friday finish - christmas dresden plate quilt!

Ok folks, crank up the Christmas music and pour yourself a glass of eggnog, because we have a Christmas in July quilt finish!

It all started with a Dresden plate quilt tutorial by Bunny Hill. Dresdens have always been one of my favorite designs, but I thought that they were too difficult for me. Anne Sutton's pattern sure looked easy. Just use this ruler to cut wedge shapes, sew them inside out and then flip them to the right side, stitch them all together and applique them down to a foundation. But I had a few problems. I didn't have that much experience with sewing odd shapes, and I can't do needleturn applique. I wanted it to be nearly king sized. And I had no idea what colors to use! I just looked at this as a fun challenge and a way to expand my skills. So first I printed 2 copies of the black and white pattern and taped them together to make a larger quilt pattern. Then I grabbed my colored pencils and started playing. Here's my final draft.

See how my sketch had alternating red and white centers? I went with all red centers in my final design. And I had absolutely no idea how much fabric I would need. I pulled all of my Fig Tree Quilts reds, greens and creams. I love how most of Joanna Figueroa's collections really do work together - the challenge is to break up those fat quarter stacks and play with color! This quilt has fabric from many of her collections including Patisserie, Gypsy Rose, Butterscotch & Rose, Strawberry Fields, California Girl, Tapestry and Avalon. Each plate contains 20 sections, and I used at least 40 prints in this quilt so no two plates are identical. They were hand-appliqued using Kimono silk thread. Eek, that silk thread is fine. It's like sewing with hair! The background is a printed cream, which has a slightly glazed appearance. It's sashed in a cream Tapestry print and bordered in a candy-apple red Avalon floral, and it measures approximately 95" x 105".

This was started in December 2012 during the Christmas holiday break from work. I sewed, sewed, sewed like a maniac for a few weeks and then spent months doing the applique. I shipped it across the country to my longarm quilter, Melissa, with compete trust that she'd find the perfect custom design for it. (I neglected to tell her just how large it is!) And I really love the design that she came up with. I always do, and it's a nice surprise to open the box when the UPS man delivers it.

I can't wait for November to arrive so that I can start working on more Christmas quilts! But now I need to pack up the reds and greens for a few months. And stop playing Christmas music, and stop drinking eggnog. 

Thanks for visiting with me today! I'm linking with Finish It Up Fridays at Crazy Mom Quilts. Be sure to stop by to see what other quilters have finished this week.

christmas in july

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? I do!

Here's just a sneak peek of a Christmas Dresden quilt that I'm finishing up this week. It's big! It's heavy! It's all Fig Tree fabrics! And I'm just about finished with all 392" of the hand-stitched tomato red binding. Yikes. 

Normally I only like to work on quilts in season. This means that in September and October I'll eat candy corn and burn pumpkin candles while working on Halloween quilts. In November and December I'll play Christmas music (nonstop) while sewing Christmas quilts. But there's something kind of fascinating about Christmas in July. This Friday is the 25th - exactly 5 months from Christmas. It will be my third Friday finish this month! I'll have the full details for you about the design inspiration, construction, size, etc - and I even found my original draft sketch.

There's even more Fig Tree goodness this week. I've added another two Homestead houses to the collection. First, a little pink house in Strawberry Fields. All lawns should look like this, right?

And an aqua house in Avalon. I want to live here.

Eight houses have been built, with another 12 still to be constructed. Maybe I'll try to squeeze in a few red and green houses before the end of the month. It's that Christmas in July thing, you know?

Thanks so much for visiting today. See you in a few days with the finished Christmas quilt!

still dresden-ing

I'm still making slow but steady progress on my Dresden plates. It feels so good to see the finished blocks piling up!

Doesn't it seem like every quilt blogger seems to be writing about how they're getting ready for quilt market? Yes, I'd love to go! I hope to be there someday. But in my real-life work, the cosmetic and fragrance market just wrapped up last week. My retail clients visit New York seasonally to see what's coming soon in the cosmetic and fragrance industry. And they get to be entertained by my sales pitch! The meetings are actually fun - I enjoy the rush of the performance, but after a full two months of those presentations I am tired. Many times at night all I could manage to get done was some hand applique.  

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I now have 40 blocks done, with another 24 blocks still to go. They'll all have a round red dotty center, and the blocks will be 8" when finished. Now I need to decide - should I rush to finish them, or should I just work on them between the other projects? I wonder how many I can get done this week?

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I'm linking up today with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

dresden progress

Twenty six Dresden plates have been hand appliqued! I have 38 to go. I like to tell myself that I have done 40% of the applique work, because that makes it seem like I am closer to my goal. 

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I look forward to the time that I'll spend on the applique. I find it to be relaxing. I listen to talk radio or I catch up on Pat Sloan's weekly podcast with American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine. And sometimes it's nice to not hear my sewing machine humming for a few hours. 

The finished blocks will be 8" (I cut them oversized and then trim then down later) and set with postage stamp sashing. I'm aiming for circus-like, cotton-candy-insanity here! There will be multicolored inner sashing and red outer sashing. And probably a few borders. This all works in my mind... and hopefully it will work in real life, too. 

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And then there's the bag with even more sashing that still needs to be pressed open. The burnt fingers part is not my idea of fun! I'm working with an assortment of Pam Kitty Morning and Pam Kitty Love, with a few bits of Sew Cherry and Flower Sugar. OH, and this is the first time that I used white-on-white fabric! I love it. I'm sure you've seen that now I use it all the time. I like how it adds texture without additional color. 

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I'll use my new set of Perfect Circles templates to help with the center circles. I love having this big selection of sizes to choose from. I picked these up on Saturday at my local quilt shop.

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The quilt shop just happens to be right across the street from the Chelsea Flea Market. I had extra money to spend since a flea market vendor REFUSED to sell a sewing machine to me! Ah, that black Singer Featherweight was perfect, and complete with all the accessories, manual, extra bobbins and the original carrying case. He wanted $200 (yes, that's a bargain in NYC). Sold! But then another dealer whispered something to him, and suddenly he couldn't decide if he wanted to sell it to me. He told me to come back on Sunday and maybe he would change his mind. WHAT? Then another male shopper walked up and wanted to buy it to add to his Featherweight collection... and he scrolled through iPhone photos of his machines. Um, four men haggling over a vintage sewing machine?! 

This isn't the first time that I wasn't able to buy a Featherweight. I know that I'd much rather have a white machine anyway, and my own machine is perfection. I'm happy with what I have. Plus, there's always more hand-stitchy stuff to do, too! 

Don't forget to check out what other quilters are working on this week at Patchwork Times!

the plate collector

I have an addiction to English porcelain plates. I've spent years collecting far more plates than I'll ever need. Every piece of antique transferware calls out to me at the flea market. Every handpainted fruit plate wants to come home with me. And now I find that I have become addicted to Dresden plate quilt blocks!

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It started innocently enough. I sewed along with the Bunny Hill Plate Club. Then came the Fig Tree Quilts  "Lollipops" pattern. And now it's the bright, scrappy version. I've used an assortment of Pam Kitty Morning, but also added in some of Lecien's Flower Sugar, and some tiny, leftover bits of Sew Cherry.

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This one was inspired by Lori Holt's "Ring Around The Rosy" pattern... but I got very caught up making the 6" plates and didn't want to stop. So now I have, oh, 64 of them to hand applique! 

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I'm using Kimono silk applique thread in Cherry Blossom. I love how easy this thread is to use, and the names are all so much fun. 

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I think that I'll be very busy for awhile!

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