Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Doll Quilts And Happy Hearts

Oh yeah, that's right!  I have a blog!

It never fails to amaze (and dishearten) me how easy it is to fall out of the blogging habit.  I have sincerely enjoyed the times in my life when I've been able to make a consistent habit of it.  But, my life is so full of so many wonderful things, that I simply can't do all of them all of the time.  That's just the way it is, and I'm blessed to have that problem.

And, while the blogging has stopped for the last year, the sewing has not.  Nor has the reading of blogs or the Instragram stalking of my favorite quilters, sewists and bloggers.  Sewing and following the "Sewciety" are my primary forms of relaxation and stress management.  I spend a lot of hours each week doing these sewing related things...I just dint take the time to write about them!

So, why this post now?  Well, leave it to Bernie from Needle and Foot to bring me out of bloggy retirement!
I love the "fabric pull" stage of starting a new project!

Bernie has been one of my favorite bloggers and Instagrammers for a while.  She is full of good ideas and is passionate about what she does.  So, when she posts about cool stuff, I take note.  Recentlly she introduced her readers to an organization called A Doll Like Me.  Through another quilt blogger, Bernie had become aware of Amy, its founder.  Amy is another amazing woman who, like Bernie, is creative, passionate and a loving spirit in this world.  Amy makes adorable dolls that are representative of children (and some adults) with physical differences.  Like their kids, these dolls might have scars, wearable medical devices, or limb differences.  Amy lovingly crafts a special doll so that it's recipient feels less alone in the challenges they face.

I borrowed this photo from A Doll Like Me's Facebook page.  I just had to show you how wonderful these dolls are.  Please find Amy on Facebook and read through her posts.  Yow will be touched and amazed by the power of representation and acceptance.

Bernie was moved by Amy's story, and decided to join in with another quilter who had made some mini quilts to accompany the dolls to their forever homes.  That's not all, though.  Bernie decided to open wide the gates of caring and invite us all along!  She issued a "challenge" to her readers for the month of February.  Her goal was to provide Amy with a small stack of quilts, but, in reality, Amy has been met by her local post office workers with a CART FULL of packages, each containing a one of a kind work of art!  SO. MUCH. LOVE! And there are more on the way!  Call the post office Amy!  We're not done yet!

I was as moved by Amy's mission as I was  by Bernies' drive to help.  It was really a "can't lose" situation.  After I finished up some Valentines' Day treats for my girls, I decided I'd make a couple doll quilts to send to Amy.  She lives pretty close to me, and has some connections to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, where my daughter is a frequent patient.  It felt good, and right to join in on this project.

These quilts are almost entirely created from my scrap baskets.  It felt so good to be putting those scraps to such a good use.  And I loved having a quick, no stress, doesn't have to be perfect project to work on these last few weekends.

These little hearts are so fun to make.  I wasn't thrilled with the color choices once I finished the top.  They seemed so dark and drab, not the rainbow I was going for.  But, that cheerful yellow binding helps a ton, and I think that Amy is going to make the perfect doll for this quilt, and they'll make someone very happy!

The second quilt was quick and fun to make.  Strippy and colorful, it uses up lots of pieces of odd fabric that have been given to me over the years.  The back uses the bonus HST's from the other quilt!

Amy sometimes receives pictures of the kids and their dolls.  I'll be keeping an eye on her site, in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of these little cuties in action!

Thanks, Bernie for following your heart and helping this amazing organization.  And thank you for giving us a way to join in, too.  Nothing soothes my anxieties quite like being creative and doing things for others.  This project certainly fit the bill!

Bernie is sharing some of the many, many quilts that were made this month on her blog.  Be sure to pop over and take a look!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Jan and Jen's Mini Quilt Blog Hop

Have you seen all the adorable Quilter's Laundry Day Mini Quilts popping up the last few days?  They are all part of Jen (A Dream and A Stitch) and Jan's (Color, Creating and Quilting) Mini Quilt Along.  Jen designed a super cute pattern that looked too fun to resist.  Plus, I need some mini's to decorate my bare sewing room walls, so, I signed up!

I've been more consistent with sewing regularly than I have been with blogging, the pattern seemed simple enough to put together, and I had a relatively clear calendar.  So, back on Feb. 10, I didn't anticipate any difficulty getting done in time for today's big reveal!  As it usually does, life had other plans!   My 11 year old daughter has cystic fibrosis, and lengthy hospital stays are not an uncommon occurrence for us.  On Feb. 20, we learned that it was time for another one.  She was admitted on Feb 23, and just came home Thursday.  I stayed at the hospital with her for all except two nights when I came home to spend time with our older daughter, and judge forensics meets for her team.
This was our home away form home for two weeks.
My Candy Hearts Quilt (now know as The Sister Quilt) gave it a cozy feel.

Now, I don't like to give up on things I've committed to , so, I made this mini quilt a hospital project!  The night before we left for the hospital, I printed and read through the pattern (you can get it here) and pulled my fabrics.  The first time I came home, I did all my cutting. I also made the 4 1/2 block that would become the little quilt hanging on the line.  Then, I packed up my machine, an assortment of notions and my cut pieces and took it all along.

I've had hand sewing projects along on several previous visits, but this was the first time I've taken my machine  The rolling case that Santa gave us for Christmas made it easy to get the machine to Emily's room, and it held ALL my sewing stuff, too!

My cutting session at home was a bit rushed.  This resulted in discovering that I was short a piece or two, and that I had mis-cut one or two others.  I neglected to bring extra fabric, so, I had to get a bit creative.  I also had to text my daughter pictures of the fabrics I needed more of so she could bring them when she and her Dad came to visit.  But, by the end of the first week, I had my mini pieced and was quite happy with it.

At that point, I decided to send my sewing machine home.  I knew I wanted to do some embroidery, and decided that I'd have a go at hand quilting, too.  It's been YEARS since I've hand quilted anything. It turned out to be the perfect choice for this mini quilt, and for a hospital pastime. Working with the needle and thread calmed my anxieties and gave me something to look forward to each day.

Several afternoons, Emily and I sat together in the couch under the window, usually with a coffee for me and a frappuccino or smoothie for her.  I stitched while she read to me from the novel she was assigned for homework. Sometimes, she worked on her cross-stitch project.  It was a cozy time, and took some of the "sting" out of being there.

Pretty proud of those shingles!

On Friday, I did the last little bit of quilting, and bound my sweet mini.  The quilting angels were with me...I joined the binding ends together correctly on the FIRST TRY and without needing to look up directions!  Whoo hoo!

Jen named her pattern Quilter's Laundry Day.  But, I'm calling my mini "Home is Where the Heart Is."  Whenever I look at it, I will think about the days spent with my sweet girl in the hospital, and be reminded that where ever we are, as long as we're together, it's home.

There were almost 30 quilters who joined in on Jen and Jan's quilt along.  You can find all of the cute minis at the links below.  If you visit Jan or Jen, and leave a comment, you will be entered to win a great prize!

Thanks, Janice and Jen for organizing this fun QAL and blog hop.  It's been a lot of fun, and it turned out to be just what I needed!

Friday, March 10
Jen Rosin  A Dream and a Stitch
Kate Heads at Smiles From Kate
Jennifer Fulton at Inquiring Quilter
Karen Thurn at Tu-Na Quilts, Travels and Eats

Melva Nolan at Melva Loves Scraps
Vicki at Vicki's Crafts & Quilting
Diann at Little Penguin Quilts
Jayne at Twiggy & Opal
Susan Arnold at Quilt Fabrication
Leanne Milsom at Lizzie the Quilter
Sandra Walker at Mmm! Quilts!

Saturday March 11

Janice Holton at Color Creating & Quilting
Jennifer Strauser at Dizzy Quilter
Amy Gerlich at Amy Scrap Spot
Sharon Denney Parcel at Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Steffi at Steffi's Hobbys
Susan Gordon at Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Anne Boundy at Said With Love
Barbara Wootie at The Flashing Scissors
Jan Welander at Making Scraps

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Candy Hearts for Valentines Day

Happy Valentine's Day!  Do you do anything special to celebrate?

For the last few years, I've been making the first two weeks of February all about celebrating my incredible daughters, and letting them know how much I love them.  We call it "14 Days of Love!" Each morning of the month, until Valentine's Day, they wake up to a small surprise.  Sometimes its a gift or a treat, but often its a note from me, or a gift to complete and give to the other sister.  I don't ever spend a lot of money; its about the fun, the thought, the love and appreciation.  One year, I plastered their bedroom doors with cut out hearts on which I wrote things I loved about each of them.  The highlight this year was silly Valentines' Day jokes written on slips of paper and placed in their buckets.  The answers to the riddles were in the sister's bucket, so they had to work together to complete the jokes, then they read them all to Dad at dinner that evening.  It was goofy and fun and we all giggled.

This year, the "14th Day" featured a "big" surprise!  I made the girls a lap quilt!  Blankets get used in our house just about year round.  We have at least 5 throw size fleece blankets in our living room at all times - but nothing that I've made.  Time to change that!  I'm hoping that "Candy Hearts" will be the one they reach for when they need a snuggle.

When I got the idea to make them a quilt, I immediately reached for the Project Planning pages in my Quilter's Planner.  What a great spot to keep all my ideas and notes!

I had made a handful of heart blocks using the tutorial from CluckCluckSew for the #QuiltsforPulse drive last summer.  So, using that block again was an easy decision.

Once I decided on hearts, I just knew they'd need to be in the colors of Candy Conversation hearts.  I always love the way those hearts look in a fancy bowl.  Some pastel, some slightly more saturated colors, and all of them sugary sweet!  I went through my scrap bins and folded stscks and pulled any colors that fit the bill.  This is the first time I've worked with my fabrics since they've been organized.  Oh my what a joy it is!!

I decided that I wanted each heart to be bordered in the same low volume fabric used to make the corners of the heart block.  In most cases I was able to match, but there are a few extra scrappy blocks.

I cut all of the pieces for all of the blocks right away.  This made it really easy to sit down and sew a block or two whenever I had time.  I tried to do most of the sewing when the girls were out of the house or too busy to visit me in the sewing room.  I really wanted this to be a surprise! ( I did get busted by my younger daughter.  She is very observant and loves to pop in to say hi while I sew.)
Why does a pile of trimmings make me so happy?

It felt really good to make this whole quilt from stash!  Not only did this use up some scraps, I also used up LOTS of partial spools and half bobbins.  I got a little thrill each time I tossed an empty spool into the bucket!  It's really fun to use stuff up!   Is that weird?

For backing, I used up a large piece of soft pink fleece, and simply folded the excess around to the top, trimming the corners, and securing with a big zig zag.  It's a quick finish, and I think it will hold up well.

There are plenty of chopped points and wonky seams and not quite squared blocks in this little quilt.  It's not technically even a quilt, I guess, because it's backed with fleece and there's no batting.  It is very lightly quilted, and, because I didn't take time to baste well it's a bit bunchy in spots.  None of that matters.
Please excuse the early morning, bad lighting, bed head and glasses photo!
This was made with for my girls.  It's full of my pride in them, and stitched with all the joy I have in being their mom.  Its beautiful, just the way it is!

Linking up to all the fun at :
                    Sew Fresh Quilts,  Let's Bee Social,
                     the Valentine's Linky Parade at Quilt Fabrication

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Off To A Good Start

I'm not sure where it went, but January has come and gone. Already. I sure could have used a few extra days.  But, I have to say, it was a good month.  While we didn't get the snow day I was hoping for, we did enjoy  going back to sleep for a couple hours on our late start day!  And most importantly, we all made it through the month healthy and happy!

I can not even tell you how much I am enjoying my new sewing space.  I still get giddy walking into the room (even though there is still a stack of empty plastic bins and a few odd jobs left to take care of).  Having a place for everything and everything in its place makes sewing SO much more fun.  I can actually find what I need, and I have everything within reach, so I can get right to work.  Most importantly, I am so motivated to keep it that way that I tidy everything up at the end of a sewing session.  (I know, I know, this is all common sense, and the way it should have been all along, but, for me, this is a new concept!)  I just love looking around the room and seeing all these things that make me happy.

I've managed to sew a little bit most days this month, or at least to do something creative if I just couldn't get to the machine.  Some days I just had time for a quick doodle or pairing some fabrics, but I have tried really hard to feed my creative soul every day.  I've felt pretty on top of things in general, and have managed to set and stick with a meal plan most days.  It just feels so good to be in the groove, and not like I'm flailing around.

The tool that is helping the most is The Quilter's Planner.  I treated myself to one this year, ordering almost as soon as the order date was announced.  I am SO glad I did.  It was a fabulous investment.  This planner is gorgeous and substantial.  Its as much a pleasure to use as it is impossible to ignore!   I have quickly settled into a routine of setting aside some planner time every few days.  I go over schedules and update various other family calendars, make to do lists and check off items, and break down progress toward the goals I set at the beginning of the month.

For this first month of the year, Stephanie, the creator of The Quilters Planner, has given a daily prompt on Instagram.  Many of them focused on goal setting, and some were just for fun, like sharing our favorite writing tools.  I haven't posted daily, but playing along and watching everyone else's posts helped me to commit to using my planner actively.  I wish the prompts could go on all year, and I'm hoping Stephanie has something else in store for us later on!  The Planner had become a place to practice doodling, to capture thoughts and moments I want to remember and, of course, to keel information.

The Quilter's Planner is FULL of wonderful quilting resources.  I have only just begun to explore them, and I'm sure I'll be using this book as a reference for years to come.  The part of the resource section I"ve used the most so far is the project planner.  An idea struck one night, and instead of jotting things down on a random paper, I grabbed my planner and got to work!  As I started cutting, I had all the measrements there and could check them with just a glance.  I've even added a little tracker to color in as blocks get finished!  The project is called "Candy Hearts" and it has a Feb. 14th deadline.  If I continue to stay organized and productive, I might just make it!

I haven't quite met all the goals I set at the beginning of the month.  But, I'm focused, and I will keep working toward them.  And that's the whole point, isn't it?  These little check boxes right here made the difference between posting tonight and not posting!  So fun to check one more off!

I look forward to sharing progress pictures for Candy Hearts, and my "When Life Gives You Scraps" project.  February will be a good month for blogging!

Unfortunately, I think that The Quilter's Planner for 2017 is no longer available.  But, do yourself a favor and make a note to order yourself one next year.  I love mine, and the good start it has helped me make in 2017!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mini-Charm Garland: A Quick Finish

Sometimes, a quick finish is just what I need!  Especially when life gets hectic (wait, when ISN"T it??)  it feels really good to sit down, spend an hour, and get something done, start to finish.

See that cute little garland dressing up the top of my new pegboard?  That was a perfect one hour or less project.  And, for something so simple, I think it packs a pretty big punch.  It makes me happy every time I walk into the sewing room.  Well, pretty much everything in the room does, but the garland is at the top of the list!

I started with a mini-charm pack.  I had received three of these cute little stacks of fun in my Christmas package from my pen pal, Rose. One of them, Handmade from Bonnie and Camille, fit my sewing room colors, perfectly.  I chose fourteen charms that I loved, and laid them out, balancing for color and pattern.

Then, I folded over the top quarter inch of each one, pressing on the fold.

I chose some cute baker's twine (this came from Target's Christmas clearance.  It was a steal!) that coordinated nicely.

Then, I just zigzagged over the fold, making sure to catch the twine with the stitch.  I stitched right over the gaps between charm squares.  It's not noticeable at all!

I tied a quick loop on each end, and it was ready to go!  It was so quick and easy, that I made one for Rose, too!

These could work in several places, don't you think?  The mantel , the top of a book case, a window.  Sew many possibilities!

I am linking up at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Be Social,

I've also just discovered Tips and Tutorials Tuesday hosted by Quilting Jetgirl and Late Night Quilter!  What a great resource for new ideas!  Thanks, Yvonne, for suggesting that just link up!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Year, New Space

Let me be the last person in the Quilt Blog  Universe to say, "Happy New Year!"  Time has flown and 2017 is already more than two weeks old!  The short holiday break was full of the usual get-togethers and traditions for my little family.  But, it was also a busy time full of working on a very special project - my new sewing space!

I have had plans and ideas for a lovely new sewing room swimming in my brain forever.  Last Christmas, my husband gave me a gift card to cover the cost of paint and some other items I had said I wanted to add to the space. (Romantic, huh?)   A full year went by, and we never set aside time to clear the room and paint!  How does that happen?  Busy kids, busy lives, I guess.  In August, I got serious about purging and boxing up fabric.  But, that means that since August, I haven't had access to much of my stuff, AND, we've been living with a growing pile of boxes and bins in our bedroom!  It was time to REALLY make some changes.

I stayed up late on December 25th and 26th completely clearing the room, organizing non-sewing craft supplies on new shelves in the closet, and taking down existing shelves and fixtures.

I love this closet, now.  The girls and I can find exactly what we need, and it's pretty simple to put thingsome back where we found them.

On the 27th, while my girls and I shopped (it was a "Sister Day", so I had to remain several paces behind them.  Oh, and drive them to the mall and pay for everything!) my husband painted the room!  Yaaaay!  It was really happening!
My first thought was, "Ummmm, that's a LOT of blue..."

Over the next week, we completed several projects.  Well, he completed them for me, really.  He's a good guy. like that.  I now have a peg board, a design wall, and a wall full of bookshelves.  We cleaned up the table that we bought 17 years ago as our kitchen table for our first house.  We used it until a few years ago, in fact, and I can't believe how SMALL it is!  How did we manage to feed two kids and us at that table?  But, it's perfect and cute in my new space!

My youngest daughter and I spent many, many lovely hours folding and organizing fabric.  She LOVES color, and she had a blast organizing the stacks of neatly folded fabric and filling the scrap baskets.  She told me several times how much fun it was to work in the room with me.  I loved every minute of it.

Possibly my favorite part of the room.  I just love the fun and functionality of tiPhil peg board!

So, the construction of the design was almost a deal breaker.  Amazing how different the process in MY head was than in the engineering brain of my husbandaughter.  But, it was worth it!!!  

There are a few areas that still need work. But, I imagine the space will evolve and change as we settle in and get back to the business of creating.  For now, I'm enjoying a little thrill every time I walk in to the room.  I have spent some small stretches of time sewing over the last few days.  The new arrangement of the room and the placement of all my supplies seems to be working out very well.  I can't wait to see what I make in this space this year!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A Lovely Win!

While we visited the City Museum in St. Louis recently, I sat myself down on a bench to collect my wit's and take a breather. Have you ever been there?  Oh my.  I am not sure how to even describe the place.  You will have to Google images of it to get an idea, and even that may not come close.

I was on sensory overload, separated from my family who kept ducking into places and disappearing, and generally feeling anxious and alone.  I pulled out my phone to text my husband and daughter to say I would be staying put , there by the whale skeleton, for a while.

That's when I got a lovely e-mail from Mari of the Academic Quilter ,  letting me know I'd won a giveaway she had sponsored on her blog.  Yay!

Her lovely package arrived a few days after we got home.  Here's what I won!

I love these Moda floral prints,  And, thanks for the bonus needles, Mari!

If you've been to City Museum, I'd love to hear what you thought of it!  And if you have an opportunity to visit, do!  It wasn't my cup of tea, but my family loved it.  And it's something you have to see to beleive.