Saturday, December 31, 2011

Heart Warming Sights

There are few sights that are as heart warming (for a quilter) as seeing your nephew cuddled up in a quilt that you made, while he reads a book from Santa.
(N.B. This quilt was a free pattern offered by Judy at Patchwork Times in 2009. The design is called "Freeze Frame", but I don't see it on the free patterns page right now)
And what else does a quilter love to see?
Lots of fabric cut up into small pieces and ready to sew back together into larger pieces to make a new quilt design. 
As you may have guessed, I have given into the excitement of starting 2 new mystery projects to bring in the new year (to see the links - click here). I plan to end 2011 by sewing, and then start 2012 with more sewing...that is as exciting as my life gets!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quilty Gifts

I forgot to post a photo of the quilt rack that I received for Christmas from my parents. It was made by Mr. Martin, a local carpenter, and it is the perfect size for showing/storing small quilts, wallhanging and tablerunners.
It would also be a great way to display quilt tops that are waiting to be finished. 
I just love it! 

I also got some quilt calendars, so I am giving this one away to one of my blog readers. If you want your name in the draw, leave a comment. The winner's name will be pulled tomorrow...New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mystery Temptation

There are two mystery projects coming up that I want to join in on, and I'm still in the middle of the Orca Bay mystery!
I know I said I wouldn't start anything new, but I am so tempted! 
First is the Fabricaholics Anonymous New Year's Eve mystery, which OK...I will admit, I may have already bought the fabric for it! 
And then there is the Planet Patchwork New Year's Day mystery, which I think I could make totally from my stash.
So much fun to be had...and new projects to start!
What do you think?  
Go big or go home?!?!?
Should I go for it and have a crazy, sewing blow out?
Or should I start the New Year with restraint and self control and work on a UFO?!?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Design Wall Monday #48

Since there are 52 weeks in the year and I have 48 design wall monday blog postings for 2011, which must mean I missed a couple along the way! I enjoy the practice of keeping track of what is in my sewing room by posting a design wall photo each Monday, and thank Judy for this inspiration, and for hosting a link up each Monday.
On the design wall today are my first blocks for Orca Bay mystery step #6.  
I am using Elaine's idea of putting the same fabric in the corners to calm the blocks down a bit.
And I am enjoying the relaxing pace of sewing something that doesn't have a Christmas deadline!
Here is my sewing for this afternoon...all the pieces cut and ready to make more star blocks.
I think this quilt is developing a soft and lacy feel to it and is a pleasure to sew.
To see what other quilters are sewing today, hop over to Patchwork Times and then stop by Quiltville for mystery quilt updates.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The unwrapping extravaganza is over...all the gifts are revealed, and the kids are playing and reading. Before I start cooking casseroles for the family supper, I thought I'd write a quick blog post about the homemade gifts I worked on this Christmas.
I made a pile of hot mats using up my Maxine fabric. 
The hot mat backings used the rest of my "Make Life" fabric. I love to use up my stash fabric, but at the same time feel so sad when a favorite fabric is GONE!  Sounds crazy, I know! 
And I used up tons of black strips for the bindings. I just sewed miles of strips together and cleared out the black scrap bin.

I also made some "pot pinchers" for my siblings using camping themed fabric. The pattern is thorough and well written, and although you wouldn't know it to look at them, they took me forever to make
Another thing I enjoyed creating was Christmas Cards. I didn't send out many this year, but wanted to try to make my own and just enjoy the process. It was great fun and made my annual card writing ritual a delight.

I hope you are enjoying a very Merry Christmas with your family today! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another Quilt Finished!

I cannot believe the pressure I sometimes put on myself to finish quilts. Deadlines are motivating, but there are times when I get crazy to finish a quilt, and it's usually at Christmas, which is already a stressful time full of deadlines!
I just finished the Quiltmaker mystery called "Secret Window"  which I started back in July. I am always surprised when a quilt is started and finished in the same calendar year!
I got my kids to hold up the quilt real quick before I wrapped it, so I didn't get a good photo of it but here is the finished quilt:
This quilt is made primarily from Sweetwater fabrics in the "Pure" line. I have loved every fabric line that Sweetwater has made so far (click here to go to their blog), and particularly like some of their prints that have inspiring words.
I must say that I made "record time" in piecing a simple backing and wondered why I usually grumble about that step of the process???! 
This is a photo of the back of the quilt. I quilted a simple horizontal/vertical grid, then some stars in the 12 brown star blocks, and finished with the feathered border.
The quilt turned out better than I thought it might have at various points in the mystery (read this blog post for more details on that). 
This lovely striped binding was stitched down by hand, while I filled it full of healing thoughts and loving wishes for the client who will be receiving it.
And here is the pile of presents all ready for Santa to deliver to her...the quilt is the gift on the top with the silver bow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Draw winners and a mini disaster

Do you actually use your quilts?
I really do...I want them used, and loved, and worn to rags. I don't want them sitting in a cupboard to be in pristine condition 100 years from now.
But when you use your quilts, you sometimes have disasters!
This week I had some friends over for a party, and my Hunter Star tabletopper was being used on the table. It looked lovely and I was happy to enjoy it, until the red sauce got in the bowl turned upside down on the quilt...yikes! But I am happy to tell you that I washed it right away and there was no stain remaining, so all is well! Use your quilts!
And speaking of Hunter Star, I forgot to announce the winners of my draw from the Quilting Gallery blog hop are...drum roll please...
Linda from Bumbleknit is the winner of the Hunter's star ruler and the winner of the magazine, charm pack, fabric, pattern is Jocelyn of the Happy Cottage Quilter blog. Congratulations and thanks for reading my blog. I hope the gifts arrive in time to be under your tree on Christmas morning!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 UFO Challenge Year End Report

I am amazed and delighted with how much the UFO challenge has helped me to stay on track with finishing some quilts in 2011! From the original 12 projects I listed on my UFO list blog post at the end of 2010, I have completely finished 10 quilts and here they are...
One quilt is missing from the photo since I have given it away. I am still hoping to have 1 more finished quilt by the end of 2011, but am not putting any pressure on myself to do so at this busy time of year.
I did not change any of the quilts on the list from my original UFO post, but did switch around the numbers, usually based on the availability of the backing/binding fabrics.
I have also finished 8 quilts this year that were not on my UFO list - 2 baby quilts, 2 minis, 2 table runner size and 2 bed quilts. That means almost 20 completed projects for 2011!
However, being committed to UFO completions, does not mean I didn't start new projects! I am embarrassed to admit that according to a review of my blog, I started 20 new projects this year, which are currently in various stages of completion. I guess that makes me "even"...same number getting started as getting finished!! It is a better situation than in previous years, but I am still not meeting my goal to reduce the overall number of projects I have on the go.
For the 2012 UFO list I forced myself to include 4 "golden oldies" which predate my blog and were dug out from the back of the UFO closet (at least 10 years old+) so there are no photos to show of those projects yet. And I am sprinkling in some of my more newly created UFO's that I really like to help keep me motivated. 
Drum roll's the list:

1 - RRCB (currently a pile of blocks -needs setting, borders and quilting)
2 - BeAttitudes (needs borders and quilting)
3 - Blue/Green Hip Baby (a pile of blocks - needs construction and quilting)
4 - flannel scraps (a box of scraps - needs construction and quilting)
5 - batik cats (borders and quilting)
6 - gold/blue stars (just needs quilting)
7 - brown/green sunflower mystery (unfinished top)
8 - wild primary colours mystery (unfinished top)
9 - letter quilt along (needs quilting)
10 - D4P muted colours (needs quilting)
11 - layer cake blocks (needs quilting)
12 - guild plaid split 9 patch (needs borders and quilting)

I will also maintain my top 5 W.I.P. (works in progress) wish list on the right hand side of my blog for the longer term projects that I don't want to lose sight of, but which will take longer than a month to finish.
To see other people's UFO reports, check out Patchwork Times.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Design Wall Monday #47

On my design wall this week is my Grinch quilt in development.
I have framed the blocks and am now thinking about sashing and layout possibilities. It looks a bit too red and green, so I plan to add in more white for sashings. It will be as big as the fabric I have purchased will allow it to's that for precise planning and calculated decisions!?!?!
This project is just for fun and will be a quilt that I keep, so I have decided to put it away where it won't tempt me to work on it...I have some Christmas projects that need to be finished up this week. 
To see what other quilters are working on today, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FNSI Report

It turned out to be a great FNSI! I ended up with two guests to entertain me while I sewed...and they even sewed a bit too! These are some of the projects that were worked on by my talented visitors!

I worked on some Christmas gifts - sewed a few little fabric bags (for hand warmers)  using some of the grinch fabric.

I made a prototype Maxine potholder, and hated how the binding turned out (by machine). It might be less offensive with black thread, but I just prefer the look of hand binding, so I'll probably make the rest by hand.
I also cut up my Grinch panel and started to border the blocks. I am getting lots of ideas for the layout of this quilt and look forward to more time to work on my Grinch quilt over the holidays.

I had been saving this bottle of strawberry rhubarb wine (which I bought in Vermont back in June) for a special occasion. And spending time with friends who love you is as special an occasion as a person can have! We enjoyed the wine, the conversation, and the sewing... but there was less and less sewing as the evening wore on!
The next Friday Night Sew-In will likely be January 20, 2012, so mark your calendars and come on over to sew!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

Handmade by HeidiI just remembered it's "Friday Night Sew-In"! There are over 130 quilters registered for the Sew-In and a lot of Christmas gifts will be made tonight...Santa will be happy!
That means a whole evening set aside for Christmas sewing....yippee!! Supper is in the crock pot and both of my kids are working tonight, AND bonus of all bonuses, my friend Barb is joining me for the festivities! 
I plan to work with my Grinch fabrics and make a Christmas quilt, of an undetermined nature! Which means I have the fabric and a desire to make a quilt, but no plan or pattern to follow, and am waiting for inspiration to arrive! 
I have always loved the story of the Grinch, and love both movie versions. It has even more special meaning for me this year and I can't wait to play with my Grinchy fabrics. Enjoy singing along...I'm sure you know all the words too!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Gift Giving Obsession

Every once in a while I become overwhelmed with thoughts of making a quilt for someone. Two years ago I finished a quilt for a Christmas gift for a teenage client (click here to see that quilt) and last year I finished 2 quilts for my sisters-in-law, and one for my Aunt (click here to see them). And it's happened again this year! I have learned to trust my intuition, and when an idea doesn't let me go, I follow it.
Last week I was just so touched by one of the client stories I heard, that I just couldn't shake the impulse to finish a quilt for her (and all the stories I hear every day are awful, so you can just imagine...) 
So after some thought, and trying to make this idea go away ("it's Christmas" and "I'm too busy") this it the quilt that demanded to be the one to be gifted.
I showed the blocks on this design wall posting in October and hadn't worked on it since. Why, oh why couldn't THE quilt be one that already had borders on, or was nearing completion?!?!?  NOPE...had to put the Christmas elf into overdrive to get the blocks together and the borders on. 
There was enough leftover fabric to add to a piece of yardage to make an easy backing, and the pin basting is already done. 
Now for the quilting... 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Design Wall Monday #46 - Paperweights

Wow...did that week go by faster than usual?! I can't believe it already time for the Monday Design Wall posting. When I was working on a ruthless clean up in my sewing room, I found these blocks, in various stages of construction. They kept calling to me until I gave in and started sewing them. I was annoyed by this distraction because I was supposed to be cleaning up, and because I have so much Christmas sewing to do!
But I enjoyed the sewing so much I got all the blocks sewn into a quilt top! This is a pattern called Labyrinth by Blue Underground Studios, which I started at quilt retreat in February. I wasn't feeling the love for it then, but I love it now! I need to buy some border fabric, and wonder if I can still buy the Paperweights fabric line anymore?
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see some more design wall posts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

FNSI and Orca Bay Report

It was a lovely relaxing Friday Night Sew-In. The kids were both away, and I indulged in a few of my favorite things. 
I did some hand stitching on my Journey of a Quilter project. My goal is to finish the stitching on these blocks in 2011. I have been working on this quilt for 4 years and really wanted my last "design wall posting" of this year to be the finished blocks for this quilt. I'm sure I will make it!
I watched a few Christmas specials on TV, and enjoyed some beverages (the photo shows a coffee with the time the martinis started there were no additional photos taken!) I did some cutting for more civil war blocks, but don't have any finished blocks to show yet.
I also finished the next step for the Orca Bay mystery, all the while congratulating myself on the 2 decisions I made to make this project more manageable...1) to make half of all the blocks required (and a smaller sized quilt) and 2) to replace all the string blocks with chunks of fabric (so much quicker for this busy time of year).
The art quote on the right hand side of my blog today says:
"Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral" 
Frank Lloyd Wright. 
I think I am sewing a chicken house, but am delighted with it!
If you want some inspiration, hop over to the FNSI list and see what 160 other quilters around the world worked on last night, and then go to Quiltville to see how other mystery quilts are progressing.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Blog Hop Party

Blog Hop PartyIt's the 4th birthday of the Quilting Gallery, and to celebrate they are hosting a quilter's blog hop party...what could be better?!? Make a big mug of peppermint hot chocolate and visit as many of the blogs as you have time for, and enter to win all the great giveaways! There are over 200 bloggers at the party from 20 countries and the list will be posted on Saturday...what fun!
If you are a party hopper who is new to my blog, "welcome" and I hope you'll come back and visit anytime! 
I have a couple of giveaways for the party...

I bought myself a copy of the new 100 blocks magazine and bought an extra copy for one of my blog readers. And I'm adding in a long fat quarter of the green Nancy Halvorsen, a Benartex "Tidings" charm pack, and an adorable Bareroots stitchery pattern.

The second giveaway is a Rapid Fire Hunter Star ruler and instruction book (quilt not included!) I enjoyed using this ruler and finished my quilt last month - click here to see it. I was dreaming of making a scrappy version of the pattern, however while working my 2012 UFO list I realized that I won't have time to make this quilt in my lifetime! So you might as well add it to your "to do" list!  The instruction booklet is excellent, and gives lots of creative ideas.
Let me know in your comment which giveaway you would prefer and giveaway winners will be randomly drawn on Dec. 17th...enjoy the hop!

Friday Night Sew-In

It's Friday Night Sew-In again! This is my second time to participate in this event and I have been looking forward it all week!
Handmade by HeidiAs I hopped through the blogs following my first  Friday Night Sew-In, I found many bloggers writing that they were disappointed with their accomplishments. Several times I was compelled to leave comments saying "every stitch counts" - and it does. 
Why is it that we set aside a lovely evening of sewing and at the end, feel disappointment, instead of thankfulness and pride?!? I'm going to work on that tonight!
I also learned from hopping around the blogs that I was sorely lacking in the refreshment department! Clearly I need to think about that to make this FNSI more of a success!
My plan is to enjoy sewing some civil war blocks, and maybe work on some borders for my December UFO. But I might also try making some Christmas gifts while I watch "The Grinch"...and remind myself not to let the Grinch steal my Christmas spirit! I will remember to feel thankful and know that every stitch counts!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Design Wall Monday #45

I am already working on my December UFO...I'm getting an early start this month so the rest of the month can be dedicated to Christmas sewing (and shopping, and wrapping, and baking, and visiting).
This UFO is so old (at least 10+ years sitting in the cupboard) that there is no photo/record of it on my blog. 
I have just sewn the rows together and as I was sewing, I was remembering how much fun I had searching out the house/construction fabrics many years ago. There are bricks, stones, straw, and all kinds of textured prints that made me think of different kinds of houses. 
I also had fun making each sashing strip between the houses from a different "street fabric". 
As it sits on my design wall today I am pondering border options...any ideas? More 9 patch blocks? I'm not sure I have any of the original fabrics, but can find something that will work.
To see other design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Orca Bay Mystery

I am up to date with Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay mystery! I am only making half of the required blocks so that I can still play along and make a smaller version of her quilt. 
Here you see:
step #1 - 112 QST's,
step #2 - 36 squares (no string piecing for me at this time of year!) and 
step #3 - 175 HST's.

This is the first time I have made a mystery quilt with new fabrics from a single line (you can read about my fabrics here) and I am excited about how it might turn out. I am looking forward to sewing some of the red fabric...maybe this week's clue?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

November UFO Report

Did you happen to see that I announced a finished project this week, so that the news that I hadn't yet finished my November UFO wouldn't be as noticeable?!? You didn't even notice, did you, so why did I even bring it up!?! LOL
I pieced the scrappy backing early in the month, and then the project sat and waited.

I got the border sewn on mid November and slowly pin basted at the pace of a snail. Part of the lack of motivation was that the light on my sewing machine burned out, so it was impossible to machine quilt until that was replaced. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
I quilted a very boring stitch in the ditch grid, and then some feather quilting on the border. But there was a lot of "pleating" going on, which resulted in a) the frequent use of the stitch ripper and b) a much later than anticipated finish
However...a finished quilt is a finished quilt, and I am happy to announce it's finally done, even if it's a bit past the November deadline! These are half of the blocks from Quiltville's Carolina Christmas from 2009 (pattern not available)...the blocks are called "fox and geese".  I know I also sewed the pointsettia star blocks for this mystery, but can't locate them. I guess they will become their own quilt when they are found!
And here is the finished quilt...
being modeled by 2 of the students in my feather quilting class today. 
These quilters did a great job with their feathers (better than I did on the border of this UFO!)
To see more finished UFO's, hop over to Patchwork Times.