Category Archives: Kindness & Community

Its Been a While

Yikes, I checked my blog after many days away and realized I haven’t posted since the first of December.  So, this is just a quick one to check in and say hi.  It has been a rough start to the month for me. I  have mentioned before I deal with chronic migraine and it has been a constant battle these past couple of weeks.

I thought this humorous picture by Natalya Lobanova described what I deal with quite well. Sometimes it feels like I am constantly explaining or apologizing for being unable to keep a commitment or come to a scheduled appointment. Just today I cancelled a dental appointment (which I hate to do on such short notice as it causes gaps in their schedule) as well as a coffee date I was looking forward to with a friend (Sorry Kristi!)  I have another coffee date tomorrow morning and am crossing my fingers I will feel well enough to keep that one.

Chronic illnesses are very often invisible to others. Because of this, we never truly know what the person next to us in line at the store, walking down the street, or maybe driving in the lane up ahead of us, is really experiencing and it is important to remember that and treat each other with compassion and patience.   Additionally,  people living with chronic illness need to extend that same compassion to oneself. It takes an incredible amount of patience to live with something like this. I am so fortunate to have a great support system made up of family and friends.

Anyway, this is just my way of letting you know I am down for the count but once this cycle breaks, should be back on track.  Hopefully sooner rather than later. I have done very little sewing except for some custom orders for my Etsy customers.  Also I am in the midst of making a cute tree skirt for our Christmas tree and should be sharing that soon.

Now to put a positive spin on this post, I will share the Santa figure made by my husband when he was about 8 years old or so.  My mother-in-law brought it to me several months ago and I LOVE it. Made of toilet paper rolls and red tissue paper, this guy makes me smile each time I walk by.  I am so glad my MIL saved it and passed the treasure on to me. 🙂

See you soon!

Sewcial Bee Sampler Round Up

One of my favorite projects from this year has to be the quilt I made with the Sewcial Bee Sampler Quilt Along.  Remember this?  Hosted by Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell, there was one block released each Wednesday for twenty five weeks. There were several reasons for this being my favorite. One was the block design. The blocks were based on common piecing methods but Sharon and Maureen gave them a really modern look, probably because they included solids in their fabric selections. It gave the blocks such a fresh look.  Also, the blocks were doable.  I have been quilting for a while but I am definitely still in the advanced beginner stage and fussy, intricate blocks tend to frustrate me.  Finally, the community developed by Sharon and Maureen.  This was actually the main draw for me.  So many quilters joined in – I would have to say there are hundreds of SBS quilts either finished or in progress.

The use of social media greatly enhanced the development of a friendly group participating in this QAL.  Also, Sharon and Maureen were really dedicated to staying involved in the conversations on Instagram and put out a strong, positive vibe by giving great feedback and praise as we all shared the blocks we were working on.  While this is not my first QAL, it is the first time I really paid attention to the quilts others were making as I made mine.  With previous projects, I wasn’t as involved with the other quilters so I didn’t see as many projects made from the same quilt pattern.

The Sewcial Bee Sampler quilts that were made are gorgeous. I have had such a fun time perusing the #sewcialbeesampler hashtag and looking at the color schemes, fabric choices, and the ways quilters chose to set or arrange their blocks. I thought it might be fun to share some with you today.  When you look at the quilts one after the other, it is so cool to see the varied interpretations of the patterns Sharon and Maureen developed.

Let’s start with the queens of the quilt along, Sharon and Maureen!  Believe it or not, Sharon made two quilts (I had enough trouble keeping up with just one!) The quilt above was made with the same fabric for the block borders and sashing which gives a cohesive look to the quilt.  It makes the blocks float on the surface.

In the second version of the SBS quilt, Sharon used uniform frames for the blocks and chose to set them with a blue sashing.  Notice how distinctly the blocks stand out when sashed like this.  She used a palette focusing on blues, pinks and white which is really sharp.

This quilt is Maureen’s project. It looks like she sashed hers with a denim color chambray fabric. I like that she has some really vivid pops of color – the three bursts of yellow that stand out to me.

Also, because Maureen often designs fabrics with a large focal point, she was able to use those and do some great fussy cutting for block centers. Look at the shot above and you’ll see an owl, dragonfly and her gorgeous orange peony.

Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun than Housework, also used Maureen’s Garden Dreamer fabric for her quilt.  You will find the owl and the peony in her quilt as well.  Same fabrics building many of the blocks, yet it looks different.  Maybe partially due to the white sashing and varied fabrics used to frame the blocks?

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My friend Mari of Academic Quilter also made a quilt.  She chose bright, colorful fabrics which gave her quilt a definite summery vibe.  It makes a person happy just to look at it and I think it is the colorful palette she used. She also framed her blocks in a variety of colors.

Let’s take a look at an international version of the SBS. I watched this quilt grow on Instagram.  Mariana (@cosertejercrear on Instagram) is a quilter who lives in a town just north of Valencia, in Spain.  She began quilting six years ago.  Because there are no quilt shops or guilds in her part of the world, Mariana has made friends with lots of quilters over the internet. She orders her fabric on-line and says most of her quilty friends are American.  Participating in a QAL that has such a strong presence on-line makes the world feel much smaller as we are always communicating with quilters from every corner of the world. Looking at Mariana’s quilt, she used really bright colors and lots of prints.  This could be overwhelming but it isn’t — she used white frames on the blocks and a calm, blue sashing to set the blocks. It ties everything together neatly.

This one will surprise you.  Lisa made the SBS quilt as her first quilt project ever. I know…. that is crazy, right?? When I saw her posts on Instagram (@knitluxe) and realized she was a newbie quilter, I wanted to know more. She has been a crafter for a long while who has done a lot of knitting and has made clothing but this quilt is her first attempt at quilting.  She lives in New Mexico and clearly has a talent for sewing!  Like Sharon, Lisa framed her blocks in white and also sashed them with white.  Again, the blocks are floating.  The crisp blue tones look great with the white setting. Kudos to Lisa for taking on something like this as her first project!

Last but not least is my friend Sarah’s quilt. Sarah of Cedar Fork Stitches lives in cold, cold Montana in a really rural area.  I think she told me she is 40 minutes from town.  Kind of remote, I’d say!  She and I have been friends on Instagram for a while now.  (She is @cedarforksarah)  I love Sarah’s quilt for the personal twist she put on it.  She chose to skip the frames on the blocks, added a few of her own blocks and put a great border on the quilt.  The chambray she used for the sashing and borders is really rich and sets her blocks off well.

Clearly this post could go on and on because there are hundreds more quilts to see.  If you want to take a look, hop over to Instagram and search on #sewcialbeesampler. As I write this, there are 7,280 photos in the hashtag.  Really amazing and far more than I think Maureen or Sharon anticipated!!

I am looking around at the quilt alongs and block of the month events that are starting to line up for 2018.  I’ll be back with a round up of some fun events in a few weeks.  If you know of a good one, leave it in the comments and I will check it out.  I am definitely going to do at least one.  Just need to decide which one!

 

 

Heartwarming Holiday Project

Ok – this post has nothing to do with quilting or sewing and everything to do with service to one’s community, helping those who need it, and bragging about one of my kids. Sorry, I can’t help it – but I am so dang proud of her so I decided to write about this. Plus, it may inspire another family to do a similar project once they see how easy this came together.

Our family has always felt the importance of volunteer work. My parents instilled it in me and my sisters from a long ways back. I have tried to instill it into my children as they grew up. Because of this, Julia is already an active volunteer in our community. She has been helping at the local food ministry since she was about five years old. For the past four years she has volunteered at the thrift store benefiting the animal shelter off and on as her school schedule allows.

Julia and I were recently talking about other ways she could actively volunteer in the community. She wanted a project that was ‘all hers’. She wanted to think of it, organize it and carry it out on her own. After some discussion, she decided to hold a Toiletries Drive for the shelter. To do this she first got permission from her principal to hold the event at school. Then she approached the shelter and asked for a ‘wish list’ of what they needed in this regard. They were thrilled to give her a list of items such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic creams, antacids, deodorant, lip balm, band aids, and many other items along these lines.

 

Julia’s next step was to create a little brochure which she posted at school and gave to the principal and school secretary. They both posted it on various avenues of communication with the students and parents. I posted her project on my personal Facebook account so my local friends and neighbors would know what she was trying to do. Oh. My. Gosh. The response to Julia’s project was just awesome.

 

 

 

She specifically suggested people donate all of those free little shampoos and lotions that one collects from hotel visits which often seem to linger on in the bathroom cabinet. She also proposed cash donations and promised to use them wisely to purchase what was needed. People from everywhere donated. Kids, moms and teachers at her school brought items in. Neighbors, friends and family members donated money. She ended up with bags and bags of items plus $245 in cash donations.

Yesterday she and I went to the local dollar store. She carefully counted and selected items from the list. It took quite a while to fill the cart but she heaped it with all sorts of supplies.

Calculating what she had spent, keeping notes on how many of each item she had selected, and figuring out what the tax would be was quite the process. She wanted to spend all of the money but not exceed the $245.00. She did great and has about $10 left over which we will take to the dollar store once more to buy a few more things. We didn’t dare go get more items on that trip. It took the cashier forever to ring up more than 200 items as I boxed them up and Julia tracked the costs. The other customers in line were so patient and kind. They could see she was doing a project and if they asked, she would explain it. One older gentleman chuckled and said ‘oh phew, I thought that was all for you.’ It was so nice to see everyone being supportive and sort of cheering her on rather than grumbling about having to wait behind her for a bit.

This picture makes me smile – she has a receipt that is about three feet long!

In addition to collecting from friends and kids at school, Julia also asked two of our family dentists for donations. One dentist donated a carton of toothpaste tubes and the other dentist gave her a box of toothbrushes. This is one generous community we live in!

There is so much value in a project like this! For one, she learned to define the steps needed to get this going. She approached adults – at school, at the homeless shelter and the local dentists – on her own – to ask for permission and support of her project. She lugged supplies home, posted signs at school, promoted the project on her social media account and will finish up by bringing the donations to the shelter next week. She also plans to write thank you notes for many of the donations. If I think about how projects are done in the professional realm, many of these steps are the same. I feel like this was a hugely valuable experience for Julia.

This is such a cute shot so I am including it, even though it is a bit blurry.

Honestly, it wasn’t all that difficult. I would strongly recommend something like this if your family is looking for a way to give back to the community. If your kiddos are younger, you might want to be more hands-on and supportive. As a teenager, Julia required only a little coaching here and there but truly she did 90% of the work herself.

 

I am really proud of this girl and she is (rightfully) proud of herself. She likes the fact that she started this, kept to a timeline that she developed, and was very successful. If you have any questions about implementing a project like this, feel free to ask. These are the times when parenting is so gratifying; when we see one of our kids giving time and energy in a selfless manner.

And now just a quick Thanksgiving recap:  We had a great holiday!  Very quiet with only three of us celebrating together but so much fun.  I also held my first big sale in the shop.  Orders kept me busy and I truly appreciate each of the orders I received, some from blog friends and others from new customers – thank you so much for supporting my business!

The Best Kind of Sewing

I know I am not alone when I say I love to sew for a cause. There are so many people less fortunate than us, people who are dealing with all sorts of hardship. Quilting and sewing cannot fix these things, but it can show others how much we care. One such cause is Sadie’s Dream for a Cure. Founded in 2012, this organization provides tote bags filled with toys, crayons, games and stuffed animals to children who are battling cancer. Sometimes the child regularly endures long IV infusions or hospital stays in an isolation room while their immune system is severely compromised from their treatments. These bags bring a little happiness to a scary time for a child.

This organization has several options for how we can help. They will provide an entire kit to a person wanting to sew a bag. These kits contain the fabric, fusible batting and the label for the front. Alternatively, they will send you just the label, if you would like to rather use your own fabric. I thought it would be a good use of some stash so I requested just the label. Finally, if you don’t have time to sew just now, they keep a wish list on their website of items they need for filling the bags. Here is a link to check it out.

Bags are donated to hospitals all over the country. Some of the bags are filled with adult items for parents who find themselves suddenly experiencing an extended stay at a pediatric hospital. The adult bags are stocked with toiletries and snacks.

Before I go any further, I need to make a clarification. I didn’t make all four bags shown at the top of the page. I first heard of this project on Instagram when The Quilter’s Planner announced a sew along to make these bags as a group. They did a few posts explaining the steps along the way. I didn’t join in with the sew along due to some timing issues. However, I did pass the idea along to my sister. She also loves to sew and I was fairly sure she would want to make a bag or two. Turns out she made three! Hurray for the kindness of others.

It has been fun to receive pictures of the bags my sister made over the last week or so. She did this cute one with bugs — perfect for the budding entomologist.

Who wouldn’t love the colors in this purple and blue bag? The fabric choices are perfect. It would work for a child or an adult.

For the third bag she used this sweet multicolored fabric with little cupcakes.

My bag is pink with a floral print used for the pockets and the trim around the top. I added a pop of green for the accent strip. When I was making it there was one hiccup.  After I attached the lining to the outer bag, I noticed I had forgotten to put the pocket on the lining (for the inside of the bag). Dang it. I decided to unpick the stitches on the side seam and carefully insert the pocket and try to stitch it down. It was kind of silly but it worked.

I am pretty happy with the final results! Fun, bright colors make for a cute bag.

These bags are fun to make and a simple way to help out a family going through a rough time. I enjoy bag making anyway so this was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Just a quick note – I want to let you know I have begun a newsletter to keep readers posted about my fabric shop. I will be sending it out about every eight weeks or so and it will contain information on new arrivals and fun promotions for my newsletter subscribers. If you are interested, there is a sign up form on the right side of the page.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF.  Hope all of you have a fantastic long weekend for the Memorial Day holiday.

 

Sew Fresh Quilt Bee Blocks

Last November (I think it was) Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts announced her plan for the Sew Fresh Quilts Bee. The goal was to make tons of 12″ quilt blocks which would become part of a series of quilts to be donated to the Ronald McDonald Houses in Canada. The blocks and/or quilt tops were to be finished by May 15th or so and mailed to Ontario no later than May 30th. I jumped on board and bought some of the required fabric (it has a cute Canadian theme) right away. I planned to make a stack of these improv blocks because I have believe strongly in the Ronald McDonald house organization.  I made two blocks right away and then set them aside. Back in November, May seemed like it was so far in the distance. I pretty much forgot about these blocks.

Come January, I wrote a post about my Q1 goals and I put the Bee Blocks on the list. But nope, there were so many other things to work on. Not to mention a wedding in Toronto and my trip in April to meet my new grand baby in Vermont. So again, I put them out of my mind.

At the end of April I read Kate’s post about finishing up her Bee Blocks. Kate and I are quilty friends and we shared the Canadian fabric required for this project. It reminded me how close I was getting to the deadline and as usual with a deadline looming, I sat down and finished some blocks. Yet again, I put the blocks down and quickly became distracted by the quilt show I worked over the weekend.

Looking at this month and all that I have on my plate, I decided these four blocks are as far as I am able to take this project. It was my intention to make more of them, but sometimes life gets in the way. I packed them up and tomorrow I will ship them off to Ontario. I have been looking at the wonderful projects people have made over the past several months for this bee Lorna has hosted. I think it is awesome that so many quilts have been created and they will definitely provide comfort to the people staying in the Ronald McDonald houses during what are likely times of stress and worry.  Thank you Lorna for organizing this event!

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts. Be sure to come check out the blocks and quilts that have been made for this wonderful event.