Monday, October 16, 2017

Moon Pies Over Charleston and more

Last week I finished this little wall hanging, called Moon Pies Over Charleston. It has been donated to the charity fundraiser auction for the Charleston Unitarian Church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary. It is also the 100th anniversary of Moon Pie snack cakes and of course the full solar eclipse happened here, so the auction committee chose a moon-y theme.

Well, who can resist a theme like that, when one has the PERFECT fabric in one's stash?? Here's a shot in the brighter sun that shows how pretty the fabric is. The suns and moons are from a Dan Morris panel. I just added a few borders and some minimal quilting.

This panel only shows a partial eclipse, but the sun face is so pretty. Each panel has nice metallic accents and lots of true blues.

Mostly I did stitch in the ditch and outlined a few key features of each moon and sun face, then a quick stipple in the border.

For the flanged binding, I used a gold metallic swirl for the inside and more blue for the outside.

The backing is another mottled blue, and I put simple triangular corners to hold a dowel for hanging. Ha, I just realized the triangles are under my big clips so they don't show in the photo! The piece could also be used as a table topper. 

I've temporarily joined the choir at this church, just until we leave Charleston in another few weeks. They've welcomed me with open arms, so donating a little piece seems like a nice way to give back. I brought the quilt with me this Sunday and met another quilter who said, "Oh, I'm so glad you made that! Now I don't have to make a themed quilt this year!" I guess she's been donating similar items each year and is glad to have a break.

In other news, I pieced up this flimsy using Cloud 9's "Ribbon Box" free pattern and some of the fabric donated to Covered in Love

After cutting all the fabrics, the pattern sews up pretty quickly in rows. I started with the top row, which has a few of the "ribbon" tails.

Then I did the bottom row...uh, that can't be right.  Riiiiiiip!

The fabric line is called "Cool Cats" by Henry Glass, and features these funny felines. I cut apart a panel and stitched the cat blocks into ribbons for this top. Now I'm waiting to buy some coordinating Aurifil thread before I baste this one up and quilt it. It will be fun to do different FMQ motifs in each color: purple, blue, yellow, green, pink, red. Such a bright, cheerful line!

I leave you with this charming photo of a black plastic garbage back full of tiny scraps. Usually I sew up some dog beds and stuff them with this, but I just wanted it off the boat last week. So I listed it on FreeCycle and gave it away to a Girl Scout leader who will use it in a craft project for the troop. The girls will sew up cushions to sit on at the rest of their meetings this year and use this as stuffing. They will also learn about FreeCycle*, so it's a win-win!

*FreeCycle is a community bulletin board where you can list anything you have to give away for free. It's great for giving away the kinds of things that a charity shop won't accept, like partially used pieces of lumber or cardboard boxes, older electronics/appliances, even food. Members can also request items to be donated. It keeps things out of the landfill and clutter out of the boat, so I sign up for FreeCycle in most cities we pass through.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Scrapception and purge sewing

Yesterday's scrappy strippy triangle quilt top generated quite a number of subscraps. You know, those even scrappier scraps leftover from when you cut bits off your scrappy project? Well, I was determined not to keep the subscraps. Scraps get only get once chance here! So I pieced all the little bits into slabs and combined them with the cut off ends of the triangles.

Then I cut the chunks into random rectangles, bordered them with bright red, and set them in a yard of gray linen. It ended up being about 42"x42", a good baby quilt size. Kind of odd colors for a baby, but it has a very modern vibe and some young mom might like that.

The photo above has the flimsy hanging in front of a translucent blind, so I tossed it over our little round outdoor table to get a better photo of the true colors. Boy, that linen really attracts the lint! I'm not cleaning that up until I go to quilt it, someday. Since this top was made from scraps of scraps, I'm calling it Scrapception.

I cropped this out of the first photo, but realized that this scrappy quilt just happens to be the same colors as our trio of boat paintings. 

The purge quilting part of this blog post was getting rid of that gray linen. I've experimented with several types of fabric besides quilting cotton: silk, flannel, linen, corduroy and seersucker. Each one is interesting, but I don't particularly want to mix and match them in my quilts. And I simply don't have the room to store stashes of different types, so I'm purging the odd stuff.

This little quilt is also purely for purging purposes. All the green fabrics are more linen and I just wanted them gone gone gone. The greens matched this weird whimsical panel that I also wanted out of my life, so I took that as a sign to put them together. I like each block, but I can't wrap my head around why the panel included spaceships, mermaids and random animals. Somebody's own made up creation story? I don't know and I don't like it. I want my whimsy to have a consistent story line, apparently.

Here it is in the natural sunlight. The colors are very vibrant. The size is just under 36"x42" so it will only need a single yard for backing, and I have one yard of hot pink linen. Soon to be gone! I'll use a black and white stripe for the binding to pick up the inner printed borders on the panel.

The center stripe on Weirdly Whimsical (I guess that's what I'll call it) quilt, was a single strip scrap that came with this long quarter bundle of pretty homespun stripes and plaids. The pieces were clearly washed and are quite frayed, which must have frustrated the eBay seller, because I paid less than $1/yard for this. Sweet! No purging of this batch; I'm looking for a nice pattern to do it justice.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Scrap, scrap, scrappin' along

After finishing up several gift quilts lately, I decided to just play in my scraps for a while. My blue/aqua box of scrap strips was overflowing, so that was a good place to start. I was inspired by a couple quilts I saw on Pinterest to make some 60 degree string triangles.

I raided my "light neutrals" scrap box, too, and made strip sets going from light to dark. Each set is about 9" wide and about 40-45". I had a few single pieces that were WOF, but most of the strips were pieced end to end in similar color and value as you can see. 

I read somewhere that your strip piecing will stay much straighter if you press the seams open instead of to one side. That was definitely true with these random, leftover scrap strips. Here's two sewn together. Note that big bow in the piecing.

After setting the seam then pressing it open, the bow completely disappeared. Magic, huh? Please excuse my well-used and rather scorched ironing board cover. I love that bird print, but it needs to be retired soon. 

After making the strip sets, I trimmed them all to 8.5" width and started cutting triangles. 8.5" is the maximum size I can cut with this ruler. I'm lazy, and wanted to cut and piece as few triangles as possible. Because the sets ended up all chopped up, having pieced strips was no big deal. You can see in this photo that half the triangles have a dark base, and half have a light base. I also ended up with those right angle triangle end pieces, which I saved.

I tried to keep the true blues and the aquas in separate strip sets, and ended up with four distinct sets of triangles. Completely by accident, the aqua strips had less white/cream, so they read as more uniformly colored than the true blues and the true blues have a more distinct pattern of light and dark.

I wanted to sash between each of the four sections and decided to go bold. GOLD bold! I've admired a number of scrappy quilts lately that have very patterned, brightly colored backgrounds. I pulled out an oddball dark yellow/gold with a red and blue paisley motif, and it spoke to me. It whispered, "Yo, Louise, it's a completely scrappy quilt! That's like completely free fabric right there, so try something new, why doncha? Who cares that might look like a circus tent when you're done? Don't be such a wuss. What have you got to lose?" Not exactly reassuring words, but when the fabric speaks, you gotta listen.

Here is that gold at the end of two rows, filling in the space at the end of the triangles. I only had a yard of it, so my sashing and borders needed to be skinny minnie to make it work. 

And here's the finished flimsy. The gold is kinda weird, but a good weird, I think. The triangles have a nice 3-D effect. There are lot of fun bits of fabric in there: cats, butterflies, hearts, birds and fish to name a few. It's pretty big for me, about 60"x70", which makes a nice couch or lap quilt size. Still, a bit more width in the sashing would have been nice.

Have you ever used a really off the wall fabric for background or sashing? Did you hem and haw about it first, or dive right in? Did it whisper to you, and if so, did it have a New Jersey accent? Weird.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Gift reveals

Good morning, quilting friends and family! It's a beautiful day in Charleston and even though I'm really missing DH Sean, I'm cheered by the warm responses I've gotten from a few gifts.

Aren't newly weds B&K cute? I made them the mariner's compass star block pillow after they said they both really like blue. I'm really glad they sent a photo, because I completely forgot to take any before I shipped it out. Tsk. B&K were married a few months ago, and B is also starting medical school. In order to keep up with his studies, they only opened a few wedding gifts a day. Such discipline! He can prop his anatomy book up on the pillow, or nap on the couch in exhaustion with it. Pillows are useful that way.

And speaking of the color blue, our friends here in the marina like it so well they named their boat after it.

You saw the flimsy for this quilt a few weeks ago, and now it's finished, gifted, received and appreciated. It was made for Sean's aunt, who is having some health issues. I decided to name it Graceful, which goes nicely with her name, her personality, and the elegant kaleidoscope pattern.

I did FMQ figure eights in the long white sections, and smaller loop de loops in the white triangles. This makes the patterned fabrics and the secondary circle motif really stand out. The fabrics are Moda Regent Street lawns, very fine and soft.

In the plain cornerstones, I quilted four hearts and did a different fill on each one. Sean's aunt is very dear to me, so I wanted to send this subtle love note. The binding is dark blue, to offset some of the pink in the borders. 

The borders got their own FMQ motifs: wider figure eights, ribbon candy, and parallel lines.

The back is most of the leftover pieces of lawn and border fabrics plus some lighter shirting material to make it big enough.

Here is Graceful on the back of our boat, Vector. Vector isn't very graceful and isn't painted blue. (A boat broker once told us there are only two colors to paint a boat: white and stupid. We choose a lighter shade of stupid than navy blue.) She's a sturdy little ship, but not swoopy and elegant like the go-fast boat in the background. We're surrounded now by huge, exotic yachts and often feel like the one person dressed in overalls at a black tie affair.

Sean's aunt really liked her quilt, so I'm happy. Sean arrived safely in St. Thomas and has relatively comfortable lodging (on a Navy ship, no less) so that's good news, too. There's tons of work for him, and he has been able to either text or call me each day. I'll post semi-regular updates about him on our travel blog. He wrote in his last post that I would update here, but it makes more sense to just use his blog, since his readers are not quilters. 

Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop this week.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Groovy, Dude

This week I stitched up and finished a fun, easy quarter square triangle quilt I'm calling Groovy, Dude. The fabrics were a fat quarter bundle of batiks in deep, saturated autumnal colors. Even though they are classic batiks made with the wax method, they reminded me of tie dye fabrics from the '70s.

Here's a shot of the flimsy with the light behind it, like stained glass. I love these colors so much! After the fabric arrived, I spent a couple days thinking about what pattern I should use. Several much more elaborate designs swirled around my head, but the rich colors kept whispering, "Simpler, simpler."

Then I visited the historic Unitarian church in Charleston, and this beautiful stained glass window caught my eye. I don't think angels *actually* sang, but it felt a bit like a sign. OK, then, how about hour glass/quarter square triangle blocks?

I put the triangles together randomly and am happy with how the colors play together.

For the quilting, I kept it super duper simple as well. Stitch in the ditch along each seam combined with Quilters Dream wool batting made for poofy yummy goodness. This is the first time I've ever used wool batting and I LOVE it! It's a little fussy at the edges of the quilt sandwich, since the wool tends to get caught in the walking foot feed dogs, but other than that it stitched up so nicely.

The back used up the rest of the batik scraps, plus some linen yardage I had in more groovy colors. Avocado green, anyone? It's a bit hard to tell in these photos, but the binding is a nice tonal purple and the bobbin thread is a variegated red/green/yellow.

This quilt will be donated to Covered in Love. Which is only fair, because the fabrics were donated to Covered in Love! Kat, who coordinates the charity, was very happy to tell me that the organization is growing. I've committed to sewing up a number of quilts for CiL using some of the generously donated fabrics and batting. I'm excited to be able to help Kat out in this way. 

These donated butterflies are calling to be sewn next, I think. That muted blue on the bottom of the stack is gorgeous, and that's a true diagonal stripe in brown. Those are hard to find!

Another one of Kat's sponsors donated this line of coordinating cat fabrics. They are Henry Glass designs and so fun! Those are one third yard cuts plus a big panel. So generous! I'll add some Kona Snow from my stash and start racking my brain for the perfect pattern to use these soon.

Covered in Love has already provided over 220 quilts to grieving families, and it is lucky to have many hands to help keep it going. From a single block for the latest block drive (a fun, fall-themed Scrappy Susannah!) to finished quilts, there are many ways to get involved if you're interested. Learn more about the charity here.

I'm a big believer in doing the type of charity work that calls YOUR name. There are so many ways to give back to a world that needs our love and kindness: volunteer at the animal shelter, cook meals for seniors, lead a Girl Scout troop, pick up trash on the side of the road, plant a tree, knit caps for preemie babies, give blood, listen with compassion to a friend. Each small act adds up, and each act is important, so do what feels right for you. For me, that means making quilts. And for my husband, it means volunteering his time with the American Red Cross. He'll be traveling to the US Virgin Islands this week to work for most of October, helping to feed and shelter those who have suffered losses from the hurricanes. That's a great fit for his skills and interests, because, honestly, his quilting talents are minimal...

Linking up with Sew Some Love.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

O, Star!

I am currently 36,858 feet over New Mexico, traveling at 610 mph from California back to Charleston, and blogging on the Internet. Isn't technology amazing?

My mother had surgery last week, so I flew out to be with her. And I know you'll be shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to know that I made her a quilt. The pattern is Night Sky by Jaybird Quilts. Mom had given me the pattern a couple years ago with a note saying, "The colors on this really caught my eye!" So I knew she'd like the finished piece.

I whipped this one out in less than a week, because I wanted to mail it to her before Hurricane Irma potentially grounded me on the East Coast. I snapped a few glamour shots on the boat before popping it in the mail. Once it was clear I'd be able to make it to California, she agreed to open the box after I arrived. I'm happy to report that she loves her quilt!

Lots of triangle piecing, and my 60 degree ruler really helped. The pattern is well written so I didn't make too many mistakes, although I did end up with four extra stars. If I'd been paying closer attention, I would have noticed several places that said where I could have cut fewer pieces. Oh well; I'll make a table runner or pillow out of the spare blocks.

Two of the edges on the quilt are zig zagged at 120 degree angles. Is that considered scalloped, if it's angular like that? In order to bind around those odd corners, I had to use bias binding, so that was a bit of a challenge. I've done small pieces with bias bindings, but nothing this large.

I did dot-to-dot quilting in the centers of each star, basically echoing the shape of the diamonds. In the smaller, outer star points I did a simple loop-de-loop and travel stitched to the next point, which ended up outlining the whole star. When the stars were finished, I did a stipple in the dark charcoal gray background for some good texture.

The stars were quilted in matching thread colors; dark and light blue; orange and red; purple; forest green and aqua. I was surprised that the aqua worked so well with the lighter green stars. I used three shades of neutral threads for the bobbin, so some of the stars show up with more contrast on the back. 

I named the quilt O, Star! after a lovely piece of choral music called "Choose Something Like a Star" with lyrics by Robert Frost and music by Randall Thompson. The poem has great personal meaning to me and I found it very comforting to sing it to myself as I sewed the quilt. I was worried about Mom's surgery and needed a star "to stay my mind on and be staid." Mom and I have been in a number of choirs together over the years, and we learned this piece under the direction of our dear friend Alva. I was able to visit Alva and his wonderful husband Bear on this visit, and their love and support also helped me be staid.

My Mom's surgery went amazingly well, and was completely successful. She was only in the hospital for three days, then four days in skilled nursing care. This photo shows the quilt in the nursing center. It really brightened up her room and sparked lots of nice conversations. 

Her retirement community is quite lovely, with lots of nice garden spaces. We were able to take a few more glamour shots there.

The doe statue amused me, so I gave her a quilty saddle.

Here we are together. I love you, Mom, and am so glad you're recovering so well!  And to my quilty friends, I'm looking forward to catching up on all your blogs in the next few days.

O Star (the fairest one in sight), 
We grant your loftiness the right 
To some obscurity of cloud- 
It will not do to say of night, 
Since dark is what brings out your light. 
Some mystery becomes the proud. 
But to the wholly taciturn 
In your reserve is not allowed. 
Say something to us we can learn 
By heart and when alone repeat. 
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.' 
But say with what degree of heat. 
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade. 
Use Language we can comprehend. 
Tell us what elements you blend. 
It gives us strangely little aid, 
But does tell something in the end 
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite, 
Not even stooping from its sphere, 
It asks a little of us here. 
It asks of us a certain height, 
So when at times the mob is swayed 
To carry praise or blame too far, 
We may choose something like a star 
To stay our minds on and be staid.