Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Recap

 2014 was a very good year! I finished more projects than ever before.

The links to all projects are on my Completed Projects page.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

25th Anniversary Quilt

 Bill and I are celebrating our 25th Anniversary today. We've added a few pounds and gray hairs, but we are still as happy together as we were in 1989.

My real reason for posting today is to show you the quilt I made for him. I was inspired by Thomas Knauer's code quilts. I started out by designing a Braille quilt, but I just wasn't feeling it. (ha!) I switched to Morse code because it is more meaningful to us as Bill is a communications guy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen references to the super secret project. I couldn't really start until the wedding quilt top was done, but I did start prepping circles when I needed an applique break. The first photo is dated 11/7, but I'm pretty sure I started a day or two before that. The whole top was pieced in just two days, 11/17-18.  I knew I had to have the top done before Thanksgiving and our trip.

I decided early on that I could kill two birds with one stone and attach the circles with the quilting. I'm not a fan of raw edge applique, so the circles were prepared using Erin's method (without the stuffing) and then glue basted to the gray background squares.

 I used an assortment of blues from my stash, some leftover from Pete's quilt. The background is Kona Silver. I picked it out for the color without realizing how appropriate it was for a 25th anniversary!

I didn't leave myself much time for quilting. I only had 2 days to get it done before Christmas. I had originally planned something completely different to do something fun with the negative space, but it wasn't practical with limited time. Straight lines and serpentines had to be employed. 

I still needed to do some free motion in the blues to stitch down the circles. I used Aurifil 50 wt in gray #2600 and navy #2784 for the quilting.

The back was pieced from a big piece of Kona Medium Gray and a strip of blue print leftover from the back of the wedding quilt.

I had a small pile of dots and dashes leftover- just enough to spell out love for the label!

I presented the quilt to Bill at our anniversary party on Saturday. I gave him a Morse code key and made him figure it out! He knew what the first part said after just the first couple of letters.

It finished a little bigger than I planned. It covers the whole top of our bed.

Overall, I'm really happy with how it turned out. And Bill loves it!

25 Years!
66" X 77"
Started 11/6/14
Completed 12/23/14

P.S. If you don't want to take the time to decode the message, it says:
I only have eyes for you
Bill and Tina 25 years

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Safari Portraits

 We are home from safari in Tanzania and are recovering from jet lag. The three of us took about 5,000 pictures on two cameras and three cell phones. Bill took over 60 videos on his phone which he compiled into a 30 minute movie. I'll be sorting through my photos for days! Here are some of my favorite close ups.

Everyone wants to see the big cats on safari and we weren't disappointed. We saw more lions than we could count! This big boy was napping with his brother so close to the road we could hear him breathing!

 Lion cubs are the cutest! Julia decided she could be a lion because they sleep most of the day. Our guide taught us to be patient. Eventually, someone will wake up and do something interesting or at least open his eyes.

 Our guide really wanted me to see a cheetah on my birthday. Finally on the way out of the Serengeti, he spotted this beauty perched on a termite mound. We watched her (him?) stalk some prey, but she gave up after a short chase. There were a few lions not far away watching the action, hoping to steal dinner away from the cheetah.

I could watch zebras all day. I just think they are beautiful and fun.

We saw lots of pregnant mamas and cute babies. 

We were so close to some of the animals that I couldn't fit them into the frame of the photo!

Giraffes are goofy and gorgeous at the same time.

Impala are just too cool.

We had several magical elephant encounters. 

Can you even stand the cuteness?

 Being this close to buffaloes is slightly terrifying.

The hippos have to show you how big and mean they are.

I hope you enjoyed this little sample of our trip. I'll have more for you soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Traveling to Tanzania

Good morning from Tanzania! I'm posting from the balcony of our room at the African Tulip in Arusha. Julia will be joining us in about an hour, so I'm a little excited! 

Let me go back and start at the beginning. We left home a little after 10am Friday to drive to JFK. Luckily, traffic wasn't bad and we arrived at the gate 3 hours before the flight. 

I had prepared my sewing kit with some parts for a Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses quilt, so I kept busy with that. A lovely woman from the UK asked me about it and wished she had thought to bring her cross stitch. 

The flight from NY to Amsterdam was long, but uneventful. I watched two movies, ate two meals, and slept for about an hour. 

We had about a 3 hour layover in the frigid Amsterdam airport. Poor Bill was a Popsicle by the time we left. Walking to our gate, we passed a shop selling Dutch bulbs. They had amaryllis bulbs as big as my head! I'm definitely buying one on the way home. I hope I can get it through customs. 

Flying to Tanzania during the day was fun. I stitched while Bill slept. When he woke up we were flying over Egypt. He took a bunch of pictures of the Nile (they are on the big camera) and he was pretty excited when we crossed the equator. I watched two more movies, ate two more meals, and finished a Lucy Boston block. 

A full moon guided us into Tanzania. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of mount Kilimanjaro. We were greeted at the airport by our guide for the week, Cornell, short for Cornelius. He got us settled at the hotel and we made plans for today. 

I was happy to get a good night's sleep last night. My breakfast was fine, but something didn't agree with Bill. 

As we chill on the balcony waiting for Julia, we can hear a marching band playing a few blocks away! We can see the hotel entrance, so I think we'll wait right here... 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quilted Star Ornament Tutorial

 I have a quick tutorial for you today for simple fabric Christmas ornaments.

While I was decorating for Christmas, I decided to make a star garland from my old stash of African prints. The stars were so much fun to make, I thought I'd share the process with you. This is a great way to use up fabric and batting scraps.

 You will need some fabric scraps, batting scraps, ribbon for hanging or stringing, glue dots (or hot glue), shapes cut from freezer paper, pinking shears and a sewing machine.

I cut some 4" stars out of freezer paper using my Sizzix machine.  You can make any shape in any size. Press your freezer paper shapes onto a fabric scrap, leaving at least 1/2" between shapes.

Layer a piece of fabric (right side down), then some batting, and the fabric with shapes on top. Pin the layers together.

Using a slightly longer stitch length than normal, stitch around each shape, close to the edge of the freezer paper. (I'm working on the Featherweight because I dropped off the Bernina for service. Vacations are the perfect time to bring machines in for service!)

Overlap your beginning and ending stitches about 1" to lock the stitches, as indicated by the arrows below.

Clip the threads. Cut out the shape with pinking shears, about 1/8 - 1/4" away from the stitching line. I found it easier to see where to cut with the freezer paper still attached. 

Once the shape is cut out, remove the freezer paper.

Aren't they fun? I'm thinking about sewing together the bits and pieces to make scrappy stars.

I was trying to decide how to attach the stars to the ribbon and remembered I have lots of glue dots in my stash leftover from scrapbooking and Girl Scouts. 

The larger dots were perfect for the garland. You can just barely see it through the sheer ribbon at the top of the star.

I used two tiny dots to attach a ribbon for hanging an ornament.

If you don't have any glue dots handy, you can stitch or hot glue the ribbons. If you don't have pinking shears or a pinking blade for your rotary cutter, a straight cut will work just fine.

I'm still tweaking my Africa-theme Christmas mantle. The bows on the carved animals are causing some controversy in the family! Bill spent a year in Liberia when he was a kid. He bought the animals and his parents brought back the wall art made from barbed wire. 

You might not hear from me again for a couple of weeks. Bill and I are leaving soon to meet Julia in Tanzania. I suspect there will be more animals to add to the mantle, and there will certainly be lots of fabric to add to the stash! (Be on the lookout for a fabric giveaway before Christmas!) If I find a decent internet connection, I'll try to blog while we are away.

(See you later)

Added 12/3/14: When I decorated the tree last night, I found this cute selvedge star. Apparently, I've made these stars before! This one is actually dated 2008. It was made in a quilt as you go style, stitching together the selvedges and quilting through the batting and backing all at once. If that makes no sense, I can clarify after the trip. I just wanted to show you another option for these ornaments.