Thursday, 31 December 2015

Best of 2015

I am jumping on the Best of 2015 bandwagon. 

Cheryl at Meadow Mist designs is hosting a linky party which is a great way to see what other quilt bloggers have been up to this year: Best posts, best quilts...

I already started my visit, and discovered a few new bloggers.  I intend to go back for more.

As for my own "Best of 2015", it was an easy choice.  As much as I like making little things: pillows, lanyards and other knick knacks, there is nothing quite like finishing an actual quilt and this year, I finished five of them, so that is what I am presenting to you.

Here they are, in reverse order.  Click on the pictures to get to the blog post.
1 - My most recent finished, the Not-So-Quiet Christmas Quilt, inspired by Amanda Jean's Quiet Christmas Quilt.  I love the look of simple squares!

2 - Happy Quilt - a bright and sunny parting gift for a wonderful lady that was a ray of sunshine for one of my kids.

3 - A baby quilt just because I love to play with colourful scraps.  I also love this picture with kids sledding in the background... one of the reasons to love snow!

4 - Have I mentioned I love simple squares? Here is another baby quilt.  It was really nice to play with a limited colour palette.

5 - And last but definitely not least, the biggest quilting accomplishment of the year... four years in the making... a handquilted full size quilt for my daughter. 

It's been a great year - quilt-wise and otherwise.  I did not make any quilty resolution as evidenced by this early January post, and that kind of worked for me :
"As for 2015?  It's a blank page.  While I do have a few things in the back of my mind that I'd like to do, I will refrain from writing them down.  Just go with the flow and see where that leads me..."
I am pleased with the quilts I made, and the time I spent with quilting with friends.  More of that to come in 2016!

Off I go see what others have been up to in 2015!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Gifts... or how to pretty-up somthing ugly

Any guess what those are?

First, a story.

My kids are blessed with grandparents who enjoy spending time with them, attending music recitals and watching them play sports.  This means they spend a lot of time in cold rinks.

A couple years ago, my husband gave me an ugly "hot seat" to sit on at the rink.  He didn't buy the ugly one on purpose... they all are!  As much as I like being all warm and cozy, I just could not walk into the arena with a thing that said "Lava Buns" on it, so I made a cover for it.


I enjoy the seat, but when the grandparents show up, I usually offer it to one of them. So this year, for Christmas, the grandparents got their own hot seats.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present you "Heat-A-Seat".  I guess the Lava Buns wasn't so ugly after all.  These things are hideous.  What were they possibly thinking?

So of course, I had to make covers for them.

I went for simple.  No piecing, single fabric, just quilted on one side, a zippered back, and a handle to carry them.  I used up some batik that I love, but doesn't really go with anything.  With this red one, I quilted wavy lines.  I guess I should have used a contrasting thread because you can barely see the quilting:

I won't bother showing a close up of the blue one.  I quilted a spiral using - you guessed it - blue thread, and you can't see it at all.

After a short evening of work, two seat covers were done!  I included convenient handles to transport them.

The perfectionists among you might notice that the covers are not really "fitted" and the sides are a bit loose.  This was necessary because the seats expand a bit when you sit on them.

It so felt good to dress up these ugly orange things, I had to take a picture of the "zipping up" maneuver!

Bye bye ugly seat.  Hello, elegant to sitting at the rink.  These will be put to good use very soon.  Go team!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

More little things

I have been busy making little things...

1) A Birthday Pillow

I asked the mom for the boys favourite colours: Blue, Red and Green.  Can you see the issue, here?  The issue is that I have LOTS of fabric, but virtually nothing that is appropriate for a 6 year old boy in red, blue or green.  Lots of girly flowers, some toddler-friendly prints and geometrics might be boring to a small child.

In the end, I went with the letter print, which, admittedly, may not "age" that well, but should be OK for a couple years.  For the letters, I went with a solid minty green because I wanted the name to really stand out and it was the colour that offered the best contrast.

The backing is one of those that would have been great for a younger child, but has been given the stamp of approval from my own 6 year old.

For the quilting, I loved doing wavy lines in a variegated thread.  I did make one strategic mistake: I should have quilted under the name before I appliqué'd the letters.  But the nice thing about making pillows for 6 year olds is that they don't give a hoot about quilting mishaps.

2) Frozen Pillowcases

A friend needed two "Frozen" things - anything - and I had Frozen yardage and no specific plans to use it, so I offered to make her two pillowcases.  She is a good baker... I may ask her to pay me in cookies.  Win-win!

Let it go... let it goooooooooooo.  Bet you have that song in your head now!  You're welcome!

3) Another Lanyard

When I gave a lanyard in my office charity auction, two colleagues from my section bid on it, but were outbid by an "outsider" from another section.  I "coincidentally" drew one of these colleagues names for Secret Santa...  All that's missing is a little coffee card to round things up...

Still have not found the ideal way to photograph these

I have many more little things to make before Christmas...  Do you?

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas Forest

For all of you who are here to see quilts, there aren't any in this post.  I am hijacking my own quilting blog to talk about Christmas trees at the Running Thimble household. It's pretty serious business... we don't do just one... we like to do a forest.

Don't feel like reading a long post?  Just scroll down to the bottom if you just want to see my 2015 Christmas forest.

Otherwise, follow me while I am reminiscing...

Looking at my very first Christmas tree, you might not guess that I come from a long line of Christmas tree enthusiasts...    I mean, this is a pretty boring tree.  What was my mom thinking?  mmm... Probably had to do with the fact that she had two kids barely in school and a three-month.  Or maybe she was just trying to preserve her sanity before Santa came with a drum set and a play oven...

My First Christmas - quite oblivious to the Christmas Tree

Me?  I'm happy with a clown stuffy and oblivious to the ho-hum tree.

I can remember our trees being pretty standard in my early childhood.  All but one year, they were artificial, but by the 80s we began to add a village, and then a second tree, something my mom used to do with her own mother.

Here is one of the last "single" trees - from 1981.  Not a forest yet, but you can see where this is heading...

1981 -  How about that "baby doll" pajamas/nightgown...

Moving on to 1989 version, a renovation had left a very odd corner in our living room, a perfect place to set up the trees.  A funny story is that when the house was sold, the buyers bought without having seen what was on the other side of the trees because they showed up in December and wanted the house by early January.  There was no way these trees were coming down!


Notice the "sky" in the back...  We only did that for a few years before the house was sold, and I have been meaning to do one ever since.

Moving on to 1999.   I was now out on my own and decorated my own tree(s) but never thought of taking pictures.  I usually spent Christmas at my mom's and she would wait for me to put up her trees.  In this picture below, the nativity scene, the houses, the tree toppers are all from my grandmother's, as well as some of the ornaments.

At my mom's - 1999

A few years later, I was just dating my husband and he asked me if I wanted to put up the Christmas tree with him.   Hee hee hee... he had no idea what was about to happen!  Well, at least, it was full disclosure.  When he proposed a month later, he knew what he was getting into!

Fast forward a few years...



We don't have a picture of the 2006... but I have very specific recollection of the day we set up the forest.  We were decorating the trees until about 5:30 that afternoon, and my second child was born at 7:17pm ...

2007 someone's excited


The smaller tree (not counting miniatures) used to be decorated in blue green and silver, and the bigger one in red, gold and everything else.  By 2010, I have thee kids and they all love to make ornaments... the big tree is starting to get a little full... 


More kids ornaments!  I don't keep all their art projects, but Christmas ornaments?  Can't throw them out.


Yup, more kids ornaments! Most of them are quite sweet, some are really beautiful and others... well, they are all made with lots of love.

I decide it's time for another tree.  I moved the red and gold ornaments to another tree, and kept the kids ornaments and other family ornament in the middle.

My husband decides it's time for a train...


And the forest is growing...


I am officially a tree-a-holic.  We're taking over the living room!  I am no longer able to tuck in the train set....   I have also devised a solution to keep those lovely kids ornaments out of my forest without throwing them away...  Kids get their own Christmas tree!

2014 - kids get their own tree

They love to help, but I am not quite ready to give up control on the appearance of my forest, so the kid tree is a win-win situation.  I don't even care if the ornaments are all on one side, or only at their eye level!

Meanwhile in the living room... yup!  another tree.  I kept the coloured themes: red/gold, silver/blue and moved the green with some pink ornaments I somehow acquired.  The one on the far left looks a little bare, but that's because it is exclusively decorated with my grandmother's ornaments.


Which brings us to today...

I have a new tree - again, but only to replace one that is not in good shape.  I think I have pretty much reached my limit in terms of the number of trees but... I finally got around to do a "sky" like I've always wanted.  White lights, sheer blue curtains, and some batting to form the clouds.


And that, friends, is my 2015 Christmas Forest.  And see that empty space on the floor in front of the trees on the right?  Gotta leave some space for the presents, right?

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Little Things - Received and Given

A lady at work makes these wonderful and intricate ornament (as well as doilies and other things) by hand.  It's called "tatting".  I had never heard of tatting before, and in fact, I am not even sure how to use the word... Is it the method?  The result? The process?  What do you call the person who makes it?

Looks great in my tree

Anyway, she had her work station area decorated with those and when I commented on how nice they looked, she told me she was selling them.  My jaw dropped when she told me the price...

No, they were not too expensive.  Quite the opposite.  She sells them for next to nothing! It barely covers the cost of her supplies and, as a fellow crafter, I can appreciate how much work goes into them so I just could not in all good conscience just give her the price she was asking, so instead, I offered to make something for her as a trade.

She took me up on my offer but did not ask for anything specific.  "Just make what you want", she said.  So I made her an infinity scarf in Fall colours - her favourite:

And I added a little mug rug:

I did make a third thing for her, which I will give her as soon as I find it.  It mysteriously disappeared somewhere in my sewing room as soon as it was done.  Time to do a major clean up in there!
I really enjoy sewing little things to give as gifts (or in this case, as an exchange), especially if the recipient is a crafter who values hand work.  I have a few more to make for Christmas.  What about you?  Are you busy making little things this holiday season?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Binding Audition

I finished quilting my scrappy mountains, and now it's time to pick a binding.  I think this quilt calls for a medium to dark binding, but should I go scrappy, or not?

Here are a few choices.  I'd love to get your opinion.

1. I picked up this fabric for a song at my guild's yard sale - It is a bit pale for my liking, but it goes with everything (including the backing which I will reveal later)

 2 -  Of all the colours of the red family, from orange to pink to burgundy, this rust colour is my least favourite, but I really like the print, and I remember buying it thinking "it would make a fantastic binding".  Do you agree?

3 - I initially had in mind a dark binding, and have a few browns in this quilt, so I dug out this old civil war reproduction print that I have no plans for.  It might be a bit harsh compared to some of the brighter colours, but it does frame the quilt well.

4 - If I want to go bright, I have this red (which is also in the quilt) as well as a few similar ones to chose from.  I am a big fan of red, but somehow I am not feeling the love... Too busy?

What 's your favourite?  I include a photo of the top... feel free to make another suggestion if you feel inspired.  Lots of colours to chose from.

Thanks for your input!

Linking up to Lorna's Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Throwback Thursday - My Favourite Season

My friend Jenn who blogs at A Quarter Inch from the Edge has been hosting "Throwback Thursdays" for several months now.  On the first Thursday of every month, we are encouraged to link a post featuring a quilt from the past.  For my first participation to Throwback Thursday, I give you - drum roll please - My Favourite Season (can you guess what season that is?)

Hanging at the Ottawa Valley Quilt Guild Quilt Show in 2009

My Favourite Season was my first "substantial" quilt.  I started it in 2005 or 2006, and I worked on it for a couple months every fall until I got sidetracked by a baby or a move.  I finished the top in the Fall of 2008 and, having no skills whatsoever in machine quilting, I decided to have it professionally quilted.  Had I not done that, I probably would have set it aside again and lost interest in it.

As a relative beginner quilter, I made a lot of mistakes with this quilt, like skimping on 1/4 inch seam allowances and using a long stitch length.  It is definitely not suited for high usage, but it fits perfectly in my guest bedroom.

I also wish I had known about the tradition of using red squares in log cabins to symbolize the hearth... I am not much of a rule follower, but I think the red squares would have looked better in such a traditional quilt.

The label was entirely embroidered by hand (then I had to machine appliqué it to a background that was then sewn on the backing because I did not leave enough room on the leaves to turn under - not very efficient.  Although I always aspire to make these hand embroidered labels, I set the bar a little high.  It was easy to find the time in those days because I took the bus to work, 30 minutes each way, which made the hand embroidery easy to fit in.  I am glad I thought of crediting the machine quilter (Maggie Fontana of Ottawa) and the designer of the quilt (Diane Doro who used to write for American Patchwork and Quilting) - otherwise I would not have remembered.

I am happy I made that quilt when I did because that is a quilt could never make today.  My aesthetics has changed, and I have less time (or patience) for huge undertakings with thousands of pieces.   I am still in love with it.

Linking up with...

Now go check out what other folks were making back in the day, and maybe link your own throwback project!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

a W-I-P and a lanyard

I finally got around to working on my scrappy mountains I started back in January.  I don't think I ever blogged about the quilt top, which I finished sometime in early spring:

This top sat in a pile for months until I decided last week to produce a backing.  I pinned it Friday night so I would have something to sew at my Guild's Sew-In Saturday.

After a quick quilt consult (I love having guild mates to help out with those tough decisions!) I decided to stipple the low-volume areas with beige thread.  I was still undecided about the bright mountains.  What to do with them?

By Sunday night, I had finished quilting the low volume areas.  It's kind of hard to see the stitches, the beige fabric below is the one that is a little more noticeable.

I am still debating what to do with those bright mountains.  Suggestions welcome!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

In other news, our office had a charity auction today and I donated a lanyard I made using an existing promotional lanyard (see my tutorial here).  It was a pretty slow auction with few items and few bidders but I am happy to report that three people bid on my item and it fetched $10.

Next on the agenda: Learning how to take good pictures of lanyards!

Hope you did something quilty in the last few days!