Sunday, September 15, 2019

In Fits and Snatches: Modern Baby Clam Shells + Christmas Outreach Quilt

Good morning, my lovelies!  Remember that baby quilt I designed last DECEMBER for a new mom in our family?  Well, her baby just turned nine months old yesterday, and I finally finished...  cutting out the fabric for the quilt top!

I Finished Cutting Out All the Pieces!
You thought I was going to say the whole quilt was finished, didn't you?  Bless your heart.

As you can see in this photo of the entire design wall, these clam shells are gigantic.  They will finish at 9 1/2", making this a 40" x 40" top once I add narrow turquoise borders:

Design Wall With Clams On the Left, Modern Building Blocks On the Right
Why has it taken me ten months to cut out this silly "quick and easy" baby quilt, you may ask?  Okay, so first, for the print clam shells, I was using an acrylic template that I found on Amazon here, but I was tracing around the template with a pencil and then cutting out each clam shell with scissors.  That got old.  Then, I put some of the grippy tape that I use on my longarm quilting rulers on the back of my clamshell template so it wouldn't slide, and discovered that I could cut out the turquoise background fabric with my 28 mm rotary cutter. Yay!  But then there were those pesky giant circles in the center row of the quilt to cut out.  Ugh.  I ended up using a circle cutter contraption that I found on Amazon here (thank goodness for Amazon Prime, right?!) and it worked okay.  You fold a slightly oversized square of fabric into quarters, press lightly, and line your folds up on the right angle lines on the circe cutting template, and then slice through the curved groove corresponding to your desired circle size with a 28 mm rotary cutter.  My acrylic clam shell template has tiny holes for alignment along the seamline, so I used the clam shell template to put markings on my circles that will line up with the clam shells for stitching.  Then I had to cut the partial clamshells, the sideways halves and the top/bottom halves and the quarter clams for the corners.  It was just annoying cutting and I had to think about the best way to do it, and I wasted a good deal of that turquoise fabric from the template sliding around or whatever.  Anyway, I'm glad it's finally all cut out and ready to sew!  The clams have to come of the wall to make room for laying out Double Wedding Rings for a Queen bed runner, anyway, so don't hold your breath thinking I'm going to have the clams pieced together by my next post, either.  See, I'm managing your expectations so you won't be disappointed.   You're welcome.


I quilted the outreach top that I pieced during our guild's Christmas in July Sit-and-Sew.  It's not amazing, but it's acceptable and it's done, and I still have time to bind it and turn it in so it can be given out during the holidays.

One Inch Grid With Amoeba Meandering
I had originally wanted to do something more interesting with the quilting, but ended up settling on a 1" grid in the red squares and "amoeba meandering" in the white squares.  Top thread is Superior King Tut cotton in a green and red variegated colorway with a dark green So Fine wound on the bobbin.  

Miss Millie Has Been Misbehaving!
My longarm machine is still not running smoothly, though, and after LOTS of trouble shooting with APQS Tech Support, we think that one of my encoders is bad.  Instead of the machine running at a smooth, steady speed according to how quickly I'm moving it over the surface of the quilt, mine does a racing lurching thing just randomly.  Apparently it's an electrical problem.  Anyway, the new head encoder will be here Monday and if that doesn't solve the problem, we'll have to replace the more expensive Bliss encoder as well.  These are parts that would have been covered under the APQS Lifetime Warranty if I was the original owner of the machine, but it's out of pocket for me since I purchased the machine secondhand, even though I bought it from a dealer.  It is what it is.

So, what's on my agenda for the upcoming week?  We'll be swapping out the head encoder on my longarm machine on Monday or Tuesday, as soon as that part shows up.  Meanwhile, I have a bit of a mess to clean up in my studio and then I will want to get my machines set up for different tasks.  I'll be doing the curved piecing of the clam shells and double wedding rings on either my 5.5 mm Bernina 475QE (my Goldilocks) or else on my 1935 Featherweight (Bette).  My big machine, the 750QE ('Nina) needs to seam backing together for another outreach top and bind that Christmas quilt.  So much to do, and so little done.  Story of my life.  So here's my Tuesday To Do List, a few days early:

  1. Double Wedding Ring
  2. Modern Baby Clam Shell
  3. Christmas Outreach Quilt
  4. Next MMBB Block for Anders' Ishmaelites Quilt

That ought to keep me plenty busy until next week.  I'm linking up today's post with:


·      Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·      Moving it Forward at Em's Scrap Bag
·      BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts 


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon
·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us

Saturday, September 7, 2019

F. Schumacher Gone Quilting? Quilting Inspires Interior Design Inspires Quilting...

Those of you who have been with me for awhile know that I am more of a designer than a maker.  For every 10-15 quilt ideas that I sketch out on my iPad or in EQ8, only one or two of them ever makes its way into the tangible reality of fabric and thread.  I spent 20 years in the interior design industry, where I used to pass my window treatment, bedding and pillow design sketches off (along with bolts of gorgeous fabrics and trims and detailed work orders) to the amazingly talented hands of my custom drapery workroom.  Then the makers in the workroom would turn my designs into reality while I got started dreaming up new ideas for another client.  

So anyway, because of my interior design background, this glossy, oversize design magazine from F. Schumacher called The Bulletin appears regularly in my mailbox.  And I had to share with you guys that, according to the tastemakers at F. Schumacher at least, "American Folk Art" is #2 on the list of up-and-coming interior design trends:

This is a Hot NEW Trend, According to F. Schumacher
Now, how cool is that?  We quilters have all just been so ahead of our times...  Those two fabrics pictured above are jacquard woven matelasses.  Although the one on the right is named Tristan Patchwork, it's not actually patchwork -- or quilted -- at all.

76762 Tristan Patchwork from F. Schumacher, Retail $236/yd
Naturally, as a designer AND a quilter, I love this fabric.  It would be fabulous for light duty upholstery, throw pillows, or a structured window treatment.  It comes in Yellow, Charcoal, or Indigo and the scale of the "blocks" is a good deal smaller than they would be on an actual quilt -- the pattern repeat is 13.5".  So that's interesting -- modern quilters are playing with scale by making quilt blocks that are larger in size, while textile manufacturers are playing with smaller-scale versions of the same traditional block patterns.  I also love how the traditional 2-color quilt idea is kicked up a notch by adding a second, paler yellow to the mix that almost reads as a visual echo or a shadow.  

My Pea Soup Paint Strip Challenge
Hmmm...  Our guild is doing a "paint strip challenge" for next spring's quilt show, and I had the misfortune to draw a very BORING strip of sage greens that doesn't feel challenging AT ALL.  I'm supposed to use at least two of the greens from my paint strip in my challenge quilt but I am sick of those greens already because they are in my Frankenwhiggish applique project, my Pineapple Nostalgia, even in Lars's Mission Impossible quilt.  I guess I misunderstood the challenge -- I thought they were going to have two or more "difficult" colors in each envelope, or colors that you don't typically think of as "going together" or something.  When I saw that Tristan Patchwork fabric in the Schumacher magazine this morning, I realized that I could definitely do something similar using my two shades of green where they are using yellows, but I'm not sure that's going to be interesting enough to hold my attention all the way through to a quilted and bound finish, you know what I mean?  I'd rather do a color challenge based on THIS story in the same magazine:

I Want THIS to Be My Color Challenge!
How much fun would it be to come up with a quilt based on THOSE two pages?  This is fashion designer Johnson Hartig of Libertine, and I absolutely adore his new interior fabrics collaboration with F. Schumacher.  I love how Hartig has taken this uber-luxurious, high-end cotton viscose velvet fabric and decorated it with goofy, campy Tibetan tigers.  It just makes me smile.  

77231 Jokhang Tiger Velvet from F. Schumacher, Retail $700/yd
Even MORE fun?  Check out this 3" wide trim, also from Johnson Hartig's collection for F. Schumacher, adorned with SAFETY PINS.  This is so delightful to me that it ALMOST tempts me to return to interior design, just so I can talk someone into decorating their living room draperies with a wide band of safety pins down the lead edges: 
77270 Punk Rock Mix Tape from F. Schumacher, Retail $198/yd

(Attention, DIY Fashionistas -- anyone with a sewing machine can recreate this look by sewing a bunch of safety pins to ordinary 3" wide grosgrain ribbon from JoAnn's...)

So my own PERSONAL interpretation of our guild's color challenge is going to be: How can I incorporate my boring greens into the weirdest and most unexpected quilt possible???  

But that challenge piece is WAY down on my list of priorities at the moment.  At the moment, I'm focused on:

  1. Getting back to my longarm machine to try out a different thread combination and hopefully get one of my two outreach tops quilted
  2. Working on a commission to finish a Double Wedding Ring UFO
  3. Anders' sampler quilt, Beware the Ishmaelites

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

I'm linking today's post with:


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon

·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Labor Day Adventures In Quilting, Dorm Stink, and Pet Reunions

Good morning, and Happy Wednesday!  I hope all of you in the States enjoyed a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  Mine was weird, but wonderful -- I'll get to that in a minute.  First, I have to show you the giant block I finished last night for Anders' Beware the Ishmaelites quilt (my modified version of the 2014 Moda Modern Building Blocks sampler, pattern available here).  

25 x 25, Block Three for Beware the Ishmaelites Sampler Quilt
This 25" block that I completed last night is not found in the original pattern; I am swapping it out for the large green and orange star block with white background that you see in the upper right corner of the original Moda quilt:

Original Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt, 84 x 96
Here's what my version of this quilt will look like:

Beware the Ishmaelites, 94 x 104
Just to recap, these are the changes I've made to the original pattern:

  1. Resized all of the blocks to increments of 5" instead of the original 6" grid, so a 36" block is now a 30" block, a 30" block is now a 25" block, etc.  This allowed me to get the exact size I wanted for my bed, but at the cost of ruler-friendly numbers for rotary cutting.  So the majority of these blocks will be either foundation paper pieced or cut out with old school cardstock templates.
  2. I added the borders, for two reasons.  First, this quilt is going to go on my younger son's bed, and I am envisioning (and liking) how these boldly striped borders are going to look hanging down on the sides of his black platform bed.  Second, this is going on a bed, and the bottom of the quilt is going to be tucked in where no one can see it...  And did you notice that row of tiny blocks on the bottom of the Moda version?  By shrinking all of my blocks and adding borders, I've moved those little blocks up onto the top of the mattress so we can SEE them once this quilt is on the bed.
  3. I've swapped out some of the original blocks in the quilt for others, such as the block I finished last night, the block in the lower left corner of the quilt, and a few of the smaller ones as well.  I replaced blocks if I thought the original was too similar to another block in the quilt, or if I thought it was boring, or if I found a more interesting block in the EQ8 Block Library or in Blockbase before I located the block that Moda used in their original quilt...
  4. Finally, I recolored the entire quilt to suit my own tastes and to coordinate with my son's bedroom, using all Kona Solids rather than Moda fabrics.  That's because I have a Kona Solids color chart that I was able to use to match the exact shades that I needed and I have all of the Kona Solids colors available to use in my EQ8 software.  So when I'm designing a quilt in EQ8 using Kona Solids and then I piece the actual quilt using Kona Solids, what I see on my computer screen looks exactly like what I see in real life in my finished quilt.  

My Design Wall, Late Last Night
So, there you see the three completed blocks up on my design wall.  Also featured are the languishing Modern Baby Clam Shells on the left (need to cut out the background clam shells and circles and start piecing it), intended as a baby gift for a child who is now nearly 9 months old, my machine appliqué sampler from Karen Kay Buckley's workshop (needs some kind of borders attached before it goes into the Waiting To Be Quilted Que (also known as Quilt Purgatory)...  The appliqué block at the top right corner of the design wall is from a machine applique class that I took with Harriet Hargrave about 7 years ago(?!).  I'm thinking of adding corner triangles and borders to that one to bring it up to 16" square, the size that I need for a Blocks On the Move mini quilt (a fabulous idea that I borrowed for our guild from the wonderful Country Crossroads Quilters of Modesto, California).  The barely-begin block just below that one is my class sample from the hand appliqué workshop I took with Karen Kay Buckley in July. I don't think I'm going to finish that one by hand, because I'm not interested in recreating the entire Fiesta Mexico quilt that it came from and I can practice the workshop techniques that Karen taught us on other hand applique projects that are already in progress.  But I threw the block up on the wall anyway because I might decide to finish that one by machine, add some hand stitched embellishments with some of the cool threads I picked up from the Wonderfil booth at Spring Quilt Week in Paducah, and turn THAT block into a 16" finished piece for Blocks On the Move.  

However, all of this has to come DOWN now, because I've taken on an exploratory quilt commission for a client.  I have to take everything off the design wall, brush away any stray dark threads or dog fur, vacuum the carpet and clean the iron, so I can get started on a vintage UFO Double Wedding Ring with a white background.  I need to be able to lay those blocks out on the wall.  We're thinking of finishing this as either one or two Queen size bed runners so that I can pick and choose the best-pieced, flattest blocks, and turn this into a finished quilt that the client can use in her home at a more affordable price point than an entire bed quilt.  

Oh, I almost forgot -- I promised to tell you about my Labor Day Weekend at the beginning of this post!  Well, the weird part of it was that my house was so quiet, with Lars away at college and Anders away on a high school youth church retreat.  But on Saturday, we headed up to Boone, North Carolina for a quick, spur-of-the-moment visit to see Lars-of-Ours and bring him some more items for his dorm.  And, when I asked Lars what else he needed besides air freshener for the stinky dorm, a bigger fish tank for his Betta fish, and trash bags, without hesitation he answered "BRING OTTO!"  So we went on a 4-hour round trip in the car to make Bring Your Doggy to College Day happen for Lars -- and it was totally worth it:
Lars-of-Ours, Reunited with Otto After a Three Week Separation
I love how the dog's head is bigger than Lars's.  

Otto the Snuggle-Pup, Hanging Out in Boone, NC
Otto is the sweetest, gentlest soul of a dog you could ever imagine -- but only to me, my husband, my mother, and my sons.  His view of the world is that everyone is probably an enemy unless proven otherwise, which is unfortunate because he is so darned CUTE that everyone wants to come and visit him and pet him, but as soon as a stranger approaches him he starts barking so viciously that you think he's going to eat you.  :-(. My female Rottweiler is the exact opposite -- she is super friendly to everyone, and assumes all strangers exist to rub her belly and scratch her ears.  But Lulu is not Lars's dog; she's Bernie's dog.  Lulu stayed home.  Taking Otto out into the world to continue to socialize him is important, and he does just fine as long as he's on his leash attached to my husband, who runs interference with strangers who are drawn to Otto like a magnet.  "Chick bait" is what Bernie calls this dog!

Otto and Bernie Hanging Out in the Parking Lot of Zaxby's

It was tricky enough working out the logistics with just the one dog, as it turned out, because we did not realize that Saturday was Appalachian State's first home football game of the season and everything was mobbed.  We couldn't even park in the parking lot outside Lars's dorm because it's right across the street from the stadium and it was reserved for tailgating. And, although there are several dog-friendly restaurants near Lars's school, we circled around the block for a good half hour and there were zero parking spots to be found.  We ended up driving a little further out to a Zaxby's restaurant and ordering food to go that we ate picnic-style in the grass next to the parking lot.

Lars's other pet, who is living with him at college full-time, is a Betta fish named Winston that one of his high school friends bought for him about a year ago.  This fish has been in a tiny little tank all this time, with no gravel, no rock or plant or anything to hide in, for a YEAR.  Lars has done a fantastic job of keeping the fish alive, remembering to feed it, change the water regularly, etc.  So I sent him a care package with some fake plants, a hiding rock, and gravel after we moved him in.  Lars's brother Anders picked out the little Hula dancer.  But I wasn't remembering exactly how tiny Lars's tank was when we picked out all of these accessories -- nothing fit except the Hula dancer, with her head sticking out of the water!

Lars's Betta Fish Winston, Original Tank, Next to Grande Starbucks Cup
After we left to drive home, Lars went to the football game with some other students.  He sent me this picture of the new 3.5 gallon tank all set up for Winston:

Same Fish, Same Hula Dancer, MUCH Bigger Tank

SO much better, don't you think?!  And off to the right of the tank in this picture, you can see the Nest Diffuser that I set up for him to combat the stink that happens when two teenaged boys are crammed into a small dorm room in a building that does not have air conditioning.  They are not allowed to have any kind of candles in the dorm, not allowed to burn incense, and not allowed to use any of the plug-in room fresheners.  The Damp Rid and other air fresheners the boys had been using at first were not doing the trick, so I decided to try an oil diffuser with a strong, masculine scent that isn't overpowering or nauseating (NOT like those little Christmas tree air fresheners that people used to hang from their rear view mirrors!).  I wanted to select the scent in person so I bought this for Lars from a local Blue Mercury shop, but you can get the same one (Nest Morroccan Amber) on Amazon here.  Depending on how often the boys flip the reeds, this should last them anywhere from 3 months to the entire school year, and there are oil refills (only available on the Nest website here) that are nearly half the cost of the initial kit that comes with the vase.

And last, but not least -- I discovered a fabulous quilt shop and Bernina dealer in Boone, right down the street from the hotel where we stayed when we moved Lars into his dorm!

Sew Original in Boone, NC, My New LQS-Away-From-Home
My husband the comedian, who remained outside in the car with Otto, said "don't stay in there all day and don't spend any money."  AS IF!

I met the loveliest salesperson Susan, who recognized me from my blog and from the Bernina 7 Series Yahoo group(!!) and came out with a package of pretty jacquard ribbons and an Accuquilt GO! cutter starter package, since it was the last day of the manufacturer's holiday rebate and I'd had my eye on the larger size cutter for awhile.

Okay, that's it for now because I have to scoot out the door to get my mom to a medical appointment on time.  Have a wonderful day, everyone!

I'm linking up with:


·      Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
·      “WOW” WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Blog


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·      Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·      Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
·      TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here:  

Friday, August 23, 2019

Rebecca and the Late Night Sewing Hypnosis Trance: Beware the Ishmaelites/Moda Modern Building Blocks Sampler Block One Complete!

It's 1 AM, we're leaving first thing tomorrow morning TODAY morning for a wedding and I'm not packed yet, but I snuck downstairs to the computer for a quick post because I finished another block for my youngest son Anders' Beware the Ishmaelites quilt (a modified version of the Moda Modern Building Blocks sampler)!  I printed foundation paper piecing patterns and templates for the next three blocks and cut out all of my fabrics yesterday, and once I started piecing this block I just got into the zone and couldn't bear to stop until I was finished.  My poor husband just shook his head at me and wandered off to bed around 11 PM.  He has given up trying to talk sense into me when I'm in a Sewing Hypnosis Trance.

MMBB Block One, Resized to 30 x 30, in Kona Solids
This is Block One in the Moda Modern Building Blocks sampler, except that mine is resized to be finish at 30" square rather than 36" square, resulting in some odd math.  I'm very pleased with how it came out.  Piecing is SO much more fun than packing, am I right?  My fabrics for this quilt are all Kona solids.  This block has Lipstick and Snow (a warm off-white) in the center, surrounded by Blueberry, then Clover, and the darker blue is Ocean.  I paper pieced the center of the block and the rest of these weirdly-sized triangles were cut with giant templates and then traditionally pieced.  So now I have two blocks finished for this quilt that I only started two and a half years ago!

Here is the new block on the design wall alongside the first block (which was Block Two on the MMBB pattern) that I made a LONG time ago:

MMBB Blocks One and Two, both 30 x 30, Plus Other Random WIPs On the Wall
Yippee, skippy!  And NOW I can go to sleep for a few hours, still not packed for our trip, because now that the quilting high has worn off, my sleepiness has hit me like a ton of bricks.  When my alarm goes off I'll have to jump in the shower, chug my morning latte, and randomly throw things into my suitcase in panic mode.  Because that's how I operate.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Happy stitching!

I'm linking today's post up with:


·      Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·      Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·      Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
·      TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, this week found here: Work In Progress Girl  


·      UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland
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