Sunday, May 20, 2018

In the UFO trenches

My quilting process tends to go roughly like this: Be inspired either by a pattern or a fabric, and sew up a top until it feels finished. If it's a gift for a particular person, I usually launch right into quilting and get 'er done. But "feels finished" could also mean "until I run out of fabric" or "until I run out of motivation." If I don't have a recipient in mind, pieces like that can often end up as UFOs, because the final size is undetermined. Is it big enough yet?

Different charities request different size quilts. Some have a minimum and maximum range, and others are pretty strict about wanting a specific size. And of course I try to match the top to the ages and circumstances of the recipients of that particular charity. So until I've chosen the charity, a top can float around in limbo for a while.

Last week I was motivated to go through most of my UFOs and choose a final home for them. That allowed me to add borders until they were the right size, and then make backings for them. Adding long strips for borders and wrangling the large chunks of fabric for backings is a whole different mindset than piecing small blocks, and I need to be in the right mood. That mood can be fleeting, so when it arrived, I seized it. Carpe diem and all that.

I had the idea that I would take photos of each top and each backing to share with you. Frankly, the photos were atrocious. It's so windy here that even INSIDE the boat things were flapping around mightily. And most of these flimsies have already been shared here on the old blog-o-roonie. So classy pics of piles of folded fabric will have to serve.


First up is the fun fish top I made with fabric that Karen sent me. It needed another border to get it up to the right size for Wrap a Smile (WAS.) I added a watery blue print and kept the directionality so the water flows side to side and not up and down. The yellow and blue plaid was plenty wide for a backing and didn't need piecing, so easy peasy. I'll use that zesty stripe for binding.

I've started labeling tops with their rough size and potential recipient, using blue painters tape. I do this with batting scraps, too, and it's so helpful to not have to measure the same piece over and over again. 


Huh. I just realized that I didn't ever share this flimsy, so this one will have to be a surprise after it's quilted up. It is rail fence blocks with those brightly colored running horses in the center of each one. I added a couple of black and purple borders thinking it might appeal to an older child at WAS. The purple fabric with the scallops on it will serve as both backing and binding. It's a vintage print and at 45" wide, didn't need to be pieced. That's a little tight for a 44" wide top, but I'm willing to trim off any small "oops" spots if the backing shifts. There's certainly plenty of black border to spare.


This is the Ernie quilt pattern top with an added border to bring it up to size for Covered in Love (CIL.) The backing is pieced from the last bit of the floral border, and two of the stripe fabrics, salmon and green. The binding will be the solid purple. All four of those fabrics were donated to Covered in Love, and Kat shared them with me. It feels good to use them together in this quilt.


This is the top made of Asian-inspired fabrics that I shared last week. All the sashing pieces are scrappy whites and creams, so I made the 5" wide border scrappy, too. The corner that shows here looks a little dark, but the overall border blends nicely. For the back, I pieced large patchwork squares of my darker tan and taupe fabrics. They don't really go well with the bright kid's fabrics I like to use, so I'm happy they work with this piece. (Note to self: stop buying drab fabric.) The binding will be the tan and black geometric. This one is tentatively headed to CIL, or I might keep it for a while. It's nice to have a few pieces finished that I can give to friends or family members who need a fast, quilty hug.


I made the main part of this over a year ago, intending to donate it to a charity in Charleston that wanted small 36" x 48" wheelchair quilts. I didn't get it finished before we left Charleston, so it lurked as a UFO. The block pattern is called Old Italian. This week I added the black stop border and the wide dusty blue outer border. The latter was also a donation to CIL, so this piece will soon circle back to Kat's charity. I pieced the backing out a similar dusty blue in my stash, plus a burgundy/blue/white/gold stripe. The mottled burgundy should make a good binding. It has tiny metallic flecks in it. Fancy! Oh, and the blue border fabric was originally 108" wide. Man, that makes it easy to cut borders.

 

This piece never made it onto the blog when it was originally pieced. I have no idea why, because I really like it. It's made of orphan blocks from various projects, sashed in purple and set into a white with little purple flowers background. I really enjoyed the mental math required to get them all "floating" like that. It was actually a little too big for Quilts Beyond Borders (QBB), so I trimmed off an inch from the total width.


QBB requires a label on their quilts, so I've been avoiding finishing any pieces for them. Isn't that pathetic? That's how much I hate making these kinds of labels. I unearthed my last piece of machine printable fabric recently, so I grit my teeth and used it to make a few labels in the requested format. This one is stitched onto the backing, which is a single piece of mottled green. The aqua stripe will be the binding.

Six quilts with backings, ready to be basted and quilted. I'll share photos taken in better lighting as each one blossoms into a finished quilt. We'll be out of the Bahamas by then, so I won't have to deal with the relentless wind.

15 comments:

KaHolly said...

You’re absolutely amazing! I’ll bet you’ve hone your incredible organizational skills because you live in such a small space! We should all take a lesson! I really like your Old Italian top, and the one you made from random blocks!

Kat said...

I've been on a similar finishing spree recently, organization is a big part of getting started toward the finish! Lots of charities benefiting :)

Cathy said...

I can’t believe how much you churn out when space on your boat must be limited. They all look like great quilts, but I can’t wait to see the Old Italian blocks - they’ve always been a favorite of mine. To look at, that is - never pieced one yet. So glad that there are people like you who donate so prolifically to charity!

Quiltdivajulie said...

I have written measurements on a post it and pinned it onto batting remnants -but painters tape is a less pointy and safer method! Finishing feels good - have fun!

Vicki in MN said...

Wow I never thought you would have more than 1 UFO onboard!! You're starting to sound like me now, haha. You rock getting those out and finishing the tops. Next thing you know will be a post with them all quilted and bound!

Lisa J. said...

I loved reading this and seeing your plans for finishing all these quilts. Looking forward to the final pics in the calmer air. I hate making labels as well.

piecefulwendy said...

Wow, Louise, you just continue to amaze me. Six quilts! I hope the weather calms down soon for you. I'm terrible at making labels too. I need to get in the habit, but it just doesn't seem to stick!

PaulaB quilts said...

Your commitment to charity Quilts is something that keeps me going. Like Julie, I have been using paper and pins for the size labels and am very happy to start using the tape. Keep up the good work!

Tish Stemple said...

This is some pretty serious progress you have going on here! I have to say I'm a bit jealous :) I love your idea of using painters tape to keep track of what size your quilts are. That would make things so much easier when pulling them back out.

Fiona said...

Amazing... you are so clever with your quilt top ideas as well as finding colours that go so beautifully.... it's hard to think your whole boat is not a floating shop they way you dig things out.... I love that floating top ... so cleaver
Hugz

Nicki said...

Beautiful show of UFO's in the finishing stages. Finding just the right colors for a quilt is the hardest part for me when it comes to making a quilt. You do so good at picking the perfect fabrics. That yellow/blue plaid has gone a long way for backings & I love it!

Quilt Inspiration said...

Louise, as well as your artistry, we admire your resourcefulness and organizational ability so much ! You are truly a role model for us and for all your readers. And we love the watery blue border which surrounds the fun fish quilt. Congratulations on being so creative and so productive ! Thanks for all these great photos, from Marina and Daryl Lynn

Marti said...

I am inspired! How do you, where do you do all that in a boat? And how did you get that top photo? The real reason I'm commenting right now is because I saw that photo of the fun fish top somewhere today and I can't remember where!

Pamela Arbour said...

I am impressed. I can't believe you can actually quilt on a boat. I get sea sick just thinking about it! LOL

Sandy said...

What fun projects! You're gonna be a busy gal for a few days!