Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Holiday Projects Wrap-up

I've got some things to share and expect to be busy tomorrow so wanted to get in a quick post before we have to head out to see the relatives this afternoon.  It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted so forgive me that this is a bit of a long one (although that is usual for me). 

First off, to those of you who celebrate it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

And to all a very Happy Holiday Season!!
It turns out the last few weeks did not go quite as I expected.  In my December "Get It Done!" post, I talked about realizing that due to life changes, I have to rethink how and when I do my quilting.  That process is still going on although it is not fully settled yet.  However, paying more attention to how my days flowed, I did mange to get a few things done, even if they were not the things on my list!

For the holidays, the plan was to finish up the wool ornaments I had been working on all year (well, at least in the first three quarters of the year!) in preparation for getting a Christmas Tree and to finally quilt the "High Strung + 2" Christmas quilt top I had started last Christmas.  However, I also wanted to make some other holiday decorations and figured they would be quick and easy enough to whip out as a warm up to the other projects.

Right after Thanksgiving, I went shopping and saw this pillow in a local Marshall's:

I've always wanted to make an Advent calendar quilted wall hanging but when I saw this pillow with the little pockets for each day, I just knew this was a better option.  Part of that reasoning involved the fact that  I already had this pillow that lives on my couch: just knew I could make up a pillow cover that would kill two birds with one stone!  So after pulling stuff from stash (fabrics, fusible web for the numbers, stabilizer and ribbon trim for the front), doing some measuring, making some calculations, choosing a font in my wordprocessing program and figuring out how much to enlarge it, and then just generally making a (albeit, creative) mess:

....I wound up with this:

 I bought a few chocolate Santas to fill the pockets and I was good to go!  I even had a fabric in stash that pictures "The 12 Days of Christmas" which I used for the back of the pillow.  I also managed to whip up a label for it with some of the leftovers which was sewn onto the back of the front at the same time the pockets were sewn down:

I also love that I won't have to find a place to store another pillow all year.  When the holidays are done I can just take off the cover, roll it up and add it to the other quilts stored in the bookcase behind the couch.

I thought that would add enough holiday spirit to the couch since I still expected to hang the other quilt and have the tree in the area behind the couch (to the left of where this pillow sits).  However, I still felt the couch would need just a little more balance in the decorations.  No problem since I've collected a number of holiday decorating designs over the past few years.  One of them was this one:

A pattern by Debbie Busby of Wooden Spool Designs, this would be another in the series of projects where I get to work with wool applique.  The details of the design seemed to me to be simple enough that I thought it another thing that could be run up quickly.  However, it should be noted that the pattern is for a 9" x 7" table mat and I was looking to cover this 18" square pillow:

So needless to say, once again I needed to do some calculating to figure out how to translate the design to a pillow and enlarge it to the needed size.  I liked the scalloped edge of the original mat and needed to figure out how to easily translate that to the pillow.  The decision was that instead of the black fabric being a background with the text area appliqued on it, I made the black portion a frame to be appliqued onto a light background and the exposed center would serve as the text area.  All of this was made up from stash:  a Connecting Threads flannel for the background, the black frame and most of the red pennies from my wool stash and two of the red pennies and all the green pennies from the scraps from my (still to be quilted) Home & Heart wool BOM project.  It was also top stitched with the Aurifil Lana wool threads I stashed for that same project.  So that finished up as this:

Now at this point, with it now being the week of Christmas and the two projects I mentioned at the start of this post still to finish, I SHOULD HAVE moved on to those right?  However, by now we found out that we were not going to have to host Christmas (whew!) so decided not to go with a big tree as originally planned which took the pressure off to finish the ornaments.  I'll just add what's left to next year's "To Do" list.   However, I still wanted to do some more small space decorating and since I'd need to clear off my cutting table in order to layer the "High Strung" quilt top (which also no longer needed to be done by Christmas Day), I decided to try to work on something else that was sitting on my table.

During Black Friday weekend, the Primitive Gatherings quilt shop held their "Primitive Christmas" sale.  I had purchased my Heart & Home BOM from them as well as most of my wool stash through a Monthly Wool Gatherers Club mailing back in 2011-2012.  One of the things I purchased in the Christmas sale was a kit for a wool table mat.  I had special plans for this kit that involved these candles (battery operated) that I purchased from Leisure Arts.

Once again, the belief was that this was a really simple design that would make up quick and then move onto the layering of the Christmas quilt.  The good news was that for the most part the cutting and stitching was quick (finished over about two days):

The kit also came with the brown homespun fabric on the left for the backing and was supposed to be finished by blanket stitching the edges.  I had, however, also considered backing and binding it with the red plaid on the right from my stash or even doing a "pillow turned" edge for a cleaner finish and then maybe still adding the blanket stitching as more of a decorative element.  Also as I was stitching around the applique motifs, I thought about how cool it would look to add beads to the trees as "ornaments" possibly to something in the center of the mat (maybe some more applique or a small oval cut-work doily?) for when I decide to actually use this as a table mat in the future.  I admit I wanted to entertain all these ideas but there was no time for it and for what I wanted to use this mat for right now, it was actually just fine as it is!  So executive (and time crunched) decision:  Let's just leave it as is for now, put it in place for decoration until New Year's and add further embellishment of it to the "To Do" list for next year.  I know, I know, I'm asking for trouble but we executives sometimes have to make the tough decisions!!   So that said, up it went:

It is sitting on top of a pretty (turned over) basket that had been part of a food gift basket given to us a couple of Christmases ago.  I always kept it hoping to use it for some kind of display and this was perfect!  I actually have another plan for a display for in the basket come Easter so let's hope the "To Do" list doesn't get the best of me next year and I can get to it!  Oh, and I 've got to say those candles are a great investment.  Here's a better shot of them when the lights are low:
They are remote controlled and can be changed to twelve different colors either separately (as you see here) or as a group.  They also can be set to cycle through all the colors and can be set to "flicker" at two different speeds (hmmm, next time I'll make a video of that and post it). 
Now, I'll bet you're saying:  "that wall behind it looks a little bare".  Well that's just what I was thinking and I had a plan for that too!  Again, back in the December "Get It Done" post, I had led off talking about starting on Pam Buda's "Tucker" Quilt Along.  At the time I was waiting for the final reveal post so I could finish mine.  I didn't do it right then but after finishing the candle display, I realized I had the perfect spot for that little quilt.  Also re-reading the reveal post I realized just how easy a finish this would be since it was not meant to be quilted (although you can if you want to).  Ok, this means I could take just one more day, sew the rows together, make up some quick Flying Geese units for the last part of the QAL, back, bind and hang it up!  So I pulled out the project boards holding the project (these are my Lori Holt (of Bee In My Bonnet) design boards that I made with her tutorial but the Fat Quarter Shop also sells some premade ones now here).  Digging into my CW stash and started cutting some more squares to finish the set up of the Part Three unit (on the right below):
As you can see on the Part Two unit (on the left above) I started to sew the rows together and....what don't you want to hear on Christmas Eve with rows to sew together and another quilt waiting to be quilted?!?  Yes, my Janome machine which had already starting making noise as I was sewing up the table mat, really started acting up as I started to sew these squares. 
The machine in better days when it came back from service in April.
As far as I could see, the bobbin case is not staying in place as the machine begins to sew!  Drat!  There is no way I can take this machine in for service until next week at the earliest and I know that even if I do there's a good chance it won't get worked on until after the New Year!

Ok, technically this shouldn't be a problem since I also have another machine, my old Euro-Pro.  I had used this machine for the first eight years and thirty-five quilts of this quilty life.  However, this machine, purchased from one of the TV shopping networks, had never been serviced and I think it was a little "dodgy" when I last used it.  But, in a pinch, you've got to work with what you've got.  So I loaded it into my table:

...and...Ugghh!!  I'm having the exact same problem!  The bobbin is not staying in place.  Now, I've been sewing since I was a teenager so the workings of machines are not completely foreign to me but these are definitely issues beyond my control.  O.k., there's one last possibility....

I've had this featherweight since my mother died eleven years ago.  I believe it was her boyfriend's machine who had been a tailor.  Ever since I took possession of it, I always wanted and used it as a display piece although I know these are much coveted as "work horse machines" among quilters.  When my Janome was out for service for a very extended period earlier this year, I began to think about pulling down this little machine and figuring out if it was possible to get it in shape for service.  To that end, after reading a few recommendations, I bought David McCallum's book "The Featherweight and I" with plans to one day sit down and learn about what I had.  I've never had to chance to do this until now.  So I pulled it off the shelf, began reading and looking and....

...discovered I was (still) sunk!  The "V belt" that drives the motor is broken!  I did plug it in and the light and motor do work but without the belt to drive the flywheel which drives the needle mechanism, this option is now too a bust.  However, I've started figuring out where to get parts both locally and online.  The belt fortunately is readily available and not that expensive, however, I want to do a full work up on the machine so will need some other supplies to do a thorough job.  So while this won't be an easy solution, it will be yet ANOTHER project for the "To Do" list next year!

So what does this mean for the outstanding projects?  Well, let's just say that on the plus side, this all kind of works into the plans I had set for New Year's anyway.  As I said, I expect to be busy tomorrow but am hoping I can put a post up on Sunday.  For a hint of where I believe I'm heading.....


Hopefully, I'll be back soon with an update!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I hope your machine woes come to an end soon. You will love your Featherweight machine once you get it going.