Saturday, December 31, 2011

gifts in the mail

My one and only hand-made gift this holiday season: placemats for my brother and SIL :)

The super-easy pattern from Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! is found here. There are four separate posts with instructions, so make sure you download all if you want to make these yourself! I did not make the matching cloth napkins as indicated in the pattern, so I only needed 1/4 yard each of the four patchwork fabrics, 1/3 yard of the neutral solid, 1 yard for backing, and 5/8 yard for binding. You can see many more variations of these fun placemats in the flickr group here.

The same five fabrics are used on the front of each placemat, but the placement of each changes slightly according to the pattern directions.  Elizabeth Hartman calls for a solid backing to match the binding, but I used the dishes print you can see here in this next photo, because I had plenty of it, and it's just more fun that way :)

The bindings are entirely machine sewn for durability, and the quilting is simple, straight lines in a random pattern.

I spied these fabrics locally early in the year and considered them for my own kitchen, but since I already had so many projects in the queue, I passed on buying them. After my brother and family visited for Christmas, and I learned their new kitchen color was warm peach with burgundy accents, I immediately thought of these fabrics again!  They are called "Lizzy Dish" by Lizzy House for Andover Fabrics. Not sure when they were released, but lucky me, they were in the sale area at an LQS in late November. 

I had such high hopes for giving lots of hand-made gifts this year, but it just didn't work out that way. Next year I'll have to start earlier... much earlier.

Which brings up a related topic: my project goals list for 2011. I stuck to it much more than I thought was possible for me, and I've already got another on paper for 2012 :)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Remember that tree skirt I was working on in late November and wasn't sure I'd finish before Christmas? I can happily report that it WAS finished. Completely finished. With the binding and everything. Two weeks before Christmas!

Awkward pause... I hear a "but" coming...

But... I chose not to cut a slit from the center all the way to the edge so it could easily wrap around the tree. No-sir-ee, I only cut a hole in the center so if I'm ever tired of it as a tree skirt, I can use it on a table with something pretty and/or functional covering the hole.

Here's where the half-dressed part comes in...

The tree was up and decorated before the skirt was finished. I know, you're shocked ;) After a very comical attempt by my family to lift the tree from the base straight into the air while slipping the skirt under the center pole (it's a 9 foot tree, keep this in mind), we gave up and just folded the skirt in half and laid it under the front half of the tree. Make it work!

Here you can see the whole thing finished...

Quilting close-up...

Border swirls quilting...

And the fun striped bias binding...

I did wash it before putting it to use. That crinkly texture makes it look more cozy and home-y to me. Next year I hope we can remember to put it under the tree before assembly and decorating!!

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

well that only took 21 months!

If you've been with me from the beginning of this blogging adventure (or if you've paged back through old posts to numbers 2 and 3) you might remember this quilt.

Finally after 19 months of stopping and starting, the Italian Tiles quilt is hanging in my foyer!

I finished quilting all but the outer border in September of this year, and then I was just stumped on how to quilt that last bit. I settled on a simple diamond pattern that was easily marked by dividing the border into 3" segments. Then it was just a matter of zig-zagging from point to point, once starting at an inside point and another go-around starting at an outside point.

The binding's been ready for months, and I machine finished it on the back (rather than hand-stitching - too time consuming) so that was a pretty speedy step.

And just in time for the end of fall decorations, we were able to replace the fall-themed quilt that was hanging there for not one, not two, but three fall seasons (and everyday in between), with this new lovely that is much more holiday neutral :)

I'm not really hung up on this "completion thing" when it comes to quilting (obviously), but it does feel oh so good to have this one finished and hanging where we can all see it each day!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

ahhh, now that's better

Wow - what a lot of advice and encouragement I received from you all concerning my "ugly" quilt! I wanted to stick with the center focus fabric and try to tone the whole thing down a bit, so I nixed the orange...

and replaced it with a softer light turquoise (Moda Grunge - not sure exactly which color), and made the outer rim of color one consistent shade of darker turquoise - one fabric is an older Kona Bay marbled print and the other a batik. Much better!!

This is the baby size (42" square) of Jaybird Quilts "Taffy" pattern, which uses the Lazy Angle ruler. Love that ruler!

Thanks for all the kind words and advice! As my friend Vicki always says, "quilting is a team sport."

Friday, December 2, 2011

can this quilt be saved?

I made an ugly quilt. A really ugly quilt. I'm not kidding. Just look at this disaster:

I'm in the process of fixing it. Not sure why I thought that orange was a good idea. When the fabrics were all piled together like this I thought they were lovely:

Tell me about your ugliest quilt. Maybe we should start a flickr group to share all our ugly quilt glory?

Or maybe I'm the only one?

I sure hope not. What a confidence-crusher that would be...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

waiting for spring

Unless you're a family member or close friend of mine you probably don't know this about me... I HATE winter. I can count on one hand the things about winter I enjoy:

1) Christmas Day
2) Turtleneck sweaters - but it doesn't technically have to be winter to wear them. I mean look at Diane Keaton in "Something's Gotta Give", right?
3) Hot chocolate with marshmallows - again, winter not required.
4) One single, solitary, minimal snowfall of 2" or less on a day when my entire family is home with no requirements to leave the house. Said snow must have disappeared by the very next day for this to count as an "enjoyed" item.
5)at this point I can't even come up with a #5

Everything else about winter - I've got absolutely no use for it. I often joke that I need one of those "SAD" lights, but maybe I need to stop joking and buy one - anybody out there use one?

Back to the point - this week I have an addition to my yard that has me longing for spring even more than usual: two new raised vegetable garden beds! Don't they look like they belong in a magazine?

A local genius handyman, Nick, built them for me this week on top of a platform we already had in the yard that used to be the base of a playhouse/potting shed/storage area.

Each bed is 8 feet by 5 feet with a 2 foot walkway separating the beds, and all cedar so it is rot-resistant, and we won't be poisoning ourselves with pressure treated lumber chemicals.

A one foot fence surrounds both beds to keep the rabbits out, and there are four lift-out gate sections - one at each short end of each bed.

Four cubic yards of rich garden mix soil covering a layer of chicken wire (to keep any burrowing varmints out), and I am ready for some planting!

I just have to get through this dreadful winter... sigh.


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