Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Review and 2018 Planning

Since today is the last day of 2017, it's only appropriate to review the year and assess the quiltmaking and sewing that's been done.

While I know several quilters who make a quilt top and then call it "a finish," I prefer that my quilts are completely done and ready to use. My personal policy means that a quilt is quilted and bound before being called finished, and shown at a guild meeting Show and Tell. I know of at least one MQG chapter that requires that it's members show only completed quilts!

In the past, I've been known to choose a word of the year. Not so for 2018. Some bloggers like to post their goals. Not so for 2018. Given the multitude of quilts I've made in my lifetime (easily more than 300), I don't feel the need to create self-imposed goals for the upcoming year. At my age, it's nice to feel no pressure to do anything!

2017 in Review
All tallied, I made 14 quilts in 2017, a number that is very similar to last year, and the year before.
Seven of my finishes were what I consider small quilts - baby-sized and smaller.

The remaining seven quilts were larger.
I'm counting my five small Wayward Transparency quilts (at the bottom of the collage) as one quilt because they're hanging together in one spot. I'll blog about them in January.

Not pictured are a half-dozen tops I sewed for myself, four pairs of pajamas for grandsons, two pillows, six placemats, two Zip Up Tray Pouches, a Dainty Tote, an Essential Wristlet, a Sew Together Bag, and a case for my music stand. Those are the small "in between" projects I like for their fast finish-ablity.

A Word About WIPs
Works In Progress - Mine are genuinely being worked on fairly regularly, and I feel no compunction to rush to finish. They're truly on-going projects, and I like keeping them that way. Don't you agree that it's good to have a variety of WIPs on hand to suit any occasion? Like when you're away-from-home sewing with others, or a passenger on a long car trip, or at home in a cozy chair in front of the TV?

By my current count, I have seven on-going WIPs, some for which instructions are still being released over several months. English paper piecing also makes a couple appearances here. But no hurry. No worries.

I do, however, like to review plans for the coming year, and determine where I'm headed with quilts that need to be made, and quilts I'd like to make. Prompted by QuiltingJetGirl who is hosting a linky party, I've made a plan.

Contrary to my usual reaction to "lists," I even made one in Excel! The first seven items are my WIPs. The next two are UFOs, one of which I've got my hands on today for FMQ. The last two items are quilts I'm honored to make for the upcoming releases of two different quilting books (not mine). Eleven items... the list doesn't seem too daunting.

While I'd like to believe this is the extent of my 2018 list, I'd be kidding myself if I didn't think I'd participating in a challenge or two, or some other "let's make this project!"

Happily for me, none of the sewing, creating, or making has been a hardship, nor am I yet getting sick of it. So in 2018 I'll move ahead with my plan, but in the end, go with the flow.

I am determined though that this year I'll "shop from my stash." No fabric-buying unless it's essential for a 2018 finish. It's not so much about spending money on fabric, but rather using the stash that's been accumulating over the past five years, including several healthy piles of solids.

Happy new year to you reader-friends and relatives who are part of the online world that's an integral part of my life. Thank you for your interest in my doin's and for comments/chats where we get to know each other better. God bless you in 2018! Linda

Friday, December 29, 2017

Last 2017 Finish: Urban Trek

On my computer, I keep a Photos folder called "2017 Quilts." In it are the names of every quilt I've worked on in 2017. Some quilts are finished; some quilts are not finished. When reviewing them a couple weeks ago, I identified one that I could complete by year's end, and here it is: Urban Trek.

Urban Trek is a quilt pattern by Heather Black (Quiltachusetts) published in the March/April issue of Modern Patchwork magazine. I started it in April. It's pieced entirely from Kona solids. Colors are: Iron, Cerise, Glacier, Pond, and Sunflower. I began quilting while on a September retreat with friends. In the past week I completed the quilting, and today spent several hours hand sewing down binding.

I'd love to show you an outdoor photo of Urban Trek in a pretty setting, but we haven't seen sunshine here for several days. My indoor photo of the quilt on my design wall will have to do.
Urban Trek, 60" X 72"
Quilter's Dream 100 percent cotton batting is inside.

With such big expanses of negative space, I had a chance to have a little bit of quilting play. But I was very cognizant of not wanting to over-quilt. The simplicity of the design is what appeals to me, so I tried to keep the quilting simple too.

All the straight line quilting was done with a ruler and ruler work foot on my Janome 1600P.

In several places I added big stitch hand quilting. Not only do I like the extra interest it adds, but on an episode of Fresh Quilting (Season 2), Riane Menardi (VesselQuilts) talked about combining machine quilting with large hand quilting stitches for a modern look.

All the hand quilting is done with six-strand DMC embroidery floss. Before stitching, I separated the six strands and put them back together again, so the stitches would be distinctive. 

I got really good at machine quilting ribbon candy!

I still like the look of a well-done quilted spiral. Mine were done on my Bernina 440 with a walking foot.

This is the backing fabric. 

I'm happy with this finish, and even happier about counting 13 quilt finishes this year. Still, that 2017 folder of quilts will find 10 WIPs (works in progress) being moved to 2018. Please don't tell me that I'm the only one with a never-ending flow of projects! Linda

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Best of 2017

Since the year-end is near, many bloggers are joining MeadowMistDesigns blog to review their 2017 posts and see which ones compromise the "best five" - Which blog posts were most popular? While I mostly share about quilting, a review of my blog posts, revealed some unexpected results!

Number 1 - Fiesta Placemats
By far, my most-viewed post was in May, when I shared about my purchase of assorted colors of Fiesta dinnerware, and made placemats for them. I guess you-all like color as much as I do!
Again, color took front and center as you liked my first 2017 finish, this quilt: Wiggle Me Colourful.

Number 3 - My Favorite Things
This January post was about several of my favorite things, including my ukulele, but perhaps this one was popular because of the Wiggle Me Colorful quilt hanging behind me!

In February, two of my quilts hung in the local quilt show, and both were awarded ribbons.

That this post came in fifth tickles me to no end. It means that you enjoyed seeing my Australian friend, Di's (SnippetsnScraps) travels in Florida and US, as much as I did. She was here for a month (from February 10 to March 11) and all the posts related to her visit had high viewing numbers. No doubt that's because her friends were following her travels. Di and I made wonderful memories, and I'm happy they interested you too. 

In 2017 I have posted 77 times. However, the year isn't over yet!

If you'd like to join MeadowMistDesign's Linky Party, or see what other bloggers are posting about, go here. Linda

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

More Making

Thank you for Christmas wishes! It was nice to hear from some of you who read my blog. I always enjoy a good catch-up.

Our Christmas was quiet. It's been eight years since either of our children have come to see us for Christmas, and I admit that I miss that family craziness. Also like last year, we didn't travel to see them because of the potential for risky winter-weather driving. Still, the two of them found ways to share time with family: our daughter and her family at their lake home; and our son and his family with our DIL's parents who moved near to them earlier this year.

Dan and I enjoyed the other half of our Thanksgiving dinner (thawed from the freezer), and my homemade pumpkin pie. I mostly spent time at my Janome, quilting while listening to an audiobook: The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine.

Now that gifts have been gifted, I can share what I made for a special friend. It's a Sew Together Bag.

I made one for myself in 2013, and struggled mightily with the poorly written printed instructions (not nearly enough diagrams or photos, either), so it took quite a bit of determination to use the same pattern to make another. It helped to follow the online sew along tutorial by QuiltBarn.

Of course, the most fun is choosing fabrics. For the exterior I selected one of my newest pieces: Diving Board by Alison Glass. Noticing that there was a medallion in the print, I decided to work Karen's initial into that spot. I chose a computer font that I enlarged to fit the opening, and then traced the design onto a piece of linen. From the back, you can see the fusible stabilizer I added to give more support to hand satin stitching using perle cotton.

I cut out the fabric print circle leaving 1/4" to turn under, positioned the initial in the opening, and clipped the edges of the fabric circle to hand-sew to the embroidery. While it appears that I also stitched a lovely scallop around the initial, in fact that's the fabric design!

Here you can see the entire exterior of the bag, before it was quilted and sewn together. Notice the medallion that's on the opposite side of the Sew Together bag. Yes, it took quite a bit of measuring to get the print fussy-cut to the right size. 

Quilting is straight stitching, with a pass around the initial medallion to ensure it's not going anywhere. 

Here's the bag in progress. I used a couple other prints from the Diving Board collection, some Tattooed (yellow print) by Libs Elliot, and the gold binding is Blueberry Park. 

I added a pretty silver zipper tab that says "handmade."

Three zipper pockets and four open pockets are great for storing sewing supplies. I use mine primarily for English paper-piecing projects.

I'm pleased at how the Sew Together Bag turned out, and Karen certainly seems happy with it too.

Doing a little sewing for myself, here's my new fabric case for my new music stand, the latter of which I need for playing with the Ukulele Club performance group. I modified the dimensions of this Drawstring Backpack pattern. I'm very glad I bought several yards of this colorful print when I first fell in love with it - a rare favorite from JoAnn Fabrics.

Now, I have a complete matching set: ukulele case, ukulele shoulder strap, and music stand case. There's no mistaking mine from the standard black that most ukulele players have!

With the year-end in mind I'm trying to finish one more quilt that I started earlier in the summer. It's getting lots of rulerwork, and some big stitch hand-quilting. You know. Just keep makin'! Right? Linda

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Today I am thinking of my family - children, grandchildren, siblings, aunt, uncle, cousins...

 Kansas, Texas, Iowa, and Ohio

and I am thinking of US friends -

Iowa, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and every other state...
Washington, California, Colorado, Virginia, South Carolina, and more!

and I am thinking of friends in other countries

Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

... and with a heart full of love am giving thanks for each of you.

I sincerely wish you a blessed and merry Christmas! May Jesus live in your heart.

.... that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth. - Philippians 2:10 
Artwork by Marlene Peterson, Kansas City, 2002

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Homemade Basting Spray, and a Smidgen of Ukulele

Now that the Christmas parties have passed, and homemade Christmas presents are finished, I'm focusing on two projects I'd like to complete by the end of the year.

The one getting first attention is the Wayward Transparency quilt. Instructions for the quilt along are complete, so it's a matter of me getting mine finished and linking up to Yvonne's blog (QuiltingJetGirl) beginning January 12. I've been working away, doing everything times five, because, as you know, I'm making what would otherwise be one quilt (see Yvonne's finished versions here) into five small quilts. They'll hang in my living room above the sliding glass doors.

I thought these small quilts would be a great opportunity to try out a recipe and tutorial I found for homemade basting spray: Instructions and tutorial found here on the StringandStory blog.

It's nice to use spray baste because it's easier to quilt when there's nothing (safety pins) to impede quilting motions. I'm also reluctant to use commercial basting spray because it's sticky and spraying an aerosol indoors isn't healthy. When I have used commercial spray baste, I usually go outdoors.

With this homemade version using water, salt, flour, and rubbing alcohol, I felt comfortable spraying in my sewing area. After making the spray, I ended up with enough to fill an empty Best Pressed spray bottle, with a little left over that I poured into an empty juice jug.

I taped the 30" X 30" quilt back to my sewing room table, and covered it with Quilter's Dream Cotton batting. I folded back the batting, and sprayed both the batting and the backing.

I smoothed the batting back onto the backing, and then folded back the opposite half of batting to spray it and the opposite side of backing. You can see that even though I used the "spray" setting on the bottle, it came out more like a stream. My only concern through the whole process was making sure that overspray didn't get on the laminate floor.

After the backing and batting were together, I positioned the quilt top on the batting and repeated, folding back the quilt top, and spraying both the batting and the back of the quilt top.

 You can see that after smoothing and patting the layers together it all seems pretty wet.

It was, but all visible signs of wetness disappeared when it dried. I allowed it to air dry with the ceiling fan twirling. After an hour or so, I untaped it and moved the whole quilt sandwich to another room where I placed it under a fan with the back side up. I repeated all these steps to make five quilt sandwiches.

By the next day when I was ready to start quilting, the quilts appeared only a little rough looking, like they were covered with tiny bubbles. A hot steam iron easily smoothed the front and back.

When I did the actual quilting, the quilts stayed together really well! I was impressed that even the corners, which I had made sure to spray well, stayed in place!

I've finished walking foot quilting all five quilts, and added facing (not binding) to all five quilts. I followed Robbie Joy Eklow's quilt facing tutorial on WeAllSew. No, I didn't have enough of one backing fabric, or one facing fabric to make all the backs identical. I'm hand-sewing down facings. 

The only negative of the homemade spray, in my opinion, is that the quilt must be washed afterward. Apparently if the quilt isn't washed, the spray may attract bugs or mold. But, I don't anticipate any problems, and will no doubt use this spray again. I think it does the job, for walking foot quilting anyway. There's enough left that I expect to baste another large quilt in the next few days, and that one will be free motion quilted.

Dan has watched my progress on these five quilts and has only commented that "when you see all of them hanging on the wall above the sliding glass doors you're either going to love it, or hate it." No doubt he's right... For all this work, I sure hope I love it!

"Ukulele on the Square" at Lake Sumter Landing was this morning. It was as much fun, and as well-attended as we hoped! A successful first-time event. This was my view from the back of the gazebo where the performers sat. I sang two songs, as well as played my uke.

Dan took this picture of me when he stopped by briefly between his abs workout and teaching a Tai Chi class.

I wish I'd videoed a Christmas song, but I was having so much fun myself, that I didn't want to stop playing and singing! So here's a bit of a non-Christmasy tune: "All My Loving." Linda

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Good News All Around

With news this past week that I won two Instagram giveaways, and have had a quilt juried into two  quilt shows, I'm feeling very fortunate!

The giveaway wins were from Moda Fabrics, and Leila (SewnbyLeila).

For "12 Days of Christmas" giveaways, Moda offered one item for the first day; two items for the second day; and so on. Simply by "liking" and commenting on Moda's Instagram feed, I won their ninth day prize. These nine Matchbox Quilt Kits, two tote bags, and a needle case came on Thursday. I've been told that the kits sell for $14.95 each, so I am indeed fortunate!

Each kit includes a pattern, fabric, batting, backing, binding, and embroidery floss for hand quilting a 6" X 6" mini. I offered any of them to our DIL who will take three off my hands.

The spool of thread is included in the picture to show the size of each box.

Ironically, I've never made a quilt from a kit in my entire 30-plus years of making quilts! I've always been of the opinion that part of the fun of making a quilt is choosing fabrics for a design. A kit takes that pleasure away.

Leila's giveaway involved posting a picture of nine blocks from her Year of Scrappy Triangles. I posted about my blocks here. My name was selected as her winner and I am to receive some of the extra fabrics Leila is using for her own foundation paper-pieced blocks.

Lately, Instagram buzz has been about whose quilts were and were not accepted into QuiltCon Pasadena in February - #quiltconreject Apparently 1430 quilts were submitted to a jury for consideration, and only 360 were accepted. I didn't submit this year. While others are writing about they feel fine and are accepting their rejections, I truly wonder how many egos are shattered and hearts are broken.

As for the quilt shows I entered, I submitted only one quilt for consideration. My Florida quilt. Both World Quilt Florida in Orlando (January 18-20, 2018) and AQS Quiltweek in Orlando (February 28 to March 3, 2018) juried it into their shows.

This is the quilt for which I wrote a pattern, so if you like it, just click on the Florida quilt picture at the top right and that will take you to my friend's Etsy shop (DragonflyQuiltworks) where you get either a paper or electronic pattern.

Lately I've been handling the finishing work on "Florida Waves," a quilt that five of us made for the QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge in Pasadena. I finished hand-sewing a sleeve to the back, made a label, and now need to write a blog post about it for the MQG.

Leading a charity quilt project is a lot of work! But, doing good does you good. Linda

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Party Week

This has been party week in The Villages. Most organizations, clubs, and neighborhoods party this now because many residents are leaving to travel north to spend holidays with family. Not us. We're here sort of twiddling our thumbs because even our regular activities are suspended, unless substitute instructors are found.

Monday evening was our gathering for the Central Florida MQG. The whole post about it is here, but I wanted to share this picture. Of course we took a serious picture first, but this one was the most fun.

Those who wanted could bring a gift to swap. My gift to share was one of the new 45mm endurance rotary blades by Olfa. I bought one for myself and look forward to determining if indeed, it stays sharper longer. The gift I brought home was this ruler. I don't know a thing about it!

At our line dancing holiday party on Tuesday morning at 8:30 am (we begin dancing at 7:30 am), besides sharing good eats, we gift our volunteer instructors to thank them for a year's worth of their donated time. While a card and monetary donation are the custom, I usually step outside the box to make something for each of them. This year Helen - who learns new line dances, practices, and then teaches and leads our Line Dance for Exercise class - received this ornament wall hanging. I made several of these and had fun quilting them. The pattern is a freebie on Bernina's blog, and was designed by Lee Heinrich.

Rosemary - who dances alongside Helen and runs the music - received a wristlet, something she told me last year that she would like to have. Isn't it especially nice to make a gift you know someone wants?!

The only other sewing I've done is to piece a fifth 24" X 24" block for the Wayward Transparency Quilt Along.

Can you see where I had to "make" fabric? I didn't have enough of the middle value to cut the size squares needed, so I pieced two blocks. Hopefully, the piecing isn't too noticeable.

While I have no doubt that everyone else is making one large quilt, I on the other hand will be making five small quilts! Truthfully, the thought of sandwiching, quilting, and binding five quilts doesn't sound like fun at all, but I know they'll make an impact hanging on the wall above the sliding glass doors.

On Saturday I'm going caroling with a group from church who will visit several assisted living places. Then, the following Wednesday (20th), I'm joining my ukulele-playing friends for "Ukulele on the Square." We'll be at Market Square at Sumter Landing on Wednesday morning at 9 am.
photo courtesy of Ron Clark
Can you imagine this square filled with a couple hundred ukulele-players, and singers? Anyone can join as together we sing Christmas songs and a few non-Christmasy songs following lyrics shown on a large screen. This is a first-time activity for The Villages, and it's expected to be a big one! I'm only hoping the weather isn't rainy or cold. Even 40-degrees (which it has been lately) is cold here! Linda


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