Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Wild Cock

So I just finished a super fun project for our basement bar! You may not know this, but the name of our screen printing business is Phantom Chicken... and we do have a thing for the bird.  The chicken is a major theme at our place. When we moved here last year, we put our orange metal roosters up over the bar, and we love them there, but the space still seemed a bit empty.
Then Sam Hunter came out with a new book called Quilt Talk with patterns for the alphabet, and I had an idea.
With some fervor, I went forward with a sign for our basement bar... I had so much fun making these letter blocks! Sam's patterns are awesome and easy to follow.
Putting the letters together was much easier than figuring out the sign around the metal roosters, but once I got it, it went smoothly... of course I had to add some hexies.
Then I followed that up with some echo quilting with my walking foot - who doesn't like a quilted cock?
Gregg hung the quilted sign this morning... doesn't it look great? Yes, there are many things I could have done better - but I LOVE The Wild Cock sign! It makes our little bar really fun and festive.
Now I'm looking forward to see what else I can add letters to in my quilting projects!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Quilt Back

YAY! I finished a back for the Braces quilt top I made a few months ago...
Braces Quilt Back
I think I spent way more time on this than I did on the front. I don't know why, but I really love creating a pieced back for a quilt. This one had a lot of small pieces that were left over from the front that I wanted to use, and I was able to use ALL of them.
This was how it was looking after the first day of working on it - lots of random pieces... and I love how it turned out. Now I can get to some quilting!!! So excited to be at this point, it's the quilting that makes a quilt come to life.

Speaking of quilting, I also did a French Knot test to make sure I remembered how to make them. My friend Cherri had me try a 'side-threading' needle like this one... and I'm sold! Especially since I'm using embroidery thread for the knots... using this needle will make the whole job go much much faster. So all I need now are good thread colors for the Jellyfish and I'll be knotting away!

At the awesome PMQG quilt retreat I went to last month, we got a goodie-bag with little squares of fabric and some hexie templates - I think they are 1" in size... much bigger than I'm used to - but I put all those together the other night for another hexie project that hasn't quite been formulated yet.
With the colder, shorter days - I'm antsy and am glad I have so many projects to work on!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thread Basting The Jellyfish

I've been doing a lot of thinking on how to baste and quilt my Jellyfish.  I decided to thread baste it because I don't want to use spray glue and since it's planned home is as a wall hanging, I don't think I'll be washing it anytime soon. I didn't pin baste it because I hate sewing around the pins.

I found this great video tutorial by Sharon Schamber who walks through all the steps of threadbasting. It took me about 2.5 hours to baste the quilt this way... so it is a bit of a time commitment, but not so bad. Probably would take close to that to pin baste it anyway. Here is the basted top:
And the back:
Here are the stitches on the back - they are about 1/2 - 3/4 inch stitches that seem to hold everything in place nicely.

Now I'm ready to start making a bunch of French Knots!! I will use them in the 'water' on this quilt and figure something a little different for the jellyfish itself. So happy to be at this point!

I'm also working on a back to my Braces quilt today - and loving my new lilac bushes we planted yesterday... they will make this ugly chainlink fence look sooooo much better.

Oh... I'm still following the Blood Sugar diet, not as strict as the first 10 days - so it's much easier, and the meals in the cookbook are fantastic. I can't say that about too many 'good for you' recipes! I should be going in soon to have my blood sugar tested to see if this is helping in any way. Either way, I'm doing good and happy to be eating much more nutrient-dense foods.

Now back to sewing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Health Through Food?

This post will be about food rather than quilting. Why? Because my health is making it hard to be able to sew (or work, or think clearly for that matter). It's something I've struggled with since my gall bladder was removed in 2000, ever since then, things have slowly spiraled downward. I have IBS, leaky gut, SIBO, and some sort of auto-immune disorder that is causing my white blood cell count to be high. I also have a sneaking suspicion I have fibromyalgia (like my sister) but I haven't seen an MD to get that diagnosis. I'm also pre-diabetic.

What this means to me is I'm tired (exuberantly exhausted) with headaches, and I'm achy in all my joints, with inflammation that affects my spine, which makes moving a very nervy experience.

Instead of complaining to everyone about it, I thought I'd share my plan to health instead! I'm hoping by posting about it that I will have the encouragement to follow through. So... this is the plan:
 It's a pretty intensive diet plan that incorporates nutrients from food to help heal the gut lining. I think that is my main directive. It's pretty close to what I already eat... I only have to cut the rice and corn, and that's about it.  It is also specific in what (exactly) to eat and when. Here is the recipe for one of the protein shakes and a lunch - looks pretty good, right?

The plan is to follow this for 10 days, then re-assess. If I can keep going... I will. I know the longer I can stick to it, the better I'll heal. I've cut sugar from my diet before and so I KNOW how wonderful it can be.

If I feel good, I'll be able to work on my quilt projects more and maybe I'll feel good enough to travel and meet some of my quilty friends in other states. I'll even be able to do more right here in Portland for that matter... or so I hope. There is nothing more depressing than feeling too tired to meet with friends... especially for sewing!

My next few posts may have some food-related things, but I'll get back to quilting for sure. Thanks for being so supportive!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Quilty Retreat

I was lucky to be able to attend a fantastic retreat this last weekend put on by the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. It was awesome. I want to go again as soon as they organize another one!!

I've never done a retreat before on any level, so it was an experience in many ways. The only thing that was tough was the bed I slept on, but even that wasn't as bad as it could have been. The best thing about it was being able to focus on a project for a long period of time... without cooking, laundry, cleaning or any other thing I usually do on the weekend. Because of the time I had to work, I was able to create a design and complete a quilt top:

It's called Green Cross and I'm excited to quilt it up once I get a backing done for it. I designed it using Susan Beal's Modern Log Cabin pattern for the cross blocks. It's basically just 4 rounds on a log cabin block and put together so it looks like crosses. Next to it is a quilt top by Amy Redfield Morinville. As quilt tops were finished, we hung them like this from the balcony.

The retreat was at this great space out on the Columbia Gorge. It was high up on a hill so the views were spectacular.

Photo by Kelly Cole
Equally amazing were some of the quilts that people were working on! This top was done by Heather Joy - and looked phenomenal:

Tracie was working on this one:

And here is Kelly's Medallion Quilt... amazing:

Here is a shot from the second story balcony looking into our workspace

and here's the room I was sharing with Brittany, Michelle, and Emily (what fun!)

The weekend was full of sewing, fun, beauty and laughter - all the best things, right? It was pretty awesome to meet and get to know some new people from our guild too! Thanks PMQG board members for putting this all together... could not have been better!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Now For Something Different...

I had an idea a while back that I would start working on fabric designs, however... it remained only an idea for the last year or so. A big thanks (and hug) to my friend Rachel for inspiring me to take action, and start making patterns already! Sometimes I really do need the 'kick in the butt' to get started.

Since I work on graphics for our T-shirt printing business, I have most of the needed skills. The big thing I'm working on is creating seamless repeats, and I still need a bit of practice there for sure! So the plan is to try to come up with a new pattern everyday till New Years, then I'll go through it all and see what really speaks to me and then work up final designs. Sometimes you need to step away for a bit to truly see what you're working on.

Another source of inspiration is my friend Bill, who is also working on a line of patterned fabrics through Spoonflower. I have been reading his blog and enjoying the 'uniquely Bill' designs he is coming up with. It's such a fun new twist on things to be able to print your own custom fabric!... and who knows, maybe I'll come up with something to send to Spoonflower as well.

Here's to hoping the inspiration lasts - sometimes I get really blocked creatively, which makes me a little nervous - but it's only a self-imposed goal, so it's all good.

Here is the design I made for today: Barbed Roses, because... you know... I live in Portland!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Testing Options

My progress on the Jellyfish quilt has stopped as I start to weigh options for how to quilt it. I was considering hand-quilting it, which would make the whole quilt hand-done, and that sounded great... at first.

I needed to test my hand-quilting skills, and on a flat piece of fabric, I did okay:

You can see the two rows of running stitches I quilted in the test above... this wasn't too bad, but I wasn't sure how it would work with the hexies since there are more fabric layers to go through. That meant I had to do a test on actual hexies.  So I stitched a few of my extras together and tried hand quilting AND thread basting on this little piece.
After trying 4-5 needles, and 3 different threads, I've decided that I'm NOT going to hand quilt it. It's really hard on my fingers, and the end result is not that great.

I will, however, thread-baste this quilt. I saw a good tutorial on it here that I'm going to use. You can see the basting stitches I tested at the top of the test piece.  Since it's a smaller quilt, this option should work great. Then I'll quilt it free-motion-style on my Singer.

In other news, I finally signed onto Instagram. It may not be a huge deal, but I'm really excited that I can finally see all the photos that my quilty friends post there! I'm using a reader as my device, and it has a terrible camera on it, so my uploads will be few for now, but if you'd like to follow me there, here's a link: