Friday, December 8, 2017

Run, Run Rudolph!

After Thanksgiving wrapped up, I made note of four crafty Christmas-related tasks I wanted to take care of before the big day:
  1. Bind two Christmas tree quilts
  2. Label and ship a baby blanket to a friend
  3. Make a dozen ornaments for the school holiday store
  4. Sew and cross-stitch an annoying Christmas stocking, the trauma of which may push me to (a) hit the egg nog hard, (b) watch It’s a Wonderful Life on a loop, and/or (c) curl up in fetal position until December 26
I have yet to start any of the first three projects, but I’m happy to announce that the blasted Christmas stocking is finished and about to be shipped to the recipient.

Sure, the finished stocking is super cute and looks simple enough. Sewing the outer stocking, lining, and cuff together, however, is a hassle. (Full disclosure: I drafted the pattern pieces myself and volunteered to make this stocking, so I’m really not in a position to gripe.) This is the fifth such stocking I have made over the years. I’m thinking it will be my last!

If you want to tackle another handmade gift, I do know of some last-minute, non-stocking projects you could bang out in these last weeks leading up to Christmas. I’ve test-run all of these designs, and they’re available for free here on my blog or elsewhere. I’ve categorized them, to the best of my recollection, by how much time they require. Good luck!

Less Than an Hour

Pixie Basket (Fabric Mutt): As long as you don’t make them by the dozen, as I have, these tiny bins are quick sews. And they’re fun to fill and gift.

Gift Bag for Beer Lovers (From Bolt to Beauty): Two dollars, some pearl cotton, and a half hour is all you need to make this six-pack holder.

About an Afternoon

Library Totes (Sweet Jane’s Quilting & Design): These bags require more time, but they’re beauties—and a great way to use up random jelly-roll strips.

Boxy Lined Pouches (Pink Stitches): I sewed this pattern as a makeup bag, but it could just as easily be a pencil case, project bag, or gift bag.   

Closer to a Weekend

The Tree Is Trimmed (From Bolt to Beauty): I designed this wall hanging years ago, and the recipients still display it each year.

Cargo Duffle Bag (Noodlehead): This tutorial comes from Anna Graham, my favorite bag designer. This project isn’t for the faint of heart, but a walking foot will make the process easier.

Do you have a stocking story in your closet, something that wasn’t impossible but more work than you care to do again? Let us know in the comments ...

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and Main Crush Monday ...

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sneaky, Sneaky, Sneaky Me!

It drives me batty when another quilter, somewhere on social media, posts an unrecognizable corner of a project because he or she is doing some secret sewing and cannot reveal any more. (It’s not nice to tease!) Likewise, it’s hard when I’m the one doing the secret sewing. I often use Instagram in particular to bounce ideas off of other sewers. Doing so is not an option, however, when the future recipient keeps tabs on my projects via social media.

My quilty BFF, award-winning quilter Kim Soper, had a very special birthday this month. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do some—alas!—secret sewing for her.

Two years ago, I bought her five half-yards of Geninne’s Moody Blues from Cloud 9. (This line is now out of print, but you can see all the fabrics and an accompanying free quilt pattern on the Cloud 9 site.) Kim is crazy about Geninne’s bird illustrations, and I intended to gift the fabric to her as a bundle. At the time, though, she had just moved into a new house and still had a little one with her during the day. I decided that a gift of fabric would have saddled her with yet another project she didn’t have time to do.

So I held on to the cuts of Moody Blues, patiently waiting for an opportunity to start sewing with them. Then, this past summer, I started making my Birds in Blue quilt ...

My goal with the pattern selection was to use as much of the Moody Blues fabrics as I could without cutting the birds into too-small bits. The pattern I chose, by Cheryl Brickey and featured in an old issue of Quilty magazine, fit the bill perfectly. (Psst ... I sewed with another of Cheryl’s plus-sign patterns here.)

The hardest part of this project—aside from keeping it a secret!—was working with the limited palette. At one point over the summer, I had to put this quilt to the side to work on higher-priority projects. When I returned to it, I flipped out a little bit. When did I decide to make Kim an orange and blue quilt?! But I didn’t. I decided to make her a Moody Blues quilt, and in addition to the copious amount of blue in the collection, there is some high-contrast orange, which is how I decided to use Cotton Couture in clementine for the inner plus signs and why I went with the Essex Linen in steel for the background (I think the gray tones down the contrast of the complementary colors).

There is also some teal in the Moody Blues fabrics, but it appears sparingly. (See the picture, above.) So I gave teal its own spotlight on the back of the quilt. I’m thrilled with the Anna Maria Horner floral print, Lizzy House pearls, and chunks of teal in the piecing there.

So that’s the story how I kept some secret sewing under wraps for over two years. And I didn’t tease you once with an in-progress shot. You’re welcome! ; )

What’s your take on secret sewing? Let us all know in the comments.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Making the Most of Retreat Sewing

Last month, I went to Cape Cod with my guild for a weekend of sewing and socializing. It was crazy fun and went all too fast, but I was pleased with my accomplishments for the weekend: I wrapped up three quilt tops!

I have friends who work on a project from start to finish at retreats. That isn’t appealing to me. Even at home, I need multiple projects at different stages of being sewn and quilted to keep things interesting. To me, a retreat is more like a sweatshop than a creativity fest—I want to get things done!—so I aim to maintain a good level of productivity.

I choreographed my work for the weekend like this: I had all three quilt tops planned out in advance, with all the necessary fabric selected and cut before my trip. For two of these projects I sewed blocks, too—it was easier to nail down the layout at home instead of on retreat, where design boards are in short supply.

The first project I tackled on the Cape was an easy blue and orange baby quilt. I finished the top the first day at the retreat, and that quick success propelled me into project #2: another Christmas tree quilt. My final project was that same baby quilt pattern in subdued colors.

My Christmas tree project is at the longarmer, and the subdued baby quilt is basted and waiting to be quilted by me. The blue and orange baby quilt, however, is 100% done. (For the record, that’s a month in advance of the deadline. The baby isn’t even slated to come until the end of the year!)

Project Details

Quilt pattern: Little Man from Simplify by Camille Roskelley

Size: 40.5" x 51.5"

Fabrics: This fabric pull was easy to assemble—a fat quarter or less of each print was all that the pattern required. I had a little bit of the animal print in my scraps. The other fabrics are from a Maywood Studios bundle of Dawn KimberBell basics that my husband bought for me. The background is Kona Lake.

The backing features a low-volume print from Bonnie and Camille’s Happy Go Lucky line. All the fabrics I used were from my stash!

The Rest of the Year

I have two more finished quilts that I need to blog about before year’s end. I will also need to bind my two Christmas tree quilts, make a bag, and sew and cross-stitch a stocking. You are my witnesses: I will not add any last-minute sewing projects to my to-do list! Usually, I ditch sending out Christmas cards so I can add another project or two into the mix. But the cards have already been ordered and are waiting to be sent. This holiday season will be marked by sanity! (Alas, I can make no promises, however, about the new year.)

How does the next month look for you? Will you be making up to the last minute? Will it be sewing and quilting all month long, or are there other holiday crafts you enjoy? I used to make my own Christmas cards. Hahahaha—that will never happen again!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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