Thursday, January 11, 2018

Throwback Thursday Revival

Back in October 2014, I discovered a link-up to a Throwback Thursday party for quilters. This excited me because I had pictures of a lot of quilts that I made in my pre-blogging days, and I wanted some way to document them on the blog. Unfortunately, that link ended shortly after I found it. I kept writing TBT posts, often linking them up with another blog, but I felt guilty because the quilts I was sharing were old, not fresh ones that the blog featured. Then in October 2015, I discovered that Jenn at Quarter Inch From the Edge was hosting a TBT party, and I was back in business until life caught up with Jenn in August 2016, and she discontinued the party. (She continues to make awesome quilts, however.) My own blogging started slipping at that time and I quietly stopped writing about old quilts. Those posts had been some of my favorites, but they required a lot of digging in old files and scratching my head to remember details--and they were so time-consuming, I just stopped writing them. I had written a total of 32 (I think) posts about even more old quilts. If you'd like to read any of them click on the "throwback thursday" label at either the bottom of this post or on the right side bar. 

Anyway, all this is leading up to this!! Sandra of mmm! quilts has taken on Throwback Thursday!! Yay!!! (Can you tell I'm excited again?) I'm back in it. It will be once a month (first Thursday usually, except this month) which fits my more lackadaisical blog frequency of late. I still have some pre-blog quilts to share, so we'll see where this takes me. I have a feeling that my most "interesting" quilt stories have been told, but who knows what I'll dredge up for the remaining quilts. 

So here's a quilt I promised to share a while back. I had just made a Blackford's Beauty mini/mug rug for a bloggy friend and I shared that I had made a quilt of the same pattern long ago, but for some reason had no photos of it. Actually, I had found some slides of it, and then I lost them again by the time I wrote the blog post. Well, this week, my husband and I are going through old family pictures to try to make sense of our storage, and guess what? I came across the slides again--just in time to document this quilt:

I made this quilt back in 1983 (the slide is marked Jun 83) for my brother-in-law. I'm not sure if I was audacious enough to offer to make him a quilt for his office or if he asked me to make it. (He was an artist who worked for a firm that designed trade show displays--a fact that should have been quite daunting for me as a traditional quilter.) I remember that we planned the quilt by snail mail. I sent him some possible block designs (4, I think), and after he picked his favorite, we planned the color scheme. He sent me some little squares of colored paper to help me choose the fabrics. I was in awe of those smooth, artsy bits of hefty paper. I remember that choosing fabric was a challenge. I wanted a "masculine" feel, and at the time a lot of fabrics were little ditsy prints and florals. It was fashionable then to buy striped fabric and fussy cut it to add details to blocks, so I started with that and added in fabrics with dots, and sketchy prints. I went through my fabric drawers today, and I think I found bits of most of them. (I know. Sad. I still have fabric from the early 80's in my stash. We'll just refer to it as my archive, shall we?) 
I know for sure that the stripe and the dark brown print are from that quilt. The dots and solids are almost certainly from it, although I have more than one of each of those in slightly different shades. (Perhaps I bought multiple pieces to see what would look best). I am not at all sure of the light print above. None of the light fabrics in my stash seem quite like the one in the quilt photo. Maybe I used it up in that or other projects. 

After a lot of digging today, I found some papers in my file drawer that show some of my planning process. (I was really surprised that the original bits of art paper weren't in there considering how enamored I was of them.) I had used markers and colored pencils to draw the quilt on 1/8" graph paper to get a sense of the final design.
I have another graph paper drawing that indicates the sizes of the patches and helps determine that the block was 16 inches square and the quilt 30 inches square (smaller than I remembered it when I referred to it last summer).
That paper and another also have some trial quilting designs.
My final piece of paper shows placement of the quilting lines. Looks like I added some lines when I did the quilting. Yup, I liked dense even back then.
 Here's the back:

There are a few things that strike me as I look back at this quilt. First the fussy piecing. It must have been tedious to add those narrow striped bits, especially to the parallelograms, and still get the size of each piece right. This was pre-rotary cutting, so I imagine I used transparent templates with marks on them to help line up the fabrics. Next, the bias binding! That was before I discovered straight grain binding. And then, those mitered corners on all the borders. I sure don't do that anymore. In fact, I usually skip borders altogether. That I hand quilted it is not surprising. It looks like I used rust thread. I probably marked the quilting lines with a combination of masking tape and chalk. If you look way down in the right bottom corner, you will see that I made a little label, probably with my name and date. I wonder how the quilt was hung. There's no sleeve. So there you have it. An 80's quilt with a 70's color scheme. For an office. I probably had visions of co-workers clamoring for me to make them quilts for their offices. Ha!

Sadly, my brother-in-law succombed to ALS several years ago. I made him another quilt during his illness. I'll share that another time.

Okay, here's the Throwback Thursday link again. See if you can find something to share from your pre-blogging days and let's party like it's 1980-something. Just kidding. A lot of you were probably in diapers then--or a twinkle in your mother's eye. Recent past will be fine, too, I'm sure. Thanks Sandra, for hosting!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More Quilting for California

During the last few of weeks of December, a call for blocks went out from the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild to make quilts for victims of the Thomas fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California. The block suggested by the Ventura MQG was a Scott Griffin-designed variation of the Perkiomen Valley block. I was paying close attention at the time, as my grand-niece was evacuated from her college in Montecito to escape the poor air quality and possible destruction of campus buildings. (She was able to fly to her family's home in Illinois for an early holiday break.) I decided to make a few blocks after the holidays. 

When the new year rolled around, I realized that I had some quilt time on my hands while waiting for my daughter to collect fabric for a quilt she would like me to make. So the block plan became a quilt plan. I went through my fabrics to see what I had enough of for a twin size quilt. I had some green mini pearl bracelets fabric that was part of a bundle I bought for my last quilt, so that was my starting point. I found more bright colored fabric, a variety of black prints and a bunch of neutrals (pretty much all of my neutrals, as it turns out). 

I planned several possible layouts, and narrowed them down to these two

and a third, based on simply sewing the blocks together much like they are placed below:

An Instragram poll suggested that the second layout was a favorite of followers. (Thanks for your feedback, everybody!) I do like it, as it is an off-center version of an old-timey layout. But I've made half of the blocks now, and when I started laying them out, I decided that I will likely go with the first arrangement, primarily because it might be easiest for me to quilt. Also, the blocks are kind of very bright (garish, maybe?) and the simpler layout calms things down a bit. (I hope.) I will reverse the turquoise and green patches in the remaining blocks.

I've been working on blocks today, much more slowly than I should considering I'm chain piecing and the blocks are basically nine-patches now that the HSTs are together. I'm pressing seams open (please don't ask me why I keep doing this to myself!) and am having a beast of a time matching up intersections--and I'm not even being overly picky about it. No matter which way I pin, they want to just slide past each other. Ah, well, I'm getting there. 

As I was sewing today, I was keeping watch on news updates from Montecito, California and from my sister-in-law. My grand-niece returned to her college this past weekend expecting to start second semester. But once again the college has been evacuated, this time due to the devastation from the mudslides that are the aftereffects of the fire. So far, the campus has escaped destruction but has no water. My grand-niece has safely reached a temporary home and is making plans for possible travel to a relative's home farther away if necessary. 

The Ventura MQG is now working in coordination with Superbuzzy Fabrics to collect blocks, as well as quilts and finishing materials such as backings and battings. The need is great as more homes are being lost to the mudslides. If you would like to help in some way, there is a lot of information on their websites. They will be making/collecting quilts well into spring. 

I'm linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. Keep quilting!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Happy New Year! I wasn't going to do a year-end post this year. Our holiday celebration really ramped up in the last few days, and now I'm feeling lazy today. But it's nice to have a recap of my year's worth of quilts all in one place, so here goes. I did this as a trunk show last year. This year I'm going to link up to Cheryl's Best of 2017 party at Meadow Mist Designs, but I'm also going to add my other finishes and a couple of unfinished items that I was going to link up to Tish's Adventures in Wonderland's Quilty Confessions party (sadly, that ship has sailed). 

First, the numbers: I finished 6 throw size or larger quilts (4 for donation and 2 for gifts), 4 wall hanging size quilts (all for me!), 9 blocks for community-made quilts, and 4 other items that relate to quilting, or at least sewing (a heating pad, a crossbody bag, a mug rug and a blouse.) I also made some Christmas ornaments--not really quilting, but they were fun handwork. Maybe I'll share them in a separate post or on Instagram

So, first the top five quilt posts according to number of views. (Frankly, I was surprised by which ones got the most views. I think it partly depends on what and how many parties I linked to, but it is a way to pick five after dithering over what and how to share.) The link for each is in the listing.

1. Fall Maple Quilt--Seasonal Mash-up Post

This is a pattern by Ruth B. McDowell from her book Piecing Workshop. I started it in August 2015 and then hand quilted it--mostly during vacations. I finally finished it in February 2017. I was surprised that it was my top quilt post (1034 views) because it's not an original quilt--except for the fabric choices. 

2. K's Quilt
My daughter asked me to make this quilt for a friend of hers who had just been diagnosed with cancer and was anticipating chemotherapy. It was definitely one of those urgent Drop Everything and Make It (DrEAMi) projects that Sandra at mmm!quilts invites us to share each month. The pattern is a variation of All in a Row by Leni Levenson Wiener. (967 views)

3, Hexie Finish
This is a donation quilt I made for one of my favorite organizations: Margaret's Hope Chest. It was donated to the Mother and Baby Program at Pine Rest Hospital to serve as a hug around a mother during therapy for perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. The most enjoyable aspects of making this quilt were sewing those giant hexies by machine and doing the wavy walking foot quilting. (943 views)

4. Tree Quilt

This "top five" was another surprise for me because I didn't post it until November 22. But it is a holiday--or at least a winter--quilt, so that probably made it a timely view. It is now hanging on my front door. It was one of a fair number of squirrels for me this year. I had a great time using some ancient scraps and doing dense FMQ to give it texture. (744 views)

My last of the top five is actually two posts, each with 652 views. 
5a. Homes 

These are blocks I made for the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild to make quilts for the families of victims of an attack on a Quebec City mosque in Canada. They represent a response to one of what turned out to be many disasters this year--either through violence or natural causes. There have been way too many opportunities for quilters to come together to ease the burdens of people who have been victims, but it is heartwarming that quilters do work in community even though we live far from and are usually strangers to each other.

5b. The Grunge Quilt
This was another large squirrel, as I decided to make it less than 3 weeks before the 40th wedding anniversary of my brother and sister-in-law. It was not without its challenges, but I did get it done on time. Strange name for an anniversary quilt, but that is all Grunge fabric.

Now that I look at these top fives, I see that they are representational of the work I do: quilts for donation to people with health issues or victims of disasters or violence, blocks for community-made quilts, gifts and little indulges for myself. Big quilts, little quilts, FMQ and hand quilting. So yeah, these make a lot of sense. 

There's one quilt I just have to share because it was one of my favorites. The finish post for it is next in line of my top views (627), It's Deconstructed Coins, an improv quilt I made to challenge myself to make a quilt without planning it all out ahead of time. I made it in conjunction with a challenge from Kaja and Ann of Ad Hoc Improv Quilters. It was a true joy to make, even if I blogged about it ad nauseum while I was making it. It was the quilt that I learned the most from this year and confirmed once again that it is the process that is most meaningful to me in quilt making.

Now for the trunk show of the rest of 2017. I made two other "big" quilts, both for donation: Quilt for Vegas made from Grayscale and Heart blocks from Cluck Cluck Sew and Quilt for California, a variation of Falling Triangles by Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Two more door quilts: Painted Daisy (a pattern in Pieced Flowers by Ruth B. McDowell) and Autumn Abundance (from a pattern by Soma of Whims and Fancies with my own borders). The autumn quilt was started last year before I broke my shoulder, and finished (triumphantly) while I was recovering.

I made 6 other blocks for donation to community quilts: Hexies for Manchester (to be made into a quilt for victims of a terrorist attack in Manchester, England) and Puppy blocks here and here (Lorna's Dog Gone Cute from Sew Fresh Quilts) for Kaholly to make into quilted items to raise money for and honor pet rescuers in Hurricane Harvey.

Finally, my other projects: a heating pad, crossbody bag for my granddaughter, mug rug, and (not quilting, but sewing related in a sew-along with Bernie of Needle and Foot) a blouse. I like the blouse, but not on me. I've only worn it twice, so it's destined to become part of a quilt.
So what's next?
I have 2 UFOs. Yes, only 2. Really, they are just long-term WIPs. I tend to finish things up, Boring, I know, but that's the way it is. I have my Lake Michigan quilt which I've been working on forever. The top is done and quilted, but I have to add hand embroidery.
Sorry, dark picture.
The other is my Hollyhocks quilt (another pattern by Ruth B.Mc Dowell in Pieced Flowers). I'm working on the hand quilting. 
These are both long-term, quilt-in-the-evening-or-on-vacation projects, so it will be awhile before they are finished.

I have lots of projects in-process in my mind. I have fabric set aside for some. My daughter is collecting fabrics for another. So we'll just see where the new year takes us. And that's my plan for 2018.

If there are any attribution links I've missed in this post, you'll be able to find them in the original posts. Okay, here's the link to Cheryl's party again, 'cause the link is way up at the top.

Have a great 2018 quilting year, everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Quilt for California

I've been on a quilting mission over the past few weeks. If you peek at my Instagram posts, you'll will have already seen bits and pieces. Given that I've been working on this while also preparing for the holidays, blog posting sort of got tossed aside. But the quilt is done, so I'm ready to share. Here's a peek before the rest of the photo session:

One of my favorite quilt stores had a sale a few weeks ago--even on sale fabric. It's a gift store with a small modern fabric department and tiny sale fabric department. But I decided to challenge myself to find fabric for a twin size quilt using only the sale fabric. I wanted to make a quilt to donate to California fire victims. My donation quilts are usually throw quilts, and I've often made them with bits of fabric from giveaways. But this quilt needs to be bed size, so I needed more fabric without breaking the budget. I had a vague idea of a design in mind. There were several fabrics that grabbed my attention but only a few that "went together." Here's what I found: 

The Mini Pearl Bracelet fabrics were 1-yard cuts in two packages. (The green was also in one of the packages--I'll use it in something else eventually.) The white print was the only fabric in the sale area that I liked with them as a background fabric. There was only a little bit over two yards of it, but I knew I had some Kona Snow at home that I could add to it. Now that I think about it, I hope the house print will be okay for people who have lost their home, not reminding them of what they have lost, but helping them focus on what's ahead and on the strength of community support. 

The next step was to settle on a design. I thought I'd do a variation of either Falling Charms or Falling Triangles (I think it's called Triangle Tango in their patterns, but I saw their video online under Falling Triangles) from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. I took photos of my fabrics and made some mock-ups in my Quiltography app. (I'm not an affiliate for companies--just telling you what I used.) These are the four designs I was considering:

I wasn't sure about using squares with the Mini Pearl Bracelets fabric. It is printed on a slant, which bothers me just a bit for some reason. I made some paper cut-outs to help me make up my mind about squares or triangles. 
It probably wouldn't matter either way, but I decided to go with the triangles. I liked the only-triangles version, but I chose the design in the lower right corner of my options for a couple of different reasons even though it also had some squares (that were small enough not to look distorted with the print). First, I had more of the bright colored fabrics than the whites, and second, I intended the quilt for possibly a child, so I thought more color would be more practical and more fun for a little kid.

As I got started, I realized that it has been awhile since I made half-square triangles. I fell back on a technique I learned a long time ago. I know there are lots of tutorials and size charts online for figuring how to do these, but my go-to source is The Quick Quiltmaking Handbook by Barbara Johannah from 1979. ( I think it's still available used.) When I used to make miniatures, I would crank out a few dozen sets of teeny tiny HSTs at a time. For this quilt, I would be making them big, so I stuck to eight at a time, which was also a good idea since I had to mix up three colors with two background fabrics. My plan was for HSTs that finished at 5 1/2 inches square, so I used fabric squares of 12 3/4 inches. 

Here's how one looked (drawn lines and stitching). Notice I waited to trim the colored fabric until I did the stitching. That seemed easier to me than to try to make sure two fabric squares stayed in place while I worked with them.
After trimming, I cut the horizontal and vertical lines first because those need to be the most precise. (I know. I had already drawn the lines, but I needed extra assurance since it had been awhile since I had done this.)
Then I cut the diagonals. Easy peasy. Most of you probably know this. But I was quilte excited by my  success so I had to share.

After cutting the triangle parts I cut the rest of the squares and rectangles. I could have worked with long strips, but this seemed to work better for me to get a scrappy look.
I chained pieced all the parts and laid out the blocks following my Quiltography plan. When I had placed the blocks in the plan, I just clicked randomly, placing each color 40 times for each element in the grid without worrying about distribution of the colors. It worked out fine. I think I made one switch when I did the actual sewing but then just left everything else as it was. The white print is a directional fabric. I didn't pay much attention to it, but did make sure the stacks had prints facing both directions. I was mainly using the fabric as a bit of color in the background. 

For the back, I took a super-duper coupon to a big box fabric store and picked the first fabric I saw. Or maybe it picked me. (I had my husband with me, so I made sure I didn't dawdle.) 

I layered everything with Hobbs Premium Cotton 80/20 batting.

For quilting, I chose to do loop-de-loops. I had done these in miniature on my last quilt (Tree Quilt) and enjoyed them so much, I wanted to do more. I really had to work to keep them bigger. I aimed for dime to quarter size, but smaller ones did sneak in there. As I worked, I challenged myself to focus on making my loops as round as I could. I must say, the design lost it's charm for me for awhile about half way through. I think I remember advising another quilter to choose a design she liked for a quilt because she would be doing it a lot. Ha! This showed me that even if you enjoy something, it just might get monotonous after awhile. I tried listening to Christmas music to keep me going, but that was a bit distracting. When a fast song came on, I would speed up and when a slow song came on...well, you get the picture. I don't usually listen to music when I quilt. I know that may seem weird to a lot of quilters. But I treadle, and I get into a rhythm, and the music just messes me up. It's better for me to just stay quiet with my thoughts. And there were lots of thoughts while I was quilting. First, the victims of the Santa Rosa fires were on my mind. I can't imagine what it is like to have to flee such devastation and to lose absolutely everything. Then, while I was quilting, the Ventura fires were raging. My grand-niece was evacuated from her college and sent home before exams (which were cancelled). We were monitoring the news to see what would happen, and I feared that this quilt might need to go to her if she lost everything in her dorm. Thankfully that hasn't happened, and the campus seems out of danger now. All of those thoughts and the need for comfort for others were what kept me going when the loop-de-loops got to be a little much. By and by, it was finished. And by the end, I had gotten pretty good at truly round circles--not ones with little points--so maybe now I'm ready to try pebbles.

I wish I could say that when I finished, the sun was shining brightly, but no, it was already dark, and today it is still dark--from clouds, not sunset. The snow has mostly melted, so everything is soggy, and the quilt is too big to hang on my neighbor's fence (which also has soggy grass at the base). And it's too cold to get myself to search out a statue or two for display. So my photos aren't great. But here they are--the driveway was the best I could do:

Helpful hubby

I added some of the bright fabric to the back to use up as much as I could. Most of the rest was pieced scrappy style for the binding.

Do you see the initials and date?

A note about the binding: I used my own method to machine sew it on. There is a little tutorial here. I like this because I can put the binding on without cutting (well, intentionally cutting) any triangle points. The stitching shows on both sides of the binding, which some quilters might not prefer, but I think of it as a design element. It's strong for lots of washings, too. For this one I used about an eighth inch from the edge for my topstitching--a little wider than it needs to be, but I think it looks fine.
Front (sorry about bad light--post washing indoors) Ha! that's not one of my best point examples. The rest are pretty good, though!

And back
On a guest bed after washing:

Here are the stats:
Date constructed: December 2017
Pattern: Variation of Falling Triangles by MIssouri Star Quilt Company
Fabrics: Mini Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House (Andover) in (I'm guessing) Tomato, Watermelon and Apricot; Abacus Village by Allison Glass (Andover) in Mustard; Kona Snow (Robert Kaufman) and Aztec Woodland (Keepsake Calico) 
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20 Cotton  (I found this batting in a thrift store awhile back. ($2.00 for a king size batt plus most of a crib sized one, so I figure this batting cost maybe $1.25!)
Thread: Superior Masterpiece cotton in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut cotton in White Linen for quilting; Aurifil 40 wt cotton in 1154 (Dusty Orange) for the topstitching on the binding
Binding: Cut 2 1/2 inches wide and folded in half, pieced from scraps of front. Quilt back and batting were trimmed 1/4 inch beyond the front. Binding was sewn to the front with 1/4 inch seam, turned and pressed to the seam line on the back and then topstitched for stitching to show on front and back.
Size: Blocks: 7 1/2 inches finished (5 1/2 inch finished HST patch and 2 inch finished strips and squares. Quilt: 75 by 90 inches pieced. About 75 1/2 by 90 1/2 inches with binding (I forgot to measure after quilting). About  72 by 86 5/8 inches after machine washing on cold and machine drying on medium. Slightly shorter than I was aiming for, but it fits well on a twin bed. Layout is 10 by 12 blocks.

Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for free-motion quilting.

My quilt will be headed to Happiness is a Warm Quilt, a group of quilters in Sonoma County that is coordinating donations for residents who have lost their homes and/or belongings. If you are interested in helping, they have a Facebook page with information. The need is still great. 

So, that's it for quilting for this year. I think. I just saw a pattern and a call for quilt block donations for victims of the Thomas Fire in Southern California on the website for Ventura Modern Quilt Guild.  I'm sure I'll make some blocks--if not in the next few days, in the new year. (Or maybe a quilt?) I think last time I made a big quilt, I said something about limiting myself to no bigger than throw size in the future. But now the needs for larger quilts are great. So scratch that comment. I also have a "commission" quilt to start for my daughter. All kinds of quilting to look forward to.

This has been a tough year for our country--for our world. But I do wish you hope and joy during the holidays and in the coming year. And peace. We need these in so many ways.