Wednesday, October 31, 2018

One Monthly Goal :: October 2018 Update

Happy Halloween. I'm going to be short and sweet with my One Monthly Goal update because I finished midway through the month and I've already written the post! I'm so grateful for these monthly motivations from Elm Street Quilts!

I love this quilt for two big reason. First of all, it has been donated to Quilts of Compassion as part of the Quilts for the Carolinas deployment for those affected by Hurricane Florence.

The second reason I love this quilt is that I made it while teaching my Dutch daughter, Marissa was visiting from the Netherlands. She did such an awesome job and has a warm and gezellig reminder of her visit back to her American home. 

Be sure to head over the full post to see how we many our quilts and if you want to make a Jewel Box quilt, you can print off a coloring page I created.

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.

June 2017 - no goal

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Elm Street Quilts

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Quilt #117 :: Scrappy Buffalo Plaid

I'm taking a break from posting about my older quilts to share a new finish! My overall goal for 2018 is supposed to be finishing up all of my social quilts from last year. I've done a decent job completing ten of them:  Project Linus mystery, Wayward Transparency, Grandma's Kitchen (all 6 of them!), On Ringo Lake, and Prince Edward Island MQG Mystery quilts. More than halfway there, so that's good!

Mentally though, I'm thinking ahead to my 2019 goal, which is to make a LOT of scrappy quilts. My scrap bins are overflowing so I need to use them up! I've been curating scrappy quilts on Pinterest for next year, but I couldn't help making a few already this year with Good Night Irene, Good Morning Eileen, VV Improv, Murphy's Oops and Orphans, Lots of Love wedding quilt, and my Carolina Jewel quilt.

The quilt I'm sharing today is my take on Plaid to Meet You by Tonya Alexander of Stash Lab Quilts.  It was featured in the February 2018 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I'm calling my version Scrappy Buffalo Plaid because the ubiquitous plaid of my high school glory days is coming back! (The stirrup pants can stay in the past!)

In the pre-smart phone days of my youth, I missed the opportunity to get a picture of myself in one of my many stirrup pants and baggy plaid sweater combos, but I will let you admire one of my senior pictures. (RIP, Mandy! RIP, my little waist!)

Back to the quilt. My scraps are separated by color. I know a lot of people cut their scraps into common sizes, but for the most part, I keep my scraps intact so I have more sizes to choose from when I applique or paper piece. But as more of my bins are overflowing, I am taking time between project to cut the smaller pieces into 2.5", 2" and 1.5" squares.

For this quilt, I focused on blues and reds. Can you believe this didn't even make a dent in my blue bin?

I didn't have as wide of an assortment of reds, but still a lot! This was the point where I realized that I cut way more blues than I needed for this quilt. I could make about three with all the blue squares I cut!

When piecing little squares like this, I like to use a method I learned from Elizabeth Hartman using fusible interfacing. 

I have several templates made up that I use under the interfacing depending on the size block I'm using.

I started this quilt over the summer while we were puppy sitting Murphy. He was not a fan of long periods of time watching me sew, but over time he came to accept his little corner of the room, away from the fabric.

As I was quilting the quilt in my go-to spiral, I was able to look more closely at the 1" squares. I realized that this quilt will be like a mini-I Spy quilt for whoever receives it. Some of the prints include a robot, Santa, a Dutch windmill (a little bit of us!), an Ohio State "O" (a bit of local flair), a heart, vintage prints, Mario, Betty Boop, Thomas the Train, a pup from Paw Patrol, and because it's my stash, lots of bits of space stuff.

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

Friday, October 26, 2018

Quilts #31, #32, and #33 :: Griffith Trio

The year was 2014. It was my first full year of quilting. And given the number of quilts that I did not post on this blog, it was also the year I too often choose quilting over writing. So now it is 2018 and I am going back and sharing my older quilts.

Today's post is about a trio of quilts I made for the children of friends from our church and Bible study. We met Lindsay and Steve shortly after our wedding, and one of the most common topics in our group was children: praying for the children we wished to have and wisdom for the children we were given. For most of the time we were in our group together, Lindsay and Steve were in the former group. 

At last, they welcomed a little girl, A. We were all thrilled for them. Then, a few years later, when I was a new quilter, they shared the news that they were having twins!

All babies need quilts. But twins? They definitely need quilts. I knew Lindsay was expecting a boy and a girl, so I started looking at patterns I could make in pink and blue. Looking through my notes, I see that I played with eight different patterns before deciding on the winner.

The winning pattern came from Making More With Less, who posted loads of patterns made with half square triangles. I was set on the idea of half square triangles, because they are made from splitting a square to make its own identifiable shape. Kind of a creative stretch, but a little insight into how my mind works when deciding on patterns!

Source: Making More with Less
It doesn't seem like I took many photos of these quilts in progress, but I took lots once they were finished. I love that my stocking-footed helper was the same age the twins are now!

You may have noticed from the initial photo that I made three quilts. I didn't want big sister to feel left out, so I made her a slightly bigger quilt in purple.

It was fun taking pictures of all three of them together.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Quilt #30:: Always a Buckeye

Fifteen years ago, I was happily living in Michigan, working at a job I loved, living in my own home with my dog, dating guys I met on the internet, and finishing up the manuscript of my first book. I had no idea that I was three short months from the event that would affect every one of those things. 

I have written in depth about my brain injury many times, like here, here, and here. Mostly I mention it in passing as a fact of my life, not much different than the fact that I am married and a mom. Perhaps I will write another update in January when I hit my 15-year milestone. 

So what does my brain injury have to do this quilt? That's the story. After my TBI set off the chain of events of losing my job, my house, and my book contract, I was still dating guys I met on the internet. I only half-jokingly say that I did for the free meals, but I really was quite concerned about where I would land when I lost my house. I still very much wanted to get married but wasn't confident about my prospects as an unemployed, soon-to-be-homeless, brain-injured woman in her 30s. 

One of (many) challenges of living with a brain injury is how your relationships change. I remember one of my doctors trying to cheer me up by saying I should be grateful that I was single because 80% of couples divorce after one person sustains a TBI. I did not feel better. Even without a spouse, I found that, because I looked fine on the outside, most people assumed I was back to normal. But I needed more sleep and was limited in some of the things I could do. My tolerance for places that were loud, or flashy, or crowded, was next to nil. There is an emotional weight to trying to pretend you are okay, of wanting things to be back to the way things were. But people with TBIs don't handle stress well. As a result, we crash and need more sleep and isolation. After a while, people just quietly stopped inviting me to do things. My real world got really small. But thanks to the internet, I was not completely cut off from the wide world. Hello, online dating!

Before I hit my head a second time in a year, sealing my fate as a medically-retired woman at 33, I did meet a nice guy in Ohio. I would go down and spend a week at a time getting to know him and his friends. I'm pretty morally conservative, so instead of staying with him, I would stay with his friends during my visits. While the relationship didn't work out, I really liked his friends.

I started thinking that since I needed to move anyway, maybe moving to Ohio would be a good idea because the friends I had made there all met me post-TBI. It lifted the emotional weight of having to pretend I was better, and freed me of the expectations my Michigan friends unintentionally placed on me.

One family I stayed with was the Price family. Even though Angie and Trevor are younger than me, they were more settled than I was. They had been married for a decade and had 3 young kids...and a spare room. I loved the sense of belonging they gave me when I stayed with them. They made me feel part of the family. It was an oasis in a turbulent time. 

After my first Ohio relationship broke up, I decided I was open to meeting other guys in Ohio. That leads to a whole other funny story about how I met my husband. As Niels and I got more serious, I made the move to Ohio. Niels lived in an apartment in Cleveland, and since I didn't know anyone in Cleveland, I moved in with Prices until we got married and bought a house in Canton, 45 minutes south of his apartment.  Fortunately for Niels and the Prices, we were only engaged four months before we got married!

Niels showed his dedication to me by driving 45 minutes from work to the Price's house to see me almost every evening, then drove back to his apartment an hour away. During those evenings before he bought our house near the Prices, we talked about our future. So many of my memories of that time are lost due to a lack of pictures, but the one thing I recall vividly is being in the Price's living room with Niels talking about future babies we might have. We agreed on the name we gave our son less than two years later. I don't have a picture of that moment, but I love this picture of Angie meeting our D when he was only a day old.

In 2014, the Prices moved to North Carolina. Even though we no longer saw each other often,  I will always be grateful for the generosity and hospitality. So how could I show my gratitude? With a quilt, of course. And what better design to celebrate our Ohio connection than an Ohio State quilt?

For those wondering about the dimensions, these are my notes. I can't guarantee they are accurate, but I believe they are pretty close. 
For the label, I used my new Silhouette Cameo to cut out the online of Ohio. It's still one of my favorite labels.

But best of all, the Price family moved back to Ohio two years ago!

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!

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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!

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