Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Quilt #28 :: Love Chain

Over the weekend I was working on my computer when I realized that I haven't seen any notifications for comments on this blog for quite a while. That struck me as odd, so I went into my dashboard and lo and behold--I had 300 comments waiting to be approved!

I spent the better part of an hour with a smile on my face reading all the comments. There's a glitch I need to sort out on Blogger to 1) notify me of comments and 2) allow me to respond. I keep getting signed out, so I type up a comment and it gets lost in cyberspace. I need to get my tech support guy (aka hubby) to set things straight. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who made my day!

One person commented that she liked how I generally had a person in mind when I made a quilt. That made me laugh a little because while it's true, I had just started the post about this quilt, which is the one glaring exception to the rule. 

In June of 2013, my good friend Erin married her husband Bob. Erin is definitely a quilt worthy friend. After my brain injury, with my personality changes and tendency to be anti-social, Erin was one of only a few people who drew closer to me. When she got married, I had only been quilting for four months. I wanted to make her and Bob a quilt, but I wanted to be a little more confident in my skills first. 

This quilt came up in my Pinterest feed and I thought it was perfect.  I loved how the hearts were little "Ls", like their last name, Lekberg.The photo was posted by Sandy from Piecemeal Quilts. She wrote about a meeting of quilters and someone shared this unnamed quilted. 
Credit: Sandi from Piecemeal Quilts
I asked Erin about colors. She said she like purple and Bob liked blue. I figured out how to reverse engineer the pattern and got started. All the while, I thought about Erin and Bob and how ridiculously in love they were. 

It went together really quickly, but as I worked I got the niggly feeling that it wasn't really right for them. It didn't feel like "them."

Bob and Erin have such a fun story. Their courtship was a whirlwind, full of fun adventures. To propose, Bob re-enacted scenes from the movie "Up." 

In fact, their wedding had an "Up" theme as well. I gave them some "Up" themed gifts with a note that a quilt would be coming.

So as I finished up my purple and blue love chain quilt, I designed an "Up" quilt in my mind and praying about who needed this quilt. 

At the same time, my talented and generous friend Rachel mentioned that the foster daughter her family had been parenting for the last six months was leaving their care. My heart hurt for this little girl. I learned that many kids in the foster care system don't have anything of their own, and when they move from home to home, what little they have is put in a black trash bag!

Immediately I knew that this little girl would receive my quilt. 

Now that I knew a bit of her story, I also made a pillowcase and drawstring bag for N., so she could keep her things together.

D modeled the bag before we drove over to deliver the gift.

I've wondered about N over the years. I hope that she is with a family who loves her.

As for Erin and Bob, their story was filled with adventure...and tragedy. On September 20, 2014, just 15 months after they were married, Bob died suddenly of a heart attack. I hadn't finished their wedding quilt, but worked non-stop to finish it for Bob's celebration of life service.

It is so much more fun to make baby quilts or friendship quilts, but sometimes life is just really, really hard.  I'm grateful that quilts are a way to offer love in tangible form to those who need it. 

To end this post on a slightly more positive note, look again at the first photo. N's little fingers are clutching the quilt. Adorable!

Linked to:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Quilt #26 :: Green Illusion

In 2014, my first full year of quilting, I made 24 quilts. Apparently, I was quite obsessed, because I did not write posts about the vast majority of them! So now, four years later, I'm going back, looking at my notes and photos, and catching up.

At the same time I was making my Purple Mess quilt, I made a second quilt for the cute kindergarten class our church quilting group adopted. But for as many problems as I had with that quilt, I was pleasantly surprised with how well this one came together.  

The inspiration for the quilt was a free pattern that came in an ad for McCall's Quick Quilts. It's called The Modern Baby by Beverly Sullivant, and was originally featured in the February/March 2010 issue. I didn't start quilting until 2013 so it was a nice way to give the pattern new life. 

Credit: Beverly Sullivant, The Modern Baby quilt
The pattern doesn't seem to be available for free anymore, but I did find a post about it on Beverly's blog, which has been neglected since last year, as well as her active Instagram account. 

I'm not sure if I didn't follow directions or was feeling creative, but I laid out my blocks slightly differently, which resulted in a fun illusion pattern. I'm quite drawn to illusion  (like my more recent Labryinth Walk) in large part because I have vertigo from my brain injury quite often. I get a kick out of the fact that I can quilt illusions even if real life illusions make me dizzy

I was happy with how the back turned out, especially because it was the first time I pieced the backing. I didn't get a great picture of my quilting, but my lines are a lot straighter!

I was also happy with my binding, especially because I really didn't know what I was doing yet!

The best part of the project is seeing this sweet face again. At the time I made these two quilts for the kindergartners, my little boy was in kindergarten, too!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Quilt #25 :: Purple Mess (If Brain Injury was a Quilt)

As they say in my native Minnesota, uff da! At the time of this post, I have made 116 quilts. I'm going back and writing posts about all the quilts I've made. For some reason, in 2014 and 2015, I didn't write much about my quilts. I really can't remember why. Most likely my brain injury was acting up and I didn't have the words. So now I'm going through my notes and photos to make a more thorough record. 

Below is the inspiration for my 25th quilt, which I'm retroactively calling Purple Mess because it doesn't have my name on it and I'm pretty sure that whoever received it won't come looking for me!

See how pretty and cheerful it is? It was made by Megan of Jaffa Quilts. And easy peasy, just a few half square triangles and four patches. And yet, I made the Purple Mess.

I almost skipped writing about this quilt altogether because I'm not at all happy with how it turned out. I don't love all the quilts I've made, but this one is definitely my least favorite.

It's more like a case study of all the ways a quilt can go wrong.

I wanted a nice pretty purple quilt because I knew it would be going to a kindergartner at a local school and purple is my favorite color. But my fabric selection was off, despite it looking all right when I planned it out online.
I had the idea of making an extra fluffy quilt by using two layers of batting. The batting donated to our quilt group is the polyester type, which I no longer use because it's so unwieldy. But definitely a very high loft.

I attempted to echo quilt, but apparently, I didn't use a ruler, tape, or anything to keep my lines straight. Yikes. I think maybe I was going through a rough brain patch but was determined to have a quilt to donate with my group.

Now, see that big heart? That's actually my favorite part of the quilt because it was the first time I tried applique.

But if you look on the right you'll see what prompted my willingness to try applique:  I was trying to cover up a wrinkle in the back!

In hindsight, I'm kind of wishing I would have scrapped the whole thing. It's far from perfect, and it's far from my best work. I'm really conflicted about it.

But then, as I was looking at the notes I kept from the quilt, I found this newspaper article.

It's a little hard to read, but I was interviewed by the local paper about our group's visit with the kindergartners who received our quilts. I talk about my brain injury and how it causes me to be someone who needs a lot of help.

One of the biggest misconceptions about living with a disability is that every day should be a bad day. I do have bad days. A lot of them. Not as many as I did when I was first recovering, or before we found the medical protocol that works best for me. But I still have 5-7 days a month when I spend the majority of the day in bed. I have good days, too. Days when I can cook, and organize, run errands and make plans. Days I can be around others and socialize for a bit. And days where I can quilt.

Quilting lets me be a giver again. Finding that outlet has been life-giving to my soul.

Looking back at this newspaper clipping, two things come to mind. First, I remember that my mom was there. After watching me struggle for the first decade of living with my brain injury, I was so proud that she was able to see me be strong.

Secondly, look at the face of the little girl on the right.

Goodness! My heart is a puddle. Clearly, she picked a quilt other than mine, but that is about the best response a quilter can hope for when making a quilt. It reminds me of the two quilts I loved best as a child and still love today.

One was a crazy quilt a neighbor made for my mom's family. It has wild patterns and prints that I would have turned my nose up at if Mom gave me clothes made with any of them. And it had holes with batting poking through where it wasn't tied down with bright red yarn. But I loved it because it smelled my Gramma's house and made a great fort roof. I used to snuggle with it in my secret hideaway under the stairs. When I was feeling sad or angry or lonely, this was the quilt I wanted. Many angsty teenage tears are soaked into this quilt. It also has a really great lost and found story I need to write up before I forget it. This picture was taken after my mom and husband searched all the shops in town to track down the quilt after Mom accidentally sold it in a garage sale. 

The other quilt is the big Budweiser quilt that was given to my stepdad when he was a teen. Just two huge pieces of Budweiser print tied together with fluffy polyester batting. When my parents divorced, I took it with me. For years I used it as a sleeping bag because it has the magical quality of being warm when you are cold, and cool when it's hot out. It was a big joke with my friends because I rarely drink and have never had a beer. But I love this quilt. It's family memories, it's loss of that family unit, it's fun with friends in my early 20s, and it's cozy movie nights with my family. I don't care what it looks like. I love the feelings it evokes.

I don't know who received my Purple Mess quilt. I pray and hope that whoever has it can see it the way I see the crazy quilt and Budweiser quilt I cherish. I hope that she can look past the mistakes and feel the love that was sewn into every crooked stitch. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Quilt #24 :: Sew It Forward Jake

Many moons ago, I shared about two special quilts made for my dad and stepmom after their home was destroyed by fire

These quilts came about as I was feeling helpless living 1,000 miles away. I had been quilting for a year, so I decided to make them a quilt. I posted about it on Facebook and, because quilters are generous souls, I had several of my new quilting friends ask if they could help. 

I created a group called Sew It Forward. I knew that I wanted to make the quilt in Christmas colors because my dad is one of Santa's doppelgangers and could use something to keep warm during the Minnesota winters.

Santa Dad with one week old D.
Quilters from around the world offered to send blocks so that I could make a quilt more quickly. We decided on an easy rail fence block in Christmas colors. Within days, my mailbox started filling up with squishy mail.

It soon became clear that I would have enough blocks for not one, but two quilts. One each for my dad and stepmom, Carole. 

As bad luck would have it, my stepbrother Jake was going through a rough time in January 2014, so he was staying at the farmhouse with dad and Carole. When I shared this information on the Sew It Forward page, it was quickly decided that we would make another quilt in blues and grays for Jake. 

It didn't take long before I had to ask quilters to stop sending me blocks. I had enough for three queen size quilts! I worked quickly to put them all together. A longarmer offered to quilt them for me, so I wanted to get them down to her as soon as possible before the fundraiser event in Minnesota in May.

I sent a HUGE box down to the longarmer and waited. At the same time, my Gramma Ann passed away. We were trying to figure out how to be in Arizona for Gramma's memorial and Minnesota for the fundraiser in the same week. Did I mention that we lived in Ohio? And the quilts were in Texas? Craziness. (We eventually sorted it all out in what we affectionately called our Death and Destruction tour).

I wasn't hearing anything from the longarmer. Just silence. I couldn't call, text, message, or otherwise reach her. My heart sank as I thought about someone misleading me and stealing the quilts created from the generosity of all those quilters. Finally, her daughter posted that she had had a stroke. I quickly wished her well and asked her to send the quilts back so I could finish them myself. She was, as I was after my brain injury, stubborn, and wanted to still try to finish them. She finished Dad's, had done some light quilting on Carole's, and had started Jake's after the stroke and had made some mistakes that needed to be ripped out. It took some convincing, but she finally agreed to send the quilts back. Because of all the time it took to convince her, and because we had to drive to Arizona before driving back up to Minnesota, we had her ship them to my sister's house. And of course, the package got lost. 

We were able to track the package down at midnight before the fundraiser. I was able to finish Carole's quilt on my little machine. It wasn't as nice as I had hoped, but it would have to do. Jake's quilt, on the other hand, was a different story.

She had started to rip out the stitches, but didn't finish in my rush to have the quilts back.

Ripping out stitches after quilting is hard, detailed work. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been after a stroke, particularly with the time pressure she faced.

There were holes all over the backing. My heart sank as I realized that I would have to remove and replace the backing and batting. Neither was cheap and the time required was daunting. In any other case, I would have just scrapped the whole thing. Jake didn't know I was making this for me. But, it wasn't just make work. The blocks came from around the world and it didn't feel right not to finish it.

I spent many, many, many hours during the fall of 2014 ripping out the quilting of Jakes queen size quilt. On the plus side, I had many hours of TV viewing with Niels. We started with War and Remembrance.

I ripped out stitches on road trips.

I got overwhelmed. I thought I'd never finish. But D was watching. It was a great opportunity to show him how to do the hard things. And he encouraged me in his own way.

So I kept on, and finally, I was done.

I took a breather to celebrate the new year, then got to work on finishing it. (Gah! Look at my sweet baby!)

And so, 18 months after the fire destroyed my childhood home, Jake finally received his quilt. 

I realize quilters are a special breed, and those who do not quilt do not understand the time and energy and money that go into creating quilt. And that's okay. I don't make quilts for just anybody, and to anyone for whom I make a quilt, I am saying, in my own way, "I love you and want you to have something tangible that shows you that even though we might not talk or see each other often, I am thinking of you."  I love to give my quilts away and I believe that once a quilt is given, it is up to the receiver to decide what to do with it. It may be stuffed in a closet, given away, made to be the dog's bed, whatever. I just hope that the receiver feels the love with which it was made. 

With Jacob's quilt, it wasn't just my love that made it, but that of 16 quilts from ten states and three countries. So my heart burst with joy when Jake posted this. There is not much better than knowing a quilt you made is appreciated

As I write this, it's October of 2018 and I have to share what has happened with the little Facebook group I started. 

After the first three quilts, members of the group asked if they could make more quilts, for other families affected by fire. I knew I didn't have the brain power to coordinate that, so I decided that anyone who wanted to head up a quilt could use the group to collect quilts. In this way, we did ten more projects. And then things slowed down.

Until about a year ago, when one of the quilters, Tina Burlington, messaged me and asked if she could have my permission to be an admin for the group. I grateful said yes. She messaged again and asked if she could start coordinating projects. Again I said yes. Sew It Forward is now up to 500 quilters and Tina has made quilts for approximately a bazillion people. Seriously, I am in awe of her. 

Sew It Forward is now her baby, but is kind enough to keep me on as an admin. If you are a quilter, I hope you join the group and find some time to make a few blocks for the current project. It makes my heart so happy to know that my little idea lives on, that quilts are being made, and that those affected by fire are being shown love and support after loss.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Quilt #116 :: Carolina Jewel Box for Quilts of Compassion

When we designed the house we built in 2012, we knew we wanted to open our doors to whatever opportunities came our way. We knew we would house family from the Netherlands as well as my family from the States, but we wanted to give our one and only child the opportunity to have adopted brothers and sisters around the world.

This month's One Monthly Goal came courtesy of our first exchange student, Marissa.

 The second quilt I ever made was actually gifted to her when she lived with us in 2013!

Marissa came to visit us for two weeks. When we talked about how she wanted to spend her time back in the States, one of the things on her bucket list was to make a quilt with me. She decided to make Jewel Box quilt like this one from Auntie Em of Quilt Crossing.

Marissa wanted a full-size quilt. I decided to make a smaller, lap size quilt. Mine will be donated to Quilts of Compassion for their Quilts for the Carolines drive. If you aren't aware of the great work this group does, please check out the Facebook page. 

It was fun to work on this project together for many reasons. For starters, it gave us many hours to catch up on each other's lives. It was a little strange to think that my craft room used to look like this when she lived with us. 

And now it looks more like this:

Actually, last month, I added something new to my craft room. Introducing Allison Janome, my new  Janome 9400.

Allison came with a table, the same Janome universal table my Pfaff sits in. I'm still figuring out which machine I like best for each part of quilting.

It's a great set up for sewing with a friend. And fortunately, my faithful Phiona didn't have to sit all alone while I made my first quilt with Allison. 

Because Marissa was brand new to quilting, I made her a coloring sheet for her to help her visualize here color choices of blue, teal, turquoise, and green scrappy with a white background.

For my quilt, I also used blues, teals, and turquoise, but added purple instead of green. 

I was so proud of Marissa for her focus! The first week she was here, I was pretty much out of commission after my little procedure, so we didn't get to get started until she only had a week left of her trip! It took a bit to get the first block done, but after that, she was off and running!

Can you believe she made this in a week?

We finished late her last night here.

This was such a special project for me. I love Marissa to pieces. She really is my Dutch daughter and I couldn't be prouder for her. 

I made a label for my quilt. I realized after I attached it that I put the wrong month, but I started planning it in September, so I'm going to let that go because it's already on its way to its new home.

As for Marissa's quilt, it's already home in the Netherlands with Marissa. 

To see more pictures of this quilt, check the hashtag #CarolinaJewelQuilt on Instagram. To see what I'm currently working on, please follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Linked to:
BOMs Away @ What a Hoot
Design Wall Monday @ Small Quilts & Doll Quilts
Finished or Not Friday @ Busy Hands Quilts
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Link Party Tuesday @ Clever Chameleon
Linky Tuesday @ Freemotion on the River
Main Crush Monday @ Cooking Up Quilts
Midweek Makers @ Quilt Fabrication
Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward @ Em's Scrap Bag
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Off the Wall Friday @ Nina Marie
Oh Scrap @ Quilting is More Fun than Housework
Scrap Happy Saturday @ So Scrappy
Show Off Saturday @ Sew Can She
To Do Tuesday @ Stitch All The Things
Wednesday Wait Loss @ The Inquiring Quilter
What I Made Monday @ Pretty Piney
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
WIPs on Wednesday @ Esther's Blog
Work in Progress Linky @ Silly Mama Quilts

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