Wednesday, July 20, 2016

UFO Action

After photographing that stack of UFOs in the closet, and feeling a general lack of direction about what to work on next, I decided to itemize those UFOs to actually get a handle on them. The list wasn't quite as long as I had imagined, though 13 unfinished items is still plenty for my preference. So, I took action.

It doesn't take nearly as long to sew clothes as it does to make quilts, so several already cut-out garments were the first to be tackled. This finish is another size 2 pillowcase dress that I'll donate to Dress A Girl Around the World. The main fabric is a sale piece from Hobby Lobby - I'm always cognizant of choosing a dark print so it's less see-through - and the other three prints are from my stash. Hopefully the mermaids on the pockets will make a little girl smile.

I got out the serger to make these shorts from a Simplicity pattern. There's a back zipper; no pockets. But they fit!

And as long as the serger was set up, I put together this Monique dress by Serendipity Studio. I don't like admitting that I bought the pattern (at the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Lakeland, Florida) and cut out the dress about three years ago. I really like the fabrics together - the main floral print is an Amy Butler fabric - though when I was choosing them, and the decorative ribbon to sew to the waistband, I remember feeling apprehensive about the combination. As I was sewing, I wondered if the size I'd cut out would still fit.  What a relief that it all came together!

Two quilt tops are awaiting quilting, so I put together a backing for a 58" X 68" quilt that I'll probably donate to Project Linus. In the past, I've used this US map with state-capitols (purchased from Wal-Mart back in my Iowa years) to back kids' quilts, imagining a child learning from it. This is the last panel US panel I have. A good stash-busting backing.

That 58" X 68" quilt top has been pieced for at least three years - made with scrappy loaves that my Iowa Stitchin' Mission friends will remember. It's now sandwiched, pin-basted, and ready for quilting. Soon. 

I've again returned to coloring this Alison Glass fabric. This will be one tier of a two-tiered skirt for me.

This BAM-BOM quilt top will be finished yet this week. It's a block-of-the-month from the Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild. The atypical block layout was decided when I took Lee Heinrich's "Alternate Grid" workshop.

So, I've ticked off three of the 13 UFOs and made good progress on a few more. If that isn't self-motivated UFO action, I don't know what is. Linda

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Some summertime indifference has crept into my sewing room, and there's no accounting for it! Should I blame it on heat from the excessive string of 95+ degree days? Or the frustration and self-recrimination for not being a quilter with designing skills?

This is the state of the project that was last on the design wall. I can't even look at a picture of these blocks without feeling inept.

And look at my UFO pile! I've always thought my UFOs aren't too out of hand, and that I always finish everything, but this looks pretty deep. A few of these are touched now and then, but maybe I'm kidding myself that I'll ever get them all done. Right now, the more UFOs I think I need to finish, the less I want to work on them.

But, I have to remind myself that I am doing things. For example, here's the quilt top that seven of us from the Central Florida MQG put together. We're making the quilt for a family whose loved one was killed at the Pulse nightclub (#QuiltsforPulse on Instagram). Each of us made six heart blocks following this tutorial. I sewed them into a 60" X 70" quilt top. Kelly will quilt it and Frances will add binding. A neighbor and I anticipate delivering this quilt to the Orlando MQG that is collecting and distributing quilts.

I've also been helping with our Central Florida MQG's 2017 QuiltCon East Charity Quilt Challenge quilt. My neighbor, Becky, is the project manager, but I've given the demos and written the blog posts with tutorials about how we're making our improv quilt.

I'm very slowly quilting my "Building Fun" quilt. My new Janome 1600P is wonderful!

I know for a fact that indifference hits every quilter now and again, so I can only hope it will soon pass. To push myself, I plan to join Debbie for her Crosscut Quilt-Along. Maybe that will kick start a renewed excitement about, and enthusiasm for quilting... or just add another UFO to the pile. (sigh) Linda

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Finished: Make it Easier

In early June I finished this "Make it Easier" quilt. It is my own quilt design, meant to teach new quilters methods for making different quilt blocks. I had originally designed a quilt with more blocks, and therefore more labor intensive, but students in classes at the Lifelong Learning College gave me feedback that they wanted to make something with fewer techniques. Hence, "Make it Easier" was designed.

It finishes at 52" X 58", and it does a nice job of providing opportunities to make blocks using different techniques. And all that negative space is an invitation for different FMQ designs.

Batting is double. It's Quilter's Dream - a layer of Request loft poly with a layer of wool on top. Quilting is with Aurifil 50-weight thread. I started quilting with orange thread to do the ruler work arrows. Those are inspired by KathleenQuilts longarm designs. If you need quilting ideas, be sure to follow her blog as she provides lots of inspiration and design ideas for doing what she does so well on an APQS machine. I'm still trying to emulate the look of longarm quilting.

Those circles that look like "drops" on the points of the green and orange chevrons were also inspired by Kathleen's work. 

I'm tickled that I was able to meet-up with Kathleen when I attended QuiltCon 2015 in Austin. We agreed to meet at a particular time in front of my "Shapes" quilt, my bias tape challenge entry. Kathleen is a fun and funky Canadian gal with loads of talent. I admire what she can do, and being so young too! She'll be teaching at QuiltCon 2017.

I also used this quilt as an opportunity to show how four different fabrics can be used for binding on each of the four sides of the quilt. It's the method I've named "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine."

MQG members can register to watch my September 29 webinar on this technique, but if you're not an MQG member, you can check out this method on my 2009 No Tails Binding tutorial. After the webinar, I'll be updating that tutorial.

I'm happy with how "Make it Easier" turned out. Especially since I started quilting it on my Pfaff Grand Quilter with all its problems with skipped stitches and broken threads. (Turns out the problem wasn't with the machine, but rather the foot! Happily though, I was able to sell the Pfaff when I learned there was nothing wrong with it!) I finished quilting this on my new Janome 1600P.

 All's well that ends well. Linda

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Grandsons Visit

Another week has passed and another little wave of company has come and gone.

Can you tell that small children have been in our house? Our son's old Grayskull castle and Masters of the Universe character figures are still a hit, as are some old Bristle Blocks.

We did the usual activities with the grandies, though their favorite is riding the golf cart and going to the pool.

As I did with my sister, I carted them to the Sharon Rose Weichens Preserve.
DIL Lyn and Luke
Not a puff of wind, so I could capture this lovely view of the sky reflected on the water. 

Darn. No alligator sitings, but an inch worm on the move was just as entertaining.

With temps in the 90s, a walk for two doesn't always end that way. 

An impromptu stop at the fire station was a big hit. 

Austin, age 6
Luke, age 2-1/2
The firemen who show the kids the fire truck are always friendly and patient.

I learned that all the fire engines are named after a member of the Morse family that founded The Villages.

It was great having them here, but I also know they were looking forward to their next stop at Disney World.

I turned my sewing room from a bedroom back into a sewing room, I again worked on the quilt I've been designing. I don't like where it's headed, and I'm getting sick of stewing and messing with it. For a while, it will be on the back burner.

Wanting to make progress on something, I pulled out the Building Fun (by Geta Grama) quilt top that just needs borders. It's up next for quilting.

On the home front... now that the bar front has been tiled, and we have some of our new furniture (waiting on the sofa which arrived damaged), and a new rug, that big expanse of white wall is begging to be painted. I keep thinking green is needed, but the hubs doesn't like or want green. Have been thinking of orange, but there are too many options!

I went to the Behr paint website and found a place where I could upload my photo and "paint" the room with different colors. Isn't this a neat feature?! It's definitely helping me narrow my options. Blonde Wood might be a bit intense, and perhaps not orange enough.

It's just as difficult to choose a paint color as it is to pick the right fabrics for a quilt, isn't it? Linda

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sister, Gators, and Tile

My sister, Susan, visited last week. It was so nice to have her here for the first time. A couple people commented to ask if we were sisters. Susan doesn't think we look alike.

We went everywhere in The Villages via golf cart, including the Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve.

Gator on the move!

At Sumter Landing, this gator was right along the boardwalk. He had scared away the turtles.

Dan cooked for us so we could spend time together: toodling around on the golf cart to the pool, play boccé ball, look up some of Susan's friends who attended the same Kansas City church before moving to The Villages, and visit the Eisenhower Rec Center and two of the three squares.

Hogan's doing really well (no visible sign of the return of his soft tissue sarcoma), and has developed the habit of following around anyone who's in the kitchen. 

Why is it that I didn't take more pictures of Susan and me together? I always think of taking pictures when it's time for guests to leave! Sheesh.

The mail brought this unexpected parcel all the way from near Melbourne, Australia! Another Susan, this one my friend who goes by PatchworknPlay, sent "a little joy in your day" gift. Isn't she thoughtful?! The orange tissue holder and pen with flamingos all over it, are made for me. Yes, she knows me well, though the closest we've ever been is Skype visits. Thank you Susan!

And, before the next little wave of company passes through from Texas, we're having this done. Tiling our kitchen bar counter front has been on the to-do list since shoe scuff marks have become unremovable.

We're lovin' the choice we made as the tiles are ceramic, but they look like wood! Gives the whole room a warm and finished feeling, and we're pleased at how nice it looks with our bar stools.

Happy life! Linda

Monday, June 27, 2016


Though last week was a no-blogging week, that doesn't mean I've been in a sewing slump. In fact I've found time to happily play in my sewing room on my new quilting machine. 

That new Janome 1600PQC has already proven it's capabilities as a quilting machine. I returned to quilting on this "Make it Easier" quilt, finishing it last week. 

I designed "Make it Easier" in 2014, specifically for teaching block construction in a Beyond First Time Quiltmaking class at the Lifelong Learning College. The top had been languishing too long, so several months ago I double-batted it (Quilter's Dream request loft poly with Quilter's Dream wool on top), and began quilting it.. That's was the first hint of machine problems on the Pfaff Grand Quilter - skipped stitches and broken threads. So, the quilt is done now, and I'm very pleased with it.

By the way, I sold the Pfaff Grand Quilter to a local friend who's a newer quilter. I didn't give her the feet with it, knowing new feet are needed for successful FMQ. I'm looking forward to seeing some nice quilting from her.

Most of the quilting on "Make it Easier" is with white Aurifil 50-weight, though I used orange thread to emphasize several arrow patterns. I did a lot of quilting with rulers, using FineLine rulers by Accents in Design. I recently purchased a set of concentric circle rulers, called Circles on Quilts Templates by Westalee, that I look forward to playing with.

Four different prints were used to bind the quilt! Usually I don't do that, but this quilt called for it and I thought it would be another way to get a good photos of my favorite No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine method. 

This also gives me an opportunity to mention again that I'm teaching this binding method through the Modern Quilt Guild. If you're a member, then you can attend the free webinar I'll be leading on Thursday, September 29 at 9 Eastern Time. I'd love your support! Register here. 

A full-size picture of the finished "Make it Easier" quilt is coming as soon as I get outdoors to take a decent photo.

On weekends in my sewing room, I've been attempting to design a quilt that's all solid fabrics. I'll admit that designing does not come easily to me... if it even comes to me at all! I had this idea, worked it up in EQ7, pieced the quilt top, and then decided I didn't like it, though it turned out very much like the EQ7 design.

I emailed a picture of the quilt top to my quilty friend Anne Sullivan of PlayCrafts - to whom it seems designing comes really easily (she's moving to Orlando in July, and teaching at QuiltCon East!) - and asked her to give me some suggestions to make it better. Following her idea, I took apart the top, rearranging units of dark medium and light blue, and still didn't like it. Too boring, probably because of the too-limited color palette: three aquas, and yellow.

I've been making a mess as I unsew blocks, sew them together again with accent colors, and then decide I don't like those either! 

This designing stuff isn't easy!

Next I tried some improv piecing with all the bits of fabric I've been unsewing.

They're in a revised version of the first block, but it still didn't make me happy.

This is the latest iteration. Better. Still not sure where this is going... or if it's even going. 

Instead of white on the outside of the block, I've been auditioning other colors.

Goodness. It's no telling where this will end up! Sewing has been only on weekends because last week my sister visited, for the first time, from Kansas City. We had a nice time. And this week our Texas family is coming. I'm looking at company as an enforced breather between frustrating hours of designing!

This past weekend proved rather exciting as at 10 a.m. Saturday registration opened for next February's QuiltCon East in Savannah, Georgia. I was at my computer on the strike of 10, and managed to register for everything I wanted - four-day admission; all-lecture pass; and two workshops: Playing With Solids, and Understanding the Rainbow: A Fresh Look at Color. I got in before the major crash of the whole registration site!

Many modern quilters are waiting for an email from the MQG about when they can try registering again. I feel very fortunate, and so does my friend Di.

QuiltCon East, February 23-26, will be a really big deal on multiple fronts. Not only is the show not too far away from where I live, but dear friend Di Jobbins (SnippetsnScraps, and DarlingDi on Instagram) is coming to the US from Sydney, Australia for the show, and a month-long stay with me! We've been FaceTiming about our plans for her visit here, which will be her first to the US. I'm planning to drive her as many places as possible, before and after QuiltCon, including the AQS quilt show in Daytona Beach March 1-4.

Di, and her friend Di (also a friend) were recently featured in a Vinelines blog post. Team Di deserves this recognition for all their donation/charity sewing, and the post also relates the story of how the Dis and I became friends - when I taught a beginner quilting class in Sydney. Here's a link to one of Di's posts about me teaching there. I looked much younger in 2009!

Anticipating Di's trip to Florida gives me the warm-fuzzies. I have so many friends around the world! It's pretty amazing how our world becomes small when it's shared electronically with quilters. Every one of you who comments, and who I have a chance to reply to, is one of those special friends. Thank you! Linda


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