Friday, December 8, 2017

Pineapple Log Cabin Therapy: Block 34 of 42, etc.

Greetings from the midst of Advent!  "Busy" does not even begin to describe all the balls I've got in the air right now, but I blocked out some stitch therapy time and managed to complete another pineapple log cabin block this week.  That's 34 blocks completed, 8 more to go, in case anyone's keeping track.

Pineapple Log Cabin Block 34 of 42
Here are the four most recent blocks up on the design wall.  Each block finishes at 17 3/4", and the fabric strips finish at 3/4" wide.

Blocks 31-34 On the Wall, With Bear Paws
Christmas caroling is in full swing, so the Giant Green Dress has been out and about.

Caroling With Cecilia
I'll be practically living in that dress all of next week.  It's such a pain to put on, and I'm sick of wearing it, but the little girls LOVE IT...

My New Buddies
Speaking of little cuties, I ran across a couple of Oldies But Goodies on my computer the other day.  Check out Lars, helping to decorate the Christmas tree on Black Friday nine years ago:

Lars Hauling Out the Holly in 2008
...and here is that very same child, on Black Friday of this year, snuggling with our dogs on a break from stringing lights on the tree:

Lars Snuggling With Rottweilers on Tree Decorating Day 2017
Back in 2008, my son Anders used to smile sweetly for the camera, too.  Here he is showing me a reindeer ornament that he made in preschool:

Anders Showing Off His Reindeer Ornament in 2008
Fast forward nine years, and I am lucky to get a picture of him at all.  I just went through my phone and this is seriously THE BEST recent photo I have of him.

Anders in 2017, Too Cool for Mom to Take His Picture
But in the midst of cooking and entertaining, I managed to get a cute Thanksgiving picture of me and Bernie:

Me and My Sweetie, Thanksgiving 2017
This turned out to be the year that I accidentally dumped ALL of my gravy down the drain (forgot to put a bowl under the strainer!), but no one seemed to care.  

Time flies, doesn't it?  The holidays are definitely different with teenagers than they were when I had little ones in the house.  I would wrap this post up with a pithy observation about the passage of time and seasons of life, but alas, my brain is too tired.  I need to hop in the shower and get dressed for the boys' Christmas show at church tonight.  I'm looking forward to seeing what all the high school kids have been working on for the past few months.  :-)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

More Designs, Dreams, Doodles and Practice Panels

I found some fantastic limited edition panels for machine quilting practice from Liuxin Newman, the Thimble Lady that I just had to share with you.  Liuxin is a renowned author and teacher of hand quilting, hand piecing, and hand applique, and her new digitally printed whole cloth kits would be perfect for hand stitched finishing.  But I'm envisioning using these for practice like I did with my Dresden plate cheater cloth -- except that these are so much prettier to look at, and much more useful sizes.  These would be practice quilts with a purpose, otherwise known as REAL QUILTS!

This Fish O'Rainbow quilt measures 52" x 72" and, with the addition of a simple border or two, it would make a fabulous children's quilt.  You could practice stitching straight lines where you wanted them OR use the lines as markings to evenly space some free motion squiggles.  I especially like all the pearl strings printed on this panel, because I definitely need practice making ROUND pearls instead of SQUARE pearls on my longarm machine!

52 x 72 Fish O'Rainbow Whole Cloth Quilt
See how they've machine quilted the sample?

One Way to Quilt This
I'm sure that, after tracing around all of the circles on this panel with my long arm machine, my ability to quilt rounder circles freehand will have improved tremendously.  This fabric would also be fantastic for embellishing with those bazillion decorative stitches that come with our modern sewing machines, wouldn't it?

This is the other "Just Quilting Kit" from Thimble Lady that intrigued me:

18 Inch Flying Feathers Block
Flying Feathers is an 18" block that you can purchase individually or in sets of 8 blocks, available in the mauve pink colorway or in dusty blue.  Although I'm not as in love with the colors of this one as I am with the happy fishies, I do like that this is all feathers and pearls.  Like round pearls, smooth, graceful feathers that don't look like ogre toes are a challenge, and tracing printed feathers with my quilting machine over and over would probably be a good way to improve my feathers, too.  

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to practice developing muscle memory for quilting designs on my iPad during church sermons:

My "Sermon Notes"
Of course this doodling doesn't translate perfectly at the machine because the Apple Pencil moves smoothly across the surface of the iPad in all directions.  Because of the way a longarm quilting machine carriage rides on horizontal and vertical wheels, there is more drag resistance on diagonal quilting motions than there is on true vertical or horizontal stitching lines.  That's why it's easier to draw reasonably round circles on the iPad than it is to actually quilt round circles on a longarm machine -- they come out square until you learn to compensate for the additional drag at the "corners" of the circle, and the extra momentum you pick up at the top, bottom, right and left points where the machine wants to keep going straight.  

Would you like to know how much actual sewing in real life I have accomplished since my last post?  I sewed ONE WHOLE SEAM yesterday.  I did laundry, got clean sheets on the beds, went for a walk with my sweetie, and had a VOX choir rehearsal starting in on the Christmas Lessons and Carols music.  But I managed to seam two lengths of backing fabric together and trim away the selvages before I left for choir.  That's the nice thing about having a dedicated studio.  If I only have a few minutes, I can sneak off to my studio and just sew for a few minutes.  If I was working on my dining room table, by the time I got the sewing machine out and set up it would be time to put everything away again!

I have high hopes for today, though.  I've got a bit of work piled up that needs my attention, but I hope I'm also able to get that backing pressed and cut down to the right size, AND get that math quilt loaded on the frame today.  I still don't know how I'm quilting it yet, but I'll feel better once it's on the frame and ready to go!

Have a great day, and happy stitching!
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