Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Secret quilt finally revealed!

Light fixtures got in the way. This is a big quilt!
I named it "Mostly Troubles" because all but two of
the fabrics are from the KT line by Moda.
I hadn't planned on making any quilts as gifts this year. Some years I make a bunch, other years I make none. This was going to be a "none" year. But sometime in October DD#1 called to say none of their quilts fit their new bed and could I possibly make them one for Christmas. I used the Primitive Gatherings "Picnic Quilt" pattern and added several borders to make it big enough, since the pattern doesn't include any. It is a quick quilt to put together, and I think the results are quite nice.
The trick to the whole thing was whether or not my LAQ could squeeze it in to her schedule to give me enough time to get it bound, seeing that I am the WORLD'S SLOWEST BINDER! It all worked out and it felt good to be able to wrap this up a couple of days before the recipients arrived to spend Christmas with us.
It was a great, but different holiday. DH came home from work early on Friday and went to bed, sick. (He didn't surface again until Tuesday.) Saturday DD#1 and her hubby arrived to spend Christmas with us and our two 20-something sons came home for the holiday weekend. They have spent the last few days moving all of their stuff home to take over our basement. (After being empty-nesters for some time it will be interesting to have a lively household again.)
For Christmas Eve dinner we had all of our children, spouses and grandchildren for a total of 12. Oops, I forgot Mona, DD#1's new puppy, which the grandchildren love!
Christmas Day brunch included Saturday's group plus my parents and my MIL for a total of 15 (oh, and Mona).
The day after Christmas we hosted the party for DH's side of the family for a total of 23--that includes Mona. She was, after all, often the center of attention.
Needless to say, I haven't cooked for the past two days and the fridge is still full of stuff!

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but my guess is that a good share of men leave much of their shopping until the last couple of days before Christmas. Such is the case in my home, and since DH spent that time in bed, I got to finish up for him. These two books were under the tree for me. We had purchased the "Country Threads" book for me with a coupon at JoAnn's on a recent trip to town. After giving it away on my blog last month I decided I would like my own copy. The other book is one I had looked at on-line before. It isn't new, but I liked what I saw. So when I saw it on clearance at a local bookstore I thought I couldn't go wrong for under $9.

On Tuesday DD#1 and I visited some stores in town, and that included a fabric shop. Of course, I visited the remnant baskets and found 4 great CW prints.
The Christmas stuff was all on 40% off. There was a fun line called "Scandinavian Christmas". DD bought pieces of several of their prints that included little hearts and mushrooms. I cleaned off the bolt of the creamy fabric with little stars from that same line. I love finding holiday sale fabrics that aren't really limited to the holiday. I have used star fabrics found at Christmas sales for quilts made throughout the year.
I love the Christmas season. Stressful at times, sure, but it has that special magic in the air. Every carol sung, and every strand of glowing lights, every "Merry Christmas" greeting, every gift exchanged, and every look of wonder on a child's face just confirm to me that this is a time of peace and good will. We focus more on the love of our Savior and that translates into acts of kindness everywhere we turn. I am always sorry to see it end.

May the new year bring you joy!
Janet O.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mini Quilts, and Costumes Galore!

Recently mini-quilts have captured my attention. Thanks in large part to Kathie and Dawn, I have now made seven mini-tops in the past few months. I have quilted three of them so far.  This most recent mini flimsy finish used some scraps gleaned from the scrap tub at a now closed LQS. Whenever I saw holiday fabrics I snatched them up. The plaid and the holly fabrics were both from the scrap tub. I hadn't planned on using them together, but when it got right down to it, I like what they do for each other. I want to quilt a holly pattern on this, but I will need more FMQ practice to get those leaves to really look like holly. It may have to stay a flimsy for a while longer.
See the yellow chalk pencil lines?
But I did finally finish the binding on this little quilt that is currently in my header. A few of you had suggested straight line quilting and I liked that idea. I'm happy with the result. I  used the "double bubble" design for the outer border. I'm sure there were other designs that would have looked better, but I am very limited in my repertoire of quilting designs I am comfortable enough to use. This isn't perfect, by any means, but for my third FMQ piece, I am satisfied with it. One problem, though. I used a Fons and Porter yellow chalk pencil to mark the straight lines. I have used the white pencil on hand quilted pieces and on my last FMQ piece, and it rubbed off easily when I was finished. This yellow isn't coming off. Any suggestions? Does it just have to go through the wash? If you have any experience with this color chalk pencil and can give me some ideas, I would appreciate it.
For now this little quilt sits proudly beneath my German Pyramid Nativity. It fits the top of the cabinet perfectly!
And while I am on the subject of Nativities, I have to come clean. No, this isn't about my soap making! I have been teasing Subee about her pencil boxes and other forms of organization and OCD-ness. Well, I have skeletons in my closet of obsessions, too.

These photos were taken at our family party last Monday. This is the nativity that the little ones put on, and I have three grandchildren in the mix. The costumes are my obsession. It started years ago when we didn't have enough little ones to fill the roles and we started drafting adults in the parts. I felt like the bathrobes for shepherds and oversized men's white shirts draped with tinsel garland for angels and old brocade draperies for wise men that we had been using with the children didn't quite cut it for adults to wear. So I started making adult size costumes. For several years we put them to use. See below.
 But the new adult costumes made the children's costumes look shabby, so I had to make new ones for the kids. The problem was that I never knew when to quit. Each year it seemed there was someone I needed to costume that I couldn't fit and I would make a note to get a costume made that size for the next year (even though that person would probably not be that same size the next year--chances are someone would be). I just kept sewing and sewing--grabbing fabric at thrift stores and clearance sales--I could fit anyone from a 6'5" wise man to a 1'6" angel.  Then a few years ago I was in charge of the program for our church Christmas party. I decided that the children should do the Nativity scene accompanied by the songs they had been learning on the bell chimes. I didn't have costumes the right sizes for so many children that were similar heights--so I sewed some more!
Do you know anyone else who has three large Rubbermaid tubs filled with Nativity costumes? Even now I find myself fingering fabrics at the thrift store or clearance tables in JoAnn thinking, "That would make a great angel costume", or "What perfect fabric for a shepherd's robe." I still have a box of fabrics for potential costumes that I dip into now and then to make "just one more wise man this year."
So, my apologies, Subee. I have no room to tease. I may not have pencil boxes, but I have Rubbermaid tubs of costumes that are about to burst. May have to start a fourth one. : )

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!
Janet O.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Angels we have...had in our stash for a long time!

I went 10 whole days without touching my sewing machine, other than to tack down a belt loop on my son's slacks. When I finally did sit down to sew it was to stitch binding to the secret Christmas gift quilt. As I have said before, I am THE WORLD'S SLOWEST BINDER, a title I wear with consternation. I spent hours yesterday doing the hand sewing and I am not even half way through binding the queen size quilt.
So tonight I rebelled! I needed to do something that called for a creative effort. I rummaged around and found some Christmas fabric that I think I bought over 15 years ago (anyone recognize the Brannock and Patek angel fabric--copyright date 1995? I still have a couple of yards of it).
The colors on this look dark, but they are pretty true. I had to take several
photos to get one that stayed this close to the actual fabric colors.
 I just started playing with it, having no specific pattern in mind. Then I decided to do 9-patch and snowball blocks. When I realized the gold corners on the snowballs were creating a star effect--kind of a "Sister's Choice" look--I decided to carry the gold corners into the red border and eventually had this little table topper. That makes two table toppers that are ready for FMQ. I just need to figure out a quilting design, gather my courage and go for it.
I've made no progress on my Rocky Mountain Christmas Quilt. I've been doing too much of this...
One of two baskets filled with gift bags of my herbal soap, ready for delivery!
and this...

Holiday shortbread, plain and jam-filled, being plated up for friends. I
have six holiday shortbread pans, and with three ovens at my house, I
can bake up quite a bit in a short amount of time.
along with delivering the goodies, attending choir practices for the Christmas Cantata at church Christmas Day, shopping, decorating, and all the other things all of you are trying to keep up with, too. When I think about it, to me the biggest mystery currently in the quilting world is how any of you are keeping up with Bonnie's mystery quilt. Yet blog after blog I see the evidence of the QSTs, HSTs, and string blocks accumulating on your sewing tables--some in neat little baskets (you know who you are), some in orderly stacks, and others haphazardly piled in a semblance of organization. I commend you all and stand in awe.
Christmas may bring with it a hectic pace and a stressfully long "to do" list, but I am loving the holiday music (the old standards are my favorites) and movies (again, I lean toward the black and white classics), the lights and Nativity displays, the festive foods and atmosphere of good will. It will be over all too soon. I want to relish it while I can. I think I'll go put in another Christmas movie and pick up where I left off on that quilt binding.
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where we are hoping for a white Christmas,
Janet O.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Table Toppers and a Winner!

My new header photo is something I have ready to quilt, but can't decide on a pattern.

It is going to go under my German Pyramid Nativity, which is one of my favorite Christmas decorations and I felt it was time it rested on something grander than a red and green cloth napkin. I made this little topper using the bonus HSTs that are accumulating from the Rocky Mountain Christmas Quilt in my previous post. I really like it, but as I mentioned above, I can't decide how to quilt it.

And speaking of quilting, my last two posts have shown a little table topper that I made as a Thanksgiving hostess gift. I didn't like my quilting job (it was my first), so I was making another one to swap for it. Well, here it is.
The quilting on the border of this one turned out so much better, IMHO. I think if you click to enlarge the photo you can still see the chalked grid on one side. I used it to help me space the leaves evenly, and then I used a less contrasting thread. I quilted the rest of it the same as the first--which you can see here. I think you can tell that this one makes me much happier.

Now for the part you have all been waiting for--the winner of my Bloggerversary giveaway is Carla! I have already emailed her for her snail mail address. She actually doesn't live terribly far from the valley I call home, but we have never met. We hope to change that someday.
Maybe you didn't know that I edited my last post to include a gift of my handcrafted holiday soap to another person, so Ruth, of Country Log Cabin, that person is you. I will need your snail mail as well.
Congratulations to you both!

That does it for now. Hope you are making time to enjoy the Christmas season!
Janet O.