Saturday

Valentine's Day Table Topper

Yesterday I plotted out a simple table topper for my coffee table. I really wanted something with hearts, pinks and reds to reflect valentine's day so I quickly measured the table and wrote up a pattern. I got out my fabrics and whipped up this little gem that fits the table perfectly.

I also had some cute little tags laying around so I stitched one on the back near my label. This entire project took me about three hours from design, cut, layout, sew, quilt and bind. Not bad for a quick winter's day project. In fact, I think I might make another one and write up a tutorial on it.

Friday

Quilts for Kids - Airplane Quilt

I took this kit home from our December Quilts for Kids chapter meeting and the day before yesterday I was inspired to put it together. Since everything was cut out, it was a snap to piece together. Especially since it was nothing but sewing strips together - I just had to make sure I sewed them together in the correct order!

Yesterday I quilted the layers and added the binding and this morning I put the label on. And viola!...a completed quilt. I am happy to report that I am finally feeling more productive since my cervical fusion surgery last October. However, I did pay for all the hard work - I was in so much pain yesterday afternoon that I had to take some really strong pail killers. I think I have to learn to pace myself a little better physically but emotionally it felt really good to get something done.

Tuesday

Quilts for Kids - Ladybug Quilt

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Today I finished the ladybug/flower quilt from a kit I picked up at our last meeting. I learned a new binding technique for machine binding and I was really planning on trying it on this quilt. However, I ended up hand-stitching it on then doing an machine zig-zag over the top, as usual. The hand stitching part gives me the opportunity to sit with my husband while he is recovering from surgery. At least that's the excuse I am going to use for now (for not being brave enough to try something new).

Thursday

Quilts for Kids - WIP

It's been a tough few weeks with my mother being transferred from the hospital to a rehab facility and with our own health issues, not much sewing is happening these days. Between taking my husband to his physical therapy and doctor appointments and my own, we've become a pretty familiar duo over at Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital. His rotator cuff surgery and my cervical fusion surgery has left 2 good hands/arms between the two of us.  That's not a good thing when the snow started to fall. I do have to admit though, learning to use the snow blower was kind of fun.  It is self-propelled with reverse so it is so easy to use, I pretty much just walk behind it. Thank God, because I am in no condition to do much more than that.

It doesn't help that I am not finding inspiration/motivation in making something.  That feels awful because it's a new year and I think of it as a fresh start on new projects following the end of the Christmas season, but I'm just not feeling it.  So I decided to pick up a kit at the last Quilts for Kids meeting and complete it.  Those kits are nice when I'm lacking creativity because the pattern is in the kit and all the fabric is already cut out...just sew it together, add batting between the backing and the quilt top and complete it. It can't get much easier than that.

I got the top pieced, the layers sandwiched and quilted and now I am ready to put the binding on.  All of a sudden I have a new helper here today. For some crazy reason, I'm feeling that motivation just slipping away again.  Seems like a great day for a cat nap instead of a quilt finish.
Quilt Inspector

Friday

What's on the design board?

Each month the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Club plays block lotto. They choose the color of the month and all you have to do is make an 8 and 1/2-inch square block out of that color. It can be any design that you want. Then we all show off our blocks, drop them into bag and one block is drawn from the bag. The owner of that block gets the entire bag of blocks.

So I made mine from Elizabeth Hartman's book, Patchwork City. The block is called Food Truck. The instructions were to make an 8 x 8-inch block so I did have to modify the last four strips so it was a little larger than the original pattern.

That's pretty much all that's on the design board today. I am looking for that new quilt project and I just can't seem to find one that I am ready to dive into. Hopefully my quilty drought will end soon!
Milwaukee Modern Quilt Club


Thursday

A New Year

I don't think much about making resolutions when the new year comes around however, I do like to think of the new year as a time to make a fresh start. As I take stock in the past year I could very easily spiral into a funk. Between all the limitations placed on me in the past year both financially since I can't find a job and physically since the major surgeries on my spine have now limited my ability to function, it has been a very difficult year. I have given up so much but I do feel like a survivor.

I have had some good accomplishments over the past year, all things considered. I've actually finished some quilting projects that have been sitting for years and I learned how to make t-shirt quilts. I've also mastered the art of putting zippers in pouches correctly. I've cleaned out places in my house that seemed overwhelming to tackle. And all that feels good. I'm not one to make some long list of all the things I made over the year - that feels like showing off. I would rather just enjoy knowing that I've made some quilts and crafty things that were good enough that people actually wanted to buy them. And I've made my fair share of charity quilts for both Children's Hospital and the Veteran's Hospital. That's very satisfying.

But now it's time to start fresh. It's time to imagine a new year with new goals. I think goals are nicer than resolutions. They just feel friendlier. My main goal for this year is to build some strength. My body has taken a beating surgically and I want to put that all behind me. When it comes to sewing, my goal is to learn something new. Be brave and take on a project that would normally seem intimidating.

Here's to new beginnings!

Saturday

Memory Quilts - Completed

So far December has pretty much come and gone in a blur. The amazing thing is that I've never really felt stressed out like some people get during the holiday season. The cookies were all baked last week, the tree was put up on St. Nick's day, and the house was decorated during the first week of the month - both inside and out.

Then I got the call from one of my son's close friends....."Is there any chance you can make some memory quilts for Josh's mother and grandmother? I would like to give them as Christmas gifts." Of course I said yes.  I was honored by the request. And there I was, 10 days before Christmas making t-shirt quilts. Since I now have experience making them, this would be easy. And with such a labor of love, I was really into making it happen.

I headed to the fabric store to buy some iron-on interfacing and prepped all the t-shirts. In one day I had them cut to size and sewn together. The next day we were back in the fabric store with the new quilt tops picking out backing, binding and thread. I got home and immediately washed all my new fabric.  By the afternoon I had the quilt layers pin basted together and I started to machine quilt one of the quilts.  On day three I had finished quilting both quilts and had the binding hand-sewn on. All that was left was to make the labels.  Within a few minutes I had them printer ready.

Once the labels were completed I sewed them on and put the quilts in the wash machine. And there we have it, in less than a week I had two memory quilts completed and ready to go.  Jessica came to pick them up and when her daughter saw the label on the back of one of the quilts she shouted, "Daddy!" which brought tears to my eyes. 


Jessica was so very happy with them and that's all that mattered to me.  I was happy to see her in a good place considered her tremendous loss earlier this year.

So now I'm back to thinking, my Christmas shopping is done, my cookies are baked and the house is decorated.  I think it's time to head to the grocery store to get the things I need to make our little Christmas dinner next week. I still feel stress free even though my week was busier than expected.

Planning for Christmas

My husband had rotator cuff surgery yesterday.  Due to the upcoming Christmas holiday, this sure forced us to get things done.  So last weekend we put all the lights on the outside of the house.  It didn't hurt that the temperature was in the mid-40's...unusually warm. Even though he was in a lot of pain, he got it completed,

With that done we really had to get the tree up.  These were the only two things that needed to be done because I could not complete them myself. So the day before surgery Jeff put the tree up and got the lights on.

His surgery was scheduled to last an hour and he had the first time slot of the day.  As it turned out, the tear in his shoulder was so bad it took the surgeon two hours and fifteen minuted to complete. Recovery time out of the anesthesia was pretty easy so before we knew it I was taking him home.  He felt so good we stopped at our favorite dive for a late breakfast.

Once he was home, I got him settled in his recliner for the rest of the day and I put the ornaments on the tree.  Since my job was going to be watching him closely for the next few days, I got the house cleaned and decorated for the holidays in no time. I even wrapped the presents and put them under the tree!

I was worried about his surgery cutting into my sewing time but now that it's done, I realize the sewing time doesn't matter one bit.  He is recovering, I am enjoying our time together, and holiday things are getting done. I really thought this was going to be a stressful December but I am happy to report that it is not going that way at all.


Tuesday

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

On Pinterest, I found a recipe for salt dough ornaments. I thought this would be a great activity for me and my granddaughters. Once I read through the recipe and realized that it would take 3 or more hours for the cut-out ornaments to bake, I decided it was better that I baked some of the ornaments ahead of time and just let the girls paint and decorate them.  I did leave behind some of the dough just in case they would prefer the roll them and cut them out part, but they really didn't care about that at all.

So I got out the tempera paints in all of the 10 colors we had, taped newspaper to the kitchen table and we all participated in painting the ornaments. It was a very fun afternoon.  Once they dried, we tied old scraps of ribbons to them and hung them on a little tree that was just tall enough for small children to reach. The girls felt much accomplished once they saw them all in place.

Here is the recipe I used to make the "cookies".


Sunday

Recycled Jeans - A Book Bag

Recycled Jeans Tote Bag
My sister gave me a stack of her son's old blue jeans.  They were in pretty good shape so I thought I would take my time to decide how to repurpose them. I didn't want to cut them up willy-nilly then discover that I should have cut them differently.

I knew I was making some sort of tote bag out of the legs. I liked that the bottom hems were not frayed so I wanted to use them as the bag opening. I cut the legs off at the knees (where they were worn out) to see how tall I could make the bag. Then I left the French seams intact and cut the leg pieces next to the opposite seams and sewed the two pieces together.

I had a nice, large piece of denim fabric with two French seams running through it. I then deconstructed the back pockets and the belt loops. I reattached the pockets over the French seams.

Then I took the thigh parts of the pants and cut them into 3 1/2-inch wide strips and sewed them together to make the bag strap. Since the fabric was so thick, I just turned in each long raw edge 1/4-inch and sewed them down. I then sewed 4 more rows of stitching to give the strap a finished look.

I then squared up the main bag piece and sewed it into a tube, then sewed the bottom shut. I also added a gusset 1 1/2 inches from the corners to form a bottom.  Then I measured the bag to make a lining the same size.  I then figured out that my strap was way too long so I cut off a piece to make the bag closure.

I added a few doily details and some decorative buttons and viola!....a new bag - no pattern necessary. I really like how it turned out.

Friday

Quilts for Kids Delivery

Childrens Hospital of Wisconsin
Renee and Bonnie dropped off 135 finished quilts that our chapter made over the past few months.  These two ladies from the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin were very appreciative and happy to receive them.

Our group meets on the second Saturday of each month for a day of sewing. We have a lot of fun making them while enjoying each other's company. This was the third trip this year for delivering the quilts.

Thursday

Cute Little Bullfinches

I was inspired by Svetlana's blog post to make these cute little bullfinches. She made twenty of them all at once and they were so cute I couldn't wait to make my own.

So I dug out my scrap basket and found the right sized scraps to fit the pattern pieces and before I knew it, I had a dozen of them ready to sew. It was fun to pick out the ribbons for the tail feathers as well.

After looking at the version Svetlana made, I decided to use fabric instead of felt for the beaks which is also what was used in the original instructions.

Since I started my recovery from neck surgery, these little projects are so nice. They are manageable without causing me much pain and they fill my time so I am not so bored since I can't really do much. And I am so happy with the results, I can't wait to make some more. The original instructions and pattern to make these little cuties can be found here.

I can't wait for my granddaughters to see them, I think they are going to be attracted to their bright colors.