Friday, September 15, 2017

Kaleidoscope flimsy

Before I hopped on an airplane to California, I was able to get all my kaleidoscope blocks pieced together. I do love how all those triangles somehow magically become interlocking circles!

During the flimsy piecing, I found I was constantly having to choose between flat seams and pointy points. I mostly chose flat seams and think that was the right way to go. Even with some of the points being wonky and cut off, the kaleidoscope effect works just fine. If you're close enough to admire the points, the circles disappear anyway. And there are some fine points in there, too, if you know just where to look, ha!

I tried to get a bit of a colorwash effect, although the values of the fabrics are pretty similar. So it's really just a pink to blue/warm to cool wash. That counts, right? Is temperaturewash a thing? This one will need some borders to fatten it up a bit. Maybe a soft, solid-reading baby blue. I'm looking forward to working more on this one when I return to the boat in a week or so.

In other news, perhaps you remember this block called "Grandad's Shirts" for one of Kat's block drives. The gorgeous, finished Covered in Love quilts are now posted on Kat's site. If you want to peek at them, check out Kat's latest post.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Quick Irma Update

The very tail end of Irma is just passing over us this evening, and all is well here. Thank you to everyone who expressed concern. Irma was only tropical storm force here in Charleston, and dumped a lot of rain and some storm surge. We saw winds of about 35 to 40mph for many hours, and gusts to 60mph. Our boat is very sturdy, though, and hardly moved. 

In between battening down the hatches, I was able to stitch up 48 kaleidoscope blocks using some Regent Street lawn fabrics and Kona Snow. The stack above still needs to be trimmed. That's the half with the background corners adjacent to the background blades.

This batch is trimmed and ready to go on the design wall (on the bed, actually, since I don't have any big walls to design on.) These are the opposite blocks, with the background corners adjacent to the patterned blades. 

I had a charm pack of the Regent Street, plus a bit of yardage. The charm pack had two of each design. I wanted to get two kaleidoscope blades out of each charm, so that dictated a smallish 7.5" block, but gave me a nice variety of fabrics, one per block. The rest of the blocks are from the yardage, but the effect should still be pretty scrappy.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish trimming the blocks and maybe get a start on sewing the flimsy. After that, I'll be away from my quilting for a week or so. I'm flying to California to visit my Mom and DH Sean will stay with the boat and the cat. I won't have much to post here, but I'll be visiting blogs and enjoying your work, hopefully!

(I just said to Sean, "I have 800 quilts in my head," and he immediately started singing, "You take one down, pass it around, 799 quilts in your head!" It cracked me up...)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our hurricane preparations

Several readers have expressed concern about Hurricane Irma and our location here in Charleston. My husband wrote a blog post here that outlines our plans for the storm.

As part of getting ready, today I put about a dozen quilts in the mail to get them safely off the boat. Six of them are the little wheelchair quilts I made for Quilted Embrace. I donated them to the Cobblestone Quilters guild in Charleston as part of their Community Outreach program. I was going to try to meet one of the guild members and give her the quilts, but ran out of time and decided to just mail them to her house.

The second box contains toddler and baby quilts for my Project Linus chapter in California. I've shipped them to my Mom. I'll be flying out to visit her soon, so I'm hoping she'll wait to open the box for when I'm there. She enjoys seeing my quilts in person before passing them along to Donna at the PL chapter.

Our biggest concern, of course, is keeping ourselves safe from the storm. We will not ride it out on the boat unless the forecast changes drastically. Leaving the boat unattended means if something goes wrong, we won't be able to fix it, and there is a small chance that the boat could suffer some serious damage. We will be taking important items with us in our rental car, such as critical paperwork, food and water, our computers, a week's worth of clothing, etc. I'm thinking I might take my Juki, too. It's easy enough to stash in the trunk of the rental car.

We downsized our life from a condominium to a 40 foot motorhome in 2004, so we don't really have much. Some clothes, some dishes, some linens, a very few mementos. In 2014, I started quilting and now I have fabric! And thread, and notions, and two sewing machines! I'm more attached to those things, but they are all replaceable.

We just learned on the radio that the US Navy is anchoring some war ships up the same river. I'm not sure if I feel better that we'll be surrounded by naval vessels, or terrified that even the Navy is worried about Irma...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

One lump or two?

This quilt has been successfully gifted, so it's time for the reveal. Meet Never Run Out of Coffee, which was made for my cousin and her husband who own a sailboat. They lead very busy lives and don't live aboard full time like we do, so they are often away from their boat for weeks or months at a time.

One time, my cousin opined that there was no coffee aboard, and she needed her morning cuppa. I had some fun coffee themed fabric and thought I could provide her with quilty coffee, at least! So I started stitching up big hearts using Cluck Cluck Sew's fun free pattern.

The backing is made of two different fleeces, pieced into a big sixteen patch. The fleece will dry quickly in a damp marine environment, and is light and warm. This was the first time I did extensive FMQ on fleece, and there was definitely a learning curve. The needle made a lot of chunking sounds, which took some getting used to!

The argyle fleece pattern is actually a bit fuzzy in person; that's not an out of focus photo. This is the back of one of the hearts where I used a flame-shaped FMQ motif.

Each color heart got a different motif. They are easier to see on the back because I used bobbin thread that matched the top thread. The darker threads really show against the white fleece. At first, I didn't care for that look, but it has grown on me. It's the back, it can look a little off kilter and still be just fine!

This rusty red fabric has coffee words on it, like Kona and Espresso, and the dark heart is coffee beans on a black background. I quilted a spirally square motif in the cream background for lots of texture.

Strictly speaking, I think this fabric is supposed to be swirls of chocolate, but it certainly fits the theme. Who doesn't like chocolate and coffee together? Yum.

There is only one of these golden hearts, and I outlined the pretty flowers and leaves on it. Not really related to coffee, but it blends and has nice metallic accents.

How cute is this coffee cup border print?? The red and white polka dot cup is my favorite. I actually started with this fabric and designed the entire quilt around it. I didn't want any cups to be cut in half, so I used a LOT of quilt math (and possibly some cursing) to fill in extra cream background to make the body of the quilt fit just right. I stitched a heart in the red sashing above each cup's handle, too.

Here's the back of the coffee cups where you can see the little hearts better. After I pieced the fleece backing, the edges tended to curl and make a lump, so I finished the seams between the fleece pieces by sewing the flaps back before basting the quilt sandwich. I've forgotten what that seam finishing method is called. 

The corner stones are four different coffee pots, fussy cut from a panel. The wide outer border is roasted coffee beans, and a dark brown--excuse me, dark roast--binding tops it all off.

I actually finished this quilt quite a while ago and set it aside for some reason. I wasn't really ready to give it away, even though it had been made for specific recipients. Have you ever done that? Held a quilt before gifting it? I guess it needed to live on our boat for a while.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fiery Tree

My friends Maria and Paul are expecting their first baby, hooray! A couple of months ago, they attended an art event with their mothers, and painted these seasonal trees for the nursery. I knew in an instant that I had the perfect fabric for their baby quilt.

This is Fiery Tree, made with a beautiful Timeless Treasures panel called "Paradise."  Maria said her nursery theme would be "nature," so I added fish, animals and birds beside the tree. 

The backing fabric is the same birds as the upper left block, an Anna Marie Horner piece called "Honor Roll." That amused me, since my last name is Hornor and is often misspelled either "Horner" or "honor." 

"Fiery Tree" is also the name of Maria's art blog. It didn't surprise me that her painting in the photo is the second from the left, with flame colored flowers. To emphasize the red, orange and yellow flowers in the panel, I left them unquilted. Most of the rest of the panel is densely quilted in a ruffly floral motif.

I just love the colors of this panel, especially the hot colors of the tree roots swirling against the rich, deep blues and purples of the earth.

The panel is surrounded with a watery blue blender that I quilted with a rippling back and forth pattern. 

Each animal panel has different quilting: echoed jungle beasts, outlined birds with swirls or stipple behind them, watery "waves" over the little fishes.

The binding is this cool blue fern fabric, helping to keep the whole piece more on the blue side to coordinate with the paintings.

This little piece is quilted more densely than I usually do for a baby quilt. I'd been worried that too much quilting would be stiff, but after a bit of experimentation on Bright Astrodelic was pleasantly surprised at the drape and feel. If it seems otherwise to Paul and Maria, they can use Fiery Tree as a play mat.

Fiery Tree arrived at its new home today. The thank you email contained a significant number of exclamation points. Paul and Maria say they are torn between using the quilt and displaying it on the wall. I'll take that as a sign of a successful gift!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friday Finish

This baby quilt is called Butterfly Garden. It's made from a charm pack and some yardage, using the free Moda Bake Shop pattern "Building Blocks."

I started it after learning that a friend is expecting her first baby, a little girl. However, I have since decided on a completely different quilt for her, which is still a secret.

The backing is a single piece of a soft mottled orange that reminds me of orange sherbet.


The quilting is widely spaced spirals radiating out from each corner. I used my new walking foot with the spacer bar to keep the lines nice and even. These big spirals went so much faster than the tiny ones on Bright Astrodelic.

I really like how the spirals meet in this diamond pattern right in the middle. The cream neutral fabric has butterflies, birds and flowers on it, and a few French words and phrases.

The charm pack also featured butterflies and flowers in these cheerful pinks and oranges. The binding is flanged with orange and pink from my stash. That mottled green is from the big batch of freebies sent to me by Lydia.

After its spa day, Butterfly Garden is super soft and textured. I haven't decided what do to with this quilt yet. I might tuck it away for another baby, or I might send it in to my Project Linus group. It seems like I should have a few finished quilts in my stash for fast gifting, although we don't know many folks in the new baby stage of life. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Charleston update

Just a quick post to let you know that we are not anywhere near the active hostage situation in Charleston.

We've had some serious medical news from both my and my husband's families in the last 24 hours, so we're particularly on edge today. Please hold good thoughts for them!

We don't normally watch the news during the day but I'm currently at the eye doctor's office and saw the local news. This office has wifi but no phone coverage so I thought I'd put up this fast post.

I did finish a gift baby quilt this morning, but no photos to share until it arrives at its new home.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Boat maintenance sewing

Yesterday I tackled a couple of small canvas jobs for the boat. I dislike this type of sewing, but it's my responsibility so it was time to suck it up, Buttercup, and get it done. This little table is made of teak and has a lip all the way around it to keep your wine glass from sliding off. Unfortunately, that lip also collects rain water, so the table needs a waterproof cover.

I made one four years ago from a pretty floral fabric that was supposed to be weatherproof, but it faded badly. Then I made a quickie cover out of a vinyl tablecloth, which disintegrated in less than a year. So I finally did what I should have done in the beginning, which is make a cover from Sunbrella, which wears like iron. It's also like sewing cardboard, but it's finished now and looks nice so I'll stop whining (maybe.)

The bottom is elasticized with bungee cord for easy removal.

You may notice that the top isn't flat. That's because even Sunbrella will eventually soak up water if it puddles for several days. So we stuff this Nerf football underneath to peak the center of the cover up. Then the rain rolls right off!

In the background of the top photo, you can see several blue Sunbrella pillows. The first two I made using regular cotton thread, which degrades in the bright sunlight. I have since started using UV stable thread, which is thick and waxy, like dental floss. Eventually, one of the ties that holds the pillow to the railing fell off, and I stitched that back on yesterday since I had the UV thread loaded in the machine for the table cover.

I also did a repair of our life raft cover. The life raft in its container is about the size of a suitcase, and sits on the back port side corner of the upper deck, hoping to never be used. To extend the life of the fiberglass case, I made this simple, boxy Sunbrella cover about three years ago. There is a rather sharp piece of the raft that sticks up underneath on one end, and it rubs against the cover when the wind is really blowing and flapping things around.

That rubbing eventually caused a small tear, which I repaired with an iron-on patch from underneath. However, it still didn't seem quite secure enough, so I also ran a line of UV stable stitching around it. The tear still shows, but that doesn't bother me much. No one is closely examining the life raft cover! I also decided the minor amount of mildew on the cover was acceptable for the same reason. I'd rather see a bit of black or green gunk than remove the waterproof coating with harsh cleaning chemicals.

After wrassling with thick, waxy UV thread and bulky, stiff and dirty Sunbrella, I'm looking forward to slipping some nice Aurifil into my bobbin and getting back to quilting on cotton!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Happy mail!

I received a very sweet gift in the mail last week from Kat as a thank you. She traveled to New Mexico and was away from her blog and sewing machine this summer and I lent a hand. Aren't these great southwestern souvenirs?

The soap smells heavenly, and the arrowhead fabric coordinates really well with this Laurel Burch horse panel I bought last year. I also had the smaller horse print, which has really subtle touches of blue. The arrowheads bring that blue into focus, and I'm looking forward to using these pieces together soon. Thanks, Kat!

I also received a big batch of fabrics that I had ordered on eBay. All these fat quarters are either architectural motifs like bricks and wood grain, or natural themes like trees, sky and water. I think these come from the estate of a quilter who created landscape quilts. 

I also bought this fun woodsy panel to add to my stash of more masculine themed fabrics. Not that we gals don't love a good moose, too! I like how this print has both realistic animals, and sort of woodcut silhouettes.

I'm writing this post on the train from New York to Charleston, and scheduling it to publish on Sunday so I can link up with Molli Sparkles' Sunday Stash. By the time you read it, I should be home again on the boat and back to my sewing after a week away.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


What happens when you should be quilting the last two recently finished WIPs and an Anita Grossman Solomon book shows up in the mail? Why of course you pull out an old FQ bundle, add in some coordinating blenders, and piece up 48 Old Italian Blocks.

I love this block, but it always looked a bit too complicated and fiddly to make. Anita's book has a super simple method to cut the oddly shaped pieces without even measuring. I like the way she thinks: why do it the hard way?

Actually, I made 50 blocks, because I still struggle with value and contrast. These two looked great when I put the fabrics next to each other, but turned into mush in the blocks. The colors and scale of the fabrics are just too similar. With Anita's method, you get two reverse blocks from each pair of fabrics, so I ended up with double mush. Oh well. It only took a few minutes to pair up a couple with much better contrast and these will be set aside for who knows what.

And then, once you've made 48 (or 50) blocks and need to be packing for your week long trip to New York, what's a girl to do except try six different flimsy layouts then stitch them all together? I still see a few blocks that where the contrast could be better, but overall I'm happy with this. I'm thinking I might do a completely scrappy version and really, really concentrate on each block having the strong contrast that makes the "X" pattern shimmer.

The top is currently 36"x48", so it could be a wheelchair quilt as-is, or perhaps I'll add some borders to make it bigger. It felt good to do this whirlwind of sewing right before I had to leave my quilting for a week. 

Linking up with Sandra's DrEAMi party, since I dropped everything to chase this squirrel!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cat on a quilt

Lily Pad Quilting has an annual link party called "Pets on Quilts" and this is the big week to join in. Seems like many quilters have furry quilt inspectors! Since many of my pieces get donated, I try my best to keep Angel off of them. But as you can see, I'm not always successful.

I realized that I never shared the finish of this quilt, which has actually been done for about four months. Last time I blogged about it, it was an unfinished flimsy with only the blue polka dotted border. It felt a little small, so I added the piano key border in bright pinks to help the triangle points pop out a bit. Many of the fabrics are Kaffe Fassett.

The border is a striped fabric, not pieced, and I quilted between each stripe to make it look pieced. That was actually quite tedious, and next time I think I'll just piece instead! The rest of the quilting is straight lines about 3/4" from the seams. This is a wild and busy quilt, but soft and snuggly. It hasn't named itself, either. Any suggestions?

You can see a little of the back in this arty-farty sky photo. It's a pretty abstract floral in all the same bright colors on a white background. There's also a bit of grey, which matches Angel's fur on the front. 

We're taking Angel to the kennel today as we will be out of town and off the boat for a week. I didn't have the heart to boot her off the quilt last night since she's on her way to cat jail.