Messy creative really does describe me. I have messy creative piles all around my sewing room. Some are orderly; some not so much. I had thought I wasn’t going to post today because I really have nothing new to show you, but then I thought, why not? I’ll show you the mess I’m working in as I continue my fascination with those cute little Tomtes. You can see my earlier work on them here.
I should probably explain why I’m working on the Tomte designs. While my mom was living, she collected Swedish things, and one of her favorites were the little Tomte figures. Each Christmas, I would go to a nearby Scandinavian store and find her something. Not always a Tomte, but something I knew she would like. So whenever I see a Tomte, it brings a smile and a tear. I miss her at Christmas, and this is one way I can remember the fun we had together.
Okay, this post is really going to be keeping it real, friends. You’ll even get to see my highly scorched ironing board that I need to re-cover. Someday. So let’s get to it.
This weekend was a mix of busy and quiet, depending on the day. We attended a wedding on Saturday and served in the kitchen, so we were grateful for the cool weather. The reception was outdoors and it was a beautiful day for it. It was a simple, beautiful wedding.
Thank you to all of you who commented on the Devil’s Claw quilt. I meet with Connie today to hand off more quilts, and will relay your good thoughts to her as well. I enjoy hearing from each of you, and do my very best to respond back to each of you!
I mentioned in my last post that I had time to do some fun projects while waiting for Christmas. It was a nice, pieceful (see what I did there?) time and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
While we were in Palm Springs recently, BigJ took me to a quilt shop (love the man) and, of course, I picked up some fat quarters (and a few other things that would fit in my suitcase). They were an impulse buy and not really in my usual color choice range, but I seem to be expanding my stash to brighter, bolder colors. This is one of them. (My son calls it the bacteria fabric – ha!) I like the funky colors and design and thought I could draw some other fun colors in with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the name of the fabric line or designer so I can’t share that with you.
I wanted to do the Twirl Me pattern designed by Beth from Cooking Up Quilts. It’s a paper-pieced design, which I enjoy sewing now and then. It was so much fun. The pattern finishes large enough to make a mini from one block (it measures 18″ square), but combining multiple blocks would create a very fun secondary pattern too.
It always takes me a little bit to get back into the rhythm of paper piecing. Which means I usually have to do a bit of ripping at first. Once I get rolling, though, the process goes quickly. I enjoy how well the points come out, and I get so much satisfaction from tearing the paper away when the blocks are done. It just feels like I’ve accomplished so much with that little pile of paper on my table.
The blocks above are right after I’m done sewing them, waiting to be trimmed, with the paper still on the back.
These items really speed my paper piecing along . A small cutting mat, a small rotary cutter, a small ruler and these tweezers. I can sew and piece most of the block while sitting right at my machine. The tweezers really make picking out the little pieces of paper so much easier. (Notice my seam ripper didn’t make the cut!)
Beth’s instructions are so well done. They are clear and easy to understand, and her foundation pieces are easy to follow. Beth is a delightful person, and she’s quick to reply if you find you have a question (even in the middle of a crazy busy Christmas season).
Here’s the top, all sewn together. It’s very bold and bright, but it was very fun to make. I was a little surprised at how much the green fabric took center stage, actually subduing the red fabric more than I anticipated. I just thought it would help tone down the craziness of the red fabric and pick up the green in the fabric. Note: The colors in the photo are nearly as bright as the real thing.
It’s hanging on my design wall, because every time I look at it, I smile. If I could change anything, it would be the blue/brown combo at the corners, maybe opting for a softer brown and maybe replace the blue with the green fabric. The next time I make this pattern, however, I’ll use some quieter colors and give the block a whole different look.
It’s also hanging on my design wall as a reminder to finish it!
I plan to add a thin layer of batting to the top and do some quilting (keep your fingers crossed that it turns out okay). This is going to be a pillow (I think? If not, a mini), so I hope to get a pillow form soon and get this finished. I’ll show you the finished pillow in another post.
By the time I post this, I’ll have my shopping done, I hope! I have done much less shopping this year, most of it either local or online, so this week is quiet and relaxed. I have not set foot in a mall for any Christmas shopping! So I’m enjoying some time just playing in my quilt cave, but more about that in another post.
Since I’ve been giving a mini tour of my Christmas decorating, I thought I’d show you where this little snowman runner ended up. It’s a small runner, maybe 6 x 20-ish, so I had to think a bit about where to put it.
I realized that I had the perfect spot for it above my kitchen sink. BigJ hung it up for me; we just tacked it to the wall with straight pins. It makes me smile when I look up from my chair and see it in my kitchen. I collect snowmen, so this little runner belongs in my home. It was a kit given to me by my sister-in-law. She knows me well.
Today is the winter solstice. That combined with my dark little house has made it a challenge to get decent photos. (Better photography should probably be on my list of goals for 2017.) That being said, I hope you’ll still enjoy the peek at my home.
And then there are the family stockings, which we hang on the railing of our staircase so they are visible from our front door. Three of them were made by BigJ’s grandmother — his and our two kids. I made the fourth, for me. I did have a stocking as a child, and I still have that stocking somewhere, but it was just the saddest thing ever — not handmade. I’m not sure what the story was behind it; I never thought to ask. In a family of sewists, you’d think I would’ve had a handmade stocking! So, anyway, I made my own, with a snowman, of course!
Lastly, I thought I’d sneak in this little stocking that is a favorite of mine. They are a paper-pieced pattern that I picked up at a local quilt shop that is no longer in business, unfortunately. It is a great pattern for using scraps!
One more post before the Christmas festivities begin. I hope you are getting those holiday projects done!
Well, honestly, I’ve not been working on any quilting today. However, I do want to show you two of my projects that I have been working on.
I finished the top of the sampler. This is a pattern I found while browsing through a quilt shop and it just cracked me up. This is definitely true in my little corner of the quilting world. If I had to change anything, I might’ve changed the third line to read “I don’t know what’s for dinner”, but it will work as it is.
The fabrics I ended up using aren’t quite what I had thought I would use, but they are all fabrics from my stash, and now that it’s come together I really do like them. The gold scallops will have buttons in each of the scallops after the quilting is done. This will hang in my quilt room when it’s finished.
The pattern is called Stitcher’s Priority by The Birdhouse Patchwork Designs. The finished size is 13″ x 17″.
The other project I’m working on is my little trees. Here is where I’m at. I’m not sure where I’m headed with this. I’m still pondering whether I want to leave them as is, separate them and try something else, or what. So this will percolate a bit over the weekend.
I hope you all have a relaxing weekend, whether it is celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, or just enjoying time with family and friends.
It’s been a bit since I’ve posted, so let me give you a peek at what I’ve been up to.
Part of my work these past weeks has been trying to figure out how to restock my quilt room. When I cleared it for the new flooring, I was determined that I would make it less cluttered. While I think that will eventually happen, I am now in the “Keep” “Give” “Find a Place for This” phase. I’d like to be done with it all, but I have a feeling it will be an ongoing process.
Meanwhile, BigJ had a conference in California and I decided to tag along. We thought it would be a fun deviation from the chilly Minnesota weather in November. Funny thing, we had extended warm fall weather right up to our trip, so we went from lovely mid-60 degree weather to beautiful 70-80 degree weather. We did our best to enjoy it anyway!
Morning coffee included these views.
We had a free day before the conference really got rolling, so we decided to take a drive on the Palm to Pine Highway. This is apparently the course for a popular bike race. The winding roads, no shoulders, and drop offs made me wonder why anyone would want to do that. Not to mention the climb, ending around 8,000 feet. I’ll just keep my foot on my sewing pedal, thanks.
We stopped off in a little mountain town, Idyllwild. Isn’t that a great name for a mountain town? We weren’t quite used to the time change (2-hour difference for us). We got up early and headed out, so we arrived at the town around 9:30 California time. Not many shops were open, so we just walked around the town. Soon we were ready for lunch, but it was only 10:30 (12:30 in Minnesota) — thankfully we found a place that was open, the Gastrognome. The food was delicious, and the name made us smile. Here’s a view from our table.
Unfortunately I didn’t find any quilt shops in Idyllwild, but we did enjoy browsing in a few of the other shops in the town.
We finished our drive with views like this.
Meandering back to the resort, we stopped at a quilt shop in Palm Desert — Monica’s Quilt and Bead Creations. I was so busy looking at fabric that I forgot to take any pictures. It was a lovely shop and I impulsively found a few things. Look at these fun fat quarters!
There wasn’t much time for stitching during the trip, but I did manage to get my two woolies done.
We took a ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The last big highlight of the trip was a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. We went later in the day so we could see the sunset; it was worth it. What a beautiful place!
As much as I enjoyed the trip, reading your blogs had me itching to get back home and do some quilting. Here’s what I’ve been up to.
Just before we left, I quickly stitched up these little 2″ tree blocks. They are paper pieced and I made 12 of them.
I had to leave them at this point, so I was pondering what to do with them while I was gone. I have an idea in mind that I’ll be working on today.
I’m also working on my sampler. I had hoped to have it done so I could post it here today, but it didn’t happen. Part of the pattern included wool, but I didn’t have enough wool, so I decided to applique quilt fabric in its place. No worries, I like to do that. So I pulled up a movie, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (I was in the mood for an action movie) and got to work. Yesterday I sat down to finish the sampler, only to find that I had appliqued one piece twice and missed the other one altogether! Apparently I was more into the movie than I thought. Anyway, I should be able to get more done on it today. Here’s a teaser shot.
We came home to a blizzard in the forecast. We didn’t get much snow, but those around us sure did. I tucked in and quilted anyway, while we were having thunderstorms and downpours.
As much as I love wool appliqué, I have been missing piecing blocks. So I decided to take a little break and pull out some paper foundation fun. I have had my eye on a little mini New York Beauty block for quite awhile. The pattern is from a Fons and Porter magazine that I’ve had for years.
I gathered my fabric, small cutting mat, and my essential quarter-inch ruler. This block is small enough that I could really use an eighth-inch ruler, but I don’t have one so will make do with the one I have. It is a handy tool for paper foundation. The ruler has a lip on one edge that you butt up against the seam allowance, allowing a quarter-inch seam to be cut.
One of the other tools that I find essential is good lighting, as it helps me to hold the fabric and foundation paper up to the light to see that I am aligning my fabrics correctly.
The trickiest parts of paper foundation is getting your brain around the rhythm of working off of a foundation. I haven’t done paper foundation for awhile, so this is a practice block to remind me of the process and to see if I really want to make a mini (these pieces are pretty small). If you’re new to paper piecing, you can watch a video tutorial here.
Here’s how the quarter-inch ruler works. I fold the paper foundation back, butt the lip of the ruler against it, and cut the quarter-inch seam with my rotary cutter.
I’m making progress — look at those tiny points!
Once you get in the rhythm, it goes pretty quickly.
Once all the stitching is done, it’s time to trim the excess fabric.
Look at those little bright points! Now it’s time to add the curved pieces.
I decided I wanted this fun and bright.
In the picture above, can you see the crease mark I made on the orange fabric? There’s a matching one on the black and white, but it’s harder to see. These are the center marks of both pieces, where I will begin pinning.
Before pinning, it’s time to remove the paper. This tweezers that I just got in my Sew Sampler box from The Fat Quarter Shop is perfect for this task; it’s difficult to get my fingers in those little points!
Pinning is key, together with working carefully with those stretchy edges.
Here’s the finished block, a little wonky but not bad. I’m not sure if I want to do blocks this small. I’ll try another one tomorrow and see what I think.
So now I’m off to do more wool work. I’ve satisfied my yen to piece for now.