Sunday, January 26, 2014

Women of Courage Quilt

I saw this quilt hanging in one of my LQS (Crazy Cousin) and the it struck me.  I loved it.  I think, ultimately, it was the border that pulled me in.   (Warning, this post is going to have a lot of pictures!)
This was a block of the month and the fabrics are Wyndham Fabrics.  Please click the link to find more detailed information but in short, there were several notable women who have displayed extraordinary courage in their life and each month provided a summary detail of who these women were and what they did as well as block instructions and fabric.
It's a little bit of a drive for me to this LQS for the monthly meetings so I purchased the kit all at once and started building the quilt on my own schedule.  I posted each block on Instagram as I went along to satisfy my need to shout, "another one complete!"

I had two hiccups in the process, I miscut one fabric and had to find something out of my stash to substitute because it was no longer available in the store (& not worth ordering for the small amount I needed) and I miscut the border strips, even tough I read those instructions 80 bazillion times (yes, bazillion).  However, I adjusted in both cases and pressed forward, I think, successfully.  In all honesty, unless you are comparing my top to the pattern picture or you've made one with the provided fabrics, you won't know. lol

Finally, the top was complete and part of me wanted to stop there. The other part had been craving to get to quilting this baby. I wanted to do custom quilting in sections, although I had no idea how yet.
I loaded her up, asked a lot of opinions on Instagram and then, got to it.

Of course there are errors but that makes it real and she came out lovely. I had to find my own courage in trying something different on this Women of Courage quilt and given what these women had done in their lifetimes, what was my piddly little insecurity?  Exactly, it was nothing compared to true adversity.

The moral, I love this lady. She's big, fits over a queen bed with drape and has rich colors. The deep aqua sets off the browns and reds and truly, that border is just stunning in real life.
I made the kids go with me to come up with photos. It was a beautiful day and I took them out to help me with this lady and one other quilt (you can see the story here, Fractured Sunlight, if you haven't seen it & are interested). Below are some sample shots of the kids at work. These were their ideas and styling.  I take no credit except forcing them out of the house, which, I feel I need to do for all the quilt photos now. :)

The helpers.  Thanks kids, I love you.
I hope you are having a lovely day and the next time you are a little reticent or fearful of something, think of those who have come before who haven't let that stop them and then ask yourself, can you do it? Will you?


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Quilt made with Love

“Want to join us?”  That was the question in late November last year (this day takes place early in Dec.) which started my involvement in a project that warmed my heart.  Amy (Amylouwhosews) and Rachel (PS I Quilt) brainstormed the idea of making a quilt for Kim (My Go-Go Life) because her son had just deployed and because she needed one and because she was making him one of the same pattern (only in blues and white) and because we all understood deployments and because, well, we love her.

You see, Kim and I haven’t known each other long in terms of time but I feel like our souls have known each other through space.  We get together and it’s like yesterday was the last time we spoke. Both of us have been guilty of speaking to the other as if we had already shared details of our lives over the past few days and then realizing maybe we didn’t and had to back track.  Anyway, I digress (which coincidentally also happens a lot when Kim and I chat.)

Her son deployed. Rachel and Amy brainstormed the quilt and invited me for the ride. We are all (including Kim) military spouses who have had loved ones deploy, we understand deployment but can’t quite fathom it from the mom’s perspective. We figured the knee jerk instinct to protect and keep one’s child out of harm’s way must be conflicting with the rational understanding that her boy was an adult and well trained. Using the Look to the Stars pattern out of Rachel’s newly released book “Quilts Made with Love” (which is, of course a fabulous pattern and book!), we all pieced the quilt using scraps from our stash. Once we got it together, I quilted it with a whimsical star and loop pattern. It was pieced and quilted using Auriful. 
The batting was Pellon's Nature's Touch 50/50 Bamboo/Cotton blend.  First time using it and I loved it. Like quilting with butter.  From Pellon's blog, "Bamboo Blend Batting has a soft, silky hand and some naturally anti-microbial properties. It is durable, breathable, and comfortable. This regenerated cellulosic fiber has microscopic pores that allow for excellent wicking which draws moisture away from the body. It is an excellent warm weather option. Bamboo’s inherent properties also make it a natural selection for those who suffer from allergies."

As we built this quilt, Rachel and her hubby Shane, who are in OH, planned a trip to VA for the day we intended to give this to Kim.  You see, we used the guise of a sewing day at my house and Kim was set to come but then her kids had half days at school and that killed that plan. Meanwhile, Rachel was scheduled to arrive and we had no contingency plan. Amy was talking regularly to Kim but Rachel and I were staying mum so as not to draw suspicion. Amy kept trying to figure out a way we could see Kim on that Friday and eventually, when trying to get Kim to make arrangements, had to just stop trying to make arrangements to avoid further suspicion.

Thursday night Rachel arrived and we sat down to finish binding the quilt while Amy worked on the label.  My pups, seeing a quilt so close at hand tried like crazy to lay on it. One made it as far as her nose on Rachel’s leg.  I think this had more to do with Rachel’s appreciation for having the pup nearby it than the pup’s perseverance, however.
The next morning, plans commenced. We piled into the car, in the pouring rain and swung over to pick up Amy. At this point, we thought all we would be able to do is see Kim for about an hour, if we were lucky, at a local Starbuck’s or something. It was clear she didn’t want folks just “showing up” at her house.  It was one of those weeks for her and we were trying to be considerate.  That failed. I called her and told her Amy and I were nearby, could she break and meet us. (Remember, Rachel’s presence was still an unknown to her.) She checked her calendar and just had to decline to clear up some work items.
With our silent apologies to her and her employer (ahem, Alex Veronelli, Auriful – we thank you for your understanding), we just drove to her house and let Rachel go knock on the door. And we wait. And wait.
Are we too late? Did she leave to go get her kids already?  It’s pouring rain. Rachel calls, while at the door. Phew! A moment later, out comes Kim.  LOVED the look of happy surprise on her face! She greeted everyone and then off to the back of the van to see our other surprise (Rachel was the first one). 

Of course, the whole thing was rushed, she had to get her kids but once she realized Rachel was here (we didn’t tell her about the third surprise later, we didn’t want her to feel guilty if she decided to stay home) and that Amy planned to grab her kids from school and come hang at my place with Rachel, Shane and I, Kim decided to do the same and joined us later that afternoon.

We laughed, gabbed, & had to give Kim the details of our escapade. Kim grumbled good naturedly about us being in trouble. Ultimately, though, Rachel and I were completely off the hook for the surprise.  Amy is supposed to be the one who has trouble keeping a secret. She got the brunt of it. LOL We were all complicit but like any good middle child can attest, it’s always best to let someone else take the heat if it’s so conveniently directed.  (-wink- Thanks Amy! You know I love you.)
Shortly after Kim arrived, I had another arrival. You see, there’s this quilter out there, maybe you’ve heard of him, John Q. Adams (Quilt Dad)? The stars aligned & he had some free time that night so he drove up from NC to say hey!  I may have been a little awe struck by the quilting talent in my home because after welcoming John in, I do believe my next words were, “You are really tall!”

Uh, duh. –sigh- Suave, I am not so let’s pretend it makes me cute and move on, shall we?

We all settled back in, gabbed more, ate, gabbed, played a little in my sewing room. Kim has a thing about trying every kind of sewing machine she can and really, who can resist playing on a mid-arm once it is in front of them and the owner has it set up for play time?  Not anyone, that’s who! 

Finally, the night came to an end, people departed and bed time called.  It was such a good day, planned and prepped for or not, I love having people visit, but ultimately, the day was made great by the love we were able to share with one special person. I hope that this fine lady, who would never hesitate to assist another living soul, one I’m blessed to call a friend, now knows how much she means to those around her.

Check out Kim's and Rachel's take on this wonderful experience.  
I love these girls.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy New Year

I have so many things I want to share with you all but I've been such a blogging slacker that every time I thought of blogging, I felt overwhelmed with trying to "catch up".

I sat down yesterday and organized the things I wanted to share.  Would you believe, it's not that much? Why is it that list in your head is always so much larger than the one in reality?

Anyway, it made me realize I could

  1. Catch you up on what I was doing quilt/sewing wise last year 
  2. Tell you if I met my quilt-y goals for last year and my goals for this year
  3. Share with you a little on my continued journey to health and fitness
Probably all within a few posts, too.  With luck, January will be about catching up and Feb. will be about sharing current events and completions.   

My first catch up share from last year?  Well, it was swaps! I participated in several swaps (mini quilt, mug rug, sweet pouch and blocks).  I also donated a couple blocks to people who requested them.  If you have not participated in any online swaps, I would highly recommend it.  You meet new people, it's fun to try to build something special for your partner and the anticipation of receiving something just for you is exciting. Plus, these swap groups always have pictures and discussions and the creativity you see is just inspiring! Oh, and they are quick projects.  The best!  

So, these are the swaps I've sent and received this year which have not already been shared on the blog.  

Blocks donated to the DC MQG for kitchen sink charity quilts:
Blocks donated to a couple friends to help them make quilts for someone in need:

I participated in a Sweet Pouch Swap.  I made a pouch using Patchwork Place's Hoo-Ha Pouch tutorial and sent it off to my partner in Latvia. I filled it with sweet goodies and a couple silly little stocking stuffer type things.   

This is the cute little pouch and the goodies that I received from her.  :)
Lastly, I participated in the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap.  This was the hardest swap for me all year.  It was a blind partner swap, which is usually fun but this one was so challenging. I checked out my assigned partner's work and it was great. I felt like I needed to come up with something truly unique that incorporated several of her "likes" for styles.  Oh my, oh my, oh my, it was all in my own head but I still pondered and pondered.  Finally, inspiration hit.  I adapted a block/quilt pattern for a mini and made what I hoped would be a true modern quilt with linear inspiration and a teeny tiny bit of whimsy.  I think I did it and am so proud of what I made up.  She liked it, and really, that's ALL that matters. :-)
The mini I received came from a quilter who, and I love it, took my comment that I liked primary colors to heart.  This mini hangs proudly in my line of sight in my sewing room. Hooray!
I hope last year treated you all well and I hope this new year is full of promise and success!