Sunday, December 27, 2015

Best of 2015 Linky Party

Well, hello there! I'm technically still on my blogcation right now, but I couldn't resist doing this one post. Cheryl over at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Linky Party this week where we can share our five Best of 2015 posts. What and how we share is up to us. I've decided to share the five posts that were the most fun for me to write (plus a bonus post link--because I just couldn't leave it out). They aren't my most popular posts or ones with the most comments, but they please me most. They do have a theme--they're all about quilts I made for family. So here goes.

The first two are Throwback Thursday posts, where I share about quilts I made before I started blogging. I have more than thirty years worth of pre-blog quilts so I won't run out of these anytime soon. I really enjoy looking back at my old quilting projects. I've linked these up to various parties, most recently the Throwback Thursday party at A Quarter Inch from the Edge. (The button is on the right.) 

1. Throwback Thursday--Hetch Hetchy  This is about a quilt I made for my dad for his 90th birthday. It represents my love of tiny paper pieced designs of landscapes and buildings and my love of making little gift quilts of places meaningful to the recipients. We'll be celebrating Dad's 92nd birthday in a few days!

2. Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition--The 13-year Bed Quilt This is my favorite post this year about a pre-blog quilt. I made the quilt for me and my husband--and it has been around in one form (unfinished) or another (on our bed) for most of our marriage. It was so much fun remembering the process (and our long-ago life ) even though time has taken its toll on the quilt. The quilt will be replaced as soon as I get around to it. The marriage is still strong, though. No need for replacement.

The next two posts relate to the biggest events of our year--the births of our two grandsons. Two of the best reasons to make quilts!

3. Best Kind of Finish Okay, this post isn't about the quilt so much, but it WAS one of the most fun to write! The quilt was actually finished just before the end of 2014. You can read about it here (bonus link). 

4. He's here! This post is about the quilt I made for our second grandson. But it also represents the inspiration I get from other quilters in the blog community. The patterns on both the front and the back and the color idea for the quilt top are from blogs I read regularly. I truly enjoy getting to know other quilters through their blogs and their quilts.

And finally...

5. Big Quilt Flimsy Finish I had to include this one because it pretty much sums up what this year has been for me as far as quilting goes. I have finished 4 quilts as well as 18 tiny projects and have started 2 other quilts, but otherwise this is THE quilt this year. It's taken more time than I ever thought it would, and I've had to fill in with lots of posts about pre-blog quilts, vacations and flowers just to have something else to post about. I started planning this quilt near the beginning of the year, pieced it between April and June, and have been picking away at the quilting ever since. I'd like to say it's almost done, but it's not. It is over half way, though, and I'm happy to say that I'm getting faster, so I really hope to finish it this winter. It's for my son and daughter-in-law. I guess it's kind of a wedding present, except that they've been married for nearly 1 1/2 years. Sigh.

I have a few more days of blogcation, then I'll be back to show you the little things I made this past month, a sweet gift, my plans for the next project, and of course, more Throwback Thursday quilts. In the meantime, we continue with holiday celebrations here, and I'll also be sure to take a peek at all of your Best of 2015 posts. 

Have a Happy New Year! (And thanks, Cheryl, for hosting this party!)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: Holiday Craft Show Quilts

Early in my quilting life, I made a collection of individual blocks with a border from a 1982 (I think) block-of-the-month quilt calendar. It was a primitive looking calendar with black printing on large-format colored paper sort of like construction paper, bound with a cord (yarn?). Each month had a drawing of a quilt block, and on the back of the page was a pattern for the block. I don't remember most of the quilt block names. The one that does come to mind was "Toad in the Puddle" to represent April. Each month I shopped for bits of fabric, taking care to represent the month as well as I could. For example, I remember that one of the fabrics I choose for January was a bluish gray with small whitish dots that suggested falling snow, and the block for November had a quiet cream/light brown print with tiny oak leaves. As I recall, the patterns also included suggestions and drawings for quilting designs, so I carefully constructed each block, and by the end of the year I had a collection of little quilts that became my kitchen "calendar" for the next several years, displayed with a simple paper calendar underneath. 

After I tired of the quilty calendar, those blocks lived in a box under my bed for many years. I finally donated 11 of them to a thrift store a couple of years ago. I never thought to take pictures of them, so I have nothing to show for them--except for the December block. I still use it as a table mat under a little Christmas tree in my family room. 

In 1986, my next door neighbor, who was a crafter, and I decided to try selling our wares at holiday craft shows. I made some wall hangings from blocks sort of like the ones I had made for the calendar. They were small and quick to make, so I could build up an inventory without too much work.  I'd like to say this little venture was a rousing success. I did get to know my neighbor well as we sat smiling at prospective customers and engaging them in conversation--or at least trying to make eye contact with them as they passed our table. But trying to sell our little items was excruciating, and our business did not last long. I did sell some of my hangings, but not enough to make it worth sitting at a booth for whole days. My family and friends became recipients of the rest of my inventory, and I kept a few blocks for myself. 

I'm glad I tried selling at shows, and I have great admiration for quilters and other crafters/artists who can successfully sell that way. But it just wasn't for me. I had some success selling some quilted ornaments at a consignment craft shop, but I didn't enjoy sitting in a booth all day, and I also realized something else. As I became more interested in quilting, I found that I wanted to do more extensive, detailed projects. And I didn't like the shortcuts I tended to make so that I could price items low enough to sell easily and still make some money. I had started quilting for others and making some commission quilts by then, and that was much more satisfying to me at that time of my life. I had lots of creative freedom and knew that everything I started was already sold. Perhaps, if I had had the array of modern tools and techniques that are available now, I'd have been able to do the kind of work I really wanted to do more economically. Times have changed, and I know that there are also other platforms for sales that can really be satisfying businesses. But I'm beyond that now and just happy to make whatever whenever. 

I started regularly documenting my quilts with photography in 1985, so I actually have pictures of some of these quilts. Without further ado, here is my little gallery (pardon the blurriness--most of these are scanned pre-digital photos). I'm showing the backs as well as the fronts as they might show the quilting a little better. Most of the quilts are 16 inches square. Some are an inch or two bigger.

Country colors! It was the 80's, after all

More country!

I still have this one (in a closet).

And one more set:

I still have the log cabin quilt. We put up a storm door over our front door earlier this year, and I just realized that I can now hang quilts with protection from the weather. (I know, I know, the sun will fade them eventually--but I can make more). I don't use really bright red in interior decorating anymore, but my front porch has all those red chairs. So here's how this quilt looks now hanging "outside." I like how it really shows up--even from the curb.

These memory posts get pretty lengthy, but since this is a holiday post, I have to share one more quilt. I finished this Feathered Star quilt for my sister-in-law in 1988. I drafted the pattern myself, and it was a challenge, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and I guess my sister-in-law is, too. She emailed me a couple of days ago to let me know that she has just hung it for the 28th season!! It's 33 inches square and hand quilted. 

I've quilted tops for others that have a Christmas theme, but I've only made one other for myself. I've shown it before on the blog. You can see it here. 

Thanks for sticking with me for my memories of a failed little business venture but an enduring love of quilting. I'm linking up with Jenn from Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday.

Until next time (next year!!)....Happy Holidays! Keep on quilting, and follow your business or not.