Sunday, July 31, 2011

Everyone Needs an Apple

If it has seemed oddly quiet here it's because I was without a computer for five-and-a-half extremely long days.

Last Tuesday, my almost three year-old Macbook went to the nearby Apple Store Genius Bar to have a power cord problem checked out. I learned it would be a day or two repair. However, after the suspected problem wasn't the problem after all, they ordered a part. Apple let me know it would be a day or two more. Then, when that replacement part didn't fix the problem, and other efforts didn't resolve the problem either, I received a surprising phone call. April, my new friend at Apple, let me know they would give me a brand new replacement computer! 
So I went from this 2008 Macbook which is no longer being made,

to this 2011 Macbook Pro with twice the processing capability, twice the memory, a backlit keyboard, and a nifty trackpad that lets me use finger "gestures" to scroll, rotate, zoom-in, and change applications!
This Macbook Pro cost me nothing thanks to the extended service contract I purchased in 2008. But it was close! My warranty was due to expire August 1! What a great decision it was (in hindsight, of course) to purchase that $249 service contract that saved me hundreds of dollars. I'm a very happy Mac-user who appreciates Apple's outstanding customer service.

During the five-and-a-half long days I was frustratingly incommunicado I spent a lot of time sewing. It's remarkable what one can accomplish when social networking isn't possible. 

Small small strips and pieces are the first thing I tackled. More than a year ago I had made 34 "Ezekiel" blocks (based on the Bible story of dry bones come to life: Ezekiel 37). I selected fabrics for a scrappy purple and gold quilt. Because I've been invited to speak to an area quilt guild in October about Stitchin' Mission, I'm sewing to build my quilt inventory. 

From scraps, I "made fabric."  

I used a 6-1/2" square ruler to cut as many Ezekiel blocks as possible from several large fabric hunks.

I've made this "New Life" quilt (Ezekiel 37:5) several times before, but this is the first time I've set Ezekiel blocks on point. The sashing is solid white fabric, and cornerstones are in two shades of purple solids. A wavy stripe print gives interest to the outside setting triangles.
New Life quilt, 54" X 65-1/2"

The quilt back is cobbled from leftover Ezekiel blocks, and several purple prints that no longer make my heart throb.

It's another quilt that I'll be able to sit-down quilt at my Pfaff Grand Quilter. You might like to know that my broken down Pfaff  was an easy, albeit costly, fix. When I bought it (used), the needle threader had been broken off. As I never use one anyway, I opted not to have it replaced. That was my mistake. An internal part of the needle threader dislodged and blocked the stitch mechanism. For $8, I have a new needle threader. Labor was $80.

This new computer is distracting me from quilting. I'm having a great time emailing friends, catching up on blogs, and video Skypeing - with extraordinarily visual clarity! It was dreadful being out-of-touch. Yes, yes, I admit to being hooked on my social network (I don't Facebook though) but that's because face-to-face time with friends is rare. Everyone works, and they're just plain busy.

I intend to remain entrenched in technology. I have wisely invested in another extended service warranty. Linda

Monday, July 25, 2011

Easy for the Eyes

I need to wear corrective lenses. At home when I'm around my closest family members and dearest friends, I'm comfortable wearing glasses. But I have a hang-up about wearing glasses in public or for photos. I blame that on severe teasing when I was in second grade, and the first person to start wearing glasses.

Even when I wear my bifocal contacts, my vision isn't clear enough for close work. I'm making friends with readers - AKA magnifying glasses.

My favorite pair of readers came from Michael's. They were inexpensive, and did not come with a protective case. So what do us sew-ers and quilters do? Of course! Find an Internet tutorial and make them.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might know I collect palm tree fabric prints. What better place to use them than for eyeglass cases? Instead of putting batting between the outside and lining, I used fusible fleece. It seems sturdier, to better protect the lenses.

Finished, a reader case measure 2-1/2" X 7". 
The sunglasses case is 3-1/2" X 7". 

Since making several items using personalized fabrics: wine coasters; a name tag; and now these eyeglass cases, I wonder if any of you do the same.

If you were a piece of print fabric, what would you be?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Break Down

Isn't it maddening to have equipment failure when you're in the middle of free-motion quilting?!

I was sitting at my Pfaff Grand Quilter, listening to an audiobook ("Ape House" by Sara Gruen in case you're looking for a new read) quilting away on "Wibble Wobble." While quilting at high speed, the needle suddenly locked in the down position, making an audible ka-thunk, immediately followed by the machine motor giving a high-pitched whine. I hopped up, flipped the machine switch to "off," and unplugged it from power. Whoo! 

My husband helped me figure out that I needed to remove the bobbin and the bobbin case, as well as take out the needle, so I could remove the quilt from the machine! Now the Pfaff is at my friendly quilt shop/sewing machine hospital waiting to be examined. Perhaps a bit prematurely, I'm chastening myself for buying a used Pfaff Grand Quilt. It was a year ago this month that I bought it through Craigslist for what I think was a deal: $400.

I managed to finish quilting Wibble Wobble on my Bernina 830 Record though that machine definitely doesn't have the same feel - no quilting foot pressure on the quilt, and no means of adjusting the pressure.

Now for some pictures of the quilt.

In each wibble and wobble, I quilted a whirl that "turns" the direction that the wibble (or wobble) leans.

In the rest of the block I quilted a curved line and then added "flying U's" on both sides of the line. They look a lot like stipple quilting.

I'm happy with the all over texture of the completed quilt.
Wibble Wobble, 60" X 71"
The sun wasn't out when I took these pictures, though it was 86 degrees (30 C) - and climbing! - and very muggy.

I think it looks pretty good from the back too. 

A quilt isn't completely finished until it has a label, so Wibble Wobble is done. Tah-dah.

As for my Pfaff GQ, I sure hope it doesn't require long term care... or a transplant. Acute care is expensive. Linda

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ready for MQG

Our new Des Moines chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild is off to a good start. The third meeting is today! Oh boy!

I'll be taking these along with me to distribute to members who signed up for the "Habitat" fabric challenge. Fabrics were mailed to me (as program/education co-chair), for free, from Free Spirit. I cut up and sorted them. Each bundle is six fat eights of fabric that challenge-takers will sew into a small quilt. Only solids can be added to these prints. Challenge finishes are due in September.

Don't these fabric bundles look tempting?

Our chapter's July MQG challenge is to make a name tag. For inspiration, I had only to look to my bookshelf for a long-ago purchased Carol Doak book, "Easy Paper-Pieced Miniatures" (no longer in print). I even have foundation papers to go along with the book.

I've never foundation paper-pieced such tiny pieces. It took much longer to sew than the size might suggest. To "finger press" as I went along I used a wallpaper seam roller to flatten the seams. It works great!

I chose a font and printed my full name on paper. I traced it and added a free-hand drawing of a palm tree. Then, I hand embroidered all of it, finishing that part by coloring the tree with Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Of course wouldn't you expect my name tag to have something related to palm trees?

Since I don't like to wear a name tag that hangs around my tummy, I sewed a short length of grosgrain ribbon to the back, and on the opposite side a hook and eye for ease in putting on/taking off.

I'm all set for our meeting. If you're in the area, I hope you'll join us!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Something to Wine About

When my group of quilting friends get together, we make an evening of it in one of our homes. We eat and drink, and that drink usually includes wine. In January 2009 I made these wine-marker coasters from the pattern "Dual Duty" by Tammy Hensley.

I personalized each one, choosing a fabric print for the top skirt that reflect's the individual's taste. Note my own green palm tree coaster on the right.
Recently, two more quilters have joined our group. Linda's marker reflects the fact that she enjoys making wine; Norma loves butterflies.

If the wine glass slot isn't needed, just turn it over.
coaster back

Salut! Linda

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wibble Wobble Cobbled

Here in Iowa, we're experiencing a wicked heatwave.

For at least ten days, temperatures were and will be in the upper 90s (35C-plus), with Tuesday expected to reach 101 (38C). That's temperatures higher than Florida! Compound the heat with 60 percent to 80 percent humidity - hovering between "steamy" and "jungle" - it's not only miserable, but downright dangerous.

Just as during winter months, lots of people are hibernating. In air-conditioning. In a rare occurrence, my basement sewing room feels downright comfortable! I've been happily sewing away, and thinking about quilt backs.

I realize how often, especially in the past several years, I've been inclined to rush out to a quilt shop to look for sale fabric for a quilt back. I always hope that I can make the back inexpensively and easily by sewing just one seam.

Lately though, I'm looking at my fabric bins, thinking "I can't take it with me. What am I 'saving' it for?" Perhaps I should edify that it's my German heritage that I often blame - thank? - for making me consider and reconsider what I refer to as work-arounds.

Figure out a way to do, with what's on hand.
Work out how to fix it, and in doing so maybe make it even better.
Make do.

Now's the time to apply "make do" to a quilt back.

For the recently completed "Wibble Wobble" quilt top, I cobbled together four unused blocks and nearly all the leftover pieces from my DS Collection fabrics.
cobbled backing, 64" X 79"
Perhaps it isn't that pretty, but the prints are all repeats of the quilt top.

So I went from this (left) to this (right).

Those strings will be saved for a "Picket Fence" quilt. Frugal, hey?

While I know that some quilts are very special, and a single fabric backing will enhance the quilt, there's also the right time and right quilt for a cobbled back. I hope to show you more of them in the future.

Do you make cobbled backings too? Linda

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Something Modern

Since becoming involved with the Modern Quilt Guild, I've been more open to exploring the use of new-to-me fabrics in quilts. My eyes have been opened, so to speak, to the use of more fresh-looking print, and solids... again, but different than when I pieced Amish-style quilts in the early 80's!

Wanting to use my recently-purchased DS Collection (Denyse Schmidt) of "Picnic" and "Fairgrounds" prints, I cut rectangles from the prints, and ovals (I have a set of acrylic templates) from solid pink. 

Centering an oval, I machine appliqued each one to a rectangle. There's a piece of fusible interfacing behind the pink, so the print behind it wouldn't shadow through.

Then, I cut each rectangle shape into fourths, rearranging them to mix up the prints. I sewed them back together with white sashing. The one-inch pink square in the center is a set-in seam. 

Funny how the formerly rectangle blocks became square! I put them all together with more solid white sashing and solid pink cornerstones. 

Half the blocks have pink circles that tilt one way, and the other half of the blocks have circles that tilt the other way. I'm thinking to name this quilt "Wibble Wobble."
60" X 72"
How to make this quilt seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? But honestly, I moved very thoughtfully from step to step, undecided about what to do next. It's a little more interesting to piece a quilt not knowing how it's going to turn out! I definitely enjoyed it and am pleased with the result. Linda

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fabric Wins

It's always nice to come home from vacation to parcels that have arrived during my absence. These fabric wins are always the best kind, by my way of thinking. They'll definitely be used in upcoming projects.

For putting up a link to the Cruisin' with Riley Blake Contest (see menu bar at right), I won this "rolie polie." Love the colors!

For entering April's KoolBeenz giveaway and being selected by Mr. Random, I won a $25 gift certificate to SkyeReve Fabrics. Owner Natasha included these two Christmas print squares along with my selections.

Dots! Fat quarter sized. Who can't use more filler colors in their quilts?

And this cheery fat quarter collection - "Holiday Hoots" by Alexander Henry. Typically, I don't make Christmas-y stuff nor anything with owls. But when it's free, it's nice to step outside one's box.

StitchinbytheLake also recently stepped outside her box when she won a $100 gift certificate!

Thanks Riley Blake and SkyeReve for these great fabrics. Linda

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eight Ozark Days

For eight days (July 2-9) hubby and I, along with our two children, their spouses, and our four grandchildren - Count'em up! Ten people! - went to The Ozarks and stayed at a waterside condo on the Niangua River near Camdenton, Missouri.

It's a very pretty area.
View from Ha Ha Tonka Castle ruins.
Moving in for eight days involved lots of planning and stuff.

Thankfully, our four bedroom condo was spacious, and conducive to family time with three little ones.
The running (never stopping) 21 month-old.
The toddling 14 month-old.
The just-learning-to-crawl 8 month-old.
The 12 year-old - the only one who ever slept past 5:30 each morning.
Lots of baby kisses and "guggles" to go around.
Tay and Austin
Quality teething time.
Austin and Aesa
Every one of us took advantage of the nearby pool. 

Lyn, Austin and Brent
We ate in each evening except for one. Celina made desserts.
Celina and Lyn
Family games like Trivial Pursuit, Guesstures, and Balderdash provided grown-up fun.

Lyn and Dan
Did you know that empty diaper and wipes boxes make ideal play containers...
...and especially good train cars?!
L-R: Cousins Tay, Austin, and Aesa
And empty Aurifil thread spools make great toys!
Austin, 14 months
A few times - particularly when I started reading the ever-popular Itsy Bitsy Spider - I had my arms full.

We loved every single, exhausting moment of it.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin