Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ta-da! Tree Skirt Finish

Happy Thanksgiving! Before it's time to eat the turkey, I thought I'd get this post up.
I finished my tree skirt top, which was also my A Lovely Year of Finishes November goal. (Done early...woo hoo!)
 I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily it assembled, and I even finished it ahead of when I planned (how often can you say that about a sewing project?!?!)

 When I first showed my goal for this month, I promised that I'd share how I made this. I sewed offset strip sets to minimize my fabric waste because of the angled wedges I was cutting. Below you can see one of the strip sets, and two wedges I cut. Because of the angle, I was able to cut two different versions of wedges (1 flipped) from the strip. The first one you see below (with the wider red top) is one of my "extras" for a second tree skirt next year. The second strip (wider green bottom) is the type of wedge I used in my tree skirt. I made eight strip sets; four angled like you see below:

And four angled the opposite way, like this:
 The angles create the chevron look. If you look carefully at the strip set above (or the photo of the wedges below), you can see the only mistake I made while piecing this--in the last strip set! I reversed the order of two strips. Argh. Of course I didn't realize it until after I'd cut the wedges. With the help of a seam ripper, I fixed the five mistake wedges.

I'm so happy to have this tree skirt top done! I'm going to save the quilting of it until after the holidays because I don't want to rush it. But it'll be fun to try this out under the tree!

My 4.5-year-old wanted to sew a quilt block last weekend while I was working on the tree skirt. In an effort to buy myself a little more sewing time, I suggested that he color his block first and then we'd make what he colored in fabrics. Here is the result:

p.s. Thanks to everyone who stopped by during the blog hop party! Random generator chose #101, Linda, as the winner.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I've been working on and blog hop giveaway

Today is a big day...
Not only is it the start of the Give Thanks Blog Hop Party organized by Quilting Gallery,

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

It's also my birthday! Do you think Michele from Quilting Gallery planned the party and balloons just for me? :) Anyway, it seemed like the perfect time to join the party and give some fabric away (so I can go out and buy more!!!)

If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! I use my blog to hold myself accountable for the various projects I'm working on (5 and counting before Christmas...yikes!), and to create and share tutorials in between those. If we've been online friends for a while, welcome back! 

Before the giveaway details, I wanted to share a little peek at what I've been working on.

I finished piecing the quilt top for my friends' new baby boy. You can read more about it here. These blocks went together so quickly--I figured out I could sew 5 blocks in half an hour. 

And here's my other current project, a chevron tree skirt (actually 2, though I'm only piecing one for this year! I'll save the leftover pieces for next year). You can see my original post on this here
 Which one do you like best? 

 And here's my giveaway: a charm pack of Sunnyside by Kate Spain for Moda. To enter to win it, leave a comment telling me your favorite thing to do on your birthday. Signing up to follow my blog is not a requirement, but I'd love it if you did! Make sure I have a way to reach you if you are the winner (in other words, don't be a no-reply blogger!). The giveaway is open through November 26 at 11:59 EST and is open to international winners and I'll use random number generator to pick a winner, announce the name here and email her/him on November 27th.

Find the entire list of bloggers participating in the giveaway here.

Have a great day! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WIP Wednesday

The last couple days, I've been spending my sewing time on three different projects which I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday.

First, my made fabric mini for the Miniature Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play:
The top is pieced; I'll trim it down to 12" square after I quilt it.

I've got all the cutting done for my chevron tree skirt for my November A Year of Lovely Finishes:
That means in theory that whenever I've got spare time, I can sew strips together!

 And I've got 25 blocks done on my wonky cross baby quilt. As you can see, I did end up adding in the green to my original mocha and denim and I'm glad I did--it just adds an extra pop. I'm going to make 5 more blocks and then start joining the blocks. I love how fast these blocks go!

Lots of progress this week...I'm liking it!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How mini is mini?

A couple weeks ago, Victoria posted a Miniature Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play. I knew I wanted to be part of it, but couldn't quite decide how--what kind of block/design? What colors? I'm always more excited about a project when I've got an idea in mind.

Then I saw this pattern:
Cubit from Stitched Together Studios
and I knew exactly what I was going to do! 

The quilt pattern measures 69-1/2" square, so I had to do a little math to shrink the design down to the 12" challenge size. I decided to make just the center four blocks. 

Our weather has been a bit gray and dreary lately, so I gravitated toward bright oranges and yellows for my made fabric. Incidentally, these were the colors of our leaves last week...after the rain (and snow flurries!); they're mostly brown now.

I wasn't sure what colors I wanted to use for the sides of the focal squares, so I auditioned multiple options. It seemed like the obvious answer was to go with some type of grays/blacks, so I tried several of those, experimenting to see if patterned prints would work or take away from the made fabric focal squares. I also threw in a couple colored versions to see how they'd look. The orange/yellow squares measure 3-1/2"; the finished block will measure 12" square.
I was glad I auditioned so many different choices, and while I liked my first choice (upper left--gray solid and darker gray scroll) best, I was surprised at some of the others that I liked as well--especially the pink and purple; it just wasn't the look I was going for with this project.

I played around a bit more in Photoshop to see how the different blocks would look (I realize in real life the blocks would be mirror images...these are just quick mock-ups where I copied, pasted and rotated one block three more times.)

Subtly solid:

Brights; less of an optical illusion:

More traditional fabrics:

Darker shaded tonals:

Medium grays:

Dots in different sizes:

Which do you like best?

p.s. If you like the Cubit pattern too, you can find it here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The "I may have lost my mind" November goal: piecing a Dresden tree skirt

It's time to post my November goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. And, since the 50-odd days leading up to Christmas are always so packed full low-key, I decided to go big. Not in size, necessarily, but in everything else. 

I present to you the chevron pieced Dresden Christmas tree skirt! 
My goal for November is to get this completely pieced.

(This is actually a photoshopped picture. To create the chevron look, you cut wedges on one angle from one strip set and wedges on the other angle from a second strip set in order to use your fabric as efficiently as possible.  I only have one strip set (of 8!) pieced, but I really wanted to see how the tree skirt would look, so I flip-flopped the wedges digitally to try it out.)

I've had this project in mind for about a year, but I'm still pretty much winging it when it comes to actually cutting and sewing. My mom bought me Marilyn Doheny's 9-degree circle wedge ruler last year. Here's the first quilt I made with it, for the Dare to Dresden blog hop.

You can read more about it here

After finishing my kids' stockings last January (first Lovely Year of Finishes goal!), I continued collecting fabrics. I scored big with Benartex's Ho-Ho-Ho, Let It Snow collection to round out my stocking leftovers (from Moda's Let It Snow collection, 2 years ago). 
Here's what I started with:

I played around A LOT with strip width and fabric placement, and ultimately switched out a couple prints to some that I thought worked better. I sewed the 11 strips together to make the first set. Note the offset ends--with cutting wedges on an angle, this helps to reduce fabric waste. 

My first wedge cuts:
One other thing I forgot to mention--because of the nature of the wedge shape, if you flip it back and forth, you'll actually get twice as many cuts out of a strip set. But the second set won't work in this chevron pattern. So basically when I'm done, I'll have enough wedges leftover for a second tree skirt, just with the fabrics running in the opposite direction! 

What I sketched out to help me figure out exactly how this worked and if I wanted 45-degree or 60-degree cuts:
(I told you I was winging it! Incidentally, I went with 60-degree cuts to reduce waste. Because I need 8 strip sets to make this, for a 2" wide strip (the large polka dots, for example), I need 1/2 yard of fabric. Multiplied by 11 strips, and some of them are wider. And in some cases I'm working with fabric I bought a while back, so I can't get more.)

I am super excited about this tree skirt--in part because I've been wanting to make one for several years, and in part because I absolutely love the chevron look. Now let's just see how it goes together...definitely need to cut and piece precisely!
And depending on that, if I ever assemble the second one to give as a gift or sell...

Back to some strip set sewing! 
And if the long-winded text in this post thoroughly confused you, no worries. As I progress on this project I'll post again with more photos so it makes more sense. Just had to try out a strip set so I could get my goal up!