Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cool Cats

Cool Cats is a finish! Well, except for a trip through the washer and dryer, at least. This quilt will have to wait until we're back at a dock for its spa day and journey into crinkliness.

And I'm expecting it to crinkle quite nicely, what with all the different quilting motifs I used on it. Each fabric has its own design: stipples to ribbon candy, wishbones to flower petals. The focal ribbon of Cool Cats got outline quilting to make the kitties poof out a bit.

On the white background, I did a bit stippling in the corners and wavy lines radiating from the ends of the ribbons. The small white inner squares are unquilted except for SITD. A bright green binding picks up several bits of that same green from the cat fabrics.

Another piece of the yellow plaid from Sean's aunt makes a fine backing, and it shows all the quilting well.

And look! I even got the backing pretty straight this time, even if the photo is a bit crooked. Nothing is square or parallel on a boat, so I'm hoping you'll be distracted by either the Master Quilt Holder's feet, or perhaps our sturdy windlass and anchor chain.

Cool Cats will be donated to Covered in Love, a charity that provides comfort quilts to patients who pass away in the hospital. The fabrics were generously donated directly to the charity and I was very happy to be asked to use them.

I admit that at first I was a little worried about using such bright, cheerful, whimsical fabric for a quilt that would end up in the hands of a grieving family. Then I remembered that the charity's coordinator, Kat, has made several quilts in similarly upbeat colors. She tells us that the chaplains who distribute the quilts have a sense of what will work best for each family. Perhaps there are young grandchildren sitting at the bedside of an elderly patient in renal failure, who might be charmed and comforted by the smiling kitties.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Weirdly Whimsical finished

We're currently underway from Charleston to Jacksonville, and that's the lovely, flat calm Atlantic Ocean you can see peeking through the window above. I put the final touches on this odd little quilt last week, called Weirdly Whimsical. It was a bit of purge sewing to clear the funky panels and green linen out of my stash and will be sent to my Project Linus chapter in California.

Since it's so small, I decided it was a good quilt to try a few new things on. First is the mix of fabrics: linen and cotton. Then I tried some donated fabric as the backing. This woven plaid was given to me by Sean's aunt. It's a little thicker than quilting cotton so I wanted to make sure it wouldn't fight me during FMQ before I used it on a larger piece.

I'm happy to report that it quilted up nicely. It's very high quality stuff and the gender neutral color and geometric design are super versatile. All very good news, because I have over 15 yards of this yellow and a similar green! The downside of using a plaid as the backing is any crookedness is obvious but hey, it's the back.

The next new-to-me technique I tried is the quilting design. I learned this from an Angela Walters video. She calls it "hook-swirl." It gives a nice texture while being easy to fit into corners and odd shapes. It took me a while to get the size and spacing consistent, but by the end of this piece it felt pretty natural. I'll definitely hook and swirl again.

And finally, this is the first time I've used a 40 weight Aurifil thread for quilting. The bright yellow, color 2135, coordinates well with front and back so I used it both the top and bobbin threads. My Juki seemed to like it, and I'm happy with the look of the thicker thread. I got a smoking deal on 12 spools of 40 weight ($4.25 each!) and I've since used several other colors. The only downside so far is that less of it fits on a bobbin.

We've had a really nice stay in Charleston, and enjoyed many nights with sunsets like this. But it's time to move on to warmer waters, so we're heading south. It's an overnight run to Jacksonville, so I've got a yummy stew in the crockpot making the whole boat smell delicious. Sean is napping to prepare for his late night watch, and I'll take the early early morning shift. We'll probably lose internet connectivity soon, but the sea is so calm that perhaps I'll get some sewing in on this trip.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Quilt for Sue

This quilt is for Sue. Sue is the full time caregiver for the mother of my friend, Lisa. 

I have never met Sue. Lisa's parents and Sue live in Santa Rosa county, in California. They all needed to evacuate because of the fires last month. 

Before she left smoky, on fire Santa Rosa, Sue went to her second job (yes, she is a full time caregiver AND has a second job) at a retirement/nursing care center. Because of Sue's insistence that every one of the elderly residents there MUST be evacuated in the single, small shuttle van, no one was hurt as the fires swept behind them soon after. The van normally holds 11 or 12 people, but Sue directed folks to sit on each other's laps so that no one was left behind. 

Sue is a hero! And as she worked to save others, Sue's house burned to the ground. I felt she needed to be thanked for her unsung heroism and comforted on the loss of her home. So I made her a quilt.

The fabric is from the Robert Kaufman Imperial collection. It features Asian-inspired florals and geometrics in gorgeous plums and browns and blues with metallic gold accents. Worthy of a hero. 

I pieced it in a simple yet dramatic pattern, sashed vertical rectangles that let the fabrics shine and came together fairly quickly. Because, having nothing else now, Sue needs her quilt soon.

I quilted it free motion, with a different motif in each color: curvy crosshatching, ribbon candy, stipples, figure eights, spirals. All that quilting adds lots of texture and warmth, because I figure Sue could use a little quilty comfort right about now.

The backing is a small pinky plum floral on white, because it's pretty. And the binding is gold metallic with a pink inner flange, because that felt kind of fancy to me. And I think Sue deserves pretty and fancy, don't you?

I'm linking to Sew Some Love, where Kat asks us to show our charity projects. But this quilt didn't feel like charity work to me. It was a deep honor to make it for Sue, who deserves so many thanks. It went into the mail today, to Lisa's parents' home, where Sue is living temporarily. I hope she likes it.

I've named this one Sue's Quilt, because if I were a quilt, I'd be honored to belong to Sue. Wouldn't you?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bricks and stones

I'm piece piece piecing away here. A couple days ago I finished this relatively fast flimsy. It's a free pattern from Timeless Treasures called "Marvelous Maze" by Osie Lebowitz and is part of their Broome Street Patterns collection.

There are lots of free patterns put out by the fabric manufacturers, which makes sense. It's in their best interests to make it look fun and easy to use their fabrics and nothing shows off a new line like seeing the designs working together in a quilt. At least that's the theory. Very few of the free patterns appeal to my eye, so when one does, I download it and save it for later. Since the patterns feature a particular fabric line, the older ones tend to disappear. If you can't find one that I've used, feel free to ask me for a PDF copy. Passing it along to another quilter for personal use doesn't violate the usage agreement on most of them.

Back to this one, which I've named Bricks and Stones. All the fabrics are prints of bricks and stones, except one that I think it supposed to be leather but looks quite a bit like stones to me. The blocks are really simple, just a square with the accent color sashed at a 45 degree angle across opposite corners. They can then be laid out in a wide variety of settings, including kind of randomly which then looks a bit like a maze. I kept thinking about wandering through Home Depot's outdoor paving section while I pieced this.

I did a quick layout on the design bed, mostly to get the lights and darks scattered nicely across the quilt. I then carefully stacked each row and column and carried them upstairs to sew. After stitching all the pairs and taking them to the ironing board, I discovered that my matching of all those sharply contrasting black accent angles was, um, really lousy. And then I discovered that these fabric, which were someone else's scraps bought on eBay, were really el cheapo low quality fabrics that stitched fine, but whined and complained when I ripped a bunch of seams out. Oh, wait, maybe that was me whining and complaining. And squinting since I used black thread on black fabric. Ugh.

Somewhere in all the ripping and whining, I lost track of my initial design layout since the rows weren't labeled. Eh, it was fairly random anyway, so I soldiered on. When I got the finished flimsy hanging up for a few photos, I realized that my lights were a bit clumped together, but decided I could live with that.

Then, I noticed that my random placement resulted in a giant swastika in the middle of the quilt. ARGH!! Once seen, it couldn't be unseen! No, I didn't take a photo. Fortunately, I realized that I only had to rotate a single block 90 degrees to fix that, although (of course) that single block was right in the middle. And that single block was (of course) the el cheapiest of el cheapo fabrics that practically shredded under the seam ripper. But I got that sucker ripped out and turned and all's well that ends well.

I certainly learned my lesson about keeping better track of my rows and columns! So the project I'm working on now, the strippy scrappy rainbow blocks, was handled differently. I put pins in the first block of each row: one pin for row one, two pins for row two, etc. I was so proud of myself until I sewed row two to row three...yes, that's one of row three's pin heads sewn right into the seam. The Juki punched through the plastic flower head pin like it was butter and didn't even hesitate. Oof.

Fortunately, the stitch length was short enough that it basically perforated the pin head so I was able to pull it out of the seam easily. Now I'm looking for other ideas for marking rows and columns. What method do you use?

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Squirrel video and a small finish

I have a new favorite YouTube quilting video channel: Jordan Fabrics from Grants Pass, OR. Donna Jordan gives really clear instructions for some nice patterns, and doesn't do a hard sell of their products. The camera angles are good and I've been learning quite a bit by watching her techniques.

The video linked above, for the pattern "Teatime" gave me a total SQUIRREL! moment, though. She makes the green quilt using 40 green batik 2.5" strips and the technique is fast and fun. My brain said, "Hey! I could do that with scrappy 2.5" strips!" and I was off and running.

I had the equivalent of about 40 strips in my "rainbow bright" scrap box. These are fabrics that are too multi-color to fit into any single color category. Most of them are not full width of fabric, so I just sewed shorter pieces together until each strip was about 40-42" long. (You can see two of our boat radios in the background of this photo. I listen to marine radio traffic all day.)

Following the video (which you should watch for full details about how to finger press to make everything easier), I sewed together five strips. You can see my pieced strips here: stripes sewn end to end with cupcakes, several Kaffe fabrics in the bottom row, etc.

Then each set of five is sewn back together into a tube, so the middle strip is now folded along the bottom.

Press the tube carefully so that bottom fold doesn't get creased but the seams are flat.

Cut into triangles. Donna uses a special ruler for this, but I just marked a regular square with some tape for guidance.

Open up the triangles and admire straight, square, scrappy, strippy blocks made without foundations. Half the blocks have the carefully folded center strip in the middle (bottom row) and half have the last seam of the tube in the middle (top row.) The latter just needs to have that final seam pressed flat.

Because of the two different styles of blocks, if you lay the quilt out by alternating the blocks, there are ZERO strip seams to match. No foundations? No seam matching? This is a total winner of a block for this lazy quilter!

And speaking of lazy, this little finish required no seam matching, either. In fact, there isn't a single seam in the entire quilt except for the binding! The cute panel is wide enough that it makes a nice size baby quilt all on its own. It's about 36"x42" of bright, happy animals and the fabric is very soft and smooth.

My current set up with the sewing machine in the salon/living room doesn't have a nice supportive area to the left of the Juki, so I wanted something really small to maneuver in the space available. I kept the quilting super simple, just outlining the sweet animal shapes and the border.

The wind helpfully flipped the little quilt up so you can see the back in coordinating fabric. A nice stripey binding finished it off easily and now this fun baby quilt is ready for Project Linus.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Moon Pies Over Charleston and more

Last week I finished this little wall hanging, called Moon Pies Over Charleston. It has been donated to the charity fundraiser auction for the Charleston Unitarian Church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is also the 100th anniversary of Moon Pie snack cakes and of course the full solar eclipse happened here, so the auction committee chose a moon-y theme.

Well, who can resist a theme like that, when one has the PERFECT fabric in one's stash?? Here's a shot in the brighter sun that shows how pretty the fabric is. The suns and moons are from a Dan Morris panel. I just added a few borders and some minimal quilting.

This panel only shows a partial eclipse, but the sun face is so pretty. Each panel has nice metallic accents and lots of true blues.

Mostly I did stitch in the ditch and outlined a few key features of each moon and sun face, then a quick stipple in the border.

For the flanged binding, I used a gold metallic swirl for the inside and more blue for the outside.

The backing is another mottled blue, and I put simple triangular corners to hold a dowel for hanging. Ha, I just realized the triangles are under my big clips so they don't show in the photo! The piece could also be used as a table topper. 

I've temporarily joined the choir at this church, just until we leave Charleston in another few weeks. They've welcomed me with open arms, so donating a little piece seems like a nice way to give back. I brought the quilt with me this Sunday and met another quilter who said, "Oh, I'm so glad you made that! Now I don't have to make a themed quilt this year!" I guess she's been donating similar items each year and is glad to have a break.

In other news, I pieced up this flimsy using Cloud 9's "Ribbon Box" free pattern and some of the fabric donated to Covered in Love

After cutting all the fabrics, the pattern sews up pretty quickly in rows. I started with the top row, which has a few of the "ribbon" tails.

Then I did the bottom row...uh, that can't be right.  Riiiiiiip!

The fabric line is called "Cool Cats" by Henry Glass, and features these funny felines. I cut apart a panel and stitched the cat blocks into ribbons for this top. Now I'm waiting to buy some coordinating Aurifil thread before I baste this one up and quilt it. It will be fun to do different FMQ motifs in each color: purple, blue, yellow, green, pink, red. Such a bright, cheerful line!

I leave you with this charming photo of a black plastic garbage back full of tiny scraps. Usually I sew up some dog beds and stuff them with this, but I just wanted it off the boat last week. So I listed it on FreeCycle and gave it away to a Girl Scout leader who will use it in a craft project for the troop. The girls will sew up cushions to sit on at the rest of their meetings this year and use this as stuffing. They will also learn about FreeCycle*, so it's a win-win!

*FreeCycle is a community bulletin board where you can list anything you have to give away for free. It's great for giving away the kinds of things that a charity shop won't accept, like partially used pieces of lumber or cardboard boxes, older electronics/appliances, even food. Members can also request items to be donated. It keeps things out of the landfill and clutter out of the boat, so I sign up for FreeCycle in most cities we pass through.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Scrapception and purge sewing

Yesterday's scrappy strippy triangle quilt top generated quite a number of subscraps. You know, those even scrappier scraps leftover from when you cut bits off your scrappy project? Well, I was determined not to keep the subscraps. Scraps get only get once chance here! So I pieced all the little bits into slabs and combined them with the cut off ends of the triangles.

Then I cut the chunks into random rectangles, bordered them with bright red, and set them in a yard of gray linen. It ended up being about 42"x42", a good baby quilt size. Kind of odd colors for a baby, but it has a very modern vibe and some young mom might like that.

The photo above has the flimsy hanging in front of a translucent blind, so I tossed it over our little round outdoor table to get a better photo of the true colors. Boy, that linen really attracts the lint! I'm not cleaning that up until I go to quilt it, someday. Since this top was made from scraps of scraps, I'm calling it Scrapception.

I cropped this out of the first photo, but realized that this scrappy quilt just happens to be the same colors as our trio of boat paintings. 

The purge quilting part of this blog post was getting rid of that gray linen. I've experimented with several types of fabric besides quilting cotton: silk, flannel, linen, corduroy and seersucker. Each one is interesting, but I don't particularly want to mix and match them in my quilts. And I simply don't have the room to store stashes of different types, so I'm purging the odd stuff.

This little quilt is also purely for purging purposes. All the green fabrics are more linen and I just wanted them gone gone gone. The greens matched this weird whimsical panel that I also wanted out of my life, so I took that as a sign to put them together. I like each block, but I can't wrap my head around why the panel included spaceships, mermaids and random animals. Somebody's own made up creation story? I don't know and I don't like it. I want my whimsy to have a consistent story line, apparently.

Here it is in the natural sunlight. The colors are very vibrant. The size is just under 36"x42" so it will only need a single yard for backing, and I have one yard of hot pink linen. Soon to be gone! I'll use a black and white stripe for the binding to pick up the inner printed borders on the panel.

The center stripe on Weirdly Whimsical (I guess that's what I'll call it) quilt, was a single strip scrap that came with this long quarter bundle of pretty homespun stripes and plaids. The pieces were clearly washed and are quite frayed, which must have frustrated the eBay seller, because I paid less than $1/yard for this. Sweet! No purging of this batch; I'm looking for a nice pattern to do it justice.