Work-in-Progress Girl


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Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt

Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:

Pink and Orange Quilt

I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.

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I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).

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Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.

Pink and Orange Quilt

It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)

I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.

Pink and Orange Quilt

I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?

Pink and Orange Quilt

I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.

Pink and Orange Quilt

But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).

Pink and Orange Quilt

I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).

I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!

Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.

This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

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A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)

practise not perfection

The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.

Quilting Swirls

This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.

Quilting Swirls

I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.

Quilting Swirls

Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.

If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.

I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:

Quilting set-up

That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.

Quilting set-up

These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.

Quilting set-up

Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.

The things we do for our hobbies.


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The Pink and Orange Quilt

So I’m kind of at a boring stage in the making of things… by which I mean I’m putting the top of a quilt together, but it’s not really much fun to show because it’s kind of neither here nor there right now.

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Right now the sort of… central body of the quilt is in three parts. That’s two of them, pinned together and ready to be sewn. It’s been sitting on my table for a couple days because it’s been so cold and miserable that I haven’t felt like sewing (and have only felt like taking hot baths and/or sleeping and/or cooking warming things like stew and Cuban Smashed Potatoes), but I’m determined to get at least that centre part sewn together by Thursday afternoon.

I really need to press that again, but that Best Press is actually not scent free and smells so bad that I hate using it. (I feel like my lungs are full of the stuff every time I use it, even if I only use it very, very lightly.)

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And here is the other third of the blocks of this quilt, along with the borders, which are as thick as the blocks are themselves! It’s going to have a… non-standard setting, in a way, which lead to the exceptionally wide (for me) borders. I don’t love big borders… I never know how to quilt them. But I think I’m just going to do the same all over quilt job, borders, blocks and all. This isn’t really a quilt that I think I’m going to love – when I see individual blocks I like them and I basically like all the fabrics involved and I like the block pattern that I chose, but I find the colours overwhelming when they’re all laid out together pink! coral! orange! floral! – so I’m thinking of it as good practise and I’m going to use it to practise quilting spirals. Just a pretty basic spiral type thing. I need to watch some more Craftsy classes and find one of the ones where Leah Day shows how she does them.

Anyway, here I am talking about it:

You won’t learn anything from that video that I haven’t already told you, at least I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be more interesting(ish?) in person?

Linking up to many and various WIP Wednesday type link-ups: Work in Progress Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced, Let’s Bee Social with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts, and WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network.


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Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I finished a thing! And this thing was both my A Lovely Year of Finishes January goal AND my first project on my Finish Along Quarter One list!

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

This photo was just for my sister who, when I was lamenting the lack of clean outdoor places to photograph this quilt, suggested that I use her fresh-from-the-car-wash car as a backdrop. There was too much sun, but the car was nice and clean… The quilt, too, was sort of for my sister. She commissioned it for a friend of hers who was having her first baby. The new parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, so they were doing their nursery in browns and lime greens, and so that was my only requirements for the quilt. I gave my sister a few options of things I wouldn’t mind to try making, and she choose the one I was rooting for all along, a pattern published in the Spring 2014 edition of Fons and Porter’s Scrap Quilts magazine called 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken of Squares and Triangles.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

The original version was made with 42 charm squares plus a little over 1.5 yards of white fabric – I made mine with 2 yards of some random brown in my stash (I think it was a Kona cotton, but I’m not sure) and 42 self-cut charms. I pulled all my fabrics except one out of my scrap drawer, leaning as much as possible on lime and grellow sorts of colours, but with a little bit of sky blue, darker greens, and some yellow mixed in as well.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Fourteen of the blocks are made with a solid background rather than a print, which I think gives that hashtag centre of the quilt a bit of a twinkliness, as silly as that sounds. It just changes the way your eye moves around, somehow.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Even though it’s a baby quilt, I didn’t want to have too many children’s prints involved. There are a few novelty-type prints to give a nod to the fact that it is a baby quilt, but otherwise it’s just dots and stripes and other mostly geometric prints. These few animals and the airplane are all I’ve got in that line of things! (And aren’t those sheep from Laurie Wisbrun just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?)

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I quilted this very simply so that it would remain soft and drapey, creating two sort of ribboned lines horizontally through each row of hashtags, plus through the borders. If I’d had enough time, I’d have done the same thing vertically, but I was a little short, so I did the vertical borders as well, so that it created a row of hashtags down the sides of the quilt. After that, I went back into the centre of the quilt and added vertical quilting lines to each of the blocks with the brown background, so that they have a completed ribbon hashtag, while the rest of the quilt just has the horizontal quilting. I used a green variegated thread, so that I didn’t have to try to colour match the variety of colours in the hashtags. I kind of like the green quilting on the brown – it gives it a little lift where otherwise it’d be a too big, too brown expanse of fabric.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I backed the quilt in a flannel with elephants to tie in with the elephant block on the front of the quilt. Colourwise, it doesn’t match my binding very well, which was largely done with that awesome plaid of Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line, but to be honest I don’t really care. I love how the binding looks on the front and the flannel feels nice on the back. That’s good enough! It’s not visible in this particular photo, but one corner of the binding was done in the same solid brown as the majority of the front.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I really love this quilt and it was the tiniest bit hard to give up. I may have to make another, larger one some day. Love.

Some quilt stats
Name: I mostly call it the Brown and Lime Hashtag quilt, but that’s because I’m never creative with names.
Pattern: 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken
Size: About 39″ x 43.5″
Fabric: Assorted green, yellow, and blue prints, with a Kona cotton background, which I think is Espresso, but I can’t find my colour card to doublecheck.
Backing: Cheapie green and white elephant flannel
Binding: Denyse Schmidt’s Simple Plaid in Lime from Chicopee

Posting a #fridayfinish on my blog today about my green and brown hashtag quilt... Love these fabrics I put into it!

So if you made it all the way to the bottom of this ridiculously long post,.. you can be entered to win 42 charms in lime, grellow, green, yellow, and blue fabrics, all cut straight from my stash! They’re not an exact match to the 42 from my quilt, because some of them I didn’t have enough fabric to make two charms, but there are 42, which is enough to make this quilt (or something like it!) for yourself. If you’d like to be entered to win, just leave a comment telling me what you might do with these charms if you won them. (I’m perfectly okay with you saying, “I have no idea!” or that you’d filter them into your own scrap stash to be used as you find the perfect place for them.) [Edited to add: please don’t add this to any sites that compile lists of giveaways. I don’t care who enters my giveaways – they’re open to anyone – but I prefer they go to someone who is reading this because of a link-up I’ve joined or because they just read my blog, rather than because they’ve hit on a site that links them all up.]

Also, edited to add: I forgot to say when I’d do the drawing! All entries need to be in by Thursday, February 5 – I’ll do the drawing when I get home from work on Friday morning.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: January 2015

I often lose too much of the month with these things by dithering until the last second before deciding what my goal will be, and by then I’ve lost a week of time I could have spent sewing! But I only really have one big goal this month, and that’s to finish my 42 Hashtag baby quilt that my sister commissioned for a co-worker friend who is having a baby. If you follow me on Instagram (@clumsychord), you’ll have probably hit your tolerance level for how many times you want to see the unfinished bits of this quilt…

Forty-Two hashtags, finally. #sewmystash2015

but here is a little more. To be honest, in the last couple days I did get the entire quilt top pieced, but I’m very reluctant to show it because I want to just show the finished piece, when I finally get it there, instead of spoiling it by showing the whole thing now!

43 Hashtags

The mama of the baby this is intended for doesn’t know if she is having a boy or a girl, so she did the nursery mostly in lime greens and browns. So my sister asked for that and then I dug around in my solids stash for a good brown (with enough quantity – I don’t tend to stash a lot of 2 yard cuts of solid fabric in anything but black or white!) and fished around in my green scraps for fabrics large enough to cut 5-inch charms. I wanted to get a good blend of greens, leaning as much toward lime as possible (though I think I tended to hit grellow more – you know, that yellow-green colour that’s kind of like chartreuse I suppose), and then I wanted also to add in a little bit of sky blue and some yellow, just to make sure there was a bit of depth and interest.

43 Hashtags

Piecing all these hashtag blocks together, I noticed that I’ve got a metric ton of dot and… dot-adjacent fabrics. So very many dots!

43 Hashtags

Anyway, the goal for this month is just to get this little thing finished. All that’s left at this point is basting, quilting, and binding. And it’s a pretty small quilt, so it shouldn’t take too long. As always, it’s the basting that’s holding me up. I do love to avoid that particular nightmare as long as possible… but needs must. So my next day off work, that’s going to be my goal – basting. And then after that I think I’ll fly through it. I’ve got a fairly simple plan for the quilting (since my good machine is still in the shop and I don’t want to rely on having it back soon enough to use) so once I get it going, it should be a pretty quick project. And then binding and it’ll be done!

I’m really loving this quilt. I mean, usually I have a half dozen things to point out and say that I’d change this or I’d change that, but assuming all goes well, this one should just be a straight up pat-myself-on-the-back quilt. I need to get it done because I’m just actually kind of excited to show it to everyone!

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes, WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network, WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes – October Goal (+ TTMT)

So I chose a really easy goal in September, which means I think I should pick something a little more complex this month! And I’m really hoping I’ll get it done because if I do, then my Christmas gift for my mom will be entirely taken care of. I talked about this a bit back in the winter when I was working on piecing the top, but I played pretty coy with it because I kept hoping I’d get it finished really quickly, and I wanted to be like “Woo look what I made!” without beating the whole thing to death before hand like I usually do. But the last photo I took was in February, so clearly that getting it finished quickly thing didn’t pan out. In fact, let’s look at my January ALYOF goal:

January goals

And then I went on to talk about how I wanted to give this to my mom for her birthday (early in February) but that they probably wouldn’t come to visit until late that month. Hahahahaha. February.

Okay, well, continuing to play coy with the look of the entire quilt, this is my goal for October: to get the Confetti Go Lucky quilt basted and quilted and bound. Soon would be good (because I want to get two charity quilts done this month too, if possible).

October A Lovely Year of Finishes goal

A Lovely Year of Finishes

And finally, another Talk to Me Tuesday video. I’ll get around to writing about these cushion covers one day soon… (the light’s just gone really early, so I keep putting off photo taking till after dinner, but by then it’s too late).


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Bits and Bobs (June Goals)

I’m feeling very talky today, so naturally I’m home alone all weekend AND I don’t have to work till Monday. No one to talk to! GAH. I’m going to go crazy. A little bit.

Anyway… I spent so much of May not sewing that I got way behind on my just-for-me sewing plans – I didn’t even look at my May A Lovely Year of Finishes goal (which was my Layer Cake HST Quiltalong) and I didn’t touch my Gypsy Wife blocks at all. So I’m behind by all of May and now need to get June done for two quilts… so that’s going to be my goal for the month, getting all those sets of blocks finished!

My Button

Here’s where I’m at:

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By the time I’m caught up, I won’t be able to fit all my blocks on the design wall any more! (And so probably I’ll wind up taking down the low volume ones and leaving the brights up instead.)

I’ve only got five more blocks to sew for the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

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which means I could finish them by the end of the day if I’d just focus on them. But I’m too distracted! Too distracted by sewing up a block of the Infatuation quilt:

Infatuation block

I went and fished another solid out of my bin of solids, one which I fortunately had about three-quarters of a yard of (it takes 5/8s I think to make a single block). I really like this blue, but I think I need to learn to label my solids when they come in the door because I have no idea what colour it is. I’m pretty sure it’s a Kona cotton, but when I compare it to my colour card (which is out of date), I can’t decide what colour it is. I thought at a glance that it was Midnight or Nightfall, but when I put the fabric up closer it looks more like Navy or Indigo. I tend not to find the colour card all that useful in that way… the swatches are two small and I often think I have a match, then when I get it in yardage I discover that it’s really not at all what I thought. Anyway, I actually really like how it looks with a selection of fabrics from Lottie Da and True Colours (crappy Instagram photo):

Lottie Da, True Colors, and an indeterminate blue...

But whether I love it or not, I don’t know what it is to order more anyway! How much would it suck to make a guess, order 6 yards, and then find out I’d got something a shade or two off?

I’m starting to think that’s what’s going to happen is I’ll make four of these blocks, with four different backgrounds and I’ll either crap out and decide that a 60″ x 60″ throw is enough (or I could slap a border on it so that it’d be big enough to be useful… I’m short, but I like a quilt to wrap under my feet and over my shoulders) or I’ll find something much more neutral and make four coloured background blocks and five neutral ones so that I could mix them all into one quilt. (But then I’d probably not find it that aesthetically pleasing, so. I don’t know.)

Anyway, I also have five or six small things to make, a couple pouches and some hot pads (and I need to find my Insulbrite for those… I know I’ve got two opened packages of the stuff, so I really do need to look) and some other little bits and pieces. None of it sounds like so much when I lay it out like this, but I never seem to sew half as much as I want to, so I never can tell if these ideas of what I should do are realistic. In any case, these are only the things I hope to get done this month… and the Gypsy Wife stuff is the actual proper goal.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: January Goal

If you saw my post the other day about why I’m Fabric Fasting, then you may have also seen those ginormous lists of WIPs and wish-they-were-in-progress projects. I don’t have any delusions about finishing all of those before the end of 2014, but I’d really, really like it if I could knock at least a few off the list. And, ahem, maybe start fewer new projects for once. I don’t want to start with all the easy ones (ie. all the small projects :D), but I also want to be realistic about what I can finish in any given amount of time. So I think I’m going to try to set a few monthly goals, something realistic given the time I tend to devote to sewing and something a little bigger and a bit more pie in the sky. My Lovely Year of Finishes goals will always be the realistic ones, because they seem pretty focussed on the idea of having manageable goals, and I can get behind that!

January goals

So January. For January, my ALYoF goal is the starred one – to finish my Sunshine cushion cover.

Sunshine pillow

It’s further along than this picture implies, but I’m still back-and-forthing on whether or not to pick out that embroidery and do it again in a darker thread. (Orange seems a good choice.) On the one hand, I love the stitching and think it came out beautifully and am loathe to pick out something that came out so good on the first go around. On the other hand, it nearly blends into that yellow and if it’s not readable, who cares how good it looks?

For my other goals/hopes, the bee blocks are a given. I have to do them (because I don’t want to be a jerk who reneges on her promises) and in fact hope to get them done today. One is a very simple paper-pieced block with large amounts of negative space surrounding it, and the other is a fairly simple herringbone-style block.

Cat-vent Quilt-along

For the Catvent quilt, I’ve got two rows almost competely finished. I’m tossing around the idea of making only three (rather than 5) rows of faces and using some of my Mad About Patchwork giftcard to buy some of the Catnap fabrics whenever they arrive and piece in chunks of those in place of making all 25 blocks. I don’t know. I was enjoying piecing all those blocks and choosing all kinds of different scraps to go into it, but it’s not a project I’m super devoted to, it was just an entertaining diversion; so is it worth putting a lot of time into? I don’t know. It’ll be good for practising some quilting, though, once it’s all pieced together.

Confetti quilt

Okay, and the Confetti Go Lucky quilt. I don’t seem to have any half-decent pictures of it, but the top is pieced and the backing is pieced, so I just need to get it basted and start quilting it. This is my pie in the sky goal because I know it’s going to be the most amount of work, and thus the hardest to devote myself to doing. If there’s anything to be learned from my 2013 year in review, it’s that I do a lot of small things and very few large things, and I think it’s because I let these big projects intimidate me and then I just put them off indefinitely. I want to give this to my mom though, preferably for her birthday, which is February 7, so I really need to get it quilted if that’s going to happen. (Realistically, they won’t come to visit until late in February, so I’ll probably have some time.)

So, if tl;dr… I’m linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes with a goal of finishing the Sunshine cushion cover. Anything else will be gravy.