Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dear Jane from a Galloping Horse

The quilter's motto: If it looks okay as you're riding by on a galloping horse, then it's good enough.

I am trying to make my Dear Jane quilt a priority this year. Wish me luck. It's slow going. Also doesn't look like much but I finished three blocks last week and two this week so I'm happy -

That one with the 16 peels (set in a 4 1/2" block) took me sooo long. I'd sew a couple of peels, get frustrated, then stop, pick it up the next day, repeat. I wanted those peels to line up perfectly. When applique is this small it's frustrating.

The perfect view of my block from a galloping horse, no? Or a plane. Can't see any mistakes if I squint just a little either.

 Sure looks good enough to me although I know I'm going to get into trouble when I sew those 1/4" seams since I didn't leave enough room. Oh well. It is what it is and I will just have to fudge it.

Looks like Jane had some trouble with this one too. This is what keeps me going - some of Jane's blocks from the original quilt (dated 1863) are far from perfect but the entire quilt itself is still so incredibly beautiful. Perhaps mine will be beautiful too?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Giveaway Winner

Thanks so much for entering my recent giveaway and for all of your nice comments. The winner of my book Small & Scrappy is - 

Peg F. in NJ   -  Congratulations, Peg!  Send me your mailing address and I will mail your book to you. I hope you enjoy making some of the projects.

I appreciate the time some of you put into your comments to tell me what you'd like to see in future books. Believe it or not, I have already begun making a few quilts that incorporate some of your ideas.  It's nice to see we are on the same page - many of you want to see the exact same things I want to make! So, we'll just have to see what the future holds. 

In the meantime, I hope all of you who have the book have fun making some of the quilts.  Don't forget to join in our small quilt challenges every other month in my Facebook and Yahoo groups. You can order a signed copy of the book on my website. Did you also know that my publisher, Martingale, has an e-book (in .pdf format) of Small & Scrappy available that you can download instantly to your computer? This might be a good option for some of you since it's a little cheaper than the hard copy of the book. You can just print out the pattern pages as you need them.  See details here.  

Keep on making small quilts, my friends. In February, I will announce a new project in my groups that I am sure will get your heart singing . . . .

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Small & Scrappy Book Giveaway

Can you stand yet another post about my new book? How about if it involves a free copy? This week I'm giving away a signed copy of the book -

I know some of you may have already bought a copy but, if you win, give it away to a needy friend. 

To enter your name, leave me a comment here telling me what you would like to see in my next book (not sure there will even BE a next one but what the heck . . . I'd still like to hear). Also, please leave an e-mail address or way for me to contact you.  

I'll announce the winner on Sunday. 

Good luck!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Here's to a Happy and Healthy 2017

Happy New Year, Quilting friends (and others)! 2017 will be another year of fun projects and events related to small quilting if I have anything to say about it. In my small quilt groups, we'll have challenges to make more small quilts every other month (there'll be other fun stuff for the in-between months). We'll make new friends and encourage each other to keep going on our projects and dreams. We'll host fun swaps and other events. I'll keep you posted - but, if you are not a member of either the Facebook or Yahoo group, you're missing out. See the sidebar for info on joining. (You can also sign up to receive updates of my blog through e-mail if you like. Just click on the follow by e-mail or subscribe through e-mail gadgets on the blog sidebar to do this and you will be notified each time I write a new post.)  

For our January 2017 small quilt challenge in my groups, we'll be making the "Be My Little Valentine" doll quilt for January. Why January? To give you more time to finish it so you can display it in time for the February holiday. Clever, huh?   It's a very simple quilt using lots of pink, red and cream scraps and the pattern is in my book Small & Scrappy on page 12. 

A lot of you probably have it already (I hope), but I will be giving away a copy of my new book later this week so make sure you come back here for that. If nothing else, the comments are usually fun to read.

We definitely have to fit in this quilt for one of our challenges.

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Some of you joined my Papa's Shirts and Mama's Dresses doll quilt club last summer and had fun getting the patterns in the mail and making those quilts (or at least dreaming about making them SOMEDAY). That club ended in November but I am now running it again for those who may have missed out - so here's your last chance to order the patterns before I retire them this year. Find out more here. The first pattern will ship in mid-January.  

Know that I am wishing all of you all the best for the coming year and hope that your dreams and aspirations for 2017 will be achieved. No real resolutions here, but one of my goals is to get back to working on more of my Dear Jane blocks. And make some more quilts for my family (and the sofa) . . . . I love small quilts but I decided I just need a few more large quilts too! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dear Jane Progress

Dear Diary - It's been awhile since I've worked on my Dear Jane blocks. There have always been times when I couldn't seem to get a handle on making blocks for months or even a year. For the past few years though I've had a simple goal of making at least one block per month. If I get busy, then I don't feel too bad about neglecting it. I'm still making progress (albeit small progress) and it's easier to pick it up again if it's not shoved in a drawer or box somewhere for years at a time. Every now and then, just to get motivated, I take out my blocks, look at how much work I've already put into this project and ask myself  - how important is the goal of finishing this quilt? The answer is always: Yes, it's still important and I commit to finishing more blocks by a certain time frame. If I keep the blocks, tools and book accessible I am more likely to work on them. 

Bear with me here - I like to write about this again and again not only to keep a record for myself ( no, I am not keeping a Dear Jane journal. This is it.) but because I know that some of you who are reading this and may have started your own quilt but perhaps put it aside or hit a bump in the road and feel discouraged will take heart. It does not happen overnight for most of us. What motivates me is to look at my blocks, take out the book and play around with some fabric. Then, make a plan to just sit down and make another block. Making one of the simpler blocks can really get me going again. If it's a more difficult block it can take me hours. There's often a rush when I complete one of those. But, usually, what happens is that I get interrupted in the middle and because it's never easy to get back to it, it takes me several days to finish, so I do a little at a time. I would love to spend days and weeks sewing the blocks all day long but that's not practical for me and it never happens. At times this journey is not easy. For any of us. Yet, for some reason we still persist. It makes me feel good to know that I have not given up and I pat myself on the back every time I finish one, even if it's not perfectly stitched.

Here's my story - I began my Dear Jane journey in 2010 with one block. An easy one. Then a few more simple ones after that. I was on a roll! I printed out all of the tips from Brenda's Dear Jane website and put them into a binder for reference. 

That year, 2010,  life happened. It was not a good year for me but somehow I still managed to complete 25 blocks by the end of it. There were times I didn't work on my blocks for months. A few more blocks were finished in 2011 and a few more during the next couple of years as well. It wasn't completely forgotten but there were plenty of other things going on pulling me in different directions for awhile. This happens and you have to "manually" pull yourself back into it eventually.

2014 was a turning point. At the end of 2013, I challenged my Yahoo small quilt group to pick up an unfinished project and complete it. Not sure what I should work on myself, I finally decided to jump back in and tackle the Mother of my unfinished projects and discovered that were others in the group who felt the same about finishing or beginning their own Dear Jane quilts. I started a Dear Jane Yahoo group to motivate myself and others to keep going and  - get this - went on to complete 30 blocks (with a little help and motivation from my friends). Great move. Watching Marian, Jeanne and others take off like race horses was exactly the encouragement I needed. That year, I traveled to Vermont to see the original quilt up close. My motivation stayed strong after that.

Progress! By the beginning of 2015 I had made 85 blocks (out of 169). Not a huge amount considering I'd been working on it for five years, but, hey, at least I was still going. I mastered paper piecing and went on to make another 58 blocks during 2015. Only 12 blocks were finished this year but I made quilts for and wrote a new book so that's my excuse. Can't do everything. I still managed to get one in there every now and then.

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Well, I'd like to say I'm back and raring to go but who knows what will come between me and my quilt next year? I'm still stuck at 155 blocks - 14 left for the center and then the triangles. My goal was to finish the center blocks this year. That did not happen, LOL. Here's what I wrote about my progress in October. There's a little motivation there if you're thinking about jumping in and beginning your own DJ quilt. I hope it encourages some of you. I need motivation right now and sometimes I get it from my Dear Jane friends online. You know who you are!

Our holiday celebrations are now over, the house is relatively clean (and quiet), the laundry is done, my husband and daughter are going to the movies today and I have a few hours to myself to gather my resources and implement a strategic DJ plan! Wish me luck. Hopefully more progress coming soon. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

I can't believe it's Christmas already. Looking back, I also can't believe this is my eighth year blogging about Christmas. So many of you have followed me for such a long time. Thanks for all of your support and for coming along for the ride!

It wouldn't seem like Christmas to me without a little snow.

Puppy loves snow as much as I do . . .

Every Christmas my cross stitch calls. Usually too late . . . But there's always hope. We'll be doing a Christmas in July challenge next year to help some of us get a head start on our Christmas projects for 2017. 

I miss this guy at Christmas . . .

Who says a Christmas quilt can't have a little blue in it??

Driving around looking at lights in 2009 (not my house) . . .

Not my reindeer!

Our house. God bless the man who, despite the weather, has never missed a year putting up Christmas lights for me . . .

Merry Christmas! Have a lovely time with your families and friends and a wonderful holiday season after. 'Tis the season of Joy. My Christmas Words of Wisdom this year: Remember that peace begins at home, among family. Tell someone you love him or her, even if they're being disagreeable or Grinchy. Refuse to get pulled into their negativity. Sit down and listen more. Create peace through your interactions with others close to you. Then, send it out into the world. Be a light.

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I'll be back with a brand new small quilt challenge on January 1. I hope you'll enjoy doing lots of other fun projects with me in 2017. Dear Jane group members - I'll be back there too, working on my blocks and hoping we can inspire each other to keep going on our quilts.


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