Sunday, September 23, 2012

Five Quilts with Meaning

All handmade quilts have meaning.  They are made by someone who has put thought into the process, and they are often made to mark a special occasion.  As quilters, we are lucky enough to sometimes be inserted into the process (since not everyone knows how to sew) and make something for someone so they can give this special quilt over to someone they love.  Over the past 2 weeks, I've finished five quilts that have special meaning.  I've made a baby quilt, a signature quilt for a bride-to-be and three quilts for two brothers and a sister (who is still yet to be born) who lost their dad to cancer in April of this year.

A close up the baby quilt!
A baby quilt using Out to Sea fabric
I've had the pleasure of handing these quilts over to their recipients, and it has been the best feeling!  I have to admit I make many baby quilts for clients who are giving them to friends and family.  The importance of these quilts is never lost on me, no matter how many I make.  I have always thought how cool it is that there are many babies out there using my quilts to sleep with, play on and cuddle.

The signature quilt for the bride-to-be.

Now, I also have the pleasure of knowing that there is bride out their with a signature quilt that shows all of the wonderful and crazy comments from 70+ of her family and friends about their happiness for her on her upcoming wedding.  I felt lucky to be part of the process for a sister-in-law who thought up the project and hired my to help "make it happen."  I made the blocks in advance of the bridal shower.  The bride's sister-in-law had everyone at the shower sign the blocks.  Then I received the blocks back and made the quilt.  I like how it looks almost like a garden trellace...and the border fabric is ironically called "bouquet," which I thought was very fitting for a wedding quilt.

Three quilts made for three children who lost their dad to cancer.
I consider the three quilts I made out of the clothing of a dad who lost his fight to cancer to be three of the most important quilts I've ever made.  I didn't know the dad before he died, and I only met the mom once before she handed over her husband's clothes to me and all of her faith that I could do a good job. I thought for a long time before I cut up his clothes.

In the end, I used simple patterns for the quilts because I wanted the clothes to be the main showcase and not some elaborate quilt pattern.  For the boys, I paid attention to the details in the dad's clothes.  I noticed that he liked a particular brand of button down shirt, so I kept the labels and used those in the quilts.  I made sure that each quilt had a pocket from dad's button-down shirt; the boys would be able to keep special mementos or letters in the pockets.  I incorporated one significant t-shirt the boys would identify with on the front of each quilt.  I used fabric from their dad's pants that was especially soft.  I used fabric from one of their dad's robes.  It was a honeycomb fabric that is very textured.  It added another dimension of something the boys could not only look at but feel and be connected to their dad.

The rag quilt I made for the little girl, using her dad's clothes.
For the little girl, who wasn't even born when she lost her dad, I wanted her quilt to be something she could use as a newborn and grow into as well.  I made a rag quilt for her using her dad's clothes, even the middle layer of the rag quilt is fabric from her dad's white button-down shirt.  I also appliqu├ęd some flowers using different button-down shirts, pants and even some girly-colored boxers the dad wore.  I didn't want the quilt to be to masculine, so this was a nice addition to the blues and khaki's.  (The mother assured me that her husband was a "clothes horse" who took good care of his clothes and didn't wear anything for too long, so everything was almost new...including the boxers!)

As I worked on these quilts over a two-month period, I would often walk into my craft room and smell the dad's cologne still present on his clothes.  I often felt like he was right there with me helping me make the right decision about what to do for each of his kids. I also found it a bit humorous that maybe he was looking down on me from heaven, being the "clothes horse" I knew he was, saying, "oh, don't cut up my favorite shirt" or "those were expensive pants you're cutting up."  But I know he would be happy with the end result: quilts that would help his children recover from the pain of losing their dad and feeling closer to him with the presence of the quilts in their home.

As I said, all handmade quilts have special meaning.  They are put together by someone who has put thought into every aspect: the recipient, the color, the fabric, the pattern, the thread, the batting, the quilting, the binding, the signature block.  All of that comes into consideration when making a quilt.  These five quilts that I made simultaneously and happened to finish within 10 days of each other, have become a special group of quilts for me and I'm sure for the people who are giving them as gifts and for the people receiving them as gifts.  This week has reaffirmed for me why I am a quilter, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity.

A bright and cheery quilt for a happy occasion.

And it appears the trend week I will make a quilt for a young mom who's had a rough life and recently had a stroke that has left her paralyzed and in hospice.  I've already started thinking about the fabric I will use on her quilt and how this quilt will hopefully give her strength at a time when she feels like she has none.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fresh New Rag Quilt with Matching Lovie!

I am so happy how this new rag quilt came out! I can't tell you how many of these I've made over the years, but they continue to please...and they are so fun to make. This time, I made a matching smaller version; I'm calling it a "lovie." It was a surprise to my customer. She is my 61st sale on esty, so I decided to make a little something to go with the rag quilt. I do know this customer, and she has told me that the recipient has been looking forward to getting one of these rag quilts once she was pregnant. I thought this would be a nice addition to her quilt, and I'm happy to make something for someone who will really appreciate the handmade work!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Pre-New Year's Resolution / Nook Pouch

I generally don't believe in making New Year's resolutions. Here's my reasoning:
1.) Resolutions are usually about giving up things one loves in order to lose a few pounds or "make oneself better." I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I make enough sacrifices every day. If I gave up soda (my one "vice") I--and my kids--would not be happy campers.
2.) They're too unrealistic and we end up being disappointed in ourselves.
3.) I make goal lists every day and do just fine without calling them "RESOLUTIONS."

But one thing I have been lacking and would like to add to my life is more writing on this blog. So, for 2011, I'm going to try to write at least once a week. My last post was in April (that is so sad), and I have made so many things since then. It's a shame that I haven't shared them (although there are plenty of pics on my flickr page).

I was so excited last night when I was making a pouch/zipper bag for one of my niece's that I started thinking, "I really need to put this on my blog." So, here is my zipper bag, which a Nook will fit snuggly into....

The inside of this pouch is lined with flannel. There is a little tag for a key ring or just holding onto, There is an exterior pocket that velcros open and close. The fabric is fun and funky...not too girly or manly. It was so much fun. I'm thinking of putting up a tutorial soon, if there's interest.

So, I'm ahead of the curve on the non-New Year's resolution to write more on my blog. More to come!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reached a New Level with Sewing

For months, I've listened to some of my "hand-sewing" friends talk about these "great portable projects." I never jumped on the bandwagon...until now. I've discovered English paper piecing of hexagons, and now I'm addicted. I even caught myself turning over the edges of a hexagon at a stop light!

So all you machine maidens out there...I urge you to hop on the "portable project" bandwagon. Instead of doing something stupid on your iphone while your little ones play on the playground, or while you wait in the drivethru at Chick-fil-A you could be quilting. Maybe English paper piecing isn't for you, but something out there is. I'm so happy I found this quilting project that I can bring with me everywhere!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Open Letter to the Snow

Dear Gigantic Snow Storm,
Please be gentle to us. My snow pants are uncomfortable. My boots leak. My mittens are wool and don't hold out the moisture. My kids bring you in every time they go out, leaving me following the little puddles of you everywhere. My husband goes crazy in the house when you are here. I'm armed with a 40-lb bag of salt and a shovel and an orange fleece hat. Oh. Be afraid.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Product in My Etsy Store: Diaper and Wipe Pouch

So, my rag quilts for babies have sold really well. But it led me to the question: What would be the perfect pairing with that rag quilt for a baby shower? How about a diaper and wipe pouch to keep together those diapers and wipes in the diaper bag...once and for all!!!

You would be the most awesomest, best friend in the whole wide world to give your expecting friend a rag quilt for the new baby, but you would be super cool if you gave them a rag quilt AND a coordinating diaper and wipe pouch.
They seal with velcro but they look like they seal with a button. You get all of the cuteness of a button with all that ....hard work!
Completely customizable!
Love 'em!

Monday, January 25, 2010

January Stash Buster!

Stash Buster may sounds like a new movie in which moustaches are being wiped off the planet, but if you sew you know that it means going through a lot of fabric in your "stash" and using it in a quilt or other item. I've complied a large-ish stash of Kaffe Fassett fabric and have been dying to use it, so before the year got too busy I dove into it...or cut, rather!

I still have to add two borders to this quilt before I am finished with the top, but I like it so far. Lots of blue and purple stash busting...wouldn't ya know, I had to order more fabric for the border and backing?

If you busted into your stash today, what would be your fabrics? Red and turquoise? Amy Butler's Love? Maybe some red, white and black?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If You Could Have a Servant in Your Studio/Craftroom...

I've been frantically and furiously sewing and cutting and sewing and cutting for the last few weeks trying to manage an online quilt business and, at the same time, create some handmade gifts for some of my family members. I barely have enough time to come up for air, much less wind more thread on my bobbins.
So, this got me to thinkin': I need help! A servant, perhaps. And, just as many of you would agree, your mind wanders when you sit behind your sewing machine, listen to the hum of the gears and the creative juices are flowin'. What would my servant(s) do?

First of all, I would have a "bobbin bitch." (My sincere apologies to my two feminist mentors from college who would be appalled by this misogynistic term, but it has great alliteration -- yep, English major.) This way, when I run out of a color or don't want to stop my machine, my bobbin bitch would have separate bobbin winder to fill my every need and bobbin.

Second, a bona fide folder. Someone to fold the fabric that I am finished with or decided not to use, so I wouldn't be bothered with the clutter and the annoying task of actually putting things back where they belong!
Third, a MASTER BASTER!! The task a HATE the most when I am quilting is basting a quilt. I know there's all kinds of spray and yadda yadda to make it easier for us these days, but my method of choice is to do the sandwich on the floor with tape and safety pins. I've tried other methods and the results have not been as good for me, so I'll just need a master baster (eh-em) to come help me.

I need to baste this quilt this week. Do you think I could hire a master baster by this Tuesday?

So, what kind of servant would you have in your room????

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Do what you love. Love what you do.

On every "Life is good" t-shirt is a little tag that says, "do what you love. love what you do." I try to live by that motto when I'm sewing. I only create things that make me happy. The fabric I use makes me happy. The things I create make me happy. Giving them to people makes me happy. This month, I've been busy gettin' happy. Check out some of the cheery things I've made:
This quilt top was a collaborative effort from many quilters around the country in a bee called, "Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee." I sent them fabric and they sent back blocks that they made with that fabric. I took the blocks and put them together in this quilt top. I made the pinwheel cornerstones with the same fabrics to bring the whole thing together. I think it came out really nice!

I made these key chains for the women who are on the quilt retreat that I go to each year. Just a little something handmade for them. Using selvidge in projects just makes me happy. It means, "I'm a true fabric lover," when you use selvidge!
The pillows were a custom order for a friend. When I took this photo, I fell in love with the pillows. I love how Joel Dewberry's fabric goes so nicely with nature.
Another one of my rag quilts available on Etsy! I love the colors in this one! It reminds me hydrangeas--which is a nice thing to think about when the leaves are falling and it's getting colder every minute!
Hope these images have brightened your day. Do what you love today too!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is it Summer?

Based on the few things that I sewed this week, I think it's summer!

Two bright rag quilts:
And a very sunny block for a member of my online quilting bee:
But, I think I'm doing ok with my make-believe summer, since it's rainy and 50 degrees out right now, with no sun in sight!

I think I'll keep sewin'!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Wonder Pets Wisdom: What's it gonna take? Team work!

My daughters love the show, "Wonderpets." (It's one of those new cartoons that, unless your a parent or grandparent of young children, you've probably never heard of.) So, the point of every show is to show that the Wonderpets achieve great things through the wonders of TEAMWORK. And, I got to thinkin'...the teams of which I am a member help me achieve some wonderful things that I probably would not have even started were it not for the inspiration of my teams.

Soooooo, this is a (((((((SHOUT OUT))))))))) to my teams!
First, the Old Red Barn Co. Quilt Along has inspired me (and the teacher, John Adams) has tought me how to create a wonky log cabin block. The result is this quilt:

It's a baby quilt that measures 30" x 30" and has lots of fun quilting details. Check out my etsy page for more pics and details.

My second shout out is to my Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee. There are 12 members, including me, and each month one member sends the other 11 members fabric with which to make blocks. We make the blocks and send them back to that member. Each month, the most amazing blocks are made. They are inspirational. And the fabric that is sent to us really gets our creative juices flowing! This is one of the blocks that I've created as a member of this group:

The third group is actually a swap that I am a member of: A Little Fabric, A Little Chocolate Swap. Each month, I send packages to a designated partner and she sends a package off to me. The guidelines call for each person to send 4 fat quarters of fabric and some chocolate, but these swaps are put together with so much care and attention to detail that you end up receiving the MOST amazing things. This is what I received this month from boutiquenutmegdesigns:The bag was made by my talented partner! The fabrics are beautiful and she also sent lots of other goodies, including that awesome trim that you see on the left.

My fourth team is my Quiltsy Team on Etsy. This is a talented group of quilters who sell quilts on Etsy. They are some of the most amazing and prolific quilters, constantly creating masterpieces to be sold on Etsy. Each week there is a forum, where members share information, tips, new items posted and just about anything. I don't often get to participate in this conversation as much as I would like, but when I read through what's been said it is inspiring! Thank you, Team Quiltsy!
My local sewing bee that I am a member of (Renee's Applique Club, as I call it) also deserves some love. This group consists of about 10 women and is led by two great women, Kelly (who was our teacher) and Renee (who hosts a monthly meeting). These women took me under their wings about 2 years ago. Many of them are retired and sew A LOT...then there's me -- a stay-at-home mom and mother with a crazy life, to say the least. I showed up in their hand applique class, not knowing anything about applique and they just took me along gently and tought be so many cool things. I can't believe the hand applique (and other things) that they produce. AMAZING! We are going on retreat in about 3 weeks and I can't wait to spend a weekend just taking in all of their wisdom! I'm a lucky girl!
Thanks to all of my teams! You've made me a better quilter and person! You've also made me very busy, so I better quit typing and get sewing!

In the words of the Wonderpets, "What's it gonna take? TEAMWORK!"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My New "Favorite Thing"

SO, as a quilter, I have a lot of scrap fabric hanging around. You know what I mean, if you sew as well. What do you do with all of that fabric? Sure, you can make 50 million scrap quilts and drive yourself nuts! Or maybe you can try this idea....

I've been transferring a lot of my stuff (ie, my flickr page and my etsy page) to show my new logo:

And, I got to thinkin' one night: "why not make fabric business cards to go with my fabric labels that I'm putting on my quilts??" So, I fired up the ol' Adobe Illustrator, simplified my logo to black and white, reversed the image, printed these on iron-transfer paper, iron the images on to some of my favorite scraps and taa-daaa:

I plan on putting these in my packages to customers. It's something a little different from the norm and I think it will make me stand out a little from the traditional business card. What do you think?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tits on a bull...

Funny story....
So, my three-year-old daughter, on the right in the photo below, is still figuring out the proper pronunciation for just about everything. The other day she kept saying what sounded like "tits on a bull." "Mom, I unt [want] tits on a bull." I thought about this for a few minutes and said, "Can you show me?"
She brought me over the pantry and point to the bag of SunChips. Ahhhh, "Chips in a bowl?" Yeah, "Tits on a bull. I WUV tits on a bull!"
And, she was right. She does love chips in a bowl!!! So, what kind of funny sayings do you find yourself translating from your kids??? Lets all share!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Heavy Petting in the Sewing Room

If you love fabric like I do, then you know what I'm talking about: the heavy petting that goes on when you add some really nice fabric to your stash. This is what I did today when I went to a quilt store near my house that was going out of business.
I loaded up on these beautiful fabrics by Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, American Jane and Martha Negley. I don't have a specific plan for any of these fabrics, but there's always a plan lingering in the back of my mind.

I've always wanted to do a quilt full of periwinkle blue triangles with Kaffe Fassett fabric, so I think I got a good jump on that. I think for now, I just admire it on the shelf and pet it for a while!