Nice to See You, Christmas Quilts!

Christmas Quilts on Bed1

We have a tradition that nothing Christmas happens until after the Thanksgiving meal.  In the Old Days, when I had children at home, we’d sing Christmas carols that afternoon, a cluster of us at the piano.  Now, we turn on iTunes and listen to the songs while we do the dishes.  This is Christmas Star, #80 on my 100 Quilts List, in case you want to read more about it.

Christmas Quilts on Bed2

This morning I got out all the Christmas quilts that have been in the cupboard for a year.  It’s nice to see them again.  This is Star Mother’s Youngest Child, #108.

Christmas Quilts2Christmas Treat, #111.

Christmas Quilts1

This was about the first Christmas display quilt I made and I called it Christmas Wall Hanging.  It’s label-less, but is #15 on my 100-Quilts List, having been made twenty-two years ago.  I have made other Christmas quilts, but they’ve been passed on to others.

Wide Mouth Pouch1

I also found time to make a little pouch for a granddaughter, at her mother’s request.  It’s Noodle Head’s Wide Mouth Pouch, but I made it a little bit taller.

Wide Mouth Pouch2

Wide Mouth Pouch3I also added a tab at the zipper closure end so it’s easy to grab.  Her birthday is coming up this week, so I popped it in the mail the day before Thanksgiving.

Hope you enjoy getting reacquainted with your Christmas quilts, too!

 

Wonky Stars, Wonky World

I know you must think I fell off of a cliff.  I posted on Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog as a guest host, (click *here* to head back over to her site for some great looking quilts) then went dark and silent for lo, these many weeks.  Below is a composite of what went on, minus the rolling-of-the-eyes pictures while reading student papers and grading grading grading.  December2012activities

Besides grading, we got a new sofa, I made vats of a potato dish for our church Christmas party, sewed giant canvas bags for my grandsons’ Christmas presents (we gave them small tool boxes and broken electronics from the local TV repair shop, so they could take them apart with their new tools), decorated the Christmas tree, celebrated Christmas with my son and his family, pulled out an old block swap project then put it away, started on Secret Project A, Secret Project B (it is Christmas, after all) and then would up my time making Butternut Crunch Toffee and Christmas Caramels.

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I have been feeling much like the grandma in the snow.

And then last weekend’s horrible events happened, and like you, everything in my world pretty much came to a halt, and I watched the news, read about the lives of the slain children, and cried and cried.  And one really bad day, both my daughter’s and my tender emotions collided in a colossal disagreement over nothing, and I realized that the resultant tears on both our parts was more indication that our days would be forever changed by our concern for twenty-eight families in Connecticut.  I wanted to write about it, but mostly I just wanted to gather a quilt around the closest child, read them good books and ward off the outside world to protect them.  How to move from this wonky, capsized world back to Christmas?

Start slowly, by doing the things that right the world after a terrific up-ending.

Christmas Cards

I wrote Christmas cards.  Thinking about those closest to me enabled me to brave the mall and do some gift-buying.  I spent time with good people, friends, church friends, family.  Many many years ago, after I went through my Horribles one tear-filled Christmas (a divorce), the counselor said that trying to get back into a routine would help everyone.  So I made some toffee.  Then my annual Christmas Caramels, while listening to Christmas carols. Wonky Star

And realized that I’m no good at making Wonky Stars.  I can get the star “blades” on crookedly, a necessary ingredient for wonkiness.  But I keep messing up the placement of the star blades direction, like the one above.

Laying Out Star blades

So I would lay them out, and invariably have to unpick one.  I decided to plow through it, for if I left this project midway, I might never be able to get back in.

Wonky Stars

The stars turned out appropriately wonky, maybe more wonky than they should have.  But more importantly, the stars are done.  And I hope to find some time in the sewing studio to sew the companion blocks to this quilt.

Next week, we’ll be spending some time with my family, with my husband’s family, looking at lights, singing Christmas hymns at church.  We’ll also be listening to Uncle Earl play Lady of Spain on his accordion (a rare treat), celebrate the season with my Dad and Mom’s great cooking, and yes, like most families, we’ll tell jokes, admire the babies, trade stories of cancer, new furniture, failed toffee and failed marriages, changed jobs, successes in grad school, all of us sharing bits and pieces of our patchworked lives.

I wish you all the best of a patchworked Christmas!

WIP–December Quilting

Today I’m guest-hosting over at Lee’s blog: Freshly Pieced, so I encourage you to head over there and see all the beautiful quilts in her Linky party, and leave some holiday comments to cheer all the quilters on.

If you are arriving here from there, welcome!

Log Cabin Advent Calendar Christmas

You may be here looking for the free downloadable quilt pattern for the Log Cabin Christmas Advent Calendar (above).  Here it is as a PDF file: Log Cabin Advent Calendar.  You might want to download the picture above as a reference for things like buttons, etc.

Here’s two photos of the back, showing the label and the drapery ring, which I use to hang it with:

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These two photos show how I tied the ribbon around my “ornament” buttons, then used a dot of hot glue to secure the knot in place.

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And I promised those in my readership a look at the finished quilt shams, mentioned in the last post.

pillow sham finish

I bought that tiny little pillow at the after-Christmas clearance sales, shortly after Dave and I were married.  It had been one of those harried, race-and-shop-’till-you-drop sort of Christmases, as we were shopping for all four children and each other and parents and relatives and friends.  We’d had more than one of “those” finances, stress, did-we-need-this? sort of conversations, yet I wanted to provide a lovely (but not extravagant) Christmas for our newly joined family (Dave, a long-term bachelor, married me and my four children). Seeing the pillow in the clearance bin reminded me what I really wanted for Christmas, and it has gone on our bed every Christmas since then.

We can’t forget the hurryhurryhurry feeling that always shows up this time of year, but I wrote about that over at Lee’s, so there’s no need to repeat myself here.

Thanks again to Lee for inviting me to guest blog.  And here’s to you–the quilters who make the Christmas quilts and banners and gifts and pajamas (that one’s for you, Lisa).  I hope you have a lovely Christmas and holiday season.

Christmas Star Quilt

One of my happy moments this last couple of weeks was putting our new Christmas Star Quilt on the bed.

I used to have another Christmas quilt, made of a lot of earthy, rich Alexandar Henry fabrics, but when we painted our bedroom blue, I wanted something lighter.  I also wanted something with a lot of pieces, which caused me to lose my mind this summer as I put it together.

But I really like how it looks–all these red-pointed stars in a field of blues.  Yes, I know I need to make the shams, but that will have to wait until next year.  I’m in the Grading Galaxy and not coming out for a week or two.

I’m also happy to report that there is not one star that is like another, thanks to the great fabric designers of this line: Wintergraphix II.  (Here’s a link to AbbiMays Online Quilt Shop, where I bought most of it–looks like they’re already on to Wintergraphix III.)  I really enjoyed working on it.  I wasn’t very inventive on the back–just large squares of the extra fabrics.  Quilting was by DJ Designs–Cathy Kreter did a great job.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Star Quilt Binding is On

Finished!

Every six months our church has a conference they broadcast over the internet, and I take time to sit and ponder and listen, but I’m better off if I keep my hands busy while I work.  This year, I worked on two quilts.  Getting the binding sewn on the Christmas Star quilt was a priority, for we’re in October now and we all know what that means: December is tomorrow (or feels like it).

I had read Red Pepper’s blog about the way she does her corners–up and around in one continuous piece.  I’d never been really happy with this method as so many quilt corners done like this are slightly rounded, not a pristine sharp-edge tip.  So I decided to try giving the corner a scootch more room.  The instructions, shown in the crazy mom quilts tutorial, fold back the corner.  I decided to fold it back four or five threads more, as shown above by the teensy lip near the pin, then continued my stitching down the edge.

I was really happy with this.  It gave it just enough room to make a nice tight, sharp corner, rather than the usual rounded one that can happen with this method.

This is the back of the corner, and if you look closely, you can see my stitches going up the back of the miter to anchor the corner.  I still hand sew around the binding, but the way the old fingers are creaking with aches and pains from arthritis, maybe I’d either better stop grading so much, or learn to sew it on by machine!

Anyway, I still have to do the label, but I consider this done enough to throw it on the bed come December 1st.  I just hope that at that point, our heat wave will be long gone.

Piecing Equals Writing?

I’ve been working on this quilt for too long.  I’m really tired of it, but I can’t stop now as I spent a gank of money on the fabric and don’t want to just put it up on the shelf.  Besides I know I’ll like it when it’s done.  I hope.

When I was in grad school and slogging through the writing of my novel, it feel like sometimes I was being tortured, one paragraph at a time.  There’s days when even though you are sure you’re writing The Great American Novel, it’s all just too much.  I wanted short stories! Poems! Essays!  Anything that had a page count of less than twenty pages.

And now?  I want to make a baby quilt! A lap quilt! Anything with a block count of less than twenty blocks.