A Screen Printed Quilt FINISH!

Orbital Spotting Front


Orbital Spotting Front
Finished Front

YAY! I have finished the screen printed quilt! I’m considering calling it “Orbital Spotting” but I’m open to suggestions. *wink wink*

Super happy with this one! I made the blocks based on “Anita’s Arrowheads” technique by Anita Grossman. You cut all your pieces for one block with just a few rotary cuts. It’s a really fun technique – try it out sometime, it makes for nice clean looking blocks with pretty accurate points.

The top sat while I worked on the back. The back actually took way longer to make than the front, but I did use up all my scraps from the front! I even used an older creamy/brown calico-ish type of print to punch up the more modern fabrics. I kind of like the back better than the front… but that’s just me.

Orbital Spotting Back
Finished Back

I worked with my husband on this quilt as a collaboration. He is a screen printer, and he did the decision making as to what to print and where. He used discharge ink which releases the dye of the fabric rather than laying a layer of ink over the fabric. This means that after it’s washed, the printed area is just as soft as the rest of the fabric – and you can iron over it!

Here are some screen printing process pics:

Film positive for printing
“big ring” film. The black of the film is opaque and can block light.
Mixing Discharge Inks
Mixing discharge ink – 3 part chemical process that needs specific measurements
Screen printing screens
Screens are made by using light-sensitive emulsion, opaqued film, and a light source
screen printing onto quilt top
‘pulling ink’ over the stencil or hole in the screen and onto the quilt top

Printing over seams can get messy, and there are a few spots in the printing that are not perfect, but all in all, it came out beautifully! It sat for another long bit while I was saving up for my new Juki 2010Q. Now it’s the first quilt I’ve quilted on my new machine!

It worked so well! I used a walking foot for some parts, then switched to free-motion-quilting for all the fills. I ‘eyeballed’ all the lines – I don’t like taking time to mark up the quilt, and I don’t really care about perfection. As long as it is sewn well and will hold up in the wash, I’m good.

After it was all quilted I had a big decision to make as to what to used for binding… but I found this darker grey Peppered Cotton that I think works so well. It ties all the other colors together – so fun! Now that it’s finished, I can bring it to show and tell at PMQG tonight! Hope to see you there!

Pretty New Machine

New Juki

Oh my. I am in love…

New Juki
My new Juki <3

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently bought a new sewing machine. This is it! It’s a Juki 2010Q and I am really loving it!

It has an automatic needle threader, a thread cutter, knee lift, and needle up/down lock. So many new things to get used to. I think my Singer is getting jealous.

So this is what I’ve been working on the last few days – the quilt in the machine. It’s the screen printed quilt that I’ve been slowly working on for over a year. Now that I have a machine to do free-motion-quilting on… any quilting really -the throat is 9″ wide and tall too – it’s so easy to get a quilt through!

Other than that, I’ve been working on healing a toe that I deeply cut in the shower the other day… I dropped my razor, had my eyes closed to rinse shampoo from my hair, and accidentally stepped on the razor. It was pretty bloody – luckily my daughter was home and patched me up! It’s still pretty sore – so I’m slow moving these days.

So now my toe is all taped up and ready for more sewing – the best part is, is that I’ll have a quilt for show and tell at the next PMQG meeting! YAY! As I’m working on this quilt, I’m thinking of my friend Veronica who I saw at the PMQG All Day Sew yesterday – she was working on a quilt that had some fantastically bright colors in it. I loved it! We were talking about how certain colors can appeal to some and not at all to others. Since we have similar color likes… I think she’ll like my quilt too.

Pre-Press For Printing

I started a project quilt a few months back, one that I planned to screen print onto – I have the quilt made, the design done… and now I need to do the pre-press to get it ready for printing. I thought you might enjoy this process, so I’m sharing!

As with quilting, screen printing is very “set-up” oriented. You have to plan, measure, and cut before you can start stitching on a quilt. For screen printing, we need to make and set up a screen before we think about pulling ink. Pre-press is what this part of printing is called, and it’s what I do everyday for our t-shirt business.

Printing on a pre-made quilt top will be a first for me and my husband, who is collaborating with me for the actual printing. This is because our screen size is usually maxed out at a 10″x 12″ size, this quilt is about 54″x 65″… and with seams! So, the BIG question is: how are we going to print a large image? We decided to break it up into smaller bits and print in small sections with an 3/8″overlap. Fingers will be crossed tightly through this part to see if this will work.

So… To start I made a grid in Illustrator the size of my quilt blocks – the actual quilt blocks do vary about 1/4″ here and there, so it’s a general guideline:

Then I took a photo of my quilt and dropped it into the file and stretched it to fit my grid – which is closer to accurate:

 From here I laid out my design and put it where I want to see it. The plan is to use a white discharge ink which will release the dye of the fabric, rather than putting a layer of ink over the top of the fabric.

Eventually I will need to make film positives from this artwork, so everything I want to print needs to be black. It also makes it easier to do the prepress.

Now I have my design over my grid where I want it to be, so I no longer need the photo of the quilt top:

Now I need to divide the black artwork up into smaller printable sections, instead of 13 different photos, I made a little video:

Here’s a close-up of one of the sections:

The solid black parts will print, everything else is there to help Gregg set it up “in registration” with all the other sections.  These sections will become screens. The small lines are marks for where the seams of the quilt should end up, and I also have marked which block they should be in.

From here, I would normally send each one of these sections out to get a piece of film positive made at a pre-press company. One of these sections would be $35 as a piece of film, since I do not want to spend that on one-time prints, I’m going to make copies on transparency stock at Kinkos. Once we have the films made, we can start the next part of the process: shooting screens.

This quilt is all about process – which takes time, however… I will post as soon as we start on the screens!

Designing Something Different

An idea has sprung up in my head, so I’m working on something different.

I’ve seen other screen printers print on fabrics and quilt blocks, but I’m hoping to pull off printing on a finished quilt top. Actually, it would be my husband Gregg making the print magic happen. He’s been an independent screen printer for 19 years, and luckily for me I just talked him into this major project.

Screen printing is like stenciling, and it’s a very simple process to use a screen and pull a print onto fabric or a t-shirt. However, making the screen is where all the work comes in, and before you can make a screen – you need a design.
I thought I’d walk you through my process.

Here is the finished quilt top I made using Anita Grossman’s “Anita’s Arrowheads” technique for making blocks.  This one measures 52″ wide x 64″ tall.

Finished quilt top 

I spent a few days laying out these blocks till I was happy, then sewed them together and added a 3″ border just to make it a bit bigger. Once this part was done, I could play around with some of my images and see what would work best with this particular quilt top.

Adobe Illustrator is my go-to design program, then I use Photoshop to overlay my design on the quilt top photo to check design size and placement.  The colors in this quilt made me think of mermaids, so I was stuck on making a mermaid image. It took a little while, but I made something I liked… unfortunately, I didn’t really like it on the actual quilt top:

It was too busy with all that background pattern, so I took it off and got this:

Better… but maybe not the best image for this quilt. So I set it aside for another quilt some other day… I was getting frustrated trying to think of what I wanted to print on this quilt. The room I was working in had a really cool fan in it, and so I thought maybe a fan would look cool on this quilt. I took some photos, worked them up and got another design idea going:
Obviously still needs work, and I decided that it too was too busy for this quilt top – then I tried simplifying to a basic image within my busy mermaid background and this is how that looked:
Kinda cool… but still not right!  I was showing these images to Gregg and complaining about how I suck at being a designer or artist and that even though it’s a great idea… I just can’t come up with the right imagery.  I was telling him how I really wanted something super simple that wouldn’t compete too much with the actual quilt top. As I was talking I started to draw circles on my mock-ups… and in just a few minutes my quilt top screen print design was in process – and a bit later, I had my final design:
It’s thrilling to finally be at this stage!  Next up is to divide this image into bits that are small enough to fit on our screens.  The largest image area we can use is 11″x 12″. This size works for us because our t-shirt screens are the same size – no new screens need to be purchased.
So… we are looking at dividing the image up into 20 screens and Gregg will have to work his magic to make the screens match up. That is where the real difficulty will come in. We plan to use a discharge ink actually releases the dye of the fabric, some fabrics may come out looking really white, others maybe not so much.
Circle Dot design by Gail Weiss

It’s a big challenge for Gregg too – we would much prefer a large format press so we could print the whole thing at the same time… but we have to work with what we got. You can see the 20 divisions above. We usually get film positives to use to make our screens, but just like film negatives, this can get expensive. Instead we are going to use transparency sheets.

Next up in this project is actually making the screens and getting them ready to print. Depending on the issues we come across, we may tweak the design a bit… or we might just scrap the whole idea altogether. I’m just happy I have someone willing to try something new with me! 

Blocks… Part Of The Process

Recently, there has been a new project in the mix. I have an idea that I want to see to fruition, but I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get there. I plan to put an image over a finished quilt top using screen printing… but my plans keep changing as I move further through the process.

To start, I wanted a basic quilt top to use as test, so I have to make one. I decided to use the Anita’s Arrowheads technique to make blocks. It’s a really fun a quick technique to make this block

 I changed my size to make the block a little bigger than her original… and after a test, I went into production mode.

A note as to fabric choices here… I found some Lucky Penny fabric on sale at Fabric Depot and decided it would work great for a saturated colorway. I am purposely choosing dark and saturated colors because the printing will be more visible that way.  After bringing home these two patterned fabrics, I went through my solids to use to finish the top. I don’t have a huge stash, so the colorways are a little random, but I love how random things turn out, so I’m going with it.

Even fabric scraps are pretty!

After piecing these guys all together and doing some trimming, I have 22 blocks of which I only need 20 for a 4×5 block front. 

I’ve just started this layout… this is not how it will finish, in fact I took this photo to use to check tonality. When I change it to black and white and pump up the contrast, it really helps to see what I want to see, and make needed changes
Of course it would help to get it off the carpet and have a neutral background, but you get the idea. From here I will move pieces around until I’m happy.
Then the fun part starts.  I’ll tell you more about the screen print process in my next post on this quilt.
I’m keeping myself soooo busy. I have to – been having many headaches and pain issues and these things kind of get me down. Sometimes really down. Keeping busy and making things takes my mind off.
…and I’m still making hexies – aren’t they cute!

One Month In

I’m exactly one month into the Jellyfish Hexie quilt project – and I’m happy to report I have over half of the hexies made already! I need just over 2000 pieces, just counted today and I’m at 1,042!

This is the point where I try to cement my other colorways. Here is what I have for the tentacles so far:

yellow, light grey, red-orange, aqua, light orange, pink, green, and light purple at this point… but I still may change my mind. I only need 40-50 pieces for each tentacle, so I can make up a few other colorways and have some to choose from.

Thanks Juline, Cherri, and Cath… I think I now have all the blue fabrics I need for this project!

Getting these little packets of scraps was so exciting – very much like a birthday that never ends.

This week, I also started cutting into my next project. I’m calling it:  *SPQ*

It’s a quilt of which I am unsure of how it will come out… a test of sorts. I started by picking my fabrics and cutting 10.5″ rough squares.

They will be paired up, to make 22 sets. They will be starched and ironed, then will be cut down to 10″ squares – then I can start sewing. Since this is a work in progress, or maybe more of a thought in process, I’m just going to share what I’m doing as I go along.