UFO Finish #4

I love this mini quilt.  I started this quilt last year when I started a much larger lone star quilt.  I had never done a lone star quilt so I wanted to ‘practice’ on something smaller.  I often practice new techniques in a similar fashion.  I’ll make one or two blocks to see how a quilt will go together, or if a bag or some other project, I may make it first with fabric that I really don’t care about before I cut into my good fabric.  Many times it ends up being a waste of time because (1) the pattern is so complicated I never want to make another one after the first (haha). or (2) because it goes together smoothly.  Other times though, I’m able to find areas that need to be improved or find things I would do differently in order to save fabric usage.

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I pulled this navy scrap with orange, teal, lime green, and purple elephants from my scrap bin and then found more scraps that complemented it.  For the most part the placement of each color was due to how much of each fabric that I had on hand, but I wanted the points to be bright so that the star would SPARKLE.  So orange was the only way to go there.  I just love orange these days.  It’s such a bright, cheery color.

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I used this tutorial by the Hopeful Homemaker for piecing my strips.  I did one thing different that I found to be very helpful.  When piecing the diamonds, I first ‘basted’ the seams with a long stitch.  I found that I often needed to adjust the seams just a smidgen in order for them to line up and it’s so much easier to pick out longer stitches.  Then, once I was happy with how the seams lined up, I would stitch one last time with a small stitch.

One thing I didn’t do that I wish I had was starch all the pieces when piecing.  I usually skip this step because I am impatient and want to get it done, but it really would have helped provide a much crisper, less puckered and wrinkled, finished star.

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I decided to offset the star rather than center it on the background.  It took me a few days to figure out how I wanted to quilt it, and I love what I came up with. First I marked and quilted diamonds to extend the star shape to the bottom and right.

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Then I free-motion quilting the remaining areas with a paisley flower.  I practice my FMQ every chance I get, and this was a very fun design to stitch.  I just love it!

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Then I decided the bottom right corner was a perfect place to put a small elephant.  He’s so cute!

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Quilt finishes at 17.5″ x 17.5″.  Each diamond in the star is 1″ x 1″ finished.

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, and  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Ethel, The Rocking Elephant

I am in LOVE with Ethel.  Not only is she made with beautiful Art Gallery fabric, but she is soft, cuddly, and so freaking adorable.

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Art Gallery is sponsoring a contest using the new Cultivate line by Bonnie Christine.  This great line blends the cool colors of summer with warm fall tones.  The challenge was to use any of the prints from this line to make anything that signifies change.

We had just 2 1/2 weeks to make and submit a project for this challenge.  That’s not much time, but doable.  I was hoping to create my own pattern, but then I had the grand-monkeys for a week, and was sick for a week.  So really, I didn’t have much time as originally expected to work on this challenge.  But I love how she turned out.

I used a Huggable Pattern for the elephant.  I made up the hat and rocker, and honeyman made the rocker for me. She had her first photo shoot at the LQS, but when I took her to the park, her personality really came through.

She decided that she really liked to garden among the hosta plants.

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And then she lost her rocker (Is that the same as losing your marbles?) and decided to take a break.  She didn’t see any little boys or girls to play with, but she would have loved that as well.  (I put magnets in her feet that allow her to stand on the rocker without falling over.)

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She started playing hide-and-go-seek behind the bushes…

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And took a break on a bench in town square.

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If you have enjoyed Ethel, she asks that you log into Pinterest and VOTE FOR HER here.  You vote by clicking on the heart on her picture.  Of course, repins are great too.

Linking up with:

#CultivateChallenge & #CultivateInFall.

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

In case you didn’t guess it from the title, we will have a little boy join the family soon. My daughter is having her second, and he will be my 4th grandchild. Holy Cow! Four grand children! I still don’t understand how that could be true when I am only 29! {in my mind}

Don’t you just love little babies? They are so sweet and precious. Their little toes are so tiny and cute, and their little cheeks so ripe for kissing. And in a short month, I’ll be able to hug and cuddle him. In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to make a few things for him.

We went on a cruise in June, and for most of the drive to FL and back I worked on a blanket from a free pattern I found on ravelry. After the first couple of rows, the pattern was pretty easy. However, it was super important that I count the stitches each row — missing just one would throw the other rows off.  I love the waves, and the popcorn stitches make it a little more thick than a typical blanket but not too heavy.

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Next up were some burp cloths and onesies.  I usually make burp clothes from pre-folded diapers and add some flannel.  This time I used flannel on one side and terry on the other.  They were super easy to sew up.  I hope they are absorbent.

DSC_0806 DSC_0808And the onesies I embroidered with an adorable little elephant and dinosaur that I digitized.

DSC_0800Up next, a quilt.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress.  This little one is going to be ‘hooked-up’.

Linking up with Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya, and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Posts

I find it interesting to look at the stats to see which posts have been most popular.  Two posts stand at the top with 3 times the views as the third post on the list.

First up is 1 Year Blogiversary.  The top search terms have nothing to do with a blogiversary, so my guess is that all the visits to that post came internally from WordPress.  If I had known it was going to be such a popular post, I would have put some more meat in it.  It was pretty boring as posts go.  Oh well, lost opportunity there.  For my next Blogiversary I’ll be sure to plan something grand!

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Up next is Baked Apple Slices – no added sugar.  This is an excellent recipe and everyone loves it.  Even if you’re not trying to cut down on sugar, the apples themselves have so much sugar you feel like you are eating an apple pie without the crust.  I find it strange that this is the second most visited post though because this isn’t a recipe site.  In fact, I have just three recipes listed.  This one, Choconut Chippers, and Game Day Sausage Dip, which is, ironically, the least visited post ever.   But search terms for the baked apples are coming from all over with things such as:

  • baked apple slices no sugar
  • no sugar baked apple slices
  • stewed apples no sugar
  • baked apple slices without sugar

I sure hope someone has decided to try the recipe and that they loved it!

Baked Apple Slices

And rounding out the top three posts… Lego, Car, Truck Sack Tutorial.  This is a cool sack for kids to carry their toys around.  I first heard about it as a lego sack, but I thought it would work great for cars, especially with road map fabric on the inside, so that is how I made it for my grandson.

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And the top referrer to my blog is Crazy Mom Quilts.  Thank you!   Go check out her blog when you get a chance.  It is full of great quilting projects.

What does all this tell me?  Keep linking up my quilting projects with Crazy Mom Quilts until I can turn this into a full-time blog.  And, I either need to include more no-sugar/low-sugar recipes or I need to create a new no-sugar/low sugar blog.  Hmmm… now, that’s an idea!

Here are some of my favorite posts that I think you might enjoy.

Thanks for reading.  I am truly humbled that you have taken the time to read my posts and follow my blog.  I do appreciate each and every one of you!!

Oh! Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the snowmen are playing in the snow.  And it appears even my blog is in the Christmas spirit.

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The annual job of decorating is mostly done. It is certainly not a job I look forward to, although I really like the end result. My two oldest boys are living on the other side of the country this year, and don’t plan to make it home for Christmas.  I was missing having them here and shed a few tears when no one else was watching.

I also spent this weekend cleaning up and purging some old clothes, toys, books, and stuff. In fact, I have a whole car full of stuff to take to the thrift store tomorrow. Really, where does it all come from? I wish I could do that daily until I get the house and storage areas uncluttered, but earning a living requires that I spend most of my time each week working for someone else instead.

So, due to all the other extra curricular activities this weekend, I haven’t gotten as much sewing done as I would have liked on the quilt top I’m making with the HST’s. Hopefully I’ll make a little bit of progress this week.

Otherwise, I did want to show you the flannel blankets I made. Remember the elephant and robin I spent forever and a day trying to digitize? Well, I did finally finish it and was able to get the blankets embroidered and made. And I won’t share any of the pictures of the baby with the blanket since it is not my family and not my right to share them. But the baby was adorable with her blankets and the mom was very touched. The robin was meant to be a reminder of her grandmother, the baby’s great-grandmother, that has passed and wasn’t able to be there for the birth.

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I also finished crocheting another baby blanket. But of course, I forgot to take pictures outside today so you’ll have to live with an indoor photo.
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I would say December is off to a good start. Now, if I can just get my Christmas shopping done and presents made before the 25th. Haha, that might be pushing it.  I would like to request a few extra weeks…  Do you think we could delay it?

Oh, and I keep forgetting to mention, I added a few things to my etsy store and everything is 18% off thru 12/2 and 15% off the rest of the December.   Check it out.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/MonkeyNeedle?ref=si_shop

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop!

Half Square Triangles

I started cutting and sewing half-square triangles (HST) for the quilt I decided to do for my parents.  I wanted the quilt to have a scrappy look with 10 or so different fabrics in each of the two colors.  But golly, this is a lot of cutting and trimming.

Putting the HSTs together really isn’t that bad.  I’m cutting my fabric so that I can sew and then cut 50 HSTs at one time.  Ironing and trimming to size comes next.  I realize that trimming them to size is probably the most important part, but it is taking forever.  This is what 400+ HST units look like.

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Only 800 more to go…

The embroidery design I’ve been working on for the baby blanket is now looking like this.

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And just because she couldn’t let me have the camera out without taking a picture of her..

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So what are you working on?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky

Blogger’s Quilt Festival

Greetings from Charleston.  I am traveling for work today and tomorrow and thought I would share this lovely sunset with you.

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I have decided to enter a quilt in the fall Blogger’s Quilt Festival and I am squeaking it in at the last minute.

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I am entering Ellie the Elephant.  You may remember her from a post in May, but let me refresh your memory in case you don’t.

This quilt was designed around seven fat eighths of fabric from the Madrona Road line that I received for a challenge with the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild.  We had to make something with the fabric and we could only add other solids. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to make, I tried different layouts, and I finally heard the blue haystack speak to me saying that it wanted to be an elephant.  

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So Ellie the Elephant was born.  Isn’t she adorable?  You can visit my original blog post here.

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Since then she has spent more than 2 weeks at the North Carolina State Fair where she was viewed by tens of thousands of people and won 2nd place in the baby quilt division.  And later I hope to make a pink version and write up a pattern in the near future.

But in the meantime, hopefully she’ll pull out a win in the blogger’s quilt festival for me.  Head on over there and look at all the wonderful inspiration, if you haven’t already, and be sure to vote for your favorite quilt in each category.

http://amyscreativeside.com/2013/10/25/bloggers-quilt-festival-baby-quilts-2/

http://amyscreativeside.com/2013/10/25/bloggers-quilt-festival-fall-2013/

WIP Wednesday

My first WIP Wednesday… normally, I post projects once they are completed, but it seems as if I’m not completing much these days.  Well, that’s not really true – we made it through my daughter’s wedding and that was a huge project.  But quilting projects are stalled at the moment.  I am working on designing, but the sewing is stalled due to waiting for coordinating fabric to arrive or waiting for the inspiration to strike.  And rather than show all the WIP’s I have because that would be too overwhelming for the both of us, these are the ones I hope to have completed in the next 4-6 weeks.  That’s a good goal, right?

First, I decided to make my parents a quilt for Christmas/50th anniversary (which was in June).  I know, it’s a little late to be planning this – I just haven’t had much time before now.  So I’m looking at doing a pastel blue/pink and am working on an original quilt design.  I pretty much have the center of the quilt figured out — lots of half square triangles which means lots of cutting and lots of sewing.  While I wait for the rest of the fabric to arrive (had to mail order it since the local quilt shop didn’t have any in stock), I am working on whether I want small borders or large borders, or borders with designs.. hmmm…

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WIP

Then I am doing the Riley Blake challenge through the Modern Quilt Guild.  Here are the fabrics — we were given 6- fat 8ths.  The challenge is that you can only use other Riley Blake prints or other solids to create something quilted.  I’m thinking a baby boy quilt with large blocks and a modern arrangement.  Something easy and quick to put together.

IMG_3348Next up – a quilt I started in June (?).  The challenge was to create a quilt using just one color and one print we drew out of a bag.  My color was purple and my print isn’t pictured here so you’ll just have to be surprised.  So I stocked up on purple solids, designed a quilt and started sewing.  I hope it turns out like it did in my head!  It’s been a WIP for so long now I really need to get it finished before it makes it’s way into the pile of WIPs that are a year or more old (yes, I have some of those too).  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to them…

IMG_3350Last but not least, and likely the one I will actually finish first… a friend has asked me to make 2 baby blankets for a niece that is soon due.  She wants an embroidered elephant with a bird on its back.  So I’ve been working on digitizing the design in my “super expensive that I will probably never get’s my money’s worth out of” software.  Every time I try to do something in this digitizing software I feel like I’m having to learn it all over again.  One day I’ll gain a comfort level with it — I’ve only had it 1-1/2 years! Haha…  But the more I use it, the easier it will be (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).  Right?

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So, that’s it.  These really are my quilting goals for the next 4-6 weeks.  I’ll probably rearrange, and likely add more to it, but here it is for this moment in time.

What are you working on?  Do you tend to have more than one project in progress like I do?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

WIP Wednesday linky

Madrona Road Challenge – How Ideas are Born

This past February I joined the Triangle MQG and decided to participate in my first challenge with the group.  We were given seven fat eighths of fabric from the Madrona Road line by Violet Craft for Michael Miller fabrics.

2013-05-13Our challenge was to make something, anything really, from these 7 fat eights.  And the only real rule was that you could only add other solids.  No other prints were allowed.  To make this even more challenging, I didn’t particularly care for this fabric.  I liked the black with the writing, and the blue with the lighter blue criss-cross lines (I think it’s called haystack).  But overall, the rest of the fabric is definitely not something I would have picked out.  But it was free and I just couldn’t pass up free fabric or the challenge — I really do like to be challenged.  The unveiling was planned for the May meeting — just 3 months away.

Oh, what should I make?  When I first got the fabric I was working a lot and didn’t have much time to think about it, but it was still in the back of my mind.  A month later, I still didn’t have a clue.  I thought I might want to turn it into a full size lap quilt, but seven fat eighths didn’t leave me much to work with.  But work was slowing down just a bit, so I had a little time to play around.

I played with squares…

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I played with circles…  I even colored the circles to match the fabric hoping that would help.

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Did I want to make a stuffed toy?  Did I want to make a skirt, or a bag, or a _____ (file in the blank)?

But, nothing seemed to be ‘just right’.  So, I put it aside for another couple of weeks while I got through the next deadline for work, and while I waited for the fabric to ‘talk’ to me.  Maybe if I listened hard enough, it would tell me what it wanted to be.  So I would look at it and think about it, and look at it and think about it…  This went on for a couple of weeks before I figured out what it wanted to be…

This blue haystack I decided wanted to be an elephant.

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Cool, I could do an elephant on a baby quilt.  I like baby quilts.  I can be just as creative as I want to be, they don’t take too much time to make or quilt, and they make great baby gifts. But how do I fit the other fabrics into this?  I could make an elephant parade, or elephants stacked on top of each other, or I could simply make just one elephant and use the other fabrics as a border.  Or… the one elephant could be holding something in his trunk.  Yes, that’s it!  And the idea for my challenge quilt was born.  It was designed, appliqued, quilted, and bound in about a week, and weeks before the unveiling at the meeting yesterday.

Meet Elijah Elephant.  (He’s a nice elephant, so we can give him a nice strong Bible name.)

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This is the back.

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I also free motion quilted smaller elephants onto the background.

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I’m very pleased with how he turned out.  If I had planned to make an elephant from the very beginning, I don’t think it would have been as good.  I think my brain needed to go through the process of figuring out the personality of the fabric.

And that’s how ideas are born… many weeks and months of planning, thinking, designing, and thinking some more.  Then the idea is finally formed and the plan implemented, usually in a much quicker manner than what it took to come up with the idea to start with.

Linking up with Plum & June Blossom Art Quilts for Let’s Get Acquainted. (Hope I”m doing this right)

Let's get acquainted