Tuesday, April 30, 2024

End of April

I used up more stashed fabric in April than I took in. The 8.14 yards I took in were:
  • one-yard of Kona from Hancock's of Paducah (when I visited that store), and
  • fabric that was on sale from Linda's Electric Quilt in McKinney, Texas.
From Linda's, I bought in advance of need but I now have a wideback (orange-yellow swirl) so I can sandwich my 152-block Glitter Quilt (when I get the blocks joined), and aqua Grunge yardage to back the Like Totally Quilt (the Seattle MQG's BOM I'm participating in) when it's a quilt top. 

Fabric used-up was for piecing the blue ("Minimal, Ha!" - That just might become its name!) quilt top and backing; making the Vetch Pillow; and piecing BOM blocks for a total of 10.69 yards of fabric used. So my net fabric used-up was 2.54 yards. I'm still headed the right direction!

Did you know that Jeni Baker of In Color Order is hosting a Quilt Along to make a "Plus Quilt"? It just started. The Plus Quilt Along Week 1 post was about selecting fabrics. 

I decided to join so I can make a quilt to donate to Children's Home Society of Florida when Big Cypress Quilters hosts its annual baby shower in October. I often keep boys in mind, when I make a child's quilt.

If you want to join the Along, it's not too late. Plus Quilt Along Week 2 instructions about cutting were just released this morning. You can also find info on Jeni's Instagram account: @jenib320 

This past week I have been helping my quilty-friend in Oregon, Martha at QuilttotheEdge.blogspot,com make her first Kawandi! I gave her instructions, and she really took off, stitching her first round in just a couple days. She plans to make several place mats.
Martha's Kawandi start

While there are several positive outcomes from sharing something new with a quilter - particularly with a quilter who's also a friend! - one aspect is that the teacher often learns from the student. Martha did that for me when she shared a picture of how she's keeping herself organized, using a 12" X 18" Omnigrid Foldaway Cutting and Pressing Station as a work surface while she's stitching. And it's a storage spot when she isn't work on it. I love it! 

Using Martha's idea, I'm stitching along with her to make my 14th Kawandi.

Mine uses solids-only scraps in colors that coordinate with an Anna Maria Horner print on the back. 

Book Recommendations
From Hoopla, I checked-out a “boxed set” that are the first four books (11 hours) in the Lexy Baker Cozy Mysteries by Leighann Dobbs. These mysteries are about Lexy who owns the local bakery, and manages to regularly find a dead body.

She lives in her grandmother’s house because Nans has moved into a retirement home. There, Nans is a member of the Ladies Detective Club, a group of four women who solve cases using their iPads, decoding skills, and occasional car trips.

In book one, Lexy meets the handsome detective Jake, who happens to be her backyard neighbor. As their relationship develops, Lexy has as "in" on cases, but she has to keep her sleuthing from Jake who reminds her that what she’s doing is dangerous.

All the books are little too-o sweet and predictable, like a Hallmark story. Even the outcome of the Las Vegas baking competition, in book three, is foreseeable. My favorite parts are the recipes given at the end. I jotted down two of them to try: Black Bean Brownies, and Biscotti.

Linda’s score: 3.6/5.0

The Vaster Wilds
 by Lauren Groff follows the path of a teenaged girl who's fleeing a fort on the St. James River where the harsh winter has left people diseased, starving, and resorting to cannibalism to survive.

The girl, who's a servant, is sure she's being pursued, so must depend on the few possessions she's stolen - new boots, a hatchet, knife, flint, two cloaks, gloves, and a veil - and her wiles to plunge into the wilderness and escape. The entire book follows her course, as she's starving, freezing, resourceful, and unfortunate.  

For my tastes, this story was too esoteric, soley aimed at observing the great outdoors and the whims of nature. I kept anticipating the moment the girl's situation would improve or resolve, but the end was more of the same, though with some insightful reflections on life and how we choose to live it.

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

In April, of the seven books I listened to, I gave these a score of 4.0 or higher:

  • Go As a River, Shelly Read, 4.4
  • Things You Save in a Fire, Katherine Center, 4.3
  • Heart Land, Kimberly Stuart, 4.2

Saturday, April 27 at 8:37 in the evening, we stepped outside and looked to the skies over our house to see another Falcon 9 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. 

It was a good view, but within seconds it had traveled quickly away from our location. It's still remarkable to get to see. 

I'm prepping for an upcoming quilt retreat, so lots of rotary cutting is happening here. Linda

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Modern Potholder Quilt

In January I posted about organizing a Modern Potholder Group Quilt. I invited 15 US quilt makers to make improv rectangle and square blocks using a specific color palette of five Painter's Palette solids. 

All 15 quilt makers came through for me by the April 12 deadline I set! Those quilt makers are:

Karen @sunrayatplay
Jane @gonequiltinginflorida
JoElla @jemquilter
Betty @zcabed
Rosemary @franticquilter
Cassandra @cassandra.beaver
Kathy @kathycookquilts
Maureen @maydecemberquilts
Patty @elmstreetquilts
Debbie @aquilterstable
Candi @candipursuits
Charlotte @kirkenoll
Sherry @otterbeequilting
Elizabeth @apiecefullife
Clara @bimbambuki_blog

According to instructions I provided, each of them made one or two rectangle-shaped blocks. They're improv-pieced, and improv big stitch hand quilted (with white thread), and are not bound. I received 22 blocks. 

They also made one or two square blocks which are plain with only improv hand quilting. I received 20 of those.

Then I spent ten days arranging, and rearranged and rearranged blocks every day, coming up with nine different layouts. A few of them are...  

I think most of the designs didn't look appealing because of the square blocks. Those darker Sulphur-colored ones (at the bottom) have been troublesome.

After angsting over each layout (designing still does not come easily to me), I finally came to the conclusion that those square blocks were not helping. When I removed most of them from the design, I felt much better about the layout. So, for now I'll focus on this section. I anticipate using the squares around the perimeter in a different way. More to come about that! 

Each potholder block needs to be bound, so for now I'm starting with that. After reading-up about making a potholder quilt, I learned that weight can be a concern when hand-stitching blocks together. For that reason, I'm making single-fold binding. I'm cutting binding 1¼" wide.

At first I thought to choose binding colors to suit each block, similar to this.

But the more I played with blocks and thought about the trend we're seeing - using stripes in modern quilts - I consider striped binding. Wouldn't a gray and white stripe binding look good? Better than black and white stripe, a gray stripe would suit the Pewter-colored curved insert in each block. But I don't have a gray stripe in my stash.

However... ðŸ’¡

When I looked at the back side of a black and white striped print, I knew it was "just right." And the fact that this striped fabric is printed on the diagonal is a bonus. 

So this is what I'm working on now. Sewing lots of binding to blocks with the wrong side of the black and white stripe showing! (Don't ask me how many times I've already sewed a strip upside down and had to unstitch!)

The bound block on the left is JoElla's. The bound block on the right is Maureen's.

I'm using my favorite "No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine" method. If you're an MQG member, you can view the webinar to learn this method, HERE.

Can I just say... I'm getting pretty good at binding! It helps that I custom-made a ⅝"-wide cardboard template so I can draw and sew the perfect mitered corner. 

These are ready for hand-stitching binding to the back. 

A special thanks to Rosemary @franticquilt who suggested I piece Pewter-colored fabric into some of the bindings. Well this is gonna be extra work fun! 😀 

After a consultation with members of Central Florida MQG, during our Saturday Sew-In, I am also considering adding strategically-placed appliquéd bias tape to some of the blocks. In the meantime, you'll find me happily making binding! Linda

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Pillow Finish, Backing Pieced

I'm delighted with my finished "Vetch Cushion," so-named by Jo Avery of @joaverystitch. I took Jo's online Organic Improv Appliiqué lessons to piece this 20" X 20" square pillow. The background is improv-cut and pieced, followed by hand cut (no template) leaves and rotary cut bias stem that are hand-appliquéd. Quilting is also by hand using several colors of size 12 Wonderfil Spagetti perle cotton. 

The texture created by perle cotton is just yummy. 

I quilted through the pillow front and a single layer of Quilter's Dream Request batting. Here's what the pillow top looked like from the back. I quilted an improv plaid pattern by following straight lines randomly drawn  with a Hera marker at 45-degree angles across the pillow front. 

For the pillow back I used a pretty speckled aqua-blue linen. And of course, I bound the pillow with a black and white stripe.
As I finished making this pillow, I realized it's the third one I've made following one of Jo's patterns. All three are improv designs and include linen. Each pillow has a different place in our home. 

Lately, I pieced a 70" X 76" quilt back for the "minimal" (ha!) quilt top I recently finished. Inspiration came from Kelly Young's My Quilt Infatuation book Perfectly Pieced Quilt Backs. This backing design is called "Toppling Tower." I'm delighted to have used another 3.81 yards of fabric to make it.

Must ask... did you notice the blue spot in the middle-lower left? 

Apparently, as I was rotary cutting a strip of fabric, another already-cut strip was underneath. Eek! I accidentally made a small cut in that strip.  

But I fixed it! I used an Applipop ring to cut and turn under the edge of a fabric circle from a scrap of Blueberry Park. I hand-appliquéd it over my boo-boo. Doesn't it give the quilt back a spot (ha, ha) of character! 

Book Recommendation
A Thousand Heartbeats
by Kiera Cass is a fairy tale about Princess Annika living a cushy but challenging life since the disappearance of her mother, and her father's change to a sullen, demanding king. For the sake of their country, he wants her to marry a man she doesn't love. Annika's brother, her maid servant, and the castle's librarian are her closest friends who understand what she's facing.

Not far away, Lennox is a young man who is determined to prove himself to the ruthless man who's leading their country. Lennox's father is dead, and his mother seems to have abandoned him. Yet Lennox is loyal to his country and wants to restore the kingdom that was stolen from them. 

When Annika and Lennox cross paths, swords are drawn. A battle ensues. Each is determined to defend her/his countrymen. It isn't until a storm rages, and Annika and Lennox are forced to seek shelter, that they learn about each other's past. Both have a different perspective on their country's history. Feelings aroused, they realize they need each other, and eventually learn they have more in common than they were told.

I intentionally selected a Kiera Cass book to read because several years ago I enjoyed her series called The Selection. While I liked that series better than this stand-alone book, A Thousand Heartbeats was still a nice break into utter fantasy. And refreshingly, without cussing, and sexual relations. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Have you ever Googled your own name to see what comes up? I did recently and was surprised to see a number of my quilts on various sites, with a few on Pinterest.

I came across this picture posted to the eQuilter blog by Luana Rubin. She superimposed my maximalist quilt, Feelin' Groovy (she gave me credit) onto a fabric line of 24 "Gradation" ombré fabrics by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry. Doesn't it look cool? Note that she "bound the photo" with a black and white stripe.

Luana commented "The black-and-white-and-color trend is ongoing and mutating."

I couldn't agree more. For my Feelin' Groovy quilt, I used many different colors of stripes in the body of the design, and two different widths of black and white stripes as binding. Apparently she noticed.

I'm just now realizing how often I'm turning to a stripe to add pizazz to a quilt. What I'm working on now has a stripe. I'll share more in my next blog post. Linda

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Improv-Designed Tops

With three projects needing design wall space, I've had to prioritize what I'm working on - get one finished so I can put up the next one!

So my latest quilt top finish is this 67" X 73" piece begun during a February QuiltCon workshop with Ashelyn Downs. I'm afraid it didn't turn out as the Large Scale Minimal Improv design it was meant to be, but I'm happy with it. 

It includes Painter's Palette solids - Cloud, Waterfall, Lapis and Oyster - the latter being the one that's my new favorite neutral. Though, now I'm out of it! 

The little color pops are Kumquat. I wouldn't be nearly as pleased with this quilt design if it didn't include those happy bits. 

Linens are these four pieces. 

Denim pieces are denim yardage (the darker blue), and legs from hub's blue jeans.

As much as I'm really looking forward to quilting this, my next big task is to find stashed fabrics from which to piece a backing! No small task, given my dwindling fabric piles.

I finished appliquéing leaves and the stem for my 20" X 20" pillow top. This piece is the result of my five-lesson Organic Improv Appliqué workshop with Jo Avery through The Threadhouse Academy. I always like Jo's designs, and this was no exception. She's a great teacher!

After putting a piece of batting behind the piece, I thread-basted the layers on my Bernina 770 using stitch #21 which I think is actually a tack stitch. 

Now I've begun hand quilting with a variety of colors of Wonderfil Spagetti, a 12-weight perle cotton. The pattern I'm stitching is what Jo calls "improv plaid."

Book Recommendations
Back in 2009, I read several books written by Kimberly Stuart. At the time, Kimberly lived local to me (in Des Moines, Iowa), and was a young mother with a couple toddlers. She wrote several very funny - like laugh out loud! - books about juggling a home and motherhood. I met Kimberly! See how young I looked.
Kimberly hosted a giveaway of her books. I won! Winners were asked to travel with two books and give them away.

I'm mentioning my past relationship with Kimbrerly because I just read Heart Land which she wrote and published in 2018. 

Heart Land is a story about Grace, a young woman originally from Iowa who, after graduating at the top of her class from F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology, New York) has spent six years, working hard to earn her way to the position of designer at a renown fashion company.

When circumstances force her to return to Iowa and her grandmother, Gigi's home in Sliver Creek (fictional city), Grace remembers why she was anxious to leave. As typical in Midwest small towns, everyone knows everyone and their business, including Tucker, the fella she left behind who has become a successful contractor. 

Gigi has recently begun sewing clothes to sell at a community market, so when Grace makes a few alterations to Gigi's beautiful fabrics, they both realize Gigi may be able to capitalize on her skills and make enough money to return to New York. Thus begins a series of events that make Grace realize her hometown has more to offer than she thought.

As you might expect, this is a sweet story of love, and discovering what's most important. I admire how Kimberly weaves faith and prayer into Heart Land which is very much a reflection of the Heartland I miss. I need to catch up reading all of Kimberly's books!

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Things You Save in a Fire
 by Katherine Center begins in Austin, Texas where Cassie is a firefighter/EMT. She loves her job, yet an unfortunate incident during an awards ceremony, and her mother's unexpected request for Cassie to move to Massachusetts to help her out, finds Cassie reluctantly relocating. Her new job in a Boston fire station comes with being in a facility that's unaccustomed to accommodating a female, and a captain whose prejudice towards female firefighters apparent. 

As Cassie proves her worth, both physically and while on the job, her heart is leading her to feelings she wants to deny - an unwanted relationship with her mother, and a man. Maintaining distance and professionalism while on the job is critical, and while it earns her the respect she deserves, it doesn't come without conflict, and false accusations. Cassie must face unfair treatment, and learn a lesson about forgiveness.  

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

Go as a River
 by Shelley Read is one of those stories that has me fondly remembering several Barbara Kingsolver books I read years ago. 

In Go as a River, its 1948 and 17 year-old Torie is the only female on the Nash family farm in Iola, Colorado, which is known for its sweet peaches. Her family - a gruff dad, a rowdy younger brother, and an uncle who returned from war without a leg - leave her feeling alone.

When Torie meets and is attracted to a young man, Wil, on Iola's main street, she follows her heart in spite of rumors and lies about him. When he disappears, Torie (now calling herself Victoria) comes to recognize that she's more on her own more than ever before. She must flee into the mountains to survive. However, self-sufficiency proves more than she can manage, so she's forced into a decision that breaks her heart. 

As she's trying to reconcile herself to a life alone, Iola citizens learn that a reservoir is to be built. The town will be flooded. Victoria is the first person to sell out. She must save her peach trees and forge a new life on her own. 

I love how the author described the beauty of this area, and what this young woman endured to make a life for herself. Really, a sweet story. 

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

Has spring sprung where you are? Spring is looking good around here. Even the medians at major intersections are full of color.

I'm grateful for such lovely views. Linda

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Floating Pyramid Quilt Finish

It isn't often anymore that I have a reason to make a baby quilt, unless it's for charity, like Children's Home Society of Florida. So when my good friend in Central Florida MQG, Courtney (I rode home from QuiltCon with her in 2023 and 2024) told me last fall that she was expecting their first baby in May, I knew I'd be making a a quilt. 

In March I made Floating Pyramid, a pattern in the book "Modern Baby." 

It was the perfect design to use solids scarps scraps, and my neutral print stash. 

Each triangle shape in the pyramid is cut from made fabric - scraps sewn together and then cut into a triangle shape. While the book provides a triangle template, my Hex 'n more Ruler work well with a strip of blue tape to mark one triangle side. 

Also, the pattern called for specific yardage of four prints for background triangles. But it worked much better for me to cut a wide variety of low volume prints - including a baby print, and floral designs.

My limited stash forced me to come up with a creatively-pieced backing.

From a koala print, purchased in Australia when my grandsons were toddlers, I cut a single triangle, slightly smaller than the one on the quilt front. Then I pieced other prints around it. Across the top is a piece of Project Linus fabric that says "Security is a thumb and a blanket." 

Batting is Quilter's Dream 100% cotton, Select loft. 

From the start, I had a simple quilting plan: spiral quilting starting in the center of the pyramid to fill the pyramid. 

Then, around the pyramid I quilted an old, familiar, unbroken quilting design: a snail trail. 

I bound the quilt with scraps of low volume prints.

I have quilted this snail trail design on dozens of baby quilts. This is the quilting viewed from the back. 

I created a label using MacBook Pages, and printed it on EQ Printables. The graphic I'm sharing here has been edited to remove personal information. 
Anne, a Central Florida MQG member, was my quilt-holder for these pictures which were taken in Oxford near where our chapter meets for workshops and sew-ins. 

Floating Pyramid finished at 48½" X 54½". 

I wrapped the quilt and gifted it to Courtney at the conclusion of Saturday's Central Florida MQG meeting. Courtney and her husband are expecting their baby girl's arrival in May. I hope they get lots of use from this quilt. Linda


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