Friday, April 26, 2019

Mi Barca

A few months ago, during a service at our church, we sang a song called "You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore." The song was originally written in Spanish by Cesareo Gabarian and is often referred to as Pescador de Hombres (Fisher of Men). This is not a song from our denomination's tradition (although it is in our latest hymnal in both Spanish and an English translation by Madeleine Forell Marshall), so I was not familiar with it. But the service and the gentle tune and lyrics of the song, calling everyday people to follow Jesus by serving others with love and commitment would not let me go. I knew that one day I would make a quilt inspired by it. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to make, based on the line, "On the sand I've abandoned my small boat." (In Spanish: "En la arena he dejado mi barca," which is how I hear the line in my head). Then a few weeks ago, I found out that there is going to be an art show at our church in mid-May to coincide with a local art festival. Suddenly, I knew that I had to make the quilt now. I set aside my Hands2Help quilt and was completely consumed by a new project. Let me show you first, and then I'll tell you how the idea went from idea to reality.

I grabbed a piece of scrap paper and made a quick little sketch.

Then I collected a whole lot of pictures of boats on Pinterest and found a tutorial for how to draw a boat. I can't access the site now but I drew the boat based on the pictures on the pin
 I traced it and cut out part of the boat to audition some possible fabrics.
Old calculators make good paper weights.

Then I drew another simpler boat.

Next I made a colorful little sketch on a notepad

and multiple little colorful boats to play with based on some fabrics in my stash.

I tried different boats out on the sketch.

I chose my three favorites and made a freezer paper pattern. I figured this would be the most complicated part of the design, and since I wasn't sure what fabrics I was going to use for the rest of the scene, I decided to make all three boats and then pick one from those.

I love this kind of piecing (learned from Ruth B McDowell's books). Just like putting together puzzles.
I liked each of these for different reasons, but knew that whatever I chose for the background would determine which boat I'd use.

Next I went through my fabric stash and auditioned fabrics.

Surprisingly to me, the boat I was beginning to like the best was the mottled brown one--the one I thought was my least favorite.

I bundled the fabrics I had, and headed out to the fabric store to find others that might blend in. 

I went to the solids section of the store first because I was intrigued by the modern look of the solid boat. But I wasn't successful. The stores near me seem to all stock the same set of "standard" solid colors, and there just was not enough range to do what I wanted. So I ended up in the batiks and tone-on-tones--a treasure trove in the store I went to.

I was able to get a pretty good idea of how the scene would look just stacking the bolts on their edges. And that confirmed my choice for the boat. 

I started auditioning fabrics on the design wall

and then on the floor because they got really heavy. 

I used the backs of some fabrics to get the values the way I wanted them. After making all those layers, I realized that it would be easiest to draw the strips on a pattern to control the sizes, keep from getting confused as I took the layers apart to sew them, and keep the lines horizontal. I started with a simple pattern in a piece of newsprint 24 by 18 inches. 

Look closely to see the lines added here.
During the sewing process, I made several of these patterns as I cut them up or covered parts when planning each section. I pieced the water first using the paper as a foundation (easier than measuring and cutting strips). I used freezer paper piecing for the distant hills, and then pieced the sky on the foundation paper. 

Before sewing the sand section, I sketched a quick plan on a grocery list (yeah, old school in this techy age--but I also have grocery lists on my phone, so go figure) in the car while waiting for my husband to do some banking--yes, this quilt had me completely, and no scrap of paper was safe while I was making it.
I overlapped the sand with the boat just a smidge to nestle the boat instead of just having it float on the sand.

I used a layered machine applique "accidental landscape" technique that I learned from Karen Eckmeier's work for the sand. Here's how the three sections looked before I joined the sky, lake, and sand/boat together.

When I basted the quilt, I taped my backing to my 2- by 3-foot cutting mat so that I could use the grid to keep everything square. I used a scrap of Quilters Dream Select Cotton batting, which was just the right size. Then I carefully stitched in the ditch along all of the seam lines. I considered adding some wavy lines in between, but decided l liked the simplicity of the quilting as it was. For once, I resisted quilting something to death. After trimming the quilt to size (the scariest part of the project for me for some reason), I embroidered a few blades of grass--again restraining myself to keep it simple. I had also planned to embroider oars and a chain, but eliminated those as well. I made a sleeve from a scrap of backing and then bound the quilt with a medium blue fabric from my stash. I added my initials and the date, and it was done. And, yes, the song was still running through my mind, a sweet meditation.

Here's the front again, hanging temporarily and a bit clumsily in my living room where I usually have another quilt: 

And the back:

And some details. (Doesn't look squared, but it is!)

I took some photos outside, too. The color is more true, but for some reason this one isn't  as sharp. I guess my phone liked the concrete better.

Oops! Why do I never see stray threads until I take photos?
I enjoy making donation quilts; they are meaningful to me. But they are usually quick and easy. Sometimes I need to indulge myself in the kind of sewing I did this month. It's a passion for me that is hard to explain. I love the challenges involved as I try to translate an idea into an image, working within the confines of materials available. I'm looking forward to displaying this quilt in my church's art show, and then I might offer it for a fundraiser for the teenagers' upcoming summer service projects. 

As you know, I still have two boats left. It would be a shame not to use them somehow, so there may be more art quilts to come...

Although I knew I was going to make this quilt sometime, I didn't know I was going to derail some other projects and work obsessively until it was done--and with several weeks to spare before the show, too! So I think it qualifies as a DrEAMi project (Drop Everything And Make it), don't you? I'm linking up (tomorrow) to Sandra's linky party at mmm! quilts for those squirrels that just don't let us go. I'm also linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party.

Okay, gotta go. My Grands will be here any minute. What's got you obsessed this week? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hands2Help Check-in

Just squeaking in here with my check-in with the Hands2Help Comfort Quilt Challenge 2019 hosted by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  I completely forgot about doing the post on Sunday. To be honest, I had been distracted by and obsessed with another project this past week. Today I set that project aside and got back to my H2H quilting. Here's what I sewed a couple of weeks ago. 
The quilt is much more vibrant than you see here. At the time I was sewing it, we were having dark, dreary weather as winter and spring were in a battle, so getting a photo was a challenge itself. Spring is starting to win now. (I think.) I bought this strip bundle nearly a year ago. You can read about that in this post.

I knew exactly what pattern I wanted to use. I had originally seen this quilt at Cluck Cluck Sew, but have seen variations of it other places since then. Sarah even did a tutorial for a version in this post to get ready for this year's challenge. I have a lot of thoughts about the pattern and how my version turned out, but I'll save those for the final write-up at the end of the challenge. 

I got down to business with the quilting today. It's going really fast. I started with walking foot work along each seam of the horizontal colored strips, and got that all done. 

Yes, I know they are vertical here, but that's how I saw them at my sewing machine. Next, I'm going to add free motion quilting in the white strips, and then I'll finish the borders. 

This is my second Hands2Help quilt for this year. You can see my other one in this post. I'll decide which goes where later. I'm hoping to do a couple of other quilts, but they might not be done in time for the big party. Doesn't matter, though. They'll be of use whenever they get done. 

If you don't know about Hands2Help please go over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict and read all about it. It's a wonderful project that benefits many people. Every year more quilters participate with a growing number of donations. If you know about the project and just want to visit the linky party, click on the link at the top of this post. 

Okay, I need to stop and tie off and bury 372 thread ends. Not kidding. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

TBT: My Daughter's Oeuvre

How do these first Thursdays come around so fast??

I'm just a little off in the quilting realm right now. We were gone for a week doing daycare for two of our grandkiddies during their spring break. It was fun, fun, fun. Spring weather was trying really hard. It was kind of chilly at times, but we also had sun, so we were able to play outside, go to the park, hike at a forest preserve, and visit a cute little zoo of North American animals. (The bobcats were my favorite.) I did not quilt at all (which was just fine), but I did sew a bit with my granddaughter. We made more bracelets like the one at the end of my post from February 23. Anyway, Throwback Thursday just sort of sneaked up on me. 

I have a group of pictures of several quilts that I was going to share, but I think I'll keep this short and share just two. I came across these just the other day when I was packing up things for our daycare week. We still have bins of my daughter's things at our house. I thought it would be fun to bring one of them with us to share with the grands. (Okay, I'll admit it. I really wanted to get it out of our house.) There were lots of little treasures in there that would appeal to the kiddies--including my daughter's oeuvre. Well, that's a word I don't use often (ever?). According to my handy dictionary, it's the complete body of work of a painter, composer or author, and I assume it can apply to a quilter, too. Don't worry. This won't take long. She indulged me on these projects, I think, because she would have much preferred doing something more physical. This first one was probably made between 1986 and 1988. Oops! We forgot a label. I do know that the binding is from a quilt I made for a friend in 1986. I'm not sure what I used the other fabrics for--perhaps my craft fair quilts. 
After getting those four blocks sewn together, She painstakingly quilted the double hearts in them. Aren't those just the cutest stitches? I bound it for her. And then she was done. With the quilt, yeah, but also, apparently, with quilting, Sigh. Good thing it was little. Here's the back. 

Now, she wasn't very interested in quilting, but she did like fabric. She was delighted with a tiny packet of hand-dyed fabric samples I won (or maybe it was a giveaway?) at a quilt conference. She loved sorting them out, so I gave them to her to design her own quilt  to hang on her wall. Her room at the time was decorated in a rainbow theme, so the packet was just right. She laid out the squares and I sewed them together and then quilted and bound it. This time I did remember the labels--one on the front for the designer and one on the back for her sewing assistant. Here she is with her creation, designed in 1989 and finished in 1990. (What took me so long?)

And here is a photo from when I took it out of the bin last week. The colors are truer in this second photo.

The back:

I didn't think to measure the quilt. I imagine the squares are similar to mini squares that are available today. I have wracked my brain for the dyer--she was very popular in the 80's, but I just can't remember her name right now. Mardi or Marti, perhaps? I just don't recall, but those colors have held up very well. My daughter had the quilt on a shaded wall in her bedroom for several years before we moved to a new house.

Now to be fair, this is not the extent of my daughter's oeuvre. Her new bedroom in the mid-90's had a sunflower theme, so we collaborated on a sunflower quilt that I showed in a previous TBT post here. She chose the fabric placement for the blocks, and I sewed the quilt. (She might have also sewed a few of the blocks, too, but not with enthusiasm, as I recall.) She has never lost her love of fabric, color and pattern. She has a really good eye for design, and has chosen fabrics for her home and for quilts for her family. I am more than happy to sew them up. It's a collaborative arrangement that works well for both of us. 

I see the same spark in my granddaughter. It was fun to watch her pet the little rainbow quilt and immediately identify her favorite squares when I took it out of the bin. I have a feeling it will end up on the wall or door in her bedroom. She loves to look through my fabrics, and a certain big box fabric/craft store is her latest happy place. She is a free-wheeling artist--much more spontaneous and improvisational than I have ever been. I have to keep that in mind when we sew together, because I tend to get bogged down in details. I don't know if she will become a quilter, but that's okay. She is having fun with color and art, and what more could I wish for. 

I'm linking up today with AndrĂ©e at Quilting and Learning--What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. She and Sandra at mmm! quilts will be alternating this linky party as co-hosts this year. Be sure to hop over to their blogs to see what they've been up to. And add something to the party if you can. I thought this might be my last TBT post, but nope. There are still a few loose photos of oldies to share next time.

Okay, back to creating. I have been obsessed this week by a little quilt that's been in my brain for a few weeks, but now wants to become a reality. There is a possible timeline involved, so I'd really rather work on this than eat, sleep, read/write blog posts or anything else. You know how it is. I have Hands2Help quilts to finish, too, and aqua RSC blocks. Oh, my. What a lotta quilty fun! I will try to remember to take photos and share some of this stuff. Right now, I just want to sew!. I hope you do, too!