Category Archives: Kindness & Community

A Note from Mercy Hospital

Hi all – I want to pop in and share this lovely thank you I received from a member of the Palliative Care team at Mercy Hospital. The response to the Mercyful Quilt Drive has been nothing short of AMAZING and I want to be sure you know how appreciated your beautiful quilts are. So far we have received over 90 quilts in the last 10 months. Hurray!!! Just in case you are new to my blog, you can read the details about Mercyful Quilts here and here and even here!

Dear Bernie, 

Back in November of last year, our ICU nurse Patty reached out to you about how we used to have a supply of quilts for patients at the end of life (aka “comfort care”) here in our hospital and how the quilts have sadly been harder to come by in recent years. You in turn said some wonderful things about your own family’s past experience at Mercy General in your blog post and then asked for those in the community to consider sending us quilts to have for this program. The response to this has been incredible and we thank you so much for this help. I am a social worker on our palliative care team here in the hospital and have had the honor of bringing these beautiful quilts to the family or loved one of a dying patient. 

The supply that you all have provided has been amazing. I, as well as others, can now provide a quilt that family feels expresses the personality or the favorite colors of their loved one and allows an openness to talk about who they are- who they were. We actually have a selection for men on comfort care now which was always so hard to come by and in addition, we’ve been trying hard to honor our Veterans at the end of their life here, and those who made and donated the patriotic colored ones and the American flag ones are now used to help honor them in one final way and show appreciation to their family for their service. 

Our palliative care team, as well as the dedicated bedside nurses that care for patients in their final moments, can often feel helpless in wanting to provide comfort and something meaningful to loved ones during such a dark time. These gifts have allowed us to bring something they can find some beauty in and later keep to remember the one they’ve loved and lost. 

I am so sorry that it has taken me almost a year to write to you but wanted to say to you, and to all those who have made and donated these quilts, that we cannot thank you all enough for the time and effort you put into these. It means a great deal and on behalf of our team here, thank you so much for your wonderful gift. 

-Emma Cook 
Palliative Social Worker  
Mercy General

This was such a wonderful note to receive. I knew they were really happy to have the quilts but this certainly validates all of the work and effort, time and creativity, not to mention expense, that goes into the gorgeous quilts so many of you have donated. Please continue to make quilts for this worthy reason. I am happy to facilitate the donations and get your quilts right over to Mercy Hospital. Continue to think about gender neutral themes and the occasional patriotic theme as they are needed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind hearts and gorgeous quilts!!!

Contributions for the Annual Safelight Project

More than a year has flown by and it is once again time to sew for the Safelight Project. Hosted each year by Carole of From My Carolina Home, this project provides support to people in the domestic violence shelter that Carole advocates for. Just in case you are not familiar with Carole and her work, she is one incredibly kind soul. She has spent the better part of the last year working hard to gather hundreds of quilts for victims of the Carolina hurricane. Carole also is a very active blogger with all sorts of quilt alongs, fun tablescape ideas, upcycling and thrifting posts, as well as great recipes. Check out her blog as it is lots of fun.

The Safelight Project is one I have contributed to before. People escaping domestic violence need all the support possible. I love the idea of these gift totes filled with little necessities because so many times the person leaves with just the clothes they are wearing and not much more.

Making a cometic bag and sunglasses case takes little time and not a whole lot of fabric. The instructions are so simple (and available here). Each one just requires a bit of batting and a strip of velcro.

Carole collects many sets and includes them in the tote bags she fills with other sundries. It must be so gratifying to see these pouring into her mail each year.

You know I have a thing for fabric with birds. This looks like a quail to me and I love it!! At first glance it looks like a paisley print but then this sweet bird shows through.

A bit of inspirational fabric made a sweet lining for this pouch.

Have to say, I was a bit disappointed when I realized I cut the triangles going opposite directions for each of the cases. Ooops!

Both sets are in the mail today heading for Carole. Thanks so much to Carole for coordinating this wonderful event each year.

Linking up with a few sites, check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

A Memory Quilt for Susie

Over the past two years or so, I lost contact with my friend Susie. We used to take long walks together, never running out of chit-chat. We both really enjoyed it but life got so that we fell out of the routine. In January of this year, I contacted her about a volunteer commitment we both work on and she told me her husband had recently passed away of lung cancer. I didn’t even know Rick had been ill. I felt awful that we had lost touch and I hadn’t been around to support her during his very serious illness. I know all too well how important it is to have friends helping you during such a dark, painful time.

We got together a couple of times soon after and I offered to make a quilt for her with Rick’s clothes, whenever she thought she would be ready to part with some of his shirts. About a month later, she brought me a large bag containing his bathrobe, some shirts and shorts. We took a look at everything and talked about whether she was ok with me cutting them up. Then we looked at different quilts I had pinned to a memory quilt board on Pinterest. She was drawn to a simple four patch block with sashing. Easy enough to make! Susie also asked if I would include two photos of her with Rick she had printed on fabric. I haven’t used that sort of thing before but of course I was happy to add them to a block.

Looking at the collection of shirts and shorts, it seemed best to use the two pairs of solid blue shorts and then two plaids for each four patch. Susie looked in the shop downstairs and chose a very neutral textured solid for the sashing and border.

Making four patch blocks

Working with clothing that has been worn is a bit tricky. Susie chose the items Rick favored most because she had the sweetest memories of him in those shirts or shorts. Of course this means some of them were well worn. I wish I could remember who it was, but on Instagram, a nice quilter reminded me to back any thin fabrics with a stabilizer of sorts. This was perfect. I fused a woven interfacing to the back of some of the chunks of fabric before I cut the strips. Once that was done, I cut 3 1/2″ strips wherever I could. Then made strip sets and sliced them up to make the four patch blocks.

What a sweet photo of Rick and Susie

The next step was to create two blocks where I could utilize the pictures of Rick and Susie. I wasn’t really sure how to do this? The fabric they were printed on seemed to fray easily so I didn’t want to stitch a border directly to the printed piece. Instead I chose to fuse the photo to a square cut from the neutral sashing fabric. After fusing it (with each edge pressed under to create a clean look) I topstitched around the perimeter.

Another sweet picture!

I think that worked quite well. One limiting factor was the shorts I used as a solid. I ran out of that fabric with two blocks to go. What to do? I decided to cut two more plain blocks from the sashing fabric. Then I took bits of the flannel bathrobe and cut two hearts from it. Those were fused to the background squares and appliquéd to the fabric. They look very cute and I like the pop of the deep red plaid.

Finally, we agreed the red plaid flannel robe would be the perfect outer border. I really love how the red flannel gives a cozy and rustic look to the quilt top.

This photo captures the true colors best.

The quilt top measures roughly 60″ x 70″ which should be perfect for my very tiny friend. Now I need to choose a backing and get it basted. This is the type of project I really enjoy. It holds meaning and comfort for my friend. I really regret not having made something like this when Mark – my first husband – died in 1994. I was overwhelmed with being widowed, single parenting my boys etc. Sewing was not at the forefront of my mind – in fact I didn’t really sew for many years after that. Making this for Susie is very satisfying. I am really looking forward to quilting it up so she can enjoy it. September will mark the one year anniversary of Rick’s death and I want to be sure she has this before then.

Linking to my usual spots – check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Watch for a special post coming up on Friday!! Until then, to my US readers, have a wonderful Fourth of July holiday! Also, I have a fantastic giveaway happening today and tomorrow over on my Instagram feed. Be sure to check it out. 🙂

Five Years of Needle & Foot

Yep – it was five years ago today I published my first post here on the blog. Seems I blinked a few times and suddenly it is 2019. I have published 512 posts, made hundreds of friends, learned many lessons about quilting, life, and community. It has been incredibly rewarding and even though blogging isn’t the popular force it once was, I am still here.

The blog has grown into a really satisfying business for me as well as a creative outlet. I have enjoyed hosting a number of community service projects such as my Share the Love campaign where we all sewed doll quilts for Amy and A Doll Like Me. Collecting quilts for Mercy Hospital in Sacramento has been and continues to be a heartwarming experience as quilters from all over the country send quilts for families who are dealing with the death of a family member. Mercyful Quilts has been more successful than I could have imagined.

Blogging (for me) is such a great way to keep a journal of my projects, business, community service endeavors and even the silly stories of my family. I enjoy conversing with Needle and Foot readers and hope I provide some entertainment as well. A few days ago I received a note from a reader and she told me this, “Please know that as a caretaker for my husband who is disabled by brain tumor and stroke, you and Sew Preeti Quilts and the Academic Quilter help keep me sane. (I miss Crazy Mom and Finish it up Friday humongously.) Some day I may be able to participate, but for now, please don’t quit.” This reader has no idea how much her note means to me. For many, sewing does much to keep us sane. It is therapeutic and creative, both of which are so important. So dear reader, not to worry, I am not going anywhere.

Five years deserves to be celebrated. This year I have two ideas! First of all, I would like to do another charitable giveaway. In prior years, I have asked readers to comment and tell me about their favorite charity. Using Random Number Generator, I will select a winner and contribute $50 to that reader’s charity. It is really interesting to read about the organizations other people are supporting. So please enter (only once) in the comments and tell all of us about the organization that is meaningful to you. Of course this is open worldwide – enter whether you reside in the US or another country.

Second idea is this – The traditional gift of the fifth anniversary is wooden. As you might know, my husband makes gorgeous wooden items. I will draw a second winner and that person will receive a beautiful wooden point turner. These point turners are perfect for opening the corners on a pillow, tote bag, zip pouch and more. One lucky commenter will be picked to win a handmade point turner.

Both giveaways are picked from the same pool of comments. Winner will be drawn on Friday, June 7th. Good luck to all! Thank you so much for continuing to read and interact with me here at Needle and Foot. Our community is an incredible source of creativity and kindness in this world and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Spring Equals Birthdays & Proms

May has been such a busy month! School is winding down – senior year is coming to a close for Julia. Plus we have celebrated her 18th birthday and she went to her Senior Prom. Crazy to see this girl finishing up high school because it was only a few weeks ago that I felt like such an awful mother as I left her crying on the first day of Kindergarten. Such is life, right?

A few weeks ago, I posted this desperate plea on Instagram and Facebook. Julia’s prom dress didn’t really fit well and she asked if I could fix it. This was the week before prom. Being the confident sewist, I immediately suggested we return it and quickly find another dress. But she #1 – threw away the receipt and tags and #2 – said she loved this dress and wanted to wear it. OK, I promised to do what I could. The main issue was the lining was too snug around her waist. I looked at letting it out and adding some width to the side seams. But I suspected I would end up with something bulky that wouldn’t lay flat. My brilliant daughter, who doesn’t sew, asked if I couldn’t just lift the lining up, folding it right sides together, sewing all the way around, which would make it a little wider at her ribs. Does this make sense to you? It worked like a charm and was super easy. Sort of hard to explain though.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

The next issue was the hem. It was really long and she didn’t want to be tripping over it at the dance. I was a bit leary of this task because the outer fabric was a slippery chiffon. But with the help of YouTube, it was not hard at all. The video I watched instructed me to pin it about 1/4″ longer than I wanted it to be. Press it and stitch all the way around. Then trim the excess as close as possible to the seam line. Finally, roll that stitched line to the inside, pin and press and stitch again. I was amazed by how wonky the original hem was. There was no way to straighten it so Julia and I figured if we hadn’t noticed how wavy it was before, no one else would either and I just stitched it – crooked as can be.

Photo credit to Natalie Webster.

Hiding under that pretty dress are black sneakers because my daughter won’t wear much else!

Following the prom, we celebrated Julia’s 18th birthday. Not sure if you remember but last year I made a cake for her 17th birthday and was not entirely successful!

This was one ugly cake!

This year Julia asked for the same yellow cake with strawberry filling and chocolate frosting. I wanted to use a cake mix again but with better results. My trusty internet sources advised adding an extra egg yolk and replacing the required water with milk. I did both of these, though I used almond milk to keep it dairy free for my husband. Also, another site suggested adding a couple of tablespoons of any pudding mix that would match the flavor of the cake. I had an old box of butterscotch pudding that likely expired in 2010 or so. I opened it and added two tablespoons and tossed the rest. Guess what? It worked wonderfully.

Such an improved version!

Julia was happy and we are hoping her wishes come true for this year!

With all of this, plus two different awards nights at school, I haven’t done tons of sewing. One thing I am working on though is quilting a top given to me by a family friend. She actually donated three finished quilts to Mercyful Quilts. Then she sent me four tops she had, asking if I would finish them and donate those as well. I don’t normally do this because it takes a bit of time which I am sorely lacking, but she was so sweet to donate the other quilts and I agreed. I know they all won’t be finished terribly soon but I am working on the first one.

This string quilt was probably made a while back. There are many fabrics that look to be circa 1980’s and it is very pretty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lie anywhere close to flat. I don’t think these string blocks were pieced with any sort of foundation paper or fabric, making them quite stretchy. I pressed it and starched it before pin basting. While pin basting, I took little tucks all over the place and hand stitched them which really helped. When I get to those bits, I quilt heavily over them so they won’t come apart. I am just using a loopy meander which is quite forgiving when I come to a section that is wavy. After binding and washing this it will, hopefully, crinkle up and be very cozy.

The backing is from the sale section in my shop. It is an Oval Elements piece from Art Gallery Fabric. Fabric for the binding has yet to be selected though. I am just about out of thread (which is silly since I am quilting it with white thread) so I won’t get too much farther on this today. I am counting this as my one project for Hands 2 Help and it should be finished early next week.

The quilts continue to arrive for Mercy Hospital and the Mercyful Quilts drive. The Hands 2 Help event at Confessions of a Fabric Addict has been amazing. I cannot even believe the number of quilts made for all of these deserving organizations . Just so inspiring. Some quilters have made 4 or 5 quilts – some even more than that. I have this stack and another box full ready for pick up. Judging by the emails I have received and blog posts I am reading, there are many more on the way. Thank you to all of you generous quilters!!

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend. In the US, Monday is Memorial Day which many mark as the beginning of summer. We have had rainy, gloomy weather all week so it sure doesn’t feel summery here!

So Many Mercyful Quilts!

As many of you know, this month is a busy one for quilters participating in Hands2Help 2019 making donation quilts. This wonderful event is sponsored annually by Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict. She coordinates the donations of hundreds of quilts to several organizations. This year Mercyful Quilts is one of the very fortunate recipients of these quilts.

Last month I received a number of gorgeous quilts. Some I shared on Instagram but haven’t shared them on the blog. I want to be sure everyone gets a chance to see the amazing works of art that have been donated to Mercy Hospital. I can’t show all of them because that would make for a very long post. But here are some that have arrived recently. (Just in case you are new to my blog, please read about the Mercyful Quilt drive posts – click here and here to get the general info on this project.)

Just a sampling of the quilts coming in.

It is fun to be the person receiving these quilts. I love seeing everyone’s work – so many fun colors, patterns, pretty fabrics, beautiful quilting. Really, I am so fortunate to be the organizer of this project. It is like Christmas when the UPS truck drives up the driveway!

Each one is so unique and all of them are beautifully made.

Stunning, right?

This quilt was completely hand quilted. I was so surprised! What a treasure.

So many stitches went into this. It is lovely!

Both of the quilts shown above came from the same quilter. I appreciate her choice to make one more traditional with colors that would appeal to a man or woman. The other quilt with the rainbow of modern blocks and the piano key border is striking and very different. When families choose from all of the quilts it is nice to have a selection to select from. I hope they pick one that is somehow representative of the loss they are dealing with. Maybe that will bring an extra level of comfort to the family.

Not all quilts come via the UPS truck. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting up with a quilter from the Sacramento area. She emailed me to see if I had any plans to be in the area so she could give me the quilts personally. Heck yes! Any excuse to meet another quilter and have a cup of coffee with her.

Karrin blogs over at Karrin’s Crazy World and she donated three pretty quilts. Two are blue and yellow which is a fantastic color combination. The third one is a patriotic quilt which might just suit the family of a veteran. I am so happy to have these three quilts to add to the stack. The photos taken indoors don’t do them justice – the colors are more vibrant than shown.

Karrin and I had a nice long visit – Isn’t it crazy how two quilters who have never met can just sit down and start up a conversation? It comes easily and we really enjoyed ourselves. Karrin, I hope we can meet again to talk fabric, stippling, color preferences, batting and life in general! What a fun trip to Starbucks.

I am grateful for all of the quilts received thus far. I know more are on the way. Please know that once the Hands2Help event ends, the need for Mercyful quilts does not! I am happy to take quilts any time you want to donate one. The palliative care team over at Mercy Hospital is truly appreciative of these beautiful gifts you are making and sending to them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Owning Our Imperfections

Not sure if you read my previous blog post but I want to remind everyone that on April 1st (next week) I am hosting an event inviting everyone to share their mistakes, goofs, boo-boos and misunderstandings about quilting (or sewing in general)! It is often disconcerting to look at the world of perfection that is usually shared on social media. There are some who generously share their errors along with their gorgeous quilts. But it isn’t often enough. At times, this leads to a feeling of discouragement. Surely I am not the only one who has scrolled Instagram and come away feeling like everyone’s quilts are so much better than mine. Quilting isn’t done to one-up the next person but it is hard to avoid this feeling. Maybe it just depends on my state of mind on any given day but it happens.

Let’s build each other up by taking a view of quilting in real life! Share a mistake you made, chuckle at yourself, explain how it taught you something or maybe how you fixed it. (If you threw it out, explain why you decided to). This will be so much fun!

From our very generous sponsor, Art Gallery Fabric

Plus prizes… who doesn’t like prizes??? We have a very generous gift from Art Gallery Fabric. They have donated a fat quarter bundle of Matchmade, a gorgeous new line of blenders featuring deliciously saturated tones. Designed by Pat Bravo, this bundle has 20 different pieces which means this bundle is a gift of five yards of fabric from AGF to one lucky winner!

More prizes!!!

Look, more prizes! Kirsty at Bonjour Quilts has provided three PDF patterns! Have you seen her work? So many wonderful patterns to choose from! Leanne at Devoted Quilter has given a PDF pattern too! Another talented designer, Leanne has an assortment of striking patterns in her shop. She also has several free ones that are tempting me as I write this! Linda of My Sew-Called Quilts has provided two mini charm packs of Grunge. There isn’t one of us that wouldn’t love these cute bits of Grunge!! (Please note – I am limiting the fat quarter bundle prize to the US only. Shipping is so darn expensive and the size of the bundle makes it prohibitive for me to ship outside of the US. If you have a US address I can ship to, go ahead and let me know that so I can include you!)

As for Needle & Foot, one gift certificate for $30 is also in the mix. This makes six fun prizes – awarded by a random drawing of those who link up! Yay! Event begins on April 1st (very appropriate way to celebrate April Fool’s Day!) and closes Friday, April 5th. Winners drawn and announced on Saturday, April 6th.

OK – think about learning to quilt…. remember all of those mistakes and frustrations. Share your experiences so we can all share a laugh and realize no one, NO ONE, was born with a magical ability to create award winning quilts. We all learned, we all began somewhere. That’s real life quilting.

Guest Posting at Confessions Of a Fabric Addict Today

Good morning! Just popping in to let you know I am guest posting over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict today. I am thrilled to tell you that Mercyful Quilts is one of the recipients of the quilts made for the 2019 Hands2Help event hosted each year by Sarah!!

Each day this week on Sarah’s blog, a representative for the charitable organizations receiving quilts this year is posting about their group or charity. I have a post about Mercyful Quilts on her blog today. I hope you will hop over to read more about the event and if you choose to, it would be great to sign up and participate! Check back each day this week and learn more about the other wonderful groups you might want to make a quilt for.

Thanks to Sarah for hosting this amazing annual event. This is the ninth year of Hands2Help!! Amazing, right? Thus far, over 1,450 quilts have been made and donated to a variety of groups. I have participated a couple of times and it is very rewarding!

Have a great day everyone!