Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pre-Holiday Highlights

I hope everyone's taking some time to step away from their epic holiday to do lists and enjoy time with friends and families!

Here are a few holiday wins we've had so far...

A macaroni and cheese bar for dinner with the in-laws. I set up miniature bowls of caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, bacon, and goat cheese, and then I used this macaroni and cheese recipe. As a sidenote, I cooked in the bacon in the oven, and I still can't get over how easy it is, compared to the stovetop.

This is more Mom's win than mine, but she bought this adorable gift wrap from World Market, and I'm pretty much obsessed with it. I'm planning to hit the after-Christmas sales to see if there's any left.

A super-easy tutorial from Fig Tree on embellishing flour sack towels, which can also be found at World Market, by the way.

Ashlee's quick reversible napkins tutorial. I kid you not, these napkins are perfect for pretty much every occasion - hostess gifts, holiday gifts, housewarming gifts, the list goes on. They never fail to disappoint.

A Very Merry Christmas to Everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making My Lists

I finally sat down yesterday and got a bit organized for the holidays. It's about time, eh?

I now have multiple spreadsheets - one to keep track of the gifts and wrapping supplies I need to buy, wrap, and make; another to keep track of any baking/large-scale cooking that needs to happen in the next 2 weeks; and finally, another one to keep track of what I'm looking for at the after-Christmas sales. I've also started divvying up all the various tasks into my calendar to make sure that everything is ordered and shipped in time for the holidays. We'll see how things go. I already feel better, just having captured everything in a neat and tidy grid.


As far as craftiness goes, I'm still chugging along on the pebble quilting on my HST quilt for about 15-20 minutes each night. I'm well over halfway through, so there's a high likelihood I'll be binding it soon.

To do clutter 

Despite the fact that I have a stack of quilt tops and pieced battings collecting dust in the corner, I'm in a very zen place with this project right now.

ANOTHER spreadsheet I've been curating lately is my bucket list for next year's Jelly Roll Challenge here at Crooked Seams. One jelly roll/strippy quilt per month? I'm not quite sure what I was thinking, but I've publicly committed to it, so I'll muddle through and do my best to keep up!

If you're interested in playing along, here's the deal: There's no formal enrollment process, I have no fancy schmancy sponsors, and I'm not planning to keep tabs on whether folks participate every single month. I'll just slap some kind of linky software to the bottom of my blog post each month, and anyone can link up with a strippy project they've finished over the past month for a chance to win something fun that I scrounge up out of a quilt shop clearance bin somewhere. I'm planning to keep this as unstructured as my ISTJ self will allow.

Here are a few quilts I'm eyeing for inspiration...

                                                               Source: via Megan on Pinterest

                                                                             Source: via Megan on Pinterest

                                                                        Source: via Megan on Pinterest

That should keep me out of trouble for the first few months of the year, don't you think? Is anyone else already contemplating 2012 projects?

Here's what we're planning to eat this week, if you're here for the food...
Check out today's Menu Plan Monday post for other (non-vegetarian menus).

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No Naked Christmas Trees Here

That's right, folks. I've finished a skirt for our tree, so it won't be quite so bare beneath it this year.


For the blocks, I used my Double Diamond 4-Patch Tutorial and 24 charm squares from a 12 Days of Christmas charm pack I've been hoarding saving for the right project. The background is Kona Snow scraps leftover from various projects. For the basic setting/design, I followed Tracey's tree skirt tutorial on Moda Bake Shop.


I had to keep telling myself that this project definitely did not need to be close to perfect, since it will be overshadowed by a tree in a dark corner of our family room, and then later covered by gifts. It's a good thing, too. The machine binding nearly drove me up the wall. Between the round opening for the tree trunk in the middle and the wide angles, I was pretty far outside my comfort zone. But I soldiered on. And you can't really tell, can you?


If you find yourself cursing stressing over binding odd angles, Heather Peterson has a couple of useful tutorials for binding both inside and outside angles. In particular, I read over the outside angle tutorial a few times to work up courage to before binding the skirt. 

I still have some charms left over from this project, so I'm thinking about making a couple of throw pillows for the couch. They'll even coordinate with the 12 Days of Christmas quilt I made last year. Even though I've never participated, I've been browsing the Pillow Talk Swap group on flickr to get some ideas. Inspiration overload much?


Vital Stats:
Started: November 2011
Finished: November 2011
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted, machine-bound
Fabrics used: Kona Snow, 12 Days of Christmas by Kate Spain for Moda

I'm linking up to the Sew Cal Gal Christmas show for this year. Be sure to stop by and check out other folks' Christmas quilts!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WiP Wednesday - Everyday I'm Bubblin'

The theme of my life the past few days has been machine quilting.

Last Wednesday night, when I should have been rolling out pie crust for Thanksgiving, I made the blocks for a Christmas tree skirt instead. By Friday, I had the top put together. So I gathered all my backing and basting supplies over the weekend, and then I hunkered down this week to baste and quilt it.

Tree skirt in progress

I thought about doing something flashy but then reminded myself that this quilt is going on the floor, underneath a tree with poor lighting, and it will soon be covered up by pine needles gifts. Flashy machine quilting would kind of be a bit of a waste on this project. So I opted for simple stippling instead.

Now all that's left is the binding, which might actually be the trickiest part, with all those odd angles and the round center (that I still need to cut).

A few weeks ago, I pulled out my half-square triangle quilt top I started quilting last month. I decided to fill in all the white space with bubble/pebble quilting. I knew full well that it takes forever to bubble quilt, but I'm tackling it in one or two 15-20 minutes sessions a day, and I'm slowly working my way through all the white space. Once I get into a groove, it's actually pretty relaxing to quilt this pattern.

Bubble/pebble quilting

So there you have it, the WiPs that have been consuming my sewing time for the past little bit. If you're curious to check my master WiP status report, here's a link to my nutty spreadsheet.

Be sure to see what everyone else has been working on this week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I Love the Bloggers' Quilt Festival

There are a few features, where the bloggers' quilt festival definitely has a leg up on in-person quilt shows...

1) You can go to the bloggers' quilt festival in your sweatpants. I mean, I guess you could do this with an in-person quilt show, too. But I try not to roll out of our driveway, unless I'm wearing bottoms that zip and/or button.
2) You don't get dirty looks from the white gloved show ladies when you attend the show with a corn dog in hand.
3) You can step away when inspiration overload hits and come back to the festival a few weeks later with fresh eyes and pick up right where you left off.

I'm a big fan of the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, obviously. Here are a few of my favorites from the most recent Fall Quilt Festival...

                                                                    Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I love that this quilt takes the humble, unassuming half-square triangle unit and morphs into something awesome!

                                                              Source: via Megan on Pinterest

All the negative space on this quilt creates a lovely effect. And the blocks really get to take center stage, since there are only six of them. Added to that, the crinkliness from the small-scale stippling embodies coziness.

                                                                  Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Everything about this quilt intimidates me: the curved piecing/applique, the way the white spokes perfectly alternate with the colored spokes in the adjacent wheels, and click over to the post to see some awesome quilting. Ker-plunk. That was the sound of me dropping this quilt into my bucket list. 

                                                                      Source: via Megan on Pinterest

This is one of those quilts that makes me wish I could pop a few creativity pills so I could come up with a fresh wonky design and layout like this. It's so whimsical and fun!

                                                                  Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Again, ker-plunk into the bucket list. This quilt is a great example of how versatile "traditional" patterns can be. Don't scoff at a traditional block just because you don't like the fabrics. 

Did you have any favorites? Are you an online quilt festival junkie? If so, then be sure to check out SewCalGal's Christmas Quilt Festival this week!

And just in case you're here for the food, here's what we're eating this week...

Be sure to check out this week's edition of Menu Plan Monday at OrgJunkie for more of this week's menus!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Drum Roll Please, the Finished NC State Quilt

A little over three years ago, the Husbatron asked me to marry him Shortly thereafter, he casually dropped hints that he might like a quilt that incorporated his love for NC State. I kind of ignored him/filed away that idea for future reference, since I was busy planning and executing quilts for my bridesmaids.

Stack o' quilts 2

Fast forward to a few years later. Since the traditional gift for the second wedding anniversary is COTTON, I decided our 2nd anniversary would be an ideal time to crank out his NCSU quilt. So we started talking about what exactly he had in mind. Since he comes from a design background, I knew he'd definitely have ideas about what the finished product should look like. His ultimate wish was for a quilt that formed a mosaic of the NC State logo. He was even kind enough to brave a trip to the local quilt shop with me and pick out a few reds that represent that perfect shade of NCSU red. I also grabbed a few red scraps from my stash, including a print that Mom used for one of my childhood dresses.


To make the pattern, I grabbed a copy of the NC State logo from Google Images, blew it up until it filled out an 8x11 sheet of paper nicely, put a sheet of graph paper over top of it, and loosely traced the logo onto the graph paper. If you're handy with photo-editing software, you could also pixellate a low-resolution image like whoa to get a grid of the image. But what can I say? I like to kick it old skool.


Each square on the graph paper represents a 2.5" (2" finished) square. Luckily, I was able to group the squares into a series of 9-patches to make for easy construction. Instead of piecing together long chains of 2.5" squares, I was able to piece together rows of 6.5" (6" finished) 9-patch blocks. If you decide to embark on a mosaic project, I highly recommend looking for a way to turn the pattern into a series of 4-patch or 9-patch blocks. I think it will save you from wanting to poke out your eye later.


Moving on, the background is Kona Ash, the white is Kona White, the black prints came from my stash, and like I mentioned earlier, the reds are a mix of prints from Wish Upon a Quilt and my stash.

After about 4-5 weeks of quilting and a furious session of machine binding that turned out better than I anticipated, I'm happy to say that the Husbatron sits under this quilt while he does a little bit of armchair quarterbacking for his team every weekend.


Vital Stats:
Started: August 2011
Finished: November 2011
Machine pieced, machine quilted, it's even machine-BOUND

Monday, November 21, 2011

W.I.P. Recap

First of all, I'm so thrilled that folks are excited to play along with some strippy fun next year! If you're on the fence because you don't have any official Moda jelly rolls, don't worry, you can still play! I'm planning to cut up some of my yardage to make my own strip sets for a few months in there.

Moving on to current events. Weekend before last, I got to go on my first ever quilt retreat with TMQG over in Wrightsville Beach, NC. It was awesome. I didn't finish anything, but I did make considerable progress on a few projects that I've been ignoring for the past few months.

Like this Martinique project. Last time you saw it, it looked like this.

the perpetual disaster 

They finished at different sizes, no matter how I sliced them. Bad quilt math makes me cry.

Now, the blocks look like this (minus the big red thread spot there).


They're still not all the same size, but I shouldn't have too many problems squaring up the snowballs to 6.5" since I have all that extra sashing on them now. For the first time in a long while, I think I actually made this project better, not worse.

Then there's my Habitat project. Officially, it was due at the October TMQG meeting. It's a good thing the guild is lenient about deadlines, since it's obviously not close to completion. I'm making some String-X blocks with the challenge fabrics, with some pieces from my scrap bin thrown in for good measure. I'm still debating on the main background color.


I also worked on my Central Park hexagons while we traveled. I've finished basting ALL of my hexagons, and I'm now in the process of sewing them into flowers.


At this point, I'm ever so slightly regretting this shade of buttercup yellow and wishing I had gone for a more mustard-y shade. But I'm not regretting it enough to baste 100+ hexagons in a different shade of yellow. Pick your battles y'all. I'm hoping that the right background color (maybe Kona Lake or Kona Aqua?) will brighten up the yellow so it doesn't wash out the other colors it touches quite so much.

If you happen to be here for the food, here's what we're planning to eat this week...
Check out today's Menu Plan Monday post at OrgJunkie if you want to see what other folks are eating this week. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let Me See Your Jelly Roll!!

Tap, tap, is this thing on?

I have an announcement.

2012 will the The Year of the Jelly Roll for me. I have a ridiculous number of jelly rolls that are lovely and begging to be used. I also have an ever-growing list of strippy patterns on my bucket list. It's high time I put them all to work.

more work to do

So I'm challenging myself in 2012. Every month, I'll at least finish a quilt top using a jelly roll or some of my strippy scraps. Is anyone interested in joining along? 

If so, I'll add one of those linkfest widgets to the bottom of my jelly roll post each month so folks can link up and maybe be eligible for some strippy prizes (Ahem, of the fabric variety. Get your minds outta the gutter.) 

I know it seems crazy to already talk about plans for 2012, but I wanted to give myself as much time as possible to finish up some of my current WIPs and add a couple of extra jelly rolls to my holiday wishlist. 

I even made a badge for my little challenge. Grab it if you want to. 


Then try to get this song out of your head for the rest of the day. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Split Personalities

I'm still working on the Husbatron's NC State quilt. I feel like this is the 125th time I've said that on this blog. But it's true. I'm still working on it. The quilt ended up a whee bit bigger than I anticipated, and the quilting designs I chose are taking a whee bit longer than I anticipated. Oh well, anticipation just sweetens the final product, right?

The few designs that I chose for the quilt are pretty modern - square stippling


and bubbles.


So I think the traditional part of my quilting personality is a bit repressed at this point and kind of bursting at its seams. Exhibit A: My To Do list from work the other day...


I got put on hold a LOT that day, hence all the doodling. Notice the M+Ms. I'd like to take this moment to inform you that we had 4 bags of candy and NO trick or treaters on Monday night. My chocolate stash runneth over for now.

My gut reaction was to start a new quilt with some of my Fig Tree fabrics, since I think they lend themselves well to traditional feather quilting motifs. But odds are, I already have a quilt top that lends itself equally well to my current feather fixation.

Maybe this one?

Disappearing Nine-Patch

A Disappearing 9-Patch from some Peace on Earth charm packs by 3 Sisters.  Just in time for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bloggers' Quilt Festival: Autumnal Inverted 9-Patch


Two years ago this week, I started this quilt. I finished it over a year and a half later. Let's hear it for quilts that marinate!

The Original Inverted 9-Patch, quilted

The fabric is Gobble Gobble by Sandy Gervais for Moda, with some Tranquility (S. Gervais) and Fabulous Fall (Deb Strain) thrown in for good measure.


It's been the crowning autumnal glory of our family room this fall. We'll replace it with the Christmas version in a few (short -eep!) weeks.

Want to make your own version? You can find the tutorial here.

Grab your favorite beverage and some leftover Halloween candy, curl up on the couch, and be sure to check out the other entrants for this fall's festival over at Amy's.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 31 of 31 Days of Un-Collections: Wax Hues

  • White: 20107 11 from Patisserie by Fig Tree for Moda
  • Purple: K001-1042 Kona Brick for Robert Kaufman
  • Pink: AAM-11489-239 Sorbet from Veranda by Amanda Murphy for Robert Kaufman
  • Peach: 20123 16 from Whimsy by Fig Tree for Moda
  • Orange: 32423 28 from Chrysalis by Sanae for Moda
  • Bonus (Backing or Border?) Print: C2703 Purple from So Sophie by Jen Allyson for Riley Blake
Accompanying Pattern: I really like this slight variation on an HST pattern.

And there you have it, my final day of Un-Collections. I'm awfully glad I decided to jump on the bandwagon, even though I slacked off to sew some nights. I think I've become a lot more comfortable picking colors from different fabric collections, especially if I'm in a brick and mortar fabric shop, where I can easily compare bolts to bolts.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the palettes and patterns and found something to inspire you!

I'm taking the next few days off of blogging to spend some time in front of the machine. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with a finished project! In the meantime, I'll probably be pinning like crazy.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 30 of 31 Days of Un-Collections: Dish tones

  • Green: APC-10999-43 from Treasures and Tidbits by Piece O' Cake Designs
  • Blue: TP10 Indigo from Prince Charming by Tula Pink for Free Spirit
  • Yellow: 27048 15 from Fandango by Kate Spain for Moda
  • Light Blue: JD50 Jade from Heirloom by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit Fabrics
  • Tannish Gray: AKU-10777-15 from Mon Sheri by Khristian Howell for Robert Kaufman
Accompanying Pattern: I've been working up the gumption to think about following Aneela's Pickledish Quilt-Along. Not now. Maybe next year. but I think it would be a good fit for these particular prints.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 29 of 31 Days of Un-Collections: Floating Tones

  • Gray: K001-1037 Kona Bone by Robert Kaufman
  • Aqua: 27061 11 from Central Park by Kate Spain for Moda
  • Navy: NW07 Sea Green from Happy Go Lucky by Nel Whatmore for Free Spirit
  • Magenta: DS04 Fiesta from Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit
  • Pink: VW26 Rose from Nest by Valori Wells for FreeSpirit
Accompanying Pattern: Yet again, I found myself looking for a pattern that featured large-scale prints nicely. In the end, I chose this Picture Frames pattern. Little Miss Shabby has the tutorial posted here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days of Un-Collections: Western Brights

Over the course of the month, I've become a lot pickier about which palettes I'll use. I've found that certain color cards are easier to match to fabrics than others. For instance, I don't want to pick a color card with 3 shades of yellow or 3 shades of any other one color either. It's tough for me to truly represent the slight variations in color and tint gradations. Unfortunately, those troublesome palettees tend to be the color cards that attract me most. So instead of spending time finding the exact. right. fabric. swatch, I'm spending all that time finding the exact. right. color. card.

  • Purple: 32245 27 from Freebird by MoMo for Moda
  • Red: 216051 24 from Pezzy Print by American Jane for Moda
  • Gray: K001-1037 Kona Bone by Robert Kaufman
  • Violet: 27099 15 from Terrain by Kate Spain for Moda
  • Yellow: 21094 20 from Recess by American Jane for Moda
Accompanying Pattern: I love the way the sashing off-sets the hexagons in this pattern. It's on my jelly roll bucket list now.

Hope everyone's weekend is off to a great start!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26 of 31 Days of Un-Collections: An Interruption

In a heroic effort to score some awesome charm packs a couple of days ago, I was commenting to Meg about how this time of year is generally when I take a hard look at my unfinished projects. I take stock of what's there, what's left to do to finish them, and I try to assess which projects will be easiest to finish before the end of the year, so I can add more pictures to my end of the year mosaic. That way, I can end the year with as much closure as possible.

NCSU quilt in progress 

Though you'd never guess it by the looks of things around here, I've been in (silent) closure mode the past couple of weeks now. In addition to the mad quilting I've been doing on the husbatron's NCSU quilt, I have a stack of 4 quilt tops with their pieced battings and 2 basted quilt sandwiches, all of various sizes (crib-sized to almost king), sitting in the corner of my sewing room. I desperately want to finish those quilts, if only to declutter them and get them up off the floor.

To do clutter 

I also have a list of 14 charm pack projects/tutorials I blithely scribbled down back through April and May, and I assumed it wouldn't be a problem at all to crank out the quilts and their accompanying tutorials by the end of this year (Denial anyone?). I desperately want to finish those projects, because I can't wait to see if the reality matches my vision for them. And because I keep buying charm packs and need to do something with them.

After revising my October - December 2011 Craftiness To Do List for the umpteenth time in the past week, I stopped for a minute, wondering. "Why do I even care how many quilts I finish before the end of the year?" If you pulled out any given quilt in my cabinet o' quilts and asked me "When did you make this?" I wouldn't reply, "Oh, I started that in September 2009 and finished it in May 2011."

Wedding - Officially hitched IMG_2425-e

Instead, I'd say, "Hmm, let's see, I started that the week I got married to deal with all the stress of last-minute wedding planning so I didn't kill my mother, and I finished it right after we planted tomatoes for the first time on our back porch a few years later." (Note the fledgling tomato plant photobomb action to the left  of the finished quilt.)

Or I'd say, "Well, I started that right after my parents moved far, far away because I was sad, and then I finished the binding while sitting on the couch in their new house almost a year later."


Takeaway: I tend to associate quilts with other things going on in my life at the time I worked on them, not by arbitrary start and end points on the Gregorian calendar. (Apparently, I also tend to start new projects under great emotional duress.) I guess it makes sense. Quilting isn't my life. I happily devote a lot of my spare time and mental space to it, but it's still part of my small, but full life. I guess all I'm saying with this blathering introspection is that deep down, I don't want 2011 to necessarily be the year where I got a lot of quilting sh*t done and had an awesome mosaic to show for it at the end of the year mosaic-fest in blogland. When I do look at my mosaic for the end of the year, I don't want to feel guilty about all the WIPs sitting in the corner, untouched for months. I don't want to let myself get all anxious, looking at all the items that haven't been crossed off the To Do Lists I've set up for my hobby. I want to be excited about the stash I still have to use and eager to try new patterns with fun fabrics.

Here's to the last couple of months of 2011. I hope you find lots of joy in your sewing time, even if your seams are all crooked like mine.

Sorry for the angsty post. I just needed to get it out of my system and preach to myself more than anything else. I'll be back tomorrow with another color palette.

Oh, but if you're interested in any of my closure thus far, I forgot to mention that I set up a "Finished Quilts" page last week.