Monday, April 25, 2016

Sanibel Island, FL

Time for another big quilt round-up post. One of the major reasons I wanted to spin off this new blog is that it's kind of a pain to write huge summaries like this one. I've been thinking it would be simpler if I wrote shorter posts more often so that blogging wasn't such a Major Event.

But what seems more interesting to me to write about each day is much more of the nitty gritty of the quilting process, and I know that our travel blog readers probably aren't the target audience for that. So if you're checking in from Our Odyssey, where you've come to love an obsessive level of detail about boat repair projects, this is your last quilt summary post. After today, it's going to be nonstop musings on fabric selection, block design, free motion quilting motifs, and stitching blooper reels.

Charity Quilts

First up is the most recent Project Linus quilt I've finished. It's called "Cat Family Portrait." 

Those cat faces are just so cute and friendly! I think they will charm any kid with their funny little whiskery smiles. The triangles were leftover from the Pinkly Purply Hearts quilt, cut off from the corners of the heart shapes. I went looking through my stash to find something else in those colors and found the cat faces. They were part of a larger panel that I will use in a different quilt. The faces were arranged randomly around the large panel, but I tried to cut them out as squarely as possible to match the size of the arrays of 3x3 triangle blocks.

The striped border is sewn with mitered corners, the first time I attempted that. Turns out that a wide, super busy stripe is kinda tricky, so the little scallops and doohickeys don't line up very well. However, the overall effect is nice, and I though it looked like a big, fancy picture frame. 

Here's the back, a couple of semi-matching flannel pieces for fuzzy softness. It's a small quilt so I figured it would end up with a small person. I did a combination of walking foot straight line quilting on the borders and free motion quilting in the main section. The triangles have back and forth squiggles, and the cats are simply outlined. You can also see the nice labels that Project Linus provides for us to attach. Very professional!

Next up is "Scrappy Chili Peppers," which I have made for the Hands2Help charity challenge. It was made with a variety of green fabrics from my stash, plus red, yellow, green and black scrap 2.5" strips. Many of them feature fun, bright chili peppers, which came with a large group of novelty fabric samples I bought on eBay. I'll write more about that purchase in another post.

I quilted this one in a free motion pattern based on the traditional Baptist Fan motif. I modified it so that there would be no travel stitching, but just one long, continuous line of stitching. I'm calling this more liberal version "Unitarian Fans" and will definitely be sewing it again. It was fast and easy.

I used a vareigated Aurifil thread in green, yellow and red. It seemed like a good choice with these fabrics. Vareigated threads are gorgeous on the spool, but I think they are tricky to implement well. You never know when you'll end up with a really high contrast area, but it's usually when I make a sewing wobble. Hey, the boat moved right then! That's my excuse.

The back of this quilt is one of my favorites. I had a large piece of this striped fabric that is just perfect. Gotta love that kind of serendipity. I don't plan my backings or bindings in advance; there's a whole lot of "winging it from the old stash-a-roonie" here on Vector.

This is a small, wheelchair sized quilt made in an attic windows type pattern. I'm not sure yet where I'll donate it, possibly to a charity that supports ALS patients. I just love this bird fabric and thought it looked nice in the "windows."

Here's a closer view of the birds before I did much quilting. Each little feathered friend is outlined and I loosely followed the swirling branches. I did a wood grain free motion motif in the dark blue, which was fun and new.

Selfish Sewing

That's the term in the quilting world for projects you sew for yourself.

This piece is made of silk dupioni. I bought a book of small, discontinued sample swatches from an upholstery or drapery company. Each 6"x9" piece was backed with paper and stapled into a cardboard book binding. The eBay seller reassured me that the paper backings would come off easily when heated with a medium-hot iron.

Wrong. The first sample I ironed scorched into a brown mess. The second piece melted the glue into a sticky morass that bonded permanently to the silk. After doing some internet research, I soaked the third piece in water, then soapy water, then rubbing alcohol, then acetone. Each bath softened another angstrom-thick layer of paper but none of the glue. Arghhh! 

Fortunately, the paper only covered half of each piece of fabric, so I sent photos of my science experiment failures to the seller, who graciously refunded half my money, and I set my sights on a smaller quilt. As you can see, it's an odd size: too big for the salon table, but definitely not big enough to be a lap quilt.

But it fits nicely over the master stateroom bed, even if the colors of the silk are a bit muted compared to the bed quilt. 

The silk was easy to sew. I think the dupioni samples were treated with something that made them a bit stiff. I cut most of the edges with pinking shears to keep them from fraying, and that worked well. The few unpinked edges did fray aggressively.

Why quilt with silk at all? Look at that sheen! This is gorgeous, gorgeous material. It catches the light beautifully, and rustles like a Southern belle's petticoats when you touch it. I chose a triangular quilting motif, using Angela Walter's "dot to dot" technique, which was fun and pretty straightforward. That being said, I won't be doing much else in silk. It's very expensive, which is why I started with the used drapery sample book. By the yard it can be four to five times more than cotton, and in order to get this much color variety I'd have to purchase a small fortune of fabric.

On the back I used a nice Asian vase patterned quilting cotton and tried a binding technique called "facing." The facing is wrapped completely on the back so that none shows on the front of the quilt. It is often used for quilts that are entered into shows, la di da! I didn't want a plain cotton binding to show against the fancy silk, so this worked well. It isn't harder or easier than regular binding; just different.

Gift Quilts

My final finished project to share today is "Brewskis."

I found out a couple weeks ago that my stepmom's nephew, Will, had been very, very badly injured in an explosion at his work. He faces multiple surgeries and many weeks of rehabilitation. It is a scary time for our extended family. 

I had only met Will once, many years ago, when he was a child. So I asked my stepmom Kay what he liked to do as an adult, and she told me he was a quintessential Western Guy: a fishing, hunting, outdoorsy fellow who appreciated a cold beer at the end of a long day. So I made him a beer quilt to brighten up his hospital stay, and this week I'll mail it off to him.

I had this fun beer themed panel that I cut up for the centers of the blocks. They have cheeky sayings on them: "I never met a beer I didn't like," and "A well balanced diet is a beer in each hand," and about seven or eight others.

These were part of the same set of novelty fabrics as the chili peppers. There are bottles of beer, and mugs of beer. And glasses of wine, because there's always someone who doesn't like beer but will drink the wine. And tortilla chips, because who doesn't like a few munchies to go with your brewskis?

I think the colors are rather manly, quite different from my usual rainbow hued kids quilts. This green leafy piece was left over from the Star Surround quilt I made for Kay and my Dad, for a bit of family connection.

All the remaining bits and scraps got integrated into the back, along with larger pieces in the same blue/brown/green/sand color scheme. I figured I probably wouldn't be able to use beer stein scraps in my Project Linus quilts. Scrappy backings can be fun to look at, too.

Brewskis is about 54" x 54": not huge, but also not overwhelming for a small hospital bed. As I made it, I concentrated on sewing loving, healing thoughts for Will into each stitch. I hope it provides a bit of cheer and amusement for him and helps to speed his recovery.


  1. Wonderful quilts! Charity, keepers, and family/friends! Yes, that's the way to do it! And they all looked like they must have been fun to make. I just know that Will will be elated at that beer quilt! And some little child will love those cats too! Happy stitching!

  2. Your cat quilt is purrfect! Wow. This was a wonderful quilt show. Thanks.

  3. Hello Louise,

    Love the silks! The muted colours are beautiful.

    How frustrating with the glue. I have had a similar problem getting labels off jam jars. Why do manufacturers think they need to use NASA standard adhesives?


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