Monday, December 21, 2015

Here Comes the Sun

I pay attention to the amount of sunlight we get each day. Or the lack thereof. Yes, I don't live in Alaska or Scandinavia. Still, November and December are too dark for me. I look forward to the shortest day of the year because that means that the days will be getting longer after that!

How better to celebrate the Winter Solstice than to make a quilt block. Forget the pagan stuff swirling around this - I like the sun for the sunshine!

I began with one idea and it morphed into another, mainly because of my available fabrics. I was looking for a bright orange and found it in the Benartex Fabricadabra Collection by Paula Nadelstern. And then I saw that I had the companion panels and my creative juices began to flow.

Fabracadabra panel, one motif of three in a 42" cut
I wanted a hexagon shaped sun (what's new about that, huh?) So, in order to capture the entire motif and not ruin the one next to it, I had to cut my freezer paper hexagon at 11" for a finished height of 10-1/2". Why freezer paper? So I could center and cut the panel.

Freezer paper template - centering the design

Cut out the motif . . .
Motif cut for center of my Winter Solstice Sun. Motif will finish to 10-1/2" height

Now for the sun's rays. I wanted orange, ok? Who says they have to be yellow (fire is really orange anyway). I strip pieced two strips along both lengths and then cut them using my Creative Grids 60 degree ruler.
Cutting my strip-pieced units. Triangles will finish to 2-5/8". Strips cut to 3-1/8"
This is not a pattern because the numbers are really whacky. Just sit back and enjoy the colors!
Adding an extra orange triangle to the 2-triangle unit
Now cut the needed 60 degree diamonds . . .
Diamonds cut from 3-1/8" strips using the 60 degree lines on my 6 x 12 ruler
Notice that there is only straight seam sewing; no y-seams
Last 3 sides added
Now for my sun!

Here Comes My Sun
I added larger 30 degree side triangles to "square" it up and then some borders. Will quilt it in January, I hope.
Welcome, Sun! I'll take an extra minute of sunshine every day from you!
And let me show you one more block I made using these fabulous motifs cut into a hexagon. I brought in the radiant blue from the Fabracadabra Collection. What do you think? I may take those final borders off. I don't like how they look and that's all the fabric I had.

This is my new block that I call Double Star. Very easy to make and I have two quilts to share in the New Year I made using this pattern. All straight seam sewing. Absolutely NO Y-SEAMS!
Double Star using Fabricadabra
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I will be sharing some details on my two 2016 BOM projects after Christmas. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Giveaway Winner, Quilts and Another Tutorial

It was a challenge to find a winner for my Little Katerina blog post! The Random Number Generator kept giving me a number that came up with a "no-reply" comment post (several, if you must know). Then I found a LIVE email and sent her not one but two notices that she WON. Never heard from her. Gave her 4 days. Then I selected the 10th time and BINGO!

My winner is Sally W of Vancouver, Washington. Congratulations, Sally!

I have a new pattern with Keepsake Quilting catalog and Audrey discovered that the pattern was out of stock and wrote to me directly to buy one. She got it just in time to make her version for a baby shower gift. Isn't it lovely?
Audrey's Butterfly Quilt: 34" x 34"
 And here is how it appears in the catalog:
My 1930s version of Storybook Butterflies Quilt
And now for a quick gift you CAN make in time for Christmas. This is a link to a blog I follow - Geta's Quilting Studio. I am making one of these for my 3 daughters and 2 sons in law (please don't tell them). And maybe for my two little grandsons with some dollar bills tucked inside.

Quick and easy card holder
I am looking forward to a house full of my daughters, sons in law, and grandchildren next week. Chaos? Of course. But we always leave laughter in the walls!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two Quilt "Sisters" from My Christmas Vault

Yes, I have a lot of Christmas quilts. Remember, I've been sewing FOR A LIVING for 24 years and I'm only as good as my next quilt. Typically, I'm sent a new fabric collection by a fabric company and without them telling me what to do (those are my strict rules for playing), I let the fabrics tell ME what they want. No kidding!

The following was a Blank Quilting collection called Holiday Splendor from 2010. I was in a Lone Star mood (and I still am, if truth be known) and so this fabric said: GIANT Lone Star. I had to piece bits of fabric together to make the borders fit. This was rejected by several magazines (what do they know?) and so I made it a workshop and called it "One Day Lone Star." Yes, in a 6 hour workshop you can get most of the center done. That's because everything is ROTARY cut using normal numbers!
Star of Splendor - 35" Block, 48" x 48" Quilt. Quilted by Connie Gallant
This quilt is fully patterned along with 12 others in my "Best of 2012 Quilts Calendar" on my Craftsy pattern site. And all for $10 (that's less than $1 per pattern).

I still had some of this glorious fabric left, so I made my Magic Triangles quilt. It's actually a large table runner, but has always hung in my living room behind my vintage clock made by my dad about 40 years ago.

What? You don't know my parents? Well, right now they're singing with the angels, but they were quite a dapper couple in the late 1940s when they were dating. My mom was a "real looker" and my dad was so handsome in his white suit. He occasionally played guitar with the big bands in Atlantic City.
My parents in the late 1940s before they were married
That clock went to Africa and back with me when I was straight out of college and doing a Peace Corps type of Christian mission assignment teaching high school. The clock still works!

Magic Triangles - also quilted by Connie Gallant
As you can see, I had to get creative with my background fabrics. Who says you have to make it all one print? That's all I had left of the floral print and then used a second yellow print (different even from the little triangles) for those large triangles.

Those are actually 6 large Sugarloaf blocks placed large ends together to create those enormous 60 degree diamonds. That's all I had of the green border print, so that's why I only had two borders!

I am in the process of making another one of these Magic Triangles quilts using white and some modern fabrics. Will keep you posted on my progress.

Diamonds and triangles and pins - Oh, my!
Love these units!
Hope you enjoyed my two Christmas quilts.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Holiday Tutorials You've Got to Try

Handmade Holiday: More Tutorials!

These were featured in SewInLoveWithFabric's Christmas in July Blog Hop! If you want some great ideas, check these out.
And check out link on my sidebar for those that were presented this past week. The links are also provided at the bottom of this post. Happy sewing!

This little tree skirt has gone viral on Pinterest!
Throw Pillow by Kelly from My Quilt Infatuation using Ornamental Splendor

Wonky Star Placemats by Kristen from KD Quilts using Santa's Here

And if you missed any days from our Handmade Holiday Blog Hop, find them here:
Day 1Table Runner by Ann Lauer of Grizzly Gulch Gallery featuring Butterfly Forest
Day 2Nesting Pocket Dolls by Debby Kratovil of Debby Kratovil Quilts featuring Little Katerina 
Day 3: Sew Easy Travel Case featuring Sew Easy
Day 4: Firewood Tote by Mary on Lake Pulaski featuring Shades of Winter
Day 5: Evergreen Pennant by Jessica of Quilty Habit featuring Snow Days
Day 6: Patchwork Apron by Kristen of KD Quilts featuring Frosty Forest
Day 7: Christmas Adorned quilt by Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation featuring Santa's Here

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Felt Nativity Scene and Advent Calendar

Only in my dreams could I draw anything but stick figures. What? you say! Don't I design quilts and patterns and blocks and quilts (did I say quilts twice?) Yes, but most of what I do is squares and rectangles and I rely heavily on the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator on the computer. No EQ for me.

Let me share with you a Nativity set that my middle daughter Hilary designed and made last year. While it's not finished, it brought me to tears because she draws things from scratch! She has two little boys and they helped her glue some of the pieces together. I think it would be a fabulous pattern set. She is a designer by trade (graphic design from Carnegie Mellon). But you have to have it INSIDE to get this sort of stuff to come out, right?

Here are all the parts (yes, there are 3 sets for maybe future gifts)
Here is the manger and calendar with all the little figures in their proper order. I mean - the star was the first thing on the scene, right? So, here's the order:

  • Stars
  • Angel
  • Sheep in the field
  • Shepherds to take care of the sheep
  • Wise men (who actually came about 2 years later)
  • Presents (gold, myrrh, and frankincense)
  • THE star
  • Donkey
  • Cow
  • Manger (cow trough)
  • Joseph
  • Mary
  • Baby Jesus

Here are some up close. Yes, you can see the glue!

Gifts, mangers, 3 Baby Jesus?! and 3 Marys
 And let's not forget the angels!
Yes, there were a host of angels singing in the heavens
The countdown begins:
Advent Calendar
And here's how they all line up on the big night.

Nativity Scene in felt
I love this, and while it may never get finished (her boys are pre-school and she works full time), it will some day! For now, I'm glad she sent me the pics, aren't you?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Chanukah Blessings to My Jewish Friends

Happy Chanukah!

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. The first candle is lit. For us Christians, we light the second candle of Advent today. What a wonderful display of light to our - many times - dark world.

I totally forgot to share a photo of a set of Chanukah gift bags I made and had published in the Quilting Arts Holiday 2015 magazine (on stands right now). Can I show them to you?

Little Dreidel Gift Bags
My own pic of the little bag
Here is the paper pieced block (which I will make available as a pattern when the magazine goes off the newsstand):

Foundation pieced dreidel
I also made some bookmark and gift tag using little leftover pieces from this OLD piece of fabric. I think I made these at least 10 years ago.
Book mark and gift tag
If you want to see all the gorgeous holiday items in the magazine, click here: 

Let's all remember to bring light and peace in our everyday lives, treating everyone kindly and making a difference in our own neighborhoods.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nesting Dolls, Little Katerina and GIVEAWAY

Little Katerina Collection by Benartex Fabrics
Little Katerina fabrics by Benartex
Today I share over at the Sew in Love with Fabric blog all about this new collection. And show how I used the main panel and made my own stacking dolls.

Here is one set my husband brought home from the old Soviet Union about 20 years ago. What do you think? Can you name each one of them? You can win a fat quarter bundle of this group!

Authentic Russian stacking dolls
Check out what I've done with the Little Katerina panel: Sew in Love with Fabric
Then come back here and name 3 of the 5 communist leaders (bad spelling is ok). And tell me what else I made using Little Katerina fabrics. You'll be entered in our contest for you to win a fat quarter bundle of this collection! Make sure I have your email!

Contest is over Tuesday, December 8 at midnight (EST).

Little Katerina panel

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Windham Wednesdays and Wild Woods

Welcome to the Wild Woods by Windham Fabrics
Wild Woods by Daphne B for Windham Fabrics
This is such a delightful and beautiful collection designed by Daphne B of Wild Apple. The images are so clear and the companion fabrics are a perfect blend of folk art and rich, woodsy colors. There also is a panel of critters that has given me several fun ideas. Here is a pic of that from the Windham site:

Four of the six woodland creatures
The first thing I did was to use the panel as "cheater's cloth" and isolate a square center for a quilt. I was sent 3/4 yard of the panel fabric (by 44" width), so that worked out to about 28" x 28". That left me with two vertical rows of animals for my second project.

I cut four 2-1/2" strips each from 3 companion fabrics:

2-1/2" strips shown with my leftover vertical rows of images
I sewed borders from the strips and added another companion fabric of brown trees. What do you think? This was the fastest quilt I'd ever sewn - probably took all of 2 hours.

39" x 39" Child's quilt top, waiting for machine quilting
Oh, I got some time to quilt it on my HQ Sweet 16 on Tuesday. What a fun quilt for a boy, don't you think? This was by far the EASIEST quilt I've ever made. The fabric does all the work.

Quilted and DONE! In my charity quilts bundle.
I have a "go to" place mat pattern for my granddaughter. I made one for her and one for another little 2 year old guest who came for Thanksgiving. Don't you love that fox fabric!?

Placemat for Eva (granddaughter)

Placemat for Aitana (friend's daughter)
Raw edge appliqued the patches; layered with batting and backing and stitched around patches. The binding is a fun print that reminds me of a stripe.

Back of placemats
I took 6 of the paneled animals and turned them into cards so Eva can learn her animals. I reinforced the front and back squares with fusible Timtex; layered them and stitched around the edges. Then I used a specialty set of pinking shears to get a decorative edge.

Fusible Timtex (heavy interfacing) on wrong side of each panel
6 animal cards
And we need a card holder, right? And I had two extra animal panels that I turned into pockets. Wait! Why is the owl upside down? Is he hanging on a tree? Stay with me here!

Animal pockets with 6 cards
Added binding from yet another of the fabrics. I had some leftover two-sided quilted cream fabric and this worked perfectly for my animal pocket envelope.
Fox pocket on the front
The owl pocket had to be sewn on so he was oriented right side up on the back.
Owl pocket on the back
And I added two pieces of sew-in velcro to keep the pocket closed and the animals safe!

Mr. Fox is protecting the animal cards inside