Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pineapple Log Cabin Block 35 of 42: This Is What Six Hours In the Studio Looks Like

NO, I did not meet the weekly goals that I posted about last time.  NO, I have not loaded Tabby Mountain onto my quilting frame yet, let alone started quilting it.  However, I did manage to complete one more 17 3/4" paper pieced pineapple log cabin block for the California King sized bed quilt that I've been working on "off and on" over the past few years.  This one makes 35 blocks completed out of the 42 blocks I need for my quilt.  And, because I used a timer to carve out one-hour increments of sewing time from my crazy busy schedule this week, I can tell you that piecing this ONE block took me a whopping SIX HOURS.  That's just piecing time, since I've already cut all the strips for this quilt.  

Pineapple Log Cabin Block 35 of 42
So, at six hours per block, that means I already have 210 hours into this quilt, in addition to the hours I spent cutting up approximately a bazillion 1 1/2" strips of assorted blue, green, and neutral fabrics before I started piecing.  

It Feels SO GOOD to Sew On the Final Corner Triangles!
And, with seven blocks remaining to be pieced, that means I'm still about 42 hours away from having my blocks finished and ready to be sewn into a quilt top.  And there are 97 pieces in every block, so there will be a total of 4,074 pieces in this quilt once it's finally finished.  Uff da!

Finished Block On Wall, Beside Neglected Tabby Mountain Quilt Top
One thing I am enjoying about these pineapple blocks is how different they look up close versus viewed from a distance.  As I'm selecting fabrics for each block, I worry that it's getting too busy and I don't have enough value contrast for that secondary design to show up.  Then I pin the finished block to the design wall, step back, and it's amazing how that cool windmill with blue and green blade pops out at me!  Love it!

So, it's not like Tabby Mountain has been totally abandoned.  I designed a quilt label in my Bernina v8 Designer Plus digitizing software and stitched it out on leftover solid magenta fabric.  (The recipient's name has been obliterated from this photo because it's a surprise gift).

Machine Embroidered Quilt Label, Ready to Go
Cute, right?  I love how my little paw prints turned out!  I've preturned the top and right edges of my label because I'm going to applique those to the back of my quilt once it's quilted and trimmed, and then the bottom and left edges will be sewn into the quilt binding.  I included care instructions because I'm going to be using a wool batting that requires a cold wash temperature.

The run stitch fonts I used for this label are built into the digitizing software.  With my software, I was able to lay out and preview all the lettering, and I digitized my kitty paw prints from scratch in about 30 seconds -- just imported the black and white clip art and clicked one button, then positioned them around the lettering the way that I wanted them.  And then I printed out an actual-size template of the label design so I could preview how it would look on my quilt.  This is why, for me personally, the Bernina 750QEE or 770QEE coupled with Bernina Designer Plus digitizing software is a much better way to go for embroidery than buying the 780E, 790E, or even the 790E Plus.  If you paid MSRP for the machine and the software, the current 770QEE machine + Bernina Designer Plus software together costs $1,500 less than the 790 Plus machine.  Although it's true that you can tweak embroidery designs at the machine with the 790 more than you can with the 770, what you can do as far as editing designs right at the machine is and will always be extremely limited compared to what you can do at your computer with digitizing software.  And, with complete control to edit, combine, and even create embroidery designs completely from scratch at your computer, your embroidery design is already exactly the way you want it when you transfer it to the sewing machine -- no further editing required.

Stitching Out My Label On My Bernina 750 QEE Sewing Machine
What's more, technology is constantly changing, at a much faster rate than the mechanics of our sewing and embroidery machines.  Once I've created the quilt label or any other machine embroidery design in my software, it will stitch out exactly the same on a Bernina 700, 750, 770, 780, 790, or even an 880 machine, since they all use exactly the same embroidery module.  When a new and improved sewing machine model is introduced, it typically costs thousands to upgrade machines -- but historically it has only been $500 to upgrade the Bernina embroidery software to the newest version, and you can even skip and upgrade from every other version.  For instance, I went from my version 4 Designer Plus software to version 6 for $500 several years back, and I just recently upgraded from version 6 to the current version 8 for $500 rather than having to repurchase the full $2,500 software package each time.  And of course, upgrading your software is completely optional to get the new features.  There's absolutely no reason why you can't keep using whatever version of the software you are comfortable with regardless of new updates that are available.

Well, I've got a dress rehearsal today at 2:30 and a VOX concert tonight at 7:30 PM.  It's the Verdi Four Sacred Pieces and Poulenc's Stabat Mater -- gorgeous music that was awful to learn, but a joy to sing now that we've got it down.  I can't wait!

Today I'm linking up with:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

To-Do On Tuesday: Press! Load! Quilt! And Piece a Pineapple!

Hello and Happy Tuesday, y'all!  Well, since I'm experimenting with goal-setting now, I may as well go whole hog, don't you think?  I posted yesterday about my One Monthly Goal for March (quilting and binding my Tabby Mountain quilt).  As you know, I failed to reach my OMG for February, so I'm going to try something else this time around.  Today I'm going to try setting some interim goals just for this week in hopes of being more successful in reaching my end-of-month goal.  You know, like when we were in school and we had a big research paper to do, but it was broken down in stages: This week we will choose a topic and find sources, next week we will do 50 notecards, etc.  

Quilting Tabby Mountain Is the Goal!
Since my goal for the month of March is to finish my Tabby Mountain quilt shown above, these are the steps I'd like to take towards that goal for this week:

  1. I need to design and embroider a quilt label and decide whether it goes on the front of the quilt or on the back.
  2. I need to dig around in my studio to see if I have a package of batting the right size for Tabby Mountain.  If not, I need to purchase batting.  
  3. Then I need to get all the dog fur and stray threads off my quilt top and give it a final pressing.  
  4. Next, my extra-wide backing fabric needs to be cut to size, pressed and squared
  5. Then I can load Tabby Mountain on my quilting frame!
  6. It would be nice if I could baste my horizontal seam lines and outer edges of the quilt before the end of the week... 
  7. -- Oh, one more thing: Now that Tabby Mountain is out from under my Bernina, I'd like to finish that pineapple log cabin quilt block this week.

Dulce Pom Trim from Samuel and Sons Passementerie
So far today, the only thing I have accomplished is checking email and scouring the Internet for luscious pom pom trim that I could put on the edges of my Tabby Mountain quilt, either in lieu of or incorporated into a traditional double fold fabric binding:.

Wouldn't that be delicious?   The color is Blueberry, a deep, dark blue, and the 1" poms are unbelievably soft because they are made of wool, not that polyester stuff you find in craft stores.  It's from Samuel & Sons Passementerie, one of my favorite high-end interior design resources...  But alas, it retails for $120 per yard and I would need EIGHT yards to go around the edges of this quilt.  So, NO.  Also it is labeled Dry Clean Only, and who wants a quilt that needs to be dry cleaned?! If I could find a reasonably priced alternative with faux fur, Minky type pom poms in the right color, that would be ideal.  If anyone knows of a resource, please let me know in the comments!  

I'm linking up with:
To Do Tuesday Button 200 x 200

Monday, March 5, 2018

OMG, It's Groundhog Day (Again)! This Beast Is Pieced, But She Ain't Been Quilted

Finishing Tabby Mountain is My OMG -- Again!
So, remember that 1993 Bill Murray movie where his character is stuck in a time warp and is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he finally gets it right?  

Well, it's Groundhog Day again for me, because my March OMG (One Monthly Goal) is to relive my February OMG since I didn't get it finished.  My goal was to finish piecing AND quilting my Tabby Mountain quilt, and I didn't even finish assembling the quilt top by February 28th.  

Marking and Pinning These 30 Degree Triangles Slowed Down the Piecing Big Time
I came close -- I had all of the rows of triangles pieced by the evening of the 27th and I COULD have worked on joining all the rows into a completed quilt top on the 28th to at least get the quilt top finished by the end of the month.  But something inside of me rebelled.  There had been too much sewing for me on the 27th, too much pressure to have something to show for myself at the end of month linky party, and it was stressing me out.  So I opted to do no sewing at all on the last day of the month, and instead I finished assembling my quilt top on March 3rd.  

Joining Rows Together
If February had 31 days instead of 28, I would have finished the quilt top by the end of the month even with my day off!

Otto a.k.a. Mister Baby a.k.a. My Sweet Baboo, Supervising Quilt Construction
So anyway, looking forward to March: Apparently I erred on the side of overambition with my February OMG, so for March my OMG is just going to be QUILTING & BINDING TABBY MOUNTAIN.  That will involve:

  1. Removing stray threads and pet fur from the quilt top with a tape roller and giving it a final pressing
  2. Finding or purchasing batting
  3. Pressing my backing fabric and cutting it to size
    Tabby Mountain backing: Free Fall in Orchid by Tula Pink
  4. Loading the quilt on my longarm frame, most likely doing a full float
  5. Selecting thread colors
  6. Basting the horizontal seamlines and quilt edges to ensure they remain nice and straight
  7. SID (Stitch In the Ditch) along all of those diagonal seam lines
  8. Ruler work in the solid fabric patches
    My Quilting Plan for Tabby Mountain
  9. Free motion quilting in the print fabric patches
  10. Trimming the finished quilt
  11. Making and attaching binding (and I haven't selected the binding fabric yet, either)

Of course, I'm really hoping to get a few other things accomplished in the sewing room this month as well.  Is it against the rules of this challenge to set Gold Star Bonus Goals in addition to the OMG?  Because I'd like to finish my Tabby Mountain quilt well before the end of March, and then I also hope to:

  1. Finish the partially-completed pineapple log cabin block that I started last month.  17 strips have been sewn to the foundation paper, and 80 more strips need to be added to finish the block.
  2. Get started and caught up with the new applique BOM project designed by Esther Aliu, Queen's Garden.  Although I've selected and prewashed my fabrics for this project, I have yet to begin Blocks 1 and 2, which were released in January and February, and Block 3 will be released in about a week.  
    My Fabrics for Queen's Garden

There, now -- that should be MORE than enough to keep me busy this month, don't you think?  

And so, despite being unsuccessful the first time I tried this One Monthly Goal thing, I'm linking up again for March.  Wish me luck!

I'm also linking up with:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Travel Interlude: FrankenWhiggish Rose, Resurrected and Resumed

Hello and happy Friday!  I've been out of town and away from my sewing machine, but air travel gave me a great opportunity to catch up on my neglected hand stitched applique project, the FrankenWhiggish Rose blocks that have been sitting untouched since last September.  The day before I left for New Jersey, I spent hours prepping my reverse applique tulips (freezer paper and starch pressed edges, glue basted to the block) as well as the little rosebuds that go around the center of the block (using Jeanne Sullivan's Patch Back product with fabric glue stick to turn the edges).

Prepared Edge Tulips Get Glue Basted In Place for Stitching on the Plane
While I was doing this, my husband was making incredulous comments like "When are you planning to pack your clothes?" and "Do you know how early we need to leave in the morning to get you to the airport?!"

I had previously needle-turned the reverse applique centers of these tulips off-block, but I made double-layer freezer paper templates to preturn the outer edges with starch before glue basting them to the block background so I wouldn't have to fuss with those deep V-curves on the plane.  I was able to pop the spotted reverse applique fabric through the diamond shaped hole in the center of each freezer paper template to hold the fabric in place while I pressed the seam allowances over the edges of the freezer paper.  

Using My iPad As a Light Box
Then for those tiny rosebuds, I downloaded a new Light Box app for my iPad and traced the rosebuds onto Patch Back (similar to Floriani Stitch 'N' Wash), cut a tiny turning allowance all the way around, and turned those edges with fabric glue stick before glue basting the buds to my block.  Now I had four tulips and four little rose buds to stitch down on my way to New Jersey.

Travel Interlude

Here are the highlights from my trip:

My Canine Nephew and My Sister, and My Dresden Plate Quilt
Meet Cooper, the most lovable pit bull mix on earth.  This is a dog who snuggles and cuddles, climbs up in your lap and licks your face, brings toys to tug and fetch, and has the softest, silkiest fur you can imagine.  If I thought I could have smuggled him onto the plane, I would have tried to bring him home with me (over my sister's dead body!).  

Princess Petunia In the Theatre, Following the Show
The main purpose of this trip was to drive into NYC with my sister and my soon-to-be-ten-year-old niece to see Sara Bareilles starring in the musical Waitress on Broadway.  We did a girls' day out in the city, starting out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where Petunia was scandalized by the naked statues with "man bits" right at her eye level!), ate hot pretzels from a street vendor, and then stood in line for an hour to get into the Stardust Diner for dinner, where the wait staff consists of aspiring Broadway stars who serenade you while you eat very expensive hamburgers.

Giant Sara Bareilles, Aunt Becca (Moi), and Princess Petunia
It was FREEZING COLD in the city, but we had a great time anyway.  I even managed to push my niece through the crowd gathered at the stage door after the performance, so Petunia got to meet Sara Bareilles and got her autograph.  I swear her smile was bigger than her whole face!

Back to my stitchery:

By the time I was ready to fly back to Charlotte, I had already stitched down all of the applique pieces that I had prepped before the trip.  Fortunately, though, I'd had the foresight to pack the green fabric, leaf template, and chalk pencils for my leaves.  I traced my templates onto my fabric with regular pencil this time, hoping it would smudge less during finger pressing than the chalk pencils do, but it ended up being really difficult to see so I won't be doing that again on this fabric.

My Pencil Lines Are Too Hard to See
There may be an impending Fabric Crisis with this project, by the way.  I bought this green fabric back in 2012(?!) when I first started this project, and I only bought a quarter of a yard of it.  I know, right?  Since there are sixteen leaves on each block and I have seven more blocks to make after this one, that means I need to get 112 more leaves out of that piece of fabric.  I highly doubt I can find any more of this fabric and I don't even remember where I bought it.

Sixteen Leaves Pinned for Needle Turned Stitching

Having stitched the prepared edge applique on my flight up to New Jersey and switching back to needle turned applique on my flight home, I must say that I really prefer the prepared edge stitching.  Yes, it's a pain in the butt to do all that prep work, but it's easier to place the pieces on the background accurately when the edges are already turned, and I like not having those little pins to keep track of when I'm stitching on the go.  I don't like my thread snagging on the pins, either!  

I'm out of practice and my first two needle turned leaves came out kind of lumpy.  I'm not even going to show them to you, so there!  Seriously -- I know that each one will get better.  I didn't finish stitching all of these leaves on the plane, so I'll be working on them while watching television with my husband in the evenings.  And I'm seriously considering switching to prepared edge applique for all of the remaining blocks.

But in the meantime -- I'm HOME AT LAST, and my sewing machines have MISSED me!  I have two different solos to prepare for this Sunday, so for the next few days I'll be alternating between working on music and piecing my Tabby Mountain quilt top.  Finishing that quilt was my goal for February, and here it is the 22nd already and it's only halfway pieced!  Perhaps I was overambitious in thinking I could piece AND quilt it in one month, but I'd like to at least finish the top and get it loaded onto my quilting frame before the end of the month.

So if you don't hear from me, I'm either busy SINGING or SEWING!

I'm linking up with:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Loving Lent: An Annual Detox For My Soul

Me and My Friend Karen, Ash Wednesday Selfie 2015
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the official kickoff for the Christian season of Lent.  The silly Ash Wednesday selfie above is from a few years ago, before I chopped off my long hair.  (I'm the goofball on the left).  

Now, I love me some Christmas and Easter, don't get me wrong -- but Easter makes no sense to me without Lent in the same way that Christmas makes no sense to me without Advent.  And I wanted to talk about that today because there are so many misconceptions out there about Lent and what it means to Christians today.  In case anyone's interested, here's what Lent means to me.

On Ash Wednesday and throughout the forty days of Lent, we as Christians are called to take a long, hard look at ourselves in a ruthless magnifying mirror.  But instead of examining our faces for wrinkles, sun spots and blemishes, we're examining our hearts and our souls and taking stock of the many ways in which we have fallen short spiritually.  

"The Picture of Dorian Gray," oil on canvas, by Alvin Albright (1944), Art Institute of Chicago
Remember Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray?  It was about a handsome but morally depraved, evil man whose true character was reflected in a portrait like the one above (painted by Alvin Albright for the 1945 film).  The Bible tells us that we are ALL hideously disfigured by sin, just like Dorian Gray, and no amount of Botox,  cosmetics or Photoshopping could ever hide the ugliness of our sins from God.

Romans 3:10-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

10 as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who has understanding,
        there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
    there is no one who shows kindness,
        there is not even one.”
Lent is when sin gets really personal, when we acknowledge our own brokenness, admit to ourselves and to God that we personally have an addiction to sin that we cannot overcome on our own, ask for His forgiveness and surrender to the gift of His grace and mercy. I am in bondage to sin and cannot free myselfI am the one who has sinned against God in my thoughts, in my words, and in my actions -- by the things I have done, as well as the things I should have done but left undone.  I have not loved God with my whole heart, and I have certainly not loved my neighbors and my enemies as much as I love myself.  

So on Ash Wednesday, the greasy ashes on our foreheads are a visible reminder of the brevity of our time here on Earth.  The ashes symbolize our repentance for our sin and our desire to be freed from our earthly desires and fit for eternal life in Christ.

Sounds like a bummer, doesn't it?  No trumpet fanfares, no "Joy To the World," no pretty poinsettias or fragrant lilies for Lent!  But there's still beautiful music, like the anthem "Create In Me" by Terre Johnson that our choir sang last night, based on Psalm 51.

Because we go into Lent looking inward and discovering that our hearts look like this:

My Heart At the Beginning of Lent
...and then, after forty days of reflection and prayer, we come out of Lent on Easter Sunday with a deeper understanding of why we need a savior so badly in the first place.  God loves us so much that, when we repent and seek His forgiveness and guidance in our lives, He takes our bruised, broken and battered hearts and mends them with His mercy and love.  

My Heart on Easter Sunday
Without Lent, Easter Sunday is just an excuse for new dresses, pastel marshmallow bunnies and hunting for painted eggs.  Meaningfully observing the season of Lent is a necessary catharsis that humbles us and enables us to begin to comprehend the magnitude of God's love for us.  The enormity of Christ's sacrifice, taking on the sin of the world, accepting the punishment for OUR sin, yours and mine, is awesome in the original sense of that word: Stunning!  Breathtaking!  Mind-blowing!  Overwhelming!  The gift of Lent, a time set aside for reflection and repentance, allows us to rejoice in the paradox that only by surrendering to God's will can we ever truly be free.

So...  How will I meaningfully observe Lent this year?  Am I giving up wine and chocolate?  No meat on Fridays until after Easter?

Well, if I really felt like wine, chocolate and meat were distracting me spiritually, I might give them up for Lent.  You don't have to necessarily give ANYTHING up for Lent to be a "good Christian," by the way -- a lot of Christians I know like to ADD something to their lives for Lent, like daily Lenten devotions, attending additional worship services, 40 acts of kindness of charity...  Anything that makes them feel closer to God and more spiritually focused.  

"Cypresses," oil on canvas, by Vincent van Gogh (1889), The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I really like the Biola University Lent Project daily devotions.  I signed up to get them emailed to me every day throughout Lent, and each devotion has accompanying visual art, music, and poetry incorporating a broad range of styles.  The art and music really help me to connect spiritually and emotionally with the scripture and the devotional text.  Today's devotion was a reflection on Jeremiah 17:5-10, contrasting the bush withering in the desert (he whose heart has turned away from the Lord) to the tree with leaves of green, planted near the water (the man who trusts in the Lord).  The multimedia devotion included van Gogh's Cypresses painting (above), a poem by M. Vasalis, and a contemplative piano composition entitled "Methuselah Tree," by contemporary post-classical minimalist Keith Kenniff.  

So I'm adding these daily Lenten devotions, but not as an end unto themselves.  I'm using the devotions to help me stay focused on the season of Lent amid all of the shiny distractions and earthy mirages that lure us away from what is real, what is true, and what really matters.  One "golden calf" I know I'm guilty of worshipping is materialism.

I'm not talking about diamonds and furs and judging people by how much money they have...  I'm talking about my weakness for buying specialty quilting tools, patterns, books, magazines, baking gadgets, and ACTUAL material -- FABRIC!!  Now, baking, quilting and reading are not activities that threaten my relationship with God in and of themselves, but I'm thinking about how enmeshed these activities have become with our consumer culture and how much (or how little) of this stuff I actually need.  And I'm mindful of the warning in the parable of the rich man in Luke 12:16-21.  How close am I to tearing down my own barns  kitchen and studio and building bigger ones to hold all of my posessions?  So I'm going to try really hard to give up consumerism for Lent this year.  I'll still shop for groceries, but I'll be trying hard not to buy anything that we don't really need, at least for the next eight weeks.  No new baking pans, no new fabric, no new specialty rulers...  and no new shoes!  It will be interesting to see how that plays out and, by the time Easter rolls around, I should have a much better idea of whether and to what extent my relationship with instant gratification shopping has been spiritually compromising.  Let's all be clear -- I am not giving up shopping FOREVER!  In fact, in order to make it through eight weeks without "retail therapy," I will be including these food staples on my list of Lenten grocery necessities:

Wine and Chocolate: What I'm NOT Giving Up For Lent!
So, what about you?  Are you giving up anything for Lent this year?  If you are of a different faith that has a similar holiday or festival focusing on repentance and renewal, I'd love to hear about those traditions, too.  Happy Lent, everyone!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Design Wall Monday: In Which Tenacity Triumphs Over Tricky Triangles... And Rebecca Sings With Kristin Chenoweth!

Although I've been more consumed with Italian opera choruses than sewing over the past week (more on that later), I did continue working on my Tabby Mountain quilt in fits and snatches.  I have finally come up with a method for matching up those 30 degree triangles that gives me reasonably good precision on the first try, without slowing me down to a crawl.  My OMG (One Monthly Goal) is to get this one on the frame and QUILTED.  The month is nearly half over and I have some upcoming travel at the end of this week so I'm trying to keep my eye on the prize and resist my the temptation to get bogged down in pursuit of perfection.  

As of Sunday Afternoon
I have the whole quilt laid out on my design wall.  Despite the pattern directions to press all seams open, I'm pressing each row to the side in opposite directions.  I discovered early on that I have better visibility at points if I'm able to press each completed seam allowance AWAY from the next seam to be sewn.  So I'm working from right to left on rows 1, 3, 5 and 7, and I'm working from left to right on rows 2, 4, 6 and 8.  Those triangles that you see flipped upside down on the wall are the next triangles to be sewn in each row, so I've only sewn about 25% of the triangles together so far.  I flip the next triangle over onto the pieced section to which it needs to be attached and then take the whole thing to the sewing machine like that, to keep from getting confused about which triangle goes where.  It is NO FUN to sew a perfect seam, press it open, and realize that you sewed the wrong pieces together!

I've modified the marking template that I showed you last time.  Marking the ends of all three seams on each triangle corner was taking too long, breaking the tips off my mechanical chalk pencil over and over again, and was also fussy and fiddly, trying to stick pins through little dots to line the two triangles up for stitching.  Then I remembered the little notches on my isosceles triangle die for my Accuquilt GO! cutter, the same kind of notches that you find on garment patterns.  So I printed out the last page of the Tabby Mountain quilt pattern again at 100%, the page with the optional cutting template for those who don't want to rotary cut their triangles.  That template includes a blue dashed stitching line that I could see through my paper.  Holding the paper up to the window so I could see through it, I carefully folded each seamline in half so the points matched up, creating a perpendicular crease at the exact midpoint of each side seam.  

I've Marked the Seam Intersections in Green
In order for this to work, you need to be matching the seam intersections together when you fold the paper template in half -- NOT matching the points at the cut edges of the triangle.  I've marked the points I'm matching together in green on the photo above.  After creating that perpendicular fold line at the exact center of each side seam, I went over the fold line with pencil and then transferred those markings to my plastic triangle template as you see above.  The little dot at the end of my Sharpie-marked midlines on my plastic template represents the exact midpoint of each quarter inch side seam.

Skinny Channels Cut With Pattern Notcher
Then I remembered this nifty little pattern notching tool that I had bought for dressmaking patterns a long time ago (and have never used).  It's like a hole puncher except, instead of punching a hole, it punches a narrow 1/4" long channel, just wide enough for a chalk pencil point to draw a line.

See How the Chalk Line Completely Fills the Channel?
Now, instead of trying to draw and match up three tiny dots on each triangle, I'm just making one little alignment mark on each side seam.  To make it super easy to line them up, I mark my dash on the WRONG side of the top triangle, and I mark the line on the RIGHT side of the bottom triangle so I can see both sides at once when I'm matching them up.  It's much easier to line up two little ticks at the raw edges of the fabric than it is to try to line up three little dots that are inset from each triangle point!

Straight Edges Perfectly Aligned, Triangle Point 1/4" Away from Raw Edges
So here's how I lay these pieces out for stitching.  I've just taken this partially stitched row down from my design row and I'm about to add the Disco Kitty triangle with the blue background, so that piece is upside down (right sides together with the pieced strip):

I want to sew this with the new triangle I'm adding on the BOTTOM, though, next to my feed dogs -- otherwise I won't be able to see that seam intersection that creates the triangle point, and I really want to see that to make sure the seams are transecting at 1/4" from the raw edge.  So I flip the whole thing over, like this:

I've shifted the triangles slightly apart so I can see both of them at once.  Then I lay my plastic triangle template over my green triangle and make a little chalk mark in the seam allowance on the WRONG side of the fabric that is facing me.

See That Little Blue Chalk Mark?
And then I flip my template around 180 degrees and line it up with the exposed side of the kitty print triangle underneath:

Marking the Bottom Triangle On the RIGHT Side of the Fabric
See how I'm keeping both triangles facing the way they'll be sewn together the whole time they're off my design wall?  That way I can be sure I'm sewing the right pieces together, each one facing the right direction, without having to use sticky notes to keep track of what goes where.  I've got three different chalk pencils that I'm using -- pink, yellow, and blue, so I have a chalk that I can see clearly on any color fabric.

Pink Line Matched to Blue Line
Now I slide the marked edges back together, matching up those two chalk lines the same way I match the center of a quilt top to the center mark on the canvas of my quilting frame (don't you love how everything is connected to everything else?).

This works because I'm matching up the center point of the SEAM line, not the center of my fabric edge.  With the midpoint of one triangle aligned with the midpoint of the other triangle, the edges of those fabric pieces automatically get "jogged apart" by exactly the right amount every time.  

Pinned for Stitching
The other thing I wanted to show you is how I'm pinning these pieces together prior to stitching them.  I always pin quilt pieces with the points facing the raw fabric edges and the glass heads pointing to the left.  That's so I can use my 97D 1/4" patchwork foot with the foolproof screw-down seam guide that butts up against the right toe of the presser foot.  The first pint goes in right at the marked center point, and then I carefully smooth the two fabrics until the raw edges are aligned to the left and right of center.  I mark the two ends of the seam next, fill in with an extra pin at approximately halfway between the first pins, and then add an extra pin through just a pinch of fabric at the very tip of the intersecting triangle seams that I'm about to stitch, to keep them from wiggling apart before they reach the needle.  

Meet My Best Friend, Spray Starch
With the addition of these alignment marks, this quilt project becomes easy enough for a beginner.  The only thing to watch out for is that the long bias sides of these triangles are very easy to stretch out of shape, which is why I'm handling the triangles as little as possible.  I have no water in my iron, pressing the seams to one side without any distorting steam, and then I'm starching each seam immediately after pressing it, before putting the pieced unit back on my design wall.

MEANWHILE...  The only other sewing I accomplished over the past week was that I finished the reverse applique centers of all of the tulips for my eight remaining Frankenwhiggish Rose applique blocks.  I've been doing Old School applique for this project so far, needle turning the edges of each piece as I stitch them down, but I think I might switch to prepared edge with freezer paper, to hopefully speed things along. There are so many things I want to do, and so few hours in the day to do them!  I would love to show you my first finished block for my Queen's Garden applique BOM. Heck, I'd love to show you even a partially begun first block for that quilt, since Block 2 is due to be released any day now.  I'd love to show you a finished pineapple block, or something nifty on my quilt frame...

But instead, I'll just have to show you this picture of ME with Kristin Chenoweth, right before we sang together onstage in front of thousands of cheering fans on Friday night:

Oh, YES, That's Kristin Chenoweth!  I'm the Smiley Blonde on the Far Right
Okay, it's not QUITE so glamorous as that.  It's not as if she and I were singing duets or anything (I wish!).  Some of us VOX singers were asked to join Opera Carolina Chorus in singing with Andrea Bocelli at his concert at the Spectrum Coliseum -- hence my remark at the beginning of this post about working on Italian opera choruses all week.  Kristin is currently on tour with Andrea Bocelli as a Very Special Guest performer (that's how she's billed in the program) and we got to sing backup on one of her songs, too.  

My View From Onstage
Look at all those PEOPLE!!  I couldn't resist snapping this photo at the end of the concert (I would not dare to take a photo DURING the concert!)  The chorus was at the back of the stage throughout the entire sold-out performance.  I'm tall, so I was in the center of the back row of chorus in the Soprano section.  The orchestra is in front of us (those two gentlemen in the picture are percussionists) and then the featured artists (Bocelli, Soprano Nadine Sierra, Chenoweth, and violinist Caroline Campbell) were down in front.  

I just have to tell you all how beautifully gracious Kristin Chenoweth is.  At rehearsal, the other featured artists practiced their pieces facing the empty coliseum, just like they would do for the performance, getting used to the space, the sounds and lights, etc.  But when Kristin came onstage to rehearse with us, she turned around and faced the orchestra and choir.  She serenaded us with our own private performance, and posed for a few pictures as well.  She even thanked US for singing with her -- like SHE was the lucky one to be onstage with us instead of the other way around.  Isn't it wonderful to find out that someone as brilliantly talented as Kristin Chenoweth has a heart as amazing as her voice?

48 hours later and I'm still giddy!  Okay.  I'm off to accomplish less exciting things, like laundry and grocery shopping.  I'll be linking up with:

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