Sunday, March 5, 2017

Of Multitasking, Medical Mayhem, Magnolias, and Music

Ah, where to even begin?!  Since my last post, I've finished the remaining 4" sawtooth star blocks and begun assembling my blocks into rows for this baby quilt:

Yay!  All My Blocks Are Done!
I am LOVING how this quilt is coming together!  I've got my blocks laid out the way I want them on my design wall above, and then I take just two blocks down at a time to stitch them together to increase the likelihood that this arrangement is what I end up with once I've sewn everything together.  Of course I am using my trusty 97D foot and its fantabulous patchwork seam guide on my Bernina 750QE because I definitely don't want to be lopping off my crisp little star points at this stage in the game:

Assembling Blocks Into Rows

I'm using the piecing straight stitch #3126 under the Quilting menu, which has a stitch length of 2.0, and now that I've completed all of the paper piecing I switched to white 50/2 cotton Aurifil thread and a size 70 Microtex needle for the remainder of the piecing.  That gives me a thin but strong seam that won't add too much bulk once it's pressed open, but won't pop open, either.

I ordered two different possible border fabrics for this quilt:

But once I auditioned them on the design wall I wasn't wild about either one of them:

Border Fabric Auditions
Too distracting, don't you think?  The hot pink is a satin binding, and I do need a border on this otherwise my outer sawtooth stars would get covered by satin binding.  But now I'm thinking I might just add solid white borders so the hot pink satin binding will be the only "frame" for the blocks:

...Or Just the Satin Binding?
What I'll probably do is a 3" solid white border so there's a little space between the pink satin binding and the star points.  Unless I change my mind before I finish assembling the quilt top.

So, you were wondering about the medical mayhem, were you?  Well, just briefly, my strong, healthy, incredibly active and fit 48-year-old husband suddenly has a serious heart issue, like out of nowhere.  He went to see a primary care doctor for the first time in about 7 years on Wednesday, complaining about his sinuses and how he "couldn't breathe," and the primary doctor sent him straight to a cardiologist who said he had Atrial Fibrillation (wonky syncopated superfast Maramba heartbeat played by toddlers on pots and pans) and he had to go to the hospital the very next morning.  His "resting" heartbeat was 176 and VERY irregular, like something out of a cartoon, causing him to feel exhausted and short of breath just walking up the stairs, and he was having chest pain as well.

The Patient, Just Before Electrocution
Why did he need to go to the hospital?  Because they needed to electrically SHOCK his heart to reset his heartbeat to a normal rhythm, under general anesthesia.  I kid you not.  And this is a healthy, fairly young guy with no other health issues.  He eats well, has low blood pressure, no risk of diabetes, not overweight, works out and hasn't smoked in 13 years.  Crazy!

But even crazier?  After they finish zapping his heart back into submission, the doctors tell us that they discovered with their little surgical cameras that my husband has a severely prolapsed mitral valve, which they suspect was a congenital thing that has progressively worsened over time, and that's what they think has caused this atrial fibrillation thing.  So the AFib is a symptom of a defective heart valve that is allowing blood to flow backwards in his heart, resulting in an enlarged upper left chamber and a heart that was in a lot worse shape than what they expected to find when they checked him into the hospital.  The good news is that they think they can repair the heart valve surgically to restore functionality to his heart and prevent the AFib from coming back.  The bad news is that this means HEART SURGERY, possibly full-on OPEN HEART SURGERY.  So we are all pretty freaked out about this, naturally.  He's going to have some further testing done this week, and then we'll be scheduling his surgery as early as April.  Prayers for strength and healing are greatly appreciated.

Saucer Magnolia In Bloom
And meanwhile, Spring comes just as though everything is normal. 

I love this tree.  We planted it soon after we moved into this house, nearly 10 years ago.

It's nearly up to the roof now.  We've had bizarrely warm weather in Charlotte, and I've even been driving around with the top down on the convertible a few days when the temps were up near 80 degrees.  It's beautiful bike riding weather, but I don't know how long it will be before my sweetie will be able to go riding with me again. 

J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
...And the music I alluded to in my alliterative blog post title is mostly Bach's St. John's Passion lately for VOX, for performances coming up the first week in April.  For those of you who are local to Charlotte and who might wish to attend, here's a shameless little plug:


J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion stands as one of the greatest musical and spiritual expressions of all time. Its dramatic, almost operatic, portrayal of Christ’s last days forms the backdrop for profound music of grace, love, and truth in the face of violent persecution and injustice.

VOX presents a staged performance on April 1, in collaboration with Opera Carolina, directed and choreographed by Baroque opera and dance specialist Paige Whitley-Bauguess.

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 7:30pm
Sharon Presbyterian Church, Sanctuary
5201 Sharon Rd, Charlotte, NC 28210
$20-general admission / $10-students and seniors
Tickets are available online here:
CONCERT VERSION:Sunday, April 2, 2017, 4:00pm
St. Ann's Catholic Church
3635 Park Rd, Charlotte, NC 28209
Presented as part of Gaudium Musicae Concert Series.
$12-adults / $8-students / $30-families. Free-children 12 years old and under.


David Vanderwal, Evangelist
Eric Jordan, Christ
Carl DuPont, Pilate
Margaret Carpenter Haigh,
Martha Bartz, alto
Glenn Siebert, tenor
Neal Sharpe, bass


It's very unlikely that Bernie's heart surgery will happen before the St. John's Passion performances, because the surgeon mentioned that he is already booked into April.  They also want Bernie to be on the blood thinners and other medications for awhile before they operate, to reduce the possibility of a blood clot and to give his heart a chance to recover and get stronger again prior to surgery.  Personally, I'm hoping that the surgery can be scheduled AFTER Easter, since we have plans to take the boys to see Bernie's parents in Florida over Spring Break.  I think Bernie's mom needs to see her son, and my boys need to see their grandparents.  There's nothing quite like a major health scare to reshuffle our priorities and remind us not to take family for granted.

And now, I'm off to check on my patient, sort some laundry, and hopefully finish assembling that quilt top!  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

I'm linking up with:
·       Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times
·       Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Five More 4" Sawtooth Star Blocks Finished, Four More to Go

Five More 4" Sawtooth Star Blocks Finished!
Well, thank goodness for global warming, because that baby girl is 10 days old already and she has no bear paw quilt to keep her warm.  One sawtooth star per day is not going to cut it, folks!  I'm glad I pieced one block from start to finish first, to make sure I cut the patches the right size and to check the piecing order (which I did have to change).  But now it's time for a much more efficient assembly line piecing process.  I've finished FIVE more blocks since my last post, four of them in the same day, and I'm feeling a lot better about actually getting this done now.

Assembly Line Piecing Setup
So this was the setup to the left of my sewing machine.  I've got a small cutting mat, my 28 mm rotary cutter, and my Add-A-Quarter ruler to the left of my machine so I can trim each seam allowance before and after stitching, without getting up.  The green and white scissors are ones I use for paper and template plastic only, and I used them to cut out my foundation pattern sections.  The tiny curved scissors with the sharp point is one that I bought for trimming machine embroidery threads, but it also works well for snipping apart chain-stitched foundation sections.  I've also got a heavy postcard and a thick plastic post office card that may have been accidentally left in my mailbox along with a slew of holiday catalogs that came in December.  It MAY have been accidental, or it may have been a gift from my mail carrier, because that blue plastic tag is fabulous for paper piecing.  And it does say on the bottom of the tag that it is "intended for reuse" and should not be discarded.  I probably should have taken a picture to show you how I use those cards, but I didn't think of it.  Maybe next time!

Piecing In Progress
Basically I'm just chain piecing.  I'll sew one patch onto each foundation, working from left to right so I'm doing the same piece on each block.  I can work faster that way without having to think too much about what I'm doing.  Then I clip them off the machine, retrim the seam allowance, press them open, and do the next four patches. 

Foundation Pattern Sections Lined Up for Chain Piecing in Order to be Sewn
I covered all of the foundation sections this way, then starched and trimmed them all, put that seam guide on the machine, and then VOILA!  Four perfect sawtooth stars came together before my very eyes. 

Ta Da!
Seriously; this is SO MUCH FUN.  I feel sorry for people who aren't quilters.

Here's what the baby quilt looks like in progress right now, up on my design wall:

Four More Stars To Go!
I am loving it!  As for those red bleeder blocks, I think I am going to set them aside and experiment with the Retayne, Synthrapol and Color Catchers later when I have more time.  The dark orange blocks I made yesterday make me feel less urgent about the need for red blocks, and I have several more marbled fabrics that I'd like to use instead. 

Four more sawtooth stars, then the blocks and sashing strips get sewn together, then I add a border, and then it's time to layer and baste this top for quilting.  I would so love to quilt this on a long arm machine... 

Don't know whether I'll get into the studio today, though.  Doctor's appointment at 9:30, then some work to get done in my office and samples to pick up from the showroom for a design client's presentation tomorrow afternoon, plus lots of music to work on.

Happy Thursday, everyone!  I'm linking up with:

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at 

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