Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Hand Crafted Christmas Decor

Our cards and tree will go out and up on the weekend. This week, I pulled out the Christmas decor and hung it around the house.

Itty Bitty Tree

I have several Christmas wall hangings that Martha made. First, is the "itty bitty" pieced tree that hangs in my studio year around. My friend Martha made it and it hung in her entry way. Many of the items I stitch, I gift. Seeing this in my studio makes me smile because she was a gifter too!

Log cabin wreath
Second is the small log cabin wreath she stitched. I believe she made a bunch of these and sold them at a Christmas bazaar.

Third is the angel wall hanging. Martha loved sparkle. She quilted this with metallic thread to accent the silver in the printed border fabric.

Close up view of an angel
She used yarn and embroidery stitches to embellish each face.

Scrappy Christmas quilt
My husband's mom quilts too. She made her son and her daughter a Christmas quilt. It is hand quilted. The pattern came from Better Homes and Gardens. She enjoyed pulling scraps to make each block. Most of the applique is raw edge machine stitched.

Close up of a block
Many of the pieces are tiny! It took a number of years to complete as she put it, "her lifetime project!"

Gingerbread man
One year, her quilt group decided to make gingerbread wall hangings. She made one for each of her grandchildren. She used reclaimed fabrics and embellished the project with buttons and trims from her stash.

Close up view
She said she had fun making each one. This one hangs in my daughter's childhood room. It hasn't fit into a suitcase yet to fly over the pond.

Santa's Sleigh
When I began quilting in 1980, I gifted projects as I finished them. The second quilt I kept for myself was Santa's Sleigh. I made it in 1996 and it is one of the first decorations to adorn the wall after Thanksgiving and the last item to stow away after New Years Day arrives.

I posted about stockings that I repaired and stitched this year. These did make it into the suitcase and are hanging in London waiting for Santa to come fill them.

Christmas Santa
I made a Christmas wallhanging for my grandmother. She had moved from Oregon to California in a part of the state where it wasn't practical to have fresh evergreen wreaths. She hung this in her entry way so any visitor saw it first and last when entering her home.

Close up view
My grandmother liked to paint. She purchased a kiln and made many ceramic items, Eventually, she dabbled in china painting. She had a knack for capturing an expression if she were painting a face. I tried to give this Santa a personality which tickled her.

I also made a wall hanging for a friend as a secret pal gift. It hung in her home for many years until she needed to downsize. She called me and asked if I wanted it back. Every quilt, I gift, I let the recipient know that if wears out, I'll replace it. If it is no longer of use to them, they can give it back. The latter is how I came to have this wall hanging returned to me. 

Santa tree skirt
Over the years, I've made a few tree skirts. The first one I made, went to my youngest brother and sister in law as a Christmas gift. Since then, it is an item I've given when my nieces and daughter have married. This is the tree skirt my youngest daughter will receive when she marries.

Close up
I've even made a few hexagon holiday ornaments. I've finished three so far. Two will be going in cards and the third, I'll keep as "seed stock" for next year. I plan to make a few more ornaments next year to gift to my grandkids. It takes me about three hours to make one ornament. In the end, the effort is worth it!

Hexagon ornaments
Posting about my Christmas decor was goal number ten on my December list. This time of year sure seems to come and go quicker each year. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!


Sunday, December 3, 2023

November Recap and December Goals

Lone Star quilting is finished
My goals for November are:

✒1. Finish the Lone Star. Finishing this quilt was also my November goal for #WIPsbegone2023 with Leanne at Devoted Quilter. I pushed to meet this goal. In the end, Update: I managed to finish the quilting and stitch the binding. 

✖2. Finish the quilting on the Farm Quilt. Finishing this quilt is also my November goal for #WIPsbegone2023 with Leanne at Devoted Quilter. As long as it has taken me to make actual progress on the Lone Star, I think that finishing the farm quilt is too much of a reach; but, who knows??? Update: I did nothing to progress this project.

✔3. Prepare the fabrics for the Bonnie Hunter mystery. (gather, purchase, prewash, starch, iron)

Fabrics for another hexagon ornament
✔4. Sew a couple swimsuits for Miss A our youngest granddaughter.

✔5. Make one hexagon ornament.

✔6. Write one post about piecing the back for a string quilt. Miss K, the oldest granddaughter, made most of the blocks for the RSC in 2021. She had a day off from school.We took advantage of the "open" time with a sleepover and sew day!

✔7. Write a post about pin basting the string quilt with Miss K.

Some of clue #1 of Indigo Way
While I didn't meet all of my goals for November, it still was a good month. I'll finish the Lone Star over the next couple of days. I will make finishing the Farm quilt a priority for December. Sewing the swimsuits for Miss A and then taking her swimming was a highlight of the
month! Basting the string quilt with Miss K filled my heart. I continue to hope that she will want to quilt regularly!
Get this project to a top

My Goals for December are:

1. Finish the Farm Quilt.

2. Get the Color project to a top.

3. Stitch another hexagon ornament.

4. Keep up with the blocks in the temperature quilt.

5. Finish the Lone Star.

6. Stitch some clues for the Bonnie Hunter Mystery, Indigo Way.

7. Help Miss K make progress on ditch quilting her string quilt.

8. Determine if I'm going to embark on a 2024 temperature quilt.

9. Figure out a block to make for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2024. 

10. Write a post that includes the quilted Christmas decor.

I see many hours of studio time ahead in my future. I also foresee turning scraps into usable items!  Linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Temperature Quilt--border preparation

Filler blocks ready for insertion
I'm nearing the end of making blocks for the temperature quilt. I'm calling it Deux Ans (Two Years) because I needed to stitch blocks for two years to make a top wide and long enough to cover my body! I've  34 days left to record. With this project, I've managed to keep up or at least not get weeks behind with stitching a block each day.

Last month, I stitched about ten filler blocks for the outer edge. This month, I stitched more. I have 38 that are the block plus a wing. I also have stitched three wingless blocks. I may need a couple more, but, I'd rather need to make a few rather than have a few leftover!

Sample of what isn't going to work
For the side edges, my plan is to applique a piece of purple fabric so that I save all the points. My challenge came with how to handle the top and bottom edges. Because the edges aren't flush, appliquéing a fabric will leave me with a seam which I don't want. 

I've contemplated what to do with the top and bottom for some time. I decided that I would piece a purple diamond in the space. I'd trim the edge to a quarter of an inch and applique the edge to a purple piece of fabric. Last night I stitched four test diamonds. 

Today, I'll be frogging the diamonds. I can't cut the seam allowance because with the way that I've basted the edge, I can't access the seam allowance. I need to cut my papers into half diamonds. I'll do an audition this evening to see how that works.

Sigh. . . .I see lots more stitching ahead!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Quilting the Lone Star--Filler Stitches (Post 10)

Adding a quilted circle to the geese
At the end of my last post regarding the Lone Star project, I contemplated adding a circle to the center of the flying geese in the top and bottom borders. Using the same thread that I used previously, I quilted a circle. I liked the effect.

Prepping the area to add the strip
Next, I decided that the string border needed to come out to the edge of the quilt. I did have to "reclaim" some of the excess backing fabric to make this work. I did chalk the line and add a few tiny drops of glue in the area. Next, I added the strip with the the quarter inch seam allowance pressed.

The result before quilting
After I had finished tacking the strip in place, I liked the result. 

The extended strips in place
I quilted the extended strips and moved on to finishing quilting the straight lines.

Completed background quilting of the lines
Then, I began adding the filler stitches to the sections I had outlined in red. I quilted larger pebbles in the first section. I used the same thread color as I had the straight lines.

Pebbles in the first section
In the fourth section, I quilted a smaller swirl motif, also in the same thread color. I quilted that section because I was still considering options for sections two and three!

Smaller swirl design
Once I had finished the smaller swirls, I decided that a leaf design would be a good filler for the second section. I like stitching leaves. It was difficult for me to see where I had and hadn't quilted. When I finished that section, I decided I would change my thread color for the remaining two sections.

When I left the spaces around some of the shapes, I had thought that I would add organic circles to those areas. I was curious as to how that would look. I quilted a few sections in one leg. Then, I took a moment to step back and "see" how the quilting looked and felt to me. I liked the addition of the red organic circles!
Viewing my work.
In the third area, I quilted a sort of paisley design. The slightly darker thread color works and I like how it fits in with the lighter thread color I had used.
Paisley filler stitch
In the sixth section, I stitched a large swirl design. I had envisioned combining several motifs; but that approach didn't feel right to me so I went with the swirls.
Fifth and sixth section/Pebbles and swirls
In the fifth section, I added pebbles to the center of the design. I used the previous blue thread to stitch these. I threaded the machine with red thread and began filling in all the lines with the organic circles. I'm closing in on the quilting finish although those organic pebbles in red take some time!!! I have three legs left to add those circles.

I thought that I'd finish this, add the binding, label and sleeve before Thanksgiving .I've spent time playing with the granddaughters and daughters which has been so fun. I will finish it next month for sure!!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Following Miss A

Grating carrots
I've already reported on the body measuring session and the swim suits that I held and made for Miss A.

During Miss A's visit, we made a few green salads. I showed her how to tear a lettuce leaf. She tore the first leaf according to the plan. She treated subsequent leaves differently. First she looked at the leaf, then she looked at the bowl. She looked at the leaf. She looked at me. She picked up the leaf and without tearing it, threw it in the bowl. I took it out of the bowl and place the leaf in front of her. She threw it in the bowl and looked at me as if I'd fall off a turnip truck.

Her actions made me laugh because this was the exact response her mama had when she was Miss A's size. Why waste time on the tearing when the leaf was going into the bowl? Just eliminate the tearing and save time!

She did like grating the carrot and needed to taste the shreds to be see if the shreds tasted the same as the sticks.

First hair "trim" with Karen
Miss A had her first hair cut. Karen, our hairdresser for the past 24 years, explained we don't use the term "cut" but trim. So many times kids hear the word cut and think getting their hair cut is going to hurt! Miss A wiggled and Nicole found showing a video helped her move less. Please note, I didn't write stay still! Karen trimmed the tiniest amount from Miss A's hair. Karen dried and styled her hair which Miss A enjoyed. Karen even put a little "color" in her hair.

Cookie decorating
We had a cookie decorating session. Nicole purchased a box kit of already baked gingerbread cookies with tubes of frosting and small packages of items to sprinkle. While the purchase was expensive, $20 for a dozen cookies, the experience was worth every cent. Miss A decorated three cookies before she lost interest.

Tickling the ivories
She took a two and a half hour car trip to visit my dad's wife, Vickie. At Vickie's house, Miss A delighted herself playing the piano. My dad would have loved to have seen and heard her music. She "played" mostly with her index fingers; but, she did use both at the same time and she played all areas of the keys. She amused us all playing the drums on a set of stainless steel bowls and pots with wooden spoons. 

Getting reacquainted with Great Grandma
Then we traveled another hour to my mom's. At my mom's, Miss A took a walk along the canal bank. She found all sorts of knickknacks to make into toys. We also ate lunch. While Miss A liked all visiting, she wasn't all that keen on the travel time. Strapped into the car seat for the more than three hour drive was too long. Miss A travels mass transit in London and she may be in a stroller; but, she doesn't use a car seat often. 

She played soccer with her older cousin, JoJo and she played basketball with her oldest cousin. She adores her cousins. Her cousin JoJo cooked Miss A sourdough pancakes for breakfast one morning, while her cousin Miss K drew pictures and played other games with her.

She even had a play date with a friend from across the street who invited a couple other neighbors to come play. I heard that the snacks the other neighbors brought were the Miss A's favorites. She also liked playing with so many new to her toys.

Today, Miss A is swimming with her mama and auntie at the pool where her auntie has her master swim workouts. Saturday, Miss A is going swimming with her mama and me at my friend's pool. 

Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, we will host the family for dinner. It will be a full house with lots of love shared. Monday, she and her parents return to England. All of them will be missed!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Swimsuits for Miss A

Goal number four on my November list was to sew a couple swimsuits for Miss A. The first step was to measure Miss A so I knew what size pattern I needed to draw from the master pattern. She LOVED being measured. She stood still and patiently waited while I recorded each measurement. Later in the day, she saw the measure tape and wanted another session!

The two patterns
I drew the appropriate size suit on tissue paper. I have two patterns that I purchased when Miss A's auntie was her age. As you can see from the photo, they cost two dollars! I certainly have made money back on the pattern! 

Active pose in the first suit
I looked through my scraps of swimwear and came up with a couple options. Miss A likes animals and orange is a color she often picks first. I had saved the scraps from the suits that I made for our Greece trip last summer. The print was fish on a subtle orange background. The second scrap has been hanging around in my stash for many years. Originally, I made it into suits for Miss A's mama. How fun it was to make Miss A a suit out of those scraps! 

Relaxed pose in the first suit
Cutting out the fabrics went without issue and then it was on to stitching. I used the serger to finish the seams. I lined the front of the suit with another piece of fabric. At the rate she is eating, she will grow out of these suits in no time so I didn't bother to line the back.

Pinning. . .
Miss A visited me in the studio while I was making her suits. She was interested in the buttons on the sewing machine. She sat in my lap while we pinned and stitched the seams for her second suit. It's never too early to hope that she will love fabric and creating with fabric! 

Finished back
It wasn't long and I had two suits finished. It won't be long before we try them out in a pool!

Finished front
I used a little over a yard from my stash of swimwear scraps. This brings the total fabric used from my stash to 21 and 1/4 yards this year. Since I've sewn these two suits from scraps, I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Hexagon Ornament

The hexagons ready for piecing
Goal number five on my November list was to stitch a hexagon ornament. I cut several little kits out of the pictured fabrics last winter to make ornaments. I was teaching an EPP class, I needed some examples of projects that wouldn't take years to complete in order to learn the technique. The hexagons finish at 5/8 of an inch.

Glue basted and ready for stitching
While I've been steadily quilting my Lone Star quilt, the progress I'm making has been slow. I can envision the finish to the quilting; but, it is farther away than I would like it to be! At any rate, I didn't think that between the hand work I've been doing on my temperature quilt and the Lone Star, I'd have time to fit in this EPP ornament project.

Stitching underway
I have several of these kits and my plan was to gift them to friends in Christmas cards. I decided that I would make time on a Friday and stitch it. Fussing cutting the snowman print wasn't difficult. Glue basting the fabric so that the snowman motif lines up relatively the same on each paper foundation was "fiddly." I did manage the glue basting. As I finished basting each hexagon, I checked the placement with its neighbor. 

Front and back hexagons are stitched
When I had glue basted all the snowman fabric hexagons, I glue basted the hexagons with the green striped fabric. I began stitching. I chose a Friday because that is the day I Zoom with a group. I call it my in house retreat day. There is conversation, laughter and progress made on all kinds of projects. 

Finished back
Once I had finished stitching the front and back of the ornament, I glued a piece of ribbon to the inside of the top edge of one side of the ornament. I leave the paper templates in to provide stability. Next I placed a few drops of Elmer's school glue to the edges of the hexagon. After placing the glue dots, I place the other side next to the glued side. I waited a few minutes and then stitched the two sides together. The glue helps the edges stay aligned while I'm stitching.

Finished front
It wasn't long until I had a finished ornament! Next month, I'll stitch another. The finished ornament is about three inches square which will be a nice size on a tree. Now, it is back to more stitching on my temperature quilt and Lone Star quilt. . . little by little. . .I'm making progress!