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My mother-in-law’s Christmas present

Yes, I’ve already started thinking about Christmas presents.  I actually started this one at the beginning of the year.  I decided to make a block for her quilt each month when I made my bee blocks and use the various designs that my bee members chose.  This worked well for the first couple of months, but I got behind when I had such severe morning sickness.

Once I recovered from the nausea, I then realized that since I’m having the baby in October, I might not be the most productive in the crafting/sewing department right before Christmas.  I thought I should go ahead and get things wrapped up to be sure it’s done in time for Christmas.

I churned out about twenty more blocks, and put it all together.  All in all, it was about a week’s worth of solid evening work, but I’m so glad it’s finished and that I know it will be ready to give when Christmas arrives.

I’m personally not very fond of sampler quilts, but the initial “do a little work each month” plan appealed to me, and my MIL will like the sampler style since she’s a bit more traditional.  I hope she also likes the fabric.  She’s not extremely girly, and this fabric reminded me of her.  I had it on the shelf from an after Thanksgiving sale at Joann’s last year.  It’s a queen size quilt, so it will fit her bed, but she could also use it on a couch folded up.

Most of the front blocks came from tutorials found here for easy traditional blocks.  For the back I made 6″ mini blocks out of scraps I had leftover.  About half of them are improv pieced, which is a technique I found out I really enjoy.  I’ve never improv pieced before, so 6″ blocks were a good way to try it out.

One thing I tried with this quilt that I wouldn’t recommend:  I hand-washed the blocks after piecing to prevent color running in the wash.  I’ve discovered that there are a handful of colors that can really cause problems if they’re not prewashed.  Navy is one of those colors.  Unfortunately, I discovered this after I had already begun making blocks or I would have prewashed the fabric to begin with.  I did the best I could, and it turned out okay, but it was a huge hassle to press each block after air-drying them, and I still ended up with tons of stray threads all over the quilt.  They also shrunk slightly, which made piecing the top a bit more difficult.  Note to self:  prewash fabrics likely to run before piecing. 

Nonetheless, I’m glad I took the time to do that extra step because the navy did bleed significantly.  I used 1 new color catcher for each set of four blocks that I washed at the same time in the kitchen sink.  It caught a lot of color that would have stained the white parts had the quilt been wadded up in the washer all at once.  Lesson learned.

The only thing left to do is make a label.  I’m waiting until after our new baby is born, though, so I can include his name on it.  We have about four name options and no clue which one we’ll choose.

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Zig-Zag Quilt

I’ve had this quilt finished for quite some time yet never took a picture of it.  After it came out of the washer, it went straight on our bed and has been there ever since.  We both love it as a bed quilt because I made it larger than a normal queen size.

My husband is over six feet tall, and he usually untucks blankets from the bottom of the mattress almost immediately.  This one is almost 120″ long, so there’s a good foot and a half to tuck under the mattress, which keeps our bed nice and neat without having to remake the whole thing every morning. 

There’s also a little extra on the sides for when he steals the covers during the night.  This keeps me happy.

The last part that I love about this quilt for a bed quilt is that it’s really soft.  It’s hand quilted, which gives it added softness, and I used Hobb’s Heirloom batting instead of my normal Warm & Natural.  The Hobbs is a bit lighter, and more loosely woven, which promotes the softness.  It’s great for a summer weight quilt.  I still love Warm & Natural, too, because it gives it more of a traditional weight, and it’s warmer, which is better for the winter.  It really all depends on the intended use for the quilt as to which I prefer.

Anyhow, I chose to follow the zig zags for the quilting and to use a teal colored crochet thread (size 10).  It shows off the hand quilting and adds a nice design element to the quilt.  The back especially shows off the quilted design.

I chose to bind the quilt in a coordinating solid mainly because I used every last scrap of print fabric in the quilt itself.  The back has some leftover zig zag pieces.  I would have liked to make them into zig zags, but I didn’t have enough left, so I made a checkerboard pattern instead.  Regardless, I like that the solid binding pulls out the green color and matches the quilting thread. 

I originally bought this fabric to make a cathedral window quilt.  I bought it at least ten years ago from Joann’s.  I liked the stained glass look for that type of quilt, but I never made the quilt, and then I decided if I ever do make a cathedral window quilt, I’d rather have something else in the centers.  So, in an effort to clean out my stash a bit, this quilt was born.  I used a no-triangle piecing method (a good tutorial  can be found here, although my quilt is much larger).  The no-triangle method is easy, shortens cutting time, and chain pieces quickly.  If you have larger or directional prints, it’s easy to see the lines, but for smaller, busier prints, it works great.

I’ll be showing this at the fair this year in the hand-quilted category.  Until then, it will stay at home on our bed.

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An antique quilt

I picked this up from a secondhand store several years ago.  I love antiques, and the owner would buy estates full of furniture, open his store Thursday-Saturday and sell everything he had bought the week before.  His goal was to move stuff quickly, so prices were always great.  I bought the majority of my antique furniture there– some in better shape than others (enter my dad, furniture restorer extraordinaire).

This quilt happened to be in there, and it was actually from the owner’s family, and he just wanted to get rid of it.  It was really dirty, but other than that, it was in pretty good shape.  He sold it to me for $20– yes, $20!!  I threw it in the washer and figured if it came out worse than it went in, than I hadn’t lost too much.

It came out quite clean, with no major stains.  The fabric is a little worn in some spots, and in the top left star, there are two spots where it has worn through.  If it becomes an issue, I can fix this at some point, but the batting isn’t raveling out, so for now I’m just leaving it.  Even with these worn spots, I was thrilled with how it came out of the washer.  Once it was clean, it was a lot easier to see the design and stitching, which is amazing, really.  This is heavily quilted, by hand of course.  It fits a full size bed.

Whenever I look at it, I have trouble imagining how much time it must have taken to quilt all of it by hand.  I’ve hand-quilted before myself, but these stitches are no more than a centimeter apart over the entire quilt.  I would never have had the patience for that much quilting on one piece.  I love this quilt for the time put into it alone.

I’ll be showing this at the fair this year, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

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A scrap baby quilt

This little baby quilt was made out of scraps from my recent King size wonky star quilt.  I accidentally made an extra long strip for the back of that quilt that I didn’t need.  So, I cut it into thirds, added a few other stripes, and voila– a modern baby quilt.

It’s nice and bright, and it would be great for a girl.  I thought about keeping it on hand as a quick baby gift, but I already have a small stash of baby quilts, so I think I might try to sell this one.  I know someone locally who has a handmade gifts shop, and she’s expressed interest in selling my quilts, so this might be one of the ones I take.

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Making my own wedding cake

My own wedding was almost six years ago, well before I started blogging.  However, my recent posts about other cakes made me decide to do a quick recap of my own wedding cake.

I decided to do my own cake first because it would be much cheaper, but second because the only wedding cake bakery in town (other than walmart or a grocery store, and I was not going to go to one of those) was the one I worked at, so I could, in theory, end up doing my own cake there anyway.  Also, if I did my own, I would get exactly what I wanted, and I’d be in total control, so there would be no surprises.  While I wasn’t picky about everything, cakes are one of my “things” so I knew I would be harder to please than the average person if we ordered it somewhere else.

I was very happy with the result.  The most time consuming part was making all of the green fondant sprigs.  it took literally hours of rolling them out into snakes and winding them around straws.  I won’t ever do those again, and if someone does want them, I’ll be charging by the hour!

The rest of the cake was very easy, and I chose a setup that was very sturdy and stable since I knew I would set it up the day before the wedding, and it was going to sit overnight by itself.  It stayed perfectly, and I didn’t have any problems the next day.

The other major cake undertaking was making a mini wedding cake for each table as the centerpiece.  I then made a small cake box for the guests to cut the cake to take a piece home as the party favor.  The centerpieces were all yellow cake with chocolate fudge filling.  I decorated each one differently but all with a pink and white color scheme.  I made these in the week prior to the wedding, and we boxed, saran wrapped, and froze each cake. 

The day before the wedding, we set them all out on crystal pedestal cake plates (also all different, collected both from relatives, and goodwill), and they thawed overnight.  Some of the pictures look “wet,” because of the condensation while thawing, but the next day they looked totally normal, and tasted as if they’d never been frozen in the first place.  Luckily, this worked well because I hadn’t personally frozen a frosted cake before, but we had at the bakery where I worked, and I assumed if it worked for them, it would work for me.

My husband was a huge help in making the centerpieces.  We both had the week prior to the wedding off work, so I taught him how to make icing, and he kept me supplied with frosting while I worked– what a guy!

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June Bee Blocks

We Bee Learning– This block is a traditional block known by many names (churn dash is the one I know it by).  A 30s reproduction print was requested.  I’m not sure this is exactly that, but it’s kind of close, and it’s the best I had in my stash, which is the basis of this bee, so I went with it.

99 Bee– She chose “On the Plus Side” for her block.  I tried this block once before, but it turned out too large.  My seams were apparently too small, and when there are this many in a block, it makes a big difference.  So, this time around, I took slightly larger seams, and it turned out perfectly.  I really do like this block, and I’d love to make a whole quilt out of it, but I think I would pull my hair out by the time it was finished.  All those little seams are pretty tedious.

Stash Bee– This month, she asked for crystal shapes on black.  It will be interesting to see what this quilt looks like when it’s all put together.  It’s not exactly my style, but I think it might look kind of cool once it’s all together.  For some reason, I really hated the whole crystal making process.  I used paper piecing to make these, but I wasn’t fond of how precise the points had to be to look right and how many tiny little fabric pieces I had to use to get them to look right.  I had planned to put on a third one, but after the second was done, I threw in the towel.  She didn’t specify a number, so I just went with two– all I can say is I’m glad this block is finished!


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