Thursday, December 27, 2018

2019 Plans

I'm hesitant to spend much time writing a blog post that details 2018 accomplishments. Rather a quick review is in order.

My nine most-liked Instagram posts were these.

I love that so many people shared my joy at the results of my Breast Cancer Index (upper left), and that quilters love a good joke (center). Happily, quilters liked two of my quilts that were not juried into QuiltCon - Spin Art (upper right), and Owl Always Love You (middle bottom).

In 2018 I made:

13 quilts (pictures in "2018 Quilts" tab, above)
7 window valances
5 cosmetic pouches
4 zip-up turtles
4 patchwork wall kites
2 name badge holders
1 Weekender travel bag
1 dress
1 hexie name tag
...all of which were finished without buying fabric in 2018! I achieved my goal!
To be perfectly honest, I made one justifiable fabric purchase in May of an eight-yard bolt of solid white, an eight-yard bolt of solid gray, and two wide-backs - used to make and finish 2018 projects. Otherwise, I didn't buy fabric! Whoopee!
... and, while listening to 46 books, (and reading two print titles). I love listening to audiobooks, especially while quilting! If you need a few reading recommendations, just ask!

I'm joining QuiltingJetGirl (Yvonne's) 2019 planning party, though I'm not much of a planner. I find that I'm inclined to "beat myself up" if I don't accomplish everything on an itemized list. That's why I never join finish-alongs or make quarterly goals.

So to prevent myself from future anguish, my 2019 plans are broad expectations.

Expectation #1
Of course, I will continue to make quilts, especially as I must justify the November purchase of my wonderful Bernina 770QE! But goodness knows I don't need quilts! In 2012 I owned 116 quilts, and each year I average making 12 quilts. Even though I give some away, and have sold a dozen or so at the local biennial quilt show,  I conservatively guess that I have near to 170 quilts in my possession. Eek!

They are stored in pillowcases, in a closet, about eight feet up. 

Whenever I need to find a particular quilt, it's a mess.

In addition to making at least a dozen quilts in 2019 that will all quilted by me, I will definitely do more ruler quilting. The Bernina #72 ruler foot is the best ruler foot I've ever used; I have used two other brands. I just need to figure out different rulers to quilt with.

As much as I love the ten Fine Line rulers I own (by Accents in Design), they do not work well on this Bernina 770QE. Fine Line rulers have vertical posts to hold onto when quilting - a real plus by my way of quilting! But, these posts bump into the dual feed feature on the back of the Bernina. So while I can use these rulers, I have to be careful to not move the ruler to the back of the ruler foot.

Expectation #2
In addition to teaching walking foot and free motion quilting, I want to make my ruler work the best it can be because I'm developing a workshop (or two) to teach ruler quilting. Previously I've been hesitant to teach ruler quilting because every sewing machine has a different ruler foot. But I think sewing machine manufacturers are making ruler feet better now, and more quilters are investing in them. So if a quilter can get a ruler foot for her sewing machine, I'm excited to share how to use it. I plan to share ruler quilting information on my blog too. 

Expectation #3
Also, I have a strong desire to have at least one quilt accepted into QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. The modern quilt aesthetic still attracts me. And more importantly, after more than 40 years of making quilts (true!), the modern style challenges me!

Whereas in the past I always made quilts that follow a pattern - or at least I figured out how to duplicate someone else's design - I want to push myself to make quilts that are my original designs. That means I need to do more designing using EQ8 software, and create improvisational-style quilts. Quite honestly, improv is the most difficult for me, and I think that's because it's hard to cut loose-goosey after so many years of ingrained precision cutting and piecing. 

Though I am pretty darned pleased with Austin's improv quilt! This quilt is the first one where I feel "I got it." I can't help but share that quilt again here, even though it wasn't accepted into QuiltCon 2019. I'm thrilled that it made my Instagram Top Nine too.

The background was improv-pieced, and the shapes are all self-made bias tape that's machine appliquƩd to the background. Quilting is walking foot and free motion.
Owl Always Love You, 58" X 68"

"Owl Always Love You," was inspired by a crayon and watercolor resist done by my seven year-old (at the time) grandson, Austin. He was creating owl feathers for a school art project.

Expectation #4
On January 26, 2019 I will celebrate 10 years of regular blogging! I'm pretty excited and pleased about that. At one point, I was following and often commenting on more than 80 blogs. Now the number of active bloggers has fallen dramatically. So if you're hanging in there, good for you! I know the sort of commitment it takes to constantly take photographs and write posts. You might guess that I have a journalism degree (earned in 2000), so blogging is how I indulge my urge to write. 

This also explains why I'm critical of poorly-written quilt patterns and sewing instructions. šŸ˜
In the early 2000s, I was an editor for American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, and have since written many articles for a variety of quilting magazines.

Anyway, be sure to make a return visit to on January 26. Ya just never know what you might come across!

Expectation #5
I will permeate 2019 in prayer - prayers for family, and prayers that I am living according to God's plan, faithfully nurtured through regular worship and Bible studies. 
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
May we all live our calling. Linda

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Cosmetic Bags

Now that Christmas gift-opening has come and gone, I can share what I made for the ladies in our family - cosmetic bags. The only difference between a cosmetic bag and a regular zipper pouch is that I lined the cosmetic bag with fabric and a medium-weight clear vinyl.

I roughly followed this tutorial, though I was frustrated by the vague instructions that didn't indicate which side to which the zipper should be applied. Once I figured it out, I ended up making five bags.

To smooth the clear vinyl, I pressed it with a warm iron between layers of batting.

To personalize each bag, I played with one of the four alphabets on my Bernina 770QE, and chose decorative patterns to go with names. I stored everything in memory, in case I want to reuse or modify them in the future.

After posting a picture of my practice pieces on Instagram, I was given the wise suggestion to clip the jump thread between the lower case letter "i," and the dot, so it doesn't look like a lower case "l."

After practicing, I used a size 90 jeans needle to stitch onto Kraftex, a washable paper fabric with a lightweight fusible interfacing behind it. Have you seen Kraftex? I bought a package to try - of course the color is Tangerine Tango. Instructions say to wash it before sewing it into an item. It's neat stuff that has a sort of suede-look. One side is slightly different than the other.

It was a treat to use the dual feed feature and the #4D zipper foot. No more need to ease, to achieve a smooth zipper installation.

The only challenge I had was turning the bag right side out, after sewing the interior. That vinyl is stiff!

I'm keeping this one for me! Quilting is my SUPERPOWER.

These were gifted to family - Lyn, Celina, and Jill - and a friend, Patty.

I used a double-stitched blanket stitch, with matching orange thread, to appliquƩ the name bands onto the bags.

I sure enjoyed making these, and it felt even better to gift them. Linda

Saturday, December 22, 2018

WIPs Before Christmas

This season's special activities, functions, and parties have come and gone, and I'm looking forward to a Christmas Eve service, and Christmas day dinner shared at a neighbor's home.

Since we don't have family or friends coming to visit us for Christmas or New Year's, and we aren't traveling anywhere, I've set my mind on keeping busy in the sewing room, enjoying my Bernina 770QE, and tackling a few WIPs (works in progress) that have been occupying a closet shelf for far too long.

Three projects floated to the top of the pile.

Barkcloth Dress 
In July 2017, I started making this barkcloth dress using a GertrudeMade pattern...

...and GertrudeMade barkcloth fabric. The fabric print is called "Bindi," by Ella Blue fabrics in Australia. Both EllaBlue and GertrudeMade have gone out of business, so that makes this dress even more special.

I was stunned to discover that this size 14 pattern is a perfect fit! In commercial clothing, I wear a size 4. Boy. The garment industry has sure messed-up our sizes!

I adore this dress and the way it fits, and I definitely appreciated sewing it on my new machine.

I tried buttonholes for the first time (for those decorative button tabs on the sides), and used a zig-zag stitch to finish raw edges. For future garment-sewing and raw edge stitching, I'm getting a Bernina 2A overlock foot.

Weekender Travel Bag
In 2015 I bought the Weekender Travel Bag pattern, by Amy Butler. I'd heard the pattern was a bit daunting, and learned that for myself as I finished putting it together. The print I chose is a home dec JoAnn Fabrics piece.

I added pockets to the inside lining that are not included in Amy's pattern.

Once again, I wasn't pleased with the instructions which I thought were quite vague in several places. Mostly I find that pattern-writers don't use enough measurements when writing instructions. By my way of thinking, every section should end with "This piece should now measure XX" x ZZ."" My complaints are moot though. Amy Butler isn't designing fabrics or patterns anymore.

Year of Scrappy Triangles
I have one more finished quilt to share! I started it in August 2017 when I joined Leila's Year of Scrappy Triangles.

Each Tuesday, for 52 weeks, Leila published on her blog, free six-inch foundation paper-pieced blocks. Every block is different. I had only to repeat a few to come up with 56 blocks for this quilt.

Joining 56 blocks meant setting-up my 770QE using: 1) the single-hole throat plate; 2) setting the quarter-inch guide bar; 3) putting on the 97D quarter-inch foot, and; 4) engaging the dual feed. Talk about precision piecing!

It's been a long time since I've pieced a quilt top where I could use the web method of joining blocks together. If you haven't tried it yet, my tutorial is here.

I pin-basted, and then quilted it on my Bernina.

Low volume chevrons were walking foot quilted with white 40-weight YLI thread.

All colored fabric areas were free motion quilted with swirls, using gray 40-weight YLI thread.

This is the finished 42-1/2" X 48-1/2" quilt. 

Quilt back
Here's the quilting from the back.

Though the quilt top was pieced exclusively with small pieces of fabric, and bits and bobs from my scrap bins, I can't see any reduction in my stash.

But I have to tell you that in fact, I did go the whole year without any extraneous fabric purchases! That is except for one May purchase of two eight-yard bolts of gray and white, and two wide-backs for backing. They were used to finish quilts, so most of the white bolt is gone, and both wide backs were used.

So I'm patting myself on the back for making 2018 the year of no fabric-buying! And given that I completely finished 13 quilts this year, I think that's pretty good!

An update on our dear boy... This is Hogan last week. He's 15 years and 2+ months old, and has been showing signs of declining. If you'd asked me a couple weeks ago how long he'd be with us, I would have tearily said he'd be gone by the end of the year.

Though he's rallied a little, he suffers from arthritic stiffness, and occasionally coughs, explained by the vet as a collapsing trachea. It's difficult to watch him slowing down. We are grateful for every day with him.

I'm wishing you joy-filled, lovely days ahead, shared with family. May we be filled with reverence and thanksgiving for the blessed gift of Jesus. Linda

Monday, December 17, 2018

Quilts Out - Quilts In

Because I will attend QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville, I determined to make a greater effort to have a quilt accepted into the show. Nothing beats seeing one's own modern quilt hanging in a national (international) quilt show, especially QuiltCon.

This fall I entered SIX quilts into QuiltCon ($15 per entry), hoping ONE of them would be accepted. As previous QuiltCon have proven, it's difficult to get quilts accepted into the show. This year was no exception. More than 1,750 quilts were entered into QuiltCon 2019, with only 400 or so accepted.

This morning, emails from QuiltCon began rolling in, letting each entrant know which quilts were "unfortunately" not accepted. Or "congratulations." I received three of each.

My most disappointing "unfortunately" quilt is the one I made based on grandson Austin's artwork of owl feathers: "Owl Always Love You." It's really special because it connects the two of us, and making it pushed me to work through improv piecing (the background), and bias tape appliquƩ. I love this quilt, and so does Austin.
Owl Always Love You, 58" X 68"
Also not accepted were "Spin Art," truly a fun favorite inspired by Christina Cameli's wedge designs, and made entirely with Painter's Palette Solids.
Spin Art, 66" X 66"
I disappointed myself when I made "Outer Space!" It was a design experiment that failed. I never even blogged about it! I truly didn't expect this one would get in.
Outer Space, 60" X 72"
My "congratulations" accepted quilts...

"Roulette," is another design based on experimental play with a ten degree wedge ruler. Right now it's hanging in the entryway by our front door!
Roulette, 52" X 69"
"Wrinkles Fade Away" was a Central Florida MQG chapter challenge, and was inspired by a L'Oreal Wrinkle Cream advertisement in a magazine!
Wrinkles Fade Away, 31" X 40"
My biggest, but very happy surprise was to have "O-O-Orange" accepted in the American Patchwork and Quilting two-color challenge. These are Painter's Palette Solids, again, and quilting is entirely by hand.
O-O-Orange, 34" X 45"
It appears that my accepted quilts seem to be on the small size. Guess that's good for shipping purposes.

How can I feel sad and happy at the same time? I do. I am. Linda

Friday, December 14, 2018

Quilting a Comfort Quilt Finish

One of the first things I did when I got my new Bernina 770QE, on November 19, was play with quilting. My Comfort Quilt top - made during Amy Ellis's AmysCreativeSide quilt-along - has been ready for quilting since June.

This 72" X 95" quilt was the perfect opportunity to play with all kinds of quilting!

As I started quilting, I first used the walking foot (came with the 770QE) to stabilize a row of blocks. Then, curious about the dual feed feature, I tried quilting with it and the standard #1D foot to stabilize another row of blocks... and couldn't tell any difference between the walking foot and dual feed! It's a toss-up as to which is better.

My Bernina dealer, Sharky's Vac 'n Sew in Wildwood, included a Queen Supreme Slider with my machine, to help with the slide-ability of the quilt.

For free motion, I began quilting with the Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR). It works fine... except I don't work well with it! My theory is - and some other quilters agree with me - that however you learn to free motion quilt... well, that's the method you will do best/prefer.
Bernina Stitch Regulator
It's certainly true for me. I learned free motion quilting in the late 1990s, long before machines had regulated stitches. So, I find the BSR limiting. Still, I used the #2 BSR option to quilt an entire section of the quilt. 

I was especially pleased about being able to use my #72 ruler foot on this new machine, even though it was purchased for my Bernina 440QE. The 10" harp (distance between the sewing machine needle and the body of the machine), and the flat sewing machine bed makes ruler quilting easier. 
I use Quilter's Rule quarter-inch thick nested circles. 
As pretty as it is to quilt circles, I don't recommend quilting concentric circles - too many starts and stops... and thread-burying.

I used an arc-shaped ruler to quilt curves in one section.

Then I added an echo foot to the ruler foot, as a guide for repeating the curves.
A set of echo feet, for a ruler foot, is about $10.

This section is also ruler quilting using a straight edge ruler. 

The clear #29 foot from my Bernina 440QE also works on the 770QE. I'm happy about that because this is the foot I tend to use most often. 

Free motion quilting, without marking, is my favorite way to quilt.

Waves change directions around each plus sign.

Hooked swirls are quilted all over these plus signs. 

To piece the backing, I used a leftover bit wide-back that wasn't wide enough! These triangle-shaped prints remained from piecing another quilt backing, and worked well to stretch the back to the size needed.

Binding fabric was an Alison Glass piece, won in a online giveaway. It has many different designs on it, and I think each was meant to be cut out as a 5" X 5" charm. But I like the way the prints change along the edges. 

The pattern for this Comfort Quilt is in Amy Ellis's book Modern Heritage Quilts.
Comfort Quilt, 72" X 95"
For being a twin size Comfort Quilt, this is especially long. I'll have to find a tall person to gift it to! Linda


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