Friday, December 28, 2018

A quilty good year

Hi all, and welcome to the last Friday of 2018!  How is that even possible? What a year this has been, with some very high "ups" and some very low "downs." For our family, this has been a wonderful year of being with our children, giving thanks for our siblings and parents, and watching our amazing grandchildren grow and learn.  I am convinced they are smarter and more advanced than their parents were! In the sewing room, there were lots of ups and downs, too, but overall it was a fun year with lots of progress and many pretty things.  Let's take a short look back before 2019 takes over, shall we?

According to my handy-dandy quilt tracker Excel spreadsheet, I had 28 quilty finishes this year.  Wait, what? That can't be right.  Yep, it is! Many of these were previously pieced tops that I quilted up as I learned to use the walking foot to do my own quilting.  By far the most popular posts this year were centered on the Squared Away quilt along:

This is a quilt along that I did this year with Angela of soscrappy, and it was a lot of fun! I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's quilts and I'm looking forward to getting my own quilted up really soon.

All of the block tutorials and instructions are still available HERE.

Usually I can never pick a favorite quilt, but this year I finished one that will likely be one of my favorites forever:

This is a quilt I call Grandma's quilt, because it's a copy of a block that was made by my great grandmother.  I touch this quilt every day and it makes me happy every time.  I think it might make her happy and a little proud, too.

This year I also achieved something of a milestone-- I had two quilts that went to national quilt shows! 

Misfit Toys was shown at the AQS show in Virginia Beach, and It's Complicated is already off and will be hanging at the Road to California show in January.  Funny story-- all of the Road to California emails went to my spam folder, and I found out that my quilt was selected by accident.  Thankfully, there was still time to get the quilt sent!  Shows were never really a goal for me, but so far it's fun and I'm pretty happy about it!

This year I also made some special baby quilts:

Mountain baby went to the daughter of a dear friend for her first child and my friend's first grandchild (an incredibly adorable little boy!)

 Family of Three was a gift to my own younger daughter for her first baby girl, who is coming in January.

I made few doll quilts:

These were for the Share the Love event for A Doll Like Me, sponsored by my friend Bernie.

I made a T-shirt quilt:

And some free-pieced churches:

And I also seemed to have a thing for stars:

Falling Stars
Scattered Stars

And then the year finished with two happy quilts for my twin grandkids:

Two of a Kind

Overall, this has been a wonderful year and I'm so happy with how everything has turned out.  Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride.  I really value this supportive and happy community, and I hope you'll all come back in 2019.  I always enjoy reading about your adventures and I hope you enjoy mine as well.  It can get a little crazy sometimes, and it's definitely messy, but it's still fun!

Small stuffies

I'm continually surprised by how fast the time passes, but I'm sure that 2019 will be our best year yet! I've got some fun things planned, and I know you do, too.  Wishing you full bobbins, tangle-free thread, happy fabric, and a creative and happy 2019!

Expecto quiltonum!

Sharing at Meadow Mist Designs for the Best of 2018 party, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Let's Bee Social.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Two of a kind

Hi all! So, has everyone out there finished shopping, baking, and mailing?  Ha, ha-- I'm making myself laugh!  Is it ever finished?  At least this year I'm having a little more fun with it than I usually do and trying hard not to get stressed.  Hard to maintain that attitude in the grocery store, but I'm trying!

Today I'm showing off my last finishes for 2018.  After this, I'm closing the door to the sewing room so I don't see the mess in there and just enjoying the next couple of weeks.  I wasn't going to post this until after the holiday, but then I remembered that babies don't read blogs, so:

Ta-da!  These are the two quilts I made for my twin grandchildren for Christmas.  They didn't get quilts when they were born, so they are getting them for Christmas.  Don't worry, their older brother has plenty of quilts!  He's not being left out at all.

Both of these quilts are made of leftover pieced blocks alternated with large blocks of happy fabrics.  Let's look at the pink one first:

I love this quilt so much that if it weren't for my granddaughter I'd be tempted to keep it myself!  The pieced blocks were in the closet, and six of them were in a small top, with two other blocks pieced and parts that looked like they were just shy of another block.  I was confused, but I was able to look back to 2014 (!!!) when I made the top and discover that I'd need to piece together the remaining fabrics to make the remaining pieces for the last block.  Do that, or take the eight finished blocks and make them into a quilt for a tiny girl?  Hand me the seam ripper, because we're repurposing!  Easy choice!

I love the blue quilt, too! This quilt uses the remaining 15-inch blocks from the Squared Away project.  I had eight, which was just enough, and alternated them with a fun animal print.  I think they look great together and will be just right for a small boy. And I'm really fond of that turquoise binding, too.  The pink quilt is quilted with wavy lines, and this one is quilted in a cross-hatch that turned out smaller than expected, but is still cozy.

Much like the twins themselves, the backings for these quilts coordinate, but do not "match:"

Aren't those fun?  These are from the Modern Tykes line in two different colorways.  I think they're perfect!  The quilts finished in pretty good sizes-- the blue quilt is about 60 by 75, and the pink quilt is slightly bigger at 64 by 79.  This is just because the pink blocks were 16 inches and the blue ones were 15 inches.  They're equal in cuteness, though!

This Christmas my daughter in law asked for personalized gifts, especially for the twins, so these quilts include their names.  That's why I can't hang and show the whole thing-- I have to keep the tops folded over.  I can show you one or two letters, though:

Their names are in 6-inch letters and are appliqued on with a small zigzag.  I wanted to be sure that they wouldn't come off, so the zigzag goes through all layers, and I quilted over the letters, too. That should stand up to toddlers, don't you think?

These are wrapped and under my son's Christmas tree, and I can't wait to see them again on Christmas morning with some tiny humans chewing on them and dragging them around. 

And with that, the sewing room is closed for the year!  There will be a year in review post next week, but otherwise I will see everyone in 2019. I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas, or a happy holiday if you celebrate something else, and a chance for some rest and relaxation.  Have some cookies and some wine and just be with the people you love.  May your days be merry and bright!  See you next year!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dreaming for next year

Hi everyone!  I don't know about you, but I am having a heck of a month!  It has just been one thing after another for weeks.  I'm happy to say, though, that I did get my grades done and turned in a whole hour before the deadline, so that's behind me for now.  I've done some Christmas shopping, but I haven't touched Christmas cards or Christmas baking yet, so I'm still behind on plenty of things.  Story of my life!  Really looking forward to taking some down time and recharging over the next few weeks.

Since 2018 is very close to wrapping up, it's time to do a little planning for 2019.  2019! Can you even believe it? It sounds like someone has been making up the calendar all wrong.  I already know it's going to be a good year because we are having at least one new grandchild, which will undoubtedly be the highlight of the year, and I know for sure there are a few other happy developments coming.

Last year at this time, I was feeling really stressed and made up my mind to have no goals for the year because this is not my job, but something I do only because I enjoy it.  I still feel like rigid goals are not for me, but I do have a few "fuzzy" goals and one big concrete one for the sewing room next year.

First up are the fuzzy goals.  These are things I want to make sometime next year, but I don't have a schedule or anything for them, or a pattern or anything much more than an idea:

An Easter dress worn by both my daughters.  Can I take scissors to it?  We'll see!

First, I want to make a memory quilt for myself from the baby clothes I saved from my kids.  I've saved a couple boxes of clothes for literally 30 years, and I've never known what to do with them, except that I knew I didn't want to get rid of them.  Now that I've made a T-shirt quilt, I'm ready to tackle those boxes and see what I can get from them.  The real test will be whether I can bring myself to cut them up, so I guess we'll see what happens.  If you've done this with your own baby things, I'm open to any suggestions!

Red and white

Another fuzzy goal is that I want to make either a blue and white or red and white quilt.  I always admire these and I haven't ever made one.  I only recently discovered that there are some reds that I really do like, so the shopping for this project might be the fun part-- or the frustrating part, depending on how it goes.

This big pile of neutrals is another goal for next year.  I really am over using beige as a background, so I need to use these up.  I'm thinking of an all-neutral quilt which is all about value, but I don't have a pattern or anything.  Just an idea that I think a quilt could be striking if I do it right.  That's the trick with all neutral quilts, though, isn't it?

My last fuzzy goal, which I might be able to combine with one of the other goals, is to make a real quilt for our bed.  What?  Yes, I do not have a pieced quilt on my bed.  It's all because we moved from a queen size to a king size bed and all of the quilts were queen sized.  There's a mishmash on the bed now, and while I like all the quilts, I really need to make one just for that bed.  Maybe the neutral quilt would be a good choice for that? 

Patterns coming for quilts like these!

So, those are my fuzzy goals, but I do have one pretty firm one, too.  Next year I'm planning to start a quilt pattern company and start selling patterns! I know, I left the biggest news for last!  I'll be officially introducing Academic Quilts sometime early next year, but for now I'll just tell you that I've got three patterns in progress and I'll be asking for pattern testers in January.  I'm very excited about this and really looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. 

So those are my plans for 2019, as general as they may be.  I didn't have goals for this year and it turned out pretty well, so I think 2019 will be a great year, too.  If nothing else, it will be messy and fun, with pretty and warm and colorful things.  And the fabric, lots and lots of luscious fabric!  May all of the cutting and stitching make 2019 our best year yet!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social and Yvonne's 2019 Planning Party.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Reader's Choice Giveaway

Hi all!  I know, two posts in two days!  Not to worry-- this is just a short little post to let you know about a great event that my friend Bernie is running starting today over her blog, Needle and Foot. You will be interested, because there's a great giveaway attached to it!

Do you remember back in September, when I chose a bundle of fabrics for Bernie's shop, and then made this lovely quilt top from the fabric bundle?

This quilt is off at the longarmer, but I definitely remember making it and am looking forward to it coming home.  All through 2018, Bernie invited different bloggers to choose bundles, and then offered the bundles for sale.  Now that 2018 is almost over, Bernie is running a little "contest" to see which bundle was the favorite.  Of course I would like the bragging rights here!

This was my bundle from September.

If my bundle "wins," I would get a happy feeling, but you could get something a bit more substantial, because there is a big giveaway attached to the event.  Bernie saved one of each bundle this year, and she is giving away the whole set!  By my count, that's 62 fat quarters, though I may have counted wrong, but that's a lot of fabric!

All you have to do to enter is hop over to Bernie's blog post (HERE) and vote for your favorite bundle!  Bernie has all of the rules on her site, but here are a few:

            --one vote per person, so there is no stuffing the ballot box
            --voting goes through Saturday, December 15, with the winner drawn on Sunday, December 16
            --because of the weight of the fabric, this is only open to quilters in the US

Remember that my bundle was September, though all the bundles were lovely, so I won't hold it against you if you choose a different one.  And I sincerely hope one of you wins the fabric!  I get nothing from this but bragging rights, but imagine what you could create with all that fabric (or who you could give it to. . .Christmas is coming)

Back to the grades for me, but enjoy the rest of the week!  And good luck!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Family of three

Hi everyone! Its been a little while, hasn't it? I don't mind telling you that it's been a very stressful few weeks around here.  December is huge month for our family, with birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas and other religious events, plus all the rest of everyday life.  Oh, and the semester ends, too.  Yikes!  This year we've travelled three out of four weekends for milestone events, so now we're looking forward to spending the rest of December sitting on the sofa. (As if that's likely!)

Today I have a fun, happy finish to show off, in fun, happy colors:

I know what you're thinking-- a finish on a Monday?  Yep.  I made this as a baby gift for my daughter, and her baby shower was this weekend. (For you Catholics out there, it was on the feast of Immaculate Conception, which I found highly amusing.)  Since she sometimes looks at the blog, I had to wait to show it off until after the party.

Aren't these giraffes adorable? This is a pattern from Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts, and you can buy the pattern HERE.  The pattern is very, very easy and  goes together pretty fast.  I'll warn you that the cutting list is pretty intimidating, but there aren't any weird shapes, just squares and rectangles.  I think it took longer to cut than to piece! Seriously, there are two keys to success with Lorna's patterns (all of which are great and use similar methods): label all your pieces, and cross off steps as you go.  I found it really helpful to mark off each row of the giraffes as I finished them, because those little bits can get confusing.

I don't often make quilts all in solids, but my daughter and son in law are pretty modern, and solids fit this pattern really well.  I didn't write down all of the colors, but all of the fabrics are Kona cottons.  The background is a beautiful color that I just love called Bahama Blue, and the giraffes were made using Macaroni and Cheese for the bodies and Pecan for the spots.  (Those would be great names for the giraffes!) The greens were scraps from the stash and so was the binding, which is a slightly darker blue.

You know I had to add a fun detail to personalize this quilt, especially because it's so unisex and not girly at all.  (Which is great, because there don't seem to be a lot of unisex things for babies any more!)  I gave the baby giraffe a tiny bow on her head, which I made just by making a "house" shaped unit from the square that belonged there.  The squares I used were a little big, but I think it turned out well.

This quilt is a generous baby size, about 40 by 53, which should take her to toddlerhood.  As you can see, I quilted it in straight-ish lines, which was in keeping with the modern look of it.  I say "ish" because I wandered a bit, even if you can't tell.  I never really got the hang of the more "organic" lines, but I think these look okay.  I had a great stroke of luck and found a flannel backing that not only had giraffes, but also a blue background! It worked out perfectly.

In a complete coincidence, without any coordination from us, the baby's other grandmother made her a beautiful crocheted baby blanket in a color which almost matched the background color of the quilt! It's not as obvious in the picture above, but in person they are definitely a set.

So that's my big Monday finish! This is a happy quilt and I was thrilled to gift it to a brand new family of three.  We can't wait until this little girl gets here!

Hope you all are having a good week so far.  I've got some exams to grade, but I should be done by the end of this week, at which time I will sleep for about three weeks.  Or not, depending on how things work out!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, TGIFF, and Finished or Not Friday.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Winter tulips

Hi everyone! How was your week?  Has anyone started baking Christmas cookies? I'm looking for a *good* gluten free sugar cookie recipe, if anyone knows one.  These are my first GF holidays and I'm finding it difficult to find good replacements for old favorites.

It's the time of the year when it's very stressful here at the AQ house.  Lots of things going on and lots and lots of deadlines.  In the sewing room, I've been quilting up a bunch of things and it's felt like all I've done for the last couple of weeks is stitch straight lines.  These quilts will be awesome, but they can get really dull to work on towards the end.  So, what to do to stay creative and sane?  Work on a new-ish project, of course!  Here's what I came up with:

Tulip fields blocks, from Bonnie Hunter's book String Fling! I'm making my blocks bigger than hers, so I had to adjust the cutting and whatnot, but it's the same idea.  I also decided to use scrappy pieces for the tulip petals, too, where Bonnie uses a constant color. 

Never fear, I am not making all of these string blocks now!  That would add more stress. I started with this pile:

I made these blocks as an RSC project in (gulp!) 2015. I tried them out with some gray triangles earlier this year, but that never went anywhere.  Just couldn't find a pattern I liked for them. I'll take those apart and make them into tulips, too. I think these tulip blocks are much more my style and will make a prettier quilt.

That's the update from here! Looking ahead realistically, this project and the black blocks project will probably be all I'll have time to finish off this year.  I'll have some fun quilted finishes, but this will likely be the last start of a project.  Okay, I did pull one more out of the closet and I might work on it some, but only if it's fun. 

Hope you all have a good weekend! Tomorrow it will be December, if you can believe it.  Time to trim the tree, add some presents, and submit some final grades.  Fun!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and soscrappy for RSC18.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dark blue and wavy too

Hi everyone! Show of hands-- how many people are pretty sure they never want to see a turkey again?  Always lots of leftover turkey, never enough leftover pie.  It's the great Thanksgiving imbalance.  In spite of that, we had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too.  The day after Thanksgiving was a lazy day for us, mainly because it was quite chilly, though I do confess that I went online and purchased a few things. I didn't have to leave the couch, let alone stand in line outside. God bless Tim Berners-Lee.

Today I'm just dropping in to show off my totally quilted and bound Straight Away quilt:

This is one of the projects that I made with my 15-inch Squared Away blocks.  I finished the top a few weeks ago and then used this quilt to try out the serpentine stitch on the new machine.  It worked really well!  I only had a few hiccups, but thankfully they were mostly on the dark blue parts, so they were well hidden.

This is quilted with a dark blue Aurifil thread.  I always worry about using dark thread because I don't usually like dark thread on lighter fabrics, but here it doesn't really bother me. The backing is a dark floral from Alexander Henry so the stitches just blend in.  I bought about 6 yards of the backing for a song a while ago, so I still have enough left to back another quilt.

I quilted the lines about an inch and a half apart, and this is one of the coziest quilts I've ever made.  I'm so happy about that, because this quilt is winging its' way to Bernie for the Mercyful Quilts project.  You can read more about it HERE, but a very short explanation is that the Mercyful quilts go to the palliative care unit at Mercy Medical Center to aid in the care of the dying.  You should definitely go read Bernie's post.  It will touch your heart.

So there we are-- one more completely finished RSC quilt, and for a good cause.  I am happy to send this one off and I hope it brings some comfort to a family.  And I'm already quilting up another quilt with the serpentine stitch, so I should have it under good control by the end of the weekend.  I can't even tell you how thrilled I am about this.  I have two more RSC quilts I want to get into tops before the end of the year and I already feel like we're racing towardthat deadline.  We're staring at the end of 2018, people!

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend!  Freeze the rest of the turkey and go for a pizza.  It will feel great!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Counting my blessings

Hi everyone! Is your kitchen overwhelmed with pie-making, and perhaps a turkey thawing? I know what you're doing, and it smells fantastic and yummy!

It's Thanksgiving this week in the United States, and when we count our blessings this year, we will be counting one more.  See if you can guess what that blessing will be:

Yes, we are expecting another grandchild! Our daughter will be having a baby girl in January.  Yes, we are over the moon! And, yes, that does make four grandchildren in three years.  The more the merrier, I say! 

Since this tiny girl will be making her big debut in the coldest part of the year, I've made her some nice warm blankets to snuggle into.  These are always fun to make, and super easy to boot.  And just look at the really cute flannels I found!  Our daughter and her husband don't want a lot of pink, but thankfully there are some really cute flannels that are much more unisex than what they're selling in stores these days. 

I made four of the single-layer blankets and a double-sided one.  I make these without any measuring.  To do this, I just remove the selvages and square up one end.  Then I fold the squared-off end diagonally to meet one of the edges where the selvages were.

Trim and then hem and you've got a good-sized baby blanket!  This gives you a blanket that is about 40 inches square, depending on the original width of the flannel.  Mine were just over 40 inches.  The peas and carrots, the green, and the little sprigs are Lil' Sprouts Flannel Too, which is a very nice heavyweight flannel that turned out really soft and made great blankets.  The super cute fishbowls are a Michael Miller flannel from Bernie's shop, and it also washed beautifully and made a great little blanket. 

Since they now tell parents not to put coats on babies so that the car seat straps fit nice and snug, I also made a double-sided blanket that is quite a bit heavier and can be used over the car seat carrier when she has to go somewhere.  Double-sided ones are also nice to have for other uses, too. To make the double -sided one, I cut one of the flannels using the same method as above, then pinned, pinned, pinned it to the uncut other layer, right sides together. 

Stitch first, leaving an opening for turning, then trim the second layer away. Turn and stitch about 1/4 inch from the edges all around, which will also stitch the opening closed.  Voila--a double-sided blanket with no measuring!  The pennants flannel for this blanket came from Bernie's shop, too, and the apricot is the Lil' Sprouts.  To be honest, I really wanted a pink for the back, but I didn't want to risk the wrath of the mom to be.  I think the apricot cuts the pinkness of the pennants enough, don't you?

So that is our happy, happy news for this Thanksgiving.  One more especially happy blessing among the many, many others we count.  I hope you and your families are all counting many blessings as well this Thanksgiving.  Everybody travel safe over the river and through the woods, and shop safe on Friday, too!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Finished or Not Friday.