Thursday, December 31, 2020

One Last Finish in 2020

I managed one more finish in the final few hours of 2020.  I actually have another project I finished a few days ago that I haven't blogged yet, but that will need to wait a few more days.  I set my OMG with Patty of Elm Street Quilts to finish a Big Sister gift for the 2-year-old daughter of a coworker.  Young Miss N became a big sister last month!  I finished baby brother M's baby quilt earlier in December and wanted something to give big sis at the same time.  I decided on a doll quilt.


One of the sizes I used for cutting my scraps is 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles.  I went through my stash of I Spy scraps and paired them with some Kona Lemon. I laid them out with rows of like colors on the diagonal.  It sewed up very quickly!


I used a wavy serpentine stitch for the quilting; I like the texture it adds.  


quilt back

The back is two different dog prints that I had in bag of leftover I Spy fabrics a friend gave me--I've been using a lot of her scraps lately. I hope big sister M enjoys the quilt with a doll or stuffed animal!  

Also great for staying cozy on the couch!


Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

For the past few years, Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl has hosted a linky party for goal-setting prior to the new year.  I've enjoyed participating and start by looking back at the goals I set a year ago.


On New Year's Eve prior to the start of 2020, I of course had no idea the year that would be ahead of me and the rest of the world.  2020 has been, in a word, challenging. I'm one of the lucky ones in that my job has remained safe (so far) and I was able to largely work from home.  My quilting time did not really change--what I gained in no longer having a commute I lost in more housework and a young kid who was home all.the.time. and wanted to be entertained. The flip side, though, is that since sewing is my stress relief and I desperately needed stress relief, I did make getting into the sewing room a priority.  

2020 Goals --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I started with a BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a concept from Jim Collins' book Built to Last.
Big Hairy Audacious Goal:  Complete 52 Projects
I did it!  I didn't think I'd make it, but I did!  I decided early on that masks would go on my list as project #52, and I have all other 51 slots in my tracking document filled in.  I also have one finish about 10 minutes away from completion and think I will finish it with my one remaining day of the year.  Keep in mind, a lot of the quilts I make are smaller kids' quilts, and many of the 52 are not quilts at all--at least two are felt food I made with my son.  I had plans to recap my projects by type over the last week of the year but that's not going to happen.  Also, that wasn't in the written part of the goal so it doesn't count as unsuccessful :) 
Goal: 20 Donation Quilts
Made it!  I wasn't sure about this one but I have been tracking all my quilts for the year, including recipients, and I have 20 donations!  Most will go to Levine Children's Hospital.  Eight went to Friendship Trays for the children who get meals through them and was my guild's charity project this year.  Two went to girls who were rescued from human trafficking and was sent to Bernie for Merciful Quilts.  (I sent 2 to Bernie but one was from 2019.)
Wildflowers donated to Merciful Quilts

Goal: Find Alternative to Project Linus
Well, sort of.  I've chosen Levine Children's Hospital from the list of places that Project Linus was previously providing quilts for.  But with all the craziness that has been this year, I haven't actually contacted them to schedule a drop-off, though I do have the information for who to contact.  I have a stack of 20 quilts that need to get taken to them (some are from 2019).  

Goal: In-Person Quilting Community
Cue the laughing!  How naive I was!  In person!  I joined the Charlotte Modern Quilt Guild chapter in January.  I attended two in-person meetings before the world turned upside down.  My guild pivoted quickly to zoom meetings and I did manage to stay involved, but I didn't quite get the in-person experience I was hoping for.
Goal: Online Quilting Community
Success!  I specifically wanted to join a few blog hops and I ended up being involved with five blog hops, not including those that are part of my Island Batik ambassador responsibilities.  I also have started actively using Pinterest for quilty things.  While both those were new, I continued to participate in QALs and general blog-following.

my project from the Dust Off a Book blog hop

Goal: Learn EQ8
I'm going to call this moderately successful.  I joined Kari Schell's Tech Know Quilters and while I am quite behind on the tutorials, I can do some things in the program and I recently completed my first quilt that I completely designed in EQ.  I also was able to use EQ to determine color placement for a few other projects.
medallion quilt designed in EQ

2021 Goals -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've decided to keep it fairly simple this year and maintain the things I worked toward this year.
Since I have no idea what 2021 will look like, I don't want to be too lofty with the goal-setting.
Goal: continue to make donation quilts
I don't want to set a number this year, but making quilts to donate is something that I enjoy doing so I want to continue.

Goal: Charlotte Modern Quilt Guild
I will be vice-president of my guild in 2021 which puts me in charge of programs.  We've committed to being virtual at least through June of 2021, so no specific in-person goals, but I do hope to continue to meet local quilters even if it's over zoom.

Goal: Online Quilting Community
I get a lot out of the online quilting community but it's also easy to over-commit.  I think participating without stressing myself out is a good goal.  Specifically, I want to participate in QALs, blog hops, and maintain a quilting presence on facebook and pinterest.  

Goal: EQ8
I'd like to continue to learn and use EQ for quilt layouts and designs.  

Goal: Use what I have
This wasn't a specific goal in 2020 but I was extremely good about not buying new fabric. I purchased 7.75 yards this year, though admittedly the fact that Island Batik sent me two amazing boxes of fabric this year helps me to not feel the urge to buy as much.  I really want to use what I have, be it UFOs, scraps, planned projects, or kits.  
Happy New Year, everyone.  May 2021 see the world fight, contain, and heal from this virus and all the direct and indirect impacts it has had on our lives and our world.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Poncho with Island Batik rayon

One of the things in my January Island Batik ambassador box was a 2 yard piece of a beautiful lavender rayon called Iris Paisley.  I don't sew clothes; it's a completely different skill set and one I have decidedly not mastered.  But back in January/February, I had a plan for that rayon.  See, my office at work was always super cold.  Ridiculously cold.  Multiple maintenance tickets did not solve the problem so my plan was to layer the pretty rayon with some fleece, quilt it, and make the simplest poncho I could so I could essentially wear a blanket at work.  I bought some fleece, layered the two, started quilted a wide cross-hatch, got frustrated with the (small) puckers I was seeing, and put it away.


Then, of course, the world changed and I was no longer going into my crazy cold office.  I completely forgot my abandoned project.  Now that winter has finally arrived in North Carolina, I am getting cold in my house from time to time, especially as my computer sits next to the door to our back deck and I'm still working from home most of the time. So I dug out my partially quilted rayon sandwich.  The puckers weren't as bad as I remembered.  I guessed at the thread I was using (future Emily, please label your projects before you abandon them!) and finished the quilting.  

Iris Paisley

Back in January, I had looked for simple poncho patterns and I think I found one.  Could not find it again.  I ended up keeping the fabric as a rectangle, trimming, and sewing straight lines up from the bottom to form arm holes.  I made bias binding from one of my favorite Foundations fabrics, Dandelion in Jelly, and bound the sleeve and bottom edges as if they were a quilt.

Flattering it is not.  But warm it is!  It's like wearing a blanket!  When I'm sitting at the computer it comes to my knees, so it's a great length for sitting and working.  And with that gorgeous Island Batik rayon, it's pretty to look at.  I wanted to get it documented before the end of 2020.


Pictures from Christmas Eve.  Can you see the snacks out for Santa and the reindeer?

The fabric in this project was provided to me by Island Batik.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Christmas Gift--Call Me for Mom

My mom recently moved to Charlotte from Kansas.  She's in an apartment in an independent living facility and she's mentioned a few times that she needs bigger pockets in her pants to fit her phone and her key/ID card for when she's staying in the building but leaving the apartment.  (They have re-opened their dining room and some masked activities are still happening.) Now, I can't do anything about the pants pockets, but I thought I might be able to solve the problem with a Call Me bag from patterns By Annie.


I made myself a Call Me a few months ago.  I like it but have a few things I wish were different, so I made those adjustments for mom's.  The biggest change is that instead of the vinyl window with a credit card pocket at the bottom, I made it a full-size pocket.  Annie designed Call Me as something to wear at a trade show so it has the vinyl window for a name tag.  Mom doesn't need that feature, so mine has 2 layers of the soft & stable.  One side has the mesh & elastic pocket, as written in the pattern and perfect for a cell phone.  The opposite side on this one has a full zippered pocket.  This should be perfect for mom's key/ID card combo.

The main body fabric is Island Batik, it's from the Catching Dreams collection.  The strap is a purple from Island Batik's blenders collection.  It's a long strap so it can be worn cross-body and land at the hip.  I used By Annie's mesh and fold-over elastic in Tahiti.  


Mom liked it when I gave it to her on Christmas Eve.  I haven't asked her if it works well, but she thought it would.  I want to make myself a version with the full pocket, it will be nice to be able to throw my house key in there. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Giraffe Pillow and PhD success!

This is my third year attempting to earn my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Gail of Quilting Gail.  Gail started the program to reduce her overall number of UFOs.  I started with 14 UFOs on my list and a conundrum.  See, I don't count something as a UFO unless I've actually cut into it or otherwise done something to start--pulling the fabric and planning the fabric doesn't count yet.  So I have far more than 14 because I have lots of planned projects with fabric I already own, I just haven't started them yet.  Since my overall goal is to finish projects with supplies I already have, I stated at the beginning of the year that I could count up to 4 projects not on my UFO list but that I had the supplies for.


One of the projects on my UFO list was "Extra for Miren."  Miren is the daughter of one of my college friends.  She got a baby brother in 2019.  I made his baby quilt but I like to send a big sibling present with the baby quilt.  Thing is, I didn't actually start anything, so I'm not sure why I put this on the list.  Perhaps because I can't mail the baby quilt until I make something for Miren, so in essence that quilt is unfinished?  I would worry about counting it, but I had one UFO turn into two finished quilts, so between the two I finished 13; I'll assume that two mild dubious finishes equal one solid finish and call myself successful!

Miren's dad (my friend) told me her favorite animal is the giraffe.  I made a single giraffe block from the book More Peeled-Back Patchwork: Dimensional Curves for Animal Quilts by Annette Ornelas of Southwind Designs.  The pattern is for a whole quilt and does include a body but that wouldn't work for a pillow. It's a little odd to have a disembodies giraffe head but I like the head itself.  I've admired Annette's patterns for a while and I purchased one last summer, but this is my first time using her peeled back technique.  I loved and will make more of her patterns in the future, I am sure!  I used Island Batik's solid Lime Green for the envelope back.

cushion back

I now have 7 left on my UFO list.  (If you are doing the math, I found two additional UFOs not on the original list.)  One of Gail's rules is that you must finish projects started in the current year, with a few acceptations.  So I will have a fairly small list for my PhD in 2021 leaving me lots of room to make more projects where I have all the components but haven't actually started them yet.

If you are interested in playing along for your PhD in 2021, you can find all the information here.  I'll be back to attempt my 4th PhD!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Quilt for Elephant

My son continues to have an occasional interest in sewing with me.  Our most recent finish is a quilt for Elephant, the largest of his stuffed animal friends. 

A few months ago, Fire Monkey (my son) told me that his stuffed animals have been asking for quilts.  We made one already and it was now Elephant's turn.  I let Fire Monkey go through my pile of 4" I Spy squares from a swap last summer. (I think it was last summer?  Time is funny right now.)  We picked the size based on a fleece scrap I had that we could use for the back.  

After sewing the squares together into a top, we got to Fire Monkey's favorite part: picking the fancy stitches. We chose do stitch the horizontal rows as that meant more rows of stitching.  He picked a bright yellow thread and chose a different stitch for each row.

For binding, I got out my bin of binding leftovers and let him pick his favorites.  I had enough of the rainbow stripe to just use it but he really wanted to use multiple bindings, so we finished off several pieces and used just a little of the rainbow stripes.  It seems to fit Elephant perfectly! Time for a nap, perhaps?

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Carolina Lilies at Dragonfly Pond--An Island Batik Challegne

The December challenge for Island Batik Ambassadors is to create a medallion quilt.  Now, I have never been tempted to make a medallion quilt, so this would take some thought.  Fortunately, we were given the list of challenges at the beginning of the year so I've had many months to think about my medallion.  I really wanted this medallion to hang on my living room wall.  I have one wall with 12' ceilings and I've had a Trip Around the World quilt hanging there for about 10 years--definitely time for a change!  My finished quilt measures 78" square and I love seeing it hanging on my wall.


I chose the Lemon Grass line designed by Kathy Engle as a signature collection for Whirligig Designs.  Lemon Grass is a gorgeous collection of blues and greens, and there are a few prints that have some purple marbled in.  I wanted to pull out some of the purple (my favorite color!) so I added two fabrics from the Foundations collection, Dandelion in Jelly and a Periwinkle dot.  The background is Island Batik's solid black.


The hardest part for me was choosing a center.  I spent a lot of time thinking about possibilities and I kept coming back to a Carolina Lily block. Carolina Lily is a vintage block that I've always liked, and of course there is the added bonus of Carolina in the name, since I live in North Carolina.  Since it's a vintage block there are a lot variations out there.  Once I decide that I wanted to use Carolina Lily, I chose the Fat Quarter Shop's version that is part of their Classic and Vintage series, and I used the helpful tips from Julie at Crafty Quilter in my block construction.


After I decided on the Carolina Lily center, I went to EQ8.  This is the first project I designed in EQ and made!  I've used it for a few other projects this year but more to figure out fabric placement, not to create an actual design.  I've been subscribing to Tech Know Quilters with Kari Schell of On Point Quilter and two of the months focused on medallion quilts.  I used those lessons and the skills I'm slowly learning in EQ to create my design and to finalize fabric selection and placement.



I love the fabrics in Lemon Grass so much that I knew I wanted a few borders to just be the fabric, as opposed to blocks.  I started with one of the fabrics called Rain that I really loved and added purple flowers to the cornerstones to try to create a design that is cohesive with the center.  Do you see anything different from the photo above and the final design?  I originally used the same border fabric with the corner flowers, but after adding the next border decided it would show up better with the black fabric, so I switched them out.

before the switch to black background in the corners

The next border is pieced Hattie's Choice blocks, one of the Blocks on Board (or BOB) dies from Accuquilt.  It was fun to use Hattie's Choice in a way that was completely different from the March challenge

Hattie's Choice border

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use the dragonfly print in Marbles.  I love all the colors in it and I wanted that purple element to not just be in the center.  This is also where part of the name comes from.  There is a Dragonfly Pond at one of my favorite local parks, Reedy Creek Park.  And again I repeated those purple flower buds from the center.

Getting too big for my deck!

The final border is square-in-a-square blocks cut with dies from the Accuquilt Go Cube.  I like it as a frame to the quilt.  If you count the 1" solid black borders in between each round, this quilt has 7 borders!  But even if you don't count those, there are 4 borders--2 pieced and 2 of a single fabric with pieces cornerstones.



When the top was done, I layered it with Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 black batting.  The black batting is fabulous for quilts with dark backgrounds like this one.  For the quilting, I wanted something that would blend well with the greens and blues as well as the black background.  I looked at several Aurifil threads and settled on color 2735, which was the middle blue in my Aurifil Como Colorbuilder set from my first ambassador box of the year.  I tried something new with the quilting and did an on-point square around the very center of the quilt, then continues making squares that radiated out using 1 1/2" intervals.  I don't typically like designs that require burying threads but I'm pleased with how this looks, especially in the center. I put a fresh Schmetz Chrome Microtex needle in my machine before I started the quilting--such smooth stitching!

The materials used to make this quilt were provided to me by Island Batik, AccuQuilt, Hobbs, Aurifil, & Schmetz. 

This is my final Island Batik challenge of 2020.  I've been so honored to work with Island Batik and their industry partners for the second year.  The challenges have really stretched my artistry and creativity and I enjoy seeing what I can come up with each month.


Baby Quilt

My coworker April had a baby last month, which of course means baby quilt! I chose the Galaxy pattern by Villa Rosa Designs.  I've made this once before and it's a really fast finish.


I decided to use animals as my theme and went through my stock of 5" squares to find some good ones.  The background is Kona Regatta. 

I pieced a back from some pieces a neighbor gave me when she cleaned out her stash over the summer.  The main print has sailor animals, and I added an alphabet print and some chickens to make it big enough.  I hope Baby M enjoys his quilt!

Did you plan along with Bernie at Needle & Foot for her Guess Who game?  It was fun and much harder than I expected!  Most guessers did not correctly identify me.  Here's my photo, my mom thinks this was the first day of first grade.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Guess Who!

Looking for something fun to break up the monotony of our current daily lives?  Bernie from Needle and Foot has a fun game for you!  She contacted several quilt bloggers and collected pictures from when each was young, like 1st or 2nd grade, and has put together a Guess Who game.  One of the photos is of me, but no hints!  You have until the end of the day Friday to guess on Bernie's page and be eligible for a small prize.  Have fun!

Friday, December 4, 2020


Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Cookie Exchange blog hop!  Our hostess and mastermind, Carol of Just Let Me Quilt is generous in what we can post for this hop.  While highlighting holiday-themed projects you've already completed is allowed, I knew I wanted to use this hop as motivation to finish a UFO.  In 2017, I participated in the New Quilt Bloggers group. Twelve members from that group started a Christmas-themed QAL that year.  I completed that quilt, and I liked the Snowman block designed by Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting so much that I planned a quilt of just snowmen.  I cut out pieces for 9 scrappy snowmen.  I pieced 5 of the blocks.  All this in 2017, and it has been in that state ever since.

Until now!  I think my original plan was to decorate each snowman in a fairly intricate fashion, but since that didn't happen in 2017, it certainly wasn't going to happen this year!  I'm not entirely sure what my original vision was, but I'm really pleased with my posse of snowmen.  


Sherry's pattern calls for embroidery of the faces but I used fabric markers instead.  I gave some snowmen a smile and some buttons.  I did hand stitching for the arms on a few and markers for a few others.  On those with busier backgrounds I skipped the arms.  I figure this variation gives a bit more visual interest.

 I quilted it with vertical wavy lines, hoping it would look like snow is falling.  I like the effect.


There are a lot of tiny pieces in this 12" block but it sews up so cute!  Sherry has the pattern for sale here if you are inclined to make your own snowman.  When the QAL happened in 2017, lots of people added some really creative accessories to their snowman, there's lots of room to play with this one.

Here in North Carolina we don't get a lot of snow but when we do, my son always wants to build a snowman.  We've made a couple really small ones, probably less than a foot high.  Like I said, we don't get a lot of snow!

As you can see, I went completely scrappy with this.  Some fabrics look a little Christmas-y but I wasn't trying to make a Christmas quilt.  Though I did pose for photos by our Christmas tree.


The Snowmen was on my list of eligible finishes for my PhD (Projects Half Done) with Quilting Gail.  I just need one more finish this month to earn mine!

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers featured today as part of the Virtual Cookie Exchange!

 December 4

Just Let Me Quilt

Quilt Fabrication

DesertSky Quilting

Seams To Be Sew

Happy Cottage Quilter

Pumpkin Patch Patterns & Quilting

The Darling Dogwood That's Me!

Kathleen McMusing

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December OMG

Well, here it is the beginning of another month and time to set a One Monthly Goal with Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  I have a coworker who had a baby two weeks ago.  I plan to take her some food, but before I do I need to finish the baby quilt and big sister present!  The baby quilt is almost done, just needs the last of the binding stitched down.  So my OMG will be to decide on and make the big sister gift for 2-year-old big sis.  I will either make a pillow or a doll quilt.