Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In Deep

The phrase "I'm in too deep," comes to mind as I look at all the projects I've touched in the past week. Keep in mind that until Monday, when I finally reached seven days of rest, I couldn't do what I wanted to do - use my sewing machine.

Instead, I found everything else that might keep my hands busy.

This huge cone of Sugar and Cream yarn was given to me by a friend who was doing some purging. I happily accepted it because I love my knitted dishcloths. I've made a couple of them this week.

In the sewing room, I did a lot of rotary cutting while putting on my weight on my good (right) leg.

I started by cutting out what I could of daughter Jill's "Moroccan Tiles" quilt. I don't have all the fabrics yet, nor finalized what goes where, but I made a good start at cutting 32 blocks.

Two free quilt patterns caught my scrap-lovin' eyes!

After seeing Debbie's (AQuiltersTable) "Plaidish" quilt, I was all over downloading this design by Erica of KitchenTableQuilting. It makes a 64" X 82" quilt. I used mostly scraps - like 80 percent - having to go into yardage pieces for dark values. But I was happy to cut those up because I seldom use dark fabrics in my quilts anyway. This is the whole quilt, ready to be pieced.

The second free design comes from Kelly at MyQuiltInfatuation. She called her finished string-pieced quilt "Fractured Horizons." Cutting green and blue strips made a really nice dent in my scraps.

I'm saving these two cut-out quilts to piece when I'm away from home, sewing with Big Cypress Quilters or Central Florida MQG.

This past week was also a good time to assess where I am on projects, and do some online fabric ordering to keep those WIPs in progress. Four shops earned my business for quilt backings, and challenge fabrics. I'm still doing admirably well at not buying fabric unless it's needed.

With only four different fat-eighths of fabric to work with for the 2020 QuiltCon Indah Batik Challenge, I had to order more. As I said in a previous post, I'm not a fan of batiks, but once I saw the palm print, I succumbed.  When the order arrived, I washed it right away, and started cutting and sewing. Attempts to design something using EQ8 were a wasted effort, so I began without a plan, deciding only two things: 1) I wanted to feature palms in my piecing; and 2) I wanted to use my Hex 'n More ruler to cut jewel shapes. Here's a look at what I've done.

For this week's #onethingwithAmy on Instagram - Amy challenges everyone to choose one thing to accomplish between Monday and the following Sunday - I've decided to pull out my Cascade quilt top, completed in May, and get it sandwiched and basted. I haven't started yet, but today's the day I'll rearrange my sewing tables to create a basting surface. I'll be sandwiching this quilt using that Lava Lamps 108" widleback as backing (top of picture); Quilter's Dream Request Loft Cotton (left); and lots of one-inch safety pins (tin at right).

Back in March I decided to let my hair grow. For whatever wild notion, I wanted a change. But gosh, it takes a long time when you've started with really short hair! At the end of June, for the first time ever, I had my hair chemically relaxed to remove the curl. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't done it because now, like everyone else, I must use a blow dryer and brush roller to get some lift. Yesterday was my first haircut since April 17. I'm liking it a little more since having a moisturizing treatment, followed by the wash, cut and style.

I must say that overall, I'm feeling like myself again. Thursday is my follow-up (since the August 12 angiogram) with the doc, and I'll have an ultrasound of my right leg to determine if it needs the same treatment as my left. Of course, I hope not, but I'm prepared to hear that I do. 

In one day, I started and finished listening to "The Perfect Wife" by Blake Pierce. It was so engaging! Though on first review it seems like another stereotypical psychological thriller, this one kept surprising me.

The reader meets happily-married Jessie Hunt who has just relocated to Southern California with her husband of almost two years. They're meeting neighbors and have joined a club, while Kyle begins works in a new position and Jessie starts her last class and internship to become a criminal profiler. But everyone has secrets. This is book #1 in the Jessie Hunt series, and it certainly won't be my last!

Linda's Score: 4.5/5

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Linda Nova Progress

After having this WIP around for months - my first blog post about it was in July 2017 - okay years, I have completed English paper piecing the center medallion. It measures 56" across and is meant to be appliquéd to a 60" square background. That's the next decision I have to make - what fabric to choose as background.

Technically, this pattern is Tula Nova (in case you're looking for it), and it's available as a kit with Tula Pink fabrics. But I renamed it Linda Nova because there isn't a single Tula fabric in it. I'm not a fan of her fabrics, so went to my fabric stash to come up with everything that's in this medallion.

I'm terribly pleased that it's finished because I like it! But I'm not so happy about no longer having a traveling handwork project. It's probably time to pull out the Prudence Quilt pattern, template and papers that I recently won in an Instagram giveaway.

I was able to finish the Linda Nova medallion yesterday because I'm on a "no sewing machine" restriction until next week. On Monday, I had an arterial angiogram because of PAD (peripheral artery disease). During an hour-long procedure, the doc went into my leg through the top of my foot to removed scar tissue around my femoral stent, a blood clot inside the stent, and withdraw excess plaque. As I'm recuperating (walking a little hobbily), I may not use the sewing machine, or exercise. Nonetheless, I'm extremely grateful for advanced medical technology that allows for these types of procedures. I cannot imagine what would become of my leg without this intervention.

With down time, I've been editing chapters of my Dad's autobiography. We're through chapter 18. And, I'm attempting to design a quilt or two on EQ8. Though I've spent several hours at it, nothing resembling a quilt is forthcoming. In spite of having this marvelous software program, it doesn't help produce ideas! Can I say how envious I am of quilters who so easily seem to produce quilt designs right and left?

I'm looking for a design in which to use these fabrics for the QuiltCon Me & You Indah Batik challenge. I do not like batiks, but when I saw the white print with black palms, I bought yardage right away!

Last week my iron died (the aqua T-Fal on the left). That iron was great, and lasted about 11 years. I figure that it helped me make at least 100 quilts - likely more - so I didn't hesitate to order another one. The new one on the right is model FV4017, and I paid only $40 for it. The in-store pick-up thing with Home Depot worked great. If you need a new iron, here's where to compare T-Fal models.
The only reason I didn't select the top-of-the-line model is that it's black!  I prefer teal. 😀

While finished up Linda Nova, I completed another audiobook. This one gets high marks! 
"The Gown," by Jennifer Robson is about two hand embroiders who in the late 1940s work for Norman Hartnell, a London custom clothing shop. British-born Ann, and new-to-London Miriam, from France, meet and forge a friendship that takes them through remembrances of war, meeting young men, and their experiences working at Hartnell's, embroidering and appliquéing the Princess Elizabeth's (later Queen Elizabeth) wedding gown, worn in 1947 when she married Philip Mountbatten. The story unfolds as Ann's Canadian granddaughter, Heather, searches the past to learn her grandmother's secrets. 

Linda's Score: 4.9/5.0


Friday, August 9, 2019

Week Review

It's been a full week, but I don't have much to share from the sewing room. A return of my formerly dormant P.A.D., and a subsequent doctor visit has turned my focus away from sewing.

Still, I prepped 35 kits to take to Monday's Central Florida MQG meeting, cutting Essex linen, batting, and backing fabric to make small quilt sandwiches. And also cut lengths of six different brands and weights of pearl cotton. I did all this in anticipation of sharing a Big Stitch Quilting program with my chapter. However, due to P.A.D. and a needed procedure, I'll be unable to give the program. I'm bummed, but the good news is that I'll still give the program to our chapter in 2020.

I finished quilting my selvages quilt, and sewed binding to it. It's been a while since I've shared steps for my favorite binding methods. 

As you can see, I do not cut away batting and backing before sewing binding to the quilt. The reason is that if I cut them away first, and allow only a quarter-inch for the binding seam, when I wrap the binding to the quilt back, the binding isn't "stuffed." Instead, leave the batting and backing attached until after sewing binding to the quilt. Then, lay the ruler on the machine-stitching line, trimming at 3/8". That way, the usual 1/4" and the extra 1/8" are just what's needed for a fully stuffed binding.

In this picture, I show how I sew binding to the quilt top along the line I've drawn around the perimeter of the quilt.

Also, you can see that as one step, I sew a strip of binding to one side of the quilt. Then, I sew a strip to the opposite side of the quilt. And lastly, separate strips are sewn to the remaining two sides.

By measuring one side of a quilt, and I can cut and measure a strip of binding that's exactly the same length as the quilt. They are equal, ensuring that my quilt remains square.

Here's how I handle each corner... The two ends of binding strips are machine sewn together at a 45-degree angle. 

I love that I never have to worry about hand-sewing closed each corner. All I do is poke it out!

The corner turns out beautifully.

If you've never seen this binding method, it's probably pretty intriguing. It sure was to me the first time I saw it, back in the 1990s when a Des Moines friend shared it. I've never sewn binding differently since then. 

If you'd like to try this binding method yourself, you can watch the webinar I did for the Modern Quilt Guild (if you're an MQG member). It was published September 29, 2016.

Otherwise, here's the link to my blog tutorial called No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine. Please let me know if you try it, and if you have questions! 

My hubs has the kitchen skills at our house, and here's the glorious pizza he made this past week. He calls it his "white pizza," because it doesn't have red sauce. It's technically a vegan pizza, though that doesn't have a thing to do with why we like it so much. Ingredients are: pesto, brie, monterey jack, fresh mushrooms, fresh zucchini, chopped red bell peppers, and fresh basil. 

His crust is homemade too. First thing in the morning, he makes the crust which is then refrigerated. I can tell you that he spends several hours in the kitchen when he makes this one. I'm usually in the sewing room - but I can attest that it's absolutely fantastic! 

I continue to listen to audiobooks, and for the past couple months, on and off, I've been listening to The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Seven titles are in the series. It's worth noting that though Mr. Lewis first wrote "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," he later wrote a prequel called "The Magician's Nephew." I've been listening in sequential order.

1) The Magician's Nephew - Read by Kenneth Branagh. He was great! I wish he'd read them all.
2) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
3) The Horse and His Boy
4) Prince Caspian - Read by Lynn Redgrave. She was excellent!
5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6) The Silver Chair 
7) The Last Battle

I've listened to the first five books (am into "The Silver Chair" right now), and I've enjoyed all of them, though a couple more than others. The first book was somewhat unsettling, as the witch really is nasty, and somewhat scary. Also, I've been a bit taken aback by the matter-of-factness about killing one's enemies. But considering that these stories were written in the 1950s, it wasn't uncommon to dispose of "bad guys." In their time, The Chronicles of Narnia are like our present-day Harry Potter series.

Of course the second book ("The Lion...") is good because it introduces the four children - Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, and the lion Aslan, most of whom appear in subsequent stories. The children get to become kings and queens of Narnia, and experience magical adventures. Thus far my favorite book has been "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" when a wall painting of a ship on the ocean becomes real. The children get wet from the ocean spray, and suddenly find themselves onboard the "Dawn Treader," where they sail away on adventures, including encountering a dragon. Loved this one!

I'm very glad I took time for these stories. When Mr. Lewis wrote them, he meant for Aslan (the lion) to be analogous to God. These stories contain many Christian messages, making them them worth book club discussion.

Quote from "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe":
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.""Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wristlet and Blocks

Over the past week I've been going fast and furious in my sewing room. 

I finished hand stitching two pieces of linen, and sewed them into a wristlet. This pattern - The Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk - is still my favorite way to carry essentials, including my iPhone and Canon camera. 

For the stitchery, I used five thread colors. Threads are three different brands. Threads are two different weights. Yes, these pieces were an experimental sampler. 

I modify the wristlet pattern by adding an interior zipper pocket and an exterior clear vinyl pocket for my ID card. (I have to show it to get into rec centers.) 

Some company I placed an order with (?) sent me this patch, so I blanket-stitched it to the linen. 

I've tested two blocks for the quilt I'm making for daughter Jill. She picked this pattern: Moroccan Tiles, and chose fabrics.

We're going with this Vanilla Grunge background.

As I need to make 35 of these, and she chose only five fabrics, I managed to find three more stash prints to add. Still, I'm uncertain these will be enough different prints to make an interesting quilt.

I've been playing and experimenting with a block design I've had in my mind. Since understanding how to piece set-in circles (see previous blog post), I worked out how to put this block together. Though... it didn't happen easily! That V is a set-in seam, and I really don't think I'm up for doing that multiple times!

My next trial will be to: 1) piece the strips with a quarter-circle Drunkard's Path; 2) make another quarter-circle Drunkard's Path, and: 3) make a half-circle to join to the two quarter circles. That might be a little bit easier. 

Here's another picture of my selvedge quilt that I continue to big stitch hand quilt. Along the outside edge of the quilt, I still don't know what I'm going to quilt in the white spaces next to circles. Likely, something machine quilted.

And to share a last bit of fun and good luck, I won another Instagram giveaway! It's a 13-1/2" square Nido wool ironing mat. I couldn't be more pleased about this win. I've heard about the benefits of pressing on a wool mat - more crisply-flat seams.

Using scraps of white solid and print fabrics, I've been cutting and piecing improv slab blocks with bits of green. Here's a picture of a block that was pressed on my ironing table.

This is the block after pressing on the wool mat. I'd say the flatness is apparent. I'm a believer... especially when it was free!

I've actually listened to three books this past week! (I have really been in the sewing room a lot!) Here's the first review. 
 "In the Age of Love and Chocolate" by Gabrielle Zevin captured my attention strictly by the title! I should have better read the synopsis though, as I discovered - after listening through half the book - that it's the third title of a series, the "Birthright" series. Sheesh. Don't you hate it when that happens? If I'd realized it sooner, I would have stopped so as to download book one. However, I was so far into the story, I finished.

It's the story of a teenaged girl, Anya, whose parents are murdered because they were head mobsters. She tries to go straight while dealing with an older brother in prison, his wife, and a younger sister. She opens a New York City cacao nightclub, because consuming chocolate in 2068 is illegal without a prescription. Anya is successful enough to open more clubs in the US, and continues to deal with her mobster family.

I like this sort of teen fiction, and wish I'd read the series in order. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5



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