Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Backing Challenge

I've added another project to my mix of WIPs. I joined the MQG's four week "Use It: Quilt Back Challenge." The idea is to make a quilt back using what you have on hand. The backing can be for a top you've already made, or a top you might make in the future.

This is the ideal project for using-up orphan blocks and leftover bits from finished projects... or, in my case, some tried-and-failed block ideas. In fact, I have so many such bits and bobs, I realized I can't use ALL of them in a backing, even one that's 60" X 93"! I have enough parts - a whole canvas bin full - to make several backings.

Initially, I put lots of parts on the design wall.

I rearranged. Took pictures. Sewed a few blocks together. After several days I thought I should cut back on the number of seams in the backing. Hundreds of seams are in the quilt top, so more seams in the backing hold the potential for making domestic machine quilting more challenging. So I scaled back on blocks, and added chunks of plain fabric. 

The backing is mostly sewn together: 60" wide, and 6" to 8" more need at the bottom, to get 93" in length. See how I tried to position larger pieces around the perimeter? I have only 2½" of excess on each side for centering the quilt top. Nope, I don't like to waste fabric.

Though Instagram commenters have said my backing looks like a quilt front, I'm definitely using it to back my 55" X 88" Summertime Modern Mystery QAL top, completed August 3. I'd really like to get this quilt finished before the end of 2023. 

It's Week 7 (of 12 weeks) of the Satisfaction QAL with Amy Friend @duringquiettime, and this time I was fussy-cutting to make the Diamond block. I opted to highlight this Florida-appropriate flamingo design. 

So far, this is the easiest 18" block we've made. 

Since December 1-10 has already been scheduled as the busiest time of the month - Christmas celebrations, and recognition occasions (gift-giving time) for volunteer leaders in my activity groups - I worked ahead to finish Week 8 of the Satisfaction QAL by making the Crystal block. I'm getting better at foundation paper piecing following Amy's method. That means fabrics are being pieced directionally, and with less fabric waste.  

Book Recommendations
A Noise Downstairs
by Winwood Barclay captured me from the opening chapter when Paul Davis is driving home, and happens to see his work colleague driving somewhat erratically. Could his friend be drunk? Paul follows him to make sure he's okay, and watches him throw something odd-looking into a dumpster, then driving to a different, more remote location. When Paul steps out of his car to check on his friend, his world changes. 

The story picks up months later, when Paul is seeing a therapist to help with the nightmares he's been experiencing. Paul's wife, Charlotte, encourages him to fully recover and return to work. Charlotte surprised Pauls with an old typewriter - just what Paul envisions himself using to write about his experience, and perhaps cleanse himself of the whole thing. 

However, when Paul begins awakening in the middle of the night to the sound of the typewriter - that Charlotte doesn't hear - he questions whether he's getting better. When the typewriter begins leaving typed messages, he engages his therapist further to help him get through whatever is happening. 

This story has an unexpected, twisted ending that I didn't see coming.

By the way, last year I gave Linwood Barclay a 4.3 score for another title, Take Your Breath Away, so you might want to add him to your authors-to-read list. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Her Family Secret
 by Melissa Weisner opens with June, the account for her husband's company, and an over-worked mother of two young girls. She's busy, and seemingly happy. 

When she receives a phone call while on the road, her shock at the news she hears - her father (a man she remembers only from her childhood) is dead and has left June and her two sisters all of his estate - causes a car accident. What' shocks them all is who he is - a famous artist. Their mother never told them! 

Needing to recover from the accident, and then learning about her husband's infidelity, June decides to visit her father's estate in Wishing Cove, Washington. There she meets Caleb, her father's apprentice, and begins to wonder whether it's time to revisit her own artistic interests - ones that were set aside so she could "parent" her two younger sisters. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Tom Lake
 by Ann Patchett begins with high-schooler Lara, who helps guide auditions for the local community theater's performance of Our Town. Lara realizes she could perform "Emily" better than those auditioning, and so begins her journey as an actress. 

The remainder of the story is told from Lara's perspective, during the pandemic, as the 57 year-old mother of three young women. Lara and her husband own a cherry farm in upper Michigan, and the girls are home to help with picking. That's when the girls demand the story of Lara's brief career as "Emily" and the summer she spent on Tom Lake, doing Our Town and spending time with a man who would become a famous actor. 

This is a story that could be real -- about young love, family, and bonds that last a lifetime. 

I listened to the whole book, thinking how good the narrator was. Then, at the end I learned it was Meryl Streep! 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Florida wildlife often bring a smile to my face. This Great White Egret was in our neighbor's driveway, and gracefully strutted into our yard. 

Happy Thanksgiving! I am wishing all of you - blog-readers, blog-commenters, and friends - a lovely Thanksgiving with special people, and good food. Bless you, Linda


  1. The book Tom Lake sounds interesting. 4 years ago I moved back to Michigan. A favorite place to visit is Traverse City. In that area of the state are many cherry farms.
    Loved the picture of the egret. Love those birds. I remember them walking in yard when we lived in Florida.
    Kathy Gricius

    1. Indeed, "Tom Lake" would be just the book for you, as most of the story does take place there in Michigan. From the sounds of it, that's a beautiful area. I hope you read and enjoy it. Egrets, and many other Florida birds (sandhill crane) are special to see. I'm sure you remember them well.

  2. Your new backing is pretty! Definitely a reversible quilt🥰, love it! Yes, the plain fabric adds to the backing nicely, good job. Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving 🦃🍁 everyone!

    1. Thank you, Pamela! I'm hoping the person I gift this to likes the back as much as the front... just like you. Thanks for your good wishes. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving day!

  3. Good idea to have larger pieces of fabric around the edge of the pieced backing. Hoping you, your family and friends have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Good job on the quilt back! I was surprised you had SO many orphan blocks. But I understand why you decided to pare down the amount of seams. Good luck making just what you need.

  5. That backing must have been quite the challenge to figure out. You've done a good job of simplifying all those complex shapes, sizes and colors. It's perfect for the back of your mystery quilt. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. The back is looking good! I agree with your concern about too many seams - this will be a fun quilt!

  7. Wow, your backing is certainly worthy of being a quilt top, Linda! I especially like those large blue curvy pieces. Then I saw the quilt top!!! Love that!!! It looks tricky to keep the edges straight. You did a great job on it! The books you review often sound intriguing! I'm listening to Walking Shoes right now, another one you recommended.

  8. The orphan block project is gorgeous. It needed the solid pieces - makes the whole thing less chaotic. I really like it. As always, the books your read are right up my alley. I love Ann Patchett and have been wanting to read Tom Lake. I think I will reserve it as an audio book. I just discovered Sue Grafton and her books are quick, fun reads. Anyway, great post!! needleandfoot at gmail dot com

  9. All your work looks wonderful as always. Thanks for the book recommendations. They are always appreciated.


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