Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hands of a Family

The quilt for my in-laws got done just in time! I even had time on Christmas morning to make a couple of matching pillowcases to match the quilt! Which really was a good thing because now they have something to match their quilt and it literally used the last of my fabric! I only had threads left! I technically was about an inch shy of what I needed for them, but figured that divided over 2 pillowcases, they were only 1/2 inch short of what they needed to be and no one would notice. They were surprised and liked it. They are a family of strong faith and found a couple of Bible verses and a quote that I thought was appropriate. And a special block in memory of their first child they lost to leukemia. I posted prior photos of the handprint blocks that I did for each person. My goal was to make a nice bed quilt for them with a striking design and when you got closer, there would be a lot more to see...the handprints...their signatures...their names in the quilting. A nice memory for them....Merry Christmas Mom and Dad.

more Christmas fun with Nana

Can't leave a post without adding the littlest ones..and while we were busy making ornaments, this little guy was supposed to be napping. Haha! He found the suckers, broke a huge candy cane on the floor to get a piece and did his own decorating.....with markers....on himself....the chair...the floor...a get the idea. He had to then lie down with Papa, who put the death grip on him so he couldn't move! LOL He did sleep then. And later in the evening, the littlest one did her own wandering into the pantry and found herself her own sucker! I don't think this is the first time she's had a sucker! She sure loves them! And to end the night....a photo of me (Nana) and the kids and do you know how many times it took to get ONE decent picture? LOL I'm sure you can guess!

Holiday fun with the kids

I would like to start a tradition of having the kids over before Christmas to make cookies, ornaments and just have fun. I saw a sign that said, "Nana's and Papa's: a place where cousins hang out and have fun." I should have bought it. I had ALL the kids (including the 1 yr. old and the 2 1/2 yr. old) for some Christmas fun before we went on vacation. The first thing we did was put the little ones down for a nap and then rushed into the studio for a little ornament making. We made gingerbread ornaments (they had to trace the design, cut it out, glue it on fabric and then cut it out again and then decorate), candy canes with chenille sticks and painted pine cones and sprinkled them with glitter. What a fun mess! Then we had dinner, a fun event in itself! They wanted to build a fire with out they went while the kitchen got cleaned. Then I brought out fixin's for s'mores and Papa bathed the little ones. I got out the Silly String for the others and let them have at it. They couldn't believe I'd let them make such a mess! And oops--time flew by quicker than we wanted and we two things left to do and only time for one, make cookies OR get in the jacuzzi..they voted and the jacuzzi won. They figured that the s'mores was enough dessert! So, in the hot tub we went! What a quick day. I am so thankful that I live close enough to be able to spend time with them and enjoy their emerging personalities.
to be continued....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

sewing my fingers to the bone...

sewing, sewing, I've been sewing...I keep thinking of that tune from 'Finding Nemo' where Dora keeps singing, "swimming, swimming...." I've been up to my eyeballs in sewing and all the Christmas activities that go on this time of the year. I've been mostly calm about it...enjoying the journey along the way of sewing for others. If I start focusing on deadlines and all I had to do, I'd get frustrated (with me, I totally bring this on myself! LOL). I've made tons of sling totes, placemat tote bags, fabric baskets, tons of class samples and the biggest thing of all, my In-laws memory quilt for their queen sized bed.
I got this brilliant idea a few weeks before Thanksgiving to make them a quilt for Christmas. Now, clear back in Sept. I decided I was NOT going to make any quilts for Christmas. Nope, not this year. Then I saw a cute quilt that was just basic strips horizontally and then a wide strip vertically about 2/3 the way across the quilt with handprints going up the strip. I thought, that is really cute, and it wouldn't take long. I think I'll do that! I had hubby pick out a bundle of FQ's (he got me several last year for my birthday) that he thought matched his parent's style the best. Well, the more I thought about it, I thought she really has hinted over the past few years for a quilt for their bed. Hmm, the fabric really didn't lend itself to a 'kindergarden style' quilt. So, I came up with a better quilt that would still show everyone's hands, but in a more subtle way. I made Courthouse Steps blocks, really scrappy style, (shown in the prior post) and just a plain bordered block for the handprints. Then I thought that the handprints would still be too juvenile for a bed quilt, so thought I'd hand embroider the hands.
CURVE BALL: hubby decided to surprise me and take me to Cancun (leaving tomorrow and returning on the 22nd!) Wow--things have to be really sped up now! I get back and it will be Christmas. So had to think of another way to get those hands embroidered quicker than doing it by hand. I ended up using a triple stitch on my machine with a rayon thread that's a bit on the gold side. You definitely can see it up close, but it kind of blends in from a distance, which is what I wanted. I wanted the quilt design to stand out first, and then as you get closer, realize there is more to the quilt. I had some extra blocks to fill and originally thought about leaving them for future children and thought it could be a while..and then, how to add them. So I embroidered my FIL's name and birthdate, same for my MIL, their nicknames and wedding date, a block in memory of their oldest child who died when he was 10, a couple of appropriate bible verses regarding family and a family quote. I quilted around the hands and then in the pieced blocks, I quilted everyone's name in the family, along with some places they've lived. I use So Fine in the top, so it's a very subtle look. I'm working on the binding now--I may have to finish when I return, but it's only 3 hours away from being done now, and I can handle that! I'll show the finished picture as soon as it's done.
Here are some class samples that I've also been doing....
Patriotic Stars and Stripes...the final borders are not on it yet, but you get the drift....this one will go to Alycia for the Quilts of Valor once the class is over..I'm offering a free class to those that take the class and then donate their quilt to QOV as well.
Another Apron, this one called the Church Ladies Apron
Watercolor Floral Basket...done with leftovers from a Garden Twist class I taught last year..
Crazy Hearts...another Stack and Slash pattern from Buggy Barn..only 3 out of 25 blocks are done, but again., you get the drift...

That's it...I was hoping to post a few more posts, but my time has run out. I must go to bed to get a little bit of sleep before leaving on a jet plane.....adios, Amigas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ai yi yi

I used to hate it when older people said how fast time went...I always thought that was a bunch of hooey (is that a word?). But man, is it ever true! It's just a zippin' by at a breakneck speed. Or I feel like I'm trying to stay caught up with a speeding train. Having my own Studio where I teach classes only (I don't sell fabric--other than some of my excess--*GRIN* and only sell patterns to go with the classes) means I have to come up with a LOT of classes each session. I have two sessions a year, Jan-May and Sept. -Dec. So, it's always a busy time getting new class samples ready, let alone doing anything on my own. And I try not to show too much too early--because I KNOW some of them read my blog. Hi Penny! and Chele, and Sheri to name a few. Toss in a few Holidays, a few trips and time wants to get away from me. I have an Open House at the start of each session that allows them to see what's coming up and sign up for a nice discount on classes. Dec. 27 is the next one, so I've been really busy! It's close enough now I can show some sneak peaks..I finally finished the Bali Pineapple..little piano key border took a while! And it didn't even come close to making a dent in the stash! I think I might make up some kits--good for me to reduce the stash--good for them to get a nice variety of batiks, right?

Remember when I couldn't find my camera and got a new one only to find the other one the next day? Well, I bought little gifts for my quilting buddies Christmas exchange in July in Holland and couldn't find them anywhere! I gave myself a deadline of 1 week prior to our party and then I had to do something else. Well, couldn't find them, so made them these little fabric baskets (great tutorial from the Pink Penguin). And you guessed it--I found the gifts 2 days later. IN my husbands car--they had been there for almost 6 months! I told him he should be ashamed of himself for not cleaning out his car for that long. Nope, not my fault at all that I left them in there that long! LOL So, I guess I'll have next years already done. That is, IF I can find them next year--and that's 12 months away! And then a friend and I have been making these Placemat Totes to sell..They are just too 3 placemats..all the same size...add webbing for handles to two of them. Then add the 3rd placemat in between the two, sew into one long piece. Fold in half, sew up the side seams, box the corners and you are done! NO raw edges anywhere (although I do zigzag the boxed corners). They make great sturdy totes in less than half hour! And then made a few of these placemat purses for gifts...I just took one placemat that had all that pretty ribbon trim, added tabs for handles and velcro to hold it closed, sewed up the sides, boxed the corners and Voila! ....a purse! and the last thing I've been working on is a quilt for my in laws for Christmas. She's been asking for one for their bed now and then. I'm making these blocks scrappy, using 1/8 yard (FROM STASH) of 20 different fabrics that was in the line. What you aren't seeing is the block next to it that is a plain block with a small border around it. I had everyone in the family trace their handprints onto freezer paper at Thanksgiving. I originally intended to fuse their handprints onto the blank blocks and set them alternately with the pieced blocks, but I decided that it would look too much like a little kids quilt rather than a nice quilt for a bed. So, I'm going to hand embroider the outline of their hands in a soft color and their names for a more subtle look to it. You'll be able to see them, but up close. I wish I knew of a way to do it on machine and I might practice this weekend. Time is running short and hubby and I are running away to some warm sun from Dec. 15 to 22, so I basically have next week to finish it! And I need to make 12 more pieced blocks and ALL the embroidered blocks, teach one more class, attend two meetings, two children's Christmas programs and watch all 5 grandkids Sat/Sun next week. I see some 3 AM sewing sessions in my near future!

I also hosted a Christmas Brunch today which means the house had to be decorated totally! What a great incentive to stick to it. I am sharing my recipes over at my recipe blog.

Although this is such a busy time, I try to enjoy each moment--I really do love the scurrying around making gifts, preparing food, decorating the house. When I'm feeling stressed I remind myself to enjoy the moments of the journey...hope you are doing the same during this hectic season.