Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oklahoma Trip and Quilting Spree

My husband and I just returned from visiting our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in Oklahoma City. We'd delayed the trip a couple weeks because I was retiring from my engineering job on June 13th and needed to close out some work and train some successors. The delay was fortuitous though, since I got to be there at the same time as a quilt show where she displayed her entry titled Wizard of Oz – the Whole Story. I will save the full reveal of the quilt for her blog but here is my daughter, Robin, with my granddaughter, Autumn, standing before a sneak peak of one colorful portion of the completed quilt.

While visiting, Robin and I folded and tagged quilts donated by several guilds around the country. We sorted them by size and gender, beribboned them and labeled them with the Moore Love logo, and dropped them off at a daycare center for distribution to kids that had lost either a home or a family member to the May 20th tornado. My eight month old granddaughter was quite interested in helping.  Perhaps we have a future quilter in the making.

The raffle for the two quilts made and donated by the OKC Modern Quilt Guild was held while we were in OK.  An announcement on their June 22nd blog and an e-mail I received told me that one of the tickets drawn was mine and I had won one of the quilts! The beauty on the right is the one I got to take back home with me to California. I truly love the vivid colors and the quilting is remarkable.  Note the details of how there are maze-like rectangles stitched in the bright colors and swirls quilted in the light colors. The guild really did a stunning job.

My husband and I had flown out to Oklahoma with four suitcases, one each with our clothes and toiletries and two that contained random gifts - mostly baby toys, food treats, an afghan, and my Karate Kid Kwilt for the Moore Love Tornado quilt project discussed in my previous blog 2013_06_18.  On the trip back we nested suitcase #4 inside suitcase #3. There were over forty vendors at the show and I managed to fill the innermost suitcase #3 with fabric purchases and the Moore Love Quilt I won in the raffle. The suitcase duo weighed in at 39 lbs – all fabric and quilting related items. Here are my purchases from the show.

These are the fat quarters. Clockwise from upper left, I have a reason for picking each fabric from the four groupings. 1) Usually polka dots are bright colors so I got the subtle grey ones because they were unusual in my opinion. It is hard to tell from the picture but the shadows of those Wysocki-like trees are a gorgeous shade of lilac. 2) I have a collection of chicken fabric in bright yellow, red, white, and black that I bought when with a dear friend Linda in Pasadena.  These will add to that potential quilt-to-be. 3) Those brights in the lower right are destined for some happy baby and I love the saturated oranges. 4) Those cool blues and indigos in the lower left called to me as strong anchors in a mood quilt and those middle two mini-check and gingham were such a squirmy kind of green I can just picture them in a little boy's bug quilt.

These are the 1/2 yard cuts. I bought the stamped print on the far left because I thought it was unique and would add interest where some beige-toned block pieces are needed. I am always on the lookout for different stripe fabrics because I like to use them for my bindings. The three on the right are for future binding use. I like the way that hint of turquoise creeps into the grey plaid. It will go nicely on a quilt with a turquoise border.  The multi-colored stripe will have endless possibilities for use just because of its color variety. I can also see it as a fun insert between quilt and border. Isn't that swirly on the far right one fun? It is not as versatile since it is neither neutral nor multi-colored but, with the right patriotic-themed or seaside-scene quilt, it will be perky and cheerful.

These are the 1-yard cuts. The two Christmas greys on the far left are earmarked for a pair of pillowcases for my daughter and son-in-law. The pink cows will be a dress for my granddaughter. The airplanes are for a future baby boy quilt. The two on the far right are just because I liked them. The fabric on the far right was designed by a legally blind artist who works out of Santa Fe and uses large and strong-colored images because of his visual impairment. It just called to me. I plan to pair it with a pattern tuned for showcasing large print fabrics.

Paisleys are something folks either love or hate and I think they have great potential. I bought a set of 40 2 1/2 " strips that one vendor had custom combined from a fabric line of 16 mini-paisley designs. A quilt from them can be very busy in a country French provincial kind of way.  Or I may break up the set and use the low contrast ones as pseudo-solids. 

I did buy one kit, too, at the show... although I have too many already. It is a stripper style quilt for a baby and the cheerful colors and whimsy of the focal print at the top center of the photo were just too adorable to pass up.  I bought the backing fabric, shown at the bottom of the photo, separately at a quilt shop the next day.  Although at first it seemed like an unlikely candidate and came from a totally different fabric line, I love how it plays up the shape and colors of the bills on the toucans. The linen-print grey background goes great with the owl's plaid tummy, the mushroom stems, and the hedgehog faces.

I also bought two patterns, the one on the left for jelly roll use and the one on the right for a sundress for Autumn. Maybe that cow print will go into the PETAL dress & hat pattern. Maybe those paisleys will go into the Wrap It Up! pattern. And my daughter says the seam ripper up top is a great tool and that the knobby head is great for picking out those itty-bitty thread fragments when you need to rip out a line of stitching. I am ready to give it a try – but not eager to need to use it. Anyway, if I stop bloggin' I can start sewin'. After all, I am now a retiree.

It was a GOOD trip! ;•)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Karate Kid Kwilt

Wow! I cannot believe that my last blog entry was May 22nd, almost four weeks ago! A lot has happened since then. I turned 60 on May 26th and retired from my engineering job of 37 years on June 13th. These last several weeks have been jam packed with my focus on my job. I trained my successors, closed out projects as much as possible, cleared out my office, and filled out transitional paperwork. Now I am ready for the logical left side of my brain to take a back seat as I let the artistic right side drive for a while with my quilting and music interests. So on with the quilting!

As you may know, my daughter lives in Oklahoma City which was ravaged by the EF-5 tornado on Monday, May 20th and battered by extreme weather the following week. She, my son-in-law, and granddaughter are safe, their house relatively unscathed with only minor damage, but the swath cut by the tornado passed within three miles of my  granddaughter's daycare. Members of my daughter's quilt guild are rising to the occasion by making quilts to donate to those displaced by the tornado and by raffling off two quilts to raise money for the victims. Here is a link to the Oklahoma City Modern Quilt Guild's project  Donated quilts are due by June 30th. By donating to one of two charities you can also be entered in the drawing for the quilts the guild made.

In gathering these quilts for distribution my daughter pointed out something interesting.  Most of us quilters are women and we tend to buy fabric for our stash that appeals to us. When the call goes out for a charity gift quilt, we generally select fabrics we already have on hand in our stash. This results in a definite bias toward feminine quilts and a shortage of quilts for little boys. That being said, my first retirement project was to make a quilt for a little boy. Robin was so right. As I went through my stash, solely looking for male oriented fabrics, there were very few.

I came up with this fabric selection. The martial arts fabric was something I had picked up on a whim at a quilt expo show. It is a Kaufman print but I do not know how old.  I'd bought the stripe some other time just because I usually do stock stripes because I like them for quilt bindings. It is from the Moda Robotics line. I had only one yard of each. I liked the speckled paint fabrics and have had them for years in several color-ways. I wound up not using the red/white/blue speckle since it gave the quilt too patriotic a feel. I thought the lively green might play up the green leaf fronds in the focus fabric and was surprised how the speckle dots were so like the colors in the stripe. Seemed like it was meant to be. I used my very last bit of this cheery color in this quilt.

Since I had only a few days to make and FMQ this quilt in order to take it to Oklahoma with me when I visited, I needed to be decisive and pick a simple pattern. I happened to glance at the quilt themed calendar hanging in my sewing room, still set on May even though it was mid-June. I saw this quilt. The rectangles set either horizontally or vertically added interest and there were no triangles so it would assemble quickly with little waste. What caught my eye, though, was the upper and lower band treatment that made the quilt longer than wide. With my limited fabric this would work well since I could not make another row of blocks. I also gave me a perfect place to throw in that little shot of green speckle where the polka dots bands were in the calendar quilt photograph.

I got up early Saturday and cut out the rectangles from the Kaufman karate kid fabric and the bordering edges from the Moda Robotics stripe, cut cross grain. I wanted each block to be symmetric in its stripes though, so I was very careful to keep pairs of stripes together for four sets of four blocks.

Then, when the striped strips were sewn on, the blocks were not quite so busy looking as they would have been had the stripes been more random.

Saturday morning I got up early and was able to cut out and sew all sixteen blocks. Sunday morning I again got up early (... my sleep was crowded out by this quilt anyway...) so I could add the borders, make the binding, and spray baste the quilt. Later in the evening I began the free motion quilting.  I had to just do it and not waste time working up my courage. I did use a clear thread on the top and a matching thread color on the back though, since my stitch length is still pretty irregular. I did a stitch in the ditch around each rectangle and just kind of meandered around the karate kids and leaf fronds within each block. I chose not to quilt the stripes so they stand out a bit. I thought between every color would be too dense and not consistent spacing with the meandering within the rectangles. Anyway, the bamboo batting I used really only needs quilting every 8 inches or so. As a reference, the stripes finish at two inches wide. 

I also used the stripe for the binding. Due to time restriction, I sewed the binding on by machine instead of by hand. I have never completed a quilt from planning to final binding so quickly – Saturday morning to Monday morning.

I had no karate kid fabric left and this is what remains of the stripe. I had three yards of the backing fabric to start and I have just under half of it left.

The finished quilt measures 42" wide x 52" long. My husband asked what I was going to do for a label.  I said since this was an anonymous donation I did not plan to put one on. Then I wondered if I should label it anyway with at least the year and maybe my initials ...? What is the general practice in the quilting community? Any opinions?

If I do add the year and my initials I will tuck it away in a corner on the back, maybe along one of the paisleys, and use a low contrast thread color. I can do that by hand at my daughter's house.