Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beginning a New Year!

Normally I try to spend the first week of each month cutting out all the projects I hope to accomplish that month. Since I'm really trying hard to stay focused on completing my UFOs this year, this week I just made a pile of the fabrics and patterns/pieces/etc. of the projects I'd like to make. Some of them ARE my UFOs, but there are other new projects in there too. I decided not to cut them until I'm ready to get started on them, because if I don't get a chance to work on them, they may end up becoming UFOs too!

My priority project right now is the quilt I'm making for my grandson, Hunter's 12th birthday. His birthday is next month, so I'm really pushing to get it finished (it's also one of my UFOs, since I cut it out last year!) Hunter is very appropriately named, since he loves all things hunting and fishing. He goes hunting with his dad on a regular basis and I believe Hunter has actually shot his own deer already! So half of the blocks in his twin-size quilt are 9-patches, using camouflage fabric--something every hunter is very familiar with.

I searched all over the internet to find fabrics with a hunting/fishing theme and was fortunate to find several. I fussy cut those fabrics to make snowball blocks for the other half of the blocks in the quilt.

I wanted to get a variety of the fabrics and scenes in each row of the quilt, but my design wall (board) wasn't big enough to hold 10 blocks in a row. Since the 9-patches are the same throughout, I removed them (except for one at the beginning or the end of each row) and laid out all 13 rows of the snowball blocks. When I start sewing, I'll just take the snowball blocks from each row and combine them with the 9-patches to sew them together. Hopefully it will work as well as I expect!

While I was busy working on my blocks, Laura was also busy working on hers! I had cut 2.5-inch strips and had her sew them to one side of each 9-patch. I trimmed two sides of the 9-patches first so she'd have a straight edge to sew the strips to.

Then I had her sew another strip on the other side. I was very pleased that she sewed all of those second pieces correctly on all of her blocks. And I've also been impressed with how much better her sewing has become! I didn't have to pin any of the pieces for her--I just gave her a stack of blocks and one of strips and let her do it all herself. Her seams have been much more consistent and accurate too. Yay! That means less work for me!

However...all of the blocks needed trimming! I usually square up all of the blocks from every quilt that Laura makes since there are such uneven edges in them. She IS getting better and hopefully the day will come when I won't have to trim for her. But before she begins sewing the blocks into rows, they should be trimmed so they'll line up accurately and produce a nicer looking finished quilt. I've come to realize that the irregularities within the blocks really don't matter--the quilts still turn out beautifully!

After measuring, I determined that the blocks should be trimmed to measure 7.5-inches square. That meant that some blocks had quite a bit cut off and some had very little removed. Trimming all four sides of 74 blocks is a LOT of work too!

While I trimmed her blocks, Laura stitched the binding down on her little wintry table runner.

I thought it turned out really cute! In fact, I like hers better than my own!

This is mine--not nearly as colorful or cheerful as Laura's, but at least it's finished and not another UFO!

One of my UFOs was this Chicken Coop wall hanging. I started it years ago when I was still decorating my kitchen with chickens. It's a wool felt applique project and I had done everything but the hand quilting on it. I had even marked it for quilting, but had only taken a few stitches, and they were in the wrong color. A couple of weeks ago I got it out, removed the previous quilting stitches and started working on it again, taking a few stitches whenever I had some free moments. Well, I finished all the hand work on it this week and then went ahead and added the binding too. So this is now my first completed UFO for 2015!

Laura is holding this for me, but not staying very still!
I am really a sucker for some of the projects Shabby Fabrics promotes! I saw this English Rose BOM and signed up--using traditional applique. The first block is quite large, about 18"x 20" but just lovely! I've done quite a bit of applique, using a variety of techniques and some of the ones Shabby Fabrics uses are similar to what I've done before, but some were a bit different. This is the block BEFORE I had done any stitching on it. You assemble the whole block with the pieces glued down and THEN do all the applique stitching. It took quite a while to get all the pieces cut out, assembled and glued. I'm hoping the process will take less time for future blocks!

It's challenging for me to sit still and sew by hand when I could be getting so much more done in the same amount of time by machine. However, I LOVE doing hand sewing--applique, embroidery, quilting, etc. I know there are some online groups doing slow sewing, so I decided this year that I would do my own version. Sort of "giving myself permission" to sit and sew by hand. My plan is that every Thursday Laura and I won't go down to the studio, but will sit in the living room and work on hand sewing projects and watch videos. I can't believe how excited I am about doing this and how much I'm looking forward to it! An added bonus is that I'll be close to the kitchen where I can keep an eye on something cooking, so I can bake bread, make soup, even do some canning. Oh, the possibilities!

Oh, I almost forgot! Yesterday (Saturday) Charles kept Laura occupied so I could go down to the studio and sew by myself for a few hours. I listened to an audio book while I put the pedal to the metal and finished all 25 blocks of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery.

So now Laura and I each have all the blocks completed and ready to be assembled into our quilts--she has her Dancing 9-Patch blocks and I have my blocks for Hunter's quilt and also the Mystery blocks. It looks like next week we'll be...Getting More Done!


  1. Quite an accomplishment! I love hunter's quilt and Laura's table runner is impressive.
    Having to trim all those blocks can't have been fun either!! You have a wonderful start on the New Year...hugs, Julierose

  2. You two are so organized....:)) Great blocks. I especially love the disappearing 9 block.

  3. Love your birthday quilt. What a great way to use the fabric. I think that Laura and I are two of a kind. I end up with blocks like that sometimes too. Laura's table runner is fabulous! She should be very proud. Great accomplishments, especially with the Grand Illusion. I am still cutting parts for step 2.

  4. Love your Chicken coop and English Rose! :)