Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!!! The last NewFO of 2013, for better or worse.

It's that time of year again. The pages of my calendar have exhausted themselves and a new one is ready to go up on the wall tomorrow. Switching out from a Hobbit calendar this year (my but some of those Middle Earth characters are lovely to look at--they saved the best for last, Legolas is December!) to a beautiful Patchwork Place Quilt Calendar for 2014. I see some great ideas brewing already looking at those lovely quilts and patterns to boot! Yippee!

I'm linking up with Barb at Cat Patches for the final NewFO 2013 Challenge. Thanks again for having this great idea to keep us thinking outside the box to make new projects. And for making it okay to not always finish them! Although my closet shelf is looking a little weary from the projects waiting to be quilted... Maybe that will be my challenge for 2014, to get those quilts quilted so I can restock my pin box without having to always go out and buy more pins. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does that. LOL!

Earlier this month I had a booth at a local monthly Honey Beezz flea market that features booths with everything from antiques, collectibles, neon signs, jewelery, crafts, and, yes,  quilts. We're new in town and there is a growing interest as more vendors sign up each month. I'm planning to get busy making more small things like pot holders and mug rugs, in addition to having a few quilts on display. I'd like to make more memory quilts on commission, so I'll be starting a very special one for myself in memory of my brother who died of AIDS nearly 19 years ago, and will use it as my display. Time will tell...

These little mug rugs were fun to make. The stockings are 4" pieced blocks with the letter to Santa fussy cut for fun. The little nine-patches are just that LITTLE! Those were 1" strips, so the finished blocks are only 3/4" each. Not sure I'll do that again, but it was fun playing. 

I also had a tree hung with several lace covered ornaments that I made on my Brother Quattro 6000D embroidery machine. I love making them and people seem to really enjoy the gorgeous and rich look of something that is really quite simple to make. My son actually asked me if it wasn't cheating, letting the machine do all the work. Maybe, but nah!

I joined in with thousands of other quilters on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery quilt this month too. I got the first clue all cut out and maybe a dozen units made, cut most of clue 2, and stopped there, being overwhelmed with finals, Christmas and now being sick. I vow to get back to it next week when I'm feeling human again!

At a Sit and Stitch Saturday in December, I helped several gals figure out the Stack and Slash technique that I have used several times in recent years. I used a bunch of Christmas fabrics out of my stash and will be sashing my blocks in the deep blue with snowflakes, using Marti Michell's Sashing Stars template set to make gold corner posts & star points. I'm not done playing with the block layout yet, so this one will definitely be for next Christmas.

Finally, I had found in my Facebook stream a pattern that I loved. Designed by 17-year-old Doug Leko, this my version of his free pattern Christmas Packages. I love how it turned out and now that it's pinned (yes, the box is nearly empty again), it's time to get yet another one quilted! I'm thinking about ditching the blocks and ribbon cross pieces, and then doing FMQ bows with tendrils down into each the body of each package.

I was busier than I thought, wrapping up finals, celebrating my 60th birthday by sharing a Skyscraper rootbeer float with my grandkids and celebrating Christmas with all of my kids and grandkids. I'm afraid New Year's Eve is pretty boring here this year. Two days after Christmas I got this year's bug and am still feeling poorly, but a little better each day. Instead of some bubbly, I'll be celebrating with my Robutissin, a full vaporizer, and a quilt in front the TV watching Doctor Who. Wishing you all blessings in the new year!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Celtic Solstice Monday Link-up Part 3

I've jumped in with Bonnie Hunter and thousands of other quilters to work on her Celtic Solstice mystery quilt. This post is linked up with Bonnie's Celtic Solstice Monday Link-up Part 3.

We've received three clues so far, but with my schedule of finals through December 8, spending the first week post-semester regrouping, then displaying some of my quilted items at a 3-day flea market this past weekend, and now trying to get ready for Christmas, I'm slow getting started.
My good friend started the Honey Beezz Flea Market in November and will hold it the 3rd weekend of every month indoors at the local Knights of Columbus, in Lawrence, Kansas. She is providing a booth for me and her mom to share that will feature her mom's crocheted items and my quilted and machine embroidered items. I have been talking about marketing my quilts and trying to get some commissioned memory quilts to help support myself while I'm in school. Having this exposure at the monthly flea will be a great way to get the word out! With my days with grandson Jacob gradually decreasing as he started daycare/preschool two days a week this year, I need to bolster my income and really am not ready to go back to a regular job yet. So, working the booth actually gave me quite a few hours this past weekend to work on cutting out the first clues. The traffic wasn't high enough to keep me real busy, so I multi-tasked and took a cutting board and rotary cutter and my entire bag of Celtic Solstice fabrics with me. Before the event wrapped up on Sunday at 3pm, I had successfully cut out all of Clue #1 pieces and about 80% of Clue #2 pieces. I still have to get to Clue #3, but that will have to wait a few days.

Having this task to work on sure made the hours fly by! For Clue #2 I have all of the green and yellow pieces cut and have started the neutrals. 
I was also delighted to sell my first quilted item--a stacked tree that I made last year. Below is the one I made and kept for myself. The only difference in the one I sold is I didn't sew the tiny bells on each point.

Other items that I had in the booth were several mug rugs that I made and a dozen or so machine embroidered lace covered ornaments. It was a fun event to be part of and I look forward to getting more small items made for the months to come.
My son-in-law has finals through the end of this week, so I still have Jacob through Friday, which is putting a hitch in my plans to finish Christmas gifts I'm making. He's such a blessing to have with me three days a week, but at 18-months, he's into EVERYTHING! I'm cherishing every day he's here and letting the projects go for now. Looks like the weekend and early next week will be a crazy rush to get done by Christmas! I'm sure I'll manage... We always do, right?

Once I'm past Christmas, I'm looking forward to a real break since my SIL will keep Jacob home with him until classes start up again on January 21. Hopefully that will give me plenty of time to catch up on Celtic Solstice, as well as some other projects left hanging as my semester got crazy. I'm sure enjoying seeing everyone's color choices and how the blocks are looking. Even with the same color selections, fabric choices make each one look so different!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Friday, December 6, 2013

My first mystery!

Finals will wrap up Sunday night and thank goodness this semester will be OVER! I'm so ready to be done and get back to some quilting, especially with stuff I still want to make for Christmas gifts. I've enrolled for Spring semester, but only one class, so hopefully it won't get nearly as crazy as this semester did! Now that I'm going to get a nearly month-long break, we'll see how organized I get. I certainly have plenty of projects I'd like to get to! Plus, with the cold hitting the entire country, I'm ready to stay in and stitch! We had our first dusting of snow. It was such a dry snow that it all blew away by today, but we're supposed to get more on Sunday. Maybe...
The view out my upstairs sewing room window.
My friend Shirley told me that the date of month of the first snow (in our case the 5th of December) indicates how many snows we will have this winter. I asked if this meant days, and if so, I was okay with that! Just 5 days of snow for the rest of the winter would be awesome! Unfortunately she replied that it is 5 snow storms, that may last 1-5 or more days. Well rats. I liked it the other way. However, if we can get away with 5 snows like this one with narry a dusting, I'd be okay with that too. My snow shovel can stay in the garage unused as far as I'm concerned!
In the meantime, I'm diving into my very first mystery quilt! I've joined Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery. Most of the group started with Clue #1 last Friday, but I've been buried in finals. Today, Clue #2 was released and I have yet to cut into a single piece of fabric, but I know I'm not alone. From what I've learned so far, there are hundreds (thousands?) of quilters from around the world in on this mystery that will take ~6 months. I've pulled my fabrics from my stash, purchased just 3 FQ's in each of the four colors on a recent shop hop to mix & match for the scrappy look, grabbed some neutrals out of my stash, and am just about ready to cut my first pieces. I'm going to be using an Aurifil 50 neutral to piece this entire quilt. My machines and I love working with Aurifil!
Who knows whether it will actually be completed within the six months or not, but at least I'm giving it a shot and am using my stash as much as possible to use up random fabrics that haven't fit into other projects so far.

I find it interesting that I (anyone else out there?) continue to buy FQs, but then they just collect in the drawer. I guess they are meant to be in scrappy quilts and I'm just starting to get into that arena. I have plenty of fuel to build those fires. LOL! Now to let go of those FQs or scraps and bless & release them into a scrappy project.

While I do have a sewing room upstairs, I'll be working on the Singer 301A that I learned on as a kid. This was my auntie's machine that she taught me to sew on. It went from Auntie to my mom to me to my older daughter and now back to me. I LOVE having it sitting in my kitchen so I can sew while Jacob plays. Now that he's getting bigger (18 months already!) he plays nicely and I can actually do something while he's here three days a week. Let's hope I can keep this baby humming now that school is about out!
I'm heading downstairs to make my first cuts and assemble the first of many, many blocks for this project. If you don't see me here for a while, know that I'm happily cutting and sewing blocks for my own Celtic Solstice Mystery!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November NewFO--Not much progress

Yet another month has flown by and tomorrow starts the last month of 2013. How is that even possible?!? Didn't we just have Christmas a few weeks ago? And where did the riot of color that graced our hills go so quickly? 
Last week as I drove by this favorite spot just north of Baldwin City, KS, the trees were already the bare gray and brown of our winter landscape in Kansas. Oh well... Thanksgiving's turkey is gone, decorations for Christmas are going up all around me, and the year is winding down.

I'm hooking up with Barbara at Cat Patches on her November NewFO Linky Party.  Even if I'm crazy busy with school, I look forward to being able to share my little progress here each month. Let's hope 2014 is a MUCH more productive quilting year! As much as I appreciate the opportunity to get my master's degree and enjoy school, I'm certainly ready to be creative again.
The jelly roll race that I whipped out in October, Pilgrims & Pumpkins (hanging on the right), got completed in time to be hung in the community room at my friend's senior apartment complex for the month of November. My plans to whip up something for December didn't gel due to the end of semester push to complete final projects. Hopefully my plans will get back on track in the sewing room soon so I can take them another fun quilt after the first of the year.

I'm afraid I haven't done much quilting this month at all; although I did get my second fall jelly roll race pinned, quilted with Aurifil 50, and bound. After I finished quilting it, I spread it out on the floor to be sure I hadn't missed any sections and Jacob quickly plopped himself down and rolled up in it. When I'm binding, he always comes over and hides under the quilts and plays peek-a-boo with me while I stitch. It's such a blessing to have him here with me several days a week still.
The binding went on mid-month and now it's folded up waiting to come out of the closet for next fall. I haven't decided what to name this one yet. Maybe "Race to Thanksgiving" which gives a nod to the jelly roll race pattern. It's scrappier than the jelly roll race I made from an actual jelly roll last month. This one used up numerous fat quarters and various scraps in fall fabrics to help whittle down some of the long-untouched stash. I like the motion to it with more shorter pieces breaking it up instead of just the 40" strips. The jelly roll race is definitely a fun and quick way to make a quilt top!
The Stitching Grannies took two days to enjoy carpooling on the northeast Kansas Deck the Walls shop hop. We covered a good distance with hop shops in Overbook, Burlington, Burlingame, Topeka, and Baldwin City. We also stopped at shops not on the hop, but of interest, in Holton and Gardner, plus the annual holiday arts & crafts show in Ottawa. As usual, more was spent than planned and more NewFOs await in the closet to be unloaded from their various bags. This is such a fun group of gals who have quickly become good friends. And, yes, that's Audrey in the highchair, Jacob's little buddy who attends the Stitching Grannies with her gramma. She got to hop with us on Friday and was just an angel!
The other plans I have are to jump into Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery Quilt. She posted the first clue the Friday after Thanksgiving and quilters around the world are getting started. This will be my first mystery quilt! I picked up these fat quarters on the shop hop to add to the few I found in my stash. I'm anxious to begin, but have to finish the final class project that has to be complete and uploaded by Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 11pm. Once that's done, then I can breathe again! Today I took a break from school to write this post and did my "Shop Local" bit by picking up a set C of Marti Michell's templates to use with this quilt at Quilting Bits & Pieces. This will be my NewFO for December since I'm sure I won't get any cutting done before mid-week.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family time and good food. Until school is out I won't even attempt to decorate; however, I did hang my advent calendar up today so Jacob and I can start putting (felt) cookies out of the bowl into the pockets to count down to Christmas. It's so fun having a little one to enjoy these little things with. We're making new memories and traditions together.
More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October NewFOs--busy stripping!

This has been my most prolific month to date! I have one finish and three NewFO tops ready to be quilted! My plans to set up my sewing space downstairs where I could sew while my grandson played is working better than I had expected. So here's what I've done this month and am sharing with the 2013 NewFO Challenge hosted by Cat Patches.

First off is the finish. It took nearly three years and two moves (one cross-country!) before this beauty got done. It's Strutting Peacocks made with the One Block Wonder design. I had finished the top in May 2011, but had shelved it until earlier this year. So happy to have this one off the UFO shelf!

Next up, I went to my stitching group's first all day stitch-in held in a local church fellowship hall. There were seven of us for this first gathering and we had a blast! There was laughter echoing down the halls causing other people in the building to come see what we were up to. One of the gals had wanted to make a Jelly Roll Race, but didn't know how. We both purchased jelly rolls at the quilt show a couple of weeks ago and brought them with us to the stitch-in. In just under 3 hours, I had this beautiful top complete! What fun to have a project I could complete in just a short time while at the stitch-in.

Next up is the fall quilt I'm making. I'm doing a stitch-and-flip technique on strips of batting that I'm then sashing to connect and will back and quilt like a whole top. It's ready for the backing so is close to being done.

When I finished the fall flip-and-stitch quilt sections, I had a whole table full of leftover 2-1/2" strips. So, I figured I'd just strip them together like the jelly roll, only these strips are varying lengths from 18" to 40", and put it together like a Jelly Roll Race. It turned out pretty cool! This one is ready for sandwiching and quilting, too.

Whew! There's plenty of scraps left from the stitch-and-flip quilt, so there will be more fall items coming together from the leftovers. How is it that for every quilt I make I seem to have enough scraps to make 2 or 3 more?!? Crazy! Next up out of the box will be the Christmas/holiday fabrics to start making something quick and fun out them. Time to get some of the stash used up, maybe sell a few quilts or table runners or placemats/mug rugs, so I can justify buying more fabric when I go on the Deck the Walls shop hop next week!
Jacob, sporting his Grampa Dave 'stache binky, loves watching the sewing machine go!

Jake and I, along with these little guys, wish you a Happy and Safe Halloween! More UFOs, these Eleanor Burns pumpkin faces will be hanging in my window tonight to greet the Trick-or-Treaters. They still need some quilting, but are perfect as is for today!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Only took nearly three years to finish...

This quilt was started when I was still taking care of my dad in California. We're fast coming up on two years since his passing and my return to my life in Kansas. Finally, Strutting Peacocks is complete!

In February 2011, a friend back in Kansas posted a picture on Facebook of the beginnings of a One Block Wonder in beautiful understated tones of creams and browns. I had purchased the same book and some beautiful fabric with peacocks in full tail spread and walking with tails behind that I thought would be beautiful in this kaleidoscopic design. [My one regret is that I didn't take a picture of that fabric before cutting into it. Today I'd know better!] With Laura's project as inspiration, I started cutting out and assembling the 60 degree triangles that would become my blocks in blues and greens. A month later I had put together all the blocks and took about 30 pictures of possible layouts, playing with color placement and flow. Every time I moved one or two blocks, I snapped a digital pic so I could go backwards if I decided I liked a previous layout better.

Once I decided on a layout I liked, I started sewing rows together, matching up the block halves on adjoining rows. When it was all assembled, I added the borders and fell in love with the little 1/2" orange pop border that brought out the bits of orange from the peacocks' feet in the print. In May 2011 I took the finished top to work to share and had my picture snapped with it. Then it got folded up and added to the UFO pile.

Jump forward two years after my move back to Kansas when this top came down off the shelf and finally got sandwiched and pinned! Progress! I had recently purchased a HandiQuilter Sweet 16 mid-arm and was ready to start quilting my backlog of tops. However, life got in the way once again and it got shelved once more. Finally after yet another move, it came down off the shelf and got quilted, bound, and is now FINISHED!!!!!

I used a lovely tulip stencil that fit perfectly into each of the design blocks, along with 1/8" ditching bordering each block. For the borders I followed the lead of the swirly print and did large scale swirls, leaving the little orange border alone except for ditching. All of the quilting was done with Aurifil #50 in coordinating blue & green. When it came time to bind it, I had planned on using the same blue as the borders; however, that left over fabric is long gone in two moves and ended up who knows where. So, a trip to the quilt shop to look for new binding. I chose to go with the deep blue that matched the background of the main fabric to frame it. I an so happy with how it turned out!

It's nice to see the pile of UFOs on the shelf shrink. However, just this week I started three new tops, so hopefully they won't have to sit as long as some of these that are still waiting to be quilted.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Monday, September 30, 2013

September NewFO's & UFO progress

I can hardly believe it's the end of September already!!! This year has been flying by way too fast. Finally I think I'm getting somewhat of a routine around taking care of Jacob and keeping up with school work to carve out some time to sew. I started two NewFO's this month and finished one just in time! And I helped my granddaughter Jordyn start her first NewFO! I'm linking up with the September NewFO Linky Party hosted by Cat Patches. Here's what I've been up to...

The finish is Jordyn's Love & Peace quilt that she picked out fabrics for last summer. I managed to get the binding done and label sewn on the day of her birthday last week, and gave it to her on Sunday when my son and I went up to my daughter's to celebrate.  It does my heart good to see her smiling like that! It went straight to her room and onto her bed after taking advantage of her uncle's and dad's height to get a full picture of it.
Being in the Marti & Me Club this year is creating lots of opportunities to start NewFOs. The newest start is barely started, but, hey, it's a beginning! The Seven Sisters with accompanying Set H rulers was handed out in late August, but I didn't actually set rotary cutter to fabric until about a week ago. I'm going to make it a Christmas quilt and it should be great fun!
I had this fun fat quarter bundle in my stash, pulled out several more cute Christmas fabrics, and am using the bright snowflakes on white for the background. The first three sets of stars are cut out of these fun fabrics. I got brave and layered up and cut three at a time. I didn't anything sewn together yet, so didn't have any "show & tell" to share at this month's class when I got yet another pattern and set of templates.
The next NewFO I'm working on has to be done in time to mail to Washington, DC, by Thanksgiving to be there in time for my great-great-niece, baby Opal's arrival. Opal is my great-niece's first baby. Chelsea and Dillon are so excited!
Chelsea had expected her MomMom (gramma Cindy) to make her baby quilt, and in a way she did. Cindy had completed tops for a girl quilt, a boy quilt, and a special quilt with things Chelsea likes before she passed away in May. Chelsea's mom, Shelly, stepped up and, although she's not a quilter, she got the three quilts completed including adding some personalization with machine embroidery. Chelsea & Dillon flew back to California for her MomMom's Celebration of Life and a baby shower with family and friends, and she was overwhelmed when she opened the packages with the quilts! I told Chelsea I'd also make her a quilt based on the colors she's using in the nursery and this is what I've come up with.

I'm using Acorn Quilt & Gift Company's Remember Whooo Loves You! Chelsea is crazy about owls and Cindy was crazy about making Irish chains, so this pattern is a perfect solution to include both. I selected fabrics from Maywood Studio's Memories of Love collection, Robyn Pandolph's Beach House collection, and Robyn Pandolph's Incense & Peppermint collection. The colors play so well together and provide enough of the colors Chelsea wants, plus it's beautifully vintage and feminine for baby Opal. The whole quilt will be pieced & quilted with a creamy Aurifil 50.

I worked in EQ7 to create the basic layout of the top so I could play with color placement. After a little online hunting, I came up with swatch jpg's of most of the fabrics and scanned the ones I couldn't find so the digital quilt would look close to the real thing. This afternoon I clipped swatches from the scraps to tape onto my printout so I can see what I need as far as rows sewn together strip-fashion to cut my 2-1/2" x 6-1/2" segments from to make the blocks.  

My goal is to have this quilt top done in October so I have plenty of time in November to quilt and bind it, and have it ready to ship before Thanksgiving. Nothing like a deadline to get me motivated! 

A truly fun NewFO project started in September by my granddaughter is Jordyn's "Road to California" quilt. We took our road trip from Kansas to California together in June and she got to purchase a fat quarter at each shop we found picturing something we saw along the way. Earlier this month she spent the weekend and in two good days she completed the main part of the top! Next visit we'll add borders and get it ready to ditch. While staying at her Nana & Papa's this summer, she made a small quilt in a class and did her own ditch work, so I'm thinking she may do the whole thing! So far the only part I've played is handling the rotary cutter. She's a little impatient, plus she's double-jointed, so her cuts tend to start straight and then veer away from the ruler dramatically. She's practicing on scraps, but for pieces going into the quilt, for now Mormor does the rotary cutting.

Traditional Honeycomb (surface) smocking
A non-quilting (or maybe to be included in some sort of fun artsy quilt someday) piece I worked on in late August, actually, is a North American or Surface Smocking sample. I'm part of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) Southwind Chapter in Kansas that meets monthly. This group, which I was a member of years ago before my stint in California with my parents, used to have 15-20 members, but now has shrunk to 4 regulars. And we're getting more spread out after my move. Just to get to the meeting is nearly 3 hours drive for me. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep it up with school, Jacob care, and two quilt guilds, but for now I'm still supporting the group. So, anyway, I hosted last month (we're trying out rotating meetings to give me a break) and I taught the gals how to do what my mom called Honeycomb smocking. I've found several books that have instructions and when using gingham as a grid, it's really quite easy. These are my samples done with bright red thread so the gals could see what I was doing and where the stitches needed to be pulled up tight or carried from row to row without cinching. I've seen some gorgeous quilts done with this type of smocking, so maybe I'll try including it sometime for texture.

Honeycomb Variation (front)
Honeycomb Variation (back)
On the variation, the back is where the cool action is. Rami Kim uses this as one of the techniques in her gorgeous quilted garments and accessories. I think it would be gorgeous done on a silk and incorporated into a quilt somewhere. Someday...

For now I'm content with continuing to work on the projects I have at hand. I'm staying too busy sometimes, but plugging away at everything. School assignments are caught up for the moment, but two more due by the end of the week. There's definitely never a dull moment around here!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,