Thursday, September 25, 2014

Away and Back

Being away from home for a week, on the heels of having company for a week, hasn't left time for sewing, let alone composing a blog post. So this post is mostly about my week in Kansas City, visiting our daughter and her family, and making a one-day trip to Iowa for a family wedding.  

In KC, not only did I get to spend time with my grandchildren, but I spent much of one day with my dear friend, Carla. Did you know we met through our blogs? She's Lollyquiltz. But now, after admiring the be autiful quilts and children's clothes she sews, and getting to know her well, I can't imagine not being friends. No trip to KC is complete without seeing her! 

We went to Modern Maker's a new quilt shop on West 12th Street, on the second floor of an old warehouse. Of course, we found fabrics to buy! I bought voile so I can make a couple tops using Jennifer Paganelli's new Sis Boom tank pattern, Tortola

And I spent time with family. As wonderful as it is to spend time with these two, it's impossible to get a decent picture of them. They're always on the move!

Tay, on the left, will be five years old on Sunday; Aesa will be four years old in November. 

Taking them out and about as I did, on several occasions - for breakfast, to Monkey Business, bowling, McDonalds, and the new Prairiefire Natural History Museum - I learned how frequently people mistake them for twins.

This was the best pose I could get, with the promise I'd take them into the Prairiefire Discovery Center.
L-R: Aesa and Tay

The main reason for my trip to the Midwest was to attend my nephew's September 20 wedding in West Des Moines. However briefly we could be together, this is my family - younger sister and brother, and our dad who's 84, and looking great!

While I was away, my friend and fellow quilt collaborator Lora, texted to say that our quilt, Ad Libbing won first place in the medium-size/duet category at QuiltFest Jacksonville (Florida)! What a marvelous surprise, especially from a show that predominantly displays traditional quilts! 
Ad Libbing, 71" X 71"
The Jacksonville quilt show opens today, Thursday, September 25  and runs through Saturday, the 27th. Lora and I haven't talked about the prize money yet, but I'm pretty sure we're splitting the $300 prize. :-)  Yay us! Linda

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunshine, Rainbows, and Palms

It's been a week since I've posted because we had company for six days. It was tons of fun having two of our closest friends - Jim and Cathy - visit us from Iowa. Our first Iowa house guests!

Because there are so many things to do in The Villages, we were on the go, even renting a second golf cart to get to all our activities. Our comprehensive list of fun included: yoga, tai chi, line dancing, swimming, boccé ball, lunch out, dinner out, and evenings at two of the three squares. It's always good to dance, even if one person doesn't like to dance!
Jim, Dan, Cathy, and me
We've been long-time friends. Dan and Jim met in college in 1973, and Cathy and I got to know each other in about 1984. Here's a throwback picture of us, from 2009, tailgating before a University of Northern Iowa football game. 

While out and about, one evening we came across this stupendous rainbow. The picture doesn't capture the brilliance of it, including the unusually intense indigo color. Really breathtaking.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Sewing-wise, before company came, I was able to make two more skirts to complete six consecutive weeks of "Sunday Skirts" that I posted to Instagram. All of them were from the book "The Essential A-Line."

For my fifth skirt I inserted an off-center selvages panel. I'm still a fan of selvage sewing, and was glad to use up a few more. As with every skirt I've made, this one is lined and has an invisible zipper. I call this skirt "Made in Japan" since several of the selvages say that.

Then, thanks to my friend Emma Jansen, a favorite Australian pattern and fabric designer, I made the sixth skirt - two layers, with bias trimmed edges. Emma had been watching my Instagram feed and asked if I'd like to make a skirt using fabric from her Terra Australis 2 collection. Well, of course!

Emma sent three fabrics, and the best use of her pretty prints was this style. See how the bottom layer of the skirt is sewn to the lining? It made up very nicely, and I just love the fabrics.

In a moment of craftiness, also before company arrived, I re-painted this thrift shop $5 pink (?!) palm to hang on the lanai wall.


I'm still a bit crackers about palms, and can name most of the varieties that are grown in this part of Florida. Sunshine, rainbows, and palms... almost paradise. 

Last Wednesday was the fifth and final class of First Time Quiltmaking lessons for these ladies. It's so rewarding for me to share quilting with those who want to learn, and then see the spark of excitement in their eyes as they realize they can make a quilt.

I'll be teaching Beyond First Time Quiltmaking starting Thursday, September 25. If you're local, I'd love to have you join us! For details, click on the "Schedule" tab above. Linda

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scraps

Attempting to reduce the fullness of my scrap bins, I've been doing lots of rotary cutting. From fabric pieces, I begin by cutting 5" squares. Then, 3" squares, 2-1/2" squares, 1-1/2" squares, and 1" strips. Those sizes have pretty much used up lots of my non-yardage prints. Slow progress.

The 3" squares and 2-1/2" squares are in this old sewing machine drawer. 

I'm making those patches into this block that I saw on Instagram. Victoria, who lives in Scotland and is @sewgoclimbing on IG, is making hers with 6" blocks. Following the photo of her quilt, and using EQ7, I designed my own version with 2" patches. My test block measures 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" unfinished. I love it... and now need only 29 more blocks to make a decent-sized quilt! I'm excited about using up those scraps, though.

From a bin of strings - 1"-wide to 2-1/2"-wide fabric strips I've collected over the years - I made six more 8" blocks to contribute to the donation quilt being made by the Central Florida MQG.

And, I got right on the Mid-Century Modern bee September block for Mary on Lake Pulaski. Mary asked us to make a Union Jack block (8" X 15-1/2" unfinished) following the tutorial by Mollie B. Sparkles. I'll admit that this one got the best of me! Those diagonal quadrants... let's just say I had to make more than one two of them before I got it right. After this, the Union Jack block is officially out of my system!

This quilt top is the second 54" X 60" design I'm offering to students in this fall's (September 25) Beyond First Time Quiltmaking class. I've named the pattern "Make it Easier," because it's a simplified version of the other pattern I'm offering. Lots of negative space that will demand some creative quilting. 

My Flower Ball quilt top is also done at 42" X 42" and is ready for basting and quilting. I finally decided to put the flower ball on a Kona Azure background. So, that means two more quilts need quilting...

...after this one is done. I've made very little progress on Happy Together, and what I've done I don't like. The curves aren't even. I've decided to move on to another block, and will revisit this one later. I sure love the texture that I get with double batting though! This is Quilter's Dream Wool on top of Quilter's Dream Request Poly. I'm quilting with Marathon iridescent thread and that's giving this a lovely sheen.

At the moment, I'm not my usual self. Sunday evening I was bitten by an insect - perhaps a mosquito. I'm having an allergic reaction. You're looking at my right forearm. The bite is oozing now. The hot, red, swollen area is about 4" across, and 6" from elbow to wrist. My skin feels oddly taut, and the itching is driving me crazy. Monday afternoon (Labor Day) I phoned a 24-hour nurse hotline, and am doing as suggested - icing it; putting on a paste of baking soda; elevating my arm; and I've taken some Benadryl. Don't like the pills though as they give me an upset stomach.

I know this will pass, though it has become apparent that my reaction to bites have been getting worse. Apparently, Florida's mosquitos are different than those in Iowa. Diligence about wearing repellent is needed. Did you know that Listerine is a great insect repellent? Just splash original, gold-colored Listerine on yourself. The bugs won't like you, and, you smell pretty good too! I need to take my own advice! Linda

Monday, August 25, 2014

Around the World

Today is my day for the

The hop is only on Mondays.

Last Monday, I was tagged by Debbie at AQuiltersTable for the Around the World blog hop.

The hop is simply an opportunity to learn more about quilter-sewists around the world. Four questions were posed to me.

1. What am I working on? 
Oh dear. Where to begin?! I'm definitely not one of those let's-start-a-project-and-stick-to-it-until-it's-finished person. Never have been, and surely, never will be. So, I walked around my sewing room to take pictures of my current WIPs.

Since starting free motion domestic machine quilting in 1998, quilting has become my thing. Using my largest Fine Line ruler, I've recently begun quilting curved cross-hatches with Marathon iridescent thread - 40-weight on the top, and 60-weight in the bobbin - on this mostly Kaffe Fassett fabric/appliquéd quilt. It's coming along v-e-r-y slowly.

I've cut out my third quilt using the Quick Curve Ruler quilt. I'm making SewKindofWonderful's "Urban Abacus" pattern. This is one of the designs my Beyond First Time Quiltmaking: Curves students can choose from for next March's (yes, 2015!) three-week class.


This dress pattern has been waiting for nearly two years and this past week I finally cut it out. It's my "Amy-Heather-Vanessa" dress because the prints were designed by Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, and Vanessa Christenson. 

Recently I filled out the range of colors and values in my solids stash. Using the bias tape maker, I'm expecting this to turn into my next challenge quilt.

Reading some favorite blogs, I found CrazyMomQuilts tutorial for using up really narrow strips, like 3/4" to 1" wide, to crochet a rug. Lately, whenever I've been cutting fabrics, I turn all the leftover scraps into 2-1/2" squares, 1-1/2" squares, and 1" strips. I'm sewing the strips together, and that ball of "yarn" will be crocheted.

I have that cute, aqua Ikea cart that quilters are going crazy over. I love mine, using it for current projects, rolling it around the room where it's needed. The contents change pretty often.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I don't think my work is much different than those of other modern quilters. Since turning my back on traditional quilts, including batiks and reproduction fabrics, a little more than three years ago, I have loved every moment of putting color, prints, and design elements of modern into my quilts.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I do what I do because I'm compelled! There's something in my character that doesn't allow for idleness. I blame credit my maternal grandmother, Goldie, for being the perfect example of industriousness - the epitome of a good German Lutheran farmer's wife. You'd never see her doing nothing. Even after a long day of feeding chickens, milking cows, cleaning eggs, weeding the garden, canning, cooking, washing and hanging out laundry, et cetera, evenings would find her at her treadle sewing machine likely sewing an apron, or sitting down to braid a rug from feed sacks. I miss my Grandma.
Goldie, on at her 50th wedding anniversary
4. How does my writing/creating process work?
Have you heard that expression, "Squirrel!" from the movie "Up"? I work like that. I'm easily distracted by the latest "squirrel" that scurries across my path. But when I focus, I focus... to the point of excluding everything around me. Laundry? Housework? Cooking? Nah. Once I know the path I'm following to complete a project, I'm all over it.

And revealing all, here's how my sewing room looks when I'm in the middle of several things. Yes, two machines and a serger are in use, almost simultaneously.

On the design wall is another teaching-related quilt and my EPPed Flower Ball quilt. I'm 95 percent sure that Kona Capri solid is what will be the background for the ball. Or is it too dark?

The fabric laying on my ironing table, at the right, became a skirt by Sunday. In the picture below, I'm wearing it - another contrast pleated one from the "Essential A-Line" book. I love this style.

One of my Iowa blog-readers commented that she "missed my smiling face." That's the reason for sharing a picture of the whole of me. I miss my Iowa buds too!

Now I'm happy to tag three more bloggers who I follow and feel I have come to know, even though I haven't met any of them in person.

Leanne blogs at DaisyandJack and lives in Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Australia 
She makes the prettiest modern blocks and quilts - she's in lots of swaps and quilt-alongs - and always has something beautiful to share. And don't you just love saying the name of her city?!

Vreni blogs at Oops-lah and lives in Singapore
She's very talented at quilting, and has a great tutorial for making a neat fabric-covered box.

René blogs at ReneCreates and lives in Orlando, Florida
This girl is on the go. A lot! When she's home, she's always sewing something beautiful for charity or to give to a family member or friend.

Isn't it great how far-flung our quilting friendships are? I still marvel over how technology has changed our lives.... that I can swap Instagram messages with a friend in Australia while in Florida, riding in the golf cart to church! Really amazing, when you think about it.

Be sure to check out Leanne, Vreni, and Renés blogs next Monday, September 1 to see how they answered the Around the World Blog Hop questions. Linda

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Flirty Skirt-ies

I've been on a skirt kick for the past few weeks, and I seem to have turned it into a challenge for myself - a new skirt for church every Sunday.

You saw the first one a few weeks ago. It was the prototype for an a-line skirt made to fit me. I followed instructions in The Essential A-Line book, to make the first one. I've got the fit and length nailed now. 

Week 2 saw me wear this one, which I love! This is a 40 percent-off Art Gallery fabric purchase from the local quilt shop - a bargain skirt!

I'm not usually a pink girl, but the boldness of the print, and those adorable pleats with the contrasting fabric just make me smile.

Week 3 saw me wearing this simple skirt. The fabric is organic, from JoAnn's. I modified the basic design by laying the skirt front and back pieces on the diagonal of the stripe, instead of on a fold. That made for center front and center back seams.

With every skirt, I'm perfecting assembly. I've mastered using the Bernina invisible zipper foot, and it's easy peasy to make a simple polyester lining that I edge with a serger. Why finish the hem when no one's going to see it? I really like the extra security I feel having that lining, and it's much less hot than wearing a full slip.

For Week 4 I'm aiming to make this emerald-color skirt.

If you're on Instagram, take a peek Sunday morning. Linda

P.S. With permission, I'm sharing a picture of the damage done when "someone" in our household forgot he put a can of Coke Zero in the fridge. I was at home in my sewing room when I heard a loud bang that I thought came from the kitchen. Imagine my surprise when I saw this!

The explosion literally blew the top off the pop can. Of course. Who wasn't home when it happened?

We have a perfectly clean freezer now... and floor in front of it. And someone owes me. Big time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Home Dec Sewing

Time has gotten away from me. I can't believe I didn't even post last week! Well, it's not because I was at the pool, or reading a good book (though I often listen to audiobooks while in my sewing room). I've been sewing. Funny how knowing you're going to have company (the first week of September), gets you to sewing those home dec items you've been meaning to make. Like place mats for the kitchen table.

The design I used is a free download called "Lines in the Sand," from Alissa Haight Carlton.

While most of you will tell me I'm crazy to have made white linen place mats - my husband sure didn't hold back his opinion! - I really like how these look on the table. The table top is dark, and the table legs and chairs are white, so it goes together beautifully.

Indeed, I made six of them. Batting is Quilter's Dream Fusion - the first time I've used this fusible batting - and it worked beautifully for this project. Each place mat is straight-line quilted at 3/8" intervals with 50-weight Aurifil, and I used the pretty undulating wave decorative stitch across the horizontal orange piece. The binding is Kona "Curry." Let me tell you, those yards of binding took a while!

To counter concerns about eating spaghetti on the front side of the place mats, we always have the option of turning them over. The tropical print really works in our tropical home.

The other item on my to-do list has been to make the fourth - and last - replacement pillow for our sofa and loveseat. The furniture came with four pillows covered with a brown-beige Tommy Bahama tropical print. To liven up the furniture, I chose orange as my go-to accent color. (See place mats above!)

This design is also by Alissa Haight Carlton. Are you catching onto how much I like her designs, with all those clean lines? This Pillow Pattern is another freebie on her blog.

Again, I used white linen, and also a beige linen. The orange print is Painter's Canvas. I made two of these 20" pillow tops, for the front and back of one pillow, slightly changing the color arrangements.

These required a lot of strip sewing and pressing. Since linen is a little heavier than quilting cotton, I decided to press open seam allowances. Boy, did I ever find it handy to have a Strip Stick

If you're not familiar with a Strip Stick, it's a muslin-covered stick (duh), that's curved on the top, and is an aid for pressing open seam allowances.

I have the 18"-long stick, and it worked a treat for this project.


As I did with the other three 20" pillows I made, this one has an 18" zipper and fabric covered cording around the outside. I like this side the best, because of the pop of green palm fabric.

The back is more subdued.

And here are all four finished pillows together. I definitely like the newest one the best. It's such a classic design. But I'm truly happy to have all four of them finished. Yikes! This really means I made eight pillow tops!

Linda

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