Friday, August 19, 2016

Love Wins Finish

Whew!  A finish this week! I wasn't expecting that when I sat down to start hand stitching the binding to the back of my quilt, but I just kept going and going, and now it's done!

When I make a quilt, I usually try to piece the backing from leftover fabrics from the front, but with this quilt there wasn't a lot of fabric left, so I decided to use just one fabric. I ended up using a stripe after lots of dithering that I won't go into here. I'm definitely not fond of stripes as a backing. They are hard for me to square up and keep straight while basting. But I do love them for binding. Of course, using a striped binding with the same striped backing poses some problems. I tried to intentionally not match the stripes in the binding to the backing so that I wouldn't drive myself crazy trying to match them. That was harder than it might seem. There are some places where they do sort of match up. I'm not sure how that happened. I probably stretched the binding a little, but overall, I think it's okay. And I do love a striped binding.

Some weird shadows from the quilting here. Looks better in person.
I had two false starts with the quilting. I tried some concentric hearts on the heart shaped blocks, first in free-motion and then with a walking foot. I wasn't happy with my FMQ (wobbly) and did not enjoy all the quilt maneuvering I needed to do with the walking foot. So I ripped out what I had done and went with my old stand-by. Yup. Meandering. I did big meanders in the hearts--with some random tiny heart shapes (or maybe they look like leaves?) thrown in here and there--and little stipples in the background. At the bottom of the quilt I did the big meanders above and below the letters and little stipples between them to make them stand out and to keep the amount of quilting consistent with the rest of the quilt.

Just after finishing the quilt, I read a blog post telling why I shouldn't "ruin" my quilt with allover meandering. Ouch. I may need to write a rebuttal about why I love meandering.

This quilt begged to be made. Shortly after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I read that the Orlando Modern Quilt guild was collecting quilts for the survivors, friends and families of victims, and first responders as a gesture of support. I had a bundle of Robert Kaufman rainbow fabrics that I had won a couple of years ago in a Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Blog Tour. I was still trying to decide what to do with it. The bundle practically jumped off the shelf at me, and I knew I had to use it for a Quilt for Pulse. The Orlando guild suggested using a heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew. I liked the pattern, but it was so cheerful, and I knew that the hurt from the Pulse tragedy would endure. Lives were fractured; hearts were broken. So I decided to add some fractured and broken hearts to the other blocks to recognize that pain, but with the message that Love will win out in the end. I quickly sketched out an idea.

You can read about how I made the fractured and broken hearts here and here. I also planned the letters on graph paper, six inches high and proportional to each other. 

I don't tackle tough issues in my blog. I want to focus on the sweetness and light that is quilting. But there is so much ugliness in this world of ours, so much hate and horror and pain. I am thankful that we as quilters can do something to counteract the evil around us with love in the form of quilts. It's hard for me to put my thoughts and feelings into words, but I hope that my messages for healing can be read in my quilt. I know that there is a broad quilting community that gets this, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I just wish there weren't so many reasons to make these kinds of quilts. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that.

Here are some more pictures in the backyard...

Look close for a message and signature

and at the park behind our township offices... 

and after washing, with all it's crinkliness (and flatness!)

And now some stats:
Blocks: Basic heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew; original fractured and broken hearts and letters.
Block size (finished): 10 inches
Quilt size: 50 1/2 inches by 60 1/2 inches before quilting 
                 50 by 60 inches after quilting
                 47 1/4 by 57 1/4 inches after washing (5 to 6 % shrinkage)
Fabrics: Rainbow fabrics from a Robert Kaufman bundle of Blueprint Basics by Valori Wells; additional rainbow prints from my stash; assortment of white, off white and white/gray scraps; A is for Alligator by Michele Scott for Northcott Fabrics for backing
Batting: a mystery to me. The last of a piece I had in my stash. I love it; it's scrunchy and soft--maybe an 80/20 blend. It squares up the quilt beautifully and flattens any ripples after washing the quilt.
Binding: same fabric as backing; 2 3/8 inches for a 3/8 inch finish; machine sewn on front and hand stitched to back.
Piecing thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite
Quilting thread: Superior King Tut in Temple
Pieced on Singer Featherweight
Quilted on Singer 115 treadle

This quilt will soon be on its way to Florida to help with the healing of Orlando.

I'm linking this post with Crazy Mom Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks, but they're both on blog-cation, so those links will come later. Also with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday. You can hit the buttons on the sidebar when those links become active.

Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for all you do to heal others with the love in your quilts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wedding Gift Part II: 2AM Quilt

And now for the finish. If you haven't already read Part I, you might want to now--or later--whatever you wish. First, the on-the-neighbor's-fence shots, because, well, nearly every one of my quilts ends up there at some point. I wasn't thrilled with the lighting here. It was overcast, but kind of harsh, but it is the best way to show the whole quilt. You'll notice that I meander quilted it (on my treadle). I thought that was best since there was so much going on in the quilt already. I was planning to bind it with a low volume print, but realized that I had enough of the solids to make a scrap binding. 

And here's the back. I couldn't resist a more modern vibe on the back using the leftover solids (plus a Moda feather).

My only rule for the binding was that the colors would be randomly distributed with no color touching a backing patch of the same color. See that monogrammed square at the lower left? It's paper-pieced shorthand for the initials of my niece and her husband. She's taking his last name, and their first names both start with A. How fun is that? I hope it doesn't predict any sleepless nights on the couch for either of them!

Not content with fence pictures, I tried some in the yard. 

(Ooh, see that dry grass back there? Most of our grass looks that way this summer, except under the maples.) This photo is a good representation of the actual colors in the quilt. 

How about a tree picture?
Still not satisfied, I decided to take the quilt to our local university. I'll save those for last--They're my favorites. But first some post-washing crinkly photos. 

If you look closely, you can see my initials and date. But, really, I'll be the only one that knows they're there.

Our university has carillon concerts on summer evenings under the ancient trees on campus..It's a lovely place to enjoy a picnic, watch children play and listen to music from around the world. So I took my quilt with one evening to do some on-location pictures. Here's one of the massive trees:
And with my quilt:

 And three more on a nearby bench:

Now some quick stats, and then I'm done. 
Quilt pattern (resized): Tone-It-Down, Lissa Anderson, February 2014 American Patchwork and Quilting. Original back and monogram
Block size: 18 3/4 inches
Quilt size: 71 inches square; 66 3/4 inches square after washing (about 6 % shrinkage)
Materials: Solids, mostly Kona; various low volume prints.
Batting: Quilter's Dream Cotton Select
Binding: 3/8 inch; machine-sewn to front, hand stitched to back
Piecing Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite
Quilting Thread: Superior King Tut Cotton in White Linen
Pieced on Singer Featherweight and Free Motion Quilted on Singer 115 treadle. 

I'm linking this post with Crazy Mom Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks, but they're both on blog-cation, so those links will come later. Also with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday. You can hit the buttons on the sidebar when those links become active.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Wedding Gift Part I

Ah, today is the day I can write about a project I've been working on the last few months. The gift has been delivered and opened, and very soon the happy couple will be married. As I was weeding out all the photos I've taken, I realized that this could be a very, very, very long post. Usually, the information about the quilt dribbles out as I make it. But I haven't shared anything about this one before. So instead, I'm doing two long posts--focusing on process in this one and the photo finish in the next. So here goes...

My first decision was to make a throw-sized quilt. I collected some ideas on a secret Pinterest board then asked my niece and future nephew for some preferences for color and style. My niece sent me a photo of a framed poster of a map of Austin Texas, where they had met during their university days.  

She said they'd prefer a quilt with a vintage look and colors similar to the ones in the poster. I looked for a image of the poster online and quickly found one that I could print out and use to match to my Kona swatches. 

I looked over the quilts I had saved from Pinterest and kept coming back to one that seemed just right: Tone It Down by Lissa Alexander in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  This quilt was part of a Quilt Along in 2013-14. Many of you are probably acquainted with it. But that was before I was blogging or reading many blogs, so I wasn't aware that it was so popular. I'm always a little behind. Anyway, the block is actually a pretty old, well-known block (I know it as Burgoyne Surrounded), but the tone-it-down aspect and, of course, the directions for construction, are Lissa's design, so I ordered a digital copy of the magazine and am giving her appropriate credit. The low volume coloration of the quilt was what really drew me to it. 

Lissa's pattern is four by five blocks. I had an idea of the size I wanted for this quilt and it worked better for me to do three by three blocks. I increased the block size from 15 inches to 18 3/4 (subbing in 1 1/4 inch for every inch on the original pattern).

For the foreground of the blocks, I chose Kona solids. I had a few in my stash and ordered the rest from these chips:

I ended up eliminating Orange, Jade Green and Wine and added in Sunflower in the end.

For my low volume fabrics, I visited the four fabric shops in my area and standing back about 20 feet from the shelves, I picked out any fabric that looked whitish or tannish or a pale version of the colors above or had a print in similar colors. What fun for me! What a pain for the poor sales associates that had to cut 1/8 yard from each bolt. I am definitely not the customer they want to see approaching the counter!! But I needed to build a low cost extensive stash as I didn't have these types of fabrics at home. Here they are all lined up on my couch. The fabrics across the seat in the front are actually pre-cut fat quarters. Hey, I tried to save a little time with the cutting!

I think there were maybe 48 fabric bits in all. Here they are with the solids:

I did my cutting in batches as I constructed the quilt. I didn't want to overcut any one fabric, but I needed enough pieces to try out various patches on the design wall. I made one block at a time and then left it in place on the wall and built the next one so that I could see how everything fit together. 

 I made a mini design wall with an old poster frame and some leftover batting to transfer each block to my sewing area for piecing. 
After I finished the blocks, I laid out fabrics on the floor to determine how to arrange the sashings. (My design wall wasn't big enough.)

When I cut the sashings for the outer edges, I left extra width so that I would have room to trim the quilt without losing any design when binding it. 

After auditioning several ideas for cornerstones, I chose one with mostly rose/red patches, then put them together, again leaving extra fabric on patches that would line the outer edges of the quilt. This seems like a lot of extra work, but not doing it might have robbed those squares of their "squareness" as I squared up the quilt for binding. (Does that make any sense at all??)

So here's how the quilt top looked in the end. Do you see the extra fabric at the edges?

Okay, I'm going to stop there. In the next post, I'll try to go lighter on words, but I will include some stats, and of course, you'll get to see the quilting and binding. It will be mostly pictures though. Maybe.

I'm linking up this post with Freemotion by the River, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation. If clicking on the link doesn't take you to the party, click on the buttons on the right sidebar. I'll link up Part II with the usual Friday finish parties. 

I hope you're having a great quilting week!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: Contrary Wives

Oh, goodie, it's Throwback Thursday time again. The only thing I don't like about these is that they come around so fast! Anyway. It's a special day. Congrats to Jenn at Quarter Inch from the Edge, who has been hosting this monthly event for a whole year! And congrats to all of us as we've been celebrating our quilts from the past. I love this linky party!

For my part today, I'm sharing a group of four little quilts I made back in November 1987. They were inspired by a workshop Pepper Cory did on scrap quilts for our quilt guild in September that year. (I think she was still living locally at that time--lucky us!) But I decided to go really small--those were the kinds of quilts I was making back then. 

The block is Contrary Wife (basically a 9-patch with Half-Square Triangles--HSTs). I looked it up online, and it seems to have come from the Kansas City Star in 1941, but I haven't verified that. (There was also a Contrary Husband block somewhere along the way.) There are lots of images online with a variety of color placements that really change the look of the block. I decided to focus on the diagonal slash for my color arrangement. I really wanted to challenge myself to use tiny scraps, knowing I'd have to sort them into the tiniest prints so the prints wouldn't get lost in the design. Luckily, at that time there were lots of tiny prints available--and I had quite a stash of them since my focus was on bitty quilts. 

I don't think I was using a rotary cutter yet, and because these were scrap quilts, there was lots of cutting to do--I couldn't do strip piecing for the squares, although I did chain piece them. To get my pieces straight and square, I drew grids on graph paper, put my bits of fabric on top and drew lines with a ruler to line up with the lines on the grid showing around the edges of the fabric. Then I cut them with scissors. But I think I did mass-produce the HST pairs using a grid again and sewing on each side of the diagonal lines. Then I distributed them across all the quilts so that I wouldn't repeat pairs too often. Just guessing at this. If I studied the photos, I could figure out for sure if that's what I did. I used 1/8 inch seams (the width of my presser foot) to reduce bulk. 

So here they are. I don't really have a story to go with them. I sold them all to a client for probably less than I should have. (Don't we all?) I used a light poly batting, cotton thread to hand quilt, and muslin for the backing. I think the blocks are 2 1/4 inches (3/4 inch squares).

Contrary Wife I: Vines (named for the quilting) 12 by 14 1/2 inches. (Pardon the poor placement in the old photo-there was binding on the right.) I used 11 1/2 yards of thread for the quilting--one of the ways I calculated the cost.

And the back--not exciting, but just to make sure I document it here.

Contrary Wife II: O's (14 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches: 12 1/2 yards of thread for quilting)

The back:

Contrary Wife III: X's (14 3/8 by 14 3/8 inches; 11 1/2 yards of thread for quilting)
And the back:

Contrary Wife IV: Sashes (12 3/4 by 13 inches; 10 2/3 yards of thread for quilting)
 And one more back:

The colors of these quilts are a little strong for my tastes now, but I really like how I was able to use "low volume" prints for the background. I think that still holds up pretty well today.

Be sure to link up with Jenn's linky party, and if you have some old quilt photos (or quilts) from your pre-blogging days, think about joining in. (If you'd like to see more of my old quilts, click on the throwback thursday label below or on the list on the sidebar.)