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Thursday, October 30

A Quilt for a Hero

Sometimes, if you focus on one thing for too long you start to go a little bonkers.  Lately, I sort of feel like this guy:



So today I am taking a break from book writing to write about something very special:  Homes for Our Troops and the Quilt Angels.

One day, while rambling around on The Quilting Board, I spied a post entitled “So, I Opened My Big Mouth…”  Of course, I had to see what that was about.  There, I had the privilege of meeting Donna M.  
Donna is a quilter who lives deep in the heart of Texas.  She is very active with the Homes for Our Troops organization.  Homes for Our Troops is somewhat similar to Habitat for Humanity, except that its volunteers build specially adapted homes for wounded veterans.  She won't want me to say too much about her, because (and I quote) "What these soldiers have done and who they are, is what it's all about!"  Donna has a beautiful spirit and a huge heart for our country’s troops.  She offered to make quilts for the HFOT homes being built in her area.  But, because the need was so great, she soon found herself pulled into taking on more than one person could handle.  So she wrote a post on the QB and put out the call for other people to swap for red, white, and blue fabrics.   The response she got was nothing short of soul stirring.  Before you could turn around she had people willing to send not only fabric, but quilt blocks and quilt tops.  Donna even received quilt blocks from a Canadian quilter.  Interest kept building until Donna named the whole group who joined her “Quilt Angels”.  She labels all the quilts like this before they are gifted:
Made especially for ……………
Thank you for your service to America
Date
Made with grateful hearts and caring hands by
The Quilt Angels at www.quiltingboard.com

This continues to be an ongoing effort: to give the gift of love and gratitude, in the form a quilt, to each Homes for Our Troops soldier.  I know many, many of you have made quilts for the Quilts of Valor program.  I thought you might like to know about this opportunity too.  If you have any interest in taking part, you can contact Donna via her post on the Quilting Board: http://www.quiltingboard.com/requests-f25/so-i-opened-my-big-mouth-t69186.html
Or you can contact Homes for Our Troops directly: 

Our country’s men and women in service mean the world to me too, and I surely felt the pull to make something.  At that point, I had never done a large quilt, but wanted to try and make a whole quilt top.  Before long, I learned more about the admirable young man my quilt would be going to.  HFOT specifically asked for a red, white, and blue quilt because he is a very patriotic and gung ho US Marine.  He is also a young man of astonishing courage and spirit, with an adorably quirky smile. Often, while I sewed, I prayed for him. 

The plan was that I would send the quilt top on to Donna and she would take care of the rest.   That plan changed one weekend, when my husband and I made a light hearted bet over something so silly I can't even remember what it was.  He said that if I was right, that he would hire a long arm quilter to quilt the quilt for our young man.  I suspect he wanted to lose the bet.  Although I won, we both won in doing something that made us happy.   

Thus, Julie D. entered the picture.  She is a very talented long-arm quilter in our area.  She feels the same way I do about our service people and gladly took the quilt on!  That was another blessing that came from taking part in being Quilt Angels:  New friendships were born!
    
So now, our quilt had a piecer (me) and a quilter (Julie) and could be sent whole and finished to Donna in time for our young soldier’s key ceremony for his new home.  I have some wonderful photos of our young man during his presentation ceremonies.  In the interest of his privacy, I am not putting them here.  If you visit the Homes for Our Troops website, you can find many such stories and hundreds of wonderful pictures that show what a community that cares can do.   The HFOT organization is incredible and gives regular people like us a chance to do something more than simply saying “Thank You!”


Back in August, when people asked to see more of the Littlest Lone Star blocks I had made, I mentioned that I would post this quilt in time for Veteran’s Day.  This is the quilt that Julie and I made for our soldier.  The quilt took shape around a beautiful eagle panel from Marcus Fabrics’ American Valor collection, by Faye Burgos.  The panel has printed Lone Stars (or Prairie Stars) along its sides.  I wanted to repeat those Lone Stars in a slightly larger version at the corners of the eagle centerpiece and that is what prompted me to learn how to make Little Lone Stars.  So when you look at the photo of the quilt, the twelve smaller Lone Stars around the edges are part of the printed design.  (Julie quilted them so that they look pieced.)  The four larger Lone Stars at the corners are the ones that I made.  Everything else from that area out is pieced.  To bring the Eagle centerpiece to life, Julie did some amazing thread painting, which I will show close up.   All together it made an 80" square quilt.  

This was a thrilling project for us both to work on.   

Quilt for a Hero - through Homes For Our Troops


Pieced Lone Star on the Left
Julie's thread painting on the eagle
Detailed quilting around the flag and bell and stars
These last two photos really show what a talented quilter can do with a printed fabric panel!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Veteran's Day will soon be here.  It is good to have a day set aside, but may we always honor and remember the men and women who served or are serving our country.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  
Thank you for visiting!  Lara


Saturday, October 4

My Daughter's First Quilt

It hardly seems possible that this last month flew by so quickly.  I have been working more than full time on my book and somehow managing to stay on schedule, despite unexpected surprises.  It has wiped out my free time and I miss visiting everyone else's blogs.  There are only 5 1/2 more weeks to go before my deadline, so wish me luck!  

I had to steal a little time today to crow though, because my daughter Kaitie made her very first quilt!  I am so proud of her!  

It is quilt for her friend and co-worker Mary Ann, who found out that her cancer has returned.  Kaitie came up with the idea of having everyone at work draw on a square of fabric in themes that Mary Ann loves - like the beach and pizza, etc.   
Before we started, we got wonderful advice from Val of Val's Quilting Studio, who wrote a tutorial on How to Make a Quilt with Kids.  Val did a lot of helping us via emails as well.   Thank you Val :) !  

Kaitie sewed the squares all together on her Featherweight and then came over last weekend to sandwich, quilt, and bind the quilt.  (One of my sewing machines has an even feed system that we thought would help)  Kaitie chose Minky for the backing fabric and satin binding.  She was aiming to make this quilt super cozy, like a hug.  Kaitie used fleece for the batting, because the quilting was going to be very minimal and she wanted the quilt to hold up well in the wash.  Wow was that satin binding a pain in the patooty to put on.  It kept slipping as Kaitie sewed.  She wanted to try fusible seam tape and I don't know why we didn't switch to that after we found out the clips weren't holding very well.  It might have helped.  

How do you all cope with satin binding?  I would love to hear any tips you have on that because my next big quilt for my son Sam is going to have homemade satin binding.  

Kaitie's first quilt:

Some of the neat blocks people drew



Mary Ann's finished quilt

My blogging is going to be spotty for the next month, but I do have something fun planned to celebrate after I meet my deadline.  My only hint is that it is non-fattening!   



A little update to add here:  Mary Ann was very surprised and over-the-moon-happy about her quilt and has it on her bed now.  It was just in time for her birthday, so they had a pizza party for her.  

Monday, September 1

Maple Leaf Mug Rugs or Coasters - Tutorial & Pattern

Autumn not really here yet, but I love this time of year so much that I start our Fall decorating right after Labor Day. 

Maple Leaf Mug Rug and Coasters

Since I cannot show anything I’m presently working on, I thought it would be fun to post this tutorial for making Maple Leaf Coasters and Mug Rugs.  I wrote it a couple of years ago for The Quilting Board and even though it is beginner level, people seem to really like it.  The basic idea can be used for any number of things.  I'll be making cookie coasters next.

Half the fun of making these little maple leaves is digging through your scraps, picking out fabrics you like and then seeing how they turn out as a leaf. These are a really simple and quick project and they look great as table decor when not in use.  We especially like the coaster size, but they are neat done up larger as mug rugs and even larger as hot pads too.

1. Start by printing out a simple pattern for a maple leaf.  I use cheap quality printer paper.  Size it a little larger than you want your finished leaf.  I was really silly and searched the internet for a pattern I would like, before it dawned on me to step away from the computer and go outside, pick a leaf and make my own pattern.  Do you get stuck in a rut like that sometimes?  


Print out the Maple Leaf Sewing Pattern


2. Make a layered sandwich in this order: Bottom - Quilt batting / Middle - fabric square, face up / Top - fabric square, face down.  I've been sewing since Hector was a Pup and I can't tell you the number of times I have gotten layers like this in the wrong order.  Pin your pattern onto the fabric sandwich.  

Layer your materials

3. Set your sewing machine for a very small straight stitch. Sew around the outside edge of the leaf pattern, starting and stopping at the arrows on the pattern. Reinforce the first and last corners with backstitching along the way.

Sew around the outside of the leaf

4. Remove the leaf from your sewing machine and flip it over.  Trim the batting away, following very close to the outside of the stitching, including into the v-shaped indent at the base of the leaf pattern.

Trim the Batting around the edges

5. Flip the leaf over. Pull off the paper around the Outside of the leaf. Leave on the paper within the leaf pattern. Keeping it in place will help you to see the stitching line as you trim the fabric, especially if your thread matches your fabric.

The paper left inside the sewing line

6. Cut away the excess fabric, leaving an 1/8 inch seam allowance, EXCEPT along the V shaped opening at the base of the leaf, where it is better to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Trim the corners and clip the curves all around the outside edge of the leaf, being very careful not to cut into your stitching. (This is where leaving on the paper really helps!)


Trim the corners and clip the curves

7. Now remove the paper leaf pattern carefully, keeping it whole for later use.
Turn your fabric leaf right side out. 

Somewhere, back in Kansas, a rooster is missing his toupee 


8. Very carefully work out the tips of the leaves to points and fill out the curves. I used a dull pencil to help me. Turn under the seam allowances at the opening and tuck them into the leaf, covering the batting. Now iron the leaf flat. Stitch or glue along the opening to close it.

Ah, now you see my points!

9. Now, sew the veins of the leaf.  If you are confident, then do it free hand, or you can replace the paper pattern you set aside and use it as a guide.  It is really pretty to use variegated thread for this.

Using the paper pattern to sew the veins on the leaf

10.  If you use the paper pattern, be sure to use a very tiny stitch, that way it is pretty simple to pull off the paper when you are finished.  Use tweezers to remove any little bits of paper that get stuck under the stitches.

Remove the Paper Pattern


Your leaf is finished… Now go brew a cuppa and enjoy!

Maple Leaf Coasters Finished!

Tuesday, August 26

Doing the Happy Dance!

I have some happy and exciting news to share!  The American Quilter’s Society is going to publish a book I have been working on!  Yes, I know:  Aaaacckkk!   Hee hee.  The book is about a new way to do machine sewn, raw edge applique.  For now, the working title is “Pleasin’ Easy Applique – A New Way to Applique”.




Last summer I made a small quilt for my friend Lynn and to get the effect I wanted, I came up with a new technique. I can’t tell you what it is of course, but I will say that it is really amazing and opens up a lot of new possibilities for quilters and fiber artists alike.  

I am like a lot of you, in that I don’t always follow the rules or stick with patterns and directions, but like to fool around and have fun experimenting.  That’s how I discovered my new method – while goofing around and making a big mess.

So of course I started coming up with fun projects that used my new technique.  Before I knew it, I was well on my way to writing a book.  It’s been almost a year of slow but steady work.  

In July, I sent my book proposal and two projects to the American Quilter's Society.  I hoped they would like the projects and my idea... and they did!  Elaine Brelsford, the AQS’ Executive Book Editor called and spoke with my husband Jim to give us the thrilling news.  (Jim was pretty happy to be my "ears": he helps me with phone conversations, since I am hearing impaired.) Elaine said that she saved my proposal for last in the editorial meeting because she knew they would “Love, Love, Love” it!  Wow – I was on cloud nine when he told me that part.

So here we are!  My book completion deadline is November 15th, so please wish me luck!  I am, by turns, giddy and freaked out. These two gifs sum up how I feel very well:


Sunday, August 17

The Littlest Lone Star Blocks

This is a very tiny Lone Star, or Prairie Star, block.  The finished block is only five inches square.

Little Lone Star - Please don't mind the dog fur.  ;)
It is paper pieced!  Can you believe that?  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the tiny Lone Stars in this book:  
"Little Lone Star Quilts": Sew Perfect Points Every Time, Exciting New Paper-Piecing Techniques by Lorraine Olsen  She came up with a brilliant way to piece the smallest Lone Stars you've probably ever seen.  The stars are really fun to do and they are like cookies: you can't make just one.   I've made six so far!  When I get time, I'd like to try one in feminine florals...and then one in 30's fabrics...and then one in...  hee hee.  

I made this star into a pillow for my son's best friend when he joined the Marine Corps.  It was a very emotional time to see him go.  He is doing great though!  

My friend Dawn, sewnsewer2 on The Quilting Board, embroidered the words for me.  To give you an idea of how small the star is: that is pea gravel that the pillow cover is resting on in the photo below.  


I have to add this to my post: There is a common thread of "I couldn't do something like this." running through your wonderful comments.  But here is the really exciting part about it... it is Lorraine Olsen's amazing paper piecing and folding technique technique that makes this possible.  Anyone who can sew along a printed line and manage the inset corners and sides can do this!  The inset part worried me the most, but the author's directions were wonderful.  So can you do this?  Yes, you can!

Also, some of you have said you would love to see the other Lone Stars.  Four of them help make up a very special quilt that I am saving to post about when we get closer to Veterans' Day.


Patriotic Prairie Star Pillow
Do you have a fascination for miniature quilting?  I just love seeing what people can do in miniature!     

Gina, The Occasional Quilter made her second mini lone star and it is a Beauty, so go take a peek!

Friday, August 8

Olive's Garden

Olive
This is Olive, bundled up in Kaitie's Kaffe quilt.  She looks very comfortable and deep in thought, in her own little Zen garden, doesn't she?  Olive is my daughter Kaitie's dog, adopted as a rescue four years ago.  She is the smartest and most loyal and wonderful dog anyone could wish for, but was deserted by two of her families and left to live in a chicken wire cage for somewhere around a year. For Kaitie and Olive, it was quite literally Love at First Sight.  Now, wherever Olive goes, children pet her and adults ooh and ahh.  She is friendly and polite to everyone and a true canine sweetheart!  She is also our granddog, so I like to brag.     

You can see Kaitie's quilt, sans doggie here:  
Definitely Not De-Kaffe!

Kaitie & Olive
Olive, having a frolic in the leaves

So... why a post with our beautiful Olive in a quilt?  Well... There is a great Link Party running over at Jacque's Lily Pad Quilting called the Pets on Quilts Show. You can enter your own photo of a pet on, or in, a quilt.  There are also categories for pet themed quilts.  Prizes are being awarded too!  There are a lot of wonderful pictures - it's fun to see what people are sharing -  so click on the link below, go take a peek, and leave some comment love!



And while you're here, Olive would like to get a Woof! Woof! Too...
Thanks for Visiting!  - Lara


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