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A Christmas Quilt & the Fastest Tree Skirt Ever ~
Handmade Holiday Ideas 2014

How are the holidays going at your house? We’ve been enjoying our traditional advent calendar activities, visiting with friends, cooking, crafting, playing … all the things that I want our Christmas memories to be made of. I posted a picture on Instagram a few days ago of a fun (and messy!) afternoon spent decorating some very yummy but not very pretty sugar cookies hashtagged #notpinterestworthy, and a sweet friend reminded me that life is not Pinterest-worthy! Before I move on to my crafts for today, I forward that reminder on to you. Have fun, make a mess, and enjoy this Christmas season!Our house is a split-level with a large foyer, and this wall is what you see when you open the front door. I always keep a quilt on that rack, and I’ve wanted to sew a Christmas quilt to display there for a few years. This year, it made it onto my sewing list! The quilt came together in a rather interesting manner, though. I gave up my normal plan-everything-out ways for a bit of improv.

The print fabrics are all from the Christmas – Pure and Simple line by Nancy Halvorsen for Benartex and the solids are Kona cottons. As you can see from my Instagram picture above, I really just started by piecing together blocks. Most of the blocks are slight modifications of the blocks that Lori Holt shared in her Have Yourself a Quilty Little Christmas Instagram Sew-along. The Present Pile block is from Clover & Violet. The others are either traditional blocks that I found through Pinterest or blocks that I made up myself though a bit of trial and error. I just kept adding and piecing the blocks together using the quilt-as-you-go method around the designs until I was finally finished! Once I had the whole top done, I added the back, stitching in the ditch around the blocks. Before binding it, I added more straight-line quilting to fill in the open spaces and give the quilt more dimension. Finally, I machine-bound it, stitching the hanging sleeve into the top binding, and then I pinned the bottom of the hanging sleeve in place and hung it up! (I’ll get around to handsewing the bottom of the sleeve on … eventually.)Also in our entryway is my new white Christmas tree! I’ve wanted one for a few years, so my husband encouraged me to grab one at Black Friday prices this year. It’s decorated very simply for now, but I hope to cover it in handmade ornaments in years to come, and I’d love to make a tree topper for it. I’m thinking of using this one: Moravian Star Tree Topper Tutorial.

I simply did not have time to sew a tree skirt for this tree, and I couldn’t find anything that I really liked that was ready-made. On one of our many Joann’s runs this season, though, I happened to see a roll of this Christmas mesh ribbon near the checkout for 70% off. I grabbed it to see what I could do with it.I’m not going to give you step-by-step instructions for this one because it’s so easy! I just cut a length of the ribbon that I thought would work and wrapped it around the base of the tree until I was happy with how it looks. Isn’t it pretty? And, I have a ton left over for some other future project!Before I go, I have one more little bonus tip for you.I really didn’t want to have hooks showing on my new white tree, but I couldn’t find any white hooks locally, so I bought a pack of white chenille stems instead and used those to attach the ornaments. The stems blend right in with the tree, and they have the added bonus of making it easy for me to position the ornaments exactly the way I want them and secure them snugly in place. Cool, huh?Okay, go have some holiday fun, and feel free not to count my holiday craft ideas up when I’m finished … I might not manage to blog all twelve!

How I Learned to Paper Piece with a Circle of Geese Quilt

I learned paper-piecing, and I love it! AND, it’s not hard!! You should give it a try, too.

Last month, the folks at Soak Wash put together a quilter’s photo-a-day challenge on Instagram. I thought I would join in because I really like the motivation that a challenge offers, and while I don’t do a ton of quilting, I’ve really been enjoying it lately. (For tons of inspiration, check out all of the photos that were shared during the challenge by searching #soakphotochallenge on Instagram.)

The theme for Day 18 of the challenge was Paper Piecing, and since I’ve never tried paper piecing before, I thought I’d just search out a tutorial and try it. I happened to land on an amazing series at The Littlest Thistle called Foundation Paper Piecing for the Terrified.

The first lesson teaches you how to sew a traditional courthouse steps block using basic paper piecing, and I was able to finish it really quickly. You can see my sweet little block above. Once I felt like I had a grasp on what paper piecing involved, I cheated a little and jumped ahead to lesson #4, and I made this!

And then I was hooked! I made another clockwise Circle of Geese block.

Then I made two counterclockwise blocks.

Then, I hung them all up on the wall in my diningroom with washi tape to see how they looked. I had been looking for something go under this clock for ages, and I loved this!

From there, I pieced it all together, backed it and did some straight line quilting using my regular sewing machine.
I finished it with navy blue binding to match the clock above it and hung it up on the dining room wall.

I am so happy with how this turned out … but I realized after it was up that I have a WHITE quilt on my dining room wall! Eek! Now I’m on the hunt for a cabinet of some sort to go under it and hopefully protect it from little spaghetti-sauce-covered hands.

Around the Block with Patchwork Posse: Block #12

AroundtheBlockBoxyPinwheelBlogWoohoo! I finished all twelve of the blocks in theĀ Patchwork Posse Around the Block Round Robin! All that’s left to do is piece them all together with sashing … and then add the border, and then the quilting, and, of course, the binding. I will finish this quilt! It just might take me a little bit. This final block was super fast and easy — my favorite kind. The Boxy Pinwheel Block tutorial is from Susan at Living with Punks.

I’m really excited to see how the whole quilt comes together! Here are my final six blocks:AroundtheBlockSecondSixBlocksBlogAnd, another look at the first six blocks:

Around the Block with Patchwork Posse: Block #11

Did you think that I’d given up on the Patchwork Posse Around the Block Round Robin? No way! I just got a little bit waylaid by Quilt Market. I’ll be a bit late finishing up, but I’m going to do it!

Block #11 is the Ribbon Star block from Jennifer at Ellison Lane. I’m so happy with how well this block came together! My points lined up so nicely, and all I did was follow Jennifer’s instructions very closely. My “need for speed” was very pleased by her directions for sewing four half-square triangles at once, too!

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