Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Star Wars and Pirates

My wee grandsons are not so "wee" anymore. Each one's personality is different, and that was really brought to attention when I received their school pictures. I simply had to line them up - in birth order - so I could enjoy and admire their differences. Those expressions!

Tay is in first grade; Austin is in first grade; and Aesa is in kindergarten. Brothers Tay and Aesa are 13 months apart in age. These facial expressions just make me grin. 

With Halloween coming up, it's time to pick costumes. I'm getting a kick out of Austin who is already practicing his Luke Skywalker character.

It's extra ironic that Austin's little brother (2-1/2 years old) Luke, will be Darth Vader! These boys. That expression! Too cute!

Tay and Aesa are coming to visit soon, and we're terribly excited about that! We'll be welcoming them as pirates who we'll take to Trunk or Treat. I'm predicting that there will be numerous golf cart rides, some boccé ball, pool time, and a "pirate cruise." A-argh, matey! Linda

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rollie Pollies

I returned home from retreat last week in time to teach "Quilting With a Walking Foot" at the Lifelong Learning College on Friday, October 21. It was a great class, with six students spending 5.25 hours focused on quilting designs that can be accomplished with a walking foot. It was quite enjoyable teaching them, though this is the last time I'll teach that class at the College.

On November 11 I'll teach "Quilting with a Quilting Foot," another 5.25 hours of instruction, and that will be the very last time I teach at the College. But, I am making myself available to teach. I've paid for an ad here, on the Quilting Guild of The Villages website, and am happy to schedule classes with groups, chapters and guilds. Just ask.

While I most assuredly enjoy teaching and sharing more than 30 years of quilt making, experience, and I've learned how to be a good instructor, teaching at the college has not been without challenges: scheduling classes nine months in advance; not always getting the time slot or room that's needed for sewing; and... three difficult students whose complaints have stuck with me.

Those three made me come to deeply appreciate the many good students I've had in my classes!

Recently, Amy Johnson of Amy'sQuiltingAdventures wrote about the characteristics of a good student. I really appreciate her remarks. I wish my complaining/unhappy students had known these things! With Amy's permission, I'm sharing some of what she wrote:

Being a Good Student

Are you being a good student? I'm not talking about arriving on time (or early) with all your supplies and machine ready to go. That certainly helps though.

The things that a student needs to have a good learning experience is an open mind, a can-do attitude, right expectations, and determination to learn after the class is over.

1) Have a can-do attitude. I've met a number of students who are too afraid to mess up that they don't try something new. The fear of failure is the number one factor keeping many people from trying something new. I've also met students who put themselves down as they learn something new or make a mistake. "Everything is figure-out-able." That's a quote from a smart cookie in another field; Marie Forleo.

2) Have right expectations; allow yourself to be a beginner at something new. It's new, it's different, it can be hard. It can take time to build proficiency at a new skill. Free motion quilting is certainly an area where a beginner can struggle. Don't give up. Put in the practice. Draw and doodle. Expect to botch it up now and then.

3) Have the determination to keep learning after the class is over. Repeat some of the exercises, practice, check your notes to see if you missed something. If possible, you might want to contact the teacher if something doesn't make sense. 
(My italics.) This is especially true if the class got bogged down for a bit and then the teacher had to scramble to get through the rest of the class. Sometimes the very format of the class makes it hard to teach a particular segment of the skill.

Sometimes that determination may mean having another class on the topic. It might even be with a different teacher. People have different styles of learning and teachers have different styles of learning.
Now I'm happily settled back into my sewing room, and on Saturday enjoyed a beautiful day with the sewing room bay window open. The temp was perfect, the sky was cloudlessly blue, and the gentle breeze caused the Bismarck palm fronds to quietly clack. Glorious!

I sewed to completed two Rollie Pollie Organizers begun while on retreat. Thinking to make several of these as gifts, I discovered that a Rollie Pollie is pretty labor intensive. The pattern is marked "intermediate." I think it's time-consuming.

But gosh, the finish is sure nice! Here is each one, rolled up, ready for traveling, or whatever you want to organize. The exterior fabric I selected is home dec from JoAnn's (the pattern calls for an all over print) and the binding and handle are quilting cotton. Everything is fortified with Annie's Soft and Stable, and Pellon Shapeflex 101.

It's really quite genius how, when rolled-up, the interior pouches nest into one another and look like this on each end.

Opened, you can see how it works. Each pouch is attached to two strips of Velcro. By the way, I used the Fons and Porter glue stick to position the Velcro strips before sewing them. You can see that the blue glue still shows blue through the Velcro!

There's a D-ring at the top, so the organizer can be hung up while being used. Pouches can be removed and stuck back on as desired.

I'm glad I made these, but I'm not so sure about making more. For the effort, I'd do it only for a relative or really good friend! Linda

Friday, October 21, 2016

Orange Lake Resort

The week past just flew by. I left home on Thursday, October 13, and returned home Thursday, October 21 because I was on a six day/six night quilting retreat, the longest retreat I've ever attended. It was great!

My friend Karen and I were unable to go on a recent quilt retreat with fellow quilters in our Big Cypress Chapter of Quilting Guild of The Villages, and not wanting to give up attending a fall retreat, Karen arranged to use a week of her time share. There were five of us. Two retreaters are not in a chapter and work full time, so though they could spend only two nights with us, it was a rare treat for them.

Being away for so-o long meant that each of us had to make sure we had plenty of projects! Basically, I emptied my sewing room, taking two sewing machines, both of which I ended up using extensively! My room looked stripped by the time I was packed. And my car.... well let's just say it's a good thing I traveled alone!

Our retreat was in a two bedroom, ground floor condo at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, about a mile and a half from the Magic Kingdom. We heard the fireworks every night we were there.

Here we all are, set up and in action. The furniture was shoved aside, or moved out of the room, so we could arrange ourselves for productivity and handy chatting.
L-R: Dee, "Annie," me (in the back), Cindy, and "Tis"
The next two pictures are all I can show of what I completed,  a 42" X 49" baby quilt. The risk is that my niece will read this post, so this is all I can show for now. That niece, nephew, and their little Madelyn will be the quilt recipients when Maddy arrives in November. Mom requested a baby quilt made with pink and gray, and elephants. 

During retreat I machine appliquéd said elephants, pieced the top, sandwiched the top with Quilter's Dream cotton request batting and flannel, pin-basted it, walking foot and free motion quilted it, and bound it. I can't wait to add a label and gift it!

This is some of the 36" X 36" 2017 QuiltCon East Michael Miller Fabric Challenge quilt top I worked on. These are Luxe fabric and one lime-colored solid. All the hand appliqué happened while on retreat and it's ready for quilting.

The last thing I worked on was two Rollie Pollies which are in progress. A RP is four zipper pouches that are carried as a roll-up, for organizing small items. Each pouch is attached and removed to the roll with Velcro. It takes a bit of time to make, but it's sure a neat design... and given the extensive instructions, it's a bargain at $6.99 for a downloadable PDF. I'm making mine with home dec fabric from JoAnn's, and assorted color zippers from the Etsy shop, Zipit

At times we got a little goofy. Some of it was from long hours - late nights! - of sewing, and the result  of downloading the iPad and iPhone app called MSQRD. These are a couple pictures of me taken from that app. Yep, I know how to have fun!

In between sewing times, we watched DVDs. Seasons one and two of the TV series Northern Exposure, which aired for six seasons beginning in 1990, is still really funny. That show stands the test of time. We watched the movies Australia (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman), and Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen). Good stuff! We also watched the last presidential debate. Though all the debates were painful to watch, I think we discovered that they're better viewed with like-minded friends. 

And now... these are my co-retreaters and some of their accomplishments.

Cindy made an improv herringbone pillow top and quilted it with pale green WonderFil InvisiFil thread. Nice!
Karen - AKA "Annie" when the second Karen is around - completed her Metro Area quilt top, made from the book Patchwork City. Annie's background fabric is Kona Bone.

She also cut out and pieced this Urban Abacus quilt, a pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful. This pattern uses a Quick Curve Ruler for rotary cutting.

Karen #2, AKA "Tis," finished this quilt top made using a 10" slicer ruler. She inserted random solid bright lime and red strips. It's so modern!

Dee attended my September foundation paper-piecing (FPP) class and finished piecing this Cartwheels Quilt, a pattern by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced. It's a good beginner FPP project, and Dee executed it beautifully. Love the colors she chose, on a background of solid gray.

This is us! On Instagram, we're #5galsquilt.
L-R back: Dee, "Annie," "Tis"
L-R front: me, Cindy
We're good guests, leaving the condo just as it was found... well, except for a few threads on the carpet. 

A retreat is a very special opportunity to deepen friendships that are already strong because of quilting. This is the stuff of good memories. Linda

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Another Wristlet

After seeing some woven fabric projects pop up on Instagram, I wanted to try it for myself. I ordered a package of two Wefty needles.

Then I decided what I wanted to make - my favorite wristlet: The Essential Wristlet.

First I cut lots of skinny strips on the cross-grain of my fabric. I ran them through my 1/2" bias tape maker to fold both raw edges to the center. After positioning a piece of fusible interfacing, fusible side up, to my ironing table, I pinned the strips, fold side down on top of the interfacing.

The next step was to make more strips with a second fabric - a small print - and use the small-sized Wefty needle to weave those strips through at a 30-degree angle. The pattern is Tumbling Blocks, and I followed this YouTube video.

The last diagonal weave was a solid orange fabric, woven at the opposite 30-degree angle.

Also, here's a nice tutorial of it by MisterDomestic who recently hosted a weave-along.

Anyway, I ended up sewing my newly created woven fabric into this. Admittedly, it was a little tricky putting that side zipper in the fabric, given that the weaving makes it extra thick. But, that thickness sure gives the wristlet a nice sturdiness.

Also on the outside I added to the opposite side of the wristlet a vinyl rectangle, edged with fabric strips. It's not included in the pattern, but is the ideal place to put my resident ID.

Happily, I had this cute zipper tab in my stash - from an Etsy order placed for an assortment of zipper tabs. Living as I do without a quilt shop nearby, it's most convenient to keep these kinds of supplies on hand.

Inside the wristlet I used one of my favorite texty-type prints, and added another inside zipper. The wristlet pattern does include the open pocket (seen at the bottom of this picture) for a cell phone, but the pattern doesn't include the zipper pocket. I find that pocket a necessity for valuables like a few dollars cash and driver's license.

This wristlet is the perfect size for my necessities: iPhone, ID, tissues, a pen, lip gloss, the garage remote and golf cart key, and a few dollars. Who needs more than that?

This is the fourth time I've made this wristlet, and I'm completely satisfied with every iteration of it. Linda

Edited to add: I'm linking this post to "Bag It 2016" being hosted by Elm Street Quilts.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

Due to predictions of potentially disastrous conditions in Central Florida, two days ago the Lifelong Learning College cancelled all Friday classes (all Sumter County schools cancelled as well), including my Quilting With a Quilting Foot workshop scheduled for 9-3 today.

To complicate rescheduling, is the fact that the Quilting With a Walking Foot workshop is a prerequisite workshop for Quilting With a Quilting Foot scheduled for October 21. So, instead of just rescheduling the Walking Foot workshop, I've had to reschedule the Quilting Foot workshop too! I will not be one bit surprised to learn that due to scheduling conflicts, I lose students in both classes.

If you're local and want to register, workshop dates and times are as follows:
  • Friday, October 21, 9-3 - Quilting With a Walking Foot
  • Friday, November 11, 9-3 - Quilting With a Quilting Foot

So Hurricane Matthew turned out to be no worse for Central Florida than several of the tropical storms that have stalled in our area.

With the rec centers all closed, and grocery stores bereft of food, Dan and I found ourselves with a whole day of nothing special to do. Into week three of the Beth Moore "Entrusted" study, I did my daily Bible homework, some laundry, and kept up with hurricane news, including the evacuation of Savannah, George. I can't help but think of next February's Quiltcon East which will be there.

And I'm quilting. This one will be done today.

Lately, I've been shopping at several flooring stores, looking for something to replace the original, builder's low-grade carpeting in the three bedrooms. In particular, my sewing room carpeting is looking very dirty and worn. After entertaining several flooring options that would look nice with the ceramic tile in the rest of the house, we've settled on this laminate by Mohawk. 
Entry into sewing room - See the filthy carpet?
It's Quick-Step flooring in "aged chestnut." I especially like the looks of it with our white furniture. We'll be topsy-turvy for two days in November, while this is being done - including having carpeting removed from the master bedroom closet and replaced with tile to match the bathroom - but it's gonna look so good when it's done. 

Now I'm wondering how my two rolling sewing chairs will be on the laminate. Don't I need a couple sewing room rugs? What would you do? Linda

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beyond First Time Quiltmaking, Quilting, and Dancing!

On Monday, October 3, 11 students (one wasn't available for the photo) and I completed two weeks of foundation paper piecing through the Lifelong Learning College. It was a treat to teach such enthusiast students! In the first week they learned to foundation paper piece using the "Cartwheels Quilt" pattern by FreshlyPieced, and in the second week they learned to string-piece fabric strips onto telephone book pages. Samples of both blocks are in the photo.

Overachiever Cindy completed her Cartwheels Quilt top by the second class. I was tickled to recognize a few of my fabrics in it which she'd bought from my garage sale table sponsored by Quilting Guild of The Villages. She made those scrappy prints look smashing on her background of solid orange. 

Being in the midst of a big makeover of her master bathroom, Cindy shared that she's been referring to this quilt as her Home Depot quilt. That orange. Too funny.

I keep quilting my Bay Area Modern block-of-the-month quilt. It sorta seems never-ending, but that's because I don't work on it often. Lately I've been quilting the background which is lots of "Cs," as in the letter C. They look bubble-ish.

Sunday evening, October 2, was a Line Dance Social. These are held at about quarterly intervals throughout the year. A line dance instructor reserves the big room at a rec center, and then for three hours leads dancers through about fifty line dances while everyone nibbles food, chats, and dances as they choose. 

I wanted to participate in all Helen's line dances because: 1) I attend her classes and know all the dances she teaches; and 2) I wanted to test my legs. Two weeks ago my cardio-vascular doc, Dr. Q. told me that after testing it appears that blood flow through my femoral arteries is as near to "normal" as it has been in three years (What good news to finally hear!) I determined to push myself to dance every dance during the three hours. I did! That was 48 line dances! After starting the evening with about 80 dancers, 10 of us stuck it out to the end. Admittedly my legs ached, but the feeling was definitely from tiredness, not from pain. A big yay and praise God!

Just so you know that line dancing isn't always about country (as I imagined before I started doing it), here is a video clip from early in the evening. Most of the dancing we do is to modern music, with the occasional oldie or waltz.

If you note that there's a lot of pink, there was. Helen invited us to dress in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month - a month that became significant to me in 2013. Related to my own invasive ductal carcinoma, the cancer is in remission, and I continue to take daily Arimidex as a five-year course of treatment.

Life is good! Linda

Monday, October 3, 2016

Luxe Fabric Challenge

I spend nearly all my free time in sewing room. So post-webinar found me returning to several projects that are mid-stream.

For a few weeks now, I've been trying to come up with a design using the Michael Miller Luxe fabrics for the 2017 QuiltCon Challenge. The fabric is nice, with a polished look to the surface, but I wasn't thrilled about receiving the gray colorway which is a duller gray than I like. However, it being a challenge, and with any other Luxe fabrics permitted as well as one Michael Miller Cotton Couture solid, I decided to work with what I have. Mostly.

Thanks to my dear Iowa friend, Deb, I had a gift certificate (from my birthday in March!) to Hawthorne Threads that came in handy for bolstering my Michael Miller solids stash. I picked half-yard cuts of these Cotton Couture solids as possibilities to pair with Luxe. And while I was at it, I also got a Cotton Couture color card. Now the owner of solid color cards from American Made Brand, Kaufman Kona, and Michael Miller Cotton Couture, you might guess that I'm getting into solids.

The solid Lime contrasted best with Luxe, so I began cutting, using the shapes within the Luxe print as a guide. By the time I reached this point, I was scratching my head. All the Luxe was cut up. Where this was going?

My neighbor and modern quilty friend, Becky, also received the Luxe gray colorway. When she decided that her design idea wasn't working, and offered her fabric to me, I quickly accepted. Adding on, I came up with this. Nope. That's not it yet.

I am still arranging shapes, trying to find a pleasing arrangement. I haven't found "pleasing" yet, but once I do, I'll hand-appliqué the shapes onto the quilt. At 36" X 36" this shouldn't take too long, and I'm thinking that after FMQing it I'll add some colorful hand big stitch quilting. Should be doable by the end of November deadline.

Improv it is. Certainly a departure from my usual predilection for "safe" designs.

This afternoon I'm teaching the second three hour class (of two classes) for foundation paper piecing. I have 11 students and all but one of them have already taken a class from me. It's like meeting up with friends I haven't seen for a while. I'm loving every minute of it!

And this coming Friday, October 7, I'm teaching an all day (9-3) workshop: "Quilting With a Walking Foot." If you're in Central Florida (near Ocala, Lady Lake, or Leesburg) and interested, go here for more info. Linda


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