Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Jack's Basket Quilts

Today I have three little quilts to share with you. They were all made specifically for a charity called Jack's Basket, which provides support for families with new Downs Syndrome babies. Every baby deserves to be celebrated! In that spirit of celebration, I decided to make happy little quilts to put in the baskets. Jack's Basket asks that the quilts be approximately 30"x36".

The first quilt is called Joyful Jack, because the fabrics are so upbeat and happy! I made it using six little panel squares that feature smiling animals with encouraging words like "Never forget how much you are loved" and "Have courage, dream big." 

The other blocks are scrappy crumb-y blocks in bright novelty fabrics. 

Joyful is sashed in a pale green and yellow geometric with scrappy cornerstones. I had a mini charm pack that was the right colors so I grabbed 20 of the squares. The parrot block above has a pale yellow background that mushed into the sashing, so I put a thin purple border around it and centered it to make it look deliberate. Big stipple for quilting makes a soft, snuggly quilt. The binding is the same as the sashing, the first time I've tried that. It gives a nice, clean finish, not that you can tell on this busy, happy little quilt.

Jungle Jack is a very simple quilt made from a panel of jungle critters. While none of these animals are smiling, they have cute, whimsical looks on their faces and I find them quite appealing. The colors are earth tones: brown, gray, green, orange and a touch of blue. I found some FQs that coordinated and pieced together piano key borders to bring the size up to 30"x36". I quilted around the panel to frame it, then did a big, loose wavy crosshatch over the animals with my walking foot. In the borders I did FMQ hearts and arches.

No need for a pieced backing with quilts this small. Less than a yard covers the whole back lickety split. On Joyful Jack I used this fun print called Animal Tails, which shows the backsides of circus animals wearing brightly colored formal jackets. For Jungle Jack, I used a brown and orange print with oak leaves and acorns. OK, oaks aren't really jungle plants, but the colors are right. I used the same print as the binding. The bindings on both quilts are machine sewn to be sturdy.

These tiny quilts go together so fast! Because I already had the cut panels and crumb blocks in my Block Orphanage, each one was completed from piecing to quilting in a single day. When I folded them up to put them into a medium flat rate box for shipping, there was room left over. Well heck, I thought, I'll just make a third quilt to fill that box!

This one is Monterey Jack, named after the pieces of cheese in this mouse print. Yes, I know that's Swiss cheese, but c'mon, I had to keep with the "Jack" themed names, right? This design uses four FQs, and I saw it on Nancy's blog. You can buy the pattern from Modern Quilt Studio as part of a booklet of several patterns. However, I have Chronic Math Brain and often fall asleep thinking about numbers. It's a sickness, I know. Knowing that the pattern finished at 30"x36" and that a FQ is typically 18"x21", the dimensions to cut each piece floated gently out of the void and into my head. Yesterday I woke up, picked four fun fabrics, and started cutting. By the end of the day, the third quilt was finished.

The focal fabric that set the color palette is this happy kitty piece. I love their smiling faces and the little bird that perches on the ears and tails! The mouse and cheese fabric coordinated nicely and gives good contrast. A soft purple and a bit of leftover butterfly fabric and we're done. There's a vertical strip of yellow blender between the two sections, and I used that fabric again in the flange of the binding to give a nice frame.

I tried different cutting dimensions on the flanged binding this time. Usually I cut the main fabric 1.5" wide and the flange 1.75". This time I upped the flange to 2" which makes the whole binding a bit wider and the flange is more obvious. I like a wide binding, so I'm happy with this. I wouldn't go much bigger, though, because the fold of the flange would get too floppy, I think.

The backing is a single piece of this medium, muted blue. It picks up the blue in the yarn balls and butterflies on the front, and nicely matches the outside of the binding. I quilted Monterey Jack in floppy feathers, which is becoming a new favorite motif! I love how fast they stitch, and soooo forgiving. No one is more shocked than I am that I like feathers. The front thread is a bright yellow 40 weight and the bobbin is light blue 50 weight. Yellow is such a great neutral for quilting that even though the yellows in the quilt are very soft and muted, bright yellow thread looks great on top.

Today the three pieces took a tumble through the washer and dryer and they are now snuggled together in their shipping box, ready to take a Priority flight to Jack's Baskets in Minnesota. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Friday Finish: British Columbia Dreams

This quilt was finished on a Friday, but not this Friday. It was a gift to my brother David and his family and had to wait patiently for a few weeks until they were ready to receive it.

My brother lives in Houston, and his house was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Until last week, they've been displaced, living in hotels and an RV parked in his church's parking lot. I wanted to wait until they were back in their home to send them this quilt.

My sister-in-law, Dianne, grew up in British Columbia among the beautiful mountains and trees, and green is her favorite color. I made each of these Lady of the Lake blocks from different green fabrics and most of them have trees or leaves on them. I named the quilt British Columbia Dreams, knowing that there might have been times when Houston wasn't her favorite place.

On the back, I put this large scale, pretty print of koi fish, and surrounded it with a mottled green fabric that was given to me by my DH's aunt.

I thought these serene fish might remind my family that not all waters are floods, and that they swim in a sea of love.

I thought I had taken some close up photos of the quilting, but alas. I did simple dot-to-dot triangles in the large green pieces, squiggles in the small cream/gray pieces, and a rising sun FMQ motif in the large cream/gray pieces. "Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain..."

I'm happy to report that this quilt was received in Houston and now graces their new couch in their renovated living room. The quilt was finished before I saw photos of their accent wall, painted green. They seem very pleased with it, which makes my heart sing!

Linking up with TGIFF over on Sandra's blog.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blog is quiet, studio is humming

I've been stitching every day and getting quite a bit accomplished, but you sure wouldn't know it by reading the blog. We're in a boatyard in Fort Lauderdale, "on the hard." That means the boat has been lifted out of the water and put on rickety looking stands so that the underwater part of the hull can be repainted.

It's a particularly messy procedure this time, since we were due to have 15 years of old paint sandblasted off down to the bare steel. Dust, sand, and bits of nasty old paint are everywhere outside, so I've been loathe to take my quilts outside for photos. Plus, the trip to the ground is down a steep ladder and I'm clumsy. So far, I've only dropped one bag of groceries 8 feet to the concrete. That bag had six glass jars of pureed pumpkin baby food in it, which exploded spectacularly, I must say. (We feed it to the elderly cat to keep her regular, works like prunes and she loves it!)

All this to say that I don't have many quilt photos to show for my effort. Here's a token sunset pic taken from our back deck, though. I made six pillowcases for the Thomas Fire Relief and forgot to take any pictures, dang it. I'm also working on two gift baby quilts that I can't show until they are received. Those two plus another gift need to be shipped out before we leave the country. I bound one yesterday and the second one is still being pieced.

I can share this finish, though. Most of these fabrics were donated to Covered in Love, so that's where the quilt will be sent to. The pattern is called "Five Yard Quilt" and is an oldie but goodie available for free here. My understanding is that it was given out free when you purchased five yards from a quilt shop that is now out of business. If anyone knows if there are copyright issues with it, please let me know.

The butterfly focal is so pretty up close. About five butterflies fit in each focal square and five fabric are used in the top. So I'm calling this one Cinco Mariposas. I did a simple big stipple in a bronzey thread to keep it soft and cuddly.


The backing fabric was also donated, this busy geometric in purple, light blue and brown. Super soft, lovely stuff. I'm quite proud of myself for how well I matched the seam. It hardly shows at all in this photo.

From a distance, the back doesn't look busy at all. I put this photo in mostly to show you the fresh, white primer coat on the bottom of the boat. Oooo! Ahhh! My poor quilt holder was anxious about not getting any dirt on the piece.

The Five Yard pattern was really fast and easy to put together, so I decided to use it again with some cute transportation themed fabric that was sent to me a while ago by Sue.  I cut and bagged the fabrics up into a kit, all ready to be pieced at some future date. I saw the idea of cutting your own kits from stash on Sandy's blog and had a real AHA! moment. What a great way to have fabric ready to go. Love it!

Another project I worked on this week was finishing up this flimsy. These are the left over fabrics from Cool Cats. I didn't use any of the black background designs in that quilt, so this piece has a distinctly different vibe. I've named it Night Cats.

I fussy cut the last few kitties from the panel and surrounded them with black, and put the rest of the black fabrics in the setting triangles. Except they aren't setting triangles! This was pieced in a straight setting, then cut into pieces along several diagonals and resewn into the on-point setting. Stitch on a border to contain the bias edges and ta da! The only tricky part was figuring out where to put the black squares so they ended up on the edges after all the magic switch-o change-o.

The latest block drive for Covered in Love is the annual String Fling in any color combo. I decided to try doing rainbow order this time. Wouldn't it be fun to do an entire quilt this way?

I enjoyed making the string blocks that I decided to join the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2018 using them. This month's color is light blue, which is my smallest scrap pile, so I only managed to squeak out three blocks and it used ALL my light blues. Yay!

And finally, I joined the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild. They sew for several great charities, and seem like a very kind, low key and supportive group. They have a block lotto each month if I just want to stitch blocks, and also donate flimsies and finished quilts in sizes that work well for my small studio. I'll still be sewing for Project Linus, too. And I'll be doing the Hands2Help Charity Challenge again this year. Oh, and I found a group that supports new parents of babies with Down Syndrome called Jack's Basket. They can use really small quilts, only 30"x36" which will stitch up super fast. I learned about this charity from Nancy at Grace and Peace Quilting. Check out the cute little pieces she made for Jack's already. It's nice to have a variety so that I can sew any quilt I want and always know there's a place to send it!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SPLASH! of color QAL

Cat Cannonball makes a big splash of color and is a sewing finish. It still needs an actual splash into the washing machine, and a wild 3am dash through the dryer (because that's always when cats makes their wild dashes!)

I did a big, easy stipple in each cat panel block, carefully avoiding stitching over each flanged edge. Actually, that's a lie. I only carefully avoided it on 5 of the 6 panels. On one, I managed to get the FMQ foot caught under the flange and stitched that sucker into place permanently. At least that's how it felt as I tried to unpick those stitches, which of course were tiny and many and hard to see and wrapped around the foot! Sorry I didn't snap a photo. It was ugly and several ugly words may or may not have been heard nearby.

For the black and white blocks, I did wavy vertical lines in several bright thread colors: hot pink, yellow, orange, and a variegated blue/purple. I didn't have any lime green, but I had a softer green that worked well in the bobbin for the entire quilt. It looks a bit puckery in this photo, but it all smooths down nicely. I think there was one little pleat, but I couldn't find it this morning, so it's all good.

The quilt measures 42"x48", a nice toddler size and perfect for sewing up an easy WOF backing. I had these two black and white fabric with a "splash of color" in bright green that were just right. The binding, all machine sewn, was made entirely of 2.5" scrap pieces, woo hoo! That made a dent in the scrap bins. ( It was a very very small dent. So small even the rental car company wouldn't charge me for it.)

The change of binding color shows up a little better in this lousy photo. It wasn't until I saw this picture that I realized how much the busy backing fabrics sort of calm down at a distance. Up close, that spotty fabric in the middle makes my eyes spin a bit. But then again, this is a rather eye spinning quilt!

I'm linking up with Myra's Splash of Color Quilt A Long for final finishes and am eligible for prizes. That's always a fun incentive to get 'er done! You'll see this quilt one more time after its spa day for extra crinkly goodness.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of 2017

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a nice link party, inviting us to share our five best posts of 2017. We get to define for ourselves what constitutes "best," so I decided to share five of my favorites.

Fiery Tree is my favorite baby quilt from 2017. It was the perfect match for the baby's room, which is decorated with paintings of trees in all the seasons. I quilted it free motion quite heavily, and love the drape and feel of it.

Twist N Scrap is my favorite serendipity quilt of 2017. What is a "serendipity quilt"? That's when you make a quilt for no particular reason and then it turns out to be just the right gift for someone! This quilt was given to my husband's cousin's wife's sister, whom I had only met a few times. She is struggling with her health, and this quilt gave her some comfort. She wrote me a thank you note that still brings tears to my eyes. Never underestimate the power of an unexpected quilty gift!

Bright Astrodelic is the quilt with my favorite quilting, a tightly spaced spiral made with my walking foot. The texture is delicious! I used several brightly colored threads to match the piecing, and love how they look against the black background. This one was a serendipity quilt, too!

Gulf Coast Churn Dash is my favorite scrappy quilt of the year. It's the first quilt I ever made using an "old fashioned" block combination: chunky churn dash plus hour glass. The dashes were made completely from my strip scraps and I had no idea what it would look like when finished. I was very happily surprised! The quilt was donated to Covered in Love, one of my favorite charities.

And finally, this is the quilt I am most proud of: O Star! The quilt was made as a gift for my mother, who needed to have surgery on fairly short notice. I had about 10 days to make this large lap size from scratch. I chose the Night Sky pattern, which Mom had given me as a gift, and the triangle piecing was a challenge. I did FMQ with lots of thread color changes, and tackled the angled edge binding. It wasn't an easy quilt, but the smile on Mom's face made it completely worthwhile. And more importantly, her surgery was a total success!

Thank you for stopping by to read about my five best quilts. I'm also going to share a summary of the whole year. I've done this in previous years with the Trunk Show link up, but that seems to be defunct this year. It's useful to me to have everything all in one post to refer back to in the future, so here goes:

In the first quarter, I worked on several charity projects. The two little quilts on the left were donated to Project Linus. The house quilt was sold by my niece's sorority at a charity auction to benefit CASA in Washington state. The pillowcases were for Camp Heartland which serves youth with HIV/AIDS. The bright diamond quilt was sent to a friend in Holland to help her heal from serious illness.

Second quarter, I finished up a number of small quilts that were pieced while we lived temporarily in a tiny RV during February and March. I couldn't spread out enough to quilt there, so I accumulated a bunch of tops that got finished in April and May. Four of those went to Project Linus. It was also the time of year when Sarah runs her Hands2Help Challenge, so I made one quilt each for Happy Chemo, Camp Hobe, the International Institute of St. Louis, and Covered in Love.

International Institute benefits recent immigrants to the US, and they requested quilts no smaller than twin size. This majestic mountains design I made for them was a real challenge to quilt in my small space. It cemented my resolve to stick with pieces no larger than about 60" on a side.

In mid-summer we docked the boat in Charleston, SC and stayed for over four months. I had lots and lots of time to sew and was inspired to make a bunch of 36"x48" wheelchair lap quilts for Quilted Embrace. 

It was also a quarter with several finishes for gifts to friends and family. I'm pretty sure I sent the pink bordered Kaffe hexagon quilt to Covered in Love, but was sorely tempted to keep it. DH says we'd need a bigger boat to keep all my favorites, so that ain't happening.

The fall and winter of 2017 included more quilts for family and friends, Covered in Love, Project Linus and the Charleston UU church's charity auction. 

It's fun to look back over an entire year's worth of quilting. 2017 seemed to be a year of trying new blocks and patterns, from hexagons to kaleidoscopes, strippy scraps to attic windows, houses and hourglasses and mariner's compasses. I used lots of novelty theme fabrics and panels: cats, horses, fish, coffee and vegetables, just to name a few. I can honestly say I enjoyed making every one of these quilts, and my fondness for the craft continues to grow.

OK, let's get sewing for 2018!