Thursday

December Client Quilts

I didn't have much time for client quilts this month. With all the projects I had to make for my clients from scratch, I did very little quilting for others. Here's the one quilt I did longarm:


That's it for 2020. I had a very productive and successful year with crafting and quilting. I feel very lucky. Happy new year!

Monday

A Christmas Wrap-Up

You would think that since I am retired from the workforce (well kind of, I do have a part-time job at a quilt shop now) that the holidays would be less stressful. Well, they are not. Maybe it is because I pile on more things to do than I did before or maybe it is because I am getting older and I can't get things done as quickly and easily as I did when I was younger. It is most likely a little of both. 

I started decorating my house sooner than in years' past and I loved the ease of getting it done. The outside of my house looks pretty good and we didn't break our necks to get the lights on. 

We spent an evening decorating cookies with our daughter and granddaughters. Chloe is not pictured since she didn't last long with the decorating - she hates getting her hands dirty. Avery chose to color the frosting in deep, dark colors. 



We also spent an evening walking through Oak Creek's city square. It was beautifully decorated. Since we had just finished Christmas shopping with our granddaughters with a stop for a scoop of custard, the girls had lots of energy to run around the square.




One morning, Jeff saw a story on the local news where Wisconsin State Fair was selling their famous state fair cream puffs in a chocolate whipped cream version. So we ordered some online and he drove down to pick them up. They were a fantastic Christmas season treat.



We dabbled with making old fashioneds. They seem to be most famous at bars and supper clubs here in Wisconsin so we thought we would try to make them ourselves. Since the pandemic, we've regularly tried our hand at mixing our own cocktails. Some turn out better than others. I think we will have to try again with this one, I'm not so sure I did it right.


One of the last-minute gifts I made was this bag with fabric from the television show The Office. My sister commented that her son's girlfriend would LOVE a bag from the fabric and I really didn't plan on taking the "hint" but I caved the night before Christmas Eve. I used the bag to put my nephew's Christmas gift inside. My sister was quite surprised when she saw the bag.


And today, I mailed out my last Christmas package to my son. The Oak Creek post office was so far backlogged that my postman suggested I wait until after Christmas to send the package. The package was going to my son in Colorado and I already sent him the most important gift which should have gotten to him on December 19th but arrived on his doorstep on Christmas Eve. So I had him and his fiancé covered for the holiday for the most part. 

It felt so good mailing that package this morning, like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. 

Yesterday we picked up my leftover crafts from the pop-up shop at Hillside Coffee House, it was nice to discover that some things sold there. I also finished another holiday table topper yesterday. I still have a few more works-in-progress that will have to wait until next year. But this one is done and it will get packed away for the next year's craft fairs. 


I sorted, folded, stacked all my Christmas fabrics and unfinished holiday projects and put them back on the shelf for next year.  If it weren't for my new embroidery machine, my sewing room would look pretty uncluttered and clean right now. Oh well. It feels good to wrap things up and I am ready to celebrate the new year.

Wednesday

Jelly Bean Handwarmers

I made a few jelly bean handwarmers using the instructions from the sew4home website. They are so cute. The pattern comes in three sizes and I chose to make the medium size. I only made three of these so far and I took them to my craft fair back in November and sold one of them. I still have the other two and I keep them on my sewing table as a reminder to make some more. 

I have a giant ziploc bag filled with rice that has essential oils sprinkled over them. Once in a while I will shake the bag up to make sure the scent get over all the rice. That's what I use to stuff inside the handwarmers. It works great and smells great.


The instructions to make these can be found here. I think this will be a good way to use up some scraps.

Saturday

Unicorn Pillow Cover

I embroidered a few samples just to try out my new machine. So now that I have these pieces, it seemed silly to waste them by letting them sit. I found some coordinating fabrics and the samples are now in the center of a pillow cover. I made the cover with a zipper closure so it can be removed and washed. Not that it's done, I wish I would have added a ruffle. I think that would have made it prettier. I think I will give it to Avery next time I see her. 


Tuesday

Charity Pet Beds

Every year my church has a Christmas tree dedicated to pets. It's a thing that started many years ago when the pastor's beloved dog, Harley passed away. The tree was named after Harley and parishioners and visitors alike are encouraged to donate new pet items and make monetary contributions that will go to a local no-kill pet shelter. 

Each year I make homemade pet beds. I save fabric chunks and batting scraps all year in order to make them. I sew the scraps together to make the top then add old blue jeans that get cut into large pieces to make the back. The jeans add a nice sturdy base to them and the fabrics for the top are usually fleece or flannel for softness. 


Once the top is sewn to the back, I then take all my batting scraps and cut them up into small pieces. I also stuff the leftover fabric scraps inside as well. Nothing is wasted. What a great feeling. I love recycling and repurposing old things. 



This year I set one of the beds where my cat lays. I thought it would be a good test to see if a pet actually likes them. At naptime, he laid on it and stayed there most of the afternoon. Since I wasn't sure whether he laid on it because it was his space or whether it was the comfort of the cat bed, I moved the bed to a different location. He chose to seek out the bed and again napped on it. 


Now I'm in trouble. How can I take it away and send it to church when he likes it so much?

Saturday

A Quilt Shop Surprise

Since I've started working at the local quilt shop I have made quite a few amazing new friends. Besides my co-workers, there are regular customers that I've come to know. One of the customers, Linda, I met during my first week; she was wearing a Tomahawk Fall Ride t-shirt and I just had to ask her about it. The TFR is a Harley-Davidson sponsored event and every fall there's a motorcycle rally in Tomahawk, Wisconsin where there are social events, bands, scenic motorcycle rides all weekend long. It happens the third weekend of September every year. It's an event my husband an I have participated in for many years and when I asked Linda about her shirt she said she loves the event and we discussed our past years attending it in great detail. 

After that first encounter, Linda would look for me whenever she was in the shop. She is an expert embroiderer and I mentioned I'd like to get an embroidery machine some day. She suggested a specific model to me and that's the one I purchased earlier this month. 

So today Linda comes into the shop to see me. She brought me a Christmas gift! What a nice thing to do. The gift was a Sulky Mystery box that she had ordered. She actually ordered herself one and an extra for me. I am so touched by her generosity. I was going to try to save it to open on Christmas but I just couldn't stand it. I had to open it today...


I am truly lucky.

Thursday

Embroidery Machine Progress

I had a little time to play with my new machine today. I downloaded a coffee file to embroider. But even before I could actually do the embroidering, I had to get some embroidery thread. So the last time I worked at the shop, I bought 35 spools of thread. It felt like a good start. 

I also picked up some stabilizer and ironed it to the back of some scrap fabric. Here's the result of my first try:

I can't wait to see what this machine can do but I'm pretty sure I need some lessons first. I'm following the instructions in the manual but I'm still worried I'm not doing something right. 

Monday

The Pop Up Shop

My friend Rose owns a coffee shop called Hillside Coffee House. She decided to add a pop up shop to her shop. She invited a few artists and crafters to bring in some goods in to sell. Here's a few of my quilts:

If I find some free time, I just might finish up some holiday table toppers and bring them over there to sell. 

Sunday

Our Christmas Tree

We put up our Christmas tree in a new spot - the dining room. Since the dining room and living room are connected, I thought I would mix things up by moving the dining room table over to the side collapsing it to its smallest size. 

The tree itself is from Jeff's friend, Greg's tree farm. We drove out there to peruse the trees this year. Usually we just order a tree and let Greg pick it out. I walked the trees three times and every time I stopped at the same tree. It was a Charlie Brown tree with so many bare spots that the entire back of the tree was basically missing. It didn't have a price tag on it because Greg didn't think it was sell-able. We made a deal and I took it home. He did warn us to be careful since there was an entire bare side he wanted to make sure we didn't set it up to where it might fall forward.

Jeff wanted to trim back all the weird branches that were sticking up but I stopped him in the nick of time. I wanted those to stay. It was part of the appeal. It seemed like a pandemic year kind of thing to do.

Once decorated, it looked pretty good. 

So it's a different kind of tree in a new spot in an unusual year. It all seems so appropriate.

Saturday

A Lightbulb Moment

I made the Christmas lights quilt called A Lightbulb Moment from the Best of Moda Bake Shop book. I used Moda Grunge just like the sample in the book although I don't think I used the exact same shades of colors.  The quilt top went together very quickly. The blocks are pretty large and there's lots of negative space.

Once the rows were sewn together, the fun part began. I laid the rick-rack out to make the connectors between the lightbulb blocks. I used fabric glue to hold the rick-rack down before sewing. 

There was a decision point as to whether I should quilt it before or after sewing on the rick-rack. I decided I wanted to quilt over the rick-rack instead of having it "float" over the quilting. It just made more sense to me.


Thursday

Football Tote Bags

A little over a week ago I made some Packer totes for a customer. She asked if I could make the same bag from Bears fabric. Since I work at a quilt shop close to the Illinois-Wisconsin border, we carry Bears fabric and Packers fabric. It amazing how many requests we get for Vikings fabric but the answer to that will always be no. So anyways...I could make the Bears tote bags.

I picked up some navy blue canvas strapping for the tote handles and they were completed in a jiffy. 


I will ship them out in the morning so the customer should have them by Saturday. 

Wednesday

Elna Expressive 830L Embroidery Machine

When I started working at the quilt shop I wasn't all that interested embroidery machines. In fact when I mentioned that I had sold my embroidery machine I would get gasps, like I had hurt their feelings. I just didn't use the embroidery module, it took discs and the designs were pretty small. It wasn't as useful for me as I thought it would be and I thought someone who wanted to embroider should have it since it was going to waste on me so I sold it. 

Then came embroidery machines that use a computer cable or a USB port. Wow how things have changed. And I got to watch all the embroidery class participants and the embroidery club people show off their wonderful projects. There's so much more to embroidery machines today. I still wasn't sure I wanted to invest in one. 

Then I found out about something called an employee discount. I wish I didn't hear about that. Now I was sold. So I saved up my paychecks. And I saved up some more paychecks. 

And here we are! I went to work yesterday thinking today was the day I would buy a machine. That didn't mean I would really go through with it. I've talked myself out of many big purchases. But by the end of the day I still wanted to take the machine home. Yay! 



Now if only I knew how to use it!

Tuesday

What's on the design board?

December is starting out on a pleasantly relaxed note. After stressing about having too many client projects, there's so much satisfaction when they are done. However they aren't ALL done. I have one more to complete. That one has a due date of December 16th so there's time. I don't plan on waiting to finish it but it does feel good to know I have a proper amount of time before it's due. 

The project is a table topper/wall hanging for a couple who purchased a fall version from the fall festival. They hung it in their house and now they would like to change it out for Christmas. I promised to send photos of a variety of unfinished tops, then they can pick the one they want and I will finish it first. A few of them are on the design board. 


Here are a few more:





I'm happy that everything is falling in place and this project will be done soon. I'm ready to start decorating the house for the holidays. Here's to hoping all of December is relaxed and easy.

Sunday

My Sister's Friend Sue's Projects

I get a lot of requests for sewing projects from my sister's friend Sue. Sue has eclectic taste and is a very nice person, which is a great quality since she is a teacher. I love to help her change her keepsakes into new and usable things. There's been children's pajamas turned into a quilt, little baby t-shirts turned into tote bags and zipper pouches, to mention a few. 

Sue gave my sister a bag full of things to repurpose. There was a baby shirt to turn into a Christmas ornament, an embroidered baby shirt to turn into a pencil pouch and a few other baby t-shirts to repurpose. Besides those, there was a 2-yard piece of fabric that she wanted a table-runner out of, and she also requested that if there is any leftover fabric to make a few little things.

There was a little problem with the request. She made the request in spring, my sister forgot about it and here we are at the end of November when she remembered. Grrrr. I agreed to do the best I could. I was smack dab in the middle of making football themed totes when I got the request and I couldn't sleep thinking about it. After all, it wasn't Sue's fault the work wasn't getting done so I didn't want her to be disappointed. So I got to work.

This is the first table runner. The fabric is Christmas themed with lots of glitter. I purchased some matching grunge in pink, green yellow and brown to match. The fabric looks good as the gift wrap part of these gift blocks. 


There was so much fabric left that I made another table runner, This one is simpler and fabric print is easier to see.

There was still lots of fabric left. So I made some zipper pouch stockings, some mini tote bags and some Christmas ornaments. 

And here is the ornament from a t-shirt and the pencil pouch from the embroidered t-shirt.


The baby shirts are now zipper pouches.


I still have a small piece of the Christmas fabric but for now I'm pretty burnt out from all these. I will just have to revisit it at a future date. For now, Sue will get these just in time for the holiday season. 

Monday

The Office Tote Bag

 I made a few Green Bay Packer totes for a friend to give as gifts. Here they are finished. 

When making the small one, I ran out of webbing for the handles. So I went to the fabric store to pick up more. While I was there I found some crazy fabric. I was heading down the licensed fabric aisle to look at the available NFL fabrics, when I looked to the right. At first glimpse, I thought the fabric I was seeing was Harry Potter fabric. All I saw was a head with glasses. When I took a closer look, it turned out to be fabric from one of my all time favorite television shows - The Office! I was so shocked by what I was seeing that I checked the top of the bolt for the fabric label....and there it was - The Office. 

I had to have it. So once I finished up the Packer totes, I went right into making this tote for myself. 

Thursday

November Client Projects

I only have one quilt to longarm for a customer this month. That's a good thing since I have so many craft projects to make for customers, there's not a lot of time left for quilting. One of the ladies from my church quilting group is coming over to use the longarmer to quilt some of her projects so the machine will get some use. 

As for this quilt, it's a toddler quilt that will be a child's gift. The customer loves high-loft batting which makes the quilting pop. It's not my favorite look, but the customer is always right. That's the thing that gives each project individuality. The choices we make along the way. I'm happy to help the customer achieve her quilting goals. 

Sunday

A Memorial Quilt for a Friend

I finished a memorial quilt from dress shirts today.  The quilt belongs to my daughter's friend. The shirts were her grandfathers'.



I started by cutting up the shirts to remove the seams in order to get the largest pieces of fabrics available from the shirts. 


I did keep a few pockets in tact in order to include them in the quilt top. 

I used the one light (white) shirt to make star blocks and I used two solid blue shirts to make pinwheel blocks. I made the rest of the blocks with pieces cut to make the large 13 and a half inch blocks needed.
 

I wanted the quilt to be large and once I started making the blocks, I knew that would be easy to accomplish. 

I quilted through all the pockets that were included on the quilt top except for one. I thought leaving one pocket usable was enough. 


I hope the family enjoys the memories of their loved one from looking at the quilt.