Friday, January 31, 2014

January in Review

As I sat down to finish up this post I realized that I need to revise my point of view relating to progress on projects. After spending 15 months being all about finishing UFOs I guess it's only natural to have a hard time adapting to the "NEW World".  As in it is perfectly OK to start new projects and also OK to miss the single minded adrenaline rush from finishing lots of old ones!
Never too hot to Stitch!
With that in mind I've scrapped my original post and am going with Lynne's approach as I review the month because they are BOTH important to me this year. I think a little voice in the corner of my head is still stuck on finish, Finish, FINISH! Click on the button above to learn more about how Lynne who blogs at Never Too Hot to Stitch is looking to balance both sides of quilting.

Something Old:

1. Road to Oklahoma, 2. Charmed Pinwheels, 3. Four Patch & Friends, 4. 10 Path and Stiles Blocks

2 UFOs made it to the Finish Line this month - Charmed Pinwheels and Four Patch & Friends. I also dug out 2 projects in the piecing stage and made good progress on both. Half of the star blocks for Road to Oklahoma are completed and Path and Stiles is also at the halfway point with 10 14" blocks done. I was very much in a piecing mood for most of January.

Something New:
I am excited to be a full participant in Barbara's NewFO Challenge - last year I put my own restrictions in place but I don't foresee missing any months in 2014!

1. Charming Snowmen, 2. RSC14 January, 3. Valentine's Day Table Topper, 4. Blitzen Table Topper

I am thoroughly enjoying my Sewing for the Seasons theme. Charming Snowmen is ready for borders and I have 2 new table toppers to enjoy. The Valentine's Day one is already prettying up my table.

The color of the month for RSC14 was blue and I have settled on making a chevron stripe for a ROYGBIV quilt each month and Angela's sampler blocks. I had thought I might do more but realistically I have plenty of projects on my plate. Next year...

My Something New technique this month was using several specialty rulers for the 1st time. The Easy Angle, Companion Angle and Tri Recs rulers were used in my RSC Sampler blocks and I also used the Easy Angle in my Road to Oklahoma blocks. They are wonderful!

My January goals ended up looking like this:

1-UFO#1 Four Patch & Friends-DONE!
2-UFO#2 Minnesota Hot Dish*
3-UFO#3 Christmas Strings*
4-UFO#4 Warm 16 Patches*
5-UFO#5 Charmed Pinwheels-DONE!
7-Winter NewFO-DONE!
8-Valentine's NewFO-DONE!
9- Pillow Pop SAL
10-FMQ Project
*In Progress

I need to figure out how to work in the Pillow Pop SAL and my FMQ goal next month. I tend to chose the familiar projects when I walk into my quilting room. I'm going to think this over and will post my February goals in a day or two. I need to change things up with my goal setting too.
I'm also linking up to Sharon's Let's Book It Challenge which you can read about HERE.  3 of my NewFO projects came from books: Charmed Snowmen from a Leisure Arts book called "Quick & Scrappy Quilts" and my table toppers are from the book "Charmed and Dangerous" by Anka's Treasures. It feels good to make use of those book purchases so thank you Sharon for the inspiration!

I think that does it for January... here's to warmer weather and more daylight hours to sew by in February! Tomorrow I will be linking up to Fresh Sewing Day@Lily's Quilts.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Four Patch & Friends

I am so excited to share this finish today! Four Patch & Friends is DONE! and I could not be happier with it after all this time. It's too big for my usual floor photo shoot so I'm using our bed since it is a nice sunny day. The quilt is draped crosswise to show off of as much of it as I can.

I saw a sample of this in a quilt shop on my way home from Minneapolis/St. Paul during the winter of 2002 and fell in love with it. The shop had a starter kit containing 40 floral 2.5" strips so I bought it along with the book "Open a Can of Worms" by Debbie Caffrey.
I was a new quilter and scrappy was kind of scary at that time. I am certain that had I not seen the sample quilt I would have never attempted it! I paired up the strips and started cutting. Each block has a small print floral and a larger scale floral. The background is a delicate white on white floral that is very hard to photograph.
Photobomb Part I

During March Madness in 2002 I pulled my sewing table out into our family room from my closet in the laundry room and pieced about 3/4's of the blocks. I have no idea what derailed me until I picked it up again in the fall of 2012.

This UFO has appeared on my blog several times - click hereherehereherehere and here if you want to read more about the assembly process and my challenges!
Photobomb Part II
Four Patch & Friends reached flimsy status in late September 2013 and was sent to Kathy at Stitch by Stitch Machine Quilting. I have been following Kathy's blog for about a year and really admire her quilting. We had a great conversation on the phone to discuss ideas in December and she got to work.
I wanted the quilting to enhance the romantic feel of this quilt and Kathy certainly delivered! The swirling vines along the white X's are just perfect. The patchwork sections are done with loops and leaves. The detail on the borders adds so much to the quilt... I just love it. Thank you so much Kathy for making this quilt even more special to me!

I had a large chunk of this backing fabric in my stash so that was an easy choice and I found enough of the inner border green at my LQS last month to use for the binding.
Four Patch & Friends measures 68" by 84" which makes it my biggest quilt. This one is a keeper for sure... some things are worth the wait. It will find a home draped over our living room sofa this spring.

Elsa gives it four paws up! She was testing my binding stitch last night as I rounded the last corner... thankfully she settled in for a nap shortly after this picture.
Finishing this quilt was my January goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes which always provides a large dose of Lovely Motivation.  I'm also linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday@My Quilt InfatuationTGIFF@Riddle and WhimseyCan I Get a Whoop Whoop@Confessions of a Fabric AddictLink A Finish Friday@Richard and Tanya Quilts, Feline Friday@sarah did it! and Finish it Friday@Crazy Mom Quilts.

And, this UFO was on my Q1 Finish-A-Long goal list HERE so I will be linking it up in April at The Littlest Thistle.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And Then There Were 3

I couldn't resist creating one more seasonal version of the Everyday Table Topper from the book "Charmed and Dangerous" by Anka's Treasures. My Christmas/Winter topper is made from Basic Grey's gorgeous Blitzen collection. I so love the color palette of this line with the cool sage and mint prints against the deep reds.
The snowmen prints caught my eye right away so I featured them when I laid out the charms.
Simple walking foot quilting with white Auriful was my choice to show off the pretty fabrics and I had a fat quarter of the ornate grey & mint print which I used for the binding.
Had I made this when the line was current I would surely have invested in more of it! Maybe I will still be able to pick up a few of my favorite prints (like the snowmen on red above) online.
On a random note... I had no idea that the markings on a cat extend to their skin. Elsa gave full consent to this tasteful belly shot although she is definitely giving me a "just take one and make it quick" look. We have had 1 black female cat followed by 3 male Siamese so this is news to me.

She also has longer fur than we are used to and it is so soft and fluffy. Yesterday I couldn't grab my camera quick enough to take a picture of the 2.5" fabric square that was attached via static cling to her tail. She had no idea it was there!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Fail and A Finish

I've been feeling pretty confident about my walking foot quilting for the last 6 months... well along comes this spoiler. Christmas Strings new name is Puffy Christmas Strings! My last ditch effort last night to add more diagonal lines of quilting across the blocks just made it worse. These photos actually look better than the quilt in real life - it's a bubbly mess.
My usual approach to string blocks on muslin foundation is to skip the batting and use fleece for one step batting and backing. I've done 6-8 kid sized quilts that way with no problem. I spray baste to keep the layers secure.
But this is obviously not working! This fleece is a little thinner than what I normally use and I wonder if that in combination with a larger top is the issue. I'll be unpicking this during the Olympics next month and will have ample time to contemplate plan B.

I wonder if using a thin cotton batting would stabilize it better or maybe I'll scrap the fleece (although I'll miss the cuddle factor) for a fabric backing. I happen to have a box or two of Christmas fabrics to choose from.  Thoughts or suggestions anyone?
On a happier note - this cute little table topper is ready to go on my table this weekend. This is the 1st finish for my Sewing for the Seasons theme for 2014. The pattern is Everyday Table Topper from the book "Charmed and Dangerous" by Anka's Treasures and the charms are from an older Sandy Gervais line called Flirtations.
I used a medium pink thread from Connecting Threads for the quilting and muslin for backing. I wish all fabric lines included a bias stripe for easy binding!
My favorite prints in this line are the candies and the small hearts with polka dots. I also love the use of brown... it adds a nice unexpected element.

I love this pattern so much I'm currently sewing down the binding on another one in Christmas/Winter fabrics. Maybe Spring will be next... I've got lots of charm packs to use.  

I'm linking up to Freemotion on the River.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Charmed Pinwheels

UFO Finish #1 of 2014 is Charmed Pinwheels... yes I have broken free from my piecing binge at last! Can you believe my last finish post was on December 13? A new kitten, the holidays and a LOT of piecing has happened since then. I'll be closing out January with a week of finish posts.
Charmed Pinwheels began with 2 charm packs of Chez Moi by Moda (their 1st line perhaps?) that I had paired up, sewn into HSTs and then pinwheels. I used some of my border yardage to make enough blocks for a 4 x 5 block layout.
These fabrics are really vibrant and fun. I love the contrast of the blocks with the mottled solids against the blended blocks of 2 prints. The sashing is Moda Bella bleached white. I quilted along the inner sashing lines and on both sides of the diagonal pinwheels using white Auriful - the borders are simply quilted with straight lines.
I used the remaining Chez Moi yardage on the backing and selected a green and an orange print from my stash to coordinate. I liked the pop of green polka dot so chose that for binding as well. It's interesting to look at the quilting on the backside.
This quilt will be donated to Project Linus... I have quite a stack accumulated waiting for a warmish day for a trip to my drop off spot. Our schools are closed again today due to extreme cold mixed with high winds. Guess what I will be doing after I fill the crockpot with mixings for pork stew?

And, this UFO was on my Q1 Finish-A-Long goal list HERE so I will be linking it up in April at The Littlest Thistle.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quilty Stitches Sampler Along

When I came across this last week I knew resistance was futile...
Corry who blogs at Little Miss Shabby is hosting the Quilty Stitches Sampler Along and we will be making this little beauty. I am smitten!
During the 80's and early 90's I was obsessed with cross stitch. I don't think I ever left the house without a piece of Aida cloth, some floss and a needle. My Mom and several of my aunts were avid stitchers as well.

This wall in our living room is my cross stitch pride and joy. I enjoyed Paula Vaughn's patterns so much because I love their romantic style of flowers, antiques and quilts - well before I became a quilter myself. The finish dates on these range from 1987 to 1990.
When I made partner in my CPA firm in 1994 my present to myself was to have these framed by the best frame shop I knew of. It cost a bundle but it has been worth every penny because these make me happy every single day!
The large wedding dress scene is my favorite... the armoire, the trunk, the quilt, the sampler on the wall and, of course, the dress! I remember doing the white french knots and agonizing over each one.
Of course I have to show a closeup of this one for all of you sewing machine enthusiasts! It's hard to get pictures without reflection... it took me a while to figure out that the lines "radiating" on the top are from our wood ceiling. I love the textured mat board and the detailed inner and outer frames my guy used. I had never seen anything like it. I asked for an heirloom look and he certainly delivered.

This is my baby wall at the end of our main level hall - an awkward place to take pictures for sure but these are the best of the lot.
My Mom made this one when our daughter was born. This pattern was love at first sight for me years before and I was thrilled when she agreed to stitch it!
Then she made this adorable one for our son and my dad made the custom frame with the routed details. I come from a very talented family don't I?
Today I am looking forward to going back to a prior love. I've taken my floss bins off the shelf and am ready to pick out colors and get started on a fresh piece of Aida using new needles.
The first block is the Swoon (upper left corner). I'm thinking red, aqua and green as this will end up in my quilting room. Who would have thought I'd be stitching a Swoon block before I sew one!

I'm linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday@Kathy's Quilts.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blue Scrappy Sewing

This week went by so fast... I can't believe it's already time to link up to RSC14! My blue chevron stripe is fully assembled - I'm using 12 5" charm squares from my stash paired with a white solid and planning to lay them out in ROYGBIV order for a Project Linus sized quilt.
I also added 2 more RSC Sampler blocks - Split Pinwheel and Happy Squares - to my collection. Ohio Star is almost finished (I wanted to take pictures before it got too dark!) and I realized this morning that I don't have a Tri Recs ruler so I'll be adding 54 40 or Fight to my wall when it arrives on Tuesday. How I LOVE Amazon Prime!
As always I am looking forward to sewing with a new color in February and wondering what color Angela has in mind. I'm linking up to ScrapHappy Saturday@soscrappy and can't wait to see what everyone else has been making this week!

Friday, January 24, 2014

No Finish Friday

Yesterday I headed down to my quilting room with the best of intentions to clear my cutting table, sandwich some tops and start a quiltathon. Guess what?

How about some crumb blocks...
And some Path and Stiles blocks from one of Pat Speth's Nickel Quilt books in Thimbleberries fabrics (another UFO from swap parts)...
Elsa helpfully minding the rest of the parts in the family room...
I missed this picture in my last post of her help assembling Charming Snowmen...
Nothing like a little extra drag on the seam! She seems to alternate between wild play, careful observation, wild play and naps lately. So much energy for a little kitten.

Today I actually did what I set out to do yesterday...
Charmed Pinwheels is ready for trimming and binding. I love how the quilting turned out.
I am listening to a wonderful audiobook called "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd. After a string of duds (to put it politely!) I am totally enthralled with this one and ready to get back to it. Time to sandwich another top...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sashed Charming Snowmen

Do you like quilts with sashing? I used to be intimidated by it especially when cornerstones were involved. During the last year I have done a complete 180 degrees however to LOVING sashing with cornerstones!

My favorite thing is how sashing sets off the blocks and calms the quilt. I think the cornerstones make it so much easier to keep the top square during assembly and they add such a nice visual detail too. A little extra work - sure - but I think they are well worth it in the end.
Charming Snowmen is completely sashed, I did the pinning during the NFL games on Sunday and sewed them together during the commercials. My husband and I had Denver & Seattle as our pool teams when the playoffs started and have agreed to split the pot between us so now I have some extra stash funds to spend! I'm a huge fan of Peyton Manning so will be cheering for the Broncos in 2 weeks although I like Seattle as well.
I decided to do scrappy 2" unfinished cornerstones since I had quite a few already cut in my bins. Some are fussy cut and others aren't.
I found this fabric in my stash to use for the outer border even though it says Merry X-mas in tiny script for my winter quilt because it's the perfect scale, it's cute and it's just the shade of blue I had in mind. I should have plenty left over for a pieced backing with some of my leftover squares too.
Today I'm working on getting Charmed Pinwheels assembled with, of course, sashing and cornerstones! Here is an old pic from November when I last worked on this UFO. I'm using white solid for sashing and I have yardage of one of the prints for the cornerstones and outer border.
Then I'll pull out my Pfaff and get the borders attached and backings made for my tops in the quilting queue. I love using the built in walking foot for long seams with very little measuring or pinning. With month end approaching the Finish Line looms... it's time to move from piecing to quilting!

I'm linking up to Freemotion by the River.