Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Boat Quilting Logistics, Part Two: Video Tour

Hello, friends! Thanks for all your interest in how I quilt on the boat. I made a video tour for you. It's pretty rough and ready; my video production skills are quite limited. But I think even bad video gives you better sense of the size of the spaces than still photos do.

The words "Power Director" at the bottom are a watermark inserted by the el-cheapo video software that I used. Please do not think for a moment that I consider myself a power director. Video production is hard, yo. And incredibly time-consuming. I have great admiration for those who regularly upload decent videos. If you follow someone on YouTube, give them lots of thumbs-up feedback! They deserve it.

I'll be back with another post later that expands on some of the things you'll see below. Once you start watching, you can click in the lower right corner to expand the video to full screen. When you're finished, click in the same spot to shrink it back down. Got your popcorn ready? Let's go!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Decades in the making


Today's group of finishes features some wildly different orphan projects donated to Covered in Love. It is so much fun for me to be able to pick and choose colors and styles from the big boxes of pieces and parts that Kat sends!

These beautiful little houses in Caribbean colors came to me as a small top. All the houses, pinwheel palm trees and piano key strips were sewn together side by side, and each pretty piece was sort of lost in the shuffle. It was also too small for a Covered in Love quilt. So I deconstructed it, added borders around each house and golden mustard sashing to let each one shine.

You can see some of the batik bordering fabric here. It was included with the top and features sewing-related words and images. In the mustard outer sashing, I quilted various motifs like stars, leaves and butterflies.

Along the bottom I quilted in some words of comfort, including peace, love, family and home. I got the idea from Sandra of mmmQuilts, who often includes special quilted messages. My handwriting (Jukiwriting??) isn't the best, but I hope the sentiment carries the day.

The back is pieced of big chunks of tie-dye style fabrics in similar tropical colors. A solid purple binding frames and completes the quilt.

Today's second quilt is made from classic orphan blocks. Many are left over from Covered in Love's annual red, white and blue star block drives. A few are lotto blocks made by members of my online guild, Sunshine. A number of the fabrics look like they date from 20-30 years ago, giving the the overall look a nice depth of color and scale.

This block is my favorite. It looks so different on point than square. I used a donated, very high quality mottled navy blue fabric for the skinny sashing and setting triangles. That fabric had a copyright year of 2000 in the selvages. The quilting is hook swirls using a variegated gray thread.

The back is a big swath of r/w/b stripe that was another amazing eBay find. To avoid matching all those skinny stripes, I pieced it with a chunk of red leaf batik.

Finally, here's the real golden oldie of the group! The beautiful center section of stars was donated by Priscilla as a smallish square top. Included was a note that said she made it in 1982 using a pattern from Quiltmaker magazine. Wow! That's almost 40 years ago! It was in perfect shape and meticulously pieced.

I needed to make the quilt a little bit bigger so I started hunting around for something appropriate to add to the top and bottom. The 1982 fabrics are from a distinctly different fabric era and it was quite a challenge to find something that would "go." I finally found this group of donated blocks and I'm pretty certain they were also made by Priscilla. It is so interesting to me to see a shift in fabric design style somewhere after 1990.

I decided to do fairly dense dot-to-dot quilting to honor this venerable piece. Going around and around each "wheel" shape without breaking thread kept me focused!

There were a few pieces of the original 1982 scraps included in the bag, and I was able to use the navy floral as side borders on the front and an accent on the back. I thought this "primitive" style farm animal fabric had the right vibe for the back, too. 

This was a super fun piece to work on. I'm happy to report that it washed up beautifully, too. Older fabrics can have a musty, dusty smell and feel a little stiff. But the finished quilt is soft, cuddly and sweet-smelling! Were you quilting back in 1982? Do these fabrics look familiar to you? Do they make you nostalgic? Or are you glad to have that era behind you and would rather dive into some bright batiks?

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Boat Quilting Logistics, Part One: The Mail

Some of the fine, upstanding, kind and (obviously) gorgeous commenters of this blog have asked me to explain some of the logistics of quilting on a boat. How do I get shipments of fabric? Where do I store it? How do I wash finished quilts and ship them out? So without further ado, let's get into the details!

For those of you who are new to the blog, my husband Sean and I live full time aboard our boat Vector. She is a 52 foot long power boat that is designed for long distance travel, and she only goes about 7mph. This type of boat, often called a "trawler" has a deep hull, so there's a lot of space under the waterline. That means we have quite a bit more living space than a sailboat of the same length.

We are full time cruisers, have no land based home at all, and no home port. In the United States, though, citizens are required to have a state of residence, or domicile. This is where we are registered to vote, where we file our state and federal income taxes, and where we buy health insurance. Choosing a domicile has a lot of factors that full time boaters, RVers, and active duty military have to weigh. For us, being residents of Florida makes the most sense. We're not particularly emotionally connected to Florida, but it is convenient and we return each year.

Our legal address in Florida is in Clay County, and includes a mail receiving service. This is the address on our drivers licenses, bank statements, etc. We don't get much paper mail, preferring to handle most transactions online, but what little we receive goes to this address and is held securely for us. When a bill arrives, the service company sends me an email with a photo of the envelope so I can see what it is. I can ask them to hold it, shred it, or open it and scan the contents. Very useful when something time sensitive like a letter from the IRS arrives.

Looks like our AAA cards have arrived!

But setting aside trivial matters like tax audits, I know what you REALLY want to know. "But Louise!" you say. "What about the FABRIC??" If I order fabric, I can ask to have it delivered to this Florida address and the service will cheerfully store it for me. OK, "cheerfully" means they charge a small fee if they hold it over a month! I can check my account to see how many pieces of mail they are holding, and to double check who has sent what. Once there are several squishy fabric packages, it's time to get them sent to where the boat is.

There are a number of ways we can receive mail locally to get it into my hot little hands and under the needle of my Juki. If we are docking the boat at a commercial marina, the mail can be sent to the marina's address. If we have friends or family nearby, we can ask that they accept a package for us. Some towns, especially in New England, have public harbormaster's offices that will receive a package. Some (but not all) good old United States Post Offices will receive mail via General Delivery. UPS has retail stores and customer service hubs that we've occasionally used, too. 

Those local addresses can also be used to receive packages directly from an eBay seller, or Amazon, or any business for that matter. True story: when I ordered my Juki TL2010Q used on eBay, it was shipped directly to a marina. One of the marina guys kindly schlepped the box all the way down the dock to the boat and was stunned to learn it was a sewing machine. He thought it was an anchor.

The trick for us is to know far enough in advance where we might be to allow time for orders to be processed and shipped before we leave the area. On a slow boat subject to the whimsies of the weather, those predictions can sometimes go awry. It doesn't make sense to linger an extra week just to get a late shipment of $5 worth of fabric if it means we get stuck in uncomfortable weather, but that is a rare scenario. (And let's face it, if the fabric was cute enough, I'd wait out the weather.)

 In over 16 years of mobile life, we've permanently lost only 2 or 3 packages. Mostly our mail catches up to us just fine, but it does take a certain amount of focused planning. Our last package of forwarded mail included our ballots, so I'm really glad that one arrived safely. We are signed up to be permanent mail-in voters and returned our ballots last week. Have you voted yet?

I can check online to see if my ballot has been counted yet.

As for shipping quilts OUT, I rely almost exclusively on USPS Priority Mail. There's at least one post office in every town, and they provide free boxes. That means I don't have to store a lot of boxes on board because I know I can always get them. It's easy to buy postage and print out labels online then carry the packages to the local USPS and drop them off. I then grab a couple of new, free boxes for the next batch. Easy peasy! Medium flat rate priority mail boxes hold one lap quilt, large flat rates hold two. I put the quilts inside plastic garbage bags, sit on them to squeeze out all the air, and cram them into the boxes. Did you know that if you have an account, you can print postage through Paypal for a discount? Just log in, then use this link to access their postage page. The discount is about $1.50-$2.00 per package. Nifty!

OK, that was a lot of blah blah blah about the mail. If you have any questions about the details, please leave them in the comments below and I'll answer them there so others can see. Stay tuned for part two when I'll write about storing fabric, my cutting/ironing/sewing/basting spaces and that most rare and precious boat appliance: the full sized washing machine!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Three for the Navajo Nation

Today's finishes were all made for the charity Quilts Beyond Borders. As one of their many initiatives, each year around Christmas they distribute quilts to people living on Navajo lands.

While many of the folks receiving QBB quilts are children, the Navajo ones are also distributed to adults. So these pieces are a little bit larger than usual. I made this one after seeing a photo of a similar quilt. It's two sizes of HSTs, set so the lights and darks make a criss-cross pattern.

The fabrics are modern, yet fun, and include stars, cats, lemons, fish and other random whimsies.

The back is this nice leaf fabric in primary colors on white, plus some scraps from the front. The leaves are fancy organic cotton, but I bought yardage for a song on eBay. It should get softer and cuddlier with each washing!

The second quilt is the pattern Magic Stars. I first saw this fun design on Joy's blog when she featured a tutorial by Tiffany. It's a great way to use a layer cake, and I had this fun batik set in purple, orange and turquoise. I also had a swirly purple and orange fabric that made a pretty border to get the size right for an adult lap.

The Magic Stars look like a child's drawing of the sun to me, so I emphasized that with quilting. Swirls in the center and dot-to-dot triangles around the sun rays.

The pattern made 10 big star blocks, which is an awkward number. So I set nine of them in a square layout and put the tenth on the back with some coordinating purple fabrics.

I was quite happy with that backing, right up until I was basting the quilt sandwich and realized it was just a smidge too small. How big is a smidge? About as wide as these tiny strips of purple on one edge. That's how much more I needed to add, sigh. You can see the fun purple and orange plaid binding in this photo, too.

And finally, this quilt is an eBay bonus buy. While looking for larger chunks of yardage to use as backings, I found a listing for about 20 yards of chambray, red bandana print, and red/black check. Perfect! Also included were some 12" blocks made of the same fabrics. Well, heck, I can use those, too! All I had to do was add sashing, cornerstones and borders and this little quilt just sewed itself.

Many of the blocks also included this running horse print. This block included most of the horse, but several stand alone horse butts are also featured. I hope that will amuse the recipient as much as it did Sean!

I used some of the chambray and bandana for the backing, and the binding is the check. I have tons of all three left over for more backings. Even though these fabrics were probably originally from the late '90s/early 2000s, the designs are timeless.

So there you go, three quite different quilts heading west to provide warmth, comfort and perhaps some entertainment. Which one is most your style?

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Green and Purple Orphan Blocks

Hello, hello! How's that for an eye-catching sunset? It's actually from months ago, when we were in Massachusetts, and now we're back in MA after cruising Maine for two months. So I'm a bit behind posting finishes and it is time to catch up. 

This purple and green quilt was made completely from orphan blocks donated to Covered in Love. I grouped them by design, color and/or size and sashed between the rows with a nice leafy green.

I did a bit of dot-to-dot quilting to bring out the character of each block. 

This simple two color star ended up being my favorite because of how the quilting looked. I'm finding that when I'm feeling a little "meh" about a piece, taking the time to do special quilting really helps. It forces me to take a step back and really SEE the individual blocks and appreciate the many hands and hearts that go into the mission of Covered in Love.

These wonky hexie log cabins are so fun!

The back is this pretty purple and olive green batik donated by Jan. I pieced several lengths together using the same solid green as the binding. This is an easy way to not have to match patterns and helps tie the binding into the design.

I'll end with a quick "glamour shot" with the water in the background. It never gets old! However, the relentless wind does get a bit tiring in terms of trying to get flat quilt photos. I gave up this week and finally took a bunch of indoor shots that you'll see in the next few posts. Stay safe and well, everyone!