Saturday, November 8, 2014

charity quilting part 3

Thursday night was the deadline to turn in quilts that will go to the closest veteran's hospital (about 30 minutes from home) and I had two to take.  I actually had them done the week before, but life got in the way and I didn't make it to the meeting.

You've seen these before as tops, but they're finished.  Bound, labelled and now GONE!

First is my favorite of the two:

This was one of two I worked on, making a few blocks on days off, way back in early 2013.  I pulled out the green floral (click on it and you'll see those dots in the green are actually flowers) that was leftover back from my niece's MSU quilt.  I had a lot of extra, so this went quite far - I still have some left, but not nearly what I had before!

When I got the blocks laid out, I realized I had only one with purple in it.  That looked a little odd, so I did what I've heard and added more purple.  I think the pop in the corners really fixed the whole problem.

Up to this point, I'd purchased nothing.  I even found a chunk of pink in my stash that I used for borders - that big of a chunk is hard to find in my stash!  The backing I did have to buy, but I caught a good sale (and now have a chunk of THAT in my stash instead...).  Having a longarm saved a lot, too, though some would argue that my time is worth something.

I had grander plans for quilting this, but after breaking the button that makes the longarm go on the second quilt I'll show you, I decided something that required less stopping and starting, at least until I have a backup button again, was a better choice.

I don't have actual measurements, but this is about twin-size.  And, after multiple mentions that not ALL the folks at the VA hospital are men, I hope this brightens the day of a lady soldier.

And the second quilt:

(forgive the waviness - it was a bit windy with rain predicted for the next few days (and they were right), so I had to take them when I did...)

This quilt is the second (of three - third is still just blocks) from my project to use up scraps and make blocks.  Though these colors are much less "me", they are far more plentiful in my stash.  How did that happen?

I had intended to use the blue as borders and sashing, but ended up having to purchase more to get everything I needed.  This wasn't a plan-ahead chunk as much as the other quilt, but thankfully I was able to find more and used this fabric as the back as well.

And then I quilted it.  Remember my friend Dale who convinced me to just throw some stuff together and the zippers would be okay?  Well, she's an INCREDIBLE longarmer.  Like award winning, take your breath away sort of longarmer.  We all wish we could be her.  She's also very crafty and creative.  (Her hubby has an old truck in the yard she doesn't want, so she got out the cutting torch and started cutting out pieces to use in he has a holy truck in the yard, but she's convinced she'll dispose of the whole thing through her art pieces...she giggles when she says that, though, so I'm not sure how dedicated to the project she actually is and how much of it is just to get a rise out of her hubby?)

Anyways, Dale-the-troublemaker convinced me to quilt the bejeezus out of this thing.  Just do swirls everywhere.  Don't plan it, she says, just start and you'll be fine.  Okay.  I can do this, right?  Me, the one who mops myself into a corner regularly when I can see how the room is shaped, I can do this.

So I get about 3/4 of the way through and the button that turns the longarm on quits clicking.  Like no connection clicking.  This is not good.

Stop what I'm doing and head to the car parts place, as we have no Radio Shack nearby, hoping they have something.  Nope.

But hey, wait, there are buttons on the back of the machine!  Swap that out and finish the quilt.  

(In my younger years, I was blond.  In my head, I'm still blond.  Apparently in more ways than one?)

A trip to Radio Shack later in the week, non-functional button in hand, tells me they also do not have buttons.  So it looks like I'll be paying the high price to order from the longarm manufacturer, but at least for now the problem of the button is solved.  And they really aren't THAT pricey.

So you probably want to see a little more of that quilting, right?  Okay!

They're pretty much all like this.  Quilted to death, but the quilt itself isn't too stiff.  I did nothing in the sashing and cornerstones, which I think helped.  And the borders are just quilted with big swirls that are kinda like feathers, so not too dense there either.

I got better as I went and did a little planning with each block before I started, but I buried about 4 million thread tails and am not in any hurry to quilt anything else quite this way any time soon.  But I can say I did it.  And Dale is happy.

This quilt, also of unknown size (and maybe it's somewhere in the blog where the top photo lives, but I'm not looking for it today) is twin-ish sized.  And this one could go to a guy or a gal soldier, but really it doesn't matter.  It's meant to keep them warm and say thank you.

When I turned these in on Thursday, we had a show-and-tell of all the quilts, wheelchair quilts, pillows and pillowcases that had been made and donated this year that will go to the VA hospital.  While I know for sure there are a few quilts in the stack that were in the stack last year (and got misplaced before donation day), we will donate:

35 quilts
1 wheelchair quilt
6 pillows
37 pillowcases

These will be donated in the next few weeks, as our goal is Veteran's Day, but we know they aren't given until Christmas.  I'm so pleased to be a part of this project.  I think everyone needs a quilt made with love to snuggle under and with each one I make and give, however it gets to the person, I'm closer to that goal.  (I know I can't get everyone, but I also know I'm not alone in my attempt.)

Our guild is at 49 members currently.  We've added quite a few in the last year, but I still think that for a guild this small, this is a pretty good number.

And I think my goal for next year will be to increase that wheelchair quilt count.  They're smaller, but count just the same and I can probably get them done faster than the nearly 2 years these took.  (Procrastination included!)

The dinosaur quilts are coming along.  (Sorry no photos yet.)  I quilted one of them last weekend and it took a bit longer than expected, so my original plan to quilt both didn't happen.  I plan to get the second one quilted this weekend and maybe get the dino "teeth" done, too.  I have till Christmas, right?  (Unless I really want to start that Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt...)

Off to work on something quilty!  The hubby worked last night, so I have the house to myself and know that when he gets up, we'll be off to do errands and then there's a pretty big-deal college football game on this evening where I'll need to root for my team!

Happy quilting!

Monday, October 20, 2014

the dino quilts

I've been slacking again.  I say that a lot.  Maybe I should just stop slacking?

Anyways, I got motivated this weekend and started working on the dinosaur quilts for my nephews.

First I made some dino tracks:

Some of you may know this block by it's lesser known name: Bear's Paw.

I made 72 of them.  Because to go around the panel, I needed 6 on two sides and 7 on the other two.  That adds up to 36, right?  So double that for 2 quilts and I need 72.

They're all made from my scraps.  I used up a lot of browns.  I'm okay with that.  I like brown in my quilts, but I also like buying new fabric for quilts, which is facilitated by using up scraps!

So I finished them and went to figure out where to place everybody, using my design floor (with much, much help from Lexie), and realized I had too many.

I used to be good at math.

(I already have an idea for the extras, so no worries!)

Then, the hubby had an allergic reaction to something and took two Benadryl.  And then a 5-hour nap.  He felt better when he woke up, but I sewed the whole time.  If he'd been up, I probably wouldn't have gotten anything done.

Here's a peek of one corner of one quilt.  I still need to do a black crackled print border and some dino teeth (prairie points set into the binding like a flange), but the hardest part is done.  I think.  I hope!  (Prairie points are new for me.)

I would give you a better photo, but it's getting dark already and starting to rain besides.  I promise a photo of the finished projects!

The backs will be dino prints - two different ones so the boys can tell them apart.

I haven't made any more doll quilts. Or finished sewing the binding down on the quilt that will be donated to the local VA hospital.  But I'm at least in the sewing room, and I am doing stuff that needs to be done.  (If I could just keep myself from starting new stuff...)

A part of my motivation is that Bonnie Hunter announced her color scheme for her mystery quilt.  Every year I think maybe I'll do it.  And then I see how much fabric it takes (which really isn't unreasonable).  And then I think about how little scraps I have in each color family and think I probably don't have enough.  And I talk myself right out of it.  And then I see the gorgeous, wonderful, amazing quilts that come out of it and kick myself.

This year, if I get both of the dinosaur quilts finished.  Like bound and labelled finished.  And if I get the VA quilt finished (it's due in just a few weeks).  And if I have enough fabric in my stash to pull it off.  Then I can do it.  But only if all those conditions are met.  Wish me luck!  (Because I need another project like I need a hole in the head!)

Time to go make myself some dinner.  The hubby is on second shift, so I'm not cooking real meals much, but it's okay.  I end up eating less and getting more done of my own stuff when he's not around in the evenings!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

charity quilting part 2

So earlier I mentioned about the doll quilts.

The 8 I was trying to get done before Thursday are done!

Turned in Thursday.

They're all sorts of sizes - just whatever fabrics I had.  Hopefully the dolls will also vary in size so the quilts will all be useful.  

This project started out as a bag of scraps my sister-in-law gave me a LONG time ago to be donated to my guild for charity stuff.  I'd previously donated a bag of her scraps and, at the time, I thought they were well-received, so I took the second bag.

But, before I'd remembered the bag (sitting upstairs) to take to donate, there was a comment made about how they'd finally gotten though all the "little bits" someone had donated previously.

This did not please me.  I've gotten "kits" cut by a gal in the guild who chops big pieces up into smaller pieces to create these "kits" for donation quilts.  The purpose of her doing this is to get us to the sewing part faster, hoping we can make a few more donation quilts than before.  And to coordinate stuff and make hopefully prettier quilts.

While I understand that having bigger pieces to work with is desirable, little pieces count as well.  And I knew the bag my sister-in-law had donated contained little pieces.  So I didn't donate the bag.  I waited.  I'm not sure for what, but I did.

I still had the bag when the gal in my guild mentioned about the doll quilts for the local charity a few weeks back.  So I lugged the trash bag (I'm not kidding) that was more than half-full to my weekend sewing Saturday and dumped it on the table and started sorting.  (THAT should have been a photo!)  Piles of fabrics that went together, piles of like colors, bigger pieces that could be backs into a pile...

...and blocks.  And so I started sewing.  Some needed just another row, others needed some math, but by the time Sunday was over (I opted to go back for a second day), I had 10 tops.  Yes, 10.

And then I came home.  The following Thursday, a bag of smaller batting pieces, left over from trimming off larger charity quilts, was offered up for "whatever" (not necessarily charity work) at our meeting.  I took it.  PERFECT for doll quilts, even if I had to piece some in there.

That weekend (was it just last weekend?  really?), my hubby was out of town for work, so I decided to get working on these.  First I went looking for a holiday flannel to go on the back of the last one in the line of photos.  In the meantime, I found enough flannel to back ALL 10 of the quilts.  And I still hadn't found the holiday flannel.  (I did find it an use it...eventually.)  My stash of flannel is greatly depleted, but that's okay.  I don't really like using it for much more than backs anyways.

Not huge pieces, but with a little piecing, good enough for backs.  But no way were these going to go on the longarm.  The amount of extra fabric needed for backs is ridiculous when you have a quilt this small, so it was off to the store to buy my first ever can of spray baste!

By Saturday evening, I'd basted 8 and quilted 7.  By Sunday evening, I'd basted, quilted and made and sewn down binding on all 8.  I only had the hand-sewing portion of binding to go.  And I even dug through my bag of leftover binding and diminished that in the process, too!

The quilting isn't great, as my "walking" foot has a bit of a limp when the shaft holding the foot on hangs up on a thick seam, but since these are likely to be used and abused, they don't need to be showpieces.

There is still a LOT of fabric in the bag, but it's sorted now and does look smaller, but I'm not sure if that's just my wishful thinking or not.  I'm sure there will be other rounds of projects to come from this, but I'm not sure if it will be this year.  I still have two that are a little larger (and backing I think that is large enough to use on the longarm) to finish, but they'll go to the local homeless and domestic abuse shelter, so there's a less demanding deadline for those.

And though I didn't donate the fabric, I AM using it for charity quilts - just a little different route and I'm not complaining about the little bits.  For projects like those above, they were often just what I needed!

But this weekend, I ended up going to a quilt show I hadn't planned on going to.  A last-minute decision on a rainy Saturday, and I found a dinosaur panel and now I'm sidetracked.  Though they had only kits for the quilt they'd made for the show, I made a little side trip on the way home to get two panels and some fabric for backing two quilts for two nephews for Christmas.  The link above also shows the quilt they'd put together for the booth and I decided I'd do something simpler with the panels.  And then my brain started working...I'm not sure if my idea is simpler, but I like it better.  I'll share it soon, but it includes "dinosaur teeth" and "dinosaur tracks"...

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

charity quilts part 1

I haven't been blogging much, but I HAVE been quilting!

After being shamed publicly about the rack of quilt tops hanging near my longarm by the gal who fed our cats while we were on vacation this summer (she didn't really shame me, but she gets all feisty when I say that, so I'm saying it!), I decided it was time to get something done.

I have backs for a lot of these.  I've bought longarm thread to go with these.  Why are they just sitting there?  (Because I'm still a tad afraid of my longarm...shhhhhh!)

(Actually I'm afraid of breaking my longarm and not being able to figure out how to fix it.  Not a good reason to not use it, I know.)

So I started at the "oldest" end and tried to do one a weekend.

I started with this froggy quilt I made using scraps from lounge pants I made for myself years ago.

I struggled with how to quilt it and then one morning the week leading up to my plan to quilt it, I realized I could do lily pads with little hops between them to mimic a frog jumping!  With a little doodling to practice, I was off and running.  It didn't take much time at all, but since it's a charity quilt, I wasn't fussing too much if it didn't look perfect.  (And anyone who knows me, knows that fussing for perfect rarely happens anyways...)

The following weekend, I was feeling pretty good, so I loaded this one.  Made from scraps from a baby quilt I made for a friend a few years back.

This one I did some not-so-hot doodley butterflies.  There might be one with just three wings in there, but I'm not saying...  But it was good practice (to learn what motifs I am NOT good at) and it's done.

These were donated in the name of my quilt guild to the local homeless and domestic abuse shelter.  They're baby sized (though perhaps a little generous in the opinion of some) and I hope they'll keep some unfortunate little ones warm this winter.

After that, there were two twin-ish sized tops hanging.  I've quilted both and bound one, but have not yet taken photos.  The first included the saga of the broken button and the second has less quilting due to the fear of another broken button...  Once I get the second bound, I will get photos and share.  These are destined for the local VA hospital and we donate around Veteran's Day, so I'd better get going.

Then there are a whole lineup of doll-sized quilts (varying in size) made from scraps.  I worked both days of my guild's sewing weekend on these and am trying to have all 8 of them finished-finished by our guild meeting Thursday night.  With just two left to hand-sew binding, I think I'll make it (if I ever stop typing!).   These will be donated to a local group that gives dolls with 3 outfits and a quilt to local kids.  Though I didn't know it when I asked, there is an older gal who had previously made a lot of quilts, but with her advanced age, has slowed down.  I hope these 8 (and perhaps more!) will help ease her burden.  I promise photos of those as well, once they're all done.

The projects for me have taken a back seat to these lately, but that's okay.  Sometimes getting things done and knowing it goes to a good cause is more important than my stuff.  Okay, probably more often than most of us want it to be.

I still have five quilts on the rack.  Some are for me, some are for others, but I'll share as they're finished.  (They're all tops you've seen, and though some are old, none are as old as the two you see above.)  But five is a vast improvement over what was there!

Time to go sew those last two bindings!

Happy quilting,