Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Spectacular

It's surely no secret around here that I LOVE KATE SPAIN and creating things with her awesome fabrics. One of my favorite quilts that I've ever made is my Jewel Box quilt from the charms I got in a swap that included every line except her holiday lines. 

Well last year I thought how wonderful it would be to make a quilt using only her Christmas / Winter lines. I'm not usually a fan of devoting a quilt to something I will only use once a year but this seemed different and special. Christmas had always been a special time to my mother and she took great pride in doing the house up nice each year so I committed myself to making maybe a throw size in her honor. 
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I did a little research and it turned out there were 6 lines from previous years and another coming out mid 2016 and I really loved them all -- they have a certain vintage/timeless feel to them, like my mother's ornament collection. 
Crayon Box Quilt Studio
(image from Crayon Box Quilts -- who did a round of holiday charm swap round that I passed on when Jingle came out)

Lovers of Fabric know that OOP and HTF equate to being long shots at times and I was seeking a charm pack of each line (make things a little harder for my self, right.) I came across an awesome hashtag #GetYourQuiltyWishesGranted about this same time so I threw this wish out into the cyber world and also started to look online to see if this was going to be a possibility. 

I was really excited and surprised when charm packs of 4 lines were offered to me right away. I started to tell myself -- this might actually happen, so I focused on the other 2 heavily. 
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One I was able to find online (not cheap), I asked the shop owner about the other missing line and my intentions for the project, and she lowered the cost a little for me and directed me to another person that might have what I was looking for (how great, right). While I'm waiting to hear back about the other, I got a message on IG and the missing pack was gifted. 

Knowing the new line was going to be released after market I started asking around to people that I knew would be going, and a friend's shop was doing an after market sample sale and I was able to pick up the new line before most people really knew about it. 
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So with all the packs in hand it was time to choose a background color since I already knew the pattern I wanted to modify and use. 
When my dear friend Melanie decided to close her retail store and this provided a great opportunity to get an abundance of dark grey grunge that blended all the the beautiful variations of reds, greens, blues, grays, whites and creams that all these different lines brought together -- not exactly the color you think of in a Christmas quilt. 
Moda grunge fabric UK stockists
Then it was time to make what seemed like a thousand half square triangles -- but really it was 422 (211 different fabrics) and I got most of these sewn at a series of sew ins with the help from my friends all taking part in the assembly line process. 

I sorted them into groups of 8 for the stars. 
and with a strong dose of courage pushed forward on assembly. This was October and I wanted to see if I could make it at least to the quilt top phase by December. 

I tried a new to me method of sewing the blocks together called the scrambled net patchwork. I had seen this done before by 2 quilters (one focused on design/ layout and the other was working on a scrappy quilt) and once I got the hang of it I was amazed, because knowing me at least one of those triangles would have been wrong along the way. If you look at the tutorial I linked to I did mine a little differently -- I only focused on one column at a time instead of every other but it's a great method. I even repeated it once I had all the blocks completed to make the top. 
These blocks are large and I knew the idea of a throw was out the window. I also knew that I didn't want to break my back with rearranging them on the floor to determine layout -- so I cheated and I made block representation cards and did a basic layout with these before spreading the blocks on the floor. This might be handy for my fellow quilters with furry helpers. 
I did have to do a little swapping out for fabric placement but this probably saved me -- hours! No seriously, when you factor in time for blind rearrangement and cat moving and recovery time from all that bending over -- hours, maybe even days. (Kahn is kind of a jerk when it comes to quilt layout time).
This lovely girl is a much better helper than the other one because she waits patiently off to the side and then patrols the edge before coming onto the quilt -- She's such a love. 
The quilt pattern is by my awesome online friend Michelle that she designed for Moda called Castles on the Horizon, Michelle is someone that I feel I will meet in real life some day and she happens to be as big of a Kate Spain fan as I am, she was the charm swap host for the other KS quilt I made. I decided this quilt would be called Castles at Christmas in honor of her.
Once assembled I added a simple border and incorporated the solid charms that I initially was going to have to leave out -- my change from her design but it emphasizes the diamonds and reminds me of the holly bunches that my mother put on the corner of the mantle. 

The backing had been purchased on the way to Stash Bash last year after I surprised my awesome friend Mallory and  we stopped at the shop closest to the retreat to just hang out some more before the big weekend -- where she helped me find the hidden bolt of this great fabric from the Jingle line. 
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I patched in the extra star block into the backing 
and sent it off for some spa treatment in Florida -- right after Thanksgiving. As I have said before Kira is awesome and I feel confident in letting her do her own thing when it comes to my quilts and she sure didn't disappoint on this one -- stunning work, she quilted poinsettias and swirls. 
I set forth binding it right away with the hopes that I would still make my holiday deadline and as of 4pm on 12/27 I had a completed queen sized quilt -- The Kate Spain Christmas Spectacular -- Castles at Christmas
This one is so very special because of all the components that many of my friends added to it along it's journey and it will now be a part of my holiday traditions for many years to come. 
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Wouldn't it be great to get a photo with the Disney castle. 

This is my 2nd finish for this quarter. 

Steve's Memories

Several years ago I ran into a guy that worked in another office that collected t-shirts and we talked about the prospect of getting a quilt or 2 made from them, I gave him my card. I figured this would turn out much like the numerous encounters and cards that had been distributed at quilt shows and craft events and go nowhere. 
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I have come to accept the reality that most people like the idea of a t-shirt or handmade quilt but very few people are willing to pay what it costs to simply have one made (let alone if you add in labor amount). 

Fast forward to August of this year when I changed offices and one day a guy that had been out on medical leave comes to me and asks if I'm the lady he talked to about the t-shirt quilts -- Let's be honest, I have a horrible memory for faces and names so at first I had no idea what he was talking about. So as my memory is jogged about this encounter I remember some of the specifics we talked about and jokingly ask if he still had my card. Turns out that he did and he had been talking to his wife about contacting me in preparation for his upcoming retirement. (A 5 month deadline -- I should back away now) 

We seam out some plans and it's agreed that I will take on one quilt at this time with the possibility of making a few others after the first one (my brain is screaming RUN NOW!) and he brings me a bag of shirts for the first one. 
I always forget how draining for me these quilts seem to become -- it fogs up my creative juices for other projects and screams from across the room at me until it is finished, like a toddler in time out. 
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After several times of delay, I got the top finally assembled and knew it was going out to be long armed. I refused to try and quilt this behemoth on my machine and risk personal injury like the last queen size quilt that tried to take out my hand. I made the arrangements and sent it to local to decrease chances for loss in the postal system. 
When I finally got it back the long armer, I was thrilled to be able to put the binding on and send it home. I knew it would make the coworker happy to have it back and I could start to focus on other things in my sewing room. 
After a happy delivery, the quilt gets brought back because some patching on one of the shirts has come loose and needs repair (this was upsetting for both of us) and in the end if was fixed and returned. 

Every time I take on a t-shirt quilt I get wrapped up in the excitement that others have about the project and forget that this is not the work I enjoy. After quilting costs (-half) and materials (-25%) the take home amount (25%) does not cover the time or effort (over 15 hours) and other projects have been delayed or rushed.  

Worst off for me is, if I know the person our relationship often is changed by this process as well simply by the pressure involved. I have another baby clothes quilt I am working on right now and it seems different than this one for me -- less stressful. 

I am wondering, if he decides to move forward with more quilts do I need to pass this project off to someone else? 

This is my 1st finish this quarter and hopefully not my only finish. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I had a birthday

The first part of December brings with it my birthday. 
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This year it also happened to coincide with one of the local shops closing her storefront. This might have turned into a real binge on the fabric decrease plan ---- not sorry.
The Aqua Pile is going to become a quilt for one of my dear stash bash friends ---- with some additions from stash. 

Several people gave me money to spend at the sale and a couple of friends bought me things at the sale as gifts. I stayed within my budget and bought things with purpose for the most part. 

I did go outside my birthday money to buy something practical -- a quilt display stand. I can't wait to finish something and start using it for outdoor photography. 

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My husband then surprised me with Alison Glass' new line 76 and the sun print Grow. 
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We were out on Sunday and he asked if I wanted to go by the shop again to see what was left and I picked up a few low volumes and bolt ends of some modern solids. I know these will come in handy for upcoming bee blocks and swaps. 

I'm feeling good about all the new additions and the prospect that they hold for projects coming up in 2017. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

November Sewing and stashing

After October, I'm now at -110 yards for 2016. I hope to be at -125 before the end of the year but we will see how things come along. 

November is the last month for the Stash bee blocks and this month we got a taste of y seams with Karen's blocks. (-.5)
overall these are really easy and fun.

Bee Hive is the other hive I have been doing all year and this month we made arrow blocks for Christina. (-.5)
I think these are going to be great in the quilt for her husband. 

The traveling quilts are rolling along with another 3 months on this project, and I had Diana's quilt this month and I added in the broken dishes blocks to the bottom.
Only 2 more rounds on this fun traveling quilt. 

The month started out with a fun sew in night at one of the local shops and I was finally able to get those Kate Spain Christmas fabrics started in the direction of being blocks. 
As time allowed throughout the month I was able to complete the top and make the backing and I sent it off to Florida for some time with Kira -- Can't wait to see what she does. (-15 yards)

This month also had me busy with t shirt quilts -- the one for my coworker that is currently at the long armer. (-8 yards)
and the one for McKinley is ready for assembly. 

In preparation for maybe moving eventually I did destash craft things and fabric on Instagram through the get your quilty wishes granted and some selling (-15 yards) 

So November was about prepping for things to come and pushing out things in preparation for the end of the year. I started with being -110 yards for 2016, I added 0 yards and I used / purged 39 yards, bringing the 2016 total to -149 yards. The first part of December includes my birthday and I will soon show you all the recent additions to my stash that came along with that.