Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 - A Lovely Year of Finishes Retrospective

2015 was a sprint of a year. It was full of many good changes and opportunities (new job & new home), but getting settled into a routine with room to be creative was a challenge. I'm thankful to Shanna and Melissa for hosting the A Lovely Year of Finishes link-up this year, and for the constant encouragement they provided to just keep making. 

Here's the full list of all the finishes I completed for ALYOF in 2015:

2015 A Lovely Year of Finishes
  1. DECEMBER - 2016 Tea Towel Calendars - Goal / Finish
  2. NOVEMBER - Knit T-Shirt - Goal / Finish
  3. AUGUST - M&C Wedding Quilt - Goal / Finish
  4. JUNE - Alchemy Fusion Quilt Top - Goal / Finish
  5. MARCH - Crimson & Clover Train Case - Goal / Finish
  6. FEBRUARY - Drawstring Bag + Divider Zipper Pouch - Goal / Finish
  7. JANUARY - Parterre Jardin Quilt - Goal / Finish
I was able to make and keep 7 months of goals this past year, which feels pretty good considering there were some full quilt finishes in there. There were even a few finished projects that weren't listed in these goals, so while 2015 wasn't my most prolific year, I did finish some fun projects and learn some new skills.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Tea Towel Calendars

Happy New Year! As 2015 is drawing to a close, I have one last finish to share this year. For my December A Lovely Year of Finishes goal I decided to work on my Christmas presents for my sister's and my brother's families. I made them each a tea towel-style calendar to enjoy throughout 2016.

2016 Tea Towel Calendars

Both of these were printed at Spoonflower on fat-quarters of their linen-cotton canvas fabric. Let me say first of all that this fabric is pretty heavy duty, but also manageably sewn using a regular sewing machine. I did end up using a denim needle and sewed a little more slowly when going over thicker areas with multiple layers of fabric. The best thing about this fabric is that it does iron beautifully and the thicker weight makes it perfect for creating wall-hangings that don't droop.

2016 Tea Towel Calendars

To finish these, I simply squared the fabric up and turned the edges under a couple of times to create a clean hem all the way around. I then added hanging details like the strip of quilting fabric in the one above and gold grommets on the one below. With the strip of fabric I sewed it as a decorative touch, so that it would be visible and so that a dowel could be thread through. 

After I took these photos, I headed to the hardware store and picked out a 3/4 inch oak dowel (oak since it would show on the ends). I cut it to size, lightly sanded it, and screwed eyelets into the ends. The finishing touch was tying a piece of nice string to the eyelets to create a simple hanger. I'm hoping that I can make these calendars again next year and allow the hanger to be reused. It seems like something that could become a fun tradition and a quick handmade gift that is also very useful.

2016 Tea Towel Calendars

I have one more of these printed calendars set aside to sew up for my family. I'm hoping to get working on that this weekend so that we can start using it with the new year (rather than a month or two in). ;)  

Today I'm linking up with the last ALYOF, not only of 2015 but for the foreseeable future. Shanna and Melissa have decided to take a break next year from hosting this. I can appreciate how much work it is to host a link-up, so I am thankful to them for providing those much needed prompts to keep working on my projects over a busy year. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finishing the Year

This month is the final one in my year-long experiment with the finish-along. Back in January, I challenged myself to set manageable goals each month for my sewing and quilting projects. I decided that outside accountability is always a good thing, so I signed up to participate in A Lovely Year of Finishes and the 2015 FAL. Doing so has really kept me on track, and I've finished a number of things this year that I'm proud of. 

I just realized recently that I've been blogging and quilting now for four years - in fact I just had my official four-year anniversary in September. Filling this blog with notes and photos about my creative projects has been a great way to catalogue this journey and have the opportunity to share it with others. I have to admit that at times it hasn't always been easy to come back to this space to take the care that creating a blog post requires. Life gets busy, creativity ebbs and flows in unpredictable patterns, and even the whole nature of blogging has shifted within the time since I posted my first projects here.

Hoppy the Bunny
My first project that I shared on the blog back in 2011
At times I've wondered if maybe keeping this blog has run its course. I wonder if maybe I should be focusing on cataloguing my work in another way that's perhaps more immediate and less time intensive, such as on Instagram. But then I always think how much I would miss having the opportunity to connect with others in this way and really tell the story of a certain quilt or project, share notes on techniques, and even have the opportunity to teach through tutorials. Your readership has made blogging so much more fulfilling and rich than if I was going at this alone, and I want to thank you for taking the time to stop by and have this conversation with me. My work is better because I share it with you, and that's not nothing!

I'm not sure what blogging will look like for me next year, but I do hope to keep posting and sharing. I may even do the finish-along experiment for another year. I'll have to see. I do plan to take some time this month to reflect on what I accomplished this year and what I would like to achieve next year. I already have a list of quilting and sewing techniques that I think I'd like to master in 2016. 

For my December sewing goal I think it's appropriate that I'm working on making tea towel calendars for Christmas presents. There's probably nothing more prompting to start thinking about the future than literally staring at a calendar as you push it through a sewing machine! ;) I'm making several of these (printed from Spoonflower) and using different techniques to finish them for hanging. 

As I'm sewing my calendars, I will be wishing each of you good luck with your holiday projects (fellow comrades in arms!), good cheer as you navigate this busy season, and good company - because connection is the real reason so many of us choose to be makers.

Linking up with:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Going With the Flow

I've enjoyed setting goals for myself each month this year, even when it seems like about half the time life intervenes and I have to extend my expectations into the next month. 

That's exactly what happened with my knit t-shirt goal from October. I didn't quite make it happen, but I can guarantee that November is going to be a victory. How can I say this with such certainty you ask? Well here's the funny and slightly ironic thing...I didn't finish my t-shirt in October, but I did finish it on November 1st! Sunday just happened to be the day that I had a block of time to sit down and get sewing. It happens, and that's why I've kept a flexible attitude towards these goals.

Knit Scout Tee

I'm going to be sharing this project on the Imagine Gnats blog, so for now I'll just leave you with this lovely shot of my first twin-needle stitched neckline. It feels like an accomplishment, even in its small way, to know how to do this properly without a serger and coverstitch machine. I can sew clothes! That's pretty cool.

Linking up with:

A Lovely Year of Finishes2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

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