Monday, February 18, 2013

xmas in february: santa in the sky {with diamonds}

Or, what happens when you accidentally use a horizontal (vs diagonal, agh!) measurement for a strip-pieced Lone Star and find yourself with half a star just days before the jolly old man is due to land on your rooftop. Needless to say, this design was more a product of creative necessity than careful planning. Details, details -- clearly I overlooked some important ones here ;)

The idea for this quilt came about in early December, which is about the time of year my husband chimes in about my grinchy-ness.  (It's not that I don't like Christmas; I just prefer Thanksgiving.)

In any event, this quilt was an attempt to add some (apparently lacking) holiday cheer to the {no} hats household.  You see, this being our daughter's very first Christmas, I thought that we could start a tradition of laying out a picnic for Santa every Christmas Eve right before her bedtime:  milk and cookies, naturally, but also some bread, cheese, small plates, and who knows, maybe even some mulled wine to warm up the big guy on those cold winter nights.  Lucky Santa ;)

Of course, to set up Santa's lovely picnic, we would need a picnic blanket, right?  But not just any old blanket...  No no, Santa would need his very own special picnic blanket in rich reds and snowy creams.  So I sketched what I believed would be an enormous Lone Star quilt, and in the usual holiday rush I hastily cut the fabric and started strip-piecing like mad.  Then, when it finally came time to re-cut the sewn fabric into diagonal strips, I quickly realized that I had grossly underestimated my initial cuts:  instead of the anticipated yield of eight strips per panel, I was lucky to get five.  Oh dear.

Now, what to do with the scraps... Maybe some placemats, coasters, and napkins for Mr. Claus's meal?

By that point, I was too far into the process to go back to square one (i.e., cut+sew+iron+cut just to be caught up), so I returned to sketching instead (which, ironically, is as "square one" as it gets, but that didn't occur to me at the time).  Realizing I had enough sections for at least four full diamonds, I played around with placement options until I finally outlined an oversized argyle-esque sequence.

But it was still missing something... So I grabbed a stack of solids left over from this adventure to figure out which secondary color might add some interest whilst honoring the quilt's seasonal significance.  As far as I could tell, I had two choices:  shades of green, or blue.  So why blue?  Honestly, the former combination seemed (1) too predictable and (2) too Christmassy (I think my husband is right about me).

Finished size will be about 85" x 90".  Plenty big for Mr. Clause, and perhaps even a guest or two ;)

In any event, what I wound up with was a snowy background filled with red --> white {wonky} diamonds bordered in strips of shaded solid blues.  And you know what?  If I may, I have to say I'm quite fond of the result.  Added bonus?  Plenty of straight lines to guide the quilting design ;)

Needless to say, Santa missed out on his picnic.  But I have a good feeling about this year...

Later this week I'll be linking up with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday, freshly pieced's WIP Wednesday, and finish it up Friday hosted by crazy mom quilts. Yay for linky parties ;)  And I know, I know, at first blush it seems inconsistent to label a work in progress as a finish.  But if you don't at least acknowledge the mini-finishes with big quilts, you might never make it to the binding, right?

'Tis the season ;)

Friday, February 15, 2013

[my sister] love[s] [her] all stars

Sonja of Artisania, you may just be my pattern-designing hero.

To give you an idea of how serendipitous this quilt (top) turned out to be, here's a shot of what my incredible sister and her (edited to clarify) awesome boyfriend got my daughter for Christmas...

(The sneakers, not the {super-sweet} unicorn costume).

I just so happened to have stumbled upon this brilliant design last November, so, coincidentally, twenty-three "pairs" of All Stars were wrapped up and waiting for them that day.

I felt like quite the shoemaker, turning out 23 pairs in 24 hrs ;)
Okay, so technically they weren't at the "wrapping" stage, but in some sort of holiday adrenaline rush I managed to paper piece every last sneaker in time to lay them out on the basement floor so they could at least get a glimpse at what was brewing (months later, my fingertips are still recovering).  And I have to admit, having never paper pieced anything before, I was pretty anxious to see how these high tops were coming along, too!

The finished size of the quilt will be about 60" x 80" (side note:  the pattern produces a 52" x 59.5" throw, but I rearranged the sections in photoshop and printed them at ~130% to make it a two-lap sized quilt instead).  I used too many prints to name, and paired them with an antique quilting cotton background.

"I Love My All Stars" --> "My Sister Loves Her All Stars"
Somehow, most of my seasonal sewing took me in a solids-only direction, and I almost went there (yet again!) with this.  But as soon as I saw all those fabrics come together in a sea of blue and cyan, I quickly remembered why I've always been a prints person.  To pay homage to the heavily print-less holiday, however, I did throw in some shades of brown.  Those also helped give this the coastal feel I was going for (we've spent many happy summers together at the beach).

The "beachiest" high top of them all (and quite possibly my favorite!)

What do you think? Sonja's certainly got something special going on, that's for sure!  So thank you for thinking up a pattern so well-suited to my favorite all-stars-loving duo.

Now, all that's left to decide is the quilting design... I tend to default to straight line/echo quilting, so any thoughts are welcome (and appreciated!)

Linking up with finish it up Friday over at crazy mom quilts later today {another first this week ;)}.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

sneak peek: shine bright like {a birthstone}...

Someone's birthday is around the corner, so I've been working away on a little something to celebrate...

The first of many amethysts to spoil the birthday girl.  Now if only I could actually get this done in the month of February ;)

Edited to add:  This is a paper-pieced pattern that I've had in the back of my mind for quite some time now.  After finally coming up with a layout that was (1) less intimidating than a flawlessly faceted princess cut yet (2) still abstractly identifiable (I hope?) as a gemstone (albeit an imperfect one!), I decided to put the pattern to the test with a stack of eight purple solids ranging from lavender to eggplant.  One down, eleven to go ;)

Linking up with Lee over at Freshly Pieced {for the first time!}

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced