2023 Year in Review

2023 blog posts: 358

2023 fabric used: 58.63 (30% used for Charity) – I can really believe I have made all the items listed below with 25 yards of fabric! It really doesn’t take much fabric to make a quilt.

To compare, take a look at the 2022 Year in Review post.

Finished 2023 Quilt Projects

I seem to be finishing four – six quilt projects per year. Four of the projects below were long time residents of my 26 projects list. I am pleased to have them finished.

Finished (for me!) Donation Quilts

As  you know, I don’t quilt much and I enjoy the collaborative effort of making a top and allowing someone else to quilt it. Thus, the quilts below are mostly tops, but I have included the finished quilt once someone else finishes it for the group.

I never seem to make as many tops as I think I should. These are pretty nice tops, though, and I am pleased to say that I usually have a donation top, or some blocks, under the needle.

It would be great if I was able to make one more donation top before the end of the year. 12 quilt tops = 1 top per month, though I didn’t make all of them this year. Regardless, the blog symmetry is good.

Finished Bags and Small Projects

This category covers bags, toys, aprons and knitting as well as other non-quilt projects.

It was definitely the year of the Hackneys. I kept making that bag and am not sure I am finished with the pattern yet.

In Process or To Make

The ‘In Process’ is used to denote projects on which I am actively working or are on the design wall waiting for me to stitch. I am continuing to try not to put away projects, so that they stay off my UFO list. I find putting a project away ensures I never work on them. Out of sight out of mind, I guess.

Quilts (machine work)

Quilts (Handwork)

I decided that some of my quilts are in a different class because they are hand piecing or embroidery or beading. They take longer. Thus I created a new category and have moved some projects here.

  • La Passacaglia – The rosettes are all assembled. I am working on the border.

Ready for Quilting

In the Quilting Process

    • Nothing at the moment

In the Finishing Process

    • Nothing at the moment
  • Retreat Organizer – another project from the Crafty Gemini Organizer Club, also on my list. I finally started it. I am determined to finish it soon, if for no other reason than to get it off my list.
  • Rose Petrillo bag – I still have the pieces for this bag cut out, but have not started sewing.
  • Superbloom tote using Hindsight fabric – Still not started, but higher up on my mental list. The fabric and supplies are still ready to go.

Still UFOs
I still have UFOs. Who doesn’t, after all? A project in the ‘UFO’ category means I am stalled, it hasn’t been worked on in awhile or it is waiting its turn to be worked on. The list is a lot shorter and the projects are newer, for the most part.

I am annoyed that some of these are still WIPs. I just need to work on them!

  1. Handbag Sampler – this is still the forgotten project. I found one block in the not-too-distant past, but otherwise I don’t actually know exactly where the blocks are hiding. I crawled up in the far reaches of my fabric closet to see if I could find them and they weren’t where I thought. I am sort of mystified as to where they could be. I haven’t even found a picture of all the blocks. WTH?
  2. Self Portrait: started in 2006 at a class at Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Virginia. After a brief burst of inspiration, I am stalled on this again. As one of my oldest (I am pretty sure) UFOs, I put it on my blog and out into the Twitterverse and Diane suggested that I not consider this as a self portrait. I think that strategy is a great idea. I am now trying to think of a new persona for her.
  3. Serendipity Lady – I am still planning to take this piece to be framed. It might need a bit of quilting first.
  4. Fabric of the Year 2020
  5. Fabric of the Year 2021 – I may combine 2020 and 2021 into a COVID edition.
  6. Fabric of the Year 2022 – yes, I added this one to the list, but this is the last one I plan to do.

2023 All the Donation Blocks

This is quite a few donation blocks (188 at last count)! I am pretty pleased with how many blocks I made this year. I know you saw many of these yesterday. Scroll down to revisit the ones I made earlier this year.

December 2023 Donation Blocks

I realize that most of these are black or light grey. This is a result of working through my black, grey and brown scrap bin.

Unfortunately, I was being odd when I first started naming these blocks and so they are all called  Dark Grey…. I will probably end up making, at least, two quilts out of the blocks you see. I think I will make a light grey and a black quilt, but it depends on how much light grey I have. The drawer was full when I started and I still have quite a few scraps, though most of the straight strips have been used.

I was able to make so many because I used a strip piecing method and just zoomed them through the machine. I also didn’t have to worry about matching any seams since I trimmed them to the right size once I had a large enough piece.

Last Minute Stocking

Stockings decorating the mantlepiece
Stockings decorating the mantlepiece

Our holiday celebrations were a bit topsy turvy this year as the normal hosts, SIL#4 and BIL#4, of our family Christmas Eve party were out of town. As a result, I invited my niece, their oldest daughter and her fiance over for Christmas morning.

This was great as they are delightful guests, but I didn’t have enough stockings. I have enough for the three of us, my parental units and one spare for random visitors. Now I have two spares.

Stocking cut and in process
Stocking cut and in process

I had a lot to do over the past few weeks and was busy as work. Though this project was on my mind, I didn’t start making it until Christmas Eve. I put the YM in charge of the dinner and went off to make a stocking.

I found some line art I wanted to use, then I traced one of the stockings, made the motif and sewed the whole thing together. It has been several years since I made stockings, but this one went together pretty well and looked good when finished. My soon-to-be nephew was pleased to be included.

Finished Stocking
Finished Stocking

I am pleased with the way the stocking came out. I spent, maybe an hour, on the whole project. The ‘pattern’ is relatively simple. I use felt because I don’t have to worry about raw edges, but you could make one quilted and appliqued as well..

I really want to work on embellishing the stockings in general. I may start on that this evening. I plan to put a spine on the holly, but we’ll see when. I try to do a little every year, but don’t always get to it before we put the Christmas decorations way.

Holly motif for Christmas stocking
Holly motif for Christmas stocking

Gift Post: Book Carrier/Cover

Goldenrod book cover
Goldenrod book cover

I made this book cover for my mom for Christmas. I wanted to enter the Sew Sweetness challenge for the month, which used this pattern. I didn’t think I would ever make it as I don’t normally carry books around. Then I talked to my Mom about her book club and all the pieces came together in my mind. It seemed like a good opportunity to make sure she can take her Bible to book club (Bible study??) in a chic and personalized manner.

Goldenrod book cover - open
Goldenrod book cover – open

The Goldenrod Book Cover is one of the patterns that make up Minikins Season 4.

The idea is that you slip the cover of the book into each of the slip pockets and then zip the cover up. The handle is on the top (see above), which allows the owner to carry it. I thought it would be good to put a shoulder strap on it, but didn’t have the time to work out that change, so left it for another day. 

Some of the construction is similar to the Hackney pattern– the gusset and the piece under the handle that connects the ends of the gusset. I am sure it makes sense in terms of pattern writing, but I appreciate it as I feel like I am gathering a bunch of skills that can be interchanged between patterns.

Goldenrod book cover - handle
Goldenrod book cover – handle

I used a piece of cork (?) I bought from Sew Hungry Hippie. They don’t have the exact color any more, so I am not linking to the product. It is called cork microfiber backing. I had some trouble with skipped stitches while sewing it. I tried different needles and rethreading. Nothing worked so I have reached out to the team at Sew Hungry Hippie to see if they have any suggestions. Writing to them made me think that I had not tried different thread. As you know, I mostly use Aurifil and have a lot of colors. Of course, I have other thread, but not in the array of colors.

It is important that I figure out how to use this material since I want to use it for the Rockstar bag. I’ll need more of it for that pattern and don’t want to fight with it the entire time.

Mom seemed to like it and I hope she will be able to use it. She really liked the rainbow zipper.

All the Gifts

Haha! I am off work for a week. While I don’t get paid, I am excited to have some time off. The YM is home, so we are doing a lot.

I will post more about these projects, but I wanted to show you all the gifts I made for Christmas and December birthdays. It doesn’t look like a lot, but I have been busy.

I feel like I sewed more than are shown here, but I can’t find them if I did.

Black Strip Blocks with Cornerstones

Black Color Strip donation block with cornerstones
Black Color Strip donation block with cornerstones

I spent some time yesterday, before I started cooking and wrapping, cutting sashing strips and cornerstones. I thought about putting colors in the cornerstones, but ultimately decided that I would stick with black. My goal, after all, is to clear out that scrap bin.

I wanted to get all the pieces cut so I would be able to sew if I had a few minutes in between the crazy. I tried  all day yesterday to press a gift and that hasn’t gotten done, so I doubt I’ll find the time. Still, I am making progress.

Comparing Black Strip Blocks

Even though I finished enough blocks to make the Black Color Strip donation top, I continued to make blocks. After all, I had more strips. I don’t have quite enough for two donation tops, but I am getting there.

I am nearing the end of my stash of black strips, but I still have a few blocks coming together. As I finish these new blocks, I have replaced a few of the original blocks you saw in the previous post. I thought I would show you a comparison and see what you thought.

I have added the dates so you can see the difference. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Contemplation of Zippers

I have been thinking about zipper installation since my sewing date with Cyndi. There, I installed two zippers.

Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket top
Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket top

The first one was the small pocket zipper, which went into place with no problem. That small pocket is a great opportunity to use some smaller zippers.

The second was the zipper for the overall bag, which didn’t go together at all well. This was completely my fault, because I was being lazy. I didn’t install the zipper foot and, thus, the edge of the regular foot interfered with the smooth installation of the zipper.

Installed zipper looks beautiful
Installed zipper looks beautiful

I suffered for my laziness and hope to have learned my lesson. I unstitched the whole zipper, installed the zipper foot and re-sewed the zipper. There were no wobbles using the zipper foot. My only complaint was that I found the end of the thread to be a pain because there is no foot  under which to anchor it. I hope I will now have the habit of installing the zipper foot in the future. 

Trim away foam in zipper opening
Trim away foam in zipper opening

On another bag, I installed an internal zipper pocket. I have always found that pressing the area around the zipper opening into shape before installing the zipper to be less than satisfactory. In this latest pattern, the designer suggested trimming away the foam to make the preparation for topstitching easier. I did that and did find it a bit easier. I could have probably trimmed more, but was trying to be careful since I have never done that before. If you haven’t ever made an inside zipper pocket, take a look at this tutorial. Also, Sara from Sew Sweetness* has a video for using her acrylic template. I have one of those templates and use it every time I make one of these pockets.








*no affiliation; just a happy customer

Sewing with Cyndi

I went to Cyndi’s house and sewed the other day.

Enigma Bags in process
Enigma Bags in process

We planned to make the Enigma Bag (Sew Sweetness, Minikins Season 4) together back in November, but life happened, so we didn’t get to it until last week.

I have to admit that the Enigma Bag might be my new Hackney Bag – that is a bag I make for gifts for various people. I like it a lot. I especially like the diagonal zipper and how it opens flat. I haven’t given them to enough people to have feedback.

Sewing with Cyndi
Sewing with Cyndi

I didn’t feel like lugging my machine along, so Cyndi kindly let me use her machine. She has a Janome Skyline and I have to say that it was really nice to use for sewing. The bobbin loading was amazing. I might need to look into getting a new machine. That’s a story for another day.

As you can see, I moved in quite completely. My pattern and pieces are on the right and my go bag is on the left.

Sewing with Cyndi - spread to the right
Sewing with Cyndi – spread to the right

I had done all the cutting and prep for my bag, so I worked on cutting out the Goldenrod book cover, which I decided to make at the last minute, while Cyndi finished her prep. I started a bit before and was able to get to the point in the pattern where I installed the main zipper. I wasn’t happy with it, though and stopped, because I needed to contemplate the zipper in the overall scheme of making the bag.

It was a great day and I enjoyed sewing with someone else very much.


New Enigma

Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket
Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket

I went over to Cyndi’s house the other day to sew. We had decided a few months ago to make the Enigma pouch together. We both prepped our pieces at home, then worked on sewing them all together.

With bags the prep is the hardest and most tedious part. It doesn’t matter how many times I have made a bag. The prep is a drag.

Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket top
Enigma #3 inner zipper pocket top

One of the things I had to do was make the inner zipper pocket. This is such a tiny little pocket. I have found it useful on my Peony Enigma. Still, I marvel at the small size of this pocket.

I ripped out the main zipper and sewed it in a second time. The second time I actually used my zipper foot and the zipper installation went perfectly. Now I have a big note on the pattern to install the *&^% zipper foot!

Ultimate Project Bag in Use

Ultimate Project Bag in use
Ultimate Project Bag in use

I just posted about this bag the other day, but had to show you how I have already started to use it.

In the photo, you can see the pieces of the Crafty Gemini Retreat in a Bag, also from the 2018 Organizer Club.

I am still not happy with the Road Trip pouch, but haven’t done anything to fix the position of the clip. At the time I took the photo above, I wasn’t using the pouch for anything. I am not sure where the hardware is for this project, but have another box with all of the 2018 Organizer Club bits and pieces in it, so will look there later.

All of the Black Strip Donation Blocks

All of the Black Strip donation blocks
All of the Black Strip donation blocks

I have been busy making these blocks. I should have been doing other things, but I wasn’t. I just sewed after work, then sat with my DH.

As you can see, I have enough to make a quilt. I am going to start sewing the sashing on soon.

I am thinking of using pink cornerstones and a thin pink border. I like the black and pink color combination. The problem is that this would be a great boy quilt and pink would ruin that. Red might be a good alternative. I’ll have to see.

I still have more strips and am still working on making the grey blocks. My black/grey/brown scrap draw isn’t empty, but it is much emptier. That is a huge bonus as I can actually close it now.