Tuesday, July 26, 2016

UFOs Bite the Dust, and the Dust Keeps Rising

Two more UFOs are finished.

I hate to admit that this quilt top has been on a hanger in the closet for at least three years. It's made with Quarry Stone and Loaf blocks from Stitchin' Mission days. Well, now it's gonna be a donation to Project Linus.

Quilting is this repeated snail trail design, one in every block. It's fun to have a reason to use 40-weight YLI variegated thread on the quilt top. Aurifil 50-weight silver-colored thread is on the back.

Here's the quilt back. With a finish at 55" X 65", it should be a nice size for an older child. And because it's mostly blue, I'm hoping it will suit a boy.

My second finish is this two-tiered skirt from the book "The Essential A-Line." I swear that I've made at least a dozen skirts with this great pattern. But I'm disappointed in how this one turned out. While it fits fine, the lack of color on the top tier makes the whole thing look too plain. My plan is to take this skirt and fabric markers with me when I attend any meetings, and color away on the top part.

Fabric is from Andover, by Alison Glass, purchased from my friend's Etsy shop.

I'm making progress on other UFOs, including finishing my BAM BOM (Bay Area Modern Block of the Month) quilt top. Students in the February "Alternate Grid" workshop with Lee Heinrichs (Freshly Pieced) helped each other and this is the layout we came up with for my blocks. I had to order more Kona Ash - the background grey. What I received was definitely from a different dye lot. So, I inserted those slashes of Kona Bahama Blue to separate the background Ash of the pieced blocks, from the large Ash triangles on the right corners. I think you can still see they're different, but it's better than if they were touching.

Using three leftover blocks from the quilt front, two orphan blocks from my shrinking pile of orphan blocks, and lots of leftover fabrics from the blocks on the front, I pieced this back. I do like it a lot! And what a great stash-buster!

It's now sandwiched with Quilter's Dream Wool, pin-basted, and ready for quilting. 

Because I mentioned this a couple posts back, I'm participating in Debbie's Crosscut Quilt-Along that began July 25. It's fun digging into stash for low volume prints, and rummaging through solid scraps to cut, and in some cases piece, the one-inch insertion strips. And yes, I did piece that striped-looking insertion in the center block. 

Blocks were supposed to be trimmed to 9-1/2", but for some reason, mine came out at 9-1/4". No worries though. This is improv, with more piecing and cutting to come.

On July 26, The Villages Daily Sun newspaper ran this nice article about our Central Florida MQG's members' efforts to make quilts for victims and first responders of the June 12 Pulse nightclub attack. Of course, we're just a small part of a greater effort by the whole MQG and the Orlando MQG chapter that's not only collecting hundreds of quilts, but making hundreds of them themselves! It's these kinds of efforts that make me proud to be a quilter who can be part of the collective good, no matter who's affected. I may not be able to verbally express my feelings about the incident or the people involved - though I know we all deserve to be loved, for God is love, and He first loved us - but helping make quilts is a way for me to make the inexpressible, expressible.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

UFO Action

After photographing that stack of UFOs in the closet, and feeling a general lack of direction about what to work on next, I decided to itemize those UFOs to actually get a handle on them. The list wasn't quite as long as I had imagined, though 13 unfinished items is still plenty for my preference. So, I took action.

It doesn't take nearly as long to sew clothes as it does to make quilts, so several already cut-out garments were the first to be tackled. This finish is another size 2 pillowcase dress that I'll donate to Dress A Girl Around the World. The main fabric is a sale piece from Hobby Lobby - I'm always cognizant of choosing a dark print so it's less see-through - and the other three prints are from my stash. Hopefully the mermaids on the pockets will make a little girl smile.

I got out the serger to make these shorts from a Simplicity pattern. There's a back zipper; no pockets. But they fit!

And as long as the serger was set up, I put together this Monique dress by Serendipity Studio. I don't like admitting that I bought the pattern (at the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Lakeland, Florida) and cut out the dress about three years ago. I really like the fabrics together - the main floral print is an Amy Butler fabric - though when I was choosing them, and the decorative ribbon to sew to the waistband, I remember feeling apprehensive about the combination. As I was sewing, I wondered if the size I'd cut out would still fit.  What a relief that it all came together!

Two quilt tops are awaiting quilting, so I put together a backing for a 58" X 68" quilt that I'll probably donate to Project Linus. In the past, I've used this US map with state-capitols (purchased from Wal-Mart back in my Iowa years) to back kids' quilts, imagining a child learning from it. This is the last panel US panel I have. A good stash-busting backing.

That 58" X 68" quilt top has been pieced for at least three years - made with scrappy loaves that my Iowa Stitchin' Mission friends will remember. It's now sandwiched, pin-basted, and ready for quilting. Soon. 

I've again returned to coloring this Alison Glass fabric. This will be one tier of a two-tiered skirt for me.

This BAM-BOM quilt top will be finished yet this week. It's a block-of-the-month from the Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild. The atypical block layout was decided when I took Lee Heinrich's "Alternate Grid" workshop.

So, I've ticked off three of the 13 UFOs and made good progress on a few more. If that isn't self-motivated UFO action, I don't know what is. Linda

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Some summertime indifference has crept into my sewing room, and there's no accounting for it! Should I blame it on heat from the excessive string of 95+ degree days? Or the frustration and self-recrimination for not being a quilter with designing skills?

This is the state of the project that was last on the design wall. I can't even look at a picture of these blocks without feeling inept.

And look at my UFO pile! I've always thought my UFOs aren't too out of hand, and that I always finish everything, but this looks pretty deep. A few of these are touched now and then, but maybe I'm kidding myself that I'll ever get them all done. Right now, the more UFOs I think I need to finish, the less I want to work on them.

But, I have to remind myself that I am doing things. For example, here's the quilt top that seven of us from the Central Florida MQG put together. We're making the quilt for a family whose loved one was killed at the Pulse nightclub (#QuiltsforPulse on Instagram). Each of us made six heart blocks following this tutorial. I sewed them into a 60" X 70" quilt top. Kelly will quilt it and Frances will add binding. A neighbor and I anticipate delivering this quilt to the Orlando MQG that is collecting and distributing quilts.

I've also been helping with our Central Florida MQG's 2017 QuiltCon East Charity Quilt Challenge quilt. My neighbor, Becky, is the project manager, but I've given the demos and written the blog posts with tutorials about how we're making our improv quilt.

I'm very slowly quilting my "Building Fun" quilt. My new Janome 1600P is wonderful!

I know for a fact that indifference hits every quilter now and again, so I can only hope it will soon pass. To push myself, I plan to join Debbie for her Crosscut Quilt-Along. Maybe that will kick start a renewed excitement about, and enthusiasm for quilting... or just add another UFO to the pile. (sigh) Linda

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Finished: Make it Easier

In early June I finished this "Make it Easier" quilt. It is my own quilt design, meant to teach new quilters methods for making different quilt blocks. I had originally designed a quilt with more blocks, and therefore more labor intensive, but students in classes at the Lifelong Learning College gave me feedback that they wanted to make something with fewer techniques. Hence, "Make it Easier" was designed.

It finishes at 52" X 58", and it does a nice job of providing opportunities to make blocks using different techniques. And all that negative space is an invitation for different FMQ designs.

Batting is double. It's Quilter's Dream - a layer of Request loft poly with a layer of wool on top. Quilting is with Aurifil 50-weight thread. I started quilting with orange thread to do the ruler work arrows. Those are inspired by KathleenQuilts longarm designs. If you need quilting ideas, be sure to follow her blog as she provides lots of inspiration and design ideas for doing what she does so well on an APQS machine. I'm still trying to emulate the look of longarm quilting.

Those circles that look like "drops" on the points of the green and orange chevrons were also inspired by Kathleen's work. 

I'm tickled that I was able to meet-up with Kathleen when I attended QuiltCon 2015 in Austin. We agreed to meet at a particular time in front of my "Shapes" quilt, my bias tape challenge entry. Kathleen is a fun and funky Canadian gal with loads of talent. I admire what she can do, and being so young too! She'll be teaching at QuiltCon 2017.

I also used this quilt as an opportunity to show how four different fabrics can be used for binding on each of the four sides of the quilt. It's the method I've named "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine."

MQG members can register to watch my September 29 webinar on this technique, but if you're not an MQG member, you can check out this method on my 2009 No Tails Binding tutorial. After the webinar, I'll be updating that tutorial.

I'm happy with how "Make it Easier" turned out. Especially since I started quilting it on my Pfaff Grand Quilter with all its problems with skipped stitches and broken threads. (Turns out the problem wasn't with the machine, but rather the foot! Happily though, I was able to sell the Pfaff when I learned there was nothing wrong with it!) I finished quilting this on my new Janome 1600P.

 All's well that ends well. Linda

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Grandsons Visit

Another week has passed and another little wave of company has come and gone.

Can you tell that small children have been in our house? Our son's old Grayskull castle and Masters of the Universe character figures are still a hit, as are some old Bristle Blocks.

We did the usual activities with the grandies, though their favorite is riding the golf cart and going to the pool.

As I did with my sister, I carted them to the Sharon Rose Weichens Preserve.
DIL Lyn and Luke
Not a puff of wind, so I could capture this lovely view of the sky reflected on the water. 

Darn. No alligator sitings, but an inch worm on the move was just as entertaining.

With temps in the 90s, a walk for two doesn't always end that way. 

An impromptu stop at the fire station was a big hit. 

Austin, age 6
Luke, age 2-1/2
The firemen who show the kids the fire truck are always friendly and patient.

I learned that all the fire engines are named after a member of the Morse family that founded The Villages.

It was great having them here, but I also know they were looking forward to their next stop at Disney World.

I turned my sewing room from a bedroom back into a sewing room, I again worked on the quilt I've been designing. I don't like where it's headed, and I'm getting sick of stewing and messing with it. For a while, it will be on the back burner.

Wanting to make progress on something, I pulled out the Building Fun (by Geta Grama) quilt top that just needs borders. It's up next for quilting.

On the home front... now that the bar front has been tiled, and we have some of our new furniture (waiting on the sofa which arrived damaged), and a new rug, that big expanse of white wall is begging to be painted. I keep thinking green is needed, but the hubs doesn't like or want green. Have been thinking of orange, but there are too many options!

I went to the Behr paint website and found a place where I could upload my photo and "paint" the room with different colors. Isn't this a neat feature?! It's definitely helping me narrow my options. Blonde Wood might be a bit intense, and perhaps not orange enough.

It's just as difficult to choose a paint color as it is to pick the right fabrics for a quilt, isn't it? Linda


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