Happy New Year 2011

I love the New Year – it’s wonderful to feel that opportunity for a fresh beginning. SewCalGal wrote about her UFO’s and linked to year long UFO project proposed by Judy Laquidara over at Patchwork Times. It was not hard for me to find 12 projects to list. Many of them are quilt tops that are finished, but just need to be quilted. What makes it doubly hard for me is that I not only have my own UFOs, but I also have my Mom’s UFOs that were shelved when she had her stroke three years ago. She wants them finished, and I have been trying to help. So, here’s my list of UFOs, some of which are my Mom’s:

1. I made a quilt like this which won a ribbon in the 2007 guild show. I gave that quilt to my Mom, so wanted to make one for myself. The blocks are finished, but the quilt still needs to be assembled.

Pine Trees and Log Cabins

2. This quilt needs to be quilted. I know how I want to quilt it, but never load it because I know it will take at least two weeks to complete the quilting.

Sunbonnet Sue

3. This is another quilting project. I want to do custom on this and the outlining and background fills will take a lot of time.

Thirties Quilting Project

4. This project and number 5 are quilts for my grandsons. These too, are completed tops that needs to be quilted. Again, I want to do custom quilting on them so have not carved out enough time on the frame for each of them.

Batik Stars I

5. Batik Stars 2

Batik Stars II

6. Christmas Tree Skirt

Started this a couple of weeks ago and finished the embroidery, but not the quilting.

Christmas Tree Skirt

7. Half Fast Log Cabin – these blocks were originally a Greek key and were split with this beautiful batik. It still needs borders and quilting.

Half Fast Log Cabin

8. These squares are left over fabric from two other quilts. I thought this would make a beautiful attic windows quilt.

Attic Windows

9. This is a BOM that mother started before she had her stroke in 2007. It needs sashing, borders, and quilting.

Mother's BOM

10. This is another of Mother’s projects with the blocks completed before she had her stroke.

Mother's crazy patch blocks

11. Krazy Kats wall hanging.

Krazy Kats

12. Alphabet panel for baby quilt. I had completed shadow trapunto on the first two letters, but am not sure I will keep it. I am thinking I will take the shadow trapunto basting out and start over.

Alphabet panel for baby quilt
 
 

Five Days Until Christmas and an Anniversary

Thirty-five years ago today, I was getting married. Where did the years go? They went into two wonderful children and the wonderful men they married and who take such good care of them and four spectacular grandchildren. They also went into a wonderful career in Nutrition and Clinical Research and the best staff one could ever have. We have had lots of ups and downs, but somehow stuck together through it all. We were married while my husband was beginning his doctoral program. Our children were born when he was a post-doc. And now, we’re both retired–a little early but just in time to enjoy life a little bit.

Today, I have to take my car to be repaired and inspected. Over all these years we have never had but one car because we live in Chapel Hill and have a wonderful free public bus system. Our buses are Carolina blue, of course. We can go anywhere anytime for free–and that sure beats paying car insurance. And if there is a location in town that the bus doesn’t go, there is a service that takes you there for $1.50. If you have a disability, we have EZ Rider service which takes you door to door in a handicap equipped van. But not having my car for a day means no driving to Durham for shopping!

Enough of that and back to quilting. Here’s what I finished this weekend. I cut these myself, but if you have an Accuquilt Studio die cutting system, there is a die exactly this size for stockings (Die No. 50745). These were made using a red Fossil Fern fabric with Sulky Rayon thread for the snowflake embroidery. I embroidered these through a thin batting. After making two of them that were quilted on front and back, I decided only the front needed batting, so the back is just a layer of the red fabric. I lined them with unbleached muslin. The names are embroidered onto Kona cotton. I think I’m going to love my embroidery machine.

Christmas Stockings
 
 

Are you ready for Christmas?

I was just going through my Google Reader blogs and thought I’d pass on a few small projects and fun things that you can still make for gifts – if you haven’t finished yet. Over at AURIFIL BUZZ there’s a  Little Red Reindeer Pillow. The EQ Blog has a nice post about a wonderful free download pattern for a table runner at the EQ Blog by Linda Poole. The table runner is Your Heart’s Desire “Your Heart’s Desire” in American Quilter!and is really gorgeous. Vicki Welsh has some wonderful projects including some very quick to make placemats over at Field Trips in Fiber. If you’re really ambitious, you could make some felted wool ornaments — or save this one for next year with a tutorial by Judy Coates Perez over at Painted Threads. SewCalGal has some wonderful Machine Embroidery for tea towels. This looks like a great project and so quick to do.

And if it’s something from your kitchen you’d like to make, Leah Day has some wonderful Cajun Crunch over at 365 days of free motion quilting.

Enjoy your day – and stay warm! 
 

Simple and Elegant – from scraps

You know how many smaller pieces of fabric you have left over. With the Accuquilt GO, I cut them into the largest possible denominator and follow advice from Bonnie Hunter over at Quiltville.com for sorting. This is helpful for keeping my Mom supplied with pieces to stitch. It’s nice because Mother can piece a quilt in a day or two. The last set of nickels I sent were supposed to have the strips sewed to two sides like attic windows. The message got crossed, and she sewed the short strips to opposite sides. I am going to cut more strips so she can frame the nickels with the fabric and then set it into sashing for this quilt. I think it will look very nice when it’s done. She’ll have it done in a flash, but I’m quite sure that I can’t quilt it before Christmas. What would I do without my Accuquilt GO to cut things like this. It saves me so much time. I can just cut the strips and put them in a Priority Mail envelope and off they go.

On another note, I just came back from a visit with her. I gave her Christmas gift early because I thought she would enjoy. She loves to read, but is sometimes hard pressed to find large print books. It seemed to me that an Amazon Kindle would be perfect. While she often has had trouble using a computer mouse, she had no trouble at all figuring out what to do with the buttons on the Kindle. The ability to adjust the size of the print is wonderful for her.

Here’s my EQ7 draft of the quilt she’s working on:

Mother's Color Blocks
 
 

Ohhhhh, the weather outside is frightful!

It is sooooooooo cold here! I can’t remember ever having snow on the ground for almost a week. It rained it all away on Sunday, but it was so cold last week that the snow from the weekend stayed around until the rain. And this morning it’s 29 degrees F. In North Carolina we’re more used to snow one day and 70 degrees (or at least 50 degrees) the next.

I worked all day at the Womancraft Fine Handcrafted Gifts and Gallery coop on Saturday. I am a juried member there and am really enjoying being in the gallery and fellowship with other artists. I finished a quilt early Saturday morning and hung it there on Saturday. Here’s a photo. It is embroidery of snowmen and snowflakes mixed with 9-patch blocks. I recently bought a very basic embroidery machine– doesn’t it look nice. You’ve seen these 9-patch blocks before on the light blue pinwheel quilt. They make a great setting when used with sashing–and my Accuquilt GO will cut all the sashing and blocks in a flash–more details below.

The quilting was done with Glide thread on the top and a cotton magna-bobbin on the bottom – all from Fil-Tec. The Glide thread is shiny and pretty. I used Isacord thread for the embroidery. Another note – the red is really red, not the deep burgundy you see on the screen.

Snow Quilt
Detail of Snow Quilt

I had planned to take photos of how I do this, but the quilt went together so easily, that the blocks were made before I knew it. I think you can see the block and sashing detail in the image above. The 9-patch block and sashing are all made using the 2-1/2 inch strip die. I cut strips of the two solid fabrics. Remember that I always cut my strips lengthwise now that I use the Accuquilt GO for cutting. It makes a huge difference in the way strip piecing goes together and having nice square blocks. The blocks are all 6-1/2 inches unfinished (6 inches finished), and the sashing is the same width as the strips for the blocks. The cornerstones on the sashing is what gives me the nice Single Irish chain look. Here’s a diagram from EQ7 which shows the layout and the sashing.

Diagram of Snowmen quilt from EQ7
 
 

Back to Normal and some photos

The past three days have seen very limited service from the hosting server due to an outside hacker attack. It was almost impossible to get to the blog, much less write anything. But late yesterday afternoon everything was set right again. It is so wonderful to be able to write again. Warm Fuzzy Circles is quilted and bound and then machine washed to fuzz up the circles. Now I love it. It feels like Goldilocks – “it’s just right”.

There are a couple of wonderful projects going on over at SewCalGal’s blog. I love the Boob project and Warm Fuzzy circles reminds me of the Boob project. What a great way to use some of these leftover blocks. I also love the Benni Harper EQ lessons. Drop on over and see what you think.

Quilting often makes the quilt and was very true in this case. The dimension that quilting gives makes a quilt top come alive. Here are some photos – before and after quilting.

Quilt Top before quilting
Closeup Warm Fuzzy Circles
Close-up of Quilted Warm Fuzzy

Warm Fuzzy Circles Quilted and Machine Washed
 
 

Warm Fuzzy Circles Commentary

If you experience slow connections today, it is because the server has been attacked and every connection has to be filtered to let the good ones in. Hopefully everything will be up and back to normal speed soon. I had to go through http://b-quilts.com to get into the blog. I’ll upload photos when the server is back to normal.

I finished warm fuzzy circles, but am still not sure I like it. This is the reason: to my eye, there is too much contrast between the circles and the background. The overall design feels scattered to me, and there’s no place for my eye to settle/focus. I added a bright border that included the colors inside the blocks with a goal of framing the blocks and brining it all together. It’s a little better, but still leaves me feeling not quite connected. Quilting always helps, and I’m sure that washing it will make it even better because that will give it even more dimension than the quilting. My real sense is that the background would be better in a more beige or peach color that would tone down the brights rather than contrast so much with them.

Everything we do is a lesson. Someone once said to me that nothing is a mistake unless we fail to learn from it. Lesson learned!

The amazing thing about this whole quilt is how quickly I was able to get it together because of the Accuquilt GO! Cutting the circles and background squares took almost no time. And cutting the sashing was a breeze too. Every time I do something like this, I am amazed at what a wonderful tool this die cutter is. 
 

Warm Fuzzy Circles

I had inspiration this weekend, and it was so much fun. Seems I’ve been running on empty for awhile and was beginning to wonder when my mojo would be back. Well, I was reading Cecilia’s blog and saw this quilt made of raw edge circles that she had quilted–and inspiration struck! Now, I’m sure someone else has done this with the Accuquilt dies–but I haven’t seen or heard it, so here it is.

It occurred to me that the Circle Die would be great for making the circles. And then I checked and found that the 6 1/2 inch square die was a great foundation. So this is what I did.

I cut the two larger circles (3 inch and 5 inch) from the GO! Circle 2″ 3″ 5″ (55012) die from scraps. In choosing fabrics my only criteria for this one was that the scraps be bright colors –red, blue, yellow, green, purple. I placed fabric over the two larger circles and started cutting.

I cut foundations from the GO! Square-6 1/2 inch (55000) die. After some experimentation and some play in EQ7, I realized that the best bet would be to have a light foundation for all blocks. I tried alternating light and dark backgrounds or using light and dark as a four patch background, but it wasn’t as pleasing to my eye as having all lights for all of the backgrounds.

cut circles

First, I folded the circle in half and cut a half to one inch slash in the middle of the big circle. Then, I started sewing. The small circle was laid on a larger circle and stitched fairly fast around the edge. I stitched about 1/8-1/4 inch in from the edge using a shorter stitch than usual. Having stitched circles before I knew that speed and short stitch were the secrets to getting all the way around without stopping. At the end I stitched over the first couple of starting stitches.

stitch small circle to large

The next step was to sew the circles to the background squares. This time, I folded the square in half and cut a slash in the middle of the square. The circle piece was laid onto the background and the larger circle was stitched again just as the smaller circle was stitched.

stitch large circle to background

The next step was lap work to trim out the extra fabric behind the circles. I did that while I watched UNC finally win a basketball game. Of course, you don’t have to cut the slash in the back of the large circle and the background square and you could leave all three layers together, but it would get messy when you cut them apart into four pieces.

slash cut into back for trimming
back of block after trimming

Then the squares were cut into four pieces. This could be done with a rotary cutter, but since I was watching basketball, I decided to use my large scissors. I folded each square in half and cut down the middle. Then I folded the halves in half and cut down the middle. This gave me four squares for each block.

block cut into four pieces

It was then a “toss-up” to stitch the blocks back together. Once they’re stitched, they need to be “squared” up to the same size. Mine worked well trimmed to 5- 1/2 inches for a finished 5 inch square. I decided to add light sashing to float the circles on a light background.

block before trimming to size

Tomorrow I’ll show you the finished top. 
 

Accuquilt Videos from Quilt Possible

Today I want to give a shout out to Ebony Love over at Love Bug Studios. She is doing a video a day during December showing tips and new ways to use your Accuquilt cutter. You can find her videos on her QuiltPossible website. Yesterday she showed how to use the holiday die to make gift tags. Can’t wait to see how many more new things she tells us about in December.

I finished –finally–the baby quilts for my brother’s grandchildren. The binding was finished yesterday and today I will take photos and get them in the mail. Will try to get some photos added here later today. 
 

Block 13 – Double Monkey Wrench aka Hole in the Barn Door

Finally, I have added another block to our set. This is one of my favorites and in a 12 inch block, the center square is the perfect place to showcase a beautiful fabric, embroidery, or photo transfer. The possibilities are endless: use the same fabric for the colored triangles and rectangles or use a different color for the triangles for a completely different look. It’s all about your choice of fabrics. Wouldn’t some Christmas embroidery be pretty in the center square?

In this block there are two colors of each piece except the center square. It’s a really fun, but easy block to make. Click on the quilt block picture below for an Adobe pdf file of the instructions.

13.Double Monkey Wrench aka Hole in the Barn Door