Monday, January 22, 2024

Mid January Update

 I've reached the halfway point on my Blue Sky Full of Stars quilting. 

I am also halfway on my Mill Hill kit. Time to add all the beads...and there are a lot.

We made a trip to Las Vegas so I worked on a couple of Mill  Hill ornament kits which are my preferred travel projects. I got all of the cross stitches made on one kit and it just needs the backstitching and beads. I don't like to add the beads while on the road so I started a second ornament kit. 

Just a little about our Vegas trip. We stayed at the Park MGM...a budget friendly hotel. The entire hotel is smoke free!!! There were so many families at this hotel. It was the weekend with Martin Luther King Day so there were kids sports tournaments taking place...girls soccer and boys hockey. It was nice to walk around the casino and restaurants and see families as opposed to scantily clad ladies with loud folks who might have had a little too much to drink. During the football games some of the bars were loud but pretty normal sports fans. 

We like to attend Golden Knights hockey games and the arena is right outside the front door of the Park MGM so that's the main reason we stayed at this hotel. We saw two games and loved being able to just walk a few minutes to get to our seats.

Back to projects. I started the Noah's Ark Bucilla kit. 

And I started a hand embroidery project. Just six little blocks with a spring theme designed by Lynette Anderson. 

The next big event on my schedule is a quilt retreat the first weekend of February. Too many projects to pick from as I try to decide what to bring. I am hoping the first project of the retreat will be adding the binding to Blue Skyfull of Stars. 

I like to make kits...I just realized that a couple of years ago. I also like blue and white kits. Every year, Robert Kaufman fabrics releases a set of batik metallic blue fat quarters as part of their Christmas collection. I buy them every year. Many of those fat quarters were used for the Blue Sky Full of Stars. I still had many fat quarters It was finally time to start cutting and making some kits. I decided to make them into 2 1/2-inch strips. I have enough to make several quilts! 

My first plan is a pattern I've made before in autumn colors and loved...always wanted to make a winter version.

I'm also going to take at least one UFO...lots of those to pick from too! I think I will take two UFOs and two new projects. I will have four sewing days and I like to work on a different project every day. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Quilting Underway

I've had a good start to 2024. 

My number one priority is quilting!!! After six days of working on my latest quilt top in the frame, I have figured out what I am stitching in all places on the quilt top. Deciding what to stitch is always the hardest part. I know from experience, the more regular I am at quilting the easier it is. 

Just loading the quilt onto the frame was a little bit of a nail biter. The top is 104-inches square and of course I bought a wide backing for it. Once all the fabric was washed...and squared up...that backing was a tight fit. I had about an inch on the front of the quilt and maybe two-inches on the bottom. I basted the entire quilt which is what I like to do most of the time because I like to jump around when quilting certain motifs or changing thread colors. 


I am giving a thumbs up to running the batting on the steam setting of my dryer to relax the wrinkles from packaging. If the batting shrunk it wasn't noticeable to me but it was 120-inches square so I had way more than I needed.

With the patchwork border a nice cross hatch pattern looks great and is super easy. The snow flakes in the white inner border are pretty easy too. I just have to mark the center line.

Alas...I did spend a full day ripping our some areas. I decided to create an outline border around the white stars. I had only stitched two border stars and setting blocks but had to rip those out to make that change. Never fun but I happier with the change. This border layout is on all four sides. Sometimes I let a block or area stay as initially stitched if I change my mind but I plan to use the quilt on my bed next winter so it will get looked at a lot. 

I finished my first Bucilla project of the year. 

This was a re-release of a previous design which I just realized today...rummaging through my stash of kits...I have the original release from 2002.'s been over 20 wonder I forgot I had the kit! I wouldn't mind making it again. It would make a nice gift.

I wanted to have a Bucilla kit plan for the coming year. I do find when I have a plan...I get more done. 

I've picked two dimensional kits and a wall hanging that will be a nice little challenge. Noah's Ark and a biggie-sized polar bear and set of penguins. Not a lot of embroidery on those two's just the awkwardness of working with a 3-D piece that makes them challenging. The Snowflake Santa wall hanging is a Mary Engelbreit design and will be a big embroidery laden project. 

I had opened an ornament set of mice last year and just never got back to finishing it. I don't like mice. I have to deal with shrews and mice living in a rural area. But...those ornaments would make really great gifts for my sons and their families. 

I also want to make more ornaments for the other grandmother of my granddaughters, She is a fantastic cookie decorator so she is getting some Christmas cookie ornaments.  And my grandson needs a stocking!!! His dad says a stocking with an airplane would be best....I just happen to have one in my stash. I actually bought a couple of these kits for my stash since so many pilots are in our family and friends' circle.

More stockings are needed for my granddaughters. Kate is outgrowing the Llama stocking and since she has taken a few horseback riding lessons, we agreed on the Santa on a horse. It has a companion ornament set with six gorgeous horse ornaments. 

And Kara needs a stocking at her other grandma's house so the Christmas cookie theme is being continued. Santa's Sweet Shop is a kit from 2009. It also has a companion ornament set. 

Finally, a little update on my current cross stitch project. I've finished the three darkest blue colors of floss in the kit. I'm working on the light blue floss. The last color of floss with be white and since this is a full coverage piece...there will be a lot of white stitching. Lots of pretty beads to also add. 

My February quilt retreat is getting closer. What will I work on that weekend???
More planning needed.

Monday, January 1, 2024

Welcome 2024

Happy New Year!

So exciting to get a fresh start once a year. 

Though I have spent the past week trying to plan projects for 2024, I've been horribly overwhelmed! But in looking through my projects I realized I'd like better documentation of my work. This blog is a great place to do that since I annually get a book made from the blog. And I refer to those books very often. 

So here is my first resolution: more blogging with details. 

I snuck in a couple of finishes the last week of 2023. 
My oldest granddaughter, Kate, who is turning 4 in a week, asked me to add butterfly patches to a denim dress. She requested multiple colors of butterflies. 

It was such a fun and pretty quick project to tackle. I found a rainbow colored batik and cut all my butterflies from that fat quarter from my stash. I used the fusible applique method with Steam-A-Seam Lite 2. 

I stitched around the outer edge with a tight zigzag stitch instead of a full satin stitch.

It was one of her gifts on Christmas morning. 

My second finish was a rather quick project from beginning to end. Amazing for me!
I started the cross stitch about a week before Christmas. It was so fun to have tiny little sections to finish every night. It is Big-Hearted Tiny Town from Heart in Hand Designs. 

I used the DMC flosses listed on the pattern. My fabric was a hand-dyed fabric from 123 Stitch, a 16-count Aida, called Opal. Kind of a pink tinged taupe. 

The amazing part is I didn't just stick the stitched piece in a box hoping the finishing fairy would take care of it by Valentine's Day. I got myself in gear and finished it. 

I watched two YouTube videos on Drum Pincushion finishes. One from Vonna Pfeiffer and one from Helen D. I did my own version that was kind of a cross between their techniques.

I was trying to get two squares between the ends of the design. Three squares look perfect! 
I did add interfacing, Pellon SF101 ShapeFlex which is the interfacing By Annie bag patterns use so I had lots of it in my stash. I think it was perfect. I cut the interfacing to be the height and width of the finished size so I would have a nice sharp edge on the top and bottom.

Vonna presses her seam to one side...hard to get a nice even finish on the top and bottom edge if one side has more bulk in the seam so I pressed it open and ran a tiny bead of Aleene's glue down the center of the seam to help give it strength and keep the ground walnut shells from seeping out. 

Like Vonna and Helen, I  did a layering of descending sizes of batting in the top to create the puff for some pins. Like Vonna, I stuffed the top half of the drum body with fiber fill and then added some crushed walnut shells. Then I finished stuffing with fiber fill. It took so much fiber fill for the that tiny pin cushion. I'm so thankful for YouTube videos. 

I think Vonna and Helen said it took them about an hour to make their drums. I'm sure it took me at least four hours...but it was my first one. 

My next start right before Christmas was a Bucilla kit for a Snowman Door Stopper. I made a lot of changes to this kit. 

First, I used felt to make the face features instead of satin stitching. The black eye centers, cheeks and carrot nose are felt.

I also added a felt backing piece to the blue scarf. I will add tassels to the scarf ends tonight. It has a cup of beans in a baggie at the base of the body. I wish the bottom had an actual base piece. But it will work as a display in my bookcase so I'm not going to rework that part of the design.

I have soooo many cross stitch pieces kitted up and ready to stitch...many are Mill Hill kits. 

I get into situations where I think I need to stitch a I have three more kits with a blue and white winter theme waiting to be stitched. I wanted to stitch this last year with a goal of doing one a year in the series. I skipped it last year. 

I already have two completed Mill Hill kits in this series displayed in my bedroom.

My major goal for today was to get a quilt top loaded on my frame. 
I have the backing fabric loaded and prepped the batting but now I am thinking I want to pop the batting in my dryer. 

My washing machine died in October so we made a major purchase and bought an all-in-one washer dryer. I'm still surprised we did that but so far I am loving it. It has a steam dryer cycle to remove wrinkles. I'm going to try it on my batting before I load it on the frame. I'll let you know how it goes.

No critter photos...though we did have a moose hanging around our yard for a couple of days. We have soooo much snow around the house, I couldn't get a photo of view was blocked.

So another tidbit to share about my life. We had at least four-feet of snow sitting on our metal roof. This year, our snow has been very heavy as opposed to last year's light and fluffy snow. We also had some ice damming...areas where the snow melts and then freezes up. It's very bad for your roof. 

So...for the first time...I hired a crew to remove the snow from our roof. It was just too scary to be only halfway through our snow season and have so much snow on the roof. We have been breaking all kinds of weather records the past couple of years. 

During the process of removing the snow, our deck got pretty covered in mounds of snow.

The crew removed it all with shovels and snow blower. Soooo Much Work. That day, the high temperature at our house was 4-degrees. I was very happy to be inside my warm house with roof that is no longer in danger of leaking due to ice dams.