Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lotto blocks

My latest finish is made almost completely by other people. All these 12" finished blocks were stitched by members of the Sunshine Online Quilt Guild. The lotto blocks for the month of July were pink and green, and I won the lotto!  A big stack of pink and green goodness arrived with our next batch of mail in August. 

The idea of setting them on point entered my brain and wouldn't leave. I picked out eight that looked nice at an angle and played well together, adding some hot pink sashing and setting triangles. Zip zoom, the top was finished.

This photo shows the colors much better, bright and saturated. And that block is one of my favorites! Finishing at 36"x52" this one struck me as a good candidate for a wheelchair quilt. 36" is a nice width so the quilt doesn't get caught in the wheels. I put a green and off white plaid on the back and quilted it up with floppy feathers in pink thread. A stripey binding finishes it off.

Because of the labeling requirements of various charities, I try to decide where a piece is going before I quilt it. For instance, both Wrap A Smile and Quilts Beyond Borders want labels with their names on them sewn onto the back. That's much easier to do before quilting. My own personal labels have machine wash and dry instructions on the back, so I don't use those on quilts going to other countries. My labels get sewn into the binding, like this.

The last few days we've been skedaddling south and in the open ocean off the shore of New Jersey. Unlike our trip north, the weather has been only OK, not great. The seas are rough enough that sewing is quite difficult, which hasn't stopped me from trying! After I fell off my sewing stool, though, I decided to just stick with a bit of fabric petting and organizing. And no, I didn't hurt my body, but my pride got a bit bruised. Nothing like finding yourself on your butt, wedged under your sewing machine, for tasting a little humble pie. Mmmmm, pie.

All my panels had been hanging in my clothes closet but were a bit "out of sight, out of mind." So I opened each one up, measured the size of the subpanels, folded them consistently, and labeled them. It was fun to remind myself what I have...lots of really cute stuff! I was also surprised to see that they take up less room folded like this than they did on the hangers.

And speaking of panels, while we were still at anchor in quiet waters, I put together this little top using some bright jungle animal panels. There weren't enough of them to fill out the entire quilt, so I augmented them with crumb blocks. 

For the non-quilty readers, crumb blocks are made with really small scraps sewn together willy-nilly then trimmed into neat squares. It's fun to see glimpses of things like cupcakes in the scraps. The crumbs were already trimmed larger than the animals, so I used the black polka dot sashing to make everything neat and tidy. This one is the next to be quilted, once we're back in calm seas!

Friday, September 14, 2018

I spy four four patch I spies

Today I have four little quilt finishes to share. I made them all at the same time as a single big project, starting with Val's I-spy square swap. 400 bright, happy novelty squares arrived in the mail, wowee! To tame that madness, I first sorted the squares into color families. I sewed four patches of two dark and two light values within a single color. Black, white and gray were lumped together. Then I bordered half of the four patch blocks with a light sashing in the same color family, and half with dark. So the final blocks each clearly "read" as a single color.

I ended up with more blue blocks than any other color, but the mix of subjects in any color wasn't particularly "boyish" or "girlish." That pleased me, since I wanted each quilt to end up with a nice mix of everything from dump trucks to butterflies, and they did.

These two quilts will be donated to Wrap A Smile. One is all the yellow, pink, and orange blocks. The second is some of the blue blocks, and most of the green and aqua blocks.  And that's a bit of downtown Boston in the background, looking mostly gray. It was a gloomy day, but the rain had washed all the salt (and seagull poop) off this slanted gunwale so it was clean enough for photos. Plus, the wind was minimal!

The back of the pink/yellow/orange quilt is a single piece of this fun hot pink animal fabric, and the binding is a pink stripe. Wrap A Smile's label is stitched right on top in one corner, before quilting.

The blue/aqua/green one has this super fun, large scale dinosaur print on the back that matches the front colors perfectly. The geometric binding looks like it's cut on the bias, but it isn't.  I need to have a much better idea of who will be impressed before I do bias binding. 

All four pieces were quilted with a big, loose stipple in a variety of kinda-sorta matching threads. That quilting motif is super fast for me and each quilt took about 40 minutes.

The other two quilts will be donated to Quilts Beyond Borders. This one uses all the purple blocks (there were only four,) plus red and blue. I left the cleat in the lower right corner of the photo for that jaunty nautical look. One of my online guild members, quipped, "I'm gonna have to get me a boat to use as a backdrop for my quilt photos!" All you really need is a cleat, Kathleen.

For the back, I went with red fabrics. Isn't that Siamese kitty fabric darling? I love that they are all napping on various red and orange quilts. The binding on this quilt is a red stripe, and I used another piece of that same fabric to join together the larger pieces on the back. This allowed me to easily piece in the QBB-required label, and it ties the back nicely to the front.

The final quilt is the last one I put together, with the remaining blocks. This is all the black/white/gray ones, plus a smattering of blue, green, aqua and red. Not quite as coherent as the other three, but still fun.

For the back, I used this fun dog print that Rose sent me. I just hated to cut it up, so I used the whole yard here to make a child smile! The chunk of gray matches many of the sashings on the front, and the strip of black matches the black polka dot binding. Easy peasy.

The one thing that I didn't do with these four quilts is name them. I know that's a bit odd for me. I just thought of them as "The Four I-Spies" and identified each one by color. I did hum the James Bond theme a lot while sewing, so perhaps they are agents 001 through 004.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dark blue for September

I love navy blue, don't you? It's this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge color and I enjoyed working on my blocks this week. Here are my string blocks, a bit wrinkly.

And here are my two spiral blocks from the book Bright and Bold: Cozy Modern Quilts by Kim Schaefer. One block ends in a dark round, and one ends in a light neutral round. These blocks have been eating up my 1.5" light strings, hooray! They are also showing me that my quarter inch seam isn't terribly accurate, boo! Thank goodness for spray starch.

My Lurid Cat blocks feature the RSC color for the background and the cat applique is the opposite color on the color wheel. Last month happened to be orange, which is the opposite of blue, so I had lots of fun playing with both colors. I'm enjoying looking for my loudest, ugliest fabrics for the fat cats!

All these projects are getting near the end. I think October is the last month for a new RSC color. By the process of elimination, it must be dark green. After that, I think we use November and December to catch up and put the blocks together. I'm itching for some finishes! I'm also gathering ideas for next year's blocks.

I've also worked on non-RSC blocks this week, but the dark blue seems to follow me everywhere! These three blocks are for Kat's latest block drive for Covered in Love. She calls them "Grown Up Eye-Spy" blocks, with fun little prints in the centers. The colors for each block are three rounds of creams/tans and one of red, gold or navy blue. Fits right in with the RSC color. I love that tiny picnic table in the blue block.

And finally, here's my latest block from Tish's Fireburst Mystery quilt along. My fabric pull just happened to include this navy background with little paisleys.  It was given to me by my DH's aunt, a lovely lady. 

Are you playing along with RSC? How are your dark blues stitching up this month?

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Secret Life of Juice

It's a finish! This UFO is at least a year old, and I don't think I ever blogged about it. 

It's made with big triangles of science and math-themed fabrics, plus some greens, blues, and black and white polka dots. After my goddaughter was accepted into UCLA for their engineering PhD program, I decided this top must be for her. This week, she happened to be visiting Boston while we are here, so I pulled it out and finished it so I could give it to her in person. 

Here is The Secret Life of Juice in front of the historic lightship "Nantucket," as seen from our back deck.

The backing is bright lime green with fun atom symbols, plus a few scrappy chunks to bring it up to size. 

The binding is a metallic silver polka dot on black, and the quilting is a big stipple for softness and a fast finish.

You can see one of the extra fabrics on the back, and the line of stitching from using my machine to sew down the binding from the front. It blends quite well on the green, but shows a bit on the black. That's fine with me.

And why is this quilt called The Secret Life of Juice? My goddaughter has a orange tabby cat named Juice (like orange juice, get it?) and Juice is...slow. On the scale of cat IQs, Juice is not the brightest bulb in the string. Not the sharpest knife in the block. Dumb as a box of rocks. Or so we all thought, until I found this fabric:

Turns out Juice has been a mad scientist all along! He's hiding on the back of this quilt, dreaming up new inventions and conducting groundbreaking research. Who knew?? 

I'm so glad this UFO was far enough along that I was able to pull it out and finish it in a day and present it to her. UFOs get a bad rap, but they can be so convenient when you need a fast finish! I'll actually be mailing it to her in California, since she's traveling through the Northeast with just a backpack right now. No need to schlep a quilt around on your summer vacation when the USPS can handle all the transport.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fly, robin, fly

This little top is called a Row Robin, and is made of rows of quilt blocks sewn by different people and mailed around the country. The name is a play on "Round Robin," where the blocks are sewn around and around a central medallion. This one was started by Spoon, a member of my online quilt guild. He made the overlapping batik squares and set the color palette of the piece. So bright and cheerful! Then Kathleen added flying geese so it could fly away to me. I must have had geese on the brain, because the idea of adding feathers popped into my head and wouldn't leave until I made them.

I used a free pattern by Anna Marie Horner called Feather Bed to piece the blocks. The original size was a bit too big, so I reduced the templates on my printer to end up with three across. I then made this test block with a gray  and black background fabric. Not only was the background too busy and jarring, I messed up the math and the feather was too small. But it worked as proof-of-concept, so I reprinted the templates and changed to the dark purple background. Much better!

These feathers were fiddly and fussy (and folded funny in the photo,) so I'm glad I only had to make seven of them. If I tried them again, I might use striped fabric instead of strip piecing.  But that's part of the fun of a collaborative effort like this, to try something new!  Now this little robin will flutter to it's next destination at Carol's house and then eventually back to Spoon to be finished.