Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Gifts and Goals

There hasn't been a great deal of serious sewing here the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would share some of the projects I couldn't reveal before Christmas. This was actually not a gift--I was in my studio (as I am most afternoons) and Mary came and requested a microwave heating pad. She gave me the dimensions she wanted and I chose this flannel horsey fabric and got it made in no time. I simply cut two rectangles about 8.5" x 12.5" and sewed them right sides together on 3 sides, then turned it right side out and sewed lines to make 4 channels. I filled the channels about 3/4 full with white rice, pinned to keep the rice under control, turned under the edges and topstitched twice to close securely. She said it was perfect!

Laura has a tendency to stick her needles into an old tomato pincushion, where they eventually disappear! When our Small Quilt Group had the November challenge of making these cute little needle cases, I knew one would make a great gift for Laura. Now hopefully we'll be able to find her needles when she needs one!

Mary's favorite color is purple (it's mine too!) and I wanted to make her a jewelry case. There's a strip of felt on one side for earrings and ties on the other to hold rings. Mary doesn't really wear rings, so she's going to give this case to a friend and I'll make her another one with the earring strips on both sides.

I used a piece of plain white elastic cording for the button closure, but afterwards at the store I found some hair elastics for children that are in lots of different colors. When I make the next one, I'll be able to use a matching elastic. Here's a link to the pattern for the jewelry case if you'd like to make one yourself.

Although these LOOK like little beanbags (and that's pretty much what they are!) they're intended as handwarmers. They're also filled with rice and you heat them briefly in the microwave and then tuck them into your gloves or mittens. They're only a few inches in size and make a super-fast gift. I always have cold hands myself, so I love them, even if no one else does!

We use a lot of glass bowls for reheating foods in our microwave. Unfortunately, the glass often gets hotter than the food! It's always been a challenge to take the bowls out of the microwave without getting burned. So when I saw the idea for these microwave potholders, I knew I had to have a set.

And I also thought they would make great gifts for my kids! They're quite quick and easy to make (although, if you're making 18, it does take most of the day!) They're basically squares of fabric and batting with darts on each side to help shape them to fit around a bowl. Then the two squares are sewn together. They work wonderfully--you just set the bowl inside the potholder and put the whole thing in the microwave. When the food is heated, you lift it all out and serve your food.

I didn't actually make this as a gift. However, when all the family (21 of us, anyway) were going to my daughter's for Christmas, she asked if I would bring some blankets and/or quilts for her to have and keep. I made this top a couple of years ago, and then last year I made some changes to it. It's the Bloom Bloom Pow! quilt from Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts and the original design for this size had the blooms at the top and bottom cut in half (which made the design evenly rectangular). I wanted them whole, so I made some more pieces and fixed them before finishing the quilt. I LOVE how it turned out!

On an entirely different note, Bonnie Hunter revealed the Grand Illusion Mystery. All my pieces are sewn, and laid out to assemble, but I haven't done any sewing them together...yet. That's next week's project.

Our Small Quilt Group on Yahoo has the challenge for January of making a disappearing 4-patch block. When I read the instructions, I realized that, except for the cutting, this was something Laura could do too! So for the first time, she and I worked together on making a project.

I wanted to make a little winter table topper for my entry and this seemed like the perfect choice.

And here is Laura with hers. After taking pictures, we added borders and I drew lines for quilting. She keeps reminding me that we're going to sew and quilt on Monday! We should have pictures of finished toppers next week.

The past few days I've been working at cleaning and organizing my studio...and planning my goals for 2015. I've decided to only set three goals and one of them is to complete 75% of mine and Laura's 64 combined UFOs. That's 48 UFOs, so I'll have to finish 4 each month. This is a picture of most of the UFOs, although you can't see them that well. This is a 2-foot deep shelf and they go all the way to the back.

Our Stashbusters Yahoo Group does a UFO challenge every year (I'm participating in that) but this year they've also added a Number Challenge. You make a list of your UFOs (I put mine in alphabetical order) and number them. Then every month the challenge leader chooses 2 numbers and you're supposed to work on those UFOs that month. This month, the numbers are 8 and 35. I included many of my orphan blocks in my UFO count and this one was my #35 UFO. This was just a random block I had that I really liked. I had already added the purple and floral borders around the original block, but never got any farther than that. My plan is to make it into a pillow. We shall see later this month how it turns out!

My Number 8 UFO was a much greater challenge. Some years ago I made a Broken Star quilt (which is actually still a flimsy and also on my UFO list!) but somehow ended up with SEVEN leftover Star points! WHAT do you do with only 7 points?? They were too pretty and too much work to just toss, so they've been languishing in my orphan pile. But this week I pulled them out and looked at them more closely...

When I placed them on my design wall, I remember just how much I love those Lone Stars! So I went rummaging through my fabrics and discovered I still have some of each of the fabrics in these original points. Now I have a plan! I'm going to make ONE more point, sew the star together and then make it into a quilt or wall hanging. I'm actually excited now to move forward on this project!

With all those UFOs, I should have plenty to keep me busy this addition to keeping Laura supplied with her own share of projects to work on (14 of the UFOs are hers!) She'll actually be working on some of the UFOs, and I discovered she also has a bin with LOTS of 4-patches that could be made into several more quilts. So it looks like it's time for the two of us to...Get Lots More Done!


  1. Looks like you are both going to have a very busy year--sounds fun! i like those microwave holders--I have been grabbing my dish towels (as I can never find a potholder it seems LOL) and folding them to use..these look like the perfect solution, Thanks..Looking forward to seeing your projects emerge.....hugs, Julierose

  2. So many pretty things have been accomplished. I am envious of your lone star it is gorgeous.