Thursday, April 9

Playing with a Design and Sewing Blocks for Friends

Well, I didn't get much sewing accomplished this week, but I did make some blocks for Yvonne's two young friends.  Yvonne - aka Quilting Jetgirl - put out the call on her blog for people to make blocks for two children who tragically lost their Dad.  She is really involving the kids in the process and they are enthusiastic and showing great promise.  Her goal is for them to get a sense of the power of community.  Quite a  few of you are already involved!  Today, on Thankful Thursday, Yvonne showed some of what has come in so far and it looks really great.  If you would like to take part, there is still time to whip up a block or two.  She needs specific sizes and themes.    

For the little girl, Yvonne asked for ocean themed, or boat, or dance blocks.  I did curvy, ocean themed blocks.  This process of cutting and piecing naturally turns out three blocks.

So of course then I had to make three for the little boy too. Yvonne said he is excited about taking piano, so asked for music themed blocks.  I happened to have some really cool jazz fabric and it called out for improv blocks.  Kaja & Ann!  I did my first simple but successful Improv!  It was fun too.  

In other news, I designed another quilt, which I need to make soon.  I found a fabric I adored and decided to use it as a backing and design the whole quilt around it.   The fabric is Rocket Ads from the Rocket Age collection by October Afternoon for Riley Blake.  If you were a kid in the 50's through the 70's and read comic books, this fabric will definitely feel nostalgic to you.  I matched Kona Cottons to the fabric to develop a color palette for the quilt.  

Rocket Ads by October Afternoon for Riley Blake / paired with Kona Cottons

Once again, I found the inspiration for starting a design on Pinterest.  Are you all as cuckoo about Pinterest as I am?  It makes me laugh that someone referred to it "hoarding without the clutter."  

I was looking for computer themed quilts and found the work of Elizabeth Elliott.  She makes incredible quilts with code, using a programming language called Processing.  She uses coding to generate random designs, with simple and traditional quilt blocks.  Then she basically plays with the design until she likes it.  Her quilts are both fun and amazing!  Elizabeth (Libs) has a free pattern: Out of Step available on the Robert Kaufman website.

So. I know nothing about computer programming, but I can be pretty random, LOL, so I took a whack at it.  I love to take simple blocks and play with them.  I chose 5 block designs just like Elizabeth did and used EQ7 to work.  By version seven, I started feeling pretty happy with the design.

Okay, brace yourself!

"Batman Returns" EQ7 mockup

I named the quilt "Batman Returns"... Can you see that one repeated block design that looks like Batman lurking around every corner?  Somehow the front of the quilt feels like it belongs with the comic book themed backing.    

Guidance and suggestions are welcome!  This quilt and Sam's Serenity Now! quilt are real departures for me.  I'm usually more traditional.  It's fun, but also a wee bit daunting to depart from your norm!

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Sunday, April 5

Halfway to Serenity Now!

I hope that you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter!  We had a great one because our son Sam came home for the weekend.  He liked his quilt so far too.

It is past time that I posted an update on that...

Half of Sam's Modern Quilt top is pieced.  It will be 60" x 80" when done.

The color is off in that photo.  Hopefully, by the time the quilt is finished, we will have beautiful weather and I can photograph it in natural light.   I had to change my original plan because one of the blue shot cottons was a tad too purpley so the quilt will have a slightly different color layout than in the EQ7 mockup.

I decided to name Sam's Modern Quilt "Serenity Now!" All of you "Seinfeld" fans will recognize that reference.  It's going to be a serene quilt to look at, but it has not been so peaceful for me to put it together, LOL... so I am wishing for Serenity Now! as I sew. 

These last couple of weeks, I haven't gotten to sew, or blog, or visit with everyone as much as I would like to.  It isn't because this pattern is difficult or time consuming; far from it.  I just haven't been feeling so great lately.  I've had Meniere's Disease for at least 25 years and lately I'm seem to be having one of the bad cycles where I cannot sew or be on the computer very long without getting dizzy and sick.  So I just do what I can, little by little.  But, "This too shall pass."  I much prefer to focus on upbeat things, so I have some fun stuff to share. 

My family put on a High Tea for me for my birthday!  It was soooo nice!  Jim (my hubby) went and picked it up from The White Linen Tea House.  We usually like to go there once each year and then explore the antique filled barn afterwards.  But, since I could not go this year - they brought it to me.   
Here is our Sam - he's teasing Kaitie by sampling the goods beforehand, while she tries to take a photo.  He is such a brat.

This one will appeal to all of you who love to use your vintage sewing machines:
A couple of weeks ago I visited Sharon's blog at Five Shadows, where she talked about The Featherweight Club and a nifty LED replacement light bulb that she bought for her Featherweight.  I was interested because my daughter Kaitie told me she had burned her arm on the lightbulb on her Featherweight.  So that led me to Christine's blog at Stitch All Things and to where her hubby Brad sells the LED light bulbs at a much more reasonable price than I've ever seen before.  The light bulbs work great for Featherweights and they fit my Singer 301 and Singer 15-91 perfectly too.  
(Edit, just in case you don't read Brad's comment below, but he has EIGHT different kinds of LED bulbs for vintage sewing machines!  Sew Cool... literally!)   

"Rose" with her new LED light bulb installed. A brighter, whiter light, with no "Ouch"!  

I have one more thing I just have to share.  Kaitie's great friends adopted a bulldog, who they named Bugs.  Congratulations to Sammy & Steve!  

"Bugs" in his new home

He is so darn cute.  He was quite tuckered out with the excitement of his first day in his new life.  Sammy said I could post this video on my blog - it totally cracked us up.  Thank goodness he wasn't creating the other sound effect that Bulldogs are known for, LOL.

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Thursday, March 19

A Change of Plans & Prewashing Shot Cottons

Now that he has set out on his own, our son Sam has been developing his own ideas about decorating and he has decidedly modern tastes.  Sam's Woolly Flannel quilt, which I was "working on" (read "half done and put off too many times") is no longer in tune with what he likes most.  People and circumstances are ever changing.  

So, in order to aid Sam in choosing what he wanted for his quilt... I got him to go on Pinterest.  (Cue woman laughing maniacally in the background.)   He chose a picture that someone had mistaken for a quilt.  It is a painting by Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings.   He asked if I could make a quilt like that.  Since I had made a diamond quilt once before, for our daughter Kaitie: Definitely not DeKaffe, I said "Sure!"  How hard could it be?  (Cocky-over-confidence-jumps-up-and-bites-me-in-the-fanny-hard, that's how hard.) 

The first thing I did, was to make a mock up using EQ7 and then I "painted" it in shot cotton fabrics from both the Oakshott and Peppered Cottons lines.  

This is the EQ7 Mock Up - not a real quilt yet!

I'm hoping it will look pretty close to this when all is said and done.  Each diamond block measures 5" by 20" when finished.

This week started of with a massive fabric pre-washing day.  Are you a pre-washer?  I mostly am now.  Shot cottons shrink and wrinkle quite a lot more than regular quilting cottons, so I am very glad I did not skip this step.  

Maryse (Maryse Makes Things) and I have been having a very interesting discussion about shot cottons.  We both were curious to see how they would turn out after washing.  I found that the Oakshott wrinkles much more than the Peppered cottons, but that both can be pressed back to looking great.  It helps a lot if you do not let it dry all the way in the dryer, then iron it while still slightly damp.  Even that did not remove all the wrinkles though.  It took some Mary Ellen's Best Press to do that.  To give you an idea, here is a photo of some Oakshott, in the process of being ironed:

Shot Cottons are very wrinkly after washing!

To me, all this work is totally worth it, because I love the look of these fabrics!  It is my hope that the worst of the wrinkling will have been gotten out of the fabric's system and that it won't be as bad when the whole quilt gets washed.  Do you think it would help if the quilting is closer spaced?

(Edit: I just read on the Oakshott Cottons website that they do not recommend that you put their fabric in the dryer.  I just assumed it was like the Peppered cotton, and she does say to prewash and partially dry the fabric.  So I wanted any new readers to know this and I will also mention this in my next post.  However, I am glad that I did it anyway - most quilts will eventually get tossed into a dryer.)

All the fabric is washed and ready to use!
Penny wants me to play with her - she was running back and forth tossing that toy the whole time I was draping fabric over the railing!

So, it turns out that sewing a half rectangle triangle (HRT) is nowhere near the same as sewing a half square triangle (HST).  I don't know what I was thinking, but at first I ended up with this.  (It was midnight, what can I say?)

Keep this up and I can make the NBC Peacock jealous!

Even when I got it right, it wasn't right.  The points will not hit the seam allowances at the right places.  I don't know why I didn't have this trouble with the Kaffe Quilt.    

I found a tremendously helpful HRT tutorial over at Jamie's busy bee quilts.  (Hello fellow bee!) She addresses the very issues that were puzzling me.  It still took some trial and error, but with her insights, I was able to change up things to the sizes I needed.  Getting the angles and measurements right was difficult.  I switched to using ugly fabric with old sheets for test trials.

Yet, even after finding the right measurements, I could not get consistent results.  Those HRTs are going to finish at 2.5" by 10" and that long skinny shape means errors are easy to make.  So guess what I did.  I paper pieced them!  (Yup, there's a surprise.)  Ahh... lots better!

Paper Pieced Diamond Blocks
These could still stand some improvement.  I need to be more careful with matching the center seams in the diamonds.  (I ironed seams open, perhaps if I iron them to alternating sides...)  And when I sew the diamond blocks together, a scant 1/4 inch seam would help with that problem you can see in the center of the photo, where the side points are vying for space.  

But anyway - it is nice to be on my way to getting this quilt made for Sam.  Maybe this one will be finished before he marries a woman with completely different tastes, LOL.  


One last sweet thing!  My cousin sent me a wonderful photo of her little girl with her Goldfish Bowl Pocketbook.  She said her little girl was thrilled with her fishy big sister gifts! :)  :)  :)  So I thought I'd share the picture here, because she is just too adorable for words!

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Friday, March 13

My Pillow, Fabric Shopping, and Step-by-Step FMQ Giveaway Winner

Simply Striped Pillow - Scrappy & Vintage Happiness!

Didn't you all just love Susie's Simply Striped Pillow Blog Hop?!!  It was sew much fun to see how each person put a whole new twist on their pillow.  As Sandra said, it "Really reinforces the sky's the limit philosophy for creativity." (Oh. My. Goodness!  Check out Sandra's Quilted Seashells!) 

I had been looking for fun ways to use vintage linens and found that the Simply Striped Pillow was perfect for showing off a pretty, embroidered handkerchief.  The pillow also is the perfect pattern to try out your free motion quilting skills - with three little sections on each side just asking to be experimented with.    

There were a few giveaways to add to the fun and the one here on BuzzinBumble was for a pdf of Susie's pillow pattern and also a brand new copy of Christina Cameli's latest book "Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting".

Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting

Christina is a gifted teacher!  Step-by-Step is the companion book to "First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting: 24 Projects for Fearless Stitching", but it stands very well on its own too.  Between these two wonderful books and Christina's best selling Craftsy class "The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting"  I finally feel like I really am on my way to becoming a free-motion quilter!  

This is the perfect time to jump into taking a Craftsy class, like Christina's!   Craftsy is celebrating National Craft Month by offering up to 50% off all classes!  Previosly, I had signed up for three classes and will be adding number four this weekend.  I am having a difficult time choosing which class to add, so would love to hear your suggestions!   It is a great boon that the classes are closed captioned for the hearing impaired, you can stop and restart and go back and review to your heart's content, and they are yours forever. 

I became a Craftsy affiliate because I love the classes.  This also means that if you click on one of the links and happen to make a purchase, I earn a little Mula, so thank you very much if you do!

So, without further ado, here is the winner for BuzzinBumble's  Simply Striped Blog Hop Giveaway:

That's you Raewyn!  I'll be sending you an email to let you know! 

Raewyn is a stitching farm girl who lives in New Zealand.  She has a beautiful blog: lovetostitch   In her latest post, Raewyn showed some of her beautiful invisible machine applique and some experiments she tried with water soluble applique paper, which were very helpful and interesting!   


I've won a giveaway too - Carolyn, of sew.darn.quilt has started a new cross stitching blog By the Pricking of my Thumb!  She had a giveaway and this beautiful bundle of springtime cheer is what I won:  10 lovely skeins of DMC Floss!  
Thank You Carolyn!


I do a lot of my fabric shopping via the internet, because I don't drive anymore and getting my husband to take me to a local quilt shop does not happen as often as a quilter would like it to.  I recently purchased fabrics where I just have to share about what a great experience it was. (I am not being paid in any way to say this.)  

The first was with Sharon, of Quilt Plus More on eBay   Sharon is currently having a sale for 30% off all her fabric!  What makes her store so unusual is that everything is sold by the quarter yard.  This option is wonderful if you just need a little bit of something!  I could not resist and just bought the cutest bee fabric and a great swirly grey mixer ... much more than 1/4 of a yard:

 Quilt Plus More

When I made my Simply Striped Pillow, I used up the last bit of a favorite fabric:  Athill Range by Cabbages and Roses - Perrymead in aqua.  I was so sad to see it go, that I googled to see if anyone still had it.  I found it at the Li'l Red Hen Quilt Shop in Kansas and promptly placed an order.  Imagine my surprise when I received my package and saw that Jenny had included an extra fat quarter of matching fabric for free.  Thank you Jenny! 

Li'l Red Hen Quilt Shop

Gosh, we are so much more blessed than the quilters who came before us, with a huge variety of fabrics and tools, right at our fingertips!  

Thanks for visiting!

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Linking up to Connie's Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River!
Linking up to Lorna's Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts!

Friday, March 6

A FMQ Giveaway & A Fine Romance

Would you like to see a sweet, romantic pillow, made from fussy cut scraps and a vintage handkerchief? That is what I made for Susie's Simply Striped Pillow Blog Hop.  I went all out Granny Chic for mine.  Since the song, "A Fine Romance" was going through my head as I worked on it, that's what I named the pillow design.  My pillow is also a little sassy, just like the song.    

Today is day 5 and it is my debut as a guest poster on Susie's blog.  I'm so excited!  I'm only going to give you a little peek at my pillow here on BuzzinBumble today.  To really see it, Let's Go To the Hop (Oh Baby) at Susie's Sunroom

This is the schedule for the week of fun.  I hope you will look at all the many wonderful renditions of the Simply Striped Pillow at Susie's Sunroom.  The diversity of ideas and talent has been amazing!

March 2   Elaine ~ Summercrafter       
March 3   Susie ~ Susie's Sunroom      
March 4   Geta ~ Geta's Quilting Studio     
March 5   Sheri ~ Sunshine in the Attic         
March 6   Lara ~ BuzzinBumble          
March 7   Amanda ~ The Patchsmith   
March 8   Amy ~ Amy Made That!   

And the Giveaway?  Oh yes indeed!  Susie has given us a copy of her pdf pattern for the Simply Striped Pillow and I am sweetening the pot by adding a brand new copy of Christina Cameli's latest book "Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting".   This book is a treasure trove of FMQ motifs and instructions on how to accomplish them!  Both prizes will go to one lucky winner, whose name will be drawn by the random number generator on Friday, March 13th!

Christina Cameli's Step-by-Step Free Motion Quilting

I adapted two of Christina's wonderful FMQ patterns for my Simply Striped Pillow.   Between Christina's two books (she is also the best selling author of "First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting") and her Craftsy class "The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting"- I hope to finally tackle the FMQ beastie!   Christina's class is a much loved success!  So much so, that the Craftsy people have asked her back to film a second one!  How cool is that?!    

To enter my giveaway, just leave a comment on Susie's blog hop and then come back here and leave a comment letting me know that you did. 
Please make sure that I can contact you!  Sometimes people are "no reply commenters" and I have no way to reach them.  Also - sometimes so many people enter a giveaway that I cannot keep up with replying, so I am going to apologize ahead of time if that happens.  I'll go back to being my normal, reciprocal self after the giveaway.  

Susie is also running a giveaway on her blog for the hop, so don't miss out on that!

Here is the "little peek" at my pillow: (Bet you didn't know I was so literal - heh heh)

The little scraps of rosie fabrics were included in a purchase that I made from Urban Gardens.  Many of them are exclusive recreations of antique textiles and are printed by Yuwa.  

Something else of interest to my blogging friends:
After my last giveaway, I happened to look at my blog's traffic sources and noticed a very nice number of pageviews had come from Wow I Like That!  Wow, is right!  This webpage is an up-to-date collection of sewing and quilting themed giveaways, maintained by the ever vigilant Debbie.  You can let Debbie know if you or a friend are having a giveaway too.  Thank you Debbie for all your work in putting this together!      

Last of all, thank you for the wonderful comments about my new animated blog signature!   Amy said it all when she described the pup as showing  "the universal invitation to play".  Yup, that's what it is!  
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