Saturday, March 30, 2013

March in Review

I'm going to let my pictures do all the talking today!

I finished 4 UFOs in March.
1. Garden Cats, 2. Easter Egg Table Topper, 3. Charming Stars, 4. Patchwork Stockings

I also worked on the following projects in March. Something new for me was participating in the Stitch Me Up Embroidery Blog Hop and I'm really glad I did.
1. Crossroads Blocks in Orange, 2. Orange Birds in the Air Blocks, 3. March Block for "And Sew On..." BoM, 4. Swap Pincushions, 5. Quilted Redwork Pillow, 6. My Cozy Chair

And, I spent some time organizing my "Rainbow" stash this month!
1. Folded Fat Quarters, 2. Pinks & Reds, 3. The "Cool" Colors, 4. Everything Else

My overly ambitious March Goals ended up looking like this:

March Quilting To-Do List
1-Finish Christmas Stockings 2,3 & 4-DONE!
2-Finish Four Patch & Friends Quilt*
3-Finish Spring Flowers Quilt (at LAQ)
4-Finish Shabby String Quilt (at LAQ)
5-Finish Star Charm Wall Quilt-DONE!
6-Finish Easter Table Topper-DONE!
7-Finish Nancy Halverson Table Runner
8-RSC13 & And SEW On Blocks-DONE!
9-Threadbias QAL Table Runner*
10-HGTV Pincushion Swap-DONE!
11-FMQ 7 practice sessions, 3 blocks, 1 quilt*
12-Embroidery Blog Hop Project-DONE!
* In Process

I'll be back on April Fools Day with my April Goals. I've got exciting plans to share about a big project that will be getting underway. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Holiday weekend!
I'm linking up to Nothing but UFOs for 2013@A Passion for Applique, Let's Get Acquainted Monday@from Pixels to Patchwork and to Fresh Sewing Day@Lily's Quilts.

The Stockings are Hung - I Mean Done

I am feeling GOOD about this finish!
Stockings 2,3 & 4 are my only UFO started in 2012 and have been on my Monthly Goals list in January, February and March. They were made using a Thimbleberries pattern called "Christmas Patchwork Stockings". Stocking 1 on the left was finished in December 2012.
All 4 stockings are backed with the Santa print from stocking 1. Sewing on the cuffs yesterday was a good chance to use the free arm on my Juki F600. I really should rip the cuff off stocking 1 and reattach it to fix a few wobbles now that the others fit so much better.
But, I might just call it a day instead!
I'm linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes as this is my March finish for that challenge. This is also my March finish for Marti's 13 in 2013 UFO Challenge over at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks. I can't tell you how good it is going to feel to put away these fabrics that have been laying around my quilting room for the last 4 months!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Update on Quilty Stuff

I did some FQ folding while watching March Madness last weekend and viola!
I had a few collections of fabric that I started with and then I added my "rainbow" FQ stash folding them using the "Basic Tuck" method I found at Badskirt. I'm loving that I can fit 4 rows of FQs across the drawer! I have one more drawer to fill and I'm thinking I'll start with batiks since I don't buy a lot of batik yardage but sometimes often can't resist pretty batik FQs.

I've been doing a FMQ practice square daily this week. I was having some tension problems with lots of eyelashes on the back as you can see on the left so I finally got brave and adjusted my top tension which helped a lot. I know the dial is there for a reason but I resist touching it! On my Pfaff it was easy to remember "normal" but on Mr. Juki it's going to be a little harder. Guess I'll keep my practice squares and leader/enders handy to test my tension between projects.
My Christmas stockings are heading towards a March finish! I'm using the fabric in the middle to back all 4 stockings (it's also the front for the one I finished in December). I need to get the last backing quilted with the flannel I picked up in town this morning and then I'll be able to assemble them, get the bias binding attached and ready to be sewn down while I watch March Madness tonight. Tomorrow I'll add the cuffs & ties.
A few weeks ago my Mom & I went on a road trip in my new Kia Soul to pick up some quilts she had done. The shop was having a 25% off everything sale and here are a few of my finds.
I was thrilled to find bits & pieces from 3 older lines that I LOVE and missed out on during my 3 year quilting hiatus. Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda came in a kit to make the table runner on the left called "Square Dance". They had a sample in the store that was just gorgeous. I love Anka's Treasures patterns and since I've finished all 3 of my "Little Charmers II" UFOs now I guess I'm ready to start the next series.

I came close to buying a kit just to get the Kate Spain Terrain fabrics but then on my second pass through the store I found the charm pack & one FQ that another shopper must have uncovered so I snatched them up in a hurry! The 3 fabrics in the front are from Sweetwater's Sunkissed line and will be paired up with the text print I bought but didn't use in my Four Patch and Friends quilt for a future project.

Last but not least is the Atkinson Designs pattern "Pockets to Go". The shop had these made up in both sizes at their cutting tables and they were so cute and handy looking!  I bought the Peltex interfacing too and I think this will be my April NewFO project for Barbara's challenge over at Cat Patches.

I removed my March Goal gadget the other night because Blogger wasn't allowing me to edit it anymore and I'm missing it! I'll try it again in April.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stitch Me Up Embroidery Blog Hop

Today is the day I get to share my stitches on this wonderful Blog Hop! I'd like to thank Madame Samm for creating all of these fun adventures in BlogLand and Jane from Jane's Fabric & Quilts for being such a great cheerleader along the way. And, a big thank you as well to the talented pattern designers who gave us so many fantastic patterns to choose from - Debbie Martinez from Busy As Can Be, Cyndi from Bee Tree Designs and Madame Samm.

I'm a rookie Blog Hopper and have been so inspired by all of the beautiful stitching I've seen over the last two weeks! Embroidery was one of my early craft loves when I used to make stamped tea towels as a child. I had a revival of my interest in embroidery about 7 or 8 years ago when I discovered crazy quilting, but I hadn't done any stitching for the last 5 years until this Hop was announced so I was excited to jump in.

As soon as I saw this stylish & sassy girl by Madame Samm I knew I had to stitch her! She reminds me of my daughter who is our family fashionista and I finished the pillow to match her decor. I had never done redwork before and it seemed like a perfect way to test out the beautiful Presencia thread we received. I watched a few videos on Youtube and started stitching away... it didn't take long before I was loving every stitch.
I did an envelope backing with binding which is my favorite way to finish a pillow.
Yes, we really do have this much snow in Northern Minnesota at the end of March! Our front yard is fenced in by this wall of white.
Here is an indoor closeup shot of the quilting I did on the border fabrics.
I also stitched this lovely pattern from Debbie Martinez which gave me a chance to try some variegated Presencia threads I added to my stash. It was so much fun to stitch along and watch the colors change like magic! I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this exactly but I've pulled some fabrics and will wait for inspiration to strike. Rest assured that it will NOT become a part of my UFO Collection!

Please go take a peek at the gorgeous stitching on display today at these blogs:

A Tuesday Finish

"Charming Stars" is UFO Finish #21 for 2013 and is made from an older fabric line called "Heaven on Earth" by Northcott Fabrics. I used 2 charm packs and the "Little Charmers II" pattern by Anka's Treasures.
I just love the soft colors and beautiful florals in this line! I grid quilted along the edges of the blocks and the stars in each block with cream Aurifil thread.
I'm excited to pop this one into the washer and let it crinkle up. I'm going to hang it in my quilting room as it complements the bedding on the trundle bed perfectly... I'll try to remember to add a picture when I get that done later in the week.
One more DONE! on my March goal list, it's shaping up to be a week of Getting Things Done around here. Be sure to come back tomorrow for my day on the Stitch Me Up Embroidery Blog Hop!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pincushions & Paper Piecing

My pincushions for a HGTV Quilting Forum swap are stuffed and ready for pins! I used an easy to follow tutorial found HERE at Very Berry Handmade. The only change I made was to cut my fabric strips 1 1/4" instead of 1" because I wanted them to be bigger, mine finished at 4.5" instead of 3".
I went with 2 versions highlighting different colors from the black fabric which I also used for the backing. It had been awhile since I've used polyfill stuffing - it felt like I stuffed and stuffed and then stuffed some more!

The March block for "And Sew On..." is called Just Spoolin' Around.
While I'm very happy with how the block turned out (minus the corner that I'll be fixing), I'm mostly just relieved to have finished it. Quite frankly, I'm starting to wonder if my paper piecing skills/methods are at the level these blocks require. 
It doesn't help my confidence level much when I realized just now that my January & February blocks are about a 1/2" smaller than my March block. So, I have several things to figure out before I make April's block.
  • Obviously I did something different when I printed my pattern for March.
  • I've read on blogs about using freezer paper for PP and I think I need to find out more about this method. I'm currently using paper from That Patchwork Place made for foundation piecing.
  • There has to be a better way to make sure the fabric stays where it is supposed to be! And, I was taught to leave the paper in until you are done but that makes the tiny sections so bulky to work with. 
If you have any advice or can recommend a good tutorial or book on complex paper piecing please help! I love this pattern but when I start looking at some of the upcoming blocks I have a sinking feeling that I'm not up to the challenge.
At least I can click off 2 March Goals as DONE - yay for that!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bloglovin Claim

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Just a quick housekeeping post... like many of you I'm trying out Bloglovin and Feedly for my personal use since Google has decided to abandon Reader this summer. Right now Feedly has the edge for me because I do a fair amount of my blog reading on my iPad, but I know that many of you will be following with Bloglovin so here you go!  I've also added a Bloglovin button on my sidebar.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scrappy Orange Saturday

So far the March Madness games today haven't been too exciting, which is probably OK as I needed to get some sewing done. I have about an hour of stitching left on my main piece for the Embroidery Blog Hop so I'm excited to finish that up tonight and have a little time to decide whether it should be a pillow or a wall hanging.
My Birds in the Air blocks are done which concludes my month of sewing with orange. Making these blocks always leave me wanting more... it's so nice to have a project like that to look forward to each month!
I don't think I've tried the above layout before but it's kind of fun.
I like the big chevron layout too.
And a close up to better see the fabrics. I'm wishing I hadn't used the fabric that reads yellow instead of orange, but it's too late now. I wonder what color will we be creating with next month? I know that I am longing to see some green outside!

I'm linking up to ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness!

Woo Hoo! I love this...
which is very random if you consider that I don't follow College Basketball one bit during the season. If my husband has a Minnesota Gophers game on I'll keep him company while I do some hand work or read, but I don't really care if they win or lose. I'm not a fan of the NBA either.

But the NCAA Tournament is one of my favorite things. I've been thinking about why I enjoy it so much and have come up with the following reasons:
  • It's usually exciting with close finishes and upsets.
  • I love being in tournament pools & following my brackets even though I do no research and make my picks in about 10 minutes.  
  • There is almost always a Cinderella story (a team that comes out of nowhere) and I root for them like crazy.
  • You get to know the teams and coaches quickly because of the tournament format, so even though I don't know many of this morning by the time the Final Four rolls around I'll know them well.
  • Charles Barkley is hilarious.
  • After the NFL season is over (sad face) this is the next best thing.
  • It comes at a time in MN when I am sick & tired of snow and by the time it's over spring is that much closer.
  • It's the perfect excuse to stay inside and be lazy.
Actually this tournament I have my Embroidery Blog Hop project to work on during the games this week and I will also be organizing/folding some fabric while watching so I won't be lazy ALL of the time. I especially love being to able to flip around 4 channels and catch all the great finishes! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Reality Check

It seems like a good time to weigh in on my progress towards March Goals on my sidebar and admit that, once again, I'm not going to meet all of my goals. I have been pushing myself while setting these but I do hope to actually achieve them one of these months!

Not Going to be Done:

Goals 2,3 & 4. My LAQ is 2+ weeks behind on her estimate for my Spring Flowers and Shabby Strings tops and hasn't given me any indication as to when she will get to them.

If you look closely at these pictures you will see why Four Patch & Friends has stalled out once again.  First I had a delay with the mail order inner border fabric, then I wasn't sure about it once it arrived and finally found the perfect fabric.

Yes, I had one of the background pieces flipped backwards. In a block in the middle of the assembled top. These kind of things I just have to set aside for awhile. And, to make the ripping especially painful, I must have been doing some paper piecing before I assembled this section because my stitches were tiny!

Will be Done:

Goals 1,5,8,10 &12. My Christmas stockings are back on track as I posted yesterday, my Star wall quilt is ready for binding, my RSC13 blocks are 80% done and my "And Sew On" block will take an afternoon. The pincushions for my HGTV swap are due by 3/31 and my day for the Stitch Me Up Embroidery Blog Hop is Wednesday, March 27th. These are fun projects!

Should be Done:

Goals 7, 9 & 11. My Nancy Halverson table runner, the Theadbias QAL table runner and my FMQ goals are all doable in the next 12 days. I just need to get serious about them.

Not on List but Done: 

I finished piecing this Patriotic 9 Patch UFO yesterday and it will go on my goal list for Q2 finishes.

Bright Blue Strings is also pieced and I'll look for some backing fleece today after I take the J-cats home.
And, when I really start feeling frustrated about my lack of progress on March Goals I just open a drawer or two...
It was so worth it!!! ;-)  If you missed this post - click HERE. I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday@Freshly Pieced.

Back to Christmas?

With yesterday's dose of snowy weather it seemed appropriate to work on a project that:
  • Is my only 2012 UFO 
  • Was on my monthly goal list in January, February AND March
  • Is my March project for A Year of Lovely Finishes
My Christmas stockings 2,3 & 4! Stocking #1 was finished in December and #2 was last seen in February so I'll refresh your memory. Stocking #2 isn't as dark as it appears in these photos and is actually quite pretty.
Back in February I posted HERE about my plan to use the waste triangles from my "Christmas in the Pines" tree skirt for stocking #3.
Yesterday after playing around with them I was able to create the body for stocking #3 AND stocking #4! I pieced the red HSTs to add to the greens for stocking #3 and was able to make stocking #4 completely from leftovers. Bonus!  

A tip for matching up lots of points - press your seams open and baste them first. Stocking #4 got a bit hairy but I consoled myself that it was basically "free" due to the waste triangles and kept at it.
Finally ALL of my decisions are made about these stockings... I've pulled fabrics for the cuffs and the binding/ties for each one and I'm really happy with the mix. Each stocking will have a different binding/tie color - red, cream, green & gold. 2 green and 2 red cuffs since those are my favorite Christmas colors. 
I also like the variation in color value between the four... can you tell I've auditioned fabrics for these repeatedly? In fact, of the 7 fabrics I planned to use in February (below) I only used 3. Oh and I didn't end up trying the Wondercut Ruler either.

Sometimes I have a really hard time making decisions... now that I have a plan it's all easy sewing from here. Just putting away the pile of fabrics cluttering my quilt room (and probably my mind!) will feel great.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yet Another Snowy Monday

I've lost count of how many snow days and late start school days we have had this winter... today schools are closed again. This is the view from our kitchen window!
Spring is going to come late this year but I've got lots to do in the quilting room so I'm not going to complain too much. Yesterday I felt like assembling some tops so I pulled out some UFO blocks from my drawer and started laying them out.
I had some patriotic 2.5" strips left over from my Patriotic Squares quilt for Quilts of Valor so I had used EQ to design a simple 9 Patch quilt. I don't know what it is about 9 Patches exactly but they are one of my favorite blocks. The string blocks are from an HGTV Quilting Forum Swap, I had requested shades of blue for the center strip and bright gender neutral colors. It's always fun to play around with bright strings on a grey day!
On Saturday I finished quilting this wall quilt which is one of my March Goals. I think I have more of the cream star print for the binding, I don't recall the name of this pretty fabric line so I'm hoping I'll find it on the selvage. The pattern is "Little Charmers II" by Anka's Treasures.

I'm linking up to Let's Get Acquainted@Busy Bee Quilts and Design Wall Monday@Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stitching Basket and a Finish had these on 50% clearance a few weeks ago and this one caught my eye. I've never owned a sewing basket before but I thought it would be a great way to store my new stitching supplies & projects for easy portability. Not to mention that it's just plain cute too!
When I unlatch the top it looks like this with a handy pincushion and pocket for my embroidery hoop.
I so LOVE the removable plastic partitioned tray. It's deep enough to hold the thread that I'm currently using and I'm sure I'll fill up the sections quickly. I'm using one for a thread catcher (I'm terrible at leaving bits of thread on the sofa!). Underneath there is room to store my project and the pattern. No peeking at that until the Embroidery Blog Hop!
And, at the very bottom is my collection of Presencia thread... with plenty of expansion space.
I finally have a DONE! on my March Goals and just in time for Easter decorating too. This Easter Egg Table Topper is made from swapped Happy Blocks with cute Egg centers.
I grid quilted it with variegated pastel Sulky thread. My favorite block is surrounded by adorable Easter bunnies. I wouldn't have chosen a few of the darker fabrics myself but that is how you roll with swaps.
This backing fabric will give the topper an extended life after Easter.  I have so many pretty big floral fabrics in my stash and I'll be hard pressed to feature them all on quilt tops.
This is the table it will top, after it's washed it will lay much nicer but I'm not that patient today!
I'm linking up to Slow Sunday Stitching@Kathy's Quilts.