Friday, August 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend, everyone!  Happy stitching!

I'm linking today's post up with:


·      Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


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


·      UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

To Do On Tuesday: Piece 3 Blocks for Beware the Ishmaelites Sampler Quilt

Hello, friends!  Since I used up so much sewing time blubbering all over old photos in my last post, THIS one is going to be short and sweet.  I promise.  

Anders' Beware the Ishmaelites Sampler Quilt, Queen Size
It's time to return my attention to Beware the Ishmaelites, my adaptation of the Moda Modern Building Blocks sampler quilt from a few years back.  I swapped out some of the blocks for different ones, and changed all of the Moda colors to Kona Solids that coordinate with a mod graphic wallpaper in my son's bathroom.  Then I resized all of the blocks to make the Queen size Moda pattern fit a Twin bed, which necessitated some REALLY wonky block sizes that are not one bit ruler friendly...  (Moda Modern Building Blocks design uses block sizes that are all multiples of 6", but mine are slightly shrunken to multiples of 5") 

 And so I set it aside for a few years after struggling to make the first giant block without the modern advantages of rotary cutting tools.  I paper pieced it, which required taping together multiple pages of newsprint, and if I had it to do over again I would have cut those giant green triangles so they had straight grain instead of bias along the outside edges of the block.  Live and learn.

First and Only Block Completed, MMBB Block 2 at 30 x 30
Ironically, while I was ignoring this project, my son hit a growth spurt that necessitated replacing his Twin bed with a Queen.  The original Moda Modern Building Blocks pattern would fit his new bed perfectly, all with ruler-friendly block sizes.  But then I would not be able to use the 30" block pictured above which I worked SO HARD on...  So I slapped borders onto my Twin adaptation to make it a Queen size again, and I like my borders.  Seriously -- and this is me envisioning how the quilt will look on the bed, in the room.  

I will be piecing the remaining blocks for this quilt using a combination of traditional template methods and foundation paper piecing, in order to deal with the weird measurements.

These are the blocks that are up next:

MMBB Block 1 at 30" 
I'm going to foundation paper piece the red and white center of that star for sure, and will probably cut the larger triangles out with tagboard templates.  The rotary cutting instructions I printed out from EQ8 want me to cut a 16 3/16" square and cross cut it into QSTs, for instance.  No, thank you.

Not In MMBB: Replacement for Block 3 at 25"
The block pictured above is not in the Moda Modern Building Blocks pattern.  It's from my EQ8 software block library, and I swapped it out for MMBB Block 3.  (It is SUPER convenient to have access to thousands of blocks in whatever size I want them, and to be able to print out templates/rotary cutting charts/foundation patterns for any of them with a few clicks.  Seriously, even if you never use the software to design a quilt from scratch, it's totally worth the price just to be able to print out any of a gazillion quilt block patterns in any size your heart desires!)  I think I'm going to try to paper piece this block, too, although I have a nagging recollection that I didn't love paper piecing for the first giant block.  The large fabric pieces want to scoot around too much on the paper, but I guess I'll have to deal with it, because no way am I rotary cutting 7 7/16" squares to cross cut into QSTs.  I mean, I COULD, but I already printed my foundation patterns on newsprint, and I do love how nice and precise my points come out when I paper piece...


Last but not least:

Also Not in MMBB: Replacement for Block 4 at 20"
This one isn't in the original MMBB pattern, either -- it's another block from EQ8 that I plopped into position where their Block 4 was supposed to go.  The two blocks that I replaced from MMBB were boring and too similar to other blocks already in the quilt; I thought these ones tied in nicely but were a lot more interesting.

The biggest blocks make me more nervous than the smallest blocks do.  I feel like, once I get these three done for a total of 4 blocks finished and on the design wall, the smaller blocks will come along more smoothly and they should be fun to make.

So, here's my To-Do List for Tuesday!

  1. Piece the three large blocks for Beware the Ishmaelites quilt as pictured above
  2. Squeeze myself into the dress I'm planning to wear to a wedding this weekend to ensure that it still fits (I've been stress-eating in anticipation of abandoning moving my son into college, so there will probably be Spanx involved).
  3. Get a pedicure and pack for said wedding.
  4. Shop for school supplies with Anders, my high school Junior who will be sleeping under this quilt once it's finished.  He goes back to school on Monday, as soon as we get back from my niece's wedding.
I'm linking up today's post with:

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Son the Elder Deposited at College (and YES, His Mission Impossible Quilt Fits His Dorm Bed!)

So THIS happened yesterday:

Last Look at Lars-of-Ours in His Dorm Room Before Driving Away
As you can see, the Mission Impossible quilt I made for him fits his XL Twin dormitory bed perfectly.  Doesn't he look LITTLE in there?  I know; he's not little anymore.  He's 18 years old and he's six feet tall and he's going to be just fine.

My Goodbye Hug: Mommy and Lars
Sometimes I still think of him like this, though:

Mommy and Lars, Just a Few Years Ago
And then of course I had to get this picture of the two brothers together:

College Freshman Lars & High School Junior Anders
Which only reminds me of so many other great photos of these brothers together over the years:

Anders & Lars, Faces Decorated With Magic Marker Courtesy of Lars-of-Ours
Anders & Lars
Anders & Lars in Stripey Pajamas
Lars & Anders, Driving to School
Superman Lars & Batman Anders
Lars & Anders
Lars & Anders at One of Anders' Birthday Parties

Lars and Anders With Their LEGO Creations
Lars and Anders
As much as they can get on each other's nerves, these boys are definitely going to miss each other this year.

Lars and Bernie at Entrance to Tunnel Between East and West Campuses
I didn't get any really great shots of Lars with his dad.  Here they are together at the entrance to the foot tunnel beneath a busy road that bisects East and West campuses.  (The spray paint was done for or by some other Bernie, but it called for a photo opp!).  

And here we have the two gentlemen who still primarily reside in my home, acting up on way back to the car after saying goodbye to Lars:

Goofball the Elder and Goofball In Training
The mountain scenery is beautiful in Boone, by the way.  It makes a person want to twirl around and start singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music..."

My Kid Lives Behind That Window Now
Sometimes the kids are ready to leave for college before the MOMS are ready for them to leave for college, if you know what I mean.  He will be fine.  He will be GREAT!  He will have so much fun.  And we are driving right back to Boone to scoop him up again a week from now, to take him to his cousin's wedding in D.C., so I'll see him again before I hardly have time to start missing him, right?

Cutie-the-College Student, Ready to Take On the World!
Whew!!  Now that all of THAT has been taken care of, THIS momma is in need of some serious fabric therapy!  I think I'll piece the second block for Anders' modified Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt today.  He's only been waiting for that quilt for two and a half years now...

Beware the Ishmaelites Quilt for Anders, Queen Size
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and it you are blessed to have children or grandchildren in your life, hold them close for as long as you can!

I'm linking up today's post with:


·      Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


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

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, Nov/Dec 1986

A former member of our Charlotte Quilter's Guild who is no longer quilting was cleaning out her home recently and graciously decided to gift her entire stash of Quilter's Newsletter Magazines to a current guild member.  Her issues go from 1986 through the late 'nineties, long before I began quilting, so I snapped at the chance to do a little "time traveling" through these back issues.  Quilter's Newsletter Magazine has been my all-time favorite over the years, and I was a subscriber from the early 2000s until the magazine folded at the end of 2016.  

QNM Issues from the 2000s, When I Began Subscribing
I'm interested in the patterns that were published in earlier issues of the magazine, but I'm also interested in reading the articles and studying the advertisements to learn how the art, craft and industry around quilt making has evolved over the past 33 years.  

And so, for today's Throwback Thursday, we are traveling back to November/December of 1986!

QNM Issue 187, Nov/Dec 1986
When this magazine was published, I was a thirteen-year-old eighth grader whose primary goal in life was trying to get my spiral-permed hair to stick straight up in the air with hairspray.  Although my junior high mandated one semester each of co-ed shop class and co-ed home economics, all I got out of that was a little wooden stand that I built for VHS tapes -- and I learned how to cook scrambled eggs while dodging the airborn eggs that the boys were throwing at one another across the classroom.  

In the wake of Second Wave feminism, the traditional home economics curriculum had all but disappeared from the schools, and even though my mom did a lot of garment sewing when I was growing up, she worked full-time outside the home and, for one reason or another, didn't pass that skill set along to me or to my sisters.  I think the prevailing idea in the '80s was that it was backwards or anti-feminist to teach young girls to sew, since our generation was expected to go out and crush it in the business world instead of staying at home.  (Consider this article from the Dec. 30, 1986 New York Times, in which researchers studying data from the 1980 Census concluded that women's roles and social norms had not been in agreement since the 1950s).

That seems to be a key generational difference between those who began quilting in the '70s and '80s versus those who have taken up quilting more recently.  The earlier generation of quilters already possessed basic sewing skills and equipment that they could transfer to their new quilting hobby, whereas a typical beginning quilter today might not own a sewing machine or has never even threaded a needle when she or he first develops the itch to make a quilt.

Baby Boom (1987) and Mr. Mom (1986), available on Amazon here
Two films that were in theaters around the time this issue of QNM was on the newsstand were Baby Boom (1987) and Mr. Mom (1986), conveniently packaged as a Double Feature available for streaming on Amazon here.  I vividly remember watching both of these movies that idealized the new phenomenon of the "working mom."  I had no idea at the time that this seismic cultural shift in American family life was concurrent with a renewed interest in the traditional women's craft of quilting.  Despite the quilting Renaissance that was kicked off in the United States by the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976, I don't remember seeing any representations back then of quilters in popular culture.  This intrigues me, and I wonder who those women were who were resurrecting the art of hand quilting while Diane Keaton was building a baby food conglomerate and home economics classes were disappearing from the schools.  Did the new quilters of the '80s and '90s identify as feminists, or were they actively rejecting feminism by embracing and romanticizing the traditional needlework that women had engaged in during "simpler times," or do you feel that the renewed appeal of quilting as a creative outlet had no relation at all to the changes in American family life that were happening at the same time? 

If you were making quilts back in 1986 while I was still in the bathroom playing with hairspray, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  

What brought you to quilting?  Were you a homemaker or working outside the home at that time?  Did you feel liberated by the new possibilities available to women outside the home, or did you feel that your traditional identity, values, and skills were being devalued?  Did you then, or do you now in retrospect, see any connection between the changing opportunities and expectations for women that were happening culturally and the pleasure that you and other women found in quilt making during the '80s and '90s?

These are the things that stood out to me from the Nov/Dec 1986 issue of Quilter's Newsletter:

  • The ads are all for polyester batting
  • No mention of rotary cutting anywhere -- all of the patterns have templates instead.  That surprised me, because I know that Olfa introduced the first rotary cutters for garment sewing in 1979.  Seven years later, quilters were still tracing templates onto cereal boxes and cutting out every patch with a scissor?!  I'll be interested to discover when the first ad or article for rotary cutting finally shows up in QNM as I read through the decades of back issues!
  • None of the ads have websites listed, and many of them instruct readers to mail in $5.50 or however much with a SASE (Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope).  I had forgotten all about SASEs!
  • There was an interesting article about the difficulty that quilters in 1986 were having locating the fabric colors they wanted.  That seems bizarre to me, spoiled by local quilt shops that carry full ranges of solid colors and everything from the traditional Civil War reproduction prints to Aunt Grace to Kaffe Fassett and beyond -- and if I can't find what I'm looking for at my LQS, there's always the Internet to find that elusive out-of-print fabric that I need to finish my project!
  • All of the quilts in this issue appear to be hand quilted.   I saw no mention of machine quilting at all, many ads for different styles of hand quilting frames, hoops, and thimbles, and several photos of women quilting by hand in articles as well as in advertisements.  There was one small 1/6 page black and white ad for a "Nustyle Table Frame for Professional Quilting" that depicted a domestic Juki sewing machine mounted onto a small frame to do narrow width pantograph quilting, instructing readers to "Call or send 22 cent stamp for literature and prices."  Remember when a postage stamp only cost 22 cents?!
  • Another thing that stood out to me is that the quilters who are pictured in this 1986 issue all look so YOUNG -- three appeared to be in their late twenties or thirties, two who may have been in their forties or fifties, and one woman who might have been early sixties.  And they really WERE young, because 1986 predates the ubiquity of Botox...  Just sayin'.
  • The articles and patterns in this issue of QNM are still depicting very traditional quilts in terms of their design and color.  However, several of the quilts in the QNM Readers' Quilt Show section are starting to look more experimental and contemporary:

Readers' Quilt Show: More Experimental Quilts Made by QNM Readers
Traditional Quilt Patterns Written by QNM Staff
That was an interesting discovery -- I would have thought that readers' quilts would have been more traditional and the editorial content would have been introducing new aesthetics, new techniques, and innovation.  Instead, at least from this issue, it seems that the magazine was still pretty traditional in 1986 even as its readers were starting to explore new possibilities in quilt making.

Okay, so no actual quilting got done today, and I got off on quite the tangent with this one back issue of QNM.  Uff da!  Tomorrow is a whole new day -- hopefully one that involves loading an outreach top on the longarm and quilting it!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Machine Applique Sample Finished + Another Grandma's Quilt to Rescue

You guys -- I finished my machine appliqué project from Karen Kay Buckley's workshop last month!  Well, I finished the top, anyway.  I plan to add borders and then I need to quilt it, but still.  All the appliqué is stitched down and the stabilizer is all ripped off the back, so I'm feeling like I've accomplished something!

I Call it "Underwater Sunrise Garden With Alien Bubbles."  12 x 18
This is a project that I started in a 6-hour workshop hosted by the Charlotte Quilter's Guild.  Here's what Karen's class sample looks like:

"Circles Squared" by Karen Kay Buckley, 14 x 20
So, as you can see, I monkeyed around with it a bit to try to make it my own.  First I chose the ombre fabric for the background, then I spent ridiculous amounts of time digging through my scrap bins to select different fabrics for leaves, flowers, and whatever those bazillion 3/4" circles are supposed to be.  Beads?  Marbles?  Dormant alien seed pods drifting down from the Mother Ship, about to hatch and annihilate the Earth?  Karen is an amazing teacher and I learned a lot from the workshop, but I don't like making the exact same project as all of the other students in the class.  I brought this downstairs to the kitchen on Monday so I could work on it with my quilting bee, and then I couldn't STOP working on it after my quilter friends left, so this is what my kitchen island looked like all week:

Ain't No One Cookin' NUTHIN' 'Til This Project is DONE!
My husband didn't complain once -- no snide comments about "why is all this stuff down here when I built you a giant studio upstairs," either!  It was nice to be prepping and glue basting the appliqué while he was watching TV a few feet away from me to keep me company.

Applique Picking and Prepping In Progress
So I experimented with fussy cutting and layering, and learning about how different a fabric looks when I cut a TINY piece for appliqué ..  This is primarily a learning exercise for me.  I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this thing once it's finished.  However, I did want to finish it for the following reasons:

  1. To practice invisible machine appliqué -- a technique that I hope will enable me to make MORE appliqué quilts than I could ever finish by hand.
  2. To decide how I like the stabilizer Karen had us using.  I wanted to see whether this iron-on stuff would stay on well enough and long enough for me to finish all of the appliqué stitching, and I wanted to find out how easy it was to remove the stabilizer from the back of the work once stitching was complete (that part was NOT fun, folks!).
  3. To find out whether or not the tracing paper marks on the background fabric wash out completely from the finished quilt.  I'm REALLY nervous about the dark lines against the lighter areas of my fabric in particular.  Evidently it was not necessary for me to be pressing so hard when I was tracing the pattern onto my fabric!  Some of my friends who were also in this class have tried and failed to remove those lines from their projects, but I don't know of anyone who has actually quilted it and washed it in the laundry to see if the lines come out.   Meanwhile, the longer the marks stay on my fabric, the better a test it is of whether I'd be able to get the marks out of a large quilt once I was finished quilting it.
  4. This is going to be good longarm quilting practice for me, too.  I've got some other applique quilts in my pipeline that are important to me, but my longarming skills are not ready to tackle them yet.  So the final reason for finishing this piece is so I can use it to practice quilting around appliqué on the longarm machine.

Dark Placement Lines from Dressmaker's Transfer Paper
See what I mean?  But, worst case scenario, I'll just add some kind of embellishment around the alien marbles with heavy decorative thread at the tail end of the project if those lines don't come out, and then I'll know for next time.

Removing Stabilizer With Tweezers
Removing the stabilizer from the back was really annoying, by the way -- much worse than removing foundation paper piecing patterns, because the size 60 needle we used for the invisible machine applique makes much tinier holes than the size 90 needles I use for foundation paper piecing.  So the stabilizer isn't perforated quite as well as I'd expected, even though the stitches are super tiny and the needle holes are much closer together than they are for paper piecing.

Invisible Machine Applique Stitch, Tweaked Again
By the way, I tweaked that stitch again and made it even shorter when I was going around those 3/4" circles.  I just felt like I needed the swing "bite" parts of the stitch closer together to secure the circles properly.  Honestly, once the circles are prepped and glue basted, they would have been so much easier to stitch by hand than constantly pivoting around that tight curve on the machine.  However, larger shapes with straight lines and gentle curves are much faster to stitch by machine.  I was glad that Karen mentioned in class that she sometimes combines hand stitched and machine stitched appliqué in the same project; that makes perfect sense.

Hey, Have any of you made a Double Wedding Ring quilt before?  Any advice, suggestions, or tutorial links to share?  

Let me know in the comments!   Because there's one more thing I want to show you guys.  A woman recently contacted our quilt guild after discovering a WIP/UFO (Work In Progress/UnFinished Object) in her late grandmother's attic.  She is looking for someone to finish it for her, and it's a bed size Double Wedding Ring.  Of course no one raised their hand, because most people know enough to keep their hands down and their mouths shut to stay out of trouble.  But I was curious and couldn't resist at least taking a look at it.

I Do Know Better, But Still...
I made no promises and told the woman I'd need to see the project in person to make recommendations and give her a quote, but she sent me this photo in the meantime.  The resolution isn't good enough to blow it up any larger, but it looks well-pieced and pretty flat, don't you think?  Pretty, cheerful colors, too, and that makes a HUGE difference because I hate working on projects that don't appeal to my personal aesthetics.  When I see it in person, I'll discuss options with the granddaughter.  She did tell me that everything is all cut out already and she thinks her grandma finished piecing all of the rainbow arcs.  If the cutting and piecing are accurate and the completed portions are laying nice and flat as they should, this should be doable, right?  I can give her some options, too -- even if grandma intended to make a bed quilt, we could just add enough to what she's done to get it to a throw or wall hanging size, or even make a couple of pillows from the already pieced section.  I do seem to have a soft place in my heart for rescuing grandma quilts, especially the ones that have the most potential to become a can of worms...

Anyway, you'll have to wait until the end of the month to find out whether that quilt is coming home to my vintage quilt hospital studio, because next week is Anders' 16th birthday on Tuesday and then we are moving Lars into his freshman dorm at Appalachian State University on Friday.  YIKES!!  

Have a wonderful week, everyone!  I'll be linking up with:


·      Slow Sunday Stitching at  
·      Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


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


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at


·      Midweek Makers at
·      WOW WIP on Wednesday at


·      Needle and Thread Thursday at  


·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at
     Beauty Pageant at
·      Finished Or Not Friday at
·      TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: