Monday, December 11, 2017

Yet another cat quilt finish

Huh. I could have sworn I blogged about this quilt when it was just a flimsy, but I guess I never did. Well, here it is all finished, ta da! The (free!) pattern is "Pins and Paws" from the Missouri Star Quilt Co., a simple block of kitty silhouettes. I'm calling it Pins and Paws and Plenty of Purple.

The border fabric set the color scheme of blues, greens, yellows and purples. 

I quilted it with a feather and swirl motif, using 40 wt yellow thread. Many of the feathers are quite wonky, and of course the wonkiest ones ended up on the dark, contrasting fabrics. Oh well, it was good practice.

The later feathers were smoother as I found a rhythm that worked for my hands. I've been really frustrated by feathers until I gave myself permission to let the lobes be separated and not touching each other. Those "bump back" feathers just don't flow for me!

The backing is yet another piece of the yellow plaid, which hides the yellow thread but lets the texture show. This will be a donation quilt for Project Linus.


Angel says feathers are for the birds. She sitting between my two Christmas pillows, and on top of a small Christmas lap quilt that you can't see.

And speaking of Christmas, I pieced this tree skirt flimsy from largish-sized holiday-themed scraps. The (free!) pattern is "Fruitcake Under My Tree" from the Moda Bakeshop. The kind of tree that needs a skirt won't work on our boat, so this will be gift. For someone. But probably not this year. All the smaller scraps from this and other Christmas sewing started whispering my name, so I dropped everything else and have been piecing up a different (free!) pattern using those. More on that later.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Quilts in the wild

One of the things I really enjoy when reading quilting blogs is seeing your finished quilts being used. So I thought I'd share a few of my finished quilts "in the wild," where they are being used by their recipients. The lap quilt in the top photo was given to my friend A back in August of 2015. (Those are DH's knees, not A's.)

A recently moved to a new home, and the quilt decorates his bedroom. It's really a small quilt. I make them a bit bigger now, but this was pretty early in my quilting career.

As you can see, the quilt and matching mini quilt are the only sources of color in this room. I'm glad I chose fairly subtle batiks for this piece. He's a true minimalist, so I'm really touched that he chose to put my quilt in a place of honor. 

This baby quilt was made in August of this year. I sewed it because the pretty fabrics whispered in my ear to be used, but I didn't know who to give it to. Usually I donate baby/toddler quilts to charity, but this one wanted to live with me for a while. In October, I learned that dear friend J became a first time grandmother to little Ryleigh, who was born just a few days before I finished the quilt. Well! Clearly, this is Ryleigh's quilt! Right now it is living at Grandma J's house, waiting for the next visit.

She's a cutie patootie, for sure! I hope Great Grandma Dee will send me a photo of the baby on the quilt, because those are the best pics, aren't they?

This little quilt was made for my artist friend, Maria, who had her first baby just a few months ago. I was inspired by the paintings of a tree in each of the four seasons, created by Maria, her hubby, her mom and her MIL. Maria chose to hang the quilt with the paintings and I'm touched that she considers it wall-worthy! We'll be meeting Maria and her new family in the next few weeks.

And finally, I gave this funky cat quilt to my fun and funny cousin Renee. Like me, she's a maker (knitting is her groove thang) and a bit of a crazy cat (and dog) lady, so I knew it would amuse her. She sent this photo of it draped across her special knitting chair where it lies ready to cuddle under on chilly evenings in her northeast city.

Got any photos of your quilts living in their forever homes? I'd love to see them!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Splash of Color QAL

I don't normally do quilt alongs (QALs) for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm impatient. If I like a quilt, I want to keep working on it. Making a few blocks and then setting it aside for the next step in several weeks makes my teeth itch. Secondly, I'm squeezed for space and don't have much room to have something in progress like that. And third, I'm ornery and chafe against anyone else's schedule.

So when I saw several folks making black and white quilts for the Splash of Color QAL over at Myra's Busy Hands, I thought, "Oh, lots of pretty quilt ideas, but I don't do QALs." End of thoughts.

Except those thoughts didn't go away. I kept looking at my small stash of black and white fabrics and thinking, "Hm, someday." And I had this cute, lurid panel of cats that I had already cut apart and all the pieces were floating around and getting in my way. And I noticed that among the EXTREMELY BRIGHT orange, pink, blue and green cats were touches of black and white. Hm. And while looking for a pattern to use with some woven plaids and stripes, I stumbled across this free pattern called "Juxtaposition." And suddenly I wanted to make those rectangular blocks in black and white with a vertical stripe of brights, and surround the cats with them.

So yesterday, I did. It wasn't so much as a quilt along (QAL), as a quilt all at once (QAAO.) Pretty squirrelly. And I'll admit that my "splash" of color is, um, rather large. Like the kind of splash that a kid makes jumping off the diving board and yelling, "Cannonball!" So I'm calling this piece Cat Cannonball. I also tried a new technique, adding a small flange of black around the panel pieces to set them off a bit. We'll see how that works out during the quilting.

In other, but also lurid, news, Weirdly Whimsical is washed and crinkly. 

I'm happy to report that the linen pieces on the front are nice and soft and shrank at about the same rate as the cottons. This was also the first time I washed the donated yellow plaid backing and it also did really well in the crinkly softness department.

And lastly, the Home Depot Quilt is an unwashed finish.

All the fabrics are bricks and stones and it looks like the outdoor paving department at Home Depot to me. I quilted it with my walking foot in straight lines that parallel the black "pathways." The binding is the same black fabric with a tiny dark gray spot.

The backing is another piece of the fabric that was donated by Sean's aunt. It's not quite as bright red as this photo shows, but more of a brick red that looks great with the front. The sun was very low in these pictures, casting a golden glow on everything. This quilt doesn't have a home yet and keeps whispering gently in my ear that I should hold onto it for a while. 

We've been in Jacksonville for about a week now, and are now getting ready to continue heading south. We anchored in the river for the first couple of nights, and it was very peaceful and calm for being right downtown.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cool Cats

Cool Cats is a finish! Well, except for a trip through the washer and dryer, at least. This quilt will have to wait until we're back at a dock for its spa day and journey into crinkliness.

And I'm expecting it to crinkle quite nicely, what with all the different quilting motifs I used on it. Each fabric has its own design: stipples to ribbon candy, wishbones to flower petals. The focal ribbon of Cool Cats got outline quilting to make the kitties poof out a bit.

On the white background, I did a bit stippling in the corners and wavy lines radiating from the ends of the ribbons. The small white inner squares are unquilted except for SITD. A bright green binding picks up several bits of that same green from the cat fabrics.

Another piece of the yellow plaid from Sean's aunt makes a fine backing, and it shows all the quilting well.

And look! I even got the backing pretty straight this time, even if the photo is a bit crooked. Nothing is square or parallel on a boat, so I'm hoping you'll be distracted by either the Master Quilt Holder's feet, or perhaps our sturdy windlass and anchor chain.

Cool Cats will be donated to Covered in Love, a charity that provides comfort quilts to patients who pass away in the hospital. The fabrics were generously donated directly to the charity and I was very happy to be asked to use them.

I admit that at first I was a little worried about using such bright, cheerful, whimsical fabric for a quilt that would end up in the hands of a grieving family. Then I remembered that the charity's coordinator, Kat, has made several quilts in similarly upbeat colors. She tells us that the chaplains who distribute the quilts have a sense of what will work best for each family. Perhaps there are young grandchildren sitting at the bedside of an elderly patient in renal failure, who might be charmed and comforted by the smiling kitties.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Weirdly Whimsical finished

We're currently underway from Charleston to Jacksonville, and that's the lovely, flat calm Atlantic Ocean you can see peeking through the window above. I put the final touches on this odd little quilt last week, called Weirdly Whimsical. It was a bit of purge sewing to clear the funky panels and green linen out of my stash and will be sent to my Project Linus chapter in California.

Since it's so small, I decided it was a good quilt to try a few new things on. First is the mix of fabrics: linen and cotton. Then I tried some donated fabric as the backing. This woven plaid was given to me by Sean's aunt. It's a little thicker than quilting cotton so I wanted to make sure it wouldn't fight me during FMQ before I used it on a larger piece.

I'm happy to report that it quilted up nicely. It's very high quality stuff and the gender neutral color and geometric design are super versatile. All very good news, because I have over 15 yards of this yellow and a similar green! The downside of using a plaid as the backing is any crookedness is obvious but hey, it's the back.

The next new-to-me technique I tried is the quilting design. I learned this from an Angela Walters video. She calls it "hook-swirl." It gives a nice texture while being easy to fit into corners and odd shapes. It took me a while to get the size and spacing consistent, but by the end of this piece it felt pretty natural. I'll definitely hook and swirl again.

And finally, this is the first time I've used a 40 weight Aurifil thread for quilting. The bright yellow, color 2135, coordinates well with front and back so I used it both the top and bobbin threads. My Juki seemed to like it, and I'm happy with the look of the thicker thread. I got a smoking deal on 12 spools of 40 weight ($4.25 each!) and I've since used several other colors. The only downside so far is that less of it fits on a bobbin.

We've had a really nice stay in Charleston, and enjoyed many nights with sunsets like this. But it's time to move on to warmer waters, so we're heading south. It's an overnight run to Jacksonville, so I've got a yummy stew in the crockpot making the whole boat smell delicious. Sean is napping to prepare for his late night watch, and I'll take the early early morning shift. We'll probably lose internet connectivity soon, but the sea is so calm that perhaps I'll get some sewing in on this trip.

Linking up with Celtic Thistle's New To Me, since I tried a bunch of new things on this little quilt.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Quilt for Sue

This quilt is for Sue. Sue is the full time caregiver for the mother of my friend, Lisa. 

I have never met Sue. Lisa's parents and Sue live in Santa Rosa county, in California. They all needed to evacuate because of the fires last month. 

Before she left smoky, on fire Santa Rosa, Sue went to her second job (yes, she is a full time caregiver AND has a second job) at a retirement/nursing care center. Because of Sue's insistence that every one of the elderly residents there MUST be evacuated in the single, small shuttle van, no one was hurt as the fires swept behind them soon after. The van normally holds 11 or 12 people, but Sue directed folks to sit on each other's laps so that no one was left behind. 

Sue is a hero! And as she worked to save others, Sue's house burned to the ground. I felt she needed to be thanked for her unsung heroism and comforted on the loss of her home. So I made her a quilt.

The fabric is from the Robert Kaufman Imperial collection. It features Asian-inspired florals and geometrics in gorgeous plums and browns and blues with metallic gold accents. Worthy of a hero. 

I pieced it in a simple yet dramatic pattern, sashed vertical rectangles that let the fabrics shine and came together fairly quickly. Because, having nothing else now, Sue needs her quilt soon.

I quilted it free motion, with a different motif in each color: curvy crosshatching, ribbon candy, stipples, figure eights, spirals. All that quilting adds lots of texture and warmth, because I figure Sue could use a little quilty comfort right about now.

The backing is a small pinky plum floral on white, because it's pretty. And the binding is gold metallic with a pink inner flange, because that felt kind of fancy to me. And I think Sue deserves pretty and fancy, don't you?

I'm linking to Sew Some Love, where Kat asks us to show our charity projects. But this quilt didn't feel like charity work to me. It was a deep honor to make it for Sue, who deserves so many thanks. It went into the mail today, to Lisa's parents' home, where Sue is living temporarily. I hope she likes it.

I've named this one Sue's Quilt, because if I were a quilt, I'd be honored to belong to Sue. Wouldn't you?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bricks and stones

I'm piece piece piecing away here. A couple days ago I finished this relatively fast flimsy. It's a free pattern from Timeless Treasures called "Marvelous Maze" by Osie Lebowitz and is part of their Broome Street Patterns collection.

There are lots of free patterns put out by the fabric manufacturers, which makes sense. It's in their best interests to make it look fun and easy to use their fabrics and nothing shows off a new line like seeing the designs working together in a quilt. At least that's the theory. Very few of the free patterns appeal to my eye, so when one does, I download it and save it for later. Since the patterns feature a particular fabric line, the older ones tend to disappear. If you can't find one that I've used, feel free to ask me for a PDF copy. Passing it along to another quilter for personal use doesn't violate the usage agreement on most of them.

Back to this one, which I've named Bricks and Stones. All the fabrics are prints of bricks and stones, except one that I think it supposed to be leather but looks quite a bit like stones to me. The blocks are really simple, just a square with the accent color sashed at a 45 degree angle across opposite corners. They can then be laid out in a wide variety of settings, including kind of randomly which then looks a bit like a maze. I kept thinking about wandering through Home Depot's outdoor paving section while I pieced this.

I did a quick layout on the design bed, mostly to get the lights and darks scattered nicely across the quilt. I then carefully stacked each row and column and carried them upstairs to sew. After stitching all the pairs and taking them to the ironing board, I discovered that my matching of all those sharply contrasting black accent angles was, um, really lousy. And then I discovered that these fabric, which were someone else's scraps bought on eBay, were really el cheapo low quality fabrics that stitched fine, but whined and complained when I ripped a bunch of seams out. Oh, wait, maybe that was me whining and complaining. And squinting since I used black thread on black fabric. Ugh.

Somewhere in all the ripping and whining, I lost track of my initial design layout since the rows weren't labeled. Eh, it was fairly random anyway, so I soldiered on. When I got the finished flimsy hanging up for a few photos, I realized that my lights were a bit clumped together, but decided I could live with that.

Then, I noticed that my random placement resulted in a giant swastika in the middle of the quilt. ARGH!! Once seen, it couldn't be unseen! No, I didn't take a photo. Fortunately, I realized that I only had to rotate a single block 90 degrees to fix that, although (of course) that single block was right in the middle. And that single block was (of course) the el cheapiest of el cheapo fabrics that practically shredded under the seam ripper. But I got that sucker ripped out and turned and all's well that ends well.

I certainly learned my lesson about keeping better track of my rows and columns! So the project I'm working on now, the strippy scrappy rainbow blocks, was handled differently. I put pins in the first block of each row: one pin for row one, two pins for row two, etc. I was so proud of myself until I sewed row two to row three...yes, that's one of row three's pin heads sewn right into the seam. The Juki punched through the plastic flower head pin like it was butter and didn't even hesitate. Oof.

Fortunately, the stitch length was short enough that it basically perforated the pin head so I was able to pull it out of the seam easily. Now I'm looking for other ideas for marking rows and columns. What method do you use?