Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Linda Nova Progress

After having this WIP around for months - my first blog post about it was in July 2017 - okay years, I have completed English paper piecing the center medallion. It measures 56" across and is meant to be appliquéd to a 60" square background. That's the next decision I have to make - what fabric to choose as background.

Technically, this pattern is Tula Nova (in case you're looking for it), and it's available as a kit with Tula Pink fabrics. But I renamed it Linda Nova because there isn't a single Tula fabric in it. I'm not a fan of her fabrics, so went to my fabric stash to come up with everything that's in this medallion.

I'm terribly pleased that it's finished because I like it! But I'm not so happy about no longer having a traveling handwork project. It's probably time to pull out the Prudence Quilt pattern, template and papers that I recently won in an Instagram giveaway.

I was able to finish the Linda Nova medallion yesterday because I'm on a "no sewing machine" restriction until next week. On Monday, I had an arterial angiogram because of PAD (peripheral artery disease). During an hour-long procedure, the doc went into my leg through the top of my foot to removed scar tissue around my femoral stent, a blood clot inside the stent, and withdraw excess plaque. As I'm recuperating (walking a little hobbily), I may not use the sewing machine, or exercise. Nonetheless, I'm extremely grateful for advanced medical technology that allows for these types of procedures. I cannot imagine what would become of my leg without this intervention.

With down time, I've been editing chapters of my Dad's autobiography. We're through chapter 18. And, I'm attempting to design a quilt or two on EQ8. Though I've spent several hours at it, nothing resembling a quilt is forthcoming. In spite of having this marvelous software program, it doesn't help produce ideas! Can I say how envious I am of quilters who so easily seem to produce quilt designs right and left?

I'm looking for a design in which to use these fabrics for the QuiltCon Me & You Indah Batik challenge. I do not like batiks, but when I saw the white print with black palms, I bought yardage right away!

Last week my iron died (the aqua T-Fal on the left). That iron was great, and lasted about 11 years. I figure that it helped me make at least 100 quilts - likely more - so I didn't hesitate to order another one. The new one on the right is model FV4017, and I paid only $40 for it. The in-store pick-up thing with Home Depot worked great. If you need a new iron, here's where to compare T-Fal models.
The only reason I didn't select the top-of-the-line model is that it's black!  I prefer teal. 😀

While finished up Linda Nova, I completed another audiobook. This one gets high marks! 
"The Gown," by Jennifer Robson is about two hand embroiders who in the late 1940s work for Norman Hartnell, a London custom clothing shop. British-born Ann, and new-to-London Miriam, from France, meet and forge a friendship that takes them through remembrances of war, meeting young men, and their experiences working at Hartnell's, embroidering and appliquĂ©ing the Princess Elizabeth's (later Queen Elizabeth) wedding gown, worn in 1947 when she married Philip Mountbatten. The story unfolds as Ann's Canadian granddaughter, Heather, searches the past to learn her grandmother's secrets. 

Linda's Score: 4.9/5.0


Friday, August 9, 2019

Week Review

It's been a full week, but I don't have much to share from the sewing room. A return of my formerly dormant P.A.D., and a subsequent doctor visit has turned my focus away from sewing.

Still, I prepped 35 kits to take to Monday's Central Florida MQG meeting, cutting Essex linen, batting, and backing fabric to make small quilt sandwiches. And also cut lengths of six different brands and weights of pearl cotton. I did all this in anticipation of sharing a Big Stitch Quilting program with my chapter. However, due to P.A.D. and a needed procedure, I'll be unable to give the program. I'm bummed, but the good news is that I'll still give the program to our chapter in 2020.

I finished quilting my selvages quilt, and sewed binding to it. It's been a while since I've shared steps for my favorite binding methods. 

As you can see, I do not cut away batting and backing before sewing binding to the quilt. The reason is that if I cut them away first, and allow only a quarter-inch for the binding seam, when I wrap the binding to the quilt back, the binding isn't "stuffed." Instead, leave the batting and backing attached until after sewing binding to the quilt. Then, lay the ruler on the machine-stitching line, trimming at 3/8". That way, the usual 1/4" and the extra 1/8" are just what's needed for a fully stuffed binding.

In this picture, I show how I sew binding to the quilt top along the line I've drawn around the perimeter of the quilt.

Also, you can see that as one step, I sew a strip of binding to one side of the quilt. Then, I sew a strip to the opposite side of the quilt. And lastly, separate strips are sewn to the remaining two sides.

By measuring one side of a quilt, and I can cut and measure a strip of binding that's exactly the same length as the quilt. They are equal, ensuring that my quilt remains square.

Here's how I handle each corner... The two ends of binding strips are machine sewn together at a 45-degree angle. 

I love that I never have to worry about hand-sewing closed each corner. All I do is poke it out!

The corner turns out beautifully.

If you've never seen this binding method, it's probably pretty intriguing. It sure was to me the first time I saw it, back in the 1990s when a Des Moines friend shared it. I've never sewn binding differently since then. 

If you'd like to try this binding method yourself, you can watch the webinar I did for the Modern Quilt Guild (if you're an MQG member). It was published September 29, 2016.

Otherwise, here's the link to my blog tutorial called No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine. Please let me know if you try it, and if you have questions! 

My hubs has the kitchen skills at our house, and here's the glorious pizza he made this past week. He calls it his "white pizza," because it doesn't have red sauce. It's technically a vegan pizza, though that doesn't have a thing to do with why we like it so much. Ingredients are: pesto, brie, monterey jack, fresh mushrooms, fresh zucchini, chopped red bell peppers, and fresh basil. 

His crust is homemade too. First thing in the morning, he makes the crust which is then refrigerated. I can tell you that he spends several hours in the kitchen when he makes this one. I'm usually in the sewing room - but I can attest that it's absolutely fantastic! 

I continue to listen to audiobooks, and for the past couple months, on and off, I've been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Seven titles are in the series. It's worth noting that though Mr. Lewis first wrote "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," he later wrote a prequel called "The Magician's Nephew." I've been listening in sequential order.

1) The Magician's Nephew - Read by Kenneth Branagh. He was great! I wish he'd read them all.
2) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
3) The Horse and His Boy
4) Prince Caspian - Read by Lynn Redgrave. She was excellent!
5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6) The Silver Chair 
7) The Last Battle

I've listened to the first five books (am into "The Silver Chair" right now), and I've enjoyed all of them, though a couple more than others. The first book was somewhat unsettling, as the witch really is nasty, and somewhat scary. Also, I've been a bit taken aback by the matter-of-factness about killing one's enemies. But considering that these stories were written in the 1950s, it wasn't uncommon to dispose of "bad guys." In their time, The Chronicles of Narnia are like our present-day Harry Potter series.

Of course the second book ("The Lion...") is good because it introduces the four children - Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, and the lion Aslan, most of whom appear in subsequent stories. The children get to become kings and queens of Narnia, and experience magical adventures. Thus far my favorite book has been "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" when a wall painting of a ship on the ocean becomes real. The children get wet from the ocean spray, and suddenly find themselves onboard the "Dawn Treader," where they sail away on adventures, including encountering a dragon. Loved this one!

I'm very glad I took time for these stories. When Mr. Lewis wrote them, he meant for Aslan (the lion) to be analogous to God. These stories contain many Christian messages, making them them worth book club discussion.

Quote from "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe":
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.""Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wristlet and Blocks

Over the past week I've been going fast and furious in my sewing room. 

I finished hand stitching two pieces of linen, and sewed them into a wristlet. This pattern - The Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk - is still my favorite way to carry essentials, including my iPhone and Canon camera. 

For the stitchery, I used five thread colors. Threads are three different brands. Threads are two different weights. Yes, these pieces were an experimental sampler. 

I modify the wristlet pattern by adding an interior zipper pocket and an exterior clear vinyl pocket for my ID card. (I have to show it to get into rec centers.) 

Some company I placed an order with (?) sent me this patch, so I blanket-stitched it to the linen. 

I've tested two blocks for the quilt I'm making for daughter Jill. She picked this pattern: Moroccan Tiles, and chose fabrics.

We're going with this Vanilla Grunge background.

As I need to make 35 of these, and she chose only five fabrics, I managed to find three more stash prints to add. Still, I'm uncertain these will be enough different prints to make an interesting quilt.

I've been playing and experimenting with a block design I've had in my mind. Since understanding how to piece set-in circles (see previous blog post), I worked out how to put this block together. Though... it didn't happen easily! That V is a set-in seam, and I really don't think I'm up for doing that multiple times!

My next trial will be to: 1) piece the strips with a quarter-circle Drunkard's Path; 2) make another quarter-circle Drunkard's Path, and: 3) make a half-circle to join to the two quarter circles. That might be a little bit easier. 

Here's another picture of my selvedge quilt that I continue to big stitch hand quilt. Along the outside edge of the quilt, I still don't know what I'm going to quilt in the white spaces next to circles. Likely, something machine quilted.

And to share a last bit of fun and good luck, I won another Instagram giveaway! It's a 13-1/2" square Nido wool ironing mat. I couldn't be more pleased about this win. I've heard about the benefits of pressing on a wool mat - more crisply-flat seams.

Using scraps of white solid and print fabrics, I've been cutting and piecing improv slab blocks with bits of green. Here's a picture of a block that was pressed on my ironing table.

This is the block after pressing on the wool mat. I'd say the flatness is apparent. I'm a believer... especially when it was free!

I've actually listened to three books this past week! (I have really been in the sewing room a lot!) Here's the first review. 
 "In the Age of Love and Chocolate" by Gabrielle Zevin captured my attention strictly by the title! I should have better read the synopsis though, as I discovered - after listening through half the book - that it's the third title of a series, the "Birthright" series. Sheesh. Don't you hate it when that happens? If I'd realized it sooner, I would have stopped so as to download book one. However, I was so far into the story, I finished.

It's the story of a teenaged girl, Anya, whose parents are murdered because they were head mobsters. She tries to go straight while dealing with an older brother in prison, his wife, and a younger sister. She opens a New York City cacao nightclub, because consuming chocolate in 2068 is illegal without a prescription. Anya is successful enough to open more clubs in the US, and continues to deal with her mobster family.

I like this sort of teen fiction, and wish I'd read the series in order. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Hand Stitching Light

I like to keep my hands busy, so in the evening when Dan and I are watching TV together, big stitch hand quilting is what I want to do. Unfortunately, I've had many evenings where I started stitching during early evening light, but the lighting became so poor, I had to set my quilt aside.

Here's a picture of me hand stitching using only the end table lamp to illuminate what I'm working on. Though here the light looks acceptable because the picture was taken during the day, visibility is not acceptable in the evening. Our end table lamps have lightbulbs that emit a warm, soft light, so seeing is extremely difficult.

My ability to hand quilt in dim light has increased dramatically since investing $13.99 in a Ledgle brand rechargeable LED book light. I'm wearing it around my neck.

The lamp provides illumination right where I need it, without distracting Dan who's usually sitting in the chair next to me. Both lamps have three different settings, with the third setting shining two LED lights.

Because each side is flexible, I can point the light on where I need it most.
Big stitch hand quilting my selvedge quilt
The light arrived with a charge, enough for several hours of stitching. It can handily be recharged with my iPhone plug, or at my computer, using the included cord.

The light is available in several exterior colors - black, light blue, blue, and yellow. This is the light blue one that I'd call closer to "aqua."

If you're interested, here's the product I ordered from Amazon. By the way, I am not being compensated for this review. It's entirely of my own doing because I think it's worth sharing with my quilt-y friends. Even if you don't quilt, it would work well for knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and reading.

In the sewing room, I've been trial-and-erroring to learn to sew set in circles. They've fascinated me since seeing @mariquilts beautiful inset circle blocks on Instagram. She blogs at TheQuiltingEdge

I used Painter's Palette bright yellow with Gelato ombré to piece convex circles, and Painter's Palette pale aqua for concave circle/background block. No clue where this is going, but it's fun playing!
If you're as in the dark as I was about how to cut and sew inset circles, I highly recommend watching this YouTube video. It was made by Sharon, to explain how to use her Classic Curves Ruler (I love this ruler!) for inset circles, and includes video by Cassandra Beaver, a modern quilter from Ohio whose designs I really admire. Between the two of them, they do a great job of explaining how to be successful at making them. Always be learning, right?

I spent a day last week catching up on my temperature quilt. To make these Drunkard's Path blocks I'm using the Classic Curves Ruler! I put this picture on Instagram and it has received the most likes of anything I've posted this year! 
Though I had angst about this project because of the colors, I ended up adding three "hot" colors to the top temperatures - Painter's Palette sangria, amethyst, and bordeaux (the hottest) - for a total of 23 different solids to represent temps from 33F to more than 98F. Bet you can see we've had a long spell of hot temperatures, both high and low!

My latest audiobook finish is "The Perfect Couple" by Elin Hilderbrand. I picked this one because I'd read her Christmas-y Winter Street series last year - Winter Street; Winter Stroll; Winter Storm; and Winter Solstice.

All of Ms. Hilderbrand's books take place on Nantucket Island, a place I've never been. It sounds out of my league, but charming. "The Perfect Couple" book is about several 20-somethings, an engagement and wedding plans, liaisons between women and men (who shouldn't be liaisoning), and figuring out love. Of course, there's an unexplained death to keep readers guessing about who-done-it. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

Monday, July 22, 2019

Zippered Snack Bags

Last Saturday our Central Florida MQG members had the opportunity to learn how to sew zippered snack bags, led by fellow member Cindy, during our usual Saturday Sew-In. See our Central Florida MQG blog post, with pictures, here. 

These are the zipper pouches I made during the workshop. Cindy brought lots of bags with her and offered them to us. I picked the Hershey's Chocolate bag, but I brought the Twizzler's bag with me. It was such a sacrifice to eat them!

I learned that when a bag has a clear section (like the Twizzler's bag), you have to put fabric behind it, otherwise, the wrong side of the lining fabric will show through. I love the polka-dot I picked.

I made the Dove and coffee zipper bags at home. The Dove chocolates bag is from Cindy, and the coffee bag is mine. I love H.E.B. (grocery store) Cafe Olé, San Antonio flavored coffee that I get when I'm in Austin, Texas. That one turned out big enough that I'll use it to store scissors.

The notion that makes these bags work is iron-on vinyl, which I had never used before. Though, I had a roll of it in my stash, purchased many years ago at a Des Moines Area Quilter's Guild "garage sale" of members' stuff!

I've used all the vinyl I had and will certainly get more. Here's the product at JoAnn Fabrics.

Making these is addictive! I'm now eyeing all kinds of snack bags as potential zipper pouches! 

If you're curious about making them, here's a good video tutorial by Missouri Star

My sister visited over the weekend and at my invitation, selected a Dresden Plate quilt for herself.
Susan with her 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" Dresden quilt.
Together we determined who will receive the remaining three quilts, and those will be mailed this week. Using petals I have cut out, I'll make another one for myself.

In the meantime, I've returned to hand-quilting my selvedge quilt. I'm using size 8 and size 12 perle cottons in different brands and colors, to quilt colorful concentric circles.

All the white squares in the quilt center are quilted, and now I'm quilting the white rectangles around the outside edges.

Audiobook listening continues as I quilt. 

"Mummy's Favourite" by Sarah Flint, is flat-out, a story about a serial killer. The online synopsis says:
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead.
This book genre isn't my usual favorite, but I like the main character, Charlie Stafford, a young, savvy, and intuitive female D.C. (detective constable) in the London Metropolitan Police. This is the first book in the DC Charlotte Stafford series, so I'll probably read more.

Linda's score: 3.8/5

It's a good thing I have quilting and an audiobook to distract me because Sunday afternoon, at about 3 pm, an area water pump broke down. We had no water for more than an hour, and couldn't get through to our Community Watch to report our problem. We later learned that such a huge area was without water that Community Watch was inundated with phone calls. An emergency team got right on to the repair, so we had water within two hours... and were drinking it/using it... until much later I received a text that we are on boiled water restriction until further notice.

It's inconvenient to not be able to safely wash our hands at the sink, or hand wash a couple coffee mugs. We're cautious when showering, and we have bottled water, so we're ready to handle this until the restriction is lifted - about 48 hours from the time of the incident. I am grateful we haven't lost electricity. Linda

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Small Dresden Plate Quilts

I set out to use up scraps of vintage fabrics saved from a large box of vintage fabrics belonging to my maternal grandmother. My goal was to complete some small, keepsake quilts by this weekend to offer my sister first pick when she comes to visit this weekend.

Since I kept very few of the vintage fabric scraps, nor were the pieces very large, I decided that a 9" Dresden plate was as big as I could go. Using EQ8, I chose a 12-petal Dresden in the block library, made it 9" X 9" and printed it as "template" onto card stock. I cut out the card stock petal and used it as a rotary cutting guide to cut 72 petals. Though I made only four small quilts, I have enough petals cut for two more. I used the circle template to cut Dresden plate centers from a few solid colors of vintage fabric.

After piecing together the 12 petals, I sewed a quarter-inch seam around the outside of each petal to join lightweight fusible interfacing to the front of the plate. Then I cut notches along the curve of each petal, slit an opening in the fusible, and turned the whole thing right side out for a nice edge finish that was easy to press and fuse to background fabric. I used invisible thread and a tiny zig-zag to stitch the plate to the background.

I tried to make the machine quilting as simple as possible, using a neutral-colored thread to walking-foot quilt along each petal. Then, with a thread color to match the background, I used my Bernina ruler work foot (#72) and an echo guild to free motion quilt around each Dresden plate. In this picture, I'm using the .75" echo guide.

I used the 1" echo guide on the outermost passes. 

All the backings were pieced with vintage scraps. Background solids and bindings are the only fabrics that came from my stash.

I made four 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" quilts.  

 Each quilt has this label.

After my sister selects hers, the remaining quilts will be mailed to other female relatives. And of course, if needed, I have enough Dresden plate petals to make two more. 

Monica @buttoncounter who receive the bulk of Grandma's vintage fabrics, sent me a lovely thank-you note and parcel containing a ceramic coffee mug, two quilt patterns, and this 9" X 12" hand-quilted cutie. Monica was much too generous.  

But her quilt does look good on the sewing room wall between my TV and design wall! 

I'm still listening to books while I sew and quilt.

 "Down River" by John Hart is the 17th book I've listened to this year. He's a new author to me; his writing style has been likened to John Grisham. The characters and story are written from a male perspective with plenty of tension between the main character, Adam Chase, and his father - the who-done-it murder plot kept me guessing.

I enjoyed it, but I doubt I'll read another by this author. For many years I've been aware that I prefer female authors. This book has reminded me of that. Linda's Score: 3.7/5



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