Saturday, May 19, 2018

Confessions of a Quilter

In January, when I decided to not purchase any fabric in 2018, I was so optimistic! I was sure I could do it, though I gave myself a way out, stating that if a fabric was truly needed or required for a particular quilt, I would allow myself to make a purchase.

That's just what I've done.

In April and May, this is everything I bought. You'll note that there are two 10-yard bolts of fabric (white and aluminum); three 108"-wide backings (totaling 10 yards), and 5 yards of Kona aqua. Every piece is needed. Justifiable.

I wasn't able to complete my Spin Art quilt top without solid white, so that bolt of white Painter's Palette has been cut into. After hand-appliquéing the center circle to the background, I machine stitched those 35 "paint splatters" to the background.

All four 108"-wide backings are spoken for, with one of them already used to sandwich Spin Art which measures about 68" X 68".

Other backings will be used for large quilts too, including my Bernina Zen Chic Triangle QAL quilt. The 5 yards of Kona Aqua will be used to complete the quilt top.

While I would have preferred to purchase a Painter's Palette solid to finish the Bernina Zen Chic Triangle quilt top, PP didn't have a background color that looked quite right.

Here's one of the reasons I don't care for Kaufman Kona... it bleeds when washed. Every time. I learned this lesson about Kona several years ago, and now always use a Color Catcher in the wash.

The aluminum gray is so I can finish the wedges quilt, "Roulette" which only needs binding.

So, have I done an okay job of restraining myself from unnecessary fabric purchases? All this yardage will allow me to complete several quilts, and keep making more. Good. Right?

I confess these new additions to my stash. Now don't blame me! I recently won an Instagram fabric giveaway of these 12 fat quarters from the new Paintbrush Studios collection called "On Your Mark." Such "me" colors and prints!

I keep making blocks for the Comfort Quilt QAL, ad nauseam. Cute as they are when finished, they're tedious.

Other than time spent in my sewing room, days pass as they always do: line dancing (now on a two week hiatus); uke-playing; Sunday worship; walking Hogan; staying in touch with family... We did watch a little of the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan - the media coverage and over-the-top interest in the event eludes me, though it's entertaining to watch others going crazy about it - and felt the heartbreak of yet another school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

Oh, and I'm dieting. (sigh) The battle is real, and I blame all of it on my breast cancer drug, Arimidex. But Monday is when I learn what the future holds. That's when I will visit my oncologist to get the results of the "breast cancer index." The test, done in March, examined tissue that was removed during my lumpectomy in March, 2013. (Who knew that all that stuff is stored?!) I'll learn what the odds are for a return of breast cancer, and whether I will benefit from remaining on Arimidex as a preventative. I've already been on Arimidex five years and two-and-a-half months, so of course I'm hoping I'll be told I can go off it. It would be so wonderful to not have 7-8 hot flashes every day, and a continual battle with weight gain. But on the other hand, I know I'll be able to tolerate remaining on it if it means keeping cancer away. God is good. Linda

Monday, May 14, 2018

Moving Right Along

Some of this past week was spent keeping up with Amy's Creative Side Comfort Quilt QAL. Today begins week 4, and I was happy to complete the week 4 assignment on Saturday, during our Central Florida MQG Sew-In. Once a month, our group uses the library community room from 10 am to 6 pm. But as everyone had to leave early (by 2:30), I left too... and continued sewing when I returned home, so as to finish these plus blocks.

Week 4 - 15 large blocks; 25 small blocks.

Cumulatively, I've pieced 38 6" X 6" blocks, and 58 3" X 3" blocks toward a twin-size quilt.

I also pieced backing for the foundation paper pieced quilt top that I'm testing for a designer, and that I can't share until July. I was glad to use up this Amy Butler yardage that I had thought to sew into a dress. The yellow is a bit lemony-bright for clothes, but will be great as a quilt back.

The rest of sewing time was spent hand appliquéing the center circle of my Spin Art quilt to a white background.


I will appliqué these 32 pieces onto the background to get the real spinning effect of Spin Art. I'd prefer to machine appliqué them in place, for expediency, but those points may be a bit tricky. Hand appliqué might look better.
Spin Art, approximately 68" X 68"
A neighbor down the street had his house painted. The workers covered the lanai screens with paper, as protection during painting. I appreciated seeing their message on the paper - a bold proclamation in this cultural climate. I love it!
Linda

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Retreat Results

The Central Florida MQG retreat I attended for four days and three nights (Thursday to Sunday afternoon) was exhausting and productive.

Exhausting because I have a tendency to push myself to take advantage of uninterrupted sewing time - I was the last one (of 22 of us) to turn off all the lights, the first two nights, going to bed at 12:50 am and 2 am. The two nights I stayed, I was alone for more than an hour, listening to an audiobook and piecing. And piecing.

As much as I'd like to show the 55" X 55" foundation paper-pieced quilt top that I completed, pictures have to be saved until the pattern (not mine!) is ready. Making that top was my number one priority at retreat, and I accomplished it by 12:50 am Saturday morning.

In this picture, I'm holding all the trimmings after squaring up the blocks for that quilt.

I then moved on to my next task - making Week 2 blocks for the ComfortQuiltQAL. I'm making a twin-sized quilt from the book Modern Heritage Quilts by Amy Ellis, and lots of blocks are needed.

By Saturday afternoon I'd made the 8 large blocks (6-1/2" X 6-1/2" unfinished) and 13 small blocks (3-1/2" X 3-1/2" unfinished) per the quilt-along schedule.

Since coming home and unpacking, on Monday I tackled Week 3 blocks: 15 large blocks; 20 small blocks. Next week's assignment will be to make even more! Sheesh. The next time I'm attracted to a quilt-along, I'll be giving thorough consideration to that before jumping in. This QAL is taking a huge amount of time. But the blocks are cute, aren't they?

Next I got caught up (until today!) on the Year of Scrappy Triangles that Leila is sharing. These are also foundation paper-pieced: blocks 27, 28, 29, and 30. My quilt is gonna be really bright and scrappy.

And lastly, I made a name badge holder. I've wanted one so I can wear it at QuiltCon next February, in Nashville (My room is booked!). The fabric I used is Central Florida MQG quilting cotton we had designed using our chapter logo. The fabric was made by Spoonflower.

The badge holder easily handles a cell phone (my iPhone 8 fits), social cards, and money... all those important things that we must carry.

Nice pockets for safely storing whatever's important. This is such a neat concept.

I started to play with fabrics and improv piecing for the quilt I'll make from Austin's artwork. I had thought to make a wall hanging, as the piece is for the "Central Florida MQG Inspiration Challenge," due in July. However, when Austin saw this picture (his artwork is on the left), he told his mom he can't wait to get his quilt. Guess that means I'll be making a larger quilt with bigger hunks of fabric! I need to be thoughtful about figuring how to scale up his 8-1/2" X 11" design to something that's 65" X 76" or so. I think I'll start on EQ8.

In between sewing and working on projects was fun - seeing what everyone else was working on, socializing, and enjoying drinks: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, Buttershots, and wine - not too much though, nor all at once!
If you're on Instagram, check out our retreat hashtag: #cfmqg2018retreat

I showed a friend, Peggy (GummyBearGirlQuilting makes delicious, flavored gummy bears soaked in various types and flavors of alcohol) how to piece blocks together as a "Web." In this picture, the stack of blocks on Peggy's left is her quilt top, all ready to sew together.

In this picture, Peggy's quilt has been webbed (chaining connects the rows), and she's ready to join the rows. If you'd like to learn this method of piecing blocks into a quilt top, you can see my Web Tutorial here.

Retreat was a really, really great time, with everyone getting along, and sharing among all of us. There weren't the little pocket-clusters of friends who kept to themselves as I've seen at other retreats. Instead, everyone interacted, and changed-up who they sat with at meals - a perfect retreat in my opinion. We've already got next year's retreat planned for late March. Yay! Linda

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cutting Action

It's been a little busy around here since returning home. Where does the time go?!

On Monday, I submitted my article about triangles to Curated Quilts magazine. For those of you who aren't familiar with this modern publication, here's the link to the website. The magazine just came into being in January, with print and digital issues available. If you think it's sort of expensive, I'm with you there, but just know... there's no advertising. Makes a difference, doesn't it? 

While I was focused on writing, I intermittently I worked on projects. For me, I've learned that I write better in intervals of time. Walking away from the topic for a while helps me look at it with fresh eyes when I return. Isn't that the way it is for us when we're working on a quilt project too?

Though I have two WIPs that are calling for attention, I'm unable to finish either of them due to needing fabric! Yikes. 

The quilting is done on "Roulette." Binding is needed, but I'm completely out of solid grey fabric. I don't think a print or any other color would look right, and I don't want to risk making it look less than I want by "making do." It's a quilt I'd like to enter into QuiltCon 2019. 

The same goes for the Bernina Zen Chic quilt along I've been participating in. I've completed all the triangles and just need to assemble the top. However, nearly five yards of fabric is required for the background! 

This is the ZenChic finished version. 

I'll have to break down and order fabric to finish these. I'm waiting for the next sale of Painter's Palette Solids at PineappleFabrics.com. It's coming up soon!

Though I'm disappointed in myself for not using stash to complete these two projects, I also know I've used up as much stash as possible to get them to this point.

Momentary madness made me sign up for another quilt along - the Comfort Quilt QAL. It's being led by Amy Ellis of AmysCreativeSide who is also owner/editor of Curated Quilts magazine. The Comfort Quilt is from her book "Modern Heritage Quilts." 

Basically the quilt design is small and medium-size plus blocks on a background of neutrals. If you register to participate, Amy sends a link to information, including one of six size options. 

I certainly wasn't thinking clearly when I decided to make a twin size quilt! Though it's a scrap-buster, I didn't know much time I would need to spend rotary cutting! I tried to use as many scraps as possible, so cutting one plus at a time was time consuming. Conservatively, I probably spent 16 hours cutting. Likely more. For several days, my sewing room was pretty messy.
 

Our week one assignment was to make two test blocks. That little one is 3" finished.

For week two we're to finish cutting all the background pieces. There are a total of four sizes of background pieces. Two of them require 572 patches for a twin-size quilt. 😳 

These are all the plus pieces. I'm going with a combination of aqua and green with some random orange pluses thrown in. If I expect to keep up for the remaining six weeks, I'll need to piece a total of 246 medium and small blocks! Sheesh.

No doubt I'll have something to work on during retreat with Central Florida MQG! Ha! It starts Thursday and goes to Sunday afternoon. We'll be at Luther Springs in Hawthorne. 

Besides the Comfort Quilt, I'm pattern-testing for a friend so I have foundation paper-pieced blocks to turn into a quilt top. And I'm starting my quilt for the Inspiration Challenge at Central Florida MQG

For this challenge, we've been asked to share our design inspiration and creative ideas as we go along. At our regular Central Florida MQG meeting on July 9 everyone will share their finished pieces. This is my inspiration.

My adorable seven year-old grandson, Austin, came home from school with this piece of crayon-resist and watercolor artwork. I was completely smitten with his colors, and the graphic shapes across the design. I'm seeing an improv-pieced background with appliquéd bias tape shapes. When I told him what I was thinking to do with his design, he was pretty happy. I'm excited and can't wait to get started. Linda

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Back From Texas

If you noticed my blogging hiatus, you are observant. From early Tuesday morning, April 17, to 12:30 AM Thursday, April 26, I was away from home. I visited our son and his family in Austin, Texas.

I've never been a good flyer, so it always takes me many prayers and considerable courage to board a plane. Those take-offs, bumpy flights, and landings - how is it possible that such a heavy machine remains in the air?! I always pray for my pilots, traffic control personnel, and the mechanics who take care of these sky wonders.

I flew on Southwest Airlines the same day the explosion occurred on another Southwest flight, killing a woman who was struck by a fan blade from an engine. The whole 20-minute scene sounds nightmarish. Yet, on my return-to-Florida flight I felt more safe than before, knowing that Southwest had run checks on all their aircraft following that incident. Still, I'm always grateful to return to terra firma. God knows.

Austin and Luke appeared to like the turtles I made for them (here). By the way, this picture was taken in the guest room. The wall hanging and quilt on the bed were made by me as wedding presents to Brent and Lyn who lived in Florida at the time.

We went to The Salt Lick, in Driftwood - my all-time favorite barbecue restaurant. The fire pit is amazing - the aromas! I ate my "usual" which is a half-pound of pulled pork followed by blackberry cobbler á la mode.

And speaking of food... my sweet tooth seems to go extra crazy when I'm around DIL Lyn who likes the same things I do. The day after I arrived, I made a pecan pie using Texas-grown Kiowa pecans. She and I ate pecan pie for four days! When that was gone, I made Pavlova. They had never eaten it.

This is the Pav fresh from the oven - a crumbly meringue cake.

This is it heaped with fresh-whipped cream, and topped with strawberries and bananas. Even the boys, who are very picky eaters, liked it.

Both boys had soccer on Saturday. Austin is a pretty good player. 

Four year-old Luke... not so much. He runs around, following the other kids who are chasing the ball. At that age, that's pretty much all they do - run around. My sister calls it best: it's amoeba-ball. 

We went on a Sunday excursion to Pace Bend Park in Spicewood, Texas. Limestone cliffs, a lake, hiking trails, and a glorious day. I took this picture using the timer on my Canon camera.

We hiked for more than an hour. Both boys kept up, though Luke needed a little urging. 

It was a treat to get to see the prickly pear cactus in bloom.

Austin played hooky from school on Monday. We went to San Marcos to ride a glass bottom boat on Aquarena Springs, at the Meadows Center on the campus of Texas State University. I'm glad I had a chance to compare this to my previous glass bottom boat rides at Silver Spring State Park in Florida. Many similarities. I won't ever tire of appreciating the clear water of a fresh spring. 

Luke didn't like having his picture taken. 

I used the timer on my camera timer to take this picture too - another beautiful day.

My visit wasn't entirely without quilt-y stuff. Lyn and I went to Valli and Kim, a Dripping Springs quilt shop. I didn't buy any fabric, and you can imagine what kind of challenge that was for me in a modern quilt shop! I'm sticking to my no fabric-buying goal, though I did buy The Tunic Bible.

Lyn and I worked on "Texas Forever", her first big quilt. She had pieced the 45" X 45" top and was a bit reluctant to piece the backing so the prints aligned. We did that together, then made the quilt sandwich and got it pin-basted. Before I left, she made a couple walking foot quilting passes across the quilt top to make sure she knows what she's doing. She does.


This is what I accomplished - a couple more of 20 small medallions needed for the perimeter of my English paper-pieced Tula Nova quilt - the one I'm calling Linda Nova. Slow progress, but that's fine by me.

Since returning home I've been writing every day. I'm working on an article for the next issue of Curated Quilts magazine! Yep. I'm freelance writing again. The piece will be 750 words on the topic of triangles. It feels good to be writing - professionally - again.

You might just see this picture in my article. A triangle. A slice of pie. You do see the similarities, don't you?
Texas Pie Company, Kyle, Texas
Linda

Friday, April 6, 2018

Some Happy Things

On Thursday I received good news... my Triangle Mini Challenge Quilt was accepted, and will appear in the next issue - #4 - of Curated Quilts magazine!

Because I was asked for the quilt name, for publication, I had to come up with something! I named it "Always Add Orange," based on the fact that I include orange in almost every quilt I make, and in my home decor.
15" X 15"

It looks like 111 quilts were submitted for the challenge - you can see all of them here - though I don't know how many have been chosen to appear in the magazine. I only know I'm honored and thrilled!

For Easter Sunday dinner we were invited to the neighbor's house. After the yummy meal, I watched Dave, the hubs, pull on a sweatshirt because he felt cold, I suggested that he might like one of my quilts. I explained that they were brightly colored, and might not suit their home decor, but he said he was interested.

So this week I walked over with four of my quilts, ready to give away whichever one he chose. He picked "Wiggle Me Colourful." The quilt's strips of color were made with saved-up pre-cut 2-1/2" squares, and pieced on my kid-sized aqua Janome machine during numerous Big Cypress Quilters meetings.

This quilt was my first finish in 2017, and it's been in the top of the closet since then.
57" X 65"
I was happy to give it to Dave, and appreciated seeing it in use in this picture sent by his wife.

This week I used a freshly-made batch of homemade basting spray to sandwich the first wedges quilt I put together. After posting this picture to Instagram, and mentioning that the quilt needs a name, I received several suggestions. Stephie in Kalamazoo, Michigan suggested "Roulette" and I'm rolling (ha!) with it. 

The first quilting stitches are in. So far I've used three colors of Aurifil 50-weight threads: white, silver gray, and turquoise.

For quilting I'm using both my Bernina Aurora 440, and Janome 1600p machines - the Bernina because I prefer its walking foot that I used to quilt the large curves; and the Janome because it has a larger harp (9-1/2") for ruler work. The 1" circles were free motion quilted on the Janome. 

I might be adding quite a bit more straight line quilting because this is such a busy design already. Certainly, quilting days are ahead.

I'm also going to make a book recommendation: "The Woman in the Window," by A. J. Finn. I've been listening to it in audiobook format, and I'm spellbound! It has a sort of "Rear Window" (the movie) feel to it. I can't wait to take another long walk or fold laundry, so I can listen more! Linda

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