Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pillow That Selvage!

On Friday my friend Michelle came over for another sewing day. We continued working on our selvage projects, agreeing to make 20" pillows from four "Homeward Bound" blocks from the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.

I sewed on my Pfaff Grand Quilter, attempting to chain piece selvages directly from my selvage box onto fabric foundations. It worked... sorta.

Michelle sewed on my Bernina 830. She was a little pickier choosing selvages because she wanted colors to coordinate with her new living room sofa.

Isn't Michelle's block gorgeous!? It's even prettier in person. She took the time to make sure the background fabric stripes were arranged in a balanced pattern. Very well done.
Michelle's 20" X 20" Sawtooth Star block

Without color limitations for my own block, I just sewed whatever my hands happened to touch. As you can see, when the Homeward Bound four-patch block was joined to three other Homeward Bound blocks, a Sawtooth Star formed.

By end-of-day, I had a pillow finish complete with a corded edge and an envelope back. I have to say, I love it. 

It was especially enjoyable to make it alongside a friend. Now that we've gotten our feet wet - sew to speak - we're planning our next, larger, quilt project. Oh boy! Linda

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival

The bi-annual Bloggers' Quilt Festival for Fall, 2011, runs from  October 28 and through November 4. The event is a reason to share and talk about a favorite quilt, even if it's one that's been seen chatted up in a previous blog post.

I'm taking this opportunity to talk again about "Snowflake Medallion" a quilt I finished in June of this year. It's very special to me, for several reasons.

Photo by Craig Anderson Photography
"Snowflake Medallion" is a pattern I purchased while in Australia, visiting our daughter who at the time lived in Sydney. I adore Sydney, and actually know it better than I know our capital city! If I ever win the lottery, this is where you'll find me... permanently.

In May of 2009, Dan and I flew from Sydney to Melbourne. We rented a car, and I'm the one who drove us around Victoria for seven days since left-side-of-the-road driving was more than he could handle. We stopped at several quilt shops, but mostly ogled the beauty of Australia's southern coast. It's simply astounding. Whenever I close my eyes to recollect a favorite view, I envision the beautiful day when we were blessed to see the "Twelve Apostles." Much like the overwhelming majesty of the US Grand Canyon, Australia's coastline is the most ruggedly beautiful scenery I've seen. (Doubtful Sound on the south island of New Zealand is another.)

We spent a night in Ballarat, Victoria. That's when I visited Ballarat Patchwork and met the young proprietor, Emma. Her shop is filled with modern fabrics and bright, fresh quilt designs that, at the time, were quite new to me. One of her quilts captured my attention: "Snowflake Medallion." It's the pattern I returned home with, determined to make.
Emma's "Snowflake Medallion"
Fabrics for my Snowflake were purchased here in Des Moines, but in my mind it's still a 100 percent Aussie quilt. Another reason that Snowflake is a favorite quilt is that I hand-appliqued mine while my Sydney friend, Di, was doing the same with her own Snowflake Medallion quilt. She's also the clever person who came up with an ingenious method for hand-appliqueing teeny, precise 1 mm circles, using sequins as "templates"!

After completing the 78" X 78" quilt top, I pin-basted it, and let it languish for a year before I finally put my mind to quilting it. Quilting isn't my favorite thing to do. That's not because I can't do it, but because I always struggle with what to quilt. Designing quilt patterns isn't my forte. Still, I put my best efforts into Snowflake, at one point using a pizza pan as a template for the large, scalloped feather circle feature in the center of the quilt. Many hours were spent, sit-down free motion machine quilting to make this quilt as special as I could.
quilted using very pale green Sulky thread

from the back
I entered Snowflake in our 2011 Iowa State Fair and was extremely gratified to win a blue ribbon, my first ever Iowa State Fair first place ribbon in at least 15 years of entering quilts in the fair! Stiff competition there.

Then, in October I was again honored to learn that Snowflake was accepted into the juried Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California. Snowflake didn't earn a ribbon, but I still consider it a supreme honor to have had it displayed alongside quilts created by extremely talented, celebrity quilters.

More importantly for me though was receiving, for the first time in my 30 years of quiltmaking, an honest and thorough judge's appraisal of my work. To be perfectly honest, I have room for quilting improvement. Still, my journey with this quilt - from Australia to Iowa to California and back to Iowa - has been one I wouldn't trade for any amount of kudos or prize money.

Go to this Flickr site to see all the bloggers' quilts in this fall festival. Inspiration awaits! Linda

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Finishes and Stumbling Progress

Happily, I've been spending productive time in my sewing room. The October birthday cake for Megan in One Block Over progressed from this picture...

... to the applique on the left,
to the finished piece (o' cake!) on the right.

I drew, stitched (with Cosmo floss), and pencil-colored this owl for my J-O-Y wallhanging.

If he looks a little googly-eyed, it's because I copied him from this Holiday Hoot fabric.

10" X 10"
My favorite print for binding is a stripe. And where is it more appropriate than on a Christmas piece.

The Blogger's Block of the Month comes out on the 25th of each month. After making one 8-1/2" (unfinished) block in September, I decided that each month I'll make two so I have enough to make some sort of quilt when it's finished. Here are both of the September blocks.  

And here are my interpretations of the October block offered by Vickie Welsh.

As far as progress goes on my Friendship Medallion quilt, it's been two steps forward and three steps back! The steps to make round 5 of this medallion quilt were:

Cut out 36 pink rectangles from 36 different prints. - Check.
Cut out 40 red rectangles from 40 different prints - Check.
Cut out 152 white squares. - Check.

Sit down to sew together 36 pink rectangles and white squares. - Check.
(It was most enjoyable to sew while listening to an excellent audiobook, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Berry.)
Press pink and white patches. - Check
36 pink and white patches
Now sew 40 red rectangle and white squares. - Check.
Begin to press red and white patches.... Oh No! They're all sewn together wrong!

They were supposed to have looked like this!

The 40 red patches in the above photo are those I completely re-cut out and sewed to make patches that could be arrange in a zig-zag pattern. Argh! Why do I do this when I know better? I know better. I know better. Apparently it takes a lifetime, to figure out simple stuff like this.

Not only am I stuck with 40 incorrectly sewn red and white patches, I have this big pile of sewn (before they were cut off) half-square triangle squares that are the remains of both the correctly sewn, and incorrectly sewn patches. That's 232 squares that I haven't even bothered to press.

Between the rectangle patches and these squares, I'll have plenty of piecing to do for the back of this quilt because I'm just too frugal to waste perfectly good fabric. Besides, it will be a good punishment for so badly messing up what should have been an easy-to-sew round. Linda

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Whole Lot of Not Much

Did you FNSI last night? I've got it in my head that everyone pronounces it "fin-see." Am I right?

FNSI is the monthly Friday Night Sew In hosted by Bobbi and Heidi. It's a superb idea for anyone who wants to: 1) squeeze some me-time out of each month for sewing and quilting; 2) know she's not sewing alone. Just think of all the quilters out there doing the same thing, at the same time you are! and; 3) as a bonus, has a chance to win a really nice gift by simply showing off what you worked on that evening!

Though I was in my sewing room for most of Friday, I don't have much to show for my efforts. Too much cutting, and too much flitting... from one project to another. None of them are finished.
3-1/2" X 5-1/2" rectangles for part 5 of Friendship Medallion quilt.
The cake slice needs some more decorative sprinkles.
The October 6-1/2" X 6-1/2" birthday block requested by Megan in our One Block Over group.
Inspired by Selvage Blog, my friend Michelle and I have decided to make Homeward Bound blocks into pillows. I'm not sure which Metro Living Rings print I'll put with my selvage squares, but I'm leaning toward the green.

With my newly won book Word Play Quilts, I'm making a little Christmas wall hanging. The blank space in the lower right is where I'll put a little embroidered owl like the one on the Christmas print.

It was fun having Michelle join me for some late afternoon sewing. After she left, I was back at it on my own. There's no reason these projects won't soon be finishes. Thank for the Fin-See motivation, Bobbi and Heidi! Linda

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friendship, Win and DSMMQG Update

Progress on my Friendship Medallion quilt meant adding 92 Flying Geese to complete part 4. I've received part 5 and will be digging into my reds and pinks to piece it.
52-1/2" X 52-1/2"

A nice parcel arrived this week from Madame Samm in Ontario, Canada. She's generously hosting daily giveaways - for WantToBe quilters and Quilters - who comment to win on the blog SewWeQuilt.

The only "hitch" is that the winner has to pay postage. I hesitated when I learned that postage would be $30 for a 60"-wide, two yard piece of fabric (at top of photo). It's "Minky Toy Chest Cuddle Zoom Zoom" from Shannon Fabrics. But when Madame Samm offered to make sure the parcel was a good "investment," I took her up on it. Look at the bonus stuff she included with the fabric: the book Word Play Quilts; a spool of white Prescencia thread; three fat quarters half yard pieces (Corrected!) of Riley Blake (Lila Tueller) fabrics; and The Littles "Beach Ball" pattern. How could I not be pleased with my investment in the Canadian postal system!?
On Friday Madame Samm is giving away this! Go here to do it.

Carla of Lollyquilz, my Missouri friend who I expected to visit me this week for four days/three nights and speak to our Des Moines Chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild (Thursday evening) is not coming. A totally unforeseen family medical concern is keeping her close to home, and rightly so. We all know that after God, family comes first. So, we find ourselves in DSMMQG, looking for a substitute speaker for our Thursday evening meeting. Our speaker will be DSMMQG member Eva Marie Evans of Marion, Iowa, who will talk about the quilt-as-you-go technique.

This week in the blogosphere, Helen Stubbings mentioned one of my embroideries in a HugsnKisses post. Also, Laura Nownes mentioned and put up a picture of my wall hanging in last weekend's Pacific International Quilt Festival. Laura emailed me to say, "The tree was a big hit - lots of people stopping to take photos of the beautiful quilting!" Thanks Laura! You made my day. Linda

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Put a Lid on it!

Wednesday, I spent most of the afternoon rotary cutting. See that bin of purple fabric? Before I started cutting, the lid wouldn't fit the bin. It was overflowing with that much fabric.

Now I need to take the rotary cutter to that blue/aqua bin, and the orange/pink bin (lower left.) Hmm, those greens (lower right) might need a reduction too. By the end of the year, I intend to purge, cut and sew enough blocks and quilts to cull one entire bin of stashed fabrics. 

First, from all the purple prints I cut squares for my Friendship Medallion quilt, part 4.

Then from the purple prints I cut:
Now if this isn't a good use of fabric, I don't know what is! Do you see a strategy to my use of fabrics? I think the term is "frugal." Blame that on my German heritage.

After all that cutting, Thursday afternoon was spent pleasantly sewing the 92 Flying Geese needed for Friendship Medallion, part 4. Friendship Medallion is a free quilt pattern offered by Patchwork Pumpkin. The hitch is that you don't get instructions for a step until you email them a picture of the step you've just finished! Also, you're supposed to use only fabrics from your stash. I'm lovin' this!

See Kerry's pretty Friendship Medallion quilt here. She's up to part 5.

My favorite way to make Flying Geese blocks is this no-waste method. Here's the link to the PDF I've printed, and follow all the time.

This way there's no wasted fabric, except for the trimmings from 92  2-1/2" X 4-1/2" Flying Geese blocks.
92 Flying Geese for Part 4 of Friendship Medallion
For those of you wondering if my voice held out while speaking to 50-plus women at Tuesday evening's Ankeny Area Quilters Guild meeting, the answer is an audible "yes!" Thanks to prayers (mine and yours), a salt water gargle and a microphone, my presentation about Stitchin' Mission went well. I'm always eager to let people know what's happenin' with Stitchin' Mission - and it is happenin'!  Lives are being touched and changed in ways God knows all about, and occasionally I'm privileged and touched to learn too. Quilters and quilt recipients are feelin' the love. What an awesome God-thing.

The second Stitchin' Mission lesson was Thursday evening. I'm just about blown away by these newbies! Forty-five people were in attendance! Their enthusiasm for learning quiltmaking is overwhelming and infectious. I want to go home afterward and sew, sew, sew.

One new quilter has recently started blogging at CrashCourseCraft and wouldn't you know, she blogged about Stitchin' Mission! Pop over and say hi to Caitlyn, won't you?

Wednesday, the big show started. The PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival) in Santa Clara, California. Two of my quilts are there. I'm not. But with appreciation for her thoughtful gesture, Laura Nownes (the Laura Nownes who co-authored the famous book Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!!!) emailed with her offer to take pictures of my quilts hanging at the show. Curious quilters want to know what the neighbors look like! Bet the show is wonderful. With 800 quilts, how could it not be?

(L-R): Tote It; thermal bottle carrier; Trixie Bag

Today was a Sewing Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with Hope Quilters at our church. After loading my sewing machine, a bag of quilt-y stuff, and my tool chest, I prepared my lunch.

These were on the kitchen counter on my last trip to the car when it struck me. It's a good thing I know how to sew! How could I go anywhere without these colorful carriers? Can you imagine how boring they would if they were store-bought?

Last weekend our Kansas family (sans Dad, who had to work) made an outing to a pumpkin patch.
Celina, Aesa, Jill and Tay
A few days after this picture was taken, Aesa, who will be one year old on November 6, took his first steps. It's trite to say so, but... they grow up so quickly. Linda

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Life

Yes. This is what you're probably thinking it is. A big piece of wood. To be exact, it's one of two large hollow core doors I acquired about 30 years ago when we had a room remodeled in our first house. I've taken them with me through numerous moves because they've been handy for many purposes. These doors are the reason I didn't do any machine quilting for a couple weeks. That's because they were in the garage where I applied two layers of spray varnish, and then brushed on three layers of high gloss polyurethane.

I was going for a slick surface and I achieved it! Now the doors are laying across sawhorses in my sewing area. They fairly glow! And as I hoped, my quilts slip around easily, almost too easily! More than once a portion has just slid onto the floor. Hmm. Maybe there's something about too much of a good thing? 

But no. I love having this smooth surface for quilting. It was worth the time - mostly waiting for varnish to dry - that I had to park my VW Bug in the driveway instead of the garage. My first quilt on the new surface is this purple and yellow "New Life Quilt." The top was finished in May.

Making a New Life quilt is a great way to use small fabric pieces. All color combinations of the smallest pieces and shapes can be sewn together to make Ezekiel blocks which are then joined with sashing. This particular quilt is different than others I've made because I tried making it with particular colors, and I sewed the top together with the blocks on point. I didn't do anything fancy in the way of quilting. 

I quilted a fan in the blocks; snails in the sashing and cornerstones...

...and a feather swoop in the outside setting triangles.

54" X 65-1/2"
Thanks Mary for letting me use the pretty front entry to your house for my photo shoot.

Even more Ezekiel blocks are on the back of the quilt. I'm happy to say I used up some good, old fabric for this quilt.

I'm handling a rush of activities around here while battling laryngitis. This is the first time I've ever had such a squeaky voice, and while I would generally be in good humor about it (it doesn't hurt a bit), I've been anxious because of my speaking obligations these past two weeks. Stitchin' Mission, with 40 newbies and 11 helpers, started last Thursday which meant I was talking a lot about making quilts. I think that triggered the decline in my voice. 

Tonight I'm giving a Stitchin' Mission program to members of the Ankeny Area Quilters Guild. I'll be gargling salt water before I go! Laryngitis aside, the presenting part will be fun. I enjoy sharing my passion for something I believe in - making quilts for others.

Again Thursday is the second Stitchin' Mission lesson where I'll talk about rotary cutting, chain-piecing, and sewing together a quilt top. I'm sure I'll get through it all just fine... though a few of your prayers are appreciated! Linda


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