Friday, October 13, 2017

Pandora's Box

In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods, molded out of earth and given seductive gifts. Named Anesidora "she who sends up gifts" she was given a "pithos" or large jar that held all of the evils of humanity. This jar often mistranslated as "Pandora's Box" gives us an explanation of why there is evil in the world. Like the Christian teachings of Eve in the Garden of Eden, once again we have a woman giving in to temptation and allowing evil to triumph. Pandora opens the box, releasing the evils of humanity, plagues and diseases leaving only Hope behind in the box when it is closed once more.

Now feminist ideals aside, I believe this story has relevance in my latest quilt finish. I in no way released a pithos of evil into the universe. However, there were many moments I found myself faced with the quilting equivalent of Pandora's Box.

So here is a quilt that has been "in-process" for quite some time. By some time, I mean I started this quilt in 2007. I have completed at least 100 quilts in the interim. This was only my 6th quilt ever attempted and therefore there was a laundry list of issues.

I started by cutting the fabric before I had any idea of where I was going to place the squares. Rookie error; I forgot the phrase "look before you leap." Then, I sewed some together in the same pattern long enough for a king quilt but with only enough fabric for the width of a twin. (Clearly no one is in the market for long thin quilts.)

When I decided to finally assemble the strips together the pattern totally clashed. I then assembled a strip to insert between the rows to make the quilt wider and more uniform. However, I had to use new fabric not already in the quilt because I didn't have the correct fabric from the original quilt anymore and no way to obtain it.

So I improvised! When I started this quilt I was also wildly unaware of how or which way to iron my seams, so they were everywhere! I wasn't that careful either, so my blocks were cut slightly uneven and my seam allowance is somewhere between 1/4" and 1/2", maybe 3/8" depending on the block, go figure!

In addition, every color has the same country color theme except the fire-engine red I must have picked out in the dark. I had decided to hate this fabric choice until the end when I realized that fabric might be this quilt's saving grace. The one fabric that provides this quilt the most life, the most umph, the wow factor.

Overall this quilt was a complete disaster to finish and could have turned into an entire waste of time and fabric, but somehow, it didn't. So I have a beautiful quilt, with an amazing back and so much history. So why would I tell my readers my shortcomings you ask?

Well, I'm telling you because EVERYONE makes mistakes, EVERYONE has learning experiences, EVERYONE jumps first without looking every now and then. It is all a part of the learning process, and almost no one is instantly perfect in their piecing, even in their cutting, seam experts in their sewing, smooth and pucker-free in their stippling, and NO ONE chooses their quilt fabric colors every time without regrets occasionally.

You have to practice, create, and practice some more, and each time you will get a little bit better, a little more steady and a little less wild. And if you're lucky it might just work itself out in the end anyway and end up a true masterpiece.  Over the last ten years I have avoided this quilt, scared and intimidated to deal with all of the "evils" dreading their return into Pandora's Box. Then I realized, I didn't need to return anything to this quilt. I didn't need to fix anything, what was done, was done and now I had a beautiful jar with only Hope left. And Hope, is such a beautiful thing!

As such, I have named this quilt "Anesidora." So she made a few mistakes, she's only human, she's beautiful and I love her. She was named as "she who sends up gifts" and I'm pretty sure I know who I'm going to give her to. Everyone has their own version of Pandora's Box, what is yours?

Linked up with Crazy Mom QuiltsConfessions of a Fabric Addict, and Busy Hands Quilts.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Couldn't Cut the Mustard

Irony: "An outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected."
A History major I was not. Math and science were my specialty which might explain my eventual path toward being an accountant. I did however study environmental philosophy along the way but that's neither here nor there. History however, I just couldn't get the facts straight. The only way I can think to explain it is; have you ever been driving somewhere, following directions, taking roads and having absolutely no idea where you were going, which way was North and where you came from?
Then suddenly however you pull out onto a road and say, "I had no idea this is where that road went!" When it comes to history; I am on a back road with no sense of North and I never seem to find my way. I never have that ah-hah moment. I can't remember dates, geography or names. Completely clueless! I see I have digressed. Back to the initial statement, Irony!

I sometimes find my posts ironic as I attempt to explain the history behind something as that is not something that would have ever crossed my mind or captured my attention. It does however lately. I'm not sure if it's a hidden wisdom that comes with age or if I never gave myself enough credit. But today... we will discuss Mustard! (What?)

According to the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission, "Some of the earliest known documentation of mustard's use dates back to Sumerian and Sanskrit texts from 3000 BC." So Mustard is old, which we would know from the Christian bible parables about the potency of a mustard seed despite it's small, insignificant size.

This is a great article on "13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Mustard" which tells us Mustard is the second most commonly used spice in America bowing only to the front runner Peppercorn. This article also tells us that our commonly referred to term "Mustard Yellow" is a LIE!

"The particular shade of yellow to which mustard lends its name owes its hue not to mustard seeds themselves, but to the vibrantly colored turmeric added for an extra kick of spice and brightness. Crushed mustard seeds alone vary from a pale yellow to a dark brown depending on their variety, but 'turmeric yellow' doesn't sound quite as good."

So from mustard yellow, mustard gas, those who "couldn't cut the mustard" and the never ending types of mustard (Dijon, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Creole, Meaux, German, English, Chinese, Sweet, Honey, Yellow...) I give you this latest quilt finish which I'm calling...

Wait for it...

Turmeric! Because I'm nothing if not literal.

This quilt is 60" x 72" a traditional lap size quilt and has already been sold so it will not be making its way into my Etsy Shop! But please check back next week for hopefully another finish and another chance to take home a comfy quilt (and maybe another history lesson)!

Linked up with Crazy Mom Quilts!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WIP Wednesday

Working toward a Friday finish!

Check back Friday to see this finished beauty.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Too Hard to Part

I'm terrible with goodbyes. To cry or not to cry that is the question!

I finished this quilt in the wee hours of this morning and then went through the typical stages of grief when deciding whether or not I should sell this beauty or keep it.

Denial. I was literally standing in de Nile! Hahaha okay, jokes aside, I did feel like I was standing in water though. In water, in my sinking ship, holding my nautical quilt, knowing I should toss it over and float away but denying that was ever my intention. I wasn't giving it up... I'm not giving it up!

Anger. Why should I give it up? So what if I have twenty quilts hoarded throughout the house. They are my quilts! I made them! As my almost two-year-old says... "Mine!"

Bargaining. I mean my husband is an engineer on a ship. Nautical is our life! He would want me to have it. I even tried persuading my mother.
Mother: "You said you were going to sell it!"
Me: "But MOM!!!" *said in a teenage whiny voice*

Depression. Fine! All those hours, all that work, all of those pretty fabrics. I will give it up and I bet whoever buys it won't even appreciate it, no one ever appreciates homemade, hand-crafted items anymore anyway. I bet no one will want it. *insert sad face*

Acceptance. I will be fine. The quilt is beautiful. Someone will love it as much as I do and maybe more because they don't have twenty more surrounding them right now. Maybe another sailor's wife will find it, or someone in the navy. Maybe someone will buy it for those cold nights on their boat or to dress out their nautical themed living or bedroom.

I would love to say I decided to keep the quilt and I am currently wrapped up in it on the couch, sipping a cup of coffee, missing my husband and cherishing my creation but that would be a lie!

The kids are making messes, I'm probably doing the never-ending pile of laundry, vacuuming cheerios, feeding kiddos, and taking shots of espresso because honestly who has time to sit quietly and have coffee anymore...

So with that... My Shop is OPEN! Quilt is listed here! I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

Linked up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

I'm Going to Eat my Words

But FIRST... addition to last week's post.  I received this photo via text this week and wanted to share with everyone following her journey! She has nine more weeks of chemo left and looks as beautiful as ever!
Now on a eating my words topic. I recently made a post entitled Twinsies in which I sadly stated why selling quilted items was difficult and the economically inferior option. At the time, I was overwhelmed with requests, beaten down by responsibility and overloaded with life. I am however, despite all the research against me; going to give that very momentous challenge a whirl.
This week I jumped onto Etsy and applied myself wholeheartedly. I am starting off small but planning for some big things! Miss White Wall is officially trying out some positive thinking, hoping for a little bit of luck, putting forth a heap ton of effort and sprinkling some magic fairy dust (I'm still on the hunt for the fairy dust!) 

This week I started working more diligently on my Etsy platform. I FINISHED 10 rice bags (pictures peppered throughout this post) and some beautiful dishcloths inspired by Amanda herself. I will eventually have some pillows, stuffed animals and quilts for good measure. 

I still have quite a few projects in the works and therefore will officially launch my Etsy shop on the blogosphere next week! Be sure to check back so you don't miss out on some of the great quilted finds popping up over the week. I am jumping into the unknown and praying that I manage anything other than falling flat on my face! Crafting and writing are my true passions in life and I would be silly to do almost anything else with the blessings I have been given.

Everyday I learn a little bit more about myself and about the world around me. Some of the best realizations I have come from my children's tv shows. They clearly have some brilliant minds working behind the scenes.  
Here is one of my favorites:

Nigel: "Aw Wicky, you always look on the bright side."
Baileywick: "That's because there's always a better view there."
So this week I'm looking on the bright side... and the view is spectacular, exciting and so refreshing!

Linked up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Busy Hands Quilts!

Friday, September 8, 2017

When the Road Gets Tough

When life hits, sometimes it wears its punching gloves, comes prepared, strikes from behind and hits us hard. Life is beautiful and full of wonder but also very hard and full of pain. We've all been there. We've all had our moments in the shadows, our days of despair, our darkest hour and our longest nights. But if we learn anything from those moments I hope it is to appreciate the other moments we spend somewhere else, anywhere else and everywhere else. You can't appreciate the sun without the shade, the rainbow without the rain, the light without the dark and the good without the bad.
I have a family member who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Let me start by telling you this woman is strong... very very strong. She has been faced with numerous difficulties in life and where you or I would have fallen, she pushed through. She is a wonderful woman, a vibrant mother and a loving wife. This is just one of her obstacles and I know she will exceed everyone's' expectations through this obstacle just like all of the rest... because she is just that type of strong. 

When she realized she would likely be losing her hair she asked me to make her some head scarves. She sent me some pictures (clearly overestimating my skill) and I promised what I didn't know if I could deliver. 

Now let me preface this with the fact that I am not as strong. I doubt myself, I researched late through the night and I procrastinated at every turn. Eventually, I moved past my fear of failure and I tried. I did the best I could, (it took me much longer than I hoped) I made mistakes but I also had some successes along the way. I made her six different head scarves, each unique and with a special purpose in mind. 

The first I called Red. For those special nights out, those elegant occasions or those moments you want to feel that silky, sultry feeling. Brave women wear red and she is the bravest I know. I included the following cards with each scarf (below are pictures I took wearing the scarves before I mailed them). 
The second scarf is Rosie the Riveter because she is the definition of a strong woman and a reminder that "We Can Do It!"
Pink because who doesn't love a little pink. Some softness and a feminine head wrap might be just enough to make someone feel back to their normal once again.
Because for obvious reasons she is handling this with so much class and a heap ton of fabulousness.
A girl in Polka Dots is a happy girl!
She specifically requested a Super Hero head scarf for her 10-year-old boy to show him how strong she is. I have a feeling he already knows and she didn't need a scarf to be his Hero!
So that's it! Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, have courage, be brave and fail, because if you never try you will never succeed! And I can bet you, she's glad I tried...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A First Satire Saturday

Because for obvious reasons wiki is everything:

"Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society."

So what is today's self-analyzing satirical remark?

Society today puts all too much pressure on perfection. I'm not sure when, somewhere in the new millennium motherhood changed. Life became more about how things looked than what we did with our lives. I am 100% a different parent than my mother was because I live in a completely different world. I am constantly bombarded by Facebook updates, Pinterest homes, confusing Organic food mothers shaming me for my choice of bread, flip-flopping medical opinions, snooty fabric lovers, anti-big-business sentiments, political pushers and name brand flaunters. What happened to the days where good-enough was healthy and convenience meant more time living rather than "giving up." I realize that every single one of these topics could be a post on its own and maybe I will look here next Saturday for my weekly inspiration.

For today however, I'm throwing up my hands and giving up on perfection. Giving up on being the perfect mother, with the perfect children, in the perfect house, doing perfect summer projects and I'm going to nap on the couch while the kids try desperately to get my attention. I'm going to ignore the 52 projects in our house currently in process. Ignore the dishes in the sink, laundry scattered about, hair that could use a brush, and all the people currently requesting my presence in some form today.

We'll go to Pizza Hut for dinner (it is however my daughter's third birthday), I'll skip the cake baking, order dessert, sleep in our unmade beds and somehow still manage to be just fine. There was a day when none of that mattered anyway. No one saw your hair on Saturday, your house was safe from social media, bedrooms were private, bathing suits were only worn on the beach, dessert was expected when company came over (not frowned upon) and organic wasn't part of an everyday shopping trip.

My childhood was spent outdoors, with the neighbor kids, with no toys except a ball and bike, a bunch of rocks, a tire swing and dirt... lots and lots of dirt. I miss those days. At least we are trying to teach our children the right things. As Baileywick from Disney's Sofia the First teaches Amber:

"You may find that when you try to make things perfect, all you do is make everyone around you perfectly miserable."

Maybe however, we should practice what we preach!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Lately I've had a ton of intrigue on the topic of selling quilts. I've made a massive number of quilts this year and last year and people have been asking why I don't sell them. I never know quite how to answer this question. It is a difficult topic to conceptualize and explain, and I am always worried about offending someone. I have people weekly asking for quilts, for prices, or simply why I hand away all of my work for free. The simple answer is... you couldn't afford me.
 Although I rarely blog about the quilts I make because I simply lack the time between diapers, dinners, naps, nighttime, homework and tantrums, I seem to always be busy also quilting. There are numerous websites devoted to the question of why quilting isn't a lucritive business but first let me do my best to bore your pants off.
It all started 250 years ago during the industrial revolution. Somewhere between 1760 and 1840 the United States began to revolutionize the textile industry with new manufacturing processes. It understood that human power was the most expensive type of power and that in order to save time and money they came up with a "better" more efficient way. Although there still exists people that crave "handcrafted" items, those willing to pay that increasing price gap haven't been able to keep up with the times.
Realistically speaking my most common size quilt is a crib quilt for a child/baby. At around 45inches x 60inches, it is both the smallest and easiest quilt I make.
First you need fabric. I am a reasonable/thrifty person so let's assume for arguments sake I can find you fabric for $7 a yard. I typically spend between $5-$10 per yard.

Front Fabric (4 yards 4*$7=$28)                 $28.00
Back Fabric (2 yards 2*$7=$14)                  $14.00
Binding Fabric (1/2 yard 1/2*$7=$3.50)       $3.50
Batting (2 yards 2*$10-$20)                        $20.00
Thread                                                            $5.00
Total Materials                                             $70.50
I always tell people I spend about 30 hours on a crib quilt, it could be less, it could be more but 30 seems about right when all is said and done. This includes planning, cutting, ironing, sewing, basting, quilting, and binding. Let us assume I make little more than minimum wage at $10/hour. Your quilt now costs roughly $370.50. To top that off, I consider myself a skilled professional and considering the number of quilts I have made, and the wage skilled tradesmen earn (i.e. plumbers, electricians, block layers etc), I am likely worth somewhere more than $20/hour. As a side note, I make more than this at my accounting job. On average, the typical crib quilt won't sell for more than $150-$250, and I'm just not sure that justifies the week I spent making it minus the cost of materials.
In the past, I have offered to make people quilts for the cost of materials plus $100. To date, I have had not one person accept that proposal. I had a friend recently ask me to look over her business proposal for quilting and I had a hard time making the numbers work. In a world where we view Pottery Barn as better than handmade and Walmart can sell my product for a 5th or 10th of my price, I'm just not sure quilting has a place if you can make a living doing almost anything else.
Needless to say, I still make quilts, I still love the look on someone's face when they open my masterpiece and I treasure that every day that person has a little bit of love made from me. I give them away for showers and special occassions but typically only to those who request them.
I recently made a set of twin quilts (pictures are peppered throughout this post) for a cousin whose best friend is having twins. We decided she would pay me for the cost of materials. Since it wasn't directly for her, my time is my gift to her. The quilts turned out beautifully and I hope she and her friend love them as much as I do.
Here are some links I found interesting. I'm not saying making a profit is impossible, I'm just saying you might make MORE money doing LESS.

Moore Approved
Little Blue Bell
So Sew Easy