Christmas Tree Block Swap

xmastreeswap

My friend Leisa saw a Christmas Tree Block Swap that was going on online, and said “Why don’t we do one like this with our group?” Sure, why not?  We don’t have anything else going on, do we? (right)xmastreeswap_1

I drafted a pattern, just drawing this way and that, then made up a test block.  My graphic design guru Simone approved it, and we were off.  I transferred my dimensions to Quilt Pro, my quilt software program and here it is for you to download: christmas-tree-gdhrtqltrs-swap_pattern  That’s FREE, no charge, but as usual, please don’t print off one for your mother or your sister, but instead, send them here to get theirs.  Many thanks.

printer-settings

AND…as a reminder.  Please be sure to set your scale to 100%, as shown above in the red oval.

Now, the tutorial.  I apologize in advance for the pitiful lighting.  Chalk it up to working on a deadline, because our swap is in a a week and a half, and I need to get this to my quilt group for our Flash Mob Quilt Night.  (I hope they bring Christmas cookies to share…just saying…)

I also apologize for filling up your mailboxes with two posts so close together.  But then again, you might need this too, to spread a little holiday cheer around your sewing room.xmastreeswap_2

This tutorial is for one block.  It took me a grand total of about one minute to make one block.  Choosing and cutting the fabrics took a little longer.  For our trees we are using clear bright tones/prints, such as green, yellow, pink, aqua, purple/lavender, orange, red.  For the backgrounds, we are using black or white prints.  For the tree trunk: something trunkish, please.  Here are all the pieces laid out. xmastreeswap_3(Thank you Mary, for my cool board.)

Sew the Upper Background piece onto the tree.  Leave that tiny wedge of 1/4″ goodness at the bottom right corner (shown in the red circle), and let the top of the upper background just hang off the tree.  Stitch 1/4″ seam.

xmastreeswap_4Backside of that piece.  Now the 1/4″ wedge of goodness is at the lower left, and the extra background is at the top.  Press seam towards the tree.xmastreeswap_5 xmastreeswap_6

Repeat with other side.  xmastreeswap_7

Trim off the extra point.  Press towards tree (see below).xmastreeswap_8 xmastreeswap_9

Seam the Lower Background pieces on either side of the tree trunk.  Press towards the trunk.xmastreeswap_10 xmastreeswap_11

Line up the tree trunk with the tip of the tree, to get it on straight.  I’ve left a bit extra on either side, so if you want it wonky, feel free.xmastreeswap_12

Press all seams toward tree.  You can see here the extra I’ve left you so you can adjust the trunk as needed.
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Trim the block to 6 1/2″ by 7 1/2″ like this: Leave space above the tree tip, roughly 3/4″.xmastreeswap_14

Then whack off the bottom, so the total height is 7 1/2″.  This tree will finish at 6 by 7″.xmastreeswap_15

Fussy cutting is always encouraged.xmastreeswap_16

Now if you want to cut out a lot of Upper Backgrounds at once, do this:

1-Layer two pieces of fabric with wrong sides together (like it comes off the bolt).

2- Cut a square 5 1/4″ by 6 1/8″.

3- Measure up 1 1/8″ on opposite sides, and draw or cut a diagonal line.  It should be the same size as your piece B or D.

Remember that these pieces are opposite of each other, so don’t layer up your fabrics with all right sides up, or this won’t work.

xmastreeswap_final1

Here’s my first batch.  Now I’ll go do this some more.

Have fun making a forest!

tiny nine patches

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Making Progress on Oh Christmas Tree Quilt

OhChristmasTree7_Final

Remember this?  And did you know there are (at this writing) about  35 days until Christmas?  So I decided I’d better get to it.  counter-pinning_1

Since rolling around on the floor pin basting a quilt is not really something I want to do, I do my pin basting on the counters now.  Some people use ping pong tables or dining room tables, but the principles are all the same:  Tape/clamp the backing to the counter, using the edges of the counter to help locate the center of the backing, and keeping it straight.counter-pinning_2

Lay out the batting, previously cut to size.  Tape down.counter-pinning_3 counter-pinning_4

Drape the quilt over the above, matching centers and getting it on straight to both axis–both North-South and Left-Right.  (Ask me how I know this.)  But I did find out that you can unpin pretty quickly when you find out you neglected to pay attention to the Left-Right axis.  Quilt is all pinned now.

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That felt is really thick on some parts, so I used it to help scoot my needle around the disc.  I decided not to quilt through the felt ornaments, but to instead outline them.  I know I may go back in at some point and put in some stitches so that it is not too poofy, but aware of the deadline, I just outlined today.  On the first day of quilting, I did all the way around the tree–all flowers, leaves, birds and the manger scene at the bottom.oct_quilting-background2

Then I had some time left before the next interruption activity, so I had decided to keep going on the background around the tree.  I had chosen a really really really low-key free-motion design for that space, given how much was going on in the rest of the quilt.  I quilted little stars (less than 1″ tall) and loopy lines in between them, using a matching thread: Masterpiece from Superior Threads.  Bisque is my go-to color for nearly everything and it worked well here, too.oct_quilting-background

At the end of the first day I felt like I made great progress: all around the tree stuff and then all the neutral background on the righthand side.

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Day Two.  I tackled the lefthand side of the tree, filling in the background with the loopy star path, as before.  I am trying to get better at “puddling” up the quilt all around me so I don’t end up tugging and pulling as I work.  Lots to learn.  I have a Sweet Sixteen Handi-Quilter quilting machine, and I’m amazed at how much more quickly I can stitch a vast amount of quilt, than I could when using my domestic machine.oct-day-2_2

After I completed the center background fill, I outlined the triangles, then stitched in the ditch down the backside of them in a long straight line, outlining them.
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Here I am at the end of my quilting session on Day Two.  I’m now stalled at how to quilt the wonky stars and am letting my brain think about it for a while.  I might yet make my deadline of Dec. 1 if I can work out the stars challenge.

I also realized that I shouldn’t do a star-studded-over-the-top quilting job, as it will change the look of the quilt.  Those wool appliqué pieces are rather flat and glob-like, if you want to know the truth, and if I quilt heavily, it will further emphasize that they are “floating” on top of the quilt.  I’m trying to keep everything flat, not puffy, so that the quilting feels integrated with the quilt.

As I reviewed the quilts I’ve made this year, it feels like it’s been the Year of the Tiny.  Some of it is due to group challenges, like Four-in-Art, some of it is due to swaps and collaborations, and a lot of it was due to my being gone a lot from home.  I can’t get the work done if I’m not here.  Writers have a phrase for it, something to the effect of the need to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair in order to get to the writing.  And unlike writing, with its portable paper and pen (computer?), when quilting, there is a lot of stuff you need, that can only be found in the sewing studio, room, or nook.

Joseph Campbell understood the idea of a place to create, when he noted that

“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. …This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.”

Annie Dillard wrote about the time she had a space upstairs in an office with a window.  She reached over and closed the blinds, even on the Fourth of July so she could keep writing, undistracted by the view, the noise, by anything.  I had a quote of hers taped to my computer when I was in grad school:

“Every morning you climb several flights or stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air.  The desk and chair float thirty feet from the ground, between the crowns of maple trees.  The furniture is in place; you go back for your thermos of coffee.  Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop.  You can see clear to the river from here in the winter.  You pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Birds fly under your chair.  In spring, when the leaves open in the maple’s crown, your view stops in the treetops just beyond the desk; yellow warblers hiss and whisper on the high twigs, and catch flies.  Get to work.  You work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

We are the same in our places of creation, whether it be the dining room, the corner of a bedroom, or a big fancy studio.  We need our place to create, we need distraction-free blocks of time.  We need to keep cranking the flywheel, to turn those creative gears.

We need to work.

Illusion of Colors, based on a design by Kevin Umaña

illusionofcolors_1

Illusion of Colors Quilt, #172
24″ square

This was the second of two designs I made using Uppercase Fabrics and designs from artist Kevin Umaña, who now lives in New York City.  I first wrote about him when we started our collaboration, and he was a delight to work with and has great punchy graphic designs that translate well to quilts.  illusionofcolors_2 illusionofcolors_3

I had this pinned up and awaiting quilting for the longest time.  You all know that my shoulder has been giving me trouble (wah wah wah) and last week when I went for a 3-month check-up, the doctor said don’t do anything that hurts.  Well…sleep hurts.  Getting dressed hurts.  Sitting quietly can hurt.  And then I thought if I can’t do anything that hurts, I may as well suspend myself in green Jello or something.  Or, since everything hurts, I’m going to quilt.  That night, I finished off Kevin’s great design.illusionofcolors_4

Of course, sitting quietly, sewing on the label hurt my shoulder.  (eye roll)  So I apply a lot of this:

frozen-peas-ice-pack

Brenda thinks I should get a real ice pack, but this seems to work okay.  I’m on my second one.  And yes, I’m still going through doctor hoops, hoping one day to do stuff without hurting too much.  But I will keep quilting, because if I can’t quilt, what can I do? (No need to supply answers).

I’m just happy to have finished up Kevin’s quilt.  I’m mailing off to him as a thank you for sharing his designs.

 

 

 

tiny nine patches

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Shine: The Circles Quilt, finished

1shinecirclesquilt

Shine: The Circles Quilt
Quilt #170
2shinecirclesquilt

This quilt finally finished, I took it out for a photography session with the help of my husband.3shinecirclesquilt

I started sewing the first block in June of 2014, and finished the top a year later.  The quilting was finished at the end of September, but it wasn’t until now that I could get time to take it up to our university’s Botanic Gardens to get some photographs.
4ashinecirclesquilt

My husband’s favorite block.  As some of you know, many of these blocks were inspired by art in a church in Slovenia, as well as designs from our travels.  Most of the patterns and accompanying tutorials are free on this blog, found *here* as well in a tab labeled Shine: The Circles Quilt.  4shinecirclesquiltl 5ashinecirclesquilt

This shows the quilting.  I was trying out double batting (polyester with wool), and found it was a challenge to move the heavy quilt around on the machine.  It took me nearly 4 months to quilt this thing, as I was hobbled with a shoulder injury.  But I was able to finish it!7shinecirclesquilt_label

As I quilted, I thought a lot about my brother-in-law Tom, who passed away a little over a month ago.  He maintained a beautiful small garden in his backyard, and so in one of the corners I quilted in a flower in his memory (shown below).  Many offered advice and help while I was quilting: thank you, everyone.6shinecirclesquilt shinecirclesquilt_detailback

detail of quilting from the back

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This closes a chapter in my life.  Lovely to see you here, Shine!

tiny nine patches

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚
My blogging software puts ads here so I can use their site for free. 
I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚