Saturday, October 27, 2018

DrEAMi Pink and Purple

Throughout this year I have enjoyed making string blocks according to the RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) color prompts hosted by Angela at SoScrappy. I made most of my blocks into two small quilt tops, which will get their own post after I quilt them. You can see them in process here. My original plan was to divide the 80 blocks in two sets of 40, with 4 blocks of each color in each quilt. While laying out the second quilt, I started having second thoughts about the pink and purple blocks. I set them aside (I first was going to say I rejected them, but that's harsh, isn't it?), and as I did so, I suddenly knew exactly what I would do with them. I subbed in other blocks in the second quilt, and then abandoned postponed the bigger quilts and got to work on this fun little project:

I had 8 blocks. I knew I needed one more block for the quilt I wanted to make. Before I addressed that issue, I laid out what I had and tested some possibilities for a border from fabric on-hand. This one just didn't feel right. The border fabric seemed too crisp and modern for the variety of fabrics in the blocks.

I tried some other fabrics too, and then worked on the central block. Rather than make one more string block, I chose a butterfly from a set of paper pieced patterns I have admired for awhile: the Pepper Block from the Butterfly Charm blocks at These little butterflies are all so cute. I'd really like to make a quilt full of them someday. Of course, I had to change the pattern just a bit to put my own stamp on it and tie it in with the string blocks. So I string pieced the main sections of the wings. Here it is with that same border fabric again. (I was still mulling things over). I had also added sashing to the plan to make the quilt the size I wanted and to avoid sewing a lot of thick seams.

I also inserted a pink strip around the edge of the butterfly block to separate it from the sashing. 

By then, I had let go of the dotty border. But then the project took on a life of its own. I didn't like how some of the strips looked in the blocks. There was a hot pink strip in one that shouted out and grabbed all the attention. 
I replaced it with a tiny calico.

Then there was a purple strip in another, which didn't seem quite right as there were whole purple blocks next to it. 
I replaced it with a gold strip.

And a purple block with a bright red strip and more wine colored purple strips than I would like.
I replaced the red with a tiny red print, and the wines with bluer purples.

If you check out my other posts for RSC 18 (see the label on the right sidebar or at the bottom of this post), you will see that I kept the outlier theme going. The outlier strips are actually kind of strange in this quilt because they don't relate to anything in particular--only the RSC blocks that are in the other quilts. But I think it's kind of neat that I know the relationship is there. It's my little secret. Changing the strips was easy, as I used the old strips as a pattern for their replacements. But I was on the verge of getting carried away. DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it) was becoming OBSESSION (except those letters don't stand for anything--I'm not that clever). I had to stop myself. Each time I made a change, another strip in a block would stand out, calling attention to itself, until I told myself, "Enough, already!" 

I considered a solid pink and a solid purple for border and binding, but at the last minute I softened them a bit by subbing in a pink Grunge for the border and three purple prints for the binding. Then, finishing the piecing was easy. 

Because of the busy prints, quilting was simple--mostly walking foot. I outline quilted around the butterfly

and in the ditch around the blocks and (sort of) along seams between every set of two strips. I had to restrain myself because quilting these mini quilts to the nth degree is always my temptation. I wanted to keep it fairly soft. For the border I tried a bit of FMQ. I haven't done much lately and am a little rusty, but it was fun to add butterflies and loops to the top and bottom borders. 

Signed and dated!
The whole quilt is 22 by 24 1/4 inches. I haven't washed it yet, but I expect it will shrink a bit. The blocks finish at 5 inches and the sashings finish at 1 inch wide. The batting is a scrap of Hobbs 80/20. The white is Kona Snow. I pieced on my Singer Featherweight with Superior Masterpiece thread in Granite, and quilted on my Singer 115 Treadle with Superior King Tut in Temple. The back is pieced from the trimmings (three pieces) of another back. I even sort of matched the pattern. 
This view shows the quilting a bit better.

This quilt is headed to A Doll Like Me, the business of Amy Jandrisevets, who makes dolls for children that match their physical characteristics (perhaps with a limb difference, or hearing aids, or any other unique feature that might not be available in commercially-made dolls). Amy also provides doll quilts to include with the dolls under special circumstances. (If you'd like to learn more about Amy's business, you can read this post by Bernie at Needle and Foot from a quilt collection she did in February this year and then go to Amy's Facebook page to read more.) I'm pretty sure there is a child somewhere who is obsessed by pink and purple--and maybe butterflies, too--who will enjoy it with a doll. 

I'm linking up this DrEAMi (OBSESSION) with Sandra at mmm! quilts for her monthly linky party where we all share the squirrels we just had to chase this month. And with Angela at SoScrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! 

I hope you've had fun with your scraps and squirrels this month!

(I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dark Green

Well, here we are with the last of my RSC (Rainbow Scrap Challenge) blocks for this year.  Oh, that's not exactly true. More about that in a minute. Anyway, this month's color is Dark Green/Sage.
I have lots of dark greens. They were one of my favorite colors to work with early in my quilting life. 
The problem with those early dark greens is that the dyes were not all that stable, so I've sort of avoided using them in recent years. Still have them, though.
That makes me just a tad nervous about using them in my string blocks this month, but I'm taking the chance. There will be a lot of detergent and color absorbers in the wash after I get the quilts made. And some finger crossing, too. 
I also have some sage greens, so I tried to sprinkle them in as much as I could.

 I actually had these all sewn up in September. (After all, I knew what the color would be.)
I continued to add in other RSC colors in one strip of each block.
I've enjoyed making all of these blocks, but have been eager to make quilts with them. 
As soon as I finished the blocks, I got to work on a couple of quilts.

First, I split my batch of blocks in two. I used half of them (40) to make a simple top. Here is the beginning of the layout, with Kona Snow for the background. That top is finished now. I'll share the whole thing when I have it quilted.

I decided that I wanted a print for the background of the other quilt. I had a print style in mind (see this awesome string quilt by Mari, the Academic Quilter that served as my inspiration) and looked everywhere for something that matched my vision. I finally found a fabric that seemed to work okay. (You can't go wrong with llamas, butterflies and turtles, even if they are all chopped up.) The only problem was that I didn't like how my pink and purple blocks looked with it. So I quickly made 8 more blocks in the other RSC colors to use instead. I had plenty of strips leftover from the other RSC blocks I made this year, so I finished them in a very short time. In my haste, I forgot to take a picture of them, but here are all of the blocks laid out on the fabric. 

I've probably moved blocks around some since I snapped this, but they are well on their way to becoming a quilt top. 

And do I ever have a plan for those pink and purple blocks! 

I'm linking up this weekend with Angela at SoScrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh, Scrap!.

If you're taking part in RSC this year, I hope you've have been inspired by your blocks to get them into quilt tops! 

I'll leave you with this Still Life with Scraps, aka my block trimmings. 
Yummy, no?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Lake Michigan Finish

I'm doing a happy dance today because after two  three (!) years, I have a finish: My Lake Michigan Quilt, or as we say in all of our state's ads about things we like, MI Lake Michigan Quilt. I was under the MIstaken (get it?) impression that it took me two years until I looked up my old posts this week and found out that I started it in MId-October 2015. It's as old as one of MI grandsons. I won't put all the links in here of posts along the way, but if you'd like to read them, click on the Lake Michigan quilt label on the right side bar or at the bottom of this post.
I followed the techniques of Karen Eckmeier for making Accidental Landscapes. I've made tiny ones in the past, like this ornament for my daughter and son-in-law. It's maybe about 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.
But when my daughter (MI daughter? Ok, I'll quit now) mentioned that she wanted a wall quilt for her office, I decided to supersize the technique. The new quilt is 30 by 42 inches.

Nearly all the fabrics are scraps. I did buy a piece of Grunge for the back, appropriately when I was on vacation near Lake Michigan. The batting is a leftover piece of Quilter's Dream Cotton Select. 
There's no reason that this quilt should have taken as long as it did. It wasn't difficult. Most of the delay was lack of confidence. I built the layers slowly in between other projects. I'd put some strips up on the wall and spend a few days  months letting them percolate (marinate? stew?), and then I'd sew them down. I started with the water. After doing a bit of sand, I built the sky up toward the top. Most of the sky is pieced with regular seams rather than layered.
Then I layered the foreground, slowly, slowly. 
I like the bits of embroidery that add detail and depth on Accidental Landscapes. I thought it would be a simple task. But I hadn't thought of it that a quilt this size would need larger scale embroidery to be proportionate. That stymied me. Before starting the embroidery I quilted the project with my walking foot. To plan the placement of the beach grass I laid paper strips on the quilt and took a photo to refer to as I stitched. 
I started with a few stems of grass 
and then gradually built them up until I was satisfied. I used 4 strands of floss for the longest stems, and reduced the bulk to 3 or 2 strands for smaller stems or those closer to the water. I used a modified stem stitch, bringing the needle up closer to the starting point than is common, to make the stitch as thick as possible. I took the quilt with me on several road trips. It was an easy take-along project.

A few weeks ago, when I was Gramma nesting while waiting for our new grandson, I suddenly realized that I was almost done. It was a perfect project to work on at a time when I didn't want to start a new mess. In just a couple of days, I completed the stitching, or at least stopped myself from getting carried away with it. 

After we arrived home from cuddling our little grandson (and his big brother who was born right after I started the quilt!), I chose a sandy colored fabric from my stash for the binding. 

I took it out for a photo shoot on our garage. 
I thought I was truly finished, but then I remembered that I have a wonderful supply of ceramic buttons (by artist Sandra Lance--you can find her work under images online, but I think she has suspended her business for now) that I like to use on art quilts. I found two that looked good among the dunes. (I usually try to use three, but these looked the best.)

And closer
So now it is truly done.

This quilt will be living at my daughter and son-in-law's house. As I said earlier, it was meant for my daughter's office, but by now she has found something else to fill the space there, and I know her family will enjoy it at home. (And I can visit it, too.) I was almost hoping she didn't want it anymore, but hey, now that I know I can do this, I could make another one for me in less than three years! Maybe in solids?

The best thing I learned from making this quilt is that the technique does work for large scale quilts. Really, all that is needed is a good supply of fabrics to choose from. The embroidery is fun and works very well after quilting, even with building up fairly dense stitches. 

Let's look at that finish one more time!

I'm linking up today with crazy mom quilts for Finish it up Friday and Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

Happy Quilting and Happy Finishing! And if you live anywhere within driving distance of Lake Michigan, Yea for MI Lake MI!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

TBT: Midi Quilts

Continuing my series of Throwback Thursday posts this year about My Tiny Career (yes, I'm almost through, but there are a few months left so it will spill over a bit to next year), today I'm sharing what I'm calling midi quilts. They are a little bigger than the minis I worked on but smaller than most throw quilts. All of the quilts today were ones I quilted for Becky Schaefer in the mid-80's to early 90's. She constructed or reconstructed them from antique materials and then sent them to me for hand quilting. All of these were quilted with off-white cotton thread, for which I was paid by the yard. These photos have all been scanned from my files. I have been working on this project this year to document my work all in one place. If you'd like to read more about my tiny quilt career, click on that label to the right or at the bottom of this post. As usual, I will include what I know of dates, size, and amount of thread used.

I think you could hear my squeal when I opened the package that contained this one. I love it. (And I'm also glad I didn't have to piece it. That would have been challenging for me, for sure.) 
I love the colors and patterns. This one is 38 by 48 inches. The quilting is a little hard to see, but there are stylized flowers in the white patches and outlining on the other sides of the blocks. I finished quilting in January 1986 (perfect time of year for hand quilting on my lap) with 134 1/2 yards of thread. 

Here's the back.
A rather fragile brown print. Brr. It must have been cold. Look at those mittens.

The next one is a log cabin. The interesting thing about this one is that it is bound. I didn't bind quilts for Becky, so I'm thinking that she made it and maybe did some minimal quilting and then sent it to me for more. I know that I marked and quilted the vine border design and perhaps did some of the interior in-the-ditch quilting as well.
Right border is cut off.
I'm uncertain of the exact size. My notes say "20 by 30 inches ?" I finished it in June 1986 with 38 2/3 yards of thread.

The back seems to be a very loose woven stripe.

This Ocean Waves quilt is bigger than the quilts I usually worked on for Becky--44 by 62 inches. 
If you look closely, you can see feather circles in the blue squares/triangles and double lines through the small triangles in concentric squares. This one took 128 1/3 yards of thread. I finished it in March 1987.

The back is a thin, very fragile--almost crispy--peachish-pink print. Many of the quilts I worked on had this or a similar fabric on the back.

I'm including this next quilt here, even though it's much smaller because it's another Ocean Waves. 

This one is only about 15 1/2 inches square. Don't you love the random directions of the striped fabric in these Ocean Wave quilts? Quilting was minimal, with tiny feather stars in the dark squares and triangles (5 1/3 yards of thread). Quilted in August 1989. As typical with these minis, the back was muslin. I'll spare you the photo. There are lots in my previous posts.

This next probably should have been saved for a Christmas post, but here it is:
How about that photo bomb Cabbage Patch Kid? Maybe Faye Marilou (?) wearing Mommy-made clothing.
I quilted this one in December 1986--appropriate month for it! It is mostly crosshatch with some kind of odd leaf or stem designs in the large white areas. I don't think there was any quilting in the border. That may have been an attempt to keep costs reasonable for the quilting. It's 43 inches square, with 105 2/3 yards of quilting thread. 

The back is a loosely woven red/white check.

I have next to no information on the rest of these quilts. Either I forgot to record them or my career was winding down (winding up?) and I was tired of documenting.

Here's another Christmas quilt:

It's approximately 30 inches square. (I could tell from the size of the plaid in the blanket that was under it and cropped out of the picture.) There are hearts in the middles of the blocks,  partial feather circles in the larger white triangles, and some outlining in the rest of each block. 

Fragile pinkish backing:

I guess I could have included this next one in the star quilts post. I really like the use of shirtings in the background. I'm estimating that it's 20 to 24 inches square. I have one note that suggests I used 27 1/2 yards of thread for quilting. I wonder what this pattern is called.

The quilting doesn't show much on the front, but the back reveals hearts in the centers of the stars and concentric "broken" hexagons where outline quilting was done along the longest sides of the light triangles. 

This next one is a little bigger than a mini--I'm guessing about 16 by 20 inches. I don't know the name of this pattern either. Isn't (what you can see of) the quilt holder cute? More hearts in this quilt--where the dark corners come together. Maybe that's the 80's influence? I'm not sure that's authentic for the age of the fabrics in the top. There's also a little outlining in the squares.

Oh, my, the back is a little wrinkled but does show the quilting a bit better.

Here's a brown and pink version of the same pattern. I think it's about 20 inches square. It's quilted the same way as the quilt above. (I included some of the background in this picture because there's a quilt back there that I don't have a photo of. I definitely missed some along the way. It looks like baskets with several different colored borders when I pump up the brightness.) 
There's that fragile backing again.
One more--another one I could have included with the star quilts. It's probably about 16 by 20 inches. You can see more of the cute quilt holder here. The quilting is mostly outlining in the light patches. The stars would have been hard to quilt because of bulky seams.

And yes, more pink backing. (Quilt holder is hiding now.I think she's done with it.)

I have one more set of minis from my quilting career with Becky. I'll share them next time. That's not the end of my career, though. I was selling on consignment by then and doing hand quilting commissions for others as well as commissions of my own quilt creations for a client. I'll also share those over the next few TBTs and then I will (finally) be done with documenting all of my pre-blog quilting. Whew!

I'm linking this up with Andrée from Quilting & Learning What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. (She's subbing in this month for our usual host, Sandra at mmm! quilts. Thanks, Andrée!) So go over there and see what other quilters have unearthed from their pre-blogging days. Better yet, share something you made before you shared your work on social media.

Happy October, and Happy Quilting!

P.S. (Does anyone still use that abbreviation anymore for postscript?) This morning I discovered a few more quilt photos in a shoebox that had never been sorted. Three of them would have been perfect for this post. No time to add them now. I'll add them to one later this year. Sheesh. Maybe my tiny career wasn't so tiny after all. Just the income. Ha!