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I’m not late for Christmas, I’m early!

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At long (long) last, my Christmas scrap quilt is finished!20170220_151555 The original intention of this quilt was to use up all my Christmas fabrics so I could be done with them once and for all, as I was tiring of seeing the same Christmas fabrics in my stash year after year. Well, that sounds reasonable, but of course I did end up buying additional Christmas fabrics and not even using up all of what I already had. The thing with Christmas is you’ve got red and green, but which red? which green? In this case I have a forest green as my main shade. The reds lean to the orange-red.
There are plenty of novelty prints, and lots of fussy cutting. I chose my old standby favorite-subway tile. Uniform width, but just random lengths of the strips.
The main body of this quilt was finished before school started, with the thought that it only needed a couple more days of work. Oh, silly me. I ended up putting an extra floating piano key border on it, and then with my finished top, continued to just put it off. The backing needed to be pieced together and it took me a while to decide what to do (blah blah blah.) I’m pretty pleased with the back. The main part is an adorable Mary Englebreit fabric that was handed down to me from someone cleaning out her stash. I made the corners and sides symmetrical.

Christmas Scrap Quilt-done!This quilt was a wee bit too big for my machine to quilt, and I really didn’t want to hand quilt. I opted for tying it, figuring it went along with the cozy charming feel of it. I did tie the knots in a very uniform way-in the middle of every strip, evenly spaced.

Sometime before Christmas Paul took himself to Joann Fabrics with a giant coupon and sale and bought lots of Christmas fabric. I loved one of them very much and wanted it for my binding. Last weekend was the annual Midwinter Stitchathon and I decided to buckle down and finish this thing once and for all. I stitched and stitched through Step Up and The Cutting Edge and got 3/4 of the way done. A couple of days later I finished-hooray!

I had grand plans to applique a tree on the back and the tree would have my name and date. But you know what? I really just wanted this done. So I took it outside for photographs even before the basting safety pins were taken out.Christmas Scrap Quilt-done!Then I brought it in, took the pins out, and just embroidered my initials and the year. I had noticed, to my dismay, that a few of the knots had come out already. (WHAT?!) I grabbed some embroidery floss that is green, but not the same shade as what was used throughout, and just tied it up. And then I decided that it was a bad decision to not have tied or quilted around the border and I machine stitched along intervals of the piano keys. And now I can finally say it is truly done.
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I really love the look of this-it’s cheery, Christmassy, has lots of fun fabrics to look at, and is big enough to snuggle under while watching Elf or Arthur Christmas. I’m looking forward to pulling it out the day after Thanksgiving and enjoying it all season!img_7635

And, Liesl approved:

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Boo!

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I woke up this morning thinking about my annual end of year post and thinking about the year in sewing. I realized I had one day left to finish off that Halloween quilt and count it done in 2015. All that’s been left to do for over a month has been the binding and label applique. A not too onerous task, and I meant to do it while watching Christmas shows, but somehow the month got away from me. I’m pleased to say I can now count it done!
Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsThis Halloween quilt was made from a bundle of fabric I received last Christmas. It is Spooktacular by Maude Asbury. I love the shades of orange and the whimsical and clever illustrations.  I wondered how best to preserve these prints and make something fun and lovely.  I came up with the idea of squares pieced together to form a large overall jack o’lantern.  Here’s the pattern I made for myself: Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
I drew a picture of a jack o’lantern on graph paper and got to calculating.  The eyes were the most difficult to figure out and I did make an error. Stylistically I wished I had made them bigger (which, ironically, would have eliminated my calculations difficulties), but I didn’t have the spare fabric to redo this section.  [This is the point where you give yourself a reality check, too. This wasn’t a wall hanging, intended to cuddle under during chilly Octobers. No one was going to nitpick over this on their lap.] I cut and sorted the fabrics into 3 1/2″ squares that were predominantly black or orange. The “orange” pieces do have black in them, and of course the overall design isn’t as easy to see as it would be if I was using solids, but I think you can see the design and I’m charmed by the prints.
Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js  I decided to frame it out with the grey corner pieces (like picture corners), and then a wide black border.  A dark orange would be the binding. Both the binding and border fabrics were purchased after the center was pieced and are not from the Spooktacular collection.  For the backing I ordered a couple yards of the grey spiderweb design from the collection. Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsFor the machine quilting I opted to do concentric squares. And because I wanted to keep the stitching lines very geometric I did a sawtooth around the border (thanks to Mom for that inspiration because I couldn’t quite figure that idea out.) I used black thread on my spool so that you’d see the lines right across the squares of orange and black, Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsbut put grey in the bobbin so you wouldn’t see the thread on the back. I was really pleased with how the quilting on the back looked-it enhanced the spiderweb design.IMG_5406 Overall I am very pleased with how this turned out! I think it will be so much fun to put out in the fall. For my label on the back I embroidered on one of the bottles from the large print, cut it out, and appliqued it on.Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsHappy Halloween! and, a Happy New Year to you! May your 2016 find you time to enjoy the creative and beautiful things in life. Spooktacular finished!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

 

A Quilt for Lyndsey

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My latest quilt has been finished, shipped, and received so I can go ahead and write about it now.
Red subway tile scrap quilt finished!  I love how this came out so much more than I thought I would (I was apprehensive about using reds).

The Red Quilt
This one was a gift for my cousin’s daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia this spring. They live far away so I can’t  go cook them a meal, but I can make a quilt, so I knew that’s what I wanted to do. You might recall that when my friend Megan was diagnosed with cancer I also made her a quilt. It just seems like there are so many hours one might spend on a couch, in a chair, getting chemo, tired, or whatnot, that a special quilt to wrap up in would be comforting to have.  The quilt I made for Megan was, in fact, the one that got me interested in making rectangular patchwork-a subway tile quilt.  Hers was shades of purple and green, then I went on to make one for us that was autumn themed. I love the idea of just having main color theme for this style so I asked her favorite color and was told red. Now, I have to admit that gave me pause. Red is not a color I tend to think of blending easily among the various shades of red, I also wondered if I even had enough scraps in my collection. But then I thought of that one square of the scrappy prism quilt and I thought that it could be done. It would need whites in with it, but what else? Red,white, and blue is too patriotic, and red and green, too Christmassy. But when I sorted through my red fabrics I was pleased to find that I had several that were red and blue, but the blue was turquoise. There it was then, red prints with pops of turquoise. I did buy some fabric to supplement (and for the backing), but was very happy to find I had ever so many prints that would fit in with the colors scheme and style. And, in true scrap patchwork fashion, I was able to fussy cut some special prints, and also include some fabrics that came from special past projects. Plus, you know I like a bit of fun finds for the eye.  So there’s the Indian inspired elephant from the kimono I made for Mary Lynn, a little car, some novelty newsprint, the beautiful turquoise with sailboats, and one little piece of yellow, with red-hatted gnomes.
The Red Quilt

The Red Quilt
I also asked my sewing friends for some of their red pieces, so their good wishes are sewn into this too.
The backing is a nice dotted turquoise with a band of red and an appliqued heart, where I did my embroidering of inscription and date.
The Red Quilt

quilter's signature
The binding is pieced with a few of the main reds, plus one section of the turquoise on each of the four sides.  It is machine quilted in straight lines on either side of the long horizontal seams.
red quiltThe strips are 3″ wide, with a few rows being 2 1/2″ wide (because I used some jellyroll pieces) and variable length. I laid everything out on the floor, and then picked up and sewed each row. Of course after I finally had it all laid out in a pleasing array I went to fetch my camera to take a photo for reference and while out of the room heard a happy meow, and came back in to find a wicked cat had leapt into it, leaving this:
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I ended up rearranging a lot and got an even better arrangement. So thanks, wicked kitty! (who was then barricaded out)
I enjoyed making this so much, and the result, that I swear I just want to make a series of main color scrap quilts.

My cousin has two daughters and my mom thought it would be nice for her to make a quilt for Lyndsey’s sister. She made a beautiful whimsical quilt that features all different appliqued birds all over it with a worm at the bottom. Every bird is different with a separate beak, wing, and legs. I loved her variety of fun fabriks (a lot of batik), and the flannel backing. And she finished this labor intensive beauty much faster than I did mine!! How does she do it?
Mom's Quilt
Girls, we send you lots of love and quilty hugs! Love, Cousin Sarah and Aunt Joan
Mom and I, with our quilts

The Scrappy Prism Quilt-Finished!

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Scrappy Prism Quilt
It’s done! I’m so excited! Clark and Paul both asked me why I was so especially excited about this one, what makes it different from other quilts. Good question. I guess the main thing is that it’s hand quilted and the others I’ve done have been machine quilted.  Once I got into the groove (a full year later) I really enjoyed the process of the quilting and I love how it looks. It is definitely a different look than machine quilting-stitches are larger and farther apart (though I don’t think they are too big)- and I like knowing I did every one.  Also, I like the design I chose to quilt and the diamond panes that form the border. It also puffs up nicely. Around the center dresden plate are radiating lines, as well as an outline of the plate.  The color blocks are tied with coordinating thread to keep them secure. (Apparently I cut a lot of the strings too close because I noticed several threads then came right off the back.)

This quilt started all because I wanted to make crazy scrap blocks with weird angles and pieces. In fall 2013 I delved into my fabrics and pulled out all the scraps of red and just began crazily sewing them together and rotary cutting straight edges.
let the Scrappy Prism Quilt begin!
It was a happy afternoon and quickly conceived of the idea of somehow putting them in a quilt and making red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple blocks.
let the Scrappy Prism Quilt begin!
After admiring my blocks and the scrappiness of them I decided they would be put into a field of white. Oh, and I named it “Scrappy Prism” because not only was it going to be rainbow in nature and made of scraps, but also the little angular pieces made me think of light fracturing through a prism when it shines a rainbow. In general I think a lot of modern quilts have too much white in them and am not crazy about that, but in this case it really seemed like white was was I needed as a background for my blocks. And then I decided on the center-the big Dresden plate and it really all came together. I’ve never made a Dresden plate before, but I really like them, and found it satisfying and easy to make. Plus, I adore seeing things arranged in a rainbow order and I loved piecing together the 24 wedges (3 pieces for each color, blending into each of the next colors.)
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The Dresden plate is the only part that had colors purchased to add to it. The blocks were entirely scrap fabrics, which makes them very special to me. And yes, some of these scraps have turned up over and over again (and I have a new scrap quilt in the works with some of these same bits!). For me, as I think I said here once before, a scrap quilt is a memory quilt. I love to look at these blocks and pick out familiar things, such as a snowflake from the dress I made Tabby when she was a toddler, or a bit from the robot quilt I made Clark, or pieces from baby quilts, aprons, and other fabrics I fondly recall.
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I went shopping for the beautiful white and chose a grey blue for the back, a cloudy sky color, if you will, with the front being the light and rainbow after a rain. Here I am I in January 2014 finishing appliqueing the Dresen plate and thus completing the quilt top.
The Dresden Plate and center are hand appliqued
Then I began the quilting. I did the lines in the center and then promptly felt I had bitten off more than I could chew and put it away for a year. Then you know the rest of the story-I pulled it out, buckled down, drew on those diamonds, found a quilting rhythm I was comfortable with, embraced my stitches, and got down to it. I found it a very enjoyable process, though I did feel like I a)ignored a lot of other things on the days I quilted and b)watched more daytime tv than I ever normally would. Here I am quilting away at the Spring Fling Stitch-a-Thon, photo credit Liz/Eleanor:
Sarah Quilting
I knew the binding was going to be black with a white pindot practically from the get-go, and indeed it was the right choice.  Sharp and graphic, nicely framing (but pretty narrow) the white fields.
Scrappy Prism Quilt
I finished it late last night, woke up and had Clark take a photo for Instagram for me,
prism quilt-first finished look
and then bit the bullet and put it in the washing machine. Of course I worried about it falling apart or other terrible things happening, but it definitely needed a good wash before I could do many photos. After a year being folded on the couch (i.e., cat bed), the past several days spread out repeatedly on the floor, and so on, it had accumulated lots of cat hairs, human hairs, random dust, not to mention a few spots where I hadn’t dabbed away my marking pen. Also, I believe it’s going to puff up beautifully. It’s in the dryer right right now with my dryer hedgehogs and hopefully fluffing up nice and bright and clean. (fingers crossed!)

*I can now report that it had a very successful wash and tumble dry and the quilting did puff very nicely.
Scrappy Prism Quilt
The back of this quilt is the plainest one I’ve ever done, with no interesting details or appliques on it, instead it’s just a solid fabric with the quilting making its own pattern on it. I opted to also just stitch my initials and the year very simply in the lower corner.
Scrappy Prism Quilt

Scrappy Prism QuiltAnd there it is-the Scrappy Prism Quilt!

 

Good Enough Quilting

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I keep a 5 year diary and now that I am in the second year of it I love to see what I did on that day a year ago. In fact,  probably everyone around me knows this because I frequently am saying “hey, guess what? It was a year ago that we…”  Well, thanks to the diary I recently read the entry that said I began to hand quilt my scrappy prism quilt. A. Year. Ago.  After I did those first center rays I put it away and that was that.  Reading that it’s been sitting for a whole year was the kick in the butt I needed to pick it up again.
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As I sat with the quilt on my lap and needle in hand I started to think about what gave me trouble with it and what was holding me up. And I came to some realizations-quilting is just a running stitch. So just relax and stitch like you’re doing an embroidered running stitch. Also, I thought about my mom’s hand-quilted quilts. Did I ever think they looked terrible because they weren’t stitched with teeny tiny Colonial woman stitches? No, I did not. Did I think they looked boring for not being densely quilted? No, I did not. I liked how they looked and they stayed together (which is the twofold purpose of quilting.) I also, gasp!, did away with my hoop.  After a year of being folded up those layers of top, bottom, and batting are not moving anywhere. I’m stitching on the outer edge of the quilt and it was just easier to manipulate. Embracing those concepts and letting go of what I thought I needed to be doing allowed me to just stitch away. And I think the results are great. Here is the finished first section
Quilted
My stitches are not miniscule, but neither are they giant basting stitches. And I’m pleased that the diagonal lines are creating the look I’d envisioned.
Quilted

I was a little worried that my marking pen might be difficult to remove after a year, but it turns out it had been fading a lot and was very easy to remove with a dab of damp cloth.  I drew on the grid for the next section and have finished half of that.
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I think I will tie the scrappy blocks with matching embroidery floss so that you don’t really see it, but it has the needed stability.
You know, with the trends in quilting now and all that long-arm machine quilting, and devotion to fancy threads and what not, you can feel like you’re not “doing it right”. I am using an old spool of Coates hand quilting thread (which is pretty stiff), a regular quilting in-between needle, and no hoop.  I can’t “pop the knot through” like my Mom does, so I’m doing a messy little made-up technique for securing the end that I ultimately think will not be noticeable at all, so who cares if it’s the right method? My pattern is not intricate, just a grid. But I’m loving this and it will be good enough. And also, it will actually get done! And I will enjoy the process a lot more, and shouldn’t that be a big part of a hobby? Yes, yes it should. 🙂

Wee Wander for Tabby

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It’s done! I am so pleased to finish out this week of productivity (first the baby quilt, then the knitting) with Tabby’s quilt.  You might recall that I was very close to finishing it when my sewing machine broke. So after a little over a month’s break I picked it up on Thursday and spent the day finishing the machine quilting. Then Friday made the binding and sewed it on. Then Saturday and Sunday did the hand sewing of the binding and the embroidery of the signature/date.  Done! Oh, and also on Friday I made up a pillowcase to match. So, without further ado, here is the finished product front:
Wee Wander Front
and back:
Wee Wander back (I really love how the square quilting shows up on it.)
Now, on to the process and details. We ordered this fabric a year ago.  When this line launched I knew it would be perfect for her.  The colors are gorgeous and the images are absolutely charming. We had so much trouble deciding on which fabrics in it we liked the most that we ended up ordering a  bundle package that included a piece of every fabric in the line.  One of the things I like so much about it is that though there are two colorways, they blend perfectly together.  I deliberately mixed the colors the together and love it came out. Then on to deciding on a pattern, which of course took a while.  Originally we thought we’d use the big panel fabric as a center.  However, after much deliberation and drawing we went with blocks that would showcase a fussy cut center square and a promise to use the big panel as a pillowcase.
A few favorite block close-ups
I’ve written before about what a pleasing process it was to create each square one at a time.  These fabrics invited a lot of fussy cutting as there were sweet pictures galore.  Tabby loved how I cut out some to have people in the border in pieces.  She says you can play “Find the Human” when you look at it.
"Find the Human"-so many different blocks to look at.

A few favorite block close-ups

A few favorite block close-ups
Then on to deciding how to finish it. I asked Tabby what she wanted for a border and she was paralyzed with indecision. I decided to go with the darker blue and use the hot pink as the binding, and when I see it finished I know it was the perfect choice. The blue anchors the beautiful jewel toned squares and the pink is a perfect pop.  Because I like to make my binding and consider it one last opportunity for a little whimsy and personalization I added two pieces in there that are the cream with blue birds.
The binding is pink with two surprise spots of cream with birds.
As for the backing, I love to do a pieced back.  I bought a pale pink solid and then used a bright pink I had in my stash, along with more of the Wee Wander fabric to do a special block.  It’s here that I embroidered the date and message.  I love embroidering but good golly it’s a pain in the butt and difficult to do on top of the fabric when you can’t go all the way through (and I do it last so that it doesn’t get quilted upon.)
The special block on the back, embroidered with year and names
I love how the back looks and shows the square quilting and makes a great design.  There are straight lines that go the length and width of the quilt, intersecting in the small squares. Then I did a square just on the inside of each center square. You can see from the straight quilting lines that it doesn’t line up quite right with the pieced fabric, but that’s ok.

It was a pleasure to finish with plenty of time to take pictures outside and make her bed for her to sleep in it.
I made a matching pillowcase with the large panel fabric
So now Clark has his robot quilt, Tabby has her wee wander quilt, and Paul and I have the snowball quilt. I love having made something special for each of us.
It's super soft and cozy

Finished! I am so excited to have finished my #weewander quilt. I know my daughter will love it forever. With@sarahjanestudios gorgeous fabric how could you go wrong? #quilting #quilt

Birdhouse in my Soul

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Finished! I’m so excited this quilt is complete. Last night I finished stitching the binding on and I think it looks beautiful.  I do still need to sign it (I’ll embroider my name and the year on the back), but let’s just call it done. Here is the front:
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!
and back:
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!
and beautifully folded so you can see the binding.
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!
I think I shall never tire of this lovely Tanya Whelan Sugar Hill fabric.
Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!

Birdhouse in my Soul-complete!!
Next up-I need to make some matching pillowcases with the leftover fabric. If I was a go-getter I’d do that right now, but I have a lot of other sewing/Christmas demands on my time at the moment, so it might have to wait. According to my flickr photos, I posted a photo of the pieces I cut for this quilt in June of 2012. 2012!! It’s taken me over 2 years to finally put this quilt together. And, I’ll point out, this is a very simple pattern, not even complicated, nor did I hand quilt it. No matter, it was worth the wait and I can’t wait to sleep underneath it tonight.