Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sharing my Good Fortune

This year for the first time, I participated in Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt along, Good Fortune. I knew her quilts usually end up quite large, so I decided at the start to only make about two thirds of the blocks at each step.

I stuck with her proposed color scheme of red, orange, blue and green, with light neutral background. The blocks were fun to make and used up a lot of scraps! The full pattern calls for another fancy pieced border, but I decided to stop after the green triangles. The size was just right for one of my preferred charities.

The busy fabrics and dense blocks called for simple quilting, and I used my go-to stipple. The backing is a soft green plaid given to me by my DH's aunt. An inset piece of a green blender made it easy to sew in the required label for Quilts Beyond Borders. That's where this quilt has been donated, and other volunteers will make sure it gets into the hands of someone who needs a quilty hug.

This little wheelchair quilt has also been finished and donated. It will be given to someone in a nursing home in Alabama, where my friend Doris' guild does their charitable giving. The train panels were given to me by Kathleen of the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild, and all the other blocks were made as part of Sunshine's monthly block lotto.

So all I had to do was put the pieces together, find these gray and red chunks in my stash for a backing, and quilt it up. The combination of panels and prefinished blocks makes for a fast little quilt. 

I'm so fortunate to have access to so many generous friends who help me create and distribute these quilts. And how great that Bonnie Hunter shares her design talents for free each year with her mystery QALs. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Long distance gifting

Another gifted finish to share today! This one was made for my dear friend M, who recently redecorated her family room. She asked for a medallion style quilt, and I made this 60" x 60" lap size to toss over the back of her sofa.

The design is based on a photo I found using a Google image search, which I printed out and pondered. I think it is an original design by Quiltmekiwi since she doesn't specify a pattern name or other designer. Hers is completely scrappy, which I love too!

The design is made entirely of HSTs and is quite symmetric, so once I decided on the color scheme, it was pretty straightforward. Just lots and lots and lots of HSTs in the aqua, burgundy, dusty pink and creams of M's room.

So how do you get just the right color mix to go with a room 3,000 miles away? With paint chips! While I was visiting M over Christmas, she and her daughter carefully matched paint chip strips to the rug and furniture. I took the chips back to Florida and dove into my stash. I think I got pretty close compared to the chips at the top of this photo. And as an added bonus, many of the fabrics that matched had a cat motif, and they are a kitty-loving family.

The backing is a big autumnal print with apples and flowers. I had used some of this same fabric on the back of some placemats I gave her last year, so I knew that she liked it. I didn't realized how much I had left!

The fabrics are fairly busy, so the quilting doesn't show much. I did big feathers
around the dark outer border, and a fairly tight stipple in the scrappy creams. Each aqua and dusty pink block has a geometric dot-to-dot motif stitched in variegated thread.

The overall effect is lots of nice texture, and I'm pleased with how it softened and crinkled in the wash. Most importantly, M reports that it matches perfectly and she loves it!

In other news, I was a guest blogger on the Wrap-A-Smile blog this week. Many thanks to Ann for inviting me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rainbow scrap challenge

This year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC), I'm trying some different blocks. First up are crumbs or slabs. Anything goes with these, just stitch similarly sized pieces together and trim to a nice, neat final square. Very satisfying! I had a LOT of little pieces of red for January, and ended up with nine 8.5" square crumb blocks. This is really mindless sewing and great to use as leaders/enders. I have a few chunks of yellow pieced together for Febuary, too.

These blocks are a pretty simple rail fence variety. Three strips cut at 2.5" x 8.5" and two at 1.5" x 8.5". For RSC, I decided to cut the larger strips in the monthly color, with the skinny accent strips in the adjacent hue on the color wheel. So for yellow, some blocks have orange accents, and some have yellow-green accents.

Here are the red blocks from January, with purple or orange accents. I'm hoping that the resulting quilt will have a really nice transition from color to color. So far it's really striking to me how those accent strips really change the look of the blocks. And it really burns through my stash of strings!

For my more elaborate RSC block, I've decided to do Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Crystals. The background will be dark blue for each block, and the star points will be the monthly color. The star centers will be one third of the way around the color wheel. So for yellow, blue is the center color. Light blue allows some contract with the background.

Here is the red star points block, with yellow as the center color. I'll end up cutting from two colors each month instead of just the one RSC color, but that's OK.

I'm glad that yellow was chosen for February because I already had my yellow scraps pulled out. The block lotto for the Sunshine Online Guild calls for blue and yellow block in January. I had a few orphans lingering from other projects and was able to add borders to bring them all up to 12.5". These are leftover blocks from two different mystery QALs.

In other scrap news, I received this super fun stack of fabric from Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework. It's all fish and fishing themed: trout, fishing poles and hats, water, etc. She was ready to pass it along to someone in exchange for some aqua scraps, so it worked out nicely for both of us. I have a small collection of other angling fabrics, and I'll use them to make a wheelchair quilt or two. Thanks, Cynthia!

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Blue and the Gray

I have a finish to share today. This lap quilt is a gift for my Dad. I asked him what his favorite colors are, and he said blue and gray. We then talked about his love of history and his knowledge of the Civil War. 

I kept thinking about Ulysses S. Grant as I was stitching the blue and gray fabrics. Did he nap? Surely he must have, and possibly under a quilt in his favorite colors? Naming this one Ulysses' Nap Blankie seemed just a tad undignified, so I settled on General Grant Takes A Nap instead. 

The pattern is called "Buttercream Twist," and is available for free here. All the small accent squares are a fun fabric with math and chemistry scribbles on it. The contrast was great on the scrappy blue fabrics, but a few of the grays were more subtle. I couldn't resist using this neat world map fabric with silver metallic accents, though.

My favorite block is this one with the dragonflies and other insects on it. The quilting is simple wavy lines that alternate direction in each block. Lots of texture without too many hours under the needle.

I had a couple of extra blocks, so I put the ones with the least amount of contrast on the back with a chunk of fabric that has bamboo leaves on it. The quilt ended up about 50"x70" which is a good size for a quick snooze. I'm happy to say that Dad really likes it, and I think Ulysses might have, too.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Fireburst, Fundy and Strings

My final three finishes for 2018 are ready for their big reveal. The first is my Fireburst quilt, made during Tish's quilt along

Tish published clear, step by step instructions each month to make a quilt in one of two sizes. I chose the baby size, with a final block size of 32" x 32". I added a simple border to bring it up to 37" square.

It was really fun to watch my piles of navy, baby blue, and orange morph into this bursting star design!  So cool.

I used some wool batting scraps and a pieced backing, and quilted it up with floppy feathers. The result is a super light, but fat and poofy quilt.

I'll be donating this to Little Lambs, which is located in Utah and serves childen in the foster care system. I figure the wool will make it nice and warm for a small person who could use a quilty hug.

The second piece was made using the Fundy Skies pattern by Cannuck Quilter. Joanne asked me to be a pattern tester for the baby size, which is a single block. I pulled out some red, navy, gold and gray fabrics to play with. 

The pattern was really easy to follow, and I love this on-point square shape! However, the fabrics I chose didn't feel very baby-ish.  Hm, what to do? I had some small panel blocks in a lighthouse theme, so I added those to the top and bottom of the Fundy block to make the quilt a rectangle.

Fundy Lighthouses finishes at about 36" x 50", which is a great wheelchair quilt size. The narrow width keeps the quilt from getting caught in the wheels, but it is still long enough to warmly cover an adult's lap. I used the rest of more wool batting to keep is light and cozy, and quilted it with a medium stipple using variegated blue and white thread. 

The thread is really pretty on the spool, but I feel there was too much contrast between the darkest and lightest parts of the variegation. In the future I'll look for more subtle shading for that type of thread. 

With the nautical lighthouses and the patriotic colors, perhaps this quilt will appeal to a Navy vet.  I'll send it to my friend Doris, and her guild in Alabama will pass it along to a nursing home.

And here's the final finish for 2018. I've been making string blocks each month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and I love them! It's so satisfying to turn a jumbled pile of miscellaneous strings into neat, tidy blocks. 

However, I used fabric foundations for the stitching, so the blocks turned out double thickness and quite heavy. Rather than make a complete, but heavy quilt, I decided to donate this 50" x 70" top to Victoria's Quilts. They will quilt it up with a warm flannel backing and give it to a person in Canada who is living with cancer. I figured it's cold enough up in the neighborly north for a super heavy quilt to be useful.

And here is an early glimpse into some things I've been playing with lately. I bought a mini Quick Curve Ruler to try some new curvy blocks. Isn't this a fun shape? It's supposed to be a Christmas ornament, but I used a charm pack of pretty metallic pastels and has a different feel. Sort of Moorish.

I also delved into my neutrals and brights string scraps and made some rectangular blocks using paper foundations. I don't want to end up with another set of double thick, heavy string blocks with fabric foundations. I really like  the wonky diamond shapes but the paper bits are annoying.  I was tickled to read that Diann of Little Penguin Quilts is also making rectangular/diamond string blocks, and hers look so great in red and cream. So interesting how an idea like this seems to pop up in multiple places at once!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Christmas 2018 finishes

Happy New Year! Everyone still has all their Christmas decorations up, right? Good, because I'm sharing my holiday finishes today.

For the first time in many years, we got on an airplane during the dreaded winter holiday travel season. But the reward for enduring crowded flights filled with sneezing travelers was getting to visit family and friends. I decided to make zipper pouches to give to the folks we were visiting. Nothing big, just small tokens of affection. It was fun to select fabric for each person and quilt up the bags. Sewing with zippers is definitely not my favorite thing, but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it now.

I added a few little suprises inside the bags. This one for my Dad has beer fabrics peeking through the zipper.

This horse bag was given to my Mom, and has music notes inside. She and her husband both sing in choirs, so I put the same fun fabric inside his gift.

A dear friend lost her beautiful tuxedo kitty a few months ago, so I made her a bag with holiday kitties to cheer her up. The little paw prints inside honor the prints our pets leave forever on our hearts.

And speaking of cats, I made this little holiday wall hanging for above our bed. It uses six panels of Debbie Hron fabric. 

The little contented Christmas cats have such sweet faces! The central square is all part of the panel, and I added borders to make a star shape.

My husband really likes this paisley print, so I used up all my scraps of it. The quilting is simple stipples in the borders, SITD around the stars and squares, and outlining of each cat.

The reason I needed a new wall hanging is because this is the first year we've had a Christmas quilt on our bed! Sorry for all the dark photos, but our bedroom is incredibly dark. Our windows are only 8"x18" and the walls are dark wood. Great for sleeping, but lousy for quilt photos.

The wall above the bed usually holds my Postcards from Ikea piece, which is rainbow bright. It didn't look right with Christmas red and green, so Contented Christmas Cats chased a squirrel (or maybe vice versa?) and a more coordinated look was born.

The bed quilt was actually finished months ago during Christmas in July, and put away until December. The flimsy dates back a whole year. I quilted the scrappy cream background with big feathers, and the darker red and green areas with a stipple.

The binding is a black and white stripe, and the quilting in the red border is simple straight lines. After all those feathers, I was kinda done with the quilting to be honest. I should probably do borders first before I run out of steam.


The back is solid green fleece, and I used no batting in this piece. We are usually somewhere warm for the winter, so this weight is just right for us.

The fleece shows the shape of quilting really, really well. But it completely hides the individual stitches. The bobbin thread is off white, and you can't see any white at all on the back! Gotta love that thick, forgiving fleece. 

When we return to the boat this week, it will be time to pack up and put away our Christmas decor until next year. Meanwhile, we're enjoying everyone else's holiday lights and trees. I hope you all had a wonderful season. Onward to 2019!