Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tackling another UFO...

I've been updating my To Do page (see the tab at the top) with pictures of the quilts I've finished this year. I should be able to complete my update by this time next week. At that time I will rename that tab to reflects its 2012 status and start a new tab for my 2013 To Do list. Why? Well...

I have until next Saturday to finish any UFOs on my To Do list in time to get my name in a drawing at Dogwood Guild. We've had a challenge going all year to get some of our in-progress quilts finished. We get to enter our names into a drawing once for each quilt top we complete and twice for any quilt that we complete all the way down to the label. This year I've completed seven quilts and two quilt tops on my list. (I also finished several that I had not remembered to submit on my To Do list, so they didn't count, but I'm still glad I got them done.) I'm hoping to get one or two more quilt tops finished this week (ones that are on my list and WILL count).

The only problem with finishing so many tops before our January meeting is that we are renewing the challenge for this coming year. The more projects I get finished this year, the fewer I get to enter on a To Do list for next year. But that's okay. I can add three Christmas quilts, the Day and Night quilt, the Farmer's Market quilt, and the owl applique quilt that I started this year to the unfinished items list as well as the ones that are still on the list from this year. And I found more projects that I had not included this year as well (Let's not talk about how many or how hard I had to look to find them!). I should still have more than 20 projects to work on. Oh my. How embarrassing. ; )

The quilt top that I'm working on now was a Stash Pot Pie quilt that we worked on about two years ago. All I need to do is finish the borders, but that requires math. Hmmm... No wonder I've avoided finishing it. Ugh.

I really like this quilt, but I an out of the cream confetti background fabric, so it's smaller than I'd like. Oh well. It'll still fit a full-sized bed when I'm finished with it. Yes, yes, I know it needs to be ironed. UFO stuffed in a corner, remember?

Below, you can see what I'm working on for the borders. As you may have noticed, I love floating borders. I've already sewn on a 2 1/2" border (cut sized, not finished) and am working on the floating zig-zag. I'll add a 4 1/2" border on the outside. I do anything to avoid points on the outside of a quilt. They always suffer after quilting. It's almost impossible to quilt and bind a quilt and maintain outside points.

Wish me luck finding time to work on this tomorrow. I think I know how I want to work the borders, and I only need a few hours to get them finished, but house keeping keeps calling my name. I've been working with cotton stuffed in my ears so far, but eventually I'm going to need clean clothes and dishes. In the meantime, Mom and I are talking about hitting a big sale at Guthrie Quilts in Colcord, OK, tomorrow, weather permitting. Deep breath... I'm going to need more willpower than I actually have to hold onto my Christmas money faced with such provocation!

Speaking of tomorrow, can you believe we only have one day left in the year? Wow! I wonder what next year will bring...

Until later,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

End-of-year finishes!

With only two days left in the year, I am using my time to best effect by attempting to finish as many of items on my To Do list as possible. And just watch me go! I finished two more tops and a binding this week alone. AND I have lots of pictures.

First, adoption news. My first Christmas quilt has found a new home! Thankfully, it is with the person I actually had in mind when I made it - my sister. If she hadn't wanted it, it would have gone to a niece or nephew, but I'm glad she liked it. I so seldom make calm quilts, that it's nice to have someone who appreciates them when I do.

Here are two photos of the finished quilt. I am a firm believer in doing whatever I want on the inside of the quilt because I can always fix it with borders if I need. to. I was not in love with the inside of the quilt, but this is a perfect example of a time when the perfect border makes the perfect quilt. In person, the multicolored patches don't really stand out as much as they do in the photos. Thank you, Sister, for liking my first Christmas effort.

I also completed the top of my fourth Christmas quilt. Okay, the second and third Christmas quilt tops are STILL loud even with borders, but they're meant to be. This fourth top is completely different. It actually has a pattern to the 36-patch blocks.

First, I want to show you pictures of my guest room bed. I put different quilts on it, and I LOVE the way they look.

Anyway, now to cover the bed with my new tops. Here is the latest Christmas quilt thrown over the top of my pretty blue scrap quilt. See what I mean about a different look to the 36-patches?

I love taking far off pictures of this quilt. A person can get dizzy looking at it for too long. In fact, I had so much fun looking at the dizzying aspect of it that I forgot to take photos of it from the side, so there aren't any where you can see the entire borders. I did take a couple of photos of the corners to show you. The bottom right and top left corners follow the same pattern as the first three Christmas quilt.

The bottom left and top right corners reversed the colors of the rest of the border. Kind of neat, huh?

Next finish. I used the leftovers from the quilt that I made for one of my sisters-in-law to make this baby quilt. Since that sister-in-law is about to become a grandmother again (and I a great-aunt again!), I am sending this quilt to my niece. She is due in March. I am positive that my sister-in-law said that the baby is a girl, but maybe I'd better verify that before I mail the quilt, huh?

These are a few of my favorite things (or at least my favorite fabrics)... At Stashbusters a year or two ago, we were given a pattern for a Brick Road quilt. Most of us made the quilt top, but I was the only one who hated mine. Everyone else's was beautiful! This was one of my first attempts at a scrap quilt. Unfortunately, I tend to get carried away when choosing fabrics. I used the fabric below to choose coordinating fabrics, but I chose about 20 too many and didn't stick to a recognizable color theme. I used the fabric below to chose all of my coordinating fabrics and colors.
I also used my absolute favorite fabrics. Just look at the some of the gorgeous fabics I chose for this quilt. All of my favorites are in here!

Below you can see how the inside of this quilt turned out. Ugh. There is no symmetry, no order, no unifying theme! I've had this top shoved into a corner out of sight since I made it. But thanks to Dogwood Guild's "Git 'er Done" challenge, I have until next Saturday to check off projects on my lengthy To Do list, and this was one. I had to finish it. I had to design a border to save my favorite fabrics from the dustbin.

In the photos below, you'll see why this large lap quilt is now one of my favorite quilts ever. I decided on a floating border to pull out the fabrics from the brick road and let them stand out on their own. I do need to correct a color flaw in the photos though. The border background is not black. It is actually a super dark purple with ultra small, slightly lighter purple squares. It's a gorgeous fabric, but it really doesn't photograph well in my lighting.

Doesn't it make a nice frame to calm down those internal colors and draw the eye to the outside? I didn't care in the slightest that the corners didn't quite match. The slight break doesn't seem to be a problem. Now I can love my favorite fabrics again -  they weren't wasted afte all. Don't you just love a happy ending?

Finally, I hope each of you had a terrific Christmas or other holiday season. We were able to visit, briefly, my sister and her family on Christmas Eve, but had to return home after just a couple of hours because of threatening weather. Living four hours away from each other makes visiting a little more difficult than I would like, but it was great to see everyone (except for her husband, who had to work that day). We'll catch him next time around when we don't have to leave quite so quickly.
I must say thank you to Maxie (my tuxedo kitty) who spent a great deal of time the two weeks before Christmas helping me wrap presents. Okay, so mostly she ate the wrapping paper and sharpened her claws on my brother's gift once I had it wrapped, but still, that was the most help I got with the wrapping!
Gratuitous kitty photos:  Sinbad (orange) and Tessie (tabby) enjoyed the space heater in my sewing room.

A little more reluctantly Sinbad shared his pad with Maxie. They never curl up together, but will sit side-by-side as long as they are facing opposite directions. Go figure.

Well, I still have more unfinished projects to tackle this week. For those of you who enjoy celebrating the New Year, please be careful and celebrate responsibly. I wouldn't want to lose any of you!

Until later,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My final owl is finished!

You may remember yesterday's finished owl (below). I spent most of yesterday finishing the eyes and the beak and beginning the last owl.

By mid morning, I had this much finished on my final owl. I must admit that the legs were supposed to be super skinny, but there was no way I felt up to attempting something that challenging. All of my quilting friends told me that they wouldn't try it either. They suggested either machine appliqueing it or simply embroidering it. Neither appealed to me, so I just gave her chunky legs! She looks like me!

By the early evening, I had her completely finished (below). I just noticed in these photos that the lines in her wings are going different directions! He left wing has feathers going down, but her left wing is all ruffled... Hmmmm... Maybe she got caught in that strong wind storm we had last night... Whatever, I'm not changing it now!

I still need to applique a small broken branch beside my falling owl, but then I'll be completely finished with the applique. I have three owl eyes that are supposed to have eyelashes, so I have some embroidery ahead of me. I probably won't even start that process until after Christmas since I have to find my long lost embroidery thread. Now where did I last see that thread container?

On a final note tonight, I have been staying very silent about the heartbreaking event in Newtown, CT, last Friday. But I have cried every day when I've watched the news and seen the photos of the lost children and teachers who are being buried each day. As teachers ourselves, my husband and I share the shock and confusion of school teachers everywhere who ask themselves "What if..." What would I do? How would I feel? We don't have children of our own, and neither of us teaches small children; my husband teaches high schoolers, and I teach adults. But we don't feel protective and responsible for our students. My heart grieves for those beautiful little girls and boys and for the women who died trying to save them. I won't mention them again, but I feel better for having written something anyway.

Tomorrow we will finish our Christmas shopping, and I'll finish the wrapping. I got almost everything that I had already bought wrapped today.

Until later,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Healthy me and healthy computer!

After three months, I can finally breathe, think, and move freely again. Hurray! Just in time for the holidays. Who could ask for better timing? And now that school is out and I have a working computer again, I can resume posting. Hello again!

As you know, while I was ill, I focused my limited attention on lots of Christmas quilts. I'll show you pictures of two of those today. I am still working on the borders for one of them. Since I'm finally feeling better, I decided to concentrate on finishing the last two owls on my owl wallhanging so that I can enter it in the quilt show in April. I'm only one-half of an owl and some embroidery away from having the top finished. Another hurray!

On to the photos now.

Here are the borders of the second Christmas quilt. As you can see, I used the same three border design on each of the quilts. I wanted a continuous theme tying them all together.

Unlike the first Christmas quilt, I abandoned the alternating 36-patch and 12" block design. I kept the 12" blocks and sashed them with the 2" blocks. This allowed me to feature 20 blocks of different Christmas prints I had. I blush to admit that I hit the Hancock's 50% off Christmas prints sale and now have dozens more prints. I'll be making Christmas quilts for months to come!

The same quilt with a view of the corner borders.

This is definitely the busiest looking of the four quilts that I've made so far. But everyone who knows me says that it most matches my personal style. I guess I must be loud and colorful!

I dont' have pictures yet of the third quilt I made, but I'll get some for the next posting.

In the meantime, here is are some in-progress photos of the fourth quilt. I returned to the 36-patch and 12" block design again, but this time I decided against a random, scrappy look and went for a pattern. I had these blocks laid out while I decided on layout. I didn't have enough snowman fabric to alternate blocks, so I decided on a repeat pattern instead.

I laid out about half of the quilt so that I could sew it together the next evening after school.
When I returned home the next evening, This is what I found. At least my kitties left some of the pieces in tact.

Here were the rest of the blocks. It's a good thing I love my kitties too much to get upset with them over their creative spurts. Again, later I'll show you photos of the finished quilt. This is the one that is awaiting the last two borders. Hopefully, after Christmas...

In the meantime, I've returned to work on my owl quilt. As you can see, I needed to finish the owl on the lower right-hand branch.

Here he is all finished! My last owl is actually supposed to be standing on top of this owl's head. I have its feet, body, and wings sewn on. I'm working on its head today. I hope to have it all sewn down by tonight. I'll still need to embroider some eyes on a couple of owls and add a broken branch beside my falling owl, then I'll be all finished.
Thanks to Sager Creek Quilt Shop in Siloam Springs, our Stashbusters meeting last Thursday went very well indeed. We had our annual Christmas cookie exchange. As you can see, we had a great turnout with many delicious cookies to share. Thank you Cliff and Pam Goggins for hosting our meetings at the shop! 

And my usual gratuitous kitty photo. Sinbad has rediscovered winter bliss in front of the space heater in my sewing room. I only leave the space heater on when I'm at home. I don't take chances with fire hazards. It's enough for Sinnie. He will reluctantly share his warm blanket with one or more of his sisters, but I usually find him basking alone. Happy kitty!

I'll post more photos of the other two quilts after I get some packages wrapped. And hopefully, some photos of a completed owl quilt top!

Until then, enjoy the holiday season.