Monday, November 25, 2013

Tiny Trees

As some of you know, I'm usually not very excited about the holidays.  My son is grown and on his own.  The holidays are fun when you have little ones, either your own or your grand children.  Heck, my cousins have little ones and I would not be so grumpy if I could spend some time with them and their wonder at everything that makes up this special time of year.  Since we are geographically separated, this just isn't possible.
The retail portion of the holidays is just too much for me to handle.  The music and lights can't even wait until after Thanksgiving.  Drives me nuts.  I'm not saying you can't have your holiday music I'm saying I don't want to hear it until the week of the 25th.  However.... I did get this wonderful fabric as part of my Fat Quarter Shop charm pack club.  I couldn't resist making something out of this fabric after I saw Christa making her beautiful quilt along quilt.  While I didn't use Christa's pattern, she was part of the inspiration for this quilt and deserves that credit.

The fabric is In from the Cold by Kate Spain for Moda.  I like the fun prints.  The coordinating white I got for the background is perfect for this little quilt.  Yes, I'm going to break my own rule and hang this one on the wall.  Although, I don't know what else I'm to do with a crib-sized quilt made of red, white and green fabrics.  I don't have a picture for you today, but the quilt top is done.  I'm still trying to decide if I need another border.  Then will come the challenge of quilting this small quilt.  I'll have to let quilting ideas simmer for at least a couple more days.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Stocking Swap

Mishka over at the Quilting Gallery is hosting another swap.  This time, we're making Christmas Stockings to trade with our partners.  Since part of the swap was the pattern, I won't share anything about construction though I will share some pictures during the process.  The pattern is from Lenna over at the Stitching Cow.
I used up some leftover batting to make these cute little stockings.
I free-motion quilted the outer stockings in a coordinating thread.  The blue stockings were done with a simple meander and I attempted swirls on the red stockings.  Some of what I've learned on the long arm carried over to the sewing machine.  Not all of that was good.
After stitching the red stocking, I found that it was quicker and easier to change the construction order a little.  On the blue stockings, I stitched the lining to the outer along the top of the stocking before I sewed the two halves together.  This made it so much easier for me.  I didn't have to fight to stitch across the top of the stocking with so little room to work.
I did add a little bit of length at the top of the stocking.  This made it possible to fold over the tops of the blue stockings.  I love to take a pattern and make it my own.  I'm still trying to decide if I should send one of each or a matched set to my partner.  I hope Kerstin likes them.  Now I need to decide and get them packed up for shipment to Sweden.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quilts for Kids Totes Update

I finished up some more of these darling little totes for Quilts for Kids. 

I am officially out of labels for Annapolis Quilts for Kids.  Thank goodness the next meeting isn't far away.  Every time I go, I ask for more labels.  Every time, I manage to use them all up before the next meeting.  Right now, my list says I'm short by eight ten labels for the projects I have in the works.  I'll have to make sure I get enough of them to last through the holidays in case there isn't a meeting in December.
A friend made two of the alien bags and I finished up the other three bags today. 

I finally let the embroidery machine stitch out a quilting design.  I am likely overly proud of the outcome.  I think it adds that extra something to this bag.  I'm also out of bag kits so I guess I'll have to go back to making quilts.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I am not an heirloom quilter...

No, really.  I don't quilt to create beautiful works of art to hang on the wall or to enter into contests for ribbons or prizes or whatnot.  I make quilts for people to love.  I make quilts for the love of people.  I make quilts for the love of quilts.  What prompted this revelation?  I found my way to this wonderful post from Dawn at Spring Water Designs.  So, this morning, I wandered around my home and took pictures of my quilts in their natural habitat.  These humble blankets that I love to create and share in their proper places in my home.  I wanted to share with you what my quilts are designed intended for.
This is the guest bed.  This bed has so many options for quilts.  Mostly based on what I feel like when I make the bed.  This quilt was made with fabrics I picked up during my cruise to West Africa.  They aren't from very many different countries (because I couldn't find the fabric in each country), but they represent my time in that far-away land.  This is also the first big quilt I finished on my long-arm.
The star quilt is one I made for my husband when we weren't living together due to our jobs being in different states.  I will admit, after making a queen-size quilt on my domestic machine, I was pretty much happy with making smaller quilts for a long time.  On the foot of the bed is my quilt Mischief.  Darling Husband and I don't have the same ideas about what constitutes a comfortable sleeping temperature and sometimes I just need another layer.  This is that extra layer.
We don't spend a bunch of time in front of the television, so this love seat is all the couch we need.  Guests, if they ever join us in front of the television, are delegated to chairs.  This fun little quilt was made with a bunch of 2.5" strips.  It was my first, last and only attempt at pantograph quilting.  I absolutely hated it.  I was tense and annoyed and not all that impressed with my results.  I prefer free-hand quilting so much more.  It is also one of my early attempts at machine-finished binding.  I'm not all that fond of that, either.  That's what that lamp is for; so I can see what I'm doing when I sit down to hand-finish quilt binding while we watch a little television.
For a while, every time Darling Husband would see a quilt rack at a thrift store, he would bring it home.  Thankfully, he didn't get too carried away.
This helps me not just have stacks and stacks of quilts, though I have been trying to keep the transfer of quilts out of the house relatively consistent with the transfer of fabrics into the house.  I might be fighting a losing battle, but I don't mind overly much.  That really scrappy quilt has some wonderful experimental quilting on it.  It also has fabrics from quilts I made over 10 years ago.  How crazy is that!
I regularly finish quilts for Annapolis Quilts for Kids and have donated quilts to other charities.  The quilt above was donated to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary in Winton, CA, as part of a raffle to support cancer research.  I give quilts as gifts to friends and family.  I never want to pass up a chance to give a quilt to a new family and that brand new baby that is wreaking havoc in their lives while at the same time teaching them that family isn't about the individual but about the whole.  I want to give something of myself.  This means the quilt should be used.  And used.

Is there anything better than a baby with a quilt?  This is little Layla, who isn't quite so little anymore, with her quilt.  She wasn't the first baby to receive a quilt hug I made just for her.  She also isn't the last.
So, I'm going to keep making quilts that are meant to be loved and cherished and used.  The important part of that is that they will be used to wrap someone up in a fabric hug.  Don't hang that hug on the wall!

EDIT:  At some point, I will make a wall-hanging.  Correction, I will make another wall hanging.  Then, I will have to step down from my soap box.