Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Let's put a bow on it!

 Hello all, and welcome to my 2023 year-end roundup! This is, as always, inspired by Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs. If you are new here, welcome! If you've been following along this year, many thanks. I'm extremely grateful that you've hung around through all the drama this year. It has been the best of times and the worst of times, in the sewing room and out. A health crisis, a family crisis, and a brand new roof that leaked all made this year extra challenging, but there was also a lot of happiness and some fun quilty stuff. Come on along as we take a look back. . .

(Clicking on the captions will take you to that post.)
2023 was quite challenging, but I did manage to finish up 17 quilts, including one I haven't shown off yet, along with 6 tops, a whole bunch of blocks, and a number of other quilty projects, like table toppers and bags or hot pads. My biggest accomplishment, though, is that I now have four (four!) empty project boxes. Nobody tell the fabric or we all know what will happen! Other than that, here are some of the high points from the year:
Most comforting quilt

Comfort twice over
I made this quilt top in a very sad time for me, and this year it got quilted up and given to the sister of a friend of mine. This is from the Solstice Sampler, a project run for several years now by Amber at Alderwood Studio. (Pattern for the whole sampler no longer available, sadly.) This was such a good project, and my friend's sister loves the quilt. A comforting win all around!

Most creative project

Earlier this year, Sandra at mmmquilts offered her yearly quilt along, with an original pattern for a neighborhood of fun houses, along with trees and all kind of other things. (You can get the pattern HERE.) I looked at the pattern and didn't see a quilt but a series of fun placemats. I made six different house placemats from Sandra's pattern and we used them all summer. They held up really well and were a nice cheerful spot every day.

Most satisfying finish

For the past several years Gail and friends at Quilting Gail have run the Stay at Home Round Robin, where you make a round robin quilt for yourself instead of passing it around. (Information about this year's round robin is HERE.) For the 2023 project, I challenged myself to use up a bag of coordinating scraps I had saved, and I did that. I also used up a panel I had had for a long time, finished the top, quilted and bound it, and donated the quilt to a palliative care unit. All inside of about 6 months! I am so, so happy with how this whole thing turned out.
I also donated a few other quilts to palliative care this year: 
Happiest finish

Fast, fun, and bright

Baby quilts are always really happy, bright, and fun to make. This year I made a bunch of them, but this simple little quilt was one of the happiest. It didn't take long, but I gave it to an administrative assistant at work who has been very, very good to all of us for her first grandchild. She was over the moon, and later sent me a picture of the baby on the quilt. Can you get much happier than that? 

There were also a couple other bright happy baby quilts this year:
The puzzle finish
Last year I made a quilt top to clean out my green scrap bin, and this year I quilted it with my walking foot and finished it off. This might be my favorite finish from this year just for the backing:

It really is a party on the back! I donated this quilt to Quilty Hugs, and I hope someone is enjoying it right now. 
There were, of course, many other projects, but these were among the best for this past year. It makes me feel pretty good to look back, because I was convinced that I had finished almost nothing amidst all the issues here this year.
Coming in 2024!
Quilting is my hobby, not my job, and I've learned that making goals for quilting just stresses me out and makes me tense. So I have no real goals! This year I cleaned out a lot of things (four empty project boxes!) and I guess I'll continue with that. If I cleaned everything out, though, what would I do?  I did sign up for the Dot to Dot Free Motion Quilting Challenge at Quilting is my Therapy (unbelievably, this is free!), and I'll probably make another round robin quilt, and some more baby quilts, but otherwise I just want some fun and relaxation and a respite from the rest of my hectic life.

Blue times two

This brings 2023 to a close for me! Let's wrap it up nicely and put a bow on it, and turn toward a healthier and happier new year. Here's wishing you full bobbins, unbreakable thread, even stitches, and a new year filled with peace and joy. See you when the future gets here, everyone!

Linking up with Cheryl's Best of 2023 linky party and maybe a few others, too.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


 Hi everyone! How are you doing? Friends, the last two weeks have been horrendous. Hellish, even. The less said about them, the better! I have had exactly zero time to sew anything or even think about sewing anything, but I finally escaped to the sewing room and finished something up while the roofers were banging away upstairs. Have you had a roof replaced? Good golly, the noise and the mess! And let's not even talk about the cost. . .
The less said the better, right? While I was taking refuge from the roofing and seriously wondering if I could nap on the cutting table, I was looking through the closet and saw today's project hanging with the other tops. Before we get to the story, here is the finished project:

Okay, it's cuter than I thought it would be. Cross hatching does work wonders, doesn't it? This is a 2-inch cross hatch, which is the perfect size for a small piece. The quilt is straight, I swear, but the edges look a little wavy in the picture because I used a wool batting, which never lies as flat as cotton. It's nice and puffy for a good texture, though.

I really don't know how old this project is. I got the blocks from somewhere at least 10 years ago, probably more. I put them together into a top a couple of years ago, and there it has hung in the closet ever since. I had so many ideas for quilting it up. It has high contrast, which for me meant quilting the darker colors separately from the white. So many ideas, none of which came to fruition. So the question when I saw it hanging there was "do I let this hang here for another winter, or do I just suck it up and finish it any way that works?" The answer was pretty obvious.

I grabbed a leftover piece of backing that's a map of Paris, which is awesome, a piece of leftover wool batting, and a pale blue thread and went for the cross hatch. It's easy and meditative, and since this piece was so small, about 36 inches square, it went quick. I bound it in a piece of blue that doesn't match the other blues, but after a decade, does it really matter?

As I feared, the lighter thread, which really does mostly blend all over, stands out like neon on the solid dark blue and shows every wobble. I could rip out those stitches and redo them, but I think we all know I'm not that kind of quilter, right? This is one of the reasons I used wool batting. After I wash it, I'm sure it will shrink up enough that the mistakes will just fade into the quilty crinkliness. (Is that a word?)

Hey look--it's the Eiffel Tower!
I'm going to use this as a winter table topper since it's more 'winter' than 'Christmas.' Honestly, though, it's just a relief to see it as a finished piece and not hanging in the closet, mocking me. It's not perfect, but I know the hubs or a four year old is going to spill gravy or ketchup on it, so it's perfectly okay with me. 

Everyone have a wonderful week! Mine is definitely looking up, as we are finishing finals and I'll be done by Friday. Okay, I'll get the grades in on Monday. Tuesday at the latest. Really. My incentive is Christmas cookies. I think that'll work, don't you?

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Positively grateful

 Hi everyone! Well, here we are, post-Thanksgiving and heading fast for December. Does this surprise anyone else? We had a lovely, relaxed holiday with tons of good food, even though my granddaughter demanded ketchup for her turkey, and video chats with everyone after dinner. The day after Thanksgiving I ate some pie and then got a screaming migraine that lasted two days. So, you know, bad with the good.

I planned to finish up photographing today's quilts on Friday but was busy moaning in a dark room, so today is the day! These are the two quilts I made for the Positivity quilt along from our friends Preeti and Bernie. I am really happy with how they turned out, even though the quilt along ended on Labor Day and I'm really behind. Oh well! Take a look at these lovelies:

They are very different, but kind of the same, and I'm so pleased with both of them. Let's talk about them one at a time, shall we?

I was going for neutral on both of these quilts and I'm not sure I achieved it, but the hubs was quite appreciative of the green quilt. I had to put those plants in pots, you know? It added a little zing to a quilt that was essentially two colors. If you look closely, you'll see that I used the same fabric as the pots for the binding.
I quilted the green quilt in a 2-inch cross hatch using a green-brown thread. I thought it might be too dark, but it was perfect. About a quarter of the way through it occurred to me that 2 inches was a little small for the cross hatch and I could have gone bigger (and therefore faster) but I was committed so I finished it that way. It might be a little close, but I think it turned out well.

The fall leaf/ neutral quilt was super simple, just straight(ish) lines across the quilt. It was fast and satisfying. In the picture it looks like there are a few wrinkles, but I promise there are no tucks. One thing with straight lines -- when you get close to the ends of the quilt, things start to wrinkle up, no matter how well you've basted. I ended up hand basting the ends to keep it all flat. It was tedious but it worked. I bound it in a nice fall-like golden brown.

For the green quilt I used a green leaf batik backing, which looks great. The neutral quilt was more difficult, but I managed to find enough of a cream print for the back. I think it contrasts nicely with the front but still blends well.

And then finally, here they are, all in their just-washed crinkly goodness:

These two are now packed up and ready for a postal pickup to go on their way to the palliative care unit at Mercy Hospital. I'm glad to have contributed a tiny bit to someone's comfort, and I'm extra pleased that I managed to get them both completed before the end of the year. Yay me!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week. If you feel a headache coming on, I highly recommend lying down on a nice comfy piece of furniture with something nice to drink. It could get you through the week! See you in December!

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

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Last of the stars

 Hi all! How have you been? I have been very, very busy. I know, who could've guessed, what with the end of the year (or at least the semester) in sight? I did manage to finish off my niece's quilt, which turned out great, but I think she should see it first, don't you? Oh, and did you realize that Thanksgiving is next week? Yikes!

Before all the panic-cooking sets in, here are the final four stars for my RSC quilt this year. I'm a little behind, but my intentions are good, and the stars are pretty. Have a look:

As you can see, there are more leaves. I've decided to just let them be. It's a losing battle, and they'll break down. But let's talk about these stars! Aren't they cute?

I had cut the fabrics for the last two aqua stars, so I stitched those up and I'm pretty pleased with them. I *love* the aqua one in the picture above. I also added another yellow star because I like yellow and it adds a little more sparkle. The yellow is yet another Ohio Star variation, but it's different from all the others.

My one disappointment with the stars project is that I didn't make a true Lemoyne Star. The two above are kind of approximations of a Lemoyne Star. I don't really know what happened there. I tried one way back at the beginning but totally messed it up, and then I'm pretty sure I messed up the paper pieced version, too. Maybe I'll give it one more go and replace one of the stars I don't like. They're not all winners, after all.

For the sashing, I decided on this Riley Blake fabric called Blossom, which I still have just enough of. I've used it a couple of times and I really wish I had more of it. It makes such nice backgrounds and sashing, and I'm pretty sure it's going to make a great complement to all the colors in the stars.

That's pretty much all I accomplished after I finished my niece's gift. I also made some flannel blankets for her and a bunch of other stuff. I made sure to get some beauty shots, though, so once she gets her gift I will show it off to you all. It was an adventure!

So, happy weekend, everyone. I hope you get some rest and relaxation before the big holiday. I'll leave you with what might be the best nature picture I've ever taken. My son came to visit from Maine, and I took this while waiting for him in the cell phone lot (of all places!):

Finally-- Cathy, if you're reading this, we are all thinking of you! Best wishes!
Sharing at soscrappy for RSC23

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Blue and yellow sunburst

 Hi everyone! So here we are in November, all of a sudden. Wasn't it just September? I can't keep track, except that it's definitely cooled off and we even had a freeze the other night. And it really is dark when I get home, so we must be slouching towards winter. As long as the snow holds off for a bit more, I think we'll be okay.

So, it isn't Friday, but I do have a finish. I know, it's like I'm breaking a rule! But I finally got pictures taken yesterday so why wait? Have a look:

Okay, that is a very bright quilt top! Maybe we shouldn't look at it head on. I don't know if you can see it on your monitor (or phone) but there are some of the diagonals in the corners are a pale yellow. It's really kind of pretty.

I started this as a wedding quilt for a friend, but we all know I wasn't going to make it in time for the wedding, right? And then we had family drama and trauma, so I ended up giving the happy couple a different quilt, which they totally loved. That left me with a half-finished quilt top, which I have now finished off.

Somebody is going to have to rake up all those leaves! This quilt top is about 60 by 72, a really nice size for a couch quilt. I did strip piece much of it, though it was complicated by the half square triangles. I managed, and I do think the triangles add a lot to it. I actually started with split 9 patches as a beginning design point before I ended up twisting and turning things around.

I'm pretty proud of the yellow gradations in this quilt. Have you ever tried a yellow gradation? It is not easy, but I managed it. It was actually fun to play around with, and now I have some more yellows on the shelves. And more yellow scraps, which is always nice! I'm happy to say, too, that those dark blues are all used up. Thank goodness!

This lovely is headed for the closet to age properly while I search for a backing and figure out how to get it quilted up. In the meantime, you can see what my outdoor job to burn off stress is going to be!

I'll end this up with a picture of the hill behind our house, which was in all kinds of fall glory. The sun shining through was just wonderful. Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm having lunch with some friends, then maybe tackling those leaves. And sleeping in for an extra hour Sunday-- fabulous! Just what I need!

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

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Gold star

Hey there everyone, and happy weekend! It's been a very busy and very weird week. It was in the 80s this week, which was very weird, and very sweaty. Get those students in a room with no AC and it gets funky fast. They also have started a bunch of road projects, which I do not appreciate in October, and on top of everything, I got a flat and it couldn't be patched. I had to buy two new tires! Apparently, you can never buy just one. Don't we think that we should have solved this problem by now?

Anyway. . .I finished up one of the last of the star blocks for the RSC star quilt. One block! Here she is:

A gold and yellow star! No RSC star quilt would be complete without one of Angela's Twinkle Stars, would it? This gold and yellow star turned out nicely, though the contrast is a little strong. If I'd had enough of the lighter yellow I would have switched the colors, but I'm trying to use up scrap pieces. But who doesn't need a gold star?

So now I have 31 blocks. I must have skipped a couple along the way, because I should have 35. Maybe there weren't enough scraps for some colors?
Let's hear it for a design floor! I have two more (lighter) aqua blocks cut out but not stitched, and I could make another yellow, which would still leave me needing one more block. What color do you think that should be?

I may not have made much progress this week, but it feels good to make some progress. At least I know where I am. And speaking of making progress. . .

A while ago, when I couldn't sew but I wanted to touch fabric, I put all my books and notions into the closet and pulled all the fabric out where I could see it. When Preeti came over last week she couldn't take the fact that it was all jumbled up together, so she sorted it all out by color. Didn't she do great? It feels pretty wonderful and comforting, and why did I have the fabric where I couldn't see it anyway? Thanks Preeti!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. We are awaiting a big weather change and a big event for our family coming this week. It's a pretty lousy event, but it does mean that some things will be settled and we can all move on, at least for a while. So I hope you all get some serious relaxing done this weekend!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC23.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Beauty for a small person

 Good day everyone! How are you today? I'm hanging in there. It's getting to be that time of year when it's dark when I get up and getting dark when I get home. This is no fun, especially because, somehow, the darkness makes people forget how to drive. Get it together, people! We can still see you trying to go 100 miles an hour through the traffic, even if it's dark outside.

Ah, well. Today I have something much brighter and happier to show off-- a finished baby quilt! Here she is:

Look at all that happy brightness. I almost took this little quilt apart because I wanted a print for the alternate blocks, then I remembered that I had looked for a print and didn't have an acceptable one. Good thing I remembered before I started in with the seam ripper. 

I made this little quilt top back in May, mostly to get those very cute churn dash blocks into a quilt top, and then hung it and the backing in the closet to age a bit. You know how that goes, right? Quilt tops have to age before they ripen enough to be quilted up. A friend needs a baby quilt for a girl, so I pulled this out and quilted it up to give to her. A win all around, I think. And Lord knows we need some wins around here right now.

I quilted this in a simple cross hatch, but used the serpentine stitch to make a wavy cross hatch. It looks great! Sometimes the simplest things are the best. The wavy cross hatch is also in Jacquie Gering's Walk book, along with some other cross hatch ideas.

The backing here is a fun dot that looks pink overall but is really a bunch of different colors. I originally had pink for a binding, but the aqua with the dots looks much better and goes with the fun owls on the front and the dots on the back. Overall, I am so happy with the way this turned out, and happy to pass it on to my friend to give to a 7 month old baby girl. 

With that, it's off to the weekend! Even though we're in this cycle where it's kind of nice all week and rains all weekend, I'm still happy to have a couple of days to rest a little. Hope you all get some rest, too, and maybe find something nice and bright to lighten up the darkness. Happy weekend!

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A small splash of sunshine

 Hello all! How is your day going? I'm just working through some stuff, trying to get some grades done and maybe find a few minutes to throw in some laundry. Long ago I read a column or something about the "eternal three--" kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry. No matter how much you work on them, they always need more work. That author was not wrong.

Thankfully, I also found a few minutes to make two lovely yellow blocks for the rainbow scrap challenge. I have a bunch of yellow, mostly in smaller pieces, but it worked out this time. Here are the blocks:

I definitely like them! I love yellow, but it can be such a difficult color to work with, especially when you are trying to showcase it. It's hard to get gradations, and a lot of yellow fabrics slip into orange or have a tint of green or something. I think I chose wisely enough for these blocks.

This block is called Golden Samovar (what a name!) and it came from one of my Judy Hopkins quilt books. I have the BlockBase software, but I find that books give more realistic cutting directions and sizes and you generally end up with a better block. The software can be helpful, but no one has updated it for how we sew today and often the cutting directions are not suited to piecing with modern methods. I think no one has updated them since hand piecing days, really.

This block is called Double Aster and just looking at it makes me happy. All that sunny yellow goodness just shining out! It's also a good illustration of what I mean about the difference between the block books and the software. See those light yellow hsts? You'd piece them from squares in some way, right? The book tells you what size squares to cut to get the hsts you need. The software has you cutting a square in half twice to get four halves of an hst. Also, if you look at the medium triangles that are pieced to a yellow triangle and then pieced to the larger dark yellow triangles, all of those triangles should obviously come from squares cut in half twice to make four pieces, right? The software has directions for cutting single triangles with various degrees of angle. Better to just look it up in the book!

I could go on about this all day, but I won't! Time to throw some laundry in and get some more grading going. Those essays won't read themselves! Enjoy these happy yellows, and I hope to see you again later this week. Maybe I'll have some clean shirts by then, too!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC23

Friday, October 13, 2023

Sandy aqua heart

 Hello all, and welcome to another fine fall weekend. As I write that, though, I'm watching the clouds gather, and I'm pretty sure that means we're going to have some fine fall rain. Pretty sure that will whip even more leaves off the trees, too. Can freezing winds and the dreaded s-word be far behind? I'd like a little more fall color first, please!

This week I worked really hard to get a quilt all finished, but I'm only done with the top. The top is adorable, though! Take a look:

This heart is kind of 'freehand,' in that I just made it by arranging pieces on the design wall, with no pattern. It's pretty easy to make a heart, though I might have messed up there in the middle, but I am going to find a way to be okay with it. It was kind of fun, and pretty distracting, making sure that there was no place where the same fabric touched. I didn't quite manage that, but again-- let's find a way to be okay with it!

It will not surprise you that the aqua to turquoise pieces were cut for a different quilt that I never made. For the rainbow scrap challenge this year, one of my goals was to make something small with the scraps and quilt it up, so this is my "use-it-up" for the aqua month. I am so, so happy to use those pieces, and I think I have just enough for a scrappy binding, too. The background looks white but is really a sandy batik with splashes of yellow and a pale pink. This is just about 44 by 50, a perfect size.

There's another reason that I'm so, so happy about this quilt-- my niece is having her first baby, and she asked for "aqua and gray and Harry Potter." Well, I have the aqua covered, that's for sure! And I also have a gray backing for this quilt, but I'm looking for a way to sneak a little Harry Potter in there. We'll see what fun stuff I can think up that goes with the quilt at least a little bit. I'll probably just have to quilt some Harry Potter symbols into it.

I feel like that's a win, even if it isn't completely finished yet! If it rains this weekend I'll be able to at least baste it, otherwise it will wait a little bit. The baby isn't coming until January, so for once I'm a little ahead of the game. 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. I went out and took these pictures while I'm waiting for the windshield replacement guy to show up. Something from the road hit the windshield right at my eye level as I was on the way home this week, and it cracked all the way across. It was a little scary! Everybody be careful out there, because those big pieces of glass are really pricey!

Sharing at Finished or not Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Brag About Your Beauties, the Patchwork and Quilts linkup at Quilting Patchwork Applique and soscrappy for RSC23.