Monday, December 31, 2012

Hundred Day Hustle Wrap Up and Year-End Review

Like many of you, I found Kelsey's Hundred Day Hustle a great inspiration. I had pretty low expectations about my ability to finish things, but in the end, I think I did reasonably well! Here's a look back at my list:
  1. Red and white quilt for Grandma-- Finished and given to my mom! She loved it.
  2. Gray and yellow wedding quilt-- Finished and set to be delivered today!
  3. Charming Stars wedding quilt-- No progress. Will be a January/February project!
  4. Nebraska wall hangings-- No progress. But after tomorrow, football season will be over until next fall, so I've got plenty of time. ;)
  5. Coasters for L-- No progress.
  6. Placemats for other Grandma-- Well... in progress. There was a setback. :)
  7. Table runner for Mom-- Finished!
  8. Christmas pillow for my SIL-- I changed this to a holiday quilt, because I am crazy. The top is almost done, and I'm going to try to finish it before I go visit them next week.
  9. Purse for my BFF-- No progress.
  10. My hourglass quilt-- Yeah, this will be a 2013 project. :)
  11. A Christmas quilt-- The squares are cut, because I split the layer cake with my SIL's quilt mentioned above. But like the football wall hangings, now I've got a lot of time on this one. :)
Ok, so not that many finishes. But the world is an imperfect place. :)

Since this is my first year of quilting, all of my projects are in this collage! I'm very happy with what I managed to learn and accomplish this year, and am very excited for the quilts I will make this year!

Have a Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Two Finishes, a Minor Disaster, and the Curse of the Reindeer Cat

If that title didn't draw you in, I don't know what will. :)

I spent the few days before Christmas in a flurry of sewing activity and was able to finish two gifts for my mother. Since my mom bought me a beautiful machine this year (see Tobias' debut here), I felt it only right that she get the first fruits of my sewing efforts.

So I made her this table runner:

This project is also significant to me because it is the first time I have EVER tried FMQ on an actual project. It is actually pretty fun, as I'm sure most of you already know. :) Some of it turned out quite pretty:

And some did not:

But that's ok. It's a busy enough quilt design that the quilting doesn't show up much anyway. The fabric I used is a "Christmas Spirit" charm pack by Holly Taylor, which isn't really my taste, but it is definitely my mom's. The pattern is from Keepsake Quilting and can be found here.

My second finish is in some ways my first quilt! Several of these red and white blocks were made during the beginning quilting class I took almost a year ago (love that 9-patch, eh?) This was the quilt I referenced last month as being intended for my grandmother. Events happened, and my mother ended up being the recipient instead.

I finished this quilt quickly. I'm back at my mom's place for Christmas break, so it was tough to sew with her around (she's a teacher, so she wasn't at work either!) She went to a wedding last Saturday night, and I finished the top, basted it, and quilted the sashing. Sunday morning, I got up and didn't even shower or get dressed, and finished the quilting on all of the blocks. I bound it, trimmed threads, and tossed it in the wash (with several color catchers, as you might imagine with this color scheme) five minutes before she arrived home. I think she was very happy to unwrap that on Christmas Eve!

Cat nap approved.

But as we know, the course of sewing does not always run smooth, and I also botched some placemats I was making for my grandmother. I was binding them on Christmas Eve, hours before we were due at her house, so I suppose it served me right for my procrastination (I've had that fabric since July.) The binding on the one I got done was not a thing of beauty, and then this happened. Sigh. So Grandma got one placemat and an IOU for the rest.

Also, I did this to my cat. Rest assured, I do not normally dress my cat up, I'm not that crazy. But my brother and sister-in-law got this outfit in the $1 section of Target a couple of years ago for my mom's cat as a joke, and I decided my cat needed to try it on. His opinion differed.

Christmas Spirit, by Bingley
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Trip, A Blizzard, and A (Finally) Finish!

It's been a crazy month (ok yes, can anyone's December be described any differently?) As I mentioned recently, I was planning to move from New York to Nebraska later this week. Two weeks ago, I pitched that plan out the window! Long story short, my advisor's TA couldn't work at the last minute, and he offered the post to me for this spring. It's a great gig--no sections to teach, so basically just some grading and two classes a week, which should leave me a fair amount of time to do my own work. This means I know where my funding is coming from through May 2014 instead of just December 2013, which, as a fifth year grad student, is kind of a big deal. My first response to considering not moving was not a positive one, but as I thought about it, I realized it was very do-able. The only money I had invested was a one-way ticket for my uncle to come help me move, and my landlord extended my lease with no extra fees, which was great! I'm not very good at making major decisions, especially quickly, but this all happened within 18 hours, and I feel at peace with it.

Of course, with other recent unsettling events, it hasn't been a totally peaceful period. I was calculating final grades the day that the horrible shooting at Sandy Hook took place, and just kept watching as the news got worse and worse. I hope that this tragedy, horrific as it was, will spur some beneficial changes in the many areas of society that desperately need it. But more importantly, I pray that the families and community there are allowed to heal and that they will be well supported by friends and family in the difficult months and years ahead.

After a fun evening on Sunday decorating cookies with a few fellow grad students and watching "Love Actually," I headed back to Nebraska via a two-day drive with my cat as my (worthless, it must be said) co-pilot. It is such a long trip, and even though it's one we've made many times, I am always so relieved when I cross the Missouri River into Nebraska! It's equal parts great to be home, and to be out of the car. :) We got home a day before a massive blizzard came through. My mom and I made chili soup, drank wine, and I got her started on an addiction to Downton Abbey last night as the wind blew like crazy outside. There are probably not any better ways to ride out a blizzard!

Don't mind the crazy purple bunny on the left.

But my biggest news is that I finally finished a quilt! :) I know, miraculous. After deciding not to move, I found myself with a much more reasonable amount of free time, so I finally knocked out the gray and yellow quilt for my friend! I adore the binding I finally chose, and think it looks great! I took it outside this morning for some snowy photo goodness, and now I'll shut up and let you enjoy the photos. :)

The back is made from an Ikea duvet cover. It seemed just a shade short the long way, so I threw in a strip of blocks echoing the front. Something I need to learn to do is to line up a pieced back with the front, because as you can see from the quilting, it isn't quite square. Oh well. I still like the overall effect.

I considered outlining the dark gray squares in the same way, but I was sort of out of time and motivation after I got it bound, and I thought it would be tough to manage to not stitch on the binding if I went back and quilted post-binding. It would have looked nice though!

I really lucked out with my binding! I had saved some yellow from the beginning of the project and intended it for my binding, but when it came time for that step, I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't happy with what I saw at the LQS, and then as I was just about to settle for something, I found this! And it is perfect. And I am a little obsessed over it.

So, the wedding quilt is finally finished, just in time for their five-month anniversary. :) I just know my friend is going to love it!

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Ithaca Modern Quilt Guild

Hey guys! No, I haven't been eaten by a bear, fallen off a cliff, or otherwise disappeared from the face of the earth. Just busy trying to wrap up the semester (classes finished last week, yay! but now the grading...oh, the grading) and plan a move halfway across the country before Christmas. So things will probably be a little sparse here until I get settled in in January, but that's life! I try to pop on and check out what you guys are up to every once in awhile, but I'm also trying to limit my time on the computer so that I face down the pages-long to-do list I've got. :)

Yesterday I went to my first Modern Quilt Guild meeting! Pat, from Color Me Quilty, has been working hard on this for several months, and yesterday was their second meeting. I was pretty bummed I have to leave something that fun when it is just started, but I still think it's a pretty cool undertaking. Ithaca is a highly artistic community and is home to a lovely and successful quilt shop, and I think it's something that will do very well!

I'm sewing the binding on my gray and yellow quilt that has been my only ongoing project for ages. Then, I see that this fabric line is coming out!

Well, that certainly would have made things easier. Oh well! I guess my friend M was just a little too ahead of the curve in picking gray and yellow as wedding colors last summer. :)

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