Saturday, January 26, 2019

Project Quilting Challenge 10.2 - RW&B

I have completed Project Quilting Challenge 10.2!  I am so stinking happy with this finish!  Not only do I love the way this looks (it's kind of retro-cool, I think) I am also really proud to have finished it despite some challenges outside the parameters of PQ10.2  This entire Dresden Plate Mini Quilt was completed within the walls of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin! 

My 13 year old daughter is currently inpatient at Children's receiving treatments for Cystic Fibrosis.  It is common for CF patients to spend 10-14 days at a time getting strong anti-biotic treatments and respiratory therapy, along with other interventions.  She has been hospital free for 2 years, but our luck ran out last week.  Her team of doctors decided on Thursday to admit her.  And we agreed.  It was time.  We had the weekend to prepare, which is really a luxury! 

So, on Sunday, amid the meal prep, laundry, notifying teachers, writing sub plans for work, and getting hospital ready...I also checked to see what the next challenge in Project Quilting was going to be. The theme, "Red White and Blue" made me think of my sewing room color scheme, and I decided I'd make a mini quilt for the wall behind my sewing table.   After all, I knew I'd have some time on my hands this week!  I also knew that it IS possible to make a mini quilt while during her stay.  In fact, I did it the last time she was in, in March, 2017!

This one was called Home Sweet Home.  I absolutely LOVE that there are a few of the same fabrics in these two minis!

That mini was made partially at home, as I was going back and forth on the weekends.  I also brought my machine to the hospital to work on it.  This time, however, I knew I needed something I could make entirely in her hospital room since I won't be going home until next week,  I also just didn't feel like bringing my machine. 

I decided to try some English Paper Piecing.  I've had some experience with hexies, so I knew the basics.   I decided I'd try a simple Dresden Plate.  Late Friday Night I printed templates on card stock, started to pack a kit and pulled fabric. I also read through  the multiple part tutorial by The Inspired Quilter.  It was so helpful, and I'm sure I'll be referring to it time and time again!

So pretty!  That white floral is old.  I don't remember how I got it, but it was cut out to be a bodice on a top someone was making!  

On Monday, my daughter was admitted, a broncosopy was done and her PICC line was placed. Day One is always a busy day and there isn't time to sew.  Plus, my mind doesn't stay focused.   I stayed that night with her, but went home in the morning to work the next two days.  By the time I returned to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, I had pulled together more supplies, cut my fabrics into smaller pieces, and cut a front and a back.  I was all set to work once we settled in on Wednesday evening.  Except that I left the small pieces of fabric at home.  And I had forgotten to pack batting.  It wasn't looking good for a Sunday finish!

My husband agreed to bring what I needed from home during his lunch hour on Thursday.  He works about half way between the hospital and home.  It wasn't exactly convenient for him, but he did it.  And I was making Dresden blades by 2 P.M.  By that evening the Dresden Plate was pieced. 
A recliner, a good TV show...good to go!

On Friday I appliqued it to the 24 inch square I'd brought along and gave it a press with my mini iron.  I had to piece together some batting because the "scraps" that had been delivered were REALLY scrappy.  Oh well.  That was surprisingly easy!
My exact words were "Don't bring the big ziploc bag that says "small batting scraps."

A little bit of Friday evening was spent doing some big stitch quilting with three strands of embroidery floss.  Saturday morning I woke up so excited to quilt and bind!  Saturdays are quiet at the hospital, and I really looked forward to sitting in the sunny corner of  her room in my own little space while she worked on her own projects.  In each of her 9 stays of this length, we have found this lovely routine by about day 4 or 5.  The hard stuff is done by then, and when she is not doing a treatment or going for a pulmonary function test or having vitals taken... we settle in to a very companionable rhythm  Some time is spent playing games and watching movies, but, now especially that she is older, we each get some time to do things we are passionate about...on our own!  We laugh and chat and just really enjoy the time together.  It's like a weird little medically tainted vacation in some ways.  There is a part of both of us that kind of looks forward to these stays, because they give us time together.  Anything can be a blessing if you choose to see it that way.

So, on Saturday morning,  I set up my cozy spot.  There are two TV's in the room, and as I flicked through the guide on my TV, I noticed a very familiar line up on our local public television station.  It's Sew Easy, Quilting Arts, Sewing with Nancy, Fons and Porter...the same kinds of things my mom and I used to watch on Saturday mornings when I was my daughter's age!  What a treat!  It really was lovely hand sewing on that hospital room couch with a coffee and quilters for company on the TV!  I was a little sad when my coffee ran out, but just then my husband appeared with Starbucks!

I had grabbed two packs of double fold bias tape from home, thinking they might work for binding.  I don't remember how I acquired these packs, but the date on the packaging was 1983.  So, my mom could have bought them around the same time we were watching Sewing With Nancy together!  They sure look "vintage" don't they?  It took a while to decided between the red and the blue.  In the end, I chose the blue because it was a perfect match for that navy pindot in the block.  It looks so intentional, when really I didn't notice they were a match until I pulled out the bias tape Saturday morning!


I am so pleased with how this turned out.  There are several little flaws that are the result of not having the tools I would have wanted or from prepping in haste or not taking time to re-do.  But those don't matter.  This will hang proudly on my sewing room wall, a reminder of this particular hospital stay. Also, a reminder that like life, a quilt doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.
The view from West 11.  Improved by my new mini quilt called, " be beautiful."

I am so excited to link this up with the other finishes in the Project Quilting Challenge.  And I'm so proud to be 2 for 2 with Project Quilting this season!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Project Quilting Challenge 10.1


Will Wonders Never Cease?? I completed the first challenge in Season 10 of Project Quilting!  A FIRST in a lot of ways!  I've been following Project Quilting and voting for a couple of years now, but I've never taken the plunge and entered!  The concept of completing a project in a week's time has always been daunting to me, even though the entries for Project Quilting can be any size.  When I saw the first theme for this season, however, a project idea came immediately to mind.  So, without giving it too much thought (another first...I usually hem and haw and generally overthink), I pulled out some fabric and gave it a go. 

The first theme this year is Hope Springs Eternal.  I have many hopes and many wishes, but for the last 13 years, one HOPE has been on the forefront of my mind - a cure for cystic fibrosis.  My daughter, Emily, lives with the disease, and she is doing quite well - no hospital stays for almost 2 years!! - but every few month a new "hallmark" symptom of the disease seems to appear.  She is an amazing kid who rarely complains and does a great job managing her own care.  And, it's a lot of work!  She's up before 5:15 each day to do a round of meds and treatments before school, she has known the name, function and dosage of all her medications since she was 7, and she just generally does what she needs to do.  I have high hopes that she will continue to be active and mostly healthy for a LONG time.  In the last few years, several new medications have come on the market that basically correct the genetic defect in CF.  Researchers are attacking this disease mutation by mutation, and the results are nothing short of amazing.  But, so far, no miracle drug has been developed that works on Emily's specific combination of genes.  Early testing on the newest combination of drugs, however, indicates that this *MIGHT* be our year.  I am very HOPEful that Emily could go from taking more that 30 pills and spending 2 hours doing percussive therapy each day to taking one pill each day before the end of 2019.  What a gift that would be. 

So.  When I read "Hope Springs Eternal," an image of a purple awareness ribbon popped into my head.  Then, I remembered a ziploc bag of purple fabric squares that I won a while ago through an Instagram give away.  If memory serves correctly, they came from Laura at Slice of Pi quilts.  When I won them, I thought I'd someday turn them into a CF themed quilt, since purple is the official "awareness color" for the disease. That never happened.  But, I quickly found the bag, and realized that they would make the perfect background for a mini quilt featuring a purple ribbon!

I need to dive into this bag again in the near future.  So many pretty shades of purple!

Before work on Wednesday I picked out 16 squares, and quickly arranged them.  No second guessing, no re-arranging.  That night, after dinner, I sewed them together and gave it a quick press.  Thursday. I printed out the first awareness ribbon template I found on a Google search, cut it out of a large purple scrap, and raw edge appliqued it to the background.  Again, no debating, or thinking.  So not like me!  I still had the extra batting from basting my Happy Thoughts quilt in a bag under the sewing table, so I grabbed that and cut a square the right size.  My daughter happened to be in the sewing room working on her "lettering" skills.  So, I asked her to write "hope" on the ribbon.  I LOVE that it's in her writing.  And I quickly hand stitched over it without once going back and un stitching to make it more even and smooth.  On Friday after work, while my daughters made a meatloaf for dinner, I went to the sewing room.  On the way up, I grabbed the open toe free motion quilting foot that had been a Christmas gift and was still under the tree.  I had no intention of using it on this project.  I was just putting it away in anticipation of taking down the tree in the morning.  But, when I got upstairs, I thought, "Well, why not?  I have to try it sometime!"

So, I put the new foot on the machine and dropped the feed dogs!   Now, I am NOT a free motion quilter. I've only dabbled a few times, never on a real project and never on this machine!  But, after a quick practice piece to check tension and figure out what I was doing, I did it!  I free motion quilted this little purple piece!  Its terrible quilting!  Just swirls and loop-de-loops and lots of stitching in the same areas while there's none other parts.  But, in about 5 minutes, my 8 inch square was done!  I FMQ'd!  With no overthinking and no procrastinating out of fear that it wouldn't be "good."  Wow!  Who am I??  When I finished the quilting, I realized that I had enough backing around the edge to do a quick self binding.  So, before the meatloaf was out of the oven, my Project Quilting entry was done!
I really love seeing "HOPE" in Emily's handwriting.  So special to me.

Is it my best work? Oh no.  Do I expect to win anything in the challenge?  Nope.  Was it fun and freeing and did I learn a few things?  You bet!  I learned that the foot goes on my machine really easily and it's easy to adjust the tension to get a good stitch on the front and the back!  No need to procrastinate because I'm not sure how to put it on or what settings to use!  I learned that perfection is not as fun as spontaneity!  I learned that it feels really good to just jump in and try!  And I learned that my daughters make really, really good meatloaf!

My mini quilt is 8 inches square and might be destined to be a mug rug.  OR, it just might hang on the wall in the sewing room as a reminder to be spontaneous, to try new things and to never give up hope! 
See all of this week's entries at Persimon Dreams.  And don't forget to vote for your favorite starting Sunday at noon!   

Thursday, January 10, 2019

2019 Finish Along

Oh my poor little blog! How I've missed you!  And, if there are any readers out there...I've missed you, too!  I've missed blogs in general.  Instagram and Facebook have become my places to get my quilt fix, but I am making an effort to get back into reading and commenting on blogs.  It's just the nature of life, and of social media, I think, that things come and go.  Certainly many quilters who used to blog don't anymore.  And I may come and go many more times from the blogging scene.  But for now, I'm going to try again!  When I sat down to write tonight, I spent some time reading back through old posts.  It is just so lovely to have a record of the things I've created.  I  am sad that there are so many quilts and projects that I didn't blog about over the past few years.  This realization just might be what keeps me blogging this time!

I have decided to join the 2019 Finish A-Long.  I gave this a try back in 2017, and it was helpful in meeting some sewing goals.  I've already listed several WIP's I hope to finish this year in my planner, so why not blog about them as I work my way through the list?
There's something really satisfying about starting a list of goals, don't you think?  

Maybe I'll reconnect with some blogging friends or make some new ones!  As things often are in the quilty/bloggy world - it's a  WIN-WIN!

Goal #1: Happy Thoughts Quilt
This pretty thing got basted on New Year's Day.  It was a lovely start to 2019!

This is my "youngest" WIP, however it has been in progress for almost a year.  This is the Happy Thoughts quilt by Allison at Woodberry Way.  It is a really lovely pattern and I'm happy with the colors I've used here.  This quilt was started in January, 2018 for a friend who had just started chemotherapy.  I had every intention of finishing it while she was still undergoing chemo.  When that didn't happen, I thought maybe I could finish it during the 12 weeks of radiation that followed the chemo.  Then, I thought it would be a good celebration quilt on her last radiation day.  Now, well. it's a quilt to say, "Hey.  Last year sucked.  It really, really did.  This year is going to be better, and here's a quilt to prove it!"  Or something like that.  I'm looking at it as a celebration quilt, and true to its name it will be given with many "Happy Thoughts."
Not many things make me happier than quilting on a snowy day.

Quilting is currently in progress.  So, I am hopeful that binding and a label will be added quickly once that is done.  A promising start to my First Quarter list!

Goal #2: Mini Quilt
Sometime in early 2016, I exchanged round robin quilt centers with my quilting pen-pal.  We had planned to keep sending the tops back and forth until the creator of the center decided her top was "finished."  I hoped for a completed mini quilt out of the experience, but my pen pal had her sights set on a bed quilt.  Somewhere in the process, we stopped corresponding.  I'm not sure why.  I miss our letters and packages.  I see her posts on Facebook from time to time, but we are no longer pen pals.  I wonder if she ever finished her quilt?  I ended up with a top that was just too big to be the mini I envisioned.  She had added a border that was about 9 inches wide, adding 18 inches to each side!  I recently took that border off, and now plan to finish it at this size (or maybe just one more, thin round).
Hmmm.  One more border to finish off the "Star" in the corners?  Or, call it done?  Or, take it apart at the navy inner border and redesign the outer rounds?  Choices, choices.

 Goals #3 and #4: Mini-Mini & Mug Rug
The corners of the last border my pen-pal added to my "Mini" were beautifully pieced stars.  Those will become a mini-mini and a mug rug to keep next to my machine.  The bonus is that they will coordinate with my new mini quilt!

Goal #5: Rope Bowl
This is just something I pulled out of my WIP basket in the closet.  There are several things in there that will take less than an hour or two to finish.  I have no idea why they're not done already  I've listed them as Quick WIP's in my planner, and intend to finish one or two each quarter.  I have no idea when or why I started this rope bowl.  It will make a nice auction or raffle donation, or possibly a gift when it's done!
Yes, it will be good to get this out of the WIP basket.  What a tangled mess!

I am feeling very energized and optimistic about finishing these WIP's during this first quarter!  I'm also loving the process of putting this post together.  Sewing and creating are good for my soul, my mind and my spirit.  Writing is too.  I look forward to following all of those Finish-A-Longer's out there.  Here's to steady progress and checking off goals!

I'm linking up at Sarah Goer Quilts, but there are lots of hosts for the FAL this year!  So much fun!