Thursday, June 6, 2019

One Monthly Goal :: June 2019

Well friends, the end is near! We are just a few days from moving out of our beloved de Jong Dream House and into the de Jong Lake House. D has graduated from his beloved elementary school and Mom is already moved into the new house.

I am spending my last days in the Dream House packing and crying. I have loved it here. My OMG for June is to pack up my craft room. If you haven't seen it in it's glory, you can take a tour here.

This is what it's looks like this morning.

When we sold the house, I made a list of quilts I wanted to finish in this special room. When I'm done, the tally will be 126 quilts made here in just shy of six years. 

As much as I have enjoyed this space, I think I will LOVE my new space, Vesper View Studio. 

Since taking possession, we have replaced the carpet with cork, and painted the sunny yellow stripes on the wall to Sherwin Williams Vesper Violet. We are replacing the can lights with 5000K daylight panels this week--I hope--and then I'm ready to move in! That may be next month's goal!

Back to packing!

To see more pictures of my progress, check out #VesperViewStudio on Instagram. To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Quilt 130 :: Omigolly Miss Jennifer

Back in 2013, I was talking to a few moms at my MOPS group about preschool options. One mom told me about a hidden gem that I hadn't heard of before. It's a community choice school, which means it's a public school (no tuition!). It followed the state guidelines, but had some flexibility in how they achieved those goals. It had a STEM focus, and used project-based learning. I was intrigued. 

So one day, about six years ago, I picked up D from the preschool he attended four hours a week at our church and we drove over to the new school. I was only four years into motherhood and new to the world of pick up lines. As it turned out, I had arrived just as the school day was getting out. D and I walked into the school and were greeted by a bewildered staff member who wondered why we were there. 

I'm sure I said something like, "I heard there was a school here and wanted to check it out." The woman, who later learned was Miss Jennifer, patiently asked me to hang out while parents picked up their kids and we'd talk when things settled down. At that building, there was an indoor pond by the front door with books on display. D, age 4, picked up a book and quietly read until Miss Jennifer was free to give us a tour. 

The school was as wonderful as I had hoped and D had a blast reading all the signs in the rooms and along the hallway. I asked when he could enroll and was disappointed to learn that there was a waitlist. I filled out the paperwork and began our wait. 

A few months later, we got the call that there was an opening and D could start in October. Fast forward six years, and my little boy is now a decade old and a few short days from the end of his elementary career. And still, when we arrive, or when we check him out, Miss Jennifer is the friendly face that greets us.

When I first started working through the list of teachers and staff for whom I would make quilts, I knew I wanted to make a quilt for Jennifer that would convey how she is the thread that stitches all the pieces of our school together. She may not be known as well as our teachers or principal, but her quiet work behind the scenes is what makes our community run smoothly. I spent awhile thinking of a pattern that would show her connection to everyone else at school. 

I remembered a stunning quilt I saw at a quilt show a few years back. It's called Omigosh by the late Sue Garman. I wish I had a chance to have met her when she was alive. I'm sure we unknowingly crossed paths at the Quilt Festival in 2014. Both Sue and her husband, Jack were legends at NASA. I would have loved to have heard her stories about NASA and quilting. 

I remember being stopped in my tracks when I saw the quilt because the pieces were SO tiny. I started a version of Omigosh a few years ago. The squares of the nine-patches finish at 1/2"!

I saw a "supersized" version another quilter made and thought it would be fun to make one of both. 

My Omigosh is going to take years, I suspect. Especially because anything I try to make for myself tends to get sent to the end of my to do queue. As I made the first two supersized blocks--which are still pretty small with nine patches made of 1" squares--I thought of who would be worthy of a quilt this time consuming. Miss Jennifer, of course!

Jennifer's favorite color is blue, so I made all of the churn blocks in shades of blue. 

I laid them out so that the light blue blocks would make a heart. The reality turned out a little more subtle than I had planned. I wanted each block to be different, and my goal this year was to only use my stash. I am drowning in blue prints, so I'm happy and somewhat shocked that I had this many blue prints!

For the nine patches, I used blues from each of the churn blocks from squares for each of the 12 school quilts I have made over the last six years. 

I had the idea to use scraps from the other teacher quilts a few quilts ago so some of the strips were already set aside, but it probably took two weeks of sorting through my bins to find at least 2 strips from each quilt!

For the other scraps, I thought of the quilt as a sort of I Spy quilt with some fun fussy cut blocks. 

A few Dutch squares to remind her of the de Jong family.

This little Viking was featured on the school quilt I made, and is a nod to my Minnesota roots.

Of course, we are in Ohio, so I included local sports teams, too.

l didn't want her to forget my aspiring rocket scientist, so there are a few blocks for him.

And finally, I have a little nod to the first quilt I ever made

D happily did his part to impart love into the quilt by being the first to sleep under it. 

When he was awake, he used the quilt as a background for a fun impromptu photo shoot. 

So hard to believe his days at SCOPE are ending. So many transitions in the days and weeks ahead.

Thank you Miss Jennifer, and all the teachers and staff members who pour their hearts into their kids. 

To find pictures of my progress on this quilt, check out #OmigollyMissJennifer  on Instagram. To see what I'm currently working on, including my 2019 Brain Injury quilt, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Quilt #129 :: Theo's Milestone Quilt

We are t-minus 10 days from moving into the Lake house and t-minus 5 days of D's elementary school career. Lots of crazy going on around here. I'm checking lists of lists of lists to try to keep everything straight!

One pressing item is my list of quilts to finish in my current craft room before I settle into my new studio. I try not to look at it or the packing will never get done! 

Today I'm sharing a milestone quilt I made for a special couple. Six years ago, my nervous boy was warmly welcomed by his pre-K teacher Miss Anne.

This year, as a fourth grader, Miss Anne's husband Mr. Reiman is his principal. 

The first teacher quilt I ever made went to Miss Anne. It is an I Spy/Checkers quilt.

When their first child was born, I made Charlie's Choo Choo for him.

And now Charlie is a big brother. I had been wanting to make another milestone quilt because I have had a few requests for my original pattern. I was able to take some careful notes and will be looking for pattern testers once we are settled in the Lake House and I have caught my breath!

This is the third milestone quilt I've made. The first two also went to staff members at D's school. 

The original one went to D's dance teacher.

The second one went to a teacher of another hub (multi-age classroom). D's school is very small, so even though Mrs. Weaver didn't teach D directly, they know each other well. 

D's doll, Mark Watney, still pulls modeling duty when baby quilts are ready to be delivered. 

I'm still playing around with fabric placement. Each of the quilts I've made is slightly different, but I think I will include a coloring sheet with the pattern so quilters can decide how they want to vary the design.

This is a pretty easy quilt to put together, unless you are moving and renovating a new house at the same time! I wanted to make a version in shades of blue, and chose two directional prints (plus a directional backing). Nothing like to doing things the hard way.

Because I'm only working in small bits of time between everything else, I got my prints confused and ended up having to redo all my number blocks. Uff da!

Ultimately, it all came together, and baby Theo will have his quilt before his one month milestone. The idea for the quilt as I saw all the ways new parents showed their baby's monthly (or yearly) growth. I've seen monthly pictures with the same stuffed animals, with stickers or special onesies, with chalkboard and letter boards and all sorts of different ways. 

At the same time, I've seen lots of alphabet quilts, but number quilts aren't nearly as popular. Because Miss Anne is a preschool teacher, I love the idea of her having a quilt to teach numbers as well as to mark Theo's milestones. 

With the other two quilts, I made a taggy frame to indicate the milestone.

This time I decided to give a frame I found at Joann. 

Then I found this cute billboard with dry erase on one side and chalk board on the other.

And then, I was at Target and found this cute arrow... to these adorable little socks!

So, I'm going to give them options!

As always, D slept with the quilt to make sure there was lots of extra love in it.

And finally, for the label, I couldn't resist using the precious photo of Theo as the background.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Quilt #128 :: Big Lake Blooms (May 2019 One Monthly Goal)

It's been pretty quiet on the blog front this month. We have closed on both the Dream House and the Lake House. Mom has moved into the Lake House and is there to keep an eye on things while we do some renovations. Niels, D, and I are still at the Dream House for a few more weeks packing up, decluttering, and finishing out D's elementary career. 

Packing and renovating has taken a big chunk out of my sewing time. I have a few projects I'd like to finish in my current craft room before moving into my ah-mazing new Vesper View Studio. 

One of the projects on my list is my One Monthly Goal for May, which I'm calling Big Lake Blooms. I'm happy to say that I finished my goal, not just to have an item crossed off my long to do list, but especially because this quilt is headed to my hometown where I hope it will raise money for a special family.

I grew up in a very small town in Minnesota. When I attended school in the 80s, there were only two schools in our district. The K-86elementary school, which was right next to the 7-12 high school, or "Big School" as our elementary teachers called it. There were less than 100 students in our graduating class, so we all grew up together and knew everyone in our class, as well as the classes ahead and behind us.


I've been thinking a lot about the idea of home lately as we pack up the Dream House and move into the Lake House. As much as we love this physical building in which we have lived in for the last nearly 8 years, it is the memories we've made here that made it a home, and we'll take those with us to the Lake House. Even though I haven't lived in Big Lake for nearly 30 years (!), it is still the home of my childhood memories so I will always have a connection there.

I left Big Lake after graduation and haven't lived in Minnesota since. But thanks to the internet and social media, I was able to reconnect with a lot of people I had lost track of over my college and early career years. It's been interesting to see which friendships fade over the years, which remain steady even though our interactions are overwhelmingly digital, and which friendships surprisingly blossom in adulthood. 

On April 12, 2019, tragedy struck my little town. A fire took the lives of two babies, ages two and one, and their father. Two older siblings and their mom survived. In a town so small, something like this affects the entire community. But, in a small town, the whole community pulls together to help the ones who are hurting. 

One June 6, there will be a fundraiser in my little hometown. I'm 800 miles away here in Ohio, but I'm sending a quilt to participate in spirit. I hope that it helps raise money for Jessica to buy a new home, to replace some of the things that were lost, and make things a little easier as they grieve a tremendous loss. And if the quilt doesn't sell, I hope it offers comfort to the family. 

Now, let me tell you about this quilt. The pattern is called Magnolia Mystery. It was designed by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. I started it in July of 2017 as part of my year of social quilting. 
Since I didn't know what the pattern would be, I decided only to use fabric from my stash. 

I have a lot of blue, so I started with that print. I chose the yellow because it has a similar flower bloom design, and so does the white. I thought gray would look better than a stark black or white background. This print reminds me of splotches of raindrops, which seemed to go well with flower blooms.

As the months went by, I still wasn't sure where this quilt was meant to go. When the mystery was revealed, I finished the top. It's a beautiful pattern and I love how it turned out.

However, since I didn't have a pressing deadline or recipient in mind, I folded up the top and it waited patiently in my UFO bin for the last year.

When I first heard about the fire, it brought a visceral response as I thought about the fire that destroyed one of my childhood homes in January 2014. In response, I posted about making a quilt for my dad and his wife, who were fortunately not home at the time. Quilters from all over the world responded, and I ended up making quilts for both of them, as well as for my stepbrother who was also living with them. The group of quilters came to be the organization Sew It Forward.

Once these quilts were completed, the group made quilts for other families affected by fire. And then we moved on to other projects. After about a year of dormancy, Tina Burlington asked if she could revive the group. I gave my blessing and she is now doing amazing things with it. If you are a quilter, please check out the Facebook group to find out how you can be involved. The beauty of the group is that you don't need to make a full quilt. You can make one block per project. Or more if you have the time, or none at all if other things demand your attention.

I was debating whether or not to put this family on the Sew It Forward list, and then I remembered the quilt waiting to be finished. Big Lake school colors are blue and gold. 

Given the somber occasion, I like that the blue and gold is muted and the gray raindrop fabric. The other thing I noticed is the center row. When you look at this block... can see two complete blocks in the middle, and two partial blocks on the side. Fitting for a family that has had the lives of two children cut short. 

I can't imagine anything harder than losing a child, let alone two in the same night. I hope that the fundraiser is a huge success and that Jessica and her family feel all the love and support being sent her way in the months and years ahead. 

To see more pictures of this quilt, check out #biglakeblooms on Instagram. To see what I'm currently working on, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

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