Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Welcome Sew Mama Sew Visitors

I'd like to extend a special welcome to anyone who might be visiting my blog today from Sew Mama Sew, and is looking for my binding tutorial. This binding method - around here it's also called "No Tails Binding" - is my hands-down favorite method, because it's easier... and so different than the way most quilters sew binding to their quilts. I encourage everyone to give it a try. And, if you happen to be in my area, I'm offering a workshop on it, Sunday, March 8, 2015. Click the "Schedule" tab above for more information.

Here's the link to Sew Mama Sew's "17 Best Binding Tutorials." Good information here!

Have you been sewing for Christmas? I have made only a few things, and find that since we aren't decorating - no tree because no one's coming to visit, nor are we going to visit anyone (after all, we moved south to get out of winter weather!) - I've been playing catch-up on an untold number of projects. Here are a few finishes.

This patchwork Scottie dog is for grandson LJ. It was easy to make with 2-1/2" unfinished squares, as I keep a big stack of precut squares ready for a variety of scrappy projects. I made sure a few novelty prints were included, so he can identify them as he gets older.

The other side.

Then, I set up my sewing machines like this, so it was nice and easy to swivel between the serger and the sewing machine to make some clothes.

For Austin, I made these flannel Angry Birds jammies. To make it a set, I bought a long-sleeved thermal shirt. It's fun and easy to sew short (or long) pants with this Kid Shorts Pattern from Dana Made It. It's a purchased download that comes in sizes 12 months to 10 years - a good investment. I have some more fun novelty prints to sew into shorts.

Then, I made myself a top. This is a newer pattern by Jennifer Paganelli of SisBoom, called "Tortola." Another purchased download. Have you noticed how much I like to shop from home?

The top is cut on the bias so it takes a lot of fabric. Made with voile, I like how it's really flowy. The pattern calls for two yards, even for a small, but next time 1-2/3 yard should be enough. I sure like how it turned out though I can't wear it yet because the weather is a little cool for a tank top. But, I plan to make a bunch of them.

And, I made "Iris" shorts from a purchased download Colette pattern. These appeal to me because of the no-button waistband, the side invisible zipper (love my new Bernina invisible zipper foot!), and front inset pockets that are not in the side seam.

I'm pretty sure this pattern will make a repeat appearance.

Since this spurt of clothes-sewing, I've returned to free motion quilting in an effort to get caught up with projects before January. I recently learned that First Time Quiltmaking, scheduled to begin January 5, is full with 20 students. So we - the Lifelong Learning College and me - added another class... and already 14 students have registered! Looks like 2015 is shaping up to be busy! Linda

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Happy News!

On Wednesday I learned that two quilts I entered into QuiltCon, the big national quilt show for The Modern Quilt Guild that's next February 19-22 in Austin, Texas, were juried into the show! I'm tickled pink! Even more so since learning that of the 1,357 quilts entered, only 26 percent - or 352 quilts - were accepted! Wowsa!

So, to receive a couple emails like this has been pretty exciting!

"Shapes," that you'll see further down, is my entry in the Panasonic Bias Tape Appliqué Challenge, and I incorrectly assumed that all challenge entries were accepted. In fact, they were not, so I'm even more proud about these acceptances!

Our "Ad Libbing" was completed in August - a joint effort between me and Lora (Dragonfly Quiltworks) who lives 90 minutes away. We each made blocks, inspired by the "Missing U" quilt in the book Sunday Morning Quilts, as part of the June program and workshop Lora and I presented to Quilting Guild of The Villages.
Ad Libbing - 71" X 71"
Then when we went together to Sebring for a modern quilt retreat, Lora made our blocks into a quilt top. I took it home and quilted it, then returned it to her for binding, a sleeve and label. 

The name "Ad Libbing" refers to how this quilt came about - quite unintentionally, passing it back and forth, figuring it out as we went along. We were tickled when this quilt took first place in the large quilt category of 52 quilt entries, at QuiltFest Jacksonville in September.

Now we're excited to see how "Ad Libbing" will do at QuiltCon. Both of us will be there to find out!

The second quilt accepted was "Shapes."

My efforts began with this pile of bias tape made with a small Clover bias tape maker. The MQG made a very nice, helpful video about how to cut fabric on the diagonal, and use the bias tape maker to press and fold bias tape.

After I'd made a pile of tape in different solids, I folded and circled and pinned it to white Kaufman Kona, agonizing over how to layout the design. Thankfully, my friend Debbie even came over to offer helpful advice! For the background, I used two widths of Kona, hiding the joining seam behind the long, wide zig-zag of bias text print fabric.

Sandwiching involved two layers of batting: the bottom batt was Quilter's Dream polyester; the upper batt was Quilter's Dream wool. It was timely that I was Quilter's Dream featured "batt girl" in June, and was the recipient of a complimentary box of Quilter's Dream battings! You can see that the puffiness of double batting warrants dense pin-basting.

I can't say this quilt finished smoothly, as many of you know about the grease marks that appeared on the white background fabric as I was quilting with my Pfaff walking foot.

I discovered that the foot, which had been recently serviced with my machine, had an excessive amount of grease inside the open base. Suffice it to say I suffered through much heartbreak figuring out a resolution to the marks, which did not come out of the fabric after attempts at cleaning with various spot remover products.

Now, strategically placed bias tape appliquéd hexagons hide the worst of the marks. Happily, I think they enhance the overall design, and add to the significance of the quilt name - "Shapes."

Shapes is quilted with 50-weight Aurifil threads - white, ivory, yellow, hot pink. I changed colors where I wanted to emphasize quilting designs that flowed into bias tape colors. And yes, I also strategically sewed pieces of solid hot pink fabric in the binding.
Shapes - 67" x 67"
Some of the quilting designs here are similar to those in "Ad Libbing," but I did my best to change them up a little. 

Shapes has been hanging on my design wall for several weeks now, waiting to find out if it was accepted into the show before sewing a sleeve to the back. Both quilts must be ready to ship to Austin for arrival between January 5-23. There's nothing more to do but wait... excitedly... with fingers crossed. Linda

Monday, December 8, 2014

Making Pin Cushions

Needing a pin cushion for a Central Florida MQG swap in December, my online searches turned up several options, and I had to try them out to see which one I wanted to give.

The first design is a free Riley Blake pattern - Little Birdie Pincushions found here.

What's that adage? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? What does that mean?!

Then, deciding the birds were too small, I found this pattern for a Pin Cushion Caddy. It's a design by Anna Maria Horner found in her book "Seams to Me: 24 New Reasons to Sew." I don't own the book, but I found the free pattern here. Apparently there are some measurement issues with book instructions, so I printed Anna Maria's own corrections here. Then, I found this tutorial for accurately calculating all the pieces, and I used it too! Just call me Sherlock.

Using all three helps, this is how it went.

It's not an easy pin cushion to sew. When I got to this point, I thought I was preparing a couple racks of lamb. 

I ended up chucking this one. Even after attempting several times to resew the seam that joins the outside to the inner tube, I couldn't avoid the tucks. What a failure!

The final pin cushion, a hexagon pin cushion caddy, came from this tutorial.

Since my bloggy friend, Vreni, had made this one, she advised me to reduce it by 25 percent, and that's what I did. It's entirely hand-sewn, so it took quite a while to make, but I'm proud of it. It has some of my favorite fabrics in it - Anna Maria Horner, Mimosa, and my special Terra Australis. 

What I'm not so proud of are these two pictures! I pride myself in taking good photos, and obviously I goofed! I'd say the camera was on the wrong setting. But, since the pin cushion now belongs to someone else, this is the best I can offer. You can see all 18 swapped pin cushions on our Central Florida MQG blog, here.

Better pictures next post. Promise. Linda

Monday, December 1, 2014

Silver and Gold

It's been quiet here because we've again been spending time with grandsons. 

This was our pretty, day-after-Thanksgiving, morning vista across Austin, Texas, looking toward Hill Country. It's the view from the deck of our son and DIL's new home. 

We spent a lot of time with our grandsons. The youngest,  LJ,  is 11 months old now. He's standing sturdily, pushing a walker everywhere, including laps around the kitchen island, and now and again taking a half-dozen steps on his own. 

Four and a half year-old Austin is adept at building all sorts of amazing structures with Duplo blocks - all by himself!

Also while in Austin - and this is almost too much to believe - I had the chance to get together with a dear Iowa friend! After meeting online in 1995 followed by a face-to-face meet-up at the 1996 Des Moines Area Quilter's Guild quilt show, we became fast friends, swapping emails, Skypeing, and retreating together. I last saw Deb in April, 2012, visiting her in Council Bluffs shortly before we moved from Iowa to Florida. Thinking our chances of meeting up again were pretty slim, we've continued to Skype, but happily, because we both have sons living in Austin, we arranged this Thanksgiving vacation meet-up at an Austin coffee shop! It was more than fabulous to spend time with her again. 
Me (L) and Deb at Mozart Coffee Roasters, Austin
At the opposite end of the spectrum, also while in Austin, I had the opportunity for a first face-to-face meet-up with an Instagram quilter! After swapping a couple IG DM's (direct messages), I happily accepted her invitation to meet for coffee. It was especially handy because Mary Anne lives just a few miles from our son. After coffee and wonderful get-acquainted conversation - she used to live in Kansas City where she was involved in the KCMQG, and is the past president of the Austin MQG - we discovered how many mutual quilting friends we have! 

Then she led me to a nearby quilt shop - Valli and Kim Quilt Shop in Dripping Springs. It was wonderful - a modern quilter's paradise! I've never been in a quilt shop with so many modern designer fabrics and collections. 
Mary Anne and me
I was so overwhelmed by all the modern fabric options, I couldn't choose! Fabrics I passed up included: Cotton and Steel; Honor Roll; Terra Australis; Far Far Away; Bumble; Parson Grey; Shimmer; Crossweave; and more, including the biggest selection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics I've ever seen. 

So what I settled on are: (left) a few pieces of Art Gallery "Utopia;" (right) some color library stash builders; (center) one piece of Heather Bailey "True Colors."

Valli and Kim's selections for modern quilters were delightful to touch and see in person. Though, I discovered that I didn't love some of the collections as much as I thought I might. But gosh, how nice will it be to make future visits to Valli and Kim's my son's house in Austin?! All in all, it was a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning - making a new friend, and visiting a quilt shop.

Thinking of this time of Thanksgiving, makes me reflect on how nice it is to spend time with family, and how important friends are. What comes to mind about friendships is the round I learned as a Girl Scout: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold." My silver friend, Deb is my first online and in-person friend. My newest gold friend is Mary Anne. My my recollections, Mary Anne is the fifteenth person I've gotten to know online and later met in person. How cool is that?!

That's why I'm feeling grateful for both the real life friends I made living in Iowa for 22 years, and the new friends I'm making in Florida, and for the additional friendships I've made through technology - friends who comment on my blog posts and Instagram. You're each an important part of my life, and I'm very grateful for you. Thank you!

During the long, 17 hour car ride to/from Austin, English paper piecing was my handwork of choice. I tested several blocks to pick a long-term project. I found this hexagon block on Pinterest and like it because it seems to swirl.

But, I think I'm going to make more of these EPPed Spinning Wheels. I want it to be nice and scrappy, and may even use a variety of text prints for backgrounds. Designed in EQ7, I made an five-inch hexagon (length of one side) with a one-inch hexagon center, and printed them on card stock. It's good that I made test blocks because I found I need to tweak the paper sizes before continuing.

But now that we're home, and back into the busyness of routine activities - the holiday potlucks are lining up! - I'll be sitting at my sewing machines again. December is shaping up to be a month of free motion quilting. Linda

Friday, November 21, 2014

Doing and Undoing

Where is time going?! It seems that just a few days ago these fellas were here. They returned home last Sunday.

As you can see, we visited Legoland. The Florida Legoland is the largest of all the Legoland parks. 

The little boys had talked about it for months (every time I visit them, I take them to the Kansas City Legoland). In spite of our long car ride to Winter Haven, and a five year-old's and 62 year-old's meltdowns, we had a good time. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. 

Tay's favorite thing was watching the "fire department," a performance put on by a crew of six young, acrobatic adults. The antics and comedy were slap-stick - perfect for a five year-old boy.

Aesa watched that show attentively, but told me his favorite activity was riding the big Coastersaurous. He barely made it past the height requirement.

While at our house, Aesa also turned out to be a boccé ball enthusiast, an outdoor activity we enjoyed several times.

After the boys left, and it was a tearful parting, I took my heavy-heart to my sewing room. I began by addressing a problem with my Kaffe Fassett quilt. A few months ago, I pin-basted this 61" X 61" quilt, and had started quilting one of the blocks - the pink block in the lower left corner. (No picture of it quilted.)

With a blue wash-out marker, I had marked a few registration marks that I later spritzed with water, to remove the marks. See what happened? The pink petals fabric bled to the quilt back! I sure don't know what I've done to deserve so much heart-ache with recent marks and bleeding on my quilts!

So my "undoing" was to remove all the quilting I'd put in, and un-pinbaste the whole thing. 

Next I'll be washing the quilt top - it's apparent that the fabric in these blocks (won in a giveaway) were not pre-washed, something I always do. Then, I'll give sandwiching another go, including using a new backing fabric. (sigh)

Other Odds and Ends
I finished my bias tape challenge quilt, including making a label.

This quilt, and "Ad Libbing," have both been officially entered into QuiltCon (February, 2015). The quilt show entry deadline is November 30. Whether these will be accepted into the show or not remains to be seen. In any case, full reveals of both quilts are yet to come.

I've begun making a pin cushion for the December 8 swap at our CentralFloridaMQG meeting.

I also made another Christmas stocking, like these made these in late 2012 when our son and his family still lived in Florida. This past January they became a family of four.

Thank goodness I wrote a blog post about making them, as I needed to reference it to make a stocking like the others! Unfortunately, the free download of the stocking template is no longer available, but I was pleased to find my print-out in my big notebook of Miscellaneous saved freebies. Whew.

What I didn't note is the font I'd used to create the names, so I had to go through about 12,000 of them on my MacBook Pro to find the one that matched. It's Tekton Pro font. LJ's stocking fits nicely into the family.

After a thorough Pinterest search of English paper piecing projects, I've selected a couple designs for away-from-home sewing in the months ahead. I always print and cut my own papers, so prep time is a little more involved. But, I'd like to think I'm being frugal, a German trait that comes naturally to me. I'm using my Sew Together bag for carrying and storing everything. 

Have you seen the EPP Millefiore Quilt Along that's coming up in January? The along is based on Katja Marek's new book The New HexagonIf you love EPP as I do, you'll want to follow her on Instagram to learn more. Linda

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Not Quilting

Well, my bias tape challenge quilt isn't done yet. This is all the further I managed to get on it before grandsons arrived for eight nights - drawing lines around the perimeter to square it up in anticipation of sewing binding to the quilt.

Tay and Aesa are now here from Kansas City. We picked them up in Orlando while their mom attends a conference, and have been finding things to do.

Being full time grandparents is way outside the norm for us. "Demanding" is the word that describes our week. Keeping five and four year-old brothers occupied, separated, and making sure there's complete equality in everything - who gets dressed first; who gets the orange or blue whatever - has been challenging. Who would guess that an argument would ensue over who gets to ride, facing backward, on the four-seater golf cart?! Suffice it to say that I have forgotten (intentionally) how parenting is a full time job.

As we've been finding things to do, one particularly pleasant outing was to Silver Springs in Ocala. I had been there as a child, probably 55 years ago, and still remember it. The place was really something in its heyday. Now it's Silver Springs State Park

Once upon a time it was a bustling tourist attraction. When we were there, about twenty cars were parked in the huge lot meant to hold hundreds of vehicles. This entrance used to queue up long lines of people at five ticket booths. 

Still, it's a beautiful place with huge cypress trees dripping Spanish moss, wildlife, and those iconic glass-bottom boats. The same boats that were built in 1962 are still taking visitors along the Silver River and over the pristine springs. 

Wandering around after our boat ride, we noted empty buildings, pavilions, and shops. It made us feel a little sad to see the changes - the faded grandeur. We concluded that natural beauty just doesn't have the attraction it once did. And we're sure that has impacted Ocala, and all the nearby mom-and-pop motels that are no longer in business.

Anyway, we're finding things to do with the little boys, though we can't decide if we're doing a good job of wearing them out, or visa versa!

Two days before the boys arrived, we had our guest room ceiling painted. I saw this ceiling-painting idea on Houzz, a wonderful resource for home decorating ideas, and immediately loved the idea. The Sherwin-Williams paint color is "Belize," and I couldn't be happier with it.

The empty wall above the bed is for my waiting-to-be-quilted English paper-pieced "Flower Ball" quilt. The piece is appliquéd on a Kona Azure background that nearly matches the ceiling color, so I know it will look great.

I broke down and bought a new rotary mat after noticing that my rotary blade seemed dull until I happened to cut some fabric on a newer mat. The rotary blade was just fine! So, after more than 20 years use, it turns out the old mat was just plain "mushy." Besides, the old Olfa mat was only 23" X 35"; my new Omnigrid mat is 24" X 36". 
Left: new Omnigrid mat; Right: old Olfa mat
Online shopping turned up the best deal through, surprisingly, The mat was only $31, so with a $2.99 coupon for shipping, it turned out to be quite a bargain. While I was at it, and the deal on shipping was too good to pass up, I also bought a 6-1/2" X 24" Olfa rotary ruler, and a June Tailor Quilter's Cut and Press 1. Yep, I'd worn out those tools too. After a couple decades of quiltmaking, that happens. Do you know how long it's been since you bought your basic quiltmaking tools? Linda


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