Saturday, November 28, 2020

WIPs and New Braiding

Since finishing three quilts in the past week (ah, such a good feeling), I've turned my attention back to WIPs. 

The first one I started working on after retreat is Italica, my second patterned improv quilt that's a result of my "Linear Blocks" virtual workshop with Maria Shell @talesofastitcher. 

Italica is pieced with six large "Old Italian" blocks, but at 45" X 72" it isn't wide enough to be a completed quilt top. So after browsing further through Maria's book Improv Patchwork, I decided to make herringbones (pages 72-73 in the book) for each side. Each herringbone block measure 8½" X 11½" unfinished, and I need nine of them for each side. 

This patterned improv continues to be a very messy effort - meaning that I end up creating more scraps every time I cut a strip of fabric to piece. Though I've even pieced a few strips, I don't know how I'll ever use-up all the scraps I make! I wonder if Maria thinks this is a problem... and what she does about it. 

Peg loom weaving my 67-yard ball of stripped, pieced and bias-tape-folded yellow fabric into a chair pad was quick work after stopping at JoAnn Fabrics to buy a second ball of Wool Ease for the warp.

This is the fourth of four pads for our dining room chairs that used up a total of approximately 9¾ yards of stashed fabric. We have two more chairs, which are seldom-used, but I may make a couple more sometime down the road.

Friday evening's virtual workshop with Ilka White was great! Ilka teaches how to turn old fabrics like clothing, tablecloths, sheets and other clothes into a beautiful rag rug. I was so excited about learning how to do this, and I wasn't at all disappointed. Ilka is a skilled and patient instructor, who definitely knows a lot about braided rugs. Once you know the basics, the possibilities are endless. I wish I could share all the pictures she showed of different rugs - color combos, zig-zag designs, and patterns. Just fabulous! 

I began the workshop at 8:30 PM with these supplies: A tablecloth and king-sized sheet from Goodwill (for about $10); a clipboard; crochet hook; and fabric scissors. That's it!

When the workshop concluded at 11:35 PM, I was so pumped up from the fun of realizing "I can do this!" that it was after 1 AM until I fell asleep. When I woke at 6 AM, my first thoughts flew to the wee rug I've begun. The clipboard is meant to hold the fabric and keep the piece flat as braiding begins. 

Working on it this week will be a treat, as I expect to add more colors and more rags to braid six, then eight, then ten rags (and more) at a time. When the 15 of us in the workshop meet again next Friday night, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's progress, and will be ready to soak in more information about this enjoyable craft.

Interestingly, only two of us are from the US; the other person lives in San Francisco. One attendee is Canadian. The rest are Australians, and you know how I love listening to a beautiful Aussie accent... I "reckon" you do! 😄

If you're looking for a virtual workshop - one with a fabulous instructor (she knows Zoom and how to utilize her camera), and minimal supplies (fabric!) - I highly recommend Ilka's "Braided Rag Rug" workshop. It's definitely worth two late nights.

Book Recommendation

My pace of audiobook listening has slowed since quilt retreat and finishing a Netflix series. But I finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchette. Actually, I sort of slogged through it. Though fans of Ann Patchett give her high marks, this book didn't resonate with me.

The story is about two couples in California, both with children. The husbands are acquainted through work. One husband is attracted to the other's wife; divorces ensue; families split between California and Virginia, and consequently shuttle between the two places; and the children each have tragic and sad experiences and emotions to deal with. The author focuses in turn on each of the adult children who replay their childhoods and attempt to determine how and what went wrong. So it's about sisters and brothers and step-sisters, and the dynamics and problems of mixed families.

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

It's time to go braiding! I hope you have something fun to spend your time on. Linda

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Kawandi #2, and Happy Thanksgiving

Several weeks ago I shared my attempt to self-teach how to make a Kawandi (quilt), Siddi-style, following a YouTube video - the only video I found on the topic. That Kawandi turned out okay.
Kawandi #1, 15" X 25"

So, many evenings find me in my aqua chair, under my Slimline floor lamp, doing handwork - hand piecing a Starfish quilt, English paper piecing, or lately, indulging in my new Kawandi/Siddi quilt obsession Hand work just feels good!

I learned a lot more about Siddi quilts after taking @therootconnection 's virtual workshop on November 6. With Kawandi #2, mistakes in Kawandi #1 were corrected (not enough fabric contrast), and additions were worked out (adding "fula" at each of the four corners, and accessorizing with "tikli," tiny randomly-placed squares) .  

Kawandi #2 is made with solid scraps. Only fula at the four corners are prints, from a folded square of fabric.

The fabric I selected as backing is from Christina Camelli's "Moongate" collection. Choosing the back fabric is the first step in making a Kawandi which is assembled completely in reverse from a regular quilt. All the piecing/quilting is worked from the outside edges toward the center. I used Quilter’s Dream Poly Request batting, and Aurifil 12-weight thread in off-white, #2000.

Since our kitchen includes a colorful array of Fiestaware dinnerware, this Kawandi looks good on our dining table.

Finishing this Kawandi means I'm mostly caught up on projects, except for the Maria Shell-style patterned improv quilt I started a few weeks ago - the one I've named Italica.

"Caught up" is good because this Friday, November 27, I'll be taking another virtual workshop. The instructor is Ilka White who lives in Melbourne, Australia! She teaches a two-session workshop called "Braided Rag Rug," that uses old tablecloths, sheets, and clothing. Looks like this is how we get started, using a clip board to hold the work.

Since our time zones are flip-flopped, I'll be starting my workshop at 8:30 PM. It's three hours long. I'm hoping my excitement about it will keep me going until it ends at 11:30 PM! Then, the following Friday, December 4, I'll do it all again to attend the second three-hour workshop session.

A Canadian doctor-friend on Instagram @kupitis, has been especially busy during this pandemic, and posted this to her Instagram feed a few days ago. It speaks volumes about the inconsiderate behavior of many people, and how worn out health care workers have become. 

Everybody I know continues to stay at home, and wear masks and sanitize when they must go out. As we should.

Dan and I will be at home by ourselves for Thanksgiving. He's doing all the cooking except for my job of making a salad, and pumpkin pie and whipped topping. There might be some after-dinner gin rummy or Rummikub game action too.

I hope you, and those you're self-quarantining with, have a blessed day. Linda

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Color Block Postage Stamp Quilt

In my September 18 blog post I shared a picture of my finished postage stamp quilt top, pieced during early spring pandemic days. Each of the 72 blocks are 8” x 8” (finished) and made with 64-1½” square scraps (unfinished) from this never ending basketful. (Some of you who've been around for a while may recognize my Longaberger basket. It's the 1992 "Season's Greetings" basket.)

I also intentionally cut squares of solids for each block. Not that I'm counting - though I am! - this quilt has 4,608 1½” X 1½” pieces!

My 2019 plan was to take prepared patches with me to 2020 sew days and retreats for slow sewing. Coronavirus changed those plans  
Color Block Postage Stamp Quilt, 66" X 74"

When piecing blocks, I used the web method - the same method I use and shared in a web tutorial for piecing a quilt top. I made two blocks at a time so I could continuously chain piece from one block to another. Web seams are pressed one way, changing with each row, for nesting; and final seams are pressed open.

The first seams (columns) were finger-pressed to one side. Second seams (rows) were then nested in opposite directions. When piecing the quilt top, a lot of pinning happened, to get block-to-block seams to match as closely as possible.

Finally, I snipped all the chaining threads and pressed seams open with an iron. Both the individual blocks, and the quilt top were pieced according to this web method.

With all the seams, this is a pretty heavy quilt. Batting is lightweight Quilter’s Dream Cotton Request. 

I managed to quilt this while away from home last week. Quilting is an all over ruler work clamshell design done with a Fine Line 2" Half-Circle template by Accents in Design

I quilted the first clamshell on the diagonal, at a corner, building clamshells diagonally across the quilt to the opposite corner. 

Backing fabric is a wide-back from my friend's Etsy shop: Moda Grunge "Hits the Spot - Pool." She gives a 10 percent discount to MQG members.

As usual with a scrappy quilt, binding is a black and white stripe applied with the No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine method. This stripe is printed on the diagonal, so I only needed to cut it on the cross-grain to get binding with a spiral effect. I love that!

Here's the now-obligatory photo of my Color Block Postage Stamp quilt hanging in our front yard Bismarck palm. I adore this palm! #quiltinabismarckpalm


Monday, November 23, 2020

Maze Quilt

I began making Maze in a Saturday, November 7 virtual workshop offered by South Florida Modern Quilt Guild, of which I'm a member. The Maze pattern by Malka Dubrawsky can be found on the MQG website, free to members

I modified the pattern to make it larger by cutting fabric strips 2½" wide, rather than 2" as Malka designed it.

Last week's retreat gave me ample opportunity to work on it. I finished piecing half of the quilt top, put it together, and pin-basted it on the bathroom floor.

Though quilting isn't an ideal retreat activity due to limited surface space for supporting a large quilt (I have such a wonderful set-up at home, it's tough to match anywhere else) I determined to quilt anyway. One of my friends caught me in action. 

I'd taking along a covered TV tray, for pressing fabric, and used it for quilt support along the back of my table. For quilt support on the left side of the table, I used a lamp table! I made it work. 

Quilting was with a walking foot and free motion foot.

Each color band is straight-line quilted with a matching color of Aurifil #50 thread. The navy blue maze is free motion quilted in a ribbon pattern.
Maze, 46" X 65"
Finishing with binding.

From this photo, you can see how the quilt crinkled-up after washing. I don't usually wash a quilt after finishing it, but this one was out of alignment. Washing helped, likely due to shrinkage from the Hobb's cotton (80%) - wool (20%) batting.

So here's my obligatory #quiltinabismarckpalm photo. I think Maze will make a nice donation quilt.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Lotsa Sewing

Stay at home for a prolonged time.

Stay busy. Keep occupied.

But, miss being with friends IRL (in real life). 

Those add up to considering a careful meet-up with friends. Only when beforehand, those friends:
  • stay at home for at least two weeks
  • wear a mask whenever they must go out
  • take every Coronavirus precaution
Then, you agree to form a four-person pod for a week of sewing.

We went to a place with strict cleaning protocol, and also did our own thorough anti-viral wipe-down. And so it happened that last week was the fourth consecutive year I've retreated with friends. It was bliss.

When planning for six days of sewing and making (and eating!), I usually think I'm taking along too much stuff. But as it happens, my hands were on nearly every project I packed. 

With my peg loom, I wove a chair pad with a 65-yard fabric ball I'd prepared before going. 

I took along 1½"-wide yellow strips that I sewed together and ran through a bias tape-maker to turn into a 67 yard fabric ball for another chair pad. Only running out of the chunky yarn for the warp prevented me from weaving it too.

finished two quilts, which means I quilted two quilt tops, and completed them with binding.

My 46" X 65" Maze quilt began November 7 in a virtual workshop with Malka Dubrawsky @astitchindye. Pictures of it hanging in our Bismarck palm to come.

I cleaned the master bathroom floor so I could crawl around on my knees to pin-baste Maze! By the way, I was satisfied to note that the floor was already clean. 👍

In the navy fabric "maze," I quilted a ribbon design, first using-up a spool of Aurifil #2784 dark navy. Then, I switched to navy Mettler to finish. This little bit is what was left. Believe me, I was holding my breath to make it to the end of the strip!

My 66" X 74" charming postage stamp quilt, pieced during spring Coronavirus days is finished. Pictures of it hanging in our Bismarck palm to come.

From my at-home scrap bins I pre-cut a variety of patches that I sewed into blocks for another Scrap Snap quilt, a free pattern from QuiltsForTheMaking. I made a good start with these 38 blocks that measure 6½" X 6½".

Evenings found me hand-stitching a Kawandi (Indian word for "quilt"). It's a 17" X 21" piece that I started in my November 6 virtual "Siddi Workshop" with Sujata Shah @therootconnection. I learned about this hand-piecing/hand-quilting technique practiced by Siddi women in India. Several new-to-me words were: "fula" - a "flower" at each of the four corners; pillars - fabric repeated at each of the four corners; and "tikli" - tiny fabric patches randomly added here and there. They're a little tedious to stitch down, but I sure like the effect. The tiny turquoise patch near the upper left corner is a tikli.

This Kawandi will be finished soon, and no doubt I'll make another - probably a larger one. It's such a pleasant handwork pastime, and the bonus is that it uses scraps! Only the back is a single piece of fabric.

I went power-walking a couple times, and though I listened to an audiobook, I don't have a title to recommend yet.

When I returned home, Dan wanted to take a golf cart ride across the new golf cart bridge, so we did. 

It's an impressive structure with a walking path alongside the golf cart path. 

The bridge spans Florida highway 44...

... and took us to the south end of The Villages where there are new villages, new rec centers, and hundreds of new homes. Makes us feel like old-timers, living here 8½ years now.

Thanks to each of you who took time to vote for your favorite quilt in the Virtual Quilt Show two weeks ago. Though I didn't place or win, it was fun being able to share a modern quilt with a broader audience.

With the ever-growing number of new COVID-19 cases, Thanksgiving will be quiet at our house. But being cautious benefits you, and those you love.

Be safe, my friends! Linda


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