Sunday, December 31, 2017

Quilty Resolutions

    It’s always so hard to believe another year is gone! This past year, I only had one big finish— “A New England Album,” but I kept my resolution of not adding any more UFOs to my list! So now that I have actually figured out how to finish a quilt (instead of thinking about it, you actually WORK on it) I’m feeling bullish about more finished pieces this year. I pulled out a few UFOs from earlier years to make my Quilty Resolutions.

So let’s open the box!

    This is for a challenge in April, and is first on my list to be finished in 2018. I’m off to a great start— I promised myself that it would be pieced by the end of the year and it is. I also promised myself it would be beautifully pieced— and it is!

    See the dotted fabric in the inner three borders? It's the same fabric, just different colors and I actually pieced it so the dots align on all three. Who does that?! Haha. Then, check out the 1/8” inch appliquéd strip on the saucer. One thing I have really made progress on this year is my turned edge appliqué. Practice, practice, practice! I am going to add the phases of the moon...

   They are the size of a nickel!

  I have some really fun quilting patterns sketched including coffee bean plants, and anything and everything that is shaped like a circle— gears, the sun and moon, yin and yang and more. Sort of like a graffiti quilt. Going to start quilting as soon as I can get my hands on batting January 2nd. Hope to finish by the end of February.

     This, of course, is our San Francisco Stitch Co. Block of the Month for 2017, and my best hope for a show quilt next year, which now needs a ton of finishing work. Contrary to the photoshopped version on the website, this is where the real thing stands. I need to finish the setting triangles, stitch it together, and I have beautiful quilted flower borders in mind. The blocks are obviously formal bouquets, but the outside border is going to be a scene of wildflowers from up close, then faraway flower fields, right up to the sky, all around the edges. And I am piecing white on white pinwheels to embroider on. Over the top enough for you? 

     Unlike last year, when I didn’t know how well the Baltimore borders would come out, I’m going to write instructions for these as I go along— so you’ll be able to stitch them as well. But be patient with me! It’s going to take time. This one I’d love to have ready to show first at my home quilt guild show, Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod, in August.

   I will definitely get those two quilts done this year— so then it will be time to dig into my UFO box and finish up some others. Let’s go! Here’s my wish list of four more finished in 2018.

   After the bouquets, I am going to want something small, fast, and fun to work on, but I will still be loving flowers, so here’s a UFO from 2016. I took a class with Laura, (google her) and it was advertised as not requiring a sewing machine. ???  Well, we didn’t, and I never had so much fun in my life. It was all free cut, fusible applique. 
     To add to the fun, my friend Tere took a dying class at MQX earlier that year— we never laughed so hard as when we were on our hands and knees, rinsing the fabric in our hotel room tub.  As my reward, Tere gave me my choice of her custom fabric— and that is the fabulous, crazy background you see. 

   Later that year, when I tried to hand embroider the flowers, that was when my rotator cuff totally separated--not because of the piece, but just general wear and tear— that was NOT FUN at all, and I put it away: there it is with the needle still in it. But I would totally enjoy making a flying geese border and just throwing some colorful free motion quilting on that piece. It just looks so happy to me. Should be an easy finish!

    This is an older piece, when years ago I had digitized a Dungeness Crab in honor of my time in San Francisco. I wanted to make a larger piece with that embroidery, which I was, and still am, so very proud of. I also wanted to make a compass star. I stopped, for whatever reason, with two borders to go, and I now can’t find the fabric I was using. I still love the piece, and can just envision waves and shell quilting across the sand. Deserves to be finished!

     I really love zentangle drawing style, and obviously you do too, because my fruit sets always sold well (and yes, I will do more at some point this year) SO I started just making a fun, random quilt with all cherry themed ideas to match the embroidered block in the upper right. I made the bowl of cherries block, a block with ric rac that’s supposed to be the top of a pie, and the most fun of all was collecting cherry themed fabric, buttons, notions. This one has a sketch tucked in with it. And I’d love to finish it this year.

Those three pieces are all small, and very do-able... but now we’ve reached the bottom of the box and there’s something that needs a lot of work!

    Here’s my most GUILTY PLEASURE that I love to work on. Yes, I am a hopeless Lori Holt fan, and even though my conscience tells me I should be working on original art, this comes out from time to time.
   The history is, that I bought the Farm Girl Vintage book when it came out 3 or 4 years ago, and I greatly enjoyed teaching my daughter how to piece the blocks. One summer especially, we made most of these, right before she left for college. Now, I got her to the point where she was a great piecer, but as it turns out, quilting isn’t really her thing, and it took me time to “get over it,” and I put it away. So I am totally over it, but I’m on my own now— I would still LOVE to finish this for her, as a memento of a special time we spent together. It’s called OUR HOUSE because many of the blocks had special meanings for us, like the baking set and the camera. I can just see it all completely machine embroidered with tons of cute details. 

 And just because that’s not enough work, I discovered the Chuck Nohara quilt— (google it after you google Laura Waslowski) and decided I want to finish it with tiny Xs and Os in the border, like hugs and kisses. So I'd need about 500,000 border pieces. And maybe I need more like 100 blocks for the best look! So this still has a lot of work to go, but I’d love to just advance it this year.

   What are your quilty resolutions? Pull out one today, and take a picture of it! You might just surprise yourself a year from now, if you actually work on it, instead of just thinking about it— and trust me, 2018 is gonna fly!

Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

It’s been quite a year for us all at San Francisco Stitch Co! 
Thank you for your business 
and giving us the chance to do what we enjoy--
We hope that 2017 has been just as memorable for you,
 and we look forward to stitching with you again next year!
Carol, Meg, John, Caroline, Steve, and all!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas FREE Stitch-a-Long Wrap Up!

This morning we posted the last of four free designs for our Christmas Stitch-a-Long! We hope you kept up, and not only downloaded them all for free, but also made the time for a little embroidery in between everything else you have to do.

I'm sure I speak for a lot of us when I say I'm starting to feel a little stressy. So much left to do before the 25th! The powers that be are trying to drag me out of the office, away from the sewing machines and out into the hubbub... employees are looking for time off (what?!!) and to be honest, I am really starting to need a break myself. Then tonight I am in Boston and tomorrow night in New York... sounds pretty glamorous, (read: exhausting) doesn't it! 

So for the Christmas Stitch-a-Long, we all decided on a QUICK finish! This is a first for San Francisco Stitch Co.-- we decided to do something easy. But it will still be beautiful. Promise.

Gather all of your embroidery stitch outs together-- hopefully you will have four! Three would be fine, two's a little skimpy, and one-- well, move on from this tutorial and Google "How do I make a potholder?" XOX

Mark the centers of your designs with an washable fabric marker and then use the centerpoint to draw a 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" square evenly around your design. Confirm that it looks centered and then cut. Tear or cut away excess stabilizer for a softer finished piece, if desired. You can see our blocks above, and the back of the gingerbread house design.

Arrange your blocks in the order that you'd like-- we're going with a horizontal format for our coffee table. You might choose to stitch the blocks vertically for a wallhanging. (Put it on your door with the Merry Christmas block on top!) Or you could do two over two for a more square table topper. Sew them together with 1/4" seams.
We usually press seams open when the same fabric is on both sides-- we won't be stitching in the ditch here-- we'll be free motion quilting and trying to get those seams to disappear.

Now you'll need a beautiful Christmas print-- there's a plethora of those around at this time of year.  This is "Tole Christmas," a Moda collection that came out last  year, and we were saving it for something special, but why wait! It is SO pretty. We are going to use the top print...

Cut two pieces 28-1/2" x 3-1/2" and two 3-1/2" x 7-1/2." Stitch the longer pieces to the top and bottom of your runner, and press the seams toward the embroidery. Then cut four cornerstones 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"-- we used a matching red print from the same collection.

Note that "quick" does not have to mean shoddy-- instead of cutting our red fabric haphazardly, we fussy cut so that once it is bound, the design will be perfectly centered in that square as shown by the white lines. Little details like that just say "quality," and it just took an extra minute to do.

Stitch your cornerstones to each end of the remaining border pieces, and press away from the cornerstones. Then stitch these two pieces to the runner. The seams will nest... and... 

... we have a little ta-da moment... all in a little over an hour! 

If you have time, or maybe you want to gift this, just bat and back, stitch in the ditch, bind and be done. We are just putting ours on display as is for now... in those glorious quiet days between Christmas and New Year's we'll come back to it and do some more free motion quilting. We give away so many of our samples every year, but we're thinking this one's a keeper. Look... it fits the coffee table perfectly!

So it's a wrap on Christmas Stitch-a-Long 2017. I have noted and appreciated that some of you still find making a PDF from this blog post difficult, so here's the compromise: if you want your table runner before Christmas, you have to use this, but if you are willing to wait, I will post a follow-up on the website, and maybe ours will even be finished by then. So like I always tell my family and friends, EVERYONE can be happy. XOX.
There are still lots of things on our to-do list before the end of the year, including finishing our Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendars, and the last Flower Block of the Month, so stay tuned! And we hope to have Christmas tree photos from Boston and NY to share.

XOX Carol

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Bits

     It's been three weeks since my last post, and I realized that if I don't do something soon, it will be January 1st before we know it. Business has been really hectic since Black Friday, for which I am grateful. XOX But we've all been burning the candle, so to speak, at both ends.

    The time finally came to push away from the computer and get some decorating done... for this, I turned to my son-- he's the go to guy with the pickup truck-- everyone needs one of those in the family, especially when you need to move!

    I'm always pretty decisive, so in no time we had the tree purchased, home, and up. We went with the tall, skinny one...
(a good harbinger for in control holiday eating.)

    My son is not at all the sentimental type, but this year he really enjoyed looking at all the ornaments and reminiscing-- I discovered that I remember where each and every one came from, even though I'm never sure where my purse is. XOX It was just the two of us, and we really enjoyed having time together.

   I am collecting the Hallmark "Beauty of Birds" ornaments-- I don't prefer plastic ornies as a rule, and the birds are metal-- beautifully made, and heavy. Did I mention that next year, the block of the month is going to be bird themed? I'm calling it "The Cloud Club," and, of course, I hope you'll be stitching along! 

    The Flower Blocks are wrapping up, only one to go.  We had some complaints that they are taking too long and for that I have no excuse, but we are almost there! Creativity does not do well under pressure, and I really want this for next year's show quilt, so I can't let anything go until I am totally satisfied with it. It's a real point of pride to see all those blanks get filled in.

    For December, the obvious choice is a poinsettia... but I have never been able to digitize one... just look at that-- pretty, but the flowers are really leaves and there's no organization to it.

    I LOVE amaryllis and try to grow one every year. This year's bloom was just smaller and not as colorful than usual, and how to you make it short to fit a quilt square?

    Tomorrow, I am going to buy the plant I finally decided on, and I'm going to keep you in suspense. You will, of course, love it... it's the perfect ending. Then it will be time to get all those setting triangles made in the early winter of 2018. I have GORGEOUS borders planned that are not going to require the precise placement like "A New England Album." 

    To encourage myself, (and you if you are stitching the flower blocks) this is where I was on December 31st last year with last year's BOM...

And this is where we are now...

   Yes, my copy of the AQS magazine came in and there it is, just like a fairy tale! So to those of you who are impatient with the flower blocks, just try to have a little faith-- we are all going to cross that finish line again, together. Yes, that's me there!

Speaking of monumental projects, while I was digging out Christmas ornaments, I found something we all thought was lost!

This is a "Rose Bower" bed spread my grandmother made for my sister years ago. How it got in my basement in a plastic bin with tax returns is anyone's guess, but it's been missing for years. There are 270 crocheted blocks, all beautifully sewn together and in absolutely perfect shape. Made me so happy to find it. My grandmother died when I was still very young, but obviously I inherited her love of the needle, and it was fun to study what kind of job she did! PERFECT.

    Here's one more thing... a little Christmas present I got for myself. (We all do that, don't we?) You know there are people out there who seem to make a quilt like every three days. How? This is a really interesting technique put out by the Fat Quarter Shop. You just lay two 10" layer cake fabrics together with one of these papers, and just stitch on the lines, cut everything out, and use the pieces to assemble your block. There's a book with pictures of quilts on the left, and you need to buy the papers on the right.

I was interested in the "Petit Four Quilt." Can you guess why? Because it has those white diamonds in the middle of every block that are just dying to have embroidery in them. I'd love to make a quilt out of the "Countdown to Christmas" blocks next year and this seems like it would be a big help to do it.

So that's just a tiny bit of what goes on here right now... the vast majority of it is in front of the computer these days. Hope you are having yourself a merry little Christmas, and enjoying the days leading up to it.