Pet Beds and an Etsy Sale

One of the things I like to do every year is make pet beds for charity. My church takes donated items to the local no-kill dog and cat shelter at Christmastime. 

I make pet beds using old repurposed denim jeans on one side and soft fleece on the other side. In inside is stuffed with batting scraps that I save up throughout the year. It's a great way to keep the scraps out of the landfill.

They aren't the prettiest pet beds around but they are very practical.  And I am happy to be able to complete them in time to turn them in at church considering I just had surgery.

And just when I thought I could relax, I sold a quilt on Etsy. Here we are three days before Christmas and I'm packaging up a quilt to ship. I don't mean to sound like I am complaining but it was a little stressful getting it out the door quickly. I am always grateful for my Etsy customers and I hope the recipient likes it.


A Little Christmas

Since I have to lay low this holiday season, there's not much going on. I did manage to get a Christmas tree up and I love how nice it looks. It's much smaller than we're used to and I think this will be come a tradition. It takes up so little space and I like it. 

Since the tree is much smaller, I set up a table next to it with a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. What fun it will be to complete it with the help of family members! 

I am really enjoying this holiday season. Here's the view out of my bedroom window.  

I had no idea slowing down could be so wonderful.

December Client Quilts

I agreed to longarm one quilt this month. With the upcoming holidays I didn't want the added pressure of having to work on longarming for others so I can post a client quilt summary way before the end of the month. Ha! 

This quilt is an anniversary gift for Jill, the quilt top maker's husband. 

Jill confided in me that she did not like how the quilt turned out. She said she had issues with the borders where she did not have enough fabric. 

She ended up adding cornerstones to the quilt border in order to have enough.

I find that the quilt is a little busy. The fabrics coordinate well, but my eye doesn't find a resting place. I wonder if some solids would have been a better choice in some of the blocks?

It really is a nice man's quilt though. I longarmed it with a pantograph called Ripples and the stitching does look just like ripples in a pond. A perfect compliment to Jill's hard work!

I hope her husband likes the quilt. There's nothing better than a homemade gift of love.


An Emergency Appendectomy

The holiday season has taken a strange turn for me. I have so many plans. But the universe apparently has something else in mind for me. 

I came home from working at the quilt shop yesterday with a belly ache. I couldn't eat my dinner and proceeded to throw up throughout the night. I was hoping that would make me feel better but by morning it was evident it was not to be. It felt so weirdly different that most belly pain I've had. I chose to go to my online medical portal to make an appointment with urgent care. I picked the first available appointment and worked my way through the list of questions regarding my reason for the visit. Once I completed the last answer, the program told me I cannot make an appointment, I must go to the emergency room immediately. Wow.

I alerted my husband to please get dressed because we have to go. At 8:55 am I walked into a very quiet emergency room, or so I thought. There was one person waiting when I got there and one who came in right behind me. I was immediately taken in for vitals and I was surprised as they hooked me up to an IV right away. They took blood from the IV and sent it to the lab. After asking me a few questions about my pain they administered morphine through the IV and apologized as they had me wait in a conference room. The reason for that was they were so full of covid patients there were no beds available in the ER. So I sat in a meeting room chair with my feet up on another chair. 

The physicians' assistant who was taking care of me came to tell me that my white blood count was high which was a sign that I'm fighting off something so they were going to do an abdominal CT scan. I can't believe how fast they were on it. It wasn't even 10 am yet and already I was headed to the CT unit. 

They did the scan and by 11 am the PA came to tell me I had appendicitis and they would need to remove my appendix. I was a little out of it from the morphine so I asked if they were going to do it this week? He says today! Oh yeah...pain... I wasn't shocked or surprised or scared, all I could feel was grateful. Grateful that this most likely wasn't going to kill me and even better, it was going to be fixed for good, unlike a chronic illness. They also told me they hoped to send me home the same day because there are no beds available to stay overnight. I would end up sleeping in a hallway and they wanted me to be prepared for that. So now comes the wait to get it over with. 

The surgeon turned out to be the partner of the surgeon who assisted with my spine surgery a few years back. That made me feel more comfortable. I was wheeled to a surgical unit on the 5th floor of the hospital around 1 pm. There I met the surgeon's assistant to asked me lots of questions about my health and prepped me for what to expect. And since I had a negative covid test, they let my husband in to sit with me. Surgery was scheduled for 2:30 but I ended up not going in until closer to 3:30. 

Once I came out of surgery, the nurse told me I was lucky to be in such good health. That meant I could go home as soon as my vital signs stabilized and I was fully awake. 

I was home in my recliner with an ice pack by 6 pm, just in time to watch Jeopardy. It also seems someone was worried about me. I don't think he's going to move from that spot this evening. I feel so lucky to have had such a good experience. The surgeon told my husband that my appendix was 'red-hot' so I was fortunate that it didn't burst. It was a good reminder to pay attention to your body and to appreciate my husband for taking such good care of me. It's good to be home. 


Holiday Market at Hillside Coffee House

My friend owns a coffee shop and she offers up events throughout the year. This weekend she held a Holiday Market where she invites crafters and artists to sell their items. I purchased a table space for the event. I sort of regretted it - at first. All I could think of is it's the first weekend of the Christmas season and I have so much to do and this was a distraction. But I persevered.

I set up my booth on Friday afternoon. After years of attending craft fairs I have learned to relax throughout the process. Years ago I fretted and did not sleep the night before worrying about whether I had everything I needed. Now I don't even think about it. I am so lucky for that.

The holiday market ran for 2 days, both Saturday and Sunday. It was a pleasant surprise to meet new customers. Of course, I did my own social media posts and quite a few of my friends and past customers stopped in to see me. I am so grateful for all of them. I was also happy to see my best quilting friend, Sue. I can always count on her stopping by.

What a weekend! I made 24 gnomes and I sold all but 2. I made so many sales I couldn't believe it. After I got home I inventoried everything, packed up my craft fair bins and stored it all away. Even with all the hard work that goes into setup and teardown, in the end, I have no regrets for attending this event. It was exhausting and rewarding at the same time. 

See you in spring, Hillside Coffee House!


Christmas Gnomes

I had this moment of clarity when I recently looked that this gnome that one of the ladies from my basement quilters group made. Everybody got one for Christmas last year. 

I picked up the gnome, pulled the hat off to sort of re-arrange it on the little guy's head and I realized that it looked pretty easy to make. 

So I started to look for free online patterns or tutorials to make my own version - well, actually someone else's version, haha. 

I'm not the most ambitious when it comes to hand sewing so I had a few requirements. There would be no stuffed nose, a bead would be preferred. It had to be smaller than mine and I absolutely hate fleece fabric so it would be made with cottons or flannels. And luckily I have a bag of plastic pellets that my daughter gave me probably 10 years ago. I will finally get to use them. She also gave me 2 bags of stuffing that she wasn't going to use. She suggested that I take them to the senior center to donate but I chose to keep them. What she doesn't know won't hurt her. 

I found this pattern from LearnCreateSew and it was perfect. It came in multiple sizes so I could choose the one that best suited my plan. 

The hard part turned out to be the search for the beard fabric. I ended up at a Joann Fabrics store that I don't really care for. My local Joann's has some really nice employees but this one just isn't all that inviting. But they had the fur! The bad thing was that the fur was 44.99 per yard. I was happy to find that it was 40% off without a coupon so I figured if I got one-third of a yard it wouldn't be terribly expensive and there would be plenty. When I got to the cutting table the clerk unrolled the bolt and there was very little on it. She offered me the end of bolt for 50% off. I asked if it was 50% off after the 40% off and she said yes! I left this Joann's a very happy customer with almost a yard of fur for less than I would have paid for the one-third cut. What a pleasant experience after all.

I dug through my scrap stash and I made these:

I absolutely loved how they turned out so I posted this photo on Facebook and within 5 minutes I had friends asking me if they could buy them from me. So I made a few more.

While I was at it, I made a few wine gift bags. At the end of the week I had made 24 gnomes. I had so much fun making those little guys. Thank you LearnCreateSew for the great instructions.


November Client Quilts

This month I quilted 2 quilts for clients. I've been so busy prepping for a holiday market craft event in December that I can't take on many longarmer projects.

This is Debbie's Prim quilt. It is absolutely gorgeous. The pattern and fabrics are by Lori Holt and I love most everything she designs. It was an absolute pleasure to quilt this.

This is a very modern quilt made from modern prints. Sue who is the maker plans on gifting this to one of her daughters for Christmas. So happy that she has the whole month of December to get it done.

I used a pantograph that has lots of straight lines to complement the fresh fabrics used to make the quilt top. 


Fall Craft Fair at All Saints Church

Each spring and fall my church holds a craft fair. Yesterday was the fall craft fair. It's a very popular fair. The people in charge only allow actual crafters to rent tables. No Scentsy, Pampered Chef, ThirtyOne, etc....none of that. Only crafters. The craft fairs are extremely popular. So much so that it makes the top ten lists of craft fairs in southeasters Wisconsin. The tables are difficult to get. You must fill out your table rental requests almost 2 years in advance to get in. I've been renting tables from them for almost 30 years. It's also my church so I love that.

Since the pandemic the church only allows about half of the crafters to rent tables. So we are spread further apart and from a vendor point of view, it's much nicer. People seem more willing to stop and linger since they aren't crammed so close together. It just seems more relaxing for everyone. However, the desire for homemade things seemed to have increased. There are more people attending than before and they are definitely purchasing. My sales have tripled which is really nice for me. The funny thing is that I don't really care if I sell much, I just like attending the craft fair. 

This year besides making the usual table runners, aprons, bowl cozies, and pot holders I made use of my embroidery machine to make things. I've learned over the years that it's not a good idea to wait until the last minute to start making things so I make crafts all year long. The week leading up to the craft fair is spent dusting off my display racks and setting things up to make sure everything goes together like I want. Price tags are pinned to products and signs are made to make items easier to find. 

Here are some zipper pouches I made.

Embroidered Zipper Pouches

I also made some mini zipper pouch stockings.

Mini Zipper Stockings

I used up leftover holiday fabric to make some reusable gift bags. 

Reusable Embroidered Gift Bags

I had a great time at the craft fair. Many of my quilting friends stopped by and even one of my clients came to say hi. I just finished making a quilt for him a month ago. It's funny that now the fair is over, I'm not sure what I want to work on next. I'm thinking about Christmas gifts or maybe finishing a UFO. It's fun to imagine what comes next.


October Client Quilts

This month I quilted a Christmas quilt for a coworker. It's such a pretty quilt. It seemed appropriate to quilt snowflakes on it. I would love to have the pattern. I think I will have to ask her for it.

I quilted my friend Cindy's charity quilt. Each year she makes a quilt to support PKD research for a cure. It's a charity she is pretty passionate about because her step-daughter-in-law has the disease. The quilt is modern so I quilted it using a pantograph that had lots of lines adding another modern dimension to it. 

I also quilted a charity quilt for my church group. I absolutely hate quilting these. The fabrics smell like a musty basement and the quilt tops aren't very pretty. They are string quilts so there's lots of seams which makes them difficult to quilt. The thread breaks a lot and I struggle to get through all those seams. I get that they are utility quilts but it's not much fun. I have to remind myself that they are a worthy endeavor because someone needs them.

I will continue to quilt them as long as necessary. The nice thing is the feeling of satisfaction after they are done. 

On another note, I can't believe how unseasonably warm it's been this month. Here we are at the end of October and I still have roses blooming. Aren't they gorgeous?


Ron's Quilt

This summer I met a man who asked me to make him a quilt. He was pretty vague about what he wanted. He asked for a twin size quilt that he could use to cover himself in his recliner. I asked him what he liked (modern, traditional, colors, prints, etc.). All he said was that he liked blue and green. That's about all I could get out of him. I did tell him I could do it but not until September. 

I sent him a photo of some fabrics I found that I thought would meet his easy requirements. I told him I was a little behind but I had a pattern picked out and these fabrics and he said no hurry. 

I used the Yellow Brick Road pattern to make the quilt top. It's a pretty easy pattern and with this fabric line and a few solids, I think it will be a great quilt. I finished the top in just a few days and decided to quilt it using a pantograph called loophole. The swirls in the pattern were a nice contrast to the geometric prints.

I used green fabric for the backing and binding, the same green that can be found in the blocks. 

Ron will pick up his quilt later this week. I hope he enjoys his homemade quilt.


September Client Quilts

I quilted this baby quilt for the shop. It has really cute minky on the back that has little ballerinas on it. Sue from the shop made the top and she plans on keeping it when it comes down. 

I also quilted another string quilt for my church group. Every month when we meet I take home another quilt to longarm for the group. The group leader gets to put the binding on them and I am so happy that she is willing to do that. 


Yellow Brick Road Quilt

I fell in love with the fabric line by Dan Dipaolo called Lemonade. I knew I just had to make a quilt. My boss asked me if I would like to make a sample for the shop. She wanted me to use the pattern Yellow Brick Road by Atkinson Designs. 

So I came up with this:

Lemonade by Dan Dipaolo

Lemonade by Dan Dipaolo

Lemonade by Dan Dipaolo

I love it! And here it is hanging in the shop.

Lemonade by Dan Dipaolo

Once the fabric is all gone, it will come down and I will take it home. 

This week I also had the opportunity to help a neighbor. His sister decided to get married with 3 weeks' notice! Everyone in the family was scrambling to find proper attire for such a fine event. Anyway, my neighbor could not find pants in his exact size without ordering them and waiting for them to arrive which would have been too late. So he found a pair that needed to be lengthened. I took the hem down and then I had to get out my instructions for sewing a blind hem. After three tries I think I got it. Ha!

On the home front, my kitty decided to become a mouser. Every couple of days he brings us back a prize to show us what a good hunter he is. Poor little mouse.

Zipper Pouches and Other Stuff

I've been experimenting with making new zipper pouches. I started by embroidering a few designs on some linen fabric. Then I matched them up with some fabrics to make the pouches. It was really fun to put these together. 

I'm thinking these would make nice gifts or something fun to sell at my next craft fair. 

The flowers are blooming like crazy around here. Aren't these pretty?

I love the detail in this photo. I was pleasantly surprised I could get this close without this little guy getting spooked and jumping off the leaf. 

August is my favorite month. Nature's beauty is apparent and I love the hot weather. 

Last week we bartended at Irish Fest in downtown Milwaukee. And we saw Maroon 5 at the American Family Amphitheater on the lakefront.

It's hard to tell, but trust me, that is Adam Levine in the middle of the stage.

I went with a friend to a June Tailor warehouse sale this week too. Judy Gauthier, who is featured at the event was there. She is a quilt book author (3 books actually) and a quilt shop owner. I've known her for a long time and I looked forward to seeing her again. I made sure we got a photo together while I was there.