Works in Progress: Just a little bit forward

Happy Wednesday!  We were expecting some serious weather effect from Hurricane Sandy here in Virginia, but she just clipped us.  We had wind and rain and the power went out briefly a couple times, but it really was no worse than any other bad storm.  My heart goes out to all who experienced more serious devastation than we saw.

Meanwhile, in my sewing room, I’ve been working to finish the two mei tais on my list, and the rest of The List is taking a back seat.  I have one that is meant for a gift for a baby shower that is to occur this weekend, so I hope to finish it up today and get it in the mail first thing tomorrow.

Here’s The List:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.  No progress. 
2.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top.  No progress.  
3.  Quilt for Brian.  Minimal progress.  But not by me.  I received another quilt block in the mail from an online quilting acquaintance.  Thank you!!
4.  Mei tais.  Progress.  
4a. for Gaby #2.  Straps are finished.  I just have to do the top stitching and put it all together.
4b. for Kathleen.  Same place in the process as the mei tai above.  This one is priority for today for the above mentioned reason.  I hope to finish the other this week as well.
 5.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial.  No progress.  
6.  4×5 Bee Blocks.  Minimal progress.  
6a.  Samples: hexagon.  No progress.
6b.  Blocks for bee members (5).  I’ve pulled fabric for all 5 of my bee members.
 7. Gathered clutches.  No progress.
8.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote.  No progress.
8a. Gracie tote

So, no finished this week.  Boo hoo.  Oh, no, wait!  I DID finish something.  But it wasn’t on The List from last week.  This cute little pouch for a friend’s birthday:
 And, I’m adding my mini quilt for the Be a {Modern} Swapper swap.  I’ve already made some progress with a bunch of scrappy little 9-patch blocks.

 That means The List remains the same with the addition of one item.

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.
2.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top
3.  Quilt for Brian.
4.  Mei tais
4a. for Gaby #2
4b. for Kathleen
5.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial
6.  4×5 Bee Blocks
6a.  Samples: hexagon + boxes
6b.  Blocks for bee members (5)
7. Gathered clutches.
8.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote
8a. Gracie tote
9.  Ba{M}S mini quilt

To see what others in the sewing community have been working on, go check out the Works in Progress Wednesday link up at Freshly Pieced!

Civil War Love letters, Revisited: Blogger’s Quilt Festival Entry

EDIT: Nominations are open!  You can see all the entries in the Blogger’s Quilt festival at Amy’s Creative Side.  The nomination form is also on her site.  This quilt is #581 and is nominated in the bed quilt, group or bee quilt, and quilt photographer categories.

Oh my!  Suddenly, I find myself with just hours to enter the Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  I kept looking at the page and noticing that the dates on the blog button say “October 26-November 9.”  Well, turns out, I have until the end of TODAY to submit my quilt and the remainder of the festival is nominating and voting for your favorite quilts!

The Blogger’s Quilt Festival is a twice yearly event for the online community of quilters to share a favorite quilt and the story behind it.  Then the entries are open for voting and everyone can pick their favorites.

This is the Civil War Love Letters Quilt, with blocks from the book by Rosemary Youngs.  It was a collaboration between my mother and me, and was presented as a wedding gift to my sister and her new husband when they were married this past summer.

The story behind this quilt is one of many pieces, falling perfectly into place.  This quilt, its creation, and the recipients were meant to be.

Chapter 1: The recipients

My sister Christine and her new husband, Patrick, are Civil War reenactors.  On summer weekends, their idea of a good time is to go out in a field and camp in canvas tents and pretend to have battles (with cannons!  Cannons, people!) during the day.

Patrick and Christine are below in period dress. This is Christine’s man character. She has a man character and a woman character that she uses when reenacting. Both were real people who lived during the Civil War era. Note the canvas tents in the background.

And when the weather is no longer conducive to camping in canvas tents and firing cannons, there are winter balls to attend!  Look, she’s wearing a hoop skirt!

I don’t quite understand the excitement in this hobby, but Christine and Patrick enjoy it, and it is something they enjoy doing together.

Chapter 2: The Quilt and the Quilters

Eleven months before Christine and Patrick were married, some of the quilters on blogs I enjoy were talking about the Farmer’s Wife Quilt.  Since I had no idea what this was, I did a quick search and learned that this was a quilt based on blocks in a book.  When I clicked on the book, suggested I might also enjoy a book called “The Civil War Love Letter Quilt.”

The moment I saw it, a light bulb went on in my head.  What could be a more perfect wedding gift for two Civil War reenactors sharing their love and beginning their life together than a quilt made from a book called “The Civil War Love Letter Quilt”?

My mother had begun quilting a few years before, and I had recently started dabbling in quilting myself.  I asked my mom if she would collaborate with me on this project, and she agreed.  Over the course of the 8 months or so, the two of us completed every single one of the 121 6-inch blocks in the book.  Some of the blocks were so intricate that they had as many as 81 different pieces.  Eighty-one separate pieces of fabric to compose one six-inch quilt block!

We chose fabric from the green, blue and orange colorway of Lola’s Posies by Lila Tueller, split it between us, and then we each added in other fabrics to coordinate.  We divided the blocks between us, and we made a schedule so that we would be sure to finish with enough time before the wedding for the quilt to be quilted and bound.

The back of the quilt has a row of fabric scrap blocks from the quilt, and a few that ended up too small and were redone.  We also added an embroidered dedication block to one corner.

The quilting was done by Pat Willis, who is local to my mom out of Menominee, IL.  She really did an amazing job!

Here we are with our masterpiece and parts of historic, Civil War town Galena, Illinois in the background:

Chapter 3: Capturing the Quilt

One more piece that fits in this puzzle.  I grew up in historic Galena, Illinois, which just happens to be the hometown of Civil War General Ulysses S Grant.  Galena’s Grant Park has several Civil War cannons on display, as well as views of the town, which is composed of many restored Civil War era buildings.  It was the perfect location to capture this Civil War Love Letter quilt with my camera.

The Soldier’s Memorial and Napolean Cannon are in the background of the next photo.

General Ulysses S Grant gives his full approval of the Civil War Love Letter Quilt.

Chapter 4: Presentation

I was the Maid (ahem …) Matron of Honor at Christine and Patrick’s wedding.  During the reception, I gave a speech and used some bits of history to weave in the story of the Civil War Love Letter Quilt.  Each spread of the book features the quilt block on one side and an actual letter from a soldier who fought in the Civil War on the opposing page.  The quilt was presented to Christine and Patrick along with a copy of the book so they can read the stories within.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Stats
Finished quilt measures approximately 100 x 100  inches
Special techniques used: paper piecing on some blocks
Quilted by Pat Willis, Menominee, Illinois
Best Category: bed quilt, group or bee quilt, quilt photography
Entry: #581 

Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

I first heard of Ina May Gaskin when I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I read her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and was transformed in the way I thought about myself, my body, and how I would and could handle bringing a life into the world.  She is a midwife by trade, but, as her website indicates, she is also an “author, activist, and innovator.”

The way she writes about birth makes you feel empowered as a woman.  She gives you the confidence to trust yourself, trust your instincts, and know that your body was built to bring new life into the world.  Her views are in stark contrast to the intervention-heavy births that happen more often than not in the United States these days.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful that we live in a world where medical intervention during the birthing process can save both mother and baby, but after a lot of reading and research, I have come to the conclusion that these technologies are vastly overused in the United States.  One intervention leads to another intervention and suddenly, birth is a medical event that must be “treated” by a doctor (and too often, by a surgeon), rather than the natural, beautiful, mother-led process that it should be.

The real problem is that the increased use of medical interventions during birth in the United States has not resulted in the deaths of fewer mothers.  In fact, since 1982, the maternal mortality rate in the United States has more than doubled!  This is appalling!  And until recently, I didn’t even realize there was a problem.

Ina May Gaskin began the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project to bring awareness to this issue.  She was inspired by the AIDS quilt, and wants to have the quilt available for public viewing so that, hopefully, more people will become aware of the problem of high maternal mortality rates in the United States and we will begin to work toward a solution.  She wants a block made to represent every mother who has died as a result of pregnancy or birth since 1982.

Since I can make quilt blocks, I sent Ms. Gaskin an email offering to make a block to represent one of these mothers and she responded with a mother who had died at the age of 31 as a result of died of an epidural that was wrongly administered and the resuscitation errors that followed this complication.

I used rainbow colors to keep the block bright and happy to celebrate the life of this woman.  A circle of triangles on one side was inspired by some paper piecing blocks I had been looking at recently and another row of bright squares balances the other side of the 12 inch x 16 inch block.

I practiced my embroidery skills by adding the name, death and location information using DMC floss.

Any death is awful, but for a family to experience that at a time when they were to be rejoicing a new life is just tragic.  I can’t even imagine it.  The rates of maternal mortality in the United States should not be as high as they are.  I hope that Ina May Gaskin, and this Safe Motherhood Quilt Project to accomplish the goal of awareness and we begin to take steps toward all births being filled with only joy.

Works in Progress: some finishes

I love checking things off The List.  And you know what, I don’t think I added anything major to the list this week either.  Yay!  Here’s what it looked like last week:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.  No progress.  However, I *think* I actually have enough fabric to create the back, so we’ll go from there.

2.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top.  No progress.  I still have trouble putting things for me on the priority list.  Though, one of my finishes this week was for me, so that’s nice.  Of course, I was also the stop on a blog hop, so that’s really why I finished it.

3.  Quilt for Brian.  No progress.  I want to finish Brian’s quilt before his house his rebuilt and he posted a picture of a backhoe on his lot this week, so I guess the clock is officially ticking.

4.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial.  Some progress.  I stopped by Kim‘s house earlier this week for a bit and had hoped to finish a mei tai, but I forgot a key piece so I worked on this instead.  5.  English paper piecing Rose Star wall hanging.  Finished.  My stop on the blog hop was today.  I LOVE how it turned out.
6.  Mei tais
6a. for Gaby #1.  Finished.  
6b. for Gaby #2.  No progress.  
6c: for Kathleen.  Minimal progress.  I had to procure strap fabric for this one.  I now have all the materials I need.  This is for a friend’s baby shower, which is the first week of November, so I’d like to finish this week.

7.  Laundry bag for Virginia.  Finished.  She’s already tried it out and loves it.  Apparently, it holds laundry as well as it holds a small child.  Success.
8.  4×5 Bee Blocks.  Minimal progress.  
8a.  Samples: hexagon + boxes.  One finished; one begun.
What should I name the above quilt block??  It needs a name.  

8b.  Blocks for bee members (5).  No progress.

9. Gathered clutches.  No progress.

10.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote.  No progress.  But I have a special request for a tote.  The fabric was provided for me, and I’m really excited about it.

And now The List looks like this:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.
2.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top
3.  Quilt for Brian.
4.  Mei tais
4a. for Gaby #2
4b. for Kathleen
5.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial
6.  4×5 Bee Blocks
6a.  Samples: hexagon + boxes
6b.  Blocks for bee members (5)
7. Gathered clutches.
8.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote
8a. Gracie tote

Lots of other works in progress around the blogsphere.  Check out some of them at Freshly Pieced!


Inspired by Glacier National Park

When Laura and Katy were planning their road trip around the southwest the United States, they knew they wanted to fit in a little sewing and they decided that English Paper Piecing (EPP) would be a great option since it’s all hand sewing: no sewing machine required.  Hey, I know how they feel!  When we were planning to be gone for 2 months this summer, I knew I needed to find a way to fit in a little sewing.  That is what inspired me to buy my 1/2 size sewing machine and begin the Road Trip QAL.

Laura and Katy thought that this EPP project would be even more fun if they included a lot of other sewing friends, so they began the Traveling PicStitch Blog Hop.

The idea behind this blog hop is to take a travel picture (yours or borrowed), put it in a color palette generator, and create an EPP project inspired by the colors in the travel photo.  So, throughout all of October and November, a different blogger will showcase an EPP Project every day (schedule here).  A few weeks ago, when Laura indicated she needed to fill a few more days on the blog hop, I volunteered.  Why I thought it might be a good idea to invite people over to my blog to see my EPP project when I have never, ever even attempted English Paper Piecing before, I do not know.

But here we are.  I worked really hard yesterday trying to finish up this project for you today, even fitting in a little bit of sewing during the daytime (gasp)!

I took my inspiration photo from Glacier National Park, where my family visited this summer.  Let me take you on a quick tour.

Glacier National Park is an incredible place.  Around every turn is another sweeping view of snow topped mountains and tumbling waterfalls.

We visited in July, which is springtime in Glacier National Park, and the wildflowers were in full bloom.

There are an abundance of lakes and water sources and the water is this insane color of deep turquoise.  It’s gorgeous, and completely unlike anything else I’ve seen.

Put this all together, and you have a fairytale photo of brightly colored wildflowers in front of a backdrop of a clear, beautiful lake, reaching outward until it touches the mountains and the scene rises to the crystal sky.

This was my inspiration.  I created a color palette that reflected flowers, mountains, and sky, and decided to create a rose star wall hanging.

I wanted to get a feel of the photograph when I created the piece.  The colors of the flowers in the foreground of the photo become the center of the rose star.  The mountains, with green at the base, and dark blues near the tops are the 3-parted triangles around the center.  And the light blue of the sky nestles between the mountains.

I learned my free motion quilting definitely needs some practice, but this was a good piece to practice with because it’s small, and I’m not giving it to anyone!  The colors of the wildflowers have a flower pattern in the quilting.

And the quilting for the mountains and sky follow the lines of those features.  I used a textured swiss dot fabric for the background, and I thought the loopy quilting pattern could be the path of snowflakes as they fall to the ground.

I attached the binding in my usual after dark sewing time last night.

And this is currently hanging on my closet door until I can rig a method of attaching it to my sloping, roofline walls in my sewing room.

Did you make is this far?  I hope you enjoyed the Glacier adventure!  Go visit Sewing Over Pins to see Claire’s fabulous, bright rose star from yesterday’s blog hop stop.  For more travel inspired English Paper Piecing Fun, you can also visit Esprit Patch tomorrow, and Creative Inspiraciones on Friday.

Guess what?  You can play, too!  There will be a link-up on November 30th with fabulous prizes from Fabricworm, Pink Castle Fabrics, Aurafil, and others.

You’ve got plenty of time to finish your project; the link up begins November 30th.  Details here.

The laundry basket project

When one has demonstrated some sewing talent, there are sometimes requests for help with unexpected projects.

A friend has a frame that sets on some wheels and holds a bag, which she uses to cart her laundry from her house to her line.  The old bag had started to rip along one of the corners, so she asked me if I could help her construct a new one.

I used a home dec weight fabric, hoping that it would last longer than the previous laundry cart bag, which was made with a lighter weight fabric.  I also doubled the thickness where the bag attaches to the frame.

The previous bag was permanently sewn to the frame, but I wanted to make this one removable in case she wanted to take it off and wash it.  I used long strips of 1.5 inch velcro.  Since I didn’t presently have a load of wet laundry to see if the velcro would hold, I used a small child instead.  It seems to work.

The velcro is simply attached to the outside of the bag, and the upper sections fold over the frame to secure.

And my friend has her laundry cart back in action.

Grand Opening Giveaway WINNER! declares the winner to be comment #14.

That’s Beth, who says:

You are so talented! I can’t wait to see what your store is going to be like. I prefer plain colors so they go with any outfit, or muted patterns like light green on dark green. Of course, I also love the kid stuff. Ellie is a huge fan of pink, purple, and things that sparkle.

Since Beth’s comment indicates that this clutch is perhaps a little more bold than her preferred style choices, I’m going to give her a choice:

1.  I’ll send you this one and you can gift it to whomever you choose.

2.  I’ll make you something a little more muted and put this one in my shop.

Send me an email, Beth!


Works in Progress: this week’s BIG success

I finally set a goal to open my Sewing by Moonlight Etsy shop by my birthday.  That’s today!  And I’m so thrilled to say that my Etsy shop IS open (even if there are only 7 things in it right now).  This has been a long, LONG work in progress, and in fact, it’s still in progress.  But the fact that there are items in my shop (even if I haven’t sold any of them) makes me giddy.  Which reminds me: There are only a few hours left to enter the giveaway for one of my clutches to celebrate the grand opening!  

As for the rest of The List, here’s what was on it last week:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.  No progress.   Must order fabric.

2. Gathered clutches.  Progress.  I finished the “rush order” for my friend Sarah and one more, which is happily waiting for a buyer.

3.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote.  Progress.  I finished one more because I wanted to time myself to see how long it takes to construct one, start to finish.  In case you were wondering: 1 hour and ten minutes, assuming I have that much uninterrupted time to sew!
4.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top.  No progress.

5.  Quilt for Brian.  Progress.  But not on account of me.  I have several more blocks to add, but only because my mom came to visit and brought 4, and I received 2 in the mail from Karri.

6.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial.  No progress.  Blah.

7.  Safe Motherhood Quilt Project block.  Finished!  I can’t wait to show this to you, but I’m just getting around to writing this post, and it’s dark, and I just sprayed the block with water to erase the pen from the embroidery.  It’s a mess.

8.  English paper piecing Rose Star wall hanging.  Progress.  I have 1/2 of the pieces sewn on to the center.  My day for the Traveling PicStitch blog hop is next week, so I hope I can finish by then!  Eek!

9.  Mei tais.  Minimal progress.  Straps are ready to be finished and attached for Gaby’s #1, straps are cut out and ready to get padding and be sewn for Gaby’s #2, and I have to purchase strap fabric for Kat’s.
9a. for Gaby #1
9b. for Gaby #2
9c: for Kathleen

10.  Laundry bag for Virginia.  No progress.  It was on the list for today, but life happened.

11.  4×5 Bee Blocks.  No progress.  Fail.  I had hoped to move forward with these this week.
11a.  Samples: hexagon + boxes
11b.  Blocks for bee members (5)

12. Tutu (for me).  Finished.  I have a lunch date next week for a photo op with my other tutu-wearing runners.  I still can’t believe I made a tutu for myself!  Ha!

I feel like I had that “No progress” notation with many of the items on The List this week.  However, the big finish makes me not at all sad about that!  Here’s The List now:

1.  Road Trip Quilt Along: create back.
2.  Be Free Bees free form quilt robin: finish top
3.  Quilt for Brian.
4.  Equilateral triangle hexagon block tutorial
5.  English paper piecing Rose Star wall hanging.
6.  Mei tais
6a. for Gaby #1
6b. for Gaby #2
6c: for Kathleen
7.  Laundry bag for Virginia
8.  4×5 Bee Blocks
8a.  Samples: hexagon + boxes
8b.  Blocks for bee members (5)
9. Gathered clutches.
10.  Luna Bags: the Essential Tote

Don’t forget to click over to Freshly Pieced for more works in progress from the sewing community.

Just a little clutch

A quick clutch ordered as a gift for a new mom.  I must say, as a mom myself, this clutch is perfect for keeping all the “mom stuff” separate from all the “baby stuff.”  I have a clutch with just this design that I slide right in the top of my diaper bag.

And I’m completely crushing on the yellow and gray combination right now.  Love!  Plus, those chevrons.  Seriously, what’s not to like?  I certainly hope the recipient agrees!

The accent and lining on this clutch are organic cotton, part of the Cut Out & Keep line by Cloud9 Fabrics.  An inside zipper pocket is a great place to stash all those little items!

Do you like this clutch?  You can win one of the same design.  There’s just ONE DAY LEFT to enter the Grand Opening Giveaway!

Do you tutu?

As the mother of two little girls, it really shouldn’t seem all the unusual that I would find myself making a tutu last week.  It is a well known fact that most little girls like tutus.

What is unusual about this brightly colored circle of tulle fluff is that I didn’t make this for either of my two little girls.  Nor did I make it for any of their friends.  I made for me!  (weird-o.  I know.)

There are tons of tutu-orials out there, so I”m not going to give you a tutorial.  This is what I did.

1.  Cut elastic to the size of my waist (hips, actually, as that’s where I wanted the tutu to fit)
2.  Sew the ends of the elastic together into a loop.
3.  Cut the tulle into pieces that were around 22 inches long and about 5-6 inches wide.  A lot of the tutorials say to use the tulle that comes on spools.  I did not.  It’s way cheaper to buy yardage.  I just cut the tulle into lengths of about 22 inches, folded it until it fit on my cutting mat and then used my rotary cutter to trim it to 5-6 inch pieces.  I bought 2 yards of each of 3 colors, but I have enough left over to make a tutu for at least one of the girls.
4.  Fold each length in half and loop it around the elastic.
5.  Stick the end with the two edges of the piece of tulle through the loop made by the fold at the other end.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, et cetera.  I alternated 3 pieces of each color.  Do not push the tulle too tightly together at first or it will stretch out your elastic.  I had to take a bunch out.

My husband is completely baffled that I not only made a tutu for myself but that I plan on running a 1/2 marathon in this tutu.  Yes, yes I do.  That’s totally crazy, right?  Right.  Well, maybe.  I have been running for over half my lifetime at this point, and I’m pretty competitive.  I’m certainly not the fastest person around, but I definitely push myself to the current maximum levels of my own personal fitness in a race.

On race day, I will be 20 weeks pregnant.  While I can certainly keep running for as long as possible during my pregnancy, I figure it’s probably not the best idea to take myself too seriously.  I have been giving myself little pep talks on all my run to tone down the competitive drive.  My friend Kim and my online friend Manda invited me to join a Facebook group with several ladies who are doing this same race and really want to go and have a good time.  I always want to have a good time at a race, but that’s not usually the main goal.  This time, “have a good time,” IS the main goal.  “DON’T take this race too seriously” is another.  As “serious runners” are not typically the type to wear a tutu to a race, this insanity of me wearing a tulle tutu to a race is a physical reminder of why I’m running this race and what, exactly, I’m shooting for here.

So, now you know something about me beyond that I sew when it’s dark outside.  Is this idea just bizarre, or what?  Also, does this tutu make me look pregnant?