Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Finish-A-Long :: Q4 Finishes Link-Up

2016 button 250 best

Hard to believe, but it's time for the 4th quarter of the 2016 FAL to come to a close. Your global hosts have so enjoyed hosting the FAL this year. Thank you for sewing along with us!
Before we link up our Q4 finishes, a huge thank you to our fantastic and generous sponsors:

The 2016 Q4 link for your finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs. You only need to link on one blog for your finish to appear on each blog. Here are the link-up "rules":
  • Add one link for each finish. If you want to link a round up post of all your finishes, use that link to enter one of your finishes and then link the rest of your finishes separately. Please, only one link per finish, as your link is an entry into the randomly drawn prize draws.
  • Please include the 2016 FAL button or the hashtag #2016FAL in your posts.
  • Please ensure that the photo or blog post you link up contains a link or reference back to your original list so that we can verify your entry.
  • Consider becoming part of the FAL community by perusing the links of others and commenting. We all need encouragement so let's applaud each other. The 2016 FAL Facebook page is here and do follow us on Instagram @finishlong as well. Tag your photos #2016fal and #falq2yourname (substitute your name). This makes it easy for us to match your finishes with your lists. 
  • Note that our hosts will also link their finishes to share in the community, but they are not eligible for prizes.
The Q4 finishes link will stay open from now thru January 7, 2017. Link up your finishes early and if you have a last minute one, add that one later so you don't miss out. The prizes will be awarded as soon as we can verify all the entries and do the drawings, and the winners will be posted on each host's blog.

Stay tuned for the details for the 2017 FAL. We have another great global community of hosts, some continuing and many joining us for the first time. And start making your Q1 lists for the 2017 FAL, as the Q1 list link opens on January 8, 2017! Another year means more fun and even more finishes!

From the Maker

As always, the #2016bestnine and the Best of 2016 don't tell the whole story, not the real story as the maker knows it. Which is why I'm always compelled, at the year's end, to glance back and look for what I liked best, those creations that are so much more than a pretty quilt.... those that have struggle and wonder and pride stitched into them.

Though I usually post several tutorials a year, those I especially enjoyed this year were a handful of improv block tutorials - with which both Faith Circle and Seattle MQG made giving quilts. I liked that.

Some of my very favorite sewing has been when I sewed just to see where an idea would take me. Those times can be where I doubt myself the most, but when things turn out, they are some of the most satisfying.

And then there was Crosscut. What started out as bee swap blocks turned into more FUN exploration, and even my hosting my first Instagram sew-along. Talk about good times! 

There were other shining moments....
  • Dabbling in improv more than ever before. I start to crave it when it's been too long, and though sometimes unsettling, it has brought alot of joy to my sewing.
  • Mod Mood winning first place in the group category at QuiltCon! That was one terrific day for Bee Sewcial, and for me.
  • And then selling my first quilt. It wasn't a goal necessarily, but it was a landmark moment just the same.
  • The Scrap Basket newletter, which goes mostly out into a quiet void, but the readership continues to grow and I hear affirmation from a consistent bunch.
  • Sharing That One Last Step, encouraging others to do their finished quilts the honor of a proper photoshoot. It's such a good thing.
  • Adding to my sewing machine family, which has done so much to help me improve my machine quilting
There's more of course. So much more that has made this one terrific year of creating and community. But it's what comes to mind in this moment, and it's certainly more than enough.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Relatively Subtle

The last challenge of the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club 2016 was by Carolyn Friedlander - Project Overwhelm: Organization and Palette Cleansers. Not that one can't always use some improvement, but I feel pretty good about my organization. Between my Quilter's Planner and the good ole OneNote app, I'm able to keep fairly on top of my projects. And honestly, I've long known that Carolyn's idea of a "palette cleanser" project is the best way to both take a breather and refresh before getting back to the to-do list.

I seriously didn't have a spare moment for a palette cleanser during the last couple of weeks, but it was just what I needed once that secret sewing was done, Christmas celebrated, and a short break in the day job opened up. I gathered some scraps and a penciled design from my sketch book, and set to piecing. Super simple, I went through the motions that by now are nearly second-nature. Quilting was done in several colored threads with a relaxing yet satisfying organic straight-line, and happily, I found a perfectly plaid binding in my stash.

The entire mini - measuring 17" x 17", just like the rest of my Mighty Lucky challenge quilts - took just a few hours and was like a breath of fresh air, and precisely what I expect Carolyn had in mind.

And with that, my year of Mighty Lucky Quilting Challenges is complete. Whoa. There were a few favorites and a couple where I forced myself to give it a go. But overall, it was a good experience. I'm glad I keep the projects small, and the uniformity of size helped me focus. And there are definitely some techniques that I want to revisit in future work.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: January - "Pantone Meets Bias Tape" with Krista Fleckenstein ~ February - "Scrap Leather" with Season Evans ~ March - "So Wrong It's Gotta Be Right" with Rossie Hutchinson ~ April - "Worth 1000 Words" with Alison Glass ~ May - "Flutterby" with Amy Gibson ~ June - "just take it one stitch at a time" with Angela Walters ~  July - "Singleton" with Cheryl Arkison ~ August - "A Little Punchy" with Sarah Fielke ~ September - "Space" with Jacquie Gering ~ October - "DIY Embroidery" with Nichole Voglesinger ~ November - "Effective Fabric Selection" with Amanda Jean Nyberg ~ December - "Relatively Subtle" with Carolyn Friedlander

Mighty Lucky Quilting Club, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What the Numbers Say

After last year, I really wasn't too surprised at the results when I ran through which of my blogposts this year had the most views [excluding giveaways]. I was doing the bit of research in order to join Cheryl/Meadow Mist DesignsBest of 2016 Linky Party. What I found again, was finished quilt posts did not garner the most attention overall. So here's the results, listed by highest views.

The Crosscut Blocks tutorial brought the highest by far (over three times more than any other post). I gotta say, that made me pretty happy, as the #crosscutquiltalong was as much fun as anything else this year. Truth told, I'd love to do something else like it again in the new year, so if you have ideas what that might look like, do share.

Next were actually 2 related posts. First, 6 Tips for Making Zipper Pouches Easier and Neater ....

and then.... Metal Zips 3 Ways, which was actually the first post of the pair.

Another tutorial, the Improv Layered Circle came next. I used this technique first in my Baconrific quilt, and then for a Bee Sewcial bee "block," which is pictured.

And the last of the 'top 5' was 10 Tips to Instant Sewing, a really personal post actually, that came about at a friend's request. The tips I shared are still ones I live by every week.

So on one hand, as a quilter, it's interesting that finished quilts aren't what folks are most interested in. On the other hand, it confirms we quilters like to do a variety of sewing; and tutorials do encourage folks to try new things, to hone their skills, to move forward. And I'm all for that!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tuesday at the Table

Slice-and-bake cookies are now my current favorite. After the success of the World Peace Cookie last week, I fully intended to make them again for Christmas. Hubby foiled my plan though, by setting out ingredients for Pepperminty Chocolate Sugar Cookies ala Savory Spice. We'd gotten some Black Onyx Chocolate Sugar as a gift, and I had to admit, the cookies sounded pretty good.

To pair with them, I tried another Dorie Greenspan recipe, her Vanilla Bean Sables, which I rolled in colored crystallized sugar. Both were delish, and so handy to prep ahead and then bake off Christmas Eve morning. It was a good thing.

Monday, December 26, 2016

More Maker's

Ever since I made myself a Maker's Tote last summer, I've been wanting to make one for
daughter dear. But Rachel and I never really got together to settle on fabrics for hers, so months later, it occurred to me to make one for her for Christmas. I did quiz her about some of her current fabrics (Do you think she had a hunch what I was up to?), then chose several coordinates for her bag. In doing so, a lightbulb went on, and I knew I had to make a bag for grandgirl too.

With Anna/noodlehead's Maker's Tote coming in two sizes, it was perfect to personalize for my two girls. All of the fabrics I chose were from Cotton + Steel - Rachel's was made with three prints from Rashida Coleman-Hale's Raindrop; Lucy's with C+S Basics. Both were accented with Essex Linen.

I knew from the first time that taking one step at a time with these bags would be the way to go, and with the Christmas rush at home and at work, that definitely proved to be true.

Rather than searching around town, I ordered the zippers needed from ZipperStop. Metal zips aren't specified in the pattern, but I really love them for these bags. I was a tad wiggly with the exterior zippers for no apparent reason. And those main zippers may look tricky but are not at all. I love Anna's technique with the bit of trim covering the zipper edge. It looks great and is easily executed.

I'll show both bag interiors so you get a peek at the accent fabrics and those interior pockets - two kinds - which really add to the bag's functionality.

It's the gussets - which totally make the bag stand well - which were the trickiest part of these bags for me. Totally doable, yes, but still a tad finicky. And though I'm not a frequent user of wonder clips, they are so handy in this case.

But gussets and all, I'm so glad I tackled these as my main gift-sewing this year. Though mine has been perfect for my intended use - as a "ready to go and sew" bag to take to sew-ins, retreats, or other times I sew away from home, I'm pretty sure Rachel will be using hers for her knitting. Lucy out-right told me, she'll be using hers for her dolls. Which is all well and good. This tote is just plain perfect for makers and more!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!