Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back at it!

At my follow-up visit for my leg catheterization, I got the all clear to return to normal activities. It was also interesting to learn that in fact my left leg stent was 90 percent blocked! That's an unbelievable build-up of plaque in just six months. I can't tell you how happy I am to be "clean" again!

I finished this quilt, and used one of my new labels on it. I like these, and will sure use them, but I will also make my usual Printed Treasures labels so all the details are recorded too.

I've been anxious to try quilting that double batting. Today I had time to play with my test piece. Not only do I love the way this looks, but it quilted just beautifully! No problem whatsoever moving it through the machine, and in fact, I felt that I had more control over the piece because it was "sturdy." I'm charmed with how this looks, and excited to get started on the big quilt!

I tested four different threads to decide which I want to go crazy with. All I know so far is that white is ruled out. It just doesn't do anything for the designs.

Here's the test quilting from the back. Backing fabric is Carolyn Friedlander's 108" Widescreen, in grey.

A few evenings ago, during a brief stroll outside my sewing room, I came across this. I didn't know Hogan had an interest in ballet!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Second Anniversary

It was two years ago today that we moved into our new house in Florida. No surprise, but the time has truly flown by.

When we moved in on June 23, 2012, we were welcomed by Tropical Storm Debby. We'd never seen so much non-stop rain - three days and nights worth! We were only too familiar with flooding and loss of drinking water, as it happened in Des Moines in 1993. We've since learned that sand is much more porous than clay, so the danger of flooding here is minimal.

Two years later... this is what our house looks like. Professional landscaping made a nice improvement, and we love the colors of the different blooms - yellow, red, pink. How neat is it that you can plant impatiens in August and have them continue to bloom in June?!

I wanted to show more pictures of the changes around our area - every day, ten new houses are being built... and sold! - but our on-again/off-again rain has prevented me from getting out to take photos. And, there's still the recovery from last Wednesday's procedure to open the clogged stent in my left leg. The doc found that blood flow through the stent, that was put in just six months ago, was reduced 85 percent due to plaque pushing through the mesh. I'm recovering well, pain-free, though no lifting or strenuous activities are allowed until my follow-up doc visit on Wednesday.

Here's the little bit of sewing I've managed. I finished up a selvages version of the "Edith Small Zipper Bag" (find the tutorial on the tab above) started last November when Edith visited from Switzerland.

And three collapsible thread catchers are done. A couple weeks ago, when I taught my weekly quilting group how to make them, I used these, in a various stage of completion, to show how to sew them. They're still a clever design, I think. Though I made mine with the inside ring of a four-inch wooden embroidery hoop, this YouTube video shows how to make one with the top ring part of a Pringles can!

Happy mail brought these custom fabric labels. If you need customized labels, or just pre-designed ones with your name, visit Jennifer's Jewels Etsy shop here.

We just found out that our old Francrest Circle house in Iowa is for sale again. It's so interesting to see the online pictures of what the owners did with the place. It looks great! Linda

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Where does the time go?! To say it's been busy around here is an understatement, but it's mostly good stuff, so no complaints. 

Last Wednesday was the first class of Beyond First Time Quiltmaking. It went pretty well, though I'm getting some feedback that this quilt design is too much for eight class hours. However, several of the quilters have said they're enjoying it. So, I'm thinking that for next fall's class, I'll design a modified version of this one so students have two options. Each quilter likes to work at her own pace, so having two designs will hopefully fulfill that need. 
54" X 60" (not yet bound)
Over the weekend, I was able to finish quilting it with a combination of easy designs - channel lines, stippling and circles... 

 - and more challenging designs like feathers, 

and snail trails.

My intent was to show a variety of quilting designs to inspire students to quilt their own, at their own skill level.

I will also teach them my favorite binding method by demonstrating it, and providing a hand-out. I hope students feel like they've gotten their money's worth for the class, and not that I've loaded them with too much information. 

Over the weekend I pin-based a big, 78" square quilt top. For the first time, I layered two batts: on top of the backing fabric is Quilter's Dream polyester, and on top of the poly is Quilter's Dream wool. When interviewing winning quilters in Paducah, I learned that a number of them were double batting their quilts because quilt folds didn't show after being shipped and hung, and the extra dimension shows off the quilting. A few quilters said they used Hobbs 80/20 in place of the poly layer.

 In any case, I'm giving this a go. This is my test piece, a mini version of the big quilt.

It looks poofy, doesn't it?

I want to put some special quilting into this quilt, so I took a photo of it, used iPhoto to change the color photo into black and white, and printed out several copies. I'm using the pages to try out quilting designs. I haven't settled on anything yet, but it's going to be my road map for getting started.

I've resurrected a UFO. Well, truth be told, it isn't even my UFO! Back in 2011, Julia, who lives in Australia, offered a blog giveaway of these four 15" X 15" Kaffe Fasset fabric blocks made from the Piece 'O Cake book "Aunt Millie's Garden." Julia exquisitely hand-appliquéd the blocks herself, and I won them! After some Kaffe fabric shopping in Paducah, and a generous scrap donation sent from Elizabeth (she made the Lollypop Trees quilt seen here), I've got what I need to make a top. Julia didn't have any of the background fabric, nor even knew what it is (a teeny, aqua-colored microdot), so "lake" Architextures crosshatch fabric is what I'm going with. Of course, I wouldn't have enough of it in my stash, so now this project is stalled until a Hawthorne Threads fabric order arrives. 

In the meantime, I'm enjoying real flowers just outside my sewing room. Lovely yellow hibiscus, 

pretty yellow allamandas, 

and the next door neighbor's gorgeous crape myrtle. We couldn't grow any of these flowers in Iowa.

The rest of this week is be pretty laid-back, as Wednesday finds me having yet another catheterization procedure (my fourth visit to that lab since last December), to clean out plaque within the stent that's in my left femoral artery. After I thought I'd put all that annoying peripheral artery disease (PAD) behind me, I learned last week that the intense left leg ache I've been experiencing when line dancing or walking at a steady pace, is being caused by poor blood flow because plaque is pushing through the stent the doc inserted last December 13. Hopefully, after tomorrow's "roto-rooter" job, I'll be line dancing again without discomfort. Linda

Monday, June 9, 2014

June's Busy-ness

Lora and I had a wonderful time together last week. We gave our "What is Modern Quilting?" program to about 150 quilters at Quilting Guild of The Villages (QGOTV). I'm happy to say that we received some welcome feedback, including one person who said that our program was one of the two best ones she's ever heard! Now that's positive reinforcement!

We might have impressed QGOTV with the 17 door prizes we brought, thanks to generous book donations by AQS (Modern Quilts and More, among other titles) and Storey Publishing (Quilting With a Modern Slant), and seven battings for this event from Quilter's Dream. All good stuff!

Following our presentation, an extra special addition to our modern trunk show was having Sandi Snow join us, from Lutz, Florida, to show two of her award-winning quilts. 
(L) Lora, and Sandi

Sandi's other quilt was the AccuQuilt Challenge winner. If it looks somewhat familiar, you've probably seen it in AccuQuilt print ads, in quilting magazines.
The day after our program, Lora and I led two Improvisational Block workshops. Students made these 15-1/2" X 15-1/2" blocks using fabrics Lora and I pulled and cut from our own stash. Yah, that was somewhat painful. By weight, each bundle was wrapped into a 3 kit.

The morning class was full. That's Lora (in the orange top) and me, lower left front, with 13 of our quilting friends.

The afternoon class was smaller, but no less enthusiastic! I have no doubt whatsoever that we'll be seeing some of these quilters at future Central Florida MQG meetings. Maybe even tonight!

After I was featured on the Quilter's Dream blog as their June battgirl, I learned I was being sent a box of "thank you" battings! Look at the great assortment I received! Looks like I've got a few quilts to make! In my next quilt, I'll be using a combination of Dream Poly (request) and Dream Wool - that's something new for me to try - and then I'm anxious to use Orient. The pink pin at the bottom of the photo says I'm a BattGirl.

The weekend saw me prepping samples and hand-outs for this week's classes. Tomorrow, at Bradenton Quilters, I'll be showing how to make a thread catcher, using three of my examples in various stages of completion.

On Wednesday two-weeks/eight hours of Beyond First Time Quiltmaking starts. Besides making the 54" X 60" quilt top with a variety of pieced blocks, students will learn how to make my favorite binding - the one with no tails to join, and machine-sewn mitered corners, like the tutorial here. To demonstrate, I prepared this 32" X 42" quilt and binding.

So, everything is ready, though I'm just now getting to quilt the quilt! I'm feeling a little free-motion-rusty, but as I keep quilting every day, I can tell I'm getting back in the groove. 

I'm trying to include quite a bit of straight-line quilting, so students will see how effective it is, and very do-able.

It's been two weeks of too much fun! Linda

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Touring with American Made Brand

Have you been traveling to each state these past couple weeks, seeing some of the neat license plates I've seen? I hope so!

Today's stop is...

So many wonderful thoughts come to mind when I think of Florida, that it was difficult to narrow the long list of items I could have included on my license plate. Mind you... this license plate is my second attempt, as I had even more "things" on the first one!

With only a 6-1/2" X 12-1/2" (unfinished) space in which to convey Florida, I had to go with the obvious - sun, sand and surf. And I added my personal favorite warm-weather "thing" - palms. I've been all about palms since I started this blog in late 2008, while living in Iowa. Even then I was dreaming about living in a tropical place, never imagining that dream would actually come true. On June 23, we'll have been Floridians for two years.

And to give credit where it's due... we wouldn't be living in paradise if it weren't for almost 30 years of hubby's hard work while living in Iowa, working for John Deere. Believe it or not, John Deere manufactures cotton pickers in Des Moines, Iowa!

I remember when... in about 1989, all of us John Deere wives were invited to the factory for a luncheon and tour. The plant manager told us that to help the company and our family prosper, we should "buy cotton." He said, "Buy cotton clothes. Buy blue jeans." I completely understood his unspoken words - "Buy quilting cotton." - and took them to heart!

When this John Deere cotton picker - technically, a "cotton harvester" - photo appeared in an article about American Made Brand fabrics, in the March issue of American Quilter magazine... husband was the one to pipe up, "That's a model 7760 harvester!" Who else would know?! And would you believe, just one cotton harvester costs more than $800,000?! Wow!

So with hard work for a great company, our dreams have come true. We're living in a climate that suits our preferences for warmth and sunshine.

And don't you know? All our favorite people live in Florida!

From where we live, it's just a 75-minute drive to see them and many other attractions like Universal Studios (Blue Man Group!), Sea World, and Legoland.

We also like historic St. Augustine where lovely Tiffany furniture and glass can be seen at Flagler Collage. And oh! If you're Louis Comfort Tiffany fan (be sure to read "Clara and Mr. Tiffany" by Susan Vreeland), don't miss a visit to Winter Park, Florida to the Morse Museum where you'll see the largest collection of Tiffany glass. It's breathtaking. 

My license plate design uses 14 of the 50 American Made Brand solids. If you like what you see, you're welcome to download and use this design as you wish. Click here for instructions that include print-outs for the foundation paper-pieced sun, and appliqué elements. Appliqué pieces were backed with a fusible web, cut out, ironed to background fabric, and machine-appliquéd with a narrow and shortened-length zig-zag stitch.

If you machine appliqué on a Bernina sewing machine, use the #20 appliqué foot, and don't forget to feed the bobbin thread (I use #60-weight The Bottom Line) through the bobbin's "finger." This keeps the bobbin thread drawn to the bottom, forming a prettier stitch on top.

I pretty much exclusively use Aurifil threads for piecing, machine- and hand-appliqué, and quilting. I recommend two-ply 50-weight thread, the one on the orange-colored spool.

A Bismarck palm, in my front yard!
Have you seen some of the license plates that were posted to blogs during the past two weeks? Michele of QuiltsFromMyCrayonBox is doing a great job of creating a collage of each week of license plate blocks. All 50 blocks will later be made into one, very neat quilt!

Thank you for visiting me during this tour! To enter my giveaways for a:

1. fat quarter bundle of American Made Brand fabrics,
2. bundle of all extra samples and pieces of AMB fabrics not used in my license plate

comment to let me know where you would like to go on a vacation in Florida. If you're a "no reply" commenter, be sure to include an email address so I can tell you if you win.

I am stunned to find so many "no reply" commenters in the first 70 comments. PLEASE be sure you know if you're a "no reply." If in doubt, include your email address in your comment. Many of you will definitely NOT win because I won't be able to contact you!

This giveaway is open to international visitors! Giveaway ends Saturday, June 7 at 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.


After commenting, stick with us as we continue on our tour. Visit today's other state blogger from Texas, and then go here tomorrow to continue on our road trip to the remaining 20 states! That's 20 more chances to win an AMB fabric bundle! Linda

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hi Visitors!

A few of you might be visiting me here today because of Quilter's Dream blog post about me. Thank you for stopping by! And a big thanks to Quilter's Dream for naming me a June "Batt Girl" and for featuring my domestic machine quilt "Love Links" made with QD polyester request batting.

Because a post doesn't count unless it has a few pictures, here are a couple of things I've been up to lately.

I recovered an old, ugly green 16" pillow. I raided my solids stash for this one, being sure to use lots of the royal blue color to coordinate with our golf cart colors. White strips are Painter's Canvas by Laura Gunn. The quilt pattern is curves, spaced about 3/4" apart.

I'll use the pillow in the golf cart to give me the boost I need to comfortably reach the accelerator. I didn't want to put too much time into this pillow because a golf cart can't be locked up, and though I don't expect someone will steal it... you never know.

Over the weekend, I dusted off my garment sewing skills to make this top for myself. It's Simplicity 2255 made with Cloud 9 fabric. Yep, I've still got the aqua-thing goin' on.

Skirts are up next. They'll be made from the book "The Essential A-Line Skirt" in a few different versions. Before I start, I'm waiting for a Bernina #35 sewing machine foot to come in. That's the invisible zipper foot. Guess it was on special in May, so Bernina is back-ordered.

I hope all of you are following the AMB (American Made Brand) blog tour. Please return here Thursday for your Florida stop! I'll be hosting a fabric giveaway! Linda


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