Friday 31 December 2021

Finishing Up a Year of Crafts

I took some vacation time and am off work this week and I'm really glad I am. We're in the middle of a severe cold spell, with the temperature going down to the -40s Monday night and Tuesday (and even colder with the wind chill factor). Very happy to not have to commute to work in that kind of cold. I've been mostly just hunkering down at home, catching up on some crafting. Initially, my goals were a little different, but then I switched to alternate WIPs/UFOs to complete. 

I started this table runner fairly early in my renewed quilting journey (2013-ish), 

but other projects took priority and it sat as just a top for several years. Earlier this year, I finally took it out again and quilted it on the longarm. Then, because it still wasn't a priority, and because I don't really like binding, it sat again. I finally bound it this week and put it on my dining room table. 
The next binding project was Baby Alter Ego II.

You may remember my other Baby Alter Ego. I actually started this one first and planned it for a baby girl, but again it got put on the back burner and disappeared for a few years during and post renovations to my studio. Meanwhile, I needed a boy's quilt and made the other one and gifted it. This one finally resurfaced and eventually I decided I needed to finish it. The borders were completed and it was quilted,  but joined the binding pile because I didn't have a recipient for it in mind. 
My goal is actually to assemble a small stash of baby quilts so that I will be somewhat prepared should my friends experience a baby boom again (was it 5 or 6 baby quilts that I completed in a year?). The next one for binding was Blast Off.

I made the quilt top earlier this year and had quilted it. But the binding is finally on and both Blast Off and Baby Alter Ego II joined Work Zone in my stash of baby quilts. 
I completed Work Zone earlier in the year, but I never got around to blogging about it. I think I might have mentioned before that I decided that I really don't like Baby Alter Ego. It's just too scrappy for my tastes, with no real rhythm to it. Both Work Zone and Blast Off are variations of my Quick and Easy Baby Quilt, and even though they are scrappy, also being made from layer cakes, they don't just look like fabric vomit, and I much prefer them over Baby Alter Ego. 
Now, before introducing the next project, I'm going to digress slightly to comment on pre-cuts. I might have mentioned this previously, but I have come to the conclusion that I'm really not that fond of pre-cuts. First of all, they're not cheap. Charm packs are $18, layer cakes and jelly rolls are $65, and fat quarters are running at least $5 each (all prices Canadian). The second point is that they are really not all that convenient. Pre-cuts, to me, are only really convenient if you are actually going to use that size and shape. Jelly rolls are probably the most convenient because you often use the full width and length, but having to cut down 10" squares to 9-1/2" (or whatever) is really not convenient. Or chopping up a fat quarter to use in a quilt, leaving huge scraps. Plus, what am I going to do with that 1/2" strip of fabric? Or those odd shaped scraps from a fat quarter. It's just going to waste. And I hate wasting fabric. And I've done enough pre-cut patterns now to know that using yardage for a lot of these patterns would be a lot more convenient and less wasteful. Yes, my Quick and Easy Baby Quilt is a good use of layer cakes, but most patterns for pre-cuts are not like that. I personally cut my fabric to size and seldom trim my blocks. They might not be perfect, but they're good enough. I'm not entering my quilts in a juried quilt show. So, I really don't choose to waste my time and fabric trimming down pre-cuts. I will share a couple of examples from my experience. Moonstruck was one which used 6" pre-cut strips. I don't even think those are available any more, and probably because they were so totally useless. I don't know if there was even a single pattern in the book that utilized the entire width of the strip. The second example is Exploring Space, where I ended up trimming 168 HSTs for one baby quilt! As I stated in that post, "I think I would have been much better off starting with the exact size squares I needed to make the Easy 8 HSTs and not have to trim each individual one. So, using a layer cake was kind of pointless. And that made this quilt tedious instead of quick and fun." Now I'd like to point out that my local quilt shop cuts up overstock, old stock, whatever, into metres and half-metres. And that is a pre-cut that I really do find useful. They sell the metres for $8 each and the half-metres for $4 each. And that's a price I can really get excited about because quilting fabric currently averages at least $20/metre. A half-metre of fabric for less than a fat quarter! And I have put many metres and half-metres to good use. Where the Charming Roses Bloom, for example, was made up mostly from these pre-cut metres. So, that brings me back to the next quilt. When I saw this MSQC tutorial, 
featuring 3-yard quilts, it got my attention. I could easily pick up 3 metres of fabric that would look good together from the pre-cut metres at my local quilt shop. And that's what I did. 
This is Plum Perfect, made from pre-cut metres from my local quilt shop. I had to alternate fabrics for the binding because there was not enough of one fabric left to do a full double fold binding. And, of course, I had to add backing and batting, and voilĂ , a quilt big enough for a small throw/lap/baby quilt, about 43" x 60". And over all, a much more coordinated look than the ones above made with layer cakes. Leah's Ladder, which you can see in this post, is also a 3-yard quilt, made with pre-cut metres from my LQS. I think I'm hooked and I want to get all of the 3-yard quilt books by Donna Robertson.


They're in my Amazon wishlist. So if anyone is looking for an idea for a gift for me... (By the way, if you purchase from this link, I get a % of the sale, but no one has ever done that, so I'm not going to get too excited). 
Anyway, I had the quilt top done for Plum Perfect earlier this year. The backing fabric was purchased, but that's as far as I got. Until this week. I stitched the backing together, and quilted and bound it. And I have one more quilt for my baby quilt stash. I think that's enough baby quilts for now and hopefully, I'll be ready for the next baby boom. 
And that's it for quilt finishes for 2021. I have, however been playing around with gift baskets. One of my friends suggested that the bowl cozy would make a good gift basket. So I made one up, using some fusible interfacing and regular batting instead of Wrap'n'Zap, and the fabric is leftovers from a layer cake. 
Yes, actually, it would make a nice gift basket, just not for this oversized bath pouf if I wanted to include anything else. I wanted to make a gift basket for my niece and include a floral facecloth and an exfoliating scrubby
And so this basket worked much better. 
Because I wanted to use some leftover backing fabric from Plum Perfect, and it was only 16" wide, I used 16" squares of fabric instead of 18", and made the darts 3", and it turned out a great size. I still want to squish a couple more items in there. It's just been too cold to go to the store to buy them. 
Did you notice how I've rolled up the facecloth to look like a flower. You can do that with just about any size or shape of facecloth/dishcloth if you squish it together right and stuff it in a cup or mug: square, 
or even heart-shaped. 
 I have a super abundance of cotton yarn, much of it left over from the Circles Throw. So I have been thinking of making spa/bath gift baskets for Valentine's Day. 
This heart-shaped washcloth (from A Year of Dishcloths, by Maggie Weldon) and exfoliator are a much better fit for the "bowl cozy" basket. By the way, it took me two hours to make that washcloth, as it did the bath pouf in this picture below. I think I'm going to look for a different heart-shaped washcloth pattern that will be less labour-intensive. 
I do not find Red Heart Scrubby yarn or any of its derivatives easy to work with, and from now on I will stick to using it to edge dishcloths and making the small exfoliators in the previous picture. 
I only had part of a small skein of the yarn I used in the washcloth, so finished it with Bernat Handicrafter Holidays Sparkle. I love bling, but I don't think including a yarn with metallic content in a washcloth was a good idea. Wash and exfoliate at the same time... 
I guess that's it - those are my finishes for year end. It will be sundown soon and the Sabbath will commence - more important to me than New Year's Eve. So, I'm going to put my craft stuff away for now, and share with you a New Year's reading from a devotional book called Our High Calling by Ellen G. White. 

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