Monday, October 16, 2017

Blogging and Miscellaneous

One of the reasons I'm posting today is to say how grateful I am for Blogger (  the online program that started on August 23, 1999. It turned everyone in the quilting world into my next door neighbor! I can't begin to count the people I've come to know through blogging since I began my own blog in January 2009. At one time, I was following and commenting on more than 80 blogs. Sadly for me, many of those bloggers are no longer posting, likely because of the prevalence and expediency of Facebook and Instagram.

To date, I've written 876 Blogger blog posts. According to Bloglovin', I have 476 followers.

Though I have no doubt I've written 876 blog posts (Each year I have a years worth of blog posts printed into a hard cover book.), I am skeptical that I have that many followers. For one thing, I never receive the quantity of comments that come close to making me believe that's an accurate number!

But for me, the good news is that people who follow my blog and do comment, have become friends. I reply to their comments, and that often prompts a conversation.

Those I have come to know through the emails we exchange (and in some cases, with whom I Skype) are people that I would feel comfortable asking to meet-up with me sometime... when I visit their area of the country, their community, or a quilt show. Likewise, I think they'd feel as comfortable letting me know when they're in my area.

My point in mentioning all this is that I've come to depend on virtual friends when I need an opinion, or a second opinion on a project.

Over the weekend, Paige ( and I swapped several emails about our respective MQG guilds' quilt challenges. Neither of us can publicly share because there's a big reveal at an upcoming guild meeting. At least for me it's been helpful to have another quilter's eyes on my work, especially because I was struggling. In my case, I pieced a top and then was stumped for quilting ideas! Ha! Paige came through with a drawing of her suggestions, and they were most helpful! Thank you so much, my friend!

After now admitting that I sometimes struggle to come up with quilting designs, in the next breath I'll say that it is true that I am a domestic machine quilting instructor! My fortĂ© is in implementation.

On Saturday, at the Eisenhower Rec Center here in The Villages, I taught domestic machine quilting to 20 quilters from Quilting Guild of The Villages.

This is the third full class (20 students) I've taught in the past three months! From my perspective the classes keep getting better and better. The students impress me with how savvy they are about quilting and what they want to know, and I've gotten better at sharing essential information.
My friend, Patt
My friend Becky who is also a neighbor and pattern-tester for my "Florida" quilt.
I learned something in this workshop too! Kim (formerly from Des Moines, Iowa) shared that she bought her Bernina Aurora 440 (exactly like mine), from the Quilt Block in West Des Moines. Small world. And, she showed how she improved her Bernina knee lift. She put an 8"-long pool noodle over the gray handle of the knee lift and zip-tied it in place. The extra "puff" adds stability, and makes the knee lift a little closer to her right knee. Such a genius idea!

For the Wayward Transparency Quilt-along being led by Yvonne (QuiltingJetGirl), I think I've settled on these three solids - dark, medium, and light values of orange. The test to determine if the contrast is strong enough, is changing the color photo to black and white. 

Mine barely passes the test. We're supposed to be cutting into fabrics now, but if I can work out a better combo with greater contract, I'll go for it.

Not quite two weeks ago, a Walmart Neighborhood Market - means it's a grocery store and pharmacy/personal care store only - opened about a mile from our house. It's so handy, and golf cart assessable! Our area has sure changed in the past 5-1/2 years. I took this photo because I like the Walmart bicycle rack.

I have been worshipping all summer at Lutheran Church of Hope online in West Des Moines. I miss my home church, and for the time being, had given up on finding a church in this area. Well, at Bible study last Friday morning - we're doing Priscilla Shrier's seven-week study called Armor of God - the woman who sat next to me told me about her Lutheran church. It's Missouri Synod, so it's one that never appeared on my radar. However, on Sunday morning we attended Amazing Grace and were pleased. Not only was the service nice, with an appropriate focus on "grace" as part of a sermon series on the Reformation (Martin Luther), but we were (surprisingly) welcomed at the communion table! I'm being prayerful.

Today I've also prayed for two special quilting friends who asked me to do so! Debbie (aQuiltersTable) and Paige (QuiltedBlooms) have both been invited to speak on Pat Sloan's AllPeopleQuilt podcast at 4 pm Eastern time today. They're each a little anxious about how they'll do, and want to sound coherent for the 12 minutes they speak! I hope you'll listen-in live, or catch them on the podcast. These are two very talented quilters who have good information to share. Linda

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spiders, and Leaders and Enders

I think leaders and enders is a fairly commonly-used term among quilters.

Bonnie Hunter of is credited for coining the term that's used to explain how to piece together fabrics, using a quarter-inch seam, in between other sewing. She even wrote books about it! Adventures with Leaders and Enders, and More Adventures with Leaders and Enders.

The idea is that while you're sewing at the machine, you don't let any unsewn thread go to waste, or let it get caught in a thread nest on the underside of fabric.

If there's always a piece of fabric in the sewing machine, those threads don't make trouble. Back in the 1980s I learned to sew over a scrap of fabric, over and over again, to ensure all the threads were engaged. It's called a "thread spider" because of the way it looks. (Internet photo.)

Bonnie taught us that instead of wasting thread on a spider that didn't serve any purpose, we should be piecing another quilt!

  • leaders - the little bit of piecing you start with before sewing the primary project you're working on, and 
  • enders - the little bit of piecing you shove in at the end of your primary project. 
Doesn't knowing you can make a "free" quilt make you feel frugal?! 

Since beginning to sew leaders and enders in October 2011, between my own scraps and those of friends, I've been well-supplied. Most quilters don't keep fabric bits smaller than 2" X 2". My size limit is 1-1/2" X 1-1/2", so it's no surprise that friends are happy to pass their smallest scraps to me.

Thus far, I've made more than 200 16-patch blocks that measure 4-1/2" X 4-1/2" unfinished. Last year I gave 115 of them to Big Cypress Quilters who turned them into quilts for Project Linus. This is one of the tops that was sewn by two quilters who donated the finished quilt.

Now I've accumulated another 80-plus 16-patches and have been wondering how I'll use them.

Then I read this blog post with a picture of a little quilt called "Palmateer Point," learned it was made with 2" squares, and decided to work-up the design with my 1-1/2" squares.

So I took some of my 16-patches,

and some 4-patches that hadn't yet been sewn into 16-patches,

used the Magic 8 Method Craftsy tutorial to make 2-1/2" unfinished half-square triangles using Kona White and Sunflower Grunge by Basic Grey,

and put together this 8-1/2" high X 20-1/2" wide sample. I like it!

Perhaps once this row is complete - I'm aiming for 60" wide - I'll change the half-square triangle colors. Maybe white with orange. đź‘Ť You know I like bright!

And, don't you agree that it's good to get in the habit of sewing leaders and enders? I'm looking forward to the long-term piecing this will take, in between other sewing projects.

And I have been sewing! I'm just not able to share the new project I'm excited about. It's for the Central Florida MQG Challenge which is due November 13. As always, each quilter's challenge piece is to be kept on the down-low so members can blindly choose their favorite at our November meeting. For this challenge, the only guideline is to choose a colors or an element from a non-quilting magazine - between pages 48-52 - that inspires a quilt, of any size!

Also, five of us have been working on the next QuiltCon Charity Quilt that we're sending to Pasadena, California in February 2018. That big quilt deserves a blog post of it's own. Linda

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hangin' With CrazyMomQuilts

Amanda Jean Nyberg from Minnesota, who blogs and Instagrams as CrazyMomQuilts was in The Villages on Sunday and Monday. A group of us from the Central Florida MQG executive committee, and committee chairs, went to dinner together at the Mallory Hills Country Club.

These gals are some of my best friends in The Villages: Dee; Karen (formerly from Iowa); Amanda Jean; Debbie; Cindy; Jane; and Cathy. I'm on the far right.

We learned what a personable, lovely, and talented quilter Amanda Jean is. We like her, and we're pretty sure she liked us too! Karen drove to and from dinner in the golf cart so Amanda Jean could have that fun Villages experience.

All day Monday, October 2, I was in Amanda Jean's "Spin" workshop. Our group met at the newest rec center - Moyer Rec Center - to choose and start making a scrap quilt from Amanda Jean's book No Scrap Left Behind. In this picture, she posed with my "Ring Me" blocks that I'm piecing from a huge bag of solid scraps.

I'm thinking to make these 7"-inch blocks two ways - in cool and warm colors. But her version with all the colors mixed up is great too. See below. This photo is from our Central Florida MQG meeting on Monday evening. To read all about Amanda Jean's visit to our chapter, go here. 

By the way, I have to say that I loved Amanda Jean's Washi dress. She's made five of them now, from different fabrics - this one was double gauze. Seeing it on her and hearing how comfortable she says it is, I might have to make one for myself.

After seeing all the quilts from Amanda Jean's book at our meeting, members who have made Amanda Jean-inspired projects were invited to show them. These are what I've made:

A couple works-in-progress (WIP) bags

Two 12" x 12" ticker tape on canvas pieces that hang in our bathroom. Tutorial here.

Making those for the wall inspired what I did to a plain white desk that's now my "War Desk" (after seeing the movie "War Room.")

Amanda Jean inspired me to save fabric strips - she calls it "fabric yarn" to crochet a rug. I chose to make mine oval-shaped. A rectangle-shaped tutorial is here. I'm current saving and sewing strips together to crochet another one.

Over the summer of 2015, Amanda Jean hosted a quilt along to make a Scrap Vortex Quilt. I absolutely love this 90" X 92" quilt which is stored in the top of my closet because I don't have a place to use it! :-(

Lastly, my "Slopes" quilt from Amanda Jean's book is a WIP. She made hers with solids. I'm using prints. I've had to stop working on it because I've run too low on print scraps to keep the color rows going! Are you as reluctant as me to cut into yardage to "make" scraps?

I have to add that it was a real treat to finally meet Amanda Jean in person! We have mutual friends - MadeByA Brunette, RenĂ©Creates, LiveAColorfulLife, among others - and I've been following her blog since 2010 or so. I felt like I already know her! If we lived any nearer to each other - and if she had the time! - I'd sure try to spend time quiltmaking with her. I'm a big fan of her scrappy style.

Oh, and one more thing that happened on Monday... during the workshop, a roving broadcaster from WVLG radio in The Villages, came in to ask about doing a live, on-air interview about what we were doing at Moyer Rec Center.
This is the WVLG radio station at Lake Sumter Landing.
Of course I obliged! He and I went into the kitchen of the Moyer Rec Center for the interview. He introduced me, said where I moved from, what village I live in, and how long I've been quilting.... Eek! Since 1975! Then he asked about modern quilting - what makes it different (That's always the first question about modern and it's tough to answer because modern isn't completely defined, and is so subjective!), and the sewing machine I was using. Wouldn't you know that this was the workshop where I decided to use my antique black Featherweight!

On a more somber note, I can't not mention my sadness and disbelief of the shooting of 59 innocent people outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. You'd think I'd be removed from it here in Florida, but then I learned that Michele, my friend and former editor at American Quilter magazine (AQS) who is now a professor in Illinois, was in the crowd during the Route 91 Harvest Festival country music concert. She posted this photo on her Instagram account...
... and wrote:
*GRAPHIC* These are the new shoes I bought in Las Vegas to wear on the final night of the Route 91 Harvest festival. I’ve left them behind, hoping they hold the memories I don’t want to carry with me. Too many bodies, too much blood, and I still feel like a remote viewer. I thought it was fireworks until the girl next to me was covered in blood and I felt a burning sting on the top of my thigh. The bullet broke skin but did not lodge because it didn’t have enough velocity—that girl caught the worst of it. My mind keeps wondering if she made it out alive; I pray that she did because unlike me, she wasn’t old enough to have really lived yet. đź’” #rt91harvest
Like most of you, I am grieving for the people who lost their lives, the families they left behind, and the senselessness of this insane and cruel act. It's difficult to accept that we'll never know why. We must keep praying. Linda

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Retreat Action

A whole week-long quilt retreat is time for some major productivity! And that's exactly what happened when six of us set up sewing machines and got to work.

We stayed on the fourth floor of a six-story condo in a lovely Kissimmee resort. Disney World isn't far away, so every evening we could see and hear fireworks from one attraction or another.

Though there were six quilters on our retreat, not all six of us were together at the same time. At the most we had five quilters sewing in the living room. Then, for several days it was just four of us.

Throughout the week, the camaraderie and conversation was amiable. We ate healthy meals, enjoyed good snacks, and watched movies!

Australia - Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman
Florence Foster Jenkins - Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant
The Brave One - Jodie Foster
The Dressmaker - Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth
The Lake House - Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves
The Light Between Oceans - Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander
Unfaithful - Diane Lane and Richard Gere
War Room - Priscilla Shrier

I have a difficult time picking a favorite, but I'll say that "Australia" is very special. After watching it at least five times, it never disappoints.

I had three complete finishes, finished a quilt top, made good progress on my LindaNova English paper-piecing project, and did a fair bit of machine and hand quilting on Urban Trek.

I made this Bowties quilt, a free pattern from the Moda Bakeshop site.

I pieced it in baby boy colors, in a baby boy size: 35-1/2" X 46-1/2". 

Bowties is made entirely with a tumbler template. Though the paper template can be printed with the pattern, I cut out the fabrics using a lucite tumbler shape that had already been used to make this "So What's Your Point?" quilt back in 2001. What's old is new again, isn't it?

To pin baste, I cleaned the master bathroom floor, and got down on my hands and knees. I'm glad the quilt wasn't any bigger! 

I used my Bernina Aurora 440 to free motion quilt circles in the center of each bow tie. Then, with the Bernina #72 ruler work foot and a straight Fine Line Ruler (by Accents in Design), I quilted lines in the bow ties.

When the bow ties were done, I added FMQ waves - I think they look like bed springs -  in the Kona Silver background. Simple quilting that will do for a child.

Binding is Moda Bella in the color Little Boy Blue. Too perfect! Backing fabric is Zen Chic.

This Octagonal Orb block (free pattern here) has been an orphan for several years. I quilted it using Westalee Sew Steady Circles on Quilts Template Set 1.

I sewed it into an envelope-backed pillow that will be stuffed with an 18" square pillow form.
This 24" X 24" Cross Check Mini Quilt is a free pattern from the modern quilt TV show "Fresh Quilting" by Yvonne Fuchs - QuiltingJet Girl. She explained transparency in a segment of season 2, episode 6, and offered the Cross Check Mini Quilt pattern with that episode. (You need to be a member of the Modern Quilt Guild to view these links.)

Quilting one spiral design is all this quilt needed. If you haven't tried spiral quilting, here's a link to my tips and tutorial for successful spiral quilting.

Moving forward on a WIP (work in progress), I foundation paper-pieced four more blocks to make a total of 16 blocks for a "Rainbow Rounds" quilt.

I now have a 58" x 58" quilt top that needs backing and quilting. 

Rainbow Rounds is a pattern by Jo Avery (MyBearPaw of Edinburgh, Scotland) that appeared in Love Quilting magazine. The magazine named the design Rainbow Rounds, but Jo (who I had the pleasure of meeting in person earlier this year at QuiltCon!) calls it Bufferwheel.

So much sewing and quilting and movie and friends time! I also played my ukulele, briefly, on two occasions, and power walked twice. Suffice it to say that it was wonderful! And it's nice to be home and back in my cozy sewing room too. No doubt there's more sewing time ahead. Linda

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pre-Retreat Action

Little piles of what to take along on a week-long quilt retreat are making appearances in various locations throughout our house. The most important two piles are these...

Everything for sustenance.

And the wherewithal for creative productivity.

Seven projects. Think that's enough?

I had eight, but the kits I put together to make the Dog Gone Cute blocks were perfect for last evening's sewing pastime.  These four blocks are for my blogger-friend Karen (some of you may know her as KaHolly) who is celebrating her birthday today. Happy birthday Karen!

As her "present," Karen asked for any of the eight different dog blocks that are freebies here, from SewFreshQuilts. I picked number five and six and made each one twice. The smaller blocks are 9"H X 6"W and the larger ones are 12"H X 18"W. 

Karen's collecting them to make into a quilt or two to give to Second Chance Farms, an animal rescue facility in Granbury, Texas that accepted pets following Hurricane Harvey. She expects the quilts to be used as a fundraiser. 

Hogan gives his approval. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Half-a-Dozen Projects After Irma

Though Irma came through our area as a category 1 hurricane, and by the time she reached us the eye was breaking up, we still felt the 70-80 mph winds of the eye wall. Lots of palms were "trimmed" in the process. We've been seeing lots of this - downed palm fronds.

It will be several weeks until the piles of debris have been picked up. 

In my sewing room, it's business as usual. During the past six days I've had my hands on a half-dozen different projects.

This is everything receiving attention lately.

I've completed the first and second rounds of the Bernina Zen Chic Triangle Quilt Along. It's a good along because I can work from my stash and the pace is very slow. Triangles are all 60-degrees.
Bernina Zen Chic QAL - first set of triangles
Bernina Zen Chic QAL - second set of triangles
I've been playing with a couple of new-to-me rulers. This one is the four-inch Triangle in Square ruler by Bloc Loc

The other is the Classic Curves ruler by Color Girl Quilts

Combining the shapes each ruler creates into a cohesive quilt design is going slowly. Right now, it's a mishmash of solids in all colors. It will be a work in progress for a while.

LindaNova is coming along slowly... more and more slowly as it's now 30" in diameter. 

I've been choosing and prepping fabrics for the next rounds that I'll continue to make in a combination of prints and solids.

I've cut out a baby quilt that's a freebie pattern from the Moda Bake Shop.

Urban Trek, a quilt top finished in May has been pin-basted. I'm looking forward to quilting it, as after watching season two of Fresh Quilting TV, I've been inspired (episodes 6 and 7)! Now I know exactly what I want to quilt - a combination of grid-based FMQ, and big stitch hand quilting with perle cotton. 

I've also cut out fabrics to make four Dog Gone Cute blocks. You see, my long-time blogger-friend Karen (KaHolly) has asked for these blocks for her birthday this Wednesday, September 20. She'll accept blocks into November, but wants to make them into quilts to give to Second Chance Farms, a pet animal rescue facility in Granbury, Texas that stepped up to accept pets during Hurricane Harvey.

If you're interested in helping out, read more here on Karen's blog post

All this sewing room time has been to prepare for an upcoming quilt retreat. If you've been on a retreat, you know how that goes. It takes planning ahead to have the fabrics, supplies, and tools ready for several days of non-stop sewing. And in this case, retreat is a whole week! Yep, seven days and seven nights! I'm pilin' on the projects so as not to waste a single moment of uninterrupted sewing days that lie ahead. Me and five friends are gonna get to know each other really well! 

And surprise of surprises, I've been in the kitchen too. It's Dan who's cooking the meals, but I've begun contributing by baking bread. We both like sourdough, so I made and nurtured a starter. This is the second pair of twin loaves I've baked. 

The texture is perfect, but the sourdough flavor hasn't fully developed. The starter needs more aging. I'll keep working on it.

I don't think there's any need to explain this cartoon, but her name is Maria.

During my morning prayer time, it came to my awareness that the names of our recent hurricanes spell something special - H.I.M. Think He's trying to point us to someone? Linda


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