Wish I could claim this quarter square triangle idea

I saw this lovely quilt made from neutral fabrics that really wowed me. I was in Austin at a quilt fabric shop on Andersen Lane named of all things, the Quilt Store.

Sounds like something I’d do. I’d name my shop something easy to find and super related to what was found inside the shop.

This quilt was absolutely lovely. It was also really simple. Just a lot of quarter square triangles from the same fabric sewn into blocks. The triangle were turned so the pattern formed pyramids. The entire quilt is made of three fabrics. Two fabrics made up the border and binding. The third fabric used as the majority of the top is what made the quilt so special. It is striped. That was the –shh– secret that made it look so complicated and wonderful.

I found a similar batik fabric I was drooling over that was stripped with wonderful earthy tones of dark purple, delicious dark chocolate, warm bronze, flowing watery dark turquoise, and yummy dark green olive. If this fabric were a food palette, I’d be eating all over it. Lund Studios probably makes my favorite batiks.

I love their batiks so much that Lund Studios is probably singly responsible for my having to join FSA (fabric sluts anonymous).

Lund Studios makes awesome batiks.
Robert Kaufman and Lund Studios Stripped Batik Similar to the ones I found and plan on using. My fabric has purples in it too.

New Iphone 5S may compromise your privacy big time

In this day and age of government overstepping their bounds, the new ‘convenience’ and security feature of the iphone 5S could be alarming. It has to read your fingerprint to let you enter your phone. That sounds good and might prevent theft. BUT does that mean that my fingerprint is able to be transmitted over the phone? Can my fingerprint be accessible to just anyone now, without a valid search warrant? Think about it. I was going to upgrade my shattered iphone 4. But now… maybe not.

What radiation treatment did to my eating

I think my family and friends thought I went cuckoo when I was undergoing radiation treatment. I’m normally having, as Jimmy Buffett put it, a carnivorous feeling. I like good meat, beef, pork, chicken, alligator, squirrel, frog legs and other savory delectable muscle type things. I’ve tried some pretty weird stuff and if it’s mammalian, avian or reptile, I pretty much like it. However, radiation treatment does some major mojo on your body and I have a theory about it. I’ll tell you frankly about both.

Seriously if you have ever undergone radiation treatment, you would know that certain foods just taste like rotten crap. The docs are glad if you just eat anything at all. My treatment team warned me that my tastes would change for a while. That I just needed to keep eating. They basically didn’t care what I ate so long as I got protein, fiber, carbs, etc. They didn’t want me to get weak from not eating at all. They said even if I couldn’t eat balanced to just eat if I found something that was palatable. Palatable meant that you could force yourself to swallow it.

Turns out I didn’t have that carnivorous feeling at all. I wanted green veggies and lots of them. Meat though… ewww… it tasted three weeks spoiled and smelled worse. I craved dark green vegetables. Spinach, broccoli, kale, green beans, that weird stuff decorating your plate in restaurant, you name it, if it was green, I salivated. Nuts I could eat ok sort of, but not too many at a time. Milk tasted days old and about to expire, yogurt was okay, meat was icky icky icky (three times to make sure you know how icky it really was). Ensure and Protein shakes could be forced down without the desire to vomit. Basically anything in a more natural form that was primarily protein didn’t taste good.

My theory… Radiation kills new growing tissue. What is cancer? Cancer is run away growth of tissue that isn’t supposed to be growing and replicating itself. Radiation therapy kills off these new growing cells. There is good and bad that comes from radiation therapy. You can’t just have dead stuff building up in your body as that is going to cause problems too. What happens to dead cells in your body? Your body has to break them up and process them and then excrete them. Basically your body has to go through the same process as if you’d eaten a huge steak dinner. You just get to skip the stomach and digestion part of the deal. All the tissue being destroyed by the radiation treatments was dumping all kinds of protein by-products and toxins in my blood, so basically my body via my taste buds and nose were telling my mouth, “Enough of that stuff! We got plenty to deal with, We don’t want anymore coming in”. While my stomach was empty and telling my mouth, “I’m hungry”.

I really did eat a lot of vegetables. I do like vegetables. But not as much as I did while I was undergoing radiation treatment. I developed cravings for things my body needed to help rid itself of the extra destroyed proteins floating around. I craved things with antioxidants like dark green leafy vegetables especially fresh ones. I even liked (drum roll please) baby vegetable food. Those snack jars are perfect quickie snacks on the go. I have to admit, the baby creamed peas that were disgusting and made me spit up when I was a baby are still damn disgusting. Fruit was great too, fresh fruit even better. I did learn that apple sauce and juice in large quantities are laxatives. So variety in moderation was the spice of life.

Have you ever eaten a Cherimoya? You should try it if you can, kinda a peachy pineapple flavor in a creamy fruit. Funky looking thing though. I haunted the Whole Foods and Central Market grocery stores looking for things that were palatable for me. I found stuff that I really like to this day. Cancer will give you gifts if you are open to seeing and experiencing them. Cherimoya is one of the gems.

I’ve got several PHD’s and have exterminated two UFO’s this week!

Wow, quilt jargon is so fun! Yes I really did finish off two UFO’s!* I put the binding on two quilts this week and that felt really good. The first quilt I’ve already posted a picture of with the pink minky back. The second was my ‘learning’ WOMBAT I put on the Innova and did all the crazy blocks and cross hatching on. They are done, completed, fini!


The Wombat was my first pieced top kit. It is the Starshine pattern from Creative Sewlutions. I didn’t think I did a good job on it, the points and blocks didn’t line up and many of the triangle pieces had blunt points on them making them into trapezoidal. In short, when I finished the top a couple of years ago, I felt it was not very good. However, my more experienced quilty friends told me to finish it, that I could look back on it in the future and realize how far I’d come. So I kept it. I was thinking that this wombat was so bad, anything else I make would look good in comparison and thus it would be an ego booster. That was the quilt top I decided to use to ‘learn’ all the quirks of the Autopilot Innova. And ya know what?! After it’s all said and done, it really isn’t so bad. It’s not fabulous. But it didnt’ come out butt ugly. It’s actually going to be useful. Since it’s not ‘perfect’ I”ll actually probably use the heck out of it. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in my car, camping, watching tv, sitting on it for a picnic or at a football game. It will probably become my ‘car quilt’.

As far as the PHD’s:

I still have the red, black, and white blocks to assemble into a quilt top. I think I’m going to go with black sashing with red squares at the intersections, and a black and red double border.

Also I cut out a One Block Wonder earlier this year. I picked up Maxine Rosenthal’s One Block Wonder book at the Quilt Haus in New Braunfels, Texas. I used a Kaffe Fasset fabric that has fuchsia blossoms and cabbage like leaves in an olive green and turquoise color scheme. I wanted to find a bigger pattern with a 20 inch plus repeat. This fabric was the only thing I found with the big repeat, not too many colors and a pretty random looking but large pattern. It wasn’t my first choice for colors though. I think the coloration is why all the pieces are still in a box. I’ve got to get that out of the box and on a design wall. I’ll never get it laid out while it’s sitting in the dark unseen. I know it’s going to take six months of rearranging to get it right.

My mom is sending me a quilt top and back that she made for my Dad. I’m going to quilt it for him for either his birthday or christmas whichever it ends up being done in time for. It’s very patriotic. I”m thinking of doing the Air Force Strategic Air Command Shield in some squares and flying eagles in a repeating pattern all over the rest of it. But maybe in the border around it, I’ll put the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

*Quilty Jargon I like:
UFO – Un-Finished Object
PHD – Projects Half Done
Wombat – Waste Of Money, Batting And Time
PFC – Professional Fabric Collector

Almost a one month romance w my Innova

It’s been about a month since the Innova long arm came to live with me. It’s been a romance of the worst sort. Wonderful from day one yet full of learning. Some of it frustrating. I’m sure a long armer with experience would know the things I have put upon myself by just jumping in and seeing what happens. I’ll have to take some pics of some awfulness that I self created.

The short list also known as the “slap myself in the head DUH!” List

Don’t move the sew head w the needle down.

It’s easiest to set tension if you have the same kind of thread in the top and in the bobbin.

Thin bobbin thread and thick top thread is very hard for a beginner to set the tension for.

Cheapi fabric is cheapi fabric. You get what you pay for.

It takes LOTS longer to quilt blocks than an all over edge to edge.

I hate ripping out stitches!

Husband likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner!

You can’t practice destroying quilts if you are out of town.

The Learning List a.k.a. Stuff I Figured out but could probably have learned by reading a manual or paying better attention in class

When quilting crosshatching with the autopilot don’t do the whole outlined hollow diamond shape, do half of it at a time. If you do it all at once you will get a royal mess and dense run stitching that isn’t very pretty. It ends up stiff thick and butt ugly!

Change your needle when things look crappy. For example, if the tension is right, and everything is right but for some reason it just all looks lackluster as if the stitches have wilted. CHANGE the needle.

Did I say BASTE?

The crosshatching tool in ABM Autopilot is really neat. But it doesn’t do a good job on areas that are shaped kinda like a C. It makes insane amounts of run stitching around the edges. I ended up with 1/4 inch wide dense stitching around a shape. The shape was three side of a four sided diamond that was hollow in the middle.

I’ll add more as I think of things.

Words to live by…

When I diagnosed with Stage 4 Liposarcoma, my world literally turned upside down. My family completely freaked out. I don’t think a lot of people talk about their experiences as the person who has cancer. But I will if you ask. It isn’t easy. But the outcome on the other side can be better stronger relationships and a lot more respect for each other.

I think cancer is harder on the family than on the person hosting it. And their difficulties handling it make them want to lean on you, when all you are trying to do is survive and understand. My personal daily measure of “support” (I called it my bucket) got really empty at times.

When you are first diagnosed, everyone seems to know what you “should do” and they do not listen to what you want to do. It’s like you are either already dead or suddenly incapable of any thought or action. Let me tell you, that just because you have invading cells puddled up and hiding in your body, you are NOT dead yet. You are NOT incapable, You are YOU! You need to stand up and have a voice and take care of yourself EVEN IF you family disagrees with your choices, and ESPECIALLY IF they won’t listen to you. It’s your body, you are hosting the invader and you can feel it’s effect. They can’t. This is one time in your life when it really is ALL ABOUT YOU.

Some of the most horrible things to deal with for me were:

  1. Some family members treated me like I was already dead
  2. Some family members would speak for me like I wasn’t even in the room, even though the conversation didn’t include them
  3. Some family members were so wrapped up in the idea of creating memories with me for when I died, that they didn’t consider my wishes or limitations
  4. Some family members who didn’t do the research on my disease thought they were experts and knew better than myself and my doctors about how to cure me
  5. Finding out who my real friends were
  6. Finding out that non glamorous cancers do not get much research funding, while others glamour types are over funded

Some of the most awesome things to happen to me

  1. Building a stronger relationship with my family
  2. Gaining respect from my family
  3. Finding out who my real friends were
  4. Meeting some of the most awesome medical personal in the world
  5. Being able to use my knowledge learned during 14 years of undergrad work in my multiple majors (I did a lot of pre-med biology classes)
  6. Cancer got me out of my shell and now watch out world!
  7. Life is short, you don’t know what might happen tomorrow, so LIVE it, LIVE ALL OF IT!

I once heard a fabulous blues song in smokey little blues bar owned by a dentist in Oklahoma city. I  learned that it was by John Coltrane and the chorus goes like this.

Sing hard, laugh hard
Give love a try
Work hard, play hard
I’ll sleep when I die

Shortly after my diagnosis, that chorus came across my view again. It’s been my motto ever since. Through cancer treatment and ever since, they have been some of the words I live by.

Wow! Minky is a Breeze with the Right Tools.

This is the back view of the first full quilt I did on the Innova Longarm.
My first minky backed quilt on the Innova longarm. I used Minky which is a challenge, but it went smoothly. I was amazed.

OMG! My first experience doing a Minky backed lap quilt was awful. I didn’t mind the fuzz or the fact that I had to pin the heck out of to prevent stretching and distorting. I was frustrated with the weight of it, how my machine reacted to it, with all the thread breaks (and I was using strong stuff, full polyester trilobal dragon strength thread). It was NOT fun. And I have this firm belief that quilting should be fun above all else.

This past weekend, it was a totally different experience. I love minky now. Actually I love my Innova longarm even more now! I used the same thread as last time, same minky brand just a different color, same batik fabric and same batting. But this time I used the Innova. Talk about night and day. Only thread problem was when my bobbin ran out. There are no “pills” of thread on the sharp point in the design, the stitching just simply rocks!

I also love love love the serrated edged Teflon coated scissors I got from Havel’s. They are my goto scissors for all big things not rotary cutter possible. And they make minky cut like butter.

Photo of the best scissors I have ever used on minky fabric
Havel’s Pink Handled Teflon Coated Serrated Edge Scissors

My Innova Longarm has arrived!

Last week my long awaited longarm finally arrived. After a year of searching and trying out different brands at quilt shows, after months of lurking on such places as the quilt forum, yahoo groups dedicated to the different brands, after calling support phone numbers posing as a customer with a problem to see how I would be treated, I finally decided on an Innova. I also found that there are three other Innovas in my area, so I wouldn’t be alone. Laurie Shook of Kingsbury, TX (commercial longarmer for hire) referred me to the Texas distributor for Innova, Joanne Gemill. I spent a half day with Joanne at Jo’s Quilt Studio in Richmond, Texas, and was convinced my choice was correct. So, I ordered it.

20130730-133632.jpgI have been nothing but pleased! I quilted up some el cheapo discount store fabric, just to play, test, and goof up. I tried different thread brands, I played w tension. (Thank goodness I have had tension issues on my other machines, so it wasn’t too hard to get it back to where it needed
to be.) I learned the hard way to disconnect the bands that are attached to the computerized motors so I can freehand. If you don’t disconnect them, you can do fabulous horizontal and vertical lines… But curves… Lets say you would have to be Hercules. Once I disconnected the bands, free motion quilting was a dream.

I also learned that they really meant it when they say baste your quilt sandwich. I have to admit, I have done so many smaller art things and its been over a year since I basted anything. I have been saving up my bigger tops until I got the BIG longarm. I put the quilt back on, I laid out and smoothed the batting, I floated the quilt top (small quilt, so didn’t think it needed putting on the roller. ) and I decided to to a digitized pantograph. So it would look nice after binding, I decided to quilt some off the edge. WELL, if you don’t baste… Bad things happen! The all great and powerful Innova Sewing machine head and longarm motors are so strong, that if you are lucky, the only thing that will happen is the machine foot catches the edge of the quilt top and rips your quilt off the leaders. If you are unlucky, and you attached to the leaders in a really strong way, the you rip the quilt top. I was lucky. And I was lucky I decided to use the Red Snappers, for attaching to the leaders. They hold well, but were forgiving enough to let go before my top ripped.

Here is a link to the lady who invented the red snappers, Renae Haddadin, showing how they work.

Jelly Roll Red Black and White Improvisational Quilt Part 1: The Cutting

I’ve had two Princess Mirah batik jelly rolls in her red, white, and black color scheme for a couple of years. I couldn’t decide what to do with them. Next week my Innova longarm is arriving and I have been putting together a bunch of tops in advance because I know I’ll go longarm crazy for a few months. Since I need more tops, these two jelly rolls are going to be used today! I have decided to not follow a pattern and just do whatever comes to mind with these.

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I started by separating out the red strips, and cutting about a quarter of them in half lengthwise. Then I sewed together randomly chosen strips of black and white fabric strips and inset red a skinny red strip randomly. I just used one red per four of the black and white strips.

Now I have a slight problem. I only had enough black and white strips to make six of these long units. I want to cut them into squares and I am going to need way more to have enough for a quilt. What to do? I do have a lot of plain black fabric that I was going to use in another quilt back. I think I can use it for smashing on this top. But I need more blacks. So I’ll do,the same thing with the red jelly roll strips and take my last two black and white strips cut on half to do a reverse scheme. That will get me some more coordinating blocks. (I ended up with three units that were mostly red.)

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20130721-174452.jpgHmm. I think a bunch of square blocks made up of these units might be boring. So lets chop them up and add a slash of red. I do have all those left over half strips to use up. First I need to figure out what size my blocks need to be. The ends of my striped units are jagged because the lengths of the jelly rolls strips were not the same. The shortest strip was 43.5 inches. 43 minus the selvedges. So I think Imcan get 5 eight and a half inch blocks from each unit. Now I’m gonna be adding some to each block since I want to put random slashes of contrast in them so maybe I can get a little more .nah.. Lets go w five. Off the bat they will be a little taller (9.25) than wide (8.5). But I’ll add more with the slashed and I’ll need to square them up. Let’s see what happens.

20130721-180222.jpgI slashed all the blocks randomly at different angles. See the leftover jagged end I trimmed off? Now to sew in some more of the red half strips and see how it looks.

20130721-182517.jpgI think its pretty good. It’ll be very interesting when I turn some blocks sideways later.

[to be continued]

Hummingbird courtesy of Layne

20130705-023624.jpgMy friend, Layne, posts all kinds of wonderful pictures on her Facebook account. She shared a wonderful hummingbird feeding from a flower last week. I decided today, my first full day off in six weeks that I’d do it up in fabric.

I like how it turned out though there are some things I would redo a little differently. I learn a little from each piece that I create. I would cut my layers of fabric more carefully and closer to,the stitching line. I would also take more time during the couching step. I would also,use a more appropriate foot for my machine. I left my two favorite couching feet at the shop. So, I made do ny using a 3/8 inch rolled hemmer foot instead. It worked great for guiding the yarn and thread, but it would have worked better with fuzzier or thicker yarn.

So, I learned that a hemmer foot will,work for couching. It doesn’t turn corners well. It needs to have its channel filled up. And, I had fun anyway and made a pretty geegaw for my sewing room.