Thursday, January 11, 2024

Flourishes BOM Update

As promised, here are all twelve finished blocks from my 2023 year-long BOM project.
This was a stash-busting goal -- the patterns with fabric kits have been in my stash for over 10 years and before that, they were in my Mom's stash for about the same length of time!?!
The pattern is Flourishes, designed by the Piece O'Cake duo of Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins.  They released it as a BOM with a fabric line at the same time with one of the original quilting cotton fabric vendors, P & B Fabrics.
I worked on one block each month and happily was able to finish each in about two weeks of evening hand stitching.  The pace kept me on track and a week or more break between blocks prevented boredom.
This was the last block I stitched -- #12 in the series and well-placed because by this time, my confidence was solid.  If I'd started with this block, I think all those little circles would have defeated me?!?
Hmmm, why is this picture sideways?
Well, I have no idea -- but I'm blaming Microsoft!  They seem to have intervened and "upgraded" the photo app I use (thanks, so much???) and I haven't figured out how to import my photos from my camera disk.
To get around this issue (which may stem from impatience on my part), I'm importing photos taken on my phone and automatically stored in my Google account.  Actually, it makes this step simpler but I didn't take the time to figure out how to edit them.  Apparently my phone turned some of the pictures sideways and I'm stumped.
But the pictures are clear and the colors accurate and since my mental energy is a bit low this morning, I'm going with it.   
Random thought -- will this make the post more memorable??
The sideways photos, I mean.
I grabbed a light table years ago and have rarely used it until this project.  Every morning, I would trace 4 to 5 pieces onto the prints using the light table.  Then aligning the background block on top of the full size pattern on the light table again, I would position and pin the pieces in place ready for an evening of stitching.
(Upside down, really??)
I used the needle-turned applique method, but one thing I do to make it easier is to finger press all the way around a piece on the (chalk) pencil lines because I find the needle-turning goes more smoothly.  Much to my surprise, I enjoyed not having to make any fabric decisions -- the fabrics in the kits matching the pattern cover exactly! Generally, I like to do my own thing -- picking fabrics that please me but it was a nice change.
Along about September, I began to think about assembling the quilt top and getting it quilted.  These are large blocks -- 20" and in the designers' layout, they are set edge-to-edge on the diagonal.  
We're talking BIG quilt.
So that creates a "quilting" challenge for me -- too big for me to machine quilt and perhaps too much for my hands to hand quilt?  To send it out will be expensive since the design would be "ruined" by an edge-to-edge pattern and would require "custom-quilting" which would be elegant but out of my budget.
Plus who gets the quilt down the road???
The solution I've come up with solves both issues -- make three smaller quilts!
Easier for me to quilt myself and I have three granddaughters, so . . . . 
After laying out four blocks for a smaller quilt, I decided to make three more blocks, so each quilt will have five blocks.  Towards that end, I've been saving all the leftover bits of fabric from the kits that came with each month's pattern.  I chose three of the patterns I enjoyed making for the "fifth" blocks.
This is the first duplicate block.  I've had to do a little stash-diving to substitute for fabrics I used up from the pattern kits but that's not really a problem -- deep, deep stash here!?!
I'm heading off for a few retreat days at the end of next week and the duplicate blocks will be my focus.  My prep work is to applique the stems of each block (my least favorite part) and cut all the applique pieces so I'm sure I have compatible fabrics.  It would be wonderful to come home with three completed blocks but even if I don't, I'll have made significant progress!

Other plans for the retreat include layering a couple large quilts (to take advantage of extra hands that will be available!) and prepping an antique quilt top for a little rework (dissembling and removing basting threads) and perhaps cutting a Moda BOM from the summer of 2022?   
And eating cookies?!?

Are you going to be able to enjoy a retreat this winter?  I enjoy them more now that I've stopped taking my sewing machine.  Focusing on hand-stitching and prep work (layering and cutting) makes the planning and packing easier plus I'm not "nose-down" at my machine for the weekend (i.e., more social time).  If you aren't part of group, organize a couple of your favorite stitching friends and rent a place -- quite a few small retreat venues have popped up in this region and if you have to cook for yourselves, indulge in a few days of eating badly to take the pressure off?!?



Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Launching A New Year - 2024

 Yesterday in the midst of a quiet first day of the year, I was contemplating that we are almost a quarter of the way into this century!  Just 23 years ago, we were nervously entering a new millennium with more than a little dread of what awaited us.  But here we are -- still moving forward!?!

My family was together for a few crazy hours last week (although Grandma had to put down her Mom foot -- boy, can young ones get wound up!?!).  I hope you were able to gather with friends and/or family for some holiday cheer!!

I spent New Year's weekend with tea and cookies hiding in my sewing zone -- reviewing my 2023 accomplishments and setting some (okay, perhaps too many) 2024 goals.  In 2023, I set four goals plus I wrote out a list of  potential "new projects" in the hope of being less overwhelmed with all the exciting "new projects" that are thrust into my view (daily) by Instagram scrolling?!?

I've reviewed my progress at the end of each quarter, so today's comments will be brief and focus on my satisfaction.  Suffice it to say that two of my goals were accomplished or acceded -- I let go of more quilted pieces than I finished (yea!!) and I finished another half dozen old UFO's!!  Progress on one more of my goals was moderate -- I quilted three of the five tops made in 2022.  Three of my new 2023 projects came from the list of seven projects (but I did cave to "exciting" ideas from Instagram at least three times -- two of which are completely finished so in my mind, that was okay).  The fourth and final goal was something of a fail -- to deal with all the antique quilt tops.  The only two I "dealt" with were ones I sold -- I didn't touch any of the other seven.  

I suspect lots of folks resist setting goals because they expect to fail based on past performance, but I feel like even modest success makes the "setting" worth the effort.  My annual goals are a guidance system that help me re-center.  I write them down in my daily work journal (which keeps me accountable) so it is easy to revisit them regularly both to look for a "new" project and to encourage focus.

So New Year, New Goals!

1.  Try again to deal with the antique quilt tops!?!  Just had an idea -- perhaps a self-challenge where I "draw" one out of a hat to work on for two months???
2.  Quilt the tops I made in 2022 and 2023 -- there are five big ones and five small charity quilts.
3.  Give away fifty yards of fabric -- this is so hard for me, but I definitely have more than I can use?!?
4.  Still eliminating UFO's -- I must be close to the end of this aspect of my work but five popped up in the weekend tidy-up of the sewing room.
5.  Let go of more pieces than I finish -- this goal reduces inventory for the benefit of my heirs???
And face it, it gives me a reason to keep piecing!!
6.  Not quilting but I need to use up yarn -- so use at least 12 skeins/batches from the stash!
PLUS revisit my list of "already on-hand" projects when I get the itch to start a new one.

All this reflection and sorting and planning and tidy-up always results in impulsive sewing!  Pawing through UFO's triggers me and next thing I know I'm laying out blocks and piecing more blocks, making a plan, modifying for a quicker finish . . . 
. . . now that box of squares and 9-patches left over from the 2013 Civil War hand-piecing workshops during the Gettysburg battle commemorations are a wheel-chair size lap and a large lap robe size quilt tops.  I might even be layering them later today??  And just like that one of the UFO's will be crossed off my list.  It's a good start on the goals list!

The yarn stash got some attention, too.  Now there are two new projects lined up that I enjoy knitting -- a pair of High Desert socks and a Musselburg Hat -- both use bits and bobs of yarns plus most of a full skein!  I've knit each pattern several times and once set up, they are somewhat mindless knits that occupy my hands well during webinars and meetings.  Plus they are great gifts to have on hand!
Both patterns are available on if you are interested in checking them out.

Because "goal setting" works so well for my stitching efforts, I also decided to set some genealogy work goals.  I enjoy the discovery process and have definitely embraced it over the past three years but my curiosity often lures me down interesting rabbit holes that distract me so I end up not getting to the end of a particular research effort.  Maybe goals will help??
Time will tell!

So lets launch a New Year and embrace contentment in our lives
Find ways to use your skills and your passions to support the people around you!
Step up to defend people and the earth to leave a legacy of kindness and respect! 
Be courageous every day.

Happy New Year!!