The Beginning of the End

I’ve been away a wee bit, but unlike seemingly everyone else in the quilt world, not at Quilt Con… Rather, I was in DC (my old stomping grounds for 7th-12th grades) for a funeral. My great aunt passed away; she lived a long and good life, and was ready to go, so while I am so very very sad, I am also happy that she met her end on her own terms, at home, at relative peace. I left the husband at home with both kids. They all traded cooties which I seem to have missed. Hopefully. Then I flew back into town just hours after my MIL flew in for a visit… So the last 10 days or so have been simply insane.

I *did* manage to get to a fab yarn shop while back East- Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA. I treated myself to a luscious skein of locally hand dyed sock yarn that is part cashmere. And my god, it was SO cold while we were there, I was debating trying to whip up new socks in one day. Instead, I kept going on my packed project- a slightly less squishy pair of socks. Mom and I decided to make the most happiness out of this sad trip, and so aside from getting to spend wonderful time with family, we also went to my mom’s fave museum, our favorite restaurant, and the National Portrait Gallery so I could visit one of my loves…

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All of this also meant that I hadn’t sewed in a bit. BUT! I did finally pick a background fabric for my City Sampler:

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Carolyn Friedlander, Architextures, Crosshatch in black- thanks for all the advice and suggestions; they were very helpful!

I ordered it not having seen it in real life, and so my fingers were very very crossed.

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It arrived last Tuesday. Phew! I love it with my colors…

But of course, now came the hardest part- picking a layout for my blocks. Because I was worried that the grey blocks would retreat into the background fabric, and because many of the pink blocks used the same fabrics over and over (oops!), I decided a rainbow-esque layout was out of the question. Instead, I needed to mix them all up. So, I sorted the blocks into piles arranged by dominant color, totally cleared my design wall, and got down to business.

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Slowly, slowly, a layout began to grow. I don’t know how long I spent arranging and rearranging, but I came up for lunch ;-) There was a lot of stepping back across the room, and sitting in my sewing chair, just looking. I really tried to achieve a good balance. Finally, I ended up here:

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(PS Did I mention that my design wall is just barely too short to put up all 10 rows by 10 rows? SO annoying. So that top row is crammed up there, folded in half…)

I was worried that the greens pop too much, but not much to be done about that now. I got to cutting, and got all my background strips ready to go. And then…

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It’s a terrible cell phone photo, but I am in LOVE.  Love. The dark but not too dark crosshatch fabric makes all the blocks pop. You can really see the colors, and the piecing. And the many raccoons, squirrels, and foxes I fussy cut throughout the thing. I got through 7 of the 10 rows before I needed a break- plus, time to watch the Oscars. (How on Earth could NPH be so dull??) There will be a 2.5″ strip of sashing between each row, but I wanted to get each individual row pieced before I started joining them all together. That will hopefully happen this upcoming Sunday. I was briefly hopeful we might get a snow day on Monday- and then I’d be showing you a finished top today- but no such luck. Instead I slogged through a 2 hour carpool from hell since none of our kids’ schools were on delayed start- thank goodness the school where I work was, or I would have been so very very late.

Here’s hoping that I DO have a finished top to show you by next week… I’m so excited to get this one done.

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

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL, WIP Wednesday

Back, for the Future…

On Sunday, I did something very exciting- I spent the day piecing the back for my Modern Cross quilt, and also prepping the top to be dropped off, and then I took them to the longarmer!

This quilt, by the time I get it back, will have been a 4 year project. 4 full years. I had big plans for it to be my February AYOLF project, but it turns out my quilter has been getting a lot of new business. I am very happy for her- and really, at this point, if I don’t get it back until April, does it really matter? What’s a few more weeks? (Besides, it’s king size, and it will be pricey… fair payment for amazing work, but still a hit for my budget…) So, it’s not to be a February finish after all.

At least I already owned enough coordinating fabric to piece the back without spending a penny.

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Sometime, years and years ago, I bought huge yardage of those 2 Kaffe fabrics. Like, at least 9 of one and 7 of the other. (Gosh, I hope they were on sale. I bet they were.) They coordinate perfectly, and they work with the top. I also had 7 blocks left from the front, so I decided to piece them into the back. (2 of them are the same- and that fabric didn’t end up in the top at all- I couldn’t decide if it was green, blue, or purple, and so my OCD side didn’t know where to put it…)

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I put them into the center of the center panel of backing, then I added the corn-ish print to either side. When I got to the quilter’s, she put it up on her frame, and I managed to ALMOST get a shot of it- at least enough to give you the idea.

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It’s freakin huge. 108×129. The top comes in at 95×100… We put it up on the frame, too, and I got another shot of the entire thing…

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I cannot wait to sleep under it- especially as the custom quilting Yael designed is awesome- sleek, modern, geometric, and just the right amount of understated. We’re going to do one color change- white on the background, and a color on the crosses. As always, thread color was the toughest choice…

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We ended up going with the purple second from the left. I’m planning to bind in purple, and this one looked so rich and jewel-like on the various squares. I should get it back April-ish, and then, I’ll bind it and sew on 100 buttons, one in the center of each square. I’m not excited about that- but I am thinking in the end it will be worth it. Now for the hardest part- the wait to get it back!

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

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Filed under Modern Cross, Quilts, WIP Wednesday

My Kingdom for Another Yard

So, back in 2013, I made 2 sets of Sugar Block Club blocks- one for me and one for my mom. You’ve seen how my mom’s ended up. But what about mine? Here’s where we left off in Jan 2014.

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Left to right, top to bottom, that is January to December. And please please join me in pretending that you can’t see how much smaller that final block turned out. Ugh. It was paper-pieced, and I checked the printer twice, so, no idea how that happened.

I love these together, and am not thrilled with a few of them individually. I wasn’t sure how to set them, so like my mom’s, they sat around for a year. And then I decided to make another set, and make the top bed sized. We don’t need another purple throw sized quilt around this joint, and I want to keep it.

So this past week, I pulled out the patterns, and the secret stash of fabric I had leftover from the original blocks, and got to work. This time, I tried to make more darker/higher contrast blocks.

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This is what I got done this week- half a year’s worth. But then I had to stop.

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Why? Because this is all the background fabric I have left. I grossly underestimated the leftover pile. I had enough of all the prints to make it through another 12 blocks, but apparently only enough shiny lavender background fabric to make it through 6. The worst part is that I don’t know when I bought this fabric (aside from “over 3 years ago”), I don’t know where I got it, and I don’t know the manufacturer because the selvedge is plain. So when I say I am out of background fabric, I am totally out of background fabric.

Here are all 18 together.

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So now I have the added challenge of deciding how on earth to set 18 blocks. I have varying amounts of all the other fabrics left. And you can sort of see the striped Kaffe Fasset woven below the quilt- I had it pulled aside to do something with this quilt, but what? I’m truly hoping it won’t take me another year to decide…

MEANWHILE… I have a new idea for background fabric for my Tula blocks. After spending the last week looking at layout options, I realized I am really attached to the simple king sized grid layout from the book. With that in mind, I went back to the drawing board, and came up with 2 fabrics from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures line. What do you think of either of these?

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To refresh your memory, here are the blocks…

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I feel like the darker version could really make the blocks pop, without being TOO dark… And the idea to a slightly textured solid is very appealing to me. What do you think?

And if anyone happens to recognize that solid lavender shot through with silver sparkles, speak up!

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Filed under Quilts, Sugar Block Club BOM, Tula Pink QAL

All of Time and Space

You ever have one of those super quick knits that is oh-so-satisfying, and also makes the recipient very very happy? Today I’m going to show you one of those… because even though I knit as much as I quilt- and sometimes even more- you’d never know it by looking at this blog! So let’s look at yarn. And then stay tuned, because boy do I have a proud mom moment to share.

You may know that I am part of a family of geeky nerds. In fact, hard as it may be to believe, I may be the most mainstream of us all.

Chew on that for a few.

You still there?

This is Annie. My sometimes enchanting, other times maddening 13 year old daughter (is there any other kind?)

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Astute readers might notice the Tardis hat on her head. No, that’s not my handiwork- but it is a good example of her daily wardrobe. If it relates to a time lord or a Marvel character (especially Captain America), she’s probably wearing it.

In late 2014, I learned that KnitPicks had temporarily re-released some of their Felici self striping yarns in some very particular and sought after color ways, including this one.

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It’s called “Time Traveler”, and it references the 4th Doctor‘s trademark scarf. I immediately ordered 8 skeins- enough to make a pair of socks for each member of the family. So glad I did; it sold out very quickly! When it arrived, I remembered that my kids don’t like socks.

D’oh. But Annie DOES like arm warmers. So, with this easy and free pattern by Susan B. Anderson, I whipped her up a pair, in just about a week. They were done and being worn everywhere even before xmas. And they actually only took one skein plus a few yards, so I think I have enough left to make her a matching hat!

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Super cool, eh? She loves em. I love that I made her so happy. And that they are machine washable.

And she was even happier this week- last Friday, we went to see Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Don’t know who he is? Even if you don’t, you probably know one of his most famous moments- he was instrumental in the demotion of Pluto from full planet status.

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The next slide said, “GET OVER IT.” Maybe you had to be there, but it brought the house down.

Last week, he gave 2 sold out lectures here in Denver (2,900 seats in the venue!). My mom bought us the tickets last August- the kids didn’t know until xmas- this was their big gift. (As an aside, can I tell you how happy it makes me that my kids were thrilled to receive tickets to a lecture on astrophysics for xmas??) The man was even more awesome in person than you would think, and after talking for 3 hours with no break, he took questions from the audience.

My Annie wants to be an astronomer. And she really wanted to ask him a question- but she ended up fairly far back in the line. I was worried she’d be so let down if she didn’t get to talk to him- but I needn’t have been. When he announced he could only take a few more questions, the audience and the people ahead of my girl asked them to let the kids go! (There were 2 behind her.) And they did! So, thanks to generous and kind strangers, Annie was able to ask her mentor a question.

I totally broke all the rules, which, if you know me, is a huge deal, and used my phone to record her Q&A. But here’s the thing- how often do you get a chance to ask your living idol a question, in person? (Her dead idol is Alan Turing…) So the video quality is crap as I was dodging and weaving to avoid the very, very conscientious usher who was bent on busting every single camera wielding rule breaker in the room. Want to relive the moment? You can, if so inclined… It is pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself. (And if you saw the video on my FB, this is actually the full version with 45 extra seconds…)

PS Linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday

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Filed under Annie, Brushes with Greatness, General Geekery, Gift, Kids, Knitting

More for Mom…

My final finish of 2014 was a birthday gift for my mom- I know, she made out like a bandit this year, right? ;-) I made my parents a set of 8 quilted placemats many years ago. They were blue and white and matched their dishes. Last year, my mom got new dishes: fiesta ware in Paprika and Ivory. The old placemats clashed horribly.

Also a few years back, okay more than a few, I made my folks a quilt for their living room.

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It was PERFECT for their living room in South Carolina, even though the colors were so very very very far from my style. (Also please note my dad was well known for never smiling in photos- he actually was happy with it…)

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Anyway! In my mom’s new home here in colorful Colorado, the quilt is still in the living room- right next to the dining area (sort of one big room). So I busted out the copious stash of leftovers and set about making her a new set of placemats.

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I used this tutorial from Ellison Lane. It worked well with the fabrics, and was fast and easy. No two placemats match, front or back, but I did bind them all in the same fabric for continuity. I just did simple straight line quilting- worked well enough.

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She loved them! Hooray! And as an added bonus, it turns out they have another fan. Mom left them in a stack on her dining table, and found her cat Anna curled up asleep on them. Maybe I should use the remaining scraps to make Anna her own quilt? Probably more sanitary, right?

Of course, when the kids saw these, they reminded me about my plan/promise to make OUR family unit some custom placemats. Gotta get on that…

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday and TGIFF.

 

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Filed under Finish It Up Friday, Gift, Pinned it AND made it!, Sewing (not quilting!)

Tula Tuesday: They’re ALL Done!

Yup, you read that right. All 100 blocks from Tula Pink’s City Sampler- DONE!

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(I know, that looks odd- but my design wall was too short for 10×10, so it’s currently 11×9 + 1…)

blocks 97-100

That right there is the final four. FINAL. I’m still kind of reeling… they’re all done.

All done.

So now comes the hard part- deciding on a setting, and a background fabric. I’m kind of leaning toward the simple but chic Gridlock layout in the book- it finishes at king size, which makes me happy. And I’m leaning toward a nice deep but bright purple shot cotton for the sashing:

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It’s a Kaffe Fasset shot cotton- Thunder. But will that be too much purple? Because a soft grey might also work? Or a teal-y blue green? Or… please, tell me what you’d do. Please? I do really like the idea of a shot cotton- I love the dimensionality they provide. I have enough of the AMH dowry focus fabric that I could use it as binding, which I think will bring it all together.

To refresh your memories, here’s a closer look at all 100 blocks.

tula blocks 1 thru 25 city sampler blocks 26-50 blocks 51-75 blocks 76-100

Wow that’s a lot of blocks…

Thank you all for joining me on this journey- for the feedback, the encouragement, and the kind words along the way. I can’t wait to show you what comes next! Once I decide what that will be…

Linking up with… Sew Cute Tuesday, Fabric TuesdayWIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

 

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL, WIP Wednesday

Sweet, Sweet Sugar

I am so happy to finally be able to share this finished quilt.

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In 2013, I joined Stitchery Dickery Dock‘s Sugar Block Club BOM. I made 2 complete sets of blocks- one for me (in purples and blues) and one for my mom, in much more earthy tones. I gave my mom a set of blocks, not even a top, for Xmas 2013, and the promise of a finished quilt to follow soon after. So that didn’t quite work out. I did manage to finish the top in early 2014 (in fact, almost a year ago to the day!), but I had no idea how to quilt it. I picked it up and put it down. Many times. And felt so guilty that my mom wasn’t getting her gift. Sigh.

Finally, just a few weeks before Xmas 2014, I decided to send it out to be quilted, cost be damned. But I hadn’t sent one out in forever, and I wanted something special and custom. As luck would have it, the mom of a student at the school where I work is an amazing quilter who is just getting her business (Snowflake Quilting) off the ground. And she had time to finish the quilt before Xmas, or at the very least before my mom’s 12/30 birthday. I sent her photos of the quilt, and when we met in person, she had an AMAZING design already sketched out. Each block had its own motif, and then, she created an overall design to tie them all together. The trickiest part for me was choosing the thread color.

In less than a week, Snowflake Quilting had returned my quilt to me, quilted to perfection. The best part? She delivered it to my office when dropping her son off at school, so I got to bask in oohs and aahs from my colleagues. I easily got it bound and washed and wrapped and under the tree by Xmas Eve!

I think my mom likes it!

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And you know how I was torturing myself with guilt all year, because this took me so long? Well, as mom opened it, she was truly confused and shocked. “What is this?” She had forgotten about it! I hope that doesn’t mean I have failed her so many times that she never expects me to follow through with things?

I chose the colors to compliment her basement, which is finished and lovely, and has her comfy couch and big TV. But she likes it so much, she wants to use it upstairs, where she spends more time, even if it doesn’t coordinate as well. I’m glad she’s so happy!

Here’s a closeup of the quilting on each block:

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Amazing, right? I’m so glad I sent it out. I would never have been able to pull off anything half so great myself.

It was finally nice and sunny last weekend, so we took the quilt out for a walk, right behind my mom’s house. Her garden opens directly out into some open space… convenient for nice photos!

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Oh, the back and binding is a fabulous Kaffe that I was able to score on clearance! And… have I mentioned that my 13 year old daughter is now 1/2″ taller than me? That’s her holding up this large throw for me. Yikes.

I don’t think I’ve felt this good about a finish in years and years. Next up- finishing my OWN Sugar Block Club top!

Linking up with TGIFF and Finish It Up Friday.

 

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Filed under Finish It Up Friday, Quilts, Sugar Block Club BOM

Tula Tuesday, Finally… and Almost Finally.

Annnnd… I’m back! Back to the blog. Back to my Tula blocks. Hooray! Over the last few weekends, I made 11 blocks. Blocks 85-96, the final section of the book. (I also binge watched the first 2 seasons of Black Mirror- wow! Love it!)

blocks 85-96

I put them all into a mosaic (in numerical order) to keep this from being the most photo heavy post ever. I thought about splitting them into 2 weeks of posts, but what the hell… here they all are.

Some quick highlights- the deer head fabric in #85 is a new fave- just purchased and already beloved. The bunny peeking out of #86 makes me smile. The constellations in #87 are hard not to hoard. #88 and the fox are one of my faves in the entire quilt. #89 uses that Acacia print I love so much, and own in 3 colors. #90 sneaks in some Parisville (Hi, Audrey and Jane!) #91- more Parisville, and polka dots to boot. Cotton+Steel and some neon polka dots make #92 happy. More fabulous Moonshine in #93. The AMH focus fabric and purples again in #94, and #95 is purple again, with a Birds and Bees print.

Phew.

All 96 blocks are squeezed onto my design wall. They barely fit, and 97-100 won’t. Or they will, but I’ll have to move everything over a few inches and {squish} it all.

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That one block over to the left is a reject, the only one. I may put it into the back. It may end up in some orphan pile. Who knows…

The last 4 blocks are going to be bittersweet. This has been such a fun journey. But it’s too soon to get all maudlin- I’ll save that for next week. Instead, I have to stress out over my final 4 sets of fabric choices. Four final chances to balance out my colors. Four last favorites to feature. Only 4? How do I pick? It’s kind of like picking between my kids, but there’s only two of them. I think I need one more pink block, and maybe another green? And a grey (without the pink neon dot in it)? I don’t need any more purple, but I don’t have a ton with dark purple in them. I think there’s enough blue? Suggestions welcome!

Yikes!

Look for me this Sunday, sitting in a pile of fabric on the floor of the sewing room, mumbling to myself and freaking out. And if I can get through that, maybe I’ll be back next week with 100 blocks.

Meanwhile, I’m linking up with Fabric TuesdaySew Cute Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let’s Bee Social.

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL, WIP Wednesday

Goallllllll!

I’m not usually very good at goal setting, or retrospectives, or decent posts, come to think of it. I look around blogland and I see all your wonderful posts summing up what you did in 2014, and what you hope to accomplish in 2015. I’m so not good at it, I even missed the deadline for Q1 of the terribly popular 2015 Finish-Along.  Zoinks. But you know what? I’m going to try it. I’m going to make a list of goals, and even though I can’t link-up, I’m going to use that timetable to motivate myself.

With that said, here goes:

Goal 1- and it’s a biggie.

Finish my Tula top.

I had intended for all the blocks to be done by November 2014. But the exciting gallbladder episode, followed by the baby boom at Annie’s school, totally derailed me. I’m pleased to say I’ve spent the first weekends of 2015 back at it, and I only have 4 blocks to go! (I’ll be showing you some progress later this week…) But then I need to decide how to assemble the top. Having a deadline will force me to abandon my usual indecisive dilly-dallying. What I know: I want it to be between king and queen sized, to go on our bed.

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Goal #2- begin Annie’s Tardis quilt.

Using this as inspiration, Annie and I are going to work on a Tardis quilt. There has been a pile of blue fabric pulled for a few months now- but no action. Time to get going!

Goal #3- doesn’t count under the finish along rules, but hey, it’s still a goal: start the family placemats I keep promising to make. Thrones the kids have asked about more than once. And after those, an xmas set.

Goal #4- revisit my Sugar Block Club blocks- I have all 12, but I think I might like to make another set and put them into a bed sized quilt. I have loads of leftover fabric, so could easily tackle this. And I do like making a block at a time for a project- I’ll miss it when Tula is done.

Goal #5- baste and quilt the xmas top that has been sitting around for (mumble mumble) years. So long that I can’t even find the blog posts or photos about it, yikes.

That seems like more than enough goals for the moment. Wish me luck!

 

 

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Filed under Quilts, Tula Pink QAL

2015- year of the (sock) monkey?

I fell victim to the holidays… in a good way. There was sewing and knitting going on around here, but no time for photos or blogging. We had a ton of family fun, a wonderful winter break (I still can’t believe how lucky I am in my “new” job- 13 months now- to get 2 weeks off for winter break), and a great xmas. Oh, and my birthday. Thanks to the new job’s schedule, I get my birthday off every year. This year I was spoiled rotten by my family, who got me a new Olfa cutting mat, new rotary cutting blades, a new pair of Machingers, new basting pins, and new flat head pins. Wheeeeee!

Over the break, I made my mom a set of quilted place mats for her December 30th birthday, and I finally finished (by sending it out to be quilted) her Sugar Block Quilt that was supposed to be her 2013 xmas gift. I haven’t had decent light for photos, so you’ll have to trust me on that one. It is stunning- stunning!!!!!!!!!!! And I hope to get some good photos over the weekend. So, basically, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, today I’m going to show you the last project of 2014/first finish of 2015. It’s the final in my long slog of baby quilts. A cousin had baby #3 in October. We’re not close, which makes me sad, and in fact we haven’t even had an xmas card from them in years and years. I made a quilt for #1, her daughter. And then the big drift apart happened. We only found out about #2, a boy, by accident. So sad. my feelings were miffed and i didn’t make him a quilt- I figured if no one told me he existed,  I didn’t have to make a quilt for him. I’m petty. I know. So when we actually got a birth announcement for #3, another boy, I was shocked. And then I decided to make a quilt. Positive reinforcement and all that.

I went stash diving and came up with this.

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There was even enough of the red monkey flannel for an entire, unpieced backing! And the navy blue monkeys for binding. Whee! I love shopping on my shelves…

I decided to go super duper simple as can be, and just did squares. Fast to cut and piece, easy to quilt.

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I had some little leftover bits from cutting the squares, so I did a partially pieced binding.

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And i didn’t have to piece the back.

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So soft, simple, and sweet.

Now I just need to get off my butt and mail it.

I was so very very excited to be done with the baby quilts- and able to go back to my Tula blocks. I cleaned the whole sewing room, and threw all the Tulas up on the wall. I got started again.

And then I checked my email…I’m getting another new cousin in July!

At least that gives me a little baby quilt  break.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday, TGIFF, and Fabric Frenzy Friday.

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Filed under Baby quilts, Gift, Quilts