Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

My mother-in-law collects nativity scenes. We usually visit her on Christmas afternoon with as much of the family as can be there. There is always a sign on the refrigerator: There are 26 (I think that is how many there were last year) nativity scenes around the house. Can you find them all?

At which point all the kids and some of the adults start to scramble to see who can find them all first. It is lots of fun and a good distraction while we wait for Christmas dinner to be served.

These are the nativities on display at my house this year.

My favorite version of the Christmas story is the one told by Linus on the Charlie Brown Christmas show. Linus’ King James version scripture reading from Luke 2: 8-14, read:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Handmade Holidays All Around The House

Handmade decorations will always be my favorite, especially when I know the maker. Here is a little tour of the handmade decorations around my home.

This is probably our oldest handmade decoration. It is my husband's stocking that he made when he was a little boy.

This tree. My mom made this when ceramics were all the rage. This was always my favorite part of decorating when growing up. Plugging this tree in and adding all the lights was when the Christmas season officially started.

I love the simplicity of this cross stitch. This is one of the first handmade Christmas decorations that I made as an adult.

When these Christmas stockings were first made, we were a family of four. The kids helped design their stockings. The additional two were made just in time for their first Christmas.

These Santas are an adaptation from a Nancy Halvorsen pattern. I love the international twist. This was a shop sample. We all selected the fabric, I cut and fused the pieces; Ruhanna hand blanket stitched them all, then passed it back to me for finishing. It is intended to go on a mantel but I drape it over the window in our kitchen.

This snowman table runner is on the coffee table in our living room. It is usually covered with stuff, like remotes and game controllers and such.

This wall hanging is another Nancy Halvorsen project. We start December 1st and add a new piece each day. This was way fun when the kids were younger and excited to count down the days. These days, we find ourselves adding two or three at a time because we forget to do it each day.

This little bag hangs close to the wall hanging and holds all the parts while they wait to be added.

The candles hang by the front door.

This bell hangs on the front door. Here is a tutorial for this project.

Nancy Halvorsen was quite popular when my shop was open. I have lots of projects from her books and fabrics. This card holder is one of my favorite projects.

Another countdown decoration. We keep up with this one fairly well. It is in a spot that gets walked by often.

This special gift was given to me by my friend Holley.  She has many talents and always comes up with special handmade gifts.

Here is another decoration made by Holley. It is a photo album and each page is made with a special paper. There are little tags between the pages to write information about the photos. 

This is one of my scrappy projects. Every holiday needs a set of coasters and a pot holder.

This fun pillow sits in front of our fireplace, when there is not a fire going of course.

This medallion quilt hangs in our dining room turned office. While it is Christmas colors, I forgot to take it down last year so it hung all year round.

Another friend, Judy, made the Santa, and my youngest son decorated the reindeer.

These hang in my entryway. They are all fused down, but never stitched. I'm safe as long as I don't wash them.

These nativity pillows sit under my grandmother's treadle sewing machine.

This quilt and pillow keep us warm and comfy all through the holidays. I see the dog had to get in on the action in the upper right corner.

This is the quilt I made for the Moda Bake Shop earlier this year. The stairway needed something and this quilt works perfectly.

This twisted wreath is the latest addition to the handmade goodness all around the house.

Wow, I did not realize how much handmade there was around my house. I am sure that this collection will continue to grow over the years. Are any of your holiday decorations handmade?

Thank you for being here with me this year. This may be my last post until the new year. I might try to sneak in one more but I may find myself enjoying time with my family. As the kids have grown, we are not often all together anymore. Everyone will be home for Christmas and I want to enjoy every moment of that time. I wish you all peace and joy as the year comes to a close. 

We will have lots of fun quilting together in the new year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Star Wars Scarves: A Quick Gift Project

After making some Star Wars pillowcases, there was leftover Star Wars fabric. It took a while to figure out something fast to make, but then I remembered seeing several good scarf tutorials. There wasn't enough fabric to use for the full side of a scarf but there was enough for accents. I also wanted something really soft, so black minkee was the perfect choice for the body of the scarf.
Minkee is a wide fabric at 60 inches, so I cut a 13 inch panel across the width of the fabric. Then I cut two pieces from the Star Wars fabric 4 inches x 13 inches and turned under a quarter inch on the top long side and pressed it.
The Star Wars fabric was laid on the top of each end of the minkee and then the turned under edge was top stitched to the minkee. I wanted the whole scarf to have the weight and feel of the minkee so that is why I stitched it on top of the minkee rather than adding it to the end.
After that, the scarf was folded in half across the long edge with right sides together. The edges were stitched closed except for an opening near the center so that the scarf could be turned right side out. Once it was turned, the opening was top stitched closed.
It is just the right length and says Star Wars without being too obnoxious about it.
The first scarf I made used fabric with yellow letters. It was a little too loud and too wide for what I wanted. I like the subtle look much better.
Four more gifts ready to wrap and put under our tree. While the first scarf took a little longer to make as I was figuring out the measurements I wanted to use, the last two scarves went together in about fifteen minutes each. I will definitely keep this project in mind for future years. This wraps up my gift sewing for this year. Hope you are nearing the end of yours, too.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times. Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, and Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Thoughtful Sunday #12

Most of the time, thoughtful Sunday comes from something I have pinned over on Pinterest.

This week it comes from one of my coworkers, Ashley, who gifted me with this perfect thought on a ceramic tile. Thanks, Ashley!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Anticipating The New Year

My favorite holiday of the year is New Year's Day. I know I'm a little ahead but I'm already in that mode. Really, every day is a new day and a fresh start and I wake up excited about that each morning. We never know what will happen and the surprise of it all, good and bad, is what keeps me going. Welcoming the new year is just a great big version of how I try to approach each day. It's fun and exciting and full of hope.

With that in mind, the sewing has slowed down a bit while the planning is taking over. Here is a sampling of projects I have ready to start up very soon.

Machine quilting practice. There are lot of blocks left from a Block of the Month class I took at Craftsy a few years ago. They make the perfect practice pieces for machine quilting. You may even see these before the year is done. I was browsing quilting motifs for these just this morning.

Several years ago, I published a few patterns. I intend to re-release some of them next year, but before I do, they need some serious updating. The layout, the instructions, the pictures... everything needs freshening up.

I've been wanting to make a hexie mini quilt for a while now. These cut out templates are as far as I have gotten. This project is near the top of the list.

I'm hoping to share a series of quilts with you in the new year that are inspired by other art forms. It may be a short series, as it hasn't been easy to get explicit permission from many artists, but I'll go with what I have to start with and we'll see if more come through as the year goes on.

Have you heard about the Moda Sampler Block Shuffle? Many quilt shops are offering these. A few are published each week and are only available for a short time. They are free and the series continues through January. I am getting mine from Intown Quilters. This Charley Harper cardinal print may become the focus fabric for this project.

This will become a machine quilted text quilt. Only I will not use those letters. I will print some bigger ones before beginning this project. I learned that lesson after my first attempt with this technique.

There are other projects in the works, too. I can't reveal all of my secrets! It's going to be a great quilt making year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Give A Little Bit

As I was making all those Dresden Candle Mat/Mug Rugs this past week, I had a lot of time to think about all the people who had an impact on my life these past twelve months. And if I could give each and every one of those people (even the ones who I never even knew their name) something, how many gifts would I give? It was a really high number, and I am thankful for all those people.

At home, we each post a list of things we want on the refrigerator so it is much easier to know just the right thing to put a smile on each face.

My husband wrote "world peace" on his list. Of course he did not really think anyone would give that to him, but I'm not one to back away from a gift giving challenge.

On my list, I wrote "experiences over things". I have become very aware this year of how much stuff gets in the way of seeing what is really important. Giving is a way to satisfy both of those requests, even if in a small way.

And I can't think about giving without thinking about this awesome Supertramp song and these perfect lyrics:

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
I'll give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my love to you
There's so much that we need to share
So send a smile, and show you care

I'll give a little bit
I'll give a little bit of my life for you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your time to me
See the man with the lonely eyes
Oh, take his hand, you'll be surprised

In the midst of all that sewing, and thinking, and singing, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

One of the blogs I follow, The Minimalists, recently posted about an organization they were supporting, The Hope Effect.

I am giving to The Hope Effect. As a tiny step toward world peace. As an experience. As appreciation for each of you and every other person who has touched my life this year.

Here is a link to the page over at The Minimalists. Help support The Hope Effect by making a donation. Thanks so much for your generosity.

Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dresden Candle Mat Mug Rug Gifts

This post contains affiliate links.

There has been a whole lot of Dresden going on this week. I saw a cute stack of Dresden mug rugs on Pinterest and decided that I wanted to make some for gifts.

I had part of a Moda Jelly Roll left from another project. It is the HoHoHo collection by Deb Strain.

EZ International Easy Dresden Tool

The Easy Dresden ruler makes the job of cutting Dresdens super easy. If you are interested in purchasing your own Easy Dresden Ruler, clicking the picture and link above will take you directly to the Craftsy site. I highly recommend this tool.

As I was making them, I thought of more and more people that I wanted to give something to. I decided that I would make as many dresdens as I had fabric. When sewing them to form the points, I chain pieced them. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the pile when I was finished. Cutting them apart was a bit awkward until I figured out that I could lay them in rows on my ironing board and go down the line with my scissors, snipping them apart.

At first, I organized them four at a time. It takes twenty wedges to make one Dresden block. They look pretty all lined up in a row.

Here are the first four. Once I got this far, I knew I would finish them all.

After the first four, I sorted all the wedges by color and made them one at a time.

It is amazing how different each one looks. Once all the wedges were sewn, there were 25 Dresdens.

To finish them, there is a felt circle covering the open hole and another piece of felt behind the Dresden as background. The circle is stitched down as well as the points around the Dresden.

I was hoping to show you a finished stack of 25 Dresden mug rugs, but I didn't quite get finished. The ones on the front right just need to be trimmed and I will get to that today. While most of them have a red center and background, there are a few greens, and even one black in there. It was all about the supplies I had on hand.

Looking forward to finishing these in the next couple of days and gifting them next week to some very deserving people. I wish I could have made a hundred. Hope your holiday sewing is just as much fun as mine is.

Purchase your own EZ Dresden Tool here:

EZ International Easy Dresden Tool
Linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and Monday Making at Love Life Quilt. Also linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.
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