Sunday, May 30, 2021

Clearly Red

I'm late, I know. We'll just pretend it's Saturday. I'm going to sneak in here real quick to share my Rainbow Scrap Challenge/52 Weeks of Scrappy Triangles blocks for May. These days I prefer clear reds, and my supply of them is a bit thin. But I made it work, using as many of my multi-color scraps as possible along with the reds. (That bin is still jam packed, though.)

I'm loving the dark blue triangles with the colors. These blocks were fun to put together if we forget about how long it took to get the ladybug almost all the way on the block. Lots of do-overs, but I think it was worth it to get that scrap in kind of the right place. 

Here's how the year of RSC/Triangles looks so far. (Fuzzy photo, I know, but I was in hurry and the light was dim. I'll get a better one next time.) 

Still crazy, but in a good way. I will definitely have to supplement with additional blocks at some point or continue the project into next year to have enough blocks for a quilt of a decent size.

It's time for a red infusion, so this time I bought an already-put-together bundle from Winter Creek Cloth. I don't usually care for bundles as I'm picky about what's in them. But this one was perfect. The fabrics are from all different lines and are just the kinds of prints I'm trying to build: perky, but still reading as a single color. 

So that's May. I've been occupied with a whole lot of non-quilty things lately, so I'm happy to have just this much to show for now. I'm excited to begin the Positivity QAL with Sew Preeti Quilts this month. I'm glad she is making this a leisurely sew. I do have some of my plus parts cut and am planning to cut backgrounds today so that I can hopefully keep up. (Yes, really. I'm on call for jury duty this month and have some other things going on, too, so I need to kind of work ahead while I can in case I'm needed elsewhere.) Do go over and check out her blog. She has a tab for the QAL to follow the parts after you read her post about her quilt. This will be a fun project with lots of layout options. And it's for a great cause. 

Sew Preeti Quilts

(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.)  

Friday, May 7, 2021

Squirrels for Safelight

I was relaxing and reading through some blogs a few days ago, as one does, and suddenly a big squirrel popped up in the form of the annual collection of bags for cosmetics and sunglasses (and now, tissues, too) that is happening this month by Carole of From My Carolina Home for Safelight Domestic Violence shelter . In my fogginess of last year, I totally missed it, and it seems that might have happened again this year if not for the blog post. Actually, it was one bold squirrel. Then her shyer, more elegant sister ventured out after I responded to the first one. 

Anyway, here was my project this week. It should have only taken an hour or so, but because I can never make a set of these bags without complicating the process, it took me a few days. 

I had some lovely fabric that I won maybe three years ago in a giveaway through Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon--mmm quilts!. Wonderlust by Paula Nadelstern for Benartex. I had used some of it in other projects, including some bags for Safelight. I still had some of these marbled pieces. I loved the look and luxurious feel of them, but they had never quite fit with other projects, so I knew it was time to use them. I didn't have large enough pieces to just cut and sew, so I decided to do some improv piecing. I had to also piece one of the linings, but it all worked out well. I quilted with free motion flowers, stipples and wiggles using several different colors of threads. Here are the outsides of two of the bags before the final construction. 

And the linings.



Peeky lining

I was pleased with the set and was ready to package it up and send it. But then that shy squirrel whispered, "Why make only one set, when two sets are just as easy to send?" Well, yes, I could do that. I searched through some other fabrics that I had won in a Fenceline Fabrics giveaway through Rachel Hauser last year. There was a lovely fat quarter of leafy fabric with a metallic sheen that I really liked, but also knew that it might never really fit in with the fabrics I usually use in quilts. It needed to shine on its own. It would have been so easy to just pick a lining and sew it up. But I noticed that the design was directional (I probably am the only one who would have noticed this, but I did), so I made some additional cuts  with added seam allowance to shift the fabric so that it would all be facing the same way when folded into a bag. In the same batch of giveaway fabric I found a sweet tiny plus peach fabric that picked up on the copper metallics in the main fabric, and thought to use it as a liner. The only place it would show was on the tissue holder where it would make a piped edge. I thought that was a shame, so I decided to add a strip to both of the other bags. See, this is why these bags take me longer. I just can't stop fiddling. I had to first measure carefully to make sure I had enough fabric in my fat quarter to do this. I did--just barely. I was going to slice and insert the strips, but that would have required lining things up carefully, so after stitching a 1 1/2 inch strip diagonally across main pieces of the bags,

 I folded the strip up to the stitched line, pressed it, 

and then folded it up again and stitched along both edges. 

That looked so much better to me. I think it makes the bags coordinate with each other more. Then I free motion quilted wiggly lines back and forth. 

A little crease-y--I've been folding these a few times.
I fiddled more, sewing the hook-and-loop closures on. I had been using blue thread, but didn't want it to show on the peach strip, so I changed thread colors part way through. Fiddle, fiddle. 

These were a lot of fun to make. Someday I really have to make a set without all the little changes. But I work with the fabric I have on hand, and it tells me what it wants. (Or maybe it's those pesky sweet little squirrels that tell me.) 

These projects are so satisfying (and probably usually really quick). Each set uses two fat quarters with little waste, and are a great way to use up those cut-offs of batting that don't work easily for other projects. Plus, they are a wonderful way to fill the tote bags that Carole puts together for Safelight every year to brighten the lives of people going through a really tough time. If you haven't made any, go check out her site. Yes, I do complain that they take me more time than they should, but they are also a neat way to try something a little creative and to practice quilting motifs. I have to say one thing, though, to quilters who quilt with lots of colors of thread to match their fabric: As a person who usually quilts with one color (mostly off-white), I have extreme admiration for your persistence in thread-changing. It was so time consuming for me to keep changing colors, and I really had to keep on my toes to remember to do it. New appreciation here for people who use multiple colors of threads!

I'm linking up today with Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty and on the last Saturday of this month with Sandra at mmm quilts for DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it). I didn't want to wait to link up because maybe some of you will still want to make some bags this month, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to draw them to your attention. You can get the info you need at Carole's site here. 

Have fun with your squirrels!

(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.)  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

I've got the Blues

It all started with the Chain Linx quilt pattern I got in a giveaway from Karen at Sugar Free Quilts through KaHolly in a Blog Hop honoring the legacy of quilter Paula B about a year ago. My plan was to make a quilt to donate, and when I looked through my drawers, I challenged myself to "use up" my blues. And only blues. I thought I might make a quilt that would appeal to a man--although, I really don't like to stereotype people that way. 

The design of the quilt I chose to make is unique in that it's constructed from four big rectangles arranged around a square. I first shaded in the link parts to get some idea of how they might look and to help me keep things straight while cutting the fabrics. 

I had two fairly large solid blue fabric pieces that were leftovers or rejects from other quilts, and my idea was to use the grayish blue for the links and the darker blue for part of the background to appear sort of as a border. 

With that in mind, I made the rectangular blocks first, choosing tone on tone fabrics.

 I made decisions about which fabric to use based on how much fabric I had available for a particular sized patch.

I wanted all four of the rectangle blocks to be alike. 

Always good to match your outfit to your project

As I cut, I pinned sets of four patches together and then bagged different sections up to keep things organized as I sewed.

After making the rectangles, I laid out other fabrics to decide how to make the center square. I had enough of the solid blue that I used for the border to make the whole center. So that's what I did. it kept everything symmetrical-ish. 
Everything went well, until I took photos of the top. And. I didn't like it. At all. There was one fabric I had used that was a sort of bubble pattern in blue and grayish blue, but in the quilt it looked dead gray. And it was one of the bigger patches. Do you see it there? 
Actually, there are two, but the big one is what was bothering me.

Times four. Yuck! I could not unsee it. So out came the seam ripper and I performed four surgeries. And replaced that patch with three smaller, darker ones. Four times.
Do you see them? (Never mind the stray thread.)

It really didn't take that long and made a big difference in how the whole quilt looked. More depth and vibrance. Even in the bad indoor light.
I thought I would use up all my blues, but we all know that didn't happen. Sigh. For a few minutes I thought of piecing all the leftovers into a scrappy back. But there were a lot of seams in the front, and I wasn't looking forward to quilting through those and a bunch of seams on the back. So, being fully vaccinated (Yay!), I ventured out to a local fabric store I hadn't been in for more than a year and found the perfect navy. And at another store around the corner, I found a good medium gray blue thread that wouldn't stand out as much as my usual off white on the quilt. 

I dithered for awhile about how to quilt. At first I thought I might like to highlight the links somehow, but everything I considered would have required lots of stops and starts and thread burying and I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted simple. And what's more simple than stipple?? (It's so relaxing--almost trance-like--for me. I know stippling isn't for everyone and that some people struggle with it. My tip is to go slowly, picture jigsaw puzzle pieces while you quilt and try for gentle swoops. It probably also helps to have the pressure light on the presser foot.) I had considered using a kind of turquoise-y blue thread for the top thread, but in the end I used the same thread that I had chosen for the back. I knew I'd probably lose at playing thread chicken, so I did run out part way through quilting to buy one more spool of thread. I almost did win at thread chicken, but I did need that second spool for the last bit of quilting. (Maybe 5 to 10 yards?) 

Early on in the construction process, I set aside a bandanna print for the binding. It worked really well for a subtle edge on the front and good contrast on the back. If you have a treadle machine, or another machine that doesn't show you guidelines for making sure your width is consistent when you turn the corner while sewing on binding, here's a little tip. I fold a square sticky note on the diagonal and then line it up with the edges of the quilt when I get near the corner. I sew up to the diagonal edge of the sticky note and then out to the corner. That always gives me the same measurement no matter what seam allowance I use when sewing on the binding. It's really helped me to have sharper corners. 

The quilting pulled everything together, and I finally decided that I liked the quilt after all. And there was someone making complimentary noises the whole time I was making the quilt. Someone who loves blue a whole lot more than I do. (He still misses his old navy blue car.) When it was almost done, he finally came right out and said he wanted the quilt. Well, who was I to say no to my husband? After all, I have never in all these years made him his very own quilt. Our other quilts have always been for us, not him. So, this quilt that was going to be donated to an organization is staying right here. 

Here are the stats:

Pattern: Chain Linx by Karen Chase at Sugar Free Quilts I really liked following her detailed instructions, which worked fine even though I was using a lot few colors. I appreciate it that she noted how to press important seams and left it up to me to decide how I wanted to press others. 
Fabrics: Prints are scraps from many years of quilt-making; solids are Kona Cotton in Prussian and Delft; backing is Moda Marbles (I'm not sure of the color--maybe Indigo? It's a dark navy.) Nautical.
Batting: Fairfield 80/20. First time I've used this. My machine loved it.
Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Mettler Silk Finish Cotton in Smoky Blue for quilting. (I haven't used this before, but it was what my local store had, and it worked out well--a slight sheen), Old Coats and Clark black cotton hand quilting thread for hand sewing binding to back
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back. 
Size: 60 1/2 inches square before quilting; 59 1/4 by 59 1/2 inches after quilting. Since this quilt is staying home, I haven't washed it yet.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for free motion and for machine work on the binding.

I knew I would need to make a replacement quilt to honor my pledge to make a donation quilt, but although I still have blue fabric, it's not enough to make a similar quilt without a lot of hassle. What to do? And then I read Preeti's blogpost about her upcoming Quilt Along to make quilts for the same organization this quilt was originally meant for. Perfect!! What a great solution to my dilemma! I don't think it will be another blue quilt, but it will be fun. And of course, I'll keep the Chain Linx pattern for another time.

But I'm not done yet. Oh no. April was blue month at Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and since there were 5 Fridays in April (my self-imposed due dates for 52 weeks of Scrappy Triangles), there were 5 blue half blocks made. Here they are: 

And randomly with most of their mates from January through March (my, this year is moving fast!)

How about that navy corner on the upper left? Yup. That's leftover from the Blue backing, How neat is that? I will need to buy a bit more to make sure I have enough for a whole quilt worth of triangles, but I think it will pull all the colorful bits together. 

Whew! that's a lotta blue. Oh, just a little more. Here are the blue fabric bits I ordered to enhance my stash this month. 

This time I ordered from Winter Creek Cloth. I know it's weird complaining about not using up all my blues and then ordering more. But I'm really trying for a more modern vibe, and this is such a fun purchase this month. Now that we are more free to move about the community, I might purchase my next colors locally. But maybe not. I know there will always be backings and such to buy nearby. And maybe some fabric for Preeti's project...Stay tuned. 

I'm linking up this week with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread ThursdayWendy at Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock PartyMichelle at from Bolt to Beauty for Beauties PageantAngela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday, and Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap.

Happy Quilting, whether you've got the blues or not. (homage to Buddy Guy)

(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.)  

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Outstanding Blogger Award

Well, I'm flattered. A few weeks ago, Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon--mmm quilts nominated me for an OBA. I laughed at first because I feel like my blog has been running on fumes the last few years. I certainly have not been as prolific as in the early years. Nevertheless, I am trying very hard to continue blogging because I do like having documentation of my quilting journey all in one place. So thank you, Sandra (and anyone else who checks in) for still reading my words and encouraging me. And if you hadn't already been nominated, I would nominate you, too. Your posts about your quilts, designs, tutorials, home reno, your Great Lake, and your sensitivity to social issues are a highlight of my blog reading.

As a recipient of an OBA, I have some questions Sandra would like me to answer. So here goes...

1. Have you made any quilts of your own design? If so, please share. Yes, I make a lot of different kinds of quilts (mostly lap sized ones), but the ones of my own design tend to be landscape art/wall quilts. I'll stick with those for this blog post because I'm too lazy to find anyone I need to credit for ideas for my other quilts. The one I'm most proud of (is that okay?) is Reminiscence--a quilt based on a photo I took at a local park on a mild winter day. I used freezer paper templates to piece it, and I hand quilted it.

2. Have you entered any quilt shows, and if so, which ones? If not, do you have plans to? As far as I can recall, I've only entered quilts in the online Blogger's Quilt Festival of October 2014 hosted by Amy of Amy's Creative Side. I'm still thrilled that my Reminiscence quilt (above) won the viewers choice in the Art category.

A couple of years ago, I entered another landscape quilt, Mi Barca, in a general art show at my church. It's a reflection on a Spanish song, "You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore," particularly the line, "En la arena he dejado mi barca" (translation: "On the sand, I've abandoned my small boat"), a call to leave our daily occupations (pre-occupations?) to serve others with love and commitment. 

And that's it. I find in-person quilt shows overwhelming. 

3.Do you have a mentor, or someone to whom you look up to or have learned a great deal from in your craft? Explain how this person or these people have influenced you. These days I'm inspired by numerous bloggers and instagrammers. I have eclectic tastes, so my social media perusal covers a pretty broad range. I would say that most of my donation quilts are influenced by the posts I read, whether it's a pattern or color or a call for blocks or quilts to distribute. So thank you, quilters!!

In terms of my own designs, I have been most influenced by the work and books of Ruth B. McDowell. Although I've never met her, she has taught me how to design and construct a quilt using freezer paper patterns/templates. I am still trying to capture the abstract nature of her work--the unexpected fabrics and colors--but I'm content to use her techniques to make my own work. Reminiscence was made using her techniques.

Another influence is Karen Eckmeier and her Accidental Landscapes (you can see that influence in the quilt above and below), which I find fascinating as a way to interpret the shores of my beloved state. And that leads me to...

4. Do you find that where you live influences your choices of colour (well, color for me) and design? Can you give examples? Oh, yes. I'm very much inspired by my beautiful Mitten state surrounded by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. Here's my Accidental Landscape of Lake Michigan.

I've also made some miniature quilts of Michigan lighthouses, which are mostly foundation paper pieced, with some accidental landscaping thrown in.

And I'm inspired by nature, even in my own backyard. One quilt I recently designed includes traditional blocks and my own paper piecing. It's my interpretation of Bear Paw blocks as Coleus plants.

5. What do you do with your makes? (keep, decorate, use, give away, etc.) All of those. My quilts are part of my home environment on the walls and wherever we need a cozy layer, but most of my quilts are given away for celebrations (weddings, births, birthdays) or donation to some favorite organizations to give cozy hugs to people in need. I've also made the difficult quilts to help comfort and heal people after a traumatic or tragic event. Making/giving away quilts is the most satisfying and heartwarming way I know to spend free time in my retirement. It's a celebration, a meditation and a mission. 

I think I'm supposed to nominate some other quilters. Because I've been away from blogland a lot this past month, I honestly don't know who has already received this honor. So I'm going to nominate anyone reading this post. I don't have a question, but I am going to encourage you to keep it up. Keep blogging. It does still have a wonderful place in social media. You are an Outstanding Blogger.