Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Testing the space limits

I am still sewing away in our little borrowed RV, but boy am I ready to move back onto the boat. This week I had to stop several projects due to space limitations--I just couldn't wrap my head around how to proceed.

First semi-finish is this hexagon quilt. I started it in the fall of 2015 in a class that I took at the big Houston quilt show. For reasons I won't go into here, I didn't enjoy the class and the mostly cut out pieces of this quilt have been languishing in a plastic ziplock baggie. In a fit of purge quilting (sewing just to get the fabric out of one's stash and one's life), I finished piecing the center, happily using the blue polka dots to fill in the edges. After all, those hexies and triangles have to stop somewhere. 

The dots were a great match with the wild, mostly Kaffe fabrics, so I was excited to stitch up a nice border with it, too. First problem: I don't have any surfaces long enough to accurately cut pieces that long. My cutting mat/ironing pad here on the RV is only 12"x18" and you can see in this photo that it only fits on top of the stove. Oh well, I muddled through the first two sides. Second problem: I miscalculated the size of the dang borders anyway, and ran out of polka dots! ARGH!!

Fortunately, the boatyard's ladies' room is a pleasant two-minute walk from the RV, and a stroll through the crisp evening air was enough to clear my head and provide a solution. I decided to cut some more triangles and have them poke up into the polka dots, leaving just barely enough to finish the top and bottom. It's a little odd to have the triangles cut off flat on the left and right, and fully pointed on the top and bottom, but we'll call it a Deliberate Design Decision! Much better than Completely Clueless Cutting! Now it needs another border, but that will have to wait until I'm back at my big 24"x36" cutting mat in the boat. No name for this quilt yet.

Speaking of the boat, the yard has finished most of the painting and moved her out of the painting shed and out into the open. In this photo, she is hanging from the mobile blue frame, called a travel lift. She's also swaying gently two feet above the hard ground, always a bit alarming. Still lots of work to be done, but we're hoping to move back aboard this week.

Which is good, because we're both sick of this view. This is taken from the back bedroom, looking forward. My Juki is on the dining table, and all my bins of fabric fill the bunk bed space above the driving compartment. Poor Sean has been relegated to the loveseat. Even his "coffee table" is one of my fabric bins! He's been a pretty good sport, and we're so grateful to our friend who loaned us the RV, but it's time to move on...

Back to quilting subjects, ahem. My next project was inspired by my stash of vegetable fat quarters. Along with the corn, cabbage, asparagus and zucchinis above, I also have Brussels sprouts, peppers, basil, and carrots.

I looked at several white and off white fabrics to use as a background. But then this bright yellow-green fabric with water drops/bubbles leapt out of my stash. I think it looks like the veggies are being rinsed before chopping. Perfect! So perfect that I had exactly 2.5" of it left over.

Even the fabric trimmings look like julienned vegetables!

Here's the top. The pattern is Majestic Mountains, also called Scrappy Mountain Majesties. This one will also get a couple more borders to bring it up to twin sized, and it will be my donation to the International Institute of St. Louis for the Hands2Help challenge. I think I'll do a thin orange inner border and a dark green outer border. This quilt is named Veggie Mountain.

After wrangling Veggie Mountain through the Juki for the last couple of days, I wanted to take a break and sew up something small. Time to work on the March/April block drive for Covered in Love. This block is called "Grandad's Shirts," and it required me to learn two brand-new techniques. 

The first technique is pleats in the center square of each block. This photo shows all four of the blocks I made, and you can see the pleats in the lighter blue squares. You can also see the vintage-themed fabrics I used, with old fashioned telephones, trains and VW buses. There are also some dictionary pages, with some appropriate words like "memory" and "forgive." The second technique is partial seams, which aren't very hard but I just had never done them before. I'm happy to have new tools in my kit! Thanks for the inspiration, Kat.

Linking up with Sew Some Love.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hands 2 Help 2017

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Sarah, who writes Confessions of a Fabric Addict, announced this week is the start of the annual Hands 2 Help (H2H) quilting charity. Each year she selects several charitable organizations and quilters from all over the world make new quilts to donate.

This year there are three charities. International Institute of St. Louis helps refugees and new immigrants integrate into American life and promotes ethnic and cultural diversity. They are asking for twin sized quilts, and suggest patriotic or nature themed quilts. Happy Chemo provides quilts for people of all ages who are undergoing chemotherapy and quilts can be any size from 48"x48" to 65"x88". And finally, Camp Hobe is a summer camp for children with cancer and their siblings. Their quilts should be 45"x60" or larger and geared toward kids six and older.

Last year I made two quilts for one of the H2H charities, Covered in Love. This year, my goal is to make one quilt for each of the three charities plus at least a quilt top for Covered in Love as well. I will continue to support Project Linus, but my next quilt for them may wait until after the H2H challenge ends in early June. 

I don't really like to work to a deadline, since there are so many unpredictable things in a boat's schedule. But charity work makes my heart sing, and Sarah has done a huge amount of work to set up this challenge. She was particularly moved this year to find a refugee support group that could handle the distribution of (potentially!) scores of quilts, and I know that took some sleuthing on her part. She has also lined up lots of sponsors who are encouraging us with fun prizes. Plus, she has guest bloggers, linky parties, tutorials, and an unflagging enthusiasm for her own prolific charity work that is contagious. I kinda want to be Sarah when I grow up!

So I'm going to buckle down and sew up some quilts. I have several WIPs (works in progress) that will be good matches and I'm especially eager to make some more bright, cheerful kids' quilts. You know that's right in my wheelhouse! The twin size for International Institute will be my biggest challenge, as that's a pretty large piece to quilt on the Juki. But, heck, if a family can leave everything they know behind, travel to America with almost no possessions, searching for a better life, then I can certainly put on my big girl panties and make 'em a large quilt.

If you're a quilter, I hope you'll consider joining in. Most folks choose one of the charities and donate one quilt, so you have plenty of time to get that finished by the June 2nd deadline. Sarah's introductory post for the event is here, and you can sign up at that link. If you sign up before March 18th, you're eligible for prizes, but you can join in later, too.

If you're not participating, you can help by leaving an encouraging comment or two on the blogs of those who are. I love reading your comments, and try to respond to each one. (If you don't hear back from me, you might be a no-reply commenter. Click here to see what that means and how you can fix it.)

I'm currently traveling back to New Orleans from a five day trip for my nephew's wedding in Canada. Right before this trip, I had a bad cold and didn't sew for days. So I apologize for the lack of new photos and using last year's H2H photos in this post. But the good news is that there's a good chance we'll be able to move back into the boat next week and I'll be back in my quilting studio. Hooray! That means I can start basting up quilt sandwiches and finish up some of the tops I've made while confined to our tiny, temporary RV quarters. Good thing, because my Hands are rarin' 2 Help!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Finding inspiration online

I've been working on several different projects this week, all of which were inspired by things I found online.

Kystal at Let's Quilt Something posts quite a number of nice, free patterns, and I downloaded one called "Falling Petals" a couple months ago. It seems to be removed from her site now, but this is a screen shot of the cover illustration. I just love leaf shapes!

I had a jelly roll of Autumn Splendor by Barb Tourtillotte for Clothworks that I thought would look quite nice in this pattern. I decided to modify it a bit and make the corners curved instead of 45 degree cuts. So I started sewing strip sets together. Unfortunately, the pattern requires the strips to be at least 42" long, and my roll was at least a half inch short. Odd, and frustrating! Instead of being able to get four 10.5" cuts per strip, I had to trim everything down to 10 inches. Not a big problem, but I was flustered enough that I didn't pay attention to which corners I was lopping off. The pattern really calls for the upper right and lower left corners to be cut, when oriented with the strips running horizontally. I did mine randomly and so I wasn't able to get the nice alternating block design in Krystal's drawing.

While I'm quite happy with the individual curvy cornered leaf shapes, I just couldn't find a layout that looked right. I do love the rich autumnal colors of this line. But for now, I'm putting these blocks away to ferment.

Next, I pulled out a pretty panel by Chong A Hwang, who designs for Timeless Treasures fabrics. The panel and its coordinating line are called "Marbella," and feature lush florals and birds in black, turquoise and purple with metallic gold accents. Very rich!

My inspiration is this design that I found on Pinterest ages ago. I have no idea what the sizes are on the original design, but my goal was to use up most of my Marbella fat quarters, so the proportions are slightly different. If you would like to purchase the actual pattern, you can find it here on Shibori Dragon.

All the Marbella pieces had black backgrounds. So to add some contrast, I used some gold metallic for the panel "frame," and tonal turquoise and purple blenders for the background and central border. The way this is pieced, with long skinny rectangles around the outside of the panel, is like adding many borders, so it was good practice in keeping everything square so the edges didn't "grow" and get wavy.

Finally, I saw some cute scrappy butterflies on Cathy's Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting blog yesterday and immediately had a Squirrel! moment. Gotta make some right now! Cathy's butterfly wings require two sizes of HSTs and I had HSTs from the Astrodelic quilt last week, plus slightly larger HST scraps from some older project kicking around.  And the colors coordinated...perfect! Eight fun little flutterbies. I have no idea where these little fellas will land, but I'll add sashing to square them up when they find their forever quilty home.