Monday, March 31, 2014

Sewing Shorts

If nothing else, I'm writing a new post to push aside my Pantone quilt, which didn't do well in the challenge. The piece that won is gorgeous... and so small! Makes me wish I hadn't put so much time into a larger project that I don't even like very much. "Perspective" is the only thing that redeems it! I'll be hanging it in my sewing room with the word side out.

For something different... Sometimes it's nice to sew clothes again.

I come from a background of home sewists. My mother was the best at garment construction. In a week or less, she could whip up a new outfit for herself or us two girls, even when working full time. She always sewed new Easter outfits for us and herself, and I remember one time when she even made my sister and me purses! They were white fabric, drawstring top bags, and inside, for stabilization was a Quaker Oats container! So economical, and clever! There wasn't much that she couldn't sew. At one time or another, each of us wore a home sewn swimming suit, dress coat, two-piece suit, wedding and bridesmaid dresses... and those were just a few of the items she created!

On the right is our mother, perhaps in the early 1990's, modeling a wool suit and blouse she made and entered in the Make It Yourself With Wool contest. She won first place, in her region and age division.

An upbringing in such a household led both my sister and me to do our own sewing. For me, quilting came later, but it's still a treat to sew clothes. I'm a dress and skirt kind of gal, and still like to make the occasional outfit for myself. I had hoped to someday have a little girl to dress up again, but with four grandsons born into our family that isn't going to happen. To be honest, I find it difficult to not become overly jealous of my friends who get to sew cute girl clothes for their granddaughters.

So, I look for reasons to sew for grandsons. I'm grateful to SewKellySews on Instagram, who recently posted a picture of Minion fabric. That was all the excuse I needed to sew shorts for two grandsons - the brothers who are 13 months apart and "speak" Minion to each other. They're a hoot.

The fabric came from Spoonflower - two one-yard Kona pieces. One print has a pale green background and the other, a light blue background. 

The little drawing Jorren drew on the packing slip made me smile.

This shorts pattern is a purchased download from DanaMadeIt. It's nice because I have 11 sizes, and a number of styles. These are sizes 3 and 4 boy's shorts with front pockets. See how I even matched the print of the pocket Minions to the shorts fronts?!

Too bad I don't have any models nearby to put them on and show you how they look. I hope they'll like wearing the shorts, and look as adorable as I think they will. Linda

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family and the Familiar

The day came and went. My 61st birthday was Tuesday, and as my birthdays usually are, it was uneventful. Honestly, I'm happy because I readily remember last year at this time! That's when I knew I had breast cancer, but had not yet had my lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy to know how extensive the cancer was, and what kind of treatment I'd need. It's good to look back on the surgery and radiation, and expect a healthy future. I can't even complain about being on Arimidex for another four years/two months. As promised, ten months accumulation of the drug now brings on seven to eight intense "power surges" each day, and a marked inclination to gain weight - an obstacle which I am determined not to allow! Each morning I drink 14 ounces of fresh vegetable juice that helps, in many ways. So, if hot flashes and a rigid diet are the worst I have to contend with, I remain positive!

So, Tuesday morning saw me going to a morning line dance workout at Exercise in Disguise, and in the afternoon attending the weekly Bradenton Quilters. Hubs and I went out to dinner, a rare occurrence for us. And later in the evening, I happily accepted calls from each of our two children.

During the day, I received cards, text messages, and emails, too, and friends Deb and Carla sent thoughtful gifts - a fabric gift certificate (Terra Australis, I'm waiting for you to arrive in the US!); and a quilting idea book from Carla which will come in handy when I'm stumped for quilting design ideas.

The book was wrapped in a cute piece of fabric, an idea I'll have to file away for my own gift-giving. Thank you both for these gifts!

In "I'm a proud mom" news, our daughter Jill has been named - and is being honored tonight! - as one of Kansas City's 2014 Most Influential Business Women! Read about it here.

We are both terribly proud of her achievements, not only for her business start-up, and student-peer education program (ReBEl), but for doing such a great job of being a wife, mom of three children, and a wonderful, thoughtful daughter. I just can't express how much we admire what she does.

Our lives aren't nearly as exciting, though that's not a bad thing.

Last Thursday I did a little teaching - an all day free motion quilting workshop with 16 women. It was a pleasure to share FMQ with them - and, to see improvement, encourage, encourage, encourage them to continue quilting.

Writing their name is a good way to begin, and students are always happy when it's legible!

This time, I also suggested that they date their first practice piece, and keep it for comparison later on.

When I'm not home in my sewing room, like when I go to Bradenton Quilters or Happy Stitchers, my portable project continues to be the EPP Flower Ball. I'm still basting fabric to 189 papers!

As time permits, I'm replacing pillows on the living room sofa and love seat. The four 20" pillows that came with the furniture coordinate too nicely. And, I was disappointed to zip open the commercially made pillows and see loose fiberfill on the inside. Not even a pillow insert! So, I'm remaking them by sewing a muslin pillow insert cover, stuffing each with the old pillow stuffing, and making a new pillow cover.

This weekend, when a JHittleSewing order arrived (it's where I get Aurifil thread) and 18-inch white zippers were in it, I finished two-sided pillow number two.

I used Carla's Liberated Cross tutorial to make eight blocks.

Because I like that center block fabric, and could fussy cut it, I sewed set-in seams to make it the focal point. Quilting is a series of double arcs. All four pillows - when I finish them - will have the same decorative corded edge I sewed with Laura Gunn's Painter's Canvas, in spice.

A new quilt is in the works, so I'm playing for the first time with my Quick Curve Ruler. Instead of buying a pattern, I am making rectangle-shaped blocks as instructed on the flyer that came wrapped with the ruler.

Since each rectangle shape finishes at only 3-1/2" X 7", it's taking a lot of cutting, sewing, and trimming to get the quantity needed for a decent sized quilt.

To make the quilt scrappy, yet within a group of specific colors, I cut into more than 100 different stashed prints to come up with the 160 rectangles needed. The solid curves are cut from Kona Snow.

So, if you're looking for me, I'll be in my sewing room. Or, I might be admiring the latest photo pinged in on my Iphone. Our Texas baby, the adorable Luke (John) - or LJ, as some family members are now calling him - is ten weeks old. It's the face of sweet innocence, isn't it? Linda

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pantone Challenge

I like a good challenge, especially when I decide to do something that I have little or no experience doing. Such was the case with the Pantone Challenge quilt I recently put together.

There was no radiant orchid in my stash. A bundle purchase from Intrepid Thread fixed that.
I don't have much experience with improv piecing.

Now I have both!

The quilt is wonky... from the four sections of mushy-mixed radiant orchid and chartreuse prints, to the long grey and white strips, edged with solid chartreuse. Oh my. Random cutting without benefit of a ruler!

Though I enjoyed the process, I've concluded that it takes as long to improv piece as it does to make a traditional quilt block.

The back was fun because early-on I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Since winning a giveaway of the book Word Play, I look for opportunities to piece words. My 2014 word of the year is "perspective," so putting my word-of-the-year on the back of the color-of-the-year was almost too perfect. And then, when I realized my letters wouldn't quite fit across the 40" wide back, it made complete sense to "change the perspective," so to speak, and march the remaining letters up the side. Now aren't I clever?

Quilting is wonky and minimal.

Straight lines radiate from the nine-patch center to the outside, so they're barely visible in the mix of prints.

All the grey and white strips are quilted with random curved swags.

The single-fold binding is scrappy, just like the piecing.

Randomness and wonkiness make this 40" X 40" finished quilt about the least typical quilt I've ever made.

Yep. It was outside my comfort zone, but now I have a new perspective! 

I'm linking my entry to Anne's post here where you can see all the radiant quilts being entered. Linda

*Pictures taken at Lake Sumter in The Villages, Florida.

Monday, March 10, 2014


As many of you know, we moved into our brand new house in June, 2012. The landscaping here, while attractive, was pretty dull, standard issue. Last August, we hired landscapers, who pulled out everything, and started over with new stuff - European fan palm; Bismarck palm; Hawaiian Ty; allamanda; Mexican petunia; hybiscus; holly trees; variegated ginger; and bottle brush. The bottle brush is predominantly across the back of the house, along the lanai, to eventually offer privacy. Well, imagine our surprise when neighbors behind us hired landscapers too, and went all out to make it attractive, not only for themselves, but us! 

See that twin palm?! It's two Sylvester palms. I'm pretty sure we have a much better view of these than even they do! 

This photo was taken through the lanai screen. There's landscaping along the ground too, and on opposite ends of the backyard, they planted two orange trees! While I would have liked a citrus tree too, we were warned away from planting them because they supposedly attract fruit rats. It will be interesting to see what develops. In any case, we approve of what they did and are thoroughly appreciating it!

We recently had Iowa visitors. Ann and Larry are friends from church, Lutheran Church of Hope. We were in Bible study together, and Ann and I sat next to each other in the alto section of Adoration Choir. It was great to see them again as we picked up just as though we'd seen each other a week ago, rather than the 19 months ago it really was!

They really enjoyed The Villages, and we're almost positive we'll be seeing them here again. Yay!
Along the doc at Lake Sumter Landing
Quilting friend Anne, in Colorado, is a talented designer whose SpringLeafStudios blog I follow. When I saw Anne's Kite Tails quilt that was in the January/February issue of Generation Q magazine, I needed the mag... and bought the March/April issue at the same time.

Sunday afternoon I sat down to browse through them. Imagine my surprise, when looking through the March/April issue, to find my own words in print! Apparently when I responded to the GenQ blog post about 2013 finished projects they chose to print what I said!

Here's the sewing happening in my sewing room. 

I'm cutting fabric and basting papers for the Geta Grama "Flower Ball" quilt. Check out the gorgeous domestic machine quilting Patricia, in the UK, is doing on her own nearly-finished Flower Ball quilt.

I started another quilt that is cut from 90 different rectangle-shaped prints, and strips of Kona Snow. Using the Quick Curve rulers to cut curves, I then did lots and lots of curved piecing.

Each rectangle in this tall stack now needs trimming.

I also started cutting fabrics to make a 54" X 60" quilt of my own design. It will be my teaching quilt for Beyond First Time Quiltmaking starting in June. Most of the quilt is diagonal piecing - Churn Dash block, Pinwheel block, Flying Geese, and half-square triangles.

On the finished end of things is this 12-1/2" Spider Web block, ready to mail to Cindy. She's our Mid Century Modern Bee queen for March and asked for a text-y center and solids. 

We're to send along a little label too. 

Last week, MQX (Machine Quilter's Expo) let me know that my quilt, Bloom, has been juried into the New Hampshire show, April 9-12. This is exciting news!

Heading now to get it shipped for arrival by the end of the week. Linda

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Back to Sewing

First Time Quiltmaking classes have ended - one last week, and one today. Here are pics of both classes.  Don't ya love their bright quilts?

Yep, that's me in the back row, right.
Each class ended with considerably fewer than the 20 students who first began! I heard from some of them who let me know they couldn't attend the last, photo-taking class because they had medical problems, or were traveling. 

These two groups of students received a fifth quilt pattern in their hand-outs - a new design. It's also 36" X 48". I added it because I wanted to offer a design that was more modern-looking, and was a little more challenging, for those students who have previously sewn and/or made quilts. "Spinner" is made with several solids and other modern fabrics, including Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets.
36" X 48"
One student, Lisa, completed Spinner. She added a counted cross-stitched label to the quilt front - the white square, lower right.

Next Thursday I'll be teaching another Free Motion Quilting workshop, and then I'm "off" until the middle of June when I teach a Beyond First Time Quiltmaking series. Until then, more sewing is on my horizon! Here's what I've done lately.  

A recent purchase was the online pattern called "KidShorts" by I love the immediacy of downloading a pattern, and that directions have you print only particular pages for the size pattern you want to sew. I am experimenting on shorts for grandsons who live far away. Their moms gave me waist and length measurements so I could select the correct size.

Easy-peasy to cut and sew these elastic waistband shorts in a couple hours. Next time, there will be pockets. Star Wars fan Austin was the first to get his.

The fabric is glow-in-the-dark, purchased at Hawthorne Threads.

I was tickled that my daughter-in-law thought to email me a picture of Austin wearing his new shorts, immediately after they arrived in the mail! Even though it was too cold for shorts, Austin negotiated with his mom to allow him to put them on over long pants! Cutie-pie.
The other sewing I finished was this bag. I love sewing with selvages, and thought I needed a different, larger bag, to hold my cell phone, camera (I rarely go anywhere without it), and credentials. 

I sewed it two-side. Any bag or tote pattern can be adapted for selvage-sewing. This is the Sonoma Swing Bag.

As always, I added extra interior pockets.

No surprise. I have several other projects in the works. What about making a selvage skirt?

You'll be hearing more from me! Linda


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