Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A year in stitches

At the end of every year, I'm always amazed by how quickly the year passed.  This year is no exception...but this time, I have lots of pretty pictures to remind me of all the wonderful things that happened throughout the year.  There's so much I'm proud of having done this year, I think I've grown immensely as a quilter, and I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

the year in quilts
I can hardly believe this, but I made twenty-five full quilts this year!  Holy cow!  I couldn't possibly pick a favorite, I love them all so much in different ways.  There's two quilts in this mosaic here that I can't show you more of just yet, but trust me, you'll be seeing them soon.  There's also a boatload of mini quilts I made in addition to this collection of 25 this year.

There were so many things that happened this year in my sewing life, but here's a few that I will never forget:
* Going to the Sewing Summit and meeting so many new friends
* Being published in two print magazines
International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene 2011
Quiltmaker Jan/Feb 2012 issue
* Participating in fantastic quilt bees and swaps, too numerous to name
* Co-hosting a fabulous swap with Megan, For the Love of Solids
Round 2 sign-ups start January 1st!
* Hosting two fun quilt-alongs
Sliced Coins quilt-along
Kaleidoscope quilt-along
* Sharing my first Moda Bake Shop quilt recipe - and finishing a second that will be up on January 1st
Bella Crossing quilt recipe
* Opening my pattern shop and releasing my first patterns
My pattern shop
Fabricland quilt pattern
Xs and Os quilt pattern


the year in other sewing projects

I made a lot of lofty goals last year, most of which I met, and some of which I changed my mind about as my tastes changed.  This year, I'm aiming to make fewer, more simplified goals, with room to adapt my goals as my taste and my schedule.

1. Say no thank you more often!  I participated in countless swaps this year, coupled with guest posts, bees and other side projects that often left me feeling stressed me out and rushed.  This year, I'm vowing to be a bit more selective with what I say yes to and to plan my time accordingly.  Thanks, Lee, for reminding me about this one!

2. Write more patterns!  I've got boatloads of sketches and plans in the works for 2012 and I'm really excited to get started.

3. Try more new things!  I've tried hard to branch out from basic stippling in my quilting, and I've really enjoyed the results so far, so I want to stretch myself more often.

4. Finish my outstanding projects!  I feel like I started a lot of things that I didn't follow through on and finish.  I haven't finished my Single Girl quilt, Birdie Stitches quilt, and probably a few other projects that I've forgotten about, but I'm aiming to finish them off and be done with them this year.

5. Host a Christmas in July blog party!  Back in June, I came up with an idea to host a Christmas blog party for July, to encourage all of us to get our Christmas sewing early in an attempt to ward off the holiday crazies that come with homemade gifts and decorations, but I didn't get around to it in time.  This year, I totally want to put it together in time, because I don't have a single sewn Christmas decoration at my house, and this is going to be the year that changes!


the year in bee blocks

I first read this T.S. Eliot quote about the new year back in college, but it's a memorable one and I've always loved the sentiment...

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.  And to make an end is to make a beginning.

So, here's to new beginnings in 2012!  Thank you all so much for your comments and support over this last year, I appreciate every single one of them.  Happy New Year to you and your families!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A whirlwind of a holiday...plus a fun fabric bundle

It's hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone.  We had a wonderful family holiday at our house, full of Christmas wonder, tasty treats and family fun.  I have a feeling this is going to be a Christmas to remember, with the way the munchkin was so enthralled by all things holiday.  Rather than ripping through all of his presents in 10 seconds flat, he took his time with each present, and wanted to play with each one before opening more.  His favorite present, by far, was the Imaginext Batcave I picked up for him on Craig's List.  It reminds me of when I was little and was obsessed with my He-Man and She-Ra castles; castle obsession clearly runs in the family!

Santa really spoiled me this year!  I've been wanting to try a digital SLR camera for a long time, though I've enjoyed my little Nikon Coolpix this last year quite a bit.  I just wanted a bit more artistic control over the camera than it's been capable of, so Santa brought me a gently used Canon Digital Rebel for Christmas.

Oh, Santa, you shouldn't have!

It's amazing how different it is to shoot with this camera vs. my tiny (in comparison) CoolPix.  I've been doing a lot of practicing with the new camera these last few days, which was terribly intimidating at first, but now is starting to feel a lot more fun now that I'm learning more about the different modes and how things work.  I'm starting to get some good shots here and there, so I'm definitely learning.

Practicing with the new camera


Practicing with the new Rebel


Santa also picked up on the 17 (or more) hints I've dropped over the last month and picked up a new iron for me.  It's a Hamilton Beach Smart Lift iron, designed for easy pressing.  I've gotten as far as getting it out of the box and standing it up on my ironing board, but haven't actually used it yet.  Stay tuned, I'll be sure to tell you what I think about it!

Hello Smart Lift!

I also got a fun new cookbook, full of dairy-licious cake recipes.  I made my first one yesterday, a chocolate pound cake, which was quite tasty, though I can't seem to take a decent picture of the finished cake.

Mmmm...cake

The husband has been on vacation from work since Christmas Day, so I haven't managed to get behind my freshly cleaned sewing machine just yet, but I'm hoping to clock some sewing time real soon.  It's been fun spending time with the family, but I'm also trying to get back into the swings of things, slowly but surely.  Time to start getting ready for the new year!  Organizing, planning, cleaning, all that fun stuff that I put off and only do once a year!   What about you?  How do you get ready for the new year?  Do you have big plans for the new year?  Any big shopping plans?

Have you seen the super fun linky party going on at Quokka Quilts?  Laura has invited everyone to make their very own Bloggers Choice bundle of 12 prints and 3 solids for the chance to win a one yard bundle of their own personal pickings!  Not that I need an excuse to shop and create a custom bundle or anything, but it sure sounded way more fun than the laundry I ought to be doing at the moment, so here's my bundle.

FQSbundle

There's some Modernology, Domestic Bliss, Hyperreal Garden, Stitch, Dazzle, Prince Charming, Ruby, Bespoken, Palladium, Free Spirit Designer Solids, and Michael Miller Cotton Couture Solids.

I'm going to have to exercise some hard-core restraint to not just buy this bundle right this minute.  I'm really digging the rich eggplant, aqua and teal paired with the gray and lime!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas...and a winner...

Good morning everyone!  I hope your holiday season has been a lot of fun so far.  It's hard to believe that Christmas is just a few days away at this point, but then again, every morning, my munchkin counts on the calendar how many days are left until Christmas, so I'm kind of hyper-aware of how quickly time is disappearing.

Thank you for all of the fabulous birthday wishes!  I had a wonderful birthday on Monday, and even got a belated birthday present yesterday - my sewing machine is all cleaned up and ready to come home this morning, yay!!  I can't wait!  Now that I've wrapped all of my Christmas presents and baked all my Christmas cookies, it's perfect timing.

And now, speaking of my birthday, it's time to pick a winner for the Reunion layer cake from Pink Castle Fabrics!  Mr. Random has chosen....


Commenter #19, A.J. Dub of Harriet Homemaker Strikes Again!!  Congratulations, A.J.!  I'll be emailing you today for your address details.  Thanks to everyone for entering and for all of the happy birthday wishes.


And because I can't share a post without a photo, here's a snap from yesterday's marathon Christmas cookie decorating session with the munchkin.  This is the first year I've let him help me - I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to cookie decorating, and in past years, I've decorated my sugar cookies with royal icing.  But that's definitely not kid-friendly (though it is beautiful!), so this year we went with some plain buttercream frosting and lots of fun sprinkles.  The munchkin had a ton of fun, and my blood pressure didn't go through the roof or anything.  I just turned on some of my favorite Christmas music, The Muppets & John Denver's A Christmas Together, and tried my best to keep my cool.


He did a great job, didn't he??  He loved those super hard colorful non-pareils best, but also loved dumping various colored sugars on the cookies.  It was a lot of fun working on these together, and will be even more fun to share them with our friends and family.


I'll be back again after the holidays, after some quality time with the family the rest of this week.  Merry Christmas to you all!  I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your friends and family :)
Monday, December 19, 2011

So this is what 31 feels like...

I'm officially 31 years old today.  I have to say, 31 feels no different than 30.  Not that I really expected it to, but every couple of years or so, I sort expect to have that magical feeling you feel when you're a kid and it's your birthday and you actually "feel" different.

I don't have any real big plans today, though I am thinking of maybe going to a local quilt store and treating myself to a few new fat quarters.  My husband already treated me to my big birthday present, a shiny new laptop.  My old one was getting awfully old and decrepit, so my new laptop is taking some getting used to.  It's so fast!  But, since I love gadgets, I'm enjoying getting to know my new machine, especially while my most favorite machine (my sewing machine!) is getting a thorough cleaning at the shop.


And because it's my birthday and it's fun to get presents, I'm sharing a present with you!  The lovely Brenda from Pink Castle Fabrics is giving away a layer cake of Sweetwater's upcoming line, Reunion, in my honor today!  I'm super excited about this collection, there are some really fabulous prints in there!  To enter, simply leave me a comment here on this post, and Mr. Random will draw a winner on Wednesday morning.  Good luck!  She's also offering a 15% off discount on your purchase today with the code DCMB15.  She's got some fabulous fabrics in stock right now, including brand new Moda precuts, Half Moon Modern yardage, AMH's Folksy Flannel, and way more!


I almost forgot!  Make sure to hop over to Pink Chalk Studio's Handmade with Love Tutorial contest today too!  They have announced the top 15 holiday handmade tutorials, and my Munchkin Soft Book tutorial made the list of top 5 gifts for kids.  The top vote getters will win some great prizes, so scoot on over there to vote and you might just get some last-minute gift inspiration!  Have a great day!

Pink Chalk Studio
Friday, December 16, 2011

Nearly two years in the making...

Seriously, this is the third quilt I ever started, and I'm just finally finishing it.  Back when I first started sewing, I decided that I wanted to make a queen-sized quilt for my bedroom and I picked out a boatload of blue fabrics to make a nine-patch with.  I cut all of them up and started sewing.  Problem is that my 1/4" seam was far from consistent at the time.  I made nearly 60 blocks before I decided I was so over it, and it became my longest standing WIP, though I completely forgot about it until my son stumbled on the blocks when we were cleaning up my sewing room a few weeks back.  I realized that I could stitch up the blocks for a holiday gift, but it took me a while to get started.  Thanks to an email from Katie about our lingering WIPs, I finally got started and I'm proud to report that I have now finished:)

My munchkin sorting through my UFO pile

This quilt is far from perfect, but there was a lot of effort put forth in those blocks and a lot of heart.  I'll be giving this quilt to a dear friend of the family for the holidays and I think he'll really appreciate it.

Nine-patch quilt - finished! 

I used a DS Quilts print for the binding, after waffling over what color I ought to use for binding.  I had thought about adding another color to the mix, for some contrast, but ultimately I decided the black in this print would create the kind of contrast I was after.



This is the very last Christmas gift on my to-make list, so I'll be bringing Betsy 2.0 to the shop today for a thorough cleaning.  She deserves it after all the quilts she's assembled this year.  That does mean I'll be without my machine for at least the next week, if not two weeks, but I'm okay with that this time of year.  There's holiday cookies to bake, a Birdie Stitches block to embroider, fabric to iron and cut for my next project, and a zillion presents to wrap.  Trust me, I will keep busy.  :)

Nine-patch - attempted artsy shot

Quilt Stats:
Name: Neverending Nine Patch
Size: 60" x 70"
Fabrics: Boatloads of various blues, including 12 Days of Christmas, Modern Meadow, Castle Peeps, Whimsy, Nigella, Daisy Chain, Lotus and way more! 
Quilting: Machine-quilted with white thread in a meandering stipple
Binding: Machine-bound by me
Pattern: Basic nine-patch blocks, drafted by me

Speaking of busy, I do plan to share a family cookie recipe or two next week, so stay tuned for that as well as my birthday celebration on Monday!  I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season so far!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Heart Robots quilt

Over the weekend, I finished up a quilt that has me excited for all kinds of reasons, my I Heart Robots quilt.

I Heart Robots baby quilt

Our dear friends Brian and Kelsey are expecting their first baby, a little boy.  Back when my husband and I were dating a zillion years ago, he worked with Brian and also happened to live in the same apartment complex.  Then I moved into the complex, and it was like our very own Melrose Place, but without crazy Kimberly blowing up the joint.  We spent most of our free time together, and after we got engaged and Brian met Kelsey, we were excited to see the two of them falling in love.  At our wedding, Kelsey caught the bouquet and Brian caught the garter, so it was no surprise when they married shortly after my munchkin was born.  Now, they're welcoming a baby boy of their own in the new year and we couldn't be happier for them.  They will be wonderful parents!

I Heart Robots quilt - close up


I Heart by Rashida Coleman-Hale is one of my favorite baby boy collections at the moment, but I'm not the one who picked it out this time.  I let my munchkin help out with this quilt, since he treasures his Uncle Brian quite a bit, and not just for his infinite superhero knowledge.  The munchkin picked out all of the fabric for this quilt and I was super proud of him.

I Heart Robots quilt fluttering in the big breeze


The blocks are inspired by the Charmed Prints quilt along at Gen X Quilters.  Since I was working from fat quarters and half-yards, I decided to super-size the blocks and I think they turned out pretty nicely.  I did have a bit of an oops moment when I fouled up adding the sashing in between the blocks.  I forgot to add sashing in between the block rows, but I was in no mood to rip out my stitches, so I just went with it and made it work.  I added a border of Kona Peacock to make it just a bit larger as well.

I Heart Robots baby quilt - finished!


I'm really happy with how this quilt turned out and I can't wait to bring it to Brian and Kelsey.

Quilt Stats:
Name: I Heart Robots baby quilt
Size: 40" square
Fabrics: Rashida Coleman-Hale's amazing I Heart collection for Timeless Treasures paired with Kona Snow and Kona Peacock
Quilting: All-over meandering stipple in white Gutermann thread by yours truly
Binding: Machine bound using I Heart Dots Blue
Pattern: Inspired by AnneMarie's Charmed Prints quilt along
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Playing catch-up

It actually feels like Christmas outside this morning at my house - or at the very least, it feels like winter.  It's in the upper 40's (which for south Florida is mighty cold!) and gusty, almost blustery.  Cheesy as it is, this cold weather makes me smile, makes me feel a little more festive.  I'm really excited for the holidays this year.  I think this is going to be a really special Christmas this year.  The munchkin is three-going-on-four and Christmas is super magical to him this year, so I've spent a good chunk of time this last week or so having holiday fun with him and the husband.


We saw Santa over the weekend, enjoyed a holiday parade and tree lighting, and even went to see a Symphony in Lights (a humongous Christmas tree that lit up in time with holiday music).  The munchkin saw a local dance crew perform a few excerpts from The Nutcracker as well, which he enjoyed immensely.  It's so fun to see how excited he gets about all of these holiday festivities.


Now that Christmas is only another 16 days away (OMG!!!!!!!!), I'm starting to feel the usual holiday rush.  The holy-cow-how-am-I-going-to-get-all-these-presents wrapped rush.  The how-many-Christmas-cookies-am-I-making rush.  I'm trying to keep my cool, because that's not the only deadline fast approaching - I've still got a mountain of sewing to do before Betsy 2.0 goes in for her yearly cleaning (in just ten days, eek!).  I'm making progress, though, and I think I will be able able to wrap things up in time.  Knock on wood.  :)

I got my Secret Santa Swap package to the post office last week, and I'm just crossing my fingers that my partner will get it by Christmas!  I sent off some fabulous holiday candy along with a copy of Block Party and a little Half Moon Modern mini that I made.

SS Swap goodies heading in the mail tomorrow!

I did finish making a successful pair of PJ pants for the munchkin, though I wrapped them before I thought to take a finished picture - this is a photo of the "secret" fitting I had with him.  Clearly, I made them large enough for a grown-up, by accident, but that was a lot easier to fix and adapt to the right size than when I made them too small.  Phew.  Glad that bit of sewing is done - my brain just doesn't work for garment sewing, it doesn't make sense to me!!

And this is what happens when I try to make PJs

I'm shipping off a little gift to a special sewing friend today and I'm hoping it will brighten her day and make her laugh.  I felt super inspired last week to make something for her and just couldn't stop myself.  After she gets it, I'll show you the rest...

A sneak peek

I officially finished the very last bit of my holiday sewing last night, finishing up a pair of potholders for all of my immediate family, and I think they turned out pretty well.  I used Keykalou's (love her!) Just a Pinch potholder pattern, which is super easy to follow.  Highly recommend it :)  Naturally, I only managed to take a picture of the pair I made for the munchkin's preschool and not the other 5 pairs of potholders, but I can assure you, they're all quite cute.

Potholders for preschool


I also finished up the quilt top for my Charmed Prints Quilt Along-inspired quilt, though I did make a big oops when I was assembling the top.  I forgot to add the sashing between the rows, so rather than unpicking the rows, which made my stomach turn, I adjusted the sashing border around the blocks so the quilt would go back to being square.

Charmed Prints QAL-inspired quilt top

My Bake Shop quilt is coming along relatively smoothly, although it feels super slow - I'm finishing up the blocks today and hope to finish it up this weekend if I can.  Now that my holiday sewing is done, I'm hoping I can turn up the heat on this quilt and get it done before I have to send my machine in!

Bake Shop progress
 
And because I need another project much like I need another beagle mix dog who eats blinds and coloring books (remind me to tell that story another day!), I do indeed have another project, but it's the secret kind.  It does involve these yummy fabrics, though!

A new stack for a new lovely project

So, how are you doing?  I feel like I've been so out of the loop this last week, so if I haven't visited your blog, please forgive me, I'm trying to catch up now!  Are you feeling the holiday rush or taking things easy?  Have a wonderful day :)
 hello

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy six year old boy and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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