Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Solomon Strips Squirrel

This week I've been inspired by this photo from Anita Grossman Solomon's website. This is her Self-Mitered Log Cabin, and she teaches classes on how to make it. The class description, including the materials list, gave me a few clues on how to create something similar for myself. I know it isn't exactly the same as her method, because she refers to vellum foundations and I did simple strip piecing without any foundation.

I decided to try a few blocks to see if my reverse engineering worked, just using scraps. The crux of the block construction involves choosing fabrics in the entire range of values from lightest to darkest. So I needed to lay out my scraps, and while I was doing that anyway, I did a bit of organizing.  Then while we were cruising down the Intracoastal Waterway between New Orleans and Morgan City, I sorted and selected strips. 

I chose groups of 8 strips from my blues, greens, purples, pinks and reds. In this photo, I have a grouping fanned out so you can see the range from light to dark. I kept the little groups together with WonderClips. Good thing, too, since the entire box of strip sets fell on the floor at one point. Doh! Being clumsy forces one to be more organized, I think.

Here are two sets sewn together, but not pressed yet. Color value work is a real challenge for me. I tend to purchase and use saturated brights in the medium range, so my quilts often lack contrast. Sure, they are bright, but too much bright can lack focus and movement. So this is a good exercise, even if I can only work on it in short bursts before my brain overloads. 

Here are a couple of final blocks. They are basically half square triangles sewn from two strip sets. The way they are combined, the dark part of one strip set and the light part of the other intersect in a way that sort of makes an ombre effect when multiple blocks are laid out. I think they are super neat!

I originally thought I would use my little groups of strips as a leader and ender project, but once my brain started chasing this SQUIRREL! it just wanted to keep sewing and sewing.

That's fine, because we had another episode of our shower sump overflowing and now the bilge needs to be dried out. This fan has been precariously perched across my studio doorway, making it a bit dangerous to step back and forth through here. I need to step inside once, and stay there for a while. The other WIPs I'm working on, two Hands2Help charity quilts, are at a stage where I'm laying them out on the bed in the other room and then carrying pieces from the bed to the sewing machine or ironing board. That means crossing the fan threshold too often, so they'll have to wait for another day to continue working on them.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hands 2 Help check in: First finish

My first Hands2Help charity quilt is a finish. Fernville Seasons has tumbled through the washer and dryer. Sarah has asked us to check in today on our progress for the challenge.

The wavy/straight line combo quilting crinkled up for some nice, cuddly texture. These are the last photos from our long visit to Seabrook Marine in New Orleans as we are now back under way. Hooray! It feels great to be cruising again.

Fernville Seasons is going to be donated to Happy Chemo, and will hopefully help keep a cancer patient warm and provide a bit of cheerful distraction.

I committed to making a quilt for each of the three Hands2Help charities this year. The other two are currently still in the flimsy stage, one complete and the other needing a final border. Photos and write ups on those two coming soon!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Devoted Donation

Nine little blocks for Leanne at Devoted Quilter. The senior center across the street from her house burned down last week, and 21 people were left with no recoverable possessions. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Leanne decided to make quilts for each person and asked for help making the 882 (!!) necessary blocks.

When I read about the block drive on Instagram, I had a DrEAMI moment. That's Drop Everything And Make It! We'll be leaving the boatyard in the next couple of days, and I wanted to mail the blocks out to Leanne in Canada while it is still easy to get to the post office.

The block is a surrounded square with a 6.5" center. I had these nine Kaffe Fassett/Rowan squares and they seemed just right for the job. The colors are a bit wild together in this grouping, but I know Leanne will mix up blocks from many other quilters to make quilts that are just right. These nine will probably scatter across a number of quilts.

If you are moved to help, please visit Leanne's blog post for more information. Many hands make light work!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Quilters are NICE

...but some other people sure aren't. As you may know, my husband also blogs. He writes about our travels, with lots of detail about the things he fixes, maintains or creates from scratch for the boat. It's primarily a detailed record for our own archives, but he does have several hundred regular readers.

Yesterday, he posted this photo of a chain splice that he made. It's basically a kind of braided knot made from very thick, very stiff rope. It's not easy to do, especially if you only make one every three years or so. He admits he's a newbie at it, but that the splice does the trick. 

Quilty friends, that blog post generated exactly two comments, and both people said his splice was ugly! Not just ugly, "butt ugly." That's just mean. 

Now we quilters, we've seen our share of quilts that aren't our taste. Color and fabric combos that don't float our boat. We've seen chopped off points, crooked seams, puckery bindings. Have you ever, EVER read a comment that said a quilt was ugly? No way. For a newbie who is just learning, we always find something kind and encouraging to say. Strange fabrics? "Your quilting is looking great!" Odd FMQ? "I love how cheerful this quilt is!" And if an experienced quilter posts something that we just can't find anything to compliment, well, we just don't leave a comment that day.

Sean is pretty thick skinned, so he replied to each of those commenters politely. But he worked hard on that splice, darn it! It took him several hours to make this important piece of our boat. I'm not saying you have to, but if a couple of kindly quilters visited his post and gave him an Attaboy, I'd be grateful and the world would be a nicer place. Thanks!

And speaking of quilts that may or may not be your taste, here is my latest finish. I'm calling it Fernville Seasons, and it will be donated to Happy Chemo for Hands2Help.

Each panel shows a scene from one of the four seasons. People ice skating in the winter,

flowers, animals and birds in the spring,

folks enjoying the water in the summer (including some NICE boaters),

and an autumn full of pumpkins, falling leaves and little birds. I thought all the fun panel details would be a nice distraction for someone undergoing chemotherapy. The quilting is simple, wavy and straight diagonal lines. The size is about 50"x50" for a good lap or wheelchair size. The binding is scrappy. It hasn't been washed yet, so it will probably shrink a smidge. 

The back is mostly covered with fun, funky chickens and a stripe of mossy green ferns. Those ferns named the little town for me, Fernville. Janice, I thought about your Chicken Poop quilt as I was piecing the back! I think my chickens pooped in the ferns where you can't see it. 

I'll try to post some "glamour shots" after Fernville Seasons gets crinkly in the wash next week.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sweet Astrodelic

Sweet Astrodelic is finished. I'm happy to report that it had a successful run through the washer and dryer. It shrank up a bit to 41"x41", a good size for a baby quilt. I used leftovers from the fat quarter bundle to make a scrappy binding.

Here is the backing, a soft cream with yellow flowers and roosters. On quilts this small, it's so nice to use a single cut of fabric for the backing.

I tried to capture the relative "coarseness" of the fabric in this photo. The weave is more open than most quilting cottons, and I worried that I wouldn't quilt or wash well. However, it turned out fine. And it isn't rough to touch at all, just sort of visually more open. The roosters are about 3/4" tall, so you can see the scale of my stippling.

I will definitely donate this one to Project Linus, and here's their cute label. I machine stitched the binding to the back first, then did a machine edge stitch on the front of the binding. Not as graceful as the traditional method with hand sewing, but very fast and sturdy.

I admire those bloggers who take such nice "glamour" shots of their quilts. Mine are...adequate. Here's Sweet Astrodelic clipped to the back of our boat. 

And here it is, held up via the Handy Husband method. Love that post-dryer crinkle! The New Orleans Industrial Canal and a tourist river boat are in the distant background. The boat with the pointy bow sticking out just to the right of the quilt is rumored to have cost $20,000,000 new. That's a lot of fabric, my friends. 

The boatyard is still working on our (not $20M) boat. This afternoon I was amused to see a guy hanging over the edge. He's sitting on what looks like an orange Hippity-Hop (remember those?) but is actually an inflatable ball fender. It's used to keep the boat from banging against hard surfaces, but Khahn is riding it cowboy style instead. Most of the yard workers speak only Vietnamese, but they completely understood me when I said, "I gotta get a picture of this!" and everyone laughed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Blog silence but the Juki is humming

We have moved back aboard the boat, hooray! It actually happened right after my last post. The boat was still out of the water, so getting aboard required climbing this loooong, wobbly ladder. All the stuff we had moved into the RV also traveled up a ladder to return to its boatly home, so it was a pretty tiring process.

All my fabric and the tops I stitched up in the RV ended up in a giant pile on the bed in my sewing studio (also known as the second stateroom.) I decided to finish adding borders and sew backs for all the tops, then baste them all in an exciting week of March Basting Madness.

I didn't take any photos during the basting, but you can read here about my on-the-bed technique.  Here's the stack of basted pieces, ready for quilting. I basted eight and I'm feeling quite industrious. I've decided which three will go to the three charities in the Hands2Help Challenge, plus one for Covered in Love. H2H has the earliest deadline, so I'll work on those as soon as possible.

Today I started quilting Sweet Astrodelic, even though it isn't for H2H. That's because I'm using a backing fabric that isn't standard quilting cotton. It's a very cute little yellow rooster print, but seems to be thicker and more loosely woven. I want to use the same fabric on the much larger Veggie Mountain, but only if it quilts and washes up well on this piece. 

Sweet Astrodelic is being quilted in a loose stipple, to keep it soft and get it finished quickly. If the backing passes muster, it will probably be a Project Linus donation. If it falls apart or shrinks strangely, I'll be sad but not devastated.

I've already learned something important on this quilt. My Juki does NOT like Connecting Threads brand thread! I broke three needles before I figured out it was the thread. That was three different brands of needles, too. Very strange! My theory is that the thinner Aurifil that I usually use glides through the eye of the needle more smoothly and is less likely to "catch" as I free motion quilt. In any case, after I switched back to a very similarly colored Aurifil 50 weight, I've had no problems and the thread change is undetectable on the quilt.

I sent Kat one of the extra spools of Connecting Threads that I had, along with this month's blocks. Kat, if it works in your machine, I'll send you two more spools. If not, toss it in the trash!

And speaking of spools, here is our 400' long anchor chain, all spooled out on the ground. We mark it every 50 feet with alternating red and yellow paint so it's easier to keep track of how much we have left. The length of chain used to anchor depends on the depth of the water, so it's important to keep track. Over time, the paint wears off and needs to be renewed. This time, we also had the entire chain re-galvanized, so it looks shiny and brand new! I'm rather unnaturally excited about this, so I'm sharing it with you, my quilty friends.