Jan 31, 2014

Snowman Tablerunners

I'm finally finished! I have been working on this project since right after Christmas-and it was a LOT more time consuming than I thought it would be. But it was sooo much fun! 

On January 14 I blogged about a new project I started on December 29. I was making gifts for my two best friends and I didn't want them to know what I was doing!! I couldn't blog anymore about it until I was finished-I didn't want to spoil the surprise. Now I am finished and they have their tablerunners, so I'm free to write all about them.

The pattern I used is called Snowball Runner and is by Lisa Bongean. The fabrics I used are Lisa's Snowman Gatherings. 

First I cut and cut and cut........There were a LOT of pieces!!

Then I sewed and sewed and sewed......I chain pieced. I trimmed. I pressed.

Snowball blocks abounded!

When the tops were finally pieced, the applique began. Those little wool snowmen were so cute and so fun to make!

I machine appliqued the snowmen, but did the rest of the applique by hand. I used a primitive stab stitch for the star and heart. I auditioned button noses, but decided against them and went with orange wool. 

The snowmen really had a cute personality when their faces were stitched on.

I love the finished results!

I rolled them up and tied them with a tag I made and a pom pom made of scrap strips. 

Pam and Anne were tickled with their gifts and I was thrilled to have them finished and in their hands. 

Tomorrow is February and I will begin with my first UFO. It's going to be a busy year. And I already have two finished tablerunners under my belt. That feels good!

Happy Quilting!

Jan 24, 2014

Dining Room Drapes

We moved into our house eight years ago and after three years of staring at naked windows, I made the drapes for my dining room. They were basic rod pocket lined drapes that sheer on the rod. 

I just wanted them to hang on either side of the window and add color and interest to the room. I have blinds on the windows so I didn't think about ever closing them to block the sun. But our dining room is west-facing and the afternoon and early evening sun can be blinding when our family is gathered around the table. 

The drapes are so thick that it was difficult to move them on the wooden rod, so opening and closing them was a pain. Last summer I took them down to have them dry cleaned and decided that I was going to do something different to them before I rehung them. 

Wooden curtain rings were the answer to my problem. But finding them in black was another problem all its own. I finally ordered some in natural wood tone and my husband came to the rescue with his trusty can of black spray paint. 

I had to take the hem and rod pocket seams out of the top of the drapes, measure them for a new length, and re-hem the tops. I then sewed the wooden rings to the drapes, spacing them 6" apart. 

I LOVE my "new" drapes. They hang so nicely and are going to be a snap to open and close when the need arises. 

Jan 21, 2014

The Year of the UFO

I have more UFOs than I can count. I'm not bragging. It's not something I'm proud of. In fact, I'm afraid  it has turned into a really bad habit. 

And all of these UFOs are starting to overwhelm me. It seems that I get going very enthusiastically on a project and then somewhere in the middle or, even worse, close to the end, something happens and I get interrupted. Then I lose all motivation for what I was working on and I move on to another project. Sometimes I have all the blocks finished and I don't even sew them together. Other times I get to the border-stage and can't make a decision on what fabric I want to use or how many borders I want to add. As I write this I'm starting to wonder if I just might be a little tiny bit ADD. :)

The worst UFOs are my finished tops that I haven't quilted. I feel the guiltiest about those. Some of them are even sandwiched and ready to go. But I just can't do it. Either I can't decide how I want to quilt it or, more commonly, I don't feel confident enough with my quilting skills to obtain the results I desire. 

So this is going to be THE YEAR OF THE UFO. I have gone through my UFO pile and have selected the ten that I want to finish. I have prioritized them too and I have them in a nice neat stack. I think a goal of one per month is reasonable, so I'm going to try that as my timeline. I will begin the first of February since I already have a project I'm trying to finish this month. 

Some months my UFO is going to require more hours to finish because the top still needs to be pieced and/or borders need to be added before it gets quilted. Other months I just need to quilt. Some of my projects are quilts, others are wallhangings, and one is a really cute pillow I started ages ago. 

In addition to my UFOs I have several projects that I want to start (and finish!) this year. I want to make a king sized red and cream quilt for my guest bedroom, a Christmas quilt and a quilt for my sister in law. I am also doing a block swap with friends and I have my appliqué project, so I think I have plenty to keep me busy! 

I took pictures of my UFOs so that I can keep track of my progress. Here are my projects for 2014.....

For February I want to finish this wallhanging that was a round robin I participated in way back in 2000-2001! Yes, it really is THAT old! I hang my head in shame!

This project was so much fun! One group member graphed this layout and assigned each block a coordinating month. We picked our own theme for our round robin, made a theme block and journaled about our vision for our quilt.  On a specific date we all mailed our block. Each month we were working on a block for a friend's quilt and then mailed it on its way. We had no idea what our own quilt was going to look like until we held a reunion the next Spring. The reveal of each quilt was so much fun. I sewed my blocks together, put on my borders and started quilting. I was marking my quilt with a blue quilt marking pen to help guide me as a quilted. When I put water on one of the blocks to "erase" the blue ink, my quilt bled! I was so upset. And it was MY BLOCK!! It was a red DMC thread that I had used to hand blanket stitch my flower. I was so upset. I took the thread out and worked on my quilt to remove the pink stains. I got all of it out except one small spot to the right of the flower-right along the seam where the next block meets. 

I was so upset with myself that I put the project aside and never came back to it. Well, now I have gotten over it. I think it's time for this UFO to be finished and see the light of day. I even have a specific place I am going to hang it as soon as I am finished. Right over the mantel in my great room!! A place of honor for all to see. And I am not going to even point out the tiny little place where the pink stain remains. :)

My March UFO is going to be a very easy quilt. In 2012 I swapped Civil War reproduction fabric "bricks" (2 1/2 X 5 1/2" rectangles) with four friends. We mailed 5 of them to each other every month, along with the blocks we were swapping for another quilt (the UFO I will be working on in April). The idea behind these bricks is to sew them together in long vertical rows to make a narrow quilt to fit a soldier's cot. But, of course, I wanted mine different, so I sewed sashing between my rows to make my quilt wider. This is as far as I have gotten-

I need to sew one more strip together and then sew all of the rows together. The quilt does not have a border at the top and bottom. So, 14 seams and this top will be finished and ready to quilt. I think I can do this in one month. It's my March assignment. 

For April my UFO will be the block swap quilt from 2012 I did with four friends. (I blogged about it here when we started this swap.) I have all the blocks sewn together-but no borders on. I picked a black and cream stripe for my outer border and it needs to be mitered to look great. The problem is.....I have only mitered corners on one other quilt--and I had a really hard time with it! So, I sat this aside until I got all psyched and ready to tackle it. That day just never came and it got moved off the design wall and into the UFO pile. I think April will be a great time to perfect mitered corners and get this quilt finished. 

May and June are going to be sister finishes. This quilt is called Carson's Courtyard and I blogged about it here. In 2013 I swapped blocks with five friends (same four and we added a new friend). This time we used 1930s reproduction fabrics. It was fun to work with bright cheery fabric. We swapped blocks for 10 months and now have 60 blocks. They are 11" squares, so it would make a VERY large quilt. Since I like to make lap quilts I decided to make two quilts with my 60 blocks. As it turned out, half of the blocks were predominately pastel and the the other half were brighter. 

I arranged the pastel blocks by color diagonally and have them sewn together in rows already. I just need to get the rows together. I am going to put a narrow white border and then a piano key border of reproduction fabrics on it. It should finish up somewhere around 70X81" when I'm done. 

I haven't sewn any of these blocks together yet. I am going to put a narrow white border on this quilt too and then a second border of the blue fabric. It will finish about the same size. 

In July I am going to finish a small project. This is another round robin-this time from 2002-2003. We decided to do four 4" blocks-each person picking their own theme and fabrics. I wanted to use my Indigo fabrics from Africa. I had quite a collection of fat eighths and thought this wallhanging would be a fun way to use them. I mailed my fabrics with my project because I didn't expect anyone else to buy these just to use for my quilt (they are not easy to come by either!) The blocks were all so cute, but I packed them away until I could decide what I wanted to do with them.

Since the blocks are so little everyone paper pieced them. Last year I removed all the paper, cut the sashing and sewed all the blocks together. This year I am going to get it quilted and done! I did make a chart in my notebook that has the name of each block and its maker. I am going to record all that info on fabric and use it as my label. I can't wait to finish this one-it's just so darn cute!

For August my UFO finish is going to be a block swap I did with my friend, Pam. We both love Jo Morton Civil War reproduction fabrics and have quite a stash of them. We had been looking at the Paducah Nine Patch quilt in Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts book for years. I blogged about this top here-it was one of my first blog posts.

My top is complete and I LOVE it! And this is the year it is going to be quilted and finished! I can't wait!

Since September has me bringing out Fall decorations I am going to finish this little wallhanging. I bought the pattern and made this about four or five years ago, but I have never gotten around to quilting it. 

October I am going to tackle my most difficult UFO of the year. I blogged about this top here and here and never took a picture when I finished the top. I need to trim my setting triangles and then this will be ready for quilting. I have purchased a template that I think I am going to use to quilt the star blocks. 

If I make it this far, my last UFO for the year will be a pillow. I bought this Winter Blooms pattern  at the Houston Quilt Festival in November 2010. 

I'm not sure why I haven't finished it. I have the fabric, buttons, pillow form and even some cute rick-rack that I decided to use on it. But again, I got part of the way through it and quit. This center section is already appliqued and quilted. 

It's 15 X 32" when finished and I already have the perfect spot picked out for it. 

So, (sew?) if I make it through the year as planned I will have these 10 projects to move from my UFO list to the finished column. Wish me luck! I think I'm going to need it! 

Jan 16, 2014

Pantone Color of the Year

I guess I am really "out of it" when it comes to certain things. But you would think that as a quilter I would be more in tune with color trends. I guess maybe the reason I'm not is because I am stuck in the same old color palate, quilt after quilt. Civil War reproductions, Kansas Troubles, Civil War reproductions, Kansas Troubles....... They just speak to me. :)

Several days ago my youngest daughter mentioned to me that orchid was the "Pantone color of the year". What? I had never heard of this. I had no idea that there was a "color of the year". And who is Pantone? And why do they get to pick a color every year? Then, as often happens when you hear or learn something new, I heard about the Pantone color of the year three more times in the next two days! What's going on? First I had never heard of it and then I see and hear it everywhere! 

So, I did some research. And according to their website-

The Pantone Color Institute is a color research and information center that shares its color expertise with professionals in a variety of industries including fashion, commercial/industrial, contract and interior design, graphic arts, advertising, film and education. Recognized throughout the world as the leading source of color information, the Institute is used as a resource by the world's most influential media.
Through the Pantone Color Institute, Pantone continues to study how color influences human thought processes, emotions and physical reactions, furthering its commitment to providing professionals with a greater understanding of color and to help them utilize color more effectively. Leatrice Eiseman, America's leading color expert, is the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Wow! I learn something new every day. I knew that there are trends in colors. We all remember the 1970s with harvest gold and avocado green. And then there were the lovely dusty roses and country blues of the 80s. Thank goodness those are behind us!

All of my friends know that I am not a fan of the color purple. (Sorry Alice Walker and Oprah Winfrey.) I can do plum okay, but lavender and straight purple do absolutely nothing for me. So, this year in an effort to stretch my quilting horizons, I am making a vow to buy a piece of fabric that is "radiant orchid" in color and use it in a project. I'll let you know when I have purchased said fabric and keep you updated with my project progress (know that this is not happening in the next few weeks-so don't look for it too soon.)

I challenge you to add a little color of the year to your stash too. I'm sure that radiant orchid is coming to a quilt shop near you soon. 

Happy Quilting.....

Jan 14, 2014

My Latest Project

Instead of taking a break after Christmas, I started on another project. In fact, I am making a new project times three. I am making something for myself and for my two best friends. I wanted to have these done before Christmas, but unfortunately it didn't happen. I didn't beat myself up about it though and decided that I would just make these projects in January and have fun with them with no deadline.

My husband and I went to Gatlinburg, TN for our annual anniversary/post Christmas get-away on Dec 28th. I took my fabric, rotary cutter and mat with me so that I could get started. I sure am glad I did.

I cut. And cut. And cut!! And I used Lisa Bongean's cutting method. Wow! It sure makes the work go faster! I will be cutting this way from now on. 

I didn't stop to do the math before I started cutting, but quickly realized just exactly how many squares I needed. I had to have 75 2 1/2" squares per project and 300 1 1/8" squares. That is a total of 1125 squares!! That's a LOT of cutting! 

I stacked them all in piles that would be sewn together later. 

I have started stitching and am having so much fun. This is a challenging and fun project. But, since I don't want my friends to see these before I am finished, I will have to wait to share more pics later....

In the meantime, happy quilting. 

Jan 8, 2014

Quilting Hours Logged

Three hundred and forty hours! That's how much time I spent on my favorite hobby last year.  That an average of 56 minutes a day. Not bad. Not bad at all. But I am going to track it again this year and see if I can do even better. 

I kept a day by day log of how much time I spent cutting, piecing, quilting, appliqueing, and sewing, etc. It was interesting to see my quilting and sewing "trends". I am definitely an "all or nothing" quilter. In January, April and November I spent 41 total hours on my applique project. May through October I spent ZERO minutes! I am either working on it all the time-or I'm not working on it at all. 

I also found that February, March and August were SLOW months for quilting at my house. I must have been very busy with other activities. 

This year is off to a good start. I have already spent more than an hour a day at the sewing machine. I'm working on a really fun project which I will blog about as soon as I am finished. 

Happy Quilting in 2014.

Jan 7, 2014

Melissa's Quilt

Christmas is over and I actually finished my last project with about 36 hours to spare! I had so much fun making this surprise for my youngest daughter, Melissa. Years ago she picked out a pattern by Thimble Blossoms called Sassafras. She told me she wanted me to make it for her someday when she had her own home. Well, last year she and her husband bought a house and this year she reminded me that she was due a quilt. 

This is the quilt pattern Melissa selected. 

I remembered Melissa's pattern of choice and so it was just a matter of fabric selection. The walls in her living room are painted grey, she has a black and white rug on her hardwood floor, the sofa is medium grey and her curtains are navy with blue and yellow flowers. Black and white prints were a no-brainer for the background and I decided to carry the blue and yellow from the drapes into the quilt. 

I wanted the quilt to be bigger than the pattern called for, so I made it 60X72. The blocks were elongated nine patches, each measuring 6X8". Since I needed 90 blocks, that meant cutting 810 pieces. It took a lot longer than I thought it would to cut all those pieces! But it was fun to see the progress as the hours ticked by.

Then I started sewing. I chain pieced several blocks at a time and made it go rather quickly. It still took a really long time to get all of those pieces sewn together.

Finally the blocks were made and I could put them up on the design wall. I was thrilled with the way it all came out. Now, it was on to the applique..........

I thought the quilt really came alive with the applique on it. I used Steam A Seam lite fusible interfacing and used the "doughnut method" to adhere the applique pieces. I then used a machine blanket stitch to applique them down. This quilt is going to get a lot of use and I wanted the applique to stay "fresh". 

I was actually completely finished with the quilt on Dec 23rd-a Christmas record for me. I am usually still stitching binding up to the very last minute. I used the same yellow fabric that I used in the cone flower for the binding and I love the way it looks.

Melissa was SO happy and very surprised on Christmas morning. She had no idea I was making her anything at all for Christmas, much less a quilt. It was a fun surprise. :)

Happy Quilting-I hope your Christmas was merry too.