Thursday, July 4, 2019

Colorful collection


Happy Independence Day to my US readers, and happy belated Canada Day to our northerly neighbors! Here along the border in the Thousand Islands region, fireworks and festivities abound.

Today I have four finishes to share. My UFO pile is slowly getting smaller and I'm hoping to be able to see the surface of the guest bed sometime soon. 


These three little quilts are all destined for Quilts Beyond Borders (QBB). They are made with a simple block that the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild calls the Mendota.

My yellow and orange Mendota...
Every two or three years, this group of quilters from all over the US holds a retreat in a different city. A year before the retreat, the organizers pick an easy block for members to make in advance. The goal is to make as many quilt tops from the blocks as possible during the retreat. Tops are then distributed around the country to members, who baste, quilt and bind them. The quilts are then donated to Sunshine's two official charities: QBB and Wrap-a-Smile.

...with cats and fairies on the back
This year's retreat was held in Mendota Heights, MN, and I was really hoping I could attend. We knew we'd be traveling the Great Loop route this summer and would end up near Minnesota at some point. Alas, it will probably be August or September by the time we get there, and the retreat was in mid June. 

Greens, yellows and reds...

...with apples and bluebirds on the back
I had a stack of 100 Mendota blocks ready to go, so I pieced five tops up at home during the retreat weekend. Other "at home retreaters" and I shared our progress with the "at retreat retreaters" via social media. A good time was had by all, although the "at retreaters" had lots of extra fun: ice cream, candy- and quilt-shop visits, BBQ, and face to face getting to know each other!

Pinks and purples and rainbows...
...with jungle animals and an odd brown/purple/turquoise striped floral that I never thought would find its forever home!
I have two more Mendota tops from my own blocks ready to be quilted, and committed to finishing five more from tops made at the retreat. The gals in Mendota Heights stitched up over 140 tops. Amazing!


This quilt is made from orphan "T" blocks that were sent to me by Kat of Covered in Love. They were made by a woman who did a beautiful job with the piecing. I'm sorry I didn't take any photos of the backs of these blocks with their perfectly pressed, uniform seam allowances. And I just loved peering at all her scraps! She used hundreds of different fabrics and only one overlapped with something in my stash. I have already shipped this quilt back to Kat, so I can't double check the block maker's name, but I wrote it on the label on the back of the quilt. Update: Kat left a comment below reminding me that the blocks came from Priscilla.


I finished stitching the blocks into a simple square top with no sashing, and put several extra "T's" on the back. I used a dark purple binding and big stipple quilting to hold it all together. These pretty blocks are no longer orphans, and are ready to comfort a grieving family.


One final note: We spent a few days anchored in the harbor of Clayton, NY. During this boaty photo shoot, two little girls were taking sailing lessons. You can see their tiny sailboat just above the railing in this photo. It was really nice to hear their sweet, happy voices while I was taking the photos.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Beothuk, Baby!


Today's little finish is Beothuk Baby, a gift for my nephew and niece-in-law. They are expecting their first child, a little boy, and the family is very excited!

This pattern is called Beothuk Star, and was designed by Sandra of Musings of a Menopausal Melon fame. She's the daughter of a famous Canadian, and her design honors the aboriginal people of Newfoundland. The family who will receive this quilt are also Canadian, which is a nice connection all around, don't you think?


Sandra published this pattern as a generous, free quilt along. I selected gray, teal and aqua as my colors since they are my niece's favorites. The four corner stars feature fabrics with balloons, birds, flowers, mushrooms, and pseudo-scientific scribbles. I knew a secondary pattern would produce the center star, so I chose a rich, dark teal batik so it would really pop.


The gray background fabric is Essex linen, a cotton blend with really nice texture. While it does tend to fray a bit, it quilts like a dream. 


For the backing, my DH Sean chose this super fun nautical print. It's rare to find power boats represented in fabric, much less submarines, so when I found 7 yards of this on sale, I snapped them up.


This little purple-hulled tug boat is the closest in shape and capability to our own boat, Vector. I like how the hook-swirl quilting motif looks like waves, especially in turquoise thread.


I took a variety of boaty glamour shots for this quilt, in keeping with that cool background fabric. Here is Beothuk Baby in front of our life raft and next to our dinghy.


And here it is hung over the back of the flybridge settee and in front of the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacon.) We don't just sit around sipping cocktails in swimsuits here on Vector, you know. We do take our safety equipment seriously.


The binding fabric is a fun plaid in blues, greens and a bit of red. You can see a little of the binding in this shot of the quilt all rolled up and sitting on the seat of my scooter. That's Leopold, my new scooter mascot. He is named after Leopold Stokowski, who had similar wild, white hair.

Many thanks to Sandra for putting together such a great pattern! I had fun during the quilt along, and even got halfway though making a second quilt in the pattern with very different fabrics. That one will get finished eventually, but meanwhile I'm linking to the final Parade of Finishes. Go check out all the other fun interpretations of this pattern!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wrapping Smiles


Today's finishes are three little quilts for Wrap-A-Smile, which provides quilts to children undergoing Rotary-sponsored surgery. 


The first is made in a very conventional way. I used a pattern called Five Yards, which calls for (oddly enough) one yard each of five fabrics.There are two blocks that alternate and a border that I didn't add to keep the size small. I chose three transportation-themed fabrics, a solid-reading orange and a mottled yellow-green.


I put most of the leftover yardage on the back in nice, straight horizontal strips. Really. Those strips are straight! The fabrics are very cute, and the second strip down is the Vehicles for Sale section of a newspaper, so that's what I named the quilt. The quilting is simple wavy lines in bright orange thread, and orange binding finishes it up.


School Days is made with a panel plus 10 nine patches set on point. The panel features schools, a library, school buses, playgrounds and lots of kids, all surrounded by bright crayons. I had a close match to the green of the panel to set the nine patches.


For the back, I used this big piece of amphibian fabric. Frogs, turtles, salamanders, plus the bugs they eat and the word "Green." Very fun! I did simple stipple quilting on this one, and used the same orange binding as Vehicles for Sale.


Chirp, Flutter, Bloom is the final quilt, and it is made with a cheerful panel plus lotto blocks made by Sunshine Online Guild members. The panel is the center of the quilt, and is printed to look a bit like individual blocks. I added an assortment of pink, green, yellow and aqua blocks plus some striped sashing. The colors are brighter than the photos show.


The backing is this fun flamingo fabric in the same colors, and a minty green binding also has bits of pink and blue in it. Another fast stipple quilted it up and makes it cuddly. 

So there you go, three different quilts using three different piecing strategies. I enjoyed going from the symmetry of regular blocks in Vehicles for Sale to the scrappy chaos of Chirp, Flutter, Bloom with Schools Days being a little of both! I hope they each make a child smile.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Sweet Sampler


Today I'm excited to share with you my favorite quilt of the last several months. It's completely and utterly not my normal style or colors, but I love it! Sweet Sampler is made completely out of other people's blocks, and measures about 60" square.


Isn't it pretty? Such soft, soothing colors and traditional block designs. As you know, my friend Kat, who blogs at Kat and Cat Quilts, runs the small Covered in Love charity. CiL provides comfort quilts to patients who pass away in the hospital. 

Full disclosure: Covered in Love recently became an official 501(c)(3) charity and I am on the Board of Trustees. I know that sounds rather impressive, but it really is mostly just Kat, the chaplain at the hospital and a small group of volunteers making quilts. But even though they are few, they are mighty! Kat runs a semi-monthly block drive and collects hundreds, maybe thousands, of blocks each year to make quilts. Folks also send along other lovely blocks, and Kat holds those until there are enough for another quilt. 

I offered to take some of these special, extra blocks and see if they would play nicely together. She sent me a big box stuffed with blocks and yardage and I dove right in! 


There were about a dozen of these pretty "applique" blocks, like the one on the right. They are actually printed panels, but very well designed. I added slim borders to bring them up to 12.5". That was the size of another nice group of blocks like this green star on the left.


Another half dozen blocks, like this sawtooth star, ranged in size from 8" to 9". There were some extra chunks of coordinating fabrics in the box, but few were long enough to make 12.5" sashing. Cornerstones to the rescue! With all the blocks standardized to 12.5" it was a simple matter to stitch them together.


This log cabin is my favorite block. I don't think it was part of any other batch of blocks, so I'm happy this loner found a good home. The quilting is a simple stipple and the binding is a muted red from my own stash that works with the softer, reproduction fabric colors.


Most of the rest of the leftover repro chunks went into making the back. I've committed to using everything Kat sent me exclusively in pieces for Covered in Love. That honors the intentions of the original block and fabric donors. No willy-nilly mixing with my own stash and accidentally ending up in a baby quilt for one of my cousins.


Not every block was labeled with the donor's name, but I'm pretty sure that both Priscilla and Teresa D. have their hands in this quilt, so their names are on the label with mine. If you happen to recognize your own handiwork, let me know and I'll add your name, too!

I was able to make three other quilts from Kat's big Box O' Fun, so I'll be sharing those as I get them finished. They are wildly different from Sweet Sampler, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Gracious Geisha



It's another gorgeous day on the Erie Canal! I love how flat calm the water is in the mornings before the breeze picks up. I have another little finish to share with you.


Gracious Geisha might look a bit familiar. I used the same panel in a larger quilt earlier this year. My preference is to only buy one of any given panel, since there are so many available. So many panels! So little time! But occasionally I find them two-fer-one on eBay at killer prices. So. Here she is again.

This time I combined her with two lotto blocks from Sunshine Guild members, and one of my own orphan blocks. This is a small, wheelchair sized quilt, about 36"x48". You can tell it's lightweight by my jauntily deployed pinkies. Yes, that's me in the photo, and Sean climbed off the boat with camera in hand.


I chose this lotto block because the purple lilacs matched the purple wisteria.


And this one has a combination of colors that felt quite Asian to me. You can see the simple big stipple quilting in purple thread, and the purple and red striped binding.


This one is my orphan block, made of pre-cut hexagons. Sewing these together requires Y-seams, not my favorite, so they'd been marinating in my stash for over four years. That's a bicycle handlebar shadow on the right. This one is my photo, can't blame that on Sean. Just keeping it real, y'all. If you're here for my photography skills, then perhaps you need to go outside and clear your head.


The back is a mish mash of Asian-inspired scraps pieced together. It felt like time to use these up and get them out of my stash. Sometimes those ziplock bags of random fabric take up more mental space than they are worth.

Gracious Geisha will be sent to Doris, my friend from the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild. Her local group, Joyful Stitchers, makes and donates wheelchair quilts to nearby nursing homes. I really love making these smaller pieces, and while most of my quilts are kid friendly, it's nice to also skew a few toward more adult interests.

Finding a local senior living center or nursing care facility is tricky for me. Just showing up somewhere with 2-3 quilts doesn't seem like the right thing to do. Which residents would get them? Having enough for everyone is good manners! So I'm grateful to have found Doris and her group, and add to their local efforts in Alabama. I had thought I might donate this quilt to a place mentioned by another blogger. Several of us asked in the comments for more information about the nursing care center needing the quilts, but the blogger never followed up. That made me a bit irritated! But rather than rant about that, this is a great time to say how grateful I am to the folks who DO follow through.

One of the reasons I continue to give to my favorite quilt charities is the positive feedback I get. At the very least, they all let me know when the quilts arrive. I'm not doing it for the thanks, but it's really nice to hear that the darned things at least made it to their destination! But most also send a sweet card or email with kind words. Joyful Stitchers, Covered in Love, Wrap A Smile, Quilts Beyond Borders, Little Lambs, Victoria's Quilts, Happy Chemo, Mercyful Quilts, Jack's Basket, A Doll Like Me: each one of these has been great about acknowledging my donations.



And speaking of Joyful Stitchers, Doris sent me this photo of one of my quilts being used on their bulletin board. Remember the one I made with train panels? Here it is, folded so just the trains are showing and being used to promote their sewing group. All Aboard! I'm just tickled pink!

Care and feeding of volunteers doesn't really take much, yet makes a huge difference. Many thanks to those who do it right!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

June is for finishes



Hello, hello! I'm back in the blogging saddle and ready to share what I've been working on lately. Seems like I got into a mode where I've been batching things together. I sewed up a ton of blocks, then a bunch of tops, then a passel of backings, and a melange of binding strips. I quilted all the pieces one after the other and stacked them up. And this week I am finally, FINALLY! binding them.

At each stage, there was always an excuse to not take photos. "Eh, a pile of blocks isn't very interesting." "This flimsy is so wrinkled, I'll have to wait until we have enough power to run the iron before I take a pic." "Five backings pieced, three to go! Woo hoo, I'm on a roll! No time to stop now!" Or I took the photos, but they were so bad that there was no motivation to write a post featuring dark, blurry pics. It's been a wet, windy spring which makes taking photos outside a festival of quilts blowing around annoyingly. Overcast days mean the inside of the boat has been dark. Yada yada yada.

But as you can see from the top photo, we are in the calm, beautiful waters of the Erie Canal and I'm ready to share!



Today's finish is this lap quilt for a special young man. He is the older brother of my goddaughter, and you've never met a sweeter, smarter or more handsome guy. He's taking the exams to become a Professional Engineer and this quilt will be a gift to celebrate that major accomplishment.



The entire family loves to camp, and the quilt is made from really fun camping themed fabrics. I supplemented the camping fabrics with outdoorsy ones like denim, burlap, and plaid. Well, not REAL denim and burlap chunks, but quilting cottons that look just like them. The basic stitching is tons of light/dark HSTs and the setting is called Depression Blocks. I have no idea where the name came from, because I was quite jolly while making them.



This fabric with s'mores and blue enamel coffee pots is so fun! And yes, those are chicken feet in the red triangle. It was the right shade of red and I hope it brings a chuckle when it is discovered.



I quilted a couple of different motifs: a four-lobed shape in the small dark diamonds, wishbones in the dark larger diamonds, and stippling in all the light areas. All that fancy quilting almost invisible in the busy fabrics, though, so an overall design would have be fine.



The binding is a navy blue with gold stars. It goes nicely with some sprinkled starlight triangles. Seeing the beauty of the night sky is a huge part of the appeal of camping! Unlike the "climbing out of the freezing cold tent at 3am to go pee" part.



The back used up some coordinating fabrics that were either too fun to chop up, or had too much mixed light/dark values to work in the HSTs.



The text along the line of trailers says, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" So that what I named the quilt. Are We There Yet will be winging its way to California soon.


Quilt in the Wild bonus photo! You may remember the baby quilt called Butterfly Strands I made for friends. They sent me this sweet photo of their beautiful baby girl on the quilt, and it's just the best thing ever. I just love seeing quilts in use, don't you?

I have more finishes to share next week, so I'll see you again soon!