Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review Part 1 -- Recent Finishes

Once again I didn't expect to be this long from the blog but things have been both busy and stagnant since my last post in November.  But I wanted to close out the year by taking a moment to look back on what has happened and what I can expect for the New Year.

Getting Back To the Teaser

In the last post I had teased  this.....

Click on the picture to what the squares say up close! 

....and thought I 'd get back soon for a detailed post.  This STILL isn't THAT post but here's a look at the whole project:

I've used that white shoe cubby in my quilt space for years to store my fat quarters.  When we moved in 2011 and I set up my studio in our dining room, I felt that the box (which hangs over my cutting table) would need something to make it a little more interesting.  

Early in 2012 I saw this dresser when Monique Reynolds of the Monique's Stitches/Sew Fun By Monique blog did a guest post on Allison Rosen's Within A Quarter Inch blog.  I loved it and it reminded me of a project I had wanted to do for my old quilt space:  make curtains alternating selvedge string squares with panel blocks I had purchased from Block Party Studios (Note: the link is to their latest panel "What Quilters Really Think V" although my project used panels from versions II, III & IV).   

I was a little disappointed when we moved since the curtains wouldn't work for the dining room but when I saw Monique's dresser I realized I could retrofit the idea to my storage box.  The result is what you see here.  I leave it open on a day to day basis (I love to see my FQ's!) but can close the front down when the dining room space has to do its normal duties.  

I have two other projects planned for my quilt space which I hope to get to in 2014.  When they're done I hope to do a "my quilt studio" posting.  This year was a very special one for my little quilting space but I'll say more about that in that future post.

Another UFO Down

For the last two years my goal has been to clear out UFOs and WIPs.  Unfortuately, I've found myself bottled up lately when with the year rushing to a close, I realized that there was still a (too) LONG list of things I had wanted to have done before the year ended.  With Thanksgiving and Christmas and a spate of volunteering at my DS2's school I was pretty sure I wouldn't get to all of it.   But wanting to get at least something knocked off the list, I had gone back to working on another old UFO and managed to get it done at the start of December.

This is called the "Sage Sampler".  None of the fabrics are actually sage colored --- it's named after the color of the frame I put it in.  The blocks finish at 3" and was an attempt to work from a limited pallette of scrap fabrics.  Started way back in 2004, I had six of the blocks done and made the green Fleur De Lis applique in 2010 after I took a Hand Applique course.  Wanting to take as few old UFOs into the New Year as possible, I pushed to finish this one.  And now after all these years it is finally hanging in my bedroom as originally intended.  Hopefully for 2014 I can finish the three other quilt projects I have planned for that room as well as finally work on the wood I bought to make some quilt display ladders.

The Magi Were Better Gifters

Another thing I wanted to finish up were some projects for a friend of mine.  My friend attended her first quilt show with me earlier this year (although she is not a quilter).  It was the New Jersey Quilt Fest and will be coming up again in March 2014.  While there we went to a lecture by Kaffe Fassette and all the quilts from his last book "Shots & Stripes" were on display (and for a great review of the book see this post at the Quilt Inspiration blog).   My friend had particularly loved his "Girder" quilt.  At the time, I got the idea to make her a mug rug "snapshot" of it as a remembrance of attending the show.  Here it (finally) is (finished size  6-3/4" X 5-1/2):

The mug on the back  is a quarter size version of the "Big Mugs" block from the Dec '/Jan '14 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine and can be picked up from their website here.  Unfortunately, I still owe my friend two other gifts, a cat panel print that she purchased at the show that I am now feverishly trying to finish quilting up for Christmas for New Year's before her next birthday in February!  The other is a jewelry pouch I started years ago for her that is complete except for embellishment (I want to try some beading and couching) and binding (in more of those shot cottons!).  As I said, she'll definitely have it for her birthday at the latest (and hopefully THAT won't be famous last words!)

Well that's it for the recent finishes, Part 2 of this post will review the finishes from the beginning of the year and the additional things I hope to accomplish in 2014!  Stay tuned!

2013 Year In Review Part 2 -- Early Finishes and Plans for 2014

In Part 1 of this post, I talked about my recent (since November) finishes.  As for the early part of this year, my other finishes have been detailed in previous posts and they included:

January: UGRR/Pioneer Samplers

March: Merrimac Dresdens

May: Brrr!

and the "Tribute" fabric line series all completed in June:

Tribute Mini and Star Spangled Runner  

Looking back I guess I really can't complain about my productivity but that also doesn't guarantee that the REST of the UFOs will get done either!

So what's up for 2014?  Well, the UFO fest must continue because I want (need?) to clear out some of the stuff sitting under my cutting table so that it can be fully functional (that is, be closed down when I need it to be).  My Double Wedding Ring  project is one of those gremlins under the table that comes to mind since it's one of my original bucket list projects and right now only needs borders and quilting.

More than a couple of my UFOs are TBQs (To Be Quilted) so I hope to sprinkle in more than a few those as well.

I'm realizing more and more that I am comfortable with doing the actual quilt stitching so now it's only the "quilt whispering" (deciding what to quilt where) that I have to get more confident about.  In a conversation today with Teri Lucas (check out her work and blog) at Hartsdale Fabrics a LQS, she gave me a lot of ideas and a challenge to try in the coming year to help loosen up my willingness to let my quilting get "Foot Loose and Fancy Free" (which just happens to be the name of one of her many classes, check out the details of that and all her classes here).

I am also only a few more projects away from completing my first "quilt gallery" in my home.  I've always wanted to create quilt displays around my home tied to a theme.  The UGRR/Pioneer Samplers and Merrimac quilt are part of a series of quilts I have done using Civil War reproduction fabrics.  In the TBQ pile (bottom left) is my CW Chronicles BOM a bed size top that once finished will be displayed on my bed.  The UGRR/Pioneer Samplers have been hanging at the top of my entry stairwell since they were finished in January.  Also in the works are sampler blocks for not one but TWO lap quilts that will be displayed on my couch.

I've got about half the blocks done for both and already have border and backing fabrics purchased so hope to get those finished in the early part of the year as well.  Lastly will be a couple more mini quilts as well as the "Soldier Cot Quilt" from Kathleen Tracy's book "The Civil War Sewing Circle".  Along with the Merrimac Quilt these will be displayed in the stairwell  that goes upstairs to our bedrooms.  I had hoped for this to have all been completed by the end of this year but now am shooting for a finish by June of 2014.

What's the biggest project on my "To Do" list?  Early last year a quilting friend and I initiated talks to do a quilted project for the Bronx division of the New York City Family Justice Center that aids victims of domestic violence. The plan at the time was to make three quilts for display in their offices.  The projects will include some fabric squares embellished by the clients of the office.  We procured some donated fabrics back in July and the embellished blocks were delivered at the end of August.  I was able to do some preliminary work on it but have not been able to proceed on it as the school volunteering and  holiday commitments got under way.  I realize now that the problem is that this is not something I can work on in between other projects, I'm going to have to clear the time and space to focus on this by itself if I am to move it forward.  So this will have to be a priority project for the New Year because I really want to deliver something wonderful for an important organization that is doing work for a very worthy cause.

But before all that can happen I have a quilt date tomorrow!  Tomorrow the Planet Patchwork website will be holding its VERY LAST New Year's One Day Mystery!!!!!   This website will be shutting down for good in 2014 so this is my last chance to participate in one of these.  They have held these Mystery quilts on either the day after Thanksgiving or New Years Day for years.  The projects are designed by Merry Meyhem, the alter ego of quilt designer Merry May and co-author of the book "Insider's Guide To Quilting Careers" with Linda Hahn.  I have participated in two previous mysteries, one last year and in 2007 so I really wanted to participate in this one last time.  The good news is that if what they say is true, the fact that I'll be at the machine at the very start of the year will be a good omen for how I will (or hope to) spend the rest of the year! 

This also sets me up for more UFO/TBQ quilting in 2014 since last year's mystery needs the borders finished (I changed the design of the original) and the 2007 one is TBQ.  I am sorry to see this website go since it was one that was very informative for me when I first started quilting.  However, the bonus for me was that I finally scored a copy of the "Dear Jane" book from the their store closing sale.  Doubt THAT will be added to my 2014 project file but definitely some "Janey" work will be in my quilt future! 

So that's it for me and 2013.  Here's hoping that you and yours have a joyous New Year's Eve and a healthy, happy, prosperous and productive 2014!!