Monday, January 9, 2023

Mary's Lumen Quilt, Jingle Binding + A Little Red Hen Named Zojirushi

Happy New Year, Y'all!  I can't believe I haven't posted anything since before Christmas.  Meanwhile, my camera roll has been filling up with quilt photos and my brain has been cluttering up with everything I wanted to say about all of those quilts, so here we are.  I considered writing a big reflection post rehashing the highs and lows of 2022.  I thought about doing a New Year's Resolution post, or one that plans out all the quilts I'll work on this year...  Remember the three Sarah Fielke BOM projects I was going to make in 2022?  👀   Hah!  Still haven't started any of them!  

So instead of dour reflecting on goals not accomplished or fantasizing about plans soon abandoned, I'm going to just plant myself here in this moment of this day and see what happens next.

And now, without further ado, the quilt I've selected to share with you to kick off the new year:

Mary's Spectacular Lumen Quilt

Mary's 60 x 60 Lumen Quilt with Celestial Spark Clam E2E Quilting

This quilt was made by my client Mary whom many of you know via her blog, Quilting is In My Blood.  I chose to share it today for several reasons: It reminds me of fireworks exploding in the night sky to welcome the New Year.  It's gorgeous.  And finally, Mary is on my mind right now because I've got her three temperature quilts scheduled for quilting this week!  Can't wait!

Mary used the Lumen Quilt foundation paper piecing pattern by Nydia Kehnle and Alison Glass, which you can find on Etsy here (this post contains affiliate links).  This is such a gorgeous minimalist design, and IF I was making a grand list of quilts to make this year, I would probably put this one on the list.  The pattern is for a throw sized quilt, but it could easily be enlarged to bed size by making more blocks.  Another interesting thing about this quilt is that this is the second Lumen quilt Mary has made, using the same fabrics as her first one!  In 2019, Mary made a Lumen quilt as a gift for her stepdaughter and she liked the quilt so much that she decided to make another one to keep for herself.

Mary's first version of Lumen was quilted beautifully by another longarmer with a pattern called Breadbasket, and I think that was a great choice.  However, I was delighted when Mary chose to go in a different direction this time and let me quilt her second Lumen with Karlee Porter's Celestial Spark Clam design.  I just love the way the patchwork design and the quilting play off one another.  

Isn't it interesting how the same exact quilt top in the same exact fabrics can look so different depending on how it's quilted?  When my clients are having trouble narrowing down design options, I like to tease them that if they can't pick one they have to make six more quilt tops so we can use ALL of the designs they like...  But seriously, I would love to quilt multiple versions of the same quilt top with different designs.  (There was a book that did exactly that a few decades ago, Quilting Makes the Quilt by Lee Cleland.  It's still in publication with new copies available, but I found some used copies available on Amazon here for under $2!  I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with envisioning how different quilting choices will transform a quilt top.)

YLI 40 Tex Cotton in Great Barrier Reef, available here on Amazon

I quilted Mary's second Lumen using YLI's 40 Tex Machine Quilting Cotton in the variegated colorway called Great Barrier Reef shown above.  I love how that turned out.  

Thread is Variegated 40 Tex YLI Machine Quilting Cotton in Great Barrier Reef

The variegated thread is a pretty detail to notice on close inspection of the quilt, but when you view the entire quilt at a distance you just see that dramatic piecing design and fabulous quilted texture rather than having the thread jump out at you.  The thread isn't jumping up and down and screaming "LOOK AT ME!"

Low Value Contrast Ensures the Variegated Thread is Subtle From a Distance

Here's what Mary's Lumen quilt looked like before I quilted it.  Isn't it a fabulous design?!  I can see why she was sorry she'd given that first quilt away!  

Mary's Quilt Top Before Quilting

Thanks for choosing me to quilt for you, Mary!

And Now, The Bit About My Jingle Binding

Sorry -- I know no one wants to read about a Christmas quilt in early January, now that all of the Christmas trees have literally been tossed to the curb.  I have to record some notes about the binding, though, because someday I will want to remember how I did it and my only hope will be keyword-searching my own blog. 

Was Not Thinking About Binding When I Planned This!

The photo above was taken after quilting was completed but before trimming away the excess batting and backing.  When I came up with the grand plan for these "picture frame" borders piecing together different stripes out of different prints, I wanted that red and cream stripe that appears curved to land right next to my binding fabric and wasn't thinking about how, when I sew binding to the front of my quilt by machine, there is no way for me to see whether or not I am sewing right exactly on a line printed on the quilt top that is covered up by binding!  I delayed binding the quilt while I was thinking it through and weighing my options, and in the end I decided to take a leap of faith and put my trust in my tried-and-true quarter inch piecing practices.

When trimming this quilt, I laid my acrylic ruler so the quarter inch line was covering the exact line of the border pattern where I wanted my binding edge to land, all of the way around the quilt.    However, I like my binding to just barely cover the machine stitched line when I hand stitch it to the backing, and that requires customizing the binding seam allowance to the thickness of the quilt.  I had cut my binding a little wider than normal due to my double batting on this quilt (I usually cut binding that will be sewn by hand 2" wide and I cut 2 1/8" strips for this quilt), but I still had to make adjustments to the needle position or something to get the binding to wrap around with a binding that appears the same width on the front and back of my quilt.  But once I had that seam allowance figured out, I just screwed down the seam guide (it came with Patchwork Foot #97D but you can purchase the seam guide as a separate accessory) and tried my best to keep the raw edges of my quilt and of my binding touching that seam guide all the way around the quilt.  

Foot 20 D, Dual Feed, and Seam Guide from Patchwork Foot 97D

Again, these are notes for my own reference because I can never, ever remember how I sew the binding on, no matter how many times I do it!  Which is why I took a picture of my machine settings on my phone once I had everything set up in a way that was yielding results that I liked: I used Stitch 1325 on my Bernina 790+, stitch length 3.0, foot #20D Open Toe Dual Feed, and my needle is moved four clicks to the right of center position.  

Machine Settings for Stitching Binding on my Bernina 790 Plus

Look at that!!  So much better than I thought it would turn out!

Binding Stitched to Front of Quilt, Perfectly Aligned with Border Stripe Print

Here's how the finished binding looks on the corner (it's not crooked; it's draped over my lap because I was still hand stitching binding when I took this picture):

Success!  Way Better Than I Thought It Would Turn Out!

I finished hand binding that quilt at about 11:30 PM on New Year's Eve, and I felt like I'd really earned my champagne when the ball dropped at midnight and this nine-year UFO was finally 100% finished!!

And Now, I'd Like You to Meet My Little Red Hen

My husband got us a BREAD MACHINE for Christmas, and it's AMAZING!!  I actually had this bread machine on my Amazon Wish List because I was thinking of getting it for Bernie for his birthday back in November, but I ended up going a different direction with that gift and I'd just stuck it on my wish list so I'd remember it for future consideration.  

The last time I bought a bread machine was in 1998.  It was an impulse buy at Bed Bath & Beyond, probably the least expensive one they had, and I think I used it twice because the "bread" that came out of it was like a thick, heavy brick.  Well, let me tell you -- bread machines have come a LONG way in the last 25 years!

Can You Believe This Came Out of a Bread Machine?!

Oh my gosh, you guys -- I think I have made NINE loaves of bread in this machine since I unpacked it on Christmas Day!  Bernie used to buy whole wheat sandwich bread from the grocery store two loaves at a time, and eat it as breakfast toast, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, or late-night PB&J snacks.  When the boys are home, we go through even more bread...  And the bread coming out of this machine is so easy and so much better than the stuff in the bread aisle at the store, that we have totally gone over to the Dark Side of Gluten Gluttony.  Who knew that it could actually be faster and easier to bake bread from scratch at home than to drive to the grocery store and buy it -- and that it would TASTE so much better, too?!

Tender, Fluffy Wheat Bread, About 2 Hours After Baking

I've been making different wheat bread recipes from the King Arthur Baking web site and every single one comes out fantastic.  I now have four different kinds of flour in the house (all purpose, bread flour, whole wheat, and white whole wheat) and a jar of SAF Instant Yeast in my freezer.  I've used honey in some breads, maple syrup in others.  One of our favorite breads has a quarter cup of sunflower seeds, one has bulgur wheat, another has old fashioned oats.  Sometimes there are sesame seeds or flax seeds.  Every one we've tried has a better texture and better flavor than that wheat bread we used to buy at the grocery store, and there are no artificial preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients.  We are hooked.

We Now Make Lewd Moaning Noises While Eating Our Toast

Our bread machine is a Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus that I picked out after reading lots and lots of reviews, and the reason I had considered getting it for Bernie's birthday is that it is completely automated through the entire process.  You just pile the ingredients in the pan, close the lid, and hit the Start button and then about 3-4 hours later, your house smells like a bakery and you have a steaming hot loaf of homemade bread.  The Little Red Hen mixes the ingredients, kneads the dough, creates exactly the right temperature and humidity environment for the dough to rise, punches it down and lets it rise again, and then bakes it for me "all by herself" while I'm upstairs quilting.  And then we get to eat the bread that we didn't help bake, so I guess we're the chicks in this story?  Something like that.

Jerry Pinkney's Rendition of  The Little Red Hen, available here on Amazon

This machine has a bazillion settings for different kinds of bread.  We've mostly used #2 for Whole Wheat, but used #1 for White with a yummy lemon sour cream breakfast bread and I just tried making the French bread recipe from the booklet that came with the machine today, using #3 European -- it did seem to result in a bread that has a much crisper, baguette-like crust with a soft, chewy interior.  There's also a setting for Gluten-Free bread, a cycle for Sourdough Starter, and a Homemade Memory where you can program and save three different custom cycles.  There's even a delay timer so you can put in the ingredients in the evening and program the machine so the bread is finished baking right when you wake up in the morning.  Seriously -- I get to sleep while the Little Red Hen is working hard to make bread, but then (unlike the Cat, the Rat, and the Dog) I still get to eat the bread?!  This is like an upside-down fairy tale come true!

Our Little Red Hen, the Zojirushi Bread Machine

Although you can, like I said, just pile the ingredients in, push the start button, and walk away, I found this blog post on the King Arthur Baking blog with a couple of very simple but game-changing pro tips for baking with a bread machine.  My favorite tip is to set a timer when you start the bread machine so you know when it's just about to punch down the dough before the final rise.  With the Whole Wheat cycle I'm usually using, that happens exactly one hour and fifty minutes after I press Start, so I just set that timer on my watch to remind me to step away from the long arm and go down to the kitchen at the right time.  I hear the little "chug, chug, chug" right on cue, and then when that noise stops I just open the lid, reach in and move the dough out of the way so I can get the paddles out (no giant holes ripped in the bottom of my bread when I take it out) and at the same time, I can redistribute and reshape the dough in the pan before the final rise if it's looking lopsided or misshapen.  That prevents me from getting a weird alien-ski-slope loaf of bread.  With a couple recipes, I even opened the lid again near the end of the final rise to brush an egg wash on top and sprinkle some old fashioned oats on top, which looks REALLY fancy.  💕

So, um, we're not giving up carbs for New Year's or anything, in case anyone was wondering...  😂

Okay, I say this every time but this time I really have gone on way longer than anyone could possibly still be reading.  If you are still with me, YOU totally deserve to eat some bread, too!  Have a wonderful week and happy quilting!


Gretchen Weaver said...

The quilts are awesome! I always say this but it's so true, you have a definitely talent for quilting! I have that exact same bread machine and I love it! So does our son's family since I bake a loaf for them every week also. I like that the grandsons are having healthy bread for their afternoon snack with their glass of milk. Happy stitching!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

Your Christmas quilt binding came out amazing! Great job!
I love fresh bread, but had to give up my bread machine when we moved to this house. It just didn't work with the altitude.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

your bread looks much better than mine - so rectangular in shape your pan is shaped different than mine - your bread is beautiful - and that quilt - well give yourself a big pat on your back for that!! said...

What a beautiful quilt and the thread/pattern was the perfect choice! Homemade bread. . . .no matter how it is made, ALWAYS is the best. Sounds like you are having a great time using different recipes. Your home must smell wonderful!

LA Paylor said...

it's the top of the line for sure! I had a bread machine but the loaf stuck in the pan after 4 loaves and it was a misery to get out. I am making our bread too, but with the kitchen aide to knead it, and doing the time keeping to rise and bake, but you are surely right it tastes so much better with none of the unpronuounceable chemical additives or soy

piecefulwendy said...

You and Mary make a good team - her quilt glows! You nailed that binding, too - woohoo! I still make bread by hand, but my daughter just got a bread machine at a thrift shop and is really enjoying it. King Arthur is another rabbit hole of fun stuff!

Brenda @ Songbird Designs said...

You did a fantastic job on the binding of your quilt! The other quilt is beautiful too. I love Karlee Porter's motifs! That Little Red Hen sounds like an awesome machine! Does it have a keto/low carb setting?!!

Sandy said...

I love the Lumen quilt, Rebecca Grace, and I'm delighted for you that you finished the last stitches on Jingle before the New Year. I really had a giggle, though, when I read about your bread machine! I have a different model of that same brand, and I love it; I bought it to replace a 16-year-old Zojirushi that finally gave up the ghost right before Christmas. Unfortunately for me, my husband doesn't like "bread variety" -- I'm pretty much stuck making white bread. That said, the white bread that comes out of my Zojirushi is *so* yummy! When I was a working gal, I used to set the timer on the machine so we'd wake up to fresh bread, but now I just make it anytime I like. Have fun!

Cathy said...

Happy New Year! What a great post. So much valuable information….from quilting to bread machine use. We also have a “Z” machine and love it.

Chris said...

The quilts are gorgeous but I'm commenting because of the bread machine. I've had an identical one for about three years and love it. I use the salt free cycle because I don't want to take meds so I watch my salt intake. The bread is beautiful and I can eat it guilt free. I make my husband his own loaves. (: Like you, I am amazed to walk away and come back to the best smelling kitchen and warm bread. So glad you got yours! Happy New Year!

Mary said...

I absolutely love how my Lumen quilt looks with your quilting. This is the first time that I’ve remade a quilt with the same fabrics, and you’re absolutely right about how different they look. The one I made for my stepdaughter is lovely, but I agree with the word you used to describe our collaborative effort. It is indeed spectacular! Now onto your Jingle binding—it is absolutely perfect! I love when a binding is an integral part of a quilt’s design, and yours is the poster child for that end result! And the bread machine—I sure wish I could stop by for a sample. Maybe some day!!!

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

Beautiful job on your Christmas quilt binding! You also did a fantastic job on Mary's quilt! Hugs - and I read the entire post, except I skimmed over the bread. LOL!

Pam said...

Awesome job with the thread choice and clam shells against the Strictness of the quilt.

dq said...

Spectacular is certainly the right word for it. It is a stunner anyway, but with your talents added in, wowzer!!

The little details on the Christmas quilt, piecing, quilting, binding - love it so much!

dq said...

Your bread makes my mouth water and looks so pretty too!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Such great quilting! It does fascinate me how quilting can change the look of a final quilt. I think that's what makes me hesitate each time. How to know if I'm right? Luckily for me, I'm always on deadlines so I have to trust my gut and just go with it. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong, but I learn each time. Thanks for sharing your quilt and it's story on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Kathleen said...

Lumen is magical and the quilting is so interesting. It is not a pattern I would have chosen, but I love it on this quilt. I also love your machine binding and machine bread! You did a great job on every little detail on that Christmas quilt and it had to be fun to enjoy it this year. That bread machine looks fabulous. My husband would balk at such a thing, but I love that it nearly does it all!

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Amazing quilting on both quilts. My daughter has mastered the bread making in our family, makes fabulous sourdough bread in her Dutch Oven.

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, I totally get it about including notes to yourself for getting your binding done properly. Thanks for the bread machine tips. I have an ancient bread machine that is fine, although I tend to prefer to have the machine make the loaf and then I cook it myself. I will look up your blog suggestion - some nice home made bread sure would be nice right now! Take care.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh wow!! Lumen is amazing!! what a fun quilt.
and Yay for the bread machine!!