Monthly Block – December (just under the wire)

Ahhhhhhhh. I MADE IT THROUGH DECEMBER! Like I said last month, this time of year is ridiculously busy for a long arm quilter. Add in family that wants to spend time together and suddenly there is NO time left for projects.

I panicked about this project last week and tried to work with the panel I’d picked out (see last post). No go. Changed my plan to this:

December plan b

December plan b

Gray, blue and sashing between a set of 4 blocks, because I LOVE how the pinwheels show and really wanted to include them.

As I wasn’t sure what I’d use as that center, I looked through my stash and found this pinkish red and gray, so I switched out the main color. Once I measured the flowers, I saw I needed to not only fussy cut them (blech), but I also needed to make the blocks bigger.

bigger blocks, fatter arrows

bigger blocks, fatter arrows

I also wanted the arrows to REALLY come out, so I changed the ratio and made that center strip wider, for a fatter arrow.

Once the blocks came together, I was sorely disappointed at how the arrows looked. They really just didn’t pop out!

pinwheel fail

pinwheel fail

I did like how the creamy sashing popped out, but didn’t love the quilt (except the colors). So I decided to take the left over strips, cut a few more and make a piano key border with the flower fabric in the corners.

December border

December border

I LOVE how it turned out with this border. If I wasn’t exhausted I might have added another round of the cream sashing to the outside of the piano keys. But I was done so here it is :). I think it’s really amazing how spending a bit of extra time on the border completely turned around how I felt about this quilt!

December quilt

December quilt

Now, I know this began as a 12 month challenge, but the thing is, I have 2 more planned that I feel compelled to make. But I ALSO have a challenge already set for 2015. That will take a while to execute, so I may continue sharing this project as long as it interests me :).

Happy quilting my friends. And Happy New Year!

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

October:

October quilt

October quilt

November:

November quilt top

November quilt top

And December:

December quilt

December quilt

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! Or change the setting, add alternating blocks even! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

 

 

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December quilt is coming, and so is 2015 challenge!

OK fans! I had a plan when I made November’s quilt for what December’s quilt would become. HOWEVER….. I changed it.

the plan

the plan

FOR GOOD reason I SWEAR! I had a panel planned out! I bought it, measured it, planned the blocks around it, found (and even bought) coordinating colors for the parts, and was about to get to work on it.

coordinating fabrics

coordinating fabrics

Then I realized how difficult these measurements were becoming. Trying to make a panel that is three wide, each piece measuring 23″ tall by 14.5″ wide, work with a block that is 9.5″ unfinished is VERY tedious. I tried to figure it out with sashing, with separating the panels, changing the size of the block or skooching in the panels, none of it worked.

the panel

the panel

Needless to say, I realized this just wasn’t going to work. Sooooo, I wondered to myself what do I do now?

My wheels are already turning on next years project, so I wanted to go with something bold, but something that was still different from previous months. I know what the setting is going to be this time, I just had to pick my colors.

I decided to do a darkish red and gray, and found a perfect big red flower on a gray background that made a perfect center. But the flower is bigger than the normal block center size. So I changed the scale for this month. AND I changed something else (but you’ll have to wait and see!)

I’ve got my pieces cut, and still a few days to get them together. It will be AWESOME! Just wait a few more days and I’ll post it!

XO

Fun Little Project!

Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah or Seasons Greetings, take your pick. Personally I celebrate Christmas, so that’s always my first thought this time of year.

Well, I still have December’s monthly block quilt to create, but I do have it planned out. I didn’t bring it with me, so that will have to come together when I get back to my sewing machine!

But when I finally finished my customer quilts with a Christmas due date, I had a bit of time to do something FUN.

Blueberry Pie Hot Pad

Blueberry Pie Hot Pad

My friend at the quilt shop the weekend before had shown me a photo of a fruit pie potholder she was going to make for some gifts (sorry, I’m sharing this a little late for that, probably). I immediately fell in love with the idea and had to take it on as well. I bought the rick rack and berry fabric and when I had that bit of time I went to it.

The photo shared with me had a pie tin (silver fabric) along the outside, creating a circle edge. I didn’t love the look of that, so I did it my own way. I took a pie tin and cut out a circle of the berry fabric and cut a 9″ square of batting and Insulbright. I used a scrap piece of tan fabric for the back that was large enough to put up on my long arm machine (because that’s how I roll yo).

I had these scraps of marble fabric in a gold color, which matched the rick rack (too light and the pie would have looked unbaked). I trimmed them to as large as I could, and sewed them wrong sides together to make a long tube. I ironed the seam open so it was on the bottom side and then cut the tube and made lattice on the top of the pie. I then wove the lattice and set it in positions I thought it looked tasty.

And then I pinned it. I hate pinning. I put it on the long arm and did a little wavy line within each piece of crust on the lattice on each side of the lattice to keep it down.

Then I trimmed my pie and (ugh) pinned again so the binding was folded over from back to front, twice so the raw edge was hidden completely. Sewed that down.

Then I had to pin (GRRRRRR) the rick rack on top and I zig zag stitched that down, and then straight stitched the inner edge of it down too. I stitched over the raw edge of it where the rick rack came together and BOOM done.

That’s it!

I’m so addicted to this cuteness that I bought THREE yards of this plum fabric to make more!

Plum fabric

Plum fabric

I can get my hands on cranberries, raspberries and I found mixed berry fabric online. It’s harder than you’d think to find fruit fabric without stems, peels or background print! I’ll be making more of these for some craft shows and you will DEFINITELY see them in my Etsy store sometime soon!

Next Year’s Challenge

This year’s challenge is almost over, and I’m happy to say that I have December’s quilt planned, as well as a bonus quilt for January! Once I get through Christmas rush I will be able to get December’s top actually completed.

In fact, I need to get them finished AND quilted! I have several speaking engagements scheduled over the next year and a half for my new program = One Block, 12 Quilts. That will be the result of this experiment! I’m very excited for it!

Part of the program will be using different batting and quilting densities so the audience can see and feel the difference in drape, thickness, heaviness and look of quilts made with different types of batting. Should be fun, once I get it all worked out!

SO!!! While I was working at the quilt shop today, one of my friends asked me what I’m going to do for next year. ummmm…… I don’t know.

I hadn’t even THOUGHT about it yet, but that was such a great question! After what I’ve learned this year and have shared, I can’t just go into next year without another one!

I gave some thought to making a quilt in different colors every month, but I don’t think that is interesting enough. Maybe every month I make a scrap quilt. THAT is doable, could result in VERY different looks and styles EVERY month, and best of all, would help me use my scraps (which seem to be procreating every time I turn around).

Anything in particular you’d like to see?

 

turnaround time

I’m posting about this specifically because of a phone call I received today (12/4).

The caller had been referred from the local quilt shop (at which I work part time), because they knew I do a good job making t-shirt quilts. She asked if I could make some for her.

She needed six – five large lap size and one baby size. I told her I could cut her a deal for so many quilts and quoted her a price.

Because she hadn’t mentioned the timeframe, I asked if she wanted them by Christmas (remember the date above)…

She said, “That would be nice…”

Um, no.

Why not, you may ask?

Realistically, making that many t-shirt quilts would take me about 2 weeks without interspersing any other work. Just working on those. ONLY. And I work fast.

At present, I have 3 lap and a king sized t-shirt quilt to make start to finish prior to Christmas, as well as 5 quilts to quilt and 3 to bind in that same timeframe.

I have planned out my workload, and I know I can complete all these projects. I could even fit in a few more quilting jobs (no more t-shirt quilts though). Instead maybe I should just enjoy the time after I finish and work on charity projects.

So when people ask why it takes so long to get their job back from the quilter, here is why:

They have a backlog of work, in most every case. As an example, there was a day last month that I (literally) took in 10 jobs in one day. TEN. Those were not all easy all-over jobs. That included many custom jobs, very large quilts. So in one single day, my backlog grew by 3 weeks.

Three weeks? Yes. Three weeks because one quilt may have taken a day, but if I had an appointment here and there that caused me half days, that took away from my timeframe. And if a quilt was custom or potentially difficult, I would estimate it for 2-3 days, depending on the size.

Why so long? What happens if I under estimate the time it takes for my jobs to be completed????? How would you feel as my customer if I told you it would take 3 weeks and 5 weeks later you are sitting there wondering why I haven’t called you? What if you had a deadline like Christmas and I hadn’t called you?

So when you plan to have a quilter make something for you or even just quilt something for you (because you need to plan in the time afterwards to bind it), remember that they have work from other people in queue, and you will have to wait your turn. Some of us will pull you forward but charge you overtime or rush fee, but understand that the busiest times of the year are October – December and April – June.

I did a study on my business for the last 5 years. 42% of my income comes from the 4th quarter of the year on average. 21% comes from the three months prior to traditional graduation.

So if you are planning on a special t-shirt quilt for someone, try to plan ahead to ensure your quilter has plenty of time to get your gift back to you before your event.