Sunday, June 25, 2017

Quick update

We are underway across the Gulf of Mexico between Mobile,  AL and Tampa,  FL. The whole trip will take about 48 hours, and we expect that at least 40 of those will be without any internet.

I've decided to do spiral quilting on Bright Astrodelic. That should keep me busy if the seas are calm enough to sew. See you in a couple days!

PS: In addition to our high power marine radios, we have a satellite phone on board for emergencies. We also use it to update our status and position through this Twitter account so that friends and family can see that we are safe.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy news!

You may remember this quilt, called C's Canines, that I made for the granddaughter of our boating friends. C was scheduled to have surgery this month and I thought a cheerful dog-themed quilt in her very favorite colors would help.

C received her quilt the other day, and I think this big smile shows how much she loves it. I'm also very, very happy to report that her surgery went well! I like to think that little quilt helped; it certainly was filled with all my wishes and hopes for the very best results. It's always special for us quilters to see our work in use, and an extra special bonus to see it topped with a toothy smile.

My next project is cat-themed, and here is one of the nine blocks. The cats are part of a fun Makower UK panel that I've had for several years. I love their happy faces, but the dark colors (red, blue, green and gold) didn't seem very child-like to me. Then a few weeks ago I bought a fat quarter bundle of star fabrics on eBay in just those same colors. The stars are actually slightly raised, a bit rubbery, shiny and iridescent. So fun!

The eBay seller and I had several back and forth conversations where she admitted that she was disappointed at how low the bidding was on her stash of fabrics. (I got a smokin' good deal on the stars.) I told her that I was going to use my purchases for charity sewing, and that seemed to please her. Two weeks later, she wrote again to say she was sending me the rest of her stash for free! Wow! That inspired me to start the cat quilt, so I can send her photos. When I get her shipment, I'll let you know what sorts of goodies she is sending.

Several commenters have asked how we're doing in Tropical Storm Cindy. We're safely docked at a marina in Biloxi, MS. The docks here are very sturdy concrete and behind a protective sea wall. Mostly we've just had tons of rain and minor coastal flooding. The highest wind gust we've seen was 44mph. You can see in this photo that the water came up to just inches below our dock, so we are still able to climb off the boat (the dock is a loooong way down) and go ashore.

The marina is right next door to the Golden Nugget casino, and it is only about 500 feet from the boat to their dry parking garage. We're not gamblers, but it's nice to have access to the casino's restaurants and spa. I thought this carpet pattern in one of the hallways would make an interesting quilt, too. A couple of jelly roll strips, some HSTs...

Friday, June 16, 2017

Twist N Scrap

Whoop, whoop! Twist N Scrap is a finish. I started piecing this quilt back in July, so it is almost a year in the making. For me, that's a looooong time.

I was discouraged with this piece because the background fabric turned out to have quite a bit of polyester in it. I didn't know how it would quilt up, or how it would shrink in the wash. So it ended up being tucked away, out of sight, out of mind.

When I was straightening up some drawers last week, I came across the finished flimsy again and decided to use it for some FMQ practice. I figured I would know pretty fast if the quilting was an issue. I chose a sort of Maltese cross motif for the background and got to work. The poly blend fabric has a tighter weave than quilting cottons, so the needle made more popping, punching sounds in areas like the very center of the crosses where lots of seams come together. Other than that, though, things went pretty smoothly.

In each of the square interlocking "pretzels," I tried various other fillers. I think the hearts in this red fabric turned out pretty well. I was inspired by Fiona's heart quilting over on Bubz Rugs. Most of the other fills are simpler than the hearts: easy back and forth, loop-de-loops, and stippling. 

I think the Maltese cross looks cool in the corners, where only a quarter of the shape shows. Since the whole piece is super scrappy, I used more scraps for the binding. This black, gold and royal blue bit is my favorite.

The backing is all flannel, so it's very soft and snuggly. That turquoise blue has a butterfly motif.

It's our last day in the boatyard in New Orleans. They are finishing up the last little bits of paint touch up, so there are spots of wet paint everywhere. It made it tricky to find place to take photos without making a mess of both quilt and boat! Several worrisome weather systems are spinning up, so it's high time for us to skedaddle out of the hurricane zone. 

Edited to add a post-washer and dryer wrinkly crinkly shot. I'm doing a little happy dance with how all the different fabrics played together! Flannel, quilting cotton and poly-cotton blend all shrink differently, but displayed excellent teamwork in this little quilt.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Finishes galore

It's a gloomy, overcast day here in our New Orleans boatyard digs. However, the wind isn't blowing so I was able to pin up my latest quilty projects for some photos. From left to right: Gulf Coast Churn Dash after washing and drying; Hobe Horses; an as yet to be named chicken-themed flimsy; Winter Magic; and 3-D Play Mat.

Hobe Horses is my Hands2Help quilt for Camp Hobe, a charity sponsored by StashBox. Camp Hobe is for kids with cancer and their siblings, a place with all the fun and activities of summer camp that also provides necessary medical support. While the H2H challenge is over, Sarah let us know that quilts sent in after the deadline are still welcome!

This horse-themed quilt is simple patchwork with sashing and cornerstones to let the big focal pieces take center stage. It took me a while to accumulate enough horse fabric to make an entire quilt. Apparently, horses are fairly difficult to draw, because there is a LOT of really ugly, anatomically incorrect horse flesh out there in the fabric world.

I quilted Hobe Horses in simple, horizontal wavy lines, like wind through the horses manes. The backing is an odd olive green leaf print that actually works well with the browns and greens on the front. I hope an equine-crazy kid enjoys all the different horsey goodness on the front.

Next up is this finished quilt top featuring chicken fabrics. I really liked how the hourglass blocks in Gulf Coast Churn Dash set off the chunky churns, so I decided to do some more experimenting. This time, I used three color hourglasses to outline small square focal pieces cut from a panel.

Each panel square features a different chicken inside a wood frame, surrounded by black. The chickens have funny names ("Remedios"?) and light blue backgrounds. Half of the panel blocks end up surrounded by the yellow parts of the hourglasses. The yellow has little chicks hatching out of eggs.

The rest of the big chickens ("Blakey"? Who names a chicken "Blakey"?) are surrounded by red fabric with tiny drumsticks. Is this fate? Is Blakey destined to end up at KFC?

Winter Magic is made from another panel, and features dogs and snowmen. It isn't specifically a Christmas panel, although one of the dogs seems to be wearing reindeer antlers. The flags say, "Wishing you the blessings of magic on this crisp winter day!" "Make every day a parade!" and "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" The panel was only 24" wide, so I added side pieces to bring the whole thing to about 36" x 42", a good size baby or toddler quilt.

The backing is this snowflake patterned fine-wale corduroy, which makes it fairly heavy and warm. I decided that putting a layer of batting in would make the whole thing a bit TOO thick and warm, so I used a layer of flannel instead. It is finished pillowcase style with no binding.

To keep it soft and drapey, I did minimal quilting. The printed panel has a thin line of black around the characters, and that sort of looked like stitching to me. So I echoed around that line with white thread so the whimsical scenes would poof out a bit. I also outlined the swirling snow border to keep the little quilt lightly but evenly quilted. I did have grand plans to do lots of FMQ swirling motifs, but after I stitched up an area about 5"x 5", it was clear that the whole quilt would be much too stiff that way, so rip rip rip, out it came. 

3-D Play Mat is a scrappy experiment that started when the Covered in Love block drive featured a pleated, textured block. I had so much fun making that block that I went looking for other three dimensional tutorials. That led me to Teresa Down Under's Sewn Up blog and her series of textured 4-patches.
Someone wise suggested using coordinating colors when sewing up sample blocks, so I chose cream, turquoise, red and pink fabrics.


The first block I made riffed on Kat's pleated block, which she called Grandad's Shirts. This isn't the same block, but used the same pleat technique.

After that, I dove into Teresa's blocks. I tried Prairie Point Pinwheels,

Origami pinwheel (which is quite thick), 

and several bias edge manipulation blocks including this fussy cut bird and several flying geese. Teresa's tutorials also include a large number of smocking, ruffles and elaborate pin tucks that looked really hard. But now that I've finished this little sampler, I think I might try my hand at one or two of them.

The blocks are sashed with a bold black and white polka dot and the backing is a dark red dot on white corduroy. The overall size is 39" x 39". Like Winter Magic, I used flannel instead of batting and a no-binding finish. I kept the quilting very minimal, just enough to hold things in place. I thought the soft but busy 3-D blocks would be fun for a baby to explore while having "tummy time," so I think of this as a floor mat rather than a blanket.

Linking up with Oh, Scrap! and Scraptastic Tuesday this week.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gulf Coast Churn Dash finish

My version of the Chunky Churn Dash pattern is a finish. Gulf Coast Churn Dash was started back in January, when the Rainbow Scrap Challenge color was purple. After sewing up as many purple blocks as my scraps allowed, I immediately moved on to blue, aqua, and green blocks.

I guess I'm not patient enough to wait until a new color is announced each month! This aqua block shows the quilting, a free style overlapping circles motif. It's not free motion, though; I used the walking foot. But without any markings and just eyeballing it, the curves are a bit wonky and don't intersect into perfect circles. I'm OK with that. I started by stitching in the ditch because I thought I'd do a more elaborate design in each block, but this simpler pattern won out so it wouldn't compete with the busy, scrappy fabrics. The SITD was totally unnecessary, sigh.

This block is one of my favorites, with the fussy cut butterfly flitting through the cloudy sky fabric. It's a peaceful little scene, and I hope it gives some comfort to the recipient. This quilt is going to be donated to Covered in Love and will be given to a terminal hospital patient to brighten their last few hours or days. 

The backing is quite scrappy, too, using several orphaned blue/green/purple fabrics. All the remaining chunky churns are here, too. I had no preconceived idea of how large this quilt would be when I started sewing the blocks and ended up with extras. This photo also shows gratuitous husband feet and knuckles.

Here's a boaty glamour shot, showing our anchorage this morning near Cameron, LA. You can see a couple of the tools of the boatswain's trade, which is my primary role on the boat. One of my three boat poles is holding down the far edge of the quilt against the breeze, my beautiful (but disappointingly low quality) blue line is hung from the rail, and you can see just a sliver of my lurid orange ball fender. Those beefy, commercial boats in the background service the oil platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico, and are built to handle very rough waters.

Here in a bend in the Calcasieu River, though, it's calm and peaceful. And, apparently, full of shrimp. As we were taking quilt photos, we heard the unmistakable sound of dolphins exhaling at the surface as they were feasting. Boosh! Boosh! At least four were feeding within 100 feet of the boat and I managed to snap one decent shot. They only surface for a second, and then reappear a random distance and direction away, so it's tricky to capture them. I love it when dolphins visit us; they are so graceful and sleek.

Gulf Coast Churn Dash still needs a trip through the washer and dryer, and I might ask Kat to do that depending on the timing of our next marina visit.

Linking up with Cathy's Butterfly and Kaleidoscope  and Kat's Sew Some Love linkies this week.