Monday, November 23, 2015

Family Weeks

First, let me say a huge thank you all of you who commented on my last blog post. Gosh, you overwhelmed Lyn, my daughter-in-law and guest-blogger, with your encouraging comments. She emailed to say how nice all the comments were. I know what great friends I have in the blogosphere. Hugs for every one of you!

Second. Today I want to share pictures of our daughter's family. Many of you remember when I visited our first-born grandson in Australia, and have followed these children as they've grown up.

Now our daughter lives in Kansas City. From November 5-18, that's where I was. It's always a good time visiting my grandchildren, and this time I was needed. While dad works in Chicago every week, and mom attended a business conference in Orlando (yes, we swapped states!), I minded the kids. Oh my, but they are changing.

Celina will be 17 years-old in a couple weeks, and her school schedule is such (spent almost entirely on homework) that for the most part, I saw her only coming and going. But, I arrived the day before Aesa, the youngest, turned five years old.

He was a happy birthday boy, and I had the fun of spending his special day with him. I picked him up early from daycare/preschool, and after a lunch out together (he selected a chocolate chip pancake from the menu), we spent the afternoon playing games: Candyland, Connect Four, Battleship, Jenga, and Junior Monopoly. Yes, we had a high 'ole time!

Once I arrived in Kansas City, I didn't waste any time reconnecting with my close friend, Carla. We met through our blogs in about 2010, and hit it off immediately. She recently relocated in the area, so I got to see her lovely new home. Now she lives so close to my daughter that it's even easier for us to get together! Such a lovely, dear, Christian friend.

And wasn't she sweet to make lunch for us?!

Another day we got together to visit Modern Makers. (On Instagram, @KCModernMakers) Elizabeth, the shop owner, has a yummy assortment of fabrics - not just quilting cottons. Knit, double gauze, denim, and chambray are just a few of the fabrics that came home with me. Clothes-sewing is in my future.

I connected with my sister. too We filled up her work lunch hour at Ya Ya's restaurant with lots of family chatter.

On Thursday, I was the scheduled "mystery reader" to my grandson's - Tay - kindergarten class. I made the most of the book I selected by donning a floppy sunhat and sunglasses, and sporting a beach towel.

This book was a fun read not only because it was so appropriate, but because it's written in rhyme, one of my favorite ways to turn a phrase. It's probably meant for a second or third-grade reading level, but it was still a good read.

Note the Kansas City Royals poster in the background. You couldn't miss the Royals hype that was still evident throughout Kansas City, following their Baseball World Series Championship win over the New York Mets. I'm not even a sports fan, but I've been terribly happy for all the Royals fans!

Though I flew to Kansas City, Dan joined me a week later by car, bringing Hogan with him. Hogan and Milson reconnected nicely, though it's evident that our Hogan, who is 12 years old now, is the senior member of this team. He's so laid back compared to Milson who isn't even one year old.

Several sunny, blue skies days made 60-something degrees feel warm. And there were still some pretty colored leaves on the trees too.

This is probably my favorite picture of our visit. Tay and Aesa had fallen asleep on the sofa Sunday afternoon. They were awakened to eat dinner, a scrumptious meal of outdoor smoker-smoked chicken, scalloped corn, and broccoli drizzled with cheese sauce.... and these are the reactions of those boys. Guess they didn't like the menu!

Kindergarten isn't what it used to be when we were young. In fact, kindergarten wasn't even an option when I started school. The school I attended in Ohio didn't offer it! We are quickly learning that what kids are learning in kindergarten now is what we learned in first grade. Nightly homework is a huge part of the curriculum... and it makes us sad. The kids' carefree childhood years have been shortened.

At one time or another, everyone pitched in to help Tay with his homework. Counting by one, twos, and tens are expected. And the reading that's required... well let me just say that his books make "Dick, Jane, and Sally" and "Go, Spot go!" look as easy as pie!

Now that the baseball season is over, our daughter Jill is sporting her allegiance to the Kansas City Chiefs football team.

Maher and Jill love their little Milson, whose favorite place is at the top of the sofa, resting on your shoulders!

Aesa and Hogan
I was also happy to get to see my dad a couple times. One of our visits was at his local McDonald's where he and his "coffee-drinking buddies" still meet every day to solve the problems of the world, and what's happening at their church.

By the last day of my visit, Kansas City was looking pretty gloomy. This weather - overcast, drizzly, and in the 40s - is precisely the kind of fall weather we left behind in Iowa... on purpose!

Apparently it was time to return to Florida.
From "My Grandma Lives in Florida" by Ed Shankman
Yes, it is! Linda

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quilting in the Family

As I alluded in my last blog post, today I'm happily handing over my blog to someone who's very special in my life. She came into our family in 2005 when she married our only son, Brent. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you've already "met" Lyn. I shared her first sewing experience here, right after I'd given her a new-to-her Bernina Artista sewing machine. My investment has proved fruitful as she's already made several items.

Do you remember the fun of learning to sewing? Well, Lyn's enthusiasm is infectious, so be prepared to give in to the urge to head to your sewing machine right after reading this! Linda

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this blog post.  Then I thought, “I’ll just start typing what I am thinking and see what happens!” So there you go. I am Lyn Hungerford (not to be confused with Linda Hungerford, my quilting benefactor, mentor, friend, Mom2, and pretty much the best mother-in-law I could ever ask for in my life) and I am new to all of this. This is my first blog post, my first quilt block, and nearly my first sewing experience. Just this May, after 10 years of being daughter-in-law to the best quilter I know, I sat in front of a sewing machine for the first time ever. I was quite nervous pressing that pedal, but wow, I am addicted. If I only I could find more time to sew (not something that having a five year-old, a highly opinionated two year-old, and an old diabetic dog always allows).  

I agreed to be a guest blogger and create a quilt block for the first time ever, but I was a bit nervous that it would take me weeks to get done! Just goes to show my inexperience, because from the time I chose a block from You Can Quilt! (a gift included in my sewing set up from my mother-in-law), it took me only one two year-old’s afternoon nap time to complete! This post is part of a week-long blog hop hosted by Leila Gardunier and Marlene Oddie the authors of You Can Quilt!

My post is the last in series so feel free to read up on the others if you haven’t already!
Nov. 16th - Lee (
Nov. 17th - AnneMarie (
Nov. 18th - Leanne  (
Nov. 19th - Julie  (
Nov. 20th - Lyn (guest blogger at You are here!

As a newbie to the world of quilting, I highly recommend this book for other beginning sewists. The instructions and tutorials on the basics of quilting/sewing were really helpful. I found myself thinking of a question and then looking for the answer in the book – sure enough, my question was answered every time. I now think I can quilt. I really can do this! I’m not trying to be cheeky by saying that, as I was really concerned I wouldn’t be able to pick this skill up very well (really wanting to not disappoint my mother in law ).

Once I chose the Wonky Nine Patch block, I then went to my fabric stash. While still small, my stash is mighty and I was overwhelmed with options. After much deliberation, I finally settled on my four fabrics. I need a wall hanging for my guest bathroom so the colors are meant to complement my motif in there. I narrowed it down to these. In the end, I left out the yellow even though I love it.  

Time to start cutting! I get lots of anxiety at the cutting phase because that is the one thing I’ve learned that cannot be reversed. I learned it the hard way on a previous placemat project. Now I have one placemat not like the others. That’s normal for us beginners, right? I always take my time with cutting now and am sure to get all of the creases out of the fabric first.

I kept my instructions handy the whole time, reading and re-reading them to ensure I wouldn’t miss a step. They were so easy to follow that it really took me no time at all to get in a groove. After cutting out my four blocks, I went on with more cutting. Yikes! But it really was very easy and with wonky blocks, I felt so much less pressure to be perfect. Love that! I think “wonky” is my favorite!!

Now the fun part for me – sewing!! I have been so lucky to have the best machine for being such a beginner. And I have a foot designed to keep me at ¼” seams (Bernina #57), precisely what the instructions called for in the book. I will say I still need some practice in pressing my seams. The book has a great tutorial on that as well and I really understand how very important it is when putting all of these small pieces together.

Another thing I’ve gotten very good at it seam ripping. Unfortunately, that is something I wish I wasn’t good at, but you can see in the picture above the pile of evidence of stitches gone wrong. Usually I’m not paying enough attention and sew a square on the wrong way. Oops. And ugh! I hate, hate, hate wasting good thread, and fabric too for that matter. It's one of the things that really gets my goat as a beginner and I really wish I could save myself from myself sometimes! 

In the end, I finished quickly. Following the directions – sew, press, sew, press. And I am quite pleased with the outcome! After talking with my quilting mentor about binding, I’m thinking a hot pink to finish this off would be awesome! Something I had never considered, but I am so very excited about now!!

(I insisted Lyn include a photo of herself in this post. I promised to post it small.  :-) Linda)
And since I finished so quickly, I decided to just keep trying other blocks from You Can Quilt! I will soon have all quilt tops and no finished quilts. But that’s pretty normal too, right?!

I decided to get a jump on some Christmas decorations and followed the Wonky Log Cabin tutorial to make some really fun 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" (unfinished) blocks with leftover Christmas fabric. 

Before I discovered this block, I was so sad when I had only scraps left of my favorite fabrics. Now – I have a true calling. I love this scrappy, wonky block and had a wonderfully therapeutic time making it. No more remorse from only having scraps!  I just kept sewing and cutting and then sewing and pressing. So much fun!!

The giveaway associated this this post is closed.  Happy sewing! That's what I plan to do more of! Lyn

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rainbow Swirl Finish

Rainbow Swirl is another instance of me seeing a quilt on Instagram, and going to EQ7 to recreate it for myself. The designer is Sedef of DownGrapeVineLane who gave me permission to make and share it, with credit to her.

I'm pretty sure she made hers with smaller squares than I did. I cut 4" squares to sew half-square triangles for 3" X 3" finished squares. With the 3"-wide white border, this quilt finishes at 36" X 36".

My version is made with a scrappy assortment of favorite fabrics. Sedef made hers from a collection. I've never been a "collection" sort of quilter. In fact, I don't think I've ever made a quilt using just one collection. In my opinion, quilts made from one fabric collection are over-coordinated. There's no out-of-place fabric that gives the quilt an eye-catching spark.

Quilts made with a variety of fabrics from a variety of designers, make for an interesting and even historical document about fabric trends. Someday some knowledgeable quilter will look at this quilt and remark, "Oh, that's a quilt from the teens. Don't you remember when collections by Emma Jean Jansen, Amanda Jean Murphy, Lizzy House, Joel Dewberry, Alison Glass, Tula Pink, Pat Bravo, Anna Marie Horner, Lora Holt, Brigitte Heiland, Carrie Bloomston, Amanda Herring, and.... were popular?" Yep, all those designers' fabrics are in this little quilt!

I quilted "Rainbow Swirl" on my Pfaff Grand Quilter, the one with the new throat plate cover. I'm happy to say that I no longer have a thread breaking issue. It was definitely burrs in the throat plate  hole that were causing all the problems.

For the quilting, I first stitched curves, across from each other, using a Fine Line ruler. Then, I eyeballed an echoing curve outside those. In the space between the curves I added a wavy design. As always, once I finally decided what I wanted to quilt, the doing of it went quickly.

Since I made too many half-square triangles - intentionally, so I would have enough to play with color arrangement on the front - I worked the extra HSTs into the back. Because I do this with all my quilts - use leftover blocks in the back - I seldom have orphan blocks to deal with.

The quilting shows up nicely on the back. Batting is Quilter's Dream Request Poly. I am, I confess, a Quilter's Dream batting snob. I think it's the best quality brand.

Binding is bias cut from a striped fabric so I could get the candy cane effect I like so well. That prettily mitered corner is machine-sewn. (If you aren't familiar with this binding method, see my tutorial here.) Quilting thread is YLI silver-colored polished polyester - some of the $300 worth of YLI thread I won when one of my small quilts took second place at the Machine Quilter's Expo in 2012.

I am notorious for seeing a quilt I want to make and then dumping everything to make it right now. But gosh, I like this one.

You'll want to make a note to visit my blog on Friday, November 20. Not only will I have a very special guest blogger - someone who's very dear to my heart - but I'll have a giveaway. And don't we all like those?! Linda

Friday, November 6, 2015

10 Tips for Spiral Quilting Success

After sharing my Scrap Vortex quilt and mentioning that I spiral-quilted it, a few people expressed interest in learning more about spiral quilting, so today's post is about that.

I'll admit that before spiral quilting for myself my thought was, "How hard can it be?" Well, it was trickier than I expect, so I'll give you the advantage of my experiences and share a few tips.

Tip 1: Approach spiral quilting with a positive attitude. No matter what size project you're quilting, expect that quilting will be v-e-r-y slow-going. At first, it will be!

Tip 2: Expect that your shoulders will get a little workout. All the cramming, shoving and quilt repositioning - especially for a large quilt - might give you enough of a workout that you'll it feel later! My arms ached a little and I'm in pretty good shape.

Tip 3: The walking foot you choose to use makes a difference! Here you see two walking feet. On the left is the foot for my Pfaff Grand Quilter; on the right is the foot for my Bernina 440. Notice that the widths of each foot are different? I intentionally chose to quilt on my Bernina so I could use the wider foot as a guide for the distance between spirals.

Tip 4: If your walking foot has the option of different feet, choose the open-toe foot for better visibility as you're quilting.

Tip 5: If your walking foot has a repositionable guide bar, use it. The guide is the best way to ensure consistent spacing. Since I spiral-quilted in a clockwise direction, I positioned the guide to the left of the walking foot. Conversely, if you plan to quilt in a counter-clockwise direction, use a guide bar on the right side of the walking foot.

For the quilting example that follows, I set the distance between spirals at 3/4".

Tip 6: A machine adjustment you might like to make is to the pressure put on the quilt sandwich. On my Bernina, the dial at the end of the machine controls pressure. I turned the dial downward to increase pressure to help control bobbled stitches that sometime occur between stops and starts.

On older sewing machines, the pressure adjustment can usually be made by "dialing down" the silver screw-like knob on top of the machine, above the presser foot area. Whatever you do, don't forget to return the pressure back to normal when you're finished quilting.

Tip 7: My Bernina's default stitch length is 2.4. For quilting, I like to set it at 2.6. I can't suggest a length for your machine, as each brand is set differently, but I definitely prefer to have a slightly longer stitch length than what I use for piecing.

Tip 8: Use the "needle down" option on your machine. When you're repositioning the quilt, like you need to do about a ga-jillion times, it helps that the needle stays in place.

Find the middle of your quilt, and draw around a circle. I used a quarter as my center, but you should choose a circle size that's in proportion to the amount of quilting that will cover the piece. For my 88" X 92" Spiral Vortex quilt, I started with a two-inch diameter circle.

Trace the circle with a blue wash-out marker, or disappearing ink pen.

Tip 9: I found it extremely helpful to also draw the tail that would lead me out to the 3/4" distance I chose for this piece. I recommend you do the same for whatever spacing you choose for your quilt.

Insert the needle at the point where the circle meets the beginning of the tail you've drawn. In the photo above, I've marked that point with an arrow. Draw the bobbin thread to the top. You're ready to begin quilting.

Stitch. One stitch at a time to quilt the drawn circle in a clockwise direction. Seriously. Take one stitch: up/down. Move the quilt. Take one stitch - up/down. Move the quilt. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This is the S-L-O-W part, and that's the only way to begin to quilt around the circle.

Tip 10: If your sewing machine has a knee lift, use it! You'll develop a sort of rhythm:

Stitch (up/down)
Raise foot
Move quilt
Lower foot
Stitch (up/down).... and so on. Eventually, you'll make it around the drawn circle.

When you've completed the circle, continue following the drawn tail until you reach the desired distance between spirals. Once you've hit that mark with your guide bar, or the side of your walking foot (or, if you prefer, eyeball a space slightly wider than the side of your walking foot, as I have also been known to do), continue quilting one stitch at a time.

Don't rush! Quilting one stitch at a time may seem to go on forever, but remind yourself that the number of stitches you take at one time will eventually increase. In the photo below, I've continued to stitch one stitch at a time.

When I reached this point, I was up to two stitches at a time.

And even while stitching this slowly, and turning the quilt every time, the slightest bobble can be seen just to the left of the guide bar tip.

Expect that perfection is next to impossible. Pretty-darned-good is wonderful! At this point, I'm up to a combination of two stitches (raise foot, adjust quilt, lower foot) and three stitches at a time.

As you continue to stitch, you'll gradually be able to take more stitches at a time, and when you hit four or five stitches at a time, you'll feel good that "the worst is over." Then, by the time you get to the 12th spiral or so, you know you've got it made!

Be aware that eventually your spiral will reach the edge of the quilt. At that point you'll see that the outside corners of the quilt still need quilting. On each of the four corners, keep the distance between each spiral the same and continue to quilt a gentle curve.

Though one spiral on a quilt is impressive, consider the possibilities of a more dramatic effect with several quilted spirals. I plan to pursue this further. How about you? Linda


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