Saturday, March 23, 2019

Bits of Green

It seemed that the month could just slip away from me here. I got involved in another quilt top this week--got it done, in fact--but a post will have to wait a bit. I did work my fingers off during the last two days, though, and have some green to show for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC19) projects. First up, some more crumb blocks. I focused on yellow green as that is one of the greens in the background fabric I hope to use with these blocks eventually. I'm still trying to keep the contrast kind of low, so I didn't have many fabrics to pick from, but I'm pleased with how they came out. 

Here they are with their partners from January and February:
And some on the background fabric (I'll trim them down to an even size later):
We'll see how this develops as I add more colors. There is a darker green in the background print, so I may sub that for another RSC color later in the year.

I also made more string pieced butterfly bits (based on the Butterfly Dance pattern by ellis and higgs). It probably would have been better to photograph them somewhere other than on green carpet. Oh well. I haven't figured out yet what I'll use for the background in each block.
Another of my planned RSC projects was to cut 2 1/2 inch squares and strings from my irregular shaped scraps to impose some order to my scrap bins. I did cut some strings from skinny pieces, but had a hard time getting myself to cut squares, and I think I figured out why. I make a lot of different kinds of quilts. Some of them are landscape quilts, and pre-cutting my fabrics into strips and squares does not appeal to me for those. I look at my fabrics and think that maybe I'll want a more irregular shaped piece--or larger piece. I can't picture how I might use a regular shape.This month, I found that that is particularly true with my green fabrics. A lot of them are tone-on-tone and would lend themselves well to landscape making. I think I'll have the same problem when working with my blues and turquoises. After cutting three or four squares I stopped. But I wonder how other quilters handle this issue. What are your thoughts on how you cut and store your scraps? Does my reluctance resonate with you? 

I'm linking up this week with Angela (of RSC fame) at So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

Have fun quilting this coming week no matter how you cut and store your scraps.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Butterfly Finish

Remember that squirrel I shared a few weeks ago? It's now a finish. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the squirrel with his little paws on my patio door looking in this afternoon. It would have been perfect. The temps are in the 50s here today, and the squirrels are feeling frisky. Anyway, on to my finish! If you want to know more about how this quilt came to be, please take a second to read the post here. Let's just step back and admire. The sun came out for a few minutes yesterday, so I got some pictures on the garage--the only place safe to do that outside at this time of year because of all the mud and winter grunge. 

This is the second quilt I've made from this pattern. When I made the first quilt, Mariposa (you can take a look at that one here if you'd like), I added little triangles in the corners of the blocks for some additional color, but the background of this quilt seemed to have enough pattern of its own. I don't often make multiple quilts from a pattern, but I love this one, and there's likely to be another in a string version sometime later this year if I follow through on my current scrap piecing. As with Mariposa, I chose to do wavy lines with my walking foot to emphasize the flight of the butterflies. I have to say, though that for some reason this little quilt fought me a lot this time around. I used a batting I haven't used for awhile--perhaps not since before my accident with my shoulder a couple of years ago--and the quilt felt very stiff to me. I had a hard time bunching it up and maneuvering it smoothly under my needle. I also had trouble keeping my rows spaced evenly. There may have been some bad words, or at least some grumbling. In the end, there are some areas that are pretty wobbly. I've decided to blame them on the butterflies. I think they may have had too much nectar. And of course, now that it's done, I am pleased with the overall look. Funny how that happens.

I think in my last post, I mentioned that I might redo the stripes in the upper left corner to add one darker strip. I totally forgot about that until after I basted the quilt. Oh well. I do like how the quilting shows up on the back. 

One other thing that did not turn out as I planned was the placement of the colors in the binding. I had laid everything out to make sure that the colors were evenly distributed and that a color in the binding was not right next to a butterfly of the same color. But when I sewed the binding together, I forgot to trim out a piece of one of the strips to ensure "proper" placement. I was so proud of having the binding ready to go before I even had the quilt basted. After quilting, I jumped right in sewing the binding, and then by the time I reached the last side hand stitching the binding to the back, I suddenly realized that those last sections of binding were right next to three butterflies of the same colors. I don't think I can blame the butterflies on that. Maybe I can blame the squirrel??

And then--there was one other problem. I have a pretty strict rule for myself--one that I follow pretty much without thinking--of never eating or drinking when I'm working on a quilt. I'm just too much of a klutz with food. But. Just before binding the third side of the quilt, I ate a square of dark chocolate. I was nowhere near the quilt. That evening, getting ready for bed, I discovered two weird smudges on my black pants, and then another on the top I had been wearing. It took a minute to figure out what they were, So then I flew downstairs to check the quilt. Yup, there was another smudge by a butterfly as well as a hefty piece of chocolate that must have been on my pants. (I told you I was a klutz with food.) The quilt had kept me warm while I was sewing, but also melted the piece of chocolate on me and the quilt. I still had the fourth side of the binding to stitch down. I calmed myself down, scraped off as much chocolate as I could with a knife, and went to bed. The next day, I covered the area with a paper towel clipped on with two bobby pins so the chocolate wouldn't spread anywhere else. I finished the binding, took my photos (because I like some before washing), 

and then treated the chocolate with my favorite dish detergent (you know, the one for cleaning ducks) and a cotton swab, threw it in the wash, and whew, no more chocolate.

 I'm still mourning that piece of chocolate that melted instead of making it into my stomach. 

Well, problematic quilting or not, I do like the finish, and if all goes according to plan, there will be more spills on it in its lifetime. After all, I expect it to be used. Also, after washing, the quilt is as soft, smooshy and drapey as I like quilts to be. It's a good thing because the batting I used was cut from a king-sized piece of batting so I will be quilting more quilts with it.

Okay a few more photos and then I'll share the stats. 
Do you see the smudge in this one? 

Scrunchy from washing and not pulled straight, I see.
It doesn't look straight here, either, but in real life it is. I was in a hurry to take photos before rain.

Do you see my initials and the date by the blue butterfly?
Same corner after washing
Pattern: Butterfly Dance Mini by ellis and higgs. I made 12.5 times the number of blocks in the quilt pattern and used the generously sized blocks full size (8 inches finished) rather than trimming them for a 7.5 inch finish.
Fabrics: Stella Tossed Flower by Red Rooster for background, assorted fabric scraps for butterflies--many are Kona, but not all, including some that are actually the reverse side of a print. 

Batting: Warm and Natural 
Thread: Superior-- Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple for quilting; Treasure in Old Lace for hand stitching binding.
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back
Size: 56 1/2 inches square, pieced; 56 1/4 inches by 55 7/8 after quilting; 53 1/2 by 53 after machine washing and drying.  
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for walking foot quilting.

So what did I learn with this quilt? 
--Squirrels are irresistible.
--That's okay. There's usually a good reason--a timely donation opportunity for this one.
--Wobbles are okay. You can find something to blame--butterflies or squirrels, or whatever, if it makes you feel better.
--Best laid plans don't always work out, but that's okay, too. No one will notice your boo-boos, unless you tell them all about them!
--It's still best for me to not eat while (or even before) quilting.
--Stains do come out if you keep your cool.

This quilt will eventually go to one of the organizations highlighted in the Hands2Help challenge. Check it out at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  I think there are 5 organizations this year, and a variety of sizes of quilts needed. At least one is bound to appeal to you. I have some other quilts to make, and then I'll decide which goes where. My next quilt will be made from a bundle of strips--that's a first for me, but I'm looking forward to a fast make. 

I'm linking up this week with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, Busy Hands Quilts for Finished [or Not] Friday, and Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party.

Keep Quilting--and watch out for chocolate!

(I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

TBT: More Tiny Quilts

One last post about my tiny quilting career. I know. Finally. Anyway, today's quilts are representative of what I learned by quilting for others over those few years. All of today's quilts are tiny. I drafted most of them myself, but the blocks and techniques are either based on or influenced by Becky Schaefer's in Working in Miniature. I sold most of these to a client, ML, who would buy whatever I thought of to make. In last month's TBT post, I shared mostly quilts made from antique fabrics, but today's are made from fabrics that were currently available when I made them. I used combinations of strip piecing, tiny homemade plastic templates and short-cut techniques (such as making a zillion half-square triangles at a time) using laminated graph paper guides to mark grids on the fabric. I actually have a lot of notes and the templates saved from these--I was a bit more organized in my planning back then. I suspect that I thought I'd make multiples even though I rarely did. 

As I noted last month, I pieced the quilts on my Singer Featherweight, using 1/8 inch seam allowance (the width of the right side of my pressure foot). I used a very light weight polyester batting, and hand quilted most of them with off-white thread. ML and I negotiated a flat rate for these quilts. As usual, these are scanned pre-digital photos, so you may need to use your imagination for some of the details. 

This Variable Stars quilt in blue and white is about 12 by 17 inches. I used my go-to feathered circles in the plain squares and a simple leafy vine in the border. It's difficult to see here, but the stars are made of several tone-on-tone blue prints. I made it in July 1987.

A quick look at the back--

This next one's a bit different because it's a "big" block--Young Man's Fancy or Goose in the Pond bordered by checkerboard strips. The quilt is 10 1/4 by 14 inches. The "big" block is 4 1/2 inches square. This is a typical "country" color scheme for the '80s--hunter green and rust. I made this in July 1987.

There's enough simple quilting to hold it together with squares, diagonals and straight lines, and a simple ribbon around the border.

And another green/rust combination, a churn dash, 12 inches square. This one is from a pattern by Becky and has the feathered stars for quilting and minimal outlining. I finished this in February 1988. 
 Hard to see, I know.

I had also made this quilt in blue and rust (11 1/2 inches square) in February 1987. I did not sell this one--it was a gift for my sister-in-law along with a schoolhouse quilt in the same colors. I don't think I've shown it before, so I'm showing it here, too. 

Same quilting--maybe shows up better here than in the above quilt. 

I tried some Amish style designs in these two quilts in the spring of 1988. The Amish Bars quilt is 7 1/2 by 9 inches and the Diamonds quilt is about 7 1/2 inches square. I had a dream of making a whole series of Amish style minis based on actual Amish quilts and had even bought a supply of fabric from Yoder's Department store in Shipshewana, Indiana, (known for it's huge inventory of solid color fabric), but I never did make them. I still have some of the fabric. I quilted these with black thread, using grids, a sort of feathered rope in the borders, and a feathered circle in the diamond.

There is no chance of my quilting with black thread on dark fabrics these days--just can't see it anymore.

I've shown schoolhouses before, but not this particular one--made again in country colors in the spring of 1988. This one is 9 by 11 5/8 inches. But what I really want to show in this photo is the log cabin quilt in a barn raising layout (also from the spring of 1988). It's 9 1/2 by 11 7/8 inches. I quilted through the middle of each dark and light round and then a feather border.

The log cabin is on the left in this photo of the backs.

This next photo shows two quilts, but there were actually three. I made two of the Two-Story Houses quilts--one to sell and one as a gift for a cousin of my husband. All of these were also made in the spring of 1988. The house quilts are 9 by 13 1/2 inches. Although similar to many house blocks in quilts, I drafted them independently. The Rail Fence is 11 7/8 by 13 3/8 inches. 
Some of the quilting details are better seen on the backs. I did grids in the backgrounds of the houses and a simple ribbon in the border. I outlined some of the rails of the fence and then made a leafy vine in the border.

One more set of quilts. The first is a scrappy nine-patch, 12 by 17 inches. The quilting is a grid in the plain squares, with a scallop in the border. I called the other one Lavender Paths. It's 12 1/8 by 15 1/4 inches. I quilted it with leafy vines and diagonal lines. They were both made in--wait for it--the spring of 1988. 

All of the quilts that I made in the spring of 1988 were part of a little art display at my parents' church (probably the reason I did not identify the exact dates they were made). My mom really liked these quilts and arranged for the display, which was part of a rotating art showcase at the church. My one and only show. Kind of neat. After the show they all went to ML, my quilt client. 

And that is the end of the story of my tiny quilt career. Eventually, after my kids were in school full time, I returned to my career in the schools and quit making quilts for pay. At least, I tried to formally quit making quilts for ML. She wouldn't listen to me and said that someday I'd make more and that she would buy them. But I never did, and over time, we lost touch. Until my retirement, my quilting was limited to vacation periods, and I focused on gifts for family. I have enough of those to show one more TBT post before I run out of material for posts about my pre-blogging quilts. Stay tuned. 

I'm linking up today with Sandra at mmm! quilts for Throwback Thursday. Run over there and see what she's remembering from her pre-blogging days (as always a good story, and today's photos are gorgeous) and see who else has something to share. 

Keep quilting, and keep sharing your quilts!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

RSC19 Re-do

I finally got my act together (I think) and figured out what I'm doing for Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. Talk about dithering!! I'm still sticking with crumb blocks (Why was that such a big decision?), but toning them down a bit. I made some yellow blocks this week using all rectangles instead of random shapes. I like the random shapes, but just not for this project for some reason. I also tried to focus on less contrast, so no dark golds. Here they are:
The light is terrible today, so they are dull compared to real life. But when I used a flash, they were totally washed out. These are fun for me. I made them roughly 5 3/4 to 6 inches. I'll trim them down later to about 5 1/2 inches for a 5 inch finish. 

After enjoying myself with this little project, I decided to re-do my red crumbs. I unsewed the first blocks to reuse the rectangular bits and then added more scraps, again with rectangles and lower contrast than my first blocks. 
In real life, these have less contrast than they seem to here, and are more vibrant than cherry.

I'm still making string butterfly bits, but I'm skipping them in red. For now. We'll see. Maybe I'll need them later. I'll figure out background after I have a few colors made.

After finishing the blocks, I cut irregular shaped scraps into 2 1/2 inch squares and random-width strings for future projects. I've always wanted to make a Geese Migration quilt, so maybe those squares will come in handy for that later. I even have an idea for a rogue goose to scratch my itch for rogue bits in rainbow scrap blocks. I have tons of yellow fabric, and did not cut as many squares as I thought I might, but that's OK. My yellows tend to be tone-on-tone and will eventually work in other quilts. 

This week, I'm going to try to baste and quilt my Butterfly top from last week's post. Then I'm eager to get my hands on some giveaway fabric that I won awhile back to start something new. Oh, and now that I know the March color, it's time to dig into the green scraps. I also have another quilt forming in the back of my mind that is trying to gel. I've spent lots of time online looking through boat and beach pictures. Yup, another lakeside quilt, but a little one this time.

I'm linking up with Angela at So Scrappy and Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for their weekly scrap parties. 

I hope you have had a good week and that this coming week might bring some scrappy quilting your way. Green, maybe?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

RSC & the Big Squirrel

It all started in January with a vague plan of what I wanted to do for Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. I thought I might like to make some crumb blocks, some butterfly blocks and then cut my leftover fabrics into some squares and strings. I already had some background fabrics. I thought if I bought them before making blocks this year, I'd have a better idea of how my blocks would look in a quilt. I quickly made some red crumbs at the beginning of the year. 

But they just weren't inspiring me. I didn't like how they looked on my background fabric--just clunky with those swirly paisleys. There seemed to be too much going on. I let them be and thought that maybe they'd grow on me after I made some yellow blocks. I did cut some 2 1/2 inch squares and some strings with the odd-shaped pieces of fabrics in my scrap bin. Even those weren't doing it for me. Too much burgundy. I put them away to mull over later.

Moving on to yellow in February, I decided to make some scrappy butterflies before doing more crumb blocks. I wanted to make a butterfly quilt from the Butterfly Dance pattern by ellis & higgs that I used for my Mariposa quilt. I quickly made the main parts of the wings, using strings in place of single fabrics that are in the pattern. I knew I wanted to use my new floral background fabric. It did not have the full range of rainbow colors for this year, but I planned to make blocks for it whenever the month's color worked. But when I laid out the pieces on my floral fabric, uh oh. Meh. I wasn't feeling it. Again. 
Now, it probably would have worked out okay when I got more blocks made in other colors. But I was tired of feeling blah about what seemed to be mediocre blocks. I did not like how the old fabrics looked with the fresh crisp print. So I looked around in my fabric bins for something else. I was committed to using the background fabric. I had bought a lot of it. Then inspiration hit. Solids! I looked in my Kona bin. I had most of the colors I needed, and what I didn't have there, I found in some other solids in my drawers. I know these fabric pieces are bigger than typical scraps, but they are all leftovers of other quilts, so fair game in my book. In no time at all, I had parts cut out for 8 yellow butterflies. I even found a brown for the bodies that looked good with all my fabrics and inexplicably made me want to drink chocolate milk. 
In no time at all I had yellow butterflies, and they sang on my background fabric. And then I knew. There was no way I was going to wait all year to have enough blocks to make this quilt. I had to chase this squirrel. Now! So I cut out all my other colors and chain pieced pairs a mile long to get these butterflies made. There was only one little problem. I only had a bit of the greens I wanted to use. This was supposed to be a scrap quilt (except for the background), but I went shopping for the greens. I had already done away with the one-color-a-month plan for RSC anyway, so why not also throw a little more new fabric in there. I went to my favorite little fabric shop, challenging myself to find what I needed. There was no Kona (the store's line of solids) close to the colors I needed, so I had to go to plan B: turning print fabric over to see if the back would work. Found 'em, which is really saying something because this is a very tiny fabric shop--really only a part of a gift store--kind of like a modern general store. In these photos, the side I used is on the left. I don't know the name of this first one--my husband found it in a sale bin. Yea! I should have bought the rest of it.

And then some Grunge, which usually works well this way if the print is not too strong. 

I bought just a quarter yard of each because I really didn't want to add too much to my scrap collection. Still trying to keep in the spirit of a scrap quilt. 

After a flurry of sewing, the blocks were done and up on the wall. 

And then they were a quilt top.

The pattern yields generously-sized blocks, which are intended to be trimmed down from about 8 1/2 inches to 8 inches for 7 1/2 inch finishes. Because I had been pretty accurate, I was able to keep the blocks full sized with just slivers trimmed, so instead of a quilt that would be about 53 inches square, mine was 56 1/2 inches, a nice size for a lap quilt. (I repeated the original pattern 12 1/2 times to make my quilt.)

I still needed to figure out a back--yeah, still in squirrel mode here--but before I did that, I cut what I had left of solid fabrics into strips for a scrappy binding. I kid you not, without measuring, I just cut strips and when I was done and laid them out, they fit all the way around the quilt.

I even sewed it all together and pressed it, so that when I get the quilting done, it will be ready to put on. Whee!

So then, to the back. I had a big sort of jagged piece of print left from the front, assorted chunks of solids, and one butterfly block. (I had made 8 blocks in each color for 50 in all, but only needed 49 for the front.) I pieced the back in three big strips working from right to left, completely improv style. I might make one little change in that upper left striped section to add one more stronger color, but we'll see. I'm pretty happy with it. 

I still have some solid chunks left, but not many, and this is all I have left of the print!

Now that the top is done, I think I'll set this squirrel aside for a few days. I will probably quilt it the same way as the Mariposa quilt, with wavy lines as the butterflies flutter. And then it will be time to bind it and decide where those butterflies will fly off to. I'll let you know when it's done. 

But back to the crumbs.(Yes, I am aware that this is a scrap post, but I'm not sorry that I did not stick to the RSC plan for making this quilt.) Here are the rest of the blocks for the scrappy yellow butterflies. Maybe I'll keep making butterfly bits and figure out a more suitable background for them later.

I think my problem with the red crumbs was partly that I wasn't sure I wanted to make the crumbs so irregular--or maybe they will look better with a simpler background. I think I might try some yellow crumbs with just rectangular shapes and low contrast to see how I like a more controlled crumb with the paisley background. The other thing is that one of my favorite parts of last year's RSC strings was using rogue strips in other colors in my string blocks. I really miss that, so maybe I need to figure out something this year that will add that little spark. I'm also going to keep cutting squares and strings with my irregular shaped scraps. Who knows what that will lead to?

Oh, and before I go, I have to share a couple of other squirrels. The first I actually made at the end of January, but wasn't quick enough to get a post written to include in Sandra's DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it) last month. I used the rest of my old hospital gown to make three more doll gowns for Amy of A Doll Like Me, who makes dolls with unique 

physical characteristics for children with those same features. She also collects doll quilts to include with them and doll hospital gowns for children who need to have surgeries.The fabric of the gowns I made isn't real exciting, but I get a kick out of it being from an actual hospital gown. I'm glad to be done with the memory of that gown and to put it to a worthy use to make some little kids happy and more comfortable during a hospital stay with their dolls. I hope to make more gowns in the future from more colorful and easier-to-sew fabrics. I think hospital gowns must be made out of iron. They are remarkably difficult to stitch through. I'm also thinking I might like to try making gowns with hook-and-loop tape or some other type of closure. I would imagine some of the children receiving them might have limb differences that make tying a bow more challenging. So that's my plan for the next batch. If you haven't made gowns for this organization before, I encourage you to give it a go. They don't take long and don't take much fabric. I'm still working on getting the underarms smooth (I use French seams which don't bend easily), but I figure that doesn't matter to a child. If garment construction isn't your thing, you might consider making quilts for Amy's dolls. Those are fun, too.

And one more tiny squirrel running off in a different direction. My grandkiddies were here last weekend. My granddaughter wanted to do a little project with fabric and my sewing machine. She chose three strips of fabric, sewed them with the raw edges turned in, and braided them. 

I attached hook-and-loop tape to the ends to close around her wrist for a bracelet. A quick project for a busy weekend. And look, it matches her new manicure by Mommy!

I'm linking up this week with Sandra at mmm! quilts for DrEAMi, with Angela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

I hope you've had a good week month (?) whether you followed your quilty plan or chased your own squirrel!