Thursday, February 15, 2018

February RSC18

I'm between big projects right now, so these last few days have been filled with purple strings. When I was a kid, or maybe much longer than that, I was crazy about purple. My bedroom was kind of an apple green with a purple and green flowered bedspread. I had a purple sweatshirt-like T-shirt dress and a dusty purple suedish pantsuit with lots of decorative grommets on it that made me feel way cool in the 70's. My aunt was shocked that my bridesmaid's dresses were peach and not purple when I got married. So you get the picture. Purple was my fave. 

So you would think that I'd gravitate toward purple in my fabric selections when I make quilts. I do put purple in rainbow quilts, I guess, but my purple stash is just kind of pathetic. Lots of dusty grayish purples from the 80's (I think?). And then those reddish purples that I can never decide whether they should go in with the purples or the reds. So my string blocks for February weren't as exciting for me to make as those blue ones were in January.

But make I did! 
Just as I did with my January blocks, I put a strip of the other RSC month's colors in each block for a jazzy little twist. I'm not terribly fond of these blocks. They sure do jump around a lot in value variation. But that's okay. I did have to force myself to use some "uglies," and I have to admit there are a few that I just kept rejecting. I suppose those are the ones that need to be shunted off somewhere instead of taking up space in the bins and drawers. And now I know that if I want to add to my fabric stash, I need to look for purples that make me happy (more bluish purples and more modern prints of any kind of purple).

Speaking of adding to fabric stashes, did anyone else respond to the news of the discontinuation of a major fabric line the way I did: with just a little bit of guilt about buying habits?  Or lack of buying habits? When I make a quilt for a friend or family member, money is no object. I buy what I like/need without one glance at the price. But when I make a quilt to donate (which is the majority of my work), I always try to find the cheapest way out. Sale fabrics, discount companies, giveways, big coupons, and--the latest--my stash. So far this year, I have spent just over 11 new dollars (not counting postage) on quilts, including a twin size quilt, three small quilts, and all these string blocks. I know I can make a case for having spent money in the past, because how else would I have built this stash? But if we all are always out looking for the bargains, are we hurting ourselves in the long run when we want a nice variety of quality fabrics to choose from for our projects? I know it's complicated. Just wondering. Especially this year when my mode of operation is to try to use up what I have on hand. 

Anyway, here are my February blocks mixed in with the January blocks.
I could play with these all day! 
Two things I'm noticing: first, I found that it helps to check my multi-colored and neutral scrap bins when I'm short on a color because there are some colors and some parts of fabrics that will work (see that butterfly in the bottom right corner or that sunflower print from a stripe on a panel); second, I see that I don't have as many modern scraps as old ones. Why is that (aside from all the years of scrap accumulation)? I think that since I started making more scrappy backs and scrappy bindings on quilts, I tend to use up almost all of the modern prints when I make a quilt. I guess there is a case to be made for buying a little more modern fabric than I need--or, perhaps eventually I'll get to a point where all my quilts are from new fabric and there are no leftovers. You think? One last thing that is dawning on me: when you make scrappy quilts, the amount of scraps don't really go away. In fact, maybe scrappy quilting actually increases scraps. They just get smaller. Uh-oh.

So that's it for this month's RSC18. It was a good project for a few evenings of watching the Olympics. To have something to do for the remaining nights, I've finally pulled out my Lake Michigan quilt to add the embroidered beach grass. I've started the skeletons of the stems. After I get those on, I'll start filling them out.

I've also been puttering around with the Hollyhocks quilt, filling in the background with stippled texture. It could be a bit boring, but doing it in hot pink makes me smile, even if it won't show that much when it's done.


I'm linking up this week with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social, with Angela at soscrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap (on Sunday). I'll update the links as they go live.

Have a good weekend, whether you're doing some TV watching/sewing or not.

Friday, February 9, 2018

DrEAMi Doll Quilts

Oh, what a week it's been. It all started with a post from Bernie at Needle and Foot that highlighted A Doll Like Me, the business of Amy Jandrisevets, who makes dolls for children that match their physical characteristics (perhaps with a limb difference, or hearing aids, or any other unique feature that might not be available in commercially-made dolls). Amy also provides doll quilts to include with the dolls under special circumstances. This month Bernie is challenging quilters to help Amy build her supply of doll quilts through a project called Spread the Love, Quilting for Kids. Please go to Bernie's website to read all about it, and then go to Amy's Facebook page. It will be well worth your time. Well, this project was irresistible to me--as well as a whole lot of quilters; don't you love being part of this community?

First, I needed to decide just what I would make. Lots of people collect novelty prints and have lots of kid-friendly fabrics. I don't have that kind of stash. I have used those prints occasionally, but pretty much use them up on a project. I had just a few pieces, but they were the remnants of border edges, and the designs were cut off leaving partial pictures--like half a mermaid or half a car. I only had one piece of fabric that seemed to have possibilities. I rummaged in my fabrics and found a few pieces that were big enough for both backgrounds and backings. I decided that those along with some of my solids stash would work if I made my own little kid-attractive motifs. The result is this little set of quilts:

First some overall stats: 
The solid fabrics are mostly Kona, with a few others thrown in that I don't have info about. I had just the right scraps of my favorite batting (Quilter's Dream Select in white) for all three quilts. (Don't you love when that happens?!) It has a wonderful drape, so it's great for little projects. I pieced with my Singer Featherweight and quilted with my Singer Treadle and a walking foot. I used a 2 3/8" binding folded in half.

So let's take a closer look at each one: They each deserve some description and individual stats even if they are tiny, don't they?

The little heart quilt was my first one:
I had been attracted to the Regatta quilt by Daniela of Block M Quilts that everyone has been making. My quilt is based on that one, but I substituted little hearts for the background squares. The little hearts are a tiny version of the heart pattern at Cluck Cluck Sew that you are all well-acquainted with. I didn't have gradients of colors that make the Regatta quilt sing, but I still had fun messing with the pattern. I don't think I have the Regatta quilt out of my system yet, but this was a fun way to scratch an itch.
Here are the stats:
Size: about 22 by 23 1/4 inches
Heart size: 2 by 2 inches, finished.
Threads: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing and bobbin when quilting; Aurifil Mako 40 wt. cotton thread in 1148 (Light Jade), 1154 (Dusty Orange) and 2132 (Tarnished Gold) for top quilting.
Fun connection: The floral fabric was leftover from a baby quilt I made years ago.

I designed a fish on a scrap of graph paper for my second quilt:
When a blogger friend saw it, she thought it was the Kissy Fishy pattern from Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts. So, of course I had to look up Lorna's pattern. They are similar, but that is by coincidence. I just sketched until I had something I could l make from two shades of orange I had. However, if you would like to make a similar fish, I highly recommend you check out Lorna's patterns because I'm sure her seaming scheme is superior to mine. (And I don't do patterns!) 


Here are the stats:
Size: about 22 by 24 inches
Fish block size: 5 1/2 by 3 5/8 inches, finished.
Threads: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing. Superior King Tut in Mint Julep for quilting
Fun connection: The striped fabric and some of the solids were leftover from the baby quilt I made for one of my grandsons.

Do you see that darker area where I pieced the back? I thought I did it "right" until I saw this photo. We'll call it a design element.

The design of the third quilt was determined by the one piece of novelty fabric I had with complete motifs (cars and trucks). I used every bit of it except two narrow strings I cut to even it up. I had to add substantially to it, so this quilt got four little car blocks, which I designed on graph paper and paper foundation pieced.

I used a suede print fabric for the sashing and borders to mimic roads. 







My husband  quilt advisor chose the binding, and when I started cutting it, I saw the name on the selvage:
Perfect
This quilt can also be a mini play mat!


Here are the stats:
Size: about 22 by 23 3/4 inches
Car block size 6 3/4 by 3 1/2 inches finished; whole block 6 3/4 by 7 3/4 inches finished. "Roads" are 2 1/2 inches wide.
Threads: Superior masterpiece in granite for piecing; King Tut in Canaan (variegated gray) and Temple for quilting. (I meant to use the Temple in the top thread for the road lines, but forgot. Now I'm glad I used the gray because the white would have emphasized the wonkiness of the lines--wonkiness is a hallmark of my walking foot quilting and my state's roads, though, so it's all good.) 
Fun connection: The gray and car print fabrics were in a baby quilt I made for a grand- nephew a few years ago. That quilt had (much bigger) pieced vehicles, too.

I thought I was all done, but then I read that some children who Amy makes dolls for also receive hospital gowns for their dolls as they sometimes need to spend time in hospitals. I just happen to have a hospital gown that I wore home from the ER after I broke my shoulder last year.  Mari at Academic Quilter found a pattern for a doll-sized gown in just the right size at Read Creations. That made me happy because I do not have any dolls in that size and was trying to figure out how to make a gown by guessing the size. So I made three little gowns from the pattern. There is still plenty of gown left for more if they are needed. Those gowns from the hospital are voluminous! Especially the one I had since it was made fit around broken limbs (Not sure we ever figured out exactly how!)
My stand-in doll. The gown will look much cuter on one of Amy's dolls.
This pattern was so fun!! I made three changes--I cut the seams of the shoulders and side seams about a quarter inch larger so I could do French seams, I used 1/2 seam binding instead of 1/4 inch because that's all I could find, and I extended the binding about 4 inches longer to make it easier to tie the thicker tails. I am so glad that something good could come from this gown.

If you have an opportunity, consider making a doll quilt or gown if you can. It's such a wonderful project for this month!

I'm linking this post up with the Spread the Love Linky party that Bernie is throwing beginning February 25. I'm also linking to crazy mom quilts for Finish it Up Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and with mmm! quilts at the end of the month (February 24, I think?) for DrEAMi (Drop Everything and Make It) because wow has this been DrEAMi!!

I hope you are having a wonderful month, DrEAMi or not!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Throwback Thursday Friday

Hello, again. Welcome to Throwback Thursday which is Friday this month because the fabulous Sandra from mmm!quilts has a lot, and I mean a lot, going on right now, so she moved Thursday to Friday for the linky party. If you don't believe me, head on over to her blog right now and see her recent posts. It's amazing. Really. Go ahead. I'll wait. (Just come back, okay?)

So, last month I shared a quilt that I made for my brother-in-law's office a long, long time ago. This week, I'll share another more recent quilt I made for him--this time while he was fighting ALS in 2012. It's one of those gut-wrenching quilts to make--the hardest of all kinds. 



I don't really have a lot to share about it because I have very few notes, and they are incomprehensible. I do know that I first saw the design in a quilt on Etsy and saved it to Pinterest because I knew I would make it someday. The quilt had already been sold, which was a good thing because otherwise I would surely have wanted to buy it. I went back to the photo yesterday, and the link is no longer active, so I have no idea who made it and whether it was from a pattern or not. (If anyone recognizes it, let me know and I'll give proper credit.) I think the maker lived in Arizona, but I'm not sure of that either.

I chose muted colors. There are a few purple patches sprinkled in. I'm glad because I did not know at the time that L's favorite color was purple--celebrated by his family in their clothing later at his funeral. I'm thinking that the blocks were about 4.5 inches square, so the quilt was approximately 36 by 45 inches. L was in a wheelchair by that time, so the quilt needed to be fairly small. I used the same fabrics in a different pattern on the back. Based on my recall of the quilt size, the blocks must have been about 9 by 12 inches. 
I hand quilted the quilt with a large stipple, which went pretty quickly on this small project. If you zoom in, you can see that I did not use a separate binding, but turned over the backing to the front instead and machine sewed it down. I must have really been in a hurry to finish this (well, I know I was) because I don't usually do a binding that way. I did a strange thing with the miters, sewing a little rectangle over them, maybe to reinforce them? I have no idea why I made it that way.

As I said, these kinds of quilts are always hard to make. And this one, especially, because there was no hope of recovery. I do hope that the quilt brought L some measure of comfort in the remainder of his life. 

I knew I wanted to share this quilt today when I wrote my last Throwback Thursday post. I didn't realize at the time, though, that I'd be writing this during the week of February that holds several sad anniversaries for our family. But something happened yesterday morning when I opened my email and read a blog post from Bernie over at Needle and Foot. She announced a new project that involves making doll quilts. 
I decided that it was time to make a quilt for a happy purpose and spent the rest of the day happily planning and piecing a tiny quilt. Please go over and read all about her project (It's really about a whole lot more than making doll quilts.) I think that just maybe you will want to sew some of these. I know it was just the lift I needed in a week that is usually dreary with memories.

I'm linking up with Sandra's Thursday Throwback party. I hope you'll find something to share from your pre-blogging days, too!



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My First RSC (aka RSC18)

I'm going to do it. Tame that scrap monster lurking (prettily, I do have to say, though) in my closet. I'm joining the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) for the first time. You can read all about RSC18 at soscrappy. I've admired Angela's challenge and linky party for the last few years. Here's my first month's worth of blocks. (Light and medium blues) This could be trouble. I am loving it!!
I thought for a long time about how I want to do this "my way." I'm starting small, with 8 five-inch string blocks a month. 
I considered using a fabric foundation, but settled on paper instead since that's a familiar technique for me, and I have a big box of newsprint paper on hand. 
I'm extending the strips far enough over the edge of the five-inch paper squares so that I can trim seam allowance beyond the paper. That will make it easier to sew blocks together and remove the paper later on. (I prefer to keep paper on the blocks until they are joined, and keeping paper out of the seam allowance reduces bulk and makes paper removal more efficient.)
After I complete a block, I stay stitch about 1/8 inch beyond the paper.
Just before I sew them together, I'll trim seam allowance to 1/4 inch.
I have a limited range for my strip width sizes because I wanted to make the best use of my smallest scraps. Cut strips are 1 inch, 1 1/8 inch and 1 1/4 inch. Some corner pieces are probably a little bigger.
I go to my bins of smallest scraps first and cut strips from them. Then I check in my drawers to supplement with strips from some larger pieces (which in my stash are still fairly small but big enough to fit around half a comic book board).
You have probably noticed some other colors have snuck (sneaked? Nah, I like snuck better) into the blocks. That's because each month, I will choose one of 8 colors from other months for a special strip in each block. I'm hoping that will bring some cohesiveness and a little spark to the whole quilt when it's done.

So here's the back of a block. I'm using a big needle and tiny stitches, so the papers will tear out easily later on.
I still have some strings left (as well as plenty of blues in my stash), but this is a good start for me. And some of these strings will find their way into blocks for other months.
Well, this is FUN!! I think it's going to be hard for me to hold back and do just one color a month. For February, the color is purple/lavender. That will be a bit more of a challenge for me because I have a lot less range of color and pattern for purple. But I can do it.

I'm linking up this week with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social, with Angela at soscrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework for Oh Scrap (on Sunday). I'll update the links as they go live.

If you are interested in a little more scrappiness, Angela and Mari (at The Academic Quilter) also have a neat BOM called Squared Away to go with the RSC18 challenge. I'm passing on that one as this yearlong project participation is new for me and I'm a tentative joiner, but it looks like a lot of fun.

Okay, time to sort and cut some purples. Have a good week, scrappy or not!





Friday, January 26, 2018

Quilt for California Two

I'm a bit late with this post, but I have a very good reason. Mini road trip. And you know what that means: an opportunity to display a finished quilt in a gorgeous location! Yes, I have a finish, a day later than I expected (I'll explain in a minute), but it's all good. I'll leave the best photos for the end, but first a few driveway shots--my usual photo location in the winter. I took these this morning before we left because I wasn't sure if there'd be good photo ops on our little trip.

Here is my second quilt for California. And yes, that is the second option I showed in my last post about it. I know I said I was going to do the first option (diagonal stripe layout), but I surprised myself when I laid out the blocks. There was something about how the black triangles completed the squares in the off- center barn raising layout that appealed to me, and since it took awhile to lay it out, why not go with it? So option number 2 it was. 
A bit wavy, but I don't mind. It hasn't been washed yet. 

After eyeballing the leftovers from the front as well as a couple of sizable pieces of fabric in my stash, I realized I had enough on hand to make a pieced backing. Actually, I love this part of quiltmaking. 

The concentric square quilting with a walking foot was fun. I used a hera marker to draw corner to corner lines in the patches for some rows, and the guide bar that came with my walking foot for the lines half way between the hera-marked rows. I gained a whole new admiration for quilters who can do this with circles. Turning the quilt for the first few passes was WORK! But once I got going, I liked being able to quilt for a long distance without stopping. The simple quilt design seems to fit the style and design of the quilt. It's a lot smoother than the photos suggest. The sun was pretty harsh, but I'm not complaining. We hadn't seen it for awhile.



Everything was going well until I got to the binding. I had planned to sew it on by machine, and did so, but the second seam was something of a disaster. I had cut it just a smidge narrower than usual. That, some added thickness (I think) from having to piece a whole lot of little bits together to have just enough binding to go all the way around, and a bit of sloppiness in trimming the batting all resulted in a really unattractive and possibly fragile edge. I went to bed Wednesday night determined to sleep on the problem (but not lie awake all night obsessing about it). Thursday morning, I knew immediately that I was not going to give that quilt away (even anonymously) in the condition it was in. Instead, I spent the day happily picking out the last seam little by little and restitching it by hand. It took me all day, but now I have a quilt that I'm pleased to give away. And I think this hand sewn edge will hold up well to a lot of use. 
Bottom right says it was worth whiling away a day with a needle, don't you think?
So here are some stats and additional tidbits and then we'll get to that little road trip.

Date constructed: January 2018
Pattern: Block is a variation of Perkiomen Valley designed by Scott Griffin. Layout is off-center barn raising of 42 blocks (6 by 7). 21 blocks have the turquoise and green colors reversed. 
Fabrics: A variety of leftovers in my stash. They hold so many memories!!
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20 Cotton
Thread: Superior Masterpiece cotton in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut cotton in White Linen for quilting; Superior Treasure in Old Lace for hand sewing on binding.
Binding: Cut 2 3/8 inches wide and folded in half. 
Size: Blocks: 12 inches finished. Quilt: 72 1/2 inches by 84 1/2 inches pieced. About 71 5/8 inches by 83 1/2 after quilting. I haven't washed it yet. I expect some shrinkage, but I think that pressing will relax it again since the quilting is fairly wide spaced. 
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for walking foot quilting. 

Tidbits
I spent $11.23 total on this quilt for materials I didn't have on hand. This was the cost of the batting (50% off). I think that's amazing for a twin size quilt. I didn't set out to be "cheap" but it all just fell together. 

This quilt is brighter than what I was envisioning. I never think of these as "my" colors. But I've obviously used them in a lot of quilts, including ones for one of my grandsons and my granddaughter. And now that I think of it, I used them in pinwheels to decorate tables at my son and daughter-in-law's rehearsal party. I still have some of those pinwheels. (My granddaugther always asks for some when she comes over and I am only too happy to send them home with her.) So I'm thinking the quilt will appeal to a young child, or someone who likes the idea of a fiesta.

Like our ancestors, I made do with my fabrics. I knew I wanted to used the Kaffe Fassett Roman Glass in the corner of each block. I didn't have quite enough to make all the patches, but I did have enough by piecing four of them.

There is a Cotton and Steel Dottie fabric in there that is wrong side up in every patch. When I made my half-square triangles, I accidentally sewed right side to wrong side. I didn't feel like picking all those seams out, and the pattern still showed, so I made sure that I used the wrong side in all of the squares, too. (That's our little secret. Well, not anymore, I guess.) You can see it there on the left in the picture above.

I used up fabrics from this many of my comic book boards.

There are some leftover scraps, but I have a plan.

And here's proof that I finished the quilt.


Okay, so where did we go on this January day? To the beach!! The temperatures were in the 50's! IN JANUARY!! So of course we had to go see what was going on on the shores of Lake Michigan. First we visited Holland State Park. The ice was racing down the channel to the lake. I have some cool videos, but these stills will have to do. First the lighthouse (I once made a tiny quilt of this one).

The ice swirled around when it was trapped by the pier.

Those sandy colored hills in the distance are huge ice mounds.

Even people in business suits came out to enjoy the day.
I was hoping for some quilt photos, but it was too windy. However, up the road, there was a little park that was more sheltered.
A perfect place for more photos of the quilt. Quite a bit of ice. I am always amazed by how silent it is by the lake in winter when there are no waves lapping at the shore.















Bye bye, Lake Michigan. Thank you for the lovely day and fabulous photo op. 

This quilt will soon be on its way to California for people who lost their homes to the Thomas fire and mudslides. Thanks to the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild and Superbuzzy fabrics for taking on this huge task of bringing comfort to so many people. If you'd like to help them, there is still a lot of time to contribute blocks, quilts, or materials to their efforts. 

I'm ready now to work on something a little smaller for a few days. I've decided to follow the RSC18 at Soscrappy and make some string blocks. I haven't joined a monthly "QAL" before so we'll see how this goes. I've already sorted out my blue scraps. I think I've finally caught the "use up all those scraps" bug.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict for their linky parties this week. 

I hope your day was as beautiful as mine! Keep quilting!

Quick Saturday update: I washed and dried the quilt today. It's now 70 7/8 by 82 5/8 inches--pretty close to the original size so it should fit a twin bed fine. Just wanted to get that documented. Also, I forgot about TGIFF. Sandra at mmm! quilts is hosting this week I'm linking up to that party, too.