Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Palm Beach interlude

We are anchored in Lake Worth, between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, and happy to be back in the United States. One of our first tasks ashore was to visit a Publix supermarket, where we wandered around touching all the familiar food items. "Look! Ghirardelli chocolate! Seven different kinds of tomatoes! A bag of Chex Mix for less than $7!!" Life is good.

In between visits to first world establishments (a real Italian restaurant! free public transportation!) I've had plenty of time to work on some more of my UFOs. This one was actually finished back at Dudley's dock, but didn't make it into my retreat post. This is my Ernie quilt, inspired by Rose and finally all quilted up using simple stitch in the ditch. 

I debated whether to add more quilting in the homespuns, and I'm still a bit on the fence even after a pass through the washer and dryer. The horizontal pieces are 1.5" finished, so there's certainly enough quilting to hold it together. Does it need anything more fancy? Hmm.

The backing is some big chunks of the coral and green, plus a stripe of the border fabric. This one is going to Covered in Love.

This one is also bound for CiL. The blocks are called Old Italian, made with Anita Grossman Solomon's method from one of her books. I only made enough of them for a 36"x48" quilt, so it needed a nice wide border to get it up to CiL size. 

The colors in this top seem very 1980s to me: dusty blue and pink and maroon. So I've named it '80s Flashback. Or maybe that should be "Flashdance"? Anyway, I quilted the center with orange peels that barely show in the busy, busy fabrics.

In the border, I decided to practice big feathers. All that wide space called for something interesting, and I've been wanting to spend some concentrated time on feathers. A blending blue thread hides any wibbles and wobbles.

The quilting shows up better on the back, and I'm pretty happy with it. I had to pick out a couple of pleaty bits, but mostly it went smoothly. These are sort of beginner's feathers, what Angela Walters calls "basic" as opposed to "custom" feathers. 

Here's an overall shot of the back, which I pieced from some fabrics that are kinda sorta in the same '80s color scheme. Both the stripe and the blue border fabrics were donated to CiL, so I wanted to use them together in this quilt.

DH Sean really likes the colors in this one, but when I asked if we should just keep it, he said, "Um, no." Since I haven't been able to ship out anything in over four months, the boat is suffering from Deadly Quilt Backup and there are piles of quilts everywhere. I suspect he wants to see them gone, gone, gone.

Here are two more that I finished in the last week or so. They are small ones for Wrap a Smile, only 40"x50", so they stitched up speedy quick. They are literally half the size of the Covered in Love quilts. I get a lot of comments about how many quilts I finish, so it's good to keep in mind that the little ones go together super fast. By the way, that's tony Palm Beach in the background, with a median home value of $1,166,200. Our anchorage is free, bwa ha ha!

This piece is made from a charm pack of Kaffe Fasset Collective fabrics in soft, spring colors. I sashed and bordered it with a pretty green blender. All the fabrics are really light and soft, almost voiles. This one got a lot of petting and patting.

The backing is an odd garden veggie and greenery fabric, also a voile. It has leaves and leeks and broccoli on it. Several small pieces of this were donated to me by a gal on eBay who was clearing out her stash. I had no idea what I'd do with leek fabric, but it looks really nice on the back of this little quilt, which I'm  calling Peeking Through the Garden Lattice.

The quilting is quite simple, straight lines paralleling the piecing and extending into the border, done with my walking foot. An older, more traditional lavender with twee flowers made a nice binding.

Finally, this is Lazy Rail Fence. Rail fence designs are made by sewing strips of fabric together, but lazy rail fences simply use pre-printed stripes. I had lot of small chunks of bright striped fabrics so I just stitched them together in alternating directions. 

I think it actually looks quite festive, and it was a good scrap buster. I quilted it in bright yellow thread in a liberated orange peel. "Liberated" is quilting talk for "don't look too closely because things are a bit wonky." And "wonky" is quilting talk for "Dang, that's crooked!" But it's wonky on PURPOSE, so that's okay.

This quilt is also destined for Wrap a Smile, and it will hopefully comfort a small child undergoing cleft palate surgery. To keep it child-friendly and extra cheerful, I backed it with the last of my animal butts fabric. There are very few children who aren't endlessly amused by butts, so I'm confident it will be well-received.

I've finally been able to wash and dry all these quilts, but shipping them off to their destinations still has to wait at least another week. Tomorrow we are heading right back out into the Atlantic to head north. Palm Beach is nice, but heat, humidity and hurricanes make summer kinda the worst time to be in Florida. There is an excellent weather window that will hopefully allow us to take the boat directly to New York in one straight shot, so we're gettin' while the gettin' is good. I'll be completely out of range of internet for a week, but promise to respond to your comments and visit your blogs when I get back into coverage. (As always, if you're curious about our status while we're on long offshore passages, you can check the boat's Twitter page.  We update that using our limited bandwidth satellite phone for short "all's well" messages. You don't need to have a Twitter account to view the status updates.)

Cross your fingers that the ocean is calm enough for me to be able to sew!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

One woman quilting retreat

Angel and I are alone on the boat this week while DH Sean is at a conference in Dallas. We've decided to pretend that we're at a quilting retreat, with nothing to do but relax, sew and eat! I've been doing the quilting and she's been "testing." 

The boat is docked at a marina to make it easier for Sean to get to the airport, and to have access to power and water. The power has been great, allowing me to luxuriate in cool, dry air conditioning day and night. The water has Being fixed. Fixed tomorrow, ma'am. Maybe Monday, ma'am. Poor Dudley the Dockmaster finally admitted that they needed parts from the US to fix the water, and offered to drag a hose all the way down the dock to fill our tank. Six hoses, actually: it's a long dock.

I'm grateful to Dudley, because I really wanted to get a few quilts washed. By yesterday, I had finished quilting and binding these three, so they got a trip to the "spa" and are now washed, dried, and ready for their new homes. Don't they look jaunty up on the foredeck of our little shippy ship?

This first one is called Wild Horses (Couldn't Drag Me Away). Many moons ago, I bought a small lot of fabric on eBay because I wanted the bright, running horses on a black background. When the fabric arrived, there were several rail fence blocks already sewn, and lots of strips of horses cut. The strips ran both parallel and perpendicular to the horses' direction, but I figured by the time I twisted and turned all the rail blocks, that wouldn't matter. I added a few more brights from my stash to round out the rail fences, added a couple of borders, and voila!

Here's a close up that shows the simple stipple quilting I did. The fun, busy design didn't need any more than that. Wild Horses will go to Wrap A Smile.

Counting Fishes will also be heading to the Wrap A Smile charity, to help comfort a child undergoing surgery for a cleft palate. You may remember that this fabric was given to me by Karen. The bold, bright fish and big numbers dominate, and it has a little rhyme in small text, too. I really love using happy novelty fabrics like this. The fish have such sweet smiles!

This one got simple wavy line quilting to mimic flowing water. A fun, Juicy Fruit stripe matches the colors perfectly for the border. I wish I had another couple yards of that stripe; it's super versatile!


The third quilt is a little larger, and is just the right size for Quilts Beyond Borders. I'm calling it Butterfly Banners. Made of orphan blocks, I had fun quilting this one with a few different, easy motifs.

First I stitched in the ditch around each purple sashed area for stability. The four patches and sixteen patches have a curvy orange peel motif. I changed thread color a couple of times to try to match, but it's a bit tricky with brights and white right next to each other. The scrappy HST butterflies are simply outlined.

The banners have a diagonal, offset cross hatch design in light blue. I love that scooter fabric! Finally, the background field has a stipple in white thread. The pretty white with soft violets was given to me by Sean's aunt, left over from her years working at Laura Ashley. I'm happy with the turquoise striped binding, too. 

Here's a quick peek at the backings, courtesy of the gusty breezes. I was lucky to find single pieces of coordinating fabrics for each quilt that were just the right size. All these charity quilts have machine sewn binding and that goes zippy fast. It takes me about 40 minutes, total, to sew the binding to the back, flip it to the front, and finish stitching it down. I know many of you love the serenity of hand stitching binding, but I HATE doing it. Seriously, if I hadn't figured out that I could machine bind, I'd have given up on quilting after about 3 finishes.

This quilt was still under the needle when Dudley brought the hose, so it hasn't been washed yet. I'm trying to batch them together to fill the machine and not waste any water. Scrappy Asian-inspired chunks from my stash make up this soft piece. Originally I thought it would go to Covered in Love, but it has whispered to me that it might have another destiny. Nothing specific, just a hunch. Fortunately, I have two other CiL quilts queued up.

The back of the as-yet-unnamed-and-unassigned quilt is made of large squares of tan neutrals. I'm not sure how I ended up with so many of these blah prints, but they work well together as this backing. My stash of blah fuglies is now reduced, so win-win!

I was clearly on a roll with the stippling, and used it again for overall coverage. I do a mean stipple. "Mean," as in, "half of all quilters stipple better than Louise, and half stipple worse." Good enough for softness, drape and texture.

And finally, this was tonight's sunset over Nassau harbour. Every time I read about someone else's quilting retreat, there are always photos of the lovely setting, so here ya go. Like at all good quilt retreats, alcohol and dessert were consumed while enjoying the view.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A whole family of squirrels

It's time again to link up our DrEAMis/Squirrels with Sandra. Even though I don't usually have an agenda for what I sew on any given day, there are definitely projects that feel like DrEAMIs, where I Drop Everything And Make It. This stained glass looking top falls squarely in that category. I recently had pulled out this jelly roll of Nicey Jane fabrics because it was taking up awkward space in a box. Then Vicki and I were having a conversation about jelly roll patterns and as I browsed through my folder of free patterns, this Moda Bakeshop one called Noteworthy Labyrinth grabbed my attention. A little modification to the pattern and three days of concentrated sewing later, I had this top. 

There were a lot of different steps in the Bakeshop pattern and I felt like I could use a leader/ender project to go along with it. Mister Domestic had posted a fun quilt made with striped knit fabrics so I decided to make something similar. These are just simple 5.5" squares of various stripes, sewn into a basketweave design. It used up some scrappy stripey pieces that were too small to use as bindings. About 80% of the piecing was finished as leaders/enders by the time the jelly roll top was done, so it was practically a two-fer-one deal! Kind of a baby squirrel.

While I was selecting, ironing, and cutting my striped fabrics, I kept picking up and moving my box of dog-themed fabrics. That darn dog box was just constantly in the way! Only one thing to do about that: open it, pull some fabrics, and make 20 Mendota blocks with pooches, pups, and pugs. This one is destined for Wrap a Smile, and I've named it Squirrel Chases Dog. Another baby rodent skittering around my studio, tamed and tethered.

But wait! There's more! More dog fabrics, I mean. After using up most of the red, blue and brown dogs, there was a nice stack of greenish canine fabrics left over. I pulled a few green blenders and did a quick-n-dirty on-point layout. I don't love this one, but it was useful to figure out exactly what size blocks to cut to end up with the 40"x50" size Wrap A Smile prefers. This was my first test piece to get the 4/5 proportions correct. Next time I'll cut slightly smaller blocks and add a border to contain all the bias edges and give it more finished feel. Once I started thinking about the quilty math, my brain wouldn't stop chasing that nut hoarder. So this is little baby squirrel number three!

And finally, when Val announced her new Eye-Spy fabric swap, I just knew I had to participate. It's no secret that I love (and hoard) kid-friendly novelty fabrics. So I had plenty on hand to cut into the required 4" squares. To be part of the swap, you send in 20 squares each of 10 fabrics. Val collects them all, then redistributes them to all the participants and you get 200 unique squares back. So fun! There's an option to send in two sets and get 400 back, so I signed up for that in 5 seconds flat. Honestly? I could have easily pulled 40 unique novelties to swap, but Val is an elementary school teacher and knows how to make it fair for everyone. (Don't be piggy, Louise!) The selecting, ironing, and cutting took about 2 hours for little baby squirrel number 4. I think that counts as a whole litter of squirrel pups!