Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waiting for Santa!

Santa will be here before we know it and in the wink of an eye it will be 2017!  

Happy to see these stockings hanging that I made last year for our son Josh and his family!

Christmas really snuck up on me this year.  Actually, winter snuck up on me to be more accurate.  Wasn't it just October?  Where in the world did Autumn go?  All I know is my husband put up our tree after we got back home from our Thanksgiving trip to see the kids and grands in NC, and when he asked where the tree skirt was I realized I STILL had not quilted the one I made!!!

It's been sitting on the To Be Quilted shelf for much longer than I am willing to admit to here on the blog for God and all of you to hear LOL!!!   Well, when I was telling a friend about it she said, "Just put it down anyway".... so I did!!!

It looks really nice even as a top, so I know we are going to love it when it is quilted.  If I ever manage to get it quilted that is :*)

Which brings me to the point of my post today.  I actually did an inventory to see how many Christmas projects I have in some stage of being constructed... and if I count the projects that could be considered "winter" rather than just Christmas, there are more than a dozen!  Some of them long-time UFO's that are just crying out to be finished!

 As you know if you are a regular reader of my blog, my Music City Quilt Guild hosts a UFO Challenge each year, which has been tremendously helpful in getting some of my UFO's off the shelf and decorating our lives as FO's.  The next two photos are Christmas projects that I finished this year because of that UFO challenge....

So I've decided to make my own secondary Christmas UFO challenge where I will also work on one Christmas UFO each month, hopefully to completion.

For January, I plan to get an entire top pieced from start to finish, so I decided to get a head start and began several days ago!  It starts with the blocks from this panel....

It is from a fabric line called I Believe in Santa designed by Nancy Halvorsen somewhere circa 2012-ish.  The local quilt shops in our area offered a Shop Hop where each store offered a kit with instructions and fabric strips to make one sampler block for $6, and most of them had the accompanying panel and fabrics available for purchase as well.  If you visited each store on the Hop, you would end up with 12 blocks, enough to make your own sampler quilt.  Each store displayed their sampler quilt finished a different way and you could purchase their finishing kit if you liked, or just buy enough fabric to do it your own way.  Or, you could just keep the cute little kits in a bag together forever and ever and never do anything with them - which is apparently what I decided to do LOL!!!

Miraculously, I still have the panel and all twelve of the kits, and a good deal of the additional fabrics as well, although a few have been used in other projects over the years - those stockings in the first picture for example!

In order to take this from nothing to completed in a month, I will have to be pretty aggressive in how I attack it!  I've decided that I need to do one sampler block every day that I don't have anything scheduled outside the house.  If I'm at home, I make a block - period - no exceptions!  These are now done ....

Block #1 -- Finished!!!
Block #2 -- Finished!!!

Block #3 -- Finished!!!

These are not terribly difficult blocks.  One of the reasons they've sat undone for so long is that they were kitted up to use Thangles for the half-square triangles - and I HATE Thangles!!!  Yes, I know "hate" is a strong word - my grandson calls it a dirty word - but it's the only word that fits!

I can still remember the day at Guild that my friend Lavana shared with me that I could use the Easy Angle ruler to cut those half-square triangles and bypass the Thangles altogether - WIN!!!  I've used this ruler ever since and have loved it.  

Our Scrap Swap Bee group at Guild has been using these Star Singles to ensure that all their swapped blocks by different quilters are all the right size, and they swear by them.  So I decided to pick up some at a good price during one of the Black Friday sales and I hope to try them out soon.  It's always fun to be reminded that this old dog can learn new tricks LOL!!!  I'll let you know how they work out for me.

It has been easier than I thought it would be to get these 3 blocks done, and another one is sitting on my sewing table now, cut and ready to stitch up.  Even though tomorrow is Christmas, I'm holding to my commitment and will stitch it up before the day is done.  It feels good to have a plan and feel comfortable that it can be worked without too much difficulty.  In the past, whenever I found myself not accomplishing much, it was usually because I didn't have a plan in place or goals set.  I have no doubt that there will be a month or two when I don't meet that goal.  I mean, life happens to us all, right?  But I will still end up with more finishes than I would have without a goal at all.  And of course I'm counting on all of you to be here, encouraging me along!  If anyone would like to join me in my Challenge, drop me a note to let me know and I might consider doing a linky party :*)

Rocky has been a great help, but I'm a little worried that he won't be as available to Snoopervise this year.  He heard that Rudolph is retiring next year, so he has been very busy training for his audition with Santa to become Chief Sleigh Guide starting next year...

there's just no limit to this cat's talents!!!

Merry Christmas, my friends!!!
I value each and every one of you and
look forward to making beautiful quilts together in 2017!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Happily Productive!

It's so nice when I am able to get almost everything on my To-Do list accomplished in any given week, but especially this week given that we are so close to Christmas!  I finished up several hand-made Christmas gifts this week and wrapped them up, ready to ship off to my loved ones!

And I am happy to report that my Clue #4 tri-rec units are completed for Bonnie's En Provence Mystery Quilt (EPMQ)!

And I did them right the first time LOL!!!  Actually, I really enjoyed stitching up these units.  Because we had just finished making them for Clue #2, my mind was already in tri-recs mode and I was able to crank them out with no problems.  And what joy to work with these rich purples!!!!

I'm now caught up on all the EPMQ clues so far, as you can see from my completed Clue #3 dark/light purple 4-patches shown in the above picture.  Bear in mind again that I am only doing half the units Bonnie calls for because I am just planning to make a lap-size quilt - unless I end up loving it of course, in which case I have plenty of fabric to make a bigger quilt :*)

Since the 4-patches were so scrappy this time, I only cut one strip off of each of my purples, so it didn't make sense to use my Sizzix cutter for the strips.

However, I did use it to cross-cut the sections for the 4 patches -

How nice to be able to have all of them cut with one simple turn of the handle!  I love turning my 4-patches over so I can admire the cute little swirls on the back (smiles!)

I'll be linking up with my fellow mystery quilters over at Bonnie's Monday Linky Party - click HERE to come over and see all the En Provence loveliness!

And for those of you who are still hanging around, I bet you are hoping for a picture of Rocky - right?  Well, here is Mr. Snoopervisor hard at work making sure I get that perfect 1/4" seam on the strips for the 4-patches...

I think he really likes the vibration of the machine, because he only gets up there when I am actually sewing.  After all that hard work, he decided to take a well-deserved nap - I spied two adorable little sets of kitty toes and an impressively furry tail sticking out from under my foyer quilt rack...

 I think he likes to take naps under there because the heat vent under the quilts makes it toasty warm :*)  He's actually inside the quilt there - that cat sure does love him a quilt!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

It Was Sew Much Fun, But ....

This morning, I dove straight in and churned out my Clue #2 units for Bonnie's En Provence mystery - DONE!!!

However, this was not my first rodeo with Clue #2! .....


When I went to bed last night, I was so happy because I had finished up half of the units I needed and was excited about finishing them up today.  So you can imagine my dismay when saw friend Kevin's  Instagram (@photokevin74) post first thing this morning showing his beautiful little finished units - which had the colors reversed (I thought!).  I even commented that he was really switching things up this year.  Then I got to thinking - would he really switch it up that much?  Was it possible.....  Headed off to check Bonnie's posted clue again, and sure enough!

I had reversed my fabrics!!!

Bonnie saw my "Oh Crap!!!" comment on Kevin's post and reassured me, saying maybe I could use them on the back or for a second border.  She's such a sweetheart - don't you just love her???

Today's units went a little more quickly since I had already answered all the questions - how many strips to cut, what method to use, etc.  I didn't get an order into Bonnie for her amazing new ruler early enough, so I decided to use my Marti Michell Set C tri recs templates since they cut dog ears and everything, leaving virtually no guesswork at all - the large triangle is shown here from yesterday, cutting my incorrect units ....

There are few things that make me happier than some time spent mindlessly chain piecing and either watching a show or listening to a good book!  Right now I am listening to the 3rd in the Gamache series by Louise Penny.  If you love mysteries you have to check her out by the way - but it is important that you listen from the beginning!

See my little Leader/Ender there?  (One of the things I love about using L/Es is that I can always find the beginning of my chain hehehe :*)  I had some leftover pieces from another project this past summer and just couldn't toss them!

That pink is one of my favorite fabrics - and these little leftovers were all I had left of it.  So I cut the largest pieces I could to make some tiny 4-patches.

Heaven knows what I'll do with them, but I have no doubt the perfect use will hit me out of the blue one day, and I'll be glad I saved them :*)

And what did my little Snoopervisor do while I toiled away today?  Well, most of the morning, he did this....

Poor little fellow has not felt well since we came home from our Thanksgiving travels - we think he's reacting to the flea meds we had to give him.  He had us pretty concerned there for a few days, but he's beginning to perk up and eat again without throwing up - a good thing, right?

Last night, he was on duty and not missing a thing sitting in his current favorite spot for Snoopervision .....

While I was stitching this morning, My Guy put up the Christmas tree and got down all the ornaments & decorations, so I will be doing my Mrs. Claus thing the rest of the afternoon.  Then tonight, he and I will waste 3 hours watching the Carolina Panthers do their thing (whatever that is - it's certainly not football) LOL!!!  And I'll be finishing up the stitching on this Folk Art Album block....

I still need to finish the white and then the yellow on the daisies ...

.... and then the special little touch will be stitching this adorable little bee!!!

I completed the stitching on this block last week....

That leaves me with two blocks left in this project, and I'll be ready to make the sawtooth sashing and assemble the center.  Woohoo!!!!!

I still have the last one to prep for applique, but this one is already fused down and ready for stitching next.  It may be my favorite of these blocks :*)

Linking up with Bonnie's En Provence linky Monday and Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching.

Hugs & Blessings!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

4-Patch Heaven!

It is so much fun getting back into the start of another Bonnie Hunter mystery!

Quiltville's Quips & Snips

Our first Clue is all about neutral 4-patches, and I surprised myself a little by deciding to go with only two fabrics for my neutrals...

The Kona Bay on the bottom is a lovely batik

After all, you all know me well enough by now to know that I LOVE scrappy, right?   My problem with this project was that I didn't want to use black/white or gray neutrals with these colors....

.... and I didn't have enough beige/tan fabrics to really do scrappy justice.  Since the rest of the units will all be super scrappy, I think the low-key neutral might help pull it all together.  We'll see....

Here are my finished 4-patches!  Pretty boring, right?  Not much to them, I have to admit!  As I said in an earlier post, I'm only making half of the number Bonnie says to make, and I ended up with a few extra.

And of course I have to show off all the nice little center spins on the back...

Four-patches are really fun to make and go very quickly.  Bonnie is starting us off easy :*}  Of course I used my Sizzix cutter, using a ruler to line up for the subcuts to keep them square....

Snoopervisor Rocky had to inspect the machinery to make sure that it was both safe for me to operate and comfy for him to nap upon....

It seems there is no stage of the quilting process that does not fascinate him, and no surface upon which he cannot recline while he Snoopervises!  This was his first experience with the cutter, and he thinks it is great fun!  As for me, I am beginning to believe there is no space in this studio where I am safe from the danger of cutting off his tail!!!

Uh-oh!  I think he's zeroed in on a problem with the lighting!!!

A new tool I used for these units that made them go even more quickly was this Ideal Seam Guide ...

The purple Gauge at the top has holes for you to put the needle down at the size seam allowance desired (it even includes a scant 1/4").  Once that is in position, you just lay the Guide next to it, and the sticky surface on the bottom adheres it to your table.  It is not permanent and will pick up fairly easily with a little tug, and is reusable.  With this little toy, I was able to pretty much just guide the little units toward the needle while reading War and Peace and they came out perfect!

My goodness - look at the dust on my shank!!!!

This is a wonderful tool especially for sewing up those long strips!  I have tried several little gauges and guides to give me that perfect 1/4" seam, but this one gives me the most solid edge for lining up the fabric as it feeds into the machine, as well as a nice long edge.  This one is 5" - all I need for my machine - but you can get them in 10" or even 15" I think.  So far, I'm giving it 5 stars.

My health continued to improve today and I felt a lot more like puttering in the Studio.  Tomorrow I plan to stitch on a couple of bindings and then finish up the last block of a BOM I'm doing for one of my guilds.  Hope you have something fun planned too!

I'm linking up my little 4-patches with Bonnie's linky party HERE - you can see what others have linked up if you hop on over there!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Finally - a Finish!

I hope all of my US friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We were blessed to once again travel to North Carolina to spend a few days with our loved ones.  It was a lovely visit, even though both of us brought home a nasty sore throat and head cold!

I took my latest finish with us ....

finally finished our youngest granddaughter's baby quilt.  Jacqueline is now 1-1/2 years old and I had not even started it, so needless to say I had been feeling a lot of pressure to spend any spare time I had on making that darling quilt happen so I could give it to her on our trip to see them at Thanksgiving!

I did the shopping last spring.  Pattern:  Cellophane Flowers by Abbey Lane Quilts.  The quilt I made for Jacqueline's big sister, Genevieve, has her name on it, and I thought J's name would be cute in the center of this design.

Fabrics:  Focus fabric is Canyon by Kate Spain - I just love those adorable birds in the selvedge!!!!

I chose this fabric because my daughter-in-law had shown me some of the items she planned to use to decorate the nursery, and they had these colors in them.  Now I'm just hoping she hasn't already changed the nursery already several times LOL!!!

For the background, I decided to simplify by using only one fabric instead of the scrappy style used in the pattern.  I went with one of my current favorite fabric lines - Grunge!  Can you see below how the fabric carries some of that turquoise?  It really couldn't be a more perfect match!

And I knew I needed to use Lara Buccella's method of Crafted Applique for the flowers and her name in the center.

I wanted nice crisp raw edges, no fraying for this special little girl's quilt!

And just in case you were wondering - Yes, I was under strict Snoopervision during the making of this quilt!

Rocky believes in being a "paws-on" kind of Snoopervisor!!!

By using the Crafted Applique technique, I didn't have to use a blanket stitch to attach the applique shapes.  Simple straight-line stitching was all that was needed - saving tons of time and work!

To give you an idea of how hard I worked to get this done for Thanksgiving, I finished up tying off all the loose ends in the car while on the way to Carolina!  You can see here that I used the same flower shapes for the quilting designs - it worked perfectly, but there were a lot of stops and starts :*)

Unfortunately, events conspired against us and we were not able to see Jacqueline and her family, so I wasn't able to give her the quilt personally.  Yes, we were terribly disappointed!  But we've made plans to make a special trip to visit them in early spring when the girls have their birthdays.  For now, we'll just have to box up the quilt and ship it to her this week.  I've never shipped a quilt, and I have to say I'm a real Nervous Nelly about it, but it just doesn't make sense for me to keep it here when it is so long overdue!

This little guy was pretty unhappy about the 8 hours of traveling (could he look any more pitiful???)  We have to give him meds to keep him from crying all the way down the road.

.... but he didn't waste any time at all convincing his Grandma that he was an abused kitty and in desperate need of love and attention!

Ahhhhh - Nirvana!!!!!

My mom was his first love, and he is always happy when he can see her and hop in her lap for some loving!

He also thoroughly enjoyed taking his Snoopervisor duties to a new level when it came time for the all-important Thanksgiving dinner preparations.

While at Grandma's he found a little vanity chair that sat in our bedroom window where he could look out and watch the squirrels play, and he quickly made that his happy place during our visit.  So mom gifted him with the little chair, and he is now happily napping quite a lot in it here.  He has to sit up to see out our window, but he doesn't seem to mind =^..^=

Later today, I'll join my Slow Sunday Stitching friends over at Kathy's Quilts and finish up the handwork on this Folk Art Album block while watching the Panthers pretend they are playing professional football.

And then I will be busy cutting up strips so I can start on Bonnie Hunter's newest Mystery Quilt, En Provence!  I only have 221 four-patches to make before tomorrow morning - no pressure right?!?  Haha - that won't happen, but I do want to make a few and get started before the next clue comes out tomorrow morning.

Are any of you playing along?  I've decided to use celery greens instead of the yellow, and only two neutrals, but otherwise I'm pretty much keeping to BH's color scheme.


Thanks again for your patience with me in not blogging for so long!  I had no idea when I popped up that quick post back on September 6 that it would be my last for a couple of months!  To be perfectly honest, I simply lost my blogging mojo for a while.  [Insert whining music here]  It was as though I suddenly hit a brick wall and knocked myself out!  Without warning, I found myself overwhelmed with deadlines, commitments, and a few nagging health issues, a combination which left me feeling exhausted and drained of all mental and creative energy.

Fast forward to today, and I am happy to say that I am finally feeling myself relax and unfurl a bit - getting Jacqueline's quilt finished was a major monkey off my back!  I have to admit that it has been a rather refreshing break, but I'm looking forward to sharing some new things with you soon.  I just want to send my sincerest thanks to all of you who sent messages saying you missed me - I feel very blessed to have so many wonderful friends!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

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