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
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 DeGrave of Pines & Needles Quilting 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.