It didn't help that our good camera ate batteries. Sometimes, I could take 10 pictures with it before the batteries died. Other times, it wouldn't even take one picture. Oh, and my laptop died too. So I couldn't blog while watching TV at night.
It probably also didn't help that we only ever finished about 90 percent of the stairwell project. I thought John was going to work on the board that goes under the actual stairs. It is so loud, and he discussed trying to making it more of a floating board. But it never got done. Spring came, and we had other things to do. Then summer break, kids, blah, blah.
I miss writing about projects though. I want to remember how and when and why I made things.
Like the Christmas quilts I made for the girls.
I got this idea last August or September. I'd make Christmas quilts for the girls. I'd decorate their rooms this (er, last) year for Christmas. Their rooms would look look like photos worthy of magazines. They'd each have a small tree. Ellie's would be white, and Mary's would be pink. And they'd look wonderful with the new quilts. Their rooms would be tidy. Certainly not littered with toys, dirty laundry, and other kid stuff.
But then I realized that two quilts was out of my crafting budget.
So I gave up on the idea for a while. But it nagged at me. I started looking at fabric on Etsy. It had to have pink (to match Mary's walls), blue/turquoise (to match Ellie's walls), red, and light green. It had to be winter themed without being overly Christmas. My hope was they would be something that could be used from November though January.
Then, perhaps on Pinterest, I found an awesome pattern that just spoke to me. Easy. Patchworky. I loved it. I considered the cost of the pattern, the top material for two twin quilts, the batting, thread, backing material, and binding. That's a lot of crafty money.
But still, I thought about it. Until one day, when I found THE fabric.
The collection is called Apline Wonderland. I fell in love immediately. I think by then it was probably October. Maybe even the middle of October. The patten (Easy Bake by Cluck, Cluck, Sew) called for ten inch squares - 63 per quilt. The fabric came in pre-cuts of that size called a layer cake. Some layer cakes have 42 squares. This print came in 21 squares per bundle. I'd need three for each quilt IF I didn't make any cutting or seam ripping mistakes. I think each layer cake was about $20. It just seemed like too much money.
Then John had a great idea! I could make them as Christmas gifts for the girls. They could be their main gifts from us. Why hadn't I thought of that? I think I ordered the fabric the next day (October 29th). I knew that I wanted the quilts to be a surprise. So I'd only be able to work on them while Mary and Ellie were both at school (the three mornings a week while Ellie was in preschool) or at night after they were in bed.
Crappy late night cell phone picture.
The above picture was taken on November 7th. It's Ellie's quilt, with all 63 squares cut up two times, and then sewed back together to make the blocks (four pieces of fabric per finished block). It isn't sewed together yet. I was just laying it out to get the blocks in the order I wanted them. Then I sewed the rows to form the quilt top.
Next, I pinned the quilt sandwich (backing fabric, batting, and quilt top) on the dining room floor. I think I used about 300-325 pins. I put them all in and left them open in case I needed to adjust any. Shutting all them practically made my fingers bleed. This picture was on November 12th.
I started to quilt it a couple days later. But I hadn't pulled the backing fabric as tightly as I should have. I also think that the tape I used to tape it to the floor ended up coming loose. Either way, the back was puckering on me. I'd done all the vertical lines, and they were fine. Then the horizontal ones gave me fits. There was a lot of seam ripping. Finally I just decided it was "good enough" which honestly isn't very like me. But my only alternative was to rip out all of the vertical stitches. I did consider it briefly but decided there wasn't time.
The front looked pretty good, so I just kept going. I was working until about 1 a.m. every night. My back hurt, my shoulders and my neck too. Oh, and I got this horrible pain in my arm pit. But I had my trusty assistant with me, so I kept going.
Every time I'd lay the quilt out on the table and start running it thought the sewing machine, a kitten would decide it was nap time. Then I'd get to the end of the row and have to flip the quilt. The kittens were not amused. I finally got it all quilted. I wasn't sure what I wanted to bind it with, so I just moved on to Mary's quilt. Starting over seemed like torture. I had to cut down all the fabric, sew the pieces together one way, then cut that, match it up with another, and sew. That made one block. Repeat 63 times, then sew the rows. Pinning a quilt together should be an olympic sport. It must look like a one woman game of twister as I pin from the middle out in a circular pattern.
It's cell phone pics or nothing, people!
I loved seeing the winter sun come in through the dining room windows. The above is Mary's quilt on November 21st.
Every day before I'd go get Ellie at school, I'd pick everything up. I'd shove it into the craft closet. Thank goodness the girls never look in there. It's right by their coat hooks in the entry way.
I had them quilted but needed fabric to bind them. I wanted the bindings to be simliar, but not matching. I decided to use a poinsettia print that was part of the quilt tops. Green for Ellie's quilt and red for Mary's. So I ordered that and waited. I attached the binding to the front by machine and then stitched it closed on the back by hand. I think it took about 4-5 hours of hand stitching per quilt.
Then I washed them. And probably prayed that they wouldn't fall apart - that none of the seams would come undone or the fabric fray out. They turned out fine. I don't even remember when I finished them. I think it was around December 1st. I knew I wanted them done well before Christmas which is why I worked so hard. It turned out to be good planning on my part. First we all came down with the flu then I had jury duty for nearly a week.
I did manage to bust out the real camera when I was done with both quilts.
Ellie's is on the left. Mary's is on the right. They are both backed with fabric from Jo Ann's though I don't have the names. One or both might be by Denyse Schmidt.
I thought they turned out well. I'm not an expert. I could never sell these. Think "home made" when you imagine them close up. They are far, far from perfect. But I was happy with them. I washed them probably 3 times each, and wrapped them up for the girls.
And on Christmas morning Ellie said: "A quilt?!?!??! I hate quilts!!!!!!!"
Yep. But the good news is she doesn't hate them anymore.
Mary loved hers. I do think that in her own way she realized how much work must have gone into them.
That's the story of the Christmas quilts 2012. Maybe by Christmas 2013 I'll have their rooms cleaned, the miniature Christmas trees purchased, and even find time to blog about that too.