Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Christmas "things"

Most of the things in my home have a history or are there for sentimental reasons and today I'm sharing three of my favorite Christmas "things".

This Nativity Scene dates probably from the late 1960's and my sister and I set it up under our family's Christmas tree every year. I don't know where my parents got it, perhaps at Woolworths or at a farm auction, but its no longer in its original box.

By the time I received it, the cardboard stable was bent and missing some of the woodshavings on the roof. Some of the figures are missing too and I don't even remember if we ever had them. I still set it up every year.

Besides the story of Christ's great sacrifice, it reminds me of the great anticipation and planning that went into Christmas in my younger years. I miss the wonder that Christmas brings to children!

Several years ago, I purchased this old magazine cover in an antique mall. I don't know who the artist was but this is another "thing" I make sure is set up every Christmas. Perhaps it reminds me of some happy memories of Christmas caroling with family and friends.

Unfortunately, I've not been blessed with musical talent so please don't expect me to come carol at your home!

If you came to my house, this is what you'd see in the entry. Its nearly the same every year - the red and white Drunkard's Path quilt, the wreath and the old, battered kerosene lamp - but this year I added the wooden creche purchased my first year in college.

I've finally finished the shopping, baked two kinds of peppernuts (nearly all gone!) and assorted goodies, sent out some Christmas cards and generally just got caught up in the busyness and stress of the season. I must always remind myself to look beyond the many activities, decorations and obligations to keep my heart focused on God's plan which He set into motion long before the stable.

I hope you are having a wonderful and meaningful Christmas season!
See you next year, Mayleen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 out of 13

Does that sound like a math question at school? 11 out of 13 = 2!

Only 2 more of the 13 diamond blocks need sashing strips sewn to them! That means I've sewn sashing strips to 11 of the blocks so far.
Of course, there's still the setting and corner blocks, deciding on a layout and then hand stitching all the blocks together. My next goal is to finish sewing the sashing strips to all of the blocks by next Wednesday, the 21st. I would really like to finish hand piecing this quilt top before the new year begins but unfortunately, I don't think I'll have the time to do that.

I have a bad habit of overcommiting myself, mostly to things that are worthy and need doing, but just who am I trying to impress? Instead of working like a mad woman on this quilt just so I can say I finished it before the new year, I plan to slow down and enjoy the process.

The Christmas season can be really stressful when we try to live up to other people's expectations. I'm going through one of those times today and feeling very torn about what to do.

Time to slow down, time to decide what's really important and time to enjoy the process!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday's clamshell progress

My clamshell sashing progress is going slowly. This past week, I either hurt my shoulder by doing too much handwork or the pain was weather related. I've noticed I tend to tense and scrunch up my left shoulder and also hunch over my work. My left shoulder muscles were very painful this last week so I took some necessary time off from hand piecing which just about drove me crazy!

Yesterday, being my sewing day, I spent a few hours hand piecing the first sashing strips to the clamshell diamond blocks as the photo shows. I tried to be really careful about my shoulder and, so far, my shoulder is relatively pain free. The lower left block is just laid over the sashing to show you how it will look when finished.

My biggest challenge with the sashing strips is how to applique the narrow stem (?) with its sharp point at the base of the bottom clamshell of each block. This is the first time I've ever had to do this and would love to receive any advice you readers can give! The top block was my first attempt and its point seems a little blunt. The next block was the second attempt and its stem and point are better but seems bulky even with careful trimming. Any advice?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday - Sewing Day!

I always think of Wednesdays as sewing day!

My mom was part of a church sewing society which met on Wednesdays during the fall, winter and spring months. Many of the women who attended were older farm wives and this day was not only a day of growing spiritually and doing something meaningful for church missions but it was also a day of socializing.

No socializing on my Wednesdays but I try to keep it just for sewing and not let a lot of errands and "things to do" creep in to my day!

Fifteen years ago, my mom embroidered tea towels with scenes of teddy bears doing housework. I wanted my kids to dry dishes with them so they've seen a little wear. Instead of them just laying in a drawer and never being seen, I decided to make them into a wallhanging. This is a little on the "cute" side for me but I still like them and hope to finish hand quilting this wallhanging someday.

About the block above, I'm not particularly fond of mending but I do enjoy sewing!

Clean day is also not a favorite day for me but it needs to be done. No cleaning fairy at our house!

Probably my favorite day is Bake Day! Unfortunately, that usually means an unhappy moment on the bathroom scale the next day.

Back to Wednesdays and sewing days - Yesterday, I finished handpiecing the clamshell blocks! I can hardly believe the blocks themselves are done. Here are some of them, not in final arrangement yet though. There are 13 full diamond blocks, 8 half diamonds for the sides and the 4 corner blocks.

Next up is figuring out how to make and sew on the scalloped sashing. My quilt is inspired by Kaffe Fassett's quilt in his Museum Quilts book. He used a narrow bias strip to make his sashing but had to make small tucks at each scallop. I don't want to do that so I'll have to draft a pattern for the sashing. The sashing fabric is green and will also be hand pieced/appliqued to the blocks.

I hoped, in one of my more optimistic moments, to have the top completely done by the end of the year. LOL My schedule this month has gone crazy with something on our calendar nearly every day of the month. I'll be checking in from time to time though and will let you know how my sashing saga is progressing!