Saturday, December 20, 2014

Snowflakes are Falling

Well, they're not really falling, but I wish they were. I needed a gift for my German friend who dislikes warm winter weather even more than I do. She loves everything cold and wintery and I need a hostess gift because she and her husband asked us to join them at their house for dinner this weekend. I have already expressed my love for Amy's {During Quiet Time} snowflake pattern here. It is a paper pieced pattern that comes in three sizes; 6", 9" and 12". This time I made the 12" version and added a three inch border to make an 18" pillow for my friend, Monika.

I quilted it with swirls and loops after fusing some Thermolam to the back of the pieced pillow front.

I backed it with the only piece of Christmas fabric I had in my stash. {Note to self, buy some Christmas fabric}. I even put in a zipper with a covered flap and matched the print. I know, I sometimes amaze myself, too.

The gift was a hit and dinner with friends was a perfect evening.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Working Under Pressure

Self-imposed pressure is the best motivator for me. For some reason, yesterday, I found my Christmas spirit. I think it had something to do with Molli Sparkles putting out a call on Instagram to collect hashtag blocks and make quilts for the families who tragically lost loved ones in a gunman's terrorist attack in Australia. You wouldn't think hearing such horrible news would cheer someone, but to see the amazing outpouring of love and help from quilters all over the world really does make me happy. So I made 7 blocks and packaged them up to ship off to Australia.

And then I went to my granddaughter's kindergarten program.
I have been putting off finishing the decorating of the house but I was feeling such joy after the program that I went to the nursery to buy the fresh garland and wreaths I usually use to decorate the outside windows and fireplace. Disappointed, because they were out of garland and wreaths, I made a mental note to be sure to get to the nursery earlier in the season from now on. But I did buy the fresh flowers and poinsettias I needed to make the centerpieces.
I came home and made two arrangements and also decorated the dining room tables.

Now all I need to do is set the tables for Christmas Day and wrap gifts and bake cookies and maybe make a few more gifts get the picture. I'll be ready and it will be a great day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Snowflake Label

Yesterday, I told you I would tell you about the special label I made for my Fair Isle quilt. I always label my quilts and usually use a pre-printed label I had made on Spoonflower. But some quilts just scream for something more special.
When I saw Amy's {Durng Quiet Time} pattern, I knew it would be the perfect finishing touch for my quilt. I decided to make it with a background of red and write the quilt notes on the white sections.

I used the 6" version of the pattern. It also comes with instructions for paper piecing a 9" and a 12" version.

Now I want to make a bigger version into a pillow. Or maybe I'll make another 6" version for a pot holder for a friend. I'm running out of sewing time before Christmas, but there's always next year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

When I first saw Lee's {Freshly Pieced} post about her Fair Isle Quilt pattern I knew I wanted to make it. I have a hard time choosing colors for a quilt but this time I immediately thought of using a black background and making the reindeer look like Rudolph. I used Lee's photo and loaded it into PhotoShop Elements and then did a rough draft and changed the colors using the color picker tool.
The finished quilt makes me so happy. The colors seem to glow with that black background. It turned out exactly like I wanted it to look, even though the making of the quilt gave me a few headaches.
fair isle quilt

I really struggle with getting a perfect 1/4" seam. I have used every trick in the book and still I ended up with uneven sized blocks and reindeer that look like they have arthritic knees.
Once the blocks were all sewn together and sashed, my quilt was not perfectly square but the quilting helped to make it look more symmetrical. I could have quilted it myself, because in the end I just had my long arm quilter use wavy lines spaced 1" apart. I also wanted to try wool batting and I am sold on it. It is so warm but yet light weight and gives a lovely, squishy, cozy feeling to the quilt. I have been sleeping with it every night since I finished it last week.

The backing fabric is a perfect compliment and the black 1/2" binding keeps your eye on the beautiful colors and doesn't distract from Lee's design.
basic grey christmas fabric

This quilt needed a special label.Come back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about the label I made for this quilt.
Chalkboard Christmas Snowflakes Multi

The best part of finishing a Christmas quilt at Christmas time is being able to get some photos by the tree.
fair isle quilt

fair isle quilt
Rudolph and Santa feel nice and cozy with the quilt, too.
This last photo was made using several photo editing apps on the iPhone 6.
fair isle quilt

Quilt Stats:

Name: Midnight Christmas
Fabrics used: Michael Miller Cotton Couture Solids in Black, Cranberry, Lipstick, Cappuccino and Turf
Batting: Hobb's  Heirloom Washable Wool
Backing: Chalkboard Christmas Snowflakes Multi by Basic Grey
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil Black #2692
Quilting: by Susie Peterson with Perma Core Cranberry Thread
Finished Size: 70" x 73" after washing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Ugly Angel Returns

The tradition started as a joke probably 20 years ago. I was at a Christmas party for a Children's Hospital charity group I was involved with and we were playing the steal the gift game. The gifts can be stolen twice and then it cannot be stolen again. I received a great set of cheese spreaders. They were really cute, Christmas themed and silver plated. I tried to hide my gift as each person opened their own gifts or stole from another. It was getting down to the last few gifts to open, when my BEST FRIEND decided to steal from me! In it's place I ended up with this angel!

ugly angel

Well, I decided to show her; I snuck the angel into her house and hid it among her lovely Lladro collection. It took her a while to find it. Ever since that day, long ago, it has become our little joke and our special way of saying Merry Christmas. Each year, we take turns by sneaking it into the other person's home. This year, I received it as a "Christmas gift" at our annual get-together. The funny thing is, each year we are shocked and surprised as to how or where it shows up. It's always good for a laugh. {p.s...we never did find out who brought this ugly, plastic thing, when everyone else was bringing real gifts.}

That first year, Jennifer also surprised me with my own set of cheese spreaders. It's funny, because the mate to this cheese spreader has long been lost, but our memories of fun and the ugly angel lives on...and now I have to wait another year to hide it in her home.