Monday, January 28, 2019

I Cut It Twice and it's Still Too Short: Let's Pretend I Meant to Do That

I should not have set foot in my sewing room at all yesterday.  If there was such a thing as a Quilter's Horoscope, mine for yesterday would have said "Avoid rotary cutters and scissors at all costs!  Spend the day looking at other people's quilts on Pinterest and Instagram!"


New Emergency Plan for Outer Borders: Pieced Corner Squares
So you may remember that I had my outer striped border print strips already seamed together along the stripe line, ready to be cut to size and attached to my quilt top with mitered corners.  I sat down to do the math after church yesterday, using the same instructions from the same book I used to do the mitered corners on the borders around the medallion for this quilt, but when I got to the part where I was supposed to pin the first border strip to the quilt I discovered that I'd cut the strip too short to do a miter.  I went back to check my calculations, and this is what I saw -- in my own handwriting:


63 1/2" minus 1/2" equals 62"??!

I swear, you guys -- I wasn't even drinking!!  Ugh...  It took me SO LONG to cut those border stripes single layer along the stripes and piece them together to get the borders the way I wanted them, and I cut ALL FOUR of them too short.  I didn't have enough of that border print to start over, and I'm pretty sure I can't get any more of it, either.  And of course I don't want to order fabric and then wait for it -- I want this project DONE already!!

Well, there's no use crying over spilled milk or butchered borders, is there?  A bunch of different ideas occurred to me and were abandoned for whatever reason, and I decided to make pieced corner blocks from the scraps I'd trimmed away from my pieced border lengths.  And here's where my EQ8 software came in handy yet again: My pieced border stripe finishes at 3 3/8" wide, so I needed my corner blocks to finish at 3 3/8" square.  My quarter square triangle ruler has lines printed in quarter inch increments, not eighths, and I wasn't going to be able to cross-cut an oversize square like you'd do in regular rotary cutting.  I also wanted to fussy cut those stripes to create the effect I wanted, so I decided to make myself a see-through template and cut these odd-size triangles out the old school way.



One of the cool things about EQ8 software, and why I recommend it for EVERY quilter even if you have no desire to ever design a quilt in your life, is that the software allows you to print out any of over 6,700 different blocks in any size your heart desires, either as foundation paper piecing patterns, traditional piecing templates, applique templates, or rotary cutting charts.  If you add the additional Blockbase (which works as a standalone piece if you just want to print patterns and don't want to invest in the full software package), that gives you an additional 4,300+ block patterns to choose from.  All copyright free, just about every block you can imagine, and you can easily make it whatever weird size you need in order to fix the border you cut too small... 

I located the 4-X block I wanted from the EQ8 Block Library.  This is one of those basic blocks that is already included as a default option in the Project Sketchbook when you create a new project:


I selected the block I wanted and clicked the Edit button, which brought up the Block Worktable screen:


Then all I needed to do was change the finished width and height of the block from 6.000" x 6.000" to 3.875" x 3.875" for my 3 3/8" corner block.  I clicked the Print & Export tab at the top of the screen next and printed a paper template for this resized block, and then I traced the paper template onto gridded template plastic since I wanted to fussy-cut my pieced stripe.  If I didn't need to see through my template, I would have just printed directly onto cardstock and saved the step of tracing.  Ta-da!

Odd Sized Quarter Square Triangle Template Printed from EQ8, Traced Onto Gridded Template Plastic
Next I just traced my template onto the pieced border stripe and cut each one out with a scissors, like the quilters used to do in Ye Olden Days...

Fussy Cutting Quarter Square Triangles From Pieced Border Stripe
And of course, I was cutting these triangles out of the SCRAP pieces I'd cut off when I cut my borders down to the (wrong) size, right?  RIGHT?!!!

-- WRONG!!!  AAARRRGH!!!  In yesterday's brain fog, it wasn't enough that I cut all four border strips too short to be mitered.  I grabbed one of my actual borders and started cutting triangles out of it, thinking it was a scrap.  I cut three triangles out of my border before I noticed that it was an AWFULLY long scrap...

Okay, so this was a really upsetting discovery to make, but I dug around in the studio and found that I did have a long, skinny scrap of the border print left, enough to make one more replacement pieced border.  There is not enough fabric left for any more mistakes!!  So today I've got some interior design work to catch up on in my office, and then I'll be heading up to the studio this afternoon to hopefully get these borders done and this quilt top finished once and for all!

Four Pieced Corner Blocks, Ready To Go
I have to admit, though -- I think I like my accidental corner blocks better than I would have liked the mitered corners I had originally planned for this border.  Aren't they cute?  They remind me of carved millwork rosettes like these:

Rosette Ornament for Woodworking from Decorator's Supply
One more photo, to give you an idea of how the scale of my corner blocks relates to the rest of the quilt top:

My Happy Accidents
Love, love, love!  All's well that end's well -- and this quilt top DOES need to come to an end today!!  

Meanwhile, back to work!  I'm linking up with:


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Quilt Block Surgery: How To Change The Center Patch WITHOUT Taking the Block Apart. Also, I Just Remembered I Love Embroidery.

You guys -- I am so excited about my Jingle BOM quilt right now that I'm GIDDY!  Thanks to all of you who reached out and shared your opinions about the crooked tree block and my idea about embroidering dates on the front of this quilt.  I especially liked the idea of putting my initials on the front of the quilt somewhere -- MONOGRAM!!  As for the tree -- ironically, it was Frog Quilter who said that I should leave the tree the way it is (rather than frog stitching it) because it "shows character and makes the quilt uniquely yours."  When I thought about it that way, I realized the tree HAD to come out, because leaving the crooked tree would NOT reflect my character -- MY character is all about analyzing the details and wanting to make a good thing even better.  Also, removing the center patch of that block without disassembling the border OR taking the block apart is a challenge -- and I love a good challenge!


French Hare Embroidery Scissors for Quilt Block Surgery!
So the first thing I did was make sure I had this block-within-the-border pressed and starched so it was very crisp and stable.  Then I carefully used my seam ripper to cut every 3rd or fourth stitch holding that green tree fabric to the adjacent gold fabric patches, working from the back side.  The corners of the green patch were secured by subsequent seams that I didn't want to take out, so I used my new French hare embroidery scissors to clip the green patch's corners right up close to those seam lines, and then carefully pulled the green patch out of the seam without disturbing the stitching.  A few green threads remained caught in the seam, and those pulled out easily with a tweezers.

At this point I was able to audition replacement fabric possibilities through the window/gaping wound in the center of my block.  I decided the original Christmas tree fabric was too cutesy and I didn't like it with the other fabrics in the block anymore, so I replaced it with a red metallic instead.  I used the old patch as a template to cut out the replacement patch.


I Was NOT Supposed to Cut Those Corners Off!
Yes, I forgot that I'd cut the green patch away from the block right at the seam line on all four corners when I was cutting the new patch -- after I took this photo I cut a new red patch and left the corners on this time.


Positioning and Glue Basting Replacement Patch, WITH Corners
I wanted to use my Roxanne's Glue Baste-It for this step, but I found my fabric glue stick before I could locate the Roxanne's liquid glue so that's what I used.  The liquid glue in tiny droplets would have worked better and given me more control of where I was putting glue rather than gooping up all over the place -- but if the glue stick is all you have on hand, you can certainly make do with it.



Anyway, I applied the glue to the seam allowances of the gold fabric and then, with the new red patch right side up on my worktable, I positioned the block -- also right side up -- over the new patch, trying to keep the wavy gold lines in the new patch fabric as straight as possible.  Then I pressed down with my fingertips so the glue would adhere the block to the new patch along the seam allowances, and carefully turned the block to the back side.  Next I used my fingernails to push those corners all the way into place beneath the overlapping seam allowances.

I wasn't trusting the goopy glue stick to hold this patch 100% securely throughout hand stitching all by itself, so I added pins along all four sides of the patch, going through the seam allowances, as well.  These are the 5/8" Essential Applique Pins from Piece O'Cake that I'm using, by the way.  They are just a smidge longer than the more common 1/2" sequin/applique pins, they are super sharp to glide through fabric without resistance, and that extra eighth of an inch makes it easier for me to manipulate them than the smaller pins.


Replacement Patch Glue Basted and Pinned, Ready for Reverse Applique

Now all I had to do was reverse applique the new patch in place!  I used YLI 100 weight silk thread in a cornsilk shade that disappeared into the gold feathery fabric, with my favorite size 12 Bohin applique needle.


Glue Basting Plus Pins Keeps New Patch From Shifting During Stitching
The trickiest bit was when I got to the corners, getting them nice and sharp again.  I had to sort of finesse the fabrics into place at the corners with some additional stitches there.


Back Side of Block, Surgery Completed!
Here's the back side of my block following surgery, with the new patch hand stitched into place and the excess fabric trimmed away at the corners.  Isn't that cute?


Surgery Was A Success!  The Patient Survived!!
I like this block SO MUCH BETTER than the original. Remember that this Jingle quilt was a BOM (designed by Erin Russek of One Piece at a Time, complete patterns available here) so I didn't have a vision of what the entire quilt was going to look like as I was making each block.  Then I decided to alternate red and green fabrics for my setting triangles rather than using all red as directed by the pattern.  Seeing it up on my wall now, I just felt like I wanted a red in the center of this block.  Here's what my block looked like pre-surgery:


Crooked Tree Block, Prior to Surgery
See?  Now, if you happen to like this block better with the crooked tree in the center, feel free to keep that comment to yourself...  ;-)  Just kidding!  Maybe I'll stick that little tree patch on the back of the quilt and incorporate it into the label somehow.  We'll see.  

The surgically altered block is in the right side border, so once I'd replaced the leaning tree I went ahead and attached that border to the center medallion.  It fit perfectly, and the stripe came out exactly as I'd hoped it would...  So I turned my attention to the other last-minute details I had in mind.  Embroidery!

OH MY GOODNESS, you guys -- I FORGOT how much I like embroidery!  And the only hand embroidery I've ever done was the chain stitched stems on the applique blocks for this very quilt.  I gave a lot of thought to the style of the lettering and numerical fonts that would add something aesthetically to this quilt, and I decided I wanted an Art Deco vibe.  I found a font on my computer that I liked for my dates -- after changing the zero to a capital O for a little more oomph -- and printed it out in several sizes until I ended up with a printout that fit my block nicely.

I marked chalk positioning lines on the front of my block from corner to corner, and marked corresponding centering lines in dark pencil on the paper printout of my dates.  Then I pulled out my seldom used but OH SO VALUABLE WHEN I NEED IT light box, slid the paper template under my quilt block, matched up the diagonal centering lines, and carefully traced the dates onto my quilt block with an ultra fine point, archival ink, permanent gold pen.  Now there was no going back!

Dates Marked in Permanent Archival Ink!
At this point in my Jingle project, no more shopping is allowed -- and no stores were open anyway when I was doing all of this last night.  So I chose embroidery threads that I had on hand.  For embroidering the dates, I chose a shiny YLI Pearl Crown Rayon in Gold, color #772, that I found in a bin of heavier threads that I've played with for bobbin work on my Bernina machines.  I wanted the dates to be subtle but legible, and I wanted the numbers to be really delicate as though they had been engraved, so I just did a simple backstitch.  It was so cool to see the embroidery bring these simple numbers to life one stitch at a time!

Embroidery Magic!
How can something SO EASY look SO BEAUTIFUL?!!  I love my dates and I think the block looks like they were meant to be there all along.  Seriously, I'm so glad I did this!

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
I know I'm a dork, but you guys have to remember that this is my very first ever applique quilt, my very first ever diagonal block border, my very first time doing a mitered stripe border, my very first ever hand embroidery...  This has been six years in the making with lots of setbacks and challenges along the way, and I am just amazed that after all the blood, sweat and tears, it looks like this is going to be a finished quilt after all.  It might even be a finished quilt that I can be proud of!  And to think, there were moments along the way where I thought it was just an awful mess and I nearly tossed it!

Last One, I Promise
I've done some machine embroidered personalization on the front of quilts for children before -- special quotes, monograms, the baby's name or birth date.  I couldn't bring myself to machine embroider on hand appliqued blocks that had hand embroidered stems and hand embroidered bird eyes.  I'm really liking the look of the hand stitched dates, and there is a strong chance that you will be seeing more of this from me on future projects.

The other fantastic idea that several of you suggested was embroidering my initials on the front of the quilt.  I loved that idea, and decided to do it as a monogram.  I did an Internet search for Art Deco 3-letter monogram styles and cobbled a few things together on the computer and then adjusted the size until I was able to print a template that fit inside my block properly.  I used the same chalk positioning lines and light box technique as before and traced the monogram design onto my block using fine point archival ink pens in the thread colors I'd chosen for the embroidery.

Monogram Drawn on Block, Ready to Stitch
Now, doesn't it look like the monogram just belonged in the center of that tulip wreath all along?  I wanted the monogram to be bolder than the dates, so I went back to the chain stitch that I used for the stems.  I attempted to stitch French knots where the gold dots are but they didn't come out very well -- I might snip them off, find a YouTube video to figure out what I did wrong, and do them over again.  They're in the same gold Pearl Crown Rayon that I used to stitch the dates on the other block.  The R and the D (for Rebecca and Deming, my maiden name) are stitched in the same emerald green thread that I used to stitch my stems six years ago -- DMC size 5 Pearl Cotton, color 699.  The larger R in the center is for my last name/married name, and for that I chose a DMC cotton embroidery floss in variegated Garnet red, color 115, and separated out four threads to get a similar thickness to the size 5 pearl cotton.  You can't tell from the pictures, but I like the way the subtle color variations of the variegated red embroidery floss mimic the color variation in my red batik berry fabric.

Monogram In Progress During Late-Night Television
This is how far I got before I went to bed last night:

One Letter to Go...
So obviously my To-Do for Tuesday is that I want to finish this monogram -- not just because I'm excited about it, but because I don't want to leave it in the embroidery hoop too long and risk hoop burn marks that I can't press out.  It was probably a no-no to leave it in the embroidery hoop overnight, but I don't know what I'm doing and I'm making this up as I go along...  I might go back and add a little something extra around the big "R" of this monogram, or maybe I won't.  And then, once I'm satisfied with my embroidery efforts, the three remaining block borders can get sewn on...  And then the final outer borders will go on, which are also border stripes that get mitered at the corners, but they aren't as wide so they should be a snap compared to the inner border miters.  Then, at long, LONG last, my Jingle BOM UFO/WIP/WWIT (What Was I Thinking?) will be a completed quilt top, ready for quilting!

I'm linking up with:



Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Joy of Mitered Stripe Borders, With a Little Help From Donna Lynn Thomas

My Jingle BOM project is starting to come together, FINALLY!  I dragged the cutting and seaming of these striped borders for weeks, and then procrastinated actually attaching them to the center applique medallion of this quilt because I had to be in the right frame of mind for it.  Actually, I just had to be fully awake and "sharp" for it, because I didn't have any more of the border fabrics I was using and I did NOT want to spend hours carefully cutting those stripes in single layer..  No math errors, and no cutting errors!  It wasn't brain surgery, but it wasn't "mindless sewing," either.  I'm glad I waited until I was awake, fully caffeinated, and had plenty of time so I wouldn't be rushing.  

Inner Borders Attached and Mitered!  Woo Hoo!
I think this is only the second time I've mitered corners on a border before, and I've never done it before where I was matching stripes at the miter.  I referred to one of my favorite reference books by Donna Lynn Thomas, Quiltmaking Essentials 2: Settings and Borders, Backings and Bindings, and just followed Donna's clear instructions step by step, and those borders came out pretty near perfect!




I have Donna's companion book to this one, too (Quiltmaking Essentials 1: Cutting and Piecing Skills) and I recommend that one, too.  What I like about these two books is that they are thin, quick reads initially, but packed full of useful information at a very low price point.  There are no projects in either book, but these two books are like the instruction manual that tell you everything you need to know for any pattern you got from a magazine or dreamed up in your head.  The information on how and why to create a pressing plan in the first book goes way beyond the old adage of "press to the dark side" and made a huge difference for me between perfect points and points blunted or chopped at the seam -- who knew?  But I digress.

It Fits!
After all of that waffling back and forth, hemming and hawing, I really do like these borders.  The green herringbone was a random quarter yard piece in my stash that I don't remember ever buying, and all of that careful cutting along the border stripe paid off because it looks exactly like I wanted it to look -- like an ornate picture frame and the green fabric is like the mat.  Best of all, the center medallion with borders attached is actually the size it needs to be to connect to the pieced diagonal set block borders that I spent, oh, just a few years on...  
Yes!
That corner is square -- it looks funny because I took the picture at an angle when I was pressing the border on my ironing board.  I was so worried about the stripes not meeting up perfectly at the miter!

I Love My Borders!
Now I can't imagine this quilt any other way than with my happy little border stripes around the center medallion.

Alright, I don't think you need to see pictures of all four corners, do you?  But there are a couple of other detours I'm contemplating.  

I Was SO PLEASED With This Fussy-Cut Tree...
For instance, when I pieced this particular block 5 years ago, I worked so hard with my fussy-cutting and wanting all the points to be perfect, and did not realize until the block was finished that because of the diagonal setting, my little Christmas tree in the center of the block is leaning like the Tower of Pisa:
Do I Fix That Crooked Christmas Tree?
So...  Do I fix that or leave it alone?  The thing is, I'm NOT willing to take the block apart, remake a new one from scratch, or even remove it from the setting triangles.  Since the block is nicely starched and crisply pressed, I think I'd carefully remove the center patch with the crooked tree, glue-baste a new piece of fabric behind the hole, and then reverse applique it in place.  

Should I Embroider Label Info On the Front of This Quilt?
Also, as I was looking at this up on the design wall, I kept seeing embroidered dates in that birdie-wreath block in the center of the bottom border.  So I'm thinking of embroidering 2013-2019 in the center of that block, like you see in some of the old Baltimore album quilts.  My husband the quilt expert (not!) doesn't like that idea.  He doesn't understand why I would put that on the front instead of just putting the dates on the label on the back of the quilt, but it's kind of like when they put a date on the cornerstone of a building.  It adds historical interest.  Also, it answers that question people always ask "Oh my gosh you MADE THIS?!!  How long did it TAKE?!!!"  And perhaps when people see that it took me 6 years to finish this quilt, they won't even ask the follow up question "Will you make one for ME?!"  Hah!

This quilt is destined for a wall in my family room where I'm planning to display it throughout Advent and Christmas each year.  No one is ever going to be looking at the label on the back of this quilt.  

My Son, Anders, Posing With His Roman Square Blocks in 2013
And someday my son Anders gets this quilt, because he was hanging out with me in my sewing room a lot back when I first made the blocks in 2013, and making a quilt of his own.  We watched Tom & Jerry cartoons and Fraser reruns, and I loved listening to him laugh.  It's hard to believe that was six whole years ago until I look at the pictures and see how small he was back then.  Now he's almost 16 years old, and he is towering over me at about 5'10' or 5'11"!  

Six Years Later...  Anders' High School Orchestra Concert
Ah, my sweet little boy is turning into a handsome young man, and these abandoned blocks are finally turning into a quilt!  Anders also gets this Jingle quilt someday because he has been relentlessly nagging me to finish it all these years -- but for now, it's mine!

I had planned to finish assembling this quilt top with the remaining borders today, but I was so tired when I got home from church that I decided to just lay down for a nap -- and ended up sleeping most of the day!  Very disorienting when I woke up and it was already getting dark outside, but my body must have needed the rest.  Well, there's always tomorrow for borders and things...  And by "things," I mean embroidering dates and fixing crooked Christmas trees.  Or not.  What do you think?  I'm still undecided.

I'm linking up with:

Monday, January 14, 2019

SQUIRREL!! Needle-Turn Applique Tangent Delays Completion of Jingle BOM Quilt Top

Good morning!  Yes, I'm aware that it's afternoon, but I'm running sluggish this morning even after my second high-test espresso beverage, so it's still Monday Morning Mode for me.

I've been having so much fun working on this needle-turn applique block from the workshop I took two weekends ago, taught by Christa Smith of Cottonberry Quilts.  I deliberately chose wild and wacky fabrics for my block to give myself a break from the monotony of the soft, traditional color palette of my Frankenwhiggish Rose needle-turn applique WIPFAE (Work In Progress Forever And Ever), and I fussy-cut my leaves and berry-circle-thingys, out of Tula Pink's snail print and Kaffe Fassett's feather print fabrics.  There have been some unanticipated benefits to all of this reckless abandon!


My Workshop Block In Progress, Which I Have No Business Working on Right Now
First of all, the FUN FACTOR.  I am enjoying these bright, playful colors!  Second, since I cut each leaf out of a different section of the feather print, each one is different.  Each one is a delightful surprise as I finish stitching it and see what it's going to look like!  And, with these wacky fabrics and each leaf having a different part of the print anyway, it takes some of the pressure off that comes from trying to sew a block that is 100% symmetrical with every block 100% identical.  I think that the prepared edge applique method is probably better for when I want identical shapes that need to be placed precisely symmetrically on the block.  The drawn turning line for needle-turn smudges as I'm handling the piece during stitching and it's just more difficult to get each leaf to turn out exactly the same as the last one when I'm turning the edge under as I'm stitching it down.  


Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy...
I started this piece using the Aurifil 80 weight cotton thread that Christa had on her supply list, but I quickly switched back to my YLI 100 weight silk thread as the Aurifil was constantly -- CONSTANTLY breaking on me.  Everyone hand stitches differently, and I'm not aware that any of the other students were having trouble with their Aurifil thread breaking, but I gotta do what works for me.  My suspicion is that my tiny stitches have something to do with it.  The more stitches per inch on your project, the more times each section of your length of thread is getting abraded by being dragged through your fabrics before it gets made into a stitch.  But hand stitching is incredibly personal, and everyone does it a little differently -- definitely a situation where "your mileage may vary."  Thread that works great for others snarls or breaks for me, and needles that work for others immediately bend on me, too.  


Jingle BOM, My First Applique Stitches in 2013 (Still a WIP)
See?  I'm sure a psychiatrist could diagnose me with half a dozen personality disorders based on the size of those stitches.  I've tried to make my stitches bigger because I know they are way smaller than necessary (small enough to cause distortion, IMPOSSIBLE to remove, like weaving the two fabrics together instead of stitching them) and most importantly -- those neurotic microscopic stitches make a slow stitching process even slower so nothing ever gets finished, but I'm on autopilot when I get into a stitching groove and this is what comes out.  I think I'm doing better now, but when I look at the back side of other quilters' applique -- GORGEOUS applique, skillfully made by quilters who know what they are doing -- I can still see that my stitches are closer together than they need to be:


My Applique Stitches Today
It would be easier to compare the stitch length if I'd included a penny in the photo from today, but if you click on the photos to enlarge them you can see that in 2013 there were places where I had more than one applique stitch on a single thread of the background fabric.  In the photo from today, most of my applique stitches span SEVERAL threads of background fabric.  I'm calling that PROGRESS, in my applique skills as well as in my mental health!  ;-)


Backside View, So You Can See What's Stitched Down and What's Just Pin Basted
Silk thread is just as fine as the 80 weight cotton, and it disappears just as well as I stitch it into the applique, but it is much, MUCH stronger.  Also slippery so it doesn't need any Thread Heaven or beeswax, and it shimmers in my sewing kit like jewels.  

So, speaking of that Jingle BOM (and speaking of WASTED EFFORT that no one will notice or appreciate in a finished quilt)...


Jingle BOM in Progress, On My Design Wall.
I spent some time in the studio over the weekend and finished cutting the stripes I wanted from my border print fabric.  In the photo above, I decided that I didn't like the small scale of the yellow/gold poinsettias in the outer border.  I like them in the INNER border near the applique medallion, but I'm cutting the flowered stripe out of the outer borders and seaming the adjacent stripes together to make it look like the flowers were never there.  


Delicate Border Print Stripe Surgery In Progress
I didn't think about how long it would take to cut these pieces in a single layer, carefully lining the stripe up with the quarter inch mark on my ruler all the way down both sides of each stripe for all four border lengths.


Sewing the Border Back Together Without the Poinsettias
Anyway, I've got all these border stripes cut now, and all but one of them is sewn back together, and then I'll have the outer borders ready to attach.  Meanwhile, I determined that I might not be able to live with my most recent plan for the inner border stripes.  I was going to "fill in" between the border stripe and the medallion with a green fabric, but when I measured and did the math it just seems like the green fabric would be too wide next to the skinnier stripes of the border print and the proportions might be off.  That would mean I need to do divide that space between more than one fabric border rather than just the green...  Delays, delays, delays!  UGH!  I want this project FINISHED already!!

And meanwhile that baby to whom I've promised a quilt is already over four weeks old with her quilt not started yet, and my church is sending me threatening letters about Quillow Sunday deadlines for June.


My EQ8 Design for the Baby Clam Shells Quilt That Isn't Started Yet
Okay, they are not intended to be threatening letters.  I PERCEIVE them to be threatening letters because my son's graduation quilt is a HIGH PRESSURE project with a hard deadline, and I haven't started that yet, either.  Aaargh!!!!!


My EQ8 Design for Lars's Graduation Quilt, Not Yet Started
Hey, I did another thing, though.  I got the binding made for the guild outreach cuddle quilt and hand stitched the label onto the back of the quilt yesterday:




Label Attached!  Bottom Edge Will Be Secured By Binding
This outreach quilt was pieced by another quilter and when I picked it up at the October(!) guild meeting, it was packaged into a little kit with batting, backing, label, and binding strips for me to finish.  But the binding fabric was a stripe, and now that we have seen my obsessive-compulsive applique stitches no one should be surprised that I was unable to join those binding strips without carefully aligning the stripes and glue basting each seam like a crazy person...  Binding is done now, ready to be sewn to the quilt.


Binding Made, Ready to Attach (After Quilt Label)
Sorry those two photos ended up out of order -- I took the picture of the binding before I attached the quilt label.  I was supposed to finish this quilt and bring it back to the NOVEMBER meeting, by the way, but it wasn't finished in time for the November meeting.  Or in time for the December meeting, or the January meeting...  We're rooting for the February meeting, and I don't think I should sign out any outreach quilt kits anymore.  If I'd made the whole thing out of fabrics in my own stash I wouldn't feel like I was "late" turning it in.

Whatever.  I'm headed upstairs to either work on the Jingle borders OR bind the outreach quilt, depending on my mood when I get to the top of the stairs.  Have a great week, everyone!  I'm linking up with:


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stepping Off the Roller Coaster, Trying Not to Puke: The Saga of Why Spring Quilt Week in Paducah for 2019 is a No-Go

So I got this email on Tuesday  announcing that class registration for Spring Quilt Week in Paducah was open for AQS members.  I've never attended any of the major quilt shows before, but I'd love to go -- and thought it might be a great opportunity to take some longarm quilting classes, if I could only get into the classes before they were full.  I clicked the link to the class descriptions and was EUPHORIC when I saw that both Judi Madsen and Lisa Calle will be teaching at this year's show!  With butterflies in my stomach, I filled my little shopping cart with every single longarm class offered at the show, 9 blissful hours per day of of quilting tutelage with two of my favorite quilt artists on the planet, expecting at every moment to get an error message telling me that my class selections were not available after all.  It reminded me of standing in line for the Corkscrew roller coaster at Valleyfair soon after the ride opened in 1980, with my dad and my older sister Susan: watching the cars spinning through the inversions, listening to the happy screams of the riders, wondering if I would ever make it to the front of the line before the ride closed for the day, and hoping that if I DID get to ride the roller coaster, I wouldn't puke all over myself.

The Corkscrew at Valleyfair, My First Big Roller Coaster Ride circa 1980
You guys -- I got ALL THE CLASSES!!!  I was dancing and prancing and compiling lists in my head of all of the questions I wanted to be sure to ask over the course of this longarm quilting intensive I'd planned for myself.  I was making an itinerary of when I'd visit the exhibit floor and merchant mall, which day I'd go to the National Quilt Museum...  And then, with these visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I went to bed because it was midnight and apparently it's difficult for my family members to sleep when I'm dancing and skipping around the house.

For those of you not familiar with Calles' and Madsens' work:

I signed up for Lisa Calle's class "Pebbles, Echoes, Crosshatches, Oh My: Fillers on the Longarm" to learn how Lisa quilts magnificent designs like these:
Lisa Calle's Longarm Fill Quilting
I also signed up for her 6-hour" Meet & Greet the Longarm" class to learn alternative methods of loading and setting up for quilting, and in hopes of building a better foundation of the basics to build upon.  I signed up for her ruler work class, too, as well as her free-motion feather class.  Can you imagine?!!

As for Judi Madsen, well, it's pretty much all her fault that I bought a longarm quilting machine in the first place.  I stumbled across her blog some years ago and her longarm quilting was just the most beautiful, joyful, playful and expressive quilting I'd seen ANYWHERE, including hand quilting as well as machine quilting.  I never had any desire to own a longarm quilting machine until I saw the cool stuff Judi was doing with hers:

Ticky Tack Pattern by Honest Fabric, Pieced and Quilted by Judi Madsen
Judi's style is difficult to classify and she is equally adept at custom quilting modern as well as traditional quilts.  To serious traditional applique, her quilting adds a playful whimsy that feels fresh and current.  To simply pieced modern quilt tops utilizing solids and vast negative spaces, the complexity of her ruler work and free motion fills brings the magnificence of the whole cloth quilting tradition into the 21st century.  

Luscious Quilting by Judi Madsen, See More of This Quilt on Judi's Flickr Page Here
Now, did I expect to emerge after a single week of workshops transformed into a master quilter on par with Lisa Calle and Judi Madsen?  Of course not -- but I was sure I'd come home from Quilt Week a more confident and capable quilter than I am today.

So the first thing I did on Wednesday morning was to sit down at my computer and book my flight to Paducah for the show.  No hiccups there.  And finally, now that my classes and dates and flights were all pinned down for the trip, I went back to that handy-dandy APQS Approved Accommodations list on their web site -- which EVEN TODAY is still showing 20+ well-known commercial hotels in Paducah as having availability -- and started calling them to try to book a room.  And this is the part of the roller coaster ride where they flip you upside down suddenly, the inversion that comes along out of nowhere when you're speeding down the track at over a hundred miles an hour and your entire stomach, along with its contents, is suddenly inside of your mouth instead of in your abdomen where it belongs.  Yes, this is that part -- including all of the screaming, the tears, and the desperate prayers that go along with it!  I literally begged the manager of the Hampton Inn to let me bring a sleeping bag and camp out in their lobby at their regular room rate, but he turned me down.  Someone must have warned him about my singing...

Not Me, But This Is What I FELT LIKE When I Started Calling Hotels in Paducah!
Those of you who have attended any of the major national and international quilt shows probably already knew where this story was headed, but I was completely blindsided to find that every decent hotel in Paducah, Kentucky was already booked solid AND had a WAITING LIST for Quilt Week, even before registration opened up for the event.  Show attendees book their hotel rooms a full year in advance.  I talked with a very kind and helpful woman named Lindsay at AQS who suggested that Airbnb website where you can book your stay in the guest room of someone's private home, kind of like the lodgings version of Uber or Lyft.  I looked into that, but the listings that still had availability were either too far away from the event venue and outside of where the shuttles were running (across the Ohio River in Metropolis!), or they were entire houses suitable for groups to stay in together, or the landlord/host of the property was advertising a "private entrance" and "having the whole place to yourself."  And I was really nervous about returning to a strange house in a strange neighborhood late at night, all by myself, especially having never been to this town before and having no idea where the safe neighborhoods and where the sketchy ones might be, whether the properties were well-lit at night, etc.  I had to face the reality that the stars were just not aligned for me to attend the show this year.  My roller coaster was in flames.


So I called Lindsay back and told her to go ahead and cancel all of my class registrations.  As sad as it is to miss out on riding the roller coaster, it is better to see the flames from a distance, before you're strapped into the ride!

I Don't Know This Girl, But I'm Pretty Sure She's Crying About Quilt Week

So...  Who wants to go to Quilt Week with me in 2020?


Friday, January 11th UPDATEOH MY GOSH, y'all -- my husband helped me find a hotel room, my flight was still available, and a computer glitch delayed my registration cancellation so I still have all of my classes!  I'M GOING TO QUILT WEEK IN PADUCAH IN APRIL AFTER ALL!!!  

Yeah, Baby!!!  This Is What JOY Feels Like!  (Photo Credit: Yuliya Evstratenko/Shutterstock)
I'm DEFINITELY whooping with Joy, so I'm linking up with: 
·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at www.confessionsofafabricaddict.blogspot.com




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