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Farmer’s Wife—Week 10

Wow, has it really been 10 weeks already? And I have 23 blocks done, so I’m 3 blocks ahead!

Block #23, Country Farm. After seeing this post by Twin Fibers that pointed me toward paper-piecing templates for all the Farmer’s Wife blocks, I decided to try paper-piecing for this one as well. And it worked out great! I had no trouble with the size being off, as many people have, so I think it’s all about printing with no scaling. I think the biggest drawback of paper-piecing is that I have a hard time getting the fabric grain straight when I paper-piece. That means the print can be kind of wonky sometimes, like with the background piece on the far left. But other than that, I think paper-piecing for Farmer’s Wife rocks, especially with the templates from the Yahoo group. As far as my fabric choices, the background here is a little busy, but I think it will look okay in the larger mix of blocks.

I didn’t get to block #24 this week, but I did re-do block #21, Contrary Wife! I still can’t believe this block gave me so many problems. Last week an anonymous commenter pointed out that the way I laid out my colors wasn’t quite the same as in the book, and I think that definitely led to the “cock-eyed” problem I talked about. When I re-did it as it was in the book, problem solved! I am much, MUCH happier with this version of Contrary Wife. And glad it’s finally done.

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for my fabric design in the Connecting Threads contest! Click here to vote—it’s the “Flourish” design, fourth row down. You can only vote once per email address, so if you’ve already voted, thank you again!

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Summer Sampler Series: Kansas Dust Storm

Welcome to our last block in the Summer Sampler Series. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride and you’re ready for the big finale! But before I get to today’s block, I want to thank Kate and Faith for coming up with such a fabulous quilt-along idea, and for inviting me to join them in hosting it. I’ve really enjoyed it!

This is Kansas Dust Storm, block #3596 in the Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns. Much like Faith’s “Rocky Road to Kansas” block, this block got its name from a very specific time and place in history. The block pattern was published by the Kansas City Star in December 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl (April 1935 saw some of the worst dust storms in the history of the U.S.). Not surprisingly, quilting thrived in the 1930s—families often needed to make use of every scrap of fabric they had, and that usually meant making quilts. So this block is representative of an important era in the history of the craft.

As I was choosing fabric for my block, I realized that Kansas Dust Storm is actually quite similar to the Evening Star block that Kate posted about on Monday. They’re both eight-point stars, just oriented a little differently. For that reason, I reversed out the prints and did the star points in my background white, putting more focus on the secondary design that forms around the star. And I love how it turned out—somehow it really does remind me of a weak sun shining in the hazy Dustbowl sky.

For this block, you will need three templates: Template A, Template B, and Template C. You’ll need four copies of each of the three templates. Sorry about the three templates, but this was the only way I could come up with that avoided Y-seams. And if you’ve come this far in the quilt-along, you’re a paper-piecing expert by now. So I know you can do it! If you haven’t done paper-piecing before, I recommend checking out Faith’s tutorial for the Star block first, as that’s a great introduction to this skill.

Kansas Dust Storm Block Tutorial

1. Cut your fabric as follows:
• Center (my floral print): 3.5″ squares – cut 8 (I fussy-cut mine)
• Green squares: 4.5″ squares – cut 8
• Orange-dot corner triangles: 4″ x 6″ – cut 4
• White star points: 2.5″ x 3″ – cut 8
• White background: 4″ x 6.5″ – cut 8

2. Cut the 4.5″ squares (my green print) in half diagonally, so you now have 16 triangles.

3. Take 4 (only 4!) of those 16 triangles and cut them in half again, as shown, to make 8 smaller triangles.

4. Place one of the 12 larger triangles on the back of Template A, so that it covers Section 1 (but on the back of the template). Hold it up to a light source to check that your piece is in the right place, and adhere with double-sided tape, a glue stick, or a pin.

5. Lay one of the 4″ x 6.5″ background pieces over the top of the center triangle, right sides facing. Match up the long edge along the line between Section 1 and Section 2.

6. Sew along the line (using a shorter stitch length to help perforate the paper) and press back the background piece.

7. Do the same thing for Section 3, with another 4″ x 6.5″ background piece.

8. Now it should look like this.

9. Add one of the 4″ x 6″ corner triangle pieces.

10. Sew and press into place, then trim the excess fabric, using the paper template as a guide for where to trim. Your Unit A should now look like this. Repeat to make three more Unit As just like it.

11. Now we’ll move on to the B and C templates, which are exactly the same, except that they are mirror images of each other. Start by adhering a 2.5″ x 3″ background piece to the back of each template, covering Section 1.

12. Place one of the 8 remaining large green triangles over the white background piece. One of the short sides of the triangle should line up with the line between sections 1 and 2. Flip over, sew along the line, and press into place.

13. Continuing piecing the B and C units, using the smaller green triangles and the floral octagon pieces. When the units are completed and trimmed, they should look like this.

14. You should now have 4 A units, 4 B units, and 4 C units. I removed the paper at this point—from here out, I found it easier to piece things accurately without the paper. Take one B unit and one C unit and sew the short sides together to make a larger triangle, like this.

Not like this! This is an easy mistake to make with this block, as you can see! (I wish I could say I did this solely for educational purposes, but it ain’t so.) This way even looks right. But it’s not.

15. Join your pieced B/C triangle to an A triangle, as shown, to make a square.

16. Then piece your four squares together to complete the block.

And there we have it: 12 completed sampler blocks. I’ll be sashing the blocks and putting the top together in the next week, so come back here next Friday to see my completed top! I’ll post yardage and cutting requirements for my sashing at that time, in case anyone is interested.

Huge thanks to everyone who quilted along with Kate, Faith, and me this past month (and to everyone who may do these blocks in the future!). I had so much fun doing this quilt-along with all of you. The blocks that have shown up in the Flickr group are absolutely stunning. I can’t wait to see all of the finished quilts!

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Summer Sampler Series: Minnesota Block

Welcome to another block in the Summer Sampler Series! Today we’ll be making the Minnesota block. I just love the vintage charm of this block.

Minnesota is block #1979 in the Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns. It is in the “Unequal Nine Patch with Small Center Square” pattern category—a huge category with an amazing variety of designs represented. This block originally appeared in the magazine “Hearth and Home,” which was popular with women in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Hearth and Home published a series of 50 quilt block patterns, one for each state (there is a book that collects all 50 state block patterns, which you can buy here). I couldn’t find any information on whether there is design significance to each state’s block (I’m guessing there isn’t). But Wisconsin’s is pretty interesting too, so you might see that one from me one of these days! It might be kind of fun to make a “travel quilt” of blocks for all of the states that I’ve been to over the years.

Minnesota Block Tutorial

This is another block that combines traditional piecing and paper piecing. But if you’ve made it this far in the quilt-along, I promise you’ll think this one is a piece of cake. No, seriously!

1. Cutting:
• (4) 6.25″ print squares for hourglass units
• (4) 2.5″ x 5.5″ pieces for diamond units
• (1) 2.5″ square for center diamond
• (8) 3.5″ x 4.5″ pieces for background of diamond units
• (4) 2″ squares for background of center diamond

2. Let’s start with the paper-piecing this time. You can download the paper-piecing template here. (Please note: Printing directly from Google Docs can cause your template sizes to be inaccurate. To avoid this, download the PDF to your computer and print it from Acrobat—for information about how to do this, see this Flickr discussion.) You will need 4 copies of the rectangular template and 1 copy of the small square template.

3. Starting with the rectangular templates, adhere the 2.5″ x 5.5″ pieces to the back of the templates, right side facing out, so that your fabric is on one side and the printed template is on the other. I use double-sided tape to put my fabric onto the template, but you could also use a glue stick, fabric glue, or pins. Your fabric pieces should be the same size as the template and should completely cover the back of the template. In the photo above, mine are all adhered to the templates.

4. Take your 3.5″ x 4.5″ background pieces and cut them in half diagonally, so that you have 16 triangular pieces.

5. Position a background triangle onto the back of your template/fabric, right side facing, as shown.

6. Flip the entire thing over, so that you’re looking at the printed template. Hold it up to a light source to check that the triangular background piece is in the correct position. It’s hard to tell in this photo because my fabric is black, but at least 1/4″ of the triangular background piece should be above the line you’ll be sewing on, and the rest should be below the line.

7. Sew directly onto the line between Section 1 and Section 2, as shown. Be sure to use a shorter stitch length to make it easier to tear off the paper later. I’m using 1.4 on my machine.

8. Fold back the triangular piece and press into place, as shown. (My paper is curling in the photo above, due to the nine-thousand percent humidity we’re currently having.)

9. Sew the other three pieces into place in just the same way. When you’re done, you should have something that looks like this.

10. Using the paper template as a guide, trim off the excess fabric.

11. Tear off and discard the paper templates. Fold back the background triangles and carefully trim off the excess fabric underneath. (So I’m trimming off the black fabric from underneath the white fabric.)

12. You should now have a diamond unit that looks like this. Repeat the process to make a total of four diamond units.

13. Now follow the same process one more time to make the center diamond. Use the 2.5″ square paper template, your 2.5″ square of fabric and your 2″ square background pieces. After sewing and trimming, you should end up with a unit that looks like this.

14. Now that your paper-pieced diamond units are complete, we’ll use traditional piecing to make the four hourglass units that complete the block. Start by cutting the 6.25″ squares in half diagonally, and then in half diagonally in the other direction. You should now have a total of 16 triangles like the ones above.

15. Match up one triangle of each print and sew them together along a short edge. Don’t sew together the long edges—if you do that, you’ll end up with an HST, and we actually don’t want any of those this time! : ) I pressed my seam allowance to the side, toward the blue print.

16. Do the same thing with another pair of triangles, but this time, swap the sides the prints are on. Yes, it does matter which sides the prints are on, so pay attention to that. Again, I pressed my seam allowance toward the blue print.

17. Join the two triangles together for a completed hourglass unit. Pressing your seam allowances to the side should give you those “locking seams” that will help you nicely align your points. The completed hourglass unit should measure 5.5″ square. Repeat to make a total of four hourglass units.

18. Arrange all 9 units as shown, join into three rows, and then join the rows together to complete the block.

See, that wasn’t too bad, right? And look what you’ve made (and learned!) in only three weeks! My blocks are above—I can’t wait to round them out with the final three blocks. I hope you guys are enjoying this as much as I am! Stop in at Swim, Bike, Quilt on Monday for Kate’s final block in the series, and don’t forget to upload photos of your progress to the Flickr group. I have been so impressed and amazed at the wonderful creations that have been showing up there! Happy sewing!

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Summer Sampler Series: Arkansas Traveler Block

Welcome back to the Summer Sampler Series. Are you ready for block #6? It’s a very unique block, and one of my favorites in the quilt-along!

This is the Arkansas Traveler block, #3912 in the Encyclopedia Of Pieced Quilt Patterns. It’s also known as Cowboy’s Star, Travel Star, or “Teddy’s Choice.” It’s from the “Other Stars” category of patterns in the Encyclopedia.

Arkansas Traveler Flag Quilt – featured on Earlene Fowler’s website

Not much is known about the history of this block, but it likely dates back to the 1800s, since it shares its name with a popular 19th century folk song. There are several quilt blocks known by the name Arkansas Traveler—the others are variations on spool designs. Arkansas Traveler quilts were sometimes made up of more than one type of Arkansas Traveler block, like the flag quilt above (from writer Earlene Fowler’s website).

I’m doing a more modern variation on this block, using 60-degree diamonds instead of the narrower diamonds often used in traditional Arkansas Traveler blocks. Since Faith did such an excellent job of introducing us to paper-piecing with Wednesday’s Star block, I thought we’d make this block by combining traditional piecing and paper piecing. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds!Arkansas Traveler Block Tutorial

• For diamonds: 2 5/8″ x 9″ strips – cut 8 (Stash Trad bee members: Cut these strips to 3″ instead.)
• For background: 3″ x 6″ strips – cut 8; 3″ x 9″ strips – cut 8

Cutting and Piecing the Diamonds

1. Place your ruler on an angle over the end of one of the 2 5/8″ x 9″ strips, lining up the 60-degree mark with the bottom of the strip, as shown, and cut.

2. Slide your ruler over. With the 60-degree mark still lined up with the bottom of the strip, line up the 2 5/8″ mark on your ruler with the angled (cut) end of the strip, and cut again. (Stash Trad members, again cut to 3″.)

3. You now have a 60-degree diamond. Continue cutting diamonds, two from each strip, until you have 16.

4. Pair up two diamonds, right sides facing, and so that the edges intersect 1/4″ from each point (right where your seam will be). This results in little triangles sticking out on each side called dog ears—see them? Make sure those dog ears are showing, and that they’re even on each side.

5. Sew and press seam allowances open. Sew together a second pair and press.

6. Put your pairs together, right sides facing, as shown above. Again, make sure the dog ears are correct.

7. Sew and press seam allowances open. You should now have a diamond unit that looks like this. Repeat the steps above until you have four diamond units.

Paper-Piecing the Diamonds into the Background

1. Let me start by saying that if you’ve never paper-pieced before, and you haven’t yet made Faith’s Star block, I recommend you do that first. Faith did a great job introducing the skill of paper-piecing, and I don’t want to repeat too much of what she explained in her post.

2. Okay, all set? Print out 4 copies of my paper-piecing template for this block, which can be found here. Be sure to set page scaling to “None” or “100 percent” when printing, and after printing, check the 1″ scale to make sure it’s accurate. Trim the templates.

3. Attach one of your peiced diamond units to the back of the template, lining up the diamond seams you sewed in the previous steps with the “pre-sewn line” marks on the front of the template (as much as you can see them through the paper). I flipped down the edges of the diamond unit to make sure the seams were lined up, but don’t stress about it too much. Since those diamond seams don’t line up with anything else, it’s not crucial that they be exact. I used double-sided tape to attach my diamond units to the back of the paper—I prefer that over pins. You could also use a glue stick.

Tip: If you have a certain color/print that you want in the center, place the diamond unit so the center print is between 4 and 5 (where my blue and green floral print is in the photo below), rather than between 2 and 3. This will give your seams an outward radiating pattern.

4. Hold up your template to a light source to visually check that your diamond unit is placed correctly and that there will be 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around. This diamond unit is piece #1. You’ll add piece #2, a background piece, next.

5. Place a 3″ x 6″ background piece along the edge of the diamond that borders section #2. Make sure right sides facing and the edges are approximately lined up, as shown. Now turn over the whole thing and sew on the line, through the paper, as Faith showed on her blog. Remember to lower your stitch count to perforate the paper better—I use 1.4.

6. Press back the piece you just sewed and trim any excess seam allowances. Repeat the steps above to add additional background pieces, in order, according to the numbers on the paper template. You will use the 3″ x 6″ pieces for the first two background pieces, and the 3″ x 9″ cuts for the second (longer) two pieces.

7. Once you’ve sewed on all four background pieces, it should look like this.

8. Turn the whole thing over and trim around the edges of the paper template. DON’T tear the paper off yet!

9. You now have the first of your four star units. Repeat the steps above to create the other three quarter-block units.

10. Arrange two of the star units as shown.

11. Put the units together, right sides facing, with the paper still on.

12. Sew the two units together on the template’s outer line, as shown. So you’re now sewing through two star units and two paper templates. There will be a lot of seam bulk where the center points meet, but the paper will give that area some structure, which should keep the fabric from bunching up. It will also help you match up the points more accurately, in spite of the bulk. If your machine gets hung up at that corner, you may need to gently push the units/paper through. You could also try adjusting your presser foot to make it less tight (if your machine has that option) or using a walking foot if you’re still having problems.

When you’re done sewing, here’s what it looks like on the other side. Your sewing should come through the other side right on the other template’s line (mine isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough!)

And here’s what it looks like when you’re done (the paper is still on the back).

13. Repeat with the other two star points. Finger press the seam allowances open. When you’re ready to join the two pairs with the final seam of the block, you can take the paper off if you’re worried about the paper making too much bulk in your machine, or leave the paper on and piece it the same way you did the previous two seams.

14. Once the entire block has been pieced, remove the paper and press seams open.

And with that, we are now halfway through this quilt-along! Here are all 6 of my blocks together. I can’t wait to see your blocks, especially Arkansas Traveler, so please post pictures to the Flickr group.

On Monday, the Summer Sampler Series will be back on Katie’s blog to kick off our second half. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


April Bee Blocks

Squeaking in just under the wire: Mailed on April 30. : )

Do. Good Stitches
Natalie of Greenleaf Goods asked for these delightfully bright and springy string blocks for the Love circle of Do. Good Stitches. These are very much like some of the scrappy potholders I made as Christmas gifts this year. so I have a little experience with teeny string blocks. Natalie put a little wonk into her blocks, so I did the same on my first one, but didn’t particularly like how mine looked, so my second block is just straight-up strings. I just love the colors Natalie asked for, they are positively yummy.

I also have to thank Natalie, because I won her giveaway last week! I won a gorgeous stack of Freshcut and Pop Garden by Heather Bailey. (Unbeknownst to Natalie, I had Freshcut in my swapping ISO list! Woo hoo!) My fabric came from Natalie the day I started the blocks, so how could I not use some of it? This means Natalie will be getting a little of that fabric right back in the form of these string blocks. So I guess it’s true that what goes around comes around … literally. : )

{Sew} Beautiful
Brooke of Pitter Putter Stitch asked for this Circle of Geese block. Since I paper-pieced New York Beauty blocks for my DQS swap quilt, I thought this Circle of Geese block would be cake. Um … I thought wrong. I had to unsew several pieces on my first quadrant and re-do them because they weren’t big enough. I don’t know why this was so much more challenging than my New York Beauty blocks—maybe because the pieces were such irregular sizes? Or because the pieces are larger, so the strange angles threw things off even more? Whatever the reason, it took some time to get accustomed to the paper-piecing for this block. But once I did, things went smoothly, and I love the result. All of us bee members had slightly different color/fabric combinations, so I’m looking forward to seeing the quilt all put together. Click here to see more in the Flickr group. Edited to add: This block was made using a free paper-piecing pattern available here.

String Me Along
Fran asked for a modified bento block in these bright batiks for String Me Along. I have not worked with batiks before, so it was fun to get a chance to do that. I was surprised to find that the back of a batik is sometimes as intense in color as the front! Fortunately I don’t think I sewed any pieces on backwards. : ) Fran asked us not to cut up our blocks into quarters—I’m assuming she’ll be doing that—so here’s mine as I mailed it out to her.

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday—check out more modern creations there!

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A Mini-Finish

I finished stitching down the binding on my DQS10 swap mini-quilt last night. Hand-stitching binding was the perfect thing to do while watching my Spartans play a game of basketball that was, in turns, awful, pathetic, semi-okay, decent, amazing, incredible, infuriating, and heartbreaking. I’m used to watching these guys win come March. What am I going to do with myself now that I have no team to root for? Guess I’ll sew. : )

At any rate, my DQS quilt is now finished. I’m pretty confident that my partner is going to like it. I paper-pieced these blocks from a pattern that I created. It’s a fairly standard New York Beauty block, and there are probably dozens of similar paper-piecing patterns available online, but I had trouble finding any that were small enough for what I wanted to do, which is why I ended up creating one myself.

Normally, with a New York Beauty block, you would paper piece the entire thing—the rays, the background, and the center. But I wanted to fussy cut the centers out of a print from Tula Pink’s Parisville collection. Since NY Beauty blocks are pieced in quarters, that wasn’t going to work. So I appliqued the centers onto the completed blocks instead. Hey, it works for dresdens, right? I think it was a good solution.

I was a little stumped with the quilting, but eventually decided I didn’t want to put too much quilting on the New York Beauty blocks themselves. As you can see, I’ve got some busy fabrics going on in there, and the overall look is very ornate. I thought quilting over the top of that might just be a little too much. So instead I just did echo quilting around the outer circles.

I really love how it turned out and I hope my partner will like it too! It’s ready to be shipped and will hopefully be en route, along with a few little extras, by the end of the day.


WIP Wednesday #16

Hey, did I really start this linky 16 weeks ago? Time flies when your WIP list is in the double digits, I guess.

New projects:

Project Selvage
Oh, how I wish I could share with you what I’m working on for this! I’m kind of in love with the inspiration for my “line.” So far, I’m just sketching away, happy to be getting it on paper. Much more to come on this one.

Ongoing projects:

DQS 10
So I have an actual plan now for my swap quilt. Plans are good. Especially when the project in question needs to be done only two weeks from now. Now I just have to, you know, execute the plan. A big thank-you goes to Becky, whose Sunrise Star Pillow was the inspiration for using fussy-cut Parisville in the center of this block.

Operation Stash Reorganization
Made some pretty good progress here. Everything fat-quarter size and up is now on mini-bolts and neatly shelved. Just looking at it makes me happy. But the rest of my sewing room? Not so much. The smaller scraps are everywhere. I hope to have those organized by next week.

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley

Completed quilts awaiting binding:
Modern Meadow

On hold for now:
Central Park jelly roll quilt
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

This week’s stats:
New projects – 1
Completed projects – 0
Currently in progress – 11 (up one from last week)

So, where are you at this week? Link up and show the world! Don’t forget: Link back here, and comment, comment, comment.


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Lattice Work

I’m finally making some progress on my Urban Lattice Quilt-Along quilt!

Last week I wasn’t sure if I would like it. I changed the proportions of the original block design, so I had no idea how it would turn out.

But this week? Completely. Loving. This quilt.

Loving the fairy tale theme of the Far Far Away 2 prints. Loving the muted colors. (I eliminated a few of the deeper FFA prints.) Loving the Kona Stone I chose for the lattice strips. I think it’s all absolutely perfect for the mother and baby I had in mind when designing it.

I made the modifications to Cara’s block design because I wanted to really play up the FFA prints. So these blocks will be 8″ square finished, instead of 12″. The lattice is 0.75″ wide instead of 1″, and the cream background strips are 1.25″ finished.

And while I can understand why Cara paper-pieced this quilt the way she did (with reference lines instead of sewing lines), I did a few blocks that way and wasn’t thrilled with the results. My presser foot was somehow flipping up the edge of the fabric a little, and it was screwing me up. (Did this happen to anybody else?) So my seams were a little wavy instead of nice and straight. It drove me crazy. After some experimentation, I decided to paper-piece it the traditional way instead, sewing directly onto the lines.

This meant I had to adjust the placement of the lines to where I wanted the seams to be. It also meant I needed to glue the lattice pieces to the unmarked side of the paper. As a result, I marked my lines on the printed side of the paper, so the printing wouldn’t show through where bits of the paper remained stuck to the fabric. Marking on the printed side wasn’t ideal, but I do like Cara’s idea of using scrapbook paper, since it’s already square. Plus, I had a book of 8″ scrapbook paper on hand that I hadn’t touched in five years, so might as well put it to use!

After marking the printed side and gluing the lattice piece to the opposite unprinted side, I flipped the whole thing over to sew directly onto the lines. There’s something satisfyingly assured and concrete about sewing on the lines—you know it’s going to be pretty darn accurate, regardless of how wonky your cutting was. I like that about this method!

Of course, the drawback is that this method works best when you cut your fabric a bit larger than what you actually need. So there is substantially more waste than with Cara’s method. I’m kind of anal, so I’ll take the accuracy, even if it means wasting some fabric. But that’s just me. : )

I’ve done 12 blocks, so I have 30 more to go. Can’t wait to finish this one up—I’m thinking it’s going to be a tough one to give away!

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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!