Sunday, March 20, 2016

Winter 2016 quilt roundup

Happy First Day of Spring! Seems like a great time to play Show and Tell on the quilting and sewing front. 

First up are four blocks sewn for Covered in Love, a charity in Texas that gives quilts to families of patients who pass away in the hospital. The quilts warm up the room of the loved one in their final hours, and give grieving families something to focus on and take home. Covered in Love is coordinated by RN Kat Drinkwater, of Kat and Cat Quilts. Each month, Kat asks for specific blocks to be made in certain colors, then she sews them together into beautiful quilts. 

The December block request was for these spinning diamonds in peacock colors (gold, purple, green, and turquoise) surrounded by warm brown. 

I had never made this block before, but it was fun and easy with Kat's excellent tutorial. She received enough blocks of this design to make three (maybe four?) complete quilts. From Kat's blog, here is one of the finished quilts with a couple of my blocks in it: 

Isn't that pretty? I love how scrappy and warm these group effort quilts turn out, so I'm planning to contribute more blocks in the future. 

This quilt was made as a house-warming gift for Sean's cousins who recently moved from California to New Hampshire. I couldn't remember their color scheme, so I enlisted the help of Sean's aunt for some photos. She sent me the link to their California house's real estate listing and voila! Well lit, professional photos of their living room. I had the perfect fabric in my stash, these beautiful reds, pinks, creams and aquas from the Lario fabric line.

You know your quilt is a success when the teenage boy of the house immediately claims it as his own. 

On my side of the family, we welcomed a brand new cousin: baby Luke Tallis Wolcott. Of course, there needed to be a quilt to celebrate the new arrival. I found this darling panel by M'Liss, featuring a sunken ship surrounded by sea creatures and being explored by three cats and two dogs. Check out the dachshund in the scuba helmet!

Panels are a great canvas for free motion quilting, so I went to town. I outlined most of the critters and plants, and filled in the water with a swirly background that I learned from my friend Stephanie. 

The backing fabric is a pretty geometric with the same aquas, oranges and blues in it. It was big enough to wrap around to the front as the binding, my first time trying that technique. I was careful to fold it such that there were two layers of fabric on the edge of the quilt for strength and durability. Baby quilts get washed a lot!

And here's the handsome little squeaker on his very own "Scuba Dog" quilt. 

The very first quilt I made, "Dive Plan," was created for Luke's big sister Lyndy. I think they will be sharing a nursery for a while, so I tried to keep the same colors in their quilts. Here's a nostalgic flashback to Lyndy's quilt. I had no idea when I stitched it up how much I'd come to love this hobby! 

And speaking of quilts for little people, here are my latest Project Linus charity projects. This one was made using the heart block tutorial from Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew. I used a variety of purple and pink fabrics as part of the Purple Sewing Challenge on Instagram. The focus fabric is a gorgeous multi color butterfly print by Laurel Burch, and I love how the bits of orange and yellow in that one keep the whole thing from being too saccharine. The binding is a random stripe that I had in my stash.

The back uses a big scrap of another bright butterfly fabric, plus one of the purple paisleys from the front. The butterflies were printed on a slightly thicker cotton; I think it is supposed to be used to cut into pieces for applique. I learned that thicker is NOT better when it comes to quilt backings. This one fought me tooth and nail during the quilting process. I'm glad that a run through the hottest cycles of the washer and dryer added enough crinkliness to hide some quilting boo-boos! 

How about polar bears in brightly colored sweaters? Except the two that are, you know, naked. 

I outlined each bear to make him/her pop out from the white background a bit. In the large yellow squares, I tried a technique called "dot to dot" quilting. It's a way to stitch geometric shapes quickly and easily without marking any lines on the quilt top. You can see the diamond shapes stitched in this close up. You can also see why Sean named this quilt "Polar Bears with Old Man Hairs."

The back is a single piece of bright blue with little hot air balloons. Not really a polar bear theme, but the colors were right. I used the "wrap the backing around to the front for the binding" technique again. Fast and easy, but requires some planning ahead to make it work.

"Go, Dog, Go!" features bright arrows pointing this way and that on a scrappy cream/beige background.

The center stripes have these super cute dogs in cars. They have their heads hanging out the windows, of course. The fabric is from Makower UK, an out of print line called "Woof!" I have more of it, so you'll see these dogs again. I quilted it with an overall meander or stipple pattern. It basically looks like squiggles all over the quilt. 

This little doll quilt is only about 20" square, and it was made for a teddy bear! It uses the same heart block as the purple quilt, but the hearts are much smaller. I love these pure blues with bright white; so classic.

The back is a lovely fabric that looks like hand painted Mexican tiles. I didn't want to cut it up, so using it on the back is a good way to enjoy the design.

"St. Louis Sixteen Patch" is the name of this pattern, and it is sewn from long strips that are then arranged into the groups of 16. No one seems to know what the connection to St. Louis might be. The way the pieces are ironed makes the assembly go together very smoothly, and this is my favorite pattern yet. Something about the symmetry is just so appealing to me. I quilted it diagonally through each small square.

After making the quilt above (which will be a gift) with the gorgeous muted colors of the "Vienna Garden" fabric line, I was inspired to finally cover our own bed using a 16 patch design. I've been collecting fabrics in our colors for a while, but no pattern had called my name loud enough.

I named it "Exuberant Color" after one of my favorite quilting blogs. It features bright fabrics in cool blues, greens and purples. This is my biggest quilt to date, and I used a "quilt as you go" technique that allowed me to sew it in four manageable sections. The navy blue sashing is part of how the sections are held together: the dark color hides those beefier seams. It also gives a nice stained glass effect that I like.

This is a queen sized quilt, about 87" square. It is a 7x7 grid of blocks, so the four subsections were either 3x3, 3x4 or 4x4. (To compare: "Polar Bears with Old Man Hairs" is about the size of the 3x3 section.) Keeping track of which section attached where kept me hopping, but I'm happy with how it can lay on the bed in any orientation because it's square.

The back is a mix of more muted navy blue fabrics. I'll take a photo of that another time, when I'm willing to wrassle the whole thing back up to the fly bridge for pictures. The only place on the boat where there is enough room to hang this and then get far enough away to fit the whole thing in the camera viewfinder is hanging from the canvas bimini structure. Needless to say, I won't be making another queen sized quilt anytime soon.

And finally, a few non-quilting projects got checked off my to-do list this quarter. 

During TrawlerFest back in January, we had a family with five very young (ages 3 to 9) children aboard Vector for a tour. We had heard that several of the vendors at the show refused to let this young family board their display boats. I didn't want them to leave the show thinking all boaters were kid-phobic jerks, so we went out of our way to invite them over and show them around. I made these little velcro-closure pouches with ribbon handles for each child so they would have a fun souvenir from the show. 

The pattern is actually intended to be a business card case, so I slipped one of our boat cards in each one (and kept the sixth for myself.) I told the kids that living on a boat means you don't have as much room as in a house. They listened to my explanation that the pouches were for tiny treasures with wide eyes and each one said thank you in turn. They were very, very well behaved and delightful kids so I send a big fat raspberry to the vendors who turned them away!

A big part of quilting is ironing each seam before moving on to the next step. Many quilters set up their ironing boards right next to the sewing machine so they can pivot in their chairs to go back and forth between the two machines. That's not practical in my tiny space, but I don't mind the opportunity to get up and stretch regularly. However, my ironing board was UGLY! It's a little tabletop model that sits on the bed, and it came with the boat. (Seriously, John, that thing was uuuuuuuuuugly.) After living with it for three years, and ironing on it daily for almost two years, I finally realized I could recover it! With fabric! Pretty fabric that I own by the boatload!

So I did. I recovered my ironing board with this fabulous bird print and now I'm a happy camper, um, boater.

I also sewed up a simple canvas cover for the fly bridge Furuno radar display. I promised Sean I'd make this for him many, many months ago. I'm not usually a big procrastinator, but sewing canvas is not fun at all. It's thick and unwieldy, requires a special UV resistant thread that is very slippery, and needs a heavy duty needle to penetrate it. The Little Kenmore That Could struggles a bit to get through the thick layers. Before I started quilting, that didn't bother me. But now I worry that my one and only machine will go on the fritz over something as trivial and unimportant as protecting the boat's navigation instruments.

Fortunately, the cover went together without incident and I can relax. Back to quilting!

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