Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Strawberry Fizz and Lime Pop

It was slow quilting the past couple weeks to finish 78" X 78" "Strawberry Fizz and Lime Pop." Actually, it isn't completely finished, as three sides of binding remain to be hand sewn down.

The problem with this quilt is that I lost the love I initially felt when I made the spontaneous decision to join the Blogger's BOM in September 2011. In the beginning, being uber-enthusiastic, I decided to make two of each month's 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" block!

When I chose fabrics, I was just beginning to explore modern quilting. Hence, my decision to use Kona Ash and Kona White as background. Important decisions arose when it came time to put the blocks together. My first thought was to join the blocks with sashing - the usual ho-hum. Then, trying to push the envelope toward modern, I thought to "float" the blocks with sashing fabric that matched the block background.

Thinking about modern being asymmetrical, I decided to arrange the blocks like this. Some are on point and some are not.

The quilt center languished until it was my turn to choose a block for the Mid-Century Modern Bee. In May 2013, I asked for this 9-1/2" X 12-1/2" block with Kona Ash, Kona white, and assorted strawberry and lime prints. Again, I was aiming for a more modern finish to the quilt.

Using my bee mates' blocks as borders, I completed the quilt top. Again, it languished.

I finally began quilting in May. Using my Pfaff Grand Quilter and the ruler work foot, I quilted straight lines with my Fine Line Ruler.

The rest of the quilting was entirely free-form. No marking whatsoever to make the job faster. I've been all about getting this finished!

I'm breathing a sigh of relief to have this off my UFO list. Though I don't have a purpose for the quilt, maybe after enjoying it for a while, I'll donate it... hoping that MCM friends who contributed to the quilt won't mind.
Quilt back, with signature blocks
In spite of my determination to finish this project, I still procrastinated about sitting at the machine to quilt. A couple evenings ago, because I had the strong urge to sew something, I made this pillowcase dress.
It's a size 2-4 following this tutorial. I intend to donate it, and a few more, to Dress a Girl Around the World. Making this was so satisfying, not only because I used stash fabrics and it will go to a child in need, but it was just plain fun to make something girly. I don't have a reason to do that. Ever.

Later today I'll be welcoming DIL Lyn, and two grandsons for a week-long visit! I bought this darling Bernina Artista 230 sewing machine from my friend, Lora, as a gift for Lyn, who has never sewn. I can't wait to give it to her. I only hope I can refrain myself from wanting to teach her everything at once!

Getting ready for their visit, I thought you'd like to see how flexible my sewing room can be.
Sewing room
I intentionally chose changeable pieces like this, rather than built-ins, so when needed this room becomes a nursery! Seventeen month-old LJ will sleep here. His changing table is my ironing table, raised higher on Ikea saw horses, and covered with a colorful quilt. I love it, and even the woman who delivered the rented furniture (crib, high chair, and a car seat), commented on how cute it is. 
Oh! And if you haven't yet voted in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, please do so by May 29. You can vote for three quilts in each category, and I'd appreciate your votes for domestic machine quilted, Shapes; and small, Flower Ball; and modern, Ad Libbing quilt that Lora entered for us. Thanks! Linda

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Another for Blogger's Quilt Festival

The more I thought about the quilt hanging over the bed in the guest room, the more I thought, "I should enter this one in the Blogger's Quilt Festival too."

So, I am. This is "Flower Ball," an English paper-pieced design by Geta Grama.

No one has seen this quilt other than the two quilting groups of which I'm a member, and anyone who overnights at my house! And I'm pretty proud of it, if nothing else for the fact that it just goes in the guest room!
The headboard, which I made first, has lettering - "It's another beautiful day" - that's the same Kona Azure as the background of the Flower Ball. The ceiling was painted after the quilt was hung.

English paper-piecing this was futsy because every piece had to be put together in the proper column and row, in number, alphabet, and up or down order.

In less time than I expected, the top was finished. I domestic machine quilted it.

Statistics: Flower Ball
40-1/2" X 40-1/2"
2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival "Small Quilt" category
Sit-down quilted on a Pfaff Grand Quilter
Design: "Flower Ball," an English paper-pieced design by Geta Grama
Fabrics: assorted prints for the "flowers" on a white Painter's Canvas "ball." Background is Kaufman Kona Azure
Batting: Quilter's Dream Orient
Thread: YLI polyester


Monday, May 18, 2015

"Shapes" for Blogger's Quilt Festival

For the first time, I'm entering the Blogger's Quilt Festival, an annual online quilt "show" hosted by Amy's Creative Side.

Shapes is my own quilt design made specifically for the Pansasonic Bias Tape Appliqué Challenge, hosted last fall by The Modern Quilt Guild.

I spent considerable time designing, which doesn't come easily to me, even requesting input from my friend Debbie.

As I was quilting, my walking foot started oozing grease onto the white background fabric. You may even have heard my sobs. 

It took a few strategically-place bias hexagons to cover the marks which I was unable to remove, in spite of using several different recommended products.

So again, I present Shapes with up-close pictures of the quilting. 

Shapes, from the back.

Statistics: Shapes
61" X 61"
2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival "Home Machine Quilted" category
Sit-down quilted on a Pfaff Grand Quilter
Fabrics: Kaufman Kona solids, Paint by Carrie Bloomston
Batting: two layers of Quilter's Dream, polyester request loft and wool
Thread: 50-weight Aurifil in several colors - pale yellow, aqua, pink.

To see more quilts, go to Amy's Creative Side: 2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival. Linda

Friday, May 15, 2015

Doin's and Random Stuff

Though I'm finally at home for a while - the four-day Central Florida MQG/Gainesville MQG Mod Retreat was last weekend - I find I'm not spending much time at home. This week was:

  • Monday evening's Central Florida MQG meeting
  • Four line dance classes where I monitor the status of the critical PAD (peripheral artery disease) in my legs. Right now, the symptom of burning in my left calf when dancing briskly, is a clear indication that once again blood isn't flowing very well. I see my cardio-vascular doc next Tuesday about that.
  • Tuesday's weekly Big Cypress quilters meeting.
  • Wednesday's weekly Happy Stitchers group.
  • Thursday's appointment with my oncologist where I learned I'm tolerating the Arimidex drug well - my bone density test confirms that - and after two years of being breast cancer-free, I'm going from every three month appointments to every six month appointments. Yay!
  • Next week I will teach "No Tails Binding" again, twice, making it six times I've taught the class since March 8!

For those of you in the know, this week/weekend is quilt market in Minneapolis. While I'm not in the business, I have attended several quilt markets in Kansas City. Market is a good place to connect with designers and manufacturers, and for me, find topics to write about for quilt magazines.

One of my favorite companies, MassDrop, is at market and has created a promo for their business. If you don't know about this company, let me tell you what a good business concept this is - getting lots of consumers (quilters) to purchase one item, and obtaining a reduced price for the "mass" purchase. And shipping is free! I know because I've made numerous purchases.

Here's a sample of some of their current discounted products:

Here's what I did with some of the multi-colored Wonder Clips I received in a recent drop. Using the aqua ones, I hung family photos in my sewing room.

If you haven't already subscribed to MassDrop, I recommend it. There's no obligation to make a purchase, but if you find something in the quilting community that interests you, it's certain you'll get one of the lowest prices available. Saving money on quilting fabric and notions - even sewing machines! - is appealing, so use this link to register yourself.

About writing for quilt magazines... my favorite magazine editor, Michele, at American Quilter, lost her job in February, leaving me in limbo as to whether I will be doing any freelance writing for that magazine again. So, to keep myself "out there," I took the plunge and submitted an original design to Modern Patchwork magazine. You can imagine how pleased I was to receive an email this week, letting me know that my submission has been accepted! I'll have a project in the October issue of Modern Patchwork! I'm more than thrilled, and having fun too. With my previous experiences as an editor at American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, pattern-writing is what I enjoy. Wish I could show you what I made. When I do share my project, look for a giveaway here!

The magazine's acceptance of my design has motivated me to work on another submission, but daily FMQ has my attention! Too many tops are waiting for quilting for me to ignore them for long. Here's a little of this week's progress on "Strawberry Fizz and Lime Pop," a BOM project begun in September 2011. Shameful that it's been unfinished for so long, isn't it? I vow that in 2015 it will no longer be a UFO.

Thanks to two thoughtful quilting friends who in March gave me birthday gift certificates to Hawthorne Threads, I now have the latest Lizzy House Mini Pearl Bracelets. They're so pretty!

As I do with every new fabric, I washed and ironed these pieces before putting them into my cupboard. Even when I aligned the fabric selvages, I was surprised to see how off-kilter the print is. Since it was consistently like this on every piece, it's meant to be. 

Another new bundle of fabrics came from Hancock's of Paducah, where I found the best price on AMB (American Made Brand) solids. These colors and that "Improvising Tradition" book will be the inspiration for the 15" X 15" design I plan to make for the AMB Tiny Quilt Challenge, due September 15. I won't be sharing pictures of this until the contest deadline because photos of in-progress or finished projects are not permitted in social media until then. 

Ad Libbing
"Ad Libbing," the quilt I made with Lora that won a blue ribbon in Jacksonville last fall, and was juried into QuiltCon, didn't win anything at the Machine Quilter's Expo in New Hampshire. At this weekend's Machine Quilter's Showcase in Iowa, it received a Teacher's Award, a ribbon. No prize money.


My "Shapes" quilt, made for the Panasonic Bias Tape Appliqué Challenge, did not receive anything at last week's Home Machine Quilter's Showcase in Utah either.

Receiving no awards is disappointing it's cost hundreds of dollars for entry fees, shipping, and insurance. As much as I desire recognition for domestic machine quilting, the competition is so stiff that it's not worth the money or effort for me to enter. Perhaps if I was in business as a longarm quilter I'd have a different perspective.

My lesson learned is: "Quilt for me, not for anyone else." Linda

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mod Retreat and White Backgrounds

Sleeping was not high on the priority list of things to do while on a fabulous quilt retreat with members of my own Central Florida MQG, and the Gainesville MQG. At least four of us stayed up into the wee hours, each of the three nights we were at Luther Springs, a delightful Lutheran Bible camp in the middle of nowhere Florida. To see lots of retreat pictures, go to this CFMQG blog post

In the big scheme of things, my accomplishments aren't so grand. Though I went on retreat intent to put together piles of finished string-pieced diamonds to finally assemble my long-standing UFO "Picket Fence" quilt top, there just wasn't enough room to lay out that quilt. So, it's a good thing that I also took along my homemade kits to sew blocks for two quilts. Those two are the ones I nearly completed.  

My first quilt top finish was "Triangle Tango," a pattern I saw at Missouri Star Quilt Company, when I was there with friends on April 17. Jenny Doan's (Missouri Star) version uses a layer cake collection and jelly rolls, neither of which I ever buy. Precuts aren't my thing.

So I sewed mine scrappy using prints from my stash along with 2-1/2"-wide strips cut from my bolt of Kaufman Kona white. It's fun to point out the variety of designer prints and collections.

My Triangle Tango quilt top measures 65" X 73", and is ready for basting and quilting.

The second quilt top I nearly finished is "Prism" by Zen Chic. I'm a pushover for any bright and rainbow-looking quilt, so this one makes me very happy. Right now, this design measures 55" X 72". Yet to add to this quilt design are top and bottom solid white borders that will make lots of negative space for quilting.

Prism is sewn from unfinished foundation paper-pieced blocks that are 9-1/2" square, using prints and Kaufman Kona white as background fabric. The FPPed blocks were a stinker to join together so the angles meet-up. It took some unsewing and resewing to get them all right.  

However, the bigger angles were much easier to meet-up. I made sure to add one solid piece of each bright color.

Love these prints! Left: Sphere by Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic. Right: The Linen Cupboard by Emma Jean Jansen of Ella Blue.

So that makes two more quilt tops to add to the three quilt tops I already have that need quilting! That's five fairly large quilts to quilt! Guess you can figure out what I should be doing whenever I find myself at home for a few hours. And it is good to be home for a while. Linda

Monday, May 4, 2015

18 Days Away

This is one of those occasional posts I mention to students in my quilting classes. "I post about quilt-y things most of the time, and occasionally post about my grandchildren."

Eighteen days away from home, spent with family, allows for plenty of grandchildren time.

Because I was Kansas City for our daughter Jill's birthday, I made her birthday "cake." With a nod to their former life in Sydney, Australia - and my absolute adoration of that fabulous city (after visiting four times) - I made the iconic Australian dessert, Pavlova. It turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself! And the fam apparently liked it.

Tay and Aesa, two of Jill's three children who are ages five and four can be quite a handful. As brothers will do, they go wild, running and yelling, picking at each other, and sometimes playing nicely. I was best able to handle them when I was responsible for just one. Or, a nice option was to take both of them to a park where they could run!

Bapa arrived ten days after I did, and it was nice to have extra hands. 
Mom Jill still keeps a dry erase cute-comment board, and this is an exchange between Aesa and me. 

Nana: "What's my name? I'm Mrs.... ?"
Aesa: "Mrs. Nana!"

A new board game, Junior Monopoly made for hours of enjoyable quiet play.

The family has a new dog. Four month-old Milson (named after Milson Point near Harbour Bridge in Sydney), who weighs about two pounds, is an adorable, lovable teacup poodle.

The boys are slowly learning that Milson needs careful handling.

Sixteen year-old Celina is the family dog whisperer. Just like us, our Hogan loves her.

We were concerned about animosity between the dogs, but Hogan did a good job of tolerating Milson's puppy antics.

After a few days, we could see that Milson liked Hogan... following him almost everywhere. Hogan's barking though, made Milson turn tail and run!

In my previous post I shared about the wonderful day spent with Iowa friends. I still can't think about those precious hours without tears coming to my eyes. Then, I was also blessed to spend lovely afternoons, separately, over coffee, with Alex Ledgerwood/TeaGinnyDesigns and Carla/Lollyquiltz. Did you know I met both of these quilters through their blogs and Instagram?! Carla and I also spent a whole day together a she drove me around to five quilt shops!

Here Carla and I are at Sarah's in Lawrence, Kansas. Because, I liked the quilt above our heads - and ended up buying the pattern ("Prism" by Zen Chic) - I wanted to pose there. By the way, the sweater I'm wearing is a hand-me-down from Celina. I did not pack suitable warm clothes for Kansas City! I have truly been Floridized and forgotten what spring in the Midwest feels like.

I came home with much more fabric than I should have... as well as two patterns, two books, a Dresden ruler (finally!), and Flatter ironing spray.

In between times with little boys, when they were in pre-school, I managed to sew six more of these blocks. It's handy that my old Bernina QE153 now belongs to Jill.

And when I returned home, treasures were waiting! I won this "Watercolor Palette" from Hoffman Fabrics in an Instagram giveaway. This panel is 35" X 44".

Initially I'd thought to cut it up and sew it into something, but it's so pretty that I'm thinking to stretch it on canvas bars to hang on the wall. What would you do with it?

Also waiting were no less than three boxes of stuff from MassDrop! One was Clover Flower Head Pins, and another these gorgeous Alison Glass Sun prints. The MassDrop fabric price was $2.24 per fq, and shipping is free!

The third box was full of goodies, as a "thank-you" for referring five purchasing customers to MassDrop. If you were one of them thank you! Such a nice assortment - 17 fqs of "Serenghetti" by Birch Fabrics; an Olfa 45 mm rotary cutter; 100 Wonder Clips; a pair of "Happy Socks"; two tea cups; and an X-Vibe speaker.

Now I'm madly spending time in my much-missed sewing room, washing and pressing new fabrics, and beginning to select and rotary cut fabrics in preparation for a four-day quilt retreat this weekend! Members of the Gainesville MQG and our Central Florida MQG - 24 quilters in all - will be on a "Mod Retreat" for four days/three nights. Sewing, sewing, sewing! Lora and I did the planning, and learned a lot along the way! If you're on Instagram, follow our activities at #gvillecentralflmodretreat



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