Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Bahama Dreaming

AKA: Yes, The Water Really Is That Color. This quilt was a long time in the making, but found its forever home quickly.

Back in late 2017, Liz of Savor Every Stitch introduced her pattern called Haphazard. Made entirely of half square triangles, the design is generated by computer code on her website.  Each iteration of the code, and therefore the resulting layout, is unique. I loved this nerdy, techy idea and filed it away in my quilty bucket list. 

Several month later, we were cruising the Bahamas. As usual, we marveled at the variety of brilliant blue waters around us. I thought, "I wonder if I can capture this in a quilt?" Even now, I have to look at my photos to convince myself that those colors really DO exist in nature!

After pulling fabrics that reflected the gorgeous water around us, I remembered Haphazard, and I ran the program until this layout called my name. The top pieced up quickly and easily and I even had some fun "ship in a bottle" fabric for the backing. Top and back sat quietly folded together for a long time.

If you've ever seen any of Liz's quilts, you know she is an expert free motion quilter. I knew that to truly honor her pattern I would need to step up my FMQ game. So the quilt sat for many, many months as a flimsy, until I felt ready to tackle the extensive quilting.

When I heard recently that my dear friend Bear was gravely ill, I knew it was time to pour heart, soul, and embroidery foot into this piece. I started with the cream background areas, adding dense fillers in many designs. Bear is an amazingly multi-talented person. So as I stitched, I concentrated on all the curly, swirly, swoopy, doopy wonderful ways that he is.

Wishbone pathways dance their way across the quilt.

Swirls fill this dance hall square.

And swirl chains in move through this odd shape.

Water meandering and curve echoes kiss at one point.

Pebbles, flowers, paisleys, squiggles...I threw in everything I had. I wanted abundance and exuberance, joy and music in this quilting!

And when the dense background was finished, I pulled out all my blue, green, gray and turquoise threads and started on the beautiful blue water triangles. But this time, I wanted simpler, more open lines. Dot to dot triangles. Big, smooth feathers.

These are the blue healing waters, and I want them to to flow unimpeded, bringing hopes of peace and strength to Bear's life. 

In the smallest triangle, very close to the center, I quilted a bas relief heart by surrounding it with dense matchstick stitching. Because love persists even when we are far apart. I can't be physically with Bear right now, but he has this token of my support and care.

Sean and I wrapped the quilt around ourselves to give it one final infusion of love, then mailed it to California. It has been keeping Bear warm for several weeks now and I know he feels the love inside it! XOXO

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Other people's scrappy blocks

Once again I've been busy sewing and not so busy blogging, and it's time to play catch up! Today I want to share with you two quilts that were made with blocks that other people made. My task was to put them together and finish the quilt.

Aren't these colors pretty? Melinda stitched up the scrappy string blocks from her stash. She has some gorgeous fabrics!

Each block has the same white center strip. I set the blocks into diamond shapes.

The quilting is a simple petal shape in each diamond, using pale green thread, plus ditch stitching around the white sections.

These blocks were all donated to Covered in Love, and Kat sent them to me. She also gets donations of yardage. I thought this zigzag fabric looked good for the back.

The binding is a lime green with tiny white hearts from my own stash.

I also used that green to piece between the zigzag yardage. This allowed me to piece in the CiL label and more importantly, avoid matching all those tiny jaggedy lines!

This quilt was super fun to puzzle together. All the blocks are left over from CiL's annual red, white and blue star block donation drive.

This star is made of appliqued hearts. So pretty and clever!

Some of the blocks were odd sizes, so creative use of sashing, borders, and cornerstones was necessary.

This one reminds me of a buzz saw blade. I really like the bandana-esque fabric, too.

Kat included some larger chunks of red, white and blue that I pieced into the backing with the label. My goal is to use as many of the donated pieces as possible in Covered in Love quilts, with only the tiniest final scraps ending up in my own stash.

I put these three blocks on the back, along with a large chunk of donated yardage. If you zoom in, you can see faint blue and red stars and swirls printed on the white. This is actually the reverse side of the fabric. The front is printed in really pretty, sparkly metallic ink. However, the ink was quite rough feeling, and I decided that the smooth backside would feel better against the skin of the recipient. 

A thin red inner border, a scrappy squares outer border, and a scrappy dark blue binding complete the piece. Most of those fabrics were donated, too, with a few additions of my own.

I had so much fun putting together these quilts and the ones I wrote about last month! I told Kat she could send me her Covered in Love orphan blocks any time. She has since sent me more blocks, over 10 pounds' worth. We think there could be a dozen quilts lurking in there! More on those in another post.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Colorful collection

Happy Independence Day to my US readers, and happy belated Canada Day to our northerly neighbors! Here along the border in the Thousand Islands region, fireworks and festivities abound.

Today I have four finishes to share. My UFO pile is slowly getting smaller and I'm hoping to be able to see the surface of the guest bed sometime soon. 

These three little quilts are all destined for Quilts Beyond Borders (QBB). They are made with a simple block that the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild calls the Mendota.

My yellow and orange Mendota...
Every two or three years, this group of quilters from all over the US holds a retreat in a different city. A year before the retreat, the organizers pick an easy block for members to make in advance. The goal is to make as many quilt tops from the blocks as possible during the retreat. Tops are then distributed around the country to members, who baste, quilt and bind them. The quilts are then donated to Sunshine's two official charities: QBB and Wrap-a-Smile.

...with cats and fairies on the back
This year's retreat was held in Mendota Heights, MN, and I was really hoping I could attend. We knew we'd be traveling the Great Loop route this summer and would end up near Minnesota at some point. Alas, it will probably be August or September by the time we get there, and the retreat was in mid June. 

Greens, yellows and reds...

...with apples and bluebirds on the back
I had a stack of 100 Mendota blocks ready to go, so I pieced five tops up at home during the retreat weekend. Other "at home retreaters" and I shared our progress with the "at retreat retreaters" via social media. A good time was had by all, although the "at retreaters" had lots of extra fun: ice cream, candy- and quilt-shop visits, BBQ, and face to face getting to know each other!

Pinks and purples and rainbows...
...with jungle animals and an odd brown/purple/turquoise striped floral that I never thought would find its forever home!
I have two more Mendota tops from my own blocks ready to be quilted, and committed to finishing five more from tops made at the retreat. The gals in Mendota Heights stitched up over 140 tops. Amazing!

This quilt is made from orphan "T" blocks that were sent to me by Kat of Covered in Love. They were made by a woman who did a beautiful job with the piecing. I'm sorry I didn't take any photos of the backs of these blocks with their perfectly pressed, uniform seam allowances. And I just loved peering at all her scraps! She used hundreds of different fabrics and only one overlapped with something in my stash. I have already shipped this quilt back to Kat, so I can't double check the block maker's name, but I wrote it on the label on the back of the quilt. Update: Kat left a comment below reminding me that the blocks came from Priscilla.

I finished stitching the blocks into a simple square top with no sashing, and put several extra "T's" on the back. I used a dark purple binding and big stipple quilting to hold it all together. These pretty blocks are no longer orphans, and are ready to comfort a grieving family.

One final note: We spent a few days anchored in the harbor of Clayton, NY. During this boaty photo shoot, two little girls were taking sailing lessons. You can see their tiny sailboat just above the railing in this photo. It was really nice to hear their sweet, happy voices while I was taking the photos.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Beothuk, Baby!

Today's little finish is Beothuk Baby, a gift for my nephew and niece-in-law. They are expecting their first child, a little boy, and the family is very excited!

This pattern is called Beothuk Star, and was designed by Sandra of Musings of a Menopausal Melon fame. She's the daughter of a famous Canadian, and her design honors the aboriginal people of Newfoundland. The family who will receive this quilt are also Canadian, which is a nice connection all around, don't you think?

Sandra published this pattern as a generous, free quilt along. I selected gray, teal and aqua as my colors since they are my niece's favorites. The four corner stars feature fabrics with balloons, birds, flowers, mushrooms, and pseudo-scientific scribbles. I knew a secondary pattern would produce the center star, so I chose a rich, dark teal batik so it would really pop.

The gray background fabric is Essex linen, a cotton blend with really nice texture. While it does tend to fray a bit, it quilts like a dream. 

For the backing, my DH Sean chose this super fun nautical print. It's rare to find power boats represented in fabric, much less submarines, so when I found 7 yards of this on sale, I snapped them up.

This little purple-hulled tug boat is the closest in shape and capability to our own boat, Vector. I like how the hook-swirl quilting motif looks like waves, especially in turquoise thread.

I took a variety of boaty glamour shots for this quilt, in keeping with that cool background fabric. Here is Beothuk Baby in front of our life raft and next to our dinghy.

And here it is hung over the back of the flybridge settee and in front of the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacon.) We don't just sit around sipping cocktails in swimsuits here on Vector, you know. We do take our safety equipment seriously.

The binding fabric is a fun plaid in blues, greens and a bit of red. You can see a little of the binding in this shot of the quilt all rolled up and sitting on the seat of my scooter. That's Leopold, my new scooter mascot. He is named after Leopold Stokowski, who had similar wild, white hair.

Many thanks to Sandra for putting together such a great pattern! I had fun during the quilt along, and even got halfway though making a second quilt in the pattern with very different fabrics. That one will get finished eventually, but meanwhile I'm linking to the final Parade of Finishes. Go check out all the other fun interpretations of this pattern!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wrapping Smiles

Today's finishes are three little quilts for Wrap-A-Smile, which provides quilts to children undergoing Rotary-sponsored surgery. 

The first is made in a very conventional way. I used a pattern called Five Yards, which calls for (oddly enough) one yard each of five fabrics.There are two blocks that alternate and a border that I didn't add to keep the size small. I chose three transportation-themed fabrics, a solid-reading orange and a mottled yellow-green.

I put most of the leftover yardage on the back in nice, straight horizontal strips. Really. Those strips are straight! The fabrics are very cute, and the second strip down is the Vehicles for Sale section of a newspaper, so that's what I named the quilt. The quilting is simple wavy lines in bright orange thread, and orange binding finishes it up.

School Days is made with a panel plus 10 nine patches set on point. The panel features schools, a library, school buses, playgrounds and lots of kids, all surrounded by bright crayons. I had a close match to the green of the panel to set the nine patches.

For the back, I used this big piece of amphibian fabric. Frogs, turtles, salamanders, plus the bugs they eat and the word "Green." Very fun! I did simple stipple quilting on this one, and used the same orange binding as Vehicles for Sale.

Chirp, Flutter, Bloom is the final quilt, and it is made with a cheerful panel plus lotto blocks made by Sunshine Online Guild members. The panel is the center of the quilt, and is printed to look a bit like individual blocks. I added an assortment of pink, green, yellow and aqua blocks plus some striped sashing. The colors are brighter than the photos show.

The backing is this fun flamingo fabric in the same colors, and a minty green binding also has bits of pink and blue in it. Another fast stipple quilted it up and makes it cuddly. 

So there you go, three different quilts using three different piecing strategies. I enjoyed going from the symmetry of regular blocks in Vehicles for Sale to the scrappy chaos of Chirp, Flutter, Bloom with Schools Days being a little of both! I hope they each make a child smile.