27 December 2016

Bear Paw Quilt Finish, Surprise Complete

It's finally time for the big bear paw reveal.
You might want to grab a cup of coffee for this.
It's a little lengthy and, unusual for me,
I added in lots of pictures.

Firstly, I forgot to point out last time how well the moon/star pattern
in the dark brown fabric worked with the bear's nose and eye.
I didn't even plan that!  I didn't even know what I'd use that
fabric for back in October when I bought about 6 yards of it
off the clearance rack during the Shop Hop.
It was a little dark but there was plenty for the backing so...

Anyway, on to the big finish!!
Believe it or not, five days before Christmas,
this quilt was labeled, wrapped and under the tree.
Which means, even though it felt like 20 weeks, I made it in 20 days!
Actually--less, because weekends were mostly out.

Like the weekend before Christmas that we
went to the WSU basketball game on Saturday eve...
and then drove up to Kansas City the next morning early
for the Chief's game--the one with the single digit temps.
The one that if you didn't keep shaking your drink,
it wouldn't be drinkable!

(yes, that's snow and ice on the seats)

Well, until you find out that there's a concession stand 
that will spike your hot chocolate
with your choice of several flavors of, um, warmth.

I went with the peppermint schnapps.
So did the guy behind me when he heard what I ordered.
"WHAT did you just have them put in there?!?"
Poor man, he hadn't heard the good news yet.
 I heard him joyfully exclaim, "I'll have the same!" 
after I wished him the necessary fan-to-fan "enjoy the game"
and walked away.  Ah, so happy to spread the cheer.
My husband found my joy so funny that he had to get a picture of it.
I didn't think it was that funny--it was COLD, people!
I had just found a life-line was all!

Here's one of those annoying selfies of my husband and I 
having dinner with my daughter and son-in-law
who live there in KC.

The restaurant was warm.
The hotel was warm.
And had a nice warm the view of the Plaza.

You know what else is warm?
A quilt.

Which is what was in the back of my mind the whole time.

In the morning, we took advantage of our location to do some
last-minute shopping, arriving home...Monday evening.
Another reason I rushed like mad the previous days.
I knew this weekend would mean three more quilt days shot.

But I had stayed ahead of the game!

Up till then, the very minute my husband would walk in from work,
I would be throwing the quilt into my sewing room
closet, picking up threads and taking a lint roller to my clothes.
And if he walked back out later in the evening for anything
I flew to my sewing room and pulled it right back out.
(how lucky that he's coaching basketball several nights a week
and has a men's group once a week at church!)
I really wasn't kidding when I said I gave this
every single free second I had.

Just days before the spiked hot chocolate saved my life,
I was already at the border
and starting to relax...some.
The mitered border I was looking forward to.
Changing the measurements due to the addition of a row?
Not really.
Fortunately, Sew Fresh Quilts has a great little tutorial that
walked me right through it.

(not sure why it looks wrinkled--it's not?)

I've never done a mitered border before
but that wasn't so bad.

That night, while my husband was at basketball, the boys
 set up the tables so I'd be able to baste it the next day.
I took advantage of the tables to go ahead with piecing the backing
and measuring out the batting.

  ANY step I could squeeze in,
I did, and since we just don't use that room much, I didn't see
any reason not to leave everything out overnight, especially
to let the batting "breathe".  But with the backing on top
and covering it up, of course.
Just in case!
What are the chances my son would mis-place his calculator,
sending my husband on a search throughout the house?
Luckily, I diverted his attention just as he was nearing the sunroom.
You understand how this took over my life for 3 weeks, right?

I guess I'm a pretty sneaky person because he never picked up
on any of it.  After 25 years, he usually knows the signs of a project
going in my sewing room, and in my head.  But, as I said,
I cleaned everything up and dumped the trash daily--sometimes twice a day!
My husband did know I was sewing new body pillow covers for the kids,
and he told me later that he kind of wondered what was
taking so long but that's as far as that thought went.

I pushed myself incredibly hard because, to me, there is nothing worse
than spending Christmas Eve in the sewing room while everyone
else is gathered around a movie or a game or the fire or whatever.
To find myself with those last several day before Christmas
completely free made every insanely-rushed minute worth it.

As did the surprise.
We do open everything on Christmas Day after Mass
but I always make something for the kids to open before we
watch Christmas Vacation the night before.  Just for the kids.
So Hubs was pretty surprised when, after the pillow covers were all
opened and new pillows distributed, I placed a large gift on his lap.

This is his "what's this?" look.
As you can see, he was settled back and ready for the movie.
You know what's funny?  The quilt behind him is the other
one I made for him about 8? years ago.


He is very happy with his new "Grizzly Paws" quilt.
And he's still telling me how overwhelmed he is with it.
He can see just how much work it was not only to make,
especially in such a short time, but to keep it a secret as well.
I keep relaying little stories, like the calculator one, as I
think back on these crazy weeks.
There were lots of, well, "laughs" as I can now call them.

(one of the pillows off to the lower right)

If you can, note the pine trees quilted in each border cornerstone.

And so, there it is.
The big reveal.
The last quilt of 2016--out with a real bang!

And now, to all a GOOD NIGHT--especially ME, who is 
very ready to settle down for a long overdue winter's nap!

Thank you, Sew Fresh Quilts, for sharing this pattern.
My bear-loving husband will be enjoying this one
for a beary long time!

26 December 2016

Continuing on With the Bear Paw

Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a chance
post the progress on the bear paw quilt so I'll need to
do a little back-tracking.

Because this is for my husband, I added another row,
which added to my work in more ways than one.
When you're in a time crunch, adding work isn't the
greatest idea but...it needed to be done.
Below is my [crooked] picture of all 1,620 pieces at this point.

I think this was about the only time I stopped to actually
look at what I'd made.  Pretty cool so far, eh?
But back to work...

I quickly moved on to the bear.
I use my clothespin organizing method all the time.
I know there are some products out there for times
like these but really, nothing beats some plain, cheap
clothespins.  I have the alphabet on one side
and numbers on the other.

I started out with my pieces all lined up and in order
but as I said, I worked fast and didn't think
to take a picture till I'd torn through my organization
and used up at least half of them.
Good thing they were marked, right?
I flew through the bear easily and quickly.

Back to the tiny pieces...
my husband is highly impressed with this picture.

The big reveal is next.
And yes, he was very surprised!

14 December 2016

So Sew Busy!

I think that just maybe I'm either on or ahead of schedule so I'm
stepping back into the blog world to show what I've been up to.
(I can't believe it's only been a month?)
So, very quickly, here's what's up!

Remember that I wanted to join in on the MOD Bear Paw QAL...
Well, I finally started mine.  
On Dec. 1 if we want to keep track of days.
And when I say that every free second has been spent
 in my sewing room I truly mean every. free. stealthy little second!
Even if only to trim a few of these:

It started with 244 of these, trimming them down to a mere 1.5"...
but then I wanted to add an extra row for length.
And there were more paws for around the bear.
I lost track but my wrists and fingers can probably tell you
that it ended up being more like 300+.  

I was quickly sewing them into paws within 48 hours.
And the tiny little paws in tiny little blocks.

I don't think I've ever made a bear paw...
that I know of anyway.  
Maybe I put one in a sampler or something?

I fully embrace growth and challenges, especially
in the kitchen and in the sewing room!

I moved my machine for a nice view of the snow that was predicted,
And though little came, I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Now, bear in mind here...(did you catch that?)
I'm having to do this while the cat's away, so to speak.
Which means weekends and evenings are off-limits.
And I have to clean up every little speck before the
hubs gets home.  He knows I've had some Christmas
sewing to do but thinks it's for the kids.
That's true, of course, but I finished that already.

Stay tuned!
The top is almost done!  Today I add the final border and
just maybe I'll get it basted even!
Gotta surprise my husband with this on Christmas Eve.

10 November 2016

Stars Over the Cabin Finish! Next Quilt Basted, Ready To Go!

Just a quick mid-week check-in and some pics to share:

The Stars Over the Cabin Quilt is 100% done.
Yes, even the label!
Looking back, this has really been pretty fun
and definitely a rewarding project.

I'll admit there were times it seemed to almost drag along
but I'm so glad I chose this pattern, these colors...
this whole project!

I tried everything I could think of to get a full picture.
I didn't want to bring in a ladder.
I considered laying it out on the lawn but that made me nervous.
I even had my 6'1" son stand on the sofa...

Not quite!  But, oh well.  I don't like to spend too much time
trying to take perfect pictures anyway!

It'll be a bit of an effort to let this go--aren't they all?
We spend a lot of time with our quilts before we send them away.
But, truly I am very excited for when my husband and I drop
this surprise off to one of our favorite couples and friends.
I should make sure that happens this weekend,
before I get more attached, right?

I'm still struggling with limitations
(well, honestly I can do most things but then I will pay dearly, esp at night,
for doing them.  I just cannot understand why it's not getting better!)
but I've been trying hard to get at least some
of the fall cleaning done around here.
I've tackled the windows in small sections--a few at a time and
when I have someone around to help.
I still have my sunroom left to do--eight large windows--and the fact
that it's November already was starting to make me think
they might never get done.  However, one of my sisters is stopping by
and we should get them polished off tomorrow morning.

But that meant getting some things I've been
working on finished and put out of the way.
So up went the third quilt this afternoon.

I still can't believe I used to baste all by hand!
Now I just make one line of stitches along the very outside
of the quilt but the rest is all pinned.
And I always take the opportunity to use up old thread.

Another full weekend ahead but, as always,
hoping to get in some quilting time.

Happy weekend to all!

07 November 2016

Machine Quilting Vines and Pumpkins on Stars Over the Cabin

Last week I worked on quilting my ivory/red quilt.

I really need a better name, don't I?
How about Stars over the Cabin?
OK, I only gave that about two seconds of thought
but we'll just go with that for now.

Knowing this big quilt was going to be difficult to control,
I chose a simple design of leaves and vines.

Not only did I stick to the diagonal design with my quilting,
I also used a darker tan thread on the red diagonals.
I'm not sure that either effort really shows up to the average
eye but I just felt like I needed to work with the quilt's design
rather than just a complete random pattern all over.

While I was busy knotting up my shouldersquilting,
Chloe was kind enough to keep me company.
Oh, alright--she didn't even know I was there.

I recently splurged on some quilting t-shirts.
(on clearance, of course!)
It is important to dress for the occasion.

Back to my quilt--what to put in these center squares...
Long story short, I realized that with the
vines and leaves, pumpkins would work well.

Besides, they're my favorite thing to quilt.
Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that
I love pumpkins and gourds in general.  

So much that
I have to grow them in large numbers.

And decorate with them in wild abandon...

Sorry, getting carried away there.
Back to quilting pumpkins.
I wish I had pics of the process but it's simple:
Starting at the top, I make an outline of the pumpkin.
Then begin making 2 curved lines on each side,
down and then back up on one side; repeat on the other.
Add a stem, curly vines if you want and ba-bing.

A pumpkin.
There's no messing it up.
They come in all shapes and sizes!

I tried to avoid making this quilt especially seasonal, but
then I decided to date it "Thanksgiving '16" and then add
something on the label about being thankful for good friends.
(Did I mention this is a surprise for some good friends?)

Pumpkins are a win/win with all that in mind.
I really wanted this finished before the weekend was up
but I'm still hand-sewing the binding.
I enjoy it--I just have to take some breaks.
It's a big quilt!
I'll be finishing up this afternoon while I do some
baking on the side.

Update:  Finished quilt pic here.

My son's class needs cookies for their retreat tomorrow so
I want to also get 4 or 5 batches of dough in the freezer
(depending on how my molting ladies are doing out in the coop;
eggs have been slim pickings these days!)
to have on hand for the upcoming holiday, visitors, etc.
I've also been making some duplicate dinners, getting
meals put away here and there.  The count is only
at three meals but that's three days of non-stop
quilting ahead.  All of this takes very little time now
but saves a ton of time (and dishes) in the future.

(traced picture back to Home Sweet Home's Facebook page,
not sure where the credit belongs?)

Speaking of retreats, this might be the prettiest house ever.
Just the right size, just the right (quiet!) setting! 
I'm a sucker for trees, especially in the fall.
It would make the perfect retirement home.
Or, if we're being really frivolous, how about a
quilt retreat/get-away house?

This weekend finally brought some fall weather to Kansas
(along with another earthquake but that's another story).
Today we even have some occasional light rain; it's 59 degrees
and barely a breeze with leaves laying all around.
Every glance out every window just warms my quilter's heart...
even if I'm having some trouble adjusting physically.

May your week be full of quilting!

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