Monday, January 23, 2017

Pineapple Progress: Blocks 29 and 30 of 36 (or of 42)

Happy Monday, everyone!  So, the good news is that I've finished two more 17 3/4" blocks for my California King Pineapple Log Cabin quilt.  Ta da: 

Block 29

Block 30
According to my original plan of 36 blocks in a 6x6 layout, that would mean I'm almost finished making blocks for this quilt.  However, I checked my math, remeasured my bed, thought about shrinkage from quilting and washing, and I'm concerned that 106" wide is cutting it too close.  I don't want to have gone through so much time and effort and end up with a quilt that isn't wide enough to completely cover my mattress on both sides of the bed! 

I know I could add borders, but I think that would detract from the bold graphic impact I'm going for.  So I'm probably going to do a 6x7 layout requiring 42 blocks.  That means I have 12 more to make instead of 6 more.  I don't think I printed that many foundation patterns, so I'll have to take one of them back to the copy shop.

Hey, can you keep a secret?  I'm headed to an APQS dealer this morning to check out their long arm machines.  I'm still in the research phase, comparing models and manufacturers.  I've already looked at the Bernina Q24 and the Innovas, and I'm planning to investigate Handiquilter and Gammill before making a final decision as well.  Stay tuned...  I would love to be able to long arm quilt my monster pineapple quilt myself!  If any of you readers have experience with longarm machines and have any advice for choosing one, please feel free to share in the comments on this post. 

APQS Millenium Longarm Quilting Machine
Meanwhile, I have work to do for a new design client's project and music to learn for VOX chorus, which will limit the amount of time I spend in my sewing studio over the next few weeks.  But there are a couple of special babies who will be making their appearances in February and March, so I may need to set my pineapple blocks aside and "whip up" a couple of "quick" baby quilts.  Hahahahaha...  As if I was even CAPABLE of whipping up a quick ANYTHING!  :-)  A longarm machine would really help me get more UFOs across the finish line, don't you think?

Have a great day.  I'm linking up with:

·       Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times
·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

On the Loss of Sue Garman, Master Quilter

We've lost so many celebrities over the past year: David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher AND her mother, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Zsa Zsa Gabor, John Glenn...  But although their faces were familiar from television, movies and magazines, I didn't know any of those people personally, none of them had touched my life, and I was never going meet any of them even if they all lived to be 969 years old like Methuselah.

Sue Garman with her quilt "Twirly Balls and Pinwheels" in 2015
But this Sunday, master quilt artist, pattern designer, and teacher Sue Garman lost her battle with lung cancer.  You know how we quilters all seem to have "bucket lists" of quilts we'd like to make someday?  I've got a list like that of quilters I'd like to take a class from someday, and Sue Garman was on my list.  I've never met Sue, but I've admired her work for years.  She created some of the most exquisite applique quilts I've ever seen.  My favorites are her traditionally-inspired red and green applique quilts like the one below, which has a very unique scalloped outer border that gives the quilt a fresh, contemporary appeal:

"Bed of Roses" by Sue Garman
The workmanship is impeccable:

"Bed of Roses" Detail
In addition to her skillful applique and eye for design, Sue was an accomplished longarm quilter.  I love the way her heirloom machine quilting in traditional motifs complements the very traditional applique in this next quilt:

"Simply Baltimore" by Sue Garman
I think it's so cool the way that Sue pursued excellence in traditional hand stitched, needle turn applique, but that she also embraced the available technology of a long arm quilting machine and invested the time and energy to develop those "modern" quilting skills as well.  If she had been a "traditional purist," insisting on hand quilting all of her quilts, she would never have completed so many breathtaking, award-winning quilts, or had enough time to write and publish her patterns, or to teach and inspire so many other quilters.

And speaking of those labor-intensive hand applique skills, how much do you love THIS magnum opus?!

"Friends of Baltimore" by Sue Garman
The hours that went into hand stitching every tiny piece of that quilt are staggering to contemplate. 

You can see these quilts and MANY others in the Finished Quilts gallery on Sue's web site here.  Most of the quilts I've featured in this post are available in Sue's online pattern shop here, and her daughters have indicated that these patterns will continue to be available for sale for the foreseeable future.  My deepest condolences and prayers go out to Sue's surviving family.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Pineapple Progress Continues: Block 28 Completed

Look, it hasn't even been a month yet and I've finished another pineapple log cabin block!  I feel so accomplished!  That's 28 that I've made now and only 8 more to go.  I think I can, I think I can...

17 3/4" Pineapple Log Cabin Block 28

I went ahead and started Block 29, just the red center and the first two white strips, before leaving to take Anders to his violin lesson.  I've decided that inertia is my enemy; getting started is the hardest part.  Instead of turning off the sewing machine and unplugging the iron after trimming a finished block, I'll make a start on the next one before taking a break.  It's so much easier to walk into the room and spend 10 minutes adding a ring of strips to a block-in-progress than it is to start from scratch.  With only eight blocks to go, the end is in sight.  It would be so nice to finish this quilt and put it on my bed.  I started it back in June of 2014!  I'm sure the whole Internet is sick of hearing about this quilt already...

So right this minute, I am setting a goal:  June of 2017 is the deadline.  I do not want to spend more than three years working on this quilt.  Wsh me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Back to the Pineapple Log Cabin for Now, with Clamshells On the Horizon

Hello and Happy New Year 2017!  This post will be short and sweet, because I want to get back to my sewing room before the day gets away from me.  After a hectic holiday season and a week of illness that saw me lying around the house amidst piles of crumpled Kleenex and steaming cups of Theraflu, I finally felt well enough to play with fabric yesterday.  I finished another block for my pineapple log cabin quilt:

17 3/4" Pineapple Log Cabin Block #27 of 36
That's block #27 out of 36 needed for my California King quilt.  If you want to really scrutinize that fuzzy photo, you'll see that I made a mistake and sewed two green strips where I should have sewn blue ones and vice-versa.  I decided to leave it that way because it doesn't detract from the overall effect, and I'm deliberately trying to make sure the blocks don't look too perfectly planned.  Also when you are drowning in boogers and your head feels like it is packed with sawdust, it is much more fun to keep sewing than it is to start ripping. 

Starching Strips Prior to Sewing
I'm finding that, especially with the longer strips, I have a lot less problems with stretching and puckering when I starch the strips twice before sewing them down.  For the last couple of long strips on the very outside edges of the blocks, I pin them in place before sewing them just to make sure nothing shifts beneath the paper during stitching.

Pressing each piece after stitching
I'll have you know that, in order to take the above photo with one hand in the picture and the other hand holding my iPad, I had to touch the shutter button with my NOSE. 

I love watching these blocks come together, each one with its own personality. My son was keeping me company while I was sewing.  He was working on a paper for his theatre class.

View From My Machine: Lars, Working on a Paper for School
I started on block 28 last night and got about halfway finished with that one, too.  I'm planning to finish it today.

This is the perfect project for when your mind is fuzzy and your concentration is only around 60% of normal.  The steam iron is great for opening up your sinuses, too.

Meanwhile, I got this new toy for Christmas:

Accuquilt GO! Baby Fabric Die Cutter
...and I have been using it to chop fabric up into perfect 4" clamshells:

4 Inch Clamshells! 
I've been inspired by images of clam shell quilts like the one below and thought it would be a fun way to use up scraps.  Of course, in order to cut a 4" finished clam shell with seam allowance, you really need a scrap of fabric that is at least 5" square, a bit larger than most of what ends up in my scrap bins.  This size die is really ideal for those 5" charm packs.

"Clamshell Garden Quilt" by Cheryl Adam for Sizzix, pattern here

(You can see more examples of clam shell quilt possibilities on my Pinterest board here).

For now I'm just chopping up scraps into clam shells and setting them aside.  I'll write a proper review of the GO! Baby fabric cutter once I've had a chance to use it a bit more.  As for actually sewing the clamshells together into a quilt top, I want to get a nice assortment of patches from scraps first, then determine what fabric I want to alternate with the patterned clamshells before I start stitching any of them together.  I am going to be a maniac about lining them up precisely and sewing super smooth curved seams, so I do want to alternate patches with high contrast so that you can SEE all that hard work in the finished project.  I like the look of an off white with the prints, like Cheryl Adam's version, but I've also considered using a text print for the alternating clamshells, something like this one:

Ink Modern Background, Zen Chic for Moda, available at Fat Quarter Shop
Of course it depends on what my mix of prints ends up looking like.  If it ends up looking really juvenile, I might go with an alphabet print or something like that. 

Since it's Monday, here's a parting shot of my design wall of possibilities:

Much In-Progress, Not Much Done
And now, for a nice cup of hot tea and a steamy shower, followed by an afternoon of pineapple log cabin piecing!  Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm linking up with:


·       Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times

Oh Scrap! at

·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag: