Monday, April 14, 2014

New Fabric

New fabric is always fun to get! I'm pretty lucky that a big fabric store is now walking distance from my house... yesterday I got some very pretty solid fabric for the border of the Jellyfish Hexie quilt. It's called Cerise and I pretty much love it.
I'm also adding a row of white hexies so that this quilt will sort of match the Squid Quilt I made a few years back and they can hang together.  I think I will do a few rows of the Cerise hexies instead of adding strips of fabric for the border, which means I'll have to make some half-hexies for the edges so it will have a straight edge on the sides.
Finished Squid Hexie Quilt
I haven't been too happy with all the blue hexies I made, so I'm making more... this is making this part of the layout take more time than I was hoping, but I've learned to wait until I'm happy before moving forward on a project, otherwise it may never get finished.

My daughter has been using my sewing machine for her latest cosplay costume... and I'm jonesin' to get it back. I have two quilt backs to make and I like to do those as improv pieces, I have fabric and a general plan - I just need my machine back. Luckily this is a good push for me to finish the layout and get to the piecing part of the Jellyfish.

What are you working on this week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Busy Season Has Begun

Today marks 1 year that we got the news we had to move from our old rental. With all the ups and downs, I can hardly believe where one year has taken us and ever so thankful to have a home of our own!

That said, business has finally picked up after the winter! Phantom Chicken is our screen printing business and over the winter with the move, it's been a little lean the last few months so I'm extremely happy to be busy.

The only down side is my sewing takes a backseat to work time. I do a the graphic design and prepress (for the t-shirts that Gregg prints) and all the bookkeeping for our business, and since it's tax time... I've been kept away from fabric for almost a week now.  I'm super anxious to do more work on my Jellyfish...  I'm currently picking out a border color. Thinking wild orchid or raspberry would be a nice color to offset all the blue in the piece.

Anyway... just wanted to post my progress, which is "not much" - sometimes, it's just the way it is.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jellyfish Layout

Trying something new here... a video! (hope it works!) Really, it's just a bunch of photos of my layout process of the Jellyfish Hexie Quilt. This spans about 4 days of puttering around with 1/2" hexies. 


When I laid out the Dragon Quilt, it took over 2 months playing around before I came up with a layout I was happy with. I'm hoping this one goes quicker! This is the hardest and most important part of this whole project. I'm wanting to make sure I'm happy with it before I start stitching it all together.

This is how it works when your pattern is made of flat colors. It's the patterns in the fabric that really give it life.

My work world has become super busy... and I still have a couple other quilts to finish. I'm hoping I can continue to make good progress on this quilt through it all.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This Is Happening

Starting layout for jellyfish hexie quilt
Sometimes you just need to "do" rather than talk... or blog.  This is what is happening with my jellyfish hexie quilt right now. I have more pictures and info about how I got to this point and what I'm doing, but I am compelled to work on this quilt rather than type, so for now all you get is a photo.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Hexie Count Check

My little pile of current hexies was starting to overflow this morning:
I make them until this plastic container gets full, then I empty it out and divide colors and do a count
Then I add them to the bags of hexies I have already
As of today, I have about 350 left to make!! Lucky for me, the PMQG is having a hand-sew day this afternoon - and I'm going to take advantage of it.  I need to start thinking of my design board... it's going to be time to lay this out soon!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Good Day!

I had a great day yesterday. For the first time in a while, I was able to walk all the way to our local library without too much physical ado. This is big... really big for me. I used to walk all the time, and before that I worked out all the time, but I have become less physically active due to pain issues. So to be able to get out on a walk right now is wonderful. I can't contain my joy :)

I was fantastically rewarded too:
Look at all the awesome quilting books I found at the library!!  I can't wait to go through them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

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!