Saturday, September 30, 2017

Retreat Action

A whole week-long quilt retreat is time for some major productivity! And that's exactly what happened when six of us set up sewing machines and got to work.

We stayed on the fourth floor of a six-story condo in a lovely Kissimmee resort. Disney World isn't far away, so every evening we could see and hear fireworks from one attraction or another.

Though there were six quilters on our retreat, not all six of us were together at the same time. At the most we had five quilters sewing in the living room. Then, for several days it was just four of us.

Throughout the week, the camaraderie and conversation was amiable. We ate healthy meals, enjoyed good snacks, and watched movies!

Australia - Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman
Florence Foster Jenkins - Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant
The Brave One - Jodie Foster
The Dressmaker - Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth
The Lake House - Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
The Light Between Oceans - Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander
Unfaithful - Diane Lane and Richard Gere
War Room - Priscilla Shrier

I have a difficult time picking a favorite, but I'll say that "Australia" is very special. After watching it at least five times, it never disappoints.

I had three complete finishes, finished a quilt top, made good progress on my LindaNova English paper-piecing project, and did a fair bit of machine and hand quilting on Urban Trek.

I made this Bowties quilt, a free pattern from the Moda Bakeshop site.

I pieced it in baby boy colors, in a baby boy size: 35-1/2" X 46-1/2". 

Bowties is made entirely with a tumbler template. Though the paper template can be printed with the pattern, I cut out the fabrics using a lucite tumbler shape that had already been used to make this "So What's Your Point?" quilt back in 2001. What's old is new again, isn't it?

To pin baste, I cleaned the master bathroom floor, and got down on my hands and knees. I'm glad the quilt wasn't any bigger! 

I used my Bernina Aurora 440 to free motion quilt circles in the center of each bow tie. Then, with the Bernina #72 ruler work foot and a straight Fine Line Ruler (by Accents in Design), I quilted lines in the bow ties.

When the bow ties were done, I added FMQ waves - I think they look like bed springs -  in the Kona Silver background. Simple quilting that will do for a child.

Binding is Moda Bella in the color Little Boy Blue. Too perfect! Backing fabric is Zen Chic.

This Octagonal Orb block (free pattern here) has been an orphan for several years. I quilted it using Westalee Sew Steady Circles on Quilts Template Set 1.

I sewed it into an envelope-backed pillow that will be stuffed with an 18" square pillow form.
This 24" X 24" Cross Check Mini Quilt is a free pattern from the modern quilt TV show "Fresh Quilting" by Yvonne Fuchs - QuiltingJet Girl. She explained transparency in a segment of season 2, episode 6, and offered the Cross Check Mini Quilt pattern with that episode. (You need to be a member of the Modern Quilt Guild to view these links.)

Quilting one spiral design is all this quilt needed. If you haven't tried spiral quilting, here's a link to my tips and tutorial for successful spiral quilting.

Moving forward on a WIP (work in progress), I foundation paper-pieced four more blocks to make a total of 16 blocks for a "Rainbow Rounds" quilt.

I now have a 58" x 58" quilt top that needs backing and quilting. 

Rainbow Rounds is a pattern by Jo Avery (MyBearPaw of Edinburgh, Scotland) that appeared in Love Quilting magazine. The magazine named the design Rainbow Rounds, but Jo (who I had the pleasure of meeting in person earlier this year at QuiltCon!) calls it Bufferwheel.

So much sewing and quilting and movie and friends time! I also played my ukulele, briefly, on two occasions, and power walked twice. Suffice it to say that it was wonderful! And it's nice to be home and back in my cozy sewing room too. No doubt there's more sewing time ahead. Linda

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pre-Retreat Action

Little piles of what to take along on a week-long quilt retreat are making appearances in various locations throughout our house. The most important two piles are these...

Everything for sustenance.

And the wherewithal for creative productivity.

Seven projects. Think that's enough?

I had eight, but the kits I put together to make the Dog Gone Cute blocks were perfect for last evening's sewing pastime.  These four blocks are for my blogger-friend Karen (some of you may know her as KaHolly) who is celebrating her birthday today. Happy birthday Karen!

As her "present," Karen asked for any of the eight different dog blocks that are freebies here, from SewFreshQuilts. I picked number five and six and made each one twice. The smaller blocks are 9"H X 6"W and the larger ones are 12"H X 18"W. 

Karen's collecting them to make into a quilt or two to give to Second Chance Farms, an animal rescue facility in Granbury, Texas that accepted pets following Hurricane Harvey. She expects the quilts to be used as a fundraiser. 

Hogan gives his approval. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Half-a-Dozen Projects After Irma

Though Irma came through our area as a category 1 hurricane, and by the time she reached us the eye was breaking up, we still felt the 70-80 mph winds of the eye wall. Lots of palms were "trimmed" in the process. We've been seeing lots of this - downed palm fronds.

It will be several weeks until the piles of debris have been picked up. 

In my sewing room, it's business as usual. During the past six days I've had my hands on a half-dozen different projects.

This is everything receiving attention lately.

I've completed the first and second rounds of the Bernina Zen Chic Triangle Quilt Along. It's a good along because I can work from my stash and the pace is very slow. Triangles are all 60-degrees.
Bernina Zen Chic QAL - first set of triangles
Bernina Zen Chic QAL - second set of triangles
I've been playing with a couple of new-to-me rulers. This one is the four-inch Triangle in Square ruler by Bloc Loc

The other is the Classic Curves ruler by Color Girl Quilts

Combining the shapes each ruler creates into a cohesive quilt design is going slowly. Right now, it's a mishmash of solids in all colors. It will be a work in progress for a while.

LindaNova is coming along slowly... more and more slowly as it's now 30" in diameter. 

I've been choosing and prepping fabrics for the next rounds that I'll continue to make in a combination of prints and solids.

I've cut out a baby quilt that's a freebie pattern from the Moda Bake Shop.

Urban Trek, a quilt top finished in May has been pin-basted. I'm looking forward to quilting it, as after watching season two of Fresh Quilting TV, I've been inspired (episodes 6 and 7)! Now I know exactly what I want to quilt - a combination of grid-based FMQ, and big stitch hand quilting with perle cotton. 

I've also cut out fabrics to make four Dog Gone Cute blocks. You see, my long-time blogger-friend Karen (KaHolly) has asked for these blocks for her birthday this Wednesday, September 20. She'll accept blocks into November, but wants to make them into quilts to give to Second Chance Farms, a pet animal rescue facility in Granbury, Texas that stepped up to accept pets during Hurricane Harvey.

If you're interested in helping out, read more here on Karen's blog post

All this sewing room time has been to prepare for an upcoming quilt retreat. If you've been on a retreat, you know how that goes. It takes planning ahead to have the fabrics, supplies, and tools ready for several days of non-stop sewing. And in this case, retreat is a whole week! Yep, seven days and seven nights! I'm pilin' on the projects so as not to waste a single moment of uninterrupted sewing days that lie ahead. Me and five friends are gonna get to know each other really well! 

And surprise of surprises, I've been in the kitchen too. It's Dan who's cooking the meals, but I've begun contributing by baking bread. We both like sourdough, so I made and nurtured a starter. This is the second pair of twin loaves I've baked. 

The texture is perfect, but the sourdough flavor hasn't fully developed. The starter needs more aging. I'll keep working on it.

I don't think there's any need to explain this cartoon, but her name is Maria.

During my morning prayer time, it came to my awareness that the names of our recent hurricanes spell something special - H.I.M. Think He's trying to point us to someone? Linda

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rainbow Strings

I have another finish to share this week, though this quilt was completed a few weeks ago. What with other activities and preoccupation with Hurricane Irma, the timing just wasn't right for posting about it.
Rainbow Strings, 64" X 80"

This Rainbow Strings quilt (for want of a clever name), is one of those "free" quilts that I put together with strips that have been saved in a plastic container over a long period of time. It's also made with a technique I really like - fabric strips sewn to a foundation paper of telephone book pages. What better way to use up an unused telephone book?! Just fill half of a 8-1/2" X 8-1/2" telephone book page with random-width strips of a single color, and fill the other half with white prints.

If you'd like to make a quilt like this go here to download my free "Stringing Colors" instructions. I wrote these directions in 2009 to make quilts for Australia bush fire relief, and it remains a good go-to design for any charity or donation quilt. 

That's what very likely will become of this quilt.

Rainbow Strings is made with request loft Quilter's Dream 100 percent cotton. This design was quilted with Aurifil 50-weight thread.

These loops were quilted with 40-weight YLI orange/yellow variegated thread.

I'm especially happy with the binding.

It was sewn using the method No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine. You can find my binding tutorial here. If you're a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, you can watch my binding webinar that explains the technique step-by-step. It's here, on the members-only resources page.

It feels good to be knocking out a few finishes, after stuttering to a stop over the summer, due to carpal tunnel syndrome. My wrist bothers me now and again, when I'm spending too much time at one repetitive motion (like hand sewing binding), but overall I think it's better.

I'm caught up on quilting until I get two more tops basted! When you're a quilter, the fun just never ends! Linda

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Picket Fence Finish, Courtesy of Irma

Tah-dah! Look what Irma did. She made me sit down in front of the TV for many hours of hand sewing binding to finish "Picket Fence," a quilt design from the book String Quilts, by Elsie Campbell. I'm calling this quilt "Irma Blew on My Picket Fence." 

This quilt has been more than five years in the making. 

It fits our king-sized bed with it's platform box springs and mattress. That makes it 98" X 109", the largest quilt I've ever made.

Not until I was quilting did I find my big mistake - a diamond-shaped block put in the wrong place. At first I was upset with myself. My gosh, how did I pin-baste this whole thing and not see that glaring misplaced block?! But then I remember that quilters call this a humility block because only God, not humans, achieves perfection. Okay. I am humbled.

All the quilting runs parallel with the piecing, and was actually pretty easy to quilt.

I had more of a challenge choosing a binding! But I'm happy with this one which I cut on the bias because I like that diagonal spiral effect.

Here's where I started "Irma Blew on my Picket Fence" in November 2011.

Here's where I worked on it during a retreat with Iowa friends in January 2012.

Here's where I worked on it during a retreat with Florida quilters in October 2014.

Here's my pin-basting adventure in June 2017.

It was in June 2014, when it was my month to be Queen Bee of the Mid-Century Modern Bee, that I asked members to make string-pieced diamond blocks for me. Pictures of the blocks appear in our group, Flickr Mid-Century Modern Bee, and were made by:

Anne Diester - SpringLeafStudios
Elizabeth Eastmond - OccasionalPiece
Carla Fawcett - Carla2
Debbie Jeske - AQuiltersTable
Mary Kolb - MaryonLakePulaski
René Martinez - RenéCreates
Susan Snooks - PatchworknPlay
Carla Timberlake - Lollyquiltz
Cindy Wiens - LiveAColorfulLife

Thank you very much friends, and Hurricane Irma (though this is the only thing for which I owe you thanks!) for making this quilt happen. It was lovely to sleep under last night. Linda

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma, Monday

In spite of of thinking we were prepared for the arrival of hurricane Irma, on Sunday before she arrived, we found a few more things to take care of.

Though the grill was tied to a tree, we decided to untie it and put it in the garage. That was a good move because the strongest winds came from that (NE) side of the house and there's no doubt the grill would have been blown into the lanai.

Also, Dan raised the exterior entryway light on it's hanging chain, using a zip tie to secure it near the ceiling. 

We added towels in the tracks of the sliders - in the eating area, and in the living room area. Turns out that was worthwhile as all the towels were wet this morning! You know there's a strong wind when the rain blew though the lanai to the sliders!

In the early afternoon on Sunday, we had rain. It looked pretty calm though.

By late afternoon, Irma was making her presence known.

The rain was blowing when these guys returned from a walk.

After watching the first episode of the new/third season of "Outlander," I went to bed. Slept from 11 pm until 1:30 am when the increasing velocity of the wind hitting the bedroom windows woke me. This is all I could see out the bedroom window, a view toward the street and houses behind us.

Dan was awake all night, alternately watching The Weather Channel, Orlando’s channel 13, and WESH-TV, the latter of which seemed to focus more on our area of the state. I settled in with him to watch a “red wall” of strong winds from the south drive northward to us.

At one point I recorded this on a wind velocity app that I download on Sunday. Gusts of near 55 mph were frequent for a while, though I cannot verify the accuracy of this reading.

In fact, we believe the wind gusts were higher! According to the news, gusts in the red areas were between 70-80 mph. Based on the way it felt at our house, we think winds reached 70 mph.

The worst of Irma rolled into our area between 3:30 and 4 am. I thought it was pretty scary, and only wish it had occurred during daylight hours. Perhaps it wouldn't have felt quite so eery.

Today the winds continue at between 30-40 mph, coming from the NE. That's also interesting about a hurricane... how the strongest winds come from the NE, and then after the hurricane passes, the winds come from the SW.

Our beautiful Bismarck palm in the front yard is looking quite bedraggled from all the wind. But that's our only "damage." We did not lose power, thanks to having underground lines. We also didn't lose shingles from the roof, nor have trees blow over, as some of our neighbors did.

Irma is like nothing like either of us has been through. And we don’t want to go through it again! I'm feeling extremely grateful for God's protection, and for having a structurally sound and well-built home. I'm also feeling sad for those who have lost power, and will need time to rebuild.

Thank you all for your concerns. Linda


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