Saturday, December 31, 2016


The last day of 2016 has to be a recap of a few highlights, and a brief look into 2017.

With Christmas in the recent past, it's appropriate to share a picture of our two Kansas City grandsons sporting the new pjs I sent.
Aesa and Tay
Though the thermal tops are store-bought, I made the bottoms. Of course I was pleased to see that they fit. PJs are an Oliver and S pattern so when they've grown taller, mom can make them longer by unstitch the thread tacks that hold up the cuffs.

As for Celina's PJs... they were too big. So, it was a trip to Joann Fabrics for more hedgehog print flannel. This photo of Dan is expressly for the sake of letting my dear cousin Barb see that he is around, and we do live together 😊.

I've re-made Celina's pj's in a smaller size and they're in the mail.

Looking back on my makes during 2016 I count 21 finished quilts. If you're so-inclined, you can see them by clicking the tab above "2016 Quilts." Of those 20 quilts, nine were smaller-sized wallhangings. Some of them were gifted and donated.

I also participated in making two charity quilts, donated a pillow to Quilting Guild of The Villages, for a silent auction, and sewed two little girl pillowcase dresses for Dress A Girl Around the World. I made six pj bottoms; several bags and travel cases; a wristlet; a skirt, a dress; and a tuffet.

According to Iconosquare, an Instagram activity-reporting program, these were my top nine most-liked Instagram photos in 2016.

In order of popularity, from the top left to right, Row 1:
1) The "Rebel" quilt gifted to my cardio-vascular doctor.
2) Our guest bedroom with the new laminate flooring.
3) My Bay Area Modern block-of-the-month quilt.

Row 2:
4) The skirt I made with Abacus fabric I colored using washable fabric markers.
5) My "Florida" quilt.
6) My Cross-cut Quilt made during AQuiltersTable quilt-along.

Row 3:
7) The Swirly Twirly Dresden pillow donated to Quilting Guild of The Villages for a silent auction.
8) My freshly-organized fabric stash.
9) String-pieced blocks made and arranged in a rainbow gradation.

Looking back...
In February friend Lora and I were thrilled to receive third place for our "Ad Libbing" quilt in the AQS (American Quilter's Society) show in Daytona Beach. The same quilt was in the October AQS show in Des Moines where it didn't receive anything.

In June I had a quilting machine muck-up - actually, the quilting foot was the problem - and ended up with a new Janome 1600P.

In September I presented my first live webinar to the Modern Quilt Guild; I'll be doing another next spring.

In December two quilt entries to QuiltCon were rejected; one was accepted and will also appear in a 2018 Modern Quilt Guild book.

On the home front, during the year we saw some improvements: new Lazy-Boy living room furniture and brightly colored wool area rug; tile on the sides of the kitchen bar; house exterior painted; living room wall painted orange; all the carpeting replaced with wood laminate in the three bedrooms (one of which is my sewing room), and the master closet replaced with ceramic tile; and a new doorbell installed when the old one burnt out.

ding-DONG is the new sound! 😀

"Lighten" was my word for 2016, and I think it was well-lived.

I'm no longer teaching quilting through the Lifelong Learning College, presenting my last workshop (Free Motion Quilting with a Quilting Foot) on November 11. Though the decision to teach at the College was my choice, on December 2 we learned that due to litigation by 32 hearing-impaired plaintiffs, the Lifelong Learning College closed, effective December 30. The controversy around the lawsuit continues while refunds were given to 18,000 people who had registered and paid for January through June 2017 classes!

Healthwise, the burden of severe PAD (peripheral artery disease) in my legs has lifted. Having had two catheterization procedures, one in February on my left leg and the other in March on my right leg, to reopen stenosis in my femoral arteries, those arteries have now remained clear and opened for the longest duration - nine months! - since my disease was diagnosed in October 2013. During my November visit to Dr. Q, he said, "You're as near to normal as you have been since starting to see me." I can confirm he's right, as I continue to line dance three times a week, and walk for 50 minutes or more at a time with no calf ache or burn whatsoever. Hoorah!

Darn, but a new condition has arisen since a dentist visit - some bone loss that's possibility a side effect of taking my breast cancer drug, Arimidex, for the past three years and 10 months. My new dental hygiene regimen now includes daily use of a WaterPik. I quickly remind myself that my health could be far worse, and then count my blessings.

Looking ahead...
While I've never been a "list person" (I end up feeling too terrible and guilty when everything isn't crossed from a list), and shy from writing down all that I intend to create in 2017, I am very much looking forward to several things during the first few months of 2017.

Quilting Guild of The Villages' Showcase of Quilts (an every other year event) comes up at the end of January. I have two quilts in the show, "Prism" and "Florida," and will be working in friend Lora's Dragonfly Quiltworks vendor booth during the two day duration of the show.

Then, the big event is the February 10 arrival of DarlingDi - my Sydney, Australia friend, Di - who's coming to the US for the first time! Go here to see us at our first meeting in 2009, at her home in Sydney.

Such a beautiful picture of Di, taken near Luna Park, with the Harbour Bridge and CBD in the background. Oh how I miss Sydney!

Di will be here for a month, and I hope to show her some of the wonders of the US. We're making travel plans around the two quilt shows we'll attend: 1) four days at QuiltCon in Savannah where we're both taking workshops and attending lectures (I have a quilt in that show), and later 2) the AQS show in Daytona Beach where Di has a quilt in the show!

As well, we'll spend time with local quilters and go to: Asheville, North Carolina and Biltmore Estate; Charleston, South Carolina; St. Augustine, Florida and the Fountain of Youth; Epcot; Universal Studios and the Blue Man Group; Cape Canaveral; Homosassa Springs; Silver Springs; and Winter Garden where we'll visit the Morse Museum of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass.

What a grand adventure we're going on!

Dan and I are spending New Year's Eve day quietly, and after church on New Year's Day, it will be more of the same. I'm quilting our Central Florida MQG QuiltCon charity quilt and will share a few pictures next year!

Wishing all my blog readers a wonderful 2017! Linda

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Elephant Family Quilt

I've neglected blogging about a baby quilt I completed at the 5GalsQuilt week-long retreat in October. But since Miss Madelyn didn't arrive until November 19, I had to save pictures until the quilt was sent to her. And I waited so I could post these pictures of her with her quilt.

Maddy's mother is my nephew's wife (I made this quilt - Love Links - for their wedding) and she requested a quilt with pink, gray, and elephants. I was happy to oblige, especially when she gave me free reign to make it as I wished.

Using the elephant shape on the invitation I received to the baby shower (which I wasn't able to attend), I enlarged it to different sizes. At first I made only a mama and baby elephant, but when Dan saw them on the design wall, he suggested that they needed a "daddy" - a perfect idea. Each elephant is machine-appliquéd to the background fabric which is Kona Silver.

You'll probably notice that I prefer a quilt to not have an "up" or a "down." So the elephants are parading along the top and bottom of the quilt which should look good draped across a crib rail. Or whichever way Maddy sees it from her stroller seat.

Scrappy pink Three Rail Fence blocks frame the elephants.

Quilting is mostly cross-hatch, though there are a couple rows of quilted letters: "M." Yes, we knew ahead of time that her name would be Madelyn.

The 38" x 48" quilt is backed with an elephant print in flannel.

Babies are very precious, and this little one is exceptionally so. I can't wait to meet her in person next spring.


Monday, December 26, 2016


Dan and I were home alone for Christmas this year. I couldn't help but feel a little down about that, but I kept busy to keep my mind off how much I missed being with our two children, their spouses, and our five grandchildren.

I read.

I baked cookies for Hogan.

And I sewed.

First, I cut out and completed (or almost-completed; need to hand-sew binding) three Holiday Ornament Mini Quilts, a free design by FreshlyPieced found on the Bernina website.

I took several liberties with my version, making smaller (1-3/4") and fewer half-square triangles; tilting the ornament on the background fabric and machine blanket-stitching it; and hand-embroidering (chain stitch) a wire at the ornament top.

I did a little different background quilting on each one, using a very pale green 50-weight Aurifil thread.

It was appropriate to take a picture in one of our two holly trees.

Though each hanging has a different backing fabric, this one is my favorite. The triangles sewn in each top corner are for hanging.

All three wall hangings are about 15" X 18" and should make nice gifts next December.

On Christmas eve day I cut out and began sewing one Florence Flamingo block, a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.

After Christmas eve worship, I returned to sewing to complete the block, and then quilted and bound it Christmas day. This is the back, also with triangles sewn on each top corner, for hanging

Simple feather-looking quilting on the flamingo, and a background of horizontal waves. I used a natural linen fabric for the background which proved to be a poor choice. It was stretchy and ravely. If I make more flamingos, I'll certainly use a quilting cotton instead.

Florence ended up 20" X 28". I'm anticipating taking down a wall quilt so I can hang up this one, though I do like it posed in our front yard Bismarck palm. 

On Christmas day we also FaceTimed with both our children and families. That helped a lot to ease how much I missed them. These couple pictures helped too.

Christmas eve in Kansas City and these three cousins posed together: Tripp, Tay and Aesa (the two on the right are my grandsons). They are handsome young men!

In Texas, Luke was plumb tuckered after a Christmas day spent playing with new toys. 

Maybe you looked like that on Christmas day too! I hope it was merry and blessed! Linda

Thursday, December 22, 2016

QuiltCon Rejects/QuiltCon Accepted

On December 14 the MQG sent acceptance and rejection emails to those of us who entered quilts in QuiltCon East (February 23-26, 2017 in Savannah, Georgia). We were told that 1,500 quilts were entered; I have no idea how many were accepted. I only know that for the three quilts I entered, I received three emails. Two quilts were rejected and one was accepted. While you might think that I would be wildly thrilled, and I am very happy, the accepted quilt is the one I like the least.

Here are all three entries - full quilt shots, and one close-up, just as I submitted them.

Can you pick the one that was accepted?

I renamed my Make it Easier (a quilt I designed to teach newer quilters more about piecing) to "Basically Modern" because the quilt incorporates traditional blocks with modern characteristics - alternate grid layout, color, and negative space. And I quilted it dickens out of it! I thought that with Angela Walters being the 2017 QuiltCon keynote speaker - have you seen her elaborate longarm quilting?! - the judges might be accepting. I put a lot of extra work - ruler work, custom designs, and different thread colors - into this quilt to make it look like it was longarm quilted, even replicating designs from Kathleen Riggins, Angela Walters, and Christa Watson.
"Basically Modern," 52" X 58"

Triple Layer Nine Patch was my entry into the APQ Nine Patch Challenge. My design incorporates three layers of nine patch blocks. The first layer is a vertical nine patch; the second layer is a nine patch on the diagonal that's accomplished with transparency, a technique of seemingly overlapping colors; and the third layer is the quilting which is laid at another angle.
APQ Nine Patch Challenge, "Triple Layer Nine Patch," 45" X 45

"Lime 'n Luxe" was my entry for the Michael Miller Luxe Fabric Challenge. We had to use Luxe fabric (sort of satiny, slightly slippery and thin-ish to work with) and could add one other Michael Miller solid. I chose lime. A personal challenge was to quilt only straight lines, something that's not only not my style, but also because my theory is that QuiltCon judges look for simplistic quilting.
"Lime 'n Luxe," 34" X 35"

I wasn't wrong about that. 

Are you surprised to learn that the last one - Lime 'n Luxe - is the one that was accepted?!

To say I'm disappointed in the outcome of my entries is an understatement. I wish I could let it go as easily as some quilters are saying they do! I've spent more than a week recovering from my news, seeing some of the accepted quilts on Instagram (one quilter had eight quilts accepted!), and thinking about this.

And, as if this isn't enough... yesterday (December 21), I received an email from the MQG, inviting me to share my Lime 'n Luxe quilt in a book that the MQG is publishing! Good grief.

The Modern Quilt Guild has partnered with C&T Publishing to produce a book documenting the modern quilting movement from its early beginnings through 2017. At the heart of this book will be quilts from our members showcasing the best of modern quilting design and technique. Documented through beautiful, full-page photography, the Modern Quilt Guild walks readers through the rise of the modern quilt movement and the formation of the Modern Quilt Guild. From the earliest landmarks through 2017, they offer up more than 175 quilts that showcase the best and most pivotal quilts from the past 20 years of the modern quilt movement.

So here I've been, lamenting that - based on my QuiltCon rejects (check out that hashtag on Instagram to see some awesome quilts!) - I apparently don't "get" modern quilting, and then this quilt is chosen for a book! Go figure. 

I'm still of a mind to not enter QuiltCon again, but perhaps time will temper that.

Christmas is coming! Since we aren't going anywhere, and no one is coming to see us, I have days of sewing time ahead of me. A few quilts are on my want-to-make list. And isn't it nice to just work on whatever one wants? Yes it is. Linda

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Texas Trip

Writing blog posts went by the wayside as we were away from December 9-19, driving to and from Texas to visit our son and his family. Though travel time is about 17 hours each way, (we spend an overnight in a motel when going and returning) Dan's content to do the driving (if he's allowed to tell people what terrible drivers they are!) while I do handwork and listen to an audiobook. I'm on my third listen of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, and since late June I've listened and sewed my way to book six: "A Breath of Snow and Ashes." Though the storyline can sometimes be slow, particularly in "The Fiery Cross," Diana's habit of engaging readers through the thoughts of the characters keeps me attentive. If anyone watches only the TV series, they're missing out on SO much! I once thought "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell was my favorite book, but my allegiance is now with Diana's works.

So indulge me in Texas family pictures, as I recall how nice it was to be around grandsons again, even though Luke was sick (and whiney) for the last couple days we were there.

I ended up gifting the pajamas because I was so anxious to see how well the pants fit, especially Luke's that were made from a lengthened shorts pattern. Both fit beautifully! They liked their trucks and alligators.

While Luke was sleeping and parents were away, Austin kept me company, and made this crown just for me, saying he wanted it to look like a quilt. He told me I was the "quilt queen." Of course I loved it.

He's a six year-old cutie-pie alright!

On his last school day before Christmas break, we went to his first-grade class's party. The kids do a musical chairs book exchange - one for girls and one for boys. 

His classroom is small and jam-packed with 22 students (995 kids in grades pre-K through 5). I found the new way of learning math to be really interesting, recalling that we were told not to use our fingers to count. I remember sneaking to do it anyway. See number four? That "touch math" is a new concept. Times have changed.

It was enjoyable spending time with Luke (he'll be three in January) this trip because he's starting to outgrow some of his demanding ways. Getting his hair cut hasn't always been a good experience, so I went along... and enjoyed seeing how mom Lyn keeps him entertained. 

I got a huge kick out of watching him make faces in the mirror! This lower lip thing was truly funny, and one he kept trying to repeat.

In fact, the next day he was trying it again, and we were sharing funny faces with each other. 

We had so much fun as I tried to copy him that he couldn't keep that lower lip stuck out. 

Then we'd both dissolve into giggles. I'm so glad we could have this goofy time together before he got sick... and then wasn't nearly as happy.

Dan and I met up with our formerly-from-Iowa Texas friends at wineries along highway 290 - specifically enjoying tastings at Pedernales Cellars and Becker Winery. Lunch and some window shopping happened in the charming, historic city of Fredericksburg. It's roots are German, and at the MarktPlatz we saw this German Christmas Pyramid. It's 26 feet tall, with moving parts, and was very pretty against the cool winter sky. 

We sought out Quintessential Chocolates that sells bite-sized bits of chocolatey goodness filled with wine from local wineries. A couple small boxes came home with us. 

We were with our friends for too-short a time, but I gifted Patty the Retreat Bag I made for her. This is a free pattern from Emmaline Bags; I bought all the hardware from that shop. The bag looks and functions much as a man's shaving kit.

One of my favorite parts of this bag is the zipper pull. It's a nicely-weighted metal rectangle that says "handmade" and was purchased from Emmaline Bags. Patty says she plans to use this when she travels.

My sweet daughter-in-law made sure I made it to Austin's The Cloth Pocket in it's new location. The outside of the building is so "Austin." I came home with knit flamingo fabric for a new top.

That pretty much wraps up a good visit with family. Now that we're home, I've begun cutting and sewing another project, and I'm writing my next blog post about the results of, and thoughts about, entering three quilts into QuiltCon. Linda

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Some Fun Stuff

With the relief of completing and entering three quilts into QuiltCon (notifications as to whether quilts have been juried into the show are expected around December 30), I've been reenergized to sew. Most of the sewing has been just because; a few items are gifts.

My first "just because" project was to sort through my overfull strips bin to weed out dark and traditional prints, leaving only the mostly white and bright rainbow colors that I love to sew with.

Then I returned to the stack of 45 8-1/2" x 8-1/2" blocks I'd already sewn - for a foundation paper piecing class I taught in October - to make 35 more, for a total of 80 for this quilt. Well, this is potentially the layout for it. Since I have yet to remove papers from the blocks, this has to be taken down from my design wall.  When I put blocks back up again, I might go for a different arrangement. In any case, a rainbow of bright colors sure makes for a happy quilt! 

I recommend making these blocks because they're fun to sew - one of those mindless kind of projects. Just tear pages from a phone book (You do remember what a phone book is, don't you?!) and cut each to 8-1/2" X 8-1/2". I cut a stack of four or so at a time. Then, on each one, draw a diagonal line from one corner to another that's 1/4" away from each point.

Face up, lay a white fabric strip across the diagonal center of the paper with the raw fabric edge along the drawn line. Face down, position a colored (yellow) strip on top of the white strip. Sew a quarter-inch seam. Press open with a wallpaper roller, and proceed to lay white strips on the white side and colored (yellow) strips on the opposite side, until the paper is full. Though my fabric strips appear pretty straight, you certainly don't have to do this! Go for off-kilter, wonky strip-sewing. It will look great!

Trim to 8-1/2" X 8-1/2".  My stack of pieced blocks is pretty impressive, but these sure didn't use up all my strips.

Though I'm donating a trash bag of black, brown, dark green, burgundy, deep purple, navy, and ivory strips, I still have enough strips for another project. Though now, at least the lid closes on the bin.

Thinking of the uses for strips - also known as strings - I remembered the crocheted fabric rug I started a couple years ago. I never finished it because I couldn't think of where I'd use it. But now, no longer having carpeting in our house, there are several places where it would look good.

So, I've begun crocheting again. The rug currently measures 28" X 38", and will continue to grow until I've used up that ball of fabric strings. This rug has been fun to make, and it's so practical. Here's the link to the rug tutorial by one of my favorite scrappy quilters, Amanda Jean - CrazyMomQuilts. Amanda Jean is coming to our Central Florida MQG next October, for a trunk show/presentation and workshop. Though I feel like we're friends already, it will be great to finally meet her in person!

When I'm done with this rug I plan to wash it inside a pillow case, to ease out my unpracticed crochet stitches, and block it to a regular oval shape. I've been told by more than one person that I need to make sure a rubber mat is under the rug or it will slip underfoot. Good advice!

For gifting, I made these two "Retreat Bags" over a couple evenings. A third is in the works, but I need to get one more 16" zipper.

Emmaline Bags out of Canada, offers the Retreat Bag pattern for free, and gives instructions to make two sizes. I decided to go for the smaller size, which is similar to a man's shaving kit, and then purchased the hardware from Emmaline Bags.

These two frames are needed on either side of the opening. I also bought some of the zipper tags that say "handmade." 

I will admit that I had problems making these bags, though through no fault in the instructions or my own abilities. My problem was with the Pellon fusible fleece which absolutely refused to adhere to the fabric/interfaced layers. No amount of ironing, pressing, dry heat, steam, or damp cloth-pressing made that fleece adhere. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that it wasn't sticking until the bag was partially sewn. It took some maneuvering to slip my hand between the lining and fabric/interfacing to squeeze and smear fabric glue across the bag sides. Very inefficient, but it worked. In the future, I'll be sure to check any fleece adherence before proceeding. Ergh.

The last thing I sewed this week was to finish piecing the top for our Central Florida MQG QuiltCon East charity challenge quilt.

I foundation paper-pieced the 10-1/2" beach chair block (the middle size), and after reducing and enlarging the original pattern Cindy made the 6-1/2" (reduced 62%) and 12-1/2" (enlarged 120%) FPPed blocks. This FPP beach chair pattern is free here from Cotton and Steel. 

The MQG charity challenge is to use any or all of eight colors (we used all of them), and the quilt has to be based on the theme "scale." After the quilt appears at QuiltCon, it will be returned to our chapter for us to donate as we wish.

Over the past several months, 15 of our 50 members have contributed to making this 70" X 91" quilt top, either by donating fabric, piecing improv blocks, or designing and sewing at our Sew-Ins. "Paradise Central," the name we've chosen for this quilt, will appear at QuiltCon East in Savannah, Georgia from February 23-26.

Next up: a basting bee to pin-baste the sandwich so Karen and I can domestic machine quilt it! The completed quilt is due in mid-January. 

I'm so looking forward to QuiltCon, not only for the event itself, but because my Sydney, Australia girlfriend, Di (the very talented, and award-winning quilter DarlingDi on Instagram) is coming! She arrives February 10, and boy-o will the fun begin then! Linda


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