Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Triangle Quilt Finished!

Merry Christmas everyone (and wow, this is my 100th post)! I didn't have time to post yesterday, but I actually got the gray and yellow triangle quilt finished up in time to give away yesterday afternoon. It was a big hit, and means I finished another December goal! :)

All Pinned and Ready to be Quilted
Here it is all pinned and ready to be quilted. I had to move my living room furniture around in order to get it on a flat, non-carpeted surface. I decided to just do straight line quilting on this one in a diamond pattern. Here's what my timeline looked like:

  • Monday, December 17th: cut out all of the pieces after work
  • Tuesday, December 18th: divided out the triangles into rows and started sewing the rows together after work
  • Wednesday, December 19th: more row sewing after work
  • Thursday, December 20th: we had a snow day, so I was able to finish putting all of the rows together!
  • Friday, December 21st: started sewing the rows into the top and completed the first 1/2 of the top after work
  • Saturday, December 22nd: after practicing for our church Christmas program and finishing up some last minute shopping, I sewed together the rest of the top
  • Sunday, December 23rd: ironed the top, sewed up the back (all one gray printed fabric), pinned everything together and quilted the top (that was a looooong night!)
  • Monday, December 24th: cut, sewed and ironed the binding before working for a half-day, then came home at 1:00pm and sewed on the binding before heading to my Dad's house for Christmas eve celebrations. I took my needle and thread along and hand stitched on one side of the binding while I was there
  • Tuesday, December 25th: finished hand stitching on the binding, threw the quilt in the washer and then the dryer and pulled it out at 1:30 which is when we needed to leave for Christmas at my husband's grandmother's house. No time for wrapping, so I tied it up with a piece of yarn. Gave it away at 6:30pm that night. 

Finished Quilt Laid Out on Our Bed - Queen Size
What a quilting whirlwind!!! Now I don't have anything on my plate that really needs to get done in the next few days. Unfortunately I've come down with a Christmas cold, so I'll spend the next couple of days recuperating and drinking tea. Hope you all had a very merry Christmas and that you enter the new year with lots of joy! Happy crafting everyone!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Very Productive Snow Day

Hello everyone! I don't know about where you're at, but we had some crazy weather here in Wisconsin today. I live in Madison and we got about 18 inches of snow today! That's right... eighteen inches!! They even shut down the university - and this is finals week. That just doesn't happen.

This picture is from the morning snow. By the end of the night it reached the top of the arm of the chair! And to think - we didn't have any snow accumulation on our little balcony before today! We're definitely having a white Christmas this year.

So... I was gifted an extra sewing day that I hadn't planned on, and I so desperately needed it! As of last night I had 12 out of 30 strips for the gray and yellow triangle quilt put together.

Today, I finished sewing up all of the strips, ironed them all, and laid them out to see what it will look like. I had to do the layout in 2 groupings since the quilt is so big. :)

So, here's my timeline for the rest of the quilt, and I sure hope I can stick to this!

Friday night after work: sew all of the rows together into the quilt top. Possibly start basting if I'm not completely drained.

Saturday afternoon after church practice: Start/finish basting. Start quilting - I am going to do straight lines mirroring the triangles on probably every other triangle. I have no idea how long that will take with such a large quilt, but it means I won't have to move the fabric as much as when I'm doing a swirly FMQ pattern.

Sunday afternoon after our church Christmas services (and lunch with Mom): Finish quilting everything. Make the binding and sew that onto the front. Trim off excess backing/batting.

Monday afternoon (I have to work until 12pm): start hand stitching the binding onto the back of the quilt. We are celebrating at my dad's house on Monday night and the quilt will be given away on Tuesday night. So, if I need to I can finish it up on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday: Wash, dry, wrap and give it away!

Phew! This looks tiresome, but I hope I can get it done. The end is definitely in sight!!! Happy holidays and happy crafting everybody!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Well, the gray and yellow triangle quilt is coming along! It is actually sewing together faster than I thought it would, so I am hopeful that I'll be finished with this by noon on Christmas Day.

I have all of my rows counted out (30 rows of 43 triangles) and have 4 of them sewn together. I've been chain stitching them together in pairs, ironing the pairs open and then stitching the pairs together. It means less pressing than sewing them together one by one and less starting and stopping on the machine.

Divvying up the fabrics into the 30 stacks for the rows took the longest time tonight. I wanted to make sure I had enough to go around rather than just winging it through the piecing. All in all there are 1, 290 triangles that will make it into the quilt - and I have a few left over. That was a lot of cutting! They are 4 inches tall and about 4.5 inches wide at the base.

Here's hoping I have the binding sewn on by Christmas Eve! More progress reports to come... Happy crafting!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Goals Update

Hello everyone! It's been far too long since my last post, but I've been really busy. I have 2 of my December goals solidly done, one in progress and one more basically done. So, here's what I've been working on:

1) I finished the Christmas quilt for my dad!

I really like how it turned out. All in all it's 72"x72". Long enough for it to cover his toes, but small enough to be manageable to quilt! :)

Here's a close up of the back fabric and stitching. I think I might love the back and it's all-over print more than I like the front. I also think my FMQ stitching is improving - not too shabby for a novice! My dad won't notice the mistakes anyway... :)

2) I've finished all of my Christmas cards! Not only are they put together, but they are  signed, stamped and out in the mail to be delivered!

I put my scrapbooking skills to work with these. I made some out of red, green and blue card stock, but the design for them was all the same. I made 27 cards total and probably could have made a couple more if I had really wanted to. I bought the music from Good Will for $1.99. It came in a large booklet of choral music and I used one sheet (cut to size) for each card - basically half for the front and half for the inside. The snow flakes were from a package of Christmas paper I bought several years ago. I just cut them out one by one and glued them on. I really liked the look of music pages for the cards and I'll probably use that element again.

3) I have just about all of my presents done/bought/wrapped. I have to buy just 2 more things which I'll be getting this weekend. But - the big project is getting the next quilt done by the 25th! Otherwise, my cats are very much enjoying playing with the ribbon on the wrapped gifts under the tree (At least it's saving the ornaments from being swiped off the tree!).

4) I have started the quilt for my brother-in-law and his wife. It will be out of all gray and yellow materials and I have all of the triangles cut.

I'm assuming that cutting was the longest part of this project, but I guess I'm about to find out. I've never done a quilt out of triangles before and now I'm going to attempt to make it a queen sized project! I might be a little crazy - just a little.

If you don't hear from me for the next 10 days, now you know why! :) Happy crafting everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coming Along

Just a quick post here. :) Last night I finished the swirly quilting on my Dad's Christmas quilt. It went pretty quickly, but I had a few snags along the way. I broke 4 (!!) needles on this quilt. I believe it was a combination of tension issues up top and also lint caught in the bobbin area. Re-threading and some cleaning brought me easier quilting once more, so I guess that's something to watch out for in the future! Finishing up the border quilting and getting the binding ready tonight.

Happy crafting!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November Finishes and December Goals

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a nice November and are gearing up (or maybe you're completely ready) for the December crunch! I had a pretty busy November, but still managed to neglect some things on my goal list. As a recap, here's what I had planned to finish up in November:

1) Sew together half of my leaf quilt blocks. Not Done... Sadly this project is still right where it was. I haven't done any more sewing on it at all (and it's not going to make the list for December projects either). This one might end up as a long term WiP or on my New Year's Resolution list. :)

2) Finish the birthday gift for my sister. Done! And it was a huge success. Want to know what it was? I knit her a case for her brand new kindle - which was inside when I gave it to her. She was stoked. (My husband thinks it looks like a cute little monster face.)

This was the second knitting-in-the-round that I've done, and it was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I finished the project in one afternoon which really surprised me! I made a practice one for my dad (it didn't have cables) just to see how it would go before I spent the time on something more complicated. He also liked his case. :)

It was my sister's 30th birthday and her golden birthday on the 30th, so I also made her a special dessert. It was a caramel cream pumpkin pie with meringue topping. This was one of the most complicated desserts I've ever made, but it was worth it. It tasted so good! My mom even brought her creme brule torch so I could toast the meringue at the end. The meringue was really creamy which I did not expect. It was so good that we used the left over meringue for stuffed french toast the next morning at brunch. (Don't worry, the recipe called for cooked meringue, so no humans were poisoned in the making of the pie or brunch.)

3) Finish the Irish Hiking Scarf. Done! It turned out lovely, and seems to be a favorite thing for my cat Sasha to steal out of the closet. I've had to hide it multiple times from her, but she's the sneakiest little thing at getting in there! Luckily she hasn't destroyed it or really done any damage to it each time she's stolen it. One of my previous scarfs she completely shredded, so this one must be more durable. It's made out of Caron Simply Soft Yarn in Sage Green. The picture looks a little funky with the colors, but it's a nice hunter green or Christmasy-green color and I think its future owner will like it.

4) Plan and cut out the pieces for the Christmas quilt for my dad. Done and done! And I've even gone a couple steps farther by piecing the entire top and basting all 3 layers together. It's sitting on my sewing desk waiting for me to have time to quilt it up. :)

My dad really loves the Peanuts gang. He owns pretty much every cartoon movie they ever made with Charlie Brown and Snoopy. He also really loves Christmas. He gets so excited to put up the tree and have hot chocolate and make cookies - it's cute. So I know he's going to love this. The top roughly measures 60"by 60". I used 12 inch blocks in either a 9 patch or 4 patch pattern. I had gone back and forth with how to quilt it when my husband had a great idea. He said, "Why don't you quilt it so it looks like the wind is blowing over it." Great idea! The back is one fabric print of the Peanuts characters on ice skates and some of Snoopy's cousin Spike with his Christmas cactus, so the swirly wind motif will fit in with the back and the front. Not to mention that should quilt pretty quickly as a big swirly pattern.

5) Put together and send out the 2 Color Bee Shocked bee blocks for November and December. Done and done! I got the fabric for the December block early, so I sent them both out earlier this month. November was an inset circle block (the theme was we could put together any 12 inch block we wanted as long as it had circles incorporated). December was a couple Flying Geese blocks that I really liked. That one went together really quickly, the circle one I was nervous about, but it turned out.

So, besides all of that, I've done a few other things as well. I put together another Christmas table runner. This time it was for my mother-in-law. Someone told me my tutorial for it was a little confusing, so I'm planning on posting more pictures and hopefully clearer instructions for that in the coming days.

I also put together a "Kare-Package" for one of our really good friends, Sven. He's in med school with a very demanding clinical schedule and hasn't had time to cook much (or sleep for that matter). So, my husband and I put together some freezable servings of chili and I also made mini-lasagnas for him to heat up as he chooses. All in all he got 4 big bowls of chili and 6 bread loaf-sized lasagna pans to take home. He has since tried both and gave me a thumbs up on each one. The lasagna took about 35 minutes to bake, so the smaller size cut off about 1/2 of the baking time of a full-sized lasagna pan.

  I have also decorated my apartment for Christmas! We went out and cut down a tree. I celebrated a lot when it was finally cut because we had a really, really dull saw and the tree was pretty sappy. It was a small, but important victory. We have the tree all decorated now with ornaments we've collected from some of our travels and ones from our childhood. I have a couple on there that I've made as well, including the tree topper which is a star I made out of an old copy of "The Hobbit" which was falling apart. Plus, check out the beautiful tree skirt my mother gave us! It's gorgeous and was the first thing we put on the tree. :) Thanks mom!!

Lastly, I made us a little Noel sign for our living room wall. Most of the living room is adorned with pictures from our travels, but there was a weird bare spot above one of the bookshelves that I have now filled. I bout the wood cutouts at JoAnn Fabrics, painted them red with a sponge brush and added "snow" with a 1 inch bristle brush. Super easy. Then I hot glued it all together and glued on a nail hanger on the top left of the N and the bottom of the E to keep it straight and sturdy. I really like it - now if only I had something to cover up the ceiling fan switch... :) By the way, that carved thing is a nativity set we got from Portugal - we think the baby Jesus looks like a weird squid, but it was unique - and the tall candle is the unity candle from our wedding.

OK, so that's what November held for me. I'd say that gives me an A. The "extra credit" I did on my Dad's Christmas quilt can counteract the standstill on my Leaf Quilt. And with that being over, here's what's on my to-do list for December:

1) Quilt up the Christmas quilt for my dad.

2) Put together a triangle quilt for my brother-in-law and his wife. Their wedding colors were gray and yellow and they have lots of matching decor in those colors in their apartment. I have planned to put together a quilt for them and have 1/2 of the fabric cut out. I just need to buy more, cut it out, sew it together, baste it and quilt it by Christmas... Doable? We'll see!

3) Finish up my Over the Rainbow quilt. It needs a black border yet (which I have the fabric for!!), sandwiching and basting and quilting. I've decided to do an all over stippling with rainbow thread on the front and white thread on the back. The back fabric is a black and white geometric pattern that I love. I think I'll bind it up in black as well.

4) Get the rest of my Christmas presents put together. I think I have a couple knit scarves on my list and then some items that need to be purchased. I went to Target yesterday and it was crazy! I think I'm going to do all of my shopping online and have it delivered to avoid the hustle and bustle of the stores.

5) Make and send out all of our Christmas cards. I have 1/2 of them 1/2 put together already. I'm making them with old Christmas music and card stock. I'm going to keep them pretty basic, but I think they'll look nice in the end. Now I just need to get all of the addresses I need...

So, 3 quilts in December? I think I might be a little (or a lot) nuts... What are you working on this month? Happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Over the Rainbow

Well, I've finished the top for my Over the Rainbow quilt that I started in 8th grade. This was long overdue and I'm really happy with it!

I'll measure it once it's all quilted and bound up, but I'm guessing it's somewhere around 65"x72". I've decided I'm not going to put a colored border around it, but I think I'm going to frame it out in a little bit of black. Then I'll put a scrappy binding on it with the left over fabric from the colored blocks.

Here are all of my blocks ready to be sewn together. I love using my windowsill for this. It's the perfect size and away from the mischievous paws of my cats.

Speaking of my cats... This quit was cat tested...

And cat approved...

All before it was even sewn together. :) Now I just need to figure out how I'm going to quilt it. I was thinking of an all over stipple in variegated thread (which I don't have yet), but I'm not so sure. I think I want it more subtle than that. Maybe just stitch a quarter inch away from the seam lines on either side of them so I get a grid pattern with a walking foot? That would certainly be a really fast way to quilt it up. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I just don't want to detract from the bright colors too much. Anyway... Happy crafting everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quilt Design

Do you design your own quilt patterns? Or do you use books, magazines, PDFs, etc? I used a book pattern for my long-term WiP - Over the Rainbow - but that's the only one I can think of...

Sun, Moon & Stars

Designing is something I love to do. Obviously every combination of squares, triangles and rectangles have already been put together, so I'm guessing none of my blocks will ever be "original," but that's OK by me. 

Rainbow Sherbet

I guess I'm not drawn to patterns in books or magazine very often. I want to really be a part of my craft from start to finish. There's something therapeutic and kind of magical about seeing something I design come to life.


Sometimes I get into binges of designing patterns with all the same theme. Like stars, or half square triangles or Christmas quilts.

Christmas Morning

Other times I want to make a design with big pieces (or really small pieces).


Lately I've been putting together quilt patterns with lots of different blocks. I saw what I would consider a "sampler quilt" at a bed and breakfast we stayed at this summer and just fell in love with it. Sampler quilts remind me of cozy lodges and being comfortable - curled up by a fire with a good book and a snugly quilt.

Cabin Fever

I can see so many things done with lots of different scrappy fabrics. 

Northern Lights

I tend to keep my patterns in pencil shading so that I can picture them with any color. The ones I've specifically assigned colors to I probably wouldn't change, but I don't want to hinder the process - especially if I have some kind of color epiphany when I dig my patterns back out.

A Stained Glass Christmas

Most of these I'll never get around to actually making in to quilts. It would be great if I had that much time (and money) to spend on quilting, but there are only so many hours in the day.


The other issue is that once I get these ideas down on paper there always seems to be another pattern that takes their place, or something I want to work on first. So everything ends up on the back burner. 

Forest Lights

I guess I don't have a lot of works in progress (not enough storage for all of that), but I sure have a lot of patterns in progress!


So, if you're ever in need of a quilt pattern, and you just aren't finding something that tickles your fancy, let me know! I'm sure I have a couple you can borrow. I might even figure out the yardage for you... :) Happy crafting!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Longest WiP (and other projects)

Hello everyone,

I've got a special project to share today. It's still in the works, but I can feel the completion date getting closer and closer. I've been working on this quilt since I was either in High School or 8th grade. I'm thinking 8th grade since I know I was "too cool" to quilt in High School. (Wow, I can't believe that was 12-13 years ago!!)

It's a quick and easy 9-patch quilt called "Over the Rainbow" that I fell in love with many, many years ago. I've always loved Amish quilts with vibrant colors and black backgrounds, so my mom and I started planning this quilt. I was lucky enough to find one patterned fabric in all of the colors - purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, green and 2 shades of blue.

I've been carting the fabric around from apartment to apartment through college and after, knowing that some day I would eventually finish it. Earlier this year it finally earned a spot in one of my 3 WiP drawers. That means I need to finish it before I can start another project because I'm not letting myself store in-progress projects anywhere but those 3 drawers. (Unfortunately, all of my current projects are large quilts, so this was the next one to finish up.)

My 8th grade self had already done most of the leg-work. The fabric was cut into 2.5 inch strips and sewn together for quick piecing. I just needed to cut apart the strips to make the pieces for each 9 patch block.

Ta da! I've got everything all cut and ready to go for the blocks. (My 8th grade self had even pieced together the light blue blocks, so I'm one more step ahead of the game.) I'll have to put a close up of the fabric I'm using in the next post. I can't decide if it looks like puzzle pieces or germs (maybe a combination of the two??), but I still think it's amazing that it came in all of those bright colors! I'm pretty sure we bought it at Wal-Mart - back when they still had a decent fabric section - but it could have been JoAnn Fabrics as well. Either way, I doubt I'll be able to find anymore if I happen to run out...

On another note, I finished the second Color Bee Shocked block (the one for November) and sent everything off in the mail today. Here's what I came up with:

It looks a little wonky to me, but hopefully not too bad. This was the first time I'd really worked with set-in circular seams, so I practiced a couple times first. I made the fugly Americana pot holder in my previous post and also made the below block. I plan to make it into another pot holder/trivet for my sister. (She said she needed a lot...)

This one I like way better than the Americana one I made. It almost looks like a little house - maybe a gnome home? :) My sister is coming to see me on Sunday, so I've got to get this little guy finished up by that time. So, with the circle bee block completed, I've finished one of my November goals of finishing up both Color Bee Shocked blocks. I also finished the knitted birthday present for my sister as another goal. I won't be showing that off until November 30th or December 1st.

With those two projects done, I the last goals I have for November are to sew together half of the Leaf Quilt blocks and plan/cut out the fabric for the Christmas quilt for my dad. I'm not sure the Leaf Quilt blocks will get done this month, but I've already planned out the pattern for the Christmas quilt and have the fabric for it. Hopefully I can finish the Over the Rainbow quilt top and get the Christmas quilt fabric cut and ready to go.

Anyway, this post is way too long, and I have some blocks to sew! So, happy crafting everyone!! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Little Projects

Tonight I wanted something to work on while watching the votes come in, so I decided to practice some in-set circles. One of the bee blocks I'm supposed to make wants a block with circles (something I've never done before) so I wanted to give this technique a try.

Fittingly, I was working with some left over Americana prints. I decided to make my creation into a fugly pot holder for my sister. She said she's running out of pot holders because she's worn through most of the ones she has. She likes to cook, and apparently likes to cook a lot! I don't think I've ever worn through a pot holder. I usually only get rid of them when they have so much cake batter on them they can't be cleaned.

Anyway, I thought I didn't do too bad on the in-set circle, even if the whole thing does look pretty ugly. Now I just need to do this on the real block with the real fabric!

I also put together the hand-made portion of the birthday gift for my sister. Here's a sneak peek:

Obviously you can tell that it's red and knit. :) I'll post the entire project on November 30th or later since that's the day my sister will be getting her present. :)

Lastly I put together the bee blocks for the December host in the Color Bee Shocked bee. I know, I know, I'm going out of order. I should have done November's block first, but circles are intimidating!!! Here's a pic of the blocks I put together for December:

Nice and easy flying geese. :) These were really simple, but the pattern made a lot of waste. I think if I were to put some of these together for a project for myself I'd use another method where there isn't as much scrap fabric to cut away. Otherwise, I really like the choice of fabrics the host sent along.  Lovely color combinations. :)

So, whether or not the votes went the way you wanted them to this evening, I hope you all were able to work on something fun! Happy crafting!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Irish Hiking Scarf Finished

I've got my first November goal finish in this post and it's only November 4th! Makes me feel like I'm ahead of the game, but that probably won't last for long.

I used a whole skein of Caron Simply Soft in Sage Green for this project (pattern here). I had just a tiny little bit which my cats Sasha and Leia are now enjoying. I didn't have enough to do one more repeat of the pattern otherwise I would have tried for one more.

This gift is for my mother-in-law. I was thinking of giving it to her as soon as I finished it, but I think I might want to keep it for a Christmas gift.

I'm pretty sure she'll like it. My husband told me it's the best "knit thing" I've made yet. So, that's definitely a good sign. He likes this better than the scarf I made for him. He was even interested in how I made the cables and was pretty impressed with how they turned out.

It looks so good I think I'll keep it for a while just to look at it. I see many more cabled projects in my future.

This means I have to get some more sizes of double pointed needles other than just size 9, but that's a pretty standard size for a lot of the projects I have bookmarked on Ravelry.

Besides the scarf, I finished another knit project that I'll be using for a Christmas present. My dad has been wanting a case for his kindle and I hadn't found the right project until a few days ago.

I tried my first knitting in the round project with this using circular needles and Judy's Magic Cast On method. It worked so well that I'll be using that method to cast on again for another special project this month.

The case isn't completely finished yet. I still have to add the buttons to keep the flap secured. There will be 2 buttons about a half inch up from the bottom of the flap and one third of the way in from each side.

Here's what the back looks like. I didn't want something really feminine (like a lot of knit patterns that are in my skill level tend to be). I think it's manly enough for my dad and it's made from the same soft wool yarn that I made my husband's scarf out of.

Really my dad likes anything that I make, so I know he's going to love this even if it does kind of look a little wonky. :)

For the rest of this week, I want to focus on making the Bee blocks that I have fabric for. I've got 3 envelopes/package to send off besides those projects, so I'll be spending some time at the post office too. What are you working on this week? Happy crafting!
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