50 shades of… yeah, not going there.

It’s January 20th and I am very nearly done with my first quilt of the new year! This is kind of amazing to me. Especially because I feel like we’ve already been crazy busy this year. There was seeing Star Wars for the 2nd time, checking out the lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens, going to the National Western Stock Show, and still working to integrate our new kitty into our family…

Working around all of that, I started a quilt. I thought I’d have more time- the baby is not due until later March- but it turns out that the shower is this weekend- so I sprang into action! Fortunately, I had a plan in mind all along- Star Bright by Swim Bike Quilt. The baby is a girl, and the mom and I share a love of a particular color scheme.

I had a false start- my original batch of greys was way too brown. So I replaced some and was much much happier! Honestly, the trickiest part of this one is truly picking the fabrics… Also really neat about these greys- some from my scrap bin go back a decade or more, and some are brand spanking new. I love that!

The three-day weekend meant that I had enough time to baste and quilt this sucker- using my brand new quilt bar. I wish the arm(?) came further forward to line up with the walking foot, but, it was still a help.

I tried a pop of aqua for the binding- and I have to say, I’m loving it. Not loving so much the self-threading needles I bought as an experiment. img_2354Not all that easy to thread after all, and then I broke my thread several times when it caught on the top of the needles. I quickly went back to my old needles…

Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see all my helpers. George (top right) is the newest member of the family (adopted 12/18/15) and as such, hasn’t yet learned not to climb on the sewing machine table. He was deeply offended that I wasn’t petting him at that moment. Wally, bottom right, at least had the decency to wait until I finished basting before he sat on the quilt. And Bob, normally the worst behaved of the lot, actually was happy to snuggle on my feet while I hand bound the quilt.

 Even with all this help, I still managed to almost finish the quilt last night. A teensy bit more hand sewing and then burying a few quilting thread ends, and it will be good to go! Whee!

Then back to the Tardis quilt- which has actually been started! Annie and I are still in the cutting tiny squares phase, but now that the design wall is free again, we can start laying it out.

Linking up with Sew Cute TuesdayWIP Wednesday and Let’s Bee Social.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost and Found

Okay… 2015 wasn’t exactly my best year for sticking to blogging. I tried. I sewed a millions miles of stitches, knitted all the things, and even took some cool trips. That should have been content for a whole year… And yet…

My excuse for totally falling apart at the end of the year is a sad quilt story that eventually had a miraculous ending. I made a lovely quilt, using some of my beloved Tula Pink Elizabeth, for a new baby in the family. Not a relative we’re close to, but still. Babies get quilts,  right? And I FINALLY got it quilted and in the mail in early November.

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And I heard nothing.

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And so I asked my MIL to discreetly check in with the recipient, as she was seeing them over Thanksgiving.

And the unthinkable had happened.

The package had not arrived.

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And here is the part where you learn from my mistakes. Though, really, you would never have done what I did. You’re smarter than that.

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I shipped the quilt via the US Postal Service, priority mail. And I didn’t insure it- because a handmade quilt is priceless and how would I prove the value anyway? And I also didn’t bother with a tracking number, because the postal service has never ever lost one of my quilts before.

Cue me banging my head against the wall and sobbing. Shaking my fist at the sky and muttering curse words. I contacted the postal service. First time filling out multiple pages of forms on their website, it crashed at the end and didn’t register my inquiry. 2nd time I made it through, and was rewarded with a form response saying they’d get back to me. A few days later I got a different form email that told me my problem had been forwarded to the appropriate department. 2 weeks later I got an email survey asking me to give feedback on the service I received. You can imagine how I filled that out! And that was the last I heard from the postal service.

Sniffle.

I was so down, and I didn’t want to admit this had happened. I didn’t want to blog about it- both because I was in denial, and because I didn’t want you all to know how dumb I am.

And then- a miracle occurred.

I mailed the package to our relatives at 123 XYZ St in CAMBRIDGE, MA. A rug cleaning shop at 123 XYZ St in WATERTOWN, MA received the quilt. But here’s the miraculous part- my relatives have used the rug shop before. And the shop owners recognized their name and address. And the quilt made it to the family.

Seriously.

(I still haven’t gotten an official acknowledgement or a thank you note, but my MIL assures me it arrived…) (I mentioned that we’re not close to these relatives, right? This is part of why…)

Anyway! 2015 taught me a very very valuable lesson. I’ll be shipping all quilts via UPS, not the postal service, from now on. If for no other reason than their customer service is more responsive. And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll also hold out hope when the odds seem stacked against me!

Here’s hoping you had your own (major or minor) miracles in 2015- and the 2016 is even better!

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Something’s Fishy

I just finished a quilt of a kind I’ve never made before: a commission. While working on a bunch o’ baby quilts for work-related babies, one of my coworkers wondered if I could make one for her brand new nephew. Apparently his nursery is “nautical”- fairly vague- but I took that to mean fishy. If it is preppy and plaid with blue anchors and such, well, oops…

I found an ocean themed print that I adored, and then I went stash-diving.

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This pic makes me so happy. I really love these fabrics together. I ended up adding some more as I went, as the pattern I used, Charm and Squares by Elizabeth Hartman, lends itself very nicely to scraps.

Life got in the way- our vacation in September followed by what seemed like a million obligations in October. Halloween is by far our favorite holiday, and we had so many fun things to do last month! But then November arrived and I finally found some sewing time.

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Please pardon the terrible photos. When I finally finished, I was so eager to take it to my colleague that I tossed it in my car before I stopped to take photos. So the hallway by my office had to suffice.

If I had it to do over, I would have been much more careful about the placement of the yellow fabrics. And Not had the ocean fabric making that strong diagonal.

That obligatory monday morning quarter backing done, I can honestly say I love this one. Especially the back.

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That’s a Kaffe plaid shot cotton that has been in my stash forever. And it was literally a perfect match. Plus, look at how wonderfully crinkly it got after one washing!! I was going to use a peachy-orange for the binding, and that might have been a better choice for the front, but the ocean fabric made the back pop perfectly.

Now for the hard part. I’m supposed to tell my colleague what she owes me. I’ve never done this before- added a price to a quilt. Advice?

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Wordless WIP Wednesday

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Swoon-worthy Finish

Apparently my September beach vacation- which was awesome, thank you for asking- derailed not just my blogging but also my crafting. Shame on me… I have actually done SOME sewing since then, though admittedly not much. Also some, but not so much, knitting. (And about a million Halloween events and other stuff too…) I finally got off my tuchas and took some photos of my minimal accomplishments for you. I have been watching all your work- especially if you’re on IG, and you’ve been doing some great stuff. I’ve missed chatting with you all!

This is just one of the many baby quilts I’ve been working on lately. I have had that dinosaur batik in my stash for more years than I care to remember, and when I learned one of my colleagues was having a baby- who turned out to be a lovely little boy- it seemed perfect. Not that I wouldn’t use dinosaurs for a girl (I got quite the lecture about this from my daughter) because I totally would. But they just seemed perfect for this little man.

See?

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He’s such an adorable little guy… And while I was finishing up this quilt, I found out 2 more colleagues are expecting, so I have more work ahead (both plan to find out sex of the babies, so I’m waiting to start until after the 20-week ultrasounds.) Plus 2 other work friends who each had their first baby last month- 1 top done, one quilted and ready for binding. Meanwhile, though, let’s stop to admire this one.

I used this recipe from Lily’s Quilts to make one giant swoon block, and then I added a border of more of the dinosaurs. Because, dinosaurs. It went together SO fast- this is a great baby project.

IMG_9854 IMG_9855 IMG_9851 IMG_9852I used the power of Google and Pinterest to get quilting ideas for this project- and I love the way it came out. I kind of want to make the same quilt all over again just so that I can quilt it again…

Linking up with TGIFF and Finish It Up Friday.

And crossing my fingers that I can get back into the bloggy swing of things…

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Wordless WIP Wednesday

   

 
 

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Elizabeth for Charlotte…

Turns out I will go to damn near any length to avoid basting. Because last week, I didn’t touch the 2 finished baby tops- but I did complete an entire NEW top.

Actually, I was just really inspired. I’ve had a large pile of Tula Pink’s Elizabeth since right when it came out. I LOVE that line. But I haven’t had a plan for it. I just needed to own it and pet it. You guys understand, right?

So my husband’s first cousin, much younger than him, just had her first baby- a little girl. We’re totally not close to them- didn’t merit a wedding invite or anything. BUT. A baby girl is an excuse to make a quilt. A baby girl named Charlotte is an excellent excuse to use fabric inspired by English royalty. And, it’s never a bad thing to make a gesture that could bring a family a bit closer together, right?

Once I got the idea to make Charlotte an Elizabeth quilt, I just couldn’t stop. I browsed my Pinterest boards for ideas, and I found the perfect one.

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This Moda Bake Shop pattern was perfect- they used a blank center square, but I thought it would be the perfect spot to stick Elizabeth herself! It’s technically a charm pack pattern, so I pulled fabrics and cut my own squares. Fabrics range from really old AMH to really recent modern prints, and tons in between.

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I modified the pattern one tiny bit- I added a row of the background fabric as a border around my center square. I needed it to balance the pattern after I swapped the center out from plain to pattern…

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Once I got going, I had to tear myself away. It was a work night. It was bedtime. I did’t want to stop. It was such a fun project- so fast and satisfying.

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Later in the week, I got the top completely done.

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It looks super ripply, but I’m blaming my very ripply design wall for that.In retrospect, I’d leave out the two paler purple fabrics and use two darker purples, but it’s really fun and happy. If I can bring myself to baste it, sigh, i will have it done so fast. (Especially as this baby is already here, and the other 2 quilts are for babies due later…) I have my binding fabric picked out- the Tula pink from the squares- but not sure what to do about the back. Maybe I’ll use more of my precious Elizabeth? I did buy it in 2 of the color ways…

And if I finish it before 9/4, I may still not pop it in the mail. Why? Oh, you know, because I’m going to get to MEET TULA PINK that night. It’s so awesome- her new line, Eden, contains a print with what can only be described as a fancy tiger. And my amazing LQS/LYS is called- wait for it- Fancy Tiger. So Tula herself is having a lecture and release party at my store! And I bought my ticket to the now sold out event the minute I heard about it… Does anyone know etiquette for this kind of event? Can I bring a quilt or two to show her? (Thinking specifically of my City Sampler top…) Can I bring books for autographs? Can I get through this without embarrassing myself? (Yeah, I think we all know the answer to that…) Also- what do I wear?????

Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

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The end of the rainbow…

A few weeks ago, I managed to quilt and bind my rainbow star quilt. It was a quick quilting project- I just did crosshatch through the middle of the blocks, but- I didn’t go through any of the white star pieces, so there were a LOT of ends to bury. A LOT. I finally managed to get photos of the finished project, and I got it shipped off to the new arrival. Since it arrived yesterday, I can finally share it here! (I’m feeling extra warm and fuzzy because, aside from the fact that this is one of my fave finishes ever,  my cousin said receiving this makes her want to keep having babies. Best compliment ever?)

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I took the quilt up to Breckenridge with us for our mini-break, and enlisted my campers to help take photos when we picked them up. (That stunning backdrop is just part of the glorious place they spend a week each summer… poor kids.)

I ended up using a black and white original pearl bracelet for the binding- thank you for all the suggestions!

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And the back came out nicely too-

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Happy friendly monsters all around. They always make me think of the classic The Monster at the End of This Book– I loved it when I was little and read it to both my kids. Maybe I should make sure the new baby has a copy?

Hopefully soon I’ll have a photo of the wee one with her quilt- but at least we have a trip planned for a family wedding in October, and we’ll get to meet her then.

Linking up with TGIFF and Finish It Up Friday.

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A perfect pair

No excuses for the length of time between posting. I just have to accept that summer and blogging do not go well together for me. (We DID have a lovely weekend in the mountains, where we discovered a new hot springs retreat and spent our 16th anniversary sipping daiquiris in a natural hot tub…)

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But you didn’t come here for the gratuitous anniversary pix. Did you? I mean, if you did, that’s cool. I have more I could show- oh, no, you’re not interested after all? ;-)

But what I really wanted to show you is that I managed to finish the 2nd baby top of the pair I’m working on!

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I got the rows of HSTs together, with fairly decent points. Good enough that I can live with them, anyway…

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I put on the borders, again, directionally. You can see that there are some- gasp- cats in these particular cuts of the “doggy” fabric. Since the mom-to-be receiving this quilt isn’t JUST a dog person (like the other mom) I made certain the cats ended up in this quilt, at least as much as I could.

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So here they are together- a nice, complementary pair. I got the back for the first one pieced, but gave out before it was time to baste it. Possibly because I hate basting? I had some of the doggy batik left, and I pulled in some very precious yardage from a piece of Anna Maria Horner’s bohemian (I bought 5 yards of it years ago, and decided to stop hoarding it…) I didn’t piece the 2nd back, yet, but I will. After I force myself to baste the first one.

Meanwhile, my youngest starts middle school this week, so I’ll be quietly having a nervous breakdown over there in the corner. At least school start dates are staggered so I have nearly 2 weeks until my oldest starts high school. If it was the same day, I might never recover…

Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

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Ennea-quilts

Maybe I should just give up on summer blogging? Even when I manage to find time to sew, I can’t find time to type. But at the moment, my kiddos are BOTH away at camp in the mountains. Husband had to work late last night, and I got an entire quilt top done in one night*! And dammit, today I’m going to tell you about it.

I went back to the pair of baby quilts mentioned in my last post. I figured out the layout for each one. And each has a sneaky little inside reference that is making me so happy. The professional development group that I am in with both moms-to-be has often worked with a very cool tool called the Enneagram.  When first introduced to it years ago, I worried that it would be too touchy-feely for me. I was so wrong! Each personality type is assigned a number. I’m a textbook 5… And one of the moms-to-be is a 3, the other a 7. I managed to work out my designs to reflect that- and to not have a single block leftover!

Our first mom is a type 3. So she gets 3 rows of chevrons!

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The border is the wonderful doggy batik I showed you up close last time. I noticed that there are actually 2 different cats hidden in the pattern. Mom #1 is totally a dog person, so I tried to cut the borders carefully to include as few cats as possible. And I did cut directionally…

Mom #2 is a type 7. My original layout was set 6×6, but, I had enough blocks to make it 6×7- so she has 7 rows.

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I actually like this one a lot better as a rectangle. It seems to work with the reverse layout. This one is also getting borders- a tiny bit skinnier than the other one- but as you can see I didn’t get to it last night.

And it will take another few days to get back to it. Somehow, when planning the kids’ week away at camp, I didn’t even notice that they would be gone over out 16th wedding anniversary. So we’re sneaking away to the mountains for 2 nights all by ourselves! Whoooooo!

* btw I did finish quilting and binding the quilt for my new cousin- and I’m planning to mail it this week! And hopefully even blogging about it.

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Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

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