Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Stitching together a plan

 Hi all! Well, it looks like we made it through 2021-- hurray for us! It had its challenges, but now I'm ready to look ahead to the new year and make a few stitching plans. To get ready for 2022 I'm taking inventory of my sewing room and sorting out what to sew, what to toss, and what to repurpose. I'm being ruthless. (Kind of. We all know how hard it is to part with some things!) Want to come along and see what's up? Come on in, but watch out for pins on the floor. . . and you know there's thread everywhere, right?
Before we look forward, I guess we should look back at my goals for 2021, shouldn't we? I actually had some! Let's see:
Get the remaining unquilted tops quilted or donated (or both!)  According to my handy dandy quilt project spreadsheet, I have 23 completed quilts for 2021, along with three tops and a few other small projects. Hold the phone-- can that be right? Yep, it is. Before anyone is impressed, the vast majority of these are projects from the closet, some of which had been there for quite some time.  Happy to move those out! So I guess that also counts for the next goal, Continue cleaning out and repurposing UFOs. Yay for that!
Another goal was Learn one new skill or take on one new challenging project. I did this! I've been learning to longarm and renting time on a machine. I'm getting better at it, but I have a ways to go. It's super fun, though, and learning is definitely not a chore.

This quilt is a finished UFO that became a donation, plus it's the first one I used for my longarming lessons. Win, win, win!
An unrealized goal: Finally finish a quilt for our bed. It's cut, with some stitching, but mainly in pieces-- lots and lots of pieces. Let's make that a goal for this year, okay? 
So, I didn't do too badly with my goals for last year. I got all those tops out of the closet, and that's a major win. I must really like quilting, or else I really had a lot of time alone, or both. Of course, we did have Covid lockdowns and protocols and social distancing and grocery pickup, so I'm sure that all contributed too.

Let's look ahead! I have some specific things to accomplish next year:

--Finally, finally finish a quilt for our bed. It's pretty shameful that I don't have this completed yet.

--Quilt up and donate the three remaining UFO tops that are hanging in the closet.
--I've repurposed and ditched and finished a number of piecing UFOs, and I kept two that I really want to finish, so one goal is to finish the black blocks quilt:

--I also want to finish the string flowers quilt:

--In a related goal, I want to finish putting together the free-pieced churches (no pictures, sorry)

-- A few years ago, I purchased a bunch of custom hand-dyed yardage from Vicki Welsh:

There is at least 11 yards here. I bought it for a specific quilt pattern and then I never made the quilt. Because I am very, very stupid. So my goal is to either make the planned quilt (which I no longer want to do) or find a project or two to make use of this really beautiful yardage. Open to suggestions!
--I also need to start a hand applique project which I have been planning for years. It's time. 
--Finally, on a personal note, I will continue my search for balance in a world full of stress. Clearly I have little idea what this means, but I keep trying! 

Those look like some good goals, so that's my list! Let's meet back here next year and see how I did, okay?
With that, let's put a bow on 2021 and turn towards 2022. It's bound to be a good year, at least in our little quilty community. Let's pray that it finally brings an end to the pandemic and more normalcy, along with greater health and happiness for all. Until then, though, be as safe as you can and stay healthy.

Wishing you all a new year filled with peace and joy, health and happiness! Happy 2022, everyone!

Sharing at the 2022 Planning Party at Quilting Jet Girl.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

A different year, in a good way

 Hello all, and welcome to the end of 2021! I hope your holiday went great and you're ready to take a look back at the year that was along with me. It was a different kind of year, in a mostly good way. Certainly less trauma, along with much more fun, interspersed with bouts of bad pandemic news. But I got a vaccine (or three!) and was able to meet my granddaughter who was born during lockdown, and to see my parents, my kids, and several of my siblings and nieces and nephews. That alone makes 2021 a much better year.

I must have spent a lot of time indoors and away from other people in the past year, because I finished a lot of things up this year, including fully completed quilts, unquilted tops, and other quilted things like fabric baskets and table toppers (And masks. I made more of those, too. Ugh.) Many of those projects were several years old already and just came out of the closet and got quilted up. Combine a full closet with lockdowns and social distancing and you have a recipe for many finishes!

There are two quilts that won the popularity contest this year, and they are both bright and happy, which we definitely needed this year:
(Clicking on the captions will take you to the post about that quilt!)

Both of these are quilt tops that were in the closet and finally got finished up this year. That's a good argument for cleaning out that closet, isn't it? A much-needed jolt of happiness in a sometimes-dark year.

My personal favorites are also a tie. I finished two quilts that had been in progress for a long time, and now they are actually both on beds in my home:

Cold, clear, and colorful and Paper Dolls
In addition to these, there were several other fun, happy quilts completed this year, including this beauty that was a gift for my niece's wedding:
A quilt to end the summer

That's a happy way to start married life, isn't it? It was hard to get pictures of this one because I thought I would take pictures at the wedding venue and it didn't really work out, but the bride and groom loved it just the same.

A few more bright, happy finishes:
Clockwise: Brown bear, Bear on my Quilt, Sunshine in the Rain Lost and found.
Some donation quilts: 

A few baby quilts:
A special quilt finish for my sister-in-law:
Finishing Betty's Quilt

And a couple of tops that will become happy finishes in the new year.:

Snail's Trail and Saguaro

That pretty much rounds out my quilty year! I'm surprised by the roundup, but happy, and grateful that I have friends to share it with. 

Now, let's say thank you to 2021 and bid it goodbye, and get ready to welcome 2022! Wishing you all peace, happiness, and lots of color in the new year. 2022 is bound to have its own challenges, but we've faced down plenty of others, so let's all resolve to look forward with hope and joy, with friends by our side to share it with.

Happy 2022, everyone, with love and good wishes to all!

Pine Tree Point

Sharing at Cheryl's Best of 2021 roundup at Meadow Mist Designs.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Clouds of stars

 Hi all, and happy weekend! I have finished my grades for the semester, so now my brain is mush, but I feel pretty good. I taught a course called Death and Dying this semester, and I cannot tell you how happy I am that that is finished! I won't have to think about it again for three years or so, plus I can now fully enjoy the sparkly lights and happy songs. It's something like 60 degrees outside, so the effect is a little muted, but I am loving it anyway.

Today I have the last finish of 2021 to show off. Can you believe this year is ending? Me either! I thought it would never get out of here, but now it can't wait to leave. And here is what it's wrapping up in at the end:
It's the Ohio Star quilt that I finally quilted up into something nice and cozy. I love how old fashioned it looks, but still pretty contemporary. 

I made this quilt as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge at soscrappy. I know it doesn't look like a rainbow quilt, but it really is! I made three blocks a month in the color of the month, and then put them together earlier this year. Since this is a scrap quilt, I kind of threw everything in there for the setting squares and it turned out. That always surprises me.

I quilted this myself with a pantograph called Cotton, which is really curvy and easy to follow, and gives the quilt a great texture. I'm getting much better at the long arming thing and I want to try some more complex pantos. The ones I have look so good, though, and this one went pretty fast. 

I used a green wide print for the backing, and then dithered for a while about the binding. I wanted to use the border fabric as a binding, but there were only a few scraps left, so I auditioned several choices, mostly blue and green. They all clashed terribly. I happened on the red and it looked pretty good to me. A surprise, but a good one!

I think my mom would like this quilt, so I'm going to offer it to her, and if she doesn't want it, it's going to live here for a while. What a tragedy that would be, right?

And that's a wrap for 2021! We have a lot of merry-making to do, and no one has cleaned this place in a while, so maybe I'll start on that. And I think some people may be expecting Christmas cookies and other goodies, too, so there's another thing to do. In fact, that sounds yummier than cleaning!

Thanks for coming along on the ride that was 2021, and I hope all of you have a lovely, restful, and peaceful holiday, whichever one you celebrate. It's been a rough year, so everybody take care of yourselves, and come back for the year end round up post next week.

Happy holidays!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, Patchwork and Applique, Oh, Scrap, and soscrappy for RSC 21.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Decking the halls

 Hi everyone! Well, it's December-- almost mid-December!-- and we are staring down the end of 2021. I know, it's crazy, because I'm still not over the trauma of 2020. But here we are, and it's time to deck the halls. I did get some new sparkly lights and they help my mood a whole lot, plus we got a new tree that actually fits the high ceilings in the family room. Our old one looked really tiny, and this one is much better, even though we need a ladder to get all the way up there to put the angel on top.
So, since we are decking the halls, I finished up two projects that are new parts of our holiday decor. First up is this little project:
This is the Cactus Star from Barbara Cline's book Diamond Star Quilts, which you can find right HERE. I finished this little project top back in March and just quilted it up this week, mainly because I think it looks like a Christmas cactus and will look lovely on the table for the holiday. 

I quilted this with my walking foot, just outlining the flower and leaves, adding in some rays, and stitching a flower in the center. I used two layers of white batting to make it extra cushy (for dishes, you know) and a white backing with sparkly dots. It didn't take long to quilt up, and I love how it turned out. That pink binding makes my heart happy.
The next project might be a little traumatic for some people, but I don't regret it one bit. It all started with this cute little quilt that I made a long time ago:

It's cute, but we don't use it very much. I used to hang it on the wall, but there are not a lot of walls here, and who wants a quilt to live in a box for years? What to do? Well. . . fold it in quarters and pin it to the ironing board:

Grab a piece of ribbon and a marking pencil and mark a circle, then cut! (Told you it could be traumatic!)

Then grab a cup or something similar and cut a circle in the middle, with another cut from a side to the center circle.

Then you have to make some bias binding and bind the edges, including the center circle. 

Honestly, this was the most painful part of the whole thing. That binding is stretchy, and I had to remember how to bind the inner curves. it took a little while. But it's worth it, because look:

. . .it turns into a happy tree skirt! This is much better than staying in that box for another year. I looked for a nice blue to use as binding like I had in the original quilt, but instead I ended up with a snappy Christmas green. I think it works. 

You may think I'm crazy, but I am so, so happy with this little project. I really only lost the corners of the old quilt, and this is very festive!

Hope you all are getting some time to stitch and maybe doing a few other happy, festive things. I think we're finally all decked out, and I'm looking forward to finishing up the semester next week and finally having a little down time with less stress. I have no idea how that will feel, but we'll see!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, and the linkup at Patchwork and Applique.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Pining for some sparkle

 Hi everyone! Holy cow, it's December. I feel like I lost all of November somehow, and I'm hoping not to lose December, which is far more festive than any other month. For Thanksgiving, we went off to see our older grandchildren, and we had more fun than you can imagine, including putting up the Christmas tree and having cake for the twins' birthday. We also got to draw pictures, play 'fetch,' and hear all about school and all the other kid things you miss when you're not around every day. It was super awesome. Also, there was turkey.

So now we're back to the same old same old, and it's time to get our own place looking festive. I need some sparkly lights, darn it! In that spirit, I have finished up another quilt with some happy undertones: 
I don't know if this is really Christmassy, but I like it a lot and it adds a lot of brightness to a kind of gray part of the year. All those leaves will be picked up soon and then it will be pretty bare for a while.
Look at all that fun variety!
This is my version of Pine Tree Point, which is a Bonnie Hunter pattern that you can get HERE. I repurposed a failed Rainbow Scrap Challenge project into this happy top earlier this year, and just quilted it up recently. I have no regrets about cutting up that planned project and turning it into this one. How could I when it looks so great?

I quilted this myself on rented longarm time in a pattern called Popcorn, which is kind of swirly and twirly and looks a little bit like snow blowing if that's what you want to see. Mostly it just gave the quilt a great texture and made all those strings look great. Also, it was pretty easy to follow with the longarm and hid a lot of bobbles and bumps. It's really hard to make that panto look bad, thank goodness.

When your longarmer tells you to stay-stitch around the edges of your string quilts, you should definitely do it. They stretch! I managed, though, because I had stay-stitched the edges and because I still go really slow. I love all the strings in the border, though, and would definitely do this as a border again. I threw everything in there-- even pink and yellow along with the white, beige and a few grays-- and it still turned out looking great.

I used a piece of a wide backing that I had, though the quilt is only about 48 by 60. I cut up my piece of backing for several smaller quilts that wouldn't fit on one piece of standard yardage. I think I'm getting spoiled by these wider backings, or maybe I've just gotten too lazy to join backing pieces now. The binding doesn't exactly match the blue frames in the quilt, but it is really close. It's also the smallest binding I've ever done. I usually cut the binding at 2-1/2 inches for a double fold binding but made a mistake and somehow cut this one at only 2 inches. I couldn't stretch the fabric, so I went ahead and used the 2 inch cuts. It was a struggle, but it worked somehow.

I'm not sure this is a Christmas quilt, really, but it fits right in with a lot of our other decor, and I'm glad that it's finished in time for the season. The unquilted top list is getting pretty short, too, and I'm really jazzed about that. What if I finish all of them? Yikes!

I hope all of you had a great holiday and are having fun getting ready for the next one. Bring on the sparkly lights! Maybe I better grade these exams first, though, because Christmas is not the only thing that's coming soon. Finals are on the horizon. Double yikes!

Have a good weekend, all! Do something festive!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, Patchwork and Applique, Oh, Scrap, and soscrappy for RSC 21.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Six years in the making

 Hi everyone, and happy Thanksgiving! Where did November go? Seriously, it just slipped away from me. Maybe you really can fold space and time. That would also explain the never-ending laundry and dishes, wouldn't it?

To celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to show off a finish that I am really thankful for and that seems really appropriate today. It's been done for a month while I dithered about whether I should add anything else to it, but I've finally decided it's perfect as is. Here we are:

Can that be the Paper Dolls quilt, after all this time? Yes, yes it is! 

I started this quilt way back when we lived in Wisconsin, for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2015. I packed up all the dolls and moved them to the East coast, then finally finished the top in Delaware. And it stayed in the closet for a long time after that. I hate it when that happens, don't you?

I finally pulled it out earlier this year, reworked it a little by rearranging the rows so that it's more square and suited for a bed, and sent it off to Alycia to be custom quilted. She did an amazing job! I went back and forth for a couple of months about the binding, then finally went with the binding that matched the border. It helps that I already had that binding made. I planned to add some embroidery, but in the end I just added eyes to the dolls and let that be enough.

The custom quilting Alycia did is fantastic and really makes the quilt shine. All of the dolls have flowers on their skirts, and there are a variety of different backgrounds quilted in. Look at the extra special quilting on the bride! Isn't that beautiful? All of the dolls got special treatment, and a lot of the bigger open areas are feathers. It turned out so great, and I'm so happy with it.

I don't know why it took me so long to finish this quilt, because I love all of the dolls. Some of them are based on people I know, and some of them were just dictated by the available scraps. Oh, yeah-- everything in the quilt except the borders and sashing is a scrap of some sort. It was a scrap challenge, after all. I can't pick a favorite, though the bride was based on my daughter, so maybe I could go with that one. Really, though, I love them all.

The saying in the center of the quilt is not in the pattern, but I think it adds a lot, especially since these are all women of different races, ethnicities, and ages. We all could stand to support each other more in spite of our differences, don't you think?

If you zoom in, you can see that the dolls have a variety of different-colored eyes as well as different hairstyles, and some of them have really wild hair. I had a lot of fun creating all of them with all different personalities. Some of them turned out to be very different than I thought they would be, but they're still great. Just like people, you know?

I want to give credit to the designer whose pattern I adapted for this quilt, even though it looks like the website no longer exists. The dolls were designed by Phyllis Paul, and I used her pattern to make the doll bodies, but made up my own hair appliques and block arrangement. I'm really sorry that her pattern doesn't seem to be available any more, because the dolls were pretty easy to make. If you see it anywhere, be sure to grab a pattern!
This quilt is going to live on the bed that our granddaughter uses when she is here. That's really why it finally got finished-- I can't wait to see her making up stories about the dolls and looking at all of their fun clothes and hair styles. And who doesn't want to sleep under a doll quilt? (Or on top of it, as my granddaughter does.) 

I hope you all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and are finally getting together with some family. It's a much better holiday this year than last, that's for sure! Enjoy the pumpkin pie!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or not Friday, Brag About Your Beauties, Patchwork and Applique, Oh, Scrap, and soscrappy for RSC 21 (and finally finishing RSC 15!)

Friday, November 12, 2021

Chasing squirrels

 Well, hello everyone! Been a couple of weeks, hasn't it? Sometimes life is more complicated than we want it to be, and really, I would swear it's only November first. Wasn't Halloween yesterday? In the last couple of weeks, I pieced a queen-sized quilt (which is a Christmas present, so it will be shown in January), visited a quilty friend, worked more than I can say, had about 50,000 meetings, and also managed to sleep a little. And, hey, the furniture that we ordered in April finally came! So if I need a nap, there's a place for that!

So, while I was piecing my gift quilt, I also veered off in a squirrelly direction or two. Several bloggers, including Julie, Wanda, and Nancy, are making Gridlock quilts, from a pattern by Kaffe Fassett. It happens that I need a quilt for myself, and you know what happens when a squirrel bites, so. . .

Yep, those are the first few blocks I've made for my very own Gridlock quilt. Once I saw Julie's and clicked through to the others, there was really nothing I could do but go and get the required book from the library (the only Kaffe book my branch had, too), start sorting fabrics, and start stitching. It just had to happen!

I need a backdrop for Zoom calls and classes, because I've rearranged the guest room where I taught last year and I don't necessarily want people staring at the bed in there (even though it's covered with a lovely quilt), plus I have a lot of leftover neutrals, so I was looking for a pattern for a neutral quilt. This one won't be as colorful as the others, but I think it will make a lovely backdrop.
I'm sorry to admit that the squirrels have run rampant in other ways, too. Last weekend Gudrun Erla had a one-day quilt-along with her new Phoenix pattern, and while I couldn't quilt along, I did pretty much assemble the whole top for that one, too. I just have a couple of blocks to go, so that will be finished soon, too.

I really don't know what got into me, but a while ago I purchased a bundle of towelling fabric, which I have never bought before. It sat and sat, and then last week I was bored so I just grabbed it, squared the ends, and hemmed the darned things. They are fantastic! I don't know why I waited so long to do them, but they work great. The hemming was super-simple, too. 

So that's my story for the last couple of weeks-- just work and chasing squirrels. At least they're friendly! Plus, even though I have to be stuck at work *a lot* right now, I get to enjoy this lovely view:

The view from my office, with the rain moving out.

Hope you all have had a good week and have some lovely views of your own, and not too many squirrels. The only way to get rid of them is to make the dang things, you know? Happy weekend!

Sharing at Finished or Not Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Oh Scrap!