Thursday, January 31, 2019

RSC18 Wrap-up

The last several months have been filled with non-quilty activities--some celebratory (the holidays and my dad's 95th birthday) and others related to cares and concerns. My mother-in-law broke her hip early in November, and then entered a time of rapid decline in her overall health. She slipped away from her earthly life early this month. This past weekend, we met with family and friends in the Chicago area for a memorial service and celebration of her life. It is sad to have lost her, but she lived a wonderfully active life physically and socially until the last couple of years, and it was a joy to have her in our lives for such a long time. She would have been 95 on January 28.

I didn't feel much like quilting lately and even less like blogging about what little sewing I did, but now that our lives are on a more even keel, it's time to get back in the flow. (How's that for nautical-speak from a landlubber?) Anyway, at long last, I have a finish. Two finishes actually: my remaining RSC18 quilts. (Never mind that I did not meet the one little goal I had for January, finishing these quilts in time to mail them before the US postage rates increased. It's all good.)

These quilts started with 8 string blocks a month in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors of the month (hosted by Angela at So Scrappy) from January to October. The one "rule" I made for myself was to include a strip of one other color of the month in each block. If you'd like to see the blocks as I made them over the year, click on the RSC18 label in the list on the right or at the bottom of this post. There were 8 blocks (pink and purple) that I did not use in one of the quilts. They became this Butterfly quilt. (You can also see it with its mates in the above photo.) I replaced them with blocks in the other colors, bringing the number of my RSC string blocks for the year to 88).

I played with some fun layouts throughout the year, but I pretty much knew how I wanted these quilts to look when I first started making the blocks, with a simple layout and sashing. The other layouts would have had bulky seams, and I didn't want to mess around with those. For the first quilt, I used Kona Snow for the sashing, and laid out the blocks all in the same orientation, with random placement of the colors. 
I'm leaving that sunshine in the photo. We need all we can get in this deep freeze.
For the backing, I found an awesome digitally printed rainbow fabric: Gradients by Moda.

I wanted a more playful look for the other quilt. In a sale bin at my local quilting store, I found a llama print that coordinated with the scrap colors without overwhelming them. For that quilt, I laid out half of the blocks in one direction and half in the other facing direction.

I bought some extra llama print for the backing, but (purposely) not as much as I needed. I knew I had some solids that would work to make a pieced back, saving myself a little money and using more of my fabrics on hand.

I quilted these two quilts last week while waiting for our trip for my mother-in-law's memorial service. It was good therapy. At first I wasn't sure how to quilt the one with the Snow sashing, so I set it aside. On the other quilt, I used my walking foot to stitch through the center and outer corners of the blocks following the direction of the layout, then filled in with more lines between those to create a giant chevron. You can probably see it a little better on the back in this photo. I really like the texture it gives. 

By the time I finished that quilt, I just wanted to be done. I hadn't done FMQ in quite awhile, so I decided to stipple the other quilt. It went really fast, and I do like it. (What's not to like about stipple quilting? No, don't answer that. I know it's not a favorite of some quilters. But it is so relaxing for me.)

I was planning to make a scrap binding for the Snow sashed quilt, but when the time came, that seemed like too much work. I had bought a little piece of another Gradient print for the other quilt, but decided to first use that print on the Snow quilt. It's the fabric on the right in this photo.

(When I showed these fabrics on Instagram, I think some people thought they were quilts. The print is tiny, though. The hourglass squares on the right are only about 1/2 inch on a side.) It just kind of blends in with the backing, but I love how it looks on the front. I stitched it so that it looks like a stripe. I did not have enough to go all the way around on the llama quilt, but there was a bit of the backing left from the Snow quilt (the fabric on the right in the above photo), so I alternated them around the Llama quilt. I had just enough. Yay! (I guess in the course of this post, I have named the quilts. Ha!)

Do you see the subtle change from one Gradients fabric to the other?

I'm really pleased with how these finished. Here are my initials and the dates:

They are going to go to Margaret's Hope Chest, and ultimately the Mother and Baby Program (treatment program for mothers with post-partum mood disorders) at Pine Rest Hospital. The mothers use them as a comforting shawl during therapy sessions. 

So here are the stats:
Design: String blocks made for RSC18. Blocks were trimmed to 5 1/2 inches before quilt construction for 5-inch finished blocks. The sashes finish at 2 inches wide with outer borders finishing at 3 inches. Using a print background for the Llama quilt was inspired by this quilt by Mari at The Academic Quilter.
Fabrics: Scraps from nearly 40 years of quilt-making. 

Snow quilt: Kona Snow for sashing; Gradients in Triangles by Moda for backing, Gradients in Bars by Moda for binding.
Llama quilt: JuxtaPosey Toss by Betz White for Riley Blake for sashing and backing; Kona solids in Robin Egg, Laurel, and Sunflower for backing; Gradients in Triangles and in Bars by Moda for binding.
Batting: Hobbs Premium Heirloom 80/20
Thread: Superior-- Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple (Snow quilt) and White Linen (Llama quilt) for quilting; Treasure in Old Lace for hand stitching binding.
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back
Size: Snow Quilt: 60 by 39 inches; 59.5 by 38.5 quilted and bound; 56 by 36 inches machine washed and dried.

Llama Quilt: 60 by 39 inches; 59.5 by 38.75 quilted and bound; 56.5 by 36.75 inches machine washed and dried.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for walking foot and FMQ quilting.

One more photo--just out of the washer and dryer in all their crinkly drapey-ness. And I am so happy to say that there was no dye migration--even from some of those very old fabrics. Yippee!

I had so much fun doing RSC18--even if it didn't really use many of my scraps at all, and I bought even more fabric to make the sashes and backing. Oh well, I used up what I bought, and now I can keep doing RSC. I have some ideas--I want to make some butterfly blocks, maybe some crumbs and/or more strings, and maybe long lines of strings. I have other ideas, too, but need to restrain myself a bit. I want to see just how much I can use up, though. The only thing is, I have only one more day of January as of this writing to get my reds (color of the month) finished. I may double up January and February colors. If you would like to participate in RCS19 check out the links here and here. I have already bought my background fabrics for my quilts (Mexicali Fresh Beaded Paisley from Benartex and Stella Tossed Flower from Red Rooster). Still mulling over how I'll use them.

I'm linking up this week with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop WhoopSo Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday, Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party and Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

Now, let the RSC19 sewing begin! Since we're in the deep freeze in my part of the world, and I am windchill bound, I should make a lot of progress sewing! If you are also in a cold area, stay warm and stay quilting!

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

Thursday, January 3, 2019

TBT: Hand of Friendship

Well, Happy New Year! I am off to a great start. I just spent several hours working on this post. I even got my husband involved scanning old photos of quilts I was going to share. Then I started jotting notes for what I wanted to say about them. It was going to be another post about my tiny quilting career, which--as you know--I've been writing about for a very long time, it seems, in my Throwback Thursday posts. I wanted to tell about my craft show quilts. Somewhere into this little time-consuming project, I decided to check something and pulled up pictures from the blog. Uh, oh. It seems I already did a whole post on these quilts back in December 2015. I had forgotten to label the post and had forgotten it was there. Well, that's a fine kettle of fish! If you'd like to read that old post, go ahead. I'll wait.

So here I am starting again. I do have a quilt to share that sort of fits the theme of those old quilts I was going to write about because--as they were--it is a one-block quilt from that same era. I don't really think of these as minis--just a framed block. (This one is 18 inches square, machine pieced and hand quilted with cotton thread. The batting is a very lightweight polyester made by Mountain Mist, I think. It was a dream to quilt.)
Given the colors and style, you probably can tell I made this in the 1980s, the summer of 1986, in fact. The block has a number of names, but I chose to use "Hand of Friendship." You see, that year I was the stay-at-home mom of a preschooler and a toddler. We often took walks around our neighborhood. We liked our neighborhood, but there weren't a lot of people our ages. One day, as we were walking around the corner of the next block, a woman came running out of her house to introduce herself. She and her family had recently moved in. She didn't know anyone nearby, but had seen our little family on our walks. She was watching for me. It turns out that we were both a little starved for some adult contact during the day as well as some playmates for our children. Her son and daughter were just a bit younger than my daughter and son. Soon we were spending lots of time together. In fact, her son developed a little preschool crush on my daughter. It was wonderful. And then came the day not long after we met that she told me her family was moving because of a job transfer. To Florida.

Of course, my way of handling the disappointment was to make her a little quilt. And because it was the 1980s, and my idea of Florida was sherbet colors and warmth, I chose pastel country colors from my stash for a Hand of Friendship block. I wanted her to embrace Florida as her home but not forget her time in Michigan, so I chose quilting designs to represent both states: a pine tree and a snowflake for Michigan and a sun and a shell for Florida. In the border, I quilted waves--for Lake Michigan and the Atlantic Ocean. 

I wish I could tell you that our friendship has continued to this day, but that was not to be. After her move, we kept in contact for awhile, writing letters and exchanging Christmas cards. (It was before the era of social media.) Our friendship was in its infancy, so as our kids grew and we got involved in other things, it was hard to keep the friendship alive long-distance. Her husband's job required a few more moves. One Christmas, she wrote that they were moving again. There was no return address on the envelope and when I wrote later to the previous address, the letter was returned with no forwarding address, and we lost contact. 

Life moves on, but it's nice to remember this little friendship at a time when we both needed it. I still have a photo of our kiddies taken just before the move. That, and these quilt photos are sweet mementos, but isn't it wonderful that social media makes it easier to keep in touch these days?

As always, I'm linking up with Sandra at mmm! quilts for Throwback ThursdayI'll be back next month with more TBT quilts from my tiny quilting career (yes, there are enough for at least a couple more posts), and today I found more loose photos from my personal quilting, so it looks like I'll keep sharing TBTs for a little while yet this year.