Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: Looking Back and Ahead

Happy New Year (almost, as I write this)! Time to sum up the year. I wasn't going to do this, because I generally didn't do blog posts this year unless I had a finish--except for Rainbow Scrap Challenge and Throwback Thursday posts. But it is fun to look back and see what I made, and how much. Much more than I thought. How to do this most efficiently. How about some photo collages? First: everything that I finished.
23 projects! I never would have guessed that, because as the year progressed, I felt like I wasn't getting anything done.

So let's break it down a bit and I'll add some links. I finished 12 quilts of various sizes. 8 were donations.
Clockwise from the upper left (click on the name for a link to the related post):
2 Quilts from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2018. (January). These were donated to Margaret's Hope Chest for the Mother and Baby program at Pine Rest Hospital.
Strip Quilt for Hands2Help (May). Donated to Mercyful Quilts.
Butterfly Finish (March) Also made for Hands2Help and donated to Em's Scrap Bag for Quilty Hugs for Happy Chemo.

Clockwise from upper left:
Modern Puzzle (May) Another for Hands2Help, donated to Mercyful Quilts.
Little Wholecloth Baby Quilt (May) One more for Hands2Help, donated to Jack's Basket.
Dinosaur and Floral Wholecloth Quilts (August) Two small comfort quilts donated to the Socorro Foundation.

Four were for myself or other family members.
Clockwise from upper left:
Mi Barca (April) a wall quilt I made for an art show at my church. This will hopefully be part of a fundraiser for our youth group this coming spring.
Gently Down the Stream Bed Runner (November), made for our bedroom.
Atomic Starburst Christmas Tree Skirt (December), aka Holiday Squirrel, commissioned by my daughter.
Chicago Skyline (December), a baby quilt for my grandnephew. The quilt was given to his parents early in the month. He's brand spankin' new, born on the 28th. Yippee. And I can now tell you that he is Baby B, not M as I called him in the post about this quilt.

I also made 11 other projects. 10 of them were donations.
Clockwise from upper left:
3 doll hospital gowns (February), donated to A Doll Like Me.
2 cosmetic bags and 2 sunglass cases (June), donated to the Safelight Project.
3 pillowcases (August), donated to the Socorro Foundation.
Leaf Block (October). This one is for me. 

So there you have them. I haven't included any links to the organizations or any attributions because you can find all the information by clicking on the related links. I do have a link to my finishes in the label on the right sidebar and at the bottom of this post, except that I suspect it's incomplete, but you can go there instead of clicking on each project link.

So here's just a bit more about the year that I think is interesting. Of the 12 quilts, 2 were holdovers from last year (those first RSC quilts). 5 of the quilts and ALL 11 of the other projects were unanticipated--unplanned for, squirrels or DrEAMi (Drop Everything and Make it) projects, made too popular I think, by Sandra of mmm! quilts. Ha ha. And technically, the baby quilt for my grand nephew was unanticipated since I didn't know he was coming until part way through the year.Looks like squirrels ruled this year.

My other finishes for the year were monthly Rainbow Scrap challenge blocks (two kinds) and the completion of a very long series of blog posts of all my Throwback Thursday quilts--the ones I made in the many, many years before I started blogging. If you are interested, there are "RSC19" and "throwback thursday" labels on the right side bar that link to the ones I remembered to label.

So what's next for 2020? I'm not much of a planner, and since squirrels rule, why plan too much anyway? But here's what I know I'll work on:

Those two RSC19 quilts need to be made from all the blocks I constructed throughout the year. I need to finish handquilting my Hollyhocks quiit that's been in the works for more than a year. And I want to construct a quilt from that leaf block I made in October. So I'll start there in January.

Thanks for looking back and forward with me. And have a very happy and very quilty new year.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Holiday Squirrel Finish

I did it! With time to spare. Last time I wrote about this squirrel, I had taken a break because I didn't have the basting pins available to get it ready for quilting. I got the other quilt done (wrote about it in my last post) and then hopped right into this one. You can read about the process here. But here it is--my daughter's new Christmas tree skirt. It was a dark, wet day, so we moved our table out of our dining area to get as much light from the deck doors as possible for the photos.

I did all of the quilting with my walking foot. To kind of emphasize the snowflake shape of the skirt, I started with rows of lines through the longest sashings using the width of the walking foot to space them. 

At that point I wasn't sure what I'd do with the main sections of the quilt, so I started with lines along the sashings. I was tempted to quilt them as densely as the first sashings, but there was a bit of a problem. I was playing thread chicken with my quilting thread. I had an order in for more but wasn't sure how long it would take to get it. I was using white thread for both the top and bobbin, but decided to stretch it by switching to off-white in the bobbin. I also decided that I'd better not quilt the whole quilt so close together. 
To figure out what to do with the diamonds, I laid out thread across them. Option 1:

Option 2:

Option 3:

I ran them past my daughter, and we decided on Option 1, which was good as it would use the least amount of thread, but I liked the argyle look of it, too. I waited until the end to quilt the stars. I knew I wanted to outline them, but also knew that they would require lots of quilt wrangling if I did them with the walking foot. They actually were pretty easy, as the quilt is not that big and the stars were mainly near the edges.

The next step was cutting the skirt. I was a little worried about that, but it went fine. 

The binding was a different story. I knew I wanted to use straight grain binding for the edges of most of the quilt but that bias would be better (or should be better) for the circle. You have to know, though, that from the time I learned to sew as a teenager, I have had trouble with bias binding on inside curves. Any clothing I made that had bound armholes or necklines had that "homemade" look. This little project was no exception.
See how wavy that circle is? I'm thinking there are three things I might have done to make it smoother. I could have used narrower binding, but I really wanted to use my current favorite width of 2 1/2 inches (before folding) because that extra width helps me make better corners especially when they are other than 90 degrees. Maybe I should have clipped the curve before binding. I know I've done that before, but I wasn't sure how it would affect the size of the circle. Or maybe I should have sewed the binding to the back and flipped it over to the front to stitch down. Whatever, it did get done. And, hey, it is homemade, so the homemade look is fine. Best of all, no one will see that part under the tree, except the person responsible for tree watering. I'm really pleased with how the binding turned out on the rest of the quilt. Here are some too many close-ups.

The back is a tiny white print on turquoise. I know, it looks like a solid.

Here is the skirt under our tree because I couldn't resist trying it out. 
And some stats:
Pattern: Atomic Christmas Tree Skirt--a tutorial by Violet Craft, based on her pattern Atomic Starburst.
Fabrics:  A variety supplied by my daughter. The background is Kona PFD (Prepared for Dying). 
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 
Thread: Superior-- Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple for top thread of quilting, and mostly White Linen in the bobbin. Treasure in Old Lace for handstitching on binding. 
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back; cut width of fabric, except for area around circle cut on bias.
Finished Size: 56 inches from straight edge to straight edge and about 64 1/2 inches from point to point. I did not wash it because I liked the flat look of it when it was finished. 
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for walking foot quilting.

Here it is, sent, received, and under its own tree--

And I just had to include this one--
And how about those socks?!! Hello, Sunshine, indeed!
My daughter thinks the skirt pattern could be marketed as a poncho, too!

Well, I think this might be it for the year. I have a few projects in the works. I have RSC quilts to finish and some other things, but I think I might take a break until after the holidays. Maybe there will be one more wrap-up post of the year's projects. We'll see. Oh, and remember I was playing thread chicken? Even though I won--sort of, by using the two colors--my thread did arrive in the mail the day after I finished the quilt. So I'm all set for sewing in the new year.

I'm linking up this week with Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday and Wendy's Quilts and More for the Peacock Party, and next Saturday with Sandra at mmm! quilts for DrEAMi (Drop Everything And Make it) because I can't just let this squirrel finish hang out there from last month. There needed to be the rest of the story.

I hope you have happy holidays wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Baby M's Chicago Skyline

Get ready. This is a long one. Because, you know, one of those secret projects that couldn't be revealed. Until now. Baby's not here yet, so I don't really know his initial. M is from his last name, but the baby shower has happened, so I can share. Yippee! 

This all started with a question to Baby M's parents about colors and possible theme for a quilt. They said the nursery is neutrals, with tan walls, black and white furnishings, and pops of color for decorations. They also said maybe buildings for a theme, since they have lived in some of the largest cities of the country. They currently live in Chicago, so I took that theme and ran with it. Here it is: my sort-of Chicago skyline--an abstract, with some well known buildings and the elevated train (the "L"), not necessarily where they are really placed, but in an arrangement that pleased me.
All washed--looks wobbly, but that's just from the hangers and breeze.
So now that you've seen the big reveal, I'll share lots more photos, with a visual tour of the process.

I started with the fabric you can see at the bottom of the quilt and in the backing here:

Here's a close-up:
It's from the Robert Kaufman Let's Go line. I found it online and was immediately smitten because it was in colors I was looking for and even more important, the cars, trucks and bicycles were all in the right orientation for a city street--no upside-down vehicles--so they'd fit perfectly at the bottom of a row of buildings. 

After looking at oodles of photos of the skyline of Chicago with labels of major buildings, I drew a plan on graph paper. 

You can see in the photo above that I've labeled and listed some of the buildings. The numbers at the bottom are planning for the amount of yardage for the vehicle and background fabric. I think. I can never tell from my scribbles. While waiting for my fabric order, I colored in the drawing and started planning the scale and piecing (those numbers are along the side of the photo, with each square of graph paper equaling 2 inches). The numbers along the bottom and in the body of the quilt drawing correspond to buildings and background pieces, which I may or may not have attended to while actually piecing. 

When the vehicle fabric arrived, it was time for a trip to the fabric store for fabrics with building-ish prints and colors that coordinated with the vehicle fabric. I was thrilled with my finds. I had a few pieces in my stash that worked, too, so in no time, I was all set to dive into piecing. 

I started with the Willis (formerly known as Sears tower) section of the quilt. There is another building in front of it (Board of Trade--the gold one) and to keep things easy where there were tricky seams, I freezer paper pieced parts of them where they overlapped.
 Here's a close-up of the front of that part:

And that section, finished:
 Then it was time to plan the next section:
I planned window color and placement.
Those copies to the left are just to cover the fabric.
And another section done:

It took a little time to plan the next section of the quilt. I had trouble at first getting the proportions of the windows of the CNA building (the red and white one) the way I wanted at first, and I did redo some of those seams to make the windows narrower. I also had to plan that building so that I could later fit the "L" in, which required some partial seams. I designed the building so I could remove a few stitches to insert the L train during the last phase of sewing.
Headed to too much white
Ready to move on
Moving on, I forgot to take some photos, but all went well, with more freezer paper piecing where buildings overlapped.

The last big building was the John Hancock, recognizable for it's distinctive X's in the structure. I tried out several blackish/grayish fabrics
but suddenly realized that the blue/teal print was the perfect value and repeat of fabric use. I again used a slice and insert method--combined with freezer paper piecing to keep it neat.

Then it was time to add the L train and do one more slice and insert of the rail. Using the 1/2 finished rail kept the integrity of the building design--no windows or structural elements were distorted. And the last step was adding the street at the bottom. This whole process was so satisfying, and I'm thrilled that it turned out as I envisioned it. 

For the quilting, I stitched in the ditch (-ish, I sometimes get a little off seamline) around each building, and then followed windows, quilted abstract windows and other building-ish lines. In the background (both the street and the sky) I did long wavy horizontal lines. Chicago is The Windy City, but I wanted just a decent breeze.

Here are the Stats, and then I'll finish with some close-ups:
Pattern: My own graph paper doodle based on photos of the skyline of Chicago.
Fabrics:  A variety (sorry, I'm not good at keeping track of them) plus the car print from Let's Go by Robert Kaufman.
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 
Thread: Superior-- Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in White Linen for quilting. Unknown black hand quilting thread for stitching binding to back.
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back
Size: 56 3/8 inches tall by 52 1/4 inches wide. 54 inches by 50 inches after washing.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for walking foot quilting.

So, now, some additional photos taken indoors (on our bed) because the weather is dark and yucky.
The major buildings from left to right are:
311 S. Wacker (green check)
Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower--black squares)
Chicago Board of Trade (gold plaid) 
CNA Center (red/white--the real building is distinctively red)
Either Chase or One Prudential Place (I never did decide, although it lacks the top of Prudential, but it's the teal one with blue windows) 
Two Prudential Plaza (the navy one with the pointed roof) 
Crain Communications (formerly known as the Smurfit-Stone--shorter red building), 
Aon Center (gold with long gray windows)
John Hancock (black with X structure)
And then, of course, the "L" train and track

Blogger insists on turning this photo sideways. Oh well.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this quilt as much as I enjoyed making it. I think graph paper is my favorite way to plan a quilt and seeing this quilt come to life from the paper was such a satisfying experience. Perhaps it will inspire you to interpret a favorite skyline as a quilt. I hope the little guy this quilt is meant for will have fun with his own version of "I spy" with the buildings of Chicago. He even has an awesome skyline view from his nursery window.

I'm linking up this week with Kelly at My Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday, Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday, at Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party, and Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty for Beauties Pageant.

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