Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Stitching together 2022

 Hello all, and welcome to the yearly wrap-up here at the Academic Quilter! If you've been reading along this year-- thanks! If you're new, welcome! Today's post is the year-end blog wrap-up, inspired by Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs and her Best of 2022 Linky Party. It's always a good time to look back and see what happened this quilty year, and look at some fun accomplishments. Come on along with me down memory lane. . .
(Clicking on the captions will take you to that post.)
For me, 2022 will always be about one non-quilty thing, but I did manage to get quite a lot of quilty stuff done this year. I finished 15 quilts and another seven tops, plus at least nine "other" quilty projects, like table toppers and a scrap basket, and heaven knows I started a lot more. (Why is starting a quilt so much fun?) That's not too bad, considering the last quarter of the year was pretty much a bust. Here are some of the high points from this year:

Biggest project
This year's biggest project was the Hands2Help donation quilt challenge. Our friend Sarah was unable to do it this year, so I took it over temporarily. It was a big project and ended up with 562 donated quilts! I learned so, so much, and made some new friends, and some great organizations got great donations. Sarah will be back for the next Hands2Help, and I hope everyone will go over and support this great project. It's so much work, so be sure to give her all the support you can!

Free patterns for donation quilts from many bloggers are still available! Check them all out starting right HERE, and follow the links for many great ideas.

Biggest coincidence

In a completely unplanned and surprising coincidence, I both started and ended the year with buffalo plaid quilts! 

A moose on my quilt, Icy and blue
I was really surprised when I looked back at my projects this year and found this coincidence. The moose quilt was a gift for someone and was the first post for 2022, and the blue plaid used up some fabrics from an abandoned project and was the last post. Look for more of these buffalo plaids in the future, too. They're fun and easy.

Most satisfying finish, over which many tears were shed
The most satisfying finish of 2022 was a scrappy Snail's Trail with a beachy feel:
 This quilt turned out great, but the tears were all about what happened when the tension on the longarm I was renting messed up and I ended up having to pick out a LOT of quilting. Several rows were like this:
Seriously, I almost gave up, but I managed to get all the bad stitching ripped out, remount it on the longarm, and then finish it off. There is a slight disconnect between the two stitching sessions, but no one will notice it but me. A very satisfying finish for sure, almost a rescue, and it used up so many blue scraps.
Favorite accident
Every quilter has accidents cutting fabric or stitching it, and the quilt above was certainly a very sad one. However, it was somewhat balanced by this happy accident:

Accidentally modern
This was an abandoned quilt backing for a quilt that was never finished, and I quilted it up more for practice than anything else. It turned out great! It's now hanging happily in my hallway outside the bedrooms, and it always makes me smile.

Brightest finish

A lot of my quilts use brights, though I've been trying to branch out this year and incorporate more colors and "feelings" in my quilts. I tried to pick the "brightest" quilt from this year, and was tied on these two that I really love:

Dinosaurs on Parade, Bold Choices
Looking at that bright, happy collage, you just can't help but be cheerful, can you? The dinosaurs quilt is from the Stay at Home Round Robin, a quilt along by Quilting Gail and friends, a prolific quilter and blogger who makes lots of stuff, and the other was a quilt I made to test the Synergy pattern by Sew Preeti Quilts. I love the pink background! I need to do stuff like that more often.

Donations were a theme

If this year had a theme, it was donation quilts. Between Hands2Help and other things, I ended up giving away a bunch of quilts, including these:

Clockwise from the big photo: Falling into spring, Cactus Flower, Beothuk Star, Cheerful checkerboard, HandsomeArabella's Garden
Oops, I see that a quilt I made for my sister-in-law snuck into the collage. It's the cardinals one in the lower left corner there. Oh, well! It did get given away, after all. Three of these went to Mercyful Quilts, which you can read more about HERE, and the others went to a couple of different organizations. I really enjoy the process of making quilts, and I'm even happier to give them away to someone who needs a nice quilty hug.

So there are some categories that pretty much wrap up this quilty year! Except I do feel compelled to add just one more:
Coming in 2023! My only goal for next year is to get these tops quilted up, and maybe to get the sewing room a little more organized. That's the never-ending story, though, isn't it? I'll probably also make a bunch more donation quilts, and I have a few ideas for the RSC as well. Looking forward to some simple projects that are easy to finish!

Chains and waves

This brings 2022 to an end. For me, it's a chance to turn the page and look ahead to better things, since the end of this year has been quite the beating. Here's to all kinds of creativity for all of us in the new year, and a 2023 filled with peace and joy. See you there!

Linking to Cheryl's Best of 2022 Linky Party. Be sure to check out everyone's posts for tons of quilty goodness!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Icy and blue and holidays too

 Hello all, and welcome to a very windy and wintry day! I know that a bunch of you are experiencing the same things, including in places where it's not usually so cold. Kind of bracing, isn't it? We had rain but not snow, then the front came through with blue skies and cold temps. It looks lovely, but it is quite chilly!

UPDATE: Posting from Panera! Yesterday, just as I was about to publish this post, we lost power. It's still out and is now 43 degrees in our house! Expected to be back on tomorrow by 3 pm-- Christmas Day. Merry Christmas to us! Everyone stay warm!

Today I have just a simple quilt top finish, and that will wind up the quilts for this year. It's time to get to the merry-making, you know? I tried to take pictures yesterday, but rain, then today it was wind. Ah, well, you'll get the idea:

This is the only outdoor picture I could get because of the wind, and you can see how it's pasting the quilt top to the bench. This is the simple buffalo plaid I made to use up the pieces of a a quilt that I had cut but no longer had a real interest in making. I made a table topper with the finished blocks and repurposed everything else.

These plaids are very simple but very satisfying quilts. They're easy and very meditative to create, and always turn out great. I had mine cut in squares from the planned quilt, so it took a little more time, but I know from experience that strip piecing makes it go very fast.

And that pretty much winds up the quilty year for me! It's a nice, soothing way to finish, and I hope to quilt this with some other small ones I have basted over the rest of the holiday. Plus, here's a sneak peek of another repurposed project that may get some love:

So many ideas! And you can see that it was blowing around, too.

All the best from our house to yours, and a happy holiday, no matter what you celebrate. Have some cookies and tea and put your feet up-- the best way to make merry!

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Feeling kinda modern

 Hi everyone! How are you doing these days? Things have not been too snappy here at chez AQ, topped off with a root canal and then final exams. Talk about piling on! But we're not going to dwell on the negative and instead we're just going to look at a nice quilt top I finished off this week.It's a little modern and a little different for me, but it turned out quite well and I'm pretty happy with it.

Here is my finished Solstice Sampler quilt top:

Yahoo! I can't believe I kept up with this sewalong and actually finished the top in a reasonable time. This is the Solstice Sampler organized by Alderwood Studio, and you can get the instructions and patterns right HERE, but only until December 31. After that some of the designers will be selling their patterns, so grab them while you can. 

I started this project to distract me from some of my troubles, but I'm really surprised at how much I like the finished product. Some of the blocks are very modern, but most of them are different takes on traditional. This top is just about 60 by 60 and will get a binding from that same blue if I can eke it out of the scraps. Also, I really need to use more batiks. Note to self: go fabric shopping.

Of course, I had to modify some of the blocks to make them fit my own feelings, too. For example, the original design of the block in the bottom left corner had more floating elements that just reminded me of the floating candles in the Harry Potter movies, so those had to go and everything else got shifted around. I like how it turned out, though, and it's close to the original.

The problem child of this quilt was the center star block above, which I remade because the original (in THIS post) just looked like a hole in the quilt. It was paper pieced and came together well enough, but it took forever (at least four hours) to make each copy of the block. So many pieces! Maddening. But at least it looks good in the quilt now! I saved the first one and am going to turn it into a small pillow or something, too.

So there we are, another quilt top finished! I have amassed a big stack now, so it's time to rent some longarm time and get a bunch of things finished up. Sounds like a good way to spend the rest of the year, doesn't it? 

Hope you all are doing well and getting ready for the big holiday that I would like to skip this year. I won't, but it's very tempting. For right now, though, I have to find a small rake or something to clean the carpet in the sewing room. There is thread and little bits of paper-piecing paper everywhere!

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Holiday project

 Hi all, and happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in the US! Okay, I know it's tomorrow, but isn't today the day we all start cooking? And if you didn't remember to take the turkey out of the freezer yet, well, I'm sorry about that. We always get the turkey on Monday so it never goes in the freezer and is nice and defrosted by Thursday morning. This year there were only big ones left, so it looks like we will be having a lot of turkey!

Since I have a little time this week with all of my students having run home or someplace other than campus, I finally started a project that has been on my mind for a while. It's slow going, but a nice diversion. Here is my first block:

Yes, I finally worked up the courage to cut up the saved baby clothes and start a memory quilt. It was not as hard as I thought and it brought back some fun memories. Anyone else make appliques like that for sweatshirts way back when? 

I decided that I needed some structure for this quilt, so I'm using the Scattered pattern from Connie at Freemotion by the River, which you can get right HERE. It has nice sized pieces, though I have been fussy cutting some of the front pieces instead of following the directions. And yes, the pieces all have interfacing, just like T-shirt quilts. It's kind of a pain, but the results are good.

As you can see from the pile above, I have a ways to go, but I'm hoping to have this done by the end of the year. It's nice to take it a little slow, plus I really need to wash some of those dresses. And sometimes I miss the little kids I used to have, so I need to stop for a bit.

The other thing I've been working on is the Solstice Sampler from Alderwood Studio. Amazingly, I have kept up. The block on the left above took forever, and I cannot read directions, so I might remake it. There are supposed to be rays of a different color surrounding the star, but somehow I missed that. Do you think I could just piece those in without having to remake the whole darned thing?

I took a couple of pictures of those blocks outside, but it was very windy. I put one of the not-too-bad one on IG, but if you look closely at the background of the picture above, you might find a couple of our deer friends, wondering just what is going on, and if the blocks might be tasty.

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving, and be safe if you are going over the river or through the woods. I'm off to make pie!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Let it go, let it go. . .

 Hi everyone! Hope you have had a really good week. The weather here is about to turn, so the hubs and I spent part of the day outside raking the massive amount of leaves from the front lawn. This is the downside of having trees. It was good work that took my mind off a lot of things, until I had to go inside for another Zoom meeting.

You may remember just a few days ago when I pulled some blue blocks from deep in the closet, and then didn't know what to do with them. I had four blocks and the cut pieces for 16 more. Should I make more blocks, and how many? Or should I just make it into a little table topper and let it go? Well, after getting some really good advice, I decided to let it go:

Yes, that's letting it go! I used a bunch of the cut pieces and made a nice table topper that is about 36 inches square. Since I had the cut pieces from the blocks I didn't make, I was able to put this together in just a couple hours. There was even enough yardage in the project box to squeeze out a border, with enough left for a binding, too. Win!

It happens sometimes that I feel quite enthusiastic about a project, then something makes me put it away, and then I lose all momentum and never pull it out again. Does that ever happen to you? There are so many cool things to make, though, and I just didn't want to spend more time on this one. I'm sure that it would have made a really cute lap quilt, but I have a lot of lap quilts and I have other things to make. So-- let it go! 

Before I had closed this up in a project box, I had cut the pieces for 16 blocks. That's a lot of pieces, and too much fabric to toss, so I am getting a small bonus quilt out of all those pieces, trimmed down to the same size:

A small buffalo plaid! This is only a part of it, and I trimmed all the blues and whites from the project box down to 4-1/2 inches. I added the lighter blue, which I think looks pretty good with the darker blue and will make a nice calming blue buffalo plaid. I'm not sure how big it will be. I'll just keep going until I use up all the pieces I can. 

So, yay for using up the blocks AND the extra pieces, too! But before I go, I have to share this picture that I took at the Baltimore Zoo, because our granddaughter made us go there with her recently:

Actual sign! And a good life motto, too. Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend, everyone!

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

More block progress

 Hi everyone, and welcome to the dark part of fall, transitioning into winter, otherwise known as the season that shall not be named. We turned our clocks back for Daylight Saving Time this past weekend, and it has thrown me all off. I kind of enjoy the light in the morning, but coming home in the dark is a real bummer. Makes me feel like I worked a whole lot longer than I did.

Thankfully, it has been warm and sunny for the most part so far this week, and it made for some pretty pictures of the blocks I've been working on. Here are my blocks for the Solstice Sampler:

I think those are very pretty! Who knew it would turn out so well with those woodsy fabrics? I'm not so sure about the picture of the center fabrics in the block on the right, but it looks really good in person.

This is the block with half-rectangle triangles, and I messed up a bit on the trimming so I lost some points on those big triangles. Nobody criticize, because I'm happy with it. To be fair, the directions were different from anything else I've ever seen, but I think I've done all right. I love the blue, too. I think it belongs in every block.

The other block is a plaid block, and it was super-easy. I might change those skinny center pieces, but it depends on how motivated I feel. Hint: my motivation is currently quite low.

And there are all four of my Solstice blocks. I just got the pattern for the fifth one, and it has paper piecing, but it looks easy enough if I can make a decision about the colors. None of these blocks was as difficult as they look, and if they look fun to you, you can still jump in and get all the patterns right HERE.

I also was digging through the closet (I have to stop doing that) to get ready for my over-Thanksgiving project and I found this bunch of blocks. I have 16 more blocks cut, but not stitched, and I'm torn about making the remaining blocks or just putting these finished blocks into a table topper-size quilt and creating a border of some type with the cut pieces. Maybe I'll make a few more blocks and decide. These are 12-inch blocks, so I could probably put together a few more blocks and make a decent-sized baby quilt if I wanted to. But see above: motivation is low.

So there we are-- making some progress and finding all sorts of weird stuff. Some day there will be nothing in the closet but things I'm currently working on, but today is not that day. And tomorrow won't be, either!

Above is what I think will be the last rose of the season, even though I see a couple more small buds. The weather is supposed to change, and I'm pretty sure this plant will be dormant by next week. But this last rose certainly is cheery, isn't it? Have a good week, everyone!

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Sparkly stars

 Hi everyone! Somehow, it was 72 degrees here today. Has someone checked to be sure it's November? I know some people have had snow already, but it looks like we're sticking with rain and above average temperatures for the next little bit. Totally okay with me, except for the leaves that keep falling.
I've got a finished top to show off today. It's my stars top from this year's rainbow scrap challenge, and I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. Here she is:
Well, that is different, isn't it? But quite sparkly! Not at all what I thought I would get at the beginning of this year, but this year itself has not been what I thought it would be. Looking at it hanging up like that, I think it needs a narrow border all around, like 3 inches or so, just to make it look more finished.

These are the stars I made all year, plus one more that I made to finish out a row. The stars are 9 inches finished, and you can get Angela's directions for making them right HERE. Mine are, of course, a little different because I used the white square in the center instead of another scrap. I like the open and lacy look, and it sure makes this layout very sparkly.

You may notice that not all the colors are in this quilt top. That's because I sat down to make some orange and some bright green stars (both great colors for stars, by the way) and it just made me tired, so I thought "what if I didn't?" What if I didn't make more stars and just challenged myself to come up with a new layout that used only what I had?
I felt energized right away, and then started laying out the stars in a rough pattern. As I made it, I cleaned things up so that it's actually symetrical, with the bottom section a mirror of the top section, with a different row right there in the middle To finish off that middle row, I had to add in another star, but I'm not telling which one it is. I'm just really, really pleased with the way that it turned out, even though it doesn't have any orange stars.

One RSC project down, two more to complete! I have a very good idea about the birds, and I finished off the orange round on the medallion quilt. The final border for that one is paper pieced, so it's taking a little longer, but it's going to be spectacular.

Hope you all have a spectacular weekend, no matter the weather. It's November, though, so it's probably best to hedge your bets and just stay in and sew. With some chocolate on the side, of course!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC22.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Coming back slowly

 Hi all. I hope you're all doing well! First, thanks so much for all your comments, notes, and emails about my mom's death. It's been a hard couple of weeks, and I didn't have the energy to respond to everyone individually, but I do appreciate you all.

As anyone who has experienced this knows, time takes on a different meaning in the immediate aftermath, but I'm starting to re-engage with the world again. One major step is getting back into the sewing room and starting back on my projects. I worked on a few things, including being a good grandma and making a fleece monkey costume for a certain tiny person, but what's really gotten me back are these blocks:
Wow, they do look good.  I thought I was fooling myself when I made them. Those petals in the block on the left are pieced, not appliqued, just so you know. These are blocks from the Solstice Sampler at Alderwood Studio. They're a little modern, so I wasn't sure about them, but they turned out to be soothing to make. 

The original sampler is shown in fall colors, but I chose to use these woodsy-ish batiks that were just sitting on the shelf. I don't use batiks very much, but I don't know why. They are great fabrics, very stable, and seldom run. And look at those colors! The only thing I don't really like is that some of them can get muddy when it comes to pattern, but I can deal with that. I may have to expand that section of the fabric shelves. (After I use a bunch more fabric, because I'm committed to keeping it small.)
These blocks are fairly complex so far, which I like, and they're soothing for me because they give me something else to think about. I actually have to concentrate on these, which is giving my brain a rest from everything else. I do feel guilty about neglecting other projects, though. But if you don't feel guilty about that, are you really a quilter?
These blocks are a whopping 18 inches, but see all those stripes? They finish at a half inch wide. And those dots are water spots from the grass, not flaws in the fabrics. I'm really enjoying the complex piecing, and I am learning new things, like don't try to piece a WOF section of 1 inch strips, because they will curve all over the place. Next up are some half-rectangle triangles, which should be a challenge. But really, check out these seams:
So there we are, back to the sewing room and making something nice. You can still join in if you're interested! Just jump over HERE and  get started. This week I'm going to try to work some more on my RSC projects, too. The medallion top is so, so close, and it might be a nice feeling to get it done.

Hope you're all doing well, and thanks again for all your support! It really did make a difference to me. 

Sharing at Midweek Makers.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

A small memorial

 Hello all. I have bad news today, so if you don't like being brought down, go on ahead and come back another time. I won't be mad. I hate bad news, too, especially this kind.

My mother died this week. She had had a number of health problems over the years, and it all finally came to the point of no return. We're trying to be comforted by the fact that she is now beyond the pain and suffering she endured for years, but it's hard.

As a little, tiny memorial, and because this is a quilt blog, I'm sharing a pre-blogging quilt that I made for her in about 2012 or so:

Not a great picture, but taken on the clothesline that she used for years and years. And really, I wasn't focusing on getting good backgrounds or pictures. This was a BOM from Marti Michell whose name I really don't remember. Sweet roses? Wild roses? I don't remember, but I think it came in the mail, on paper. How primitive! I might still have those patterns, too.

I do remember that there were these plastic templates to use that made every piece fit exactly. It all went together perfectly, including the sashing, but it was a bear and a half to cut. No strip cutting or piecing. I had it professionally quilted in pink thread, and it has lived on the bed in the middle bedroom ever since. It even has a marker stain on the backing from a careless grandchild. I didn't photograph that, because I know my mom was frustrated that she couldn't get the stain out.

So there we are. I wish I had something happy and uplifting to say, or at least some kind of happy, quilty picture. I promise to be happier after the funeral on the 22nd. A lot of us have to travel, so that was easier than trying to rush in from all corners of the country in just a couple of days.

Hug your moms or your mom-like people, or call them, or at least think about them today, okay? And maybe make them a quilt so that you can wrap up in it after they're gone, shed a few tears, and remember all the love on both sides of the machine. 

Peace to all,