Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dark Green

Well, here we are with the last of my RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) blocks for this year.  Oh, that's not exactly true. More about that in a minute. Anyway, this month's color is Dark Green/Sage.
I have lots of dark greens. They were one of my favorite colors to work with early in my quilting life. 
The problem with those early dark greens is that the dyes were not all that stable, so I've sort of avoided using them in recent years. Still have them, though.
That makes me just a tad nervous about using them in my string blocks this month, but I'm taking the chance. There will be a lot of detergent and color absorbers in the wash after I get the quilts made. And some finger crossing, too. 
I also have some sage greens, so I tried to sprinkle them in as much as I could.

 I actually had these all sewn up in September. (After all, I knew what the color would be.)
I continued to add in other RSC colors in one strip of each block.
I've enjoyed making all of these blocks, but have been eager to make quilts with them. 
As soon as I finished the blocks, I got to work on a couple of quilts.

First, I split my batch of blocks in two. I used half of them (40) to make a simple top. Here is the beginning of the layout, with Kona Snow for the background. That top is finished now. I'll share the whole thing when I have it quilted.

I decided that I wanted a print for the background of the other quilt. I had a print style in mind (see this awesome string quilt by Mari, the Academic Quilter that served as my inspiration) and looked everywhere for something that matched my vision. I finally found a fabric that seemed to work okay. (You can't go wrong with llamas, butterflies and turtles, even if they are all chopped up.) The only problem was that I didn't like how my pink and purple blocks looked with it. So I quickly made 8 more blocks in the other RSC colors to use instead. I had plenty of strips leftover from the other RSC blocks I made this year, so I finished them in a very short time. In my haste, I forgot to take a picture of them, but here are all of the blocks laid out on the fabric. 

I've probably moved blocks around some since I snapped this, but they are well on their way to becoming a quilt top. 

And do I ever have a plan for those pink and purple blocks! 

I'm linking up this weekend with Angela at SoScrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh, Scrap!.

If you're taking part in RSC this year, I hope you've have been inspired by your blocks to get them into quilt tops! 

I'll leave you with this Still Life with Scraps, aka my block trimmings. 
Yummy, no?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Lake Michigan Finish

I'm doing a happy dance today because after two  three (!) years, I have a finish: My Lake Michigan Quilt, or as we say in all of our state's ads about things we like, MI Lake Michigan Quilt. I was under the MIstaken (get it?) impression that it took me two years until I looked up my old posts this week and found out that I started it in MId-October 2015. It's as old as one of MI grandsons. I won't put all the links in here of posts along the way, but if you'd like to read them, click on the Lake Michigan quilt label on the right side bar or at the bottom of this post.
I followed the techniques of Karen Eckmeier for making Accidental Landscapes. I've made tiny ones in the past, like this ornament for my daughter and son-in-law. It's maybe about 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.
But when my daughter (MI daughter? Ok, I'll quit now) mentioned that she wanted a wall quilt for her office, I decided to supersize the technique. The new quilt is 30 by 42 inches.

Nearly all the fabrics are scraps. I did buy a piece of Grunge for the back, appropriately when I was on vacation near Lake Michigan. The batting is a leftover piece of Quilter's Dream Cotton Select. 
There's no reason that this quilt should have taken as long as it did. It wasn't difficult. Most of the delay was lack of confidence. I built the layers slowly in between other projects. I'd put some strips up on the wall and spend a few days  months letting them percolate (marinate? stew?), and then I'd sew them down. I started with the water. After doing a bit of sand, I built the sky up toward the top. Most of the sky is pieced with regular seams rather than layered.
Then I layered the foreground, slowly, slowly. 
I like the bits of embroidery that add detail and depth on Accidental Landscapes. I thought it would be a simple task. But I hadn't thought of it that a quilt this size would need larger scale embroidery to be proportionate. That stymied me. Before starting the embroidery I quilted the project with my walking foot. To plan the placement of the beach grass I laid paper strips on the quilt and took a photo to refer to as I stitched. 
I started with a few stems of grass 
and then gradually built them up until I was satisfied. I used 4 strands of floss for the longest stems, and reduced the bulk to 3 or 2 strands for smaller stems or those closer to the water. I used a modified stem stitch, bringing the needle up closer to the starting point than is common, to make the stitch as thick as possible. I took the quilt with me on several road trips. It was an easy take-along project.

A few weeks ago, when I was Gramma nesting while waiting for our new grandson, I suddenly realized that I was almost done. It was a perfect project to work on at a time when I didn't want to start a new mess. In just a couple of days, I completed the stitching, or at least stopped myself from getting carried away with it. 

After we arrived home from cuddling our little grandson (and his big brother who was born right after I started the quilt!), I chose a sandy colored fabric from my stash for the binding. 

I took it out for a photo shoot on our garage. 
I thought I was truly finished, but then I remembered that I have a wonderful supply of ceramic buttons (by artist Sandra Lance--you can find her work under images online, but I think she has suspended her business for now) that I like to use on art quilts. I found two that looked good among the dunes. (I usually try to use three, but these looked the best.)

And closer
So now it is truly done.

This quilt will be living at my daughter and son-in-law's house. As I said earlier, it was meant for my daughter's office, but by now she has found something else to fill the space there, and I know her family will enjoy it at home. (And I can visit it, too.) I was almost hoping she didn't want it anymore, but hey, now that I know I can do this, I could make another one for me in less than three years! Maybe in solids?

The best thing I learned from making this quilt is that the technique does work for large scale quilts. Really, all that is needed is a good supply of fabrics to choose from. The embroidery is fun and works very well after quilting, even with building up fairly dense stitches. 

Let's look at that finish one more time!

I'm linking up today with crazy mom quilts for Finish it up Friday and Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

Happy Quilting and Happy Finishing! And if you live anywhere within driving distance of Lake Michigan, Yea for MI Lake MI!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

TBT: Midi Quilts

Continuing my series of Throwback Thursday posts this year about My Tiny Career (yes, I'm almost through, but there are a few months left so it will spill over a bit to next year), today I'm sharing what I'm calling midi quilts. They are a little bigger than the minis I worked on but smaller than most throw quilts. All of the quilts today were ones I quilted for Becky Schaefer in the mid-80's to early 90's. She constructed or reconstructed them from antique materials and then sent them to me for hand quilting. All of these were quilted with off-white cotton thread, for which I was paid by the yard. These photos have all been scanned from my files. I have been working on this project this year to document my work all in one place. If you'd like to read more about my tiny quilt career, click on that label to the right or at the bottom of this post. As usual, I will include what I know of dates, size, and amount of thread used.

I think you could hear my squeal when I opened the package that contained this one. I love it. (And I'm also glad I didn't have to piece it. That would have been challenging for me, for sure.) 
I love the colors and patterns. This one is 38 by 48 inches. The quilting is a little hard to see, but there are stylized flowers in the white patches and outlining on the other sides of the blocks. I finished quilting in January 1986 (perfect time of year for hand quilting on my lap) with 134 1/2 yards of thread. 

Here's the back.
A rather fragile brown print. Brr. It must have been cold. Look at those mittens.

The next one is a log cabin. The interesting thing about this one is that it is bound. I didn't bind quilts for Becky, so I'm thinking that she made it and maybe did some minimal quilting and then sent it to me for more. I know that I marked and quilted the vine border design and perhaps did some of the interior in-the-ditch quilting as well.
Right border is cut off.
I'm uncertain of the exact size. My notes say "20 by 30 inches ?" I finished it in June 1986 with 38 2/3 yards of thread.

The back seems to be a very loose woven stripe.

This Ocean Waves quilt is bigger than the quilts I usually worked on for Becky--44 by 62 inches. 
If you look closely, you can see feather circles in the blue squares/triangles and double lines through the small triangles in concentric squares. This one took 128 1/3 yards of thread. I finished it in March 1987.

The back is a thin, very fragile--almost crispy--peachish-pink print. Many of the quilts I worked on had this or a similar fabric on the back.

I'm including this next quilt here, even though it's much smaller because it's another Ocean Waves. 

This one is only about 15 1/2 inches square. Don't you love the random directions of the striped fabric in these Ocean Wave quilts? Quilting was minimal, with tiny feather stars in the dark squares and triangles (5 1/3 yards of thread). Quilted in August 1989. As typical with these minis, the back was muslin. I'll spare you the photo. There are lots in my previous posts.

This next probably should have been saved for a Christmas post, but here it is:
How about that photo bomb Cabbage Patch Kid? Maybe Faye Marilou (?) wearing Mommy-made clothing.
I quilted this one in December 1986--appropriate month for it! It is mostly crosshatch with some kind of odd leaf or stem designs in the large white areas. I don't think there was any quilting in the border. That may have been an attempt to keep costs reasonable for the quilting. It's 43 inches square, with 105 2/3 yards of quilting thread. 

The back is a loosely woven red/white check.

I have next to no information on the rest of these quilts. Either I forgot to record them or my career was winding down (winding up?) and I was tired of documenting.

Here's another Christmas quilt:

It's approximately 30 inches square. (I could tell from the size of the plaid in the blanket that was under it and cropped out of the picture.) There are hearts in the middles of the blocks,  partial feather circles in the larger white triangles, and some outlining in the rest of each block. 

Fragile pinkish backing:

I guess I could have included this next one in the star quilts post. I really like the use of shirtings in the background. I'm estimating that it's 20 to 24 inches square. I have one note that suggests I used 27 1/2 yards of thread for quilting. I wonder what this pattern is called.

The quilting doesn't show much on the front, but the back reveals hearts in the centers of the stars and concentric "broken" hexagons where outline quilting was done along the longest sides of the light triangles. 

This next one is a little bigger than a mini--I'm guessing about 16 by 20 inches. I don't know the name of this pattern either. Isn't (what you can see of) the quilt holder cute? More hearts in this quilt--where the dark corners come together. Maybe that's the 80's influence? I'm not sure that's authentic for the age of the fabrics in the top. There's also a little outlining in the squares.

Oh, my, the back is a little wrinkled but does show the quilting a bit better.

Here's a brown and pink version of the same pattern. I think it's about 20 inches square. It's quilted the same way as the quilt above. (I included some of the background in this picture because there's a quilt back there that I don't have a photo of. I definitely missed some along the way. It looks like baskets with several different colored borders when I pump up the brightness.) 
There's that fragile backing again.
One more--another one I could have included with the star quilts. It's probably about 16 by 20 inches. You can see more of the cute quilt holder here. The quilting is mostly outlining in the light patches. The stars would have been hard to quilt because of bulky seams.

And yes, more pink backing. (Quilt holder is hiding now.I think she's done with it.)

I have one more set of minis from my quilting career with Becky. I'll share them next time. That's not the end of my career, though. I was selling on consignment by then and doing hand quilting commissions for others as well as commissions of my own quilt creations for a client. I'll also share those over the next few TBTs and then I will (finally) be done with documenting all of my pre-blog quilting. Whew!

I'm linking this up with Andrée from Quilting & Learning What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. (She's subbing in this month for our usual host, Sandra at mmm! quilts. Thanks, Andrée!) So go over there and see what other quilters have unearthed from their pre-blogging days. Better yet, share something you made before you shared your work on social media.

Happy October, and Happy Quilting!

P.S. (Does anyone still use that abbreviation anymore for postscript?) This morning I discovered a few more quilt photos in a shoebox that had never been sorted. Three of them would have been perfect for this post. No time to add them now. I'll add them to one later this year. Sheesh. Maybe my tiny career wasn't so tiny after all. Just the income. Ha!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

CRCNA Quilt Block

I was just finishing a quilt this week--yes I was sewing the binding to the back by hand--when I got an email from one of the ministry directors of my church. She had attached a request for quilt blocks for a group quilt for one of our denominational offices. A block request? Oh, yes. That squirrel got me to chase it right then and there.

I belong to a rather small protestant denomination called the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA, for short).  As a binational denomination, it comprises about 1000 congregations in the US and Canada and has denominational offices in both countries. This year, the Canadian office in Burlington, Ontario, has been undergoing a renovation, and the staff is now collecting artwork for the decor. One piece of art they would like to display is a quilt made by members of the domination to reflect the diversity and breadth of membership and symbolize a "welcoming embrace" to all who worship.

The requested block is a simple one--a log cabin with a large, rich purple center (centre, in Canada, eh?) square to represent Christ the King as the center of hearts, homes and churches. The rest of the block is up to the maker, with four light and four dark logs. 

Here is my completed block. 

Picking out the purple square was easy for me, as I don't have many fabrics of that color to pick from. I chose Marbella Purple from the Wanderlust Collection by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex. (I had won this in a giveaway awhile back. Thanks, Sandra!) At first I was going to use other gorgeous fabrics from this line because they are all so pretty together, but then I slowed down to become more intentional about what colors I wanted to use. I thought about what colors were meaningful to my congregation, and decided to focus primarily on the liturgical colors we use to celebrate the different seasons of the church year. These colors also appear in a set of five stained glass windows our church commissioned a few years ago. (You can see the windows here at Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc if you'd like.) The colors also appear in various shades in the ministry logos on our church bulletin and other printed materials. 

I auditioned a lot of different fabrics to get the mix I wanted, and in a short time, my work space went from this:
to this: 

Squirrels are messy!!

I'd like to say this took no time at all. After all, it is just a log cabin block. But in truth, it took me the better part of an afternoon and evening, auditioning fabrics and then making sure my block was square, precise, and (always an issue when I'm sending a block to someone else) neat on the back as I sewed. 

My favorite part of the block is the little butterfly in the middle of the top log. I found it as I was searching through pale blue scraps, and it immediately reminded me of the year our sanctuary was decorated with ethereal butterflies for Easter as a symbol of resurrection and transformation. 

I hope this block uniquely represents my congregation as part of the denominational quilt. A quilter in Edmonton, Alberta, will be making the quilt from the diverse blocks. I hope she receives lots of blocks from across the two countries. (And hey, if you are a quilter and happen to attend one of the CRCNA churches, I hope you are participating.) I'm looking forward to seeing a photo of the whole quilt when it's finished. 

I'm linking up with Sandra at mmm! quilts today for her DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it) linky party because this certainly was an insistent little squirrel. I'm glad I chased it. 
And I do have a finish this week (nearly 3 years from the beginning!), but I'll save it to share next week. 

Have a good weekend! (And watch out for squirrels.)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Dark Blue

Another month, another Rainbow Scrap Challenge color. 
I knew I'd have these done early in the month.
I was Gramma nesting, waiting for our new grandson to make his appearance. 
I actually had the strips cut before the month even started. It was a lucky guess that the color would be dark blue.

I had plenty of fabrics to work with, many from very long ago. (So many memories in these scraps.)
I didn't think I would like working with a dark color, but it was actually easier to find outlier colors for these blocks than for some of the others--I guess because there was such good contrast.
I got them all finished in a day or so, and then zoomed on to dark green. You know how it is with nesting. Keep busy, keep busy. Waiting, waiting.
I'm not going to show you the dark green blocks, yet. That would not be appropriate.

In my rush, I forgot to make a collage this month of all of the colors so far. 

But I did make a whole quilt top with half of my RSC18 blocks. How's that for nesting?
Our grandson arrived a week early, or that top might even have been quilted. I will wait to show you the whole thing until after the October blocks are revealed, but here's a peek at a bit of it. The layout is much simpler and more sedate than the ones I played with throughout the year, but I like it. 
For the last week and a half, we've been enjoying cuddling our grandson and seeing how sweet his older brother is with him. Now we are home again. (It is oddly quiet.) My nesting feeling is gone, but wow, what a productive time it was! 

The air is distinctively autumnish here today--right on schedule. What a wonderful time of year to have a bunch of blocks done to make into cozy quilts.

I'm linking up today with Angela at SoScrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday. Tomorrow I'll link up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! 

I hope your scraps have been fun for you this month.