Deadline for Inspiration

Recently I joined a couple of holiday handmade/quilty swaps on flickr. The first swap was round 5 of Potholder Pass. This was a blind swap for one partner in which you send two holiday potholders and a handmade ornament. The catch was that there was only one month in between getting your partner's name and sending out your package.  I found myself smack dab in the middle of a bunch of highly talented quilter's without a clue for what I'd make.  Square in square block?  Wonky star?  Tree?  Snowflake?  eh.

Finally, I had a single spark 8 days before the deadline.

Here is my partner's inspiration mosaic.   I stared at it off and on for days.  Suddenly, the apple fabrics and the pear shapes and the leaves struck me, and I thought, "pear tree."  That immediately led to singing a part from the Twelve Days of Christmas, which led me to "partridge!!"  I knew I wanted details.  I didn't want to fit a vague bird on top of a tree on a small potholder.  

We've been doing a lot of reading to Henry about the alphabet and that led me think about alphabet books featuring one simple picture and a letter.  I then exchanged the letter "P" for a strip of pieced squares instead.  I thought the squares would tie the two potholders together best.

Then I drew my designs, and traced them onto freezer paper.  I heavily starched my fabric choices, ironed the fusible webbing on the back, ironed the freezer paper shape on the front and then carefully cut out each shape.  After that I peeled off the freezer paper, placed the pieces on the background fabric and ironed them to fuse. Lastly, I carefully appliqued each piece, adding the stem and the eye last. 

The bigger block was cut and the strip of squares was sewn on.  I used a square of recycled felt sweater for the insulating part of the potholder. Wool felt works great to keep your hands safe and it is flame resistant. I also love the texture of wool inside a potholder as opposed to the standard crinkly Insul-Bright.

To complete the potholders, I did some simple machine quilting around the designs and some hand quilting in the ditch between the design square and the pieced border.

Sometimes I just have to wait for the creative inspiration to strike and then roll with it.  I'm really glad I did.  These were hard to let go of. 

Next time I'll have to tell you about the ornament design that I made up and completed in just three days!  I might just pull together a tutorial for it, too.