Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bold Elvira


Way back in March, designer Gudrun Erla sponsored a quilt along with her pattern "Elvira." She offered the pattern for free for a few weeks to help lift spirits in the early part of the Covid lockdowns. Several members of my online quilt guild, Sunshine, joined in. I pieced my own Elvira in just a few days, and finished it last month.

Someone donated this bold, bright fat quarter bundle to Covered in Love, and it was perfect for Elvira. I know Gail donated the extra yardage of poppies, but I'm not sure if the entire bundle came from her. The large rectangular blocks really highlight those big poppies, especially. Between the top and the pieced backing, I used up pretty much every scrap. Don't you love the black and white animal motif? Such an unusual and effective foil to the reds, greens and oranges.

I used a red thread to quilt a simple stipple meander over the entire quilt except in this one solid black block. There I did a floral motif that mimicked the poppies, just for a little added interest.

It's not often that I learn anything about the recipients of my charity quilts. But Kat helped deliver this one herself to a mother whose daughter is really struggling with COVID. My heart goes out to this family and I hope the quilt offers some comfort.

On the few occasions where I do have some information about recipients, I try to share that here on the blog (while protecting their privacy, of course.) I love when other quilt bloggers do this, too, so we can all feel a piece of the satisfaction that comes from seeing our work in action. Usually we get to revel in seeing a new baby napping on a happy quilt, or a favorite nephew delighting in a graduation gift. Rarely, a charity quilt's forever home is revealed. Especially now, we sometimes sew in isolation. It's so good to be reminded of the connections that thread across time and space, with friends and family and strangers, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Two for Wrap A Smile

As many of you know, one of the charities that I love to support is Wrap A Smile. They provide comfort quilts to several Rotary International sponsored surgery missions, where medical teams travel around the world repairing cleft palates and other disfiguring conditions. Wrap a Smile was the brainchild of Terry (Hodskins) Fullam, who passed away this summer.

To honor Terry's memory, quilters have been making scores of quilts with the letter "T" in the designs. My red, yellow and black quilt was the 100th T quilt! And to make it extra special, I was able to present it in person to Terry's successor, Ann. 

Ann and her husband Steve live in Maine, and the timing was perfect for Sean and me to meet them face to face for the first time last month. Well, it was mostly "mask to mask," but we did take the masks off to share a socially-distanced outdoor picnic dinner in a local park and snap a few commemorative photos. It was a delightful evening with new friends, with lots of great stories and laughter.

I also had this little quilt in a simple patchwork squares design ready for Wrap a Smile, so I hand delivered this one, too.

The yellow border fabric is sparkly, and the precut 6.5" squares feature flowers and butterflies.

I try to make the backings fun on the quilts I make for children, using bigger chunks of large scale prints in colors that coordinate with the front. The center lavender piece has tiny hummingbirds on it; so cute! The red, yellow and black backing on the T quilt features cafe tables and chairs, the Eiffel tower, and little dogs wearing berets. Novelty fabrics just make me happy!

 We're hoping to visit Ann and Steve again as we work our way back south along the Maine coast. Sadly, all the Rotaplast surgery missions are on hold because the pandemic, so the need for more quilts is "on pause." I won't have more quilts to hand off to Ann, but I know our shared love of travel and quilting will give us many hours of great conversation. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Soft and snuggly for Covered in Love

Welcome to Finish it up Friday! Oh, wait. It's Tuesday. Anybody else having trouble keeping track of the days?? Oh well, I have two finishes to share no matter what day it might be. Both of these were shipped off today to Covered in Love, and were made with blocks, panels, yardage, and a kit that were donated to the charity.

This first one was made from an unusual kit. I'm guessing it is from the early part of the millenium. All the fabric was pre-cut into one of the following sizes: 3"x3", 3"x6", 3"x9" or 3"x12". The top layer of fabric in the package was blue and yellow, so I started this in April, the month when the RSC color was yellow. But as I dug into the piles, every pastel color emerged, with a smattering of darker shades, all in pretty florals.

It was early in the pandemic lockdown and I was finding it really hard to concentrate. So I decided that all I could handle was the simplest of patchwork, just squares, and cut all the pieces down to 3"x3". I stitched them so the few darker blocks formed larger dark squares and that was the extent of my "design." A few of the darker squares are pretty subtle, but that's OK. 

The top sat for another few months before I got around to making a backing and quilting it. By then I had the mental bandwidth to do some quilting that was a bit more interesting than my usual stipple. This loopy design that goes from corner to corner of the dark-centered blocks is still quite easy, but gives some nice secondary patterns.

The back uses up some of the last of this dusty green that was given to me by my DH's aunt in 2017. I think the original piece was 12 yards; that's a boat load of fabric!

The second finish for today's post features these gentle geishas, cut from a donated panel. I really like the striking black against cream contrast of the three ladies.

The coin strips were also donated, and arrived in my mail all sewn together in 3.5" widths. They were so fun and easy to add into this quilt that I've started sewing my own little scraps into long strips like this. They make super leader/enders. The background fabric, a sage green and purple batik, was donated by Jan. I think it looks a little like long skinny bamboo leaves, or tall sea grass.

And finally, the backing was also donated. This pretty piece of red and brown minky was sent to me by my friend Steph. It is soooo soft and fuzzy! You can easily see the way I quilted the piece with simple, wiggly lines in this photo. Minky is a bit tricky, stretchy in one direction but not the other. The batik background on the front of the quilt is just the opposite: hardly stretchy at all in any direction. This quilting motif has a lot of springiness and give, so it's pretty forgiving for combining the two into a finished quilt.

I often try to piece the charity label into the backing, but piecing minky is a PITA (pain in the ankle.) Trimming the label with pinking shears and using raw-edge applique works fine, too, with a nice raggedy effect after washing. These two quilts are now ready to do the good work of comforting end-of-life patients at hospitals in Texas.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Quilts of Compassion

I finally shipped out the last of my Hands2Help Comfort Quilts for this year. The charity event ended back in June but I know the groups that receive the quilts can always use them. So I don't worry too much about when I get my donations shipped out. Hey, it's still 2020, right? (As if any of us could ever forget that it is 2020.)

This scrappy tumbler quilt has been given to Quilts of Compassion, who provide help to those who are recovering from disasters. I won a tumbler template in a blog giveaway last year, and have been using it to trim random scraps. I then sorted them into dark, light and medium values and stitched them into columns. The resulting top was pretty blah, so I framed it with two white and one skinny red border. That felt more fresh and clean.

You can see the mishmash variety of fabrics I used in this closeup. Everything but the kitchen sink! I quilted it in simple wavy lines running through each row.

The backing was pieced together with chunks of fabric that were given to me by my friend Steph. The red is the same as the skinny inner border, and I used that for the binding, too. I think that helped make the whole thing more cohesive. 

The colors of the backing are more true in this photo. I love all the sweet hearts in these fabrics. Thanks, Steph!
These two previously-blogged toddler quilts were sent to Quilts of Compassion in the same box. I'll definitely be donating to them again; their mission really speaks to me.

We are currently cruising New England and have made it as far northeast in Maine as we can get the big boat. This photo is from Plymouth, Massachusetts where we had several spectacular sunsets. This one took my breath away! 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Little quilts for little people

Hello, hello! How are you? I hope you've been safe and well. Things are fine aboard the good ship Vector as we make our way slowly north this summer. I've been quilting along steadily and have a big batch of little finishes to share with you. First up is this jungle quilt, made with a tiger panel. One of my Sunshine Quilt Guild-mates sent it along. She had 3 or 4 of them and it was fun to see how folks used the panel.

She also included the chunk of tigers that I used in the upper left side of the backing. This quilt will go to Wrap-a-Smile (WAS.)

This quilt is also made with a panel. The cute sheep in the center were made to be a growth chart, so there were inch and feet marks up the left side. I just cut that part off and added some scrappy hour glass blocks. This one is also headed to WAS.

The back is nothing special, just a couple of pieces of green that coordinated with both front and binding. You'll see a photo of the back of each of my pieces here, no matter how boring. Why? Because occasionally the charities that I donate to will publish a photo of a quilt being used by a child, and only a glimpse of the back is visible. Twice now I've spotted one of my pieces this way, which is SUCH a thrill! I use my blog to document the fronts and the backs to help me remember them.

Next up is this super duper scrappy quilt in red hot colors. The blocks are made of crumbs that I stitched together during last year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I bordered two sides of each block with scrappy brown strips and there is lots to look at in this quilt!

The back is a strip of the same bright orange as the binding, and a couple of the cartoon characters from "Cars." I don't usually buy licensed character fabrics, but this chunk was part of a bigger lot and I admit the goofy cars make me smile. I hope it will also make a child smile! It will be donated to Quilts of Compassion.

Here's a tiny quilt! Only 36"x42", it used up the last of some pretty rainbow butterfly fabric I've had kicking around. I also had a charm pack of solids that were juuuuust right with the butterflies. A bit of plaid bordering and voila! Just right for a new baby.

The back is a single piece of hot pink with cute little bugs on it. DH's feet are included because, well, why not? I think he's as cute as a bug. This one will also go to Quilts of Compassion (the quilt, not the husband.)

And here's a third quilt for the same charity, which gives quilts to people affected by disasters. It features a panel with elegant ladies and gentlemen. I added rows of 16-patches and snowball blocks in the same soft pinks, purples, yellows and greens.

Here's a close-up of the panel. Isn't it fun? I like to think these are young couples who have just fallen in love, and hope the quilt ends up in the arms of a starry-eyed child. 

The back is a single piece of urban row houses in the same color palette. Could it be New York? Paris? It's where all these couples live, of course!

OK, on to even smaller quilts. The next three are tiny doll quilts, and will be donated to A Doll Like Me. The first two were made with just a handful of small blocks left over from other projects. Sometimes I use blocks like that on the back of a quilt, but these lent themselves to finished quilts in their own right. I like the soft pastels of this piece.

The back shows my swirly quilting, and is a rather thin piece of peppered or shot cotton. 

This one is scrappy floral blocks bound in dark green for a summer garden feel.

An old fashioned ditsy white with black somethings (flowers?) fit the back just fine. Doll quilts are a great way to use up scraps of batting, too.

And finally, the last doll quilt is perfectly square. I know it doesn't look that way! We waited a long time for a calm, bright morning to take photos and the wind kicked up right at the end. These little pieces really can get flapping in the breeze! But I think you can figure out that this one is kind of an I-spy with planes, trains, bikes, cats and more. I like to include a variety of styles that will appeal to any kid when I make a donation.

The back continues the transportation theme with a fun railroad print.

Whew! Well, I'm mostly caught up with sharing my finishes now. I hope you enjoyed the gallery of little quilts. Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Hands 2 Help 2020 link up

This is the final week for the Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge, where we link up our finishes that will be donated to the H2H charities. I fell behind a bit on my goals this year, but did manage to finish a few by the deadline.

One of the charities chosen this year is the Little Lambs Foundation, which provides comfort kits to children in the foster care system, hospitals, or emergency shelters. I really like this group, and want to support their important work. I know that they often need receiving blankets for newborns, so I stitched up six.

My friend Stephanie gave me a big batch of really nice quality flannels and minky, and I used it all up in these. In the top photo, you can see that there were two "Tree of Life" flannel panels. I added flannel sides to bring them to about 40" square, and backed them with regular quilting cotton. I think this combo of flannel on one side and smooth on the other makes for a really great weight for a receiving blanket. I do a very small amount of quilting, mostly hidden along lines in the printed designs, to keep the layers from shifting in the wash.

The pastel piece on the far right is made of the minky. The pieces were smallish, so I trimmed them up as big as possible and made this simple patchwork. The backing is a cute railroad print of regular cotton. Minky is sooooo soft and cuddly, and sooooooo big a pain in the butt to work with. It's best if you can use a single, unpieced chunk as a backing. Otherwise the little fur bits get everywhere. 

These next three are all made with panels I had in my stash, and backed with Stephanie's flannels. 

The little owls are super cute, especially the upside down one! There's one in every family, isn't there? I'm happy they will find a home here in the US since some of my international charities prefer we not use owl motifs. 

The ABC animals panel is the most classically "baby" themed, but I have to say: that is one GIANT frog.

The final panel is another "Tree of Life." Or maybe "9 Partridges in a Pear Tree." It has kind of a folk-art vibe. 

This quilt, which I wrote about previously, is also for H2H, and will be donated to Quilts of Compassion. I also have three or four more pieces in progress and I'll tell you about them when they are done. Even though H2H has a deadline each year in June, I know that all these fine groups have an ongoing need for quilty comfort and comforting quilts. So anything in the pipeline will still find a way to go to work.

Many, many thanks to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for putting together this fun and useful challenge each year!