Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Three Kinds of Progress

Last week on Instagram I noticed some neat blocks being made by quilters for Leanne of Devoted Quilter. She had reported that the senior citizen residence across the street from her home had burned down resulting in the loss of everything for 21 people. You can read her post about it here. Wanting to make a quilt for each of the residents, she put a call out for donations of the 882 blocks she needed. That's a lot of blocks! I figured it would take her awhile to collect that many. I made up my mind to make some and planned to start working on them the day after Easter. They seemed like a perfect DrEAMi project. 

After rummaging in my fabrics Monday morning, I decided to check with her about what types of blocks she still needed. I had some gender-neutral fabrics, but also some that might be more appealing to men or to women. Imagine my surprise when I went to her blog and found that she had updated it to say that except for some backing and batting, all she needed had been pledged!!! I was bummed! My little contribution wouldn't be needed after all. I spent the next hour at loose ends. What would I do that day? Then it came to me. I shouldn't be disappointed at all. In just a few days' time, quilters from all over had responded to reach what seemed like a daunting goal. Isn't that awesome? 

So now I'm back working on my Deconstructed Coins quilt aka my improv quilt. You can read more about it here and here. Since my last post, I added some little vertical strips along the right side of each little block. I needed to do something to increase the total width of the quilt, and that seemed like a fun solution. In a comment to my last post, Louise from My Quilt Odyssey suggested trying some navy blue to set off the prints. I just happened to have a good-sized piece of Kona Prussian, so I started playing with it. Well, first I played with my Quiltography app.
Then I tried a version with my fabrics. 

I like it. I'll wait to figure out exactly how to do the solid bits between the print rows, but I've been sewing navy pieces on to each of the printed bits. Here's how they look so far:

I've got the third row almost done. There will be five print rows in all. The quilt will actually be a rectangle--wider than it is long as it is meant to be a sort of shawl worn during therapy sessions at a counseling center. 

This quilt may look more planned than improv, but I'm not using a pattern. I have used a ruler to cut the thin solid strips (1 inch unfinished), but placement of the strips in the middle of the blocks and the distance of displacement of the blocks to make the jagged navy edge is random. To add the navy, I lined up and sewed the top and bottom edges of printed blocks along width-of-fabric navy strips, and then cut them apart and staggered them when I sewed them back together. Sorry, no picture of that. Maybe I can include one in the next post. 

Thanks to Louise for the idea of using navy to calm down the "mess" I was working with when I last posted. I liked the pastel nature of what I had been working with, but it was too muddled, and the navy brings some order to it all. The virtual layout really helped me visualize how this might look, even though the actual quilt won't be as uniform in design. 

So that is the progress I've made in quilting this week. But here's some other progress that I'm excited to share:

After 7 1/2 months of recovery and rehab for my broken shoulder, I'm back on my bike!! I had to buy a new bike because during a spring tune-up, our bike mechanic discovered a crack in the frame of my old one that happened during the accident. It couldn't be fixed. I decided to get a "step through" bike. (I'm not getting any younger, and this makes me feel a little more secure.) I'm still working on rotator cuff issues in therapy, but I can ride again. (Rotator doesn't seem to be much required for bike riding--at least I hope so.) So far, I've just been riding around the neighborhood building up stamina and confidence, but it's going well. And I'm being very careful to not ride distracted. 

And one more sign of progress--spring! Here are some quick photos around the yard this week:
"Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold..." One of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. Our trees are waking up.

There is some de-grassing to be done...but the flowers are so cute!!

I'm linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts this week for Let's Bee Social. And I'm going to keep my eye on Devoted Quilter over the next few weeks to see all of those wonderful donated blocks come together for her special quilt project. She may still need some backing and batting, but you might want to contact her to be sure if you're thinking you might like to contribute.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

K's Quilt

You may have noticed I've been sort of absent on social media lately. When that happens, it usually means that I'm so wrapped up in a project that I just can't tear myself away. A couple of weeks ago I had a sudden need to make a quilt. My daughter sent me a heartbreaking message that a friend of hers (one of the first people she met when she started college) had been diagnosed with cancer and was anticipating chemotherapy after surgery. My daughter wondered whether I was up for making a quilt. I didn't need even a split second to answer that question and immediately went into overdrive to make it as quickly as possible.

About three years ago I had made another suddenly-needed quilt for someone. That quilt was much smaller to be used with a wheelchair, but I remembered that it only took a few days to make. I decided to make that pattern--All in a Row by Leni Levenson Wiener from her book 3-Fabric Quilts. I liked the modern simplicity of the design. Here's what that quilt looked like:

This quilt needed to be bigger--I thought roughly 60 inches square would work nicely. My daughter's only instruction was to make it pretty--cheerful. I spent a lot of time at a local fabric store taking pictures of fabric and consulting with my daughter by message (what did I ever do before I had a smartphone?!!) before settling on these two fabrics for the main part of the quilt:

I'm not sure what drew me to these, but I thought they had kind of a folkloric vibe. And later while I was sewing, I discovered that the brighter fabric actually has ghost images of the circles in the lighter fabric. Do you see them? (Look above the butterfly.) And they are from two different designers and fabric companies. 

That decision was pretty easy, but I got stuck when picking the accent fabric for the squares. I thought I wanted some kind of orange print but never found exactly what I was looking for. I ended up buying several orange and reddish fabrics as well as some yellow and then tried out lots of variations. None of the arrangements of orange alone, yellow alone, or a combination of the two seemed right. Finally after lots of experimenting with my Quiltography app (LOVE that app) I decided to combine the yellow and orange into a bordered square. Before cutting fabric I "made" the block with my app. (The yellow here is not what I ended up with, but it was what I had in my "stash" on my app at the time.)

I actually tried several widths of the border and laid them out as whole quilts on the app and then sent the various versions in a message to my daughter to see what she liked best. We settled on 2 1/2 inch yellow squares with 3/4 inch borders (finished). 

Did I say I LOVE this app? Oh, I did? Yes, I do. I could waste a lot of time just making virtual quilts. 

It took me a long time to settle on those squares, but once I did, sewing the quilt top was a snap. And then the back... I tried out several backs on my Quiltography app based on the amount of fabric I had left.

I settled on the third one, with some added orange borders on the yellow strip. The scale of the fabrics isn't right, but it did help me choose how I wanted to make the back. 

Inspired by the luscious wavy quilting that Lorna over at Sew Fresh Quilts does, I tried my own wavy quilting. Well maybe I should call mine wobble quilting. I have a long way to go to master the smooth curves of the technique, but it was fun and added a wonderful puffy texture. I decided to do a matched binding--well not matched. Maybe reverse matched? Fun! I'm pretty sure I'll make this quilt again someday. I keep thinking of different ways to do the fabric combinations--but I would also like to try the wavy quilting in the same direction as the strips instead of across them. In fact, I had second thoughts about doing the lines crosswise when I was halfway done, but it would have been REALLY dumb to pick out what I had done and start over!

Okay, how about some pictures? Of the real quilt.  A lot of pictures. It was raining all day yesterday and now there are big puddles at the base of the fence I usually use for photo shoots. So my husband came to the rescue with his long arms and held up the quilt on the front porch. Today is delightfully sunny with almost no breeze!! Yippee!

I also tried some photos in our crabapple tree sans leaves.

Some breeze back there and dappled sunlight, but still fun.

How about some close ups?

Did you catch that reverse-matched binding?

Super close-up. Do you see my initials and date in teeny tiny stitches?

Oh, why not a few more?

Here are the stats:
Design: Variation of All In A Row by Leni Levenson Wiener
Fabric: Faithfully Yours by Barb Tourtillotte for Clothworks; Roman Glass in Pastel by Kaffe Fassett for Free Spirit; Timeless Treasures of SoHo Studio C 3096 in Citrus (the yellow); Wild by Nature by Kathy Deggendorfer for Maywood Studio (orange). Plus two reddish orange fabrics that I don't have records of. 
Binding: Reverse matched to main fabrics on front. Cut 2 1/4 inches wide and folded for 3/8 inch width. 
Threads: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing. Superior King Tut in Mint Julep for the quilting on the front and in Temple in the bobbin. (Same combination I used on the last quilt I made. I thought I would use up the Mint Julep, but it looks like there's enough for another quilt. Neverending thread cone!!) Superior Treasure Hand Quilting in Old Lace for the hand part of the binding. 
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 Bleached Cotton
Size: 61 by 61 inches after piecing; 60 1/4 by 59 3/4 inches after quilting and binding; 58 inches square after machine washing on cold and drying on low.

I pieced K's Quilt on my Singer Featherweight and quilted it with a walking foot on my Singer 115 treadle. 

With the two-colored squares, the quilt has lost the graphic punch of the original design, and maybe it's a little more traditional than folkloric, but I like it. I love the pretty prints and cheerful colors.

One more picture of the yummy texture after washing:

It was fun sharing this quilt with you. But I haven't lost site of the serious need to make it. K's Quilt will soon be on it's way to her with hopes that it will be a comforting hug during therapy and with prayers for healing. God knows she's been on my mind throughout this whole project.

Because I made this quilt feverishly on the spur of the moment, I'm linking to mmm! quilts for the DrEAMi party, even though it's not the kind of DrEAMi project we should ever have to make. Isn't that the way it is so often with quilts that suddenly need to be made? I'm glad I could do it, though. I'm also linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Sew Fresh Quilts for their next weekly linky parties.