Friday, June 14, 2024

Meals on Wheels Placemats

Oh, hi there. It's been a minute. Well, a whole lot of minutes. A trip by train to Chicago for the third grade school program of one of our grandsons, a car trip to the Detroit area for a baseball game of another grandson, lots of little bike rides, planting our flowers, and a wonderful week exploring Up North in Michigan (by the little finger of the mitten) all adds up to a delightful spring season of non-quilting activities. That just happens naturally when the weather warms up. I did do a bit of quilting over the last month or so and finished by putting the binding on some little projects while we were on vacation.

Here's the batch of placemats I made for next year's collection for Meals on Wheels. 

The beginnings of these were two Bear Paw blocks from my endless supply made during 2020 and a rejected block from a baby quilt I made early in 2023. I added scraps from my multi-colored scrap bin, one that I'm trying to slowly empty (ha ha) as well as some other solid or solidish scraps and strips, supplemented with coordinating pieces as needed from my fabric supply. 

I thoroughly enjoy making these. I have no idea when I start of what the finish will look like, and I don't really measure or plan, but just use the sizes of the scraps to build the piece. The preferred size for the finished placemat is about 14 by 18 inches, so I try to make the tops about an inch bigger in both directions to allow for quilting shrinkage. I love how the fabrics all coordinate on this one even though they are from several decades of quiltmaking. 

Here's the back of this one--lots of memories of quilt projects. I'm pretty sure the third strip in, and maybe the pink shirting, are from the 1980's. The binding is three different fabrics that all read about the same. 

This next one was a fun way to use up some backings from rainbow colored quilts. They all seemed to have some purple in them, so I pulled that out with the flower block and some solid strips. Most of these are modern, with some digital prints as well as an Aboriginal Australian design leftover from a phone case I made. 

The back is from really narrow strings. There are several different prints, but they look sort of watercolor style, don't they? After I ran out of strips, I added some low volume scraps with purple in them. Again, the binding is three or four different purples. 

This third placemat took the longest. I had a bunch of pieced triangle block cut-offs in my multicolored bin from the quilt you see in my blog header. I decided to unsew them while watching TV so I could recombine some of them with other fabrics. Then I sewed long strips of pieces to fit around the center block. There's one wonky pieced striped fabric that was in my granddaughter's baby quilt; she's now 12-1/2 years old and just a smidge away from passing me up in height. Making scrap quilts is such a trip down memory lane. 

For the back, I made a long strip from all the scraps. They had lots of angled pieces but fit together well. Then I pieced the back jelly-roll race style without regard to how the fabrics met up. It makes for a crazy fun random design. I had to add a bit of fabric to each end to get the size. But what a sense of accomplishment to use up all those leftover pieced triangle bits. Oh, and the dark turquoise that really stands out? That was in my grandson's baby quilt 9-1/2 years ago. More memories... 

I pieced batting from scraps (had a new supply from the cut-offs of the last quilt I made). Quilting took almost no time at all with an easy meander. 

I took my time hand sewing the binding in the evenings during my vacation after watching the sunset at the beach. Sunset is late at this time of year, so there wasn't much evening left for sewing, but I was able to get all three finished over six little sessions. It was the perfect take-along project. In fact, these little placemats are the perfect summer project. There is a bit of a mess involved sorting the scraps, but I have my multi-colored scraps presorted by color and type of design so it's neater than you might think, and the sewing doesn't take up much room or time. Also, I don't have to rearrange my quilting room to do the quilting on such little quilts. I think there should be more of these ahead of me in the next couple of months. And we are due for a really hot spell, so indoor activities will be priorities. 

Before I go, some more stylish photos on my treadle cabinet. I wanted to take some outside, but the planters are just getting started and aren't much of a backdrop yet.

The framed notecard is a souvenir of our view from the beach.

Oh, and why not a few photos of inspiration on vacation? I haven't done that in awhile. First, some quilts. This one was at the Empire Historical Museum (in the town where we stayed.) There were more quilts, but this was my favorite. I just realized that I got the object card in my photo, so I hope you can read it. The blocks are approximately 3 inches square. In perfect condition, even though it is reportedly mounted in a way that might harm it over time.

Here's a close-up.

And the quilt at the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore Headquarters: Ann Lovelace's winning quilt from 2013 Grand Rapids Artprize. (She won again in 2015 with a different quilt--quite a feat considering Artprize is not a quilt show, but many forms of art.) It is breathtaking. 

Lots of bears in the area where we stayed and biked. (We didn't see any.) This area was destroyed by a huge storm about 9 years ago. Nature is healing itself, and it is becoming beautiful again. 

We had sunsets on five out of seven nights. Here are just a few photos. Always different. Never grows old.

This is not a real lighthouse. It was built as a memorial to a town citizen. The neat thing, though, is that it has a webcam, so we can watch the waves and the sunset from home whenever we need some beach time. We even waved to my daughter on the cam from the beach while she was at work. (I'm sure she appreciated that. Nothing like being reminded of someone else's vacation while you're working.) 
We hiked Empire Bluffs for the gorgeous view of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

These were my favorite flowers there. Inspiration for a delicately colored quilt, yes?

I took lots of photos of old buildings in town and in the national park. This was my favorite for the color inspiration. I wonder what it was/is.

I hope you are enjoying your quilting projects big or small and carefully planned or improv and scrappy. And any non-quilty but special activities. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Checkerboard Chain Quilt

It's been so long since I finished this quilt, I have to dig deep to remember what I was going to tell about it. 

I had the urge to make it at the beginning of the year when I saw a tutorial on Lori Holt's Sew Your Stash You Tube series Episode #39. Checkerboard Chain is her name for it, and I see no reason to wrack my brain for a different name. I was drawn to it because of those little nine-patches. I also loved Lori's color scheme with what I think of as her signature creamy color palette. And I had a whole bunch of low volumes that I had collected during 2020 (you know: that year) that needed to find their way into a quilt. 

Because I overthink EVERYTHING, the process of cutting, arranging, and eliminating fabrics took longer than you'd think for what should be scrappy. I started with my scraps, cutting the two sizes of squares and then supplemented with other pieces. That part went okay. But then after cutting some of the squares for the low volume background, I got sort of stuck. What I liked about Lori's background fabrics was that everything seemed kind of milky white. My backgrounds varied a lot from bright white to ivory or even grayish. And then some seemed to have too much pattern in them. I spent a lot of time (probably too much) laying out fabrics next to each other, taking photos and viewing them in gray tones, and then eliminating or turning fabrics over to the reverse side to calm them down. 

I finally figured it all out, and then making the blocks went pretty quickly. I used my mini design board to make a few blocks at a time, trying to keep fabric placement pretty random. I did keep the fabrics the same in the frame parts around each small nine-patch. 

I flipped some of the low volumes after this photo.

I worked at it little by little in between the rounds of the Stay At Home Round Robin during the early part of the year, and quite quickly the top was done. I did the quilting after I finished the SAHRR quilt. 

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with my version at first. The creaminess of the colors that I liked so much in Lori's quilt, was missing. I had more deeper tones and brights, and my background still looked more ivory than milky, at least in some lights. But after quilting it, I grew to like it more. I think it might be fun to make another someday, maybe with a more limited color palette and a consistent background. But this is a happy quilt that I think is appealing in its own way.  

If you followed my SAHRR quilt, you will recognize the backing of this one. I bought enough for both quilts, which was really economical. I've had to buy backings more often than not lately as I don't have a lot of large enough pieces in my supply to make scrappy backings. I buy a piece a little over 2 times the length of the quilt and then sew a seam to get the right width. There's usually a sizable chunk cut off of one side. This time I bought a piece a little over 3 times a quilt length and had enough fabric to piece both quilts with little left over. 

I quilted diagonals across the nine-patches with my walking foot and then did free-motion meandering in the background. Interestingly, the diagonals seemed to keep the quilt from shrinking up when I meandered. I pieced the binding randomly from fabrics that are in the top, one of my favorite ways to bind a scrappy quilt. 

I signed my initials and the date around the bottom right corner. They show a bit here with the gray washable marker, but after washing they disappeared for the most part so you'd have to really look if you wanted to find them. 

So here are the stats (with some other photos thrown in):

Pattern: Checkerboard Chain by Lori Holt (link is above)

Block size: 6 inches finished. 

Size: 54 1/2 inches square before quilting; 54 inches after quilting; 51 1/2 inches after washing. I've had comments about how much my quilts shrink with washing/drying. I wash them on cold/gentle and machine dry on low until thoroughly dry because I figure that's how they will be handled by recipients. I would imagine that over time, the quilt loosens up a bit so that is a bit larger than right after washing. 

Fabrics: All sorts from my scraps and fabric supply

Binding: Scrappy, cut 2-5/8 inches wide. 

Batting: Hobbs 80/20

Washed and crinkly

Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut in Temple for quilting and machine part of binding; Superior Treasure in Antique for hand binding.

We have flowers! About 3 weeks early.

Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for quilting and first seam of binding.

I had an opportunity for a historic photo during the solar eclipse on April 8. We weren't in the area of totality, but about 96.7% was pretty impressive. This was my attempt at artsy with my colander.

This quilt will soon be off to help brighten someone's day. I'm all caught up with quilts now, so it's time to think of what my next project will be. I hope you are having a beautiful spring or autumn. We've had some lovely weather, although I did get interrupted to spend a bit of time in the basement for a tornado warning while working on this post on Wednesday. 

I'm linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap. If I remember to, I'll also link up Kelly at My Quilting Infatuation in the coming week. 

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

Monday, March 18, 2024

SAHRR 24 Parade

Let me start by saying that I don't do mystery quilts. I don't usually like making something I can't visualize at least in a general way, and I have trouble picturing how fabrics are going to work together if I don't know how they will be arranged. And let's face it, I just don't like not having control over a design. But this--this! I have found the kind of mystery I'm comfortable with. We started this online project with a block or panel of our choice and then added borders or whatever according to prompts each week given by one of the hosts. These kinds of quilts used to be made by making a beginning block and then shipping it off to others to add to as a round robin. I think that some fabric might have been sent along with to keep some cohesiveness in the quilt. (You can imagine the kind of control angst I would have with that kind of mystery and group project.) But during the pandemic, I think, Quilting Gail had the idea for makers to keep the quilt at home and complete it themselves using prompts from other quilters. A Stay At Home Round Robin (SAHRR). Perfect for those of us with control issues. It's become a yearly tradition. And I LOVED it. It was the perfect project to give me the control I wanted but to also challenge me to improvise and design something according to unexpected parameters. 

I’m kind of sad to be all done  But it’s also fun to have a finish I can share. If you want to read more details about the making of this quilt, you are welcome to check out the posts of the last few weeks with the label SAHRR 2024 on the right side bar or at the bottom of this post. I'll hit the highlights here. First some garage photos, because that's how I always document what I've made.

Warm, sunshiny weather! (but a little breezy)

Yup, that back is the same little floral I used on the front. I just happened to find it at the big box store where I bought the original fabric. I had ordered the earlier piece, but there just happened to be a bolt end at the store a few weeks ago, and I snapped it up. I really have enjoyed using this print in quilts over the last few years. Sadly, it's no longer available online (and I just read that that store is struggling and in Chapter 11,which explains a lot about supply issues), so I guess this is the end of it except for a piece I have leftover now after piecing the back. I actually bought enough for two quilts because I have another top that I finished while making this quilt, so you will see it once more in my next post. It's a tiny print, but I did match the seam just because. And buying the amount for two quilts was really practical. I bought 3 quilt lengths worth. I usually buy 2 lengths for one quilt and have quite a bit leftover.

I chose an allover freemotion meander for the quilting. Simple, as there was already so much going on in the pattern. And frankly, I was ready for a quick finish once all the fun of the designing each week was over. I know, some quilters would have had a much more exciting method using custom quilting for each section, but that's not me. And by meandering, I could also avoid any thick intersections. So, let's take a quick peek at the different sections and prompts. I made most of my borders about 6 inches wide, using plain (coping) borders along with the ones that were prompted. From the beginning, I decided to put my starting block off center, with two borders for each round--most of them on the right side and bottom of the quilt. (These photos were all taken after washing, so there's lots of texture.)

First, the center block. I made this during an online color workshop with Rachel Hauser during the pandemic.

Border 1: Signature block, prompted by Wendy at Pieceful Thoughts (I'm going to link to the home pages of the quilters so you can see some of their other projects). I pieced my blocks for more color variety. 

Border 2: 2 colors, prompted by Anja Quilts. I chose black and white, which became sort of a theme for the rest of the quilt. 

Border 3: Triangles, prompted by Emily of The Darling Dogwood. I made flying geese with a reverse palette of background color for the geese.

Border 4: Square in a square, prompted by Brenda at Songbird Designs. This was fun, as I had already included one in the corner of the previous border and dreamed of making more someday.

Border 5: "4," prompted by Gail of Quilting Gail, the genius behind the SAHRR idea. I chose to make groups of 4 colored squares separated by a white square. (I also put another signature block in the corner.)

Border 6: Numbers or letters, prompted by Kathleen of Kathleen McMusing. I really wanted to make scallops and figured they looked like abstract letters (D's, U's, backward C's? Take your pick.)

And then there was also my signature of quilted initials and date in that border, which also fulfilled the prompt nicely. I usually use a blended color so that they don't really show to anyone but me, but since this related to the prompt, I used turquoise this time.

Thanks so much to all of these women for setting this whole project up with the thought provoking prompts and linky parties so we could all share our tops. There were so many variations by lots of quilters. And it was a blast to touch base with each other and learn from each other as we designed our tops.

I'll end with some photos and other tidbits about the quilt. It's mud and grime season here, so not many places to take photos outside.
My quilt finished at 53 1/2 inches square after piecing, 52 1/2 inches square after quilting, and 50 inches square after washing. 
I only bought batting (Hobbs 80/20) and the backing. The rest of the fabric was from what I had on hand. Bigger pieces were mostly from the cut-offs of previous quilt backs or backgrounds. 
I used a combination of traditional piecing and foundation paper piecing (which kept the dimensions fairly even). 
I used binding a bit wider than usual, starting with strips cut 2 5/8 inches wide.

I used Superior Masterpiece thread in Granite for piecing, King Tut in Temple for quilting and Treasure in Old Lace for hand quilting the binding. 
My machines were Featherweight for piecing and Singer 115 treadle for quilting. 

If you haven't been regularly following the progress of the SAHRR, I hope you will be able to find a little time to at least check out the linky party with the parade of all of our finishes at Quilting Gail's blog. And if you ever have the opportunity to join such a project, I hope you will consider it. It is such a flexible type of project that you will surely find a way to make it in a way that is as comfortable or as challenging as you'd like.
I'll be donating this quilt soon to (I hope) cheer a recipient through it's whimsical design, uplifting colors, and cozy hug.

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