Friday, November 21, 2014

Doing and Undoing

Where is time going?! It seems that just a few days ago these fellas were here. They returned home last Sunday.

As you can see, we visited Legoland. The Florida Legoland is the largest of all the Legoland parks. 

The little boys had talked about it for months (every time I visit them, I take them to the Kansas City Legoland). In spite of our long car ride to Winter Haven, and a five year-old's and 62 year-old's meltdowns, we had a good time. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. 

Tay's favorite thing was watching the "fire department," a performance put on by a crew of six young, acrobatic adults. The antics and comedy were slap-stick - perfect for a five year-old boy.

Aesa watched that show attentively, but told me his favorite activity was riding the big Coastersaurous. He barely made it past the height requirement.

While at our house, Aesa also turned out to be a boccé ball enthusiast, an outdoor activity we enjoyed several times.

After the boys left, and it was a tearful parting, I took my heavy-heart to my sewing room. I began by addressing a problem with my Kaffe Fassett quilt. A few months ago, I pin-basted this 61" X 61" quilt, and had started quilting one of the blocks - the pink block in the lower left corner. (No picture of it quilted.)

With a blue wash-out marker, I had marked a few registration marks that I later spritzed with water, to remove the marks. See what happened? The pink petals fabric bled to the quilt back! I sure don't know what I've done to deserve so much heart-ache with recent marks and bleeding on my quilts!

So my "undoing" was to remove all the quilting I'd put in, and un-pinbaste the whole thing. 

Next I'll be washing the quilt top - it's apparent that the fabric in these blocks (won in a giveaway) were not pre-washed, something I always do. Then, I'll give sandwiching another go, including using a new backing fabric. (sigh)

Other Odds and Ends
I finished my bias tape challenge quilt, including making a label.

This quilt, and "Ad Libbing," have both been officially entered into QuiltCon (February, 2015). The quilt show entry deadline is November 30. Whether these will be accepted into the show or not remains to be seen. In any case, full reveals of both quilts are yet to come.

I've begun making a pin cushion for the December 8 swap at our CentralFloridaMQG meeting.

I also made another Christmas stocking, like these made these in late 2012 when our son and his family still lived in Florida. This past January they became a family of four.

Thank goodness I wrote a blog post about making them, as I needed to reference it to make a stocking like the others! Unfortunately, the free download of the stocking template is no longer available, but I was pleased to find my print-out in my big notebook of Miscellaneous saved freebies. Whew.

What I didn't note is the font I'd used to create the names, so I had to go through about 12,000 of them on my MacBook Pro to find the one that matched. It's Tekton Pro font. LJ's stocking fits nicely into the family.

After a thorough Pinterest search of English paper piecing projects, I've selected a couple designs for away-from-home sewing in the months ahead. I always print and cut my own papers, so prep time is a little more involved. But, I'd like to think I'm being frugal, a German trait that comes naturally to me. I'm using my Sew Together bag for carrying and storing everything. 

Have you seen the EPP Millefiore Quilt Along that's coming up in January? The along is based on Katja Marek's new book The New HexagonIf you love EPP as I do, you'll want to follow her on Instagram to learn more. Linda

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not Quilting

Well, my bias tape challenge quilt isn't done yet. This is all the further I managed to get on it before grandsons arrived for eight nights - drawing lines around the perimeter to square it up in anticipation of sewing binding to the quilt.

Tay and Aesa are now here from Kansas City. We picked them up in Orlando while their mom attends a conference, and have been finding things to do.

Being full time grandparents is way outside the norm for us. "Demanding" is the word that describes our week. Keeping five and four year-old brothers occupied, separated, and making sure there's complete equality in everything - who gets dressed first; who gets the orange or blue whatever - has been challenging. Who would guess that an argument would ensue over who gets to ride, facing backward, on the four-seater golf cart?! Suffice it to say that I have forgotten (intentionally) how parenting is a full time job.

As we've been finding things to do, one particularly pleasant outing was to Silver Springs in Ocala. I had been there as a child, probably 55 years ago, and still remember it. The place was really something in its heyday. Now it's Silver Springs State Park

Once upon a time it was a bustling tourist attraction. When we were there, about twenty cars were parked in the huge lot meant to hold hundreds of vehicles. This entrance used to queue up long lines of people at five ticket booths. 

Still, it's a beautiful place with huge cypress trees dripping Spanish moss, wildlife, and those iconic glass-bottom boats. The same boats that were built in 1962 are still taking visitors along the Silver River and over the pristine springs. 

Wandering around after our boat ride, we noted empty buildings, pavilions, and shops. It made us feel a little sad to see the changes - the faded grandeur. We concluded that natural beauty just doesn't have the attraction it once did. And we're sure that has impacted Ocala, and all the nearby mom-and-pop motels that are no longer in business.

Anyway, we're finding things to do with the little boys, though we can't decide if we're doing a good job of wearing them out, or visa versa!

Two days before the boys arrived, we had our guest room ceiling painted. I saw this ceiling-painting idea on Houzz, a wonderful resource for home decorating ideas, and immediately loved the idea. The Sherwin-Williams paint color is "Belize," and I couldn't be happier with it.

The empty wall above the bed is for my waiting-to-be-quilted English paper-pieced "Flower Ball" quilt. The piece is appliquéd on a Kona Azure background that nearly matches the ceiling color, so I know it will look great.

I broke down and bought a new rotary mat after noticing that my rotary blade seemed dull until I happened to cut some fabric on a newer mat. The rotary blade was just fine! So, after more than 20 years use, it turns out the old mat was just plain "mushy." Besides, the old Olfa mat was only 23" X 35"; my new Omnigrid mat is 24" X 36". 
Left: new Omnigrid mat; Right: old Olfa mat
Online shopping turned up the best deal through, surprisingly, The mat was only $31, so with a $2.99 coupon for shipping, it turned out to be quite a bargain. While I was at it, and the deal on shipping was too good to pass up, I also bought a 6-1/2" X 24" Olfa rotary ruler, and a June Tailor Quilter's Cut and Press 1. Yep, I'd worn out those tools too. After a couple decades of quiltmaking, that happens. Do you know how long it's been since you bought your basic quiltmaking tools? Linda

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quilting and quilting

Last Friday was the annual fall open house for the Lifelong Learning College where adults of all ages can take classes to learn about pretty much anything imaginable - dancing, fencing, green-smoothie making, cooking, clay pot throwing, meditation, yoga, etc. The LLC slogan is: "No Tests. No Grades. No Pressure. Just Fun!"

The five-hour outdoor event was at the Spanish Springs town center, one of three town centers in The Villages. Instructors who participated sat at a table to talk to people about classes they'll be giving from January through June, 2015. With 257 instructors, more than 1,800 classes, and 90,000 catalogs printed for distribution, it's a big event! These people were lined-up, ready to register!

The morning was a mild, and I had a prime location in a sunny spot. The hours flew by as I talked to people interested in quilting, and former students interested in my new class to make a quilt using the Quick Curve Ruler. (To see all quilting classes, click the "Teaching and Presenting" tab above.) 

At home I've been practicing what I teach - Free Motion Quilting. FMQ is all that's been happening, and whoo-ee, I finished quilting the QuiltCon bias tape challenge quilt! That didn't happen without quite a bit of angst! 

The grease spots left by my walking foot sure gave me a few sleepless nights! But thanks to hexagon cover-ups, and a considerate friend, Diane, all traces are gone. Diane sat down next to me at Tuesday night's Quilting Guild of The Villages meeting, put this bottle in my hand, and related her near-miraculous stain removal story.  

When I got home, I dripped the clear liquid on two grease spots. In the morning, I dripped S-32 on the spots again. And then, later in the day... several times, ending with a very light rub. Would you believe that all evidence of grease is gone! This product is made by Gator Chemical Company of Largo, Florida. It's sold at Publix. Who would have guessed?!

Now the quilt needs a good rinse because of the spot cleaner, and blue wash-out marker marks. I'll give it special handling because of it's double-batt - poly and wool. Wool can be somewhat "shreddy," so to rinse this in the machine and keep the wool from fluffing everywhere, I folded the quilt backing to the front and hand-basted the edges.  

When the quilt is rinsed, spun, and dryer-tumbled for a few minutes, I'll lay it on the tile floor to block it. That involves a tape measurer, laser pointer, masking tape, and air drying for a couple days. Then I'll draw a straight edge guide around the quilt perimeter for sewing binding to the quilt.

It would be great to get that far along before our two Kansas City grandsons - Tay and Aesa - arrive this Sunday.

We're more than excited about taking care of them until next Friday, while their mom attends a conference in Orlando. We've rented a four-seater golf cart so we can go everywhere, and do everything, together. So many possible activities!

Earlier this week we received this photo. The family has a framed glass hanging on the wall onto which they write (it's erasable) "the darnedest things" their kids say. This one made us laugh out loud. We're wondering if Aesa will have the same mealtime expectations while he's at our house!

This picture was also sent to us this week. In Texas, our ten month-old grandson, showed his mom, "I can sleep anywhere." Too adorable. I just want to buss his cheek. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Retreating Means Lots of Sewing

Last Wednesday, Thursday, and part of Friday, I went on my second quilt retreat since moving to Florida. About 25 quilters from Bradenton Quilters (a chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages), went to Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, where we sewed in the Education Building, and slept in the Evergreen "hotel."

It was a lovely venue for a retreat! This is the view from our sewing room.

I'm still impressed whenever I see sand hill cranes, who are always in pairs. Though they look moderately-sized, they're really quite large... like five to six feet tall.

On Friday morning, my friend Karen (also formerly from Iowa) and I were were the first to arrive in the sewing room (we were also the last to go to bed each night), and blessed by this glorious sunrise.

Being late go-to-bed-ers, and early risers, we managed a lot of sewing. Heavenly.

The first order of business was obligation sewing. These are the October and November bee blocks for Anne and Elizabeth (foundation paper-pieced Pineapple Block) in our Mid-Century Modern Bee. And because my Australia friend, Jeanette, is celebrating a birthday in November and asked for blocks from her friends, I obliged. I hope she likes the FPP Palm block made in my favorite colors.

My big accomplishment at retreat was turning this pile of cut fabrics...
into this quilt top.

"Urban Abacus" is a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful, made using the Quick Curve Ruler. Students who enroll in my next Beyond First Time Quiltmaking class (see teaching schedule in above tab) can make this pattern, or one of two other options. 

While I love a pretty fabric collection, I've never been one to use only one collection in my quilts. I used several prints from the Terra Australis collection (Ella Blue Fabrics, by Emma Jean Jansen) and also some random prints from my stash. I had to include that print with oranges. It says, "Florida."

I also finished sewing 336 string diamonds needed for the "Picket Fence" quilt by Elsie Campbell that's for our king-sized bed. This project has been in limbo for about four years now, so it feels good to have finally finished stringing diamonds. 

Strings came from this bin, which remains so full, the lid doesn't fit! 

So, instead of sewing during last Saturday's Central Florida MQG Sew-In, I spent seven hours cutting strips into one-inch strips that I'll sew together to make a "yarn" ball for another crocheted rug. I can't tell you how good it feels to be getting these strings under control!

And, in an update about the grease on my QuiltCon Bias Tape Challenge quilt... these are the before and after pictures.
before treatment
After treatment with Zout, Dawn, and Grandma's Secret Spot Remover, the quilt looked like this. I also tested lighter fluid and bleach on another grease-marked piece of white Kona, just to see if they worked. This was as good as it got. Better, but not acceptable.

So, during retreat when brainstorming with Karen about possible fixes, she suggested an appliquéd hexagon. I ran with the idea, deciding to make the hexagon shape with bias tape. I cut a plastic template using the 4-1/2" size of the Hex N More ruler. The bias tape is hand-appliquéd and machine-quilted. I'll do this several more times, so it looks like those hexagons were planned all along.

Now it's back to machine quilting with a vengeance. I have a deadline to meet, and before then we're taking care of two grandsons for a week. 'Nuf said! Linda

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quilting Problems

Last week I started quilting my bias tape challenge quilt. Now I've made a mess of it, and I've been stewing about what to do.

What happened is that I began quilting, outlining the basic shapes with straight-line quilting to get everything stabilized. At first I used my free motion foot to quilt, but then decided I would have prettier stitches if I used my walking foot. That's when disaster happened.

Recently, my walking foot and machine were serviced to figure out why the foot wouldn't "walk." The tech figured out that the top pressure wasn't tightened down. I suspect the walking foot itself was oiled/greased.

So as I was quilting, twisting the quilt to make a turn, it bunched under the back of the walking foot smearing grease on the white Kona. By the time I realized it, the damage was done. Since then I have thoroughly wiped out the bottom inside of the walking foot.

From a distance, the grease doesn't look so bad, but a judge would certainly see it - if this quilt even gets into a show! The red arrows are pointing at them.

I've tried all sorts of things to remove the marks, testing on the edge of the quilt top where there's also a grease smear. I've used Zout, Dawn dishwashing liquid, lighter fluid, and bleach. I'm hesitant to do anything more. What makes removal even more difficult is that the quilt is already quilted, so I can't just spot-clean the quilt top.

You can guess that I've been very upset - even sleepless - because of this. What's worse is that it isn't the first time I've had a problem when attempting to make a show quilt! My first experience was marking a quilt design using a Sharpie to draw on Glad Press and Seal, and last year I had a problem with FriXion pens - which I no longer use to mark quilting designs. You'd think I'd learn to be more careful.

Because I've been off quilting, recovering from my procedure, I've been thinking about my options. This might be a possibility - a cover-up with more newsprint bias tape. But honestly, I don't like how it changes the overall design.

Is there an ink or paint that would cover it up. Maybe a dense quilting design?

Often, I tell my beginner quiltmaking students that if they make a mistake or encounter a problem, they should look at it as an opportunity to make the quilt even better. I need to heed my own advice, especially since I like how the rest of the quilt is looking. Linda


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