Saturday, July 25, 2015

Everyday Patchwork


Quilts by Cheri posted these blocks as a sew-along earlier this summer, and I got totally caught up in the fun. Easy, charming blocks... and only 25 of them. What's not to love?

While its not really my style to copy someone else, I have to admit I was heavily influenced by Cheri's color choices and lazily followed along with the color combos that she used in many of my blocks. I was not really in the mood for a lot of creative struggling, but just wanted to sew along and have fun. Besides... how can you go wrong with Cheri's choices? Look at her blog. Everything she does is wonderful!

Here are my blocks auditioning dusty blue as a setting and border. Not bad, but very similar to so many other quilts I've made, and some still in the works. I wanted something different.

I have to admit, the dull grays Cheri used to set her quilt really appealed to me. Alas, I had nothing in that palette. Well The Old Country Store must have been listening, the next thing you know I got an email announcing their sale on Marcus Fabrics Basics, Borders and Backgrounds - which include some nice dull grays and browns. I picked out a few pieces, and a couple days later I had the setting fabric for my blocks.

Here's my first try-out. Nice.. but kinda boring.

I got the idea of red cornerstones, and liked it much better. I also wanted my quilt to be rectangle rather than square, so I added several more blocks of my own.

Then I got this idea, which elongates it even more, and provides a little more visual interest.  But the side borders needed something. I thought I might do some big-stitch quilting in red ...

so I squiggled some red perle cotton down the side to see how it might look. Trouble is, you can't really see it unless your up close. It needed to be thicker. Like a vine, or a rope. Which would mean (insert groan) the "A" word. Applique. Which I avoid like the plague.

But I decided I really wanted to try the red rope idea, so I was determined to figure out how to do it. 

Fast forward ... I figured out how to make my rope, using some leftover bias binding from a few hundred projects ago. Its basted down for now, but I'm still not sure its exactly in the right position?

I may still add more of the darker border fabric on the sides, I don't know. Maybe just a charcoal binding will pull it all together. Still some playing to do.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Comfort Quilts

At my quilt retreat last month, among other things, I completed two lap size quit tops, intended for wounded vets at the Palo Alto VA.

However, when I got home I learned my neighbor three doors down was gravely ill and not expected to make it. As quickly as I could, I finished up the above quilt and gave it to him. I don't know if he really "saw" it, as he passed away the next morning. However his wife now has the quilt, loves it, and its a nice memory for her and represents good wishes and love toward her late husband. Rest in Peace, Elias Alonzo. He was a good man.

Then I learned that another neighbor around the corner had come down with Multiple Myloma (that's the disease Tom Brokaw has) and is going through chemo, which we all know is no picnic. I quickly finished up the second quilt, above, and took it over to him a few days ago. Amazingly, he felt good enough yesterday to walk over and thank me for the quilt! This one is backed in flannel, so its nice and comfy. He told me he loves it and uses it every day.

As many of you know, I've been making "vet" quilts for a number of years, in honor of my dad, now deceased, who fought in WWII. It makes me feel good to think I'm giving some small measure of comfort to these men and women who have come home from battle, broken physically, mentally or emotionally, or all of the above.  I will continue to do this as long as there is a need, which doesn't seem to be ending any time soon.

That said, it felt really good to give these particular quilts to men that I know personally, and am now eager to make a few more just to have on hand, "just in case".  I say that because in February we lost our young neighbor across the street to complications from alcohol and drug abuse. I had no idea he was as sick as he was, until hospice was called in a couple weeks before he passed. I was very fond of this young man would have loved to have laid a handmade quilt on him during his last days, but alas I had nothing to give him and the time was too short to make one from scratch.

So this is now on my agenda:  more comfort quilts! The idea would be to make the tops (which are easier to store) and finish them when the need arises, which can be done in a few days time.

I have always felt strongly that these simple quilts, though not complicated, should be as beautiful as any quilt I might make for myself, or for a friend. For in fact they will be given to friends, or friends of friends, and I take pride in what I make and what I give. The same goes for the "vet" quilts, which I feel should be just as special, for anything else would be an insult to these men and women who have given so much.

OK, time to go sew!