Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lessons from Christmas 2017

At From Bolt to Beauty world headquarters, Christmas 2017 lingers. The tree is still up and decorated. Toys litter the living room floor. It’s an appropriate time to look back at the events of the past month—the holiday fairs and parties and shopping—and admit it: I botched it all up! I thought I took on a manageable number of holiday activities, but I ended up committing myself to too much.

Case in point: two Christmas tree quilts. I was so proud of myself, back in November, when I came to the realization I wouldn’t have time to quilt either of them before Christmas. I sent both projects off to a longarmer, which meant I was on the hook for binding only. Bind them I did—finally!—on December 23.

The first quilt is for my family to keep. I used it to chip away at my red and green stash, buying just a little yardage to flesh out the fabric pull.

The beauty of this tree block, designed by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter, is that it works with small-scale prints as well as large ones. Before this project, I had no idea what to do with the green and white Trellis print from Heather Bailey’s Up Parasol collection (pictured in tree on right, below), but it works perfectly here. I love how it reads as a lower-volume green without being a light green.

This quilt reminds me that I can veer from my palette on the back of a quilt. The main print on the back, from Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study line, wouldn’t have worked on the quilt top. It has too much cream in it (I used mostly white on the front), and the green is too different. Paired with the three leftover tree blocks and the same cherry red used on the top, however, the AMH print allows the back to both work well in its own right and complement the design on the other side.

The quilting, done by Lisa Teichmann of Garden Gate Quilting, is perfect for this project. The easy-breezy orange peels look ornament-like against the Christmas-tree backdrop.

After finishing piecing the first Christmas tree quilt, I moved on to a second! Whereas the first one focused on cherry reds and grassy greens, the second incorporated pinker reds and yellow-greens. (I get a kick out of seeing the same design rendered in different palettes like that.)

The Bonnie and Camille print from April Showers inspired the palette. It’s not a Christmas fabric, but the red flowers remind me of poinsettias and I like the gray it introduces into the palette.

The back features more Bonnie and Camille. As with most of my quilt backs, I cut a length of fabric vertically and filled it out with a columns of scraps to make a back that would accommodate the size of the top. (More on that approach to piecing backs can be found under the Techniques tab.)

Christmas 2017 was a happy one. We were all healthy, so all of our plans (mostly) went off without a hitch. But binding quilts two days before the holiday was for the birds. If it weren’t for all the other stuff I was doing—the quilted ornaments and belated-birthday sewing and guild commitments—two binding projects would have been doable. Let’s hope I can hold on to these lessons for the next 12 months and make the holiday season of 2018 saner!

How did you hold up over the holidays? Were you crafting at the 11th hour?!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday, Main Crush Monday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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  1. It was a very quiet and low key holiday season for us here. The quilts turned out beautifully, and hopefully next year you won't feel quite the pinch to finish with such short time. Happy New Year; I look forward to seeing what you create in 2018!

  2. LOVE the use of that AMH on the back! I totally know what you mean about the colors. I've actually found myself throwing some AMH in my destash pile as of late because there's so much cream and not really any white (I never use cream). Anyway. You deserve a nice rest after all that binding! After the holidays I always find myself kind of spent with making. Haha.

  3. Both are great quilts. I love the backing with the three trees -- amazing. I was sewing a binding last minute as well, but luckily, it was a small baby quilt. Here's to a wonderful 2018.

  4. Love them both! The back on the first one is perfection! And I love the less traditional but still christmasy palette of the second one! I can't decide which is my favorite! Hope you guys had a wonderful christmas and new year, and I hope to catch up with you soon!

  5. Love these quilts so much!!! :D
    I think I have you beat -- no decorated tree or decorations of any kind, and I bound a nearly king size quilt Christmas morning... for gifting at 1. Hubby and I keep saying we're glad we were able to sacrifice our Christmas for others (true meaning of the season, blah blah blah) but never again. And by never again, I of course mean in three years I'll forget about all this anxiety, and do it again. Maybe I can remember a bit of it, and be binding a quilt for me on Christmas morning next time? :D

  6. they're both beautiful quilts - and yay for letting Christmas linger - our trees are still up and I'll have to see if I feel like bringing the decorations down tomorrow - it's so lovely to have them to brighten the darkness

  7. Love both of these quilts! And I appreciate how you differentiated the greens and reds in the two quilts. I think sometimes I don't take the time to be quite so thoughtful and it makes such a difference! Wishing you all the best in 2018!!

  8. You did better than I did! I was sewing my Christmas tree skirt in the days AFTER Christmas. It is still not finished, but I am determined not to let it get lost in the back of a cupboard until the last days of 2018.

  9. Both of those turned out beautifully!! If fact, I would love nothing more than to race up to my sewing room to start one right now. Alas, the UFOs prevent me from doing so!

  10. I love both the quilts, but I really dig the alternative palette of the 2nd one!

    I joke with my husband, "it's not really Christmas if I'm not up until 1AM frantically finishing a project." I got smarter this year and bailed on some projects early enough to easily purchase a gift. I had big plans to take a day off right before Christmas to power through some small projects but then my son got pinkeye and I ended up spending the day entertaining a kid who was too contagious to leave the house but otherwise not feeling sick. But, every year I get a little smarter about reducing the number of deadline projects, and smarter about picking things to work on throughout the year that can be put away as gifts for NEXT Christmas.

  11. Both quilts are great; I love those trees! My holiday was frantic with me doing last minute 'stuff'. I've already made notes in my 2018 planner reminding me not to let that happen again. I'm looking forward to a low-key, low-stress December 2018!

  12. I love love love your first quilt, with this great back! Cute trees!

  13. What fun quilts! I really, really, really love your backing with the left-over blocks.

  14. These are so great! I admired lots of these little trees throughout the holiday sewing period. We don't celebrate Christmas in our house, but I may have to make one as a gift.


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