Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy news!

You may remember this quilt, called C's Canines, that I made for the granddaughter of our boating friends. C was scheduled to have surgery this month and I thought a cheerful dog-themed quilt in her very favorite colors would help.

C received her quilt the other day, and I think this big smile shows how much she loves it. I'm also very, very happy to report that her surgery went well! I like to think that little quilt helped; it certainly was filled with all my wishes and hopes for the very best results. It's always special for us quilters to see our work in use, and an extra special bonus to see it topped with a toothy smile.

My next project is cat-themed, and here is one of the nine blocks. The cats are part of a fun Makower UK panel that I've had for several years. I love their happy faces, but the dark colors (red, blue, green and gold) didn't seem very child-like to me. Then a few weeks ago I bought a fat quarter bundle of star fabrics on eBay in just those same colors. The stars are actually slightly raised, a bit rubbery, shiny and iridescent. So fun!

The eBay seller and I had several back and forth conversations where she admitted that she was disappointed at how low the bidding was on her stash of fabrics. (I got a smokin' good deal on the stars.) I told her that I was going to use my purchases for charity sewing, and that seemed to please her. Two weeks later, she wrote again to say she was sending me the rest of her stash for free! Wow! That inspired me to start the cat quilt, so I can send her photos. When I get her shipment, I'll let you know what sorts of goodies she is sending.

Several commenters have asked how we're doing in Tropical Storm Cindy. We're safely docked at a marina in Biloxi, MS. The docks here are very sturdy concrete and behind a protective sea wall. Mostly we've just had tons of rain and minor coastal flooding. The highest wind gust we've seen was 44mph. You can see in this photo that the water came up to just inches below our dock, so we are still able to climb off the boat (the dock is a loooong way down) and go ashore.

The marina is right next door to the Golden Nugget casino, and it is only about 500 feet from the boat to their dry parking garage. We're not gamblers, but it's nice to have access to the casino's restaurants and spa. I thought this carpet pattern in one of the hallways would make an interesting quilt, too. A couple of jelly roll strips, some HSTs...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Twist N Scrap

Whoop, whoop! Twist N Scrap is a finish. I started piecing this quilt back in July, so it is almost a year in the making. For me, that's a looooong time.

I was discouraged with this piece because the background fabric turned out to have quite a bit of polyester in it. I didn't know how it would quilt up, or how it would shrink in the wash. So it ended up being tucked away, out of sight, out of mind.

When I was straightening up some drawers last week, I came across the finished flimsy again and decided to use it for some FMQ practice. I figured I would know pretty fast if the quilting was an issue. I chose a sort of Maltese cross motif for the background and got to work. The poly blend fabric has a tighter weave than quilting cottons, so the needle made more popping, punching sounds in areas like the very center of the crosses where lots of seams come together. Other than that, though, things went pretty smoothly.

In each of the square interlocking "pretzels," I tried various other fillers. I think the hearts in this red fabric turned out pretty well. I was inspired by Fiona's heart quilting over on Bubz Rugs. Most of the other fills are simpler than the hearts: easy back and forth, loop-de-loops, and stippling. 

I think the Maltese cross looks cool in the corners, where only a quarter of the shape shows. Since the whole piece is super scrappy, I used more scraps for the binding. This black, gold and royal blue bit is my favorite.

The backing is all flannel, so it's very soft and snuggly. That turquoise blue has a butterfly motif.

It's our last day in the boatyard in New Orleans. They are finishing up the last little bits of paint touch up, so there are spots of wet paint everywhere. It made it tricky to find place to take photos without making a mess of both quilt and boat! Several worrisome weather systems are spinning up, so it's high time for us to skedaddle out of the hurricane zone. 

Edited to add a post-washer and dryer wrinkly crinkly shot. I'm doing a little happy dance with how all the different fabrics played together! Flannel, quilting cotton and poly-cotton blend all shrink differently, but displayed excellent teamwork in this little quilt.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Finishes galore

It's a gloomy, overcast day here in our New Orleans boatyard digs. However, the wind isn't blowing so I was able to pin up my latest quilty projects for some photos. From left to right: Gulf Coast Churn Dash after washing and drying; Hobe Horses; an as yet to be named chicken-themed flimsy; Winter Magic; and 3-D Play Mat.

Hobe Horses is my Hands2Help quilt for Camp Hobe, a charity sponsored by StashBox. Camp Hobe is for kids with cancer and their siblings, a place with all the fun and activities of summer camp that also provides necessary medical support. While the H2H challenge is over, Sarah let us know that quilts sent in after the deadline are still welcome!

This horse-themed quilt is simple patchwork with sashing and cornerstones to let the big focal pieces take center stage. It took me a while to accumulate enough horse fabric to make an entire quilt. Apparently, horses are fairly difficult to draw, because there is a LOT of really ugly, anatomically incorrect horse flesh out there in the fabric world.

I quilted Hobe Horses in simple, horizontal wavy lines, like wind through the horses manes. The backing is an odd olive green leaf print that actually works well with the browns and greens on the front. I hope an equine-crazy kid enjoys all the different horsey goodness on the front.

Next up is this finished quilt top featuring chicken fabrics. I really liked how the hourglass blocks in Gulf Coast Churn Dash set off the chunky churns, so I decided to do some more experimenting. This time, I used three color hourglasses to outline small square focal pieces cut from a panel.

Each panel square features a different chicken inside a wood frame, surrounded by black. The chickens have funny names ("Remedios"?) and light blue backgrounds. Half of the panel blocks end up surrounded by the yellow parts of the hourglasses. The yellow has little chicks hatching out of eggs.

The rest of the big chickens ("Blakey"? Who names a chicken "Blakey"?) are surrounded by red fabric with tiny drumsticks. Is this fate? Is Blakey destined to end up at KFC?

Winter Magic is made from another panel, and features dogs and snowmen. It isn't specifically a Christmas panel, although one of the dogs seems to be wearing reindeer antlers. The flags say, "Wishing you the blessings of magic on this crisp winter day!" "Make every day a parade!" and "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" The panel was only 24" wide, so I added side pieces to bring the whole thing to about 36" x 42", a good size baby or toddler quilt.

The backing is this snowflake patterned fine-wale corduroy, which makes it fairly heavy and warm. I decided that putting a layer of batting in would make the whole thing a bit TOO thick and warm, so I used a layer of flannel instead. It is finished pillowcase style with no binding.

To keep it soft and drapey, I did minimal quilting. The printed panel has a thin line of black around the characters, and that sort of looked like stitching to me. So I echoed around that line with white thread so the whimsical scenes would poof out a bit. I also outlined the swirling snow border to keep the little quilt lightly but evenly quilted. I did have grand plans to do lots of FMQ swirling motifs, but after I stitched up an area about 5"x 5", it was clear that the whole quilt would be much too stiff that way, so rip rip rip, out it came. 

3-D Play Mat is a scrappy experiment that started when the Covered in Love block drive featured a pleated, textured block. I had so much fun making that block that I went looking for other three dimensional tutorials. That led me to Teresa Down Under's Sewn Up blog and her series of textured 4-patches.
Someone wise suggested using coordinating colors when sewing up sample blocks, so I chose cream, turquoise, red and pink fabrics.


The first block I made riffed on Kat's pleated block, which she called Grandad's Shirts. This isn't the same block, but used the same pleat technique.

After that, I dove into Teresa's blocks. I tried Prairie Point Pinwheels,

Origami pinwheel (which is quite thick), 

and several bias edge manipulation blocks including this fussy cut bird and several flying geese. Teresa's tutorials also include a large number of smocking, ruffles and elaborate pin tucks that looked really hard. But now that I've finished this little sampler, I think I might try my hand at one or two of them.

The blocks are sashed with a bold black and white polka dot and the backing is a dark red dot on white corduroy. The overall size is 39" x 39". Like Winter Magic, I used flannel instead of batting and a no-binding finish. I kept the quilting very minimal, just enough to hold things in place. I thought the soft but busy 3-D blocks would be fun for a baby to explore while having "tummy time," so I think of this as a floor mat rather than a blanket.

Linking up with Oh, Scrap! and Scraptastic Tuesday this week.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gulf Coast Churn Dash finish

My version of the Chunky Churn Dash pattern is a finish. Gulf Coast Churn Dash was started back in January, when the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color was purple. After sewing up as many purple blocks as my scraps allowed, I immediately moved on to blue, aqua, and green blocks.

I guess I'm not patient enough to wait until a new color is announced each month! This aqua block shows the quilting, a free style overlapping circles motif. It's not free motion, though; I used the walking foot. But without any markings and just eyeballing it, the curves are a bit wonky and don't intersect into perfect circles. I'm OK with that. I started by stitching in the ditch because I thought I'd do a more elaborate design in each block, but this simpler pattern won out so it wouldn't compete with the busy, scrappy fabrics. The SITD was totally unnecessary, sigh.

This block is one of my favorites, with the fussy cut butterfly flitting through the cloudy sky fabric. It's a peaceful little scene, and I hope it gives some comfort to the recipient. This quilt is going to be donated to Covered in Love and will be given to a terminal hospital patient to brighten their last few hours or days. 

The backing is quite scrappy, too, using several orphaned blue/green/purple fabrics. All the remaining chunky churns are here, too. I had no preconceived idea of how large this quilt would be when I started sewing the blocks and ended up with extras. This photo also shows gratuitous husband feet and knuckles.

Here's a boaty glamour shot, showing our anchorage this morning near Cameron, LA. You can see a couple of the tools of the boatswain's trade, which is my primary role on the boat. One of my three boat poles is holding down the far edge of the quilt against the breeze, my beautiful (but disappointingly low quality) blue line is hung from the rail, and you can see just a sliver of my lurid orange ball fender. Those beefy, commercial boats in the background service the oil platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico, and are built to handle very rough waters.

Here in a bend in the Calcasieu River, though, it's calm and peaceful. And, apparently, full of shrimp. As we were taking quilt photos, we heard the unmistakable sound of dolphins exhaling at the surface as they were feasting. Boosh! Boosh! At least four were feeding within 100 feet of the boat and I managed to snap one decent shot. They only surface for a second, and then reappear a random distance and direction away, so it's tricky to capture them. I love it when dolphins visit us; they are so graceful and sleek.

Gulf Coast Churn Dash still needs a trip through the washer and dryer, and I might ask Kat to do that depending on the timing of our next marina visit.

Linking up with Cathy's Butterfly and Kaleidoscope  and Kat's Sew Some Love linkies this week.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hands2Help 2017

The Hands2Help Charity Challenge is ending this week, and Sarah has asked us to write up our summaries. I finished two of the three quilts I planned to make. In the photo above, the top quilt, Fernville Seasons, will be donated to Happy Chemo. The bottom quilt, Veggie Mountain, is going to the refugee support group International Institute of St. Louis.

This post has more photos about Fernville Seasons. 

This post  has more about Veggie Mountain.

I started a third quilt for the third charity, Camp Hobe. It is a finished flimsy, but I still need to baste, quilt and bind it. Sarah says that all three charities accept donations all year, so I'll keep working toward finishing that one as soon as possible and will share photos and details here then.

It has been a busy couple of weeks here. We had overnight guests, which meant that my quilt studio in the guest stateroom had to be completely put away. All the pieces are still squirreled away in various parts of the boat and I haven't actually done any sewing in about two weeks. But today I managed to at least get all my charity donations boxed up and ready to ship out.

In addition to the H2H quilts, I boxed up the Project Linus quilts I wrote about in this post. The six blocks in the photo above are for the Covered In Love block drive. This time the quilts are being assembled by Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework. Thanks, Cynthia!

As part of clearing out the guest room, I wanted to corral all my tiny cutting scraps. I use them to stuff pet beds that I donate to the closest local animal shelter. This batch of six will go to the Port Aransas, TX shelter. They aren't large, sized to fit cats or small dogs, but they are quite heavy and dense! I used this tutorial to make the beds this time, and I really like how they turned out. The channeling should keep the scrap bits inside from clumping up in one end.

Here are all the boxes of quilts, ready to ship. It will be a challenge to fit them all on a motor scooter, but the trip to the post office is fairly short. I'm glad to have this big stack of boxes and the pile of pet beds off the boat and released into the wild!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Waterloo on a galloping horse

Veggie Mountain is finished. This twin sized quilt, about 66" x 88", is the biggest single quilt I've ever made.* It will be a long time before I tackle another one as large, as this one proved to be my Waterloo. I know there are people who can push much larger quilts through their domestic sewing machines, but the weight and bulk of this one really tired me out!

*I did make a queen size for our own bed, but it was four separate quilt as you go pieces, each section about the size of a lap quilt. Much more manageable.

Just finding a place on the boat to take a photo was a challenge. Our ceilings are only about 80" tall and the quilt dragged on the floor. It's been very, very windy this week in Galveston, TX, so outside shots were tricky. This one was taken at the Moody Gardens Hotel's dock, which was spectacularly coated with bird poop. In addition to worrying about the quilt blowing away into the water, I worried about it falling in the guano!

The pattern for this quilt is Majestic Mountains, or Scrappy Mountains Majesty. I used twenty fat quarters of vegetable themed fabrics and a bright green background yardage. The charity requested quilts of at least twin size, so to fatten it up, I added a thin orange inner border and a wide, dark green tonal outer border. The binding is another, slightly different bright green with tiny hearts.

The background fabric is a cream and yellow rooster print, which is thicker than regular quilting cotton and made the quilt heavier. It has a nice heft to it, but boy was it a struggle to quilt! However, I had enough of the chickens to cover the entire back with just a single seam. And I think chickens and veggies go nicely together.

I had grand visions of elaborate free motion quilting in the background "mountains," but in the end I did simple straight lines with my walking foot. As I was quilting, it seemed like there were a lot of puckers, and several lines needed to be ripped out. Quite a few cranky words were spoken. Not all of my times in the sewing studio were joyful.

That wide green border also seemed sort of plain and boring with just straight lines that intersected in the corners. I decided to stitch a message in a contrasting thread color. Since this quilt is destined for a refugee family via one of the Hands2Help charities, "Welcome" was the message I wanted to send. Actually, I wanted to say, "Welcome to America! We're so glad you are here. May your family find peace, joy, and prosperity in the land of the free." However, my handwriting is not up to the task. It's a little known fact about me that I never learned how to do cursive writing. My family moved between my second and third grade school years, and I somehow managed to be in the wrong state each year and missed cursive lessons altogether. I can struggle through a word or two, but that's it.

Oh well, "Welcome" is a good word. It gets the message across. And both my handwriting and my slightly puckered quilting look fine from a galloping horse. In fact, after a good wash and dry and crinkle, I'm pretty happy with it. And the most important thing is that this bright quilt with a universal theme of fresh vegetables will comfort a family who may have arrived in the United States with very little. 

Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, because I'm pleased to be finished!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Three for Tuesday

We are in Lake Charles, LA and docked at the L'Auberge Casino's little marina. With unlimited power and water here, I decided to get some quilts finished so they could have their spa day in the washer and dryer.

I pieced all three of these baby/toddler quilts while we were living in the RV last month. Once we were back on the boat, I got them all basted. And in the last several days I quilted and bound them. I had high hopes for a higher class of glamour shots, but no sun today, alas. 

You'll have to settle for the classic "rolled up quilts with murky marina water in the background" shot.  All three of these quilts will be donated to Project Linus.

Left to right in the top photo: Pretty Pink Sixteen is made of most of my flannel stash. There is no batting in this one, just two layers of flannel. I did simple cross hatch quilting through the diagonals of all the squares. The binding is regular quilt cotton, sew onto the back. I then sewed it to the front by machine. In this photo you can see the front with edge stitching holding the binding on.

Here's the back, which is long strips of flannel. The line of stitching about 1/4" inside the binding is that top stitching from the front. It's fairly unobtrusive on the back. I really like this binding method and feel like I get pretty consistent results on both back and front.

The middle quilt is a cute soft book panel of bugs and frogs, alternating with lime green seersucker with tiny fruits. So cute! It's called Garden Friends, and I quilted it with turquoise thread in big loop-de-loops. The texture is great, but my loops are, um, lumpy. Stippling is much easier for me and my new rallying cry is, "Stick With The Stipple, Louise! Lumpy Loops Are Lousy!" The binding on this one is rainbow satin blanket binding, but applied like regular double fold quilt binding. 

Here's an overall shot of that quilt so you see how the rainbow pattern on the binding repeats around the edge. This quilt doesn't have great contrast between the blocks so it looks better up close when your eye is drawn to the cute critters. I doubt a toddler will be very critical, though.

I adore the fabric I used to back this little quilt. Check out all the fun animals in sherbet colors! I had one yard of this and used it all.

To fill out the rest of the backing, I used some more of the seersucker. There's a photo of the flimsy that shows the colors better in this post.

The final quilt, Little Boy Blue, was made from a panel plus 25 patch scrappy blocks. See this post for the flimsy pictures. I bound it in the same darker blue as the sashing. The backing is a single piece of fun animals driving cars, with stop signs and words like "Vroom!" That fabric was just a teeeeensy bit small, and one of the selvedges showed after I finished the quilting. On this one, I sewed the binding it to the front first so the slightly wider part of the binding would be on the back and cover the selvedge bits.

Here's a shot of the front binding. To attach the back, I stitched in the ditch right next to the binding on the front. It makes a very clean, nice front finish. Unfortunately, it means I was sewing blind to catch the binding in the back, and that ended up pretty wobbly and inconsistent. The crinkling from washing hides a lot of the wobble and again, the toddler won't care, but I need lots more practice in this method before I'm as happy with it as the reverse method!m

Linking up to Sew Some Love, a linky for charity projects on Kat and Cat Quilts.