Saturday, February 23, 2019

RSC & the Big Squirrel

It all started in January with a vague plan of what I wanted to do for Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year. I thought I might like to make some crumb blocks, some butterfly blocks and then cut my leftover fabrics into some squares and strings. I already had some background fabrics. I thought if I bought them before making blocks this year, I'd have a better idea of how my blocks would look in a quilt. I quickly made some red crumbs at the beginning of the year. 

But they just weren't inspiring me. I didn't like how they looked on my background fabric--just clunky with those swirly paisleys. There seemed to be too much going on. I let them be and thought that maybe they'd grow on me after I made some yellow blocks. I did cut some 2 1/2 inch squares and some strings with the odd-shaped pieces of fabrics in my scrap bin. Even those weren't doing it for me. Too much burgundy. I put them away to mull over later.

Moving on to yellow in February, I decided to make some scrappy butterflies before doing more crumb blocks. I wanted to make a butterfly quilt from the Butterfly Dance pattern by ellis & higgs that I used for my Mariposa quilt. I quickly made the main parts of the wings, using strings in place of single fabrics that are in the pattern. I knew I wanted to use my new floral background fabric. It did not have the full range of rainbow colors for this year, but I planned to make blocks for it whenever the month's color worked. But when I laid out the pieces on my floral fabric, uh oh. Meh. I wasn't feeling it. Again. 
Now, it probably would have worked out okay when I got more blocks made in other colors. But I was tired of feeling blah about what seemed to be mediocre blocks. I did not like how the old fabrics looked with the fresh crisp print. So I looked around in my fabric bins for something else. I was committed to using the background fabric. I had bought a lot of it. Then inspiration hit. Solids! I looked in my Kona bin. I had most of the colors I needed, and what I didn't have there, I found in some other solids in my drawers. I know these fabric pieces are bigger than typical scraps, but they are all leftovers of other quilts, so fair game in my book. In no time at all, I had parts cut out for 8 yellow butterflies. I even found a brown for the bodies that looked good with all my fabrics and inexplicably made me want to drink chocolate milk. 
In no time at all I had yellow butterflies, and they sang on my background fabric. And then I knew. There was no way I was going to wait all year to have enough blocks to make this quilt. I had to chase this squirrel. Now! So I cut out all my other colors and chain pieced pairs a mile long to get these butterflies made. There was only one little problem. I only had a bit of the greens I wanted to use. This was supposed to be a scrap quilt (except for the background), but I went shopping for the greens. I had already done away with the one-color-a-month plan for RSC anyway, so why not also throw a little more new fabric in there. I went to my favorite little fabric shop, challenging myself to find what I needed. There was no Kona (the store's line of solids) close to the colors I needed, so I had to go to plan B: turning print fabric over to see if the back would work. Found 'em, which is really saying something because this is a very tiny fabric shop--really only a part of a gift store--kind of like a modern general store. In these photos, the side I used is on the left. I don't know the name of this first one--my husband found it in a sale bin. Yea! I should have bought the rest of it.

And then some Grunge, which usually works well this way if the print is not too strong. 

I bought just a quarter yard of each because I really didn't want to add too much to my scrap collection. Still trying to keep in the spirit of a scrap quilt. 

After a flurry of sewing, the blocks were done and up on the wall. 

And then they were a quilt top.

The pattern yields generously-sized blocks, which are intended to be trimmed down from about 8 1/2 inches to 8 inches for 7 1/2 inch finishes. Because I had been pretty accurate, I was able to keep the blocks full sized with just slivers trimmed, so instead of a quilt that would be about 53 inches square, mine was 56 1/2 inches, a nice size for a lap quilt. (I repeated the original pattern 12 1/2 times to make my quilt.)

I still needed to figure out a back--yeah, still in squirrel mode here--but before I did that, I cut what I had left of solid fabrics into strips for a scrappy binding. I kid you not, without measuring, I just cut strips and when I was done and laid them out, they fit all the way around the quilt.

I even sewed it all together and pressed it, so that when I get the quilting done, it will be ready to put on. Whee!

So then, to the back. I had a big sort of jagged piece of print left from the front, assorted chunks of solids, and one butterfly block. (I had made 8 blocks in each color for 50 in all, but only needed 49 for the front.) I pieced the back in three big strips working from right to left, completely improv style. I might make one little change in that upper left striped section to add one more stronger color, but we'll see. I'm pretty happy with it. 

I still have some solid chunks left, but not many, and this is all I have left of the print!

Now that the top is done, I think I'll set this squirrel aside for a few days. I will probably quilt it the same way as the Mariposa quilt, with wavy lines as the butterflies flutter. And then it will be time to bind it and decide where those butterflies will fly off to. I'll let you know when it's done. 

But back to the crumbs.(Yes, I am aware that this is a scrap post, but I'm not sorry that I did not stick to the RSC plan for making this quilt.) Here are the rest of the blocks for the scrappy yellow butterflies. Maybe I'll keep making butterfly bits and figure out a more suitable background for them later.

I think my problem with the red crumbs was partly that I wasn't sure I wanted to make the crumbs so irregular--or maybe they will look better with a simpler background. I think I might try some yellow crumbs with just rectangular shapes and low contrast to see how I like a more controlled crumb with the paisley background. The other thing is that one of my favorite parts of last year's RSC strings was using rogue strips in other colors in my string blocks. I really miss that, so maybe I need to figure out something this year that will add that little spark. I'm also going to keep cutting squares and strings with my irregular shaped scraps. Who knows what that will lead to?

Oh, and before I go, I have to share a couple of other squirrels. The first I actually made at the end of January, but wasn't quick enough to get a post written to include in Sandra's DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it) last month. I used the rest of my old hospital gown to make three more doll gowns for Amy of A Doll Like Me, who makes dolls with unique 

physical characteristics for children with those same features. She also collects doll quilts to include with them and doll hospital gowns for children who need to have surgeries.The fabric of the gowns I made isn't real exciting, but I get a kick out of it being from an actual hospital gown. I'm glad to be done with the memory of that gown and to put it to a worthy use to make some little kids happy and more comfortable during a hospital stay with their dolls. I hope to make more gowns in the future from more colorful and easier-to-sew fabrics. I think hospital gowns must be made out of iron. They are remarkably difficult to stitch through. I'm also thinking I might like to try making gowns with hook-and-loop tape or some other type of closure. I would imagine some of the children receiving them might have limb differences that make tying a bow more challenging. So that's my plan for the next batch. If you haven't made gowns for this organization before, I encourage you to give it a go. They don't take long and don't take much fabric. I'm still working on getting the underarms smooth (I use French seams which don't bend easily), but I figure that doesn't matter to a child. If garment construction isn't your thing, you might consider making quilts for Amy's dolls. Those are fun, too.

And one more tiny squirrel running off in a different direction. My grandkiddies were here last weekend. My granddaughter wanted to do a little project with fabric and my sewing machine. She chose three strips of fabric, sewed them with the raw edges turned in, and braided them. 

I attached hook-and-loop tape to the ends to close around her wrist for a bracelet. A quick project for a busy weekend. And look, it matches her new manicure by Mommy!

I'm linking up this week with Sandra at mmm! quilts for DrEAMi, with Angela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap!

I hope you've had a good week month (?) whether you followed your quilty plan or chased your own squirrel!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

what a cute butterfly quilt and it is always fun to have a granddaughter around to share sewing with!

Susie H said...

The Butterfly quilt looks so cute and I think you found the perfect combination between block fabrics and background. Your granddaughter's braided bracelet if adorable!

Linda said...

Your Butterfly Quilt is lovely. Have you thought about using your Crumb blocks as the centre of stars ( either regular Ohio stars or Wonky ones) using solid red for the points and another RSC colour for the backgrounds?

The Joyful Quilter said...

Is there a pattern for that bracelet or did you just wing it? It's SEW cute!!

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I loved reading this post all about your thinking process that took you all the way to that beautiful butterfly quilt! You were so right - the solid colors made perfect butterflies to go with the pretty background fabric. I do love the string butterfly pieces,too, so hopefully, you'll find the right background for them someday! Looks like fun with your granddaughter, too!

Karen's Korner said...

Your butterfly quilt is gorgeous. I might "borrow" the wrist braid idea for my granddaughter next time she comes.

Katie Z. said...

Your butterfly quilt is simply fabulous. Well done running with it!

Linda said...

We are trying to get ready to leave for a grocery trip (20 miles away!), and I can't stop reading your post! Lol! Laughed out loud at the hot chocolate comment. :D I enjoyed every minute of your angst over the red crumbs and backgrounds and search for green fabric. And your husband helped - the sign of true love in my book. I love how your butterfly quilt turned out and have bookmarked the pattern. How wonderful your granddaughter wants to sew. I have yet to interest my two older granddaughters (17 and 15), but #3 is almost 3 years old and I have high hopes for her. ;)

Louise said...

The only thing cuter than that butterfly squirrel quilt is your sweet GD! And your comment about chocolate milk made me laugh :)

Cathy said...

I love your butterfly quilt. And I think you are on to something with those string butterflies. I really like them so hope you find a nice background for them.

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

I am with Cathy ^

I hope you stick with the scrappy butterflies. I really like them.

Thanks for sharing them and all your other wonderful projects with Oh Scrap!

Janice Holton said...

Woweee!! I just absolutely LOVE your butterfly squirrel. Oh Janine it turned out sooo happy! Great job! Have you ever done the loopy meander? That FMQ motif always reminds me of bugs flying. Very fun post to read!

Sandra Walker said...

Wonderful post Janine; felt like I was having coffee with you (or maybe chocolate milk - totally get why you had that urge there, ha)! I love how you built the suspense (and I didn't scroll down) to reveal that glorious butterfly (49!!!) plus one on the back quilt! It is wonderful, and smart you to make the binding ahead of time!
Thank you for yet another PERFECT DrEAMi! (Drat I just realized I forgot to highlight some from January; must go back in and do that.) I'm so sorry you missed January's linkup. In future, shoot me an email and because I have 'pull' LOL I can most likely insert yours into the linky! Hope you're not getting blown to the Land of Oz up your way; we sure are here! Some of these gusts have shaken the windows, and we're pretty sheltered. Power flickered out for a second a few minutes ago.

Bernie Kringel said...

Janine, this post was such a fun read. I love the butterfly quilt with the solids - it is chasing and the background fabric worked perfectly. I agree with the others - the string butterflies are very fun and with the right background fabric - you will have another fun quilt.

Love the braided bracelet - great idea for a quickie sewing project.
Thanks again for making more hospital gowns. You're the best!!

Auntie Em said...

What cute butterflies! The braided bracelet is really cute too. I agree with you on the opinion of what makes a scrap, as long as it is a leftover from some other project that makes it fair game for a scrap quilt.

Jannette said...

LOVE the butterfly quilt! That background and solid-colour butterflies just shout "Spring"! Hope you find a way to use the string butterflies - they're so cute!
Squirrels are a big problem at my house too...

Gayle Bong said...

I love the butterflies. I don't know which I like more, the string ones or the solids. and how summery!

PaulaB quilts said...

Wow! What a great swarm of butterflies you have air so very pretty. The background fabric is light and happy looking, just the perfect combination with the butterflies. What a great bunch of butterflies you have there so very pretty. The background fabric is light and happy looking, just the perfect combination with the butterflies.

Kat said...

I love, love, love the butterfly quilt!! Is is beautiful! I love the scrappy binding you have planned, too! Cute bracelet made with your granddaughter!

Preeti said...

This was such a thrilling read. Love your devil may care, throw all caution to the winds and I will do whatever floats my boat attitude. And rightly so. The butterfly quilt top is spectacular and I am drooling over the pieced scrappy binding. I am sure this quilt will be loved and admired a lot. Braided Bracelet??? Do you have any idea what you have started? All little girls will want it know how that goes. It is infectious - just like your creative endeavors :-D inspire others.

Bonnie said...

Lovely butterfly quilt... perfect background fabric. Did you see Amy on one of the national morning shows (or was it the evening news????) It was terrific to see her get the publicity. I keep planning to do a quilt or three for her but haven't done it yet. The little hospital gowns are really something.