Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quilt #15: Not a Tree Skirt

I started my first quilt in March of 2013. It has been two months shy of four years since those first stitches. As I am writing this post, I am working on my 73rd quilt. With each quilt, I learn something new. Sometimes it's a game changer, like when I learned how to trim up fabric and cut in strips. (How did I make those first five quilts?!) Sometimes it's a subtle confidence in improving my craft. Even when I struggle, I usually find a way to finish the quilt, muttering the mantra, "Finished is better than perfect."

My last finish of 2016 is actually the 15th quilt I started back in December of 2013. And it wasn't meant to be a quilt. It was intended to be a tree skirt! My favorite color is purple, so when I found purple Christmas fabric at Joann, I bought a yard, naively thinking that would be enough for my project.

I didn't finish it before Christmas so I set it aside for a few months to work on other things. When I pulled it out again, I was feeling pretty good until I ran out of the purple print.

Look how little my now 8-year-old is!
The BIG lesson I learned: fabric goes out of print! This is why quilters have big fabric stashes! We buy multiple yards of fabric at a time to avoid these problems! I checked ebay, Etsy, and all the fabric de-stash sites, but I couldn't find any more of the purple print.

So, what to do...

D thought I could make a quilt for Curious George. 

Then I found some peppermint fabric and tried to make it work, but I didn't like how it turned out.

So I shoved it in a closet for a few years. 

As Christmas got closer this year, I thought about it again and decided I could make a small quilt with it to be done with it. I ripped it all apart down to blocks and re-assembled it into this.

It was still pretty small, but nothing that a few borders couldn't fix. Fortunately, I still have plenty of the blue and green prints.

For the back, I found this minky at Joann and thought it was perfect.

I finished the quilt the day before we left to celebrate Christmas in Arizona with me mom. 

I was feeling a little frustrated as I quilted because of little annoyances like running out of thread, and my own general crankiness with it not being what I had originally wanted it to be. I had already decided to keep it, but I needed some happy memories with it, so we took it on a road trip. It was fun looking for the right photo opportunity.

1: Home in Ohio 2: A potty stop at a BBQ restaurant that smellled SO good in Kentucky 3: Our hotel in Nashville, Tennessee 4: A lodge-like welcome center in Arkansas, 5: Sunset somewhere in Oklahoma 6. Midnight in Texas 7. A windy welcome to New Mexico 8: A Navajo shop in Arizona where we talked with a woman about the code talkers 9: Mom's house!

It was a fun way to break up a very long road trip. Some of my favorite pictures were taken in Winslow, Arizona. 

But my very favorite picture was this one with mom's new puppy. Our son has been severely allergic to dogs all his life. We started him on desensitization therapy a few months ago and this trip would be our big test. We are all so thrilled that it has been a huge success!

The purpose of our trip was to celebrate one last Christmas at my mom's house and help her pack up 70 years of memories. The fact that D and Murphy became such good friends is a really nice bonus. 

We are about to head back home today and the quilt is filled with happy memories and Murphy cuddles. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

En Provence Clue 4

I'm very happy to say that after the craziness of two weeks ago, I had a very restful and productive week. I finished a quilt, which always makes me happy.

I also went back and wrote a post about my first finish of the year

I also finished a quilt top made of blocks of what was intended to be a tree skirt 3 years ago when I was a new quilter and didn't know that fabric went out of print. It's been sitting in my UFO pile forever so it feels great to have found a way to finish it. 

I found some fun minky for the back and got it sandwiched, but I don't think I'll quite finish it before the end of the year. 

But back en Provence...

I'm making good progress on the Quiltville mystery quilt. Clue 4 was released 3 days ago, and I finished it 2 days later. We'll be busy with the holidays over the next couple weeks so it feels good to be caught up before I get behind. 

This week we played with purple again--my favorite, using the tri-rec ruler sets--that I'm learning to love. I'm still a little leary of triangle-in-squares given that I sliced my finger so badly on the first set. On slashed finger news, I'm getting my stitches out tomorrow. I'm a little nervous because it's been just over two weeks and I still can't bend it all the way. And one of the stitches is ingrown. Ouch!

I'm only doing half the number of units because I'm making a smaller version of the mystery quilt. For this clue, I only needed to make 40 units. 

I don't know how many weeks of clues are coming, but it looks like we're getting close to making some blocks out of these units. In my project bin you can see that my yellows and greens haven't been touched yet. 

I saw how others played around with the units to try to guess what blocks we may create. Here are a few I made.

And here a couple more.

Previous posts for this quiltalong:

You can also follow me on Instagram at de Jong Dream House. To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for #djdhenprovence.

In case I don't get another post up before Christmas, may your holiday season be full of wonder. 

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

#72 Falling for Alex

I finished my December One Monthly Goal!

A few weeks ago, I finished up my scrappy Minion quilt for the son of a high school friend. They lost their home to fire on election night. Just before I was going to ship it to her, I learned that she had a daughter, too! I didn't want to send only one quilt, so I looked for a pattern that a 13-year-old would like, and that I could put together quickly so that the kids could receive their quilts before Christmas. 

I landed on this pattern, called Scattered, by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew.  It's featured in the book, Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe. I saw the version Trish of Notes of Sincerity made on Pinterest and I was sold. (As a side note, Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company has a similar pattern called Falling Triangles. I took my name for this quilt from hers).

I wanted this to be a colorful, happy quilt. Being a teen is hard. Being a teen dealing with a home fire is harder. She needs some happy.

I found the pretty backing fabric first, then pulled the white, orange, teal, lime green, and hot pink prints from my stash. 

I only needed seven or eight of each print, so I made all eight at a time. I put the extra in my "oops quilt" bin. That is going to be one crazy quilt...once I start it! As always, I am grateful for my rotating cutting mat when I trim triangles. 

Ready for white strips.

I love that this quilt went together quickly, but still ended up being one of my favorites. I will be making another version for my quilting guild for sure. 

Time to play with my stack of blocks.

I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to lay out my blocks until I was able to play with layouts with the finished blocks. I considered arranging the colors diagonally and alternating two colors per row. I liked the look of the latter better, but my prints of each color repeated on the even numbered rows. By adding another column and row, I was able to get arrangement I wanted.

The piecing went together quickly and it was time to make  sandwich. It was the first chance to see the top with the backing (Paradise All Over Flower) and I just love how it looks together.

I used simple straight line quilting. I intended to do vertical lines in a nod to the name of the quilt, but alas, I was halfway done when I realized I was quilting horizontally.

As it turned out, I liked the look of the lines this way, too.

At some point, I will get comfortable with free motion, but I have to say, I love the clean, modern look of straight line quilting.

For the binding, I used the same colorful print as the backing.

I completed the quilt with a clean label showing a block from the quilt. 

The  best part of making a quilt--other than being able to deliver it in person--is watching my son product test each one and fill it with his love before we pray over it.

I love seeing my boys snuggled under a quilt I made. D got a new Bible and devotional for his birthday. I look forward to seeing his faith deepen as he continues to study God's word.

I'm so happy I was able to finish both quilts and get them on their way so Colton and Alex will have them for Christmas. It has taken my dad and stepmom such a long time to get back on their feet after their house fire. I hope these quilts bring a little joy to Colton and Alex at the end of a hard year.

If you are looking for a way to spread a little holiday cheer, please consider making a small donation to the Dillon family's Go Fund Me page.

To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for  #FallingForAlex  on Instagram. If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me at de Jong Dream House.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quilt #56: Branch's Carpenter Star

Since injuring my index finger, I've been banned from my sewing room. I'm trying to use this time to write posts on some of my older quilts. I've been on a pretty good streak of writing about my quilts for the last several finishes. But when I created my virtual trunk show for 2016, I realized I missed quite a few of this year's finished. So I've made a goal to write about each of this year's quilts by the end of the year. Think I can do it? We shall see. 

I'm kicking things off with my first finish of 2016: Branch's Carpenter Star. 

Branch is the name of my friend Kim's baby. Kim and I have boys who share the exact same birthdays. We met on a due date board so we've known each others since sometime in 2008. This group of mamas have become some of my best friends, and Kim especially so. Up until a few weeks ago, she lived a few hours away by Niagara Falls, so we have been able to become real life friends, too.

Last January we made an unexpected trip to Canada for a funeral. We stopped by to see Kim because I was hoping to see a brand new baby. Alas, Branch decided it was too cold to come out. But his delay gave me time to whip up a quilt for him.

In 2014, I made a quilt for Branch's big sister. When I was thinking of a quilt for him, all I knew is that I wanted to used some of my scraps for P's quilt.

I have a long list of quilt patterns I want to make. Sometimes I know I want to make a certain pattern for someone in particular. Sometimes I want to make a pattern, and then the occasion presents itself. For Branch, I started with fabric and then looked for a quick pattern because we were going to be heading back up in a few weeks again and I wanted to have the quilt ready. Hello, Carpenter Star!

This pattern comes together very quickly. Just squares and half square triangles. It went a little bit faster because I was able to use one of my Christmas gifts for the first time. I LOVE my rotating cutting mat! It's so nice to keep the unit in one place as I trim my squares! I use it all the trim for trimming now.

For quilting, I echoed inside the the squares and parallelograms to highlight the 3D effect.

I borrowed from the birth announcement to make the label. 

With some of the scraps, I made a taggy blanket. 

With more scraps, I made this doll quilt for big sister. 

Best of all, I got to deliver the quilt in person. Branch likes to cuddle with both his quilt and his sister's quilt!

One last thing that makes me smile. When I made the quilt, I didn't know that Kim was going to name her son Branch after the character on the show Longmire. But the pattern ended up being perfect for him. Carpenter Star = carpenters work with wood = a piece of wood is called a Branch. Perfect.

I finished this quilt before I joined Instagram, so I don't have any photos posted there, but you can follow me to see what I'm working on now. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

En Provence Clue 3

Well friends, I did it. I survived our craziest week of the year. A week ago, I wasn't sure if I would!

Let's recap.


I sliced my finger, got stiches, and was in horrible pain.

But it was the night before Sinterklaas and since the good holy man needs a little help with his work here in the States. Since I could not finish the gevulde speculaas (stuffed gingerbread bars) I started, Niels got to play nursemaid and baker. The day also involved making goodie bags and supervising our little guy as he created a Google slides presentation for his class.

Monday: Sinterklaas!

Niels and I went to our son's school for the 4th Sinterklaas in a row. This was the first year that he did the presentation and Q&A by himself, and he did an awesome job!

Later, during dinner, there was a loud knock on our door. Sinterklaas had delivered a bag of goodies! Oh how we hold in our hurt when we reward is seeing happy faces like this.

By the time our son happily went to bed, the pain in my finger had gotten intolerable. After a pointless few calls to our teledoc, we were sent back to the ER (for another $300 donation) for x-rays and some good drugs.


Despite not getting home until 3, our shoes still managed to get filled with goodies.

As for the rest of the day, I blissfully slept through it all.


Back to the land of the living. I went to the hand surgeon for a follow up on my hand. There was so concern that maybe I cut my bone or a tendon. The good news is that I didn't. The bad news is that with my brain injury, my brain freaks out with any nerve pain and that what was going on. It would let up eventually, but not yet.

I was sent over to the OT, who made this cute little fingertip cast for me. Then it was back to the land of the drugged out.


At some point in the week, my son cuddled with me and sweetly asked if I would still be making him a birthday shirt for him. I had one day to get it done.

I was really nervous to make the first cut. And then my cast was a bit cumbersome.

Friday: My baby turned 8!

Balloons (tied with a new finger). Presents (wrapped by hubby). Dinner and cake and games (oh my!) enjoyed with our university students.

Also on Friday? Clue 3 was posted for Quiltville's En Provence Mystery Quilt! Alas, I had no time or energy to do anything but admire my pretty purples.

Saturday: Time to party!
Another busy day. Picking up the party cake. Out for lunch. And then my son's birthday party. 

His friends made him the best cards. I love the friendships he has made with this awesome group of boys and girls. And I am beyond proud that instead of accepting gifts for himself, he collected donations for the refugee resettlement agency we support.

Sunday: a much-needed day of rest.

I started the day with a little too much rest. We overslept and missed church. After all the joy and pain of this week, I think God understands what I needed most.

Once I finally drug myself out of bed, I re-discovered this room!

I was very relieved that this week we were back to four patches. I still need to finish clue 2, but I will wait until my stitches are out or those triangles. Plus, purple makes me happy.

Several people suggested I wear a klutz glove from now on. I actually bought one after the last time I sliced my finger, but I found I didn't like the way it felt so I stopped wearing it. However, since I don't need to wear my splint anymore, I found a new use for it.

And I found a way to make sure I don't forget to use it.

Fingers protected, I was a purple four patch making machine!

And done! 

And now, if you don't mind, I am hoping for a nice quiet week ahead!

Previous posts for this quiltalong:

Intro and fabric selection
Clues 1 and 2

You can also follow me on Instagram at de Jong Dream House. To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for #djdhenprovence.

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