Friday 25 June 2021

The Solid Rock

Under ordinary circumstances, I try to coordinate the backing and the pantograph with the quilt top. But this, this is no ordinary circumstance. 

What can you do, what can you say when you find out that a young friend has been taken advantage of sexually by a pastor she knew and trusted? And it devastated her to the point where she attempted suicide. And I knew him as well, at least I thought I did. I ate in his home, I laughed with him, shared with him and prayed with him. But I guess none of us really knew him. My feelings ranged from being dumbfounded, to murderous rage, to heart-rending grief. And what do you do with those impotent emotions? 

Quilting has long been my creative outlet - for stress, anxiety, depression and compassion. It started as just a hobby, but has become almost an obsession because I can use it to work out toxic emotions and frustrations. For me, when the going gets tough, the tough get quilting. I have made quilts for people who have lost a loved one, for people experiencing health challenges. But this is the first time I have made a quilt for such a reason. So, this quilt is rather unique. 

First, I found out that the young lady's favourite colour is dark turquoise. Well, I had plenty of leftovers from Audacious (and still do), which includes dark turquoise. I had picked up a second panel with Bible texts/inspirational thoughts and I wanted to include something from there in this quilt. So, I had to find a pattern that I could fit it into, preferably one that would work up quickly. 

I turned to my vast library and came up with the book, Supersize 'Em by Debby Kratovil. I decided to use the Starry Starry Brights pattern, because I could fit the panel in the middle. I had to use partial seams to do it, but those are a lot easier than Y-seams! I eliminated the final border because I just wanted a throw size quilt and with this border, it would have been bigger than I wanted. 

I had to decide which Bible verse I wanted to include and had narrowed my choice down to "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10, and "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13. I finally settled on Philippians 4:13 because I wanted to give her courage that, with Christ in her life, she can get through anything. 

I had plenty of the Stonehenge Solstice fabric, but no pieces big enough to make a backing. And as I pondered this quilt, I thought about the fact that this young lady is still a teenager, and decided that it needed a backing that would liven it up. The Stonehenge fabric is beautiful, but it is rather solemn. So, I found this. 

There was some of the same fabric in a dark turquoise, but not enough for backing. This one still has dark turquoise in it and it's very cheerful. I had a hard time convincing myself to use this as a backing fabric because it really doesn't coordinate with the quilt top. But the goal was liveliness and cheerfulness, and I decided to go with it.
Then I had to decide on a pantograph. What would coordinate with both the top and backing? Nothing! I could have chosen a nondescript feather or swirl or paisley. But this young lady is entering nursing school this fall and I do want to let her know that she still has a life and a future and not to lose sight of her goals. So, I went with Lady with the Lamp
You can see the nursing cap in this picture, plus part of an ECG tracing (above and below the nursing cap to the right) and the end of a stethoscope on the left. Also included are bandaids and needles/syringes. A fun pantograph by Dave Hudson from Urban Elementz. I love how the nursing cap ended up right in the centre of the quilt. Even though we don't wear caps any more. 
Finally, I had to come up with a name for this quilt. Starry Starry Brights didn't work because the quilt top really isn't bright. A lot of the Stonehenge fabric has stone-like texture, so I played around with that a bit, and came up with The Solid Rock. There are many Bible texts and hymns that liken Jesus to a solid rock, and I wanted my young friend to remember that Jesus can be depended on, He never fails. And, of course, there's this hymn. 


Sunday 20 June 2021

Farm Friendship

Another signature quilt for a colleague that's retiring. This time it's a unit clerk on acute care. And I surely will miss her. She's a great unit clerk, as well as a wonderful person. But I wish her well. She's also a quilter. She makes rag quilts out of flannel, and makes one for each acute care nurse that retires. So, I definitely could not let her retire without receiving a quilt of her own, though I'm not planning on taking up her mantle and start making quilts for the retiring acute care nurses. Technically, I'm part of the home care team and will spend enough time and money making quilts for my team, in addition for all of my other projects. 
I find it interesting when I start out making a quilt for someone, and decide I like it too well and plan to keep it. So, I have to come up with another quilt to gift to the individual, and end up producing something that I think will suit them even better. That happened with Amazing Grace, and it happened with this one. Originally, I was going to give the recipient Fiesta, and I think anyone would be happy with that one. I certainly am. And then I started on this one. And I found out how much she likes horses. So, this quilt is perfect. 
I have several of this panel, and am in the process of using another one for a quilt for one of my great nieces. But for this one, I had to decide what to surround the panel with that would work for signatures. I wanted something that would work up relatively quickly. Then I found this MSQC video. 
Yes, I could make the Friendship Braid work, using solid cream coloured fabric as alternate strips for the signatures. And for the print strips, since this panel is an autumn scene, I was able to use leftovers from my daughter's quilt. I didn't quite have enough, but did have enough of the black print that I used for the binding as well as some of the setting triangles and some strips. 
Here's the backing: 
I really love it when I can coordinate a quilt so well, including the pantograph. 
This is Wild Horses Grande by Deb Geissler from Urban Elementz. I debated on this one versus Mustang Stampede from Meadow Lyon, and this one won out (they've changed Mustang Stampede, by the way - the one in the link is the newer version, which I don't like quite as well, and it's 15" so would be about the limit of my throat space).
Now I have to try and keep this quilt a secret while gathering signatures.
By the way, in case you can't read it, the backing says, "Count Your Blessings" and "Be Grateful for All Things". Isn't that a great message? Every time I worked with it, I started singing. 


Wednesday 16 June 2021

Tulip the Decepticon and Other Quilt Blocks


I honestly did not set out to make a quilt block that looks like a Transformer. It's actually supposed to be a tulip. A Tennessee Tulip, to be precise. But my choice of fabrics for this Sew Along resulted in this block looking more like a Transformer than a tulip. 
See what I mean? I have therefore nicknamed this block Tulip the Decepticon. It's Brackman 785.7, if you know what that means. Brackman, as in Barbara Brackman, the author of the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. I finally own my own copy, the newest third edition, just out last year. As someone who loves trying new blocks, this comprehensive volume has been on my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. But then I found out that Electric Quilt was bringing out a new edition. Why pay $150 for a used second edition when I can get a brand new third edition for far less than that? Yay! In addition, they also brought out an updated version of the BlockBase software, Blockbase+. Double yay! So, instead of drafting the blocks myself from 2" line drawings, I have software that will print out rotary cutting instructions, foundation pieces and/or templates in whatever size block I want. That makes me a very happy quilter!
And then I found out that Electric Quilt was having a sew along to teach participants how to use the BlockBase+ software. What better way to learn the software that learning by doing? So, I joined in. 
This are the fabrics I chose for the project. And here's the first block, Brackman 1273. 
Since some blocks have many names, and some names refer to several different blocks, Barbara Brackman assigned each block a number. That way it's much easier to keep track of which block is being referred to. 
But before I started this sew along, Bernina started an Old Block Quilt Along. I don't usually join in on these things because I generally have more than enough projects on the go. But I love old, traditional blocks, and I love trying new blocks. Besides, at the end of the year, I could win a Bernina! What's not to love about that? Owning a newer Janome, and a Brother (plus my vintage Singer...), I figured I would give the Bernina to my daughter if I won it. She just had a cheaper Singer, but then she told me that she bought herself a heavy duty Singer, plus she will someday get my mother's Janome, which is currently in my possession, and I figured I will keep the Bernina if I win it. I can't have my daughter owning more sewing machines than me. LOL! 
So, here are the fabrics I purchased to use in the Bernina project: 
These fabrics are stunning and I think I could make the ugliest quilt blocks around and people would still love them just because of how beautiful the fabrics are. 
Here's the first block, Brides Bouquet. 
By the time I made up my mind to join these projects and purchased the fabric, I had some catching up to do. 
Quilter's Delight

Bird's Nest, which I christened Rat's Nest, because it was such a mess. Still people loved the block just because the fabric is so pretty. 

Cross and Star. So, having caught up on the Bernina project, I then had to catch up on the BlockBase+ one. 

Brackman 2898

Brackman 1638

The Bernina Quilt Along is one or two blocks a month over a year, for a total of 20 blocks (I think) and the quilt will be a maximum of 60"x80". The blocks are different sizes, so it will be interesting to see how they are all arranged together. 
The BlockBase+ Sew Along, on the other hand, has only 8 blocks, one block every 2 weeks. The participants can chose what size to make the blocks. I chose a uniform 12" for all of the blocks and decided to add more blocks to make it at least a throw size. 

Brackman 1232, one of my own additions. There are some incredibly challenging quilt blocks in this book. 

Morning Star. Still having to keep up with the Bernina project. 

Brackman 2328, another one of my additions. I messed this one up because it should have had two of the solid purple triangles on the top and bottom, and two of the print triangles on the sides, instead of one of each on all four sides. But with all of those bias edges, I didn't really want to start ripping out seams. And I really wasn't that happy with my choice to use all purple fabrics. 

Brackman 3953. This one used a combination of foundation paper piecing, regular piecing and applique. And I think it's a truly amazing block. I likely would have never attempted some of these more challenging blocks if I didn't have BlockBase+, but this is one I chose to include. 

Mill and Stars. For the Bernina Quilt Along, my goal is to use some of all 7 of the fabrics (6 coloured fabrics, plus the grey texture for background) in each block. (The 8th fabric in the picture, the border print, is for the backing). This makes it challenging to keep it from looking like a "rat's nest" because the fabrics are rather busy. But I'm hoping I learned from the Bird's Nest block.
Brackman 2734. For the BlockBase+ Sew Along, I chose not to use all of the fabrics in each block, generally following the guidelines for the number of fabric choices by the number of colours in the book and software. 

Because I got started on making some of the most challenging quilt blocks in Brackman's Encyclopedia, I asked in a Facebook Quilting group for recommendations on what they considered challenging quilt blocks. Someone recommended Brackman 3806.5. This one has 8 mini stars, each less than 2 inches square, as part of the design, including 8 tiny Y-seams! There is no way to make these stars using foundation paper piecing. I tried using the templates, but the pieces are so small that it's virtually impossible to stitch on a sewing machine. Hand stitching? Not my forte. And then I thought of English paper piecing. Yes, it's still hand stitching, but the cardstock would give a little more structure to the pieces while being stitched. So, the above picture is the first of the mini stars. Far from perfect, but still recognizable as a star. You'll have to watch this blog to see if I actually end up completing this block. 
Meanwhile, I've got several quilts that are works in progress and I want to get them finished, so I'll get to those projects and put these blocks on the back burner for now.