Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Right Stuff

Lately I've been in a non-sewing mode - and mood! All I want to do is play/practice my ukulele (!), and on an occasional evening, crochet in front of the TV.

Ukulele music doesn't lend itself to visual options for blogging, but I can point you to a song that I've become completely obsessed over! "I Lava You" is a darling tune from the Disney Pixar short Lava. My uke friend, Sarah, told me about it, and since seeing it on YouTube I've been watching it repeatedly to learn the uke chords and lyrics. I adore it! Sarah and I are talking about working it up as a duet to play and sing at our Ukulele Players Club.

As for crocheting, I've worked out the counting issue I was having with the Moorland afghan, and have a steady rhythm for it now. I can't wait to introduce some of the other colors in the pattern - dark teal, orange, and yellow.

My Central Florida MQG solids challenge project is finished, but I can't share anything until the May 8 reveal and Viewer's Choice at the meeting. And because I haven't touched my scrappy prints Slopes project since my last blog post, I have only a little free motion quilting as proof of being at a sewing machine.

For weeks I looked at this box in our bathroom. It's Member's Mark facial tissues from Sam's Club.

Once it was empty, I carried it to my sewing room to fulfill my strong urge to copy the design in quilting.

I used a lovely piece of Quilter's Dream Pink (80/20) batting, and chose navy solid fabric to contrast with white Aurifil 50-weight thread for quilting. I first used an arc ruler to quilt the clamshells. Then I went back to freehand quilt different fill-in designs.

In hindsight, it would have been better to quilt a half-circle rather than these arcs. The broader slope of a circle would have allowed for more filler options.

Celina's senior pictures all came out so beautifully that it's difficult to narrow down which few to share. She has grown up since we met her as an eight year-old. And isn't she a beauty?!
Celina and Milson

Celina made her first quilt during one of my visits to Sydney. It warms my heart to know she wanted it in a picture.


Also in the past week...
My Dad was in the hospital, is out now and doing well.
I've seen a cardiac electrophysiologist to consult on the drug I've been using for PVCs (premature ventricular complexes); I'm now on metoprolol, a beta blocker.
I've have picked up the frequency of exercise. Now I line dance four hours a week; walk for 40-45 minutes; and participate in weekly dance aerobics.
I continue to daily make and drink 8 to 10 ounces of fresh-pressed vegetable juice. So does Dan.
It's the right stuff, just not much quilting. Linda

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Smatterings

Lately it's been a smattering of this and that, though most of the "this" has been cutting up prints from my scrap bins. I'm sewing strips and cutting squares to make "Slopes" from CrazyMomQuilt's book, "No Scraps Left Behind."

Amanda Jean made her version from solids, I've been concerned how the arrangement might translate into prints. What do you think?

I'm pretty sure I like it, though I still have options for making changing. I'd like to have all the rainbow colors included, but I don't have many reds, blues, and purples as scraps. I'll cut into yardages if need be. No big surprise, but I have the most scraps of aqua!

Because I needed it, I made a shoulder strap for my ukulele. While it isn't much of a problem to sit down to hold and play the uke, it's quite another challenge to stand and properly support it. So... 

After a review of online how-tos, I realized I had everything I needed here at home to make a strap: a 3M hook (affixed to the bottom end of the uke); fabric (of course, I chose the print that matches my ukulele case); fusible fleece; ribbon; and a button.

If anyone is interested in a tutorial for this, please say so. I'm sure it could be applied to making a guitar strap too.

Last Saturday I finished listening to the eighth and last book of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. In June 2016, I began listening to the series again (for the third time) so it's taken me ten months to hear all eight books! Wow! Diana is such an incredible writer... I can't fathom how much research and time she has spent writing these huge tomes! But I am most assuredly one of her biggest fans. As well, I'm a fan of the audio book-reader Davina Porter who does the voices and accents so beautifully that you can easily imagine the characters conversing.

I can't recommend this series highly enough! Look for the books in this order:

Outlander (published 1991)
Dragonfly in Amber
Voyager
Drums of Autumn
Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Written in My Own Heart's Blood (published 2014)


My quilty friend, Becky, has tested my Florida Quilt pattern, and finished her quilt. I really appreciate the time and effort she made, foregoing her usual projects, to complete this quilt. Thank you, Becky!

On Monday we went to nearby Sumter Landing to find places to photograph both my quilt and hers. One of the pictures will be the pattern cover.

To show quilting that's not free motion quilting, Becky used a walking foot on her Bernina 440, and the serpentine stitch. I like the way the "water currents" change directions.

I still think this is the perfect backing fabric. It's "State Cotton" by Windham Fabrics.

While we were taking quilt pictures at several sites, a photographer with Villages-News.com came by to inquire as to what we were doing... and then he took our picture which was published online this morning! 
 Linda

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Usual

The usual activities are: practicing my ukulele, line dancing, walking, trying a new-to-me class called "Dance Workout" (still need to do rigorous exercise to keep my leg arteries flowing), giving a color presentation to 35 quilters who attended our Central Florida MQG meeting, sewing with Big Cypress Quilters, puttering in my sewing room, and online shopping.

On April 3 I came across a Macy's 24-hour online sale of household items - 40% off! Since I've been wanting to replace our tired and missing-a-few-pieces burgundy stoneware, I couldn't pass up the chance to get Fiestaware for a great price! I ordered plates and bowls for ten, and serving platters and serving bowls from open stock. The bundled place settings included either a mug or coffee cups, something I already have in abundance. Besides, I wanted a variety of colors. I got 'em!

Except for two pieces I chose in cobalt blue that are a little on the dark side, I'm all heart-eyes over these. I even wish I'd chosen a couple more pieces in the bright colors of poppy and shamrock... a reason to add more pieces later.

The order came in four separate deliveries. Due to two seagrass-colored sandwich plates being placed inside one bowl, I found both plates broken. Macy's is sending two replacements.

Last Saturday night, Celina, our 18 year-old granddaughter, went to Senior Prom with a group of girls. She's grown up, and looked so pretty in her gown. Six year-old Aesa presented her with a corsage. Good practice for what's ahead for him in another decade or so.


Some of you who have known me, and read my blog for a long time will remember when Celina joined our family in 2007 at the age of eight. Here's a throwback post to when Celina was little and they lived in Australia.

Celina will graduate from a Kansas City high school in May. I made this 14" X 14" pillow to gift her because she likes hedgehogs. Hazel Hedgehog is a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. Given that I had to cut out, sew, and trim that face wrongly three times - one of those days where I couldn't get anything right - I think Hazel turned out pretty good. The addition of the glasses makes her look studiously appropriate for a Colorado State college-bound girl - green is a school color. Quilted clamshells were stitched with Wonderful Invisifil thread following half round guidelines I drew around a circular ruler.

I'm still unable to share the small, solids quilt I'm making for the Central Florida MQG challenge, but I can show the puttering I'm doing on something else. I'm cutting up scraps in preparation for making "Slopes" from Amanda Jean Nyberg's (CrazyMomQuilts) new book No Scrap Left Behind. Yep, I'm gonna try making it from prints rather than solids. I'm pulling out each of my color-sorted scrap bins to cut pieces for that quilt, and to add to my scrappy piles of 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares, and 2-1/2" X 2-1/2" squares. It's the sort of mindless sewing room activity that's a nice break from thinking too much! ๐Ÿ˜€

Another Hogan update: he continues to do well, though he has gained weight. We're trying to cut back, so besides dog food, we're giving him more low-cal food like fresh-cooked carrots and green beans, both of which he adores. Otherwise, we're forced to respond to his barking demands for food with a firm "no." It breaks my heart. And sadly, in the past few weeks we've noticed that he seems to be losing his hearing. He no longer runs to the door when the doorbell chimes, or the garage door opens. A friend asked me if Hogan enjoys my ukulele-playing, and I had to say, "I doubt it." Still, he's often my sewing room companion, which is also where I also practice uke. He can usually be found right there on the bench (batting is stored inside it) in the bay window.

I really appreciate having an attentive friend and companion with whom to share the usual. Linda

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bars Quilt With "Ick"

The winner of my giveaway of Printed Treasures from JHittleSewing is Dar at DarsPatchworkGarden.blogspot.com Yay, Dar!

Thank you, everyone who commented! I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts and methods about making quilt labels. Many of you had good suggestions and information to share.

Today I have a finish. It's my Bars Quilt started during a February workshop with Tara Faughnan at QuiltCon. The half-day class was "Playing With Solids," and certainly satisfied my current interest in making quilts with solid colors. This is an area of quiltmaking I haven't yet explored in my 30-plus years of quilting! I'm discovering that I really like working with solids, and with so many brands and colors of solids available, making solids my focus during 2017 is really enjoyable.

What I learned as the workshop progressed is that I didn't have a good color assortment. Though I'd prepped 34 different colors of 5"-wide strips for the workshop, it soon became apparent that my color palette is heavy on bright colors like orange, yellow, aqua, lime. I needed to broaden my color palette to include dark blues, dark greens, dark reds, and - at Tara's suggestion - ochre! The latter is a color I wouldn't have thought to ever include in a quilt, but I was able to find all these missing colors while at QuiltCon. I bought Painter's Palette solids which was one of the few solids available from a QuiltCon vendor as yardage.

The addition of navy, burgundy, and forest, and ochre helps make my quilt successful.

By the way, that Painter's Palette fabric is nice stuff! The hand is great. I won't hesitate to buy it again.

I also have to tell you that toward the end of the workshop, I realized I hadn't chosen to include brown in any of the color pairs I'd selected. When another student asked Tara if it was okay to not include a color because "I don't like it," she said, "Yes, it's okay to have an 'ick' color." Good to know.

I quilted Bars on my Janome 1600P. Batting is Quilter's Dream Pink (the batting with a percentage of sales going to support breast cancer research). Extra fun was getting to try out Sew Steady Ruler Foot Echo Guides. Slip a guide onto a ruler foot to echo a certain distance from previous quilting lines. For only $10, you get three widths of these disks: 1/2", 3/4", and 1".
 
My echo guides came from RedThreadStudio at QuiltCon, but they aren't listed on the website. ๐Ÿ˜•

Quilting patterns are varied. I just made sure that each row of quilting was different than the row above or below it, alternating between curvy and straight-ish quilting. All threads used in the piecing and quilting are Aurifil 50-weight.

For binding, I couldn't settle on one color, so I used four! With my No-Tails Binding: Mitered Corners By Machine method, I could easily sew a different color to each of the four sides. There's that now-obligatory ochre again!

I love where I live!
Bars Quilt - 61" X 76"
And how did I back my quilt? When I was trying to decide if I had a piece of fabric large enough for backing, Tara's comment came back to me: "It's okay to have an 'ick' color." I thought, why not use my icky brown stash on the quilt back? And I decided that stating how much I dislike brown in my quilts - at least on the front of my quilts - would be even better.

I can't tell you how pleased I am with this quilt back! It literally says it all. I pieced the word using "Word Play Quilts" by Tonya Ricucci. It's one of the dozen or so quilting books I kept when we moved to Florida. I've used it several times since living here, so it's a book I won't soon part with.

If you're in the area, you might like to know that I'll be sharing and talking about this quilt at our Monday evening (April 10) Central Florida MQG meeting as I give a little talk called, "What I Learned About Color at QuiltCon." Please come! A visitor may attend one chapter meeting at no charge. Linda

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Quilt Label Tutorial and Giveaway

After the #IGQuiltFest on Instagram, and one of the day's postings was about quilt labels, my friend Paige of QuiltedBlooms and I decided to both write tutorials - they're different from one another - about how we make quilt labels.

(I had only a moment to meet Paige in person at QuiltCon and say congratulation on the two ribbons she won! See those beautiful quilts: "Mustard Stains" here and "Cursive" here.) 

I use my MacBook Pages software to design quilt labels. If you're a PC-user, you can design with Microsoft Word or Publisher.

I print labels on inkjet printable fabric called Printed Treasures, purchased from JHittleSewing who is the sponsor of my giveaway. JHittleSewing is where I purchase many of my quilting and sewing supplies and notions - from thread to zippers, rotary cutter blades to safety pins, and more. You name it, and JHittleSewing has it.

A package of five 8-1/2" X 11" paper-backed fabric pages is $14.51. Because Printed Treasures is fed through a printer, it's less wasteful to design and print multiple labels at one time. If you were to design and print only one label, you'd end up with a remaining partial page that's nearly impossible to feed through the printer a second time.

All kinds of information can be included on a label. Here's what I think is important:
  • Quilt name
  • Quilt dimensions - I've learned from entering quilts into shows that it's helpful to have that information handy when completing an entry form, and if it's needed for your Guild's show and tell communications
  • Quilt recipient's name (if it's a gift)
  • Why the quilt was made - Was it a wedding, birth, or anniversary gift? Was it made during a workshop? Elaborate! In the case of a baby's birth quilt, include the birth date, weight, height.
  • My whole name,  first, maiden (or middle), and last
  • Quilter's name, if the two are different!
  • Machine(s) used - Since I quilt all my own quilts, I include specific information about which sewing machine I used for quilting.
  • Location - My city and state
  • Date - The month and year the quilt was completed.
  • Optional additions: An icon or two. I always include two that are specific to me: a palm tree and Christian cross; a border; a photo; and occasionally I'll even write a poem.
Think about future generations looking at your quilt, and what they want to know about it when you are no longer around to tell them.

After the fun part of creating labels, print the design onto a sheet of regular paper. This is to:
1) decide if the chosen colors are appropriate and read-able
2) review the accuracy of the information
3) check spelling
4) verify that the arrangement of the labels allows for trimming 3/8" to 1/2" from the border or text.

Then, position Printed Treasures in the tray with the fabric side down (This is the position for my Canon MX870 inkjet printer.) and print. 

Prepare for trimming.

Cut 3/8" from all four sides of a label. If your label has a border, it's easy to measure.



Next, remove the paper from the back of each label.

Then, to completely set the printer ink, put the labels into a sink of water. Yes, the fabric curls up like that on its own.

After a bit of sloshing, remove the labels and allow them to air-dry on a towel.

When they're dry, press them with a press cloth like a handkerchief, or another piece of fabric. Without a press cloth, I've found that if my iron is too hot, the label sticks to the soleplate.

Now you have the option of adding fabric borders, or just turning under the edges of the Printed Treasures. I prefer to add fabric borders because the fabric is a little easier to hand sew to the quilt back, versus the thicker rubberiness of the Printed Treasures. 

Whichever you prefer to do, turn under a 1/4" to 3/8" seam on the label's outside edges and press. Use a regular needle and sewing thread, and a blind stitch to hand-sew the label to the quilt back...

... usually on the bottom right corner, as you're looking at your quilt back.

Now for that giveaway from J. Hittle Sewing. Mr. Hittle himself will send one package of five sheets of Printed Treasures (a $14.51 value, plus shipping) to one winner.
  1. Comment to tell me your quilt label-making habit. Do you make labels? What information do you like to include? Do you have a favorite method?
  2. Be sure I have a way to contact you if you win. NOTE: If you're a "no-reply" commenter, be sure to include an email address so I can contact you.
  3. USA addresses only. So sorry, international friends!
  4. This giveaway is open through Friday, April 7.
After you've commented, be sure to stop by Paige's Quilted Blooms blog to learn how she makes her quilt labels.

And then visit Yvonne's blog QuiltingJetGirl. I'm linking this post to Yvonne's "Tuesday Tips and Tutorials" where you can find lots more quilty-good information. Linda
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