Christmas Holiday Pillow Covers

Christmas Pillow CoverI made a few Christmas holiday-themed pillow covers this week.

For the Christmas tree pillow cover I used a tutorial from A Quilting Life's blog. The link to the tutorial is here. The thing you need to know about the tutorial is that the instructions are incorrect. For the background it says this: Cut (2) rectangles 2 1/2″ x 4 2/4″.
I should have recognized the sign that something was up when it read four and two-fourths. The correct cut is 4 3/4" not 4 2/4". The image she has on her blog is correct but the instructions are where is issue can be found. And of course I cut the wrong size first, luckily I had enough fabric to cut another piece correctly.

I free-motion quilted the pillow tops and used a cute red and white striped fabric for the binding on one and a red print with snowflakes for the other. The backing fabrics are cute Christmas prints from Joanns.

The 4-patch pillow cover was made using charm squares cut into 4 2 and a half-inch squares with 1 and a half-inch strips between the 4-patch blocks. They went together quickly and I like the results.

They sure brighten up my dark brown sofa.


Cat Quilt

I completed the last of the 4 quilts for Mary this afternoon. It was the largest of the 4 so it took me the longest to quilt. I used a medium blue thread to quilt this and it blended in well on the front of the top. The backing was a darker blue and I like how the medium blue shows. You can really see the quilting.

With the Thanksgiving holiday smack in the middle of working on these, I was concerned that I would struggle to get them finished but it turned out to be less stressful than I anticipated. This quilt is a Christmas gift for Mary's sister so I wanted to make sure she had enough time to sew the binding on and finish it. I hope she is happy with the results.


2 More Quilts

I finished longarm quilting 2 more quilts for my friend Mary. There's a snow advisory in effect which is a good reason to stay home and get these done. Not that I need and excuse, my sewing room is my favorite place.

I quilted stars on this children's outer space quilt and quilted flowers on the purple and green quilt. The client dropped off 4 quilts and it made sense to do these two quilts back to back because I could use the same thread selection for both. I used a variegated purple on the top and a nice violet on the backs.


Turkey Brine

I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and the best part about that is making some things my way. First of all, I love to brine the turkey overnight for the best results. I really think it makes a big difference.

Here's a photo of my brine cooking on the stove. I make it today so it can cool all day then tomorrow morning it will go over the turkey. That way the turkey can soak for 24 hours before roasting. The scent of the brine while simmering is amazing.

Here's the recipe I use (it's from Pioneer Woman):
  • 3 cups apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • peel of 3 large oranges
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.

Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.

When ready to roast turkey, remove from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.

Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.


Dinosaur Quilt

I quilted my friend, Mary's dinosaur baby quilt today. I used a pantograph called La Fleur. It seemed like a sort of modern leafy pattern that would go well with the dinosaurs.

Mary asked for high-loft batting in this quilt so I wanted to quilt a pattern that was less dense in order to make the quilt puffier. I mean why use high-loft batting if it wasn't going to show? This pantograph was nice for that and it was 6.5 inches wide so I could get more rows of quilting done on this smaller quilt.

I used a variegated green thread on the front and a 50-weight green thread for the back. It quilted like a dream.

Once I got the first row done, I realized that this pantograph produced a pattern on the quilt that sort of looked like the spikes on the spine of a dinosaur's back. How funny.

It turned out nice and puffy like expected. I hope Mary thinks so too.


Quilted Christmas Tree Skirt

Over the last few days I whipped up this Christmas tree skirt. I decided I needed a new one when I looked back on Christmas photos over the past few years. When I see the same tree skirt, I started to wonder which year the photos were from. A new tree skirt would solve that concern for this year.

Free-Motion Quilting
I purchased some holiday fabric right before Christmas last year at 75% off. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it when I bought it but I sure was glad I had it when I got the bug to make this.

I googled tree skirt tutorials and found free instructions here. They were easy to use instructions although I changed a few things; I free-motion quilted the entire thing instead of stitch-in-the-ditch, I used leftover fabric on the back instead of muslin and I made bias binding from cotton fabric instead of using ribbon.

A funny thing happened while making this. I went to Home Goods to purchase a new tablecloth for my dining room table and the one I chose was wrapped in a piece of nice twill. I carefully untied the tablecloth package and cut the twill into ties for the tree skirt. The color of the twill was absolutely perfect. And I really liked how wide the twill is.

This project didn't take long to complete and I am happy that I didn't have to invest much to get it completed.
Christmas Tree Skirt
Christmas Tree Skirt Backing


Pins and Paws Quilt

I finished my Pins and Paws quilt today. I made
the quilt top this summer during my Wednesdays spent at the senior center.

I thought  I would finish this quicker but I struggled to decide what to use for the backing. I really wanted to use a print but I couldn't find anything that coordinated with the fabrics in the blocks. I ended up using the same Kona baby pink as in the border.

The pattern is from Missouri Star Quilt Company and I made it with some reproduction print fabrics in pastels.

I used a pantograph called Lather, Rinse, Repeat for the quilting with pink thread.

It's a cute quilt that measures 68" x 77". It's a pretty decent size.


Posy Pocket Tote - The Holiday Version

When I cleaned out my sewing room I came across a few unfinished projects. This was one of them.

I started this holiday tote last year thinking that once complete I would use it throughout the month of December.

The next thing I knew, it was packed away until I found it while cleaning. I had the outside put together but the inside needed to be completed.

Then I had to make the handles and just put it all together. It didn't take much time once I got going on it.

Now that it's done, I like it so much I want to make another. I love the size, the way it stands up - so sturdy, and the fun zipper pockets. It's going to be perfect for Christmas shopping.

The pattern I used is called the Posy Pocket Tote and the free tutorial can be found here.


International Quilt Festival - Shopping

Now that I am home from a whirlwind 4 days in Houston, I can finally sit down and relax. One of the first things I did when I got home was gather up all my purchases from the quilt festival.

With hundreds of vendors at the show, just viewing all the booths was overwhelming. All-in-all I didn't make many purchases but I did make some good investments. 
I purchased a new Oliso iron and one of their new mini irons. Both will be shipped directly to my home which is nice - that meant no worrying about carrying it on a plane. I had planned a visit to Superior Threads to buy more thread for my longarmer and I also planned to visit Urban Elementz. I buy most of my pantographs from them and even though I had no wish list with me, I let their sale prices dictate which pantographs I picked up.

I also made sure to stop at quilt shop booths where the fabrics were very different from any I've seen locally. Amazingly, I ran into Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Co. I didn't buy anything there because they come to the Madison quilt show so I knew I would see them again. I did get really excited when I saw Patrick Lose. I have his books and love his fabric lines. I asked if I could get a photo and he graciously said "yes." He was so very nice. 


The Saturday Sampler

Yesterday I attended an event called the Saturday sampler. It was the last thing on my agenda during my week at the Houston Quilt Festival and I was starting to get homesick so I was totally ready to end the week after this.

The Saturday Sampler was an event where 30 instructors were giving demonstrations at the same time. Each instructor was an artist, author, pattern designer, subject matter expert, etc. The demos were around 10 minutes each and the attendees had 2 hours to select the demos they wanted to see. At the end of the 2 hours, I had hoped to see 8 different instructor demos and I ended up attending 10. Here are some photos from the event.

Judy Gauthier - Using odd scraps to make beautiful scrap quilts.

Maria Shell - Improv patchwork - Dynamic quilts made with line and shapes.

Kathryn Pellman - Drawing with your sewing machine.

 Marti Michell - What do I do with precuts.

Susan Edmonson - Endless Embroidery

Katie Fowler - Quilt Mandala
I also saw Jodi Barrows - Square in a Square, Melody Crust - Straight Line Quilting, and RaNae Merrill - Free-Motion Mastery in a Month. I wasn't sure what to expect and this event did not disappoint. I learned so much, got lots of inspiration and look forward to trying new things now that I'm back home.


The Prince Challenge

I've seen the Prince quilt block challenge online before and I thought it was a fantastic idea. The challenge was to use Cherrywood fabrics to make a quilt block inspired by Prince's story or his music. The challenge was "to create your own masterpiece using the gorgeous hand dyed fabric in saturated purples."

It was quite a surprise when I came upon the completed quilt blocks right smack in the middle of the vendor floor at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I couldn't believe I got the opportunity to see this exhibit up close. It was incredible. I took some photos of some of the blocks. There were so many I could not get photos of them all. 

What an incredible display.


International Quilt Festival - Longarm Quilt Class

I attended a longarm quilting class yesterday. The class was called Bubbles, Curves and Straight Lines - A Way to Modern Quilting and the instructor was the award winning quilter, Claudia Pfiel. She is from Germany and she was a delight to listen to.  Her instruction was very helpful. We started by sketching in a notebook which was to prepare us for quilting at the longarmer. Once at the machine, I still wasn't so sure I would be able to do what she was teaching but I did it. The class was worth the $$ and I am glad I got to participate.

Ms. Pfiel gave each participant one of her patterns. Yes, she does that too! Here are the quilts she brought along as examples of the kind of quilting she was teaching.  The last two photos are her quilt up close. What amazing work.


International Quilt Festival - Quilt Exhibit

Last night I attended the preview night at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. The vendor, exhibit, and classroom space is overwhelming. This place is huge!

The exhibit space has hundreds of quilts on display. There were so many different exhibits that it would be hard to describe them all. Here are some photos of the ones that I enjoyed viewing.