Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of 2014

At the end of the year most of us typically review the preceding year, do some soul searching and evaluating of our efforts, and set some goals for the year ahead. It is a quilt blogging tradition to review your quilty accomplishments of the past year, and write about it in your last blog post of the year. I used to make some lofty quilting resolutions, but I know myself well enough now to know that the best I can hope for is fewer new projects started and more UFO's completed!
This year I finished 6 quilts that were on my 2014 UFO list (you can see the list posted to the right of my blog).

1) Storm at Sea is a wallhanging I finished in June. It was made from a John Flynn laser cut kit that I purchased in Paducah many years ago. The piecing was a dream, even though the pieces were very tiny. You can see the machine quilting better in this post.

2)  Sunflower mystery was a large lap quilt finished in October. It was a UFO from 2007 so I was delighted that it was finally a finished project. I used this UFO to try a new (to me) circular quilting design, which you can see in this post.

3) Civil War Sampler
These blocks were started in 2011 as a weekly project on Barbara Brackman's blog. You can read more about it and see the great backing I made for it here. All of the fabrics were civil war reproductions. I almost abandoned the project early on (read about the reason why here) but persevered and am soooooo happy that I did. I love this quilt and feel proud of the accumulated effort that produced this finish! Cathy quilted it for me and did a beautiful job!

4) Plaid Beauty
This quilt was started in a workshop with Bonnie Hunter in 2010 and was finished in July this year! You can read more about it here.
This is another quilt that I am very proud of and I machine quilted it with straight lines in the middle and a feather in the border. I was going to give it as a gift, but find I am not able to part with it just yet!

5) Fandango and Friends - Scrappy Hexagons
This quilt was 4 years in the making, and was completed in August. I enjoyed machine quilting it with free motion curvy lines. You can read more about that here.

6) Countdown to Christmas This quilt was a sew along with Temecula quilts last December. It became a finished quilt in April.
You can see the quilting design here.

I enjoyed participating in the Lovely Year of Finishes in 2014 and was delighted to finish half of my list. Some of the finishes took 2 months of goal setting, but it worked out fine. The deadline and accountability does help to motivate me to finish projects.
These were my other non-UFO finishes this year, listed in order of their size:  Mini Hearts, Civil War Kisses, Cascadia, spring tablerunner, Market Day, Superpowers, autumn HSTs, Nabby's Dowry, a flannel baby quilt, Not Just Any Rail Fence, Journey of a Quilter, Civil War BOM, and Angel Solstice. (You can see all of these finished quilts here.) Wow... that's 13 more finished quilts!! Of these finished quilts, I machine quilted 10, I hand quilted 1, and the 2 largest projects were long arm quilted by fellow blogger Cathy.
So that's a total of 19 quilts completed in 2014. 
And that is the benefit of a year end summary post - you can see what you have accomplished, and all of a sudden the lengthy UFO list doesn't seem so discouraging!

New Year Greetings Messages 2015
Happy New Year
I am wishing you many blessings in 2015, lots of fun quilting adventures with good friends, and an abundance of time to spend stitching! Thanks for visiting my blog this year and contributing your positive energy, ideas and encouragement!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mystery Quilt Update

Step #5 of the Grand Illusion mystery quilt was posted on Friday and thankfully this step was short and sweet. This week we sewed simple 4 patches to add to the pile of blocks that will somehow eventually become a quilt pattern. Right now it's a floral mushy mess, but I'm hoping that Bonnie will make it all work out in the end!
To see the linky party over at Quiltville click here
After all of this relaxing sewing this week, I think I'm ready to dig into something a little more challenging.  Maybe some machine quilting on a UFO? Or maybe an Indian Orange Peel block or two? 
With New Year's Eve coming up, I'm thinking of starting a new mystery. The two I am looking at are:
1) Quiltbug's smaller mystery project called New Beginnings or
2) Merry Mayhem's "Regatta" larger mystery pattern.
Both mysteries are taking place on New Year's Day. Is it a good idea to start off the year with a new project? Of course it is! Are you joining in? 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Design Wall Monday

I have started my "Quilt Pattern of the Month" (QPOM) for my local quilt guild. Here are the first few blocks on the design wall. 
It's an easy pattern (by Jackie Syer) this month using a charm pack and a solid fabric for the middle "stick". It is the perfect project to sew during my post-Christmas recovery, since it requires very little brain power or organization! 
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Last Slow Sunday of 2014

It is the last Sunday of 2014. Can you believe it?!?
I have not done any quilting on my sampler quilt this past week, and it's not looking like it will be finished up this week. Christmas came and went like a whirlwind, and took all of my energy with it! Any spare time has been spent resting or reading.
I have done some hand applique this week while traveling and visiting. It is such a portable project. A few more blue blocks were completed for my pumpkin seed project.
I am looking forward to continuing to build this quilt in the new year.
I hope you can enjoy some relaxing stitching time today... the last Sunday of 2014. Link up your blog post below and share the project that you are ending the year working on.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Yippee... it's Friday!

It's Friday, so that means it's time for another present from Bonnie at Quiltville! Step #5 of the Grand Illusion mystery will be revealed today. Time to fire up the sewing machines and get sewing!
Here are some of the quilty Christmas gifts I received from Santa - a pink nightshirt that will be perfect to wear for Quilt Camp, and an autographed copy of Bonnie Hunter's String Fling! I must have been a good girl this year! LOL

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hand made Christmas gifts

Photo Calendars for the family from 2010
I have always made Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews to remind them of how much I love them. I could go out and buy them all gift cards, but I am loathe to do it.  I feel strongly that I want to maintain the tradition of hand made gifts. Over the years I have made pillows, pillowcases, fabric bags, luggage tags, photo calendars and mug mats.
The inspiration for the gift usually comes to me at some point in December, and then I work like crazy to finish them before December 25th. I know that is how it goes and I'm used to it. Each year as I repeat my tradition, I enjoy it more, and stress about it less. It always gets done!

This year I decided to make little fabric bowls from my brother's shirts. I wrote about deconstructing his shirts in this blog post earlier this year, and I felt the time was right for me to be able to create something with this fabric. 

I cut the shirts into 1" strips, wrapped the fabric around clothesline cording, and created fabric bowls. (You can read more information about making the bowls here.) I had a bit of an issue with the thread tension when making the first bowl - it was a terrible mess. I had to really fiddle with the sewing machine settings to fix the tension. 

This is how the thread should look on the outside of the bowl. Once that problem was solved, the rest of the bowls were built easily.

I made one flat mat to send in the mail to a good friend of my brother's and hope it will be a happy surprise.

The gifts for the nieces and nephews are bowls made from my brother's shirts, and they are filled with much love and many happy memories. Altogether I wrapped 100 feet of cording to make these bowls! Here's the group of them all ready to wrap!
Did you make some gifts for Christmas this year? 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Religious Christmas Christmas Blessings picture
From DazzleJunction
Today most of us are probably working towards creating a wonderful Christmas experience for our families. We are shopping, cleaning, wrapping gifts, cooking, baking and decorating. And of course, creating special hand made gifts. I am almost finished my gifts and will write more about that in another post. Shortly I will be up to my ears in wrapping paper and tape!
But I just dropped in for a little break to see what's going on in blogland.
Good news... 
Santa is on his way and passing over Canada right now. I know that because Santa's reindeer have been spotted crossing the Indian Orange Peel blocks, sprinkling their Christmas magic, and hoping that this will be the last year they pass by this project that is still on the design wall! LOL
I wish you and your family many blessings on this Christmas Eve. May Santa fill your stocking with lots of fabric and thread! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mystery Quilt Updates

*Lori is hosting a link up for the Cascadia mystery - Cascadia quiltalong parade. There are so many gorgeous scrappy versions of this quilt posted there. The pattern is still on her website so you can make one over the holidays if you haven't already. Thanks so much to Lori for another wonderful project (you can see some of her other sew alongs I have completed here).

*Bonnie has a link up for step #4 of the Grand Illusion mystery - click here to see all the mystery quilts in various stages of completion.

I am sewing half of the units and managing to keep up fairly well so far.
Here are the step #4 blocks up on the design wall. 

And of course I am clipping all the dog ears and putting them in a jar for... well, for fun, and for safe keeping. You never know when you might need a jar of dog ears!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Design Wall Monday

The countdown to Christmas is on, so I haven't done much with Mr. Grinch this week.  The design wall looks pretty much the same as last week. Grinchy is supervising the sewing workshop and making sure I stay on task. He also makes me smile!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.
This this elf is backing to the quilting workshop!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Sunday - time for some rest and relaxation. I know it's the last Sunday before Christmas and everyone is working on frantic preparations and bordering on nervous breakdowns at the mall, but I encourage you to take even a few moments to slow down and enjoy some hand stitching. I read a great blog post about how to simplify the holidays, and used some slow stitching time this week to really think about this. Here are some of my thoughts:
1) Christmas goals need to be compatible with the amount of energy and time I have. For many years I pushed myself passed the point of exhaustion - unnecessarily. I wanted to create a perfect Christmas experience for my children. I have learned that a) I can do everything to the best of my ability and still can not make life/Christmas perfect for everyone, and b) everything that needs to get done, always gets done.  
If time runs out and it's not done, it wasn't really necessary! The same time pressure will start to build this year, only I will not be beside myself. I am trying to be more thoughtful, and more reflective about why I am doing the things I do, and asking myself "is this really important to me or my family?" I am not assuming I know the answers, I am asking them directly. 
Mums Relaxation
2) I must practice good self care. I don't want to sacrifice my health anymore and get run down "burning the candle at both ends", and then end up having the flu or a cold, or complete exhaustion over the holidays. So my biggest gift to myself this year is: I give myself enough time to do the jobs I need to do. And I rest when I need to, no matter how long the "to-do list" is.

3) I make time for brief slow stitching sessions. I have my project out where I can see it as a visual prompt to sit down and put in a few stitches, regroup, and then carry on. 
As a result I have finished the inside part of hand quilting on my sampler quilt! All 20 stars, 12 blocks and 31 sashings have been hand quilted.
The sun came out so I ran outside to take a picture of the quilt on the clothesline. It's a little wrinkly :)

I am still stuck on how to quilt the border and none of my ideas are inspiring me yet. So I will wait until an idea sticks. This is how it looks from the back. I love the texture of the red hand stitching on the gold fabric!
What are you hand stitching today? Are you feeling too busy to sit and stitch? I encourage you to take some time to slow down - you'll feel refreshed, and a little more "filled up". If you have time to make a blog post and link it below, we'd love to see what you're working on.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Scrappy Saturday - Carrie Nation

This month I have been sorting through my projects for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I have been participating in this challenge since Angela started it in January of 2011. I have accumulated a lot of blocks and want to get some of these into finished quilt so I can start new projects next year. 
The focus for December has become my Carrie Nation block collection because I really don't want to make more of these blocks in 2015. I am focused on filling in the colour gaps.
Over the past week I cut and sewed 8 orange blocks, and am pleased with the variety of dark to light oranges that I could come up with.
This week I am hoping to work on the green scraps to make a few more blocks. And then in the week after Christmas when there is more sewing time, I plan to get this top together.
To see what other projects are being worked on, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Project

It's Friday again and it's time for Grand Illusion's step #4 to be posted over at Quiltville. I would much rather sew than shop, but my procrastination is going to catch up with me soon!

In the meantime, I'm starting a new project for my spare time. My quilt guild is hosting a QPOM (quilt pattern of the month) this year to help us use up stash, and this is our 4th project. I am using up these Lario Moda charm packs and the brown yardage will be the "sticks". It should be a quick and easy pattern to sew, which is perfect for those times when you are avoiding shopping and would much rather stay home and sew!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Finished Quilt Top

Top secret Santa projects are being worked on in the studio, so I can't show you pictures of what this little quilty elf is up to. Sewing, sewing, and more sewing, with only one more week until Christmas!
I am also doing some finishing up of projects here and there.
Can you guess which quilt these blocks are for?
They are the corner blocks for the borders of the little letter quilt by Temecula

The pattern is still on their website if you want to make it now, or print out the patterns to sew another time. It is a really fun child's quilt to sew. It's going on the pile to "to-be-quilted" in 2015. 
It's a big pile!
Did you notice I put up the design wall lights for decoration?!?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mystery Quilt Update

Here is a picture of my progress to the end of step #3 of the Grand Illusion mystery.
It's kind of a boring photo, but it represents hours of cutting and sewing fabric together! Step #1 at the top, step #2 in the middle and step #3 at the bottom. I love to keep all the pieces organized and clipped together in groups of 10 with those little Clover clips. It delights my inner OCD quilter tendencies!

Here are some things I've learned so far in sewing this mystery:
1) I am bored by sewing with yardage. I know it makes a very lovely quilt and I'm sure I'll like it at the end, but I much prefer the variety of sewing blocks from scraps.

2) As soon as a step is finished, I cut the scraps into useable pieces. I can't throw out these little leftovers, and if I don't make them useable right away, they go into storage bags in the endless stash closet, never to be seen in a project again. These are the end pieces from the strip sets in step #3. I cut them into parts for 4 patches, and squares for other projects.

3) I like to drive fast - the sewing machine that is! 
My Brother 1500 machine can supposedly sew 1500 stitches per minute, and every once in a while I test that out... like when I was sewing these strip sets. And it was fun. Probably not very accurate sewing, but fun!
To see the progress from the other mystery quilters, hop over to the Quiltville link up.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Annual Decorating of the Design Wall

I seem to have developed a tradition of putting up the same Grinch quilt every December. I move blocks around and sew on it a bit, get overwhelmed with Christmas preparations, and then put the quilt parts away again for another year.
I bought the fabric at Keepsake Quilting while on the way to Quilt Festival in Vermont in June of 2011. The blocks appeared in a design wall post in 2011,  and in 2012. Last year I forgot about it altogether, and had to go in search of it this year.
Here it is again! I'm back to favouring the white sashing with some red and green 4 patch cornerstones.

Hello Mr. Grinch!
Is this the year you become a finished quilt?!?!
Or are you still an annual Christmas decoration for the design wall?
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Sunday again, which means it's time to s-l-o-w down and do some relaxing stitching.

I will have my hand quilting on my lap and will be putting in a few more stitches. I have finished quilting all the blocks now, and am using my hera marker to make a few more shapes to stitch in some of the puffy places where there are not enough stitches yet ...

like here, in the center of the block. Can you see the line I am quilting on? Once the line is quilted, the marking is invisible.
I still have 1 more sashing to quilt, and 2 more star blocks. I hope to finish that up today and then start on the border. I have a few design ideas in my mind to try and will see how it develops.
From Seven Cherubs

What are you hand stitching today? Are you working on any Christmas gifts? Share your projects with us and link up your blog post below.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prove You're Not a Robot

Charm About You
I detest the "prove you're not a robot" part of blog commenting. I feel strongly about not requiring verification to leave a comment on my blog. It is amazing that anyone takes the time to leave a thoughtful comment and actively participate in the online community instead of being an observer. 
And then I learned from Kathy that blogger changed the blog settings just for fun to torture us! UGH! Just because you turn off the word verification doesn't mean the numeric verification is also off. 
Thankfully Kathy told us how to fix it, so I followed the instructions, "embedded" the comments, and now we shall see how that remedy works out. 
Please let me know if commenting on my blog is a hassle, and I will contact the Blogger Robots and see what else I need to do to eliminate the newest hurdles. Except of course if you are a robot... if you want to leave a comment, please prove you are a human!

Scrappy Saturday - Carrie Nation

For the month of December the RSC'ers are trying to finish up some scrap quilts worked on over the year. This week I tackled my collection of Carrie Nation blocks. I decided that I like the on-point layout best.  The chains look a little wobbly in this picture, but once the blocks are sewn together, they will (hopefully) be straight.I also really liked the layout that Katie used for her Carrie Nation blocks - you can see her layout here.

I decided that this quilt really needs some orange and maybe some pink blocks, plus a few more green ones.
So I pulled out those scrap bins and that's what I'll be doing today - cutting scraps to sew up the blocks needed to fill in the missing coloured blocks. And then this quilt could become a finished top by the end of the year!To see more scrappy quilt postings, hop over to Angela's link up.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Finished Quilt Top

I put the pedal to the metal to finish this quilt top for the quilt guild meeting this week. It is the "Quilt Pattern for the Month" designed by Jackie Syer. It was completely made from my stash... nothing was purchased to make this quilt top!
The layout was random, and as I like to remind people, random does not mean equally balanced... it means random ("proceeding, made, or occurring without aim, reason, or pattern"). I tried to alternate the two blocks (the pinwheel and a 4 patch center) as much as possible

The photos are not great. They were taken on my clothesline at sunset, with the sun behind the quilt. I do like this photo since it gives the quilt a stained glass kind of a look.
I sewed the quilt together so quickly that I have since discovered two "concerns" - one is a hole due to no seam allowance (oh my goodness how could that happen?!?) and one is a hole caused by clipping threads, and accidentally clipping into a quilt patch! I will try to fix those errors today.

And now I am off to check out step #3 of the Grand Illusion mystery... TGIF!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mid Week Mystery Progress

I am making good progress on the Grand Illusion mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. We are on step #2 and I am making half of the units for this quilt since I don't need another huge quilt right now, and I have some Christmas gifts to make in the next couple of weeks.

Here is how my work table looked last Friday with all the blocks from step #1 sewn, and the blocks from step #2 cut out. I used the old fashioned way of adding the triangles to the end of the rectangles (which was Bonnie's method #3 in the pattern). 

The worst part of this step was marking 400 lines on triangles.  
(I drew the second line on every square so I could get the bonus HST's to play with)
But you know Bonnie's motto - NO whining! So, I won't! I marked the lines while watching endless Christmas movies on the Women's TV Network and it was actually fun.

I have a few double diamond blocks finished. Here are the first 16 arranged in a fun layout. I plan to be finished all the blocks by Friday's reveal of step #3.
To see more mystery quilt progress postings, hop over to Quiltville.