A Tale of Two Table Runners

Boy this sure has been a busy quilty Christmas season! And I LOVE it!

Do you remember the Holly Tree Skirt that I quilted for my cousin? Yep, I thought you did!

Well, she also sent me two holly table runners to quilt. They were almost exactly the same except one had a white background for the applique blocks and one had a ecru background.

Holly Table Runner
I started with the white one.

Why?

Because it was the one one top silly! Grin.

For a change I actually had a plan for this one before I got it on Millie.

I knew I wanted to do a modern version of holly leaves in the border. I knew they wouldn’t be easy to see because the border fabric had a lot of pattern, but I still wanted to try it.

Holly Table RunnerI thought ribbon candy would work well in the sashing.

But, I knew I wanted to let the applique stand out. I really liked this idea from Ivory Spring. She does wonderful work. If you haven’t checked out her work you should. She has a great program called Thread Talk where she either gives tutorials or lessons she has learned in quilting. I love how the echo and pebbles look against the applique. I also liked the McTavish fill.

Here’s how my version turned out.

Holly Table Runner
I was going for a modern style look. I love how the blocks look. You can’t see the holly leaves (but they were good practice) from the front, so here’s a shot of the back.
Holly Table RunnerHolly Table Runner
15 space

Originally I was going to do the second table runner to match the first one. But when I put it on Millie it screamed for FEATHERS!!! Traditional, elegant, feathers! And who is going to turn down a quilt when it wants feather? Not me!!

No feathers in the border, because well, they would be invisible. But piano keys would add some nice texture and they feel very traditional and elegant to me.

But the red sashing was a solid. So the perfect place for feathers. Micro feathers that is. The sashing was 1″.

Holly Table RunnerI couldn’t decide how to manage the blocks. So I went browsing around looking for some ideas. And found this on Katrina’s Quilting. She has lots of incredible ides of places you can both showcase feathers and sneak them in. I love how the feathers point your eye to the center flower.

Here’s my version:

Holly Table Runner Holly Table Runner

I love how both table runners turned out. I hope my cousin likes them!!!

Next up, the last tree skirt!!!!!!

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Simple and Elegant Christmas Ornament

Every year I make a different homemade Christmas ornament. This year with everything going on I needed a SUPER easy and TOTALLY fast ornament, but still NICE looking.

Enter – air dry clay!

The first time I used air dry clay was for Miss M’s Dino birthday party. The kids all made dino foot print necklaces. It was super easy to work with.

Criteria 1 easy – Check!

There are a ton of tutorials out there using stamps and lace to make very elegant looking ornaments. I just so happened to have just gotten an alphabet stamp set and have a whole bunch of lace waiting for just the right project.

Criteria 2 nice looking – Check!

And rolling out and stamping clay? Could it get faster? Ok yea, the clay takes a few days to dry. But I wouldn’t spend very much hands on time. And hands on time is what I am short of right now.

Criteria 3 fast – Check!

Yep, we have a winner!!!!

Air Dry Clay Ornament Air Dry Clay Ornament Air Dry Clay Ornament Air Dry Clay Ornament

Add some homemade decorations to brown paper lunch bag and you have a nice little gift. ornament gift wrap

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Paper Packages Tied up in String

This year I took the easy route and bought (gasp) teacher gifts instead of making them. I know, its the thought that counts. I just feel like I am cheating.

But, Miss M and I spent part of the day making the wrapping for the gifts.

One of my favorite ways to wrap small gifts is to decorate plain gift bags. I usually have a bunch on hand. The dollar store sells plain bags 2 for $1. And then you can decorate them for whatever you want. I use them for party favor bags, birthday gift bags and teacher gift bags.

And since I just finished quilting my cousin’s holly tree skirt, I had holly on the brain. I cut out the holly and background paper with my Cricut and Christmas papers leftover from previous projects.

I added some colored tissue paper and some red or green bakers twine and viola! Adorable packaging tied up with string! That’s anyone’s favorite thing! (Sorry I couldn’t help myself.)

Holly Wrapping Holly Wrapping Holly Wrapping

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Holly Tree Skirt

This summer one of my cousins was in town for a visit and she said she liked my star tree skirt so well she made her own. I was flattered.

We chatted for quite a bit on different ideas of how to quilt it. As a part of that conversation I offered to quilt it for her. And even better she gave me free reign on the quilt design.

Here is the gorgeous top. Of course I am a little biased as red is my FAVORITE color!

Holly Tree SkirtI love quilting feathers. And they look so festive. Plus they are FAST and I really wanted to get this back to my cousin soon! So all the arms of the star got a feather swirl.Holly Tree Skirt

The holly blocks received a much simpler treatment. Each of the red logs got either ribbon candy, holly leaves or up/down lines. And a simple stipple in the white areas.Holly Tree SkirtIts really hard to see the quilting on the top of the quilt, so I too an image of the back as well. Here you can really see the feathers and a little bit of the detail work in the blocks.Holly Tree SkirtI am happy with how it turned out, and hopefully my cousin is as well!

She also sent me two holly table runners. Those are up next on Millie!

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Triangle Tree Skirt – D.O.N.E!!!!!!

It is finally DONE!!!! M’s triangle tree skirt.

Its hard to believe that this plain looking skirt.

Not Your Normal Steam - Designing a tree skirt

Turned into this…..

I love how the glitter fabric makes it look like snow.

Triangle Tree Skirt

Each of the 8 trees have a different quilting pattern. Each of the patterns use pebbles and lines.triangle tree skirt one of the trees triangle tree skirt one of the trees triangle tree skirt one of the trees triangle tree skirt one of the trees triangle tree skirt one of the trees

The center of the quilt. Loving how the two layers of batting really helped the quilting pop.triangle tree skirt detial

I wanted the swirls and pebbles to look like wind and snow.triangle tree skirt detial

And I really love how the sharp angles of the star are softened by the swirls.triangle tree skirt detial

So where’s the picture of M’s tree skirt under her tree?

Well….

M does love her skirt. She actually hugs it. But, she refuses to put it under her tree. Why? Ha, who knows the workings of a 4 (and a half mom!) year old brain. I sure don’t!!!

Ah, well. There’s always next year (or the next one after that)!

Triangle Tree Skirt Posts:

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Train Tree Skirt – Finished product!

Well after the tension troubles, ripping and re-stitching, the train tree skirt is FINALLY DONE!!!!

Here’s how it looked before quilting:

Train tree skirtHere’s the finished product:

I added some black ribbon after the quilting was finished to be tracks.

Finished train tree skirt

I love how the wind swirls look against the trains and up against the ballast.Finished train tree skirt

I love how the concentric octagons turned out. Fancy but not too frilly (after all you don’t want frilly on a train quilt, now do you?).Finished train tree skirt

You can’t tell in the pictures but the 1st two swirls coming from the stack are in black. The 1003 is N’s favorite train. In large part because it is stored about 20 minutes from our house so we get to visit it a lot.SOO 1003

I love how the coal turned out in the tender.SOO 1003 Tender

A real old fashioned wooden box car (ok well its fabric, but it looks like wood).SOO Box Car

This is modeled after the caboose where the kids got to see Santa in for the first time.SOO Caboose

N’s second favorite train is the Southern Pacific Daylight 4449. And this version even had the signature on the front.Daylight 4449

The windows in the passenger cars made for a lot of blanket stitching!!!!!Southern Pacific Passenger Car

Southern Pacific Passenger Car

And here’s the most important thing…..
Train Tree Skirt
He loves it!!!!

Train tree skirt links:

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Train Tree Skirt – Tension Troubles

I had some time I was supposed to be cleaning the house free time, so I decided to get working on N’s tree skirt after all there wasn’t much left to do. Only about 1/3 of the pebbles needed to be finished and 1/2 of the wind swirls. I figured a good 2 hours and I’d be able to have it DONE!!!!

Right.

Then this happened:
Horrible tensionThis was BEYOND horrible tension. This was NO tension. And do you know when I noticed? Yep, AFTER I finished almost all the pebbling and swirls. A full hour of quilting. Which meant 2-3 hrs of frogging. Gulp. I was in near tears.

What was worse, I couldn’t get the tension correct.

Adjust the top tension. Yep.

Nothin.

Adjust the bobbin. Yep.

Nothin.

Different bobbin. Yep.

Nothing!

Re-thread the machine. Yep.

Nothing!!

Grrrrrrrr…..

Finally I took apart the main tension assembly and brushed it out. I didn’t notice anything wrong. And had just about given up hope and was going to leave it be and come back another day. When…..

PERFECT! BEAUTIFUL stitches!!!!!

Yessirie BOB!

I am thinking that some of the glitter from the fabric got caught up in the mechanism and caused the problems. I have to say that I love how the glitter fabric is looking on the tree skirts, but I am doubting I will ever use it again. That glitter is EVERYWHERE. And when I say everywhere, in the machine. Not good!  Poor Millie will need some serious spa treatment when this skirt is all done.

Well back to ripping so I can get this baby done before Christmas!

Train tree skirt links:

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Train Tree Skirt – Quilting the Edges

The center of the train tree skirt was done. So it was time to move on to the outside of the tree skirt.Train tree skirt - quilting the center As always, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to quilt. I knew I wanted to quilt smoke coming out of the steam engine stacks. I did that smoke in black thread.

smoke smoke

I also knew I wanted to make ballast (the rocks between the rails and ties on tracks). I planned on using 1/4″ black ribbon as track. But, I was going to add that after the quilting was done.

balastI also knew that I wanted to add some coal to the tender on the 1003.

Tender coalBut I still had lost of space that had to be filled in between the cars and the smoke. There wasn’t enough space to do more full swirls. I thought about doing some McTavishing to look like wind, like on the Triangle Tree skirt. But that idea wasn’t singing to me.

So I stopped and decided to read the quilting book I had just checked out of the library. It was In the Studio with Angela Walters. I LOVE this book. So many quilting books talk about the technique and tools, or how to quilt a specific motif, of give you different motifs. And while that is very helpful and in some cases just what is needed. In this book Angela talks about WHY she chose a quilting design and what some of the different quilting patterns she considered. PERFECT!!!!!! She spoke a lot about the different things that quilting can bring to the quilt.

In one section she talked about depth. About how if you quilt spirals so they aren’t complete, but rather “bump into each other” it makes it look like one spiral is under the other.

“Fa La La La La” (that was the angels signing!)

That was perfect. I wanted swirly wind. If I made my swirls look like they were under the smoke it would be just the look I was going for. I had never tried this before, so it wasn’t going to look the best, but hey, the skirt is going UNDER a tree, and it will have presents on top of it. And I am doing matching thread. So what’s to lose?

Wind and smoke Wind and smoke
Up close they look a little rough. But the blue line is still there, so your eye gets drawn to where I missed my marks. But I wasn’t worried about that, the blue lines were just to get my swirls in the right direction and right general size. And I try to never judge my quilting from this close. So I took a few steps back and…..

Wind and smoke looked at the whole thing, It SINGS! Awesome texture. Looks like blowing wind. Melds well to the ballast without a hard line. Yep! That’s the ticket. I figure two more good nights of sewing and the quilting will be at the station!!!

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Train Tree Skirt – Quilting the center

With the quilt loaded and concentric octagons marked I just needed to decide what I wanted to quilt on it. I wanted the quilting to take more of a back seat on this quilt, but not disappear into the background.

I was really drawn to this quilt by StitchingMatters.

So, that’s what I went with. I marked triangles in the octagons. I decided to start with pebbles.

Train tree skirt - quilting the center

I decided I wanted to mix up straight fill patterns with curvy fill patterns. Totally liking how its coming along!Train tree skirt - quilting the center

The 3rd octagon got some free hand mini clam shells, and the 4th octagon got horizontal lines. I like how the horizontal lines end up looking like rails on a train track.Train tree skirt - quilting the center Train tree skirt - quilting the centerTrain tree skirt - quilting the centerI can move on to quilting the outside now. And for a change, I know what I want to do in this space.

 

Train tree skirt links:

 

 

 

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Train Tree Skirt – Marking the quilt

With Ms M’s quilt done, it’s time to start N’s. For his I wanted quilting that wasn’t as front and center. I want the trains to be the star of this quilt, not the quilting.

Train tree skirtBut, at the same time I still wanted some cool quilting. So I decided to do some concentric octagons and quilt different motifs in each ring.

I started by marking circles, then I drew radius lines at each 45 deg angle. The points where the circle and radius lines intersected would mark a perfect octagon.

IMG_1204.JPG

IMG_1206.JPG
It’s hard to see in the pictures because of the glitter fabric, but the are plenty dark for me to see while quilting.

I still don’t know what I am going to do inside the octagons. But it’s loaded on Millie waiting to go. And tomorrow I am sure I’ll have some ideas for the quilt.

train tree skirt loaded on millie

 

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