Saturday, September 26, 2020

Red for RSC

It's RSC Saturday! I haven't posted any of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for a long time, but I make them each month. This year I've been trying to tame the string bins, so both blocks use strings.

These classic string blocks are made on paper foundations cut to 8.5" squares. That makes good use of standard size 8.5"x11.5" paper from junk mail. I like using paper rather than fabric foundations because the blocks end up lighter. And tearing off the papers later is rather satisfying!

I'm starting my blocks with a dark strip down the center diagonal, then doing all darks on one side and all lights down the other. For most colors, the lights are a paler version of that color. But for red, I had already used most of my pink strings during the pink RSC month. So I chose to use white or cream scraps with bits of red in them. I'm making each color in groups of four so that I can do this diamond layout later.

My second string block is made after the squares are finished. The remaining strings are cut into 7" lengths and sewn into wonky herringbones. Because the string widths vary, the point of the herringbone wobbles from side to side. When they get long enough, I trim the length to 17" and square up the width to 7.5". Why 17"? Because that's how long the first one ended up back in January! (What color was that? Early 2020 is a complete blur...)

Linking up with Angela at So Scrappy.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bold Elvira


Way back in March, designer Gudrun Erla sponsored a quilt along with her pattern "Elvira." She offered the pattern for free for a few weeks to help lift spirits in the early part of the Covid lockdowns. Several members of my online quilt guild, Sunshine, joined in. I pieced my own Elvira in just a few days, and finished it last month.

Someone donated this bold, bright fat quarter bundle to Covered in Love, and it was perfect for Elvira. I know Gail donated the extra yardage of poppies, but I'm not sure if the entire bundle came from her. The large rectangular blocks really highlight those big poppies, especially. Between the top and the pieced backing, I used up pretty much every scrap. Don't you love the black and white animal motif? Such an unusual and effective foil to the reds, greens and oranges.

I used a red thread to quilt a simple stipple meander over the entire quilt except in this one solid black block. There I did a floral motif that mimicked the poppies, just for a little added interest.

It's not often that I learn anything about the recipients of my charity quilts. But Kat helped deliver this one herself to a mother whose daughter is really struggling with COVID. My heart goes out to this family and I hope the quilt offers some comfort.

On the few occasions where I do have some information about recipients, I try to share that here on the blog (while protecting their privacy, of course.) I love when other quilt bloggers do this, too, so we can all feel a piece of the satisfaction that comes from seeing our work in action. Usually we get to revel in seeing a new baby napping on a happy quilt, or a favorite nephew delighting in a graduation gift. Rarely, a charity quilt's forever home is revealed. Especially now, we sometimes sew in isolation. It's so good to be reminded of the connections that thread across time and space, with friends and family and strangers, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Two for Wrap A Smile

As many of you know, one of the charities that I love to support is Wrap A Smile. They provide comfort quilts to several Rotary International sponsored surgery missions, where medical teams travel around the world repairing cleft palates and other disfiguring conditions. Wrap a Smile was the brainchild of Terry (Hodskins) Fullam, who passed away this summer.

To honor Terry's memory, quilters have been making scores of quilts with the letter "T" in the designs. My red, yellow and black quilt was the 100th T quilt! And to make it extra special, I was able to present it in person to Terry's successor, Ann. 

Ann and her husband Steve live in Maine, and the timing was perfect for Sean and me to meet them face to face for the first time last month. Well, it was mostly "mask to mask," but we did take the masks off to share a socially-distanced outdoor picnic dinner in a local park and snap a few commemorative photos. It was a delightful evening with new friends, with lots of great stories and laughter.

I also had this little quilt in a simple patchwork squares design ready for Wrap a Smile, so I hand delivered this one, too.

The yellow border fabric is sparkly, and the precut 6.5" squares feature flowers and butterflies.

I try to make the backings fun on the quilts I make for children, using bigger chunks of large scale prints in colors that coordinate with the front. The center lavender piece has tiny hummingbirds on it; so cute! The red, yellow and black backing on the T quilt features cafe tables and chairs, the Eiffel tower, and little dogs wearing berets. Novelty fabrics just make me happy!

 We're hoping to visit Ann and Steve again as we work our way back south along the Maine coast. Sadly, all the Rotaplast surgery missions are on hold because the pandemic, so the need for more quilts is "on pause." I won't have more quilts to hand off to Ann, but I know our shared love of travel and quilting will give us many hours of great conversation. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Soft and snuggly for Covered in Love

Welcome to Finish it up Friday! Oh, wait. It's Tuesday. Anybody else having trouble keeping track of the days?? Oh well, I have two finishes to share no matter what day it might be. Both of these were shipped off today to Covered in Love, and were made with blocks, panels, yardage, and a kit that were donated to the charity.

This first one was made from an unusual kit. I'm guessing it is from the early part of the millenium. All the fabric was pre-cut into one of the following sizes: 3"x3", 3"x6", 3"x9" or 3"x12". The top layer of fabric in the package was blue and yellow, so I started this in April, the month when the RSC color was yellow. But as I dug into the piles, every pastel color emerged, with a smattering of darker shades, all in pretty florals.

It was early in the pandemic lockdown and I was finding it really hard to concentrate. So I decided that all I could handle was the simplest of patchwork, just squares, and cut all the pieces down to 3"x3". I stitched them so the few darker blocks formed larger dark squares and that was the extent of my "design." A few of the darker squares are pretty subtle, but that's OK. 

The top sat for another few months before I got around to making a backing and quilting it. By then I had the mental bandwidth to do some quilting that was a bit more interesting than my usual stipple. This loopy design that goes from corner to corner of the dark-centered blocks is still quite easy, but gives some nice secondary patterns.

The back uses up some of the last of this dusty green that was given to me by my DH's aunt in 2017. I think the original piece was 12 yards; that's a boat load of fabric!

The second finish for today's post features these gentle geishas, cut from a donated panel. I really like the striking black against cream contrast of the three ladies.

The coin strips were also donated, and arrived in my mail all sewn together in 3.5" widths. They were so fun and easy to add into this quilt that I've started sewing my own little scraps into long strips like this. They make super leader/enders. The background fabric, a sage green and purple batik, was donated by Jan. I think it looks a little like long skinny bamboo leaves, or tall sea grass.

And finally, the backing was also donated. This pretty piece of red and brown minky was sent to me by my friend Steph. It is soooo soft and fuzzy! You can easily see the way I quilted the piece with simple, wiggly lines in this photo. Minky is a bit tricky, stretchy in one direction but not the other. The batik background on the front of the quilt is just the opposite: hardly stretchy at all in any direction. This quilting motif has a lot of springiness and give, so it's pretty forgiving for combining the two into a finished quilt.

I often try to piece the charity label into the backing, but piecing minky is a PITA (pain in the ankle.) Trimming the label with pinking shears and using raw-edge applique works fine, too, with a nice raggedy effect after washing. These two quilts are now ready to do the good work of comforting end-of-life patients at hospitals in Texas.