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2021 Quilty Recap

 We are just a few weeks into the year 2022 and it already feels a bit more chaotic and bustling than I would like.  As I think about my goals for this year, one thing I want to do more of is taking the time to slow down and reflect upon and fully appreciate my accomplishments. So, I'm taking a minute to recap on last year's quilting adventures and was definitely a year of tremendous growth and learning for me. 

Mastering Half Square Triangles

The first thing I'm super proud of is I finally learned to properly sew and trim half square triangles...I say properly because I had tried them before but honestly had no clue what I was doing, especially when it came to trimming them. In April, I joined the Better Together quilt along, hosted by Quilter's Candy, and made my first quilt consisting entirely of half square triangles. Even though I was super intimidated, I knew that the only way to conquer my fear of HSTs was to actually make them, and 400+ HSTs later, I can say with confidence that I mastered the half square triangle! And I actually had fun in the process; well, after trimming the 50th HST, it was maybe a little more monotonous than fun, but I still stuck with it, and the quilt I made remains one of my favorites! 

Sewing Machine Upgrade

I also took a big leap in the Spring of 2021, and upgraded my sewing machine!  Previously, I had been sewing on a Baby Lock Sofia, which was my very first sewing's about 9 years old.  It was a great starter machine, but it's on the smaller size and I found that as I started making larger quilts (larger than baby size) it was difficult to quilt them on my small machine.  I decided to go with another Baby Lock, the Crescendo...and haven't looked back since.  It's been a dream machine for piecing and quilting and I'm so glad I made the purchase. A laser light (for all those HSTs), a large throat space, and a dual feed walking foot are some of my favorite features of the Crescendo. 

This "I Heart You" quilt was the first quilt I quilted on the new machine...the wider throat space and dual feed foot made it so easy and enjoyable. 

Exploring Hand Sewing

Another big area of growth for me was learning to sew by hand, including hand embroidery and hand binding.  I had never done any kind of handwork before, but I was inspired to give it a try when I made my daughter a quilt over the summer featuring an applique cat...the cat needed a face, so I watched lots of YouTube videos to figure out how to do a simple backstitch and satin stitch.  It was way easier than I envisioned in my head. 

I'm really happy with how it turned out...and I love the extra charm hand stiches add to a quilt.  
I actually enjoyed hand stitching way more than I thought I would, and this simple embroidery project inspired me to further explore hand stitching by learning to hand bind my quilts.  This same cat quilt was also the first quilt that I ever bound by hand.  I learned to do a chunky hand stitch from watching a YouTube video tutorial created by Melanie Traylor of Southern Charm Quilts.  She made this method look so easy and approachable.  When I started stitching, I instantly fell in love with this slow binding method as well as the large visible stitches it produces, which in my opinion adds an extra bit of handmade charm to a quilt...I've used this binding method on every quilt I've made since, and I've also amassed quite the collection of DMC Perle Cotton thread.  

Half Rectangle Triangles

Next on my list of quilty adventures: learning to make half rectangle triangles!  Trimming HRTs is a little different from trimming HSTs...I would even venture to say they're more fun to trim (maybe because I was burnt out from all those HSTs I trimmed earlier in the year!). 

This quilt pattern is Lala Fancy by Southern Charm Quilts...I still need to quilt it, but it's definitely one of my favorite quilt tops from the year.  Melanie at Southern Charm Quilts also has another pattern featuring half rectangle triangles, the Sugar Bear quilt pattern, which I also made later in the year. If you've never made one of Melanie's quilt patterns, I highly recommend them...not only are her designs amazing, but her patterns are so user friendly and easy to follow.  And if you've never tried making half rectangle triangles, don't be intimidated...they're a lot of fun and not as hard as they look. 

Trying New Quilting Designs

Something I want to continue to experiment with this year is branching out and trying new to me quilting designs.  I've been straight line quilting ever since I started quilting, which is what I'm comfortable with, but last year I tried a few quilting designs I hadn't used before, including a clamshell design and a crosshatch design.  Both of these designs were inspired by Jacquie Gering's WALK books, which show you how to create a wide variety of designs using your regular sewing machine and a walking foot.  I really love these books, and want to try more of the designs.  I even dabbled a little in free motion quilting last year, but I wasn't brave enough to try free motion on an actual quilt...maybe I'll work up the courage this year. 

Non Quilting Projects

I love making quilts, but I also love learning new sewing skills.  When I first started sewing 9+ years ago I made a few zipper pouches, but I haven't sewn anything with zippers since so it was time I revisited bag making.  A few weeks before Christmas I decided I was going to make wristlet bags for all the women on my gift list.   I used the free wristlet pattern from Sallie Tomato and ended up making 6 bags.  I also used hardware, zippers, and cork from Sallie Tomato.  This was my first time sewing with cork as well, and it was so much fun!  I even made the tassels myself with cork.  Putting my creative energy into a project that was slightly out of my comfort zone was a good brain reset for me, and I enjoyed it so much it makes me think I should try new projects like this more often. 

I'm honestly amazed at all that I learned in 2021, and if I hadn't written it all down I don't think I would have appreciated my growth nearly as much.  So, if you haven't already, I encourage you to take the time to reflect upon and WRITE down all that you attempted or accomplished throughout the year.  In this world where we are constantly doing and producing, it's a great exercise not only in gratitude, but also in slowing down and recognizing that you don't have to be constantly creating in order to be learning and growing. 


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