Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

This is the time of year for resolutions. I don't usually take much stock in resolutions made on January 1, just because it's January 1, but I could use a change this year, so here goes with at least a couple of goals that relate to quilting and this blog.

First, I joined a UFO Challenge through my online Stashbusters group. I entered 14 quilts that I currently have started that I want to try to get done. My actual goal for the year is to finish five quilts. Four of them are baby/kid quilts and the last one is a quilt I made as my wedding gift to my husband. That one is almost done, but I realized that I didn't put in nearly enough quilt stitches to keep the whole thing from ripping apart, so I need to go back and do a lot more hand quilting on it so I can call it finished. 

My second goal is to try to do more for others. Before my son was born, I volunteered like crazy. I helped plan fun events and parties for seriously ill children and their families, I made quilts for auctions,  solicited donations from local businesses for charity auctions, and taught Sunday School (way back when). I also used to make baby quilts for family, friends, and family member's friends, and if I didn't have time to make a quilt, I'd at the very least knit a blanket. 

After my son was born, life got busy. Besides normal baby stuff, I spend a lot of time on his medical issues, arguing with insurance companies, talking to doctors, and doing research to see what else we can do to keep him as healthy as we can for as long as we can. It doesn't leave me with a huge amount of time to volunteer. And, when I raise money now, it's for the Great Strides Walk to fund research to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. (This last one I don't mind. It's extremely important since there is no government funding for this kind of research, and we desperately need a cure.)

But, this year, I'd like to try to find a way to help more people some way. The quilt for the 7-year-old in Ohio is one small thing I can do. There are a couple of other baby/kid quilts that I have in the rotation that are both late (one by a couple of years), but I think a quilt whenever it comes can still give and get just as much love. (Or, that's just an excuse.)

There are so many kids and families I know of right now who are going through major illnesses, and I wish there was a way I could make each and every one of them a quilt, but I just don't have the time or money. But, I'm going to do the best I can do to at least get the ones finished that I've started, and maybe I'll be able to do even better. If anyone has any ideas for how I can get more kids quilts done, I'd be glad to hear the advice.

And, if there are other ways I can find this year to identify and help more people who need help, I'll do my best to make more of a difference.

I hope you and your families all have a great start and finish to 2013. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pattern Posted

I have a toddler at home with bronchitis -- which is especially bad for a baby with a serious lung disease -- so I haven't had much time for much (well, any) quilting. However, I had a couple of people request the pattern for the Many Trips Around the World Quilt, so I created one. It's a pretty tedious quilt to make, but it's still a neat pattern, and it looks really pretty on a bed.

Follow this link here for the PDF, or you can click on Patterns on top of the screen and get to the PDF from there.

Any patterns I post through this blog will be completely free, but if you like any of them and use any of them, please consider making a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help us find a cure for cystic fibrosis. I won't really talk about it much on this blog, but as a brief background, our son's diagnosis when he was 12-days-old came as a complete surprise, and now we are trying very hard to help fund crucial research to find a cure for this fatal genetic illness. Our annual walk is on May 18 this year at Soldier Field in Chicago, and we're trying to beat the $65,000 we raised last year. The link is at the bottom of the pattern. No pressure.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

Today, I was planning on working on the quilt I mentioned earlier during my son's nap. (We call him "Mister Mister" at home, so I'll try to remember to use that name for him here since I won't post his real name.)

I wanted to finish picking through my stash (pictured here) to pick out the remaining handful of fabrics for the quilt I'm sending to that sweet 7-year-old in Ohio just as soon as I finish it.

My fabric stash minus two boxes of orange and yellow
fabrics and all my I-Spy Fabric. (Not as huge as I'd like it to be,
but I have a nice selection to choose from.)

So far, I've picked out a fair number of fabrics to make the blocks. I tend to make scrappy quilts, so I use a lot of different fabrics in the same quilt.

However, instead of getting to work on this today, I got to fix a pair of pajamas for Mister Mister. My son is into Elmo. He calls him "Mo Mo" or sometimes just "Mo." We found these pajamas and thought they were perfect, especially since they were on clearance.

I removed the tags, washed them, and we dressed him in them. He got down to walk around, and, I've never seen him try to rip clothes off of himself faster. I took him out of them, and discovered the reason why he hated them:

This is a photo of Elmo's feet. The fabric is extremely thin and
dotted with something to keep kids from slipping. However, it's extremely
uncomfortable from the inside, and my son won't wear them
since it hurts to walk. Grrrr.
So, what's a loving mother with only one child at home to take care of to do? I decided to replace the feet. I ripped out the seams, traced the feet onto new fabric, pinned the new feet in place, attempted to sew them with my sewing machine, discovered that my early 1980s Singer sewing machine with two stitches couldn't handle the fabric, and stitched the whole thing together by hand. I finished with some puffy paint to keep Mister Mister from killing himself running around on the wood floors.

Time I thought it would take to finish this project: 1 hour
Time it actually took to finish this project: Closer to 4 hours.

Since Mister Mister only slept two hours, it ended up taking most of the day, grabbing time to stitch here and there. Once the paint dries, I hope it doesn't hurt his feet.

Lessons: Check the feet on pajamas before buying them. And, sometimes there's a reason why something is on clearance.

Tomorrow I will work on the quilt going to Ohio (when I'm not baking cookies).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Many Trips Around the World

When I was a senior in college, I started a pair of identical quilts. One was supposed to go to a friend, and I was going to keep the other one since I was afraid I wouldn't give the first one away if I didn't have one for myself. My friend never got the quilt.

Long story short, I never finished either of them. I made the two quilt tops at the end of 2000/beginning of 2001, didn't finish hand-quilting the first one until 2005, and then they both sat in a box ever since.  

When my family and I moved earlier this year, my mom stored a ton of stuff for us so we could put our condo on the market and live more comfortably without so much crap in our tiny place. She saw this quilt and made the comment that it would be perfect in my sister's old bedroom, which she was having repainted and done up for a guest room. (My old bedroom has already been transformed into the "baby's" room.) I told her that I'd be happy to finish it for her but couldn't promise when it would be done since I had so much else going on.

So, knowing that the holidays were coming up, and knowing that this quilt was just sitting there waiting for its binding strip, I finally finished it in December 2012. It's done. The twin quilt top is still sitting unfinished, but I've promised it to my mom, as well, when it's finished in another 5-10 years. 

I've had a couple of people ask for the pattern, and as soon as I get around to figuring out the pattern again -- I seem to have misplaced it in the last dozen years -- I'll post it here. 

Do Something Nice, Get a Quilt

Someday -- hopefully in the next couple of days -- I'll get my camera attached to the computer or pull out the hard drive to find some photos of past quilts. But, I've started on another new quilt.

Someone I went to undergrad with posted this to Facebook today:

the Homeless 
I recently recieved this true story from my neighbor.

A while back, I spoke in church asking each person to listen to how God may nudge them to bless women and children that may come to the shelter. One little boy said to his mom. "Mommy, I think I will give my blanket to the shelter." Mom explained that it would be a forever gift, he wouldn't get the blanket back.

He said, " I don't WANT to give it but, I think God is telling me to."

A few weeks later, back in crib room, we use as the shelter, there was a well-loved, clean blue blanket, with a note pinned to it. In a little boy's print, was this message:

"Me and this blankit have had a lot of advenchers in the past, but he wants a advencher with a nother kid."

He signed his name and gave his age. (7)

This happpened in Mount Vernon, Ohio not Columbus or someplace else.

It's heart warming and sad that a 7 year old can see a need and fill it. Yet, as adults we turn a blind eye.

Please support Shelter.

Kids can be so amazingly sweet. I emailed her to find out if she thinks the shelter would be able to find out who the little boy is so I can make him a quilt to replace the blankie he gave away. It's going to be an I-Spy Quilt with squares perfect for a 7-year-old boy with a big heart -- basketballs, motorcycles, bugs (both the insect- and car-variety), and a handful more. I'm hoping I can get it done in the next three or four weeks so I can get it out to him early in the new year.

I've already picked out all the fabric and have three squares sewn, which I had leftover from an earlier finished project from several years ago. With Joel taking some time off for the holidays, I'm hoping to at least get the quilt top close to finished this weekend.

I'll post some photos of the finished squares and pile of fabric in the next day or two so you can follow along.

The other three baby/kid quilts I'm working on (including the one for my baby) will have to wait until after the new year.  <Sigh>

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I follow (way too) many quilting blogs. I try to keep up reading about quilting and looking at quilt candy since life's gotten in the way of actually quilting lately. I have wanted to start a "real" blog for a while now. So, this year, I have decided to take at least a little time for myself, start quilting some more, and start a blog to track my progress. I can't promise that it will be interesting or well-written or awe-inspiring. But, I need a break from my life and I'm going to take this as the outlet.

To encourage myself to get back into quilting, I joined a local quilt guild -- The Salt Creek Quilt Guild -- last month. I also started participating again with an online quilt group -- Stashbusters -- which has a UFO challenge for 2013. I'm working on my list of UFOs, some of which I hope to finish this year and blog about here.

Since this is my first post, a little background might be useful. I have been quilting since January 1998, when I was a freshman at Kenyon College. I became hooked and have finished around two dozen quilts. I usually machine piece and then either tie the baby quilts or hand quilt all the larger ones. In my past life I was a book editor, editing law books for lawyers, law students, and consumers. When I got pregnant, I was in the middle of a career change, attending a teaching certification program and planning on teaching high school English in or near Chicago.

A few days after my beautiful baby boy was born and we took him home with an all-clear report, we received a phone call and he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a life-shortening, genetic illness, which caught us completely by surprise. I have been a stay-at-home mom since he was 6-months-old. We made a decision before he was born that we would not put his name or photograph online for his privacy, and we've stuck with that, and I'll continue that here.

His health (knock on wood) is stable right now, so I'm going to try to take advantage of him getting older, having a more regular schedule, and being able to keep himself entertained on the floor of my sewing room to get back into quilting. I hope you'll be encouraging and supportive as I start this blog.