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:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Removing Papers

I'm going to show you yet another step in the hexie quilt process: Removing the paper pieces!  Some people remove the inner papers as they go on a project like this, but I prefer to leave them all in until I'm finished with the quilt.

I work in rows so I don't lose my place. You'll notice I have a large seam allowance on the back so that the papers are totally covered. I like it like this. When I quilt it, all that extra fabric will boost puffiness and texture.
I start by using a seam ripper to snip the basting thread near the beginning knot

Then I use a wooden skewer or toothpick to pick out the basting thread

Then I use the skewer to stick in and through the hole I punched in the paper and... 

POP - out comes the paper!

I made a little video to show a little more of the process that can be found here.

It's a pretty quick process, I just started today, and have about 1/4 of the papers out already! Starting a thread collection too:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Jellyfish Hexie Top Finished!

I finished the top!!!! Happy dance!

I waited to post pics until I had showed this to my guild last night - I was really excited to show it in person - the PMQG is the best group ever! I'm very happy with how it turned out, the colors are vibrant and the background works. My favorite parts are the "bubbles" in the background... and how it looks almost glow-in-the-dark in some areas... and so many friends donated scraps for this quilt. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of the extremely sweet people in my life.

This was started January 14, 2014 - today is September 19th... so nine months of work so far. There are 2373 1/2" hexies in this piece, and I used (re-used) papers from Now it's time to think about quilting. So much to ponder...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Office Redo

It's been a little over a year since we moved into our new place, and I got a bug up my bum to redo my whole office space... which is also my sewing room. In our last house I had two separate areas, but now it's all in one room.

I feel I need to do this to clear space, so when I'm working, I don't feel overwhelmed with too much messy-ness going on around me.  I'm not done yet (not by far!) but here are some photos of what I'm working on:

In this picture, you can see my sewing machine, and cutting table in the corner, the new shelves my husband just put up (near the ceiling) and the new curtains for the sliding glass door. My computer is to the right. I still need a curtain for the window too.
Office SouthWest Corner
This view shows my office area, it's mostly in the closet, soon to get a curtain. The other closet will hold fabric, as well as the shelves shown in the middle. The big file cabinet is the hardest piece of the puzzle - it doesn't really fit anywhere, so I'm leaving it float in the middle of the room. When these closets get covered by curtains, it will help A LOT!
Office West
Here you can see my soon-to-be design wall, the board is resting on the floor, but that's going up today! Then I get to start filling it all up with stuff (mostly fabric!)  I'm hoping this layout will be inspiring to me when I get it finished.
Office North
OH... and by the way:
This is all I have left to sew onto the Jellyfish!! That and the half-hexies down the two long sides to make the edge straight... then I'm done with the top!!!! I'm so excited. I will be bringing this to show and tell at the next PMQG meeting... even though it's not quilted yet. I think people might be more interested to see the stitching on the backside before I quilt it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quick Quilt Top

I just finished a quilt top... YAY! It was a pretty quick one to put together, it was the 'braces' block I started last week. 
Braces Block
I figured out how to put the block together and timed myself through every step. So far, this quilt has taken a total of 677 minutes - that's a little over 11 hours. This includes layout and design time, and fabric cutting. For me, that seems pretty fast! It's interesting to keep track of time spent - it really enables a quilt to have value.

This one turned out pretty good - some of my points are a little off... but I think that will always be a work in progress. Right now it's 48" x 60" and I'm trying to decide if I want to add a border to make it a little bigger. I like big quilts, even though they are a pain to quilt on my machine. 
Braces Quilt Top
I'm loving this so far - I've never been much of a pink person, but I love it in quilts for some reason. This Kaffe Fassett print is pretty awesome - I love super saturated color, and who doesn't love dots? 
...and now I have another quilt-back to ponder!