Category Archives: Holiday Quilts

Finished! Christmas Tree Skirt

First of all, I want to thank you for the sweet comments on my last post.  I appreciate it.  Life isn’t predictable and this is just how it is — The migraines started almost ten years ago and I don’t see this changing any time soon.   But this week has been reasonable and I actually finished a project!  I also made a Christmas gift which I will share after the holidays. Hurray for time at the sewing machine.

I have wanted to make a quilted skirt for the Christmas tree for a long while.  Until now, I have just used a large piece of holiday fabric which I wrapped around the base of the tree.  But this year, we decided to decorate with two smaller trees instead of our usual very tall one.  This required two skirts, right?

I used a selection of holiday fabric for this.  Several of the prints are from Tis the Season, a line I carry in my shop.  The black print, the white tone on tone, and the darker red snowflake print were in my stash. The skirt was based on a pattern by Judy Metsker of Night Owl Quilting. This pattern when finished was a bit smaller than I wanted.  However, I had an older version of her pattern; it looks as though the newer version has size options.

At any rate, it was a very simple pattern.  I chose to quilt it sampler style with a different motif on each fabric using a white Mettler thread. I stitched a stipple on the red snowflake fabric and a little boxy FMQ motif on the Christmas gift fabric.

My favorite quilt motif is the row of basic Christmas trees I stitched along the border of the skirt.  I used a variegated Mettler thread in red, green and white which looks so festive.  On the white fabric I quilted a few wavy lines with stars on them.  I wasn’t able to get a photo that really shows this motif very well. I machine stitched the binding down using a zig zag stitch with the same variegated thread.  I think it looks great.

The second tree remains wrapped with that holiday fabric I have been using for so long.  But that is fine. The house looks festive and Christmas is around the corner.  How about you?  Is your tree up? Holiday shopping well underway?  Julia and I plan to go to Sacramento on Friday afternoon for the finishing touches on Christmas shopping.  I usually try to finish up early as the crowds get so crazy the week before Christmas.

Finally, I will be hosting a fun giveaway on Instagram this weekend.  Be sure to pop over Saturday morning to find out the details!  I held one last weekend and it was a lot of fun so I am going to do it again. Maybe this is your weekend to win!

Linking up to my usual favorites.  Check them ot at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

 

 

 

Happy Red, White & Blue!

To the US readers, Happy Independence Day!  To all others, Happy Monday!

I was looking for something to decorate the table with since my parents were coming to BBQ and I found this table runner.  I made this one several years ago. It was during a horrid heatwave where it was just too hot to be outside on the 4th. (We aren’t far from that this year either!!). I remember we stayed inside and I found some scraps to make this runner so I would feel like I was celebrating the 4th in some way.


This was very early on as far as free motion quilting goes but it looks pretty good. I remember thinking the spirals were a bit of a trick.


I think it is a sweet 4th of July decoration and it makes the table so festive.


Additionally, around the same time, I made this little flag for Mom and Dad. They hang in on the house during the summer. They live up the hill from me in a big house that has a large wrap around deck and it looks pretty hanging there.


I think this could be one of the first times I did any appliqué on a quilt. It is a cute little flag with an Americana feel to it.

Linking up to a few fun parties which, as always, are found at the top of the page under Link Ups.  Have a safe and happy 4th of July!!

A Bonus Finish!

I spent yesterday afternoon playing in the sewing room. I had plenty of other things that I should have been working on.  Namely, putting away the fall decorations and cleaning up so we can put up our Christmas tree this weekend. There is too much mess around here to create the mess that happens when we decorate the tree.  But I just didn’t feel like it. Instead, I really wanted to play with the 16 bonus HST’s that resulted from the Swoon block mini that I made a couple of weeks ago.

The Swoon block is based on rectangles, HST’s and Flying Geese blocks. The best thing about Flying Geese blocks is the pile of ‘bonus’ HST’s that accumulate when you trim the corners on the block. If you aren’t familiar with this happy little prize, allow me to explain. Briefly, when the blocks are sewn to the upper right corner of the rectangle, creating the Flying Geese block, there is a corner that is cut off. If you take an extra second to sew a second seam, 1/2″ to the right of the first seam, you have the opportunity to have a ready made (albeit untrimmed) HST. I admit, I am not very careful when I do this. My feeling is that these are just little scraps that I am giving a second chance to possibly be used in a future project. I don’t mark the second line, I don’t even measure it.  I just eyeball it and sew about 1/2″ from that first seam and slice it off.  When I had finished the Swoon mini, I took the pile of HST’s and pressed them open. I looked at the smallest one – They were all approximately 2.5″ – and I squared them to the size of the smallest block. Then I had a pile of uniform HST’s. (If you can’t go with my very casual method or if you don’t understand what I am talking about, Bonnie Hunter has a nice tutorial on making the extra HST’s in a more precise manner. Take a look here.)

Look what I made yesterday. At 8 x 8″, it is a teeny tiny finish.

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I spent a bit of time playing with the HST’s, trying different layouts. It is a bit like playing Tangrams. There is no limit to the number of ways to position the blocks. I didn’t want to actually make anymore so I limited myself to use the 16 that I had – no more, no less.

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Once I had them sewn together, I decided to practice some FMQ with the little piece. Going to my usual sources, Pinterest, Leah Day, and Lori Kennedy, I found a holly motif that I liked. Here is the link to the tutorial on Lori’s site, The Inbox Jaunt.

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Two things made quilting this a challenge. One is that I used two layers Insul Bright batting scraps inside of this in case I wanted to use it as a hot pad or a trivet on my dining room table.  The Insul Bright was a bit annoying to quilt through, especially a double layer. Second, I decided to use Sulky thread on top and I put Mettler in the bobbin.  I love Sulky threads – so shiny and glossy. But also a bit slippery soI had to play with the tension to get it right.

Overall, the little hot pad is pretty cute. The FMQ is a bit rough. The bow at the bottom of the holly in the center is an eyesore but obviously not enough that I was willing to take the time to rip the stitches out. (It is a hot pad after all.) I haven’t practiced free motion quilting for a long while so it was fun to play with this. I am ever thankful to Lori’s site for the endless FMQ tutorials. I love that she has so many seasonal themes. It is very fun to play with them.

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Finally, I wanted to point out something that took me by surprise. I used a scrap of holiday fabric for the back. After I was done and it was trimmed and ready for binding, I was digging through my scraps and found a few more pieces of the backing fabric to use as binding. There was barely enough. I had to cut narrow 2″ strips which were a trick to use – the quilt sandwich being extra thick from the Insul Bright. Anyway… come on Bernie and get to the point. As I stitched the binding down on the back, the folded binding matched up with the backing quite closely at one point.

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Isn’t that cute? The holly just about matched up, as did the little bird. Nothing earth shattering but it is a fun coincidence. (Doesn’t take much to amuse me!)  There you have it, my second finish this week!

Is your tree up (if you are a Christmas-tree-decorating person)? How about lights outside on the house? I am hoping Ray will put ours up this weekend. I think the outdoor lights are one of my favorite parts of the season and I leave them up as long as possible.

Linking to Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and Lizzie at Free Motion Mavericks.

TBT Except It’s Saturday

I have been reading posts that are linked up to a party hosted by Jen at Quarter Inch From the Edge this week and really enjoying them. (I also enjoy the name of Jen’s blog, isn’t it perfect?). She has been hosting a monthly link up where bloggers are sharing projects from earlier days and I love seeing how far everyone has come with their skill and creativity. Really interesting to read the posts and check out the pictures. Most of my earlier projects have been posted about already but I did think it would be fun to share the Tablerunner Craze of 2012.

The fall of 2012 was when the quilting bug really bit. I had recently finished a queen size simple patchwork quilt for my mother-in-law. I posted that story here. When I was finishing up that quilt, I had no clue how to FMQ so I stitched in the ditch along every block. Once that was finished, I really wanted to try some free motion quilting so I took a class at my LQS to learn the basics.  Table runners seemed like the perfect opportunity to practice this newfound love. Glad for the excuse to shop, I shopped for holiday fabric so I could make table runners for my family as Christmas gifts. If you have been a reader for any length of time, you probably know I have a huge family. I made eight table runners in about a month’s time. One for each of my five sisters, one for my mom and my mother-in-law, and one for myself.

This was long before I started blogging and I am happy I thought to take a quick picture of some of them before giving them away.  Definitely last minute pictures. I remember I was about to wrap them and get them in the mail and I tossed them over the back of the couch and took a picture with my phone. (Hence the superb quality of the pictures!) Here are three of the runners.

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I did a basic, squiggly meander over the entire runner. Mitred bindings were not yet in my wheelhouse so the corners were just folded over and stitched (machine stitched to the front and hand stitched to the back? Maybe, maybe not….)

Here are three more.

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These runners are on the small side. They are probably 13″ wide and maybe 30″ long? They were pretty though and I enjoy looking back at them. They were definitely my first foray into free motion quilting.  Actually, it kind of amazes me that this was almost exactly four years ago. The time continues to buzz by.

We are spending the long weekend up at our Downieville house. It is gorgeous up here with crisp, cool air. If you live in California, you are probably hearing about this tremendous El Nino that is supposed to happen this year. Ray is cleaning all of the drainage paths and gutters this weekend. If it comes to be, then we could get some substantial storms this year. I am grateful that he is so good about preparing for this sort of thing. Our Downieville house is is a flood zone being so close to the river so we do need to be careful. At any rate, maybe this year will put an end to four years of drought. Here’s hoping!

Linking to Quarter Inch From the Edge (for the very first time!)

 

When it rains, it pours!

I am sitting here in the kitchen listening to it pour rain. Living in parched California, this is really a wonderful sound. As we were enjoying the downpour my cell phone and my husband’s cell phone start beeping with one of those emergency alert sounds. Apparently it is coming down so hard that the Weather Service is posting flash flood warnings!  It’s ok, we need it so desperately.  There is actually one tiny town in Central California, called Porterville, where many of the residential wells have dried up.  Truly and completely dried up. The residents of that town are buying their water and taking sponge baths. The city officials actually brought in portable showers so the 600+ residents with dry wells could have a hot shower (the rule is to bring your own towel and soap.) Clearly it is no exaggeration that we are experiencing a drought.  The fact that my rain gauge shows 2.43 inches of rain in the last 24 hours is wonderful!

Today I gave the first Christmas gift of the season! How fun it is to gift a quilt to someone – I love the feeling of making it for someone special and knowing they are touched when they receive it. I made a 1600 quilt top (jelly roll quilt) back in October. You can read about it here. Using Moda’s “Merriment” line, it turned out to be lovely shades of deep red and pine green with lots of creamy colors thrown in for good measure. It is technically a holiday print but really it isn’t that “Christmasy” so I think it can be used throughout the winter months.

Holiday Jelly Roll Quilt November, 2014

I cut off enough of the edge of the original quilt top to be able to create a pieced border around the edges. I put a narrow strip of pine green between the main section and the border.  Using diagonal, straight line quilting made this project a breeze to quilt.

Holiday Jelly Roll QuiltThe backing is a simple creamy tone on tone fabric. It looks pretty with the red binding. (I forgot to take a picture of the backing though, oops!)

The most fun was bringing it over to its new owners, my Mom and Dad. Merry Christmas – I thought I would give it to them now since they were just decorating for the holidays. They love it and it looks great on the couch, right near their wood stove. So cozy. The picture isn’t the best, I only had my phone with me. But look how cute!

photoI have started another project that will be gifted at Christmas time. That won’t be shown here until after the holidays. Don’t want to ruin the surprise. Time to go read my book and listen to the rain. Hope all is well at your house!

Linking to Let’s Bee Social, Linky Tuesday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF. Take a peek at all of these link ups to see so many amazing projects. As always the links are available at the top of my page, under Link Ups.  Also…. thanks in advance for your comments, they always make my day!

 

 

This and That

I live just far north enough that we get to enjoy a colorful autumn.  Right now it is spectacular.  I have lived in Pennsylvania and I know that what we enjoy here is not on par with the colors that splash the countryside this time of year in the East. However, we do have some really lovely leaves on display these days! This was taken in my neighborhood  yesterday when I was walking the dog.

photo 2 (8)Ok – moving over to the sewing room….. I was really productive this week. For starters, I had a few sales in my Etsy shop which is always exciting.  Now that fall has arrived, I have been selling the cozies that I make for Chemex coffee pots. If you aren’t familar with Chemex pots, they make the best drip coffee. However, because the pots don’t sit on a hot burner or stove, the coffee cools quickly. I have been making these insulated covers for a while now.  With this mad rush – 😉 – on Chemex cozies, I figured I had better make a few more for my shop. These came together quickly. I have been cutting them in batches when I have the time and then sewing them sort of assembly line style. I love the fabric on this one.

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Here is another one. I had purchased this home dec fabric to use as a tablecloth but the piece I bought was too small so I am using it here.  Lovely!

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As an aside, I was taking some packages (Etsy orders) to the post office to mail. When I was there I saw that I had estimated the shipping fairly closely for one and had overpriced one package for a couple of dollars (not quite $2.00) I sighed and was telling the postal clerk that I can’t always come close when I quote the shipping charges and I wasn’t sure if I should refund the overage. She knows me since I have been there regularly lately (benefits of small town life) and said I shouldn’t only consider the post office charge.  She asked why am I not considering the time it takes to prepare the package, go to the post office, stand in line.  “That’s the ‘handling’ part in shipping and handling.”  Honestly, I never really thought about it and was always only charging for the postage. It made me feel better. This little Etsy shop has taught me a lot in the past few months. Very nice!

My main finish for this week is my Christmas Lattice Quilt.  I finally finished quilting it and even got the binding sewn on.  Yay!!

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Overall, I am pleased with this project. I quilted it by free motion quilting a little Christmas tree on each block. As always, some turned out great and others, not so much! They were just free-hand, though I did use chalk and draw two guidelines forming a basic triangle to follow. They don’t show up all that well since some of the fabrics are busy prints. I also straight-line quilted the sashing.

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On the setting and corner triangles I FMQ’d snowflakes. These were really fun – again just free hand. I’m very happy with how these turned out.

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The front of the quilt is pretty.  The back….. Yikes! With each project there are lessons learned, right? Let’s just say that this quilt should only be viewed from the front. I had a remnant of a red and green chevron print that I used as the backing.  The trees look absolutely awful against the chevron.  They don’t line up with the geometry of the print and the bright green thread that I (for whatever reason?!?) used in the bobbin looks, ummm…. horrid. I should have used white and maybe the trees would have been less noticeable on the back.  At any rate, by the time I saw how poorly this looked, it was too late to change.  So, when I am a world-famous quilter and all of my work hangs in a museum 200 years from now, they will look at this one and just wonder what on earth possessed me. Shudder.

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I am really trying to finish all of my WIP. Much as I am dying to make a new quilt top I need to finish up what I have already started. I hate having things stacked up. Tomorrow I will make the backing for the 1600 jelly roll quilt top that I made at the beginning of October. Hope to at least start the quilting on that one over the weekend.

In closing, does anyone need a good book recommendation?  I have read a few of the best books lately.  Here you go:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  Excellent story with the best characters. Total tear jerker so have a box of tissues nearby. Basically the story is about a young woman who desperately needs work and finds a job as a companion to a very unhappy, cynical quadriplegic. There are some really funny parts as well as some very sad. No more details though as I don’t want to spoil the story.  Great book though.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri is wonderful. Again, great character development. This is a story of a couple in India that marries as arranged by their families. They come to live in the US in the mid 1960’s and raise two children. The story follows their assimilation into America and that of their kids. The insights into their culture are so interesting. Loved this book –  a really, really good read.

The Birthhouse by Ami McKay is a story about midwifery during the World War I era. The details are fascinating and the story is excellent.

What have you been reading lately? I would love to hear what is good and what’s not so great. Let me know!  Have a great weekend all.  🙂

Linking to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, & Crazy Mom Quilts. As usual, links to all of these wonderful sites are listed at the top of my page, under Link Ups.

 

 

 

Christmas Finishes

Loved waking up to rain this morning.  It is still going and that is making for a great start to the day. Today is my birthday…..  my husband asked what I wanted to do today.  Did he really need to ask? I haven’t had much sewing time this week so today I am going to spend the afternoon in the sewing room.  My daughter is down with a bug so it is a good day for just hanging out. Before I get to the machine tho, there is a sale at Roxann’s Humble Fabrics in town. I love her shop.  She has a great selection of new and “pre-owned” fabrics with a lot of cool vintage pieces if you look hard enough.  I figure a fabric sale on my actual birthday is a must.

I have several holiday items that I have been working on. Three of which are finished or, almost finished. I posted about this disappearing nine patch that I pieced a few weeks ago.  It is done.  The binding needs to be hand sewn on the back side but that will wait until tonight.  It is a good “tv watching” task.

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It finished out as a 38″ square.  My mother-in-law called dibs on this one and wants to hang it on the wall.  I will put a sleeve on the back after I sew the binding. To quilt it I outlined the Santas and then used a large circular pattern all over the rest of it. Kind of reminds me of Christmas ornaments. For some reason the thread shredded constantly and this drove me batty. I don’t know what the issue was. I cleaned the machine and re-threaded everything but it kept happening.  For the first time I was using Superior’s Bottom Line thread in the bobbin which felt soooo thin. I don’t know if this had anything to do with it. Though it was my top thread that was shredding? I switched to Aurifil in the bobbin and that actually seemed to help. Maybe it was just coincidence.  I am not sure.

20141025_1973I like the dark green polka dots that I used for the binding.  All in all, it turned out pretty cute.

I also finished up a few table runners over the past week or two.  These are both destined for my Etsy Shop. Here is the first one.

20141008_1788Very pleased with the look of the fabric and the green and gold striped binding.

20141008_1786And another runner:

20140925_1733A different look altogether.  The tan and red borders are so pretty. Kind of a linen look to these fabrics.

20140925_1735Not so sure if I like the idea of putting labels on items that are in the shop. It means that the runner isn’t really reversible.  I may not put them on in the future.

Hope you are all enjoying some lovely fall weather. My maple trees are turning and I am loving the colors!!

Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts.  As always, the links are available up at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

 

 

 

 

Quilt Retreat in the Wild West

Great title for a post, right??

This weekend my friend Sophia and I went to a quilt retreat that was hosted by a quilt guild in the neighboring community of Downieville. Downieville is a gold rush town that is about 50 miles from my home. Unfortunately, 30 of those miles are cutting through the Sierras on a really, really winding road. (Yuk.)  It is worth the nasty drive though. Downieville is a gorgeous, tiny town of about 500 people. It sits on the north fork of the Yuba River which flows through Downieville and winds its way through the Sierras to my hometown of Grass Valley. It is a popular place for fishing, mountain bike riding, and hiking. The main block of “town” consists of three restaurants, two shops, a tiny theatre, the community center, and a hardware store. Check out the North Yuba River. I love the one bright red tree that had already turned to its fall color.
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Downieville has a colorful history as a gold rush town. While we were there Sophia and I noticed that several buildings bore the name “Juanita”. This made me curious because my younger sister’s name is Juanita.

One of the “Juanita” sightings was a sign on the door between Sophia’s motel room and mine.  Sophia was in room 5 and I was in room 7.  On the door of room 6 was the name “Juanita”. We thought this odd since the other rooms didn’t have any names on the doors. We didn’t have any decent cell reception being in such a remote town so I figured I would google this when I got home.  Clearly Juanita had some history in Downieville.

photo (11)After doing the research, I am somewhat glad I didn’t check into this until I got home!  Apparently, there was a Mexican woman living with her lover (Jose?) in Downieville in the early 1850’s, which was during the height of the Gold Rush in California. This woman, Josefa Segovia, was the only woman to be lynched in the history of California. Yikes! This story is a horrid tale of the treatment of the Mexican population living in the old gold rush towns during that time period.  Apparently, a gang of drunk miners, led by a guy by the name of Frederick Cannon showed up at the home of Josefa and her lover during the night. They were angry with Josepha and Jose because of an incident at a saloon earlier in the evening. Some say they attempted to gang rape Josepha. Somehow she was able to get her hands on a large knife and stabbed and killed Frederick. This was impressive since history says that Josefa was a tiny woman in her early 20’s. She was declared guilty without any trial and lynched the following day, July 5, 1851. The historical records don’t often use this woman’s true name. They call her Juanita which began as a show of disrespect, using a more familiar name rather than her true name.

When I was doing this bit of research, I found out that the Inn  I stayed at (with the name Juanita on the door) is listed as “certified to be haunted”. Of course, it is easy to guess who haunts the place…. Juanita. Supposedly there have been proven ghost experiences in rooms 1 and 3 (kind of glad we were in rooms 5 and 7!) For the most part, I do not believe in ghosts or supernatural activity. But it might have been uncomfortable to hear all of this and then to stay in this place for the night. The motel, one of two in town, was a bit on the sketchy side.

Here is Juanita’s home.

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This whole story was such a wild bit of history to discover. It made my quilt retreat weekend that much more memorable.

The weekend itself was great, even without all of the tales of ghosts and lynchings. Sophia and I were able to indulge ourselves with two long days of sewing, some good food and a nice hike.  Wonderful! I completed about 85% of two different quilt tops.  One of them was a strip quilt, or a 1600 quilt.  If you haven’t made a 1600 quilt, it is incredibly simple.  It requires a jelly roll or a set of 45-50 2 and 1/2″ strips. I used the line called “Merriment” by Moda. I also added in some strips to be able make a larger quilt.

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These are sewn end to end until you have a length of fabric that runs about 1600 inches.  Mine was closer to 2000 inches as I added the extra strips.  Here is the first pile of strips when sewn end to end. I also cut some of my red strips into 2 and 1/2″ blocks and used them intermittently when sewing the very long strip together at the beginning. I was hoping that these little blocks would be more noticeable than they actually were. The effect would have been nicer had I used a different color, maybe a gold or a color with some shimmer to it.

photo 1 (4)Once the strips are sewn into one length, they are folded in half and sewn together (lengthwise) so that you now have a long strip that is two rows deep. This is done again and again to create the quilt. I trimmed off five strips that were 2 and 1/2″ wide to use as an outer border.  I added a 1 inch wide dark green border to the main quilt and then attached the striped border.  The overall effect is lovely.
20141006_1776Thank you to my husband for assisting with the phot shoot, those are his toes peeking out at the bottom!
The other quilt that I worked on used “Ten Minute Blocks”.  They were really fun to make – a lttle confusing for the first one and then they came together so fast.  Being the sort to compete with myself constantly, I started timing myself after the first couple – to confirm whether these were indeed “10 Minute” blocks! (I know, I know….)  Well, they are.  I got them down to about 9 minutes to assemble each block.
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I made all 13 blocks.  I  have some topstitching to do on the center accent blocks. You can see that I have turned the edges in and pinned them. I will stitch those before I put the blocks together.  They are all in various shades of black, cream and gray with jewel toned centers. I will set the blocks on point with black sashing and setting triangles. I love the whole effect. These blocks are 12 inch blocks. Next time around I will make smaller blocks as I think the effect will be better on a smaller scale.
The retreat was great fun.  The Mountain Star Quilt Guild hosts this weekend event on alternate years.  I definitely plan to return.  The town is fun with such gorgeous scenery. Hiking along the river is wonderful (though there were numerous spots where we saw bear scat – I was not at all unhappy that the two of us didn’t actually cross paths with a bear! Yes, I will go to the next retreat.  I may stay in a different inn though!
Linking to:
Anything Goes Monday, Freemotion by the River, Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Lorna at Let’s Bee Social. Take a minute to check out some of these sites. I have links to all of them at the top of my page under Link Ups.

 

Low and Slow

This week has been moving along slowly for me. I have hypoglycemia and every once in a while my blood sugar tanks.  When it does I am wiped out for a few days. For the most part if I do eat the right foods and don’t eat the wrong foods and my levels stay copacetic (a word my father loves to use!) Ok, last weekend I was not so careful. A couple of m&m’s, a 1/2 of a cookie here or there. white rice instead of brown and I am paying the price for these transgressions!  The problem is that 3 out of 4 times, such a small stray from my “healthy” diet doesn’t cause any problems, which makes temptation hard to resist. Every once in a while it throws everything out of balance.  Anyway, this makes for a ‘low and slow’ week, as my husband and I have come to call it. No energy to do much of anything. No ability to focus or concentrate.

Just to illustrate my point, here is a picture of the tub of butter that I personally selected at the grocery store this afternoon.  Please note that there is butter smeared on the outside, the little plastic seal is loose and protruding from the lid.  This is exactly how my husband found it in the fridge tonight.  He asked me if I had used this yet, or was it new? “New”, I replied.  “Just bought it earlier this afternoon”.  He just smiled.  No need to comment further.  He knows me too well. This is how the tub was when I bought it and how it was when I put it away.  Never did I even notice this mess.  Yep, low and slow.

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Of course, it doesn’t take much energy to sit at a sewing machine between naps and reading my book on the couch. Surprisingly I got a number of things accomplished. Not with any great efficiency and certainly not without error.  I made great use of my seam ripper over the past few days.  Remember, low blood sugar = low brain function (at least for me anyways!!)  I was working on the sashing, corner and setting triangles for the Christmas Lattice Quilt that I blogged about here.  I just could not believe how many times I sewed the triangles in upside down.  Really? Upside down? Then I would have to look at it for a minute or two to determine exactly what I had done wrong. Jeez! The fabric I am using for the sashing is a white on white holiday print.  Again, upside down, or wrong side facing out. I was covered in tiny threads, picking out one seam after another. Finally I set that aside. It was making me more than a little crazy.

I needed a new project to work on (well, ‘needed’ might be a bit strong.) Never having made a disappearing nine patch, I decided to give that a try.   If you are unfamiliar with this block, there are a million tutorials out there for it. Basically you just create a nine patch block (3 rows of 3 squares each.) Then I cut the block down the center and across the center, creating four equal pieces. These smaller blocks are rearranged in whatever layout is pleasing to the eye and sewn back together. I was shopping a week or so ago and came across some cute retro looking holiday fabric in Jo-Ann’s. Without any plan in mind, I cut my squares, fussy cutting the Santa fabric and the candy cane fabric as much as possible so I could use those as a focal point.  I used a deeper red fabric for each of the center squares as I wanted to have smaller squares with a darker value than the rest of the squares. Here is the resulting 36 x 36″ quilt top.

disappearing 9 patch 2

Now that this little guy is sewn together, I have absolutely no plan as to what I will do with it! It is too large for a table topper and too small for a quilt. I didn’t really take into account what I wanted to do with this project when I was cutting up the squares.  (Remember, I was operating with significantly lower than normal brain function!) The size of Santa determined the size of that block and the rest of it just sort of happened. Any ideas??  I am thinking of adding a fairly large red border (maybe five inches wide all the way around?) and then just backing it with the same red. Then sewing the back to the front, envelope style – no binding needed. I could use it as a small table cloth if I don’t use any batting in the center.  Maybe that would be fun?

Another project that I worked on was a small art quilt. My inspiration for this project came from a piece that I saw on Pinterest (of course, where else?) I followed the link back to the original site, www.onthetrailcreations.com. The artist at this site designs and sells patterns and kits for quilted cards that are really pretty. I wanted to make a small (7 x 9 inch) art quilt. It was really the first time that I sketched something out and just cut little pieces to applique. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. I did an autumn theme with a bird that is reminiscent of the nuthatches that frequent my feeders in the winter months.

Red-breasted-Nuthatch-3c

Here is my version:

20141001_1768

For the most part I used raw edge applique. For the gold strip running through the center I used a decorative, blanket stitch.  The branch that the little guy is sitting on was sketched with thread. (I have been practicing a bit of thread sketching lately and really enjoy it.) The leaves were cut from a scrap of fabric I found with leaves printed on it. I bound the quilt with the same fabric. You will notice the lower right corner of the binding looks all saggy and weird.  What can I say? Not my best work right there. 😉

20141001_1769I am really happy with the bird and the branch he is resting on though. Such a cute little guy. I used a french knot for his eye. I applied fusible stabilizer on the back of the base fabric before doing any of the stitching or fusing the applique pieces on. The stabilizer makes a world of difference.  Without it the fabric will often pull and bunch when densely stitching something (like the branch).

All in all, a fun week in the sewing room. My friend and I are going to a quilting retreat sponsored by a neighboring quilt guild in the town of Downieville this weekend. I have been stacking up everything I need to bring.  I have fabric ready for two different projects and most of the supplies gathered. Hoping for better energy and a higher level of functioning by then!!

Linking to my usual sites:  Freemotion by the River, WIP Wednesday, Lorna at Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and of course, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts!! Take a minute to check out some of these sites. I have links to all of them at the top of my page under Link Ups.