Tuesday, July 24, 2018

More Quilting, and a Question

Since last week, it's been nothing but quilting in my sewing room. Only my Janome has seen actions while my Bernina is wearing it's dust cover.

This is the status of my Bernina Zen Chic quilt-along quilt, and represents about 15 hours of quilting - about halfway done. 

It has been very slow-going as I put a different design in each triangle using a ruler or free handing designs. The designs are repeated so the overall effect is fairly uniform. And the texture... ahh. There's such a nice poofiness with wool batting.

From the back.

My struggle has been at the points, where the seams meet. Because they're thick, I'm forced to tug and drag the quilt under the quilting foot. Tugging causes longer stitches, hiccups, and bobbles. 

I'm revealing clumsiness to show you close-ups of those intersections. They aren't pretty. 

I'd like to believe this is the nature of all kinds of machine quilting... that even with a longarm I'd see bobbles like mine. 

Oh tell me that's true!

Perhaps if I still owned The Whacker, or had a seam clapper, I could smash those seams. But as I have neither, I'll keep tugging away. 

On a different topic, I have a question related to English paper-piecing. It's an aspect of EPPing that few people mention when they're blogging or Instagramming with pictures of their projects. 

What thread do you use for EPPing? 

In this picture you'll see three types I've used:
Top - Aurifil 50-weight, usually in a color that matches the fabric.
Right - Wonderfil Invisifil polyester in a color that matches the fabric.
Bottom - Superior Bottom Line polyester in a blend color like silver. 

Lately, for my Linda Nova (Tula Nova) project, I've been using Bottom Line silver, but I find it annoying. It occasionally knots, and often slips out of the needle's eye. But I keep using it because it's practically invisible.

Do you have a favorite thread for EPP? Do you match thread to fabrics, or use a blend? I'd love to know. Linda

Friday, July 20, 2018


Now that all the excitement of last week has passed, this week has been much more laid-back. In fact,  I've spent most of this week at home.

On Tuesday I had to miss line dancing and Big Cypress Quilters because our golf cart had to go to the shop and we didn't have two vehicles to get us where we needed to go. Though we have routine golf cart service at our home (one of the reasons we bought our golf cart from the dealership we did) and had new battery and new headlights installed, there was a problem with the brakes that required cart servicing in Ocala. Turns out the brake problem was due to an incorrect installation, so that was a satisfying "no charge" fix.

So with extra at-home time on Tuesday I completed the Bernina Zen Chic QAL quilt top. On Wednesday I pin-basted it, and began free motion quilting that evening.

Piecing was a little slow because every intersection of 60-degree triangles needed to be carefully joined for accuracy. I followed Zen Chic's instructions to "skewer" the seams with a pin where the points met, and pin on either side of the points. This method worked well! I'm pleased with the precise joining of most of the seams.

 Only a few of them are a scosh off the mark.

The quilt top is about 83" wide by 82" long. I'm happy with the color I chose for the negative space. Though I would have preferred to use a Painter's Palette Solid, the color I needed was available only in Kaufman Kona. That color is Pond. A prompt for a name? "Triangles in the Pond"?

I pin-basted the quilt sandwich because batting is Quilter's Dream wool. Homemade basting spray wouldn't hold the layers together. Now I'm nearly out of safety pins because another large quilt (Spin Art) is pin-basted and ready for quilting.

It felt good to be quilting, as it's been quite a while since I've FMQed. Well yes, I quilted Austin's quilt (Owl Always Love You) but that was mostly walking foot quilted.

For the first time I'm using 40-weight Aurifl thread (green plastic spool) for top quilting. Previously I've most often used 50-weight. But since having this Janome serviced in late June, and telling the tech I was having a problem with thread breaks while FMQing, he said the thread was too thin. So I'm using 40, and liking it a lot! Now to get more colors. I'm happy with the price ($9.50) and speed of my last order from Pumpkinvine Corner in Atlanta. I'm sure I'll use that resource again.

For quilting designs I'm quilting whatever I want as I go - a combination of ruler work and free motion quilting.

Most of the custom quilting designs will be in the triangles, and wherever I decide to extend the triangles into the side negative spaces. For the rest of the outside negative space, I'll fill in with an all over design.

After line dancing Thursday morning, afternoon Ukulele Players Club, and quilting for a couple hours, Dan called me to this unique dinner. He made it up, mostly from leftovers, and calls it Chicken Italian Sausage Pepper Soup.

The scoop of rice in the center was the perfect compliment to the chunky broth of chicken, Italian sausage, yellow peppers, onions and seasonings - very flavorful. Soup was accompanied by this Lofthouse sauvignon blanc, a new-to-me white wine. I can always count on the nice quality of a New Zealand Marlborough.

Good food. Good quilting. Life is still good. Linda

Sunday, July 15, 2018

One More Excitement

Amongst the activities generated by showing and sharing the "Owl Always Love You" quilt, and the home made decor at the ELC, one more exciting thing happened last week. This arrived in the mail: Curated Quilts, the triangles issue

It contains two of my contributions: an article I wrote called "An Inclination for Triangles," and the Triangle challenge quilt I made that was selected to appear in the Gallery section of the magazine.

What a surprise to see my name on the cover! Goodness! That's never happened before.

Holding the magazine for the first time, I noticed how sturdy it is. It's not the usual flimsy, glossy paper you'd find in a traditional magazine. These pages are more like a light-weight card stock. And of course with no advertising, the content quantity is great! It has at least a few hours worth of reading and looking. And quilt patterns! I understand why a single copy is $18. Go here for more information. 

For the contributors page, it looks like they lifted my headshot from my Google account.

My article begins on page 26. I like how the text was formatted into a triangular shape.

Pages 28-29. I collected all the quilt photos to accompany the article, and want to thank everyone who signed a permission-to-use form so their quilt could be included.

And pages 30-31. As you can see on the left-hand pages, the quilt pictures were cropped into triangles too.

My mini quilt, "Always Add Orange," appears on page 77. For this triangle challenge, we had to use fabrics in a color palette determined by Curated Quilts. 

I'm happy to see my friend Paige's (QuiltedBlooms) mini, "Research Triangle," opposite mine.

"Always Add Orange," 15" X 15"
Though I made and submitted a mini quilt for the next issue of Curated Quilts - an improv style mini  with the theme Connections - "Splices" was not accepted for publication.
"Splices," 14-12/" X 14-1/2"
This just makes me more grateful to have gotten "Always Add Orange" into the current issue.

All in all, I'm pretty happy about everything that happened this past week.

The icing on the cake is that since May 21, when I went off Arimidex (breast cancer drug) hot flashes are slowly declining. Lately I've had only one or two a day, and they're much less intense than they once were. Whoopee! And, I've lost ten pounds, though that's been all about commitment and determination to lose it. It sure feels great. Clothes-wise, I feel like I'm back into a "new" wardrobe!

Life is good. God is good! Linda

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Another Excitement

This past week was also when it was crunch time to finish making the items I contributed to decorate Amazing Grace Early Learning Center (ELC) - kites, valances, and quilts ready to hang. I'm happy to say that everything was finished and put up on Wednesday, with help from friend Joanne who has a gift for interior decorating. She's the decision-maker behind the DIY valances, and kites for the walls.

The Amazing Grace Early Learning Center is this brand new building, behind the church which is located in Oxford, Florida.

Off to the left, behind the white picket fence is the new playground, with plans for a children's garden. Several brand new pedal toys are just waiting for children to come and play.

Just inside the front glass doors is this vestibule. Joanne worked with colorful furnishings and chose  two bright red-background rugs to brighten the space. 

These wooden doors lead into a wide hallway off of which are six large rooms - the activity room (for indoor rainy day fun); an infant room; and rooms for 1, 2, 3, and 4 year-olds. 

The kites sure give the walls color! I'm grateful for piecing help from my friend Sarah who put together the blue and red kite tops. Without her help, (including some red fabric pieces from Sarah and another friend Selina), I might not have completed these in time for the open house.

The director of the ELC is Julie; she's seated in the middle, wearing the royal blue shirt.

As seen from behind the office counter. The open house attracted church members and visitors!

Thus far I've made only three valances following instructions on DownhomeInspiration. I'm getting the knack of cutting the panel board which behaves much like styrofoam. I use toothpicks and duct-taping to piece together panel boards for the needed 54" width.

Of course the fabric had to be seamed too, so there was matching involved, including making two of the valances with identically-positioned chevron patterns! Both valances can be seen simultaneously in the front office and in the director's office, so they needed to be alike.

It's sure tough to get a good photo when aiming into the light, but... this is the valance over the director's office window.

And this is outside her office. This space will later have a small bed and will be designated as an area for any child who becomes sick. That's my quilt on the wall too.

I made "Building Fun" in 2016 from a pattern by Geta Grama. I used the first collection of Blueberry Park fabrics to put it together, and after finishing it, stored it away in the top of the closet. It turned out to be the perfect wall hanging for this venue, and I'm thrilled it has a home now.
"Building Fun," 48" X 58-1/2"
As well, I offered another wall hanging. This is "Modern Princess Feathers" made in 2015. It's English paper-pieced, appliquéd to a background, and domestic machine quilted with big stitch hand quilting to enhance the color changes. I designed this and submitted it for publication to a quilting magazine. It was rejected, and so it too went into the top of the closet... until now. I'm very happy knowing it will be used to help teach colors to two year-olds!  

Over the next few weeks, I'll continue to work on valances for the six remaining windows in the ELC. Each teacher is choosing fabric for her classroom, so once those have been selected, I'll do yardage calculations and ordering, and eventually the making too. 

Dan has also helped get the ELC ready by installing hand towel dispensers and wall baskets that hold emergency information. Together, he and I assembled a child's grocery store. That was probably our biggest challenge! A "work together" project isn't always easy.

Everything we've helped with at the ELC has been very rewarding. Now, we're looking forward to hearing that by early to mid August, the ELC fills enrollment at 62 children. Linda

Friday, July 13, 2018

An Exciting Week!

This week, three exciting things happened! Since life is usually fairly routine, these things made it extra fun.

On Monday, I finished Austin's quilt, and even sewed a label to it.

I will say that I'm disappointed in how washed-out the label looks. I even intensified the color of this photo that I inserted, and checked inkjet printer colors to make sure it was printing properly.

I used Printed Treasures, and haven't been happy with that product lately - the paper backing is so difficult to remove - so maybe that had something to do with the problem. Next time I need a label, I'm trying another brand: EQ Printables Inkjet Fabric Sheets.

I have Elaine of @messygoat (www.messygoat.com) to thank for suggesting the quilt name. It's perfect: "Owl Always Love You."

Anyway, I'm so happy with how this quilt turned out! It was quilted with Quilter's Dream 100 percent Cotton batting, Aurifil 50-weight threads (on top) and YLI 40-weight light gray on the bottom, and finished at 58" X 68".
"Owl Always Love You," 58" X 68"
I was able to take it to the Central Florida MQG meeting Monday evening where members revealed their Inspiration Challenge quilts. Eleven of our members participated. If you'd like to see what they made, and what inspired them, please see this blog post.

Several people who saw this picture on Instagram commented on my skirt matching the quilt. Yes, it did! Guess you can tell how much I like bright colors.

On top of the good feels about this finish, our daughter-in-law Lyn (mother to Austin), shared the quilt picture with Austin's art teacher, Miss McFee. She happens to be on Instagram too, and ended up (with my permission), posting to her Instagram feed the picture of Austin's artwork, and the quilt!

She gave a good explanation of the class project.

Now I want to convince Austin that we should enter this quilt in QuiltCon. Of course I'm extremely uncertain whether it might be accepted. And, I don't know if Austin will let me keep the quilt long enough to find out! Linda

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Austin's Quilt Progress

With this coming Monday being the deadline for completing my quilt for our Central Florida MQG Inspiration Challenge, I've been spending long days in the sewing room. Since last Sunday, when I pin-basted the quilt sandwich, it's been nothing but quilting and quilting for the past three days.

Walking foot quilting is where I started, quilting most of the quilt that way. I later added some free motion quilting too.

Batting is Quilter's Dream 100 percent cotton. These are the colors of 50-weight Aurifil thread I used, and yes, I changed colors fairly frequently. 

By Independence Day, I was nearing the end of quilting.

With 40-weight YLI gray thread in the bobbin, the quilting shows up fairly well. 

In lieu of watching fireworks - which are not displayed here in The Villages, and I haven't seen in eight years anyway - I finished quilting the quilt by 10:15 pm. It now measures about 60" X 70". 

Binding will take a bit of puzzling as I will align binding colors with the solid colors along the edge of the quilt - clockwise from the top: yellow, aqua, beige, green, pink, pink, blue, blue, aqua, yellow. Full steam ahead to a finish!

Last Saturday I made the first of four patchwork kites that will hang in the vestibule of Amazing Grace's Early Learning Center. This is the smaller size (24" tall X 16" wide) and two more are needed; one larger kite is needed too.

I also made the first 54"-wide X 14"-high valance and went to the Early Learning Center to hang it in the staff room. It looks good, so I'm moving along to make two more of those. The kites, valances and two quilted wall hangings (already made) need to be finished by next Wednesday morning as that's when Joann, my decorator-friend, and I will hang them all... just in time for Thursday's 4-7 pm open house! 

There's no grass is growing under my feet. Linda


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