Friday, January 23, 2015

Red Hot Dreamy Hexagons progress

The second UFO that I want to complete this year is my Red Hot Dreamy Hexagons quilt.  Last year I wrote a post about the center medallion of this quilt, but then I put it away for a long while during the time I spent working on the SIL quilts :)

At the end of 2014 this is what the quilt looked like...

The original quilt (from the pattern book Quilt Grandeur) was made in greys and very subtle colors.  To be honest I didn't give this quilt a second thought while looking through the book because "subtle" doesn't usually draw me in.

But a few months later I saw this earth-toned version offered as a class on, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I was really intrigued by the English paper pieced (EPP) hexagons appliqued in the center, and this version was obviously brighter.

Pretty soon I started thinking about how a red version might look, and I was off hand-basting and sewing hexagons like mad!  I used the background fabric to choose these shot cotton colors for the hexagon rings, but once I sewed the rings and saw them all together on the background fabric I knew right away that that yellow had to go.

In the second iteration I added the flowers behind a few different rings.  While these colors were an improvement, that one blue ring was the odd man out.

I felt like the hexagon colors were right in this third try with the addition of a second blue and the brighter orange, but I didn't like the green flowers within the top and bottom left rings.

So I replaced the green flowers and arrived at this arrangement for the quilt center medallion  All that rework was worth the effort - I love this final version!  The first border is one of my favorite prints - Paperweight in Paprika - and the cornerstones are cut from the same floral print used in the center of each hexagon ring - Japanese Chrysanthemum in Scarlet.

Each ring was hand-appliqued to a single fussy-cut flower.  The seven hexagon rings were then hand-sewn together at the edges to make one large centerpiece which was hand-appliqued as a whole over the background fabric - Jupiter in Red.  Lots of hand sewing, which I really enjoyed :)

I put this quilt up on the design wall again today so I could finish the second border and get started on the third (there are five total borders).  Based on my goal of completing five UFO quilts before October, my ideal timeline is to complete one quilt top each month January through May to allow time for long arm quilting and binding.  It will be a stretch to finish this one by the end of January, but I'm hopeful!  After all, goals are supposed to be a bit of a stretch, right?

Monday, January 19, 2015

first finish of the year

2015 is going to be the year of finishing UFOs (unfinished objects) and WIPs (works in progress) here at elsie's girl! Since I am great at starting new projects, but not so great at finishing them, I've got quite a (literal) pile-up of projects in various stages of completion taking up space in the sewing room.

Riding the wave of post-Christmas holiday cheer I decided to tackle these two Christmas pillows first and finished them last week. The unquilted pillow tops had been stuck in the UFO pile since December 2012.

My quilt guild (Crystal Lake MQG) is hosting a 2015 UFO Challenge with prize drawings for completed projects throughout the year, and I've registered six UFOs so far. I could register sooo many more, but I'm really trying to be realistic about what I can actually finish before October and not fail miserably at this challenge!  These two pillows are my first UFO Challenge finish, so I'm off to a good start :)

But back to the pillows. The first one was made from a Jaybird Quilts pattern "Candy Dish" and measures 20" square.  The pattern actually makes a 16" square pillow, but it was easy enough to add extra rows and columns to make the 20" covering. All the blocks were cut from leftover fabric from the "It's the Hap-Happiest Season of All" quilt made in 2011 (the back of that very quilt is seen in this photo!)

It is simply straight line quilted with a pale robin's egg blue thread, and as I write this I see that I missed a row of quilting on the right edges of the two red blocks in the center of the photo. Oh well, finished is better than perfect, right?!

My second pillow was patterned after this sweet one from Amy at Nana Company. She designs and makes the loveliest projects :) Mine measures 16" x 26" and is also made with scraps from the same 2011 Christmas quilt.

I added straight line quilting in the same pale blue thread here within the colored fabric blocks, while hand embroidery of the lyrics from my favorite Christmas song fills in the white strips.

It's been a long time since I did this embroidery so I'm not sure what specific DMC floss color I used, but I believe it's only one or two strands in a stem stitch. I can only manage two embroidery stitches - stem and french knot - and those are the only stitches you see here! I seem to remember using more strands of floss for a bit and then taking it out because the stitching was too bulky. So don't be afraid to rip out and start over if you don't like the results. Embroidery is slow work for me, but I'm so glad I stuck with it long enough to finish these lyrics - to me they are the best part of the pillow!

Both pillows have zipper backings. The square one is made from a couple of flannel pieces I had saved from the 2011 Christmas quilt (the front seen here) and has a standard 18" centered zipper insertion.

Because I had a larger piece of this backing fabric, I was able to add a hidden 14" standard zipper very near one of the short ends. I always use this tutorial from House on Hill Road for hidden zipper pillow backings.

One of the requirements of the guild UFO challenge is that when you finish a project it must be shown at the next guild meeting to be eligible for the prize drawings. So I'll be taking these to our February meeting and then packing them away until Thanksgiving weekend much later this year. Chances are excellent that I'll forget all about these pillows until then, and it will truly be like Christmas when we decorate again in late November and I rediscover them!

One UFO down, five to go!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas gift sewing part 3

Much of my November and December sewing time was spent making these wonderful little zippered bags. The pattern is "Sew Together Bag" by Sew Demented and you can order printed copies of the pattern from a handful of shops on or download a PDF version from

This bag pattern is not a quick sew and not for the faint-hearted, but if you can put aside your fear of zippers (each bag has four of them!) and devote a few hours to sewing the first one, each additional bag will go much faster. Each finished bag measures approximately 10" x 5" x 5".

There is a great online sew-along for this pattern complete with lots of extra photos and tips here.  I used these sew along instructions in conjunction with the pattern each time I made a bag, and found them to be a tremendous help - my first bag tuned out just as fabulous as my fifth!

The first bag was made as a November birthday gift for my sewing and traveling buddy, Kelly.

I used a variety of black and white prints, some with a sewing theme.  All the cut pockets, lining pieces, bag exterior, and binding pieces are shown here.

A view of the bag interior before sewing the outer zipper.  There are three internal pockets with contrasting linings and individual zippers.  I used different colored zippers and linings for each pocket in all of the bags.

This is a view of the interior after adding the external zipper and bindings.  It still opens very wide to accommodate and leave visible all the goodies you pack inside.

The second bag was for another sewing buddy and fellow Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild (CLMQG) Executive Board member, Lorrie.  More sewing themed prints, this time from the "Sew Stitchy" line by Aneela Hoey for Moda.

The blue version is still in residence at my house.  I haven't yet decided where it will end up :)

CLMQG Secretary Jill received this red, white, and turquoise version.

She's a fellow Paris lover whose favorite color is red, so I had to make her bag with this great fleur de lis print!

The external zipper and binding make a "handle" of sorts on each end of the closed bags.

And lastly this black and white beauty was made for Judy, our CLMQG Treasurer.  More scissors fabric, but this time on the bag exterior.

I probably couldn't get those stripes on the binding to match up again if I tried.  What a lucky accident!

I forgot to take a photo of the final touch on each bag - I added a letter "first initial" charm to each external zipper pull for personalization.  JoAnn's has some really cute charms in their beading section that are the perfect size - about 3/4" square.

This is the final installment of Christmas gift projects from 2014 that I have to share with you.  I believe I did more gift sewing in 2014 than any other previous year.  It was so much fun to sew all these individual, personalized gifts and even more fun to give them away and see how much the recipients enjoyed their surprises!

I've declared 2015 the year of finishing projects.  My guild is introducing a UFO Challenge at our meeting this weekend, and I've already got a list of 5 projects to register!  I could register soooo many more, but I'll start with the ones that I've got a decent chance of finishing.  More about those later...

Happy New Year!!  May it be a year filled with learning, sewing successes, and project finishes for all of us!


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