Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Small World

A blog post about this quilt finish is about three weeks overdue. Though I completed the quilt in January, the weather has prevented me from photographing it as I wanted. We've had rain, cold (in the 40s which is cold for Florida), and strong winds. The weather of late, is the kind that makes it much nicer to be indoors in a sunny room.

This is "My Small World - The Villages." It measures 33" X 52" and is the sort of quilt that makes one pause to look at the details.

That's one reason why it now hangs in the entryway of our house. If nothing else, it's sure to be a conversation-starter when we have guests.

Everyone who makes My Small World, a design by Australian quilter Jen Kingwell, interprets it as they choose. I've seen a lovely variety of finishes with these being favorites: Di's "I Spy"; and Cindy's "A Day at Disneyland." You need only to look at the Instagram hashtag #mysmallworld or #mysmallworldqal (quilt-a-long) and a beautiful range of interpretations can be seen.

My Small World includes regular piecing, as well as hand appliqué, English paper-piecing (there's a "hill" of hexagons), and foundation paper-piecing.

Most of the approximately 550 neutral sky squares finish at 1" X 1". I really enjoyed that I didn't need to buy a single piece of fabric to make this quilt. I even had a backing fabric in my stash. (What does that say about my stash?!)

Specific to My Small World, I wanted to use colors (brights), prints (palms, oranges, fish, sand, beach chairs, flamingos), and designs that reflect Florida and The Villages. In place of embroideries for the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Sydney Opera House, I embroidered the local Sumter Landing lighthouse, a palm, and a golf cart. Hence my reason for photographing the quilt on our golf cart.

"The Sunshine State" and "Flip Flops," are among some of the words in the quilt. You will also find a "blah" and "Delight yourself in the Lord."

I like this photo because of the shadow I made on the quilt. You can see I use a point-and-shoot camera.

To put the quilt together, I used Quilter's Dream Poly batting, and quilted two designs - a cloud-like free-hand formation for the sky, and cross-hatch in the lower "land" areas - simple quilting that doesn't distract from the busyness of the prints.

When this quilt popped up on Instagram last June, I jumped into the quilt-along. Though it's taken me six months to finish it, and many quilters have finished theirs ahead of me, other quilters are still working on theirs.

Now the original Quiltmania magazine pattern (with its many mistakes!) is out-of-print, and has been turned into a regular pattern... just in case you'd like to make Your Small World in fabric. Linda

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What's Happenin'

When I'm teaching, the time really gets away from me. On Monday I taught week four of five lessons with 21 first time quilt makers. They learned how to bind a quilt.

On Saturday I led an all day free motion quilting workshop. Fifteen students learned about batting, threads, quilting needles, and straight line and free motion quilting.

As for my own quilting activities...

I've been quilting these fat quarter-sized samples of what can be done with backing fabric that has a distinctive pattern. Quilters who use such a print will need to make the quilt sandwich upside down (quilt top face down on the table, batting, then backing), but how nice to just follow the fabric pattern to get an all over design on the front.

This backing is bubbles, and makes a pretty design on the quilt front.

Love this "Drawn" fabric by Angela Walters for Robert Kaufman. She calls her wide-back fabric designs "training wheels" for quilters. This one quilts lovely feathers. I showed these samples to Saturday's class, suggesting such fabrics as an option for practicing FMQ.

After running out of beige and green solid fabrics in December, I ordered more and was able to return to this Mini Trees quilt, a free project from SewKindofWonderful using their new mini quick curve ruler.  It was a fast project to sew together. 

Now my 36" X 47" top is pin-basted and ready to quilt. Note the green batting? That's Quilter's Dream select loft batting made from recycled plastic bottles. A 46" X 60" batt was only $8.95, so I thought I'd give it a try. 

Our Hogan is doing great! He visited the vet last week and after Dan and I told her about his dry cough, his nearly incessant paw-licking, and showed her a couple pink-looking spots on his tummy, we agreed that he should be on steroids again. Once he started them, within two days he stopped coughing and licking.

He's acting like he feels good, though being 12-1/2 years old, he sleeps a lot. The sarcoma is still there though, in the muscles on his right front chest. It will inevitably return as a small, then larger, visible lump. We're hoping that's months away. In the meantime we're treating him like a king. For the first time, he ate green beans (from the farmer's market, and steamed) and loved them. He also likes popcorn fresh from the popper (unsalted), braunschweiger, and peanut butter, and I've been baking "cookies" for him that he practically salivates over. We know we've created "a monster," but we consider him a much-loved and deserving one.

In January, using a Blog2Print coupon, I prepared and had printed my 2014 and 2015 blog posts: FlourishingPalms Volumes 6 and 7. I'm pleased with how they turned out.

Though these books are fairly expensive, I'm glad I can save the thousands of words I've written, and hundreds of pictures I've taken over the past seven years.

Three upcoming medical appointments are on my mind, and make me grateful that I unintentionally scheduled a teaching break from February 9-29. During that period, I'll have two tests and a procedure. While I've been feeling anxious, I've been trying to focus on the "light." The Holy Spirit led me to this verse from Psalm 112:4:
Even in the darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous woman. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I feel like I've been waiting months to write a blog post about making a tuffet, and it's probably because I have! Tuffet-making took much longer than I thought it would. It's another of those projects, like making a Weekender Travel Bag (which I have yet to do, but is on my 2016 to-do list) that isn't for the faint-hearted.

What I learned is that making a tuffet can be expensive! If you visit the TuffetSource website, you'll quickly find out how easy it is to spend more than $100 on supplies.

My tuffet ended up costing less than $60 - a bargain!

The pattern was $15. I also bought:

  • muslin - the foundation for string-piecing the eight sections
  • two, 18" squares of 3"-thick foam
  • upholstery batting
  • decorative tacks
  • upholstery thread
  • a covered button
Those items totaled $57.64

It's what I received for free that made my tuffet possible... shared by a friend in Boerne, Texas. We arranged to visit these friends twice last year, and it was fun to see where Greg spends his retirement time - in a huge, wonderful shop, adjacent to their home. Greg's shop is as important to him as my sewing room is to me.

Greg cut an 18" diameter round board from a used piece of wood he already had.

He used a jigsaw to make cutting the circle look easy.

After cutting the round board, he sanded the edges, and also sanded the bottom to remove some old paint.

On another trip to Texas in December, he shaped four bun feet, and routed holes for the screws that attach the feet to the 18" base. 

He also provided four tee nuts and hangar bolts to attach the feet to the board, and drilled two holes in the board center through which to thread the button. I doubt I would have made a tuffet if it hadn't been for Greg's supplies, tools, and expertise.

The rest of the work was up to me. In comparison to Greg's efforts, the sewing I did seemed simple!

I cut two 18" foam circles using a Cutco bread knife. The knife worked well, though it's a good thing the edges are hidden under the cover. It's sort of a hack job.

At this point, I painted the bottom of the board and the bun feet with three coats of Behr, "Candlelight White," a paint color I had on hand when I painted a rocker, bench, and wooden stand.

After gluing the foam to the wooden board, I used a staple gun to cover the foam, twice, with thick upholstery batting. 

Then came attaching the outside cover, turning under the edges, and nailing decorative tacks to hold everything in place.

Lastly, the hubs had to help push in on the tuffet center so I could add the button.

The pattern calls for using a long upholstery needle to sew the button on. The needle has to be punched through the foam layers and holes in the wood base, twice, to secure it with thread at the bottom. I wasn't about to spend $8 for a needle I'd use on this one occasion! When I mentioned this to Greg, he fashioned a 17"-long "needle" for me out of some thick wire he had on hand. It worked beautifully! 

I'm indebted to Greg for making my tuffet a reality. He can be sure I won't ever bother him about making a second one!

Now I understand why quilters are getting together to make tuffets at a quilt shop. They can share supplies that they'd otherwise have to invest in to put the whole thing together. And it's always more fun to share a project with a friend.

Just like I did. Linda

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Leaders and Enders

As of yesterday (Monday) I've taught two lessons of another five-lesson First Time Quiltmaking classes through the Lifelong Learning College here in The Villages. I'm happy to say that I have 21 enthusiastic quilters! After teaching this series of lessons 34 times now (Oh my gosh!) if there's one thing I've learned, it's that each class is different. No matter if my "game" is on or not, it's the students who determine the class environment by their attitudes, enthusiasm, and even the questions they ask. I'm happy to say that this group is excited and enthused about learning, so they're making my life easy. It doesn't hurt either that when I say something funny, they giggle in the right places!

In classes, I always share as much as possible from my 30-plus years of quiltmaking knowledge. In this class I've mentioned "leaders and enders" a couple times. If you aren't familiar with the term, leaders and enders are simply a way - while you're working on a project - to, in-between sewing together project pieces, you feed pre-cut scraps into your sewing machine to reduce or completely eliminate the need to clip threads. All credit for this term and method is given to quilter Bonnie Hunter

For several years now, I've been using leaders and enters as I sew other items. That means that no matter what project I'm working on, when I've completed a seam, I feed a pair of 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" fabric scraps (right sides together) into the machine... to "hold" the thread until I'm ready to sew again.

For me, 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares are the optimum size - small and manageable. But I admire and respect those quilters who choose to make their leaders and enders 2-1/2" X 2-1/2" or some other small size. Perhaps I can blame my preference for these small squares on my German heritage and upbringing. I'm being frugal, you know. 

In this photo you can see my sewing progression. I begin with a 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" square. I then sew two of them together to make a pair, or "twosie." Next I sew twosies together to make a "foursie," then two foursies are sewn together to make an "eightsie." Lastly, I sew together two pairs of eightsies to make a 16-patch block. Each completed block measures 4-1/2" X 4-1/2".

I began sewing these leaders and enders on October 24, 2011. I know this because I wrote the date on a small piece of paper and dropped it into my scrap basket. 

I swear that since I began sewing these, the basket has never reduced in fullness! No doubt because I am always cutting my smallest leftover scraps as I go along... continually adding to this basket.

These are the 16-patch blocks I've made, and I have 151 of them sewn right now. The big question is what to do with them! 

I've thought about numerous layouts - sashed, or on point with sashing. But those designs are too traditional and expected. I'm looking for a modern layout... something that's unexpected. Though I haven't hit on it yet, I'm in no hurry. 

I hope that if nothing else, this post serves to point out that even the smallest bits of fabric have value. Make a habit of dicing all your leftover bits from project-cutting, and sew them together as leaders and enders. As my friend Carla says, "It's like making a free quilt!" Linda

Sunday, January 17, 2016


A busy three days are behind me now, and I can honestly say they were a very tiring, but a much-need distraction from the sad news we received last Wednesday.

Thursday evening saw Lora, me, and several other quilter-helper-friends setting up for Quilting Guild of The Villages' biannual MarketPlace event. More than 45 vendors set up in one of the large regional rec centers to sell quilting and sewing-related products. I think I can safely say that it was a well-attended event, even with $10 ($9 with a coupon) admission.

Friday morning found Lora ready to go in her 13' X 16' Dragonfly Quiltworks booth. Her business is normally an Etsy shop. This was the first time Lora had an event booth.

She sold wide-backs, the 108"-wide fabrics designed for backing a quilt without needing to piece seams.

Several of these bolts are from the new "Drawn" collection by quilter-extraordinaire Angela Walters. These fabrics were designed to be quilted, following the "drawn" curves that are printed on it. Great stuff, especially for newer domestic machine quilters. I brought some home to quilt a few samples.

Another fabric that caught my eye was "Abacus" by Alison Glass. The fabric is mean to be colored with fabric markers. Guess what I'm going to be doing... and then sewing a skirt from it.

Jelly Clips, for making small clutch bags, were pretty popular.

As was Blueberry Park fabric - by the bolt or in layer cakes.

Emma Jean Jansen's "60s Scrapbag" was popular too.

Along with Lotta Jansdotter's "Glimma," and Carolyn Friedlander's "Doe."

 Day two found us ready to work, though I think Lora looked more wide-awake than I do!

By the way, that's my "Snowflake Medallion" quilt on the back wall (left), and my "Triangle Tango" quilt on the back right.

When nine of us who are members of the Central Florida Modern Quilt Guild managed to accidentally show up all at once, it called for a meeting! Or, at least an impromptu photo!

It was a good event, and fun for me because I had a chance to reconnect with many local quilters who have been in my classes, or who are some of the 22 students currently in First Time Quiltmaking. It was quite timely that the students had their first class last Monday, and are supposed to return to tomorrow's (second) class with their fabrics and rotary-cutting supplies.

Oh! And what a shock to have an Iowa quilter-friend surprise me at the booth! I'm just sorry I didn't think to take a photo. I was so stunned! After more than four years, it was great to see you, Lola Z!

And a Hogan update for you...

Early last week, Hogan looked like this, content to just be outdoors for a while.

Since his surgery follow-up visit to the vet on Friday, he's looking even more like his old self, no longer needing to wear t-shirts to protect his surgery site. He has the okay to gradually lengthen his walks, jump to get on his favorite bench in my sewing room... 

... and go for a golf cart ride. We're happy to again see his tail wagging vigorously. It makes us realize how sick he was with that skin infection and bronchial issues.

Now, it's difficult to imagine cancer growing inside his healthy-looking body. I am praying it's v-e-r-y slow-growing. Linda


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