Tag Archives: quilting

Quilt Tsunami

Quilters truly are some of the most generous people. On Wednesday, I joined around thirty other women to learn how to make the Emma’s Legacy quilt that I blogged about earlier this month. It wasn’t so hard, after all. Not with so many dear ones rushing to my rescue.

Among other things, I learned:

  • The correct method to square-up my half-triangle squares, using my lethally-sharp Gingher rotary cutter. Without slicing off a finger.
  • How to make perfect star-points. Well, almost perfect.
  • About the wonders of glow-tape, heretofore unknown in my world.
  • How to make an exact ¼ inch seam though my 1945 Singer Featherweight sewing machine was missing the proper presser foot. Whew.

The ladies’ expertise was freely shared, as well as laughter and friendship, encouragement, and a generosity of spirit that made me wish my weeks were bursting with workshops. Even lunch was a practice in generosity. Each woman at my table brought enough for five or six others, joyfully passing around the avocado, melon, tuna, Tillamook cheese, and yummy Girl Scout cookies special ordered from Iowa. Yum!

I hadn’t realized the recommendation to “Please bring a bag lunch” meant a grocery bag to share with everyone. But now I know. I’m already plotting treats to lug along next time.

Within this circle are some who meet on Mondays for Community Service, making comfort quilts to cover special folks with that cozy, quilted love. Last year alone, the women made and donated over 400 small and lap quilts to various organizations, including Head Start, Meals on Wheels, Children & Adult Protective Services, Alternatives to Violence, convalescent hospitals, and rest homes.

That shared quilter heart is everywhere. In our small community and far beyond, quilters rush to rescue those in Japan who have little or nothing left, sending soft, baby and lap quilts. A national movement called “Quilts for Japan”  is already coordinating a gargantuan effort to reach out to the Japanese people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. A true tidal wave of loving care.

I think I’ll dive in.

Interested? To learn more about the “Quilts for Japan” project, go to A Quilter’s Newsletter. Then, get quilting!

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Just Do It!

Recently, I signed up for a workshop to learn to make a little quilt called, “Emma’s Legacy.” It’s just the kind of pattern I like best – very old-fashioned and scrappy. Reminiscent of the collection of quilts in grandma’s linen cupboard, tenderly pieced with parts of grandpa’s best shirt or baby’s christening dress. In those days, folks used what fabric they had, giving it new life in the form of a functional coverlet. A treasure cherished by generations that followed.

As Jane Austen would say, “I was all anticipation” until I heard that this pattern was so very complicated. The pieces are small and there are a lot of them to sew together in an intricate way. And then, there are the points! Oh, my.  All those points must match perfectly. One gal told me that after attempting the “Emma’s Legacy” quilt, she had renamed it “Emma’s Lunacy.” She failed to finish it.

After hearing her take, I thought about backing out of the workshop. Seriously. Did I want to set myself up for failure?

I called a meeting with me, myself, and I to regroup. Where was that old American-can-do-spirit? What about “nothing ventured, nothing gained?” Or “say ‘yes’ to the dress?”

Okay, maybe that last cliche doesn’t apply here. But you get my drift.

So I decided not only to take the class, but to complete the quilt on my newly acquired 1945 Singer Featherweight. A tiny sewing machine for a tiny quilt.

I feel a little victorious before it’s time, facing the lunacy project with renewed passion. But I am confident that with a little American ingenuity, I can see it through to the end. Now, to focus that same spirit toward a certain writing project I’ve been tickling around the edges. It’s time to plunge forward into the fray, ready for battle, expecting victory.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?

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One Quilt Begats Two

After putting together my daughter’s quilt, I found myself again collecting material for a new quilt when I really should have only been collecting a different type of material. Research for a new book. (Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.)  To justify this new blankie to myself, I labeled it “Legacy Recycling.” Sounds important, right?

If one is inclined to think I’m too politically correct – and no one has ever accused me of that – the premise behind the idea is to reuse some old squares stitched into a quilt nearly forty years ago by my mom. Sadly, the quilt is no longer useable. The sashing and backing are worn and torn. The batting has separated from itself, giving the quilt a lumpy effect. Even the yarn ties are frayed.  Still, I never could toss out that tattered treasure, all these many years.

The inner squares, depicting the story of The Wizard of Oz, were in great shape. I could remake this quilt, once lovingly crafted for my own little girl, into a sweet story-quilt for my granddaughter, Sidney Anne.

I purchased some wonderful, fresh fabrics to encase the old squares into a log-cabin design with a charming backing of cozy flannel. My fingers were itching to stitch.

Before I began, I wanted to finish up a sock monkey I’d meant to send Sidney ages ago. That project had spent too much time waiting on the shelf and my granddaughter was growing fast. So I got busy. I crocheted a flower for the hat and made Miss Monkey a frilly skirt, for a ballerina affect.

Once the monkey was on its way, I returned to the little quilt. But I got distracted when I found a gorgeous pop-up book of The Wizard of Oz at Costco.  Wouldn’t it be fun if I could read the story aloud to Sidney, pointing to the quilt squares at the right time?  Then she could tell the story to her baby dolls or young cousins, or that darned sock monkey, using the quilt as a guide. Unfortunately, the book turned out to be too scary for our precious three-year-old.  Since then, I’ve spent a lot of quilting time (and writing time) haunting various bookstores, attempting to find the perfect, age appropriate story of Dorothy’s adventures. No luck so far.

There have been myriad other diversions to keep me from finishing the quilt. Christmas is coming and there are homemade ornaments to make, home-baked treats to whip up for holiday potlucks, and practice time for Christmas concerts.

Besides, I need to abandon the quilt project for a while. And write. Which I should have been doing all along. A new project looms with a self-imposed deadline. I don’t want to miss this great opportunity. But what’s with me and unfinished quilts?

At least there’s a completed monkey on my resume. Which is better than a monkey on my back, I guess.

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Quilty Pleasures

When my daughter, Heidi, was little more than a toddler, I planned to make her a Raggedy Ann for Christmas. Time has blurred the reason why I didn’t get it finished, but I do remember handing her a box of red and blue fabric and bright orange yarn, along with a hug and an IOU.

She has never let me forget it.

So when a big birthday loomed ahead, I determined to do something special for her. To make a luxurious quilt that would surround her with “mommy-love.” And absolutely not give her an IOU on that most important day!

Because she loved Ralph Lauren bedding, I searched for just the right sheet to serve as the basis for her quilt. And I found the perfect pattern called “Cole Brook.” Unfortunately, it was a king-sized bed skirt instead of a full sheet. But, it had the right colors, the right weight, and feel.  A soft, cotton sateen. It would do very well.

In truth, I collected fabric for more than a year.  Finding only Ralph Lauren fabric proved to be too daunting for me.  Eventually, I added other brands of high thread count pillowcases and luxurious fabric samples.  The big day drew close and still, I shopped for just one more piece for an elusive quilt square. Maybe a silk plaid or a linen toile would give it that elegant edge I wanted.

Heidi & her "Mostly Ralph Lauren" quilt.

Heidi & her "Mostly Ralph Lauren" quilt.

With only two weeks to go, I started rotary cutting and stitching, piecing the quilt. I worked into the wee hours, knowing I didn’t want another Raggedy Ann moment on my parenting record.  Just in time, I got the quilt top finished and wrapped for the big party.  In a perfect world, the entire quilt would be completed, but I was happy to hand Heidi an original Medallion-patterned coverlet – almost a quilt. And lots of mommy-love instead of an IOU! I called it “Mostly Ralph Lauren” and she loved it. Mission accomplished.

Now, there is still the problem/promise of that Raggedy Ann….

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