Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December ALYOF Goal Complete

It may not have been done for Christmas, but I finished my little guy's stocking for my December 
A Lovely Year of Finishes goal. (He wouldn't have known the difference, and I had gifts to sew before the 25th!) December, I will be so thrilled to pull this out, ready to go!

Here's his finished stocking:

And a close-up of the top and lining:

And a pic of all three boys' stockings together:

And a pic of my little guy, Benjamin, now 4 months, with his stocking. My story is that he looks displeased because his stocking was late. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ta da...tree skirt!

This was my WIP Wednesday that I was committed to finishing tonight:
I pieced it last November and then let it sit for 10 months. I finished quilting it and then stitched on the binding over the weekend. All that was left was hand stitching the binding to the back side. 

And about that--if you ever feel like your mitered corners on bindings need work, might I suggest you bind a tree skirt like this? 
There are 20 points to miter, plus 4 more typical corners, plus 19 inverted points (I'm sure there's a better name for those.) Yep, lots of mitering. By tonight, I was down to the home stretch. Four points plus the straight edges and inner circle. And let me tell you, bias-cut binding folds down so beautifully in a circle!

Here's the finished skirt. It's under the tree now, and I'll show you that as well, but the tree is in the way, so it's hard to see the skirt.

And under the tree. Taken in the dark at 11:45 pm, with my phone. So basically an incredibly high quality photo, but you get the idea. Last night we decorated the tree; tonight I added the finishing touch--the tree skirt. Let Christmas begin!

And one more WIP--a look at my design wall right now, which is a real mish mash of things.
The biggest project on the wall is my improv medallion quilt in the works from a workshop with Gwen Marston back in April. Filling in around that are the blocks I've made with my two boys (plus a few orphan blocks of mine they've appropriated).
I let them choose fabrics, strip width, and where to add the newest piece. I let them sit on my lap and lower and raise the foot and needle, then I run the pedal and they help guide the fabric. The two blocks on the left in the fourth row belong to my 3 year old. The remainder belong to my 5 year old, except that I made the flag block based on his suggestion, and I made the green/red wonky star and the green/yellow overlapping block next to it. I think it's just about time to assemble the quilt top! (After Christmas, of course...)

p.s. Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December ALYOF Goal: Stocking time!

I didn't make my November A Lovely Year of Finishes goal (I think it's because December snuck up so quickly after Thanksgiving!). So I'm upgrading my December actually finish my new baby's stocking.

Here are the four we have right now, on our freshly decorated mantel:
 ( best friend created the art hanging in the photo there--isn't she talented?!)

Little B's stocking will have a blue cuff and a red sock. I dropped the cuff fabric off with my embroiderer friend on Friday. Now it's time to get the rest of the stocking quilted! I'm making this my December goal because I can see getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list as the holidays get closer. So here we go!

And, before I go, here's a sneak peek at what I have been working on--finishing my tree skirt. I finished quilting it on Saturday and stitched the binding on. I've got about half the hand stitching of the binding left!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Weekend sewing continued!

I'm in the middle of two (relatively kid-free) quilting weekends, and it's fantastic! 
This past weekend my parents had my two older boys and my husband was out of town participating in a bike race. I took the baby and headed to my best friend's house for a weekend of girl time, good food, and projects. It was like my own personal quilting retreat.

She spoiled me with good food...
Egg bake and monkey bread

Deconstructed cabbage roll soup and homemade foccacia with flavored olive oils (the bread was my one food contribution to the weekend--I've unsuccessfully made foccacia several times and I can happily say that I have finally conquered yeast... ha ha ha!)

Dessert...pecan and brown sugar crust, a cream cheese layer, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, chocolate shavings...

Wait, isn't this post supposed to be about quilting?

I finished piecing and trimming the backings for my big boys' new bed quilts (now off at the machine quilter's!):

I pieced a quilt top that I'm planning to donate using the adorable Smudgy Cat collection:

I basted my tree skirt...there's still a chance to get this finished for the holidays!

And he hung out on his play mat while we sewed, chatted, and ate!

I loved this quote Kathy had hanging up--the word you can't see is "Every." Planning to make a wallhanging with this quote on it.

Kathy is a quilter but she's really found her niche in mixed media artwork. She and I started this painting in July for my mantel and she took it home to finish. I love what she did on top of our original work, and it's now hanging over our fireplace!

Our selfie along the shores of Lake Michigan. We didn't leave the house on Saturday, but on Sunday ventured down to the lake for a little exercise and fresh air.

We had a fantastic, relaxing, productive weekend, and I can't wait to find an opportunity to do it again!

And now for my WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced. I'm thrilled that I basted the tree skirt because basting seems to be a stumbling block for me--it's just so tedious! So I was excited to get started on the quilting. And tonight I did! 
Now...did you ever have one of those projects where while you were working on it, you realized that you hadn't thought through exactly what it would involve? That would be this tree skirt! It has 40 wedges. I'm quilting it 1/4" along both sides of each chevron seam. That is A LOT of stopping, rotating the skirt and redirecting the walking foot. As in 40 times per ring. For 11 rings, stitched twice on each ring. Yowza! But it'll be worth it in the end. 

Here's what I've got done so far.

And speaking of projects that ultimately take longer/more effort than originally thought, I'm also at work transforming this car into a camper for my son's kindergarten class. But I'll be saving that story for another post. Like when I'm finally done with it. Next June.

Friday, November 7, 2014

November ALYOF Goal

Back when I joined the A Lovely Year of Finishes party in January 2013, my first goal was to finish my two boys' Christmas stockings. I did, and by the time December came around, it was a huge treat to pull them out, completed, and hang them on the mantel.

This year, there's a third kid, so we need a third stocking! Luckily, I bought enough fabric way back when in case we needed an extra stocking, so I'm ready to go.

Because I pay someone else to do the name embroidery and I haven't gotten her the fabric for doing that yet, my goal for November is to get the stocking quilted, cut out, and ready for the name to be added to the top.

Friday, October 31, 2014

October ALYOF Goal: 2 Tops Done!

I actually finished my October ALYOF goal on October 10th. Awesome, huh? And then it took me 3 more weeks to photograph my finish and write this post. :)

My goal was to finish assembling the blocks into the second of two quilt tops for my big boys' bedroom. (My mom had assembled the first one.) What made this goal a little more challenging is that I decided both quilt tops needed one extra row, so in addition to assembling mine, I had to find more fabric and make 18 more blocks! 

Here are the two quilt tops next to each other:

Part of my stalling in writing this post was because I also wanted to show you the pieced backs of the quilts. One's done, just not trimmed or photographed, and the other isn't assembled yet. But on attempt #2, I found the perfect backing fabric! And in a completely unrelated note, I have 5 yards of a slightly-too-bright lime green tonal fabric to use for something. So that'll be another post for a different day!

I'm thinking these quilts might be on the boys' beds by Christmas!!!
Find out more about ALYOF and see all the participants' finishes at Sew BitterSweet Designs and Fiber of All Sorts.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry

The leaves are changing colors, the stores are full of bags of snack-sized candy ready to be eaten, and every recipe I've made in the last two weeks has included pumpkin.
You know what that means: It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival

I struggled with figuring out what to enter this time around because I haven't actually finished any quilts in a while. Instead, I was busy growing this little guy, who was born in August:

(And no, I actually didn't make him a new quilt--I've loved the nursery decor I made for my first son, so I used it for the next two as well. I've been busy working on quilts for his older two brothers' can see the progress on those here. He will get his own quilt down the road when he's old enough to pick something out!)

But you actually came here to see my entry for the show, didn't you? 
I finished this quilt back in June, so my niece received it two months before her first birthday (pretty good, considering it was supposed to be a baby present!). 
I'm entering it in the Original Design category for the BQF.

Patchwork and Pennants
Designed, stitched and machine quilted by me
48" x 52"

The story behind this quilt (you can read the longer version, with photos, here):
Little Rachel is the youngest of three girls. I made the other two matching Yellow Brick Road quilts (Atkinson Designs) using a fat quarter bundle I bought at Quilt Market Sample Spree back in 2005. I really wanted Rachel's to "go" with the others but was pretty much out of fabric from the original bundle. And I was ready to branch out and design my own quilt rather than simply following a pattern. I developed this patchwork and pennant design and then took the fabric scraps I had left from her sisters' quilts and bought tonal prints and solids in coordinating colors. A couple pennants in each row are 3-D; the rest are fused and zigzag stitched in place.
I quilted it on my home machine and added a scrappy binding. You can see the quilting detail below and read more about it here:

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ALYOF October goal

My October goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes is to finish assembling the second quilt top for my older boys' new bed quilts. My mom assembled the first quilt top; I have the remaining 99 blocks still at my house to finalize the layout and sew together. (You can read more about these quilts here.)

I'm hoping the quilts might be on the bed by...Christmas? Thanksgiving would be even better...we'll see how long the quilting takes!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A, B, C...September ALYOF

I completed my ALYOF September goal--to sew fabric letters and a drawstring bag to hold them for my nephew--and mailed them off today. His birthday was on the 23rd, so they are late, but he's 2 and won't care. Besides, I actually have a good excuse. I made the last-minute decision to head to my sister's house (4+ hours away) with my 3 little guys so that we could attend the birthday party. This meant that the days I had planned to sew the letters, I was actually visiting the birthday by instead. I'll take an in-person visit over a timely birthday present any day!

Here are the letters:
(the letters in the lower left show the backing fabric--rows of cars)

And the drawstring bag (isn't this the perfect fabric for a bag that holds letters?!):
Clearly the bag didn't get ironed...

And the whole colorful pile of letters and the bag!

I'm thinking that Santa will be bringing my nephew quilted numbers for Christmas to complete the set!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September ALYOF Goal: Fabric Letters

Way back before Christmas, I used this tutorial to make a set of fabric letters for my 2.5 year old nephew. Because I finished them approximately 3 hours before I had to wrap them, I forgot to take a photo. My sister-in-law took these photos for me after the fact:

It was fun to dig through my scraps to find fabrics to use, and I had the letter print you see above that I used to make a drawstring bag. This was a quick and easy project to do!

Fast forward to the end of May, and that same nephew was about to turn 3. I decided a set of numbers would be a great gift and dug through my scraps again.

This time I remembered to take a photo before gifting them. 
And of course my boys wanted to be in a photo too!

So when August rolled around and a certain boy in my house was turning 3 (the redhead above), I decided he needed his own set of letters. I actually made these the day of his birthday--that's how quickly they sew up! I love the fabric I found for his drawstring bag, too.

I have another nephew who will be turning 2 in September, and I've been planning to make him a set for his birthday. With this in mind, I was smart when pulling fabrics for my son's set--I cut enough pieces for both sets at the same time, so all I have to do is assemble the little quilt sandwiches, stitch the letter shapes on each one, and cut them out. I feel like the fabric selection is the most time-consuming part of this project, so I'm thrilled that I'm done with that part already!

And so, my September ALYOF goal is to finish the set of letters and drawstring bag for my nephew's birthday. I'm hoping that he'll like them as much as the other two boys do!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WIP Wednesday: quilts for my big boys

This is one of those projects that's been a long time in the making...

I've had plans to make bed quilts for my two bigger boys (5.5 and 3) for a couple years, and I had a color pattern in mind, thanks to this inspiration page from a Sherwin Williams brochure:
(My older son has seen this picture--and approved the color scheme--
but wants to know when Daddy will be installing the barn door on the closet!)

My nursery decor had been teal and mocha, so the boys' room (they share) was already painted a similar shade to the teal you see here. I loved this palette and wanted to use it for their "big boy" room. My now 3-year-old was less than a year when we moved into our house, so I had time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I ran into the Cranberry Chutney pattern by Madison Cottage Design at Quilt Festival in 2013 and fell in love. 

The plaid look each block had was perfect for two growing boys--not too childish, but not too grown up. That same day, I bought a bunch of fabrics in my color scheme. Which I then sat on for about nine months. 

This spring and summer, with the new baby on the way, it was time to start the redecorating process. My mom and I cut everything we needed and split it in half--we would each make 99 blocks!

Here are some in progress shots from my design wall as I made blocks and put them up on the wall. Did I mention that 99 blocks is A LOT? I am so happy that mom volunteered to make the other 99!

And the finished layout for one of the quilts--just needs to be sewn together! I think there might be an end in sight for finishing the boys' room!

Here's a peek at the repurposed dresser in the boys' room--the quilts will help to tie the colors together!

So that's what I'm working on this week (and have been working on for several weeks!). My next challenge is the quilt backs--I'm thinking I'd like to make the backs look like a single block (so one main fabric with several strips intersecting through it). What do you think? Any other backing ideas?

Not looking to get overly detailed in the back piecing, but I'd like something more than just a plain quilt back. And, I don't have any blocks left (nor any of the fabrics from making them--I bought just enough!), so I can't do a row of blocks--matching ones, at least--on the back.

Linking up with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.