Friday, December 22, 2017

Quilt for California

I've been on a quilting mission over the past few weeks. If you peek at my Instagram posts, you'll will have already seen bits and pieces. Given that I've been working on this while also preparing for the holidays, blog posting sort of got tossed aside. But the quilt is done, so I'm ready to share. Here's a peek before the rest of the photo session:

One of my favorite quilt stores had a sale a few weeks ago--even on sale fabric. It's a gift store with a small modern fabric department and tiny sale fabric department. But I decided to challenge myself to find fabric for a twin size quilt using only the sale fabric. I wanted to make a quilt to donate to California fire victims. My donation quilts are usually throw quilts, and I've often made them with bits of fabric from giveaways. But this quilt needs to be bed size, so I needed more fabric without breaking the budget. I had a vague idea of a design in mind. There were several fabrics that grabbed my attention but only a few that "went together." Here's what I found: 

The Mini Pearl Bracelet fabrics were 1-yard cuts in two packages. (The green was also in one of the packages--I'll use it in something else eventually.) The white print was the only fabric in the sale area that I liked with them as a background fabric. There was only a little bit over two yards of it, but I knew I had some Kona Snow at home that I could add to it. Now that I think about it, I hope the house print will be okay for people who have lost their home, not reminding them of what they have lost, but helping them focus on what's ahead and on the strength of community support. 

The next step was to settle on a design. I thought I'd do a variation of either Falling Charms or Falling Triangles (I think it's called Triangle Tango in their patterns, but I saw their video online under Falling Triangles) from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. I took photos of my fabrics and made some mock-ups in my Quiltography app. (I'm not an affiliate for companies--just telling you what I used.) These are the four designs I was considering:

I wasn't sure about using squares with the Mini Pearl Bracelets fabric. It is printed on a slant, which bothers me just a bit for some reason. I made some paper cut-outs to help me make up my mind about squares or triangles. 
It probably wouldn't matter either way, but I decided to go with the triangles. I liked the only-triangles version, but I chose the design in the lower right corner of my options for a couple of different reasons even though it also had some squares (that were small enough not to look distorted with the print). First, I had more of the bright colored fabrics than the whites, and second, I intended the quilt for possibly a child, so I thought more color would be more practical and more fun for a little kid.

As I got started, I realized that it has been awhile since I made half-square triangles. I fell back on a technique I learned a long time ago. I know there are lots of tutorials and size charts online for figuring how to do these, but my go-to source is The Quick Quiltmaking Handbook by Barbara Johannah from 1979. ( I think it's still available used.) When I used to make miniatures, I would crank out a few dozen sets of teeny tiny HSTs at a time. For this quilt, I would be making them big, so I stuck to eight at a time, which was also a good idea since I had to mix up three colors with two background fabrics. My plan was for HSTs that finished at 5 1/2 inches square, so I used fabric squares of 12 3/4 inches. 

Here's how one looked (drawn lines and stitching). Notice I waited to trim the colored fabric until I did the stitching. That seemed easier to me than to try to make sure two fabric squares stayed in place while I worked with them.
After trimming, I cut the horizontal and vertical lines first because those need to be the most precise. (I know. I had already drawn the lines, but I needed extra assurance since it had been awhile since I had done this.)
Then I cut the diagonals. Easy peasy. Most of you probably know this. But I was quilte excited by my  success so I had to share.

After cutting the triangle parts I cut the rest of the squares and rectangles. I could have worked with long strips, but this seemed to work better for me to get a scrappy look.
I chained pieced all the parts and laid out the blocks following my Quiltography plan. When I had placed the blocks in the plan, I just clicked randomly, placing each color 40 times for each element in the grid without worrying about distribution of the colors. It worked out fine. I think I made one switch when I did the actual sewing but then just left everything else as it was. The white print is a directional fabric. I didn't pay much attention to it, but did make sure the stacks had prints facing both directions. I was mainly using the fabric as a bit of color in the background. 

For the back, I took a super-duper coupon to a big box fabric store and picked the first fabric I saw. Or maybe it picked me. (I had my husband with me, so I made sure I didn't dawdle.) 

I layered everything with Hobbs Premium Cotton 80/20 batting.

For quilting, I chose to do loop-de-loops. I had done these in miniature on my last quilt (Tree Quilt) and enjoyed them so much, I wanted to do more. I really had to work to keep them bigger. I aimed for dime to quarter size, but smaller ones did sneak in there. As I worked, I challenged myself to focus on making my loops as round as I could. I must say, the design lost it's charm for me for awhile about half way through. I think I remember advising another quilter to choose a design she liked for a quilt because she would be doing it a lot. Ha! This showed me that even if you enjoy something, it just might get monotonous after awhile. I tried listening to Christmas music to keep me going, but that was a bit distracting. When a fast song came on, I would speed up and when a slow song came on...well, you get the picture. I don't usually listen to music when I quilt. I know that may seem weird to a lot of quilters. But I treadle, and I get into a rhythm, and the music just messes me up. It's better for me to just stay quiet with my thoughts. And there were lots of thoughts while I was quilting. First, the victims of the Santa Rosa fires were on my mind. I can't imagine what it is like to have to flee such devastation and to lose absolutely everything. Then, while I was quilting, the Ventura fires were raging. My grand-niece was evacuated from her college and sent home before exams (which were cancelled). We were monitoring the news to see what would happen, and I feared that this quilt might need to go to her if she lost everything in her dorm. Thankfully that hasn't happened, and the campus seems out of danger now. All of those thoughts and the need for comfort for others were what kept me going when the loop-de-loops got to be a little much. By and by, it was finished. And by the end, I had gotten pretty good at truly round circles--not ones with little points--so maybe now I'm ready to try pebbles.

I wish I could say that when I finished, the sun was shining brightly, but no, it was already dark, and today it is still dark--from clouds, not sunset. The snow has mostly melted, so everything is soggy, and the quilt is too big to hang on my neighbor's fence (which also has soggy grass at the base). And it's too cold to get myself to search out a statue or two for display. So my photos aren't great. But here they are--the driveway was the best I could do:

Helpful hubby

I added some of the bright fabric to the back to use up as much as I could. Most of the rest was pieced scrappy style for the binding.

Do you see the initials and date?

A note about the binding: I used my own method to machine sew it on. There is a little tutorial here. I like this because I can put the binding on without cutting (well, intentionally cutting) any triangle points. The stitching shows on both sides of the binding, which some quilters might not prefer, but I think of it as a design element. It's strong for lots of washings, too. For this one I used about an eighth inch from the edge for my topstitching--a little wider than it needs to be, but I think it looks fine.
Front (sorry about bad light--post washing indoors) Ha! that's not one of my best point examples. The rest are pretty good, though!

And back
On a guest bed after washing:

Here are the stats:
Date constructed: December 2017
Pattern: Variation of Falling Triangles by MIssouri Star Quilt Company
Fabrics: Mini Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House (Andover) in (I'm guessing) Tomato, Watermelon and Apricot; Abacus Village by Allison Glass (Andover) in Mustard; Kona Snow (Robert Kaufman) and Aztec Woodland (Keepsake Calico) 
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20 Cotton  (I found this batting in a thrift store awhile back. ($2.00 for a king size batt plus most of a crib sized one, so I figure this batting cost maybe $1.25!)
Thread: Superior Masterpiece cotton in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut cotton in White Linen for quilting; Aurifil 40 wt cotton in 1154 (Dusty Orange) for the topstitching on the binding
Binding: Cut 2 1/2 inches wide and folded in half, pieced from scraps of front. Quilt back and batting were trimmed 1/4 inch beyond the front. Binding was sewn to the front with 1/4 inch seam, turned and pressed to the seam line on the back and then topstitched for stitching to show on front and back.
Size: Blocks: 7 1/2 inches finished (5 1/2 inch finished HST patch and 2 inch finished strips and squares. Quilt: 75 by 90 inches pieced. About 75 1/2 by 90 1/2 inches with binding (I forgot to measure after quilting). About  72 by 86 5/8 inches after machine washing on cold and machine drying on medium. Slightly shorter than I was aiming for, but it fits well on a twin bed. Layout is 10 by 12 blocks.

Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for free-motion quilting.

My quilt will be headed to Happiness is a Warm Quilt, a group of quilters in Sonoma County that is coordinating donations for residents who have lost their homes and/or belongings. If you are interested in helping, they have a Facebook page with information. The need is still great. 

So, that's it for quilting for this year. I think. I just saw a pattern and a call for quilt block donations for victims of the Thomas Fire in Southern California on the website for Ventura Modern Quilt Guild.  I'm sure I'll make some blocks--if not in the next few days, in the new year. (Or maybe a quilt?) I think last time I made a big quilt, I said something about limiting myself to no bigger than throw size in the future. But now the needs for larger quilts are great. So scratch that comment. I also have a "commission" quilt to start for my daughter. All kinds of quilting to look forward to.

This has been a tough year for our country--for our world. But I do wish you hope and joy during the holidays and in the coming year. And peace. We need these in so many ways.