This-and-That

This and That • Should have been September 2021

Everything I’ve done lately has been done lately.

I did get this block made in September for Bette, and did send it off on time, but never posted about it, so here we are, October 3rd and there you go. You can download the foundation paper-pieced pattern from here. Each quadrant is a six-inch block. This is for our Gridster Bee quilt group and if you want some quilty eye-candy, here’s our space on the web. One of the things I like about this group is that we are all so varied, there are a lot of interesting blocks to experiment with.

And I’m totally on deadline for October’s block, just as soon as I look it up and remember what it is.

I know this is blurry and tiny, but you had to see it. The Metropolitan Costume Division of Wild and Crazy and How Does That Dress Stay On? recently had another one of their galas–this time in September because the May 2021 and the May 2020 were cancelled. The theme is American Patchwork or something like that, and of course, all we quilters cringe a little, because what THEY think is patchwork and what WE think is patchwork often are not the same thing.

But check out this hexie dress!! I’m in total love with it. Either she was one of the Vogue Magazine Staffers or Someone Not Important Who Was Fully Dressed, but she didn’t show up in any of the “after” photos. A Famous Quilter helped with one of the “outfits” which although I have high regard for the quilter, I was sort of Meh, or Meh-Minus, about the get-up. It’s up to you to find the calico bubble quilt, draped over the shoulders of somebody famous.

I get these letters all the time. I’ll forward them on to you, if you are interested. The internets is a funny place.

I can now make macarons, digitally, using Affinity Designer. I’ve been working on a logo for my daughter, and I’m pretty excited that I learned how to use the gradiant tool to give these sweet treats some dimension.

She owes me real macarons.

Iron died. Had to use my travel iron during the workshop, and yes, I’ve bought a new iron, but I like my old Sunbeam iron a LOT more than the new cheap-o Model of Rowenta (not shown) I purchased. So, hating the Rowenta from Target, I bought a new Sunbeam iron on Amazon, which is perfect: it gets hot, doesn’t spit or drip, is smallish so I don’t feel like I’m dragging an anvil around every time I pick up the iron and doesn’t pack as much wattage so the lights in my oldish house don’t dim as much as when the massive wattage irons click on to heat. I never buy fancy irons, by the way. Check back with me in five years to see if it’s still good. My first cheap iron lasted 25 years, but they don’t make them like they used to.

One of my readers sent me her version of four of my free SHINE blocks (here on this website). I love what she’s done! You all are so inventive and interesting and creative–if you use one of my patterns, send over a photo. Thank you Veroniqué!

Okay, this is random, but we went to Forest Lawn to see a stained glass exhibit. Yes, we were at a cemetary, but check out this brickwork. I asked inside if this was built to be a house or something and she said, No–always a mortuary. Famous People Buried Here: a list, but I almost didn’t know a lot of them (there are a few I did know, like George Burns, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and The Lone Ranger). Apparently it was the thing to see in the day, as my parents visited this place while on their honeymoon in the 1940s.

A N D…I did finish my September pillow, a whole ten days before the end of the month. I already see things I want to fix in that quilting, but it will have to wait until October. I’m not unsquishing the pillow form out now.

Stay safe out there, everyone.

Keep Quilting!

Affinity Tutorial

Wrapping Up the Leftovers • Affinity Tutorial

Far Away Doors, Quilt Number 216 • Merrion Square Pattern

Do you ever finish a quilt, but not quite finish it? Like forget the label? Or find scraps that needed to be put away from a quilt that is two years old? Or do you have tasks that still await you even as you transfer them from list to list to list? Or do you add tasks to your list of things to get done? Or do you feel like you spend so much time working off your list that you have no time to think, to create, to play, to imagine?

Signature Blocks: lost, then found, then lost again, and now found once more!

All of these are types of things that plague creatives, as we are known now. The list is endless, and we can keep adding to it. I was quite intrigued, then, with Mark McGuiness’s solution: a 3″ x 3″ Post-It Note. Actually, he uses two of them. On the first one — as outlined in this article from 99U — he writes one main task in the upper left corner, and then adds the rest of the day’s chores to the Post-It Note. Since it is only 3″ by 3″ it can’t get overrun. McGuiness writes: “But what about all the rest? All the phone calls, emails, and requests that come in during the day? Not to mention all the new ideas that pop into my head as I work? Good question. There’s a place for all of these things, and that place is the second Post-It on the stack, a.k.a. my to-do list for tomorrow.”

He then quotes Mark Forster, noting the idea of an “open” and “closed” list. The first Post-It Note is closed. The second one, is open.

Signature blocks sewn together, then pinned onto the back of the quilt

Here are some of the things I did this week that were on my list, putting together disparate parts of my life. I made this quilt with the help of the Gridster Bee, but had misplaced the signature blocks. And then when I would find the signature blocks, I couldn’t remember which quilt they went to. But we put a new shelf in our closet to hold the stack of quilts, and in the shuffling, I was able to put the two together.

I did the bulk of the little houses on the front of the quilt, but it’s fun to look at all the different houses my bee-mates and others sent to me. I often keep my quilts hanging up around my house, because I enjoy them finished.

That is something that Janet Choi might appreciate: “The simple act of pausing to reflect and acknowledge your efforts provides valuable boosts of motivation, focus, and insight that would otherwise be lost amidst your busy day.” It’s like the other side of the To Do List…it’s the Done List.

“Your done list acts as a signpost, a manifestation of all that day’s hard work. This flips an overwhelmed mindset into action mode to correct course, learn from mistakes, and ultimately make better progress” (Choi).

I tend to write my “Dones” at the end of the day in my journal, made for me by Amy, an artisan book maker. I was in a workshop of hers at Camp Create, and she made me this. It’s a treasure, but not only for what it is: it holds a lot of my Dones, but I also like reading backwards to find out what I thought about things a year ago, or even a month. Although I don’t write every day, I write enough that there is a general trend.

I also write my Quilt Dones up on my master Quilt Index at the top of this page, cataloging them on this blog, and then listing them one by one. I know several of you have started a Quilt Index of your own, judging by my emails.

Choi says to count our smaller wins, too: “Don’t wait until you’ve hit big goals like completing a project or getting a promotion — which happen only occasionally and make it difficult to appreciate small but important advancements. Don’t dismiss all the smaller things that fill out your days and are building up in the long run.”

Which brings me to this: the little rotary cutter in the illustration above. I was making images for my new workshop, Blossom, and I always like to have a visual header as to what is going on in the paragraph where it links to the instructional video, and gives tips. I had the scissors in my digital image file, but when I went hunting for a rotary cutter, I thought: I could make my own. So I did. I have the how-to’s below for those of you who are so inclined (including a video!), but for the rest of you, I leave you with this: I hope you will now not only consider not only a To-Do List, but also a Done List. Isn’t that why we started quilting in the first place? To have things stay done?

Happy Quilting!

How to Make a Digital Rotary Cutter in Affinity Designer, by a Verified Amateur.

  1. Start the program. Open an artboard. If that already feels like a foreign language, an artboard is basically just a big scratch pad. I can open multiple artboards in one file and save them all under one name. So I can have a scratchpad for rotary cutter, a scratchpad for a quilt block, etc.
  2. Open Affinity Designer, click on “New.” A screen will show up with lots of sizes to choose from. I usually go with 9 x 11 as I can always resize it, but it fits on my laptop screen neatly. I choose “inches” not pixels from the set-up screen and I like mine sideways, so I click on Landscape. Don’t forget to click “Create Artboard.”

3. And then I realized I would be writing a book, so instead, I made a video.

And then I uploaded the video to YouTube, where you can watch it. (And I do not know why the full-screen version is blurry. Working on that.)

It runs about six minutes, if you have that much time. Of course, it took me three Google searches to figure out how to record from screen (pretty nifty, once you learn it), then I uploaded into iMovie so I could cut off the end where I keep saying, “How do I stop recording this?” over and over all the while critiquing my voice. I then uploaded titles on the front and back and even a little Title Card saying Thank You For Watching. Yes, sirree. I’m a rank amateur trying to act professional.

But there you go. Obviously I should have majored in graphic design in college, but that was some years ago when it was Photoshop Version 1.0. (Now, I’ve left Adobe behind and moved over to Affinity where there are NO monthly subscription fees. I’m just saying.)

Illustration from Newest Project…coming in October

I’m most excited about how Affinity Designer now has a gazadget that will let me automatically draw quarter-inch seam allowances around any shape I make (called a Contour Tool). So, so happy with this!

Happy Drawing! Happy Quilting!

Digital/Virtual World · Shine: The Circles Quilt · This-and-That

Abecedary • Late June 2021

A is for Abecedary, or a way of organizing this post.

It’s also the name of my Lecture I present to Guilds, and I’m coming up on my last Abecedary of Quilts lecture next month (a milestone). And by the way, today I might skip a few letters. Subtitle: This and That • June 2021.

B is for bibimbap

which is a favorite summer dish, shown here on my placemat made out of Simone’s fabric, back when we supported her in her fabric launch. In the Before Times.

B is for Bunny ears.

C is for Criss-Cross. Fun to see Kathy’s finished quilt on the Glendale Quilt guild’s IG account.

E is for exclamation points, for which I often use too many and always have to edit them out.

F is for feet on Instagram, specifically feet on quilts. Seems there are strong feelings about this.

I is for new ironing board cover.

1. I always leave lots of padding, but maybe shuffle them around. This is multiple year stack-up of padding.
2. My pattern has me lay the ironing board down on some fabric then draw an outline about 3″ away from the edge. No precision needed. I then make a separate “hood” for the top, by duplicating the upper portion. No reason. It’s just the way my most favorite commercial ironing board cover was made, way back in the day, and I’ve just continued it. I sew it on the top part, RST, then flip it. It’s tricky to get the casing around those edges, and I always find myself unpicking bits here and there to get the drawstring through. Don’t judge me by my underneath-the-ironing-board-cover business.
3. I slap an interfaced square on the lower edge and put in two buttonholes (for drawstrings), making sure they are closer to the raw edge. Make a hem of about an inch of fabric all the way around and stitch it down, doing your best. No, I don’t finish the raw edge. Why should I? After that, slide through some sort of long string-y thing (not yarn or string). The best one I’ve found is to use two packages of seam tape, seamed together and overstitched. I’ve re-used it over and over.
4. The underneath, after I’ve pulled it all up into place, and tucked in the strings.
5. My newest gig is to sew on a giant rectangle, right in the middle (pink arrows). I just tuck the edges under after pinning, and topstitch it down. Yes, I fit the board with this after laying the cover on, but before drawing up the string. Why this? When it gets grunge-y after constant use, I unpick the stitches and yippee! Fresh and clean ironing board surface.

K is for Kitchen Sink Cookies.

You can find this recipe on my daughter’s new website, Sweet Mac Shop, made and launched this last month for her macaron-baking efforts.

L is for Leisa.

She’s coming up on the one year anniversary of her stem cell transplant and we are celebrating by taping up a quilt (left side of the photo) for her niece. She had this little quilt of mine out on her antique sewing machine, so I took some time to re-acquainted with an artifact from an early day.

This was one of my earlier attempts at Home, Sweet Home, using a Lemoyne Star in the center, which is a juggling act all the way around (my pattern has an easier method).

It’s like old home week, visiting these fabrics once again.

L is also for Link Tree.

This is what people see when you set up a space to list a series of links off of Instagram. Typically you put it where your ONE available link address is, thereby giving you way more links. Michelle, a brand stategist, often has little tips in her stories about how to make our online life easier, and more clever. One day she had a tip about creating a Link Tree in Canva, a website that will assist you in design tasks.

But then I got to thinking: can’t I do this on my own, using a page from my own website? Since I know her IRL, I asked her and she said “Yep, you can.”

I use WordPress for my blogging software, and they use Blocks for text, images and anything on the page, I colored my Blocks in different colors, wrote my text, and since I didn’t give the page a title, it has a naturally short web address.

Voilá! My very own Link Tree that I can change at a moment’s notice.

N is for Northern Star Quilters’ Guild.

I just finished teaching Criss-Cross and presenting my Abecedary of Quilts lecture to a wonderful group of quilters all the way across the country in New York state. What wonders of our era, to be in California and NY at the same time.

O is for Obama.

I’m almost done listening to the first part of his memoirs, and boy, have I learned a lot about government. A brilliant writer, with an easy-going style. His strong character traits, as well as some of his flaws, do come out in this book, but what I’ve appreciated learning is the bits of history he builds in to each international incident: it gives me a fuller appreciation for the difficulties of managing the expectations of the presidency in both foreign affairs and domestic. Love him or hate him, a lot can be learned by listening to, or reading this book. You’ll learn more about how bills are passed — and blocked — by taking the time to hear from a former president.

P is for pre-wash your red fabrics.

After they come out damp from the dryer, I press them and let them dry on the guestroom bed. This was in preparation for my Summer Snowcone Quilt. I don’t always pre-wash all my fabrics, but I ALWAYS pre-wash the reds.

S is for Shine, the red, white and blue version.

My goal is to get this done by the end of next week, in preparation for the Fourth of July. I have now finished most of the white thread, most of the red thread, most of the blue thread. Next up is light-blue thread, and then going back for borders and finishing touches.

W is for Writing Patterns.

Next up is Azulejos, a pattern to be made from a quilt finished in the Before Times. This pattern is almost done. I use Affinity Software (Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Affinity Publisher) and for the last while they’ve been offering a smoking hot deal at 50% off. (Hooray! No more chained-to-Adobe-subscription prices, although they do have excellent software.)

Well, that is ending soon, on the 30th of June. If you have a hankering to design, or to tweak your photos, or other creative uses, head to Affinity by Serif and pick up your copies before it goes off sale. I’ve written about this before and I will again. It’s a great set of software apps for creatives Creative Peoples Creative People and Quilters. It will take you some time to get to know it, I won’t lie, especially if you have no Adobe experience. I had never used Illustrator by Adobe, but I purchased Affinity’s Designer. I had to do a bit of research here and there, but they have a great series of tutorials (I went through them all and Took Notes), a hefty online design community, a comprehensive online manual and even a hardcover book, that walks you through lessons on how to use it. I was up and running fairly quickly, and continue to learn new things.

Speaking of sales, get this, too. QuiltFolk. Ending Soon, and all that stuff.

V is for a sad move for Viking Sewing Machines.

Somehow I never think it is a good sign when equity firms own our sewing machines. We recently lost one good tool when QuiltPro, a favorite design software (it used vectors, not lines) was purchased by a corporation, and let it slide into nothingness. Admittedly, it is still around and functioning for Windows machines, just not on Macs. Superior Threads was also sold, and I miss talking to my favorite help person on the line, although the threads themselves are still the high quality threads I know and love. And now these three sewing firms. I’m somewhat encouraged by the last line of the announcement, but not much.

Z is for Zee End.
Happy Beginning of Summer!

eQuilt Universe · Gridsters · Quilt Patterns

Gridsters Blocks (January 2019) and Affinity software review

gridsters-250-buttonx

The Gridsters are starting on their third year, and it’s been a delight to discover the variety of styles and choices each member puts forward for us to make for them.  Carol was our Queen Bee for January, and she asked us for blocks designed by Kristina of Center Street Quilts.

gridster jan sewinggridster jan2019_1I chose Geometric Christmas Tree and Mod Tree, and mailed them off a few days ago.

sewing room_1
before

I still haven’t settled my sewing room yet after last fall’s room switchearound, but in the meantime, I’ve been trying to get everything off the floor and into some semblance of order.sewing room_2sewing room_3

My husband and I needed only two trips to IKEA to make this one work.sewing room_3a

We purchased a new light from Lowe’s Hardware that goes under the bookshelves, and boy, does it blast the lumens into the room.  I love it, and love that it is an LED which doesn’t give off much heat nor consume as much energy.  And I can see everything in my tiny sewing universe when I turn it on.sewing room_4

The ironing board gets set up in front, so the iron is parked on the right.  In the first bin on the top of the shelves, I put all those mini charm packs, and other random charm packs.  I don’t buy many precuts, and so they all fit in there.  The second shallower bin holds Featherweight Sewing Machine Stuff, as I purchased another Featherweight this fall when a neighbor cleaned out her mother’s storage unit and discovered that her mother had collected all these old sewing machines.  I’d also gone to a garage sale, where they had a box of feet and attachments; they appear to belong to the Featherweight, but I’m still researching.  One woman’s trash is another quilter’s treasure.

And I’m still trying to make the bins useful, so this will change as I work in here.  Right now the upper left holds stuff for Bee Happy, a quilt that my friend Leisa and I chose to do as a long-term project.  And as she says, “No deadlines.  If it takes us two years, so what!”

merrionsquare_1

Been working on this, both in cloth and in pattern.

Affinity Apps.png

I decided to try to upgrade my pattern-writing skills, unsatisfied with my Microsoft Word  approach.  I’d been using Affinity’s Photo and Designer software, which everyone knows is sort of a replacement for the Adobe Creative Suite.  I didn’t want to join in the subscription plan that Adobe wanted me to, so found the Affinity (all 20% now for Christmas–so that makes it around $40 for the Photo and other software in their store–quite a difference from the Adobe prices!).

Affinity Publisher Beta.png

This past fall, they released the free beta version of their Affinity Publisher, which I couldn’t wait to try.  They’ve had two upgrades since I started playing around with it, and each has improved the flow and workability of the app.  I can’t wait for it to be released in its final version.  I also tried to contribute to their Bug and Help forums, you know, to be a good brownie.  It wasn’t hard to come up with things to say, because I was working on patterns, but really, at this point, it’s almost ready for launch.

affinity pattern making nlm

I used screen shots from QuiltPro for the basis of my artwork, as they were perfectly sized, then modified them in Affinity Photo, then saved them as illustrations.  I opened Affinity Publisher Beta, watched all the training videos (taking notes) and dived in. I finished up one pattern earlier this week, did the pattern for my turn next month as Queen Bee for the Gridsters, and am still working on Northern Lights Medallion (NLM).  I’m sorry for the lateness in getting NLM out, but I’m learning as I go, and I wasn’t satisfied with how the templates laid out on the page (exported from QuiltPro) so it’s back to more learning, more Asking the Internet.  I’ll get there–thanks for your patience.

new software