Friday, June 23, 2023

11th Anniversary, Sewing Room Action

We can't believe it, but 11 years ago today - June 23, 2012 - we moved into our Florida home, from Iowa!

I posted about our 2012 move-in day, which timed with torrential rains that began falling from Tropical Storm Debby. Having gone through serious snowmelt-rainfall floods in the Des Moines area in 1993 (much of the city lost drinking water for weeks), I vividly remember going into our brand new Florida house thinking we'd have to begin sandbagging! In hindsight, that's funny because here, we live on a big sand pile. Ha! After a rain, we may have squishy grass, but never puddles. 

In previous years I've posted about changes to our area, but now that growth is seven to eight miles south of us, I haven't been "down there" to check it out.

In my sewing room, progress has been measurable on a couple of projects, the first being Unallocated which is now a completed quilt top. I'm very happy with it, and relieved to have an empty design wall since my sewing room will become a bedroom next week when Texas grandsons come for a visit. 

My Unallocated quilt top is 61" X 82". It's now been folded and hung across a hanger to await quilting. I had to tell it, "Get in line" because three quilts are ahead of it in the queue! Two already have some quilting (one is the improv quilt; picture below), and one is basted and ready for quilting. 

I added a faced finish to my Matchstick Quilting Workshop quilt which ended up 16" X 16".

Top threads are Aurifil 50-weight, 28-weight, and 12-weight.

The back is actually my favorite view. 

In case you need it, the faced finish tutorial I like best is on the We All Sew/Bernina site, by Hayley Grzych. Instead of cutting 5" squares for each corner, mine are 4" squares.

Keeping up with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's Summer Camp Modern Mystery Quilt Along, this week I completed 18 blocks for the second installment. Blocks to make for each installment are chosen by your summertime/summer camp preference. For example: Shorts? or Sundress?

Mistakenly, I cut out pieces for a block I didn't need to make - One-Piece? or Bikini? I chose one-piece, but cut out bikini. Sheesh. After cutting out and piecing one-piece, I went ahead and pieced bikini too, for a total of 22 blocks.  You can probably guess which block (front and center) is called "Bikini"!

By the way, these blocks are not actually referred to by these names. Weeks and Bill just came up with some fun titles for them, based on their summer camp theme. Fun.  

Here's an updated look at Alternate Route that I'm quilting. I've machine quilted with a walking foot and done ruler work, and now I've started adding big stitch hand quilting using - surprise! - thread colors in my stash. 

Royal blue stitching is with DMC #8 perle cotton, color 797. Lavender stitching is with Cosmo six-stand embroidery floss color 2281, using three strands at a time. 

Book Recommendation
Together Tea
 by Marjan Kamali is story about Mina, a Tehranian teenaged girl who lives through Iran's revolution, and the start of government-mandated behavior for women - modestly wearing a coat, a head covering, not meeting others' eyes, etc. 

While it's still possible to get out of the country, Mina's parents and brothers flee to New York City where they learn a different way of living, adopting American ways. Yet, Mina's parents, particularly her mother Darya, want to order Mina's life - go to business college rather than be an artist; accept an arranged marriage rather than not marry, or marry for love. 

Yet, a dozen years later, when Darya and Mina return to Iran, Mina recognizes the beauty of the Persian culture they left behind, as she also fears government regulations that remain. Mina finds a new appreciation for her life - possibly a new man - and what that offers. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Author Mary Kubica is typically a favorite writer, however with Every Last Lie I thought the main character, Clara, was a little "too much." She overthinks everything. 

But to give Clara a little grace, she's just given birth to Felix, her second child. Her doting husband, Nick, has offered to give Clara a break and take their four year-old daughter, Maisie, to her ballet lesson. On the way home, driving too fast, Nick crashes. Maisie is unhurt, but within a few days begins to display unwarranted fears of black cars; a man wearing a hat and gloves, and "a bad man." 

Unrested, unkempt and reeling from Nick's death, Clara discovers random things - a receipt from a jewelry store; money missing from her father's bank account; a neighbor's aggressive behavior; and a suspicion about another woman. 

Told between present day, and Nick's "before" flashbacks, Clara's suspects and then becomes insistent that someone else caused Nick's death. 

I frequently wanted to throttle Clara! Way too often she jumps to highly unlikely - impossible - conclusions. So if Ms. Kubica wanted to provoke me through the telling of this story, her method worked!

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs, the book

Today I'm honored and happy to share with everyone a new book - Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs by Kelly Young. 

Kelly, who blogs at www.myquiltinfatuation and is on Instagram @myquiltinfatuation invited me and 21 other quilter-Blogger-Instagrammers to help her launch her new book. 

With several months to peruse the book in advance, I discovered it wasn't easy to decide which of the 30 beautiful quilt back designs I wanted to piece for a couple of my quilt tops! 

The first backing I pieced was for my super-scrappy Harvest Moon/Yin-Yang quilt. Here's a picture to remind of you of what the 72" X 86" quilt front looks like. 

Since the front is pieced with hundreds and hundreds of fabric bits, it wasn't difficult to decide to stick with the scrappy concept to make a back. I chose "Coin Strip." Kelly indicates that "Coin Strip" is Skill Level: Confident Beginner. I had one extra block left from the front, so I pieced that into the coin strip too.

The second back I pieced went with my improv quilt, Alternate Route. Here's what that 59" X 62½" quilt front looks like.

For me, using up every bit of this unusual color-combo (lavender and royal blue) was important. So, I chose Kelly's design called "Tallies," a backing that's Skill Level: Beginner. 

I probably added a wee bit of an increase to the skill level by hand-appliquéing several leftover circles to the back. But like I said, I was really trying to use-up every bit!

By the way, though both of these quilts are pin-basted, I've only managed to start quilting the improv one. I domestic machine quilt all my quilts, so I'm getting there! 

Kelly's book offers 30 different pieced back ideas ranging from using the smallest scraps, to using leftovers, to arranging stashed fabrics. Cutting instructions include making backings in three sizes.

On page 7, in a section called "The Case for a Pieced Quilt Back," Kelly suggests several great reasons for piecing a backing. I'm 100 percent on-board with all of them, but the best is this:
"It adds something extra.Though I currently live in Tennessee, I was born and raised in Louisiana, and back home, we have a French word, lagniappe (pronounced "lan-yap"), that means "a little something extra." Think of a pieced quilt backing as a little lagniappe for the recipient. What a wonderful surprise!"
These days, when most quilt books focus on a new technique, it's refreshing to own a book about backs. Though, it's worth noting that Kelly's bonus material is: 18 free downloadable patterns for piecing lap-sized quilt fronts! Wow.

For the past week, Kelly has been reviewing backing designs on her blog and Instagram, so head to those places to see more of her suggestions... or just go buy Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs from Amazon! Or, Barnes and Noble, Connecting Threads, Missouri Star, and Kelly's own Etsy shop where you can get a signed copy.


P.S. Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs was published by Landauer Publishing (a subsidiary of Fox Chapel Publishing) that in 2012 published my book, First Time Quiltmaking. I think that makes my review a wonderful coincidence!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Quilt-y Workshops

In the past five days, I led a class and I took a class. Both were great!

Eight Big Cypress Quilters came to our Tuesday afternoon meeting and participated in Kawandi-making. 

I don't have a cultural connection to Kawandi - this method of quiltmaking is practiced by Siddi women in India - but as much as possible, I try to respectfully make a connection between India's methods and our Americanization of the technique.

Our chapter provided needles and thread. Everyone was asked to bring fabric scraps, batting, and backing to make a 10" X 14" piece. 

Happily, everyone made it along a couple sides, so they had the chance to work out how to turn a corner. Next Tuesday, I'm looking forward to seeing how far everyone got. 

Once again (this is my 14th Kawandi), I decided to make mine using vintage fabric scraps from my Grandma. 

This morning (Saturday), I took a virtual "Matchstick Quilting" workshop with Cassandra Beaver @thenotsodramaticlife. I previously attempted to get into her workshop at QuiltCon, in 2022 and 2023. Both times I was wait-listed and never got in. So I was thrilled to be able to finally get the real scoop on this technique.

These were her two kit options, though you could also use your own fabrics and threads. 
Cassandra was a pioneer of matchstick quilting when her Infused Plaid quilt appeared at QuiltCon 2017 in Savannah, and was subsequently purchased by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. 

Today I learned matchstick quilting from the best. 

My kit included Cassandra's Spoonflower panel, and three weights of Aurifil thread: 50, 28, and 12. She's now also including a 40-weight thread in her kit.

While Cassandra suggested the finished piece could be made into a pillow - mine is about 17" X 17 - I'm opting to finish it with facing because...

... I just don't want to cover-up this pretty back! 

I am tickled with my results! The texture is delicious. I can't help from running my fingers over it.

I'm extremely happy with how my Bernina 770QE and walking foot handled the thicker threads. It's a reminder to be grateful that I own such a high quality sewing machine. Quilting this was a breeze. 

In between workshops, I have spent every spare minute piecing Unallocated blocks. 

Being very careful to unstitch and resew twisted seams, then making sure seam allowances are pressed open has taken longer than I thought. 

And pinning - lots of pinning - has paid off. 

Though it doesn't look all that great from here, after about a dozen more passes, the top will be finished. 

Book Recommendation
After reading and reviewing in my last post, the intensely dramatic book, Every Thing She Feared, One Night on the Island by Josie Silver was a refreshing, romantic, charming read. 

Cleo is a Londoner who writes for an e-publication about romance and her search for her ideal "flamingo" (life mate). Cleo's editor sends her to the remote Salvation Island, off the coast of Ireland, where she's to "marry herself" and celebrate her 30th birthday.

While on the ferry to the island, Cleo encounters Mac, obviously American. When Cleo arrives at the quaint, one-room cottage called Otter Lodge, where she's to stay, Mac is there. He too is planning to stay at Otter Lodge. At odds with one another, and with this booking mistake, each hopes the other will catch the next boat and leave the island.

Cleo has to figure out how to have her introspective experience and write her story. Mac has to do his own soul-searching. What will they do if they have to figure out how to do it together?

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


Monday, June 12, 2023


With two sewing machines set up now, several projects have seen action. 

Blocks are pieced for the first installment of the Summer Camp Modern Mystery Quiltalong led by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Apropos of summer camp, these 17 blocks have names such as Ice Cream Sandwich, Iced Coffee, French Fries, and Ice Cream Truck. Fun! 

I completed making 345 scrappy four-inch (unfinished size) Unallocated blocks to make a 60" X 80" quilt.

After more cutting: 48 setting triangles for the sides; and four large triangles for the four corners, I've begun joining diagonal columns. Sorry for such a sloppy-looking design wall, but it has proven difficult to get so many blocks properly lined-up. 

It's also a little tricky to take them off the design wall in a diagonal column of pairs, to take to the sewing machine for piecing! I'm using the web technique to keep them organized. In the photo below, the red arrow indicates a diagonal column that has been joined by chain stitching. I'm piecing a little each day at my Featherweight. 

At my big Bernina 770QE I'm quilting my Alternate Route improv quilt. It's getting a combination of walking foot quilting, ruler quilting, and free motion quilting using color 2510 Aurifil 50-weight that matches the Sachet (pale lavender) Painter's Palette solid. Since I've nearly finished quilting that color, I'll switch to blue thread to quilt the Patriot color. As I go, I'm continually assessing where to leave un-quilted areas to later fill with big stitch hand quilting. I hope to get to that fun part by the end of the week!

I completed hand-embroidering this Dropcloth Sampler - it's called "Milky Way" - purchased from Snuggly Monkey and started in January. It's only six inches in diameter, so you would think it wouldn't take months to complete, however I stitched only when away from home (at Big Cypress Quilters), or while chatting on the phone. It's colorful and fun and I don't know what to do with it! I don't need another pouch or tote bag - I have them coming out my ears! - but I'd like to turn this into something. It's too nice-looking to be stuck away in a drawer. Thoughts? 

Book Recommendations
by Geraldine Brooks is a historical fiction account of Lexington, a famous Kentucky racehorse who captured the attention of race fans in the mid-1850s. Born in Kentucky and named Darley, he was given by a plantation owner to his freed black trainer. That man's son, Jarrett, became Darley's companion, and eventually trainer to Darley, the fastest horse in the South who was renamed Lexington.

In the 1950s, an art gallery owner has become obsessed with equestrian paintings; in the present day, a young woman scientist from Sydney, Australia, who is a director at the Smithsonian, has found Lexington's articulated skeleton. she's helping research them further, and turning up unexpected information. As well, a black art historian has uncovered paintings of Lexington that also reveal more about horse-training in pre-Civil War America.

Part of Lexington's history takes place in Natchez, Mississippi, the wealthiest city in the US before the Civil War (and a city I've visited several times). While I'm not up on horse racing, I thought this was a fascinating story. 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Everything She Feared
 by Rick Molina begins with the death of Anna, a 17 year-old who has fallen off the edge of a cliff while taking a selfie. With her, watching her fall, is nine year-old Katie who Anna babysits. They're on a day-camp trip with a group of kids. 

After the tragedy, the sheriff and detectives investigate, doing everything by the book. Thinking it's an accident, there are interviews with the day camp kids. Volunteer psychologists are brought in to talk with anyone who wants counseling. Katie meets with Dr. Meta who begins to learn things from Katie that have her concerned. Sara, Katie's mom doesn't want to talk about it.

Meanwhile, there's an on-going true-crime podcast search for a long-ago killer who, after serving 20 years in prison, walked away without a trace. Families want to know where their loved-ones are buried. A journalist whose sister was murdered, is coming to believe there's a connection. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Over the summer I plan to read and study this book. While it's not typical for me to read a print book, I tried listening to Twelve Ordinary Men - about Jesus' disciples - but found myself wanting to jot down things I learned.

When I found Twelve Ordinary Men in a single book that included Twelve Extraordinary Women (Did you catch that? Men are ordinary; women are extra-ordinary?!) I had to have it.

This will be my self-guided summertime study of the apostles and whichever women of the Bible are extraordinary - all of them, no doubt! I'm posting here to be held accountable to actually read.
Seen on Instagram...

Profound wisdom... a little too late.

Tomorrow,at Big Cypress Quilters I'm teaching a half-dozen quilters - many are away, either back up north for the summer, or gone on vacations - how to make Kawandi.

Our project is only 10" X 14", but I've got more of Grandma's vintage scraps to use-up, so I will! Linda

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Improv Quilt Top

I'm delighted to share my completed improv quilt top!

Alternate Route measures 59" X 68½. It's so-name because of emerging patterns - roads, highways, dead ends, construction zones, and detours. 

If it's okay to say so, I love it! And apparently hubs does too. He rarely comments on anything that's on my design wall, but this one garnered several unsolicited comments: "I like it." "It's my favorite that you've ever made." "Where can we hang it?'

Wow! 😁

This workshop with Irene Roderick @hixonir went a long way towards developing my improv-creating self-confidence. I'm unable to pinpoint what it was about her workshop (taken virtually on April 18 and 19) that resonated with me - maybe it was her laid-back "anything goes" attitude; or her gentle way of affirming what she saw - interactions among components; or, maybe it was just listening to her two parakeets tweeting in the background during six hours of workshop time. It synergized for me.

Piece a backing, I used-up nearly every little bit of leftover Painter's Palette Sachet and Patriot solids, including two yards of the "wrong dye lot" Sachet that came in a fabric reorder. This is a backing close-up. I can't show you it in its entirety until June 21 because I used a backing design from a new book - Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs by Kelly Young. On June 21, the book release day, a whole bunch of us will be sharing pictures of backings we've made using Kelly's great ideas.

I've been so excited about how Alternate Route turned out that I had to start quilting it right away! It's been months since I've quilted anything and it's a good change of pace. I'm starting with walking foot quilting, stabilizing and filling in a little in the Sachet color areas. Thread is Auriful #50, color 2510.

Since the workshop, I bought and received Irene's book Improv Quilting: Dancing With the Wall. It's excellent! It will definitely be a great resource to guide future improv quiltmaking. 

As if I don't have enough projects in the works, when a friend said she was joining Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's ModernQuiltStudio "Modern Mystery Quiltalong," I gave it consideration.


Of course, I have the Harvest Moon scrap quilt waiting to be quilted; and 332 Unallocated blocks ready to be arranged on the design wall, and joined... but heck, "Why not?" 

"Squirrel!" (Quote is from the movie Up. In case you're not familiar with it, here's the link to the 20-second movie clip.)

Anyway, before I knew it I'd plunked down my $25 and said, "I'm in!" Weeks and Bill are calling their mystery quilt along "summer camp" - a fun concept.

Several friends will be at camp with me: Rosemary V, Betty S, Karen F, and Elizabeth E, that I know of. You too?

Here's the color palette I'll be working with. In the middle is the darkest value background fabric, Painter's Palette Poseidon.

Now it seems I have too many projects I really want to work on! Knowing me, there will be lots of project-hopping in the days ahead. I'm setting up TWO sewing machines!  

Book Recommendation
The Only Survivors 
by Megan Miranda follows Cassidy who decides, reluctantly, to drive to the Outer Banks to meet-up with high school classmates who get together every May. (The beach house is on the cover of the book.)

They aren't all friends. They meet to remember - but not talk about - a life-changing high school experience they shared - two vans traveling through the Tennessee mountains that plunge into a ravine; a ferocious storm begins; and rushing waters begin to rise. Lives are lost. A decade later, those still living are dwindling in number. Several of them wonder, "Will I be next?"

The author uses a slightly different approach to the story, first revisiting the past event seven hours after it happened. Later, six hours after it happened. Then five. It takes until the conclusion of the book to arrive at hour one, and learn the full truth. I was fully absorbed the entire time. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0



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