It’s time for my winter blogging break. My son is coming home from college today, I have a ton of Christmas preparation (including getting ready for two parties we’re hosting), and I need to focus on getting my year-end accounting organized. Some fun stuff; some not. I will be back posting during the last half of January.
I wish every one of you a happy holiday. I am honored that you spend time reading my blog.
This is the time of year when I am, like everyone else, really busy. So I’m not sure why I decided it would be fun to make hand-made ornaments for all the people (such my hairdresser, allergy shot nurses, etc.) that I normally give small gifts at Christmas.
There is something about December that makes me forget that I am NOT Martha Stewart. When my husband and I first met in 1984, we decided to make Christmas cookies for all of our friends. I had recipes and decorations, and we set up a virtual bakery in our tiny bachelor apartment. It took “decorating” about four sugar cookies for me to recognize that I had no patience for this kind of work. For the rest of the day, I baked and my husband decorated cookies with engineering precision.
I guess my memory has faded, because this year I decided to make Christmas ornaments. I found the folding and pinning of squares (to the foam balls) to be very relaxing and a great project for in front of the TV. Each ball took maybe an hour to make and took (I’m guessing) 150 pins. By the time you add up the cost of the 3″ foam balls (about $1 each) and the pins ($2 or $3) and the fabric ($2), it is not a super-cheap gift. Plus it took me two trips to Joann Fabrics for more supplies.
I actually enjoyed making the ornamants, except using the glue gun to attach the final ribbons. I’ve never used a glue gun before, and I found it difficult to attach the ribbon around the raw edges. Plus I got hot glue on my acrylic fingernails, which is ironic since one of the balls is for my manicurist.
You can learn how to make these decorations by watching this youtube video.
The ornament on the left is the one described in the video; I have not yet attached ribbon. The ornament on the right is made be only attaching 8 of the 16 middle and outside squares of fabric. My family liked these better because they were simpler to do.
I love Christmas! While I’m not super great at decorating — all that clutter tends to stress me out — I do love our Christmas tree.
When my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together, almost 30 years ago, we didn’t have any ornaments for our tree. At that time I decided that we would each get a special ornament every year. As the children were born, we gave them each an ornament. Family and friends helped along the way. We currently have enough ornaments to decorate several trees!
Not surprisingly, my teenage daughter does not like these orphan, hand-made decorations. She prefers a cohesive look and store-bought ornaments that match the lights. So our current tree is a mixture of the old and the new. It will probably be a couple of decades before she recognizes how wonderful it is to have ornaments that represent each year of your life. Meanwhile, I have a son who will be starting his own Christmas traditions soon … it will be hard to see some of his ornaments leave the nest!
Since my mom is a (very crafty) quilter, we have been the recipients of many of her ornaments over the years. I thought I’d share a few with you.
Patchwork stocking ornament, made by my mother
Mrs. Santa Claus. I made many needlepoint ornaments over the years, using yarn and plastic canvas. This one was made sometime in the 1980’s.
Our gorgeous log cabin tree skirt, made by my mother in the 1990’s.
My son’s first Christmas, made by my mother in 1994.
QuiltCon is being held in February 2013. One of the challenges was to create a modern quilt using Dear Stella Fabrics. You can check out the official rules and challenge fabrics here.
My idea was to use all four colors of one fabric and match up the patterns, so that the bubbles looked like they were floating in the main fabric. I added some additional solid bubbles, using the same colors as the challenge fabric. Finally, I used trapunto to make faux bubbles throughout the quilt. The entire quilt is quilted using pebbles (which are meant to look like bubbles), although the quilting is hard to see in the photograph. This was really fun to do.
“Bubbles” quilt using Dear Stella Fabric
Close-up. It’s a bit easier to see the quilting and the trapunto bubbles.
“Tis the season for quilt guild parties and gift baskets that contain fabric. At a party last week, there were close to 100 gift baskets. We placed our raffle tickets in a nearby plastic bag — then the winner of each basket was chosen. Each of the ladies at my table (except me) won at least 2 baskets. I didn’t win any. I felt like the kid who was not picked for a sports team!
I was trying to convince myself that the oversight of the Quilting Gods was due to the fact my sewing room is already stuffed. My rational mind told me that I really didn’t need any more fabric. But the truth is that every quilter loves fabric … especially if it’s free — even if we have no idea where to put it!
In the spirit of the season, I’ve included an instructional video on 100 ways to hide your stash by the singing quilter, Cathy Miller. I hope you can put these tips to good use!
100 Ways to Hide Your Stash
I was challenged to create a minimalist quilt using the Modern Quilt Guild’s color. This quilt contains four squares of color — representing air, water, fire and earth. The names of each element are quilted into the color block, and the rectangle to the right contains quilting to represent each element. These were swirls (air), droplets (water), flames (fire), and tree trunks (earth).
I’m learning it is a challenge to photograph white quilting on white fabric, but here’s a look.
We haven’t had snow yet on Long Island, but it’s pretty darn cool this morning. So it’s a perfect time to share these beautiful snow quilts, made by artist Simon Beck in Savoie France. Mr. Beck uses snow shoes to trudge through the snow and make these beautiful patterns. What a fantastic way to combine exercise with art!
Here’s a link to more of Simon Beck’s fantastic snow quilts.
Iris demonstrates Misty Fuse
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Dye-Namix studio in New York City. During that visit, we had a special guest teacher that is a rock star in the quilt world — Iris, the inventor of Misty Fuse!
I love fusing! It was actually fusing that got me into quilting, as I’d heard that you could make beautiful art quilts and not have to sew. The not-sewing illusion was broken part way through my first class, but I was already hooked!
Iris developed Misty Fuse in conjunction with quilter Esterita Austin. They wanted a product that would fuse to very light fabrics, be environmentally sound, not darken fabric, and — of course — worked extremely well. Misty Fuse is the result.
If you’ve been using a product such as Steam a Seam, you will be surprised to see that Misty Fuse is not sold with any paper. It looks like a fine interfacing. Instead, you use teflon pressing sheets on the side that doesn’t have any fabric. The heating process is quick and Iris recommends that you slide your iron to adhere the Misty Fuse.
As I said, Misty Fuse has several advantages over its competitors. The biggest, I think, is that it doesn’t change the hand of the fabric. As a longarmer, I have difficulty quilting when I have several fabrics fused on top of each other, especially when the fusible web is also stiff.
Check out their website if you’d like to learn more about Misty Fuse.
I’m not the most tech-savvy person, and I’ve never been drawn to computer games. So I was surprised when I found this online color scheme designer and enjoyed it. It is easy to use and will give you an infinite variety of color schemes for your quilts (and your home). This is also a site that you’ll definitely want to bookmark.
Please enjoy the Color Scheme Designer.
Over the last month, I have been getting quilts ready for the Modern Quilt Convention. This convention will be held in February in Austin, Texas.
One of the categories was to design a quilt that used a modern twist on a traditional block. My goal was to make a log cabin block using thread to create the light and dark portions of the block. I used yellow thread for the light area, and grey thread for the dark area. This quilt was extraordinarily difficult to photograph, but I hope you get the idea.
Log Cabin Illusion
Below you can see the individual block.