Thursday, November 29, 2012

Empty pockets

Most of us are rapidly emptying our pockets doing Christmas shopping, but my empty pockets are on the now-completed advent calendar. I finished this yesterday, with 2 days to spare before December. (Yay me!)

I quilted the background with silver metallic thread using inspiration from Leah Day's Icicle Lights FMQ design.

But the pockets are empty, except for one. I have changed my mind about 1,000 times on what to fill the pockets with. My initial (and ultimate) plan was to make little critters to live in the pockets and get moved to the tree each day. But, making 24 critters in the next few days is not possible. I've also changed my mind about these critters - use fussy-cut novelty prints like the pockets, make them out of felt, buy them, no...make them out of felt, maybe I should just buy them, make them out of felt using the novelty prints for inspiration, buy pattern for felt ones (you get the idea).

I stumbled across these on Etsy and bought all three of the woodland animal patterns. They are by Aimee at Little Dear Tracks and are super cute.

DD and I put together one little bird last night using the few bits of wool felt that I had on hand. I have ordered some more but won't see it until Monday. So, one critter down, 23 to go! Maybe I can make one a night and keep ahead of the game (I think not). Somehow I think that most pockets will contain chocolate Santas.

The stocking for Monday Moderns is not quite finished. I did the quilting for the front and will do some quick quilting on the back before I can sew them together. DD saw this stocking and wants one just like it - that gives me 25 days to get it done. (Sorry, no pictures.)

Meanwhile, I saw a tote bag on an old episode of Quilting Arts and decided it would be quick and easy to 'throw together' for some Christmas gifts. Finding the large eyelets/grommets in Auckland has proved a major job and after going everywhere and an aborted attempt to order them from Amazon, they are on their way from I hope they arrive quickly - I have to get these bags made and shipped to the US last week. (I love Auckland, but I'm amazed at how hard it is to find easy things and how easy it is to find hard things - I found a sail maker who could put marine-grade stainless eyelets on for me but thought that was overkill and I'm not sure the boys in the workshop would have appreciated my bags.)

My plan is to do something less angular than this. But I liked the construction method and want to make big ones for the grown-ups and little ones for the girls.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas projects

The advent calendar is pieced together and I hope to sandwich it and start the quilting this weekend. I really wish I had a wall to hang things on for photos, but the effect of the light through the window is pretty cool too.

The other Christmas project is a stocking challenge that Monday Moderns are doing. I designed some tiny paper-pieced trees that finish at about 2-1/2 inches. They were inspired by a few things I saw on the web, but I did draft them myself. I absolutely love them and need to come up with lots of things to use them on.

The rest of the stocking was pieced with bits of red, orange, and coral that I had. The front is sandwiched and ready for quilting.

I'm going to experiment with some metallic thread. I know it can be troublesome, but a small project like this is ideal for experimentation.

Christmas presents are not happening. I finally had some inspiration but no fabric candidates are jumping out at me. There's still time, isn't there?

Linking up with WIP at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Advent calendar

The other day DD asked me - can we make an advent calendar? Years ago (many, many, years) my mother made one out of felt and each day's pocket held a handmade sequined ornament to pin to the tree above. I asked about it when DD was little but apparently it came to some untimely destructive incident. I loved it as a kid and even though I had to take turns with my brother I made sure that the ornaments that I liked best were strategically placed in my days.

My mom apparently said that she would make another one, so I called her: "It's started," she replied. Hmmm... "Like, in the mail in 2 weeks started?" - no. I love my mom and she does great work, but here's the deal - an advent calendar has a limited life span and timing is everything. So, I am making one instead.

The recent Auckland Festival of Quilts provided some fabric inspiration. DD has been collecting owl prints and with the addition of a few more woodland critters I had enough to do something with. Still unsure of the exact design, I started with the centerpiece tree.

I have a wide variety of greens and greys and quite a few whites with silver designs. These scraps formed a foundation-pieced tree. Each row was started with a strip of lightweight muslin and a center green scrap. Then I added more green pieces ending the tree row with an angled piece of green. The grey/white/silver scraps finished each row for a snowy background. (No, it never snows in Auckland and Christmas is the start of our summer, but snow still seems right.)

I will add a trunk to the bottom once I figure out the final layout and how much trunk I need.

The pockets are all made of fussy-cut squares using the woodland prints (okay, one is a koala, but it's woodsy enough) and lined and backed with a coordinating blender fabric. I took a hint from Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson! for the construction. Her method for making the pockets allows the whole calendar to be constructed like a quilt - other approaches make the areas with the pockets a non-quilty add-on.

The pockets are in various stages of completeness. The zig-zag stitching around the numbers was a challenge - and swapping the thread for each one was a hassle. Each pocket is sashed in the same grey/white/silver prints as the background. The pockets will surround the tree.

Progress is good and I'm confident that it will be finished by December 1st. I decided early on, in the interest of time, that I would not make ornaments. If I can find some mini ones, I'll put some in the pockets and fill the rest with treats. Eventually, I should be able to collect enough ornaments with a woodland theme to fill each pocket. Better start shopping!

I have not yet started my other Christmas presents. Time is running out quickly - I like to have gifts in the post to the US by the first week in December. Could be a buy-stuff-on-Etsy-and-direct-ship year.

One other Christmas project is in the pipeline - a stocking challenge with the Monday Moderns. I have the design sketched on the back of an envelope and a pile of fabric picked out - maybe next week's post will show some progress on that one.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.