Sunday, October 21, 2018

almost Christmas



As soon as I'd finished piecing the Razorback quilt in July,
I texted my sister,
"When is Lindsey getting married?"
and was a little surprised by the
"October 20th"
reply.


I had to get moving - fast!!


I knew my niece liked red
(though her favorite color is blue)
but the thing I wasn't positive about was 
would she and her new hubby like a quilt??


My sister thought so,
but she couldn't be positive either
without asking,
but I wanted it to be a surprise,
so told her not to ask ~ I'd just take my chances.

California Dreamin' fabric- how I love you!

I decided that their quilt should be Christmasy enough
that if they didn't love it,
they could pack it up,
and only pull it out at Christmas time,
guilt free.
But if they did love it
and would want to use it year round,
it wouldn't be too Christmasy for that option either.


Almost Christmas.


I used 125 fabrics all together
and pieced it over the course of 2+ months.
Quilting went surprisingly quickly,
 and - except for sewing through my finger -
quite uneventfully,
and only took about 2 weeks.
I bound it by machine,
and labeled it.
After a quick run through the wash
(gentle cycle, warm water)
I pulled it out of the dryer
(the texture is so delicious)
with 4 days to spare.


It turns out
that they do like quilts,
and Lindsey has been secretly hoping for one 
for a few years :-)


Lindsey ~ I love you, sweet girl!
Big congratulations.
Tyler ~ welcome to the (crazy) family.
We wish you a long and happy marriage.
I hope most of your days together 
feel
almost like Christmas.
💗

big thanks to my silly quilt holders!!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

not quite camping


When we were driving home from Florida
in August,
I told Tyler I wanted to go camping for my birthday.


I didn't get in quite enough relaxing at the beach,
and I wanted to make positively certain 
that there would be no attempts at a big birthday bash.


He stopped by our favorite local campground
and selected the best spots,
then attempted to reserve one of them
for my birthday weekend.


They were all booked already.


So we booked the next dates that would work for us.


When I started looking at the weekend forecast on Monday
and it wasn't pleasant,
Tyler told me to just wait.
Forecasts change.


Well.
the forecast did change.


It got worse...


But he thought we could still manage a decent time
(I was a little less sure. 
Rain and camping aren't a good mix in my opinion)
so kids and I got  all of the gear ready
and the kids had all packed their clothes.
We went to bed on Wednesday night
planning to do the grocery shopping 
and pack our own clothes in the morning,
and head out at 3.


Thursday morning,
the first thing my man said to me was,
"I'm thinking we need to change our mind."
Friday had been supposed to be decent
(not great; but okay, at least, especially compared to rest of the weekend)
and now they were calling for rain with a high in the 50s.


So.
Instead of camping
(in our already paid for 3 nights spot)
we just went and hung out for the day.


It was a perfectly lovely day,
and it was hard to imagine 
that the nastiness they were calling for 
would really come.


But it did.
And we were so glad to be in our nice, dry, warm house.


Mom and Bill came down 
and spent Saturday afternoon and evening with us,
and Brandon and his girlfriend spent a few hours with us today.


So it still ended up being a nice long relaxing family weekend.


It was just spent mostly inside.


Friday, October 12, 2018

two to remember


Last weekend was the Belle Point Quilt Guild's
biennial quilt show.

It was the 3rd time I've gone to the show,
and the first that I entered any quilts.

I entered two for display only,
and one to be judged.


I reasoned that it was pretty sound
technique-wise,
and the quilting wasn't too shabby,


so I was hopeful that I'd get some helpful comments from the judge(s)
regarding what I could improve
so I could
maybe someday
earn a ribbon.


Well, Y'all!
I earned a ribbon!!

A third place ribbon!


The comments weren't all that helpful, though.


There were two;
one said my stitch in the ditch needs to stay in the ditch,
and duh! of course it does.
And while I didn't SiD perfectly,
I'm not sure that I could do much better
on a good sized quilt
with a domestic machine,
especially one not built into a table.
(I happened to notice that the 2nd place quilt 
wasn't stitched in the ditch,
which made me wonder if perhaps I'd have fared better without it...)


The other said that I need to 'whipstitch my corners.'
Now,
this one ticked me off a bit,
because,
y'all know how I am about my binding corners,
and I had sewn them,
I just did it invisibly.


In addition to that ribbon
(and the $10 prize money that went along with it)
I got another surprise;
an even better one!

My friend had made a quilt for us
 as a housewarming gift,
and she presented it to me
by hanging it in the show!


There I was, just browsing the quilts,
and bam!
there was my last name - hanging on the wall
on a beautifully quilted 
(almost whole-cloth) quilt
with a blue ribbon pinned on it.


She used bamboo batting and a lawn backing
because she knew I loved both,
and quilted in a verse,
and our names.
She despises handwork, 
so couldn't bring herself to add any,
but she outlined the pieced letters in black,
to give it a similar look.


I'm so so tickled with her lovely, thoughtful gift!

And I currently have not one,
but two
award-winning quilts in my home.

(though as soon as those darn razorbacks straighten up,
I need to sell that one...)



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

curvy Christmas kingfisher



I decided last Christmas
that it would be festive
to (eventually) have a ton of Christmas quilts,
now that, you know - we'll have room for them.

I'm not one to change decor
- or anything -
all that often,
so they'd have to be not so Christmasy 
that they'd need to be put away by Jan 1st,
'cause in all likelihood,
these babies would be out from the day after Thanksgiving
through at least February,
maybe even longer.


after not sewing for 2 1/2 months,
I started making patchwork forest trees
as my leader/ender project.

When I cut my fabrics into the 9x11 pieces
that I'd use to make the trees,
I also cut another 9x11 piece of each fabric.

My thinking was that I could sell this custom bundle
to somebody who adored my quilt,
but didn't want to spend the time and money that I had
to amass fabrics.
(not that I spent a ton of money mind you, (Honey)
but buying a bunch of fat sixteenths
is a whole lot cheaper 
than buying a bunch of fat quarters and half yards,
no matter what kind of a sale you got them on)


While I liked the quilt,
I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with the pace,
especially since our vacation wouldn't fall
 in the 8 weeks of the sew along,
and there was a lot of hand-stitching involved.
(and remember, we are still building a house,
so sewing time is limited!)
Plus - I already have a kazillion quilts on my to-make list.


Two weeks later,
my pre-ordered copy of Florence's book,
arrived.
By the time I'd finished chapter one
(which is worth the price of the book, in my opinion!)
I decided that I would join the Kingfisher Stitch Along
after all.
And I would use those fabrics that I had already cut
into 9x11 pieces!

Those fabrics had already been chosen to make a Christmas quilt,
why not use them for another Christmas quilt too??


I scurried around and collected more coordinating fabrics,
(there are 99 in this quilt)
and ordered 300 1" hexagon papers
and on June 5th,
I started prepping hexies using barely diluted liquid starch.


Two weeks later,
my dad had a horrible freak accident
and ended up with a severe spinal cord injury,
and died 8 days later.

And it turned out,
that English Paper Piecing was a saving grace to me.


I could force myself to work on just a few flowers a day.

No thinking was required,
as I'd already had my fabrics ready.
I prepped hexies,
and I sewed them together.

repeat.

repeat.

repeat...


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I decided to join the stitchalong,
I started thinking that,
since this was to be a Christmas quilt,
wouldn't it be cool if instead of diamonds,
my background fabrics were in the shape of ornaments??


Ornaments would be especially fitting, 


I couldn't get it out of my head,
so I searched and searched for a quilt pattern 
with an interlocking ornament shape 
that wasn't pieced.
I figured I could adjust the size to suit my 9x11 pieces of fabric.

No such thing exists
(or if it does, I sure didn't find it)
so I set out to make my own.


After lots of trial and error
(I could get my shapes to almost fit together perfectly,
but not quite.)
I consulted with my engineer/mathematician son
and he told me that there was a formula
(of course there was...)
and that the curves needed to change directions
exactly midway horizontally.

With this new info,
I was able to draw a properly interlocking ornament shape
without too much trouble
and then add 1/4" seam allowance all the way around.

I had sewed 4 'ornaments' together to test my shape
the day before our world changed forever.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



After I had the all hexies at least prepped,
over the course of a week,
I heavily starched the background fabrics.
Folded them in fourths and pressed them again.
And then cut them out.

I machine applique'd each hexi flower
to it's background with black thread,
after adding an extra layer of batting
to each center hexagon.


Repeatedly,
I found myself so grateful that I had joined this sew along;

all I had to do,
was the next thing.


The stitching soothed my broken heart,
just a little.

And I was making something beautiful.


Eventually,
the 'next thing'
was sewing all those darned curvy ornament shapes together
and that was absolutely no fun at all.
There was a lot on unsewing 
and re-sewing 
involved, too.

There are quite a few not-perfectly-matching seams in this quilt;
if couldn't get it right in 3 tries,
it was deemed good enough.


After completing the top,
I added 50/50 wool & cotton batting
(which was it's own little nightmare!)
and a lovely (but slightly weird) Liberty of London lawn backing
(my first Liberty fabric!! that stuff is sooo expensive)
and quilted on my home machine.

I bound it by machine with the same striped vintage sheet
I used to test my ornament shape
(which I then used in the quilt, obviously)


Though tinged with great sadness,
this quilt also holds wonderful memories for me.


There is no doubt in my mind that God Himself 
orchestrated my participation in this sew-a-long.
Stitching truly is therapuetic for me,
and this is not the first season of my life

When all I wanted to do was sit in a chair
and stare off into space
and/or cry
I sewed.
Just a little bit.
To try to keep up with the sew along.


 I'd post pictures on Instagram
and everyone was so encouraging and lovely,
and I made a few new friends.

The season that Curvy Christmas Kingfisher was made in
 was awful,
and while this quilt holds many tears,
it mostly holds gratitude.
For the gift of sewing.
For the gift of sewing friends,
and mostly for the gift 
of that precious last week with my dad.




Curvy Christmas Kingfisher will be on display
at the Belle Point Quilter's Guild quilt show
if you would like to see it in person.