Friday, August 31, 2018

Taking Pictures of a QAL Finish

Does anyone besides me find it difficult to get good quality photos of their finished quilts? Even though I know how to take good pictures (learned from days spent with a professional photographer while helping publish my book, "First Time Quiltmaking"), I struggle to come up with the right location and circumstances for perfect lighting.

When we first moved into this house, I had very good lighting in my west-facing sewing room. Then, we paid to have UV film put on those bay windows. The lighting hasn't been the same since.

I have great overhead lighting for which we paid extra - "daylight" lighting even in the middle of the night! Every color of fabric and thread is visible as though it were daylight. But because these lights are overhead, my own body creates shadows (when photographing downward), and the tray ceiling casts shadows too. See the in-shadow top of my design wall at the bottom of the picture?

The following is what I went through to photograph my latest quilt finish - the Bernina Zen Chic QAL quilt that I'm calling "Diamonds in the Pond." (Thank you to those who offered name suggestions!)

The first photograph I took was this. I hung the quilt on a stand in the lanai. I thought the natural daylight would show it well, but you can see how dark it is on the right, where it was closest to the house.

For the second picture, I repositioned the stand with the quilt back toward the house... and didn't have enough room to step back far enough to capture the whole quilt in the photo.

So I brought it into my sewing room. This is the picture with the quilt facing the UV film-covered windows. The ceiling lights cast a glare.

Then I decided to hang the quilt on my design wall. I came up with the set-up below to position the camera on the quilt center. It's a mini-tripod on top of a step stool that's on top of IKEA "Alex" rolling drawers!

To avoid the keystone effect - a quilt photograph at an angle - the camera should be pointed directly at the center of the quilt.

I took advantage of the camera's timer and used those ten seconds to pick up my Slimline Daylight lamp to light the whole scene. 

The quilt in the above picture is "Owl Always Love You," an improv design inspired by my grandson's artwork. I figured that as long as I was messing around with pictures, I might as well take photos of several quilts.

Anyway, I tried holding the lamp in different positions, at different angles. Then I repeatedly loaded a few pictures onto the computer to check what lighting position worked best. 

Holding the Daylight lamp up too high made a glare.

Overheads on/off. Blinds open/closed. Lamp on/off. Gosh, what a rig-a-ma-roll!

Here's the best photo before cropping.

While I'm satisfied, I know the picture could be better.
"Diamonds in the Pond" 78-1/2" X 78-1/2"
And yes, I'm completely thrilled to have this quilt finished! I met today's quilt-along deadline, so this quilt picture appears on both the Bernina "We All Sew" blog, and on my Instagram feed with the hashtag #berninazenchicqal (Go to the hashtag to check out the gorgeous color combos quilters used to make this triangle quilt!)

If you have any thoughts to "shed light" (ha, ha) on my photo set-up, I'm open to hearing them! Linda

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Bernina Zen Chic QAL Progress

I've noticed that some bloggers post only when they have a finish to share. I'd like to think that some of us are still interested in, and want to take time to focus on the process. Maybe that's my excuse for being a little slow in the productivity department, but it's true that making a quilt is a process, and (hopefully) one that doesn't need to be rushed, and is enjoyable!

Since reading and commenting (hint) on CrazyMomQuilts 's latest blog post about her hand quilting work-in-progress, she made me think to share progress pictures of my Bernina Zen Chic Quilt-along quilt.

It's very close to a finish; the deadline is Friday. That August 31 due date is to be in the running to win some of the prizes being randomly given away, but it's good motivation to finish. I have to upload finished-quilt pictures to the BerninaZenChicQAL website!

Our 46th anniversary was Sunday, so I didn't spend any time in the sewing room. We went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and then hung out the rest of the day, watching a movie on TV.

But I quilted a little bit each day until Monday when I finished all of it. Most of the ruler-work and free motion quilting was done on my Janome 1600P. Then, I swapped out the Janome for the Bernina 440 to do the walking foot quilting. I much prefer using the Bernina walking foot. It's better-designed and operates smoothly.

I tied and buried hundreds of threads! That Sench needle got a workout! This is my clipped-threads pile, as evidence. You might notice that I used gray (50-weight) thread in the bobbin, and seafoam-colored (40-weight) thread on top. 

Then, to remove marker inks from a blue wash-out marker, and purple disappearing marker, I put the quilt in the washer for a rinse and spin. After a five minute tumble in the dryer, I laid it out on the freshly-washed tile floor, measuring the sides and across the diagonal to pat it into "square."

I turned this textural picture into the screen-saver on my cell phone!

Binding is Kona Pond, to match the quilt background, and was machine sewn to the quilt using my favorite binding method - No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine.

By the way, I've been "pondering" quilt names. 😄 Several were offered-up on Instagram.

"Triangles in the Pond"
"Diamonds in the Pond"
"Crystals in the Pond"
"Tranquil Pond"


On Tuesday I began hand sewing the binding to the back. It was a good, portable project to work on during the Big Cypress Quilters' business meeting. 

I've enjoyed looking at this texture as I've stitched. That lovely loft is the result of using a wool batt. 

I'll make and sew on a sleeve next, so I can use my quilt stand to take good pictures. Also that will make the quilt that much closer to being ready to enter in the Quilting Guild of The Villages January "Showcase of Quilts." Entries are due September 30. I still have a quilt bag to make though. Quilts have to be delivered for judging in their own homemade, drawstring bag. (Have you ever heard of such a thing?!)

I can't begin to say how much I continue to enjoy eating smoothie bowls, and experimenting with different combinations. I haven't yet had one I don't like. Every one of them makes me believe I've just indulged in a bowl of ice cream!

This bowl is: 
  • sliced, steamed, then frozen, yellow crookneck squash
  • frozen banana
  • frozen strawberries
  • hemp seeds
  • almond milk
Topping is:
  • homemade granola
  • chia seeds
  • bananas
  • warm peanut butter

Healthy. Nutritional. What more can you ask?

If I can't convince you this bowl is good, than how about a book recommendation? If you like wine, and/or you like France, with a little WWII history, then you'll like "The Lost Vintage" by Ann Mah. Linda

Monday, August 20, 2018

Make All the Things

Last weekend I made six more fancy-schmacy window valances for the classrooms at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church Early Learning Center. I'd made three of them in July. These six more were needed to complete all nine windows in the ELC.

Here they are, done, on the guest room bed. 

To get the needed width for the window, I joined a 48"- and 5"-wide piece of polystyrene. They're spliced together with toothpicks and covered with Joann Fabric's white Duck (not Duct) Tape. I added a 3" piece of polystyrene to each end of the wide piece for the return. Lastly, I covered the whole thing with fabric, and secured it to the polystyrene with t-pins.

To get the 64"-wide piece of fabric needed for each window, I did a lot of print-matching to make blind seams. This 42"-wide print was the most difficult to work with because the two pieces of fabric had to be seamed at the angles of the hexagons. It turned out good enough for hanging in the infant room.

With Dan's help, we hung all the valances at the ELC this afternoon. Here's what the infant room window looks like now. 

The infant room is on the front side of the building, and has a good view of the back of the church.

Two rooms - the activity room and two year-old room - have this valance print. 

The remaining three rooms - one, three, and four year-olds - have this Very Hungry Caterpillar print. Fabrics were selected by the teachers. 

I'm happy this task is finished because the teachers begin next week! And 62 children begin September 10.

It's been suggested that I make valances for my own windows, but I'm ready for a breather from valance-making! However, if you'd like to make valances, I recommend these DIY instructions.

For now, I've returned to free motion quilting my Bernina Zen Chic Triangle Quiltalong quilt with a sense of urgency. To be in the running for any of the prizes being given away, my quilt has to be completely finished (yes, quilted and bound), photographed, and put up on the Bernina website by August 31!

So this is my focus. 

After finding several tucks in the quilt backing, I spent a few hours unstitching, steaming it from the back, repinning, and requilting those places. All better. The print triangles, and several solid background triangles are quilted. 

Numerous quilting designs were achieved with ruler work, and enhanced with free motion quilting.

I used one Accents in Design Fine Line ruler for all the quilting - the 4" half circle - quilting straight edges, and curved edges.
Negative space on either side of the triangles remains to be quilted. I'll be using my Bernina 440 and its walking foot to quilt those areas in an angular pattern. 

I can't post without showing you another smoothie bowl! This is a new combo. I'm finding they still taste so good, and are very filling. I'm eating one nearly every day! 

Mixed in a food processor, for the bowl: 
  • fresh steamed, then frozen cauliflower
  • fresh frozen mango
  • fresh frozen banana
  • fresh spinach
  • hemp seeds
  • almond milk

Topped with:
  • fresh strawberries
  • fresh mango
  • chia seeds
  • homemade granola

YUM! Have you tried making one yet? Linda

Friday, August 17, 2018

More Family

Almost as soon as we returned home from Kansas City - with one day in between - our Texas family flew in for a short, three-and-a-half day visit. We picked them up at the Orlando airport.
Luke, age 4, in Bapa's arms; and Austin, age 8
Yes, the famous Austin, of the owl feathers artwork, was here! Unfortunately, we never got around to photographing the two of us with his "Owl Always Love You," quilt. 😞

We filled most of the time with activities. Anywhere we could go on the golf cart was considered a treat.

Though not accessible by golf cart, we went to Gator World, a drive-through gator park (opened in October 2017). Visiting there was a priority as we knew it would be a hit with grandsons after taking our Kansas City grandsons there last November. It's an educational and interesting place to visit.

What a reaction from Austin!

Luke was willing only to touch the gator's tail.

But look at brave mom!

Austin and Luke both fed turkey hotdogs to the small gators. 

The enclosed rabbit-petting area was probably their favorite place. Apparently bunnies like to be brushed too.

In between threatening clouds and thunderstorms, we made it to the pool a couple times, riding to and from on the golf cart, of course.

We don't have many boy's toys at our house, but Austin was proud of the marble run he created.

We also paid a visit to the nearby Russell Stover outlet, and Austin went with Bapa on a "treasure hunt" to an antique mall.

We wore them out, wouldn't you agree?

Luke with his stuffed triceratops that he named "Triceratops." 
Because I have been focused on Central Florida MQG activities this week - writing blog posts, putting up Instagram photos, and arranging workshop presenters/instructors for 2018, 2019, and 2020, sewing room activity has been nil.

However, on Wednesday I spent much of the morning in the garage, putting together the six polystyrene valances needed for the Early Learning Center. Lots of measuring, slicing, toothpicks and duct tape were involved. (I'm following this DIY.) Nothing glamorous about it, and this is what I have to show for my efforts.

Today I will begin working with the three different fabric prints to make 64"-wide pieces to cover the polystyrene. Of course, that means piecing at least six hidden seams - AKA print-matching. Oh boy!

I hope your weekend is delightful! Linda

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Long Time

It feels like I've been away from my blog for forever, though it's been only since late July. Well, that's was a long time ago, wasn't it? 

We were in Kansas City visiting family. 

Hogan traveled with us, though we were very aware that it's more challenging for him to spend 18 hours in the car. Most of our stops along the way were for his benefit. 
Seven year-old Aesa with Hogan
We enjoyed lots of play time with the two boys - Aesa age 7, and Tay age 8. We took them to Urban Air where they played dodge ball on trampolines, for hours!

There was also miniature golfing at Smiley's.

We also went to Tay's indoor soccer practice; made two visits to the community swimming pool; and hung out with granddaughter Celina when she wasn't working. She and I spent several hours playing ukuleles and singing!

I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, but then, it's difficult to catch this family when they're not on the move.
Aesa and Tay
I was glad to receive this picture this morning. It's the first day of school for the boys who are beginning second grade and third grade. Their mom said this is the first time there were no tears... for her!
L: Aesa, second grade
R: Tay, third grade
While in KC, I was thrilled to share a good chat over coffee with my friend, Carla, who I met in 2009 through our blogs. Whenever we meet up, we continue to find things to chat about, as though we'd been talking the day before. Isn't that the way it is with another quilter?

During the long hours of seat time in the car, I worked on my LindaNova EPP project. Six more of these hexagon units are done. When I finish the last five of these units, I'll be attaching them to the growing medallion center. Yep, I have lots of handwork ahead. By the way, based on comments on my last post, and Instagram, I'm staying with Bottom Line thread for piecing, running the thread through a block of Thread Heaven, and tying a small knot at the eye of the needle (to prevent slipping). 

While in Kansas City I spent time with my Dad. I accompanied him through a cataract procedure, and follow-up appointment. And I spent an evening with my sister. We ate at Vitality Bowl, a smoothie-bowl restaurant in Leawood (the only one in Kansas) that was recommended to me by granddaughter Celina. I had their Dragon Bowl; my sister had the Green Bowl. So good!

When I returned home, I was keen to make my own smoothie bowl, and have now done so several times. I began following the Instagram hashtag #smoothiebowl, and have found great inspiration for making different combos.

The first bowl I made was this. The smoothie part was frozen banana (peel the banana and break it into pieces before freezing); frozen strawberries; peanut butter; and almond milk, blended in a blender. Toppings were homemade granola (recipe courtesy of my above-pictured friend, Carla); banana, flax seed meal; chia seeds; and a dollop of creamy Jif peanut butter.

The next smoothie bowls I made were blended in a food processor. I prefer the food processor because the smoothie part is a little bit coarser.

This smoothie was green because it included spinach! Other ingredients were frozen fresh pineapple; frozen banana; and almond milk. Toppings were bananas; granola; blueberries; chia seeds; sliced almonds; and strawberries.

Yesterday's bowl was also made in a food processor. It combined plain Greek yogurt; frozen fresh blueberries; frozen bananas; flax seed meal; hemp seeds; and almond milk. Topping were strawberries; sliced almonds; chia seeds; granola; and a dollop of creamy Jif peanut butter.

Like me, you may ask, "Why a smoothie bowl, rather than a smoothie?" I've decided it's because the bowl makes me eat with a spoon. I'm eating rather than drinking. The act of chewing makes me feel like I'm enjoying something substantial. I feel full after one of these. You can tell I'm enjoying this new food treat! I encourage you to give it a try.

Yesterday I demonstrated "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine" to fellow members of Big Cypress Quilters. (Link to my online tutorial is here. Or, if you're a member of the MQG, you can view my webinar here.) The demo yesterday was the first time I'd touched my sewing machine in two weeks!

Today though I'll be back in my sewing room, working with these three prints from 

These fabrics will become six more window valances for Amazing Grace's Early Learning Center. The state of Florida finally gave it's last approvals, certifications, and licenses for the center to officially open on September 10. I expect the windows to be decorated before opening day! Linda


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