Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When the going gets tough...

...the tough get sewing. We are finally underway toward Key West after a much longer stay in Fort Lauderdale than expected. We were supposed to have been in the Bahamas a month ago but too many boat problems slowed us way down. If you're interested in the details, you can read our travel log, but suffice it to say that I've had plenty of time to sew while the clock went tick tock tick tock in the boatyard.

After my big push to get a bunch of quilts completely finished and shipped out before we left the country, what bubbled up to the surface in my studio was a bunch of little stuff.

First I stitched up some purple scraps for the February Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC). I made string blocks on muslin foundations to go with January's light blue ones.

Then I made a couple of square spiral blocks, one with light neutral around the outside and one with purple. If I make a pair of these in each color, the colors and neutrals should alternate nicely in the final layout.

Next I pieced some 3.5" purple squares into 12"x15" blocks. These will be the backgrounds for this simple cat applique.

The cats this month will be in bright yellows and my plan is to do each month's RSC color as the background with the cats the opposite on the color wheel. I'm going to try the Crafted Applique method for this, but haven't gotten that far yet. We had no running water in the boat for a while so I had no good way to clean up the Modge Podge used in Crafted Applique.

I recently joined the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild and they had a little challenge during the Olympics: sew some blocks in the colors of the Olympic rings.

I pulled out red, yellow, blue, green and black scraps and put together this fast and simple I-spy flimsy.

Since I don't have a lot of black fabric, I used more cheerful yellow. I just love this chicken fabric! This piece will eventually go to Wrap A Smile.

This mini featuring two cat panels was pieced ages ago and keeps getting buried under other projects. I finally sandwiched and quilted it. I FMQ outlined the kitties and did a bit of thread painting on their fur. The border got a simple stipple in variegated thread. A spring green binding finished it up.

It was designed to fit on the small counter right under the toilet paper roll in our bathroom. That surface collects a weird amount of dust, so this mini should hide that. Glamorous, huh? Keepin' it real, here.

And finally, this horizontal wall hanging was made from three leftover blocks from O, Star! I made that quilt for my Mom back in September from the Night Sky pattern by Jaybird Quilts. I just love the saturated brights against black.

Three Stars hangs in our pilot house, directly above the settee and under the air conditioner. I sit on the settee when we are underway. The odd piece of white plastic hanging above the quilt is an air diverter to keep the cold air from blowing on the back of my neck. The string holds it up so the air flows toward the ceiling. It can be removed when not needed. Normally this sort of a/c unit would be much higher, near the 8-10 foot ceilings of a house. But our ceilings are low and the settee is high so I need the diverter. The plastic is ugly, but I'm happy to have the cool air.

I quilted Three Stars similarly to my Mom's piece, with a loopy point to point design in the stars and a couple of FMQ fillers in the black. They are invisible since I used black thread. Oh well, it was good practice and I'm happy with this little finish. It adds a little spark to the room and reminds me of my Mom at the same time!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Swedish Postcards

I am participating in the Postcards From Sweden Quilt Along. In my mind, I call it the "Swedalong," although folks less weird than me are using "PFS QAL." It's not too late to join in with Sandra and the gang if you want to make this fun, bright quilt. My fabrics were all selected from stash, and are mostly prints and blenders with a handful of solids.

The pattern calls for 36 different Kona solids (for my non-quilting readers, Kona is a fabric brand) with names like "Capri" and "Cypress." I had to go through each color name and compare it to the color photos in the pattern to decipher some of them. Both of the above named colors are pale aquas. Who knew? I made a list of all the colors used in the pattern with their translations:

Kona color          Rough translation
1 Lipstick             Red
2 Flame                Red-orange
3 Bright Pink       Red-pink
4 Pomegranate  Red
5 Blue grass        Aqua
6 Fern                   Green
7 Sprout               Yellow-green
8 Citrus                Yellow
9 Lemon              Yellow
10 Peach              Pale orange
11 Mango            Pale orange
12 Kumquat        Dark orange
13 Chartreuse     Yellow-green
14 Leprechaun   Green-yellow
15 Cypress           Pale aqua
16 Lake                Light blue
17 Delft                Dark blue gray
18 Breakers         Blue-aqua
19 Oasis               Dark aqua
20 Royal              Royal blue
21 Capri               Pale aqua
22 Thistle             Pale pink
23 Cerise             Dark red-purple
24 Purple             Dark purple
25 Mulberry        Medium purple
26 Crocus            Medium purple
27 Poppy             Dark red-orange
28 Violet              Medium purple
29 Azalea             Pink
30 Carnation       Pale pink
31 Bubble gum   Pink
32 Candy Pink     Pink
33 Water             Medium blue
34 Carrot             Orange
35 School bus     Orange
36 Pear                Pale green

I found roughly equivalent fabrics and put them in rainbow order. I do love a good rainbow! However, the pattern refers to each color by number, and the numbers are not necessarily in color order. The dark reddish purple at the end in the photo is number 23 "Cerise," but that became completely irrelevant as the pattern progressed. I made little numbered tags that I attached to each color with Clover clips.

After selecting fabrics, the next step was to cut a certain number of squares from each color. The number of squares ranged from 1 or 2 up to 9. Each square was then cut in half into triangles. I then sorted my triangles in numerical order onto paper plates, being careful to always keep them clipped to their number.

Good thing, too, since I'm kinda clumsy. Oops! Fortunately, my clipped numbers system survived this fall intact and no fabric was harmed nor tempers lost.

Choosing fabrics and cutting the triangles are as far along as the QAL has gone this month, but I was having so much fun that I kept going. I'm really not a quilt along-er so much as a quilt all at once-r. But don't feel bad if you're just cutting your triangles, because that makes you someone who follows directions better than I do.

The pattern next calls for pairs of triangles to be sewn back into squares. I've heard it said that quilting is just cutting up perfectly good fabric so you can sew it right back together again. So true. The pattern lays out the blocks in 15 rows of 12 squares. I chose to sew only one row at a time, and marked each block with numbers 1-12 using blue painters tape. I was able to reuse the tape all the way to row "O" although the tape stickum was pretty wimpy by about row "L."

I can't tell you how many times I almost sewed block 4 to block 7 instead of block 5, or turned a block 90 degrees, so the blue tape kept me on the straight and narrow. After the row was sewn together, I only needed the correct letter, A-O, on the far left block, plus an arrow to show which way I pressed the blocks.

If you're getting ready to sew your PFS QAL blocks, I highly recommend using some sort of consistent numbering or lettering system. And keep in mind that each triangle rotates a quarter turn from all the ones around it. In other words, a block with the diagonal seam going from upper right to lower left ALWAYS joins a block that has the seam going from upper left to lower right. I also noticed that the two-triangle blocks were usually colors fairly close together on the color wheel. If you find yourself sewing together a blue and an orange, double check your numbers! 

I managed to finish piecing all the way to row "N" before I realized I was short a #23 Cerise triangle because it got sewn into the wrong spot earlier. Spoiler alert: I chose to go the Amish route (you know, the myth that the Amish always put a mistake in their quilts because no human is perfect) and left the mistake in as a mark of humility. Or laziness. Or OMG THERE ARE SO MANY TRIANGLES NO ONE WILL NOTICE ONE MISTAKE!!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A rare glimpse of a quilt in the wild

You guys!! Bernie of Needle and Foot just sent me this link to a short video on her Facebook page. It shows a little girl unwrapping her new Doll Like Me baby, and one of my quilts was in the box, too. So exciting to see it in the hands of such a happy, bubbly kid! Can you see me doing my happy dance?

A Doll Like Me creates dolls that look like a child who has features not usually found on standard dolls. Those features might be limb differences, birthmarks, albinism, or scars. Amy, who sews the dolls, also makes sure that the doll's hair and skin color are the same as the child's. The bodies are soft, cuddly fabric and are the same size as American Girl dolls, making it easy to find clothes and accessories. And the doll faces are so, so sweet. Who wouldn't love a doll like that?

Quite a number of quilters are sewing little quilts for Amy's charity, so I feel super lucky that one of mine was captured on video. If you're not on Facebook, you can still kinda sorta see most of the video by clicking "No thanks" when Facebook tries to cover it up. I don't have my own account, so I watched it on DH's account. Then I begged him to share it on FB because I'm so excited! He'll probably be swamped with quilt and doll stuff now, ha ha!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Giftie McGiftersons

It's time to reveal some secret sewing! Recently I made baby quilts for two still-in-the-oven family members and they have been received by the expecting parents so I can share them here.

This one is called Hugs and Kishes, Covered With Fishes. The pattern is Hugs and Kisses by Lyn Brown, available for free here. I made it with a layer cake from Free Spirit fabrics.

The fabrics feature sea creatures like whales, fish, sharks, and crabs. The crab fabric also says "crabby crabby crabby" all over it, which cracks me up! This quilt is for my cousins Greer and Nate. Nate's parents, the doting grandparents, are both marine biologists. I've made two other oceanic quilts for this family: Scuba Dog and Dive Path.

You'll be SHOCKED to see this yellow plaid as the backing. It really is great fabric and I still have yards and yards and YARDS of it left. Floppy feather quilting in yellow thread gives nice texture and snuggly softness.

My cousins usually don't find out the gender of their baby until the day the little one arrives, so I thought these bright colors would work for them no matter what. 

I had the perfect stripe in my stash for binding, too. The colors in the layer cake included an usual burgundy that was also in this stripe, even though they are two completely different fabric lines. 

My brother's middle daughter, Charis, is just entering her third trimester. Charis and Nate (yes, another Nate!) are expecting a little sister for their darling son. I made Hungry Animal Alphabet for them. The panel is from Janet Wecker-Frisch, and features an animal, a food, and lots of other fun things to find that begin with each letter. 

The drawings are really sweet and well done. Here's a hippo in a hibiscus housecoat, eating a hamburger near a hat rack.

Who eats raspberries? A rhino in a rose-covered romper, of course! This one is my favorite because there's a quilt on the table and another hanging on the wall behind the quail. (The wall quilt is a bear paw pattern, if you must know.)

Charis is using soft colors in the bambina's nursery, so I bordered the panel squares with this nice tweedy gray Essex Linen and used sage green cornerstones.

On the back I used several pink fabrics. I wanted to put more pink on the front, but it didn't work quite right with the animal prints.

The border is another fabric from the same line, featuring a number of the hungry animals. I stitched a flanged binding with the sage green and a matching stripe. The quilting is straight lines that echo the blocks and diagonals across the middle of each block.

Charis said she ripped open the box as soon as it arrived because she knew what must be inside. That makes a quilting auntie very happy!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Looks like a great eBay deal...

I just saw this "Buy It Now" listing on eBay for 50 fat quarters of blue fabric plus a nice looking pattern: Quilt Fabric. About $21 including shipping for over 12 yards of fabric!

Normally I would snap this right up for myself, but I no longer have a good way to receive mail before we leave the country. Maybe one of my readers will find it interesting.

I know nothing about this seller, and it's clear that she doesn't know much about fabric. She says the fabric is from the estate of a quilter. I recognize some of the fabric so at least some of it is 100% cotton, and probably most of it is. The seller decided to cut yardage up into FQs to sell it, maybe because she heard quilters like FQs? Odd to have a listing of multiple FQs of the same fabric, but hey, the price is right.

If you decide to buy it, leave me a comment and I'll update this blog post. Good luck!

Monday, February 5, 2018

UFO sighting

I made these blocks back in October and stitched up the flimsy which then got folded up neatly onto a hanger and hung behind the studio door. Once that happens for me, a project officially becomes a dreaded UFO. In Quilt Blog Land (QBL) a UFO means UnFinished Object.

UFO Busting

Well, Tish in Wonderland is helping keep all of us on track to get our UFOs out of the closet and back into the bright sunshine! 

I admit I don't sweat my UFOs very much. My storage space is really limited, so it doesn't take long before I get motivated to work on a piece just to get it moved along and off the boat.

But seeing all the progress that other quilters are making on their UFOs prompted me to pull out this scrappy happy piece and get it finished earlier rather than later.

I layered it up with more of the yellow plaid that DH's aunt gave me, and quilted it simply with FMQ orange peels. I'm not sure what possessed me to use light blue in the bobbin except there is a thin blue line in the yellow plaid. Yellow thread disappears on this fabric, but the blue...not so much. After a good wash and dry, though, all the wobbles and bobbles blended in.

I decided to donate this quilt to Wrap A Smile (WAS), which is one of the great charities supported by my new online guild, Sunshine. I managed to get it into the mail last week.

This quilt is full of novelty print scraps. Dogs and scooters and cupcakes and mice...

...and basketballs and hummingbirds and trucks...

...and bicycles and stars and chicken drumsticks, just to name a few. A bright purple binding ties it all together. Most of the WAS quilt recipients are young children, so I think this will provide some comfort and entertainment.

I've named it Scrap A Smile and this UFO is officially Busted!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sweet DREAMIs!

DREAMI, if you don't know, stands for DRop Everything And Make It! Also known as a quilting squirrel, it's a project that you just can't resist and have to make RIGHT NOW.

This week I learned about another neat charity, called A Doll Like Me. Amy sews soft, sweet dolls that share a physical disability with their young owner. It might be a scar, a birthmark, or a missing limb. It might be a bald doll for a tiny chemo patient. As a pediatric nurse, Amy sees how powerful and healing it is for children to love dolls that look like themselves. 

Bernie at Needle and Foot put out a call for quilters to make some tiny quilts to go with these amazing dolls, and I just couldn't resist stitching up these three. I had some left over blocks from one of my first Project Linus quilts. I thought the bright, happy jungle animals might bring a smile.

At around 20"x24" each, these little pieces stitched up super fast and I was able to make them all in a single day. I quilted them with a quick stipple and bound them all in the same blue stripe. 

I have a niece who had open heart surgery as a baby. When she was a little girl, she struggled with the large scar on her upper chest, always worrying that she looked "different." These quilts were made in her honor.

Making them was definitely a SQUIRREL! moment, so I'm calling them Kit 1, Kit 2, and Kit 3, since baby squirrels are called kits. I tested Kit 2 on Big Daddy, who rides on my husband's scooter. A perfect fit!

My scooter has a bear, too, named Eddy Jr. He's has been out in the rain for a while, his fur is starting to shed, and he's got a thin layer of road grime on him. He doesn't mind, but I didn't want to muss up the quilt. Big Daddy and the scooter he rides are both brand new and very clean, because they replace a bike and bear that were stolen from us mere weeks ago. That is a sad and sordid tale that I'll leave for another time, but you might notice the big cable lock around both front tires. We are sadder, wiser and more paranoid now.