WIP Wednesday and Golden Threads Finish!

What in the world was I thinking, when I planned on posting this finish the same weekend as Ava’s seventh birthday. No way that was ever going to happen! I decided to just lump it in with my WIP post instead.

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At the beginning of Aug, I decided to take an inventory of all my quilt projects based on what stage of completion they are in. My categories are… fabric cut, blocks pieced, top done, top and back, basted and quilted. I only advance a project on the step where I set it aside, so my Scrappy Swoon jumped from cut to top and back in one swoop. I’m finding that the quilted category is ending up being unnecessary, since binding is my favorite part of the process, so I rarely pause before I finish a quilt up. As the month wore on, I decided to make a list off to the side of my finishes. As you can see from the picture above, I have had four finishes since I made this list, my do. Good Stitches Scrappy Trips, Anna’s 18th Birthday quilt, a commissioned baby quilt and the quilt I’m going to talk about today that I made in exchange for long-arm services.

One of the best things about Golden Threads Quilting Club is that they build community. While one of the goals is to make lap quilts for local seniors, after members make a charity quilt they then help them make quilts for themselves. Since I’m already a quilter, Tara and I kind of reversed the process. She long-armed Anna’s quilt and I made a lap quilt for her to donate.

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I had a partial layer cake of Kate Spain’s Serenade and with the addition of a couple of stash fabrics, put together a simple quilt top. I love that it has the feel of a Fall garden. Ever since I saw Janice’s Ultra-Wavy Quilting tutorial at Better Off Threads, I knew I wanted to use it in a quilt. Since this was a relatively small quilt, it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. As a bonus, a couple of the fabrics have a wood grain pattern and I knew the waves would soften the quilt pattern.

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I really couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. In fact, this may be my new favorite quilting method. I had bought a large piece of one of my favorite Terrain prints on sale months ago and it made the perfect backing. While the long purple trimmings from Anna’s quilt back added the finishing touch for the binding.

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As for the rest of my WIP’s, I hope to clear off the right hand page by the end of the month. I have two quilts basted…my giant star that’s been partially quilted since last winter and the a scrappy 16-patch that’s waiting for inspiration to strike.

DSC_0490DSC_0140I have four quilts ready for basting. Cate’s weighted blanket has been waiting for me to finish the inner weighted part since last Fall.

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The other three I pieced in the last month… a yellow and green Giant Scrappy Swoon, a second lap quilt for Golden Threads made from Anna’s birthday quilt scraps and a Comma baby quilt I’m making for a friend.

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But first on my list for this week are BEE BLOCKS!!!! Really!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
and Finish It Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Anna’s 18th Birthday Quilt

It always sucks a little when one of your kids birthdays falls during lean times. It’s even worse when it’s a milestone birthday. With my husband not working and our income significantly lowered, we couldn’t afford to have a party or big gift for our daughter, Anna’s 18th birthday. It was time to get creative. It actually reminded me a lot of her first birthday. Fresh out of college with a baby, we struggled to make ends meet. For months leading up to her birthday I would buy a ball of cotton yarn on pay day and crocheted her a blanket. Because I added to it so slowly, the dye lots didn’t match, but it didn’t matter. That blanket went everywhere with her for years. Earlier this summer, every time she would catch me sewing (mostly bee blocks), she would ask when I was going to make her a quilt. I finally answered one day that I’d have it done by the time she graduated (next May) and she gave me a dejected “oh” and stopped asking.

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Back when I started sewing I participated in a Denyse Schmidt charm swap sponsored by Jill at Made with Moxie. I had two slots and cut into them right away to make some hexies. Anna in particular liked her fabrics, so I set the rest aside thinking I’d incorporate them in a project for her. Over time I added in 2 1/2′, 4 1/2″ and 6 1/2″ squares of Flea Market Fancy, Chicopee and several ds Quilts fabrics form Joann’s, with the intention of making a Magic Numbers Quilt for. So with nine days before her birthday, I decided that I would surprise her with a quilt. A queen size quilt. Once I realized how many blocks I would need I decided to add in some 12 1/2″ blocks too, to break everything up a bit. Two days later, I had this…

66099_10200899800269507_498236608_n Then came the big challenge…How to quilt it. Not only was I concerned about my ability to wrangle such a big quilt through my home machine, but I also wanted to double up on the batting, since she had asked for a heavy quilt. I have fibromyalgia, so I knew even if I were  to take it slow, it was going to be a stretch to get it done in time. With that in mind, I posted to my quilt group on Facebook asking for advice. The most incredible thing happened. The lovely Tara Evans, director of Golden Threads Quilt Club, offered to long-arm in exchange for a lap quilt to donate to a local Senior. Tara really connected with wanting to help me provide a meaningful gift for my daughter’s birthday and finished the quilting the same day I dropped it off.

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Since everything for this quilt had to come from stash, I used a backing I had originally intended for a different quilt and bound it in my favorite Chicopee plaid. Despite not “matching” any of the purples on the front of the quilt, I don’t think I could have planned a more perfect fabric. It had the depth needed to hold it’s own with the front of the quilt.

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The night before her birthday, I spent six hours hand sewing the binding to the back. As many different machine binding methods I’ve tried, nothing will ever beat the crisp clean look of a hand sewn binding in my mind. l especially love the perfect corners.

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I don’t know who was more excited for her birthday, her or me. I gave it to her within moments of her getting up and she wrapped herself up in it right away.

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Anna’s 18th Birthday Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Magic Numbers
Fabric: Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy,
Chicopee and ds Quilts prints
Back: 108″ wide purple blender
Binding: Simple Plaid in Charcoal
Finished Size: 90″ X 99″
Finished Date: August 2013

DSC_0923 DSC_0934Linking up to Finish It Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Check back tomorrow to see the finished quilt I made for Golden Threads!

A Scrappy Trips Finish for Empower @ do. Good Stitches

The first week of September I sat down to make a list of all my WIP’s. With kids transitioned to school and new free time on my hands, my goal is to get as many done as I can before the end of the year. First on the list, was my month as quilter for Empower @ do. Good Stitches. A Many Trips Around the World quilt has been on my bucket list since Fall 2012. I have a tub of 2 1/2″ strips I cut from most fabrics that crossed my table that year waiting for me to do something with them. I had been waffling about how I wanted to go about it, so when my do.GS month and the Scrappy Trips craze simultaneously hit the internet, it was the perfect opportunity to experiment. I requested a palette of pink, orange and yellows with a single lime green strip down the middle to create a lattice effect. I also requested that stitchers include at least one low volume strip in each block to help create movement. I did a quick fabric pull to give everyone an idea of what I was looking for.

empower collageGiven the number of contributors with a block with a ton of seams, I was amazed at how easy this quilt came together. This group of ladies is a precise bunch and they chose the most RAD fabrics.DSC_0771Then, as these things go, the flimsy got tucked aside while I tried to figure out how to back and quilt it. I auditioned a bunch of different green fabrics, but nothing felt quite right. It wasn’t until I completely switched gears and pulled out some Kona Tangerine that it all fell into place. I also found a random print in my stash that had many of the same colors to widen it up at bit. My goal for the quilting was to soften all the sharp edges. I did a couple simple free-form wavy lines through each square with my walking foot and it was finished in no time.

DSC_0082My final decision was binding. Given how busy the top already was, I decided I didn’t want to add a new fabric. I still had enough of the print from the back and I’ve never done a binding lighter than the main quilt before, so this seemed like another good chance to try something new. I especially like how the the binding pulls out the splashes of lighter prints my bee mates included for their blocks.

DSC_0087Scrappy Trips for Empower @ do. Good Stitches
Finished September 2013

DSC_0090Linking to Finish It Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

The Happiest Mail on Earth and an Update

  • It’s always hard to jump back in after a long blog hiatus…not that I’ve had a blog for that long in the first place. Bullets seem nice and non-threatening. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to share all the sewing I’ve done in the last six months. It’s just that the bee block blog post that I had planned to write in April is still churning around in my head. Not to mention all the posts that were to follow, including several big finishes. At some point though, you just have to clear the slate and jump in. This is that.

I’ve been typing for a really long time now, so decided to jump back and add a picture for those who want to cut to the chase and move on with their day…

DSC_0117For those of you with a little lot of time on your hands, read on for the story of how this bit of loveliness found it’s way to me…

  • Part of my hesitancy to post has been not being able to find a neutral voice during a not so great time in my family’s life. I’ve noticed that lots of niche blogs struggle with how much to share when their lives are not going as well as they’d like. I’m going to share a little, because it illustrates why my most recent, unexpected mail package has filled me with such hope.
  • The short version: husband hospitalized for a week… no work for almost four months… four months of ups and downs stabilizing health… financial impact of all that on a family of eight, you can imagine…  children’s medical challenges, including a hospitalization…  prepping six kids to head off to school… heart breaking death of friend… surreal sending of kids off to school, both the start of a Senior year (oh how can it be?) and two off to Kindergarten… husbands transition back to work (though still not full-time)… child’s out-patient surgery… more scheduling snafus than seems imaginable… medical bills, oy!… fall illnesses and the inevitable let-down that happens after months of needing to be “on”… needing to face the pre diabetes diagnosis that I’d ignored for nine months…

DSC_0059low-volume HST’s, paper-pieced flower, jaw-dropping paper pieced rainbow refraction

  • There has been a huge amount of good too. During the most stressful time in our lives as a family, the foster care years, we were fairly isolated and kept most of the stress we experienced to ourselves. There are still aspects of our lives that I find difficult to share…not included in the above list is the time and emotional energy spent raising a child with severe trauma and attachment issues…but I really reached outside my comfort zone this time and made a point of opening up with friends. During a particularly hard day in July, when I was trapped in negative thoughts, I sat down and wrote out a list of all the acts of kindness and support we received since my husband’s hospitalization. I’ve kept up the list and it has grown to 32 items. This doesn’t include countless conversations and words of encouragement, prayers and positive thoughts. This is a list of things that people went out of their way to do to help us as a family. These are big life-saving, keep us afloat type things. We are incredibly blessed.
  • I also found time to garden and am happily canning produce this fall. And of course, I found some time for sewing. I even kept up with my bee block commitments through July, completed an 18th birthday quilt for my daughter (with a huge act of kindness on the part of a new friends) and wrapped up several long-term works in progress. Recently I sold my first commissioned quilt!

DSC_0060rainbow sunrise over a hill that I’m calling HOPE!, stained glass butterfly,
white pinwheel on a perfect rainbow background

  • After July, the bee blocks didn’t go so well. I’m sure others have experienced the dread of opening up Flickr and facing how far behind you are. I’m there. In fact, my big goal for these last few days of Sept is to gather up the courage to check it out and jump back in. Fortunately, as you all know, quilters are amazing people and the amount of understanding I’ve received has been incredible. Which brings me to the day I received the most amazing mail from the ladies of Empower @ do.Good Stitches.

DSC_0063rainbow geese pinwheel, saturated rainbow pinwheel, HEXIES!

  • Let’s set the scene… As I mentioned before, I sent all six of my kiddos off to school full-time this year. Given our stressful summer, I have to say it wasn’t an unwelcome transition. Oh the number of times friends and acquaintances asked if I was dreading it or worried or sad. Not. At. All. Really, ten years without free time. They were ready, I was ready, bring it on. You know where this is going right? The first week, such a relief. The second week, not so much. By the third week, I was in a full-blown funk. It seems that as much as I’ve been driven crazy by the constant din of noise in the last ten years, I have forgotten how to function without it. I also realized the need to focus on my kids had kept me somewhat detached from feeling all that we had gone through. Coupled with the natural let-down and a true need for rest, I found myself skirting the line between exhaustion and depression. That line where you’re taking a nap because your tired or because you just can’t get up. In the midst of it all, my kids that don’t do a good job with transition had their share of struggles and we did our best to muddle our way through it together.
  • Then we hit the stretch where a few additions to the load threatened to topple us… the transition from short-term to long-term disability meant a break in income that pushed us into food insecurity in the same week that our child with anxiety disorder had surgery. For those of you that parent special needs kids, that particular afternoon was one of those days that our therapist jokes you end up needing trauma therapy to recover from the trauma therapy, which is really quite funny in a curl up in the corner of the room and cry kind of way. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. In particular, I felt very alone in my sadness. To say that it was into this moment that this wonderful package of scrappy rainbow goodness fell into my hands, seems almost too good to be true. But that is exactly what happened. Ironically, I have been told that there it was intended to arrive much sooner, but due to a move their was a delay in shipping. Perfect timing!

DSC_0062rainbow pinwheel, woven rainbow heart, color block improv rainbow

  • Can you believe it? Scrappy, rainbow, hexies, low-volume, symbols of hope, paper-piecing, incredible super tiny paper-piecing, pinwheels… All on my very favorite Madrona Road text print! I have hung it in the most prominent place in the room I spend the most time in. I look at it countless times a day and it’s reminder that I’m not alone, that I’m blessed with an amazing community of friends that cares about my family, always brings a smile to my face.
  • Thank you to all my dear friends of Empower @do.Good Stitches who made this gorgeous wall hanging for me… Carrie, Shannon, Meesh, Heather, Kelli, Kim, Raechel, Heather and Shelley. It may take me a day or so, but I hope to link each of you to the block you made. In the meantime, I do believe this wall hanging needs a name. Thoughts?
  • I had to sneak back in to add a picture of my youngest kiddos on their first day of school!

1004532_10201020642090477_1780417182_nCate – 2nd, Elena – 4th, Ava – 1st
Josie – K and Leo – K

Linking to Really Random Thursday at Live a Colorful Life

Festival of Strings

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When I saw that Rachel of Stitched in Color was doing another scrap challenge this year, I had to join in. This year it was all about string scraps, so I pulled out my pile of string blocks made from Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I made these in batches and after each batch I laid them out to see what colors were missing, then threw new fabrics in my string pile. It was fun to grab and sew without much thought. With that in mind, I decided to sew them together in whatever arrangement they happened to land in. Normally I would spend hours shuffling blocks around, so I was surprised that I was just as happy with my final layout without spending all that time. In addition to all the Flea Market Fancy prints, I have quite a few from her ds Quilts line, a handful of Chicopee, Kona solids and Michael Miller Ta Dots. In a nod to the quilts in her Modern Quilts Traditional Interpretation, I replaced some of the Ash I used as the center strip with grey print fabrics in a few of the blocks in the lower right hand corner. I had hoped to have this quilted up in time for link-up, but decided to do something a little different for the back. Hopefully, I will have a finished quilt within the next couple of weeks.

Linking up to Festival of Strings
and WIP Wednesday

It’s Not Looking Good for the Home Team

I finally got around to my Lovely Year of Finishes goal and started machine quilting. I LOVE the Timeless Treasures Sketch Flannel… LOVE IT! But, this is a decent size quilt and it’s heavy!

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My strategy involves slinging that roll over my shoulder and leaning in as I quilt. This is my first time quilting away from seams, so I did a lot of marking.

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I was worried about the charcoal thread showing up on the back (and showing off all my mistakes), but I actually love the way the star pattern shows (and I know that when it crinkles up you won’t be able to tell if it’s straight or not).

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Still not thrilled with the stay stitching knots. I know this quilt is going to get heavy use, so I want to know it’s secure and I don’t have enough confidence in a couple back stitches. I am trying to reserve judgement until I have it all washed up. I will definitely take lots of before and after pictures. This photo shows the knots a little bit more.

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I had just started in on the background sections when this happened.

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I was able to wrench the needle out without breaking it, but it went downhill from there and that put an end to my weekend sewing. Hopefully I will be able to start up again tomorrow. There’s still a slim chance I’ll get it done by the end of the month, but if not I have plenty of hand sewing to do. I’ve been fussy cutting Cuzco.

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Obviously its been making its way into my bee blocks, but most of it’s destined to be hexies. I won’t be abandoning my beloved one-inchers anytime soon, but I decided to play with scale and go with big six-inchers too. I just need to decide on a background fabric.

I am still obsessed with scrappy neutral backgrounds, so I splurged on a Kona bundle with my birthday gift certificate. I usually just stick with a few standards, so this feels especially indulgent.

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Meanwhile, today was my 18th wedding anniversary. My favorite flower and the first flowers my husband ever bought me were Daisies. I also love yellow roses. Excuse the iPhone photo (and Cate eating yogurt). He did a good job. It feels like Spring!

Anniversary Flowers

Wishing everyone a Happy Monday!

Linking up to…

Plum and June