Gifts Our Staff Are Making

20171206-gifts-our-staff-are-making-mary-kate-ohio-star

Early in 2017 I set myself the ambitious goal of making four throw quilts for Christmas gifts this year. This seemed possible at the time, considering I had one completed quilt top already.

I had really hoped that by the time I needed to finalize this blog post, which I’ve known about for about a month, I would have at least one completed Christmas gift to show you. Alas, ‘twas not to be. As of this writing, I have completed three of the four quilt tops, and I’m in the process of quilting one and have plans for the other two.

Considering that 1) I still have just under two weeks until the USPS shipping deadline for delivery by December 25, and 2) I could always call these Epiphany gifts, which gives me until New Year’s to finish up, I am still optimistic that I will get at least three quilts finished and gifted by the end of the year.

These quilt tops will look familiar to anyone who’s read some of my blog posts throughout the year. I’m not going to say anything about who they’re for, but perhaps after the holidays I’ll blog again with photos of them in their quilted states and the stories behind my pattern and fabric choices.

Geese in My Kitchen

gifts our staff are making - geese in my kitchenI finished my remake of Geese in My Kitchen in August, which you can read about here. I made my version based on the quilt by Kathryn Patterson that originally was published in McCall’s Quilting’s January/February 2015 issue; you can download the free pattern from our website.

I’m still planning to quilt this using the computerized component on the office Grace Q’Nique longarm machine. Although I love the idea of doing hand-guided quilting for that special personal touch, neither my longarm quilting skills nor my free-motion quilting skills using a domestic machine (more on that later) are all that advanced. And I know myself: I look at all that solid fabric and think, “Oooh, you could do some really cool quilting in those areas.” And maybe ‘you’ could, but I cannot, at least not at this point in the time available to me. So I’ll load it on the longarm this week and let the machine stitch something pretty while I get some work done at my desk.

Project Red Log Cabin

gifts our staff are making - project red log cabinI made this 60” x 60” Log Cabin throw quilt as part of our participation in National Sew a Jelly Roll Day back in September. I used jelly rolls of Sweetwater’s Project Red collection for Moda, which is available in stores this month; you can read about my process here.

I still need a backing for this quilt and want to go back to my local quilt shop where I think I found something that will work. I’ve been mulling options for the quilting—Straight lines? Free motion? Longarm?—and the other day it occurred to me that one big spiral might be just the thing. I like the idea of using the quilting to juxtapose a different shape against the lines created by the piecing, and a spiral would maintain the clean, modern look I was going for with this quilt. Plus, it’s relatively easy to do and would eliminate the need to bury loose thread tails, which I find almost as tedious as pin basting.

Considering all that, I feel confident I can get this quilt finished in time for Christmas.

Ohio Star

gifts our staff are making - ohio starThis is the quilt top that I started out 2017 already having completed. The thing is, it was supposed to be a gift last Christmas. However, once I finished piecing it a scant 50 weeks ago, I realized that I didn’t have the free-motion quilting ability to quilt it the way I wanted. I’ve blogged a few times over the course of this year about practicing and troubleshooting my free-motion quilting skills, and it was all motivated by wanting to finish this quilt.

I’m a big proponent of trying new quilting techniques on what I consider non-precious quilts. I don’t take my own advice often enough apparently, because it’s the precious quilts that tend to languish as UFOs, waiting for the day I think I’m good enough to finish them they way I feel they deserve to be.

With this quilt, though, I know that the Perfect is the enemy of the Finished. And I’m happy to report that my FMQ is acceptable enough in my eyes for me to feel confident about finishing this quilt in the next few days (fingers crossed). I stitched in the ditch between all of the blocks, sashes and borders, and have started quilting continuous-line leaves in the blocks. They’re not great, but I know that once this quilt is washed and in use on a couch or easy chair, uneven stitches or less-than-graceful curves aren’t going to be what’s most important about the quilt.

What’s going to matter the most is that it’s with the intended recipient, one to whom I’ve owed a quilt for a while and one that I think they’ll like quite a bit. It’s that knowledge that is keeping me from ripping out quilting that’s less-than-great.

Quilt to be named later

Right now I’m so focused on trying to finish the three quilts already underway that I’m not too worried about the fourth quilt I’d hoped to finish by Christmas. I’d have loved to have reached my ambitious goal, but I don’t think it’s possible unless I completely ignore my husband, children and house anytime I’m not at work in the next couple of weeks, which I don’t think would go over very well. Could this be an Epiphany gift, though? I do have a pattern picked out and a general color scheme in mind, as well as time off from work the last week of December. Perhaps this will be my first finish of 2018.

So those are the gifts I’m making this year. Preparing for holiday gift-giving is a year-round endeavor for many quilters, and my plans have kept me busy in winter, spring, summer and fall with not too many lapses or loss of my quilting mojo. That alone is a minor Christmas miracle, one that I am grateful to witness.

Okay, everybody, back to work, and good luck with your holiday sewing! We’ve got this!

Mary Kate

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