Monday, December 26, 2022

A Bit-by-bit Year

At the end of each year, Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs hosts a linky party for us to share our best posts from the past twelve months and offers suggestions for listing them. I like to share my finishes, and since those would be more than five posts, I divide them into five categories. That way I meet the spirit of the party and keep all my finishes together in one year-end post, and you can decide which links you might like to explore further.

For me, this was a year of small projects. They were the best fit for this season of my life. But the neat thing is that small projects do add up to finishes, bit-by-bit. 

1. Placemats I made these all year long going according to Angela's Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors at SoScrappy. I will be donating them to Meals on Wheels during a spring collection. I used mostly leftover strings as well as other scraps (and an orphan block), pieced batting, and pieced backings or small bits from my stash. Perfect project for limited time, with the satisfaction of a finish. Most (or maybe all?) were quilt-as-you-go. If you'd like to read more about them, click on the "placemats RSC22" label on the right sidebar.

2.Throw Quilts I did finish three biggish quilts. All were long term scrap projects, so the bulk of the work was done last year. Two were Confetti quilts from the pattern by Rachel Hauser of Stitched in Color and the other was a Year of Scrappy Triangles, a pattern by Leila Gardunia. If you want to see more, there are labels with both names to click on the right sidebar.

I donated these to Margaret's Hope Chest for the Mother and Baby Program (for mothers experiencing postpartum depression and other perinatal distress).

3. Wall Quilts Both of these projects were squirrels. You know, those projects you just suddenly have to make, so you get right to work and keep going until you are done no matter what else you've been working on. The first was an attempt to quilt through my feelings over the plight of Ukraine, and to send a message to the world--or at least my neighborhood--in support. It was my front door quilt for much of the year. You can read more about this quilt, which was more of an obsession than a squirrel, here.

The other was my most recent quilt, made while I was decorating my living room for Christmas. You can read more about Advent Candles here

4. Other Quilting Projects I got a new phone this year, just a smidge bigger than my old one, so it needed a new sleeve, just a smidge bigger than the old one. You can read about it here.

I also transformed a queen sized quilt into two bunk quilts. A unique way to recycle, repurpose, reuse. You can read how I did that here.

5. A top This was supposed to be a finished quilt, but got squirreled by the Advent Candles quilt. It is basted and ready to quilt, and there are a few days left in the year, so maybe an almost finish? I picture myself hand sewing the binding on New Year's Day. No link yet, but hopefully a post soon.

There are several other projects in progress that I hope to finish this coming year including my Bear Paws quilt and the adding machine tape project. Oh, and there's that four-patch hand piecing quilt that gets pulled out from time to time. But first, I have a baby quilt to make! In fact, I've already ordered (and received!) my fabric this week after spending way too much fun time figuring out a pattern and the colors. Since babies don't wait until other projects are done, guess which project will get priority? 

I hope you've enjoyed another year of quilt making and that the new year will bring you more inspiration, relaxation, and opportunities to brighten someone else's world with your creativity in color and cloth. 

I'm linking up with Cheryl's Best of 2022 Linky Party, with thanks to her for hosting every year.

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Advent Candles

It started out as a normal day. I had been hanging holiday decorations and had just taken down the autumn leaf quilt in my living room. I was planning to hang my winter quilt, but suddenly got distracted by a December-sized squirrel (yeah, they are big and chunky). I just had to have a holiday quilt.  Something that blended with my living room and didn't call too much attention to itself. And it had to be simple and fast. Hmmm. What about candles? And I was off and running to my fabric drawers and bins. Everything else stopped. My mind raced through possibilities. Prints? Grunge? And then I had it. Advent candles. Simple design, colors that are in my living room year round, solids. And in just a few days, I had a new wall hanging. 

Well, you know me. I can't stop there. So if you want to see how I made it and some close ups and how it looks in the room, keep reading. 

I started by drawing a plan on graph paper. My plan was to make it the same width as the autumn quilt I had just taken down so I wouldn't have to rehang the Command hooks to hold it on the wall. 

I labeled the order of piecing and listed the sizes of pieces. (Check marks were added as I sewed each part. I planned to paper foundation piece the flames and drew the patterns on separate pages, varying the way I did them to keep the flames from looking too much alike. 

I had fabric scraps in all the colors I needed, but the background green was only 23 1/2 by 37 1/2 inches with a few ragged inches more at one end. I made a graph paper drawing of that fabric and carefully planned out how to cut all of the green pieces I needed except the parts for the foundation backgrounds of the flames. They all fit with some irregular leftovers for the flame blocks. After cutting out the main green parts, I realized that I was literally cutting it very close to get the rest of the pieces I needed. And you know how foundation piecing can eat up fabric. So I ended up making templates for each piece rough cutting a bit extra to each for seam allowance. Then I laid them all out on the green leftovers to see how they'd fit. So much for simple, huh?  This game of fabric chicken really had me sweating it. 

But I won!! It's a good thing that solid fabric doesn't have a right side, because I really had to play with each template to get them all to fit. What you see here is every last bit of the green fabric. After spending all that time cutting out templates, I decided I might as well do no-tear paper foundation piecing. I traced my patterns on newsprint, not freezer paper, but since the blocks were simple that was no big deal. (I did trace them in reverse of my original drawings because I wanted the flames to point the same way as my drawings.) I'm no good with a glue stick so to attach the yellow flames to the pattern I did a few quick large stitches, and then sewed everything the usual way for no-tear foundation piecing. Piecing the flame blocks took the longest and then the rest of the quilt top came together in less than an hour. 

I pieced together three long strips of waste batting and found a garish piece of yellow-green (I think it's Kona Cactus) in my bins. I had bought it for a quilt a few years ago and then it didn't work. It is also the backing of a coleus quilt I hang in the summer, so it is getting good use anyway. 

This fabric is about as close to sunlight we've seen in days! When I pieced the quilt I pressed every seam under the candles and flames to try to bring them out. Then I stipple quilted only in the background. The candles look a bit wrinkled here, but that's just the harsh lighting. I had thought of quilting with tan or off white but didn't care for either. It turned out that I had a good amount of variegated thread from my last quilt, and--I kid you not--the colors are pink, blue yellow and green. Perfect. The quilt still looks simple until you are right up close to the front.

(I forgot to sign while I was quilting, so I embroidered my initials and the date afterwards. I wish I had used two instead of three strands of thread.)

The back is a little more wild and festive. 

I used a scrap of grayish green for the binding. I didn't want anything that stood out too much, and of course, didn't have any of the other green to work with. 

Here's a close-up of a flame. 

Here's how the quilt looks with the too-bright LED lamp nearby. At least you can see the texture here, but I rarely use that lamp. The light's much too strong to suit me. 

I've waited more than a week for bright daylight in the living room to get a last photo, but I'm giving up. We have had 30 seconds of sunlight. No, I'm not kidding! So this is the best I could get, and I know there are weird shadows, but this is the quilt above my sewing table. Look how the candles echo the vases. You'd think I had planned this all out ahead of time instead of chasing a squirrel.

The Stats:

Pattern: My own

Size: 28 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches (I added 1/2 extra inch to the narrow side of the bottom strip) before quilting. 28 by 31 1/2 after quilting. Not washed.

Fabrics: Scraps, mostly Kona

Batting: Hobbs 80/20

Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Coats and Clark quilting cotton in Gumballs for quilting and machine part of binding; Superior Treasure in Antique for hand binding.

Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer 115 Treadle for quilting and binding.

I'm linking this up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than Housework for Oh Scrap because this is leftovers all the way. And at the end of the month, with Sandra at mmmquilts for DrEAMi (Drop Everything and Make it) because squirrel!

I hope you are enjoying the holidays and that maybe you have a little sun now and then. 

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.)