Oh dear! How did my ‘little hiatus’ turn into a two-month absence?? I honestly couldn’t say, except that I started a new job, and approximately thirty-thousand little projects, and the house was flooded (just a bit, but exactly enough to do enough damage to be a giant pain), and somehow what was planned as a three-week break to refresh the brain became an accidental disappearance.
But don’t worry, I’m back! ‘Cause I know you were worried. I know you’d be doing something ordinary, like tucking in your kids for the night, and then all of a sudden you’d be like, dude, where’s Julie been??? I know.
At first my little break was nice – I did a lot of just-for-fun-sewing, a bit of loafing, some lacemaking and knitting (which I haven’t done for ages and ages) – and it was absolutely delicious. But I did miss you crazy kids after a while, which is exactly when life got a bit zany. The last few weeks have been truly ridiculous, but I’m determined to get back to business. Over the next week or two, I’ll show you what I’ve been up to lately!
Comment #2 was …. Jenny! Woohoo! Jenny’s holiday story was:
My story involves baking too! Hubby and I were watching the Christmas special from the Great British Bake off show, and hubby gets it into his head that he really wants to make a ‘Yule Log’ like the one they featured. So a few days later after watching the segment a number of times over to catch all the ingredients and method we attempt to make the chocolate sponge roll and the gnache which covers it with…. it turns out rather interestingly, but alas we have no miniature robin to sit on the log. Later when I go to take it out of the fridge (where a lot of the far too thin gnache has run off it) I find that in the absence of the traditional robin, one of the boys has sat an ‘angry bird’ (from the game app Angry Birds) balanced on the Yule log instead. It was a laugh and very yummy dessert in spite of how it looked!
Haha! Jenny, I’ll email you shortly and get your prize right to you!
Thanks everyone for entering and sharing your funny stories – I love when you leave me comments and I get to hear a little about you all, too!
Things have been crazy around here lately, and I’m pooped to the bone and need a little time to do, well, nothing much at all, so I’m going to be on a little blog hiatus for a short while. Don’t go nowheres, I’ll be back soon!
Today I’d like to welcome my lovely friend Diane Gilleland to the blog – I’ve talked about Diane before, as the host of the various EPP bloghops I’ve taken part in recently and author of the new book All Points Patchwork (go get it now). Diane has become a very dear friend over the past year, so kind and supportive, and I am so pleased that she was willing to visit me over here and share this story of a quilt specially designed for a precious friend.
What Quilts Mean by Diane Gilleland
When I started this quilt, I didn’t think of it as being particularly meaningful. Back in 2013, I had a new book out called Quilting Happiness, which I co-authored with Christina Lane. And so I decided to make a quilt from the book and blog about my progress.
I chose my fabrics purely out of practicality. Normally I love light, bright colors, but I had a dark grey cat (Pushkin) who made it his mission in life to lay upon every piece of fabric that came into the house. And when he lounged, he deposited a fine grey patina. So I decided to stick to a low-volume group of greys for my quilt, since I knew Pushkin would quickly assume ownership and why fight a cat’s inalienable right to anything?
I’ve never been good at finishing projects that are purely for me, so this quilt crept along like a glacier for the next two years. It wasn’t just me holding things up – when I did work on the project, there was a certain, um… feline impediment. Each time I’d lay out my fabrics and get started, Pushkin would immediately jump up on the table (or my lap), flop right down, and begin purring.
“I AM HELPING,” he’d say (in cat-telepathy, of course).
“You know, I need to sew that exact piece you’re laying on,” I’d reply. Can I just have it?”
“Yeah, but I can’t do anything unless you move.”
“I AM ADORABLE. PET ME.”
“Well… when you’re right, you’re right.”
After a while, I devised some little tricks to get around the “helping.” When I was setting up to work, I’d lay out one nice, fresh enticing piece of fabric, making a big show of patting it and smoothing it out. (Smooth fabric = cat magnet.) Then, once Pushkin was fully settled in on that piece, I’d get out the stuff I’d really planned to work on. Or, when I was hand-quilting, I’d lay the quilt sandwich out on a big table, so there’d be space for him to stretch out while I stitched on another section. We logged a lot of nice hours this way, sewing and “helping” in companionable quiet.
I’d always envisioned that the first time I made my bed with the finished quilt, Pushkin would jump up, arrange himself regally in the center, and survey his domain (which included, of course, the quilt, the bed, the house, and the humans). Sadly, though, that never came about. Before I could finish the quilt, we lost Pushkin to that thing that claims so many cats – kidney failure.
As anyone knows, it’s a terribly sad time, losing a beloved pet-friend. At first, I thought I’d never work on that quilt again. But as Julie so beautifully put it in her post, grieving sometimes needs ways to shut down the mind while keeping the hands busy. So I found myself digging my quilt-in-progress out more and more – doing just a little more quilting, stitching on just a little binding. As my needle moved in and out of that grey fabric, I could feel my little helper’s presence, and it was so soothing.
Before too long, I had finally finished the quilt – the first thing I’ve made purely for myself in years. (I mean, you know, I was making it for the cat of course, but then inherited the right to use it.) I smoothed it out on my bed as I’d always envisioned. A bit of a sad moment, since I’d never get to see Pushkin resting there like a king. But I do love getting that little glimpse of grey each time I pass the bedroom door, and I love snuggling underneath it at night. A quilt that keeps my favorite helper close by.
I think quilts take on meaning precisely because they can take so long to make. They absorb all those days with their ups and downs, and become a kind of memory touchstone. Eventually, I’ll move on to another cat-friend and embark on a lighter, brighter quilt. But I’ll always keep my grey quilt nearby and Pushkin in my heart, ready to pull out and snuggle when needed.
Visit Diane on Twitter and Instagram, and at Craftypod, where she is currently sharing a free design from her totally awesome new book
Yay! Almost there! This week’s tutorial will put everything together, which is a lot of pinning and sewing, but really not very many seams to sew. You’ve already done the hardest work. By the end of this post, you’ll have a completed quilt top – hurrah!!
What You’ll Need
– your three low volume half-meter cuts
– and one mid-volume fat quarter
Cutting The Pieces
Before anything else, we have to cut up those fabrics above. I didn’t have you cut these fabrics at the beginning, with the others, because seeing all the other elements together might help determine which of these fabrics you use where. I didn’t decide on my ‘mid-volume’ fabric until yesterday, and the arrangement of fabrics for my border rounds (this isn’t exactly the right term, but these rounds are more than sashing, so we’ll stick with ‘borders’) fell perfectly into place once I laid all the bits on the floor. So, if you look at this quilt diagram:
You’ll see each border round marked with a label, numbered from the inside working outward. Choose which fabric will be Border 1, which will be Border 2, etc. Then cut:
– With fabric folded (as shown above, the fold on the left), cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric. Take care that the fold is perfectly perpendicular to your cuts, or you’ll end up with v-shaped strips!
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 24.5″. Note: measure out 12.25″ from fold to end up with 24.5″ strips.
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 24.5″ strips.
– Just as before, with fabric folded, cut four 3.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Without moving the fabric, trim down each of those strips to 42.5″. (Measure 21.25″ from fold, but this will be little more than trimming off the selvedge edges.)
– You’ll end up with four 3.5″ x 42.5″ strips.
– One last time, with fabric folded, cut six 2.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.
– Cut two of these strips in half (along the fold crease), then sew a half-strip to the end of each full-length strip to make four really long strips. Trim each to 56.5″ and press seam opens.
– You’ll end up with four 2.5″ x 56.5″ strips.
Prepping your borders is easy-peasy and will take less than five minutes. Ready? On two strips of each border fabric, sew an equal-sized mid-volume square to both ends. This is exactly what we did with the diamond-blocks last week. The strips are long enough that you can even chain-piece this step, feeding one end in right after the other.
Just like last week, for each border round, you’ll have two plain strips and two strips with mid-volume squares on either end.
Here we go! All the pieces are ready and they just need us to slap ’em together. We’ll put everything together in rounds, working from the center star outward, and attaching each round will be exactly the same as the first.
Pin your two shorter Border 1 strips to the top and bottom of your center star. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.
Then pin your two longer Border 1 strips to the sides of your center star, lining the corner squares up with the previously attached border on each end. Sew all the way across and press seams towards the border.
That’s it! Simply repeat that same process until your quilt is all finished, one round at a time – the short geese strips on top and bottom of your center section, press towards border, then the long geese strips on each side, press towards border (take care to make sure your geese are flying in the same direction!). Then Border 2, then the HSTs, then Border 3 – and that’s it! Seriously, that’s really it – you’re done!
My only comment on putting it all together is that the math for medallion quilts really depends on every tiny seam of the previous round being perfectly accurate. That sounds obvious, but think about each of those geese being off by a tiny bit, you could work up to a half-inch off by the time you tally it all up. Chances are very good that some of your strips will end up being a little bit off – mine totally were, and a little bit more so as I got to the outermost rounds. I mean, c’mon, nobody’s seams are really that perfect, are they? If you are off a little, it’s probably just a very little, and you should be able to just ease that difference in along the seam – when you pin, make sure that any excess of one side is distributed evenly along the seam, and you’ll be fine!
Finishing (When You’re Ready)
I promised you a finished quilt top in a month and you did it! Pat your darn self right on the back. I really, really hope you love your quilt as much as I love mine!! We now have four full months to quilt and bind our Merry Medallions to have them ready by the beginning of December – this series won’t go into these steps, but you can follow these tutorials to complete your quilt, down to the very last stitch:
I hope you’ll email me or leave a comment on these posts if you make a Merry Medallion of your own – there’s seriously nothing I love more than seeing your versions of projects. And of course, I’ll be back sooner or later to show you my finished quilt!
Peeps! It’s a flippin’ giveaway! Woohoo!This giveaway is now closed – I’ll announce the winner shortly!
Ok, so the Merry Medallion quilt is almost finished (last batch of instructions on Friday!) and I hope some of these quilts will start popping up between now and Christmas! I finished mine today, and photographed it ahead of the final tutorial, and I have to tell you: I LOVE IT SO MUCH. So much that I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO USE ALL CAPS. Seriously, dudes. It is already one of my most favoritest things I’ve EVER MADE. I freaking can’t wait to show you!!
But that’s a couple of days away, so why don’t we pass the time with a little giveaway?! I have to admit, I originally intended on pairing this particular giveaway with another project, but then I went and got a new job (!) and a few of my Christmas in July projects had to go by the wayside. That’s ok, there’s still Christmas in December. BUT, I didn’t want these fabrics to waste away, since I bought them especially for you and everything, and it occurred to me that these four make a might fine starter for a Merry Medallion of your own!
These four fabrics are my favorites from Tinsel by Cotton + Steel, which is my favorite Christmas fabric EVER. It’s just perfect in every way! Here’s a low volume, a red, and a green – and the very same mid-volume (the washi tape print, isn’t it the best?!) I’ve used in my Merry Medallion, as you’ll see on Friday. These four would be a great start to a gathering of Merry Medallion fabrics!
So, to win this little mini-stack of festive pretties, leave a comment and tell me your favorite story about a holiday project. It could be a funny story about the time you tried to make a gingerbread house and it collapsed into smithereens, a touching story about a birthday gift you made that was loved to pieces, or a near-miss story about the costume you just managed to finish at 6pm on Halloween night. Any story, any craft, any holiday!
This giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere, and I’ll close it at midnight (UK time) next Friday, August 7th. The winner will be chosen by Mr. Random Number Generator. Off you go!