Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My First T-Shirt Quilt

About a year ago, I was asked by a dear friend to make a t-shirt quilt for her daughter's high school graduation.  The graduation just happened, this year, so I had plenty of time.  However, the shirts came to me in batches.  Lots of small batches. A few here and a few there as they found them, or fininished wearing them, or even just acquired the ones from the last year!   It was hard to get an idea how to start cutting them without knowing  how many, what size,  and what colors.

All of the shirts were collected from performances that  my friend's daughter had been in.  Since she was in 5th grade, this young lady has been part of a show choir type performing troupe, made up of kids age 8 - 18.  We started started going to her shows when my daughter was small, and she caught the bug!  She's been a part of the group too, for the last 5 years.  So, I have my own memories attached to many of the shirts included in the quilt, which has made it kind of a special project.   I'm sure I'll be seeing some of these designs again, when I make my own daughter's quilt, about 5 years from now!  ( Actually, she says she plans to make her own.  Can I ask for that in writing???)

As soon as the last performance of the season finished, in April, I had all the shirts in my possession. Close to 30 of them!  Originally the recipient wanted to have all the shirt fronts cut to the same size, and sashed with white. However, after measuring the largest design and doing the math, I realized that plan would result in a nearly queen sized quilt.  Larger than any of us wanted!!  Plus, because the shirts ranged in size from really, really small to adult medium, it was going to be hard to get blocks the same size from every shirt!

So I sorted and measured, sketched and measured again, and came up with a plan we agreed on.

I was even able to incorporate some of the shirt backs -the cool ones with everybody's names.  Then, the real work started.  Each t-shirt got its interfacing and was cut to the appropriate size, according to the plan.

I mentioned that I measured twice, right?  Maybe I should have made that three times, because, umm, see the gaps?

Oh well. There were still some backs left.  I made some long skinny strips of names, and filled in. Not a mistake, a design element!

It's together, now, as a top.  I'm not completely happy.  I need to unsew a few seams and line up some sections more accurately.  The thickness of the interfacing, I think, or maybe the weight of the quilt made it hard to keep a consistent seam allowance.  I will resew tomorrow night  (after spending the day watching my daughter perform with this group at the opening day of Summerfest  - The world's largest music festival!)

The quilt will need a good squaring up and, I've decided to add top, bottom and side borders, just to set the shirts off a bit.  I met the recipient and her mom last night to choose a fabric for the borders and back, and I'm really happy with it! I wasn't sure we'd find something that worked with all the oddball colors of the shirts, but I think we did it!

This is a Brother Sister Design from Hobby Lobby, and it has a very nice feel to it.  Plus, it was very reasonably priced.

Wish me luck as I baste, quilt and bind!  This is a larger quilt than I'm used to.  The graduation party is on July 25, but a small, stubborn part of me still believes that I can have it finished in time for the end of the Second Quarter Finished Along on July 7.  Hmmm.  We'll see.

Linking up with Silly Mama Quilts WIP Wednesday, Sew Fresh Quilts Let's Bee Social

Friday, June 24, 2016

Five Things To Be Happy About #2

We are starting to get into our summer groove here.  Or trying to, anyway.  My oldest daughter is volunteering at summer school for the elementary level kids in the morning.  She's the assistant teacher in a class called Helping our Community.  They plan and implement service projects every day.  Right up her alley.

 My youngest has found some books she really enjoys and has been doing "science experiments."  I have started my summer tutoring schedule.  When we aren't busy doing our own things, we have been enjoying the extra time together.  We've done some baking, gone on bike rides, gone out for ice cream after dinner, planted some new flowers ( hard to resist when they are all on clearance at the garden center! )  and played some games as a family.

I have been making slow progress on a few projects in the sewing room, but I'm not ready to blog about those things just yet.  Hopefully the next few days will bring me to that point.  For today, I'm content to share with you the things that have been making me happy this week.

Fresh picked strawberries.  We weren't able to pick them ourselves this week, but we found time between activities to swing in to the closest berry picking patch to a buy a few pints.  They were delicious!

And if you've got strawberries, might as well make a cheese cake!  My younger daughter has been asking to make one for a while.  She did most of it herself and did a great job!

My patio herb garden.  It's finally showing some growth!  The first sprouts got nipped by the birds, so I had to start over a few weeks ago.  I love having basil, cilantro, oregano  and chives (which wont grow this year!) to use in summer and fall.  The peppermint is new this year.  I love how it smells, but I'm not sure how to use it.  Any ideas?  (The plastic forks are an attempt to keep the birds out!)

Our small town library.  It's not much to look at, but in the summer, it becomes the social hub for many families.  I am there three days a week, tutoring, and I can't believe how many friends, neighbors and students I see.  The library has a ton of activities for kids and parents alike, all summer: craft days, book clubs, chalk drawing contests, Lego builds.  Yesterday, there was a magic show in the alcove, and the place was filled to the gills!  The staff is fantastic.  It's amazing how such a small place can make such a huge difference in our community!

A baby on a quilt.  This is Miss Emma, enjoying her quilt.  Chubby legs.  Baby toes. That smile!!

I hope your week was full of happy!  Please hop over to Gypsy Moon Quilt Co. to see Five more smiles from the week, and be sure to check out the comments.  Lots more bloggers are joining in on the fun!  Stop by the linked up blogs and let everyone know that their happiness makes you happy, too!

Next week I'll be back with some posts about my first t-shirt quilt, and about some international quilting projects I'm taking part in.  They are both really important and close to my heart.  I look forward to seeing you then!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Five Things To Be Happy About #1

During these last two weeks, I've visited many of the blogs that are part of the 2016 New Bloggers Hop.  What a treat that's been!  One of the treasures I've found is Gypsy Moon Quilt Co., written by Amanda.

Amanda has created a very positive, thoughtful,quilty space on the Internet, and she focuses on reducing the environmental impact of her quilting by using only thrift sourced and repurposed materials.  The result is beautiful- vintage modern.

Amanda has started a weekly link up which I am very excited about.  Each Friday, she is asking her readers to join her in finding five things to be happy about.  She's encouraging photos of things that made us smile, too.

It's been refreshing, this week, to reflect on events and moments and think "Is this one of my five?"  And you know what?  The act of LOOKING for happy things made lots of small ordinary moments feel really HAPPY!

If you want to join in on the happy seeking fun, you'll find Amanda's pretty pink button in my sidebar.  (The fact that we were able to work out some kinks and get it there made Amanda and I happy!)

Pop over and see what everyone else is happy about this week!

And now here are my first "Five Things" in photo form. (Except there are six, because, JELLO CUP!)

Summer meals!  This simple meal of grilled chicken breasts, toasted sour dough and an assortment of fresh and healthy sandwich toppings really hit the spot on one of the warm days we had this week.

Summer flowers.  This photo really doesn't do these justice.  They have made me smile every time I glanced their way this week, and I think they've gotten prettier as the week has gone on.  This is a mixture of a cheap grocery store bouquet and some lovelies from my flower beds..  

A round robin quilt round...done, mailed and received.  And that makes me happy.

A birthday cake for their dad, made (from scratch) entirely by my daughters.  It was a marble cake, and it was delicious. And no, the photo is not upside down...I took the picture from across the table.  

This beautiful young lady makes me happy and proud every day.  But this week, she gave me an extra reason to smile.  She sewed this outfit all by herself, and modeled it in the 4-H Fashion Revue.  She was disappointed to receive a red ribbon (the judge didn't like her color choices, and the collar doesn't lie perfectly flat) but I could not be more proud of her.She worked all on her own and learned so much.  And I think it's pretty cute!

And the bonus happy!  "Mom, can we have jello cups for dessert?"  Then, she proceeded to make cups from jello, as she'd seen in a You Tube Video.  Messy?  Yes.  Exactly as she'd envisioned it turning out? No.  But it was certainly fun and resulted in a whole lot of smiles!

I hope you'll link up with Five Things To Be Happy About Friday, and share what made you smile this week!  Just leave a link to your post in the comments on Amanda's post, and be sure to see what's making everyone else smile, too!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quilting Friendships

I am very happy to have been participating in the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop for the last few weeks.  So far, the participants have had an opportunity to learn about blog improvement by reading great tutorials, asking questions of fellow bloggers and having our blogs critiqued by fellow participants.  It's been a true learning experience for me.  This week, the "Hop" has started.  These ladies, from my small group, called Hive Sewceity and led by Stephanie from Late Night Quilter, have been "up" this week, taking their turn introducing themselves and sharing what they've learned about blogging and quilting.

I hope you'll pop in and say hello to each of them.  There are two other hives led by Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl and Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. If you visit the hostesses, you'll be able to find links to all of the bloggers who are the stops on the hop this week.  Oh!  And the hostesses also have a chance for you to win some fabulous prizes each week of the hop.  It will be my turn to post some fun facts about me on July, 11.  I hope you'll stop by.

The New Bloggers Hop is a wonderful way that we quilters build our community.  I've heard from many quilters that they met their quilty bff's and formed swap groups or bees during previous years of the Hop.  And indeed, I have already had a fabulous time conversing with my fellow participants as we've visited each other's blogs and left comments.  Often those comments turn into a series of exchanges via email.  It's so fun to hear my email notification ping, and have some happy words from a new friend.

A year ago, I was involved in a couple of quilting groups on Facebook.  Through one of the groups, I was paired with a quilting pen pal.  The idea was that we'd correspond regularly and send small gifts and packages to each other.

My pen pal is Rose. We began sending Facebook messages and eventually e-mails to each other in June of last year.  Eventually, we exchanged packages containing quilting and sewing related goodies, as well as a few things just for fun.  Rose and I have hit it off wonderfully.  We are different in age and background, but that doesn't matter.  Our e-mail discussions have ranged from life goals to relationship issues to parenting questions (she is a new mama to a beautiful little qirl!).  And of course we talk about quilting and sewing, too.  We both live busy lives, working,  raising our kids, nurturing our marriages.  So, sometimes, weeks go by with no word from each other.  But, then an email will arrive and will set off a conversation that goes on for a couple of days, one e-mail at a time. On more than one occasion, a note from Rose was just what I needed to lift my spirits, or inspire me to make a move I've been contemplating. We talk about our sewing and quilting goals, and have been great sources of encouragement for each other. Ours is a true friendship which I cherish.  The fact that we both love to bless the other with gifts, handmade items and sewing stuff - oh my! Icing on the cake!

I made these bags, one for me, one for Rose.  Sewing to share is so rewarding!

Sometime in the last year, Rose and I decided to do a round robin exchange.  Without too much discussion, each of us made a center block that would be sent to the other to add on to, and then exchanged back and forth until the owner of the center declared the quilt "done!"  I went small with my block, hoping to have my first mini quilt to hang on my sewing room wall, and Rose went big!  She will have a bed quilt by the time we're done!

When Rose's block arrived, I had to take a deep breath.  Both because it was really, really lovely, but also because it was bigger than I'd expected! I had to wrap my head around making a border on a larger scale than I'd been thinking.  My older daughter looked at it and said, "It's so regal.  Like it belongs in a castle."  That set the wheels spinning, and eventually I had a plan.

But it was a lot of work to get from the idea to the point where I could start sewing.  A lot of searching for a pattern, drawing up my idea, working out the measurements, making practice blocks...oh!  And choosing fabric.  That was the fun part!

Then, the sewing started.

And continued,

 and continued.
See that little block off to the right?  Naughty block turned sideways...

 Roses's center is about 45 in square.  It took a lot of blocks to go around it.  And each block had a lot of pieces!  Or so it seemed when I was working on them.

But it was fun, and a joy to make something for Rose.

Somewhere in the process I made a calculation mistake, and my blocks didn't meet at the corners like they were supposed to.   I had to get a bit creative to make everything work.
Its hard to tell from the pictures, but the first border is a very pretty purple print.  That,  and the Greek Key blocks are my additions.  I think they are a good fit for Rose's center!

There are some imperfections here.  There were some things that I went back and fixed. But, there comes a point when finished is better than perfect.   I wanted to get this in the mail so that Rose can enjoy it, and add her next border.

She has received it, and tells me she is happy with it.  I hope she is.  I can't wait to see her next step.  I am also eagerly awaiting the arrival of my block back from Rose.  But, as I told her, the anticipation is half the fun, and I will be patient for as long as it takes.

I'd love to hear about YOUR quilty friendships!  What is the best quilt related gift you've given or received?

I'm linking up this week with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story,  Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, and Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  If you visit the parties, remember to stay a while and share some comment love!

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Quilt Nobody Wanted

Once, in 2014, during my first attempt at blogging, I made this quilt.

It was fun and easy to make.  It used up a lot of odds and ends that had been sitting in my stash for a while.  I didn't have a purpose for this quilt.  It was made just for the joy of making it.  I was happy piecing it, quilting it, binding it, and adding some big stitch hand quilting.  I just knew there would be an occasion to gift this quilt to someone.

So, I tried to give this quilt away.  Twice.  Sad state of affairs when you can't give a quilt away.  The first time, I had offered it to a friend who had an acquaintence going through cancer treatments.  My friend commented that she wished she had something to give, so I suggested the quilt I had just finished.  She was supposed to pick it up, but never did, and later said she didn't think her friend would like a quilt.  OK.  To each her own, I guess.

A year or so later, another acquaintence was looking for donations for a chairity silent auction.  I offered this cute (I think!) quilt.  She looked at it, but shook her head and said, "No thanks.  It's not right for our event."   Hmmmm.

So, I briefly worried that there was something wrong with this generously lap-sized/toddler sized, pink and brown cheveron, somewhat scrappy but mostly cohesive quilt.  Why didn't anyone love it as much as I loved making it???

I folded it up and shoved it under a pile of stuff in my sewing room.  There it sat.  Poor quilt.

Until its little sister quilt whispered to me as I was putting her together.

A little while ago, I shared Emma's Owls the quilt I made for my niece's sweet new baby.  As I pieced Emma's pink and brown quilt, one of the fabrics felt happily familiar to me.  The longer I sewed, the more I thought about that scrappy chevron that was languishing in a pile.

Well, it just so happens that Emma has a big  sister.  Her daddy has a sweet daughter, Aubrey, who is 5 and lives with them some of the time.  Aubrey has come to several of our family functions, and both my girls enjoy her smart, spunky personality.  She is a joy, and a blessing to my niece, who loves her as a daughter.

Suddenly, it became clear that this quilt had not been lonely, abandoned at the bottom of the pile.  Instead, it had just been waiting patiently there, until its little sister came about, and whispered in my ear.

Now, both quilts live with two little girls who share a room part of the time.  I hope they are all happy together.  I've asked Emma's mom for a picture.  I will share it with you when I get it!

Have you ever made a quilt with no intended recipient, only to find later that it was perfect for someone or some situation?  I'd love to hear your story!

Here are a few more pictures of these two quilts playing together, before they went to live with their sweet girls.

                                                           Linking up this week to:

                                           Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts
                                            Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story
                                           Lets's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
                                           Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
                                           Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it up Friday