Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

As I'm off to the AQS show in Paducah this week, I am happy to have progressed on my Flower Ball quilt enough that it's traveling with me. My goal was to get all the papers basted with fabric for traveling, and I did it!

When I first laid out the 118 pieces, every flower center was empty. I couldn't decide what color to put in the centers. I thought of, and rejected, navy, brown, yellow, and gray before finally deciding that the task of choosing was too difficult. That's when I emailed Anne, from Play-Crafts (If you don't follow her blog, you should!) who I found in the past couple months. Let me tell you, Anne knows about color! Her "Color Chat" blog posts are so informative, and she makes what she explains very pertinent by choosing fabrics from her own stash to emphasize points she makes with a color wheel. Anyway, I thought that if anyone knew what was the "right" color for these flower centers, it would be Anne. She graciously swapped several emails, and looked at my pictures. 

In this picture are some of the color/fabric options I came up. Option one was to make flower centers yellow and orange, putting whatever color in the center that would most contrast with the flower. Option two was either a gray print or solid. Finally, it was a toss-up between the yellow/orange and the lower right gray solid. 

Gray solid won. It was the color Anne liked best, and I am easily influenced enough to agree with her. Yay for help with making a decision! I'm very grateful. Doesn't the dimension just "wow," even when it's just laid out?!

By the way, those tiny spots in the center of each piece are sticky dots with the piece number written on it, so I can keep track, by columns.

The Flower Ball looks like this now, ready to travel. I pieced a few of them together with light gray Bottomline thread, just to make sure they're gonna sew okay. They will. Hoping to get a lot done during quiet evenings in my motel room... but that might be wishful thinking.

I've also had a couple other helping hands lately.
Elizabeth at OccasionalPiece generously sent me a parcel with scraps and pieces of Kaffe fabrics leftover from her Lollypop Tree quilt project. I didn't have one Kaffe fabric in my stash, and I'm determined to get these 15" won-in-a-blog-giveaway hand appliquéd blocks made into a quilt. I had fun auditioning Elizabeth's fabrics. Every one of them will work! I'll have to get out graph paper to work up a design... or maybe EQ7 for the Mac will be available.

Susan at PatchworknPlay sent me a belated birthday/Easter and happy-whatever package from Australia. What an unexpected surprise! This little banner hung for about a week, before Easter. The package of sticky notes have already come in handy. 

And that cute Matryoshka doll? It's an unpicker! I already know I'm going to have to keep an eye on it. Last week, my stitching friends were looking at it just a little too closely... 

My bloggy, Instagram, quilty friends bless me! I'm feeling grateful, and singing along with the Beatles: "I get by with a little help from my friends." Linda

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Razzmatazz

Every week, all I have to share is little bits of this and that. No significant accomplishments lately, except ones I can't share yet. So here's the razzmatazz from the past week. 

A new quilting foot arrived; an Ebay purchase. It's a Janome 1660 series ruler foot that fits my Pfaff Grand Quilter. The foot has a quarter-inch "heel" (the term for the height or thickness of the foot) that is meant for ruler work - place the ruler against the heel without concern that ruler might slip under the foot. The foot on the right is the regular FMQ foot. I can't wait to give the new one a try!

The same day the sewing machine foot arrived, so did the fabrics MQG is mailing to MQGer's who signed up for the Michael Miller Challenge. By June 23 we're to come up with a quilted item using all or some of the six fabrics on the left, and any solids. Our LQS, Simply Sew Boutique is stocking the collection, so when our Central Florida MQG meeting was held at the shop, I picked up a few more coordinates. I melt over those Moda Bella solids - Bermuda (top right) and aqua. 

During quiet time, usually when I'm away from home, I'm still hand-baste foundation paper pieces for the Flower Ball quilt. I have just a few more papers to baste and then the hand stitching begins. I'll use 60-weight light grey Bottom Line thread for that step.

When I saw Debbie's post with pictures of a very pretty pillow, I knew I'd found my next (of four) pillow for our sofa. The tutorial for "Christmas Snowflake" is on Flickr, and despite the name, I don't think it will look Christmas-sy in these colors. I've cut enough pieces to make two 20" blocks, one for each side of the pillow.

Anticipating seeing grandsons in several weeks, I made another pair of shorts - the fourth pair I've sewn in the past weeks. This Angry Birds fabric came from Fabric.com. I know they'll be a hit with Austin, who will be four years old on May 6. Again, I matched the front pockets to the shorts fronts.

A big task that has taken up much of my time has been designing this quilt top. You wouldn't think it would take very long, but I've been designing with a mind toward teaching newer quilters how to sew on the diagonal - triangles, to be precise. With many ways to making flying geese, half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, and the like, I attempted to put a dab of each into this 54" X 60" design. Not having design software, I found myself wasting quite a bit of fabric (Zen Chic; Kona; Bella) and having to wait for a reorder. EQ7 for the Mac is supposed to be released in April, and I couldn't be more anxious to use it. This project needs a diagram, yardages calculated, written instructions.... and someone to test it before May 21!
One Way/Any Way, 54" X 60" for Beyond First Time Quiltmaking class
Hmm... I'm noticing a distinct partiality to certain colors in all three of my current and upcoming projects! I see I need to step out of the box one of these days!

As always, I'm doing what I love! Next week sees me flying to Paducah for the AQS show! Excited to go, but dreading the flight. Say a prayer for my flying fear, please. Linda

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Name Dropper

When I get into a project, my sewing room gets messy, especially when pull out the serger for garment sewing. Who needs three machines set up at once?! I do!

On a recent Saturday afternoon I dug into two large garbage bags of selvages I've collected over the years. I pressed them, and then began sewing to remove the excess plain white areas. Here you can see the several inches of plain selvage that I didn't want to include in my strip.

Putting together the right sides of the selvage strip, I eyeballed where the prints met. 

Then, I sewed a seam...

...and cut to remove the plain white. 

Here you can see seamed strips - some of the same selvage strip, and some from two different strips sewn together. Mostly I tried to sew together similar colors, but didn't stress if they didn't quite match.

As I was choosing selvages, I enjoyed picking brights and the names of some of my favorite fabric lines and designers. Because I found so many celebrity quilter's names, this project is called "Name Dropper."


Riley Blake selvages are always fun because of the shapes of the color windows. See the puzzle pieces here?

This project also included my special, saved typo selvages. To date, I have found three spelling mistakes on selvages. Here are two of them: "gaden" and "photograqhy." One more, not shown is "bijouxl."

And voilá! My Name Dropper Skirt! A good fit, but a little stiff because selvages are sewn to a foundation cut from white Kona. The typo selvages are together in one corner - lower left, in this picture.
skirt front
I wore it around the house for a while, and sat in it. Just like a regular skirt, it wrinkles.
skirt back
I expect to wear Name Dropper when I'm in Paducah, from April 22 to 27, for the AQS quilt show. I'm excited about going - even though it's for a job. A tough assignment, you know.

Thus far, from selvages, I've sewed three pillows, three totes, two Edith zip bags, and this skirt. In spite of all that sewing, I've hardly made a dent in my selvage stash. What shall I sew next? My friend Carla has some great ideas! Just head over to Lollyquiltz blog to read her series of posts about clever ways to sew with selvages: a little girl's skirt, an upcycled bag, and stationery - lots of selvage-using inspiration! Linda

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sewing Shorts

If nothing else, I'm writing a new post to push aside my Pantone quilt, which didn't do well in the challenge. The piece that won is gorgeous... and so small! Makes me wish I hadn't put so much time into a larger project that I don't even like very much. "Perspective" is the only thing that redeems it! I'll be hanging it in my sewing room with the word side out.

For something different... Sometimes it's nice to sew clothes again.

I come from a background of home sewists. My mother was the best at garment construction. In a week or less, she could whip up a new outfit for herself or us two girls, even when working full time. She always sewed new Easter outfits for us and herself, and I remember one time when she even made my sister and me purses! They were white fabric, drawstring top bags, and inside, for stabilization was a Quaker Oats container! So economical, and clever! There wasn't much that she couldn't sew. At one time or another, each of us wore a home sewn swimming suit, dress coat, two-piece suit, wedding and bridesmaid dresses... and those were just a few of the items she created!

On the right is our mother, perhaps in the early 1990's, modeling a wool suit and blouse she made and entered in the Make It Yourself With Wool contest. She won first place, in her region and age division.

An upbringing in such a household led both my sister and me to do our own sewing. For me, quilting came later, but it's still a treat to sew clothes. I'm a dress and skirt kind of gal, and still like to make the occasional outfit for myself. I had hoped to someday have a little girl to dress up again, but with four grandsons born into our family that isn't going to happen. To be honest, I find it difficult to not become overly jealous of my friends who get to sew cute girl clothes for their granddaughters.

So, I look for reasons to sew for grandsons. I'm grateful to SewKellySews on Instagram, who recently posted a picture of Minion fabric. That was all the excuse I needed to sew shorts for two grandsons - the brothers who are 13 months apart and "speak" Minion to each other. They're a hoot.

The fabric came from Spoonflower - two one-yard Kona pieces. One print has a pale green background and the other, a light blue background. 

The little drawing Jorren drew on the packing slip made me smile.

This shorts pattern is a purchased download from DanaMadeIt. It's nice because I have 11 sizes, and a number of styles. These are sizes 3 and 4 boy's shorts with front pockets. See how I even matched the print of the pocket Minions to the shorts fronts?!

Too bad I don't have any models nearby to put them on and show you how they look. I hope they'll like wearing the shorts, and look as adorable as I think they will. Linda

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pantone Challenge - Go Vote!


Update: In case you're interested... the winners are posted here. I'm not one of them.
The online Pantone Quilt Challenge is accepting Reader's Choice votes.

Go here to vote for your favorite quilt in each of these three categories:
  • Quilts (at least 30" per side)
  • Minis
  • Just the Top
Pick one favorite in each category. Vote by clicking the heart in the upper right hand corner.

There are some beautiful pieces! Mine happens to be there, in the Quilts category, #10. But vote for it only if you're so inclined.  Linda

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family and the Familiar

The day came and went. My 61st birthday was Tuesday, and as my birthdays usually are, it was uneventful. Honestly, I'm happy because I readily remember last year at this time! That's when I knew I had breast cancer, but had not yet had my lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy to know how extensive the cancer was, and what kind of treatment I'd need. It's good to look back on the surgery and radiation, and expect a healthy future. I can't even complain about being on Arimidex for another four years/two months. As promised, ten months accumulation of the drug now brings on seven to eight intense "power surges" each day, and a marked inclination to gain weight - an obstacle which I am determined not to allow! Each morning I drink 14 ounces of fresh vegetable juice that helps, in many ways. So, if hot flashes and a rigid diet are the worst I have to contend with, I remain positive!

So, Tuesday morning saw me going to a morning line dance workout at Exercise in Disguise, and in the afternoon attending the weekly Bradenton Quilters. Hubs and I went out to dinner, a rare occurrence for us. And later in the evening, I happily accepted calls from each of our two children.

During the day, I received cards, text messages, and emails, too, and friends Deb and Carla sent thoughtful gifts - a fabric gift certificate (Terra Australis, I'm waiting for you to arrive in the US!); and a quilting idea book from Carla which will come in handy when I'm stumped for quilting design ideas.

The book was wrapped in a cute piece of fabric, an idea I'll have to file away for my own gift-giving. Thank you both for these gifts!


In "I'm a proud mom" news, our daughter Jill has been named - and is being honored tonight! - as one of Kansas City's 2014 Most Influential Business Women! Read about it here.

We are both terribly proud of her achievements, not only for her business start-up, and student-peer education program (ReBEl), but for doing such a great job of being a wife, mom of three children, and a wonderful, thoughtful daughter. I just can't express how much we admire what she does.

Our lives aren't nearly as exciting, though that's not a bad thing.

Last Thursday I did a little teaching - an all day free motion quilting workshop with 16 women. It was a pleasure to share FMQ with them - and, to see improvement, encourage, encourage, encourage them to continue quilting.

Writing their name is a good way to begin, and students are always happy when it's legible!

This time, I also suggested that they date their first practice piece, and keep it for comparison later on.

When I'm not home in my sewing room, like when I go to Bradenton Quilters or Happy Stitchers, my portable project continues to be the EPP Flower Ball. I'm still basting fabric to 189 papers!

As time permits, I'm replacing pillows on the living room sofa and love seat. The four 20" pillows that came with the furniture coordinate too nicely. And, I was disappointed to zip open the commercially made pillows and see loose fiberfill on the inside. Not even a pillow insert! So, I'm remaking them by sewing a muslin pillow insert cover, stuffing each with the old pillow stuffing, and making a new pillow cover.

This weekend, when a JHittleSewing order arrived (it's where I get Aurifil thread) and 18-inch white zippers were in it, I finished two-sided pillow number two.

I used Carla's Liberated Cross tutorial to make eight blocks.

Because I like that center block fabric, and could fussy cut it, I sewed set-in seams to make it the focal point. Quilting is a series of double arcs. All four pillows - when I finish them - will have the same decorative corded edge I sewed with Laura Gunn's Painter's Canvas, in spice.

A new quilt is in the works, so I'm playing for the first time with my Quick Curve Ruler. Instead of buying a pattern, I am making rectangle-shaped blocks as instructed on the flyer that came wrapped with the ruler.

Since each rectangle shape finishes at only 3-1/2" X 7", it's taking a lot of cutting, sewing, and trimming to get the quantity needed for a decent sized quilt.

To make the quilt scrappy, yet within a group of specific colors, I cut into more than 100 different stashed prints to come up with the 160 rectangles needed. The solid curves are cut from Kona Snow.

So, if you're looking for me, I'll be in my sewing room. Or, I might be admiring the latest photo pinged in on my Iphone. Our Texas baby, the adorable Luke (John) - or LJ, as some family members are now calling him - is ten weeks old. It's the face of sweet innocence, isn't it? Linda

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