Sunday 28 January 2024

Christmas Spice Blend Collection


One of our local fairs has a fairly large Christmas craft section in their bench show, and this past year, I determined to enter as many classes in this section as I could. 
I don't know why, when I was in a time crunch to get the projects completed for the fair, I would pick patterns like these. 
Definitely not in the quick and easy category! As it turned out, I didn't complete the placemats until just before Christmas. The tops were made before the fair, but I ran out of time to get them quilted and bound. 
Creating these placemats required 11 different fabrics. The table runner required only 8, but since I wanted them to coordinate, I used the same fabrics, just omitting 3 in the runner.
Finishing the edges on this odd shape would have presented a challenge, so the instructions said to stitch it together inside out, then turn it right side out and quilt it. But I wanted to quilt it on the longarm, which I did, using an old broadcloth fabric from my stash as a false backing. I then stitched it inside out with the actual backing fabric, turned it right side out and stitched the opening closed. Finished!
I used the Amber pantograph to quilt it as I felt the it echoed the curves of the table runner. 
When I purchased the fabric, I chose clearance fabric that my local quilt shop sells in pre-cut metres and half-metres. So, I started out with 11 metres of fabric (or maybe it was only 10½ because one of them might have been just a half metre), so plenty not only for these projects, but for others as well. 
This is the Spiced Tea Mat from 50 Country Quilting Projects. You may recall that I'm trying to gradually work my way through this book, completing every project. I think I've still got 40 projects to do after this one. The idea behind this one is that, instead of just a regular hot mat, you create it with a pocket on the back to insert a little packet of spices. The instructions said to make the little packet using fusible interfacing, which didn't seem like the best idea to me. Instead, I made it using muslin. And because it was a Christmas hot mat, I used a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. It smells wonderful. And that was the inspiration for calling this collection Christmas Spice Blend. Since I was using a collection of mostly unrelated fabrics, I needed a name to call the assortment of projects I was making from it. And since it's a "blend" of 11 different fabrics, I figured that name would work. 
I have set a goal of making a different wallhanging for the living room and table treatment for the dining room for each month of the year, so naturally I needed a Christmas wallhanging for December. 
I love the vintage look of this wallhanging. To me, the colours are so rich.
I quilted the placemats, together with the wallhanging using a pantograph called Cappuccino. It's an older pantograph from Golden Threads that I bought second hand. Because both of these projects have small pieces, I wanted a fairly dense pantograph and this one fit the bill. I don't know if it's still available or not. When I try to go to the Golden Threads website, I get a warning from my security software. And it's not the same as the Cappuccino pantograph from Urban Elementz. 
Next, I decided to make some pillows for the couch. 
I used a colouring sheet I printed off the internet as a pattern for the applique. I call it Christmas bells. 
It's funny how the circle looks distorted into a rounded square once I placed the pillow form inside. I didn't have any extra 12" pillow forms, and they're not readily available or cheap, so, since I have a big bag of stuffing, I made my own using muslin. 
This block is called Swamp Angel. I found it during a search on my BlockBase+ software and found the name so intriguing that I decided I needed to make it. 
I later googled to find out what a "Swamp Angel" actually was. Not exactly consistent with the message of Christmas. 😕 But it's still a great block and made an attractive pillow. 
Remember my Christmas Tree napkins I made for the previous Christmas? 
They just happen to be made from fabrics that I included in the Christmas Spice Blend, so they coordinate as well. 
I still have plenty of fabric left from this collection, so more projects may be forthcoming. But that's enough Christmas projects for now. 

Monday 1 January 2024

Christmas in July: Let It Snow

 It's New Year's Day, so why am I posting about Christmas in July?

I don't always do a "Christmas in July" project, but this past July, I decided I would. I had a fat quarter bundle of snowflakes and stars fabrics in blues and whites that had been in my stash for several years. Why not see what I could do with that? 
Having designed the Grandmother's Twins quilts (which I will share at a later date), which use 10" blocks set on point to create a "snuggle" size quilt, I chose that layout. 
Then I had to choose the blocks. Why I chose two different blocks is anyone's guess. July seems like a lifetime ago and I really don't remember. Or why I chose Jinny Beyer's book, The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders, rather than my BlockBase+ software, is also unclear, though I can probably figure that one out. It's easier to find a 10" block in the book by just going to the 5-patch chapter, whereaas in the software, I would have to open each individual block to see if it was a 10" or not. 
The first block I chose was Here's the Steeple
Not a simple block and I had to draft it myself from the approximately 2" picture in the book and then create my own templates. I was able to use Tri Recs tools for some of the pieces. 
My second block choice was Follow the Leader or Pinwheel Square.
As I had insufficient fabric left from my fat quarter bundle, I had to "borrow" from my stash for the small dark blue triangles and the white half-rectangle triangles. And I had a note in the book where I had already done the calculations for the pieces. 
Neither of these were simple blocks, but I was able to create 3 of the Here's the Steeple block and the remainder were partly finished, plus one of the Follow the Leader blocks with most of the pieces cut out. Then I realized that the local fairs were drawing closer (they're in early August) and I needed to get some projects completed if I wanted to have entries for the fairs. And this project was left idle. For months. 
Once the hubbub of Christmas was over, as the year was drawing to a close, I wanted to complete the quilt I'm making in honour of the coronation of King Charles III. 
I figured it was a good idea to actually finish it in the year that his coronation actually occurred. However, this is not a simple block. 
And I needed 16 of them. I had finished 1 and partially finished a second one. I completed this second one, but it's that square in the middle. There's no easy way of getting it there! It requires several partial seams with small pieces, so not much room to work. And when I looked at the foundation paper piecing option in BlockBase+, there really wasn't an easy solution there either. I would still have to figure out a magic formula for getting that square in the middle. It was kind of discouraging. And then I found out that my local quilt shop was closed during the week between Christmas and New Year's, so I couldn't get backing fabric anyway. There was no way I could finish this quilt in 2023 even if I got the top done.
I have to admit that I was not really reluctant to relinquish this project for some time in the future. Sorry, Charles. Instead, I decided to complete my Christmas in July project. I already had purchased the filler fabric for the alternate squares and setting triangles, plus the backing fabric, a blue fleece with white snowflakes. And because I had already cut out most of the pieces and partially finished several of the blocks, it went quite quickly. 
I chose the Snow Winds pantograph from Urban Elementz for the quilting and Super White Glide thread. 
Perfect for the "snow" theme of this quilt, and I christened it "Let It Snow". 
By the time I was finished, I had already determined to see if I could complete a couple of other snuggle quilts before the end of the year. 
The tops were finished. I had the backing fabric and the binding strips were already cut. I just needed some polyester fibrefil batting, which is what I use when quilting with minky or fleece. I was able to get that at Walmart. But you'll have to wait for later to see if I was able to get those finished or not.