Monday, December 31, 2018

Caged Samurai

I'm a bit behind in posting some of my final finishes for 2018. We're currently traveling away from the boat, helping again with family medical issues and fitting in a few visits with friends here and there. Today I have a little free time to blog and show you Caged Samurai, a finish from late November/early December.

This UFO was pieced over the course of many months. The central panel is an odd, almost tattoo-like graphic fabric. It was part of some big batch of scraps that I bought on eBay several years ago. The warrior wields a sword and strikes a fierce pose! I immediately knew I wanted to set him behind thin strips, as if being seen through vertical bars. The purple bars and frame were stitched on, and then he sat for a long time. What do you do with this kind of piece? It certainly wasn't meant to be a charity quilt for a toddler!

At some other point, I was playing with some Asian-inspired fabric scraps and used Anita Grossman Solomon's technique to make square-in-a-squares. The little squares piled up, then ended up in a baggie in a drawer. Then some other scraps got stitched together into long columns of coins, and ended up in a different baggie.

One day, all those parts told me they would probably work together, with a little help. I added the panels of fabric on the left and right of Mr. Samurai to improve the proportions and stitched on the Anita squares. That seemed a bit dark, so I added a frame and border of bright white to contain the coin strips. Getting closer to just right!

He then waited quietly on a hanger as a UFO for quite a while. One day last month, he told me to use a purple binding as a final frame, and I knew Caged Samurai was ready to be quilted. After a bit of stitch in the ditch to stabilize and define the different areas, I enjoyed playing with several different motifs.

In the coins, I quilted easy wishbones. In the squares, I did a simple dot-to-dot design in the outer triangles, and a curvy orange peel inside the squares. I was inspired by Vicki's use of the latter motif, and used her technique of chanting "fat skinny fat skinny" to keep track of which way to curve next!

The side panels are too busy to see any quilting, so I cheated with stippling using dark purple thread. I think. I couldn't see a dang thing as I stitched, so I might have drawn the Mona Lisa in there for all I know.

Inside the "cage," I used this serpentine design just to add texture without obscuring the face. The bronze colored thread looks just right in here among all the metallic gold accents.

In the white column next to the Anita squares, I mimicked the shape with more dot-to-dot stitching. It's a little wonky, but I'm OK with that.

The outer borders required just a little marking. The motif is sinusoidal waves filled with serpentine echoing, which takes longer to type than it does to stitch!

I marked the curves lightly to make sure that they ended the way I wanted in the corners.

The transition around the corner from the thin side borders to the wider top and bottom borders took a little head scratching, but I'm happy with how it turned out. White thread on white fabric, plus a trip through the washer and dryer to crinkle up, hides a multitude of "creative" stitches.

The backing is this gray quasi-Asian newspaper fabric, plus chunks of other Asian inspired fabrics. I call it "quasi" because there seems to be nothing readable among all those characters. I have an app on my phone that can look at images and pick out words and numbers in any language, but it found nothing but a few numbers in this. So it seems to be just scribbles, which I suppose is better than rude words. The big advantage of this backing is it hides EVERYTHING. Highly recommended for trying new quilting motifs!

Many of these metallic fabrics were quite stiff, and I worried that the quilt would be uncomfortable. But it washed beautifully and became wonderfully drapey. In spite of his fierce appearance, Caged Samurai is quite a softy.

A few days after I finished the quilt, I learned that a friend was really struggling to recover from a car accident. Charles is a quirky, irreverent, funny guy and I knew immediately that Caged Samurai had found his forever home. I am happy to report that Charles loves this piece and tells me that not only has he always adored homemade quilts, but purple is his favorite color! I hope it brings him comfort and healing.

Linking up with Tish's UFO Busting party.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2019 Planning Party

2019 Planning Party

The multi-talented Yvonne of Quilting JetGirl is hosting the annual Planning Party for quilters and bloggers. Are you a planner? Do you love a party? Then check it out!

When it comes to quilting, I am definitely NOT a planner. I really prefer a loosey-goosey approach to my projects. Maybe the correct phrase is "squirrelly-whirly" because most of my work is done very spontaneously. I see a design online and decide to make one of my own. Or I dredge up some interesting fabrics in my stash and decide to cut them up into little pieces and sew them together again.

I almost never purchase fabric for a specific quilt. I buy (mostly used) fabrics strictly for stash and occasionally a friend will pass along some of their fabrics. A good supply of blenders, fun panels, novelties in my favorite subjects, and some larger chunks for potential backings, and my studio is ready to go.

Even the recipient of the quilt is up in the air until the piece is mostly finished. I have a group of charities that I support, and each one has slightly different size, subject and material needs. This kid-friendly one that's only about 38" square? Off to Little Lambs it goes! This bigger one that uses up some polyester batting? Quilts Beyond Borders. Adult sized in softer, muted colors? Covered In Love can use it, for sure.

Other tops sit quietly in my UFO closet until they are needed by a friend or family member. I shipped one of those out last week and will blog about it soon.

What I love most about this way of quilting is that there are very few deadlines. I sew what I want, when I want to. It's fun and relaxing. When I get frustrated, I can set the offending piece aside for a few days, or forever. I order fabric when the price is right, and I don't sweat about getting just the right color. It can take three months to get that shipment of fabric, and by then I've forgotten what I ordered. Every mail delivery batch is like Christmas morning! Woo hoo, new fabrics!

So what are my goals, plans and resolutions for quilting in 2019? More of the same! I'll continue to sew for charities, making the pieces that are fun and interesting to me in the moment. I'll continue to buy fabric as needed, enjoying the hunt for the best price. Good news such as new babies and sad news like illness will probably generate a gift quilt or two. And I'll blog about it when I get around to taking some photos.

How about you? Are you a planner to keep yourself focused and on track? Or do you chase the squirrels as they whirl past? If you want to join the party of folks talking about this, visit Quilting JetGirl and link up. You might even win a prize!