Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Quilt #61 Timur's Russian Heart

Well friends, it's been a rough six months or so with my broken brain. The good news is my new meds seems to be helping a lot after the snafu with the original change. Yikes, that was bad! Leave it to me to be the .02% to have a have a horrible reaction to the miracle med everyone else loves. C'est la vie. I'm still struggling with some cognitive getting my words out in a blog. I had planned to write a post for Brain Injury Awareness month last month, but it just didn't happen, and 12 years after sustaining my Traumatic Brain Injury, I still struggle to give myself grace when I'm not able to do what I want to do.

On the plus side, the change in meds means I'm sewing again! I just finished my 61st quilt, which I call Timur's Russian Heart. 

Followers of this blog might recall that last summer our family attended Russian Camp at Concordia Villiage's Lesnoe Ozero. (I highly recommend the camp if your family or children have an interest in learning a new language!!) I spent some quality time with the nurse on staff, and we have since become friends on Facebook. Recently, she posted about a six-year-old boy who had recently moved to Minnesota from Russian. In the midst of adjusting to such a big move, he soon found himself in need of a heart transplant. As the mom of a 7-year-old, my heart broke for this sweet kiddo who had to deal with such a major operation in a strange country where he didn't yet know the language or have the chance to make friends. I knew he needed a quilt.

Even before I finished reading his GoFund page, I need what quilt pattern I would use: Jera Brandvig's Summer Love. The second quilt I ever made--three years ago!--was this striped heart quilt that I made for our Dutch daughter Marissa. 

I have learned SO much about quilting since then!!! Design-wise, I was also inspired by my 20th quilt, a cross-cultural baby quilt I made for a little one whose mama is American and daddy is Columbian.

Our connection to Russia, other than attending Russian camp, is that our son loves all things space. He chose to study Russian over the 14 other languages offered at Concordia because of his love for space history and Russia's place in it. Even now, in the post-space shuttle era, NASA relies on the Russian space agency to send our astronauts to the ISS on the Russian Soyuz capsule. 

So, I knew I wanted to use fabric that reflects the cooperation between Russian and America. I immediately thought of the Star fabric from Joann

The white fabric was taken from my stash. It was also from Joann and had what looked to me like fireworks embossed on it. The red for the heart is minky, because my 7-year-old insists that all little boys need minky on their quilts, especially if they will be spending a lot of time in bed. The back is solid red minky.

For quilting, I stitched in the ditch to emphasize the Russian flag. This was the fourth quilt with my new way of binding. It's still my weakest part of the quilting process but already seeing a ton of improvement. 

Finally, I had fun designing the label. I did need a little help with the Russian translation, because despite a week of Russian immersion camp, I am nowhere near fluent!!

Last week, I sent up some prayers and shipped the quilt to Minnesota to its new home. My son's class wanted to be part of the fun, so they made a huge stack of get well cards and welcome to American messages. Through my friend, I was able to receive a note of thanks, along with a few photos. I didn't ask permission to post the photo of Timur wrapped up with his quilt and a huge smile on his face, but believe me, it's pretty adorable and makes the time and effort of quilting totally worth it! I can share this picture of the opened care package. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall!

I cannot adequately put into words how good it is for my soul to be able to do this. After my brain injury, I spent a good two years pretty much failing at everything as I tried to return to my old life and work. It is crushing to one's self esteem to wonder if there will ever be something successful about one's life. Even after 61 quilts, I still don't tell anyone that I'm making a quilt before it's done because it conjures up all those feelings of letting my colleagues and clients down. I don't quilt because I need to be thanked or because I expect it to be used in any particular way. It is a gift of my heart to someone else, to show that I care, that I've thought of them enough to come up with a design that I think will be personal to them, bought fabric, and spent many hours putting the quilt together. Once the gift is given, I have done my part, what I am called to do. Some quilts I make for charity and never find out where they end up. Sometimes I made a quilt for an occasion and only receive a polite thank you. But sometimes, when I see that my gift is meaningful to the recipient, my heart is filled to overflowing.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fidget bracelets for sale!

Hi everyone! I am still around, but laying low for awhile as I am dealing with some issues related to my brain injury. I'm not doing a great job keeping my FB page updated, but since I have been getting a lot of email this week requesting fidgets bracelets, I want to make an announcement that I am still selling them. I can make fidgets in any color or theme. If I don't have fabric on hand, I can most likely find something that will work for you. Just send me an email through my FB page and I will get back to you quickly. 

Cost is $12, which includes shipping within the US. $15 outside the US. When you place an order, include your email and address. I will send you an invoice via PayPal. Once payment is received, I will ship your fidget bracelets! 

Thanks for all your interest!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016!

As I type this, I am enjoying a very low-key New Years Eve with my boys. It's been pretty quiet here on the blog for the last few months. My TBI has been kicking my behind and I have been limping through the end of the year. On the plus side, I have survived another round of Thanksgiving/Sinterklaas/birthday/Christmas craziness. 

In my pre-TBI days, I spent the last days of year reflecting on what I had accomplished and making goals for the new year. For the last decade or so, I have skipped the resolutions and focused instead on a single word.

For 2016, I am trading in my word for a phrase: do what you can, where you can, when you can. It's my paraphrase of Teddy Roosevelt's quote," Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." I think it covers the full spectrum of got-my-stuff-together days to can't-get-out-of-bed days. It's motivation for good days and grace for rough days. And every day, it's about making the most of what I have. 

So, tipping my hat to my list-loving days, here's what I hope this phrase means to me in 2016:
  • update the blog more often, even if the post is short and sweet!
  • enjoy more tech free evenings with my boys
  • give away (at least) 2016 things as I declutter the house
  • bring back no-spend Wednesday
  • make quilts for babies, friends, and those in need
  • take more naps
  • open our guest room to old and new friends around the world
  • have more friends over for dinner and game nights
  • create blessing bags
  • try new healthy recipes
  • savor my favorite sweets
  • get back into an exercise routine
  • skip workouts when my brain is not up for it
  • take walks with my family
  • snuggle with my son whenever he lets me
  • read with learners at my son's school
  • feel free to stay home
  • give money
  • give gifts
  • give time
  • give affection
  • give grace
Happy New Year!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quilt #51: Orla Kiely-inspired baby quilt and onesie

My current favorite ever quilt is this one I just finished for my friend Aletha and her new baby. Aletha and I have know each other since my pre-brain injury life when we both worked for a publisher. I'm sure she could tell you more about how flaky as I was in the first two years after my injury that I could!

While the brain injury ended my career, Aletha's has flourished. After leaving publishing, she started her own successful wedding planning business. She recently moved on from that to focus on another passion: restoring Midcentury Modern homes. You can read all about her work at True Home Restorations.

Shortly after I began quilting, Aletha and her husband bought their own MCM home to renovate and restore. I feel in love with her colorful Orla Kiely wallpaper and knew it was a quilt waiting to happen!

Here is the wallpaper in their finished home, and the photo I stared at very closely as I selected my fabric. By the way, check out the railing. Aletha's husband made that!

Photo Credit: K. Holly Photography
Of course, as a brand new quilter, I had a lot to learn! For example, I needed to learn to applique! Over the past two years, in between other projects, I would play around with getting the leaves just the right size and proportional to the stem and white space. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be! The leaves were the trickiest thing to get right with the shape, angle, and spacing. The images I found online weren't clear enough for my Silhouette Cameo to trace cleanly. Fortunately, Target had some Orla Kiely products on sale with a nice crisp leaf that worked well with my scanner.

Once I got the shape right (4" x 3"), I could work on the full quilt design. The leaves are 3" tall by 4" wide. There is a 1" strip (1.5" cut) of white in between each row. The brown stem is only .25" wide (.75" cut). I sewed the white and brown strips, and appliqued the leaves.

I worked on the fabrics. The pattern repeats like this. 

I needed nine different colors for the leaves, plus a white for the background, and a solid brown for the stem.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to make 96 leaves...or are they Pringles?

I started with the background. I made the chart below to show how the pieces should come together. All the pieces are white except the tiny brown strips, but thee color makes it harder to see. The wide white (orange below) is 4.5" by width of fabric, the thin white (green below) is 1.5" by WOF, and the brown is .75" by width of fabric. 

Here's my teeny tiny stem strip.

Ready for leaves!

I used my 2.5" ruler to start appliqueing the leaves in the center of the quilt. I put a 1/2" between the top on one set of leaves and the bottom of the next set up. I opted to sew the white strips the way I did to make it easier with leave placement. The stem side needed to almost flat and the opposite site touched the seam line. 

I started at the bottom and worked my way up. The first leaves were placed an inch above the bottom. I had just shy of 3 inches left at the top, which I left empty until I squared up the quilt. 

At this point, I let out a big sigh of relief! It is so nice when an idea in your head translates on fabric! 

It took quite a while to applique 96 leaves. We just dropped DirectTV (and NFL Sunday Ticket) for Dish. Not only are we saving a ton of money, but now I am able to watch shows from our DVR on my iPad in the craft room. I also watched a few movies while working on this step. My favorite was "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio." It's well worth a watch. 

Once I finished the applique, I used invisible thread (What?! How have I made 50 quilts without knowing about this magic!?)

For the label, I chose a MCM font (Remachine Script) for the label and copied a little section of the quilt I photographed. 

But wait! There's more! Since Aletha is expecting a new little one, I couldn't resist making a matching onesie. 

This past weekend we were in Michigan to deliver the quilt and finally tour their gorgeous home in person. I think delivering quilts is one of my very favorite things!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quilt #27: Packer-Viking Quilt

Following my post on my nephew's Bears quilt, here is the quilt I made for his dad and mom, my brother and sister-in-law. Like any good Minnesotan, my brother is a Viking fan. Twenty years ago, he did the unthinkable: he married a Packer fan.

So, how do you make a quilt that both a Viking fan and a Packer fan will love? Split it in half and use the colors that the teams share. I landed on a herringbone pattern inspired by this quilt by Michael Ann Made. 

Here's the pattern I made in PowerPoint. Someday I will take the plunge and get the Electronic Quilter software, but for now PowerPoint works for me.

The blocks weren't hard to make, just lots and lots of half square triangles...before I learned out to make eight at a time. Gah! I could have saved so.much.time. 

I put soft white minky on the back. For the binding I used some Mardi Gras chevron stripe fabric. I love it and can't wait to use it in another project.

I love the herringbone pattern and adore that one of my favorite photos of D was taken this quilt. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Quilt #18: Da Bears Quilt

Confession: I am insanely behind in posting my finished quilts. Since I am currently working on quilt #50, and I have only posted pictures about 15 of them. So, I am going to try to catch up. The only way I can figure out how to do it (and still give myself time to actual quilt in the next decade!) is to do shorter posts on each.

Today I'm going to write about quilt #18: Da Bears quilt because one of my favorite quilter bloggers, Val's Quilting Studio is hosting a link up of sports quilts and it made me realize that I've never posted this one! (Here you go, Val!) I made this quilt for my nephew who is a Bears fan. His daddy, my brother, is rightfully a Viking fan. He married a Packers fan. To keep the peace, my nephew opted for the Bears. Because I am a wonderful auntie and I love my nephew so, I made him a Bears quilt.

I didn't have pattern in mind when I bought the Bears fabric. The pattern doesn't work well with triangles so I needed to come up with one that used only squares and rectangles pieces. I actually played around with several blocks before I came up with one that worked.

For the back I used brown minky and white applique to mimic a football. 

I learn something new (or a few somethings new) with every quilt I make. With this quilt--which I finished in February of 2014!--it was my first time using masking tape to make quilting lines. I use this trick all the time now!

Most importantly, my lovely assistant infused lots of love into the quilt. 

I had enough fabric left over to make a pillowcase. 

Finally, a nice triptych of the front, back, and label. 

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Space-Themed Growth Chart Ruler

When we were building our house three years ago, I nabbed a board that I thought would make a great portable growth chart. I was inspired by all the amazing DIY growth chart rulers on the newly-launched Pinterest, and I loved the idea of having something that could move with us (or our son) if we ever have to move. (This is not something we are planning to do, but living with a brain injury means not taking life for granted). Anyway, I set aside the board with a mental note to complete the project once we were settled into our new house.

A few weeks ago, I was in Amish country with my son and we saw this arrow-shaped growth chart ruler.

The arrow reminded me of a rocket...and the project I had planned. When we got home, I found the the board and saw that it had a big crack in it. Bummer. So much for sentimentality. 

 I headed off to Lowe's where I found a 1x8x72" board for under $10.

I'm not much for woodworking, but I did my best to sand the wood before applying primer. 

For the main color, I used Rust-Oleum Metallic spray paint in Cobalt Blue. It really does look like the sparkling deep space. 

I added a few spritzes of some other spray paints I had on hand to give the appearance of galaxies. I used silver glitter, a light blue glitter, and purple paint. 

Both my son and I were very happy with how the color turned out. 

The next day, after the paint dried, I used my sewing ruler and a glow-in-the-dark pen. I started at 6" at the bottom, up to 6'6" at the top.

For the numbers, I used the NASA font for the numbers. I finally tried cutting vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo. (This makes me laugh because cutting vinyl was the reason I bought my Cameo three years ago!). The silver vinyl was part of my starter kit!

The vinyl was very easy to place on the wood, and easy to adjust when the placement wasn't quite right. I see myself doing more with vinyl in the future!

At this point, my ruler looked more or less like all the other rulers out there. Since I was using a space theme, I had to include a rocket somehow. I found a lightweight painted wood rocket at Hobby Lobby.

I placed magnet tape along the center of the ruler to provide a path for the rocket as it measures our son's height. (I should mention that while I love the idea of this magnet tape, it's not super strong. Also, I did have to reinforce the magnet's adhesive on both ends with Weldbond, which has never failed me.

I attached 3 round magnets I had on hand to the back of the rocket to keep it flat as it moves up and down the magnet strip. 

For the sides, I used the same trick as I did on my craft table: duct tape! My son picked out a glittery blue tape, or as he called it, "galaxy tape." (Here you can see the rocket with one magnet. It was a little wobbly when little hands played with it. With three magnets, that is no longer a problem).

I added a few glow-in-the dark stars.

The inch marks don't glow as I had hoped, but the stars do.

Then I had to take a break for a few days to dig through all my son's medical papers to find his measurements each year. That was a good excuse to get everything organized. It had been about four years since I had actually put his papers in his binder!

I used a fine-tipped silver Sharpie to write his height as recorded at his annual well child exams. I was thinking that I would also add his height at the start and end of school, but I think that would have been too crowded, especially as he gets older and doesn't grow as quickly.

We used our stash of Command Strips to hang up the ruler. 
We placed 8 sets of strips to the back to make sure they were strong enough. Our baseboards are 5-1/2" high, so we measured the 6" mark for the bottom and carefully attached it. 

I love that the ruler is across the hall from his growing up gallery. It will be fun to see how he grows and changes his looks over the years. I just hope it doesn't pass too quickly!

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