not English Paper Pieced) pieces, I’m flying through my current hand sewing project!
So –
we are creating NEPP Hand Sewing Kits! I’m designing the color layouts and we are currently using Kona Solids for fabric. The kits will have all the pre-cut fabric pieces with accurate stitch lines and Y-seam start/stop points for smaller, less daunting projects. Each kit will have tracing templates to give the project right angles so you can easily add it into any other patchwork. Kona colors are listed for matching purposes.

Quilt Patterns
I put my Hexie patterns up and plan to try to write at least two other patterns for machine-stitched quilts by the end of the year… it’s good to set goals, right…?

Handmade
We made a category called Handmade for things that don’t fit anywhere else. I have a few quilts and other quilted things, and we have old printers-proof posters, and cards we hand-printed years ago and when we did hand printed flat stock. It’s time to let go.

Pre-Orders
We’ve done a few of these over the years… it’s a great way to offer a featured design on many different apparel items without having to keep inventory! These are limited edition prints in every way. There is a set ORDER BY date – usually allowing for 2-3 weeks time for people to place their orders, and there is a SHIP BY date stating when we will have the shirts printed and shipped by. We plan to do one Pre-Order a month.

Featured Designer
This month for our opening Pre-Order Sale, we are working with Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio as our Featured Designer!  The design is: Respect The Power Tool.
We are so excited to be able to work with other creative types in this way. It helps our sales and the designers get a percentage of every purchase using their design.

 

You’ll find our store in the menu above, and at PhantomChicken.com/store.html

 

 

Quilt Finish!

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

Finished front:

Quilt Label – screen printed:

Finished back – pieced too!

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

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

What are your quilting goals for the year?

Holiday Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stitching Away

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

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

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

Helloooo

Okay folks, I’m back!

I just looked at my drafts for this blog and I have 6 unpublished posts from last month that I will not be posting. Each one of them is about dental pain, and anxiety, and the frustration of not having decent healthcare… and we each have our own version of that stress – so no need to hear it from me! This is the reason for my lack of presence lately.

Luckily, I did have an infected tooth extracted last week and I’m feeling like a different person altogether. Now I can focus on some really exciting new things in my world!
What am I talking about…?
Well, as you may, or may not know… my husband and I have a screen printing business and we’ve been printing t-shirts locally over 20 years here in Portland. T-shirts are great, but I’ve been wanting to get into fabric printing for a while!

Since our studio is set up for T-shirt printing, we are not capable of printing full yardage sizes of fabric, so we’ve been trying what we are calling “fabric panels” using our largest possible print size of 12″ x 13″.  We are also using discharge and waterbased inks so that the fabric can be ironed directly and after washing.  The ink is set into the fabric, rather than ON the fabric. These inks leave a residue on the fabric that should be washed prior to use.  We’ve decided to serge the edges so we can wash and press each piece before selling. That way, they will be ready to use.  I think they would be great as a quilt center or sewn into a tote bag… but since the edges are serged, they can be hung on the wall or sewn to a jacket back, or used as a pillow front. Of course they can also be cut up and used as quilting pieces too.

Resist Fabric Panels:

Honeybee Fabric Panels:

Love Is Love Fabric Panels:

Persist Fabric Panels:

Another new thing we are creating are Hand-Sewing Kits. NEPP (Not English Paper Pieced) is what I’m calling them. I’ve been working on my own hand-sewing projects for years and I’ve usually used the EPP (English Paper Pieced) method. I had a big epiphany on my last project that I could print the stitch lines onto the back of fabric and use a running stitch to piece them together.  This saves a whole lot of time compared to EPP. When we first started thinking about this, we didn’t know how long the cutting would take (much longer than the printing!) but we think that the best thing about a kit is that you don’t have to do much extra other than sew. So… we will be doing all the cutting here so these kits will come ready to stitch together! If you’ve ever made an EPP project yourself, you would understand the value of this in time conservation! I also wanted to make something that wasn’t too daunting so that a first-time hand sewist can try a very small project before jumping into something larger.

Lucy NEPP Pattern Sample:

Myrtle NEPP Pattern Layout – each kit has it’s own colors.

Lucy NEPP Pattern Layout

Hand stitching using a running stitch and knotting at each corner.

Opal NEPP Layout

Putting individual kits together:

Our online store will be opening 2/12/18 with these items plus T-shirts and Hoodies, of course. We are starting to connect with other designers for quilt-related designs that we can feature on our site. This is fantastic because we love to work with other artists – it will also keeps things on our site fun and fresh!

Our main business is printing commercially for other groups and businesses, this is a brand new venture since it’s retail oriented. I’m very excited to start this new adventure…and I’m ready to be successful at it! You will notice a new tab in the menu for our online store ChickenScratch – next February, it will be open and ready to use!

Animation Play

I really like to sew… but I do have some other skills that I try to sharpen at times. I’m self-taught on the computer and learned Illustrator well enough to become a graphic designer for our screen printing business…  I also learned how to make a website for our business too!

So now I’m dabbling in some stop-motion animation, and I paired it up with my hand-stitching, and I made a fun little video:

 

This is the first “chunk” section that I’m making on the Kaleidoscope Quilt. This one is No.4 of 10, so I’ll be sewing these for the next month before I get to start on the next big chunk on the quilt. Here are 3 of the chunks with the center ring:

By themselves, they are very strange looking, but as they get added to the center piece, the pattern is starting to stand out – so exciting!

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress

center Ring Back

Now that I have a hand-sewing project, I feel so much more at ease. Having something in my hands at night is great – keeps me from spinning out into negativity. Having the sew lines printed on the fabric makes this project pretty quick and easy! The hardest part is sewing in the diamond shapes in the right direction. (notice the gold diamonds below… they are sewn in the wrong direction here and I didn’t catch it till adding the next row)

gold RingStitching on the lines is pretty easy – I just pin the end points to make sure they line up.hand stitchingFinally got all the diamonds sewn in the correct direction. banana RingThen I finished the center rosette – which is the same rosette used in the La Passacaglia quilt by Willyne Hammerstein.  This is the back before pressing:center Ring BackThis reminds me of those crepe paper things we did in elementary school, where you had little paper squares that you smooshed around a pencil end, dipped in glue and placed on a poster board… almost didn’t want to iron it.center Ring PressedBut I did, and I love it!! The back is a bit messy, but because of the sew lines, my shapes and points are pretty sweet! I’m doing the rest in bits or chunks to make the piecing easier. The next ring will consist of 10 matching chunks. I picked a size that would take 3-7 days to piece, so I can get through them at a timely pace. So this is my ‘chunk’ pattern:There are 4 different yellows, and 4 different light greys – so I had to make the pattern bigger to see what was what. I also have this to follow as I add pieces on – so they are stitched in the right place.hand stitchingMy first chunk also had a neat looking back before I pressed it:chunk oneNow I only have 9 left of these guys to make, then I’ll sew them onto the center and start another round of chunks!center Plus Chunk oneActually, now I only have 8 more to stitch – just finished another chunk last night. Looking back over my notes, I have approximately 35 hours in sewing time already. Sounds like a lot of time, but it’s going much faster than EPP using a running stitch!

I would have to say this is a successful try at printing the stitch and sew lines on the back of these Kona solids! We are going to be printing more pieces and plan on opening an online store in February if all goes according to plan!

Hand-Pulled Screen Printed Fabric Panels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ants in the Stars Hand Printed Fabric

Kaleidoscope Quilt – In Progress

treasure

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

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

treasure

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

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

KaleidoscopeStart

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

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

 

 

Manic…

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

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

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

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

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

Hexie Patterns – Ready!

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

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

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

Meditating on Direction

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

Right now my top 5 ideas are:

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

 

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

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

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

 

2016 Quilt Finishes

Oceans Of Blue Quilt

When I look back over this crazy year, I realize that I’ve been quite productive in my quilting efforts compared to previous years. I think it’s because I’m loving my new Juki machine!

Here are all the quilts I finished this year:

Green Cross Quilt #3
Green Cross Series #3

Green Cross Series #4
Green Cross Series #4

Earth Energy Quilt
Earth Energy Quilt

Green Gardens Quilt
Green Gardens

Oceans Of Blue Quilt
Ocean’s of Blue – Swirling Oceans Quilt Pattern

Big Hexies
POP – Big Hexie Quilt using my own fabric designs from Spoonflower

Root Chakra quilt
Root Chakra Quilt

Hexie Hummingbird Finish
Hexie Hummingbird

Manipura Quilt Front
Manipura Quilt

I hope 2017 proves to be just as productive for me. I want to follow through and do 5 more quilts based on the Chakra system to complete that as a series, finish my 2nd Hexie Hummingbird, and possibly start a new hexie project!

What are your 2017 quilt goals?

Quilt Show Thoughts

Last week on Instagram and Facebook, lots of people were posting about their quilts that were rejected by QuiltCon, and a few were posting pictures of their quilts that have been juried in.  I want to say: Congratulations to everyone whose quilt was accepted! I really do think it’s great, and someday I may submit a quilt again, and I hope that if I am accepted, I don’t get any hateful or envious comments about it.

I didn’t enter this year — partly because the quilt I would have entered is all about self care and self worth.  I’m caring for myself by not entering and not having to deal with another rejection letter — especially this year!  So my opinions are not coming from a place of rejection, but of observation.

For you non-quilters reading this, QuiltCon is the yearly quilt show sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild, which is the national organization that many modern quilt guilds belong to.  Because of the number of people who enter, there are always lots of hurt feelings when the rejection emails go out.  Over 1800 quilts were submitted to the 2016 show, and only about 300 were chosen, so just a little over 15% of the submissions are accepted!

In addition to a lack of showing space compared to quilt entries, I think a big problem with QuiltCon is that there just hasn’t been much transparency about how they jury quilts into the show. Earlier this year, they published a post about derivatives that was questionable in its take on copyright law. This caused a big stir on social media (check out the comments!), and the post has since been taken down – it is a big deal because some quilts have been rejected from QuiltCon due to a conflict based on MQG’s definition of derivative, and membership was not included in creating those definitions.

Another huge issue with the MQG is how national leadership came to be in the first place – and how those leaders approached the local guilds.  Our local guild was started years before the national guild.  Some of our members seemed to be very tight with the national leadership, and perhaps saw this new organization as a great opportunity to market their patterns and books and further their fabric design aspirations.  Not surprisingly, many of these same people tended to have quilts accepted into the first QuiltCon.

Many of us who did not have aspirations of being quilt industry professionals questioned the need for a national modern quilt guild and wondered why we should join it.  The self-appointed leaders sent a spokesperson (who became the Executive Director of the MQG) to our guild, supposedly to explain to us how it would work and what benefits they would be offering to local guilds.

When we asked questions like, “How will joining a national group help our local guild?” and “Will we get to vote on the leadership?”, she was very short with us, as well as very short on any useful information.  People felt intimidated by her aggressive attitude and stopped asking questions.  All the while, our local leaders were strongly pushing us to join.  The scene that night was so uncomfortable that some of my guild friends never came to another meeting.

The MQG representative promised us that electing national leaders would be a democratic process and that we would have the opportunity to vote within a year.  She said that we were the largest local guild, and that the national guild needed our financial support.  Our local leaders insisted that we had to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by the end of that year. They may been heavily persuaded by the national group… I’m not sure why we needed to jump on that so quickly, no one explained the rush to us. 

Based on those promises and the urging of local leaders, we voted to join the national guild. I missed the vote because I missed that meeting, but I was against it personally. Not against a national guild forming and connecting members, but against the way it formed: how it excluded most of its existing members, and how it seemed to become a platform for marketing… as if national MQG was becoming a professional guild for those in the industry. 

Well, we never did get that leadership vote, and those roles are now permanent paid positions. It may look like we chose them at some point, but we never did. They never let us.
I think that is a very important distinction to make as we move forward.

This is the reason why I’ve had some issues with the national guild, and why I understand others’ frustration with them. In fact, I just listened to a great interview with Quilters_Without_Leaders (QWOL)– on Katies Quilting Corner.  I want to tell her: “I feel you!” This interview has given me a little courage to speak out on this taboo topic, and to give perspective from my non-industry eyes. 

Since we can’t go back in time, I just needed to ‘clear the air’ in my head on this topic since our local guild looks like it will continue national membership. I’m also writing this because there are many newer members who have questions about why some people are not as excited as others about the national guild.

That said, I am super excited for our new local board this year and its plans interact with the MQG to express our concerns, try to open lines of communication, and implement some changes. This makes me happy… and it’s why I’m speaking out now! I want it all to work out for everyone. I would like the national guild to be used as a tool towards the purpose of promoting and connecting it’s membership,  while curating a diverse quilt show that includes as many members, and guilds as possible. We can’t change the past, but we can come together to and be more inclusive, welcoming, and supportive as we move forward into the future.

I was really happy to see a new friend get a quilt accepted into QuiltCon this year *Congrats Karen!*  —  I’m always happy for the friends who make it in, and it’s really cool when it’s someone from our guild! It’s an awesome feeling to see your quilt hanging in a show, and if that’s you, you should feel great about it!!

There are so many quilt shows now that have added Modern categories, too — so QuiltCon is not the only place to show a modern quilt! I’m thinking of trying a few new shows in 2017, but I want to build up my emotional well being first so that I can be ready for rejection if it happens — because that truly is part of the process of showing quilts 😉

Monday Doldrums

kitty

Today is the 5th day of the 31 Day Blogging Challenge sponsored by Cheryl Sleboda, and here in Portland, it’s dark, grey, and rainy… and I’m having a hard time finding something fun to write about.

Luckily, I found a great podcast today to listen to. Crafty Planner interviewed my friend Sam Hunter today… and it was a great listen! They talked about art and the quilt world, ageism, about competition amongst quilters, derivatives, health, and about the ability to ask for help when needed.

Their discussion gave me a lot to think about. The idea of self-worth and valuing our art has been on my mind a lot, along with self-care and healing. Especially in regards to the current Modern quilt scene.

For instance, there is a really big quilt show every year called Quiltcon that the MQG sponsors. Every year there are so many entries into this show that only a certain few actually get in. The competition is fierce, and many people are very hurt when their quilts are not accepted into the show. I’ve entered every year and never made the grade, and I have to admit – it made me question my own aesthetic the first few times. However, I do understand the process a bit more than most since I organized shows for our local guild. I know that there is only a certain amount of room or number of quilts that can be accepted… and ALL of them can be awesome! I can understand how my quilts may not be strong enough visually to pop on a page of thumbnails.

Even so, it hurts a bit and I do wish we would get specific feedback on why our quilts are rejected. I asked MQG about it, and the answer is that they receive too many entries to have time to write a single sentence for each quilt rejection. So… since I have no idea what they want to see, and there is no theme – I can only look at my rejected quilts and try to figure out something the jurors might like. Then I catch myself… I don’t want to make a quilt just for a show, and constrain myself to what I hope they want to see! So I decided not to enter this year.

That means yet another year of not getting into Quiltcon – but, at least this time, it’s of my own accord. *self-care-win!*

My plan is to enter my quilts at other shows that have modern categories. I think I’ll have better success at showing my quilts that way, and I won’t have to ‘work the modern scene’ as Sam and Sandi were discussing on the podcast.

I’m hoping to do a little more stitching tonight, but for now I need to do a little more work for the day. I do graphic work and all the bookkeeping for our small screen printing business, and I have a lot to do before the end of the year… but I try to sew a little every day.

And, just because he’s so cute, I’m adding a picture of Kitty Karryall who has been keeping me company today. 🙂

kitty