In our quilting guild we have, in all the years I have participated, a challenge for the end of the year. It is called the Christmas Challenge for our Christmas party. What's fun is number one the challenge, but also a very close second is seeing all those challenges displayed at our end-of-the-year-party. It really is one of the neatest ideas that our guild has in my opinion. It is a fantastic quilt show with all my favorite people as the stars. It is a wonderful and a great opportunity to see all the beautiful quilts displayed in a way we don't throughout the year. We have amazing talent in our guild and great personality. This year in particular it is awesome to see each one's take on the same fabric where that personality shines through. Another challenge we have had is a BOM each year. The BOM is a challenge as well. Typically we will use patterns with new techniques/styles/skill building. It is a wonderful challenge to work on throughout the whole year. This month I completed both of these quilts for our 2014.
This year our Christmas Challenge was to make a quilt using at least 20 squares from an exact same charm pack. I was present when picking fabrics and happened to have a bundle from the same fabric line. That was a good thing and kind of a bad thing. It meant that I had a lot of fabric but it also meant that I needed to make a complete large-sized quilt in less than a week due to my hectic quilt market schedule (the Christmas Challenge runs from Aug or Sept usually through Nov, well that is peak getting-ready-for-Fall-Market time). Fat quarter bundles are sometimes great broken up but when I bought the bundle I knew I wanted to keep them intact and make a bed quilt. I was just saving this fabric and it has been about a year since I purchased the bundle. Little did I know I would need to do this under a timeline and it probably was a good thing to be under that timeline because I am not sure I would have wanted to go about making this quilt slow. It would have felt like a lifetime because it felt like a lifetime making it in a week asap - as soon as humanly possible (Log Cabins are monotonous). So much sewing and cutting and pressing. Then I came up with an insane way to piece the back. Anyway, here is my log cabin Christmas Challenge: Log Cabin Chevron
The fabrics were so pretty. The only thing I would change is taking out the tan but I still like it quite a lot with the tan included. The tan was included in both the white and blue sides... I was really scared to see the finished result because I wanted to make sure you could tell the light/dark contrast in order to see the chevron with the tan weaved in. Thankfully it did work.
I had some strips leftover so I made some Euro Pillow shams and then decided to piece the strips into the back in an Echogram style. It took so so so so so long. You would think after all the monotonous sewing I did on the front, when at times I wanted to stick a needle in my eye, I wouldn't throw more into the back. Obviously, I do think it was worth it now that it is finished.
I quilted the quilt with a new pantograph that is super super cute. It worked well because I was on a bit of a time crunch to get it finished asap and I was planning on custom quilting my BOM. Saving that little bit of time using a pantograph helped. Even though I was on this huge time crunch timeline, I still wanted the projects to be special finishes for me personally i.e. dilemma.
So one special finishing touch was involved in the fact that we needed a label. For that special touch, I made this reverse log cabin block where I started with a dark and ended with the white. Then I embroidered my name and date. It is right under my absolute favorite fabric of the line. Beautiful. For me it was a very satisfying finish. And thats that for the Christmas Challenge.
The other big finish was the 2014 BOM. Like I was saying before I custom quilted this quilt. It took a bit of time, but I had fun the entire time. I didn't stress. I have had so much practice quilting projects like this which allowed me to feel so at ease. All the long arming is adding up. Which allowed me to get it finished looking fantastic and asap - as soon as prettily possible. Also, the light fabrics that I picked made quilting a breeze. It camouflaged any mistake. And surprisingly I had very very few. Another thing that was neat about this quilt is that I implemented a new technique I learned in one of the Panguitch's Quilt Walk classes. I took the class with my friend, Crystal. We had a blast and I have really wanted to include trapunto in a project. This one was perfect for that.
Trapunto is basically sewing an additional piece of batting onto the back side of any appliqué, or even in a design you have traced on the front, that you want to pop out a little extra once quilted. It worked really well. In retrospect I would add two layers of the batting rather than just one because I would have liked them to pop a little more. But that might just be my perspective.
This quilt represents so much time. I feel like I am making huge strides in the sampler quilts. They really are a test of fabric value/shade skill. These skills, I think, are practiced and made perfect. I would say that I am probably mid-range. There are places to improve. Although, I have improved. Also, quilting these sampler quilts are like second nature for me now. And I probably land mid-range in long-arming right now too. For next year I would like to up that score a little asap - as. soon. as. I put. the work in.
Let's not forget about the designer of the pattern - Jen Kingwell (for more information on this pattern click on the BOM 2014 link at the bottom of this post). She is a fantastic designer and a very sweet woman as well. I had such a good time talking to her at quilt market again this time.
Each of the blocks have such a cute look. She did a wonderful job pulling them all together.
They were fun to quilt too.
My most favorite blocks are the first two I quilted in the upper left part of the quilt. Just simple and awesome. When I finished these two I immediately knew this was going to be a fun quilting experience.
So thats that for the 2014 BOM.
These two quilts sum up this whole year. I haven't had as many quick finishes that I know of although I've got to search through my pic archives to back that up. It just feels like the finishes have all been a lot of appliqué/time consuming/large finishes. It has felt satisfying for me. The phrase Quality vs Quantity comes to mind. Also, I noticed that I have only made about half as many posts here on the blog. I am pretty sure that the finish quilts contributed to that, but I am sure other things contributed as well. I am excited to make my finish collage for the end of this year. That always puts it all in perspective.
Once more thing - I have a pretty big announcement coming up. I can officially say that I authored a book and pics are coming asap - as. soon. as. people. send them to me which is pretty possibly soon. So I do have to remember that I was sewing like crazy for that whole beginning of this year which seems like a lifetime ago and we are still in the current year. I am being published by Martingale which have been wonderful to work with. This is a dream come true for me and I have to pinch myself that it has come true. I am so humble right now with so much gratitude.
Okay one, one more thing - I came across a really talented quilter that has begun her battle with breast cancer. What a crazy thing to tackle. I have tons of challenges and they aren't just ones in my Quilting Guild. Although, I know for a fact that right now I don't have any challenges as big as Cancer. And I am not even sure you could call Cancer a challenge because a challenge is a choice and Cancer isn't. I wonder how I would prioritize my life if faced with something like that. I wonder what I hold most dear. I know the most obvious answers Weston and my children are my entire life. Then after that I know I would sew because I truly love it. These were things that just flashed through my mind while reading her amazingly moving journey. This whole year for me has been an such a emotionally growing experience. I have been working on prioritizing what is important to me. I have made decisions about relationships/people. I have realized that what others (and this is plural) want isn't always what is right. These are people that are significant and not. I have realized that those people aren't in my circles of priority. I have learned to stay true to what I think life is all about. Those aren't all the answers to life but they are the beginning stages of feeling whole. I know I've got them and to watch others that just don't is just sad for me (and I say this only because they steal little moments of my life from me and make me sad, lots of sadness). I look at them and think... wow, you have a long road to travel and they will travel it. It just takes experience to "wake us up". I definitely don't want Cancer to add to mine. But I know this wonderful woman will do an amazing job because she is already and she touched my heart today.
"It might take a year, It might take a day, But what is meant to be will always find it's way"
"When you face difficult times, Know that Challenges aren't sent to destroy you. They are sent to Promote, Increase, and Strengthen you"
"The Greatest Challenge in Life is Discovering who you are. The Second Greatest is being Happy with what you Find"
"Challenges are what make life interesting, Overcoming them is what makes life Meaningful"