Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Post of the Year: The End of Final Clearance and a Linky Era

It turned out my "Final Clearance" push did not go as well as planned.  I had hoped to be able to focus on at least four quilt projects once Thanksgiving ended but only managed two between all the holiday doings and both were new projects for Christmas.  I had been stressing about trying to get the last one to a flimsy before the year ended until I took a "motivation break" to do some catching up on Bloglovin'.  One of the first posts I read was Barbara's Cat Patches blog post for the December NewFO link up.

However, reading further I got the bad news: after three years of hosting this fun monthly get together she will be ending the run of the NewFo link ups!  I have enjoyed adding a link to her lineups on more than a few occasions because this is the one place where starting is more important than finishing!  While I hate to say good-bye to this tradition, this is also an opportunity to take some of the pressure off this last project.  I'm joining in to honor it's start since I know I can't nudge it to a finish for now. 

This is "High Strung (Plus 2)" the cover quilt from the book "Tis the Season" by Jeanne Large and Shelly Wicks, a Martingale book
I call it "High Strung (Plus 2)" because for my version, I've added elements from two other projects in the book: in the lower part of the top, the stars and circles are from "Holiday Stars Runner" and the Reindeer is from "To All A Good Night".  Right now the Reindeer looks more like a dog but he'll improve when I decide on the fabric to use to add his bell harness.  All the background fabrics are cottons from Connecting Threads and all the appliques are made from flannel scraps in my stash.

The other completed NewFo this month was a holiday runner from the book "Skinny Quilts and Tablerunners II" edited by Eleanor Levie:

A funny story about how I got this book:  I had added it to my Amazon Wishlist after seeing one of the runners from it in a recent Martingale blog post.  About two weeks later, I got a package which according to the note attached, someone had chosen to make a random selection from all the Amazon wishlists to gift me the book!  They asked that I not contact them to thank them but view it as a "pay it forward" opportunity.  I got to do that a few days later when I manned the evening order pickup table for the frozen baked goods fundraiser for my son's school.  One of the parents who had participated (and who was pregnant and at a midtown meeting) had forgotten to come pick up her order even though I had confirmed the date and time with her a few days before so I personally delivered the two boxes of items to her home after finishing that night. 
The inspiration for the project I did was Linda Lum DeBono's "Birds of a Feather":

I was looking for a quickie runner project to decorate the dresser we use as a sideboard in the dining room.  I realized that I could substitute the bird appliques with a focus fabric, in this case a lovely poinsettia print in my stash of holiday prints. The stash also provided enough coordinates for the frames around the poinsettia panels, the striped panels next to them, the shirred center strip, and the pleated ends. 

For the back, my intention was to just cover it with what I had left of the poinsettia print since it would make an nice reversible mat that way.  However, I didn't have enough to cover the whole back with what I had left of the print so needed to add something to fill it out.  I liked the idea of doing a paper-pieced candle but all the block patterns I found weren't big enough. I wound up drafting up my own pattern to fit the space. 

In the end, I wound up preferring the "back" when I put it out for display!

And as has often happened in the past, these NewFOs also make perfect "Let's Book It" entries too so I will end the year by also linking up with Sharon over at Vrooman's Quilts (and look to do so again in 2015)!
Remember, even though you won't be able to link up NewFOs,  you can still visit Barbara and her cats Smitty and Gracie over at her Cat Patches blog.  I and my family wish you and yours a very Happy New Year full of fun, friends, family and of course Quilts!!

See You In 2015!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Final Clearance! Week 1

In my last post, I showed some of the things I want to tackle as part of my personal Year-End Finish Challenge.  Yet the first project completed has been a non-sewing but quilt related project I've wanted to tackle for a long time --- a couple of quilt ladders! 

I was initially inspired after reading Rose Marie's Applique 'N Patch Quilting blog post on the ladders her husband makes for her.  Later I found Blair's design and instructions on her Wise Craft blog and just knew this was a doable project.  I purchased all the wood and dowels for these last year.  Then just like with a quilt project, although it seemed like a simple enough endeavor, in my mind it morphed into a daunting enough prospect that I let it sit.  However, with the reminder about what I had chosen as my "Word of Year" hanging in my quilt space... only made sense to finish the year as I started.  So I decided it was time to make the donuts!!!

The plan was to make two ladders.  Over the weekend I had checked the measurements of the corner in my bedroom where I wanted to put them and confirm how I would need to cut up the wood to fit.  Fortunately, I only needed to cut down the lengths of one set of the wood supports I had bought and could cut all the dowels into two pieces which would accommodate both ladders.  On Monday after getting the laundry done and while my sewing cabinets were still closed up,  I took the time (and available space) to start cutting everything up.  Tuesday, I finished up the cutting and then sewed up muslin fabric guards for all the dowels -- basically a tube of muslin to slide onto the dowels to protect the quilts from any snags or oils in the wood.  Those done and applied, I could then put the ladders together.  I was able to load some of the quilts on to them that night and finished adding the rest yesterday.

Here they are in place!  I will have to move the bed and my nightstand to the right just a little to give the back ladder a little more breathing room.  For now I'm just glad to have them done and all the wood out of the way.  In 2015, I plan to work on fixing up all the upstairs bedrooms (and hopefully also adding a long desired laundry area) so when I'm ready to paint my bedroom, I'll give some thought to what kind and color finish I want to apply to the ladders.  But for now, I can go back to sewing!

Final Clearance!

Ahhh, December is here and that means it's that time again --- to work on the projects I'd like to try to finish before the year ends.  In the past I've joined Year-End Finish Alongs and did manage to get some things done through them.  This time I'm going to try to go the low-pressure route and just do my own personal challenge.  In the last two years I've gotten a lot of long overdue projects finished as well as a good number of projects completed this year so whatever gets done is a bonus at this point.

I haven't been able to sew at all in the last two months.  I've been busy managing a fundraising campaign for my son's high school and then had to add to that all the clean up, set up and hosting duties for Thanksgiving for my family this year.  I had figured it would be hard to make time to quilt and unfortunately I was proved right!!

But now with the campaign almost done, the holiday now past and the year end upon us, it's time to challenge myself to clear out a few more projects in order to take as few UFOs and PIGS (Projects In a Grocery Sack) into the next year as possible. As usual, this is no small task!  In preparation for the holiday, I had to clean out all the bins, boxes and bags under and around my cutting table since my "Quilt Studio" is in my dining room.  When done, I was left with a fairly large pile of stuff (for now, all piled up in my bedroom).

My flimsy piles have also grown - particularly with the last tops produced for my Civil War Series.  Once I get them all quilted, I then need to finish the display I have planned for them.

There is also the Autumn Double Wedding Ring quilt that was supposed to have already been a completed top by now.  Can it leave 2014 either as a flimsie or dare I hope, even a finished quilt?
I also need to make a baby quilt for a friend's daughter who gave birth just before Halloween.  I've already chosen one of the designs from this book (which I got introduced to through a recent post from Martingale's "Stitch This!" blog)  but it won't necessarily be in these fabrics.  This past year, I had collected a lot of baby quilt fabrics as I went through my stash or caught them on sale.  My plan was to make some quilts to donate, so maybe now's the time to clear out all that too.

Then there are a few new Christmas holiday projects I want to make for decorating this year.

As always, my plans are ambitious to say the least -- but doable?  Well that remains to be seen!  The goal for right now is to try to sew a little each day and see just how much I can get done as the year winds down.  When the fundraising campaign is over in two weeks, I am also looking forward to having a two week block of time (through to New Year's) for a personal "Quilt-A-Thon".  I get excited every time I think about the prospect of being able to devote time completely to quilting!

However, the next post will be about the first "Final Clearance" project:  something quilt-related but not a quilt.  Stay tuned!!