Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My First RSC (aka RSC18)

I'm going to do it. Tame that scrap monster lurking (prettily, I do have to say, though) in my closet. I'm joining the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) for the first time. You can read all about RSC18 at soscrappy. I've admired Angela's challenge and linky party for the last few years. Here's my first month's worth of blocks. (Light and medium blues) This could be trouble. I am loving it!!
I thought for a long time about how I want to do this "my way." I'm starting small, with 8 five-inch string blocks a month. 
I considered using a fabric foundation, but settled on paper instead since that's a familiar technique for me, and I have a big box of newsprint paper on hand. 
I'm extending the strips far enough over the edge of the five-inch paper squares so that I can trim seam allowance beyond the paper. That will make it easier to sew blocks together and remove the paper later on. (I prefer to keep paper on the blocks until they are joined, and keeping paper out of the seam allowance reduces bulk and makes paper removal more efficient.)
After I complete a block, I stay stitch about 1/8 inch beyond the paper.
Just before I sew them together, I'll trim seam allowance to 1/4 inch.
I have a limited range for my strip width sizes because I wanted to make the best use of my smallest scraps. Cut strips are 1 inch, 1 1/8 inch and 1 1/4 inch. Some corner pieces are probably a little bigger.
I go to my bins of smallest scraps first and cut strips from them. Then I check in my drawers to supplement with strips from some larger pieces (which in my stash are still fairly small but big enough to fit around half a comic book board).
You have probably noticed some other colors have snuck (sneaked? Nah, I like snuck better) into the blocks. That's because each month, I will choose one of 8 colors from other months for a special strip in each block. I'm hoping that will bring some cohesiveness and a little spark to the whole quilt when it's done.

So here's the back of a block. I'm using a big needle and tiny stitches, so the papers will tear out easily later on.
I still have some strings left (as well as plenty of blues in my stash), but this is a good start for me. And some of these strings will find their way into blocks for other months.
Well, this is FUN!! I think it's going to be hard for me to hold back and do just one color a month. For February, the color is purple/lavender. That will be a bit more of a challenge for me because I have a lot less range of color and pattern for purple. But I can do it.

I'm linking up this week with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social, with Angela at soscrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework for Oh Scrap (on Sunday). I'll update the links as they go live.

If you are interested in a little more scrappiness, Angela and Mari (at The Academic Quilter) also have a neat BOM called Squared Away to go with the RSC18 challenge. I'm passing on that one as this yearlong project participation is new for me and I'm a tentative joiner, but it looks like a lot of fun.

Okay, time to sort and cut some purples. Have a good week, scrappy or not!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quilt for California Two

I'm a bit late with this post, but I have a very good reason. Mini road trip. And you know what that means: an opportunity to display a finished quilt in a gorgeous location! Yes, I have a finish, a day later than I expected (I'll explain in a minute), but it's all good. I'll leave the best photos for the end, but first a few driveway shots--my usual photo location in the winter. I took these this morning before we left because I wasn't sure if there'd be good photo ops on our little trip.

Here is my second quilt for California. And yes, that is the second option I showed in my last post about it. I know I said I was going to do the first option (diagonal stripe layout), but I surprised myself when I laid out the blocks. There was something about how the black triangles completed the squares in the off- center barn raising layout that appealed to me, and since it took awhile to lay it out, why not go with it? So option number 2 it was. 
A bit wavy, but I don't mind. It hasn't been washed yet. 

After eyeballing the leftovers from the front as well as a couple of sizable pieces of fabric in my stash, I realized I had enough on hand to make a pieced backing. Actually, I love this part of quiltmaking. 

The concentric square quilting with a walking foot was fun. I used a hera marker to draw corner to corner lines in the patches for some rows, and the guide bar that came with my walking foot for the lines half way between the hera-marked rows. I gained a whole new admiration for quilters who can do this with circles. Turning the quilt for the first few passes was WORK! But once I got going, I liked being able to quilt for a long distance without stopping. The simple quilt design seems to fit the style and design of the quilt. It's a lot smoother than the photos suggest. The sun was pretty harsh, but I'm not complaining. We hadn't seen it for awhile.

Everything was going well until I got to the binding. I had planned to sew it on by machine, and did so, but the second seam was something of a disaster. I had cut it just a smidge narrower than usual. That, some added thickness (I think) from having to piece a whole lot of little bits together to have just enough binding to go all the way around, and a bit of sloppiness in trimming the batting all resulted in a really unattractive and possibly fragile edge. I went to bed Wednesday night determined to sleep on the problem (but not lie awake all night obsessing about it). Thursday morning, I knew immediately that I was not going to give that quilt away (even anonymously) in the condition it was in. Instead, I spent the day happily picking out the last seam little by little and restitching it by hand. It took me all day, but now I have a quilt that I'm pleased to give away. And I think this hand sewn edge will hold up well to a lot of use. 
Bottom right says it was worth whiling away a day with a needle, don't you think?
So here are some stats and additional tidbits and then we'll get to that little road trip.

Date constructed: January 2018
Pattern: Block is a variation of Perkiomen Valley designed by Scott Griffin. Layout is off-center barn raising of 42 blocks (6 by 7). 21 blocks have the turquoise and green colors reversed. 
Fabrics: A variety of leftovers in my stash. They hold so many memories!!
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20 Cotton
Thread: Superior Masterpiece cotton in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut cotton in White Linen for quilting; Superior Treasure in Old Lace for hand sewing on binding.
Binding: Cut 2 3/8 inches wide and folded in half. 
Size: Blocks: 12 inches finished. Quilt: 72 1/2 inches by 84 1/2 inches pieced. About 71 5/8 inches by 83 1/2 after quilting. I haven't washed it yet. I expect some shrinkage, but I think that pressing will relax it again since the quilting is fairly wide spaced. 
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for walking foot quilting. 

I spent $11.23 total on this quilt for materials I didn't have on hand. This was the cost of the batting (50% off). I think that's amazing for a twin size quilt. I didn't set out to be "cheap" but it all just fell together. 

This quilt is brighter than what I was envisioning. I never think of these as "my" colors. But I've obviously used them in a lot of quilts, including ones for one of my grandsons and my granddaughter. And now that I think of it, I used them in pinwheels to decorate tables at my son and daughter-in-law's rehearsal party. I still have some of those pinwheels. (My granddaugther always asks for some when she comes over and I am only too happy to send them home with her.) So I'm thinking the quilt will appeal to a young child, or someone who likes the idea of a fiesta.

Like our ancestors, I made do with my fabrics. I knew I wanted to used the Kaffe Fassett Roman Glass in the corner of each block. I didn't have quite enough to make all the patches, but I did have enough by piecing four of them.

There is a Cotton and Steel Dottie fabric in there that is wrong side up in every patch. When I made my half-square triangles, I accidentally sewed right side to wrong side. I didn't feel like picking all those seams out, and the pattern still showed, so I made sure that I used the wrong side in all of the squares, too. (That's our little secret. Well, not anymore, I guess.) You can see it there on the left in the picture above.

I used up fabrics from this many of my comic book boards.

There are some leftover scraps, but I have a plan.

And here's proof that I finished the quilt.

Okay, so where did we go on this January day? To the beach!! The temperatures were in the 50's! IN JANUARY!! So of course we had to go see what was going on on the shores of Lake Michigan. First we visited Holland State Park. The ice was racing down the channel to the lake. I have some cool videos, but these stills will have to do. First the lighthouse (I once made a tiny quilt of this one).

The ice swirled around when it was trapped by the pier.

Those sandy colored hills in the distance are huge ice mounds.

Even people in business suits came out to enjoy the day.
I was hoping for some quilt photos, but it was too windy. However, up the road, there was a little park that was more sheltered.
A perfect place for more photos of the quilt. Quite a bit of ice. I am always amazed by how silent it is by the lake in winter when there are no waves lapping at the shore.

Bye bye, Lake Michigan. Thank you for the lovely day and fabulous photo op. 

This quilt will soon be on its way to California for people who lost their homes to the Thomas fire and mudslides. Thanks to the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild and Superbuzzy fabrics for taking on this huge task of bringing comfort to so many people. If you'd like to help them, there is still a lot of time to contribute blocks, quilts, or materials to their efforts. 

I'm ready now to work on something a little smaller for a few days. I've decided to follow the RSC18 at Soscrappy and make some string blocks. I haven't joined a monthly "QAL" before so we'll see how this goes. I've already sorted out my blue scraps. I think I've finally caught the "use up all those scraps" bug.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict for their linky parties this week. 

I hope your day was as beautiful as mine! Keep quilting!

Quick Saturday update: I washed and dried the quilt today. It's now 70 7/8 by 82 5/8 inches--pretty close to the original size so it should fit a twin bed fine. Just wanted to get that documented. Also, I forgot about TGIFF. Sandra at mmm! quilts is hosting this week I'm linking up to that party, too.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Throwback Thursday Revival

Back in October 2014, I discovered a link-up to a Throwback Thursday party for quilters. This excited me because I had pictures of a lot of quilts that I made in my pre-blogging days, and I wanted some way to document them on the blog. Unfortunately, that link ended shortly after I found it. I kept writing TBT posts, often linking them up with another blog, but I felt guilty because the quilts I was sharing were old, not fresh ones that the blog featured. Then in October 2015, I discovered that Jenn at Quarter Inch From the Edge was hosting a TBT party, and I was back in business until life caught up with Jenn in August 2016, and she discontinued the party. (She continues to make awesome quilts, however.) My own blogging started slipping at that time and I quietly stopped writing about old quilts. Those posts had been some of my favorites, but they required a lot of digging in old files and scratching my head to remember details--and they were so time-consuming, I just stopped writing them. I had written a total of 32 (I think) posts about even more old quilts. If you'd like to read any of them click on the "throwback thursday" label at either the bottom of this post or on the right side bar. 

Anyway, all this is leading up to this!! Sandra of mmm! quilts has taken on Throwback Thursday!! Yay!!! (Can you tell I'm excited again?) I'm back in it. It will be once a month (first Thursday usually, except this month) which fits my more lackadaisical blog frequency of late. I still have some pre-blog quilts to share, so we'll see where this takes me. I have a feeling that my most "interesting" quilt stories have been told, but who knows what I'll dredge up for the remaining quilts. 

So here's a quilt I promised to share a while back. I had just made a Blackford's Beauty mini/mug rug for a bloggy friend and I shared that I had made a quilt of the same pattern long ago, but for some reason had no photos of it. Actually, I had found some slides of it, and then I lost them again by the time I wrote the blog post. Well, this week, my husband and I are going through old family pictures to try to make sense of our storage, and guess what? I came across the slides again--just in time to document this quilt:

I made this quilt back in 1983 (the slide is marked Jun 83) for my brother-in-law. I'm not sure if I was audacious enough to offer to make him a quilt for his office or if he asked me to make it. (He was an artist who worked for a firm that designed trade show displays--a fact that should have been quite daunting for me as a traditional quilter.) I remember that we planned the quilt by snail mail. I sent him some possible block designs (4, I think), and after he picked his favorite, we planned the color scheme. He sent me some little squares of colored paper to help me choose the fabrics. I was in awe of those smooth, artsy bits of hefty paper. I remember that choosing fabric was a challenge. I wanted a "masculine" feel, and at the time a lot of fabrics were little ditsy prints and florals. It was fashionable then to buy striped fabric and fussy cut it to add details to blocks, so I started with that and added in fabrics with dots, and sketchy prints. I went through my fabric drawers today, and I think I found bits of most of them. (I know. Sad. I still have fabric from the early 80's in my stash. We'll just refer to it as my archive, shall we?) 
I know for sure that the stripe and the dark brown print are from that quilt. The dots and solids are almost certainly from it, although I have more than one of each of those in slightly different shades. (Perhaps I bought multiple pieces to see what would look best). I am not at all sure of the light print above. None of the light fabrics in my stash seem quite like the one in the quilt photo. Maybe I used it up in that or other projects. 

After a lot of digging today, I found some papers in my file drawer that show some of my planning process. (I was really surprised that the original bits of art paper weren't in there considering how enamored I was of them.) I had used markers and colored pencils to draw the quilt on 1/8" graph paper to get a sense of the final design.
I have another graph paper drawing that indicates the sizes of the patches and helps determine that the block was 16 inches square and the quilt 30 inches square (smaller than I remembered it when I referred to it last summer).
That paper and another also have some trial quilting designs.
My final piece of paper shows placement of the quilting lines. Looks like I added some lines when I did the quilting. Yup, I liked dense even back then.
 Here's the back:

There are a few things that strike me as I look back at this quilt. First the fussy piecing. It must have been tedious to add those narrow striped bits, especially to the parallelograms, and still get the size of each piece right. This was pre-rotary cutting, so I imagine I used transparent templates with marks on them to help line up the fabrics. Next, the bias binding! That was before I discovered straight grain binding. And then, those mitered corners on all the borders. I sure don't do that anymore. In fact, I usually skip borders altogether. That I hand quilted it is not surprising. It looks like I used rust thread. I probably marked the quilting lines with a combination of masking tape and chalk. If you look way down in the right bottom corner, you will see that I made a little label, probably with my name and date. I wonder how the quilt was hung. There's no sleeve. So there you have it. An 80's quilt with a 70's color scheme. For an office. I probably had visions of co-workers clamoring for me to make them quilts for their offices. Ha!

Sadly, my brother-in-law succombed to ALS several years ago. I made him another quilt during his illness. I'll share that another time.

Okay, here's the Throwback Thursday link again. See if you can find something to share from your pre-blogging days and let's party like it's 1980-something. Just kidding. A lot of you were probably in diapers then--or a twinkle in your mother's eye. Recent past will be fine, too, I'm sure. Thanks Sandra, for hosting!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More Quilting for California

During the last few of weeks of December, a call for blocks went out from the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild to make quilts for victims of the Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California. The block suggested by the Ventura MQG was a Scott Griffin-designed variation of the Perkiomen Valley block. I was paying close attention at the time, as my grand-niece was evacuated from her college in Montecito to escape the poor air quality and possible destruction of campus buildings. (She was able to fly to her family's home in Illinois for an early holiday break.) I decided to make a few blocks after the holidays. 

When the new year rolled around, I realized that I had some quilt time on my hands while waiting for my daughter to collect fabric for a quilt she would like me to make. So the block plan became a quilt plan. I went through my fabrics to see what I had enough of for a twin size quilt. I had some green mini pearl bracelets fabric that was part of a bundle I bought for my last quilt, so that was my starting point. I found more bright colored fabric, a variety of black prints and a bunch of neutrals (pretty much all of my neutrals, as it turns out). 

I planned several possible layouts, and narrowed them down to these two

and a third, based on simply sewing the blocks together much like they are placed below:

An Instragram poll suggested that the second layout was a favorite of followers. (Thanks for your feedback, everybody!) I do like it, as it is an off-center version of an old-timey layout. But I've made half of the blocks now, and when I started laying them out, I decided that I will likely go with the first arrangement, primarily because it might be easiest for me to quilt. Also, the blocks are kind of very bright (garish, maybe?) and the simpler layout calms things down a bit. (I hope.) I will reverse the turquoise and green patches in the remaining blocks.

I've been working on blocks today, much more slowly than I should considering I'm chain piecing and the blocks are basically nine-patches now that the HSTs are together. I'm pressing seams open (please don't ask me why I keep doing this to myself!) and am having a beast of a time matching up intersections--and I'm not even being overly picky about it. No matter which way I pin, they want to just slide past each other. Ah, well, I'm getting there. 

As I was sewing today, I was keeping watch on news updates from Montecito, California and from my sister-in-law. My grand-niece returned to her college this past weekend expecting to start second semester. But once again the college has been evacuated, this time due to the devastation from the mudslides that are the aftereffects of the fire. So far, the campus has escaped destruction but has no water. My grand-niece has safely reached a temporary home and is making plans for possible travel to a relative's home farther away if necessary. 

The Ventura MQG is now working in coordination with Superbuzzy Fabrics to collect blocks, as well as quilts and finishing materials such as backings and battings. The need is great as more homes are being lost to the mudslides. If you would like to help in some way, there is a lot of information on their websites. They will be making/collecting quilts well into spring. 

I'm linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Keep quilting!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Happy New Year! I wasn't going to do a year-end post this year. Our holiday celebration really ramped up in the last few days, and now I'm feeling lazy today. But it's nice to have a recap of my year's worth of quilts all in one place, so here goes. I did this as a trunk show last year. This year I'm going to link up to Cheryl's Best of 2017 party at Meadow Mist Designs, but I'm also going to add my other finishes and a couple of unfinished items that I was going to link up to Tish's Adventures in Wonderland's Quilty Confessions party (sadly, that ship has sailed). 

First, the numbers: I finished 6 throw size or larger quilts (4 for donation and 2 for gifts), 4 wall hanging size quilts (all for me!), 9 blocks for community-made quilts, and 4 other items that relate to quilting, or at least sewing (a heating pad, a crossbody bag, a mug rug and a blouse.) I also made some Christmas ornaments--not really quilting, but they were fun handwork. Maybe I'll share them in a separate post or on Instagram

So, first the top five quilt posts according to number of views. (Frankly, I was surprised by which ones got the most views. I think it partly depends on what and how many parties I linked to, but it is a way to pick five after dithering over what and how to share.) The link for each is in the listing.

1. Fall Maple Quilt--Seasonal Mash-up Post

This is a pattern by Ruth B. McDowell from her book Piecing Workshop. I started it in August 2015 and then hand quilted it--mostly during vacations. I finally finished it in February 2017. I was surprised that it was my top quilt post (1034 views) because it's not an original quilt--except for the fabric choices. 

2. K's Quilt
My daughter asked me to make this quilt for a friend of hers who had just been diagnosed with cancer and was anticipating chemotherapy. It was definitely one of those urgent Drop Everything and Make It (DrEAMi) projects that Sandra at mmm!quilts invites us to share each month. The pattern is a variation of All in a Row by Leni Levenson Wiener. (967 views)

3, Hexie Finish
This is a donation quilt I made for one of my favorite organizations: Margaret's Hope Chest. It was donated to the Mother and Baby Program at Pine Rest Hospital to serve as a hug around a mother during therapy for perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. The most enjoyable aspects of making this quilt were sewing those giant hexies by machine and doing the wavy walking foot quilting. (943 views)

4. Tree Quilt

This "top five" was another surprise for me because I didn't post it until November 22. But it is a holiday--or at least a winter--quilt, so that probably made it a timely view. It is now hanging on my front door. It was one of a fair number of squirrels for me this year. I had a great time using some ancient scraps and doing dense FMQ to give it texture. (744 views)

My last of the top five is actually two posts, each with 652 views. 
5a. Homes 

These are blocks I made for the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild to make quilts for the families of victims of an attack on a Quebec City mosque in Canada. They represent a response to one of what turned out to be many disasters this year--either through violence or natural causes. There have been way too many opportunities for quilters to come together to ease the burdens of people who have been victims, but it is heartwarming that quilters do work in community even though we live far from and are usually strangers to each other.

5b. The Grunge Quilt
This was another large squirrel, as I decided to make it less than 3 weeks before the 40th wedding anniversary of my brother and sister-in-law. It was not without its challenges, but I did get it done on time. Strange name for an anniversary quilt, but that is all Grunge fabric.

Now that I look at these top fives, I see that they are representational of the work I do: quilts for donation to people with health issues or victims of disasters or violence, blocks for community-made quilts, gifts and little indulges for myself. Big quilts, little quilts, FMQ and hand quilting. So yeah, these make a lot of sense. 

There's one quilt I just have to share because it was one of my favorites. The finish post for it is next in line of my top views (627), It's Deconstructed Coins, an improv quilt I made to challenge myself to make a quilt without planning it all out ahead of time. I made it in conjunction with a challenge from Kaja and Ann of Ad Hoc Improv Quilters. It was a true joy to make, even if I blogged about it ad nauseum while I was making it. It was the quilt that I learned the most from this year and confirmed once again that it is the process that is most meaningful to me in quilt making.

Now for the trunk show of the rest of 2017. I made two other "big" quilts, both for donation: Quilt for Vegas made from Grayscale and Heart blocks from Cluck Cluck Sew and Quilt for California, a variation of Falling Triangles by Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Two more door quilts: Painted Daisy (a pattern in Pieced Flowers by Ruth B. McDowell) and Autumn Abundance (from a pattern by Soma of Whims and Fancies with my own borders). The autumn quilt was started last year before I broke my shoulder, and finished (triumphantly) while I was recovering.

I made 6 other blocks for donation to community quilts: Hexies for Manchester (to be made into a quilt for victims of a terrorist attack in Manchester, England) and Puppy blocks here and here (Lorna's Dog Gone Cute from Sew Fresh Quilts) for Kaholly to make into quilted items to raise money for and honor pet rescuers in Hurricane Harvey.

Finally, my other projects: a heating pad, crossbody bag for my granddaughter, mug rug, and (not quilting, but sewing related in a sew-along with Bernie of Needle and Foot) a blouse. I like the blouse, but not on me. I've only worn it twice, so it's destined to become part of a quilt.
So what's next?
I have 2 UFOs. Yes, only 2. Really, they are just long-term WIPs. I tend to finish things up, Boring, I know, but that's the way it is. I have my Lake Michigan quilt which I've been working on forever. The top is done and quilted, but I have to add hand embroidery.
Sorry, dark picture.
The other is my Hollyhocks quilt (another pattern by Ruth B.Mc Dowell in Pieced Flowers). I'm working on the hand quilting. 
These are both long-term, quilt-in-the-evening-or-on-vacation projects, so it will be awhile before they are finished.

I have lots of projects in-process in my mind. I have fabric set aside for some. My daughter is collecting fabrics for another. So we'll just see where the new year takes us. And that's my plan for 2018.

If there are any attribution links I've missed in this post, you'll be able to find them in the original posts. Okay, here's the link to Cheryl's party again, 'cause the link is way up at the top.

Have a great 2018 quilting year, everybody!