Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Such Lovely Blogs!

I was on vacation last week, and the most quilting I did was a bit of hand quilting on a border of my Fall Maple quilt. I put a picture on Instragram, but that was all I could muster for social media. I was too busy looking at the sunset in the evenings to get a blog post out. Not that I'm complaining. At all. 

But this week I've been working on a secret project that I'll tell you about in a few weeks, so I still have nothing to write about. Well, I didn't until last night when I opened my email and found out that Bernie from Needle and Foot had nominated me for a One Lovely Blog Award. Isn't that sweet? And now I have something I can write about. I've seen these awards on other blogs and have always thought they were a neat way to showcase the inspiration and work of quilters. They help us celebrate and get to know other quilter bloggers and spread the word about all of the quilty fun that goes on in Blogland.

First of all, I need to get some "requirements" out of the way. Here's the cute little logo of One Lovely Blog Award. (I sure wish I knew where this all started.)
one-loveley-blogger.jpg (200×182)

 And here are the rules (I'm paraphrasing here--I don't know if there's an official way to list them):
--Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to that person's blog. 
--List the rules.
--Display the logo of the award on your post.
--Post seven facts about yourself.
--Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award, and let them know that you did it.

Okay, here's the first requirement, but you know I would have done that anyway! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bernie! If I could have, I would have nominated you. Your blog was one of the first ones I started reading when I got interested in quilt blogs, and I love how it's led to a modern-day penpal. I admire you for your prolific quilting and varied quilt projects, your ultra-cool coffee cozies (even though I don't drink coffee), your relaxed and enjoyable style of writing, and your excursions into other areas of interest--such as apparel sewing, gardening, cooking and vacation retreat renovations. I always drop everything and read whenever your posts pop up because I know that they will be a bloggy treat. Seriously, if anyone reading this hasn't already read Bernie's blog, stop reading this, click on the link above, and go there. Now. (And then come back.)

Now, for seven facts about me...

I just passed my 2nd anniversary as a quilt blogger. Well, how about that? I had to look it up just now. My first post was on August 27, 2014. I suppose I should have had a little celebration, but I'm not good with dates, so it just passed me right by. (Hey, that means I've known Bernie for two years. Wow!) This really is quite something, as anyone who knows me knows that I hate to write. But it is a good way to document my quilting and it's been fun meeting other quilters along the way. Here's the first quilt I wrote about:

When I'm not quilting, you might find me bicycling somewhere in Michigan.  We have lots and lots of rail-trails and other bike paths. In fact, one leads right from my neighborhood. This past week we rode the Hart/Montague trail. It goes through several small towns in the heart of Michigan's orchard lands and asparagus fields, and right past a dairy that serves a bottomless cup of milk. (I won't tell you how many cups of chocolate milk I drank there!) Here are a couple of pictures of our ride--including one of a barn quilt!

I love, love, love lighthouses and sunsets and Lake Michigan.  Even though my blog is about quilting, pictures like these will sometimes sneak into my blog. Here are some views from our recent vacation:

I love reading memoirs--especially ones about building something--a house or a new life. And if there are enough clues, hints or outright descriptions to help me find the location on Google Maps so I can follow along in real pictures, all the better! I just finished The Penny Poet of Portsmouth by Katherine Towler. If you write about building or remodeling something in your blog, you can be sure I'll eat that up, too.

I am a fair weather gardener.  I get all excited about gardening in the spring, and I take lots of pictures (and share them here) as my flowers bloom. But then summer sets in, and I quickly lose interest. We've had a drought this summer and it did weird things to my garden that I'm embarrassed to share. But I will. Here's is how my coleus garden usually looks:

Big coleus, small supporting role for hypoestes. But here's how it looks this year:

I guess the hypoestes thrives on drought. The coleus, not so much.

My favorite quilts to make are donation quilts. When I decided I wanted to make quilts faster so I could donate them quickly, I bought an old treadle sewing machine and taught myself to FMQ on it. Previously, I was a hand quilter. The treadle was a cheap alternative to a domestic or long arm machine that I could quilt on. I also started entering giveaways to build a stash just for donation quilts. It's worked out well. Nearly every donation quilt I've made is from primarily giveaway fabric. And I think the reason that these quilts are most fun is that I am challenged to use fabric I might not choose myself. Here are a couple of recent quilts I made from giveaway fabric:

I enjoy being an armchair traveler. I really like to read blogs or look at online photo albums of other people's travels. Which leads me to my nominations for One Lovely Blog Awards...

Although lately I've been a bit remiss in commenting on blogs (summer routines or lack of them), I do read quite a few blogs. But I'm going to put just two out there that I have recently discovered. These blogs both center around quilting, but with the added fun of travel. 

The first quilter I want to nominate is Louise from My Quilt Odyssey. The first thing that attracted me to her blog was the boat on her header with the quilts hanging from it. Beautiful! She lives on that boat, and makes lots of lovely quilts--making very efficient use of the space she has. She and her husband have a companion blog about their travels (there's a link on her quilting blog). I especially like that she makes a lot of quilts for Project Linus (inspirational patterns for the rest of us) and writes little tips along the way as she quilts. Flipping back and forth between the two blogs is very enjoyable indeed.

The second quilter I want to nominate is Karen from Tu-Na Quilts, Travels and Eats. She and her husband just finished a whirlwind tour of Minnesota on a 72-store shop hop!! Her detailed account of the hop is delightful in every way--from the interesting shops to the logistics of such a tour to all the loot! She has her blog posts divided up into categories so you can just focus on what you're interested in, but really, you'll want to read them all. 

Do go visit these blogs if you haven't already. They are such lovely blogs. 

I'm linking this post with Sew Fresh Quilts. I hope you are having a great time this week with your own lovely blog. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a Throwback Thursday post.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Love Wins Finish

Whew!  A finish this week! I wasn't expecting that when I sat down to start hand stitching the binding to the back of my quilt, but I just kept going and going, and now it's done!

When I make a quilt, I usually try to piece the backing from leftover fabrics from the front, but with this quilt there wasn't a lot of fabric left, so I decided to use just one fabric. I ended up using a stripe after lots of dithering that I won't go into here. I'm definitely not fond of stripes as a backing. They are hard for me to square up and keep straight while basting. But I do love them for binding. Of course, using a striped binding with the same striped backing poses some problems. I tried to intentionally not match the stripes in the binding to the backing so that I wouldn't drive myself crazy trying to match them. That was harder than it might seem. There are some places where they do sort of match up. I'm not sure how that happened. I probably stretched the binding a little, but overall, I think it's okay. And I do love a striped binding.

Some weird shadows from the quilting here. Looks better in person.
I had two false starts with the quilting. I tried some concentric hearts on the heart shaped blocks, first in free-motion and then with a walking foot. I wasn't happy with my FMQ (wobbly) and did not enjoy all the quilt maneuvering I needed to do with the walking foot. So I ripped out what I had done and went with my old stand-by. Yup. Meandering. I did big meanders in the hearts--with some random tiny heart shapes (or maybe they look like leaves?) thrown in here and there--and little stipples in the background. At the bottom of the quilt I did the big meanders above and below the letters and little stipples between them to make them stand out and to keep the amount of quilting consistent with the rest of the quilt.

Just after finishing the quilt, I read a blog post telling why I shouldn't "ruin" my quilt with allover meandering. Ouch. I may need to write a rebuttal about why I love meandering.

This quilt begged to be made. Shortly after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I read that the Orlando Modern Quilt guild was collecting quilts for the survivors, friends and families of victims, and first responders as a gesture of support. I had a bundle of Robert Kaufman rainbow fabrics that I had won a couple of years ago in a Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Blog Tour. I was still trying to decide what to do with it. The bundle practically jumped off the shelf at me, and I knew I had to use it for a Quilt for Pulse. The Orlando guild suggested using a heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew. I liked the pattern, but it was so cheerful, and I knew that the hurt from the Pulse tragedy would endure. Lives were fractured; hearts were broken. So I decided to add some fractured and broken hearts to the other blocks to recognize that pain, but with the message that Love will win out in the end. I quickly sketched out an idea.

You can read about how I made the fractured and broken hearts here and here. I also planned the letters on graph paper, six inches high and proportional to each other. 

I don't tackle tough issues in my blog. I want to focus on the sweetness and light that is quilting. But there is so much ugliness in this world of ours, so much hate and horror and pain. I am thankful that we as quilters can do something to counteract the evil around us with love in the form of quilts. It's hard for me to put my thoughts and feelings into words, but I hope that my messages for healing can be read in my quilt. I know that there is a broad quilting community that gets this, and I am so thankful to be a part of it. I just wish there weren't so many reasons to make these kinds of quilts. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that.

Here are some more pictures in the backyard...

Look close for a message and signature

and at the park behind our township offices... 

and after washing, with all it's crinkliness (and flatness!)

And now some stats:
Blocks: Basic heart pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew; original fractured and broken hearts and letters.
Block size (finished): 10 inches
Quilt size: 50 1/2 inches by 60 1/2 inches before quilting 
                 50 by 60 inches after quilting
                 47 1/4 by 57 1/4 inches after washing (5 to 6 % shrinkage)
Fabrics: Rainbow fabrics from a Robert Kaufman bundle of Blueprint Basics by Valori Wells; additional rainbow prints from my stash; assortment of white, off white and white/gray scraps; A is for Alligator by Michele Scott for Northcott Fabrics for backing
Batting: a mystery to me. The last of a piece I had in my stash. I love it; it's scrunchy and soft--maybe an 80/20 blend. It squares up the quilt beautifully and flattens any ripples after washing the quilt.
Binding: same fabric as backing; 2 3/8 inches for a 3/8 inch finish; machine sewn on front and hand stitched to back.
Piecing thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite
Quilting thread: Superior King Tut in Temple
Pieced on Singer Featherweight
Quilted on Singer 115 treadle

This quilt will soon be on its way to Florida to help with the healing of Orlando.

I'm linking this post with Crazy Mom Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks, but they're both on blog-cation, so those links will come later. Also with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday. You can hit the buttons on the sidebar when those links become active.

Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for all you do to heal others with the love in your quilts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wedding Gift Part II: 2AM Quilt

And now for the finish. If you haven't already read Part I, you might want to now--or later--whatever you wish. First, the on-the-neighbor's-fence shots, because, well, nearly every one of my quilts ends up there at some point. I wasn't thrilled with the lighting here. It was overcast, but kind of harsh, but it is the best way to show the whole quilt. You'll notice that I meander quilted it (on my treadle). I thought that was best since there was so much going on in the quilt already. I was planning to bind it with a low volume print, but realized that I had enough of the solids to make a scrap binding. 

And here's the back. I couldn't resist a more modern vibe on the back using the leftover solids (plus a Moda feather).

My only rule for the binding was that the colors would be randomly distributed with no color touching a backing patch of the same color. See that monogrammed square at the lower left? It's paper-pieced shorthand for the initials of my niece and her husband. She's taking his last name, and their first names both start with A. How fun is that? I hope it doesn't predict any sleepless nights on the couch for either of them!

Not content with fence pictures, I tried some in the yard. 

(Ooh, see that dry grass back there? Most of our grass looks that way this summer, except under the maples.) This photo is a good representation of the actual colors in the quilt. 

How about a tree picture?
Still not satisfied, I decided to take the quilt to our local university. I'll save those for last--They're my favorites. But first some post-washing crinkly photos. 

If you look closely, you can see my initials and date. But, really, I'll be the only one that knows they're there.

Our university has carillon concerts on summer evenings under the ancient trees on campus..It's a lovely place to enjoy a picnic, watch children play and listen to music from around the world. So I took my quilt with one evening to do some on-location pictures. Here's one of the massive trees:
And with my quilt:

 And three more on a nearby bench:

Now some quick stats, and then I'm done. 
Quilt pattern (resized): Tone-It-Down, Lissa Anderson, February 2014 American Patchwork and Quilting. Original back and monogram
Block size: 18 3/4 inches
Quilt size: 71 inches square; 66 3/4 inches square after washing (about 6 % shrinkage)
Materials: Solids, mostly Kona; various low volume prints.
Batting: Quilter's Dream Cotton Select
Binding: 3/8 inch; machine-sewn to front, hand stitched to back
Piecing Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite
Quilting Thread: Superior King Tut Cotton in White Linen
Pieced on Singer Featherweight and Free Motion Quilted on Singer 115 treadle. 

I'm linking this post with Crazy Mom Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks, but they're both on blog-cation, so those links will come later. Also with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday. You can hit the buttons on the sidebar when those links become active.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Wedding Gift Part I

Ah, today is the day I can write about a project I've been working on the last few months. The gift has been delivered and opened, and very soon the happy couple will be married. As I was weeding out all the photos I've taken, I realized that this could be a very, very, very long post. Usually, the information about the quilt dribbles out as I make it. But I haven't shared anything about this one before. So instead, I'm doing two long posts--focusing on process in this one and the photo finish in the next. So here goes...

My first decision was to make a throw-sized quilt. I collected some ideas on a secret Pinterest board then asked my niece and future nephew for some preferences for color and style. My niece sent me a photo of a framed poster of a map of Austin Texas, where they had met during their university days.  

She said they'd prefer a quilt with a vintage look and colors similar to the ones in the poster. I looked for a image of the poster online and quickly found one that I could print out and use to match to my Kona swatches. 

I looked over the quilts I had saved from Pinterest and kept coming back to one that seemed just right: Tone It Down by Lissa Alexander in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  This quilt was part of a Quilt Along in 2013-14. Many of you are probably acquainted with it. But that was before I was blogging or reading many blogs, so I wasn't aware that it was so popular. I'm always a little behind. Anyway, the block is actually a pretty old, well-known block (I know it as Burgoyne Surrounded), but the tone-it-down aspect and, of course, the directions for construction, are Lissa's design, so I ordered a digital copy of the magazine and am giving her appropriate credit. The low volume coloration of the quilt was what really drew me to it. 

Lissa's pattern is four by five blocks. I had an idea of the size I wanted for this quilt and it worked better for me to do three by three blocks. I increased the block size from 15 inches to 18 3/4 (subbing in 1 1/4 inch for every inch on the original pattern).

For the foreground of the blocks, I chose Kona solids. I had a few in my stash and ordered the rest from these chips:

I ended up eliminating Orange, Jade Green and Wine and added in Sunflower in the end.

For my low volume fabrics, I visited the four fabric shops in my area and standing back about 20 feet from the shelves, I picked out any fabric that looked whitish or tannish or a pale version of the colors above or had a print in similar colors. What fun for me! What a pain for the poor sales associates that had to cut 1/8 yard from each bolt. I am definitely not the customer they want to see approaching the counter!! But I needed to build a low cost extensive stash as I didn't have these types of fabrics at home. Here they are all lined up on my couch. The fabrics across the seat in the front are actually pre-cut fat quarters. Hey, I tried to save a little time with the cutting!

I think there were maybe 48 fabric bits in all. Here they are with the solids:

I did my cutting in batches as I constructed the quilt. I didn't want to overcut any one fabric, but I needed enough pieces to try out various patches on the design wall. I made one block at a time and then left it in place on the wall and built the next one so that I could see how everything fit together. 

 I made a mini design wall with an old poster frame and some leftover batting to transfer each block to my sewing area for piecing. 
After I finished the blocks, I laid out fabrics on the floor to determine how to arrange the sashings. (My design wall wasn't big enough.)

When I cut the sashings for the outer edges, I left extra width so that I would have room to trim the quilt without losing any design when binding it. 

After auditioning several ideas for cornerstones, I chose one with mostly rose/red patches, then put them together, again leaving extra fabric on patches that would line the outer edges of the quilt. This seems like a lot of extra work, but not doing it might have robbed those squares of their "squareness" as I squared up the quilt for binding. (Does that make any sense at all??)

So here's how the quilt top looked in the end. Do you see the extra fabric at the edges?

Okay, I'm going to stop there. In the next post, I'll try to go lighter on words, but I will include some stats, and of course, you'll get to see the quilting and binding. It will be mostly pictures though. Maybe.

I'm linking up this post with Freemotion by the River, Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation. If clicking on the link doesn't take you to the party, click on the buttons on the right sidebar. I'll link up Part II with the usual Friday finish parties. 

I hope you're having a great quilting week!