Saturday, December 3, 2016

Some Fun Stuff

With the relief of completing and entering three quilts into QuiltCon (notifications as to whether quilts have been juried into the show are expected around December 30), I've been reenergized to sew. Most of the sewing has been just because; a few items are gifts.

My first "just because" project was to sort through my overfull strips bin to weed out dark and traditional prints, leaving only the mostly white and bright rainbow colors that I love to sew with.

Then I returned to the stack of 45 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" blocks I'd already sewn - for a foundation paper piecing class I taught in October - to make 35 more, for a total of 80 for this quilt. Well, this is potentially the layout for it. Since I have yet to remove papers from the blocks, this has to be taken down from my design wall.  When I put blocks back up again, I might go for a different arrangement. In any case, a rainbow of bright colors sure makes for a happy quilt! 

I recommend making these blocks because they're fun to sew - one of those mindless kind of projects. Just tear pages from a phone book (You do remember what a phone book is, don't you?!) and cut each to 8-1/2" X 8-1/2". I cut a stack of four or so at a time. Then, on each one, draw a diagonal line from one corner to another that's 1/4" away from each point.

Face up, lay a white fabric strip across the diagonal center of the paper with the raw fabric edge along the drawn line. Face down, position a colored (yellow) strip on top of the white strip. Sew a quarter-inch seam. Press open with a wallpaper roller, and proceed to lay white strips on the white side and colored (yellow) strips on the opposite side, until the paper is full. Though my fabric strips appear pretty straight, you certainly don't have to do this! Go for off-kilter, wonky strip-sewing. It will look great!

Trim to 8-1/2" X 8-1/2".  My stack of pieced blocks is pretty impressive, but these sure didn't use up all my strips.

Though I'm donating a trash bag of black, brown, dark green, burgundy, deep purple, navy, and ivory strips, I still have enough strips for another project. Though now, at least the lid closes on the bin.

Thinking of the uses for strips - also known as strings - I remembered the crocheted fabric rug I started a couple years ago. I never finished it because I couldn't think of where I'd use it. But now, no longer having carpeting in our house, there are several places where it would look good.

So, I've begun crocheting again. The rug currently measures 28" X 38", and will continue to grow until I've used up that ball of fabric strings. This rug has been fun to make, and it's so practical. Here's the link to the rug tutorial by one of my favorite scrappy quilters, Amanda Jean - CrazyMomQuilts. Amanda Jean is coming to our Central Florida MQG next October, for a trunk show/presentation and workshop. Though I feel like we're friends already, it will be great to finally meet her in person!

When I'm done with this rug I plan to wash it inside a pillow case, to ease out my unpracticed crochet stitches, and block it to a regular oval shape. I've been told by more than one person that I need to make sure a rubber mat is under the rug or it will slip underfoot. Good advice!

For gifting, I made these two "Retreat Bags" over a couple evenings. A third is in the works, but I need to get one more 16" zipper.

Emmaline Bags out of Canada, offers the Retreat Bag pattern for free, and gives instructions to make two sizes. I decided to go for the smaller size, which is similar to a man's shaving kit, and then purchased the hardware from Emmaline Bags.

These two frames are needed on either side of the opening. I also bought some of the zipper tags that say "handmade." 

I will admit that I had problems making these bags, though through no fault in the instructions or my own abilities. My problem was with the Pellon fusible fleece which absolutely refused to adhere to the fabric/interfaced layers. No amount of ironing, pressing, dry heat, steam, or damp cloth-pressing made that fleece adhere. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that it wasn't sticking until the bag was partially sewn. It took some maneuvering to slip my hand between the lining and fabric/interfacing to squeeze and smear fabric glue across the bag sides. Very inefficient, but it worked. In the future, I'll be sure to check any fleece adherence before proceeding. Ergh.

The last thing I sewed this week was to finish piecing the top for our Central Florida MQG QuiltCon East charity challenge quilt.

I foundation paper-pieced the 10-1/2" beach chair block (the middle size), and after reducing and enlarging the original pattern Cindy made the 6-1/2" (reduced 62%) and 12-1/2" (enlarged 120%) FPPed blocks. This FPP beach chair pattern is free here from Cotton and Steel. 

The MQG charity challenge is to use any or all of eight colors (we used all of them), and the quilt has to be based on the theme "scale." After the quilt appears at QuiltCon, it will be returned to our chapter for us to donate as we wish.

Over the past several months, 15 of our 50 members have contributed to making this 70" X 91" quilt top, either by donating fabric, piecing improv blocks, or designing and sewing at our Sew-Ins. "Paradise Central," the name we've chosen for this quilt, will appear at QuiltCon East in Savannah, Georgia from February 23-26.

Next up: a basting bee to pin-baste the sandwich so Karen and I can domestic machine quilt it! The completed quilt is due in mid-January. 

I'm so looking forward to QuiltCon, not only for the event itself, but because my Sydney, Australia girlfriend, Di (the very talented, and award-winning quilter DarlingDi on Instagram) is coming! She arrives February 10, and boy-o will the fun begin then! Linda

Sunday, November 27, 2016

BAM BOM Finish

Dan and I had a quiet Thanksgiving. It was just the two of us enjoying his talented cooking skills. He made us a 13 pound turkey, so there will be no dearth of leftovers (they're in the freezer). I contributed homemade French bread, and a no-bake pumpkin pie - the one in the graham cracker crust with cream cheese and vanilla pudding. It's a family favorite.

I also sewed a lot between turkey day and today, happily completing two of my three entries into QuiltCon East 2017. After last year's huge disappointment with "Prism" not being juried into QuiltCon 2016, I'm not allowing myself to be hopeful about any of these three quilts being accepted. The competition is quite stiff! I am a little smarter though, understanding now that accepted QuiltCon quilts are most often "original design." Well, all three of mine are original. This is one of them. The other two are entries in the Nine Patch Challenge, and the Michael Miller Luxe Fabric Challenge.

In October I finished my no-name Bay Area Modern Block of the Month. This quilt started as a 2013 block-of-the-month with Central Florida MQG members - though only four of us actually did it!

I took my blocks to an "Alternate Grid" workshop with Lee Heinrich, when she visited our chapter last February. From that class, I came up with the layout. The finished quilt size is 47" x 58".

Quilting designs were figured out as I went along, using some favorite quilting patterns, and designs from books by Angela Walters and Christa Watson.

The backing ended up being a hodgepodge of orphan blocks and fabric chunks. While I love the way it looks, it wasn't easy to quilt! When seams on the front were on top of seams on the back, my machine "chunked" it's way over them.

This is the first block we made in the series, and it's my favorite because of the Florida theme. Unfortunately, because the quilt front blocks are on point, this block worked only on the quilt back.

When I'd finished this quilt, I visited the Bay Area Modern website, and commented about my finish. Their blog editor asked for details and pictures, and ending up writing a post about my finish. So nice!

When I strike up a conversation with a new quilter, and I remark that I make modern quilts, I'm often asked, "What's a modern quilt?" That's when I become frustrated because it's difficult to define modern in tangible terms. Sure, I say, "Modern, clear-colored fabrics; asymmetrical designs; use of negative space; improvisation..." - all the buzz words - but that doesn't usually help their understanding. Then I end up saying, "Do a Google search and you'll find examples."

So when I recently received a newsletter from Make Modern magazine, an Australian digital publication, that provided a link to their modern quilts pattern gallery, I thought, this is where everyone should be looking to see great examples of modern quilts. Enjoy. Linda

Monday, November 21, 2016

Swirly Twirly Dresden

When the Central Florida MQG came up with a member challenge - "Traditional Made Modern" - due at the November 14 meeting, I needed to do something quick and fairly easy. I remembered a foundation paper-pieced design I had bookmarked months ago, and it suited my purposes perfectly - a Dresden Plate design made modern.

It was fun to go through my stack of Blueberry Park fabrics - still a favorite collection - to come up with a rainbow range of colors. The FPP was easy to do, though I stitched beyond the edge of the design, past the perimeter of the circle, so as to make my circle slightly larger. 

After the FPP, I cut a circle from linen fabric to hand-appliqué to the center, on top of the FPP. Then I cut a circle from a large square of background linen to lay on top of the FPP for reverse appliqué. Because I left some extra seam allowance, I could turn back the outer circle to the size I needed, hand-appliqué it, and turn the piece over to trim away the excess seam allowance.

I picked a bright backing, and made an envelop finish with binding, per this tutorial by FreshlyPieced. It's my favorite way to put a pillow together.

This free foundation paper-pieced pattern is from Vicki at Orchid Owl Quilts. You can find it here on the QuiltingLodgeBlog.

By the way, per a viewer's choice ballot, my pillow placed fourth in our Central Florida MQG challenge. First place went to my friend Karen, also formerly from Iowa, who's holding the aqua quilt on the left. She quilted it beautifully on her sit-down Tiara machine. Friend Cindy, formerly from Montana, placed second with her broken herringbone pillow. Susan's hanging placed third.
L-R: Karen, me, Cindy, Susan
Linda
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Home Improvement

Our home improvement jobs never take the form of do-it-yourself. My hubs is blessed with skill in the kitchen, but none at all when it homes to fixing up. I can live with hiring out.

Such was the case when last week the house exterior was painted, and I got my orange wall in the living room. Next up was to have the old carpet removed from the master bedroom closet that comes off the master bathroom. Before and after. We really like this, but it didn't - poof! - appear. The tile color is "sand" and when some of the tiles didn't match, it took a while to figure out that the installer didn't have a die lot problem, but a box of "mushroom" - the wrong color! Of course, those tiles had to be taken back out. Then there was grouting three days later, followed by caulking. The closet didn't look normal for five days. 

After tiling came laminate. The builder's grade carpeting put in five years ago when the house was built (come February), was showing dirt and wear, in spite of cleaning. Time to make it better.

However, I really didn't think through how much work it would be to empty my sewing room, that being the first room to be tackled. Piles of machines, chairs, notions, tools, fabric, bins, etc. were everywhere in the living area.


We also emptied the guest room, since that was flooring room number two.


To make it easier to move the fabric cabinet in my sewing room, I unloaded it. That was the easy part! What was way more effort was putting it all back again. But see how much more organized it is? In fact, I had enough space to move a few closet fabrics - like text prints, and my new Eureka collection by Emma Jean Jansen - into the cabinet too. I'm not kidding myself that this will stay looking so good, but I'm admiring it while I can.

It's been a ton of work to do this, as I was sorting and reorganizing everything that came out of and went back into the rooms, and then wiping off, vacuuming, and mopping the rooms as the work was done. Everything had a fine layer of dust on it, including furniture in the living room.

This is the finished guest room. I do think the room looks richer now.

And the master bedroom. I love white furniture and think it looks even better with the wood floor. 


Bill did a beautiful job laying flooring in all three rooms.

The sewing room change from carpeting to laminate. 


But the room isn't yet settled. Because the floor needs to be protected, everything now has felt pads underneath. Except those two black, home improvement store, plastic sawhorses aren't going to work anymore. So, it's off to IKEA to get two more of the white wooden "trestles," like on the left. They're adjustable height too, so that's a bonus. Also, I need a rug at the end of the cutting table, for long-term standing. I've ordered new rubber casters for my two sewing chairs to replace the hard plastic ones that could damage the floor. Until those arrive, I won't be sewing in here. 😒



What we didn't anticipate was how not having carpeting would affect Hogan! He seems a little lost, as today's he's wandered into the guest room and my sewing room, and back out again, looking for a soft lay-down spot. And, he wasn't totally successful at jumping up on his window bench in the sewing room. He couldn't get traction. The borrowed rug will suffice until I find something better.

I sat down to write this blog post after using the Hoover floor scrubber to clean all the tile in the house because, rightly so, the paths from the front door to the bedrooms were pretty dirty from the workers.

Once I have sewing room time again, I want to make a couple of these, to keep my sewing machine foot control(s) from sliding across the floor. Oh, but I can't wait! Linda
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Friday, November 11, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

Political news has been dominant in most American's lives since the announcement that Donald Trump will be our next president. His win was a big surprise to political pundants and millions of Americans, and initially produced an outcry from unhappy voters. Many of them have both subtly and loudly declared their unhappiness with the result. On the other hand, I haven't heard much, if anything from the happy voters.

I have been surprised to read on Instagram the posts from quilters who've excessively expressed their disappointment and even grief with the election outcome. In the next breath their declarations of "inclusive love" are proclaimed. These opinions clearly and dismayingly insinuate that other voters don't love. What an unfair judgement. This makes me sad, but also reminds me what Jesus told us, found in Matthew 5:29:
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheekturn to thethe other cheek also. 
This affirms my decision not to contradict anyone. And in any case, opinions are nearly impossible to change. So I am praying, and leaning on God to guide our country through this unprecedented change in leadership. I'm hopeful that Americans will see good things come from President Trump.

Also causing some disruption in our lives - but in a happy way - we've been handling several home improvements. Monday morning, our house looked like this.

Thanks to the work of three painters...


 ... by the end of the day on Monday, our house looked like this. Perhaps not a very dramatic difference, as the main color and trim color are very similar to the old, but wonderfully new-looking.

Then on Tuesday, the same painting company came inside the house to paint the 22 foot-long wall in the living room. From the moment he laid on the first stroke, I knew I'd love it.

Paint is Behr brand, color Mandarin, in a matte finish.

The colors in the rug are really accented now, as are the orange pillows, silk arrangement, and orange in the quilts on other walls that have been in the room for a long time.

At night, the lamp-glow makes the room seem warm and cozy. Now I'm thinking to make a wall quilt to replace those two palm fronds pictures. Yes, it's just an excuse to make another quilt!

Today I taught at the Lifelong Learning College for the last time. Four students attended my all day free motion quilting workshop, and I know - because they told me - that they learned a lot.
Ann
From their first attempt at quilting their name, to the end-of-class quilting of their name, they each improved dramatically.
Becky
It's such a treat to teach enthusiastic students!
Jane
I have no doubt that all four of them will continue to pursue domestic machine quilting. 
Shelly
And now, I'm appreciating that I will no longer have to load and haul all the paraphernalia needed to teach away from home - sewing machine, sewing tool chest, design board, quilting books, several quilts and lunch. Nor will I worry again about something needed for teaching that I've accidentally left at home - the downside of teaching in a place other than a quilting or sewing store. 

A half dozen quilters have expressed interest in in-home classes. Yay! If you're one of them, just let me know, and tell me if there's something you'd like to make. I'm thinking that a pillow, tote bag, or wristlet would be a fun day-long workshop. Lunch included! Linda

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It's E-Day and I Don't Care

Americans will all agree that we've had enough negativity, name-calling and dissension in the past two dozen months to last a lifetime.

So today I'm using a different E-word: Exclude! Meaning: Exclude me from today's political scene!

And due to the fact that I already have enough enemies, I won't share my political views here or on any social media platform. Those who do are subject to scrutiny and scorn, and I certainly don't want opposing political viewpoints to taint the many wonderful friendships I have in the blogosphere and IGworld.

In the big scheme of things, my single vote won't change a thing, nor will I suffer the consequences of either inadequate person who's elected president. I figure that I'll be dead before the ramifications of four to eight years of misguided leadership will impact me.

But, I will say that my October 26 voting experience was extremely impressive. Dan and I just walked right into the polling place and were assisted every step of the way.

First we were greeted, told to silence our cell phones and have our IDs ready. Then we went to a person who verified our address and we signed a digital screen. We took the printed “receipt” to the next person for a ballot, and then were each accompanied to a voting booth where the ballot was explained - "Turn it over to complete both sides, and leave it blank if you don't know who to vote for." Lastly, I delivered the ballot to the machine where a person told me to insert it, and then handed me the “I voted early” sticker and a miniature Tootsie Roll! Was it like this at all polling places?!

Photo from 2014
Today we're having our house painted. Though we've been in this house only 4-1/2 years, the poor "builder's grade" quality of the paint job done on our stucco house is evident. This time the house will first get a coat of a rubberized sealer that will help prevent cracks in the stucco. Then colorwise, we're going with basically the same combo that the house was originally painted. I'll be able to show a good "after" picture by Wednesday. Hopefully, one livingroom wall will also be painted this week! Orange!

Sewing-wise, it's been a little slow. I've lost my "umph," for some reason. This comes at a bad time because I need to be finishing QuiltCon entries. My heart isn't in any of them because I know they're blah.

I finished straight-line quilting my 2017 QuiltCon East Michael Miller Luxe Challenge fabric entry. It was a personal challenge I made to myself to completely straight-line quilt using a walking foot, which I've never done before. Next, I'm adding big stitch hand quilting.


Recently I've been thinking about offering in-home private quilting lessons to two or three students at a time. Since I'm no longer an instructor at the Lifelong Learning College - this Friday's "Quilting With a Quilting Foot" workshop will be my last - though I very much enjoy teaching. I'm thinking I could teach in my home on any number of techniques, including free motion quilting. A three hour or six hour class at a reasonable rate, and maybe even a Dan-made lunch included with a six hour class? Would I have any takers? Linda

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