Thursday, December 26, 2013

December Finishes

So my goal for the December "A Lovely Year of Finishes" was to finish the Riley Blake Challenge top. I did that the day after I posted my goal on Flickr. So here it is, with the backing done and basted for quilting. I may even get it finished before the new year. We'll see.

I am particularly pleased with the backing for this quilt. It works with the front perfectly. But you'll have to wait for all the pictures until I have finished it.

I also completed my Christmas Quilt, which I've decided to name "Snowed In," in time for Christmas. My hubby and I sat under it to watch Aladdin on Christmas Eve. It was one of his gifts and we always unwrap one each on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day.

Here I am, hand stitching the binding down on Christmas Eve. My cuddly Sir Galahad is perched behind me, unhappy that the quilt is taking up all of his lap space. It was so great to be able to snuggle under it together while we played Guild Wars 2 after everyone had left on Christmas Day.

I leave you with a panorama picture of our Christmas Day Open House spread. We had Mucho Gusto, Bruschetta, charcuterie and cheeses, root veggies, vegetarian and sausage stuff mushrooms, Swedish meatballs, raw veggies with ranch dip, cream cheese logs, easy Swedish apple pie, buckeyes, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and spiced pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. Also homemade eggnog  (alcoholic), mulled cider (with optional alcohol), and an assortment of beers, juices, milk, or sparkling cider. We had a blast, had quite a few people drop in, and played Munchkin and Cards Against Humanity.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celebrating 100+ Followers and the End of Cutting

Between Google Friends and Bloglovin', I now have over 100 followers, from the Sew Mama Sew Give-Away. I'm super excited. Thanks for joining me!

I have finally finished cutting fabric for my Scrappy Swoon quilt.

Let me just say... holy (insert your favorite four letter word here). What a process. But I feel quite happy about being done. I am using 4.5 and 5" squares instead of the 3.5 and 3 7/8" the original QAL called for. The QAL quilt finishes at 72" square, mine will finish at 96" square. I also like trimming down my HSTs a bit, since I'm trimming down the dog ears anyway, and have a tendency to meander slightly when sewing on the bias.

Some fabric highlights include a Tardis damask, bowtie fabrics, Thing 1 and 2 from Dr. Seuss, Phantom of the Opera masks, fire plumes, alpacas, and several other things that have special meaning to them.

The stats:
Background: Black, 42 5" squares, 192 4.5" squares
Primary Color: Purple, 36 5" squares, 132 4.5" squares
Secondary Color: Blue-green (Aqua, Teal, Turquoise), 30 5" squares, 168 4.5" squares

151 different fabrics
600 squares total
8.319 yards of cut fabric (not counting the extra squares I cut from the scraps)

I would love to say I'm done with cutting fabrics forever. Alas this is not the case. I have started on the half hexies for my sister's wedding quilt. I have several already cut (below is my very first one), and quite a few 4.5" strips from cutting the blue-greens for the Scrappy Swoon quilt. The colors for the half hexie quilt will be blue-green, green, grey, and pops of coral. Pretty excited about that one.

I also promised my mother a quilt, although she didn't specify an exact deadline and she's paying for the fabric I use, so yay. I'm leaning towards Modified Bento Boxes. And will be using blues and greens for hers. And I also promised my husband a quilt. I am making him a pixelated quilt using a county map of Michigan, where we both grew up. I had him choose the background color and to my surprise he chose first Kona Water, which was way lighter than I had originally intended to go, and then Kona Pacific, which was a little better. Since I let him choose, I ordered the fabrics despite my slight misgivings. It will still be stunning, regardless. He also gave me carte blanche on the colors for the counties. I specifically asked him about pink and he said there would be so little of it and it would be so spread out that it didn't really matter. Yay! I love creative freedom.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away Winner

The winner of my give-away was #73 - Renee. She has already responded to my email and I have sent the gift certificate off. Thanks to everyone who entered. I really enjoyed reading about everyone's favorite holiday traditions!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away Reminder

Just a reminder that you only have a few hours left to enter my Give-Away for a $25 Gift Certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics. Please enter here.

In other news, I've been quite busy cutting fabric for the Scrappy Swoon QAL quilt. No pictures yet, but I have all of the black background fabrics cut out and am working on the purples now. Blue-greens yet to come.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December Goals and Upcoming Contest/Give-Away

I am working on getting a quilt naming contest/give-away together since I am horrible at naming my own quilts and I need some help. I am just working on some suitable prizes for the winners and one bigger give-away item for a random winner. Stay tuned.

So I set my December goal for "A Lovely Year of Finishes" via Flickr this month. It was to finish the top for my Riley Blake Challenge hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild.

Fabrics were already cut when I made myself that goal. But guess what... I already finished my goal for the month. The very next day!

Now what am I supposed to do with the rest of my month!?! Just kidding, I have plenty of projects.

So here is my to do list for the rest of December. December for me includes a whopping two weeks off from my job for Christmas and we're not going anywhere because my hubby has to work, so in my mind that equates to two weeks of sewing!

1) Get the top of the Community Quilt put together, at least in a 5x6 block layout. I'm still missing one Skyline block, which someone has offered to make, and four house blocks, which I don't have any takers for yet. It took me long enough to make one, so I'm not keen on making another four.

My house block.

The Skyline blocks so far.

The four "odd" shaped road pieces.

I still need to put together several straight road pieces, square up the house blocks, and sew blocks together. I am already loving the Skyline blocks.

2) Finish sewing together the Giant Churn Dash blocks. Fabric is already cut out, just need to piece them together.

3) Start cutting half hexis for my sister's wedding quilt. Colors requested were blue-green and dark green, with potential grey. I may choose something besides grey, depending on how dark the rest of the quilt gets.

4) Work on the Java wedding quilt. I'm very tempted to just rip out the second borders I have on the first set of blocks and put the blocks together as is. Won't be much of a pineapple blossom design, but it may save my sanity and actually get this thing done.

5) Continue putting together the Plus Wedding Quilt. All the rows are done, just need to sew them together.

6) Keep cutting fabric for the Scrappy Swoon Wedding Quilt.

7) Decide if I want to participate in the Modern from Repo guild challenge. If I do decide to participate, I need to come up with a design by December 15. However, except for the solids and the blenders, none of the fabrics we're actually supposed to showcase really speak to me. So I'm having designer's block big time. Benefit of participating is that we get all the fabric needed for the project for free. Front, backing, and binding.

8) Decide on a project for the February quilt show at the Anacostia Arts Center. We need to have pictures of at least the front (or a portion of the finished front) by sometime in January. I might actually start on that Pixelated Michigan quilt I promised my hubby. Who knows. Alternatively, I may enter my Riley Blake Challenge or the Giant Churn Dash quilt, if I get it done in time.

I think that's plenty, although I have two other projects I could/should be starting on.

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away

So I am joining up with the Sew Mama Sew Give-Away day. This has nothing to do with my quilt naming contest, which is yet to come.

I will be giving away a $25 gift certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics, one of my favorite fabric stores.

I especially love their Color Stacks and Collection Coordinates.

I will ship internationally. No reply bloggers, please leave your email address with your comments.

This give-away is now closed. The winner will be picked randomly.

There were three ways to enter:

1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite holiday tradition is (required).
2) Leave a separate comment telling me how you follow my blog (optional).
3) Share my give-away, and leave me a comment with a link to your post on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, your blog, etc. (optional).

Happy Holidays and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Updated: And the winner is....

Number 73... Renee!

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Low Volume Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Low Volume Baby Quilt
Dimensions: 35x45 Inches
Pieces: Front - 126
Pattern: Simple Split Rail
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
This quilt is for a coworker whose baby is due middle or end of December. For some reason I thought it was beginning of December, so when I had extra time the weekend before Thanksgiving, I finished it up real quick.
The only direction I got from my coworker was the following: 1) they wanted to keep it gender neutral even though they knew they were having a little girl (which I'm totally cool with) and 2) the nursery walls are beige and she didn't want anything too bold, because she wanted the nursery to be very soothing (to each their own, I guess). That wasn't a whole lot to go on, so I decided to do low volume. But being me, I just couldn't resist throwing in one or two slightly bolder fabrics.
The top is a simple two patch split rail pattern, with the stair steps in alternating blue and green, with neutral creams and whites in between. I outline quilted it on both sides of the blue and green steps at about 1/2 an inch from the seam. The backing is a Riley Blake fabric and the binding is Kona White. I was going to add an applique sea turtle to the front, but decided to leave it as is. I embroidered my initials in the corner on the subway ride into the city to drop it off.
My coworker loved it, and said it matches her nursery perfectly. Mission accomplished. :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Red Star Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Red and White Star Quilt
Dimensions: 60x60 Inches
Pieces: Front - 1,500
Technique: Paper Piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons in red and blue for the blocks, Kona Snow for the background
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
I actually finished it in time! And finished a baby quilt to boot (post about that next time). I'm super happy with how it turned out too.

So at the beginning of November, I decided that I really wanted to do something for my boss. She's the best. She's really good about private constructive criticism, public praise, and explaining why she does things even if it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with my job. I enjoy learning things from her, and really think that I am growing as a person. Anyway, she was scheduled for knee replacement surgery on December 4 (she made it through surgery just fine, if you're wondering). And I decided that a quilt would be the perfect thing to cheer her up during her month long recovery and physical therapy. So one day I asked her what her favorite color was and she answered "red." I asked her if there was anything else, and she said, "no, just red." Ok, red it was going to be. But since she worked at the Pentagon for 15 years and is a huge patriot, I decided to throw a bit of blue into the mix for the red, white, and blue thing. It seemed appropriate.

I don't know why I chose the most complicated paper piecing pattern ever created, but I was looking for a good star pattern (again, it seemed appropriate). I remembered the Basketweave Star pattern I've been ogling for some time, and decided to go for it. After making first one corner and then a whole block as a tester, I almost gave up. Then changed my mind and found a whole bunch of different star patterns, and then changed my mind again and decided to just go for it. I sent out a plea for help to my guild, because I knew that I wasn't going to have enough variety in my red stash (fairly small at the time), and also told myself that I was going to buy a bunch of red fat quarters at Capital Quilts during our next guild meeting there, which luckily happened to be at the beginning of November.

My guild came through for me in spectacular fashion and the scraps they brought for me added much needed variety. In a lot of cases, there was enough for only one or two pieces, but it was perfect for adding bits of interesting I Spy moments. I made the one blue star block in the midst of paper piecing the remaining 92 red corners. All of the fabrics came from my scrap box, and I cut up several of my 5.5" squares. I cut up way too many scraps, but I did like the end result. On the blue block and the red blocks, I had a lot of fun, placing the corner pieces just so, to get as many "fussy cut" looks as possible.

I finished all of the blocks and sewed the top row together the Thursday before Thanksgiving. After work on Friday, I finished piecing the top together, cut the batting, and pre-shrunk it. On Saturday, I had to make a trip to Joann's for my favorite Coats and Clark 100% mercerized cotton thread in blue and red. I pieced the backing, pin-basted the quilt on my living room floor, and started quilting.

I used stitch-in-the-ditch in either red or blue around each of the stars. My batting says quilt every 10", so outlining each star would have been plenty. Then I outline stitched at about 1/2" from the edge of the stars just along the outer edge in white. I loved the look so much that I just had to outline all of the sides. I "cheated" a bit and sewed in zig zag lines instead of inside each diamond as I had originally planned. No threads to bury and I didn't have to turn the quilt 360 degrees each time. It also made a cool star pattern at each corner. The white showed up on the back much better, but the red and blue are also faintly visible. All in all, I really liked the look of the quilting on the back.

I squared up the quilt no problem. Next up was the binding. I've been dying to use a striped binding on a quilt and this seemed to be the right time. I cut 2.5" strips, ironed them in half, and sewed them onto the front of the quilt using the mitered corners method. On Sunday I sat downstairs with my hubby before he had to go to work, and hand sewed the binding to the back of the quilt. Monday, on the subway ride to work I hand embroidered my initials into the bottom right corner. My boss loved it! We spent a good 10 minutes trying to find the one piece of red fabric with little white sheepies on it, but couldn't find it. Guess she'll just have to keep looking while she's recovering from her surgery.