Saturday, November 30, 2019

Tentative Quilting Plan for Jingle and More Spirit Song Birds In the Air

Alright, you guys -- my #1 priority quilting goal for the month of December is to get as much of this Christmas themed Jingle project quilted as I can.  It's not loaded on my frame yet, but here's what I've accomplished since I posted about it a few days ago:

  • Located a package of Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly batting in my stash that can be cut down for this quilt
  • Ordered and received a package of Quilter's Dream Wool batting to layer over the 80/20
  • Located the 108" wide backing fabric and prewashed it in HOT water to shrink it as much as possible (all of the blocks in this quilt had to be soaked repeatedly in boiling hot water with Dawn dish detergent due to a dye bleed, so I'm certain that most of their shrinkage has already taken place)
  • Reviewed my notes from the longarm quilting workshops I took with both Lisa Calle and Judi Madsen during Spring Quilt Week in Paducah earlier this year
  • Ordered and received a new ruler gadget from Lisa Calle's online shop to assist with stitching in the ditch around all of this applique
  • Started a tentative custom quilting plan on my iPad in the Notes Plus app -- I just import the photo to the app from my iCloud photos, stretch it to fill the page, and then I can sketch quilting designs directly on the photo as you see below:

Tentative Quilting Plan for Jingle Quilt
Cool, huh?  I know quilters have a lot of different ways they try out quilting motifs on a quilt, like dry erase markers on vinyl, etc., but doing it on my iPad means I can doodle through a gazillion options whenever I have some down time.  What do you think so far?  I like those ruler work designs that I put on the inner setting triangles and I know that if I mark them carefully, I should have no trouble executing them on the longarm.  The feathers in the outer setting triangles I'm not so sure of.  I think I'd have to mark them all ahead of time and follow the marked lines to avoid the dreaded String of Ogre Toes look, but if I can do that successfully on a practice piece, I might give it a go on the real quilt.  Otherwise/instead, I'll do one of those piano key things where every other stripe is filled in (I tested that idea out on some of the red setting triangles near the top).  I don't know how well the yellow "ink" shows up on your screen, but all I did for the center medallion is come up with reference points to make a giant X behind the applique, so I can break that area up and do one fill inside the X and a different fill design in the V-shaped areas outside of the X.  Not sure what either of those fills might be, but I'll definitely have to mark the big X prior to loading the quilt.

I picked the doodling "inks" based on what would show up on the photo, but I'm actually planning to use Superior's Antique Gold Metallic thread on those red and green setting triangles if all goes well.  I'll use monofilament for all of the stitch in the ditch between borders, blocks, and around the applique, and an off-white shade of So Fine for the background fills behind the applique.  I think I want to get some lighter weight Bottom Line thread to put in the bobbin with my metallic and monofilament threads, and I don't have any of that on hand, so that's on my To Do list for this week:

  1. Locate my Superior Bottom Line thread color chart and select bobbin colors to coordinate with quilt backing (for monofilament), metallic threads, and possibly for background fills as well.  Order cones of thread from Superior.
  2. See whether I already have an arc template for the spine of those triangle feathers.  If not, figure out what size I need and order it.
  3. Test out feather design on sample quilt
  4. Mark medallion X and feather spines on quilt top
  5. Load the Jingle quilt on the frame!

Meanwhile, I spent some time sewing up some more Birds In the Air blocks for my Spirit Song Dress Code quilt today:

121 Blocks Complete out of 192 Needed; 71 Blocks to Go

This one is also reminding me of pink lemonade.  I know it's obnoxiously bright, and I don't care.  If I can just finish the blocks, I can clean up the giant fabric mess and refocus my attention on the longarm machine.  I keep telling myself that, and then I say I'll just sew a couple more of these HSTs and then I'll stop...

Well, I've got church in the morning and then we'll spend the entirety of Sunday afternoon returning Son the Elder to his college campus.  It was a very low-key but restful Thanksgiving holiday at our house -- just what the doctor ordered!

I'm linking today's post with:

SATURDAY·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


       One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts:  

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em's Scrap Bag
·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  


·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon
·       To-Do Tuesday at Home Sewn By Us

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Name Your Goliath: My Giant Is Named JINGLE, So I'm Quilting It Anyway

Oh my gosh, you guys -- I'm so glad I went to church last Sunday!  The sermon at Christ Lutheran was PERFECT for helping me get over my fear of "messing up" my Jingle quilt by quilting it poorly!  

If you have ever felt intimidated by something (sewing related or otherwise) that seems too big, too complicated, or too difficult for you, then today's post is for you.

Center Appliqué Medallion for my Big, Scary Jingle Quilt, Erin Russek's Pattern Available here
The text for the sermon was I Samuel 17, the story of the young shepherd boy, David, who defeated the mighty warrior giant Goliath despite being completely outmatched and out of his league by all outward appearances.  Pastor Scott talked about fear, courage, loss, bravery, and faith, and about the difference between how we tend to judge people (by outward appearances) versus how God judges people (by their hearts).  He asked us to visualize and silently name the "giants" in our own lives that may be holding us back, holding us captive: a divorce that makes us feel we will never know love again?  The death of a loved one that has taken all of our joy?  A financial failure, job loss, a terrifying medical diagnosis, or feeling that we can never measure up to the impossible standards of this world?  Seriously, this was a great sermon and if you're interested, you can listen to it online here.  The sermon begins about 23 minutes into the worship service.

David With the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio, Ca. 1600 (Photo Courtesy Museo Nacional del Prado)
So, what does this have to do with my Jingle quilt top?  Well, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving  -- and on Sunday, as my pastor was ticking off the different kinds of giants we have to face throughout our lives, I realized that I'm currently "between major giants," so to speak.  Right this minute, I'm not dealing with any life catastrophes, and the first "giant" that popped into my mind that has been paralyzing me with fear and robbing me of joy is this Jingle quilt top that has been languishing in my closet, unfinished, because I'm so afraid to "ruin" by quilting it poorly.  

Behold, the Vicious Giant From Whom I've Cowered In Fear!
SERIOUSLY?!!  When other people have REAL problems?!  I sang at all three services last weekend, so I got to listen to this sermon three times.  What makes it a really great sermon in my opinion, is its universality -- its ability to speak to men, women, and children of all ages, from all walks of life, empowering each of us to apply the power of Scripture to whatever we may be struggling with in that moment in time.  That's why I spend my Sunday mornings at church instead of sleeping in, going out for brunch or reading the Sunday papers in my pajamas.  There is no better antidote to the negative messages we're all bombarded with in the modern world than communal worship and music coupled with a really good sermon.

Stitching the Appliqué By Hand, Thousands of Tiny Stitches, One Piece At a Time
Machine quilting is scarier to me than hand quilting -- or any kind of hand stitching -- because a needle in my hand always lands exactly where I want it to pierce the fabric (provided I'm wearing my glasses, that is!).  If I make an ugly stitch, I can pull just that one stitch out and keep going with a hand needle.  Sewing machines, whether domestic sit-down or longarm machine on a frame like mine, are less forgiving, more difficult to control with precision, and stitches that take 30 seconds to make can take an hour and a half to rip out!  However, the look that I want for this quilt is custom machine quilting over a double batting, with fairly dense background quilting behind the appliqué to give it a three-dimensional "pop."  And I've never attempted a quilt like that before.

One of My Favorite Appliqué Blocks From My Jingle Quilt

Today, in this moment, my giants are Crippling Perfectionism and Fear-of-Failure.  My giant taunts me by holding up the masterpieces of nationally-renowned quilters who have decades of experience behind them -- as though this was a reasonable standard of comparison for a beginner like me.

Yes, I love this quilt top; yes, I spent a very long time making it, and no, I really don't want to mess it up.  -- BUT --

  • This was my first appliqué project.  I love it, but it's not perfect -- despite the hundreds of hours that went into making it, this is likely the WORST hand appliqué quilt I will ever make.
  • If I can't practice custom quilting on my own worst, first appliquéd quilt top, whose quilt am I ever going to practice on?  
  • I wanted to try hand appliqué for at least 10 years before pattern designer Erin Russek's Jingle Block of the Month (as well as her inspirational blog posts and tutorials at One Piece At a Time) encouraged me to give it a try -- not worrying about the whole quilt all at once, just taking it one piece at a time.  Think of what I could have created in the last 10 years if I hadn't been so afraid to try!
  • If I put it back in the closet and wait until I'm "good enough" to quilt it, it will probably NEVER get quilted at all.

Now, I'm not going to go so far as to say that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is up there on His throne, organizing a host of angels specifically to help me defeat this quilt as part of His plan for eternal salvation...  However, I DO believe that our human capacity for creativity is part of what it means to be Imago Dei, created in God's image.  Compared to the awesome complexity and breathtaking beauty of every plant and creature in an ecosystem, the majesty of a crashing waterfall or a mountain skyline, ALL of our human artwork must look like preschool macaroni projects to God Almighty, even the works of a master like Michelangelo.  Yet I don't see dogs, frogs or potatoes out there making art; do you?  Human beings are unique in our capacity to create.  It's a gift from our Creator that we're meant to use and enjoy, and the fear of messing up or not being good enough is just a lie that gets in the way.

Creation of Adam (Detail) by Michelangelo, 1508-1512, Sistine Chapel of the Vatican in Rome
Another interesting point Pastor Scott made in his sermon was that God had already started preparing to help David defeat that giant long before David was even born -- in the creation of the Jordan river alongside the battlefield, putting those rocks in place and washing them smooth through thousands of years of abrasion from the silt, sand, and other rocks in the flowing water.  God always shows up, God is never taken by surprise, and God is always ready to help us by giving us the tools we need and putting people in our lives who can help us defeat our giants.  If we can just strip away the fear that blinds us with lies of inadequacy and weakness, we will find that we have had the strength to move mountains all along. 

One of the Pieced Blocks in my Jingle Quilt
That got me thinking.  I absolutely have the resources, the time, and the equipment I need for this.  I have taken classes with nationally renowned longarm quilters to learn 
the techniques for this project, and I am blessed to have one of the best quilting machines on the market sitting up in my studio, ready to go.  I have the right needles, the right threads, the right battings, all the best marking utensils, quilting rulers and templates.  I have people in my life who can help me if I run into trouble and get stuck, and the skills I lack can only be developed through practice.  If a little shepherd boy named David can take on a nine foot, heavily armored, full-grown warrior with nothing but a slingshot, then I should be able to tackle the quilting of my own appliqué quilt!

Embroidering the Dates on the Birdie Block
I'm planning to load my Jingle quilt on my frame and start quilting it as soon as the Thanksgiving festivities are behind us, and then I'll take it one step at a time, without rushing to meet a December 31st deadline.  I am looking forward to blasting Christmas music in my studio while I'm working on it, too!  

Thanks to all of you who weighed in on this one on both sides.  To those in the United States who are celebrating, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up today's post 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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Oh, Crap! I Only Have 5 Weeks to Quilt Jingle BOM Before It EXPIRES!

Just when I was relaxing away without a deadline, an awful realization slammed into my peaceful reveries while I was driving home from choir practice last night.  Do you guys remember my Jingle BOM (Block of the Month) quilt, the one I started way back in 2013?  This is my first-ever appliqué quilt, designed by Erin Russek of One Piece At a Time.  The appliqué was a huge learning curve. Learning to piece the blocks accurately so they all finished the right size was a learning experience.  Dealing with the Crisis of the Bleeding Fabric Dye was an ordeal in and of itself.  Figuring out how to set the center medallion straight instead of on point like the original pattern, with inner borders sized correctly for the appliqué block border to fit was challenging.  Am I forgetting anything?  And after all of that, I absolutely adore how this quilt top ended up when I finished it back in February of this year.

My 72 x 72 Jingle Quilt Top, Completed in February of This Year
I knew my longarm skills weren't ready to tackle this special quilt quite yet, so I carefully packed it away in Quilt Purgatory (the closet in my guest bedroom).  But before doing so, I had the idea of embroidering the dates "2013-2019" on one of the quilt blocks.  Because I'd definitely get it quilted by the end of the year, right?

Expiration Dates!
AAAAAHHHH!!!  I embroidered the dates on the very first applique block that I made in 2013.  Before you tell me to just remove those stitches and change the date to 2020, I should confess that I traced the dates onto my fabric using a permanent yellow Pigma pen.  Those dates must remain.  I really, REALLY wanted this quilt to get finished before the end of the year -- but the end of the year has snuck up on me and taken me completely by surprise.

What do you guys think?  Jingle needs custom quilting, and I have very limited skills in that arena.  Just stitching in the ditch around the appliqué and embroidered dates is going to be challenging.  After my ruler work on my son's Mission Impossible graduation quilt, I feel like I could manage some ruler work crosshatching if I marked it ahead of time, but the traditional feather motifs I'm envisioning in my mind are likely to come out looking like strings of ogre toes if I try to quilt them on this quilt.  I wonder if I could quilt decent feathers in the setting triangles if I marked them first and had lines to follow?

Any and all suggestions appreciated.  I just got a new longarm ruler from Lisa Hagstoz Calle that is designed to facilitate stitch in the ditch around appliqué, so that almost seems like a message from the Universe telling me to give this a try and at least get it on my frame before the end of the year, even if I don't finish it by New Year's.  I just need to come up with a quilting plan within my current skill set that does the appliqué justice.  Oh, and I had planned to quilt this one with a double batting (wool over 80/20) to really emphasize the quilting, but I've never tried a double batting before, either.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Spirit Song Challenge: Can I Turn Easter Eggs Into a Pumpkin Spiced Latte for Thanksgiving? Also, I Have Nothing to Wear to Church This Sunday.

It has been awhile since I've had the luxury of sewing for relaxation, for myself, without any deadlines or external demands.  You guys -- this is so much FUN!  I snuck back up to my studio after dinner last night, thinking I'd just putter around for 30 minutes or so, and before I knew it, it was after eleven.  

These are all 4" Birds In the Air blocks right now, nothing is joined together.  I'm still deciding if I like the mix, adding in new fabrics, and rearranging the blocks on the wall.  Although this is a scrappy quilt, I suppose it's kind of a color study, exploring the possibilities of the Pink/Peach/Coral/Orange dress code palette.  By the way, this is my church choir's dress code again for this Sunday morning, November 24th, and we are still in the icy clutches of a cold snap.  Pink, peach, and coral with khaki is so much easier to find in spring and summer clothing than it is for fall and winter.  Where am I supposed to find something in these Easter egg colors that is WARM?!  Maybe that's why I'm mixing in the deeper caramels and butterscotch hues here and there, to tweak this spring color palette to better suit the week before Thanksgiving.  This is quilting alchemy at its finest, folks.  I'm trying to turn Easter eggs into a pumpkin spiced latte.

Completed Blocks as of Late Last Night
I planned the mix of colors and prints I wanted to use in a very rough, approximate way in EQ8 before I started cutting fabric, but I was choosing from random fabric images in the software that I may or may not have in my actual stash, just to get an idea of the look I'm going for.  So, as I'm choosing my fabrics and evaluating what I see on the wall in front of me, I keep referring back to this 8" x 10" image of my quilt design that I printed out from EQ:

Software-Generated Design
Somehow, a fair amount of purple snuck into my EQ8 design, likely pink prints that had enough blue or purple in them to read purplish from a distance.  Normally I wouldn't think of putting these lavender shades in a quilt that was predominantly pumpkin, caramel, orange and pink, but it adds some interesting sparkle, don't you think?  

I've made a glorious mess of my studio, pulling out all of these different fabrics and putting nothing away, but I might take a break from this to make another block for Anders' sampler quilt, or to load something up on the longarm machine.

If any of you has seen a pink/peach/coral sweater or sweater dress in a chain store recently, please let me know in the comments.  I have no idea what I'm wearing to church this Sunday!

I'm linking today's post with:


·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Spirit Song Dress Code Is Growing On the Design Wall!

Good morning!  I finally got caught up with everything else in life that needed doing last week -- whew! -- so I rewarded myself with several hours in the sewing room, chopping up fabric with my Accuquilt GO! cutter and then sewing the triangles together.  Here's what I've got up on my design wall so far:

Spirit Song Blocks In Progress On My Design Wall
I felt like what I had at the beginning of yesterday was getting too bright and juvenile-looking, so I deliberately added some caramels to the peach/orange/coral fabrics and started mixing in some darker blues for the little HSTs.  This is what was on my wall at the beginning of the day yesterday:

Where I Started Yesterday
It's hard to make an accurate comparison since the light is so different in those two photos, but hopefully you get the idea.  I need to cut up a greater variety of those background neutrals and little blue triangles, too, so that I can avoid placing blocks with the same fabrics next to one another in the final layout.  

I'm just sewing the 4" Birds In the Air units right now, not yet joining four of those together to make the 8" Airplane blocks.  And I haven't cut out the whole quilt yet, either -- I want to get what I've cut already sewn together, get it up on the wall, and then be able to adjust with lighter/darker/different scale/whatever fabrics as needed.

It might not look as though I got a great deal done yesterday, but I have about 50 more of these Birds In The Air units almost finished, piled up next to the machine and waiting for when I get home from church this afternoon:

Lots More HST Units Coming Together
Speaking of which, I've been sitting here at my desk with my morning coffee, all snuggled up  in a flouffy bathrobe with a towel on my head -- and I need to leave for church in 25 minutes in order to be on time for choir warmup.  Yikes!

I'm linking today's post with:


·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       Moving it Forward at Em's Scrap Bag

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Accuquilt Spirit Song Quilt is Now In Progress. Want to Make One of Your Own?

Good morning!  I finally got some sewing time in last night, giving me something to post about today.  I've been busy with some travel lately, and the recent migration of my old Bernina 7 Series Yahoo group to the new platform has been taking up a lot of my time as well.   If you own or are interested in learning more about Bernina sewing machines or software products, consider this my personal invitation to join me and 7,000 of my dearest friends over at the new BerninaLand forum on, which you can find here.  All Bernina models are welcome, and there are special sub groups for the 8 Series, 7 Series, Q Series Longarms, Software, and Sew Techie (dedicated to all of the ancillary tech tools that many of us are using with our sewing these days).

And now, without further ado, I present to you the fruits of an hour in the studio last night:

Making a Start on My Accuquilt Spirit Song Quilt
By the way, another reason I haven't been posting as frequently lately is that my PhotoShop Editor software is not compatible with the most recent Mac OS update, and that's the program I use to remove the yellow cast from incandescent lighting, to lighten the shadows from pictures I take in my studio late at night, and to resize my photos so they will load quickly when I post them here on the blog.  I am bumbling around in the Mac Preview and Photos apps, trying to make my usual photo edits, but I didn't find the same tools  -- totally missing the little eyedropper that tells PhotoShop which area in the photo is supposed to be pure white or pure black, for instance.  If anyone out there has recommendations for easy photo editing apps, tools, whatever that are user friendly for Mac, please share in the comments below.

My Accuquilt Spirit Song Quilt, 52 x 68
About this new project: I designed this quilt in EQ8 software with the objective of creating a design that could be completely cut out using the dies that came in my 8" Qube set with the Accuquilt Go! cutting system.  I named it the Spirit Song quilt after the contemporary Christian choir I sing in at Christ Lutheran Church, because we color coordinate our outfits based on a different "dress code" each Sunday morning, and this quilt is colored with the dress code that I most struggle with finding something to wear: Peach/Pink/Coral/Orange with Khaki!  

Spirit Song at Christ Lutheran: Pink, Peach, Coral with Khaki
Once this quilt is finished, I can wear it to church like a cape any time I can't find anything in my closet that is clean, seasonally appropriate, and currently fits me in these colors...

One of my readers requested a Quilt Along for this project.  The last thing I need right now, with holidays right around the corner, is a bunch of new self-imposed deadlines and stress, so I'm not going to do any kind of schedule for this, but I will share the information you would need if you wanted to make a Spirit Song quilt of your own.  If you do, I'd love to see it!  You can probably make this quilt using cutting tools that you already own, but I've provided links (some of them affiliate links) below to the Accuquilt dies and other gadgets that can speed up the cutting and improve accuracy as well.  Just to clarify, I drew this quilt in EQ8 and used the software to audition fabrics and plan my layout.  Spirit Song is what I'm calling my own personal quilt, not the name of the quilt block.  

One 8 Inch Airplane Block (Four 4 inch Birds In the Air Blocks)

This quilt uses one 8" block, comprised of HSTs (Half Square Triangles) in two sizes, 2" (finished) and 4" (finished).  It's an old, traditional quilt block called Airplane and instructions for piecing it can be found on p. 3 of Accuquilt's FREE 72 Block Patterns booklet that you can download from their web site here.  I've also seen a single quadrant of the Airplane block called Birds In the Air.   

To make a 52" x 68" quilt, you'll need a total of 48 8" Airplane blocks (or 192 4" Birds In the Air blocks).  Although I'm using Accuquilt dies to cut my fabric for this project, you could cut this quilt out just as easily with traditional rotary cutting.  I'm not sure whether the dies actually save any time with HSTs, to be honest, since they are so easy to cut from strips with an acrylic ruler and a rotary cutter.  

  • 576 2" finished HSTs in Assorted Neutrals (Accuquilt Die #55712 from the 8" Qube set, or #55063, or cut from 2 7/8" strips if rotary cutting) 
  • 192 2" finished HSTs in Assorted Blue/Teal prints (Accuquilt Die #55712 from the 8" Qube set, or #55063, or cut from 2 7/8" strips if rotary cutting) 
  • 192 4" finished HSTs  in Assorted Peach/Pink/Coral/Orange prints (Accuquilt Die #55710 from the 8" Qube set, or #55031, or cut from 4 7/8" strips if rotary cutting)
Since this is intentionally a scrappy quilt, it's difficult to give precise yardage requirements.  Based on the EQ8 yardage calculations, I'd say you're probably good with about 2 yards total of peach/pink/coral/orange fabrics, 2 yards total of assorted neutral print fabrics, and 1 yard total of assorted blue/teal fabrics.  These amounts do not include borders.

By the way, I purchased my 8" Qube set because it came with my Ready, Set, GO! starter kit when I purchased my Accuquilt GO! cutter.  Since there are 8 dies in a Qube set that can be mixed and matched to create countless different block designs, it's a good value and a good way to get started.  However, I would rather have the HST dies that are sold separately than the ones that came in my Qube set.  Die #55712 from my Qube set only cuts two 2" HSTs at a time, so even with 4 layers of fabric per cut, that's only 8 triangles getting cut out at a time and I need 576 of them in neutrals and another 192 of those little triangles cut from blue fabrics.  If I had die # 55063, which is sold separately, that die cuts out TWELVE 2" HSTs in one pass, or 48 triangles at a time if I'm cutting four layers of fabric per cut.  Same thing with the 4" HST die that comes in a Qube set -- only two HSTs per cut with the Qube die, but if you buy die #55031 separately you can cut out four 4" HSTs per cut.  The whole appeal of die cutting for me is speed without sacrificing accuracy, so if I end up using the GO! cutter frequently enough, I'll probably purchase the die that cuts out 12 HSTs at once instead of just two.  

Another way to make this quilt would be to slightly oversize your rotary cut triangles, cutting them from 3" strips and 5" strips respectively, and then trim them down to size after sewing them together and pressing them open, using a special HST ruler from Bloc Lock.  The Block Loc HST ruler has a diagonal ridge that nestles into your seam allowance for perfect positioning, ensuring that your HST unit finishes the correct size with a perfect diagonal seam after trimming.

Okay, folks -- that's all you get for today!  Happy Wednesday.

I'm linking up today's post with: