Friday, May 24, 2019

Cascade Top

It's been another week of to-dos, and check-offs ✔

My sewing room biggie was piecing Cascade, a pattern in Victoria Findlay-Wolfe's book Modern Quilt Magic. While I adore this design, and all the versions of it I've seen on Instagram (follow #cascadequilt), I thought it was one of the almost the most challenging quilts I've ever pieced. Each curved braid combined bias and curves, and then point-matching when columns of braids were joined to one another.

Here's the acrylic curve braid strip ruler I used to cut all 513 pieces, though in truth I cut out about 560, so I'd have extra to play with.

This is the arrangement of each column of curved braids. Piecing starts at the bottom, and follows a bias curve. Then, each column was supposed to be a straight edge. That didn't exactly work out.

I learned two things...

First, because all the curved braid seam allowances were pressed the same way, when those pieces were joined - in side-by-side columns - that seam was thick!

I found the presser foot pressure control (third picture down, on the right) on my Bernina 770QE, and lessened it. Here it's set on 5, but I later lowered it further, to 0. That helped the foot climb up and down each pile of seams.

Second, as instructed I matched points and pinned columns together.

That didn't always guarantee a match! This didn't make me happy. 

I unstitched and resewed 18 or so seams for a better match. Though usually the mis-match wasn't due a sewing error, but rather to excess fabric between points. Because I cut all the curved braid pieces using the same acrylic ruler, I have to believe that different brands of fabric behaved differently as I sewed. In a few cases, I actually resewed the braid curve seam, to take up excess fabric, and then resewed columns. Whew.

Hours later, and after cutting away extra fabric to straighten the top and bottom, I completed the quilt top. It measures a whopping 88-1/2" X 95-1/2", barely fitting my design wall. I love the way the colors "cascade" through the quilt. Ha! Such a clever, apropos name! It's taken quite a bit of Mary Ellen's Best Pressed to get this as smooth and flat as possible. Of course, as we all want... I'm hoping my quilter will "quilt out" any waves and wobbles. Ha, ha, ha. Guess that's me! 

This week, my first order of 12-weight Aurifil thread arrived. It's touted for big stitch quilting, which I plan to do on my selvage quilt (after machine quilting to stabilize the selvage areas). In the center of this picture you'll see a navy blue box. Do you recognize it? It's Thread Heaven! More than a year ago, that company went out of business. Hand quilters and embroiders have lamented that Thread Heaven is no more. Well, I found it at the online shop (scroll to the bottom), and the owner isn't charging an arm and a leg! Only $3.75. Of course, I bought several.

This picture represents my current to-dos. In the forefront are (from the bottom up): "Ring Me" solid scraps quilt, basted and ready for quilting; selvage quilt, basted and ready for quilting; "Cascade Quilt" ready for basting; and in the background, my 2019 temperature quilt that needs attention. My to-dos are pretty clear.

This week I completed edits on chapter 13 of my dad's autobiography. He's asked for a few pictures to include in his book, and this is one I am happy to provide. It's a framed, under-glass, pencil drawing of my grandparent's farm home outside of Covington, Ohio. The house is vacant now, and in such disrepair that this is how we'd all like to remember it. I drew this in 1968, when I was 15 years old, in ninth grade. I had a wonderful art teacher.

This week's audiobook didn't hold my interested, and it took determination to slog to a finish.

"Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is being turned into a TV series. These fellas also wrote "American Gods" that was turned into a TV series I didn't care for. So why I thought I'd like this book, I'm not sure.

If you're a reader who likes a good fantasy, with schemes between good and evil - literally, the devil and his evil minions, and an angel - then you'll enjoy this. Add some 10 and 11 year old kids, the four horsemen of the apocalypse riding motorcycles, a witch and witch-hunters, and a few opinionated humans, you might get the idea that this is a phantasmagorical story! You'd be correct.

Linda's score: 2.8/5

Thinking of friends and family who have plans for a long Memorial Day weekend... Be safe. Have a good time! Linda


Friday, May 17, 2019


The week of our Central Florida MQG (CFMQG) meeting is always extra-busy for me as media coordinator, and this past week proved even more so as our members showed their challenge quilts - 25 of them, as well as show and tell! I've spent considerable time writing two blog posts and sharing pictures on Instagram. If you're interested, please go here to see our blog. Or, here to see Instagram.

In between photo-taking and writing, I've continued to edit my dad's autobiography. We're up to his 43 page-long chapter 13. At this point, it's 1971 to 1975, and we're living in Mason City, Iowa. It's when I met and married Dan.

In the sewing room, it's been this and that as "squirrels" run all over! ("Squirrels" is a reference to a moment with a dog, in the movie "Up.")

At Monday's CFMQG meeting, I showed my completed "It's All About Color" challenge quilt. It's 31" X 31", uses colors that are definitely "not me," and is my first comfortable play with improv. I also found I adore ombré (gradated) fabrics, and am on the hunt for more. (Quilt Market is in Kansas City today through Sunday, and I understand that Jennifer Sampou is introducing an ombré collection called "Sky.") I completed this quilt with lots of ruler quilting, filled-in with a little free motion.

I completed piecing my selvages quilt top that ended up at 59" X 72".

Thinking a selvage print backing would be too perfect for this quilt, I went on the hunt. The last time I'd seen it was at least five years ago. Though I found some in Etsy shops, there wasn't enough. I texted my California friend, Cindy (LiveaColorfulLife) who is one of several "Selvage Queens" I know. She told me the selvage print fabric was made by Pat Sloan. I went to Pat's website, followed her fabric links, and found nothing. In desperation I emailed Pat - reminding her I'd been on her radio program last December 😀 - and she responded almost immediately! Yes, she had four yards left and would sell me 3-1/2 yards! Yay! This arrived yesterday. I see quilt sandwich-making in my weekend plans!

While waiting, I pulled out my pre-arranged Cascade Quilt. All I need to do is sit at my Bernina and piece! At first it was a little tedious, but I've gotten into a rhythm, chain-piecing two columns at a time. Of course, the most challenging part is remembering from which pile to choose each piece. 

It's unusual piecing because each column starts at the bottom, and the braids have a slight, bias curve that needs to meet "just so" at the skinny end.

These first two columns were my learning curve. Best Pressed spray starch helped a lot!

Currently, I'm piecing columns E and F.

On August 12 I'm giving our CFMQG program, on Big Stitch quilting. In anticipation of a hands-on demo, I've started pulling sample threads (perle cottons and sashiko) and needles (crewel). Even though I've big stitch quilted several times, (see my O-O-Orange quilt that was at this year's QuiltCon) I'm also watching YouTube videos for extra tips. If you're interested, I highly recommend The Fat Quarter Shop's video with Jen Kingwell. You can watch it here.

My recent audiobook finish is "The Woman Who Smashed Codes," by Jason Fagone. It's not a genré I typically look for, but is undoubtedly fascinating. This factual book tells the story of Elisabeth Freedman, and her husband William, who were extraordinarily-skilled code-breakers, and instrumental in revealing plans and schemes during WWI, prohibition, and WWII. While the story isn't one that I could "get lost in," it was certainly eye-opening. Simply knowing that our government kept these activities under wraps for decades, turns the truth into a compelling book.

Linda's score: 5/5

Lately, there's been no grass growing under my feet! Is this how "retirement" is for everyone? Linda

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Instead of Doing What I Oughta

I have a quilt to finish by Monday, to meet the Central Florida MQG "It's All About Color" Challenge.

It's an improv quilt using colors I don't normally use, or like, and I've been quilting it with several different brands of rulers - Westalee, Sariditty, and Fine Line (by Accents in Design). I have favorite rulers in each brand, so it's nice to have options.

But instead of finishing this as I should (it needs to be bound too!), last Friday morning I woke up at 4 am with a creative urge that wouldn't let go!

The previous day, on Instagram (such an inspirational place for quilters!), I'd seen Amy Friend's @duringquiettime quilt block made with selvages. She commented that she'd used all her selvages, so she wouldn't be making more blocks until she acquired more selvages.

I began to think about the huge bag of selvages that has - since bringing them from Iowa nearly seven years ago - continued to grow within my sewing room closet. I felt an overpowering urge to sew something with them, and decided to go with that feeling!

After playing for 20 minutes on EQ8, and not really liking anything, I determined two things. My quilt blocks needed to :

1) use as much of a selvage strip as possible (not be chopped into small pieces), and;
2) use scrap fabrics from my overfull scrap bins.

I began to sort colors, press, and sew. And cut.

I like that this 30-degree angle is different than many quilters' choice of a 45-degree half-square triangle, and also removes as little selvage as possible.

After making four selvage-rectangle units with one color, I chose selvages in another color.

Sorting through the messy pile of selvages, organizing them into colors, pressing, and cutting them into useable lengths was a big task. This was my Saturday morning view.

I made more selvage-triangle units, and put them on the design wall.

On Sunday, I auditioned colors in the center of each block. At this point, it measures about 48" X 62".

As of Monday evening, this is how it looks with Painter's Palette solid white in the block centers (rather than a variety of solid colors). I've sewn several blocks together, and that's no small feat. Blocks are assembled with a plain white square in the center, and sewn with partial seams!

And I'm lovin' this SO much! In fact, I've decided to "go big" to use-up as many selvages as possible, and am in the process of making eight more "color twirls" (my technical name). The top should end up at around 62" X 76". I'm only hoping the quilt top isn't heavy with so many heavier-than-fabric selvages.

I'm thinking to name this: "The Edge of Bright" a word play on the old TV soap opera "The Edge of Night." This quilt is pieced with "edges," but will be the opposite of "night!"

So as you see, "Instead of Doing What I Oughta" (finishing my challenge quilt), I'm on a sew-with-selvages kick.

My friend Debbie @aquilterstable told me this morning in an email:
"Motivation for the thing that isn't a priority is... all part of the process."
Don't you agree? To me, it's quite clear that Debbie's an authority on this sort of thing. Linda

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Makes, Observations, and Reads

As happy as I was to last week give a ruler quilting demo, and teach a modern wedges workshop, it's also good to feel caught up, and return focus to sewing. I've had a happy melange of projects and activities.

Recently, I was thrilled to be accept to Paintbrush Studios' "Get Sewcial" program whereby I receive weekly notices about new fabrics coming from Paintbrush Studios, and then have the opportunity to choose fabrics I like and propose a project using them.

My first proposal was accepted - to make a skirt using two Garden Glory prints by designer Maja Ronnback. Fabrics arrived last week, so on Sunday I made my skirt using one of my favorite books The Essential A-Line by Jona Giammalva. If this book sounds familiar, you've been following my blog for a long time! I've made several skirts from this book. This is the "layered skirt" design.

See how well the Bernina invisible zipper foot #35 works? It was such a good investment; I can use it on both my 440QE and my 770QE machines.

Once I get the right top to go with the skirt, I'll soon be wearing it to church. 

I'm caught up on my temperature quilt through the end of April. Most of the blocks are joined now, so it's clear that I've completely committed to this layout. It's still not looking exactly as I hoped, but as it grows I'm picking out a more flowing connections.

Also, I added one more color to the top of my color key, thinking that a high of 89+ isn't probably an accurate reflection of what our Florida summertime temps might be. So, 89 to 91 is now represented by Painter's Palette Rosebud, and PP Sangria has become 92+, for a total of 21 solid colors ranging from 33F to 92F.

A few weeks ago I attended a Master Gardener's sale at the Wildwood Community Center, and came home with several perennials. This Princess Flower is already a favorite that I can admire from my sewing room bay window. It's supposed to bloom all summer. 

As I was walking Hogan, I saw this beautiful bird "stiltedly" walking along the edge of a pond. 

And speaking of Hogan - our dear 15-1/2 year-old boy - I got such a kick out of seeing him nap! His head is under the dry bar.

I couldn't help but worry that he'd be startled and bang his head! And yes, you're seeing a "tumbleweed" of dog hair by his nose. His fall-out is never-ending. Sigh.

Here are two recent-reads to recommend.

The Wife Between Us is about a seemingly perfect marriage, and about the jealous ex-wife of a wonderful, attentive husband, and about a young woman preparing to marry this wonderful man... and nothing is as it seems. The story reeled me in, and convincingly landed me just where the authors intended.

Two women collaborated to write this book - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen - and it's apparent. The narrative contains so many details that need to be kept straight, that one writer could easily have overlooked something. It's an impressive work of fiction. Linda's score: 4.5/5

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a sad story about 15 year-old Ellie who goes missing as she's walking to the public library. It's written from four narratives perspectives: Ellie's; Ellie's loving mother, Laurel; Ellie's psychotic kidnapper; and Laurel's boyfriend. In spite of Ellie's harsh treatment, I felt satisfied by the outcome. This story kept me captivated. Linda's score: 4.5/5



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