Thursday, November 17, 2011

Santa Sack Swap

One of the most fun things about participating in the Santa Sack Swap 2 is coming home after a very LONG day at work (in this case, made even longer by my wicked head cold) and finding packages waiting.  Yesterday, I received Sinta's latest mailing - aren't the boxes so cute?  And I love (LOVE) to make Christmas cookies - and cut-outs are some of my favorites.  I can't wait to use the ornament cutter that Sinta sent along in a couple of weeks - pictures then, I promise.  Sinta is even letting me open a package a bit before Christmas - I'll celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6 by opening the snowman package - thank you, Sinta!!

My head cold has made me not at all interested in working on my needlework this week, but I'm finally starting to feet better and am looking forward to a productive weekend!

'Til next time, take up your needle and sew!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Theme-a-licious 2012

Have you seen Heather's no-pressure challenge, Theme-a-licious 2012?  I love the monthly ideas and the alliterations!  I can't wait to get busy in the new year...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Batiks and Progress Report

I can't believe it's been almost a month since my last post!  Ack!  There's a *lot* that's gone on in the interim, and I'll post about all of it over the next few days.

First, though, I want to show off some projects I've been working on - all with batiks.  Now, I'm not naturally a fan of batiks.  I have an ingrained perception that "batiks" equals "Oriental" in look and feel, and I'm not drawn to Oriental-themed fabrics or designs.  However, the projects I've been working on have really given me reason to pause and re-evaluate my feelings about batiks...  and I think that they've found a real place in my collections.  For starters, I'm working on a quilted thread catcher for a friend of mine for Christmas.  The pattern comes from "Simple Quilts and Sewing," #121, published by the editors of Quilt magazine.  For those who aren't familiar with thread catchers, they typically have a little bag/sack for thread ends and scraps, and are anchored on the arm of your chair or on the sewing table by an attached pin cushion.  My friend is big into "color" - where I am an earth-tones gal, she doesn't hesitate to wear turquoise, yellow, bright green, or other vibrant colors.  I had a lovely Alexander Henry print picked out to use as the main fabric, but realized, as I started construction, that the design was much too large to be effective in this piece.  A quick trip to my LQS (Quilting Adventures, Richmond, VA) helped solve the problem.  Usually, I don't unwrap the lovely folded up fat quarters, but I'm really glad I did with this one.

I love, love, love all of the wonderful colors in this piece - if you look closely, you'll see pretty much everything.  Green, orange, yellow, blue/turquoise, red, purple...  As part of the construction, I did the quilting; that was also a first for me to do some quilting based on drawn lines (instead of stitching in the ditch).  I made good progress today on the overall project; can't wait to show you more later this week!

I'm also working on two lap quilts, both which happen to be all batiks, and both of which I purchased as cut strip kits on eBay.  I assembled the log cabin squares on this one ("Sunrise II") during the Labor Day weeked retreat at Quilting Adventures.  What a great opportunity to focus, focus - and any of you who've put together a log cabin quilt know that there's a LOT of sewing in one of those projects!  Anyway, here's the corner block so that you can see the wonderful turquoises, reds, ambers, and more - all favorite colors of the friend who is receiving this quilt.  And for me, almost none of the prints in these batiks had any Oriental feel to them.  Once I finished the blocks as initially purchased, I realized that the 12 together were not going to make a quilt quite as big as I had hoped.  I was fortunate to have assistance from Joyce Hartley, the owner of Quilting Adventures, in selecting the outer two blue and outer two orange prints to augment the original kit.  I think she did a great job!

And here's the 12 squares sewn together before I added the border (another experience at the LQS).  Holly was "helping" as only a kitty can do...

I started working this weekend on the other lap quilt as well - greens and purples for my mom.  I expect to similarly augment the finished blocks, too, to get a slightly larger lap quilt.  The individual from whom I purchased the kit included a finished block to help guide my sewing:

...and here's how far I progressed today... still lots of sewing to go!

I hope you had a great weekend!  I'm very excited about the progress I've made on Christmas presents.  Have another one to show you tomorrow that I really love.  'Til then, take up your needle and sew...