Friday, December 9, 2011

Tree Skirts a Plenty

There is nothing that can put me more into the holiday quilting spirit than quilting multiple Christmas tree skirts... which is exactly what I did. Back in early October, I joined a quilting class being held after work on Thursday evenings. The task at hand, Forever Green Christmas Tree Skirts! I will start by saying that almost everyone in the class, excluding myself and the "teacher", was a beginner quilter. Some had never touched a sewing machine, thread a bobbin, ironed a seam or heard of a scant quarter inch... that didn't stop the fun!
This was quite an advanced project for such quilting newbies, but aside from the under-the-breath muttering, deep sighs, seam ripping, redoing, and numerous expletives, they really did tackle it like champs! I will start by noting that this is the most difficult thing I've ever made by a long shot, which may lead you to two conclusions: A. this was difficult and B. I'm apparently not one to step out of my comfort zone!
This tree skirt had multiple triangles (not my strength), A LOT of tedious paper-piecing (a first for me), some complex assembly (lots of little corners to match up), prairie points (quite difficult on the inside corners) and some pretty intense hand stitching along the back in order to bind the quilt. Despite the many hurdles and late nights, most of the skirts are mostly complete with the exception of a few (but honestly, as time-consuming as this project was, who could blame them?)
After the majority of the quilt was completed I began to help everyone with the second half of quilting, the most laborious part. I assisted in the assembly, cut, ironed and sewed on many a prairie point, basted to my back's discontent, and quilted every last one of them! There were 9 ladies participating in this quilting event and in the last week or two I have quilted 7 tree skirts, talk about an all time high for my poor Kenmore (also note the lack of finished projects in the last two weeks, this would be the culprit!)
So although I do not have pictures of all of them, and of the pictures I do have most of them are in a slightly uncompleted stage, I still wanted to share these beauties with you! At the end of the day, I am very proud of every single one of these ladies and their momentous accomplishment. They each deserve a pat on the back; this was not an easy task.




Sara's (note this quilt was quilted with a red, green and gold variegated thread):

Joan's (my mother):

and Mine:

Each Tree Skirt turned out very unique and diverse despite the uniform pattern that was used. Fabric selection gave each quilt a slightly different edge and a beautiful, distinctive finished creation!

Note to Readers: None of these tree skirts are being used as tree skirts! At the end of the day, no one could face cutting through them and creating a slice down the center and a large hole in the middle of their magnificent work of art! But don't worry, I think they make perfectly lovely Table Toppers!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Celebration of Life

Today we lost someone very special at work. Someone funny, and cheery, and wise. Someone who was very special to a lot of very special people. Death is never easy, sometimes overwhelming, always inevitable and often unexpected. Shirley was one of the rocks that held our foundation together.
She came in every morning at the same time, said her hello's, set to work and if you were lucky gave you some tidbits on her adorable cat Callie (and boy did she love that cat)!
She told me stories of her youth (she apparently had a knack for undermining her mother), and always joked with me about my curly hair (which like her, I despise). She said in her old age her tight curls had all but disappeared as she joked, "And I don't miss them one bit!"

So as I sit here on lunch, mulling over the empty office beside me, I am again reminded of just how special every moment is, how incredibly sacred my seconds with those I love should be, and how truly blessed I am.
Always take the time to tell those you love, that you love them, reach out every chance you get and be thankful... I know I am!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Big Boy Chair

Matthew graduated from the highchair long ago, but as is tradition in our family, he has been sitting in an elevated chair ever since with a computer chair mat underneath his seat to collect the bits and pieces that don't make it into his mouth. This happens to be Pepe's (my cat) favorite spot to lick up a light snack after mealtime.

Since Matthew is now in Kindergarten and is getting a little too big for his special chair, it only seemed right that he move on to bigger and better things. The problem however, is that he still doesn't have the best aim when it comes to food, and like many five year-olds still uses whatever is handy as his napkin.

So per request, (I cannot stress enough how much I love these) I was asked to make a special cover for Matthew's new chair, to perhaps mask some of the mess that is likely to accompany him in his big chair journey.
Using a towel that we purchased at Walmart, I crafted a cover that matched the decor of the room. I used a total of 4 seams so that it just slips over the top and bottom of the chair and provides the perfect drop cloth during those times when life gets a little messy.
The more we looked at the cover, the more we debated covering all of the chairs, beige really is a hard color to keep clean and this was such an easy project!
This also happens to be Pepe's new favorite chair to lay in during the day, must be something about the dark color and her white fur; she wants to make sure you can tell where she's been!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday, Blue Skies, and Red Wine

This year, I had a wonderful Black Friday. My mother, Liam and I drove down to the Waterloo Premium Outlets and shopped for the deals of deals. We lightened our purses considerably (purchased a few purses) and had a very good time.

We spent the night in Geneva on the lake at a very pretty hotel. We took Liam for his first swim in a pool and thoroughly relaxed, dined, laughed and enjoyed ourselves. We didn't do a lot of waiting in lines and we just tried to enjoy the beautiful sunny day we were blessed with.

On Saturday, after room service (so fun) we made our way to Joann's for the shorter lines. I found some really adorable fabric and added quite a bit to my stash. For the first time in a long time I didn't even look through the remnants bin, I just bought what I wanted.
I'm not sure if the crosswords or the Eiffel towers are my favorite but they both called to me from the shelves!
I cannot tell you why but I loved this Rooster fabric, love, love, love!
And I thought this fruit was pretty darn cute too!
Someone very special has a mother who clipped this pillow (also pictured below) out of a magazine and requested one if I found some free time. As I've said before, there's nothing I like more than requests.
So while I was in Joann's I picked up some very adorable fabric and mesh. I heard that the very special someone is very interested in dinosaurs as of late. So once I get these Christmas Tree skirts out of the way, I will whip up this pillow and get it in the mail for Christmas. I'm pretty sure my little brother Matthew would appreciate one of these as well.
And lastly, I purchased some fabric for potholders, (again by request) how wonderful! I've only ever made one but I can't imagine they should be that difficult, only time will tell.
I also purchased Insul-Bright, which is the special lining that goes inside of potholders and provides more of a buffer against heat. The instructions suggest including a layer of Warm and White batting to absorb any moisture. I am slightly unsure as to where the regular batting would go in an oven mitt? Should I put it inbetween the fabric and Insul-Bright or inbetween the Insul-Bright and inside of the mitt? Anyone have experience with this?

Please pass the Potatoes...

This was Liam's first Thanksgiving! Next year he will be devouring a large plate of turkey, gravy, veggies, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and mommy's favorite, Mashed Potatoes!
We all had a very great time and I was able to get a fair amount of quilting done (it's easier when there are many hands available to hold the little one)!
Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with all things pleasant!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Construction Zone

Please ignore the construction zone currently occupying my blog! I had no idea a few minor changes could completely mess everything up! I need to fix this...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday = Quilting Day

This morning, Liam woke me up bright and early, we played for an hour and I thought about my day. Today is a Quilting Day! Every Thursday I attend a "Quilting Class" or "Quilting Get-Together" with a few of the women from work. At 4:00pm, we set up our machines on large tables downstairs, spread out, someone makes a meal, sometimes we drink some wine, we laugh (sometimes silently curse) and quilt. I run home and bring Liam back with me (my mother and I trade off quilting with playing) and we have a great time. We rarely filter out of there before 7:30.
We are all currently working on Tree Skirts for Christmas! Tonight I am demoing how to baste and machine quilt since I finally added my prairie points. I brought as many quilts as I could find, plenty of spare batting and old fabric for practice. Many of the women are first time quilters so this should be a lot of fun and quite a bit frustrating at times. I have offered to quilt anyones' tree skirt who doesn't feel up to the task, it is a daunting one! I will check back sometime soon to give you the full run down!
In the interim... Please go check out my long-time friend Lauren's blog Craft My Life Away! Tuesday was her 1 year Blogiversary and she is offering a fabulous giveaway in commemoration! Lauren and I met in college and both studied accounting, you could say great minds think alike. She has always been an avid crafter and amazing knitter. I did however introduce her into the world of quilting, and she has been an unstoppable force ever since!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


As I read through my blog reading list I keep coming across the same theme over and over again. We are all completely exhausted, thoroughly worn, stressed out, running behind, catching up, making excuses, giving apologies, and beating ourselves up. As I read the updates, my already jam-packed, quick-paced, whirl of a life begins to feel even more cramped and overwhelming. I find myself making more lists, noting more fabulous projects I want to start, worrying about Christmas shopping, counting the days since I last posted and obsessing over the countless WIP's I have sitting at home beckoning to me while I sit at my "real" job and worry!
When I get home I find myself hoping Liam will be able to entertain himself long enough to allow me to get some quilting in or I'll be forced to stay up until midnight while he sleeps and forgo the few hours of peace I get in a day because "I have to get something done!" Wait, wait, wait, this seems slightly backwards...
I think most of us put quilting in the hobby category. Quilting is so often the "thing" that gives because we; can't dress in dirty clothes, eat from dirty dishes, munch on un-bought food, live without sleep, or be content without devoting those few free moments to our children, they are only little for so long.
So tonight, I will go home and clean my room, finish the laundry, organize my life and play with Liam to his heart's content. When he finally falls asleep in my arms; I am going to hold him, kiss him, stare at him, squeeze him and love him fully without so much as a glance at the idle sewing machine sitting in the corner. "Tomorrow," I say quietly to myself. "Tomorrow I will conquer the world." Today, I'm going to be content just living my life!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Kindergarten Smock

My favorite 5 year old started Kindergarten this year, and boy were we thrilled! Although, Matthew has previously attended Head Start, this is his first year with a little bit more freedom. Kindergarten is a very large jump from Head Start, so along with a big school comes a big list of school supplies.

One of the things on the list was an art smock. The school recommends buying one at WalMart or using an old adult T-shirt. Well let me say that no little brother of mine need wear a used, oversized, plain jane T-shirt; so I got down to business.
I received this upholstry fabric from Liam's Aunt Kristine (this woman is a life saver). She happened to find it for 50 cents at a yardsale, talk about a steal! 
Below is a picture of Liam with his Aunt Kristine, Uncle Scott and only cousin Logan (you'll find them mentioned countless times on my blog, they truly are a blessing!)
I started the smock by just taking measurements and praying for the best.  I followed the idea behind this tutorial and kind of made the rest up as I went along.
Unlike the tutorial I sewed up the sides, I have found that little boys need clear arm holes and neck lines or they're sure to end up with a leg sticking out of one of them.
I put a fairly large pocket in the front because little boys like to keep trucks, cars, and various other life necessities always at their fingertips.
I put a strip of velcro along the back because a tie or snap is far too difficult, especially behind the neck.
We practiced getting into and out of it over and over again, until we finally got the hang of it!
It has been sent off to school and hopefully when we see it again at the end of the year it is covered in paint, glue, marker and glitter, because if not we will certainly question what IS covered in those things...
They grow up so fast! Love you little brother!