As the Dust Settles …

… I thought I’d share a few peeks at what I’ve been up to in the last week.

There was a little of this:

A whole lot of that:

A few fleeting moments of this:

A sprinkling of these for the people on my list:

A little Christmas present for myself:

And one from some very special people:

Hope yours was just as merry!

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A Quilty 2011

As my Christmas sewing finally winds down, I’m turning my attention to the new year. And Elizabeth at Don’t Call Me Betsy is hosting a listy linky for 2011 quilting goals. Fun! So without further ado, here’s what’s on the agenda for me:

1. Surprise: More quilts! My mom has “commissioned” me to make a king-size version of Jennifer’s Intersection(s) pattern, using the fabric above. I’m also doing the girly companion for my boyish Modern Meadow baby quilt, I want to make bed quilts for Miss E. and my little niece, I still have my Urban Lattice quilt to do, and I’m thinking about joining the Bloggers’ Block-A-Palooza quilt-along. And those are just my immediate plans—I guarantee a few more will get added to the list as we go along.

2. Bees. I’m starting with four bees beginning in January:
Do. Good Stitches, a charity bee that I’m thrilled to be taking part in.
{Sew} Beautiful, a modern bee with some of my bestest blogging friends. My month is November.
String Me Along, a 16-month scrap-focused bee. My month is July.
• The 3 x 6 Mini Bee.

3. Swaps. I’ve only done one swap so far, but I would definitely like to do a few more. I would love a mini-quilt or two to decorate the blank wall behind my sewing machine—I spend a lot of time staring at that wall. It’d be nice to have something inspirational up there! So I’m hoping to join the next Doll Quilt Swap. I’m also interested in the Pillow Talk Swap and Modern Swappers. Both look like a lot of fun.

4. A quilt-along. I would like to try running my own quilt-along sometime in 2011, based on my Hope Valley quilt above. I’m thinking of starting it in February or March (although of course you will be able to join it at any time). I may modify the design a little (possibly to make it charm-square friendly) or I may do it just as it is, above. I’m undecided—if you think you might participate, feel free to weigh in!

5. Quilting for charity. In addition to my involvement in Do. Good Stitches, I’m making a quilt for the Wrapped In Hope project by Margaret’s Hope Chest. I’m also planning to make at least one quilt next year for Quilt Hope In, which benefits women and children in Haiti.

6. Holiday stuff for 2011. A tree skirt, stockings for the whole family, and a Christmas quilt. These are all things I wanted to get to this year, but didn’t. 2011 will be the year for them. No, seriously.

7. Learn to free-motion quilt. I need to get over my fear of FMQ and give it another shot. I’m not sure I’ll ever love it—quilting on my machine always feels like a wrestling match to me, trying to get that bulky quilt through such a small amount of space. That just doesn’t strike me as much fun. But it’s a skill I should have, even if I don’t use it frequently.

8. Rent the long-arm quilting machine at my LQS again. I rented a long-arm twice in 2010. My first time on the long-arm was a wonderful experience (I quilted the quilt shown above, for my 1-year-old). The second time was more stressful, because I had to load the quilt onto the frame by myself, and the machine got a little cranky with me (not my fault, I swear!). But it’s pretty awesome to take an unbasted, unsandwiched top and back into the store, and come out 3 hours later with a gorgeous quilt! So I would like to rent the long-arm again, and naturally, when I do, I plan to document the whole thing right here. : )

9. More finishes. For all the sewing I did in 2010, I only have five completed quilts to show for it. Two of those were sent out to a professional long-arm quilter. Outsourcing the quilting is convenient and quick, but it’s certainly not cheap. And there’s just something about doing a quilt entirely yourself, from start to finish, that makes the completed project that much more special. So this year, I want to finish more quilts: My goal is 12 quilts in 2011. That’s one per month, on top of my bee blocks, swap commitments, and other projects! And I want to finish more of those quilts myself. I won’t say all of them, but definitely more of them.

Um, is 2011 expected to be like 14 months long instead of the usual 12? Because if it’s not, I don’t know how I’m going to accomplish all of this. Oh well, nothing wrong with a little ambition, right? If I check off even three-quarters of the projects listed above, I’ll be a happy girl.

And with that, I’m signing off until after Christmas. With Miss E. on break from school, cookies to make, presents to wrap, and a few gift projects yet to finish, I need to take the week off from blogging and concentrate on reigning in the holiday chaos. So there will be no WIP Wednesday this week. But we will return to our regularly-scheduled programming on Wednesday, Dec. 29.

Now hop over to Elizabeth’s blog to see what everybody else is planning in the new year. Happy holidays to you all, and happy sewing in 2011!

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WIP Wednesday Link-Up

Welcome back to Work-In-Progress Wednesday! What have you got for me this week, ladies? Link up below to show off your WIPs!

New Projects:
Mystery Gift Project, times 12
This is my scrappy project that I’m making as small gifts for, like, half the people I’ve ever met. Three are done, nine left to go. My goal is to make one per day until they’re done, which means, come next week’s WIP Wednesday, I should only have two left. Hold me to that!

Ongoing Projects:
Urban Lattice Quilt Along at Me? A Mom?
I love this quilt! And all I’ve done so far is mark my scrapbooking paper! : ) But seriously, even just marking the paper was kinda fun, in its own weird, tedious way. I really, really, really hope to have more time for this one in the coming week.

That Girl … That Quilt Along quilt
Well. I wonked my blocks. And I don’t know—I think I may have under-wonked. When you think about it, that might be the worst thing that could happen when you’re doing a wonky quilt. Because people might not realize the wonkiness is intentional, and will instead think I’m just a really crappy sewer.

But at least I may have set a new world record for most use of the word “wonky” in a single paragraph (and in some very creative new forms, at that).

STILL didn’t do anything with these:
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

Completed tops STILL awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley quilt
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt)

This week’s stats:
New projects – 1. But it’s a gift! That makes it okay!
Completed projects – 0 sewing projects completed. HOWEVER, I did design a blog header and three buttons, put up my Christmas tree, decorated the rest of my house for Christmas, and do some serious shopping. So there. : )
Currently in progress – 8, up 1 from last week.


What I’ve Been Up To

Oh, you mean besides stressing about Christmas?

Most of the things on my to-do list at the moment don’t involve sewing (shopping, Christmas cards, shopping, photo calendars, shopping). But I am making different variations of the same very small gift for no less than TWELVE people this year.

It’s getting pretty scrappy up in here. Photos of these guys to come, after the holidays.


Holiday Swappage

So I picked up an overflowing bag of mail yesterday afternoon, collected by my next-door neighbor while we were out of town. Amidst all the junk mail and bills was an early Christmas gift from my Ho Ho Holiday Swap partner, A.J. Dub of Harriet the Homemaker Strikes Again. She sent me not one, not even two, but three beautiful Christmas ornaments!

The first one I opened was this amazing little dynamo of a quilt block ornament! I was completely blown away by it! Those half-square triangles are literally half an inch square. HALF AN INCH, people. Can you imagine piecing something that itty-bitty? Because I sure can’t. : ) And just look at those teeny hand stitches! Such incredible workmanship, and it’s adorable.

But it gets even better: This ornament is, of course, based on my Kissy Fish quilt, one of my all-time favorite quilts, as well as my first tutorial. How thoughtful is that? I really was touched by this ornament. Not only is it meaningful to me personally, since it’s a quilt block I designed, but every time I look at it I’ll think of all the wonderful blog friends I’ve made (one in particular!), and how nice it is to have you all. It will have a place of honor on my tree.

As if that wasn’t enough, there were two other ornaments in the package—this pair of lovely little flower ornaments.

And she even threw in these adorable handmade Christmas cards as a little extra.

All I can say is, I was wowed by this swap package and I think I definitely got the better end of the exchange. : ) Thank you, thank you, thank you to A.J. Dub, what a delightful surprise after a long trip (and so nice to open while dealing with the aftermath of overly tired children). For more about A.J., go visit her blog.

Now, wanna see what I sent her? I’m almost embarrassed to show it to you after what she sent me!

Yep. It’s a bird. I’m obsessed. It’s kind of strange, because I don’t especially care for birds in real life, but give me a fabric bird and I’m all about it. : ) This one is based on the free “Pretty Bird” pattern from Pillow and Maxfield. I shrunk the pattern down about 70%.

I had grander plans than this. I thought this bird looked vaguely partridge-ish, so I wanted to make a second ornament—a pear. Then A.J. would have had a partridge and a pear in her tree. : ) But the final week before I left on my trip got a little crazy and unfortunately that fell through the cracks. Sorry, A.J.! Well, now that I’ve received her package, I think I definitely owe her a pear!

Thanks to AnneMarie from Gen X Quilters for organizing such a fun swap. I hope it will become an annual thing! Happy (early) holidays to all the holiday swappers out there!

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Work-In-Progress Wednesday

Since “wordless” isn’t really my strong suit, I’m going to start devoting Wednesdays to a WIP round-up. Maybe it will motivate me to finish more of them. At the very least, it’ll help me keep track of everything I’m working on. (I’m an obsessive list-maker—I don’t function without a to-do list!)

Hope Valley quilt
I’m piecing this one now, and I am SUPER excited to show it to you. But for now, here’s just a little sneaky peak.

That Girl … That Quilt Along quilt
I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t feeling those Oddysea charms that I picked out. I love the line, but I decided it just wasn’t working for this project. So I’m changing things up—I’m busting out my Farmdale! The more I look at this line, the more I love, LOVE, LOVE.

Modern Meadow baby quilt
Top’s done, but I’m still considering how to quilt it. This one’s not needed until February or March, so plenty of time to keep thinking about it.

Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt
Top’s done. I’m definitely going to try Imagingermonkey‘s easy-peasy wavy-line quilting. (Hey, click on the link—there’s my quilt in the lower right corner of the mosaic!). But since this top is not for any person or place in particular, it’s not high priority right now.

Figgy Pudding Christmas quilt
The pattern I’m working from is above (it’s a free pattern from Moda). I’m about halfway done piecing it, but I just haven’t been motivated to work on it lately. Other things interest me more right now. That’s probably because I’m doing this one straight from the pattern, with no modifications at all. But I know the girlies would love having a Christmas quilt. I’ll get back to it one of these days.

Wonky Log Cabin quilt
I started this one while I was still pregnant with my 18-month-old. Oops—I guess that officially makes it a UFO. But check it out! I forgot that it’s actually kind of cute. I’m not sure why I stopped working on it for so long. I find improv a little intimidating, but I also love how forgiving it is. I really need to drag this one back out.

UPDATE: Elizabeth suggested I do a little WIP Wednesday linky thing. I love it—great idea, Elizabeth! I’ll start that next Wednesday. Anybody who wants to do their own WIP Wednesday post and link it up here is welcome. I hope you’ll all join in. Should be a good motivator—let’s all knock some projects off our lists together!

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Advent Calendar Wall Hanging – A Tutorial

Not excited about another $2 cardboard Advent Calendar with penny candy already sealed inside? Neither was I. If you’re going to have a calendar prominently displayed in your home for almost a month, it should look a little nicer than that, right? So I designed this calendar for last year’s Advent. It comes together quickly and the pockets are roomy enough for a delicious treat or two!

You will need:
• 1 fat quarter of my Advent Calendar fabric, available from Spoonflower (Each fat quarter makes TWO calendars—one for you and one to use as a gift!)
• 24 5″ x 4.5″ squares of holiday-print fabric (charm squares work great – just trim 1/2″ off one side)
• 2 4.5″ x 8″ strips of coordinating fabric for hanging tabs
• 2 17.5″ x 28″ pieces of white fabric for background
• Strips for binding
• Wooden dowel and ribbon for hanging
• 17.5″ x 28″ piece of fusible batting (I think fusible batting is perfect for small wall hangings)
• Fusible webbing for appliqueing numbers and title header

1. Sandwich your fusible batting between the two white background pieces and press to fuse. I didn’t do any quilting on mine, but if you would like to do all-over quilting on the background, now’s the time!

2. Prepare header and numbers. Decide which header—red or green—you want to use. Cut the fat quarter in half, separating one header-and-number-set from the other. (Set aside the other set to make another calendar as a gift later.) Fuse the entire piece to fusible webbing. Cut out header strip and cut each calendar number into a circle shape. It’s difficult to see in the photos, but there are light gray lines around each number to use as a guide for easy-peasey circle cutting.

3. Prepare pockets. Along a 4.5″ edge of your printed squares, fold in 1/2″ and press. (This will be the top of your pocket, so if you have a directional fabric like I do below, plan accordingly). Fold in another 1/2″ and press again.

4. Top stitch about 3/8″ from pressed edge with coordinating thread.

5. Fold the other 3 edges in 1/2″ and press. Turn corners under as you are pressing, as shown above, for a neat mitered corner. You should now have a 3.5″ square pocket. Repeat until you have 24 pockets.

6. Add numbers to pockets. Decide on a layout/order for your pockets. Fuse a number to the front of each pocket, centering it by using an ironing grid. Applique as desired (I’m not much of an appliquer, so I did a simple straight stitch 1/8″ from the raw edge in white thread).

Note: The print on your pocket may show through the numbers a little if you use Spoonflower’s quilting-weight fabric. It didn’t bother me that much, but if you don’t like it, you could always order your Advent Calendar fat quarter in one of their heavier fabrics, like the linen-canvas blend.

7. Arrange header and pockets on background. Position your header strip about 1″ from top edge of background piece. Arrange your pockets below the header in 6 rows of 4. Don’t overthink your positioning—my pockets were spaced about 3/8″ apart, but if they’re not 100% precisely aligned and spaced, it will still look fine. Pin pockets to background piece. Pin them slightly loose, so they’ll be roomy enough to hold treats!

8. Attach header strip to background. Fuse header strip by pressing. Using your walking foot, applique the header by sewing a straight stitch in coordinating thread 1/8″ from top and bottom edges. Don’t worry about the side edges—they’ll be hidden by the binding.

9. Attach pockets. Using your walking foot, topstitch each pocket onto the background by sewing 1/4″ or 1/8″ from pressed-under edges on three sides (right, left, and bottom). The walking foot is a necessity—using a regular foot will cause your pockets to slip and go crooked, or they’ll be too tight to put anything in them!

10. Prepare hanging tabs. Fold each 4.5″ x 8″ strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew 1/4″ or from raw edges to form a tube. Turn inside out and press.
10. Bind. Before pinning binding to the front of your wall hanging, position hanging tabs with one short end aligned with top edge of the wall hanging, about 3″ from each side. Pin binding over top of the tabs, as shown, and sew binding to front of wall hanging as usual. Before sewing binding onto the back of the wall hanging, loop the tabs over the top edge and hide the other end of the tabs under the binding on the back.11. Slide hanging tabs onto wooden dowel. Use ribbon to hang your wall hanging. You’re now ready for Dec. 1! And yes, that’s the birdie from my blog header, making another appearance on the Advent Calendar header. I think he’s becoming my mascot. : )
In addition to the standard Advent Calendar goodies, I also put a slip of paper into each pocket that describes a holiday-themed activity that my girls and I can enjoy that day. Whether it’s decorating cookies, making a homemade Christmas tree ornament, or just drinking hot cocoa together, we have something fun to look forward to each day of Advent.I hope you’ll try this one yourself! Enjoy!


I Found It

So I really wanted to make last year’s Figgy Pudding quilt, with the Christmas trees and the courthouse blocks. But since the Figgy Pudding line is tough to find now, I considered making it in this year’s Basic Grey line, Fruitcake. But I dunno, Fruitcake just wasn’t doing it for me. Which is strange because it’s really not all that different from Figgy Pudding. But there’s just something about Figgy Pudding that I love, so I decided I needed to track down enough of it for this quilt.

So yes, I always have to give myself that extra challenge. This could have been a perfectly fun, stress-free holiday project. Instead I’ve spent hundreds of man-hours scouring the entire Internet for the teensiest scrap of “Pepperberry Juniper,” before I’ve even sewn a stitch.

As of two weeks ago, I only needed two more prints: The red tonal damask and the snowflakes on brown background. I couldn’t find any trace of either online, and I had all but given up on finding the necessary 4 yards of the brown to use as the background and binding. Then, a bit of serendipity required me to go to my local quilt store to pick up something for another project. And there it was. Rolled up and literally tied with a bow: 3.25 yards of the brown with snowflakes (not quite enough, but I can do the binding in something else). I had looked for it at that store before of course, and it wasn’t there at the time. Suddenly it just appeared. Obviously we were meant to be together.

Things like this make me realize that collecting out-of-print fabric is actually kind of fun. That could be a dangerous discovery.