Saturday, August 26, 2017

Friday Finish

This baby quilt is called Butterfly Garden. It's made from a charm pack and some yardage, using the free Moda Bake Shop pattern "Building Blocks."

I started it after learning that a friend is expecting her first baby, a little girl. However, I have since decided on a completely different quilt for her, which is still a secret.

The backing is a single piece of a soft mottled orange that reminds me of orange sherbet.


The quilting is widely spaced spirals radiating out from each corner. I used my new walking foot with the spacer bar to keep the lines nice and even. These big spirals went so much faster than the tiny ones on Bright Astrodelic.

I really like how the spirals meet in this diamond pattern right in the middle. The cream neutral fabric has butterflies, birds and flowers on it, and a few French words and phrases.

The charm pack also featured butterflies and flowers in these cheerful pinks and oranges. The binding is flanged with orange and pink from my stash. That mottled green is from the big batch of freebies sent to me by Lydia.

After its spa day, Butterfly Garden is super soft and textured. I haven't decided what do to with this quilt yet. I might tuck it away for another baby, or I might send it in to my Project Linus group. It seems like I should have a few finished quilts in my stash for fast gifting, although we don't know many folks in the new baby stage of life. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Charleston update

Just a quick post to let you know that we are not anywhere near the active hostage situation in Charleston.

We've had some serious medical news from both my and my husband's families in the last 24 hours, so we're particularly on edge today. Please hold good thoughts for them!

We don't normally watch the news during the day but I'm currently at the eye doctor's office and saw the local news. This office has wifi but no phone coverage so I thought I'd put up this fast post.

I did finish a gift baby quilt this morning, but no photos to share until it arrives at its new home.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Boat maintenance sewing

Yesterday I tackled a couple of small canvas jobs for the boat. I dislike this type of sewing, but it's my responsibility so it was time to suck it up, Buttercup, and get it done. This little table is made of teak and has a lip all the way around it to keep your wine glass from sliding off. Unfortunately, that lip also collects rain water, so the table needs a waterproof cover.

I made one four years ago from a pretty floral fabric that was supposed to be weatherproof, but it faded badly. Then I made a quickie cover out of a vinyl tablecloth, which disintegrated in less than a year. So I finally did what I should have done in the beginning, which is make a cover from Sunbrella, which wears like iron. It's also like sewing cardboard, but it's finished now and looks nice so I'll stop whining (maybe.)

The bottom is elasticized with bungee cord for easy removal.

You may notice that the top isn't flat. That's because even Sunbrella will eventually soak up water if it puddles for several days. So we stuff this Nerf football underneath to peak the center of the cover up. Then the rain rolls right off!

In the background of the top photo, you can see several blue Sunbrella pillows. The first two I made using regular cotton thread, which degrades in the bright sunlight. I have since started using UV stable thread, which is thick and waxy, like dental floss. Eventually, one of the ties that holds the pillow to the railing fell off, and I stitched that back on yesterday since I had the UV thread loaded in the machine for the table cover.

I also did a repair of our life raft cover. The life raft in its container is about the size of a suitcase, and sits on the back port side corner of the upper deck, hoping to never be used. To extend the life of the fiberglass case, I made this simple, boxy Sunbrella cover about three years ago. There is a rather sharp piece of the raft that sticks up underneath on one end, and it rubs against the cover when the wind is really blowing and flapping things around.

That rubbing eventually caused a small tear, which I repaired with an iron-on patch from underneath. However, it still didn't seem quite secure enough, so I also ran a line of UV stable stitching around it. The tear still shows, but that doesn't bother me much. No one is closely examining the life raft cover! I also decided the minor amount of mildew on the cover was acceptable for the same reason. I'd rather see a bit of black or green gunk than remove the waterproof coating with harsh cleaning chemicals.

After wrassling with thick, waxy UV thread and bulky, stiff and dirty Sunbrella, I'm looking forward to slipping some nice Aurifil into my bobbin and getting back to quilting on cotton!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Happy mail!

I received a very sweet gift in the mail last week from Kat as a thank you. She traveled to New Mexico and was away from her blog and sewing machine this summer and I lent a hand. Aren't these great southwestern souvenirs?

The soap smells heavenly, and the arrowhead fabric coordinates really well with this Laurel Burch horse panel I bought last year. I also had the smaller horse print, which has really subtle touches of blue. The arrowheads bring that blue into focus, and I'm looking forward to using these pieces together soon. Thanks, Kat!

I also received a big batch of fabrics that I had ordered on eBay. All these fat quarters are either architectural motifs like bricks and wood grain, or natural themes like trees, sky and water. I think these come from the estate of a quilter who created landscape quilts. 

I also bought this fun woodsy panel to add to my stash of more masculine themed fabrics. Not that we gals don't love a good moose, too! I like how this print has both realistic animals, and sort of woodcut silhouettes.

I'm writing this post on the train from New York to Charleston, and scheduling it to publish on Sunday so I can link up with Molli Sparkles' Sunday Stash. By the time you read it, I should be home again on the boat and back to my sewing after a week away.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


What happens when you should be quilting the last two recently finished WIPs and an Anita Grossman Solomon book shows up in the mail? Why of course you pull out an old FQ bundle, add in some coordinating blenders, and piece up 48 Old Italian Blocks.

I love this block, but it always looked a bit too complicated and fiddly to make. Anita's book has a super simple method to cut the oddly shaped pieces without even measuring. I like the way she thinks: why do it the hard way?

Actually, I made 50 blocks, because I still struggle with value and contrast. These two looked great when I put the fabrics next to each other, but turned into mush in the blocks. The colors and scale of the fabrics are just too similar. With Anita's method, you get two reverse blocks from each pair of fabrics, so I ended up with double mush. Oh well. It only took a few minutes to pair up a couple with much better contrast and these will be set aside for who knows what.

And then, once you've made 48 (or 50) blocks and need to be packing for your week long trip to New York, what's a girl to do except try six different flimsy layouts then stitch them all together? I still see a few blocks that where the contrast could be better, but overall I'm happy with this. I'm thinking I might do a completely scrappy version and really, really concentrate on each block having the strong contrast that makes the "X" pattern shimmer.

The top is currently 36"x48", so it could be a wheelchair quilt as-is, or perhaps I'll add some borders to make it bigger. It felt good to do this whirlwind of sewing right before I had to leave my quilting for a week. 

Linking up with Sandra's DrEAMi party, since I dropped everything to chase this squirrel!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cat on a quilt

Lily Pad Quilting has an annual link party called "Pets on Quilts" and this is the big week to join in. Seems like many quilters have furry quilt inspectors! Since many of my pieces get donated, I try my best to keep Angel off of them. But as you can see, I'm not always successful.

I realized that I never shared the finish of this quilt, which has actually been done for about four months. Last time I blogged about it, it was an unfinished flimsy with only the blue polka dotted border. It felt a little small, so I added the piano key border in bright pinks to help the triangle points pop out a bit. Many of the fabrics are Kaffe Fassett.

The border is a striped fabric, not pieced, and I quilted between each stripe to make it look pieced. That was actually quite tedious, and next time I think I'll just piece instead! The rest of the quilting is straight lines about 3/4" from the seams. This is a wild and busy quilt, but soft and snuggly. It hasn't named itself, either. Any suggestions?

You can see a little of the back in this arty-farty sky photo. It's a pretty abstract floral in all the same bright colors on a white background. There's also a bit of grey, which matches Angel's fur on the front. 

We're taking Angel to the kennel today as we will be out of town and off the boat for a week. I didn't have the heart to boot her off the quilt last night since she's on her way to cat jail. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Charleston County Lines

Today's little quilts are both made using the County Lines pattern. This is the second (and third) time I've used this pattern; it's fast and easy. Sewing both flimsies at the same time allowed for a lot of efficient chain piecing. 

This fall-themed quilt is called Anticipating Autumn. The fabrics feature leaves, pumpkins, apples, and gourds. The green fabric is a neat basketweave print from the lady who donated 15 pounds of fabric to me last month. I used a mottled cream sashing to keep it light.

The wind conveniently flipped a corner up to show the single piece backing. It's a tone on tone leaf motif in rusty orange. A brighter orange blender binding makes the little pumpkins pop. I think the colors look really nice with our boat's new paint color, "Moondust." Much more coordinating than that ratty blue line, which is worn out and ready for the trash. I have brand new navy blue lines that I'm rather overly excited about. The yellow thing is our power cord.

For the quilting, I did a variety of FMQ motifs in the squares and rectangles. With the busy fabrics, it was pretty much a waste of time! The quilting is almost complete invisible. So here's another photo of our neighbor's pretty little Down East boat. The teak brightwork (wood) on this boat is gorgeous, so I didn't use my clips to hold the quilt in place and almost lost it into the water. Yikes!

I did get in some good FMQ practice on Anticipating Autumn, so that's a fine thing. I also decided not to stitch in the ditch or quilt the sashing at all, just to see how that looks after washing. It was nice to let the harvest-y fabrics remind me that cooler weather is coming, since it's been so hot and humid here.

The second quilt is called Charleston Catch, and features fishing fabrics and mossy green sashing. There are fish, seagulls, fish, guys with fishing poles, more fish, and boats. 

Specifically, the fabric shows this type of center console fishing boat. These are very, very common in South Carolina, so I thought a local retired fisherman would get a kick out of using this on his or her lap. The binding fabric is a dark blue with little bubbles on it. Having learned my lesson on the last one about FMQ and busy fabrics, I just did a simple large stipple on this one.

Another one of our marina neighbors has a (very nice and expensive) center console, so I tossed the quilt over the gunwales for a photo. It's considered quite rude to climb aboard without permission, so this was as much as I wanted to touch their boat. Our boat is in the upper right corner of the pic, with four large, lurid orange ball fenders protecting it from bad drivers (we've been hit once already in this marina.)

Here's another shot on the center console, which is actually the tender (small, auxiliary boat) for "Tika Dika," the large sailboat behind it. 

If you'd like to purchase your own boat, here's the sales office. It's kind of a sales shed, but quite a nice shed. I used their advertising/sandwich board to display my quilt, and the southerly wind held it nicely in place. No flapping in the wind! I'll have to remember that for more photo shoots.

I have six little quilts in the washing machine right at this minute, and I'm eager to see how my various experiments in quilting and puckering have fared.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Two Peas In A Pod

Two fast and fun finishes: meet Pod One and Pod Two. Don't ask me which is which. These are both the 36"x48" small wheelchair size that I've been making lately. They go together so quickly at this size, especially when the blocks are already sewn.

Back in March, I pieced 32 of these leaf shapes out of a jelly roll of autumnal fabrics. I really like the colors and shape, but just couldn't make a layout that worked well. With big, 12" blocks, it didn't make sense to sew up a large flimsy that I didn't really care for, so I set the blocks aside.

However, when I limited myself to the much smaller three by four block layout, I was able to get the leafy shapes to play nicely across the quilt. Each row "leans" in the same direction and feels a bit more orderly.  The colors aren't true in these photos; the main fabrics are quite bright, and the background is a much warmer, nicer tan faux burlap design.

On the first one, I tried my hand at big, loose feathers in each block. Then I did a bit of echoing in the sashing. I guess this one must be Pod One. I tried several styles of feathers, some more successful than others. They were fun, but almost completely lost on the busy fabrics. I guess that's a good way to hide the wonky feathers while I practice. (Note that I think of these shapes as leaves, but DH Sean kept calling them pods, and the name stuck. Leaves don't have feathers, anyway, but feathery pods might?)

Rather than lose more quilting into the visual chaos, I chose to do simple curvy cross hatching on Pod Two. This was very fast and easy, taking less than two hours on my domestic machine using my new walking foot with the spacer bar. The spacing is 1.75".

Here are the two different bindings: a groovy, psychedelic 70s paisley in exactly the right colors, and a small, dark green diagonal stripe in more traditional fabric. The stripe is printed diagonally; that's not bias binding. I'm way too lazy for bias binding unless there are actual curves to bind around. 

Here are the backs. These fabrics are just about as dull as they appear in the oddly lit photo: a brownish grey cable print on the left, and dark green flowers on tan on the left. Certainly not what I would put on the back of a child's quilt, but perfectly serviceable for adult quilts. At least the fabrics have a nice, soft hand to offset their "meh" coloring.

The grey cable print does show the nice shape of the enclosed pod feathers. That sounds a bit like a mild curse, doesn't it? "Oh, pod feathers, madame!"

Here's a close up. One of those feather lobes is a bit mutant!

On the back of Pod Two...a very, very large pucker. Oh, no! Drat, darn, and pod feathers! I found the pucker after completely finishing the quilting, when the cross hatching was done from both directions. I considered ripping a bunch out, but then decided to try something different.

In this more distant shot, you can see that the backing fabric isn't particularly geometric. With the curved stitching moving your eye around, I think it is visually forgiving enough that I can just hand sew the pucker down into place, and it won't be very noticeable. So I put on the binding and will do the handwork in the next couple of days. Then we'll see how it fares after a trip through Mr. Whirlpool's Quilt Spa (AKA, my washer and dryer). If it looks bad, I can always rip it out later.

Linking up to Free Motion Mavericks.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cool Tool Monday: Eye Vac

I don't know who started Cool Tool Monday, but I learned about it from Wendy of Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life. It's fun to read about what other folks consider a useful tool, so I'm joining in.

I first saw an Eye Vac automatic vacuum cleaner at a hair salon. The stylist used a broom to whisk my hair clippings into the base of this little black box, and WHOOSH! It all disappeared. I went home and immediately told DH Sean that we were getting one ASAP.

In this video, I demonstrate how simple it is to use. Just sweep the dirt up near the bottom of the machine, and it automatically starts, runs for several seconds, then turns off. I used little pieces of paper to make it easier to see the vacuum action. I also pulled it away from the wall for a better video angle. But normally it stays tucked in a corner and doesn't move.

Our Eye Vac sits right next to the cat-sized hole that leads to the litter box. Angel always tracks a few bits of litter out onto the wood floor, and I used to use a dust pan and brush to clean that up. Because that involved bending over to reach the dust pan, then carrying it through the kitchen to the garbage can, and I'm pretty lazy, cleaning didn't happen as often as it should. But now, it's so fun to make the Eye Vac go WHOOSH! that I use it every day. The dirt goes into a bin with a filter. To empty the bin, it tilts forward and away, and can easily be dumped into the trash.

OK, quilters: Imagine having one of these handy dandy robotic friends in your quilt room to suck up all the bits of thread and quilt lint that always ends up on the floor. I think this would be a neat addition to a quilt studio with tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors. Obviously, this isn't going to work if you have carpet. My sewing room is carpeted, alas, or I would have my Eye Vac down there in a hot second. Meanwhile, it's doing a great job with the cat litter, and anything else that needs sweeping up from our pilot house and galley.


I've seen these for sale on Amazon and eBay, and they come in either black or white. Typical price is around $100, which isn't cheap. But the hair stylist told me theirs has been working like a champ for over a year, and I can tell you it's a sturdy, well made machine. And it doesn't look like a vacuum cleaner, so I don't mind having it out in plain view all the time.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Making hay while the sun shines

Well, taking photos while the sun shines, anyway. I have two finishes to share today. First one is called Partly Cloudy. I pieced this little sample of dark and light strings a couple of months ago. After gathering, sorting into light to dark shades, and stitching together lots of 1.5" scraps, I ran out of steam when the top was about 36"x44".

Since coming to Charleston, I've learned about a charity called Quilted Embrace, which provides small lap quilts to wheelchair-bound seniors. One of the local guilds is collecting quilts for them, and I'm hoping to jump on that bandwagon if the guild allows me. Quilted Embrace requests 36"x48" quilts, so it was a simple matter to add a few inches in length to this piece and quilt it up.

The fabrics are quite busy, so a simple loop-de-loop motif inside parallel lines was a fast and easy way to free motion Partly Cloudy. I used a lighter neutral beige thread in the light sections, and a darker grey in the dark diagonal. It didn't actually make much difference, but it was a useful experiment. Black binding frames the riot of color and pattern.

The backing is a single piece of this pretty Asian-inspired blue and pink floral. As you know, working on smaller quilts is the best fit for my tiny sewing space, and I'm excited to be sewing up some pieces for adults. I'm still having fun with kid-friendly themed quilts, but have decided to concentrate on Embrace quilts while in Charleston. So excited, in fact, that I've already pieced and basted at least six quilts! I'll be sharing those with you one by one as I get them quilted.

If you read my guest post over at Kat's last week, you know how happy I am to donate this super-scrappy piece full of visual interest to a charity.

This next quilt is called Fiesta De Los Gatos. The cats are cut from a fun Makower UK panel, and it finishes at 50"x50". Sorry for the rather crooked and blurry photo; the sun was so bright that I could hardly see my phone screen, and the wind kept flipping up the lower right corner. I'll take more pics after washing because it's raining again now.

Each panel is surrounded by red, green, or blue sparkling fabrics. Between the fact that each cat is smiling and the festive metallics, I couldn't help thinking that the cats were at a party and the Fiesta name stuck. The thin, cream and gold inner borders are actually part of the panel, so they were easy peasy. I quilted a different filler motif in the background fabrics, and outlined each kitty.

Here you can see a cat outline. Sean was particularly amused by this moggy's toes. The backing fabric I used is fairly thin, so there was a bit of bearding. That's the white fuzz you see in this picture, which will wash away.

Here's a shot that shows some of the fillers I used: back and forth diagonal lines, meander, ribbons, and pointy arcs. I used coordinating red, green or blue thread on top so it was a bit hard to see what I was doing. It was a relief to see that the beige bobbin thread looked pretty good on the back.

The fillers are quite a bit denser than the cat panels, which might be an issue after washing. If the panels pucker too much after Fiesta De Los Gatos has its spa day, I'll go back and add more quilting. I haven't completely decided who to give this quilt to, but it reminds me a lot of one of my cousins. Perhaps I'll surprise her with it.

Linking up with Pets on Quilts at Lily Pad Quilting in the "pet themed" category.