Thursday, August 29, 2019

Worthwhile Squirrels

A few weeks ago I started a quilt--a runner--for our bed. I shared a photo on Instagram when I was halfway done putting it together. The quilt is basted now and ready to quilt. This post is not about that quilt. Eventually it will get its own post. There's no big hurry to finish it as we don't need it until the weather turns cold. So I set it aside, and spent a couple of days working on my RSC19 blocks, intending to get back to the quilt after that. This post is not about those blocks either. You can read about them in last week's post

I took some time out from sewing to read a few blogs, and came across a post by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict about the need for tiny quilts and pillowcases for the Socorro Foundation. She was sharing the brainchild of another Sarah who posted the need on Lazy Cozy Quilts and is hosting the drive to collect these items. By providing shelter, supplies and support with communication and educational resources, the Foundation serves families seeking asylum that have been released from federal agencies and are awaiting arrangements with family/sponsors . The quilts will be used at the shelter and washed everyday. When children arrive at the shelter, they will be given the pillowcases to keep. The need is great as there may be more than 100 people served every 3 to 5 days.

That bed quilt can wait. This is the project I've been searching for for a long time, even though I didn't know it. For months, I've been trying to think of a way to tangibly show love and support for asylum seekers, but it seemed there was nothing I could do. And then...this opportunity. Now I can do something.

And that is how I came to chase these squirrels. 

I did not have any suitable fabric--the kinds of pieces that you can cut WOF (Width of Fabric) strips from--so a shopping trip was in order. I usually like to shop at my local independent fabric shops, but a ping on my phone let me know that there was a huge sale (70 % off of some fabrics) at the big box fabric store, so of course, I had to check that out.

My first mission was to find fabric for pillowcases. I checked out those ultra cheap fabrics ($1.79 a yard). I loved the patterns and colors, but the fabrics felt coarse and grainy--not like premium cottons that make pillowcases so silky to the touch. So, despite the deal, I ruled them out and found softer cottons, still on sale, but a bit more pricey. 

The first fabrics I chose were the seahorse and "scales" (mermaid?) prints. I liked the seahorse fabric because of its all-over non-directional print. 
Picking out the fabrics was so much fun!! A sales associate suggested the teal strip. (I have never had a sales associate do that in that particular store!) It's perfect, isn't it?
The next fabrics that caught my eye were the floral fabric and a coordinating dot print.
And how about that little spark of orange red stripe!
I was uncertain about the third set of fabrics. Early in my search, I had seen the dolphin/whale print. I loved it, but it was a directional print and I wasn't comfortable with how it would look if I cut the strips for the case across the WOF. (I know that's weird. Lots of people make pillowcases with the design going parallel to the cuff. Just an idiosyncrasy--idiosyncrazy--on my part.) But I couldn't let it go, so I decided to buy extra fabric so that I could cut the strip for the main fabric with the straight grain instead of the WOF.
When I cut the main fabric, I also cut the strip in half and turned one piece 180 degrees. By putting seams on both sides of the case, the sea creatures were in the position I wanted them to be whether the cuff was on the right or the left.
I love that crosshatch trim strip.
I thoroughly enjoyed making the pillowcases. I'm not sure what I liked more, pairing the main and cuff fabrics or picking out that little bright strip. Because I cut the dolphin print parallel with the selvedge, I could have saved a bit of money by also cutting the cuff from that fabric, but I like using three different fabrics. This is the first time I've made pillowcases. It will not be my last because I loved making them. I looked at the numerous patterns online to figure out how to make them. I won't mention any websites here because they are everywhere, but they are the ones that some call "burrito" cases because of how they are made. It blows my mind how it all works out with such simple sewing. And now that I know how easy it is to adjust the pattern for a directional print, I'll be sure to look for more fun novelty prints.

My second mission was finding fabric for two little quilts. I needed this to be a quick project, so I decided to make wholecloth quilts with fun prints. The first one I found was a dinosaur print, which I paired with a diagonal crosshatch fabric for the back. 

For the quilting, I used my walking foot to follow lines in the landscape. Some of the lines were gently curved and some had volcanoes in them, which made a little bump in the quilting. 
Easy peasy. No marking, just enough quilting to hold it securely but softly with some interesting lines.
Because these quilts will get washed a lot, I attached the binding by machine--not my skill, but it's secure, and a little kid won't mind the wobbles.
While I was looking around for fabric for one more quilt, the same sales associate asked if I had looked at the fabric that was on super sale. (She was so helpful!) I told her I wasn't crazy about how it felt. She said that it had lots of sizing in it and would soften up when washed. I took another look. The thread count seemed a bit light, but I decided to take a chance on it. After all, $1.79 a yard!! There were so many fun florals and coordinating prints.
For this quilt I did a large (humongous, for me) stipple. I had a bit of mint thread that I had used in other projects, probably not enough for a whole quilt, so I used it in the middle third and then finished with white. So much fun! I had prewashed the fabric, and by the time I was finished quilting, it was delightfully soft and silky. 
I love the paisley back, and the tiny floral print on the binding.
Now, of course, I wish I had bought a whole cartload of that fabric. I still wonder a bit how it will wear, but really, it's very much like the fabric I sewed with in my youth, and that lasted well. I will watch for sales and buy this again, for sure. Even not on sale, it's a good deal at only $5.99. 

So here are some stats:
--The pillowcases are about 20 by 31 inches. I cut my WOF strips at 27 inches for the main fabric, 11 (I think) for the cuff and 2 for the trim strip. For the directional case, I bought 45 inches of fabric (I love how you can by fabric by the inch, instead of by an eighth or quarter yard at the big box store) and then prewashed it before cutting. 

--I bought lengths of 45 inches for the fabrics in the quilts. and 45 inches of batting (Heirloom 80/20) off a 96 inch bolt for the two. I prewashed the fabrics and then determined the sizes by the WOF size and slightly longer for the length. The dinosaur quilt was about  40 1/2 by 41 3/8 inches before washing and 39 by 40 1/4 after. The floral quilt was 39 3/8 by 41 before washing and 37 by 39 after. 
If you are moved to join the effort, I encourage you to do so. The quilt and pillowcase drive will end this weekend, I think (UPDATE: I just found out that the drive has been extended for two more weeks!), but the donations can go on and on. This project is easy, inexpensive, and fun, and the opportunity to give a quilty hug and a soft place for children to lay their heads is one of the most worthwhile squirrels I can think of. Check out the links near the beginning of this post for full information, and if you can spread the word on your own blogs, Instagram posts or by mouth, I'm sure the results will be a blessing beyond measure. And remember, chase those squirrels. You'll be glad you did.

I'm linking up this weekend with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Sandra at mmm! quilts for Drop Everything And Make it (DrEAMi)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Sew Much Blue

Oh, hey. Yeah, I'm still here. But it's summer. Sewing is sporadic and writing about it even more inconsistent. But I do have projects in process, and I even got to my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blues this week. In keeping with my attempt to create sort of low contrast crumb blocks, I divided my light and bright blues into three groups--well, four, but the lightest ones were left out of my project. Here's what I ended up with:

The lightest blocks are slightly washed out here due to light from a window, but you get the idea. I wasn't real sure about the middle pair. I'm not fond of gray-blue these days, but I have a ton, so I'm using them. 

Here some of them are with representatives of my other crumbs and the (very wrinkled) background fabric that I'll use eventually:
I now have 42 crumb blocks in all. I'm not sure if I have enough variety of the kind of purple I want to use, so I just might use blacks for the last set, as that is the other color in the background fabric. I'll figure that out when the next color is announced. 

My other RSC project was the upper wings of my butterfly blocks. I started them during dark blue month, so finishing them up this month was a snap. There's more contrast between the upper and lower wings in real life.
Here's one with reps of the other colors on the (also very wrinkled) background fabric:

They look better on the bare table until I press that fabric:
I now have 48 butterflies, with one set to go for 56--either purple or red. Again, I'll decide later based on how I feel about my purples. I'll use brown for the bodies. 

So that's it for the month. Be sure to come back next week to see a wonderful squirrel project I've been obsessed with this week. I realized that I also missed a Throwback Thursday post this month, so I'll try to get something going on that, too. 

I'm linking up with Angela at So Scrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh, Scrap! I hope you are finding bits and pieces of time to sew with bits and pieces. And if you live in my part of the world, I hope you are enjoying the last few days of summer. I know there are really a few weeks left, but there's definitely a hint of autumn in the air. Today, it's been cool enough with the windows open that I was able to treadle all afternoon without breaking a sweat. I'm sure it will heat up again, but I love the tease.