Thursday, July 25, 2019

Hand Stitching Light

I like to keep my hands busy, so in the evening when Dan and I are watching TV together, big stitch hand quilting is what I want to do. Unfortunately, I've had many evenings where I started stitching during early evening light, but the lighting became so poor, I had to set my quilt aside.

Here's a picture of me hand stitching using only the end table lamp to illuminate what I'm working on. Though here the light looks acceptable because the picture was taken during the day, visibility is not acceptable in the evening. Our end table lamps have lightbulbs that emit a warm, soft light, so seeing is extremely difficult.

My ability to hand quilt in dim light has increased dramatically since investing $13.99 in a Ledgle brand rechargeable LED book light. I'm wearing it around my neck.

The lamp provides illumination right where I need it, without distracting Dan who's usually sitting in the chair next to me. Both lamps have three different settings, with the third setting shining two LED lights.

Because each side is flexible, I can point the light on where I need it most.
Big stitch hand quilting my selvedge quilt
The light arrived with a charge, enough for several hours of stitching. It can handily be recharged with my iPhone plug, or at my computer, using the included cord.

The light is available in several exterior colors - black, light blue, blue, and yellow. This is the light blue one that I'd call closer to "aqua."

If you're interested, here's the product I ordered from Amazon. By the way, I am not being compensated for this review. It's entirely of my own doing because I think it's worth sharing with my quilt-y friends. Even if you don't quilt, it would work well for knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and reading.

In the sewing room, I've been trial-and-erroring to learn to sew set in circles. They've fascinated me since seeing @mariquilts beautiful inset circle blocks on Instagram. She blogs at TheQuiltingEdge

I used Painter's Palette bright yellow with Gelato ombré to piece convex circles, and Painter's Palette pale aqua for concave circle/background block. No clue where this is going, but it's fun playing!
If you're as in the dark as I was about how to cut and sew inset circles, I highly recommend watching this YouTube video. It was made by Sharon, to explain how to use her Classic Curves Ruler (I love this ruler!) for inset circles, and includes video by Cassandra Beaver, a modern quilter from Ohio whose designs I really admire. Between the two of them, they do a great job of explaining how to be successful at making them. Always be learning, right?

I spent a day last week catching up on my temperature quilt. To make these Drunkard's Path blocks I'm using the Classic Curves Ruler! I put this picture on Instagram and it has received the most likes of anything I've posted this year! 
Though I had angst about this project because of the colors, I ended up adding three "hot" colors to the top temperatures - Painter's Palette sangria, amethyst, and bordeaux (the hottest) - for a total of 23 different solids to represent temps from 33F to more than 98F. Bet you can see we've had a long spell of hot temperatures, both high and low!

My latest audiobook finish is "The Perfect Couple" by Elin Hilderbrand. I picked this one because I'd read her Christmas-y Winter Street series last year - Winter Street; Winter Stroll; Winter Storm; and Winter Solstice.

All of Ms. Hilderbrand's books take place on Nantucket Island, a place I've never been. It sounds out of my league, but charming. "The Perfect Couple" book is about several 20-somethings, an engagement and wedding plans, liaisons between women and men (who shouldn't be liaisoning), and figuring out love. Of course, there's an unexplained death to keep readers guessing about who-done-it. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

Monday, July 22, 2019

Zippered Snack Bags

Last Saturday our Central Florida MQG members had the opportunity to learn how to sew zippered snack bags, led by fellow member Cindy, during our usual Saturday Sew-In. See our Central Florida MQG blog post, with pictures, here. 

These are the zipper pouches I made during the workshop. Cindy brought lots of bags with her and offered them to us. I picked the Hershey's Chocolate bag, but I brought the Twizzler's bag with me. It was such a sacrifice to eat them!

I learned that when a bag has a clear section (like the Twizzler's bag), you have to put fabric behind it, otherwise, the wrong side of the lining fabric will show through. I love the polka-dot I picked.

I made the Dove and coffee zipper bags at home. The Dove chocolates bag is from Cindy, and the coffee bag is mine. I love H.E.B. (grocery store) Cafe Olé, San Antonio flavored coffee that I get when I'm in Austin, Texas. That one turned out big enough that I'll use it to store scissors.

The notion that makes these bags work is iron-on vinyl, which I had never used before. Though, I had a roll of it in my stash, purchased many years ago at a Des Moines Area Quilter's Guild "garage sale" of members' stuff!

I've used all the vinyl I had and will certainly get more. Here's the product at JoAnn Fabrics.

Making these is addictive! I'm now eyeing all kinds of snack bags as potential zipper pouches! 

If you're curious about making them, here's a good video tutorial by Missouri Star

My sister visited over the weekend and at my invitation, selected a Dresden Plate quilt for herself.
Susan with her 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" Dresden quilt.
Together we determined who will receive the remaining three quilts, and those will be mailed this week. Using petals I have cut out, I'll make another one for myself.

In the meantime, I've returned to hand-quilting my selvedge quilt. I'm using size 8 and size 12 perle cottons in different brands and colors, to quilt colorful concentric circles.

All the white squares in the quilt center are quilted, and now I'm quilting the white rectangles around the outside edges.

Audiobook listening continues as I quilt. 

"Mummy's Favourite" by Sarah Flint, is flat-out, a story about a serial killer. The online synopsis says:
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead.
This book genre isn't my usual favorite, but I like the main character, Charlie Stafford, a young, savvy, and intuitive female D.C. (detective constable) in the London Metropolitan Police. This is the first book in the DC Charlotte Stafford series, so I'll probably read more.

Linda's score: 3.8/5

It's a good thing I have quilting and an audiobook to distract me because Sunday afternoon, at about 3 pm, an area water pump broke down. We had no water for more than an hour, and couldn't get through to our Community Watch to report our problem. We later learned that such a huge area was without water that Community Watch was inundated with phone calls. An emergency team got right on to the repair, so we had water within two hours... and were drinking it/using it... until much later I received a text that we are on boiled water restriction until further notice.

It's inconvenient to not be able to safely wash our hands at the sink, or hand wash a couple coffee mugs. We're cautious when showering, and we have bottled water, so we're ready to handle this until the restriction is lifted - about 48 hours from the time of the incident. I am grateful we haven't lost electricity. Linda

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Small Dresden Plate Quilts

I set out to use up scraps of vintage fabrics saved from a large box of vintage fabrics belonging to my maternal grandmother. My goal was to complete some small, keepsake quilts by this weekend to offer my sister first pick when she comes to visit this weekend.

Since I kept very few of the vintage fabric scraps, nor were the pieces very large, I decided that a 9" Dresden plate was as big as I could go. Using EQ8, I chose a 12-petal Dresden in the block library, made it 9" X 9" and printed it as "template" onto card stock. I cut out the card stock petal and used it as a rotary cutting guide to cut 72 petals. Though I made only four small quilts, I have enough petals cut for two more. I used the circle template to cut Dresden plate centers from a few solid colors of vintage fabric.

After piecing together the 12 petals, I sewed a quarter-inch seam around the outside of each petal to join lightweight fusible interfacing to the front of the plate. Then I cut notches along the curve of each petal, slit an opening in the fusible, and turned the whole thing right side out for a nice edge finish that was easy to press and fuse to background fabric. I used invisible thread and a tiny zig-zag to stitch the plate to the background.

I tried to make the machine quilting as simple as possible, using a neutral-colored thread to walking-foot quilt along each petal. Then, with a thread color to match the background, I used my Bernina ruler work foot (#72) and an echo guild to free motion quilt around each Dresden plate. In this picture, I'm using the .75" echo guide.

I used the 1" echo guide on the outermost passes. 

All the backings were pieced with vintage scraps. Background solids and bindings are the only fabrics that came from my stash.

I made four 12-1/2" X 12-1/2" quilts.  

 Each quilt has this label.

After my sister selects hers, the remaining quilts will be mailed to other female relatives. And of course, if needed, I have enough Dresden plate petals to make two more. 

Monica @buttoncounter who receive the bulk of Grandma's vintage fabrics, sent me a lovely thank-you note and parcel containing a ceramic coffee mug, two quilt patterns, and this 9" X 12" hand-quilted cutie. Monica was much too generous.  

But her quilt does look good on the sewing room wall between my TV and design wall! 

I'm still listening to books while I sew and quilt.

 "Down River" by John Hart is the 17th book I've listened to this year. He's a new author to me; his writing style has been likened to John Grisham. The characters and story are written from a male perspective with plenty of tension between the main character, Adam Chase, and his father - the who-done-it murder plot kept me guessing.

I enjoyed it, but I doubt I'll read another by this author. For many years I've been aware that I prefer female authors. This book has reminded me of that. Linda's Score: 3.7/5


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Vintage Fabric and Tops

Those of you who know me, know that I'm a "totally modern" quilter. At least that's where my interests lie. Having made quilts now for 43 years (eek!), I am long past enjoying traditional fabrics, and generally avoid anything that looks old, including reproduction prints from the 1930s to 1950s.

However, when it comes to fabrics from family, my personal preferences fly out the window.

Such is the case when my sister, Susan, texted me this picture on Sunday, June 23. Susan and her husband, along with my brother and his wife, and two cousins, were at our grandparent's Ohio farm, going through a farmhouse full of family items and hoarded junk. Susan planned to dump this stinky box of fabric on the burn heap.

Before she did, I quickly messaged an Instagram friend:@buttoncounterMonica in Texas, who is into vintage fabrics. I told her about Susan's intent to burn the fabrics. Monica said "No! I will pay for shipping!" And that's how I came to receive the fabrics from Susan who brought them to Kansas City from Ohio - double-bagged in plastic bags because of the bad smell.

Daughter-in-law Lyn, helped me go through the fabrics that we spread outdoors on a table.

Grandma saved the smallest scraps. They were rolled and wrapped with bits of fabric.

Even though the outside fabric might not look very good, fabrics on the inside were fine. Everything just held an aged smell.

There was more fabric than I anticipated.

I took pictures and sent them to Monica who said they look like 1940s and 1950s prints. Before boxing them up to send to Monica, I plucked out some prints that I plan to make into keepsakes. I'm thinking to make several Petal Dresden Plate mini quilts. I'll appliqué a 12-petal plate to a 10" X 10" background, and finish them for several women in our family. 

Also among the found items were four quilt tops. I had no idea! As the oldest grandchild, for several summers I spent a week or two on the farm with my grandparents, and never saw Grandma piecing any quilts. She only sewed aprons on her Singer treadle machine, and braided rag rugs. So, either she was a quiet topper, or these tops were made by someone else, perhaps another relative.

The construction of these machine-pieced quilt tops isn't admirable.

This bow tie quilt top is 74" X 85.

This medallion quilt looks like it was made following somewhat of a double Irish chain design. It's 74" X 84" and is the most scrappy of any of the quilt tops.

This 64" x 79" quilt top is made of 32 different hand-embroidered flower blocks that measure about 8" x 8". Someone put a lot of time into the embroidery. More of the solid green fabric was with the quilt top, probably meant for binding. 

This 67" X 88" quilt top of random blue squares in squares was granddaughter Celina's favorite. We noticed that the left-hand border is missing, and there was no fabric to complete it. After consulting with Monica about how I might finish this quilt for Celina, this is the only quilt top I decided to keep. The other three quilt tops went with the fabrics to Monica. 

While some people might ask how I can part with these fabrics and quilt tops, I have to be realistic about what I would do with them. Family members don't want fabric, or unfinished quilts, and I certainly don't need more quilts! Instead, I'm feeling pleased to know that these are going to a home where they will be appreciated, and maybe even used. I'm looking forward to seeing more of how Monica uses any of it.

In the meantime, this is what I've done with the vintage pieces I kept. Using Vintage Quilt Soak, I hand-washed the fabrics twice, rinsed them, and laid them out flat, on the lanai table, to dry. The odor is gone.

Pressing scraps, and cutting and machine-piecing Dresden petals begins. Linda

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Family Time in Kansas City, and Missouri

It's been a while! That's what happens when I take off to visit family.

Twelve days ago I flew to Kansas City to spend time with family. Then, Dan met-up with us at Jill's Missouri lake home where we spent four days. On Monday (yesterday) we drove home - 15-1/2 hours straight through from Wright City, Missouri to The Villages, Florida. To say it was interminable is an understatement. However, we endured it so as to accommodate 15-1/2 year-old Hogan. It's difficult for him to stay overnight in a motel - to climb stairs, and be where other dogs stay too.

Now I'm playing catch-up with laundry, housework, photos, and blogging.  

It was great that our Texas family traveled to Kansas City too. 
Brent and Lyn
It was the first time in several years that all five of our grandchildren were together. 

KC time means a trip (sometimes more than one) to Krispy Kreme. The four grandsons liked watching the donut-making process. I just like eating those freshly-made, warm donuts. Nothing beats them.

On Saturday, June 29, Jill hosted a get-together of the whole family, and it was the best! For me, it was a chance to see siblings and spouses, nieces and nephews and their spouses and kids, and catch-up - very briefly.

My brother and sister have recently been in Ohio to help clear out our (maternal) grandparent's farmhouse and outbuildings. They brought back a lot of items: photos; books; papers; even a war uniform; and more. We spent time looking through pictures together. Susan brought back Grandma's fabric and four quilt tops. More about those later.
Alan, Susan, and me
The cousins (except for one in Iowa) brought their children. It was pretty cool to see all the second cousins together (except for one). In this picture, 11 kids are lined-up in age order, including the newest, a 16 week-old girl. I can't help but think how much my mother would have enjoyed this moment - her great-grandchildren together. 

Luke brought "Dapper" from Texas to have his ear mended.

This was the extent of my "sewing" in the past 12 days! A little bit of handwork, and Luke was a happy boy.
Afterward he said, "Thank you for fixing my Dapper." 😊

Some of us (me!) thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Missouri cabin in the woods. I'd been there before, in August 2017. It's a charming, one bedroom/one bathroom, stilted A-frame on a small lake. Though, being in the woods comes with the requisite ticks, insects, and resulting bug bites that I unfortunately experienced! I'm pretty tasty.

However, we weren't deterred from having a good time.
Cousins Austin and Tay with Hogan
Bapa is famous for "Bapa Pancakes," and did not disappoint his grandchildren.

Everyone enjoyed the lake.

Lyn and Luke
Luke and Austin kayaked for the first time.
Another reason to appreciate the cabin is that it's "off the grid." No cell phone or Internet access. Only a hand-held game and an iPad movie were available to entertain the boys.

On Saturday night, we watched fireworks, and let me tell you... they were absolutely fantastic! Innsbrook does them right! I've never seen such an incredible display, and it was set to music too!

For the first time I tried the "fireworks" setting on my Canon S100 camera. Not too bad.

I also tried the "night scene" setting while the fam was watching fireworks. It's pretty good!
Jill, Lyn, Celina. Tay in forefront.
It was just fabulous to spend time with our children, their spouses, and my five grandchildren. I love them all SO much!

And it's good to be home again too. I have some quilt-y things wanting attention, and will be sharing pictures soon. 

On the plane to KC and at bedtime, I listened to my audio book. I finished "Where The Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens. The book reminds me of Barbara Kingsolver's lush nature-writing style, as in the "Prodigal Summer." (If you haven't read it yet, you must!)

"Where The Crawdads Sing" begins with the death of a local boy, but it's really Kya's story - about "the marsh girl" who grows up alone in North Carolina. Mostly it's a captivating story of living with nature, and living with neglect, hurts, wrongs, and survival - even success - against the odds. I could easily read this book again.

Linda's score: 4.8/5


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