Thursday, July 4, 2013

Back to the "Dad" quilts

Wow, a whole month has gone by since I last posted something here.  Guess it has been another busy month!

The "Dad" quilts are slowly getting completed.  I'm working on the bindings now.  Because I decided that all of them should be made from 25 9" squares, I had to get creative with the last ones to be pieced.  Dad was a little guy, and it was hard to cut enough 9" squares from his shirts that were on the smaller side.

I turned to my "scrappy piecing" and cut pieces to fit into the armhole areas or the sides/bottoms of sleeves.  I now had pieces big enough to cut the squares that I needed. I also made some 4-patch squares from smaller shirt pieces and worked those into the quilt tops. 

For the quilt backs, I bought light-weight denim that is ~56" wide.  The extra width is just enough to use for the binding.  The quilts are tied with size 5 pearl cotton and random buttons from Dad's shirts are tied into the knots at the centers of the squares. 

The quilts are turning out soft and cuddly...hopefully a reminder to the recipients of the kind of guy Dad was--soft-spoken, accepting and encouraging.  He's been gone 2 years and he is still very much missed. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Little Girl Dresses

I took time out from my "Dad" quilt project to finish up the dresses for my granddaughter.  The second dress wasn't as much fun as the first...perhaps I was in the "got to get it done" mood?  It has been a while since I put a zipper in an article of clothing...had to refresh my memory.  Not sure I'm happy with the way it turned out, but it will do.  Also, the 5/8" seam allowance seems SO LARGE after working with 1/4" seam allowances in quilting!  I definitely trimmed the seam allowances down a bit once they were sewn.
There's lots of fabric left from each of the dresses.  My daughter says she doesn't want it back.  I bought my granddaughter an 18" doll for her recent birthday, .  Maybe I'll make matching dresses for her new doll???  Will check out the patterns that are available--see if there are any that are quick and easy.  :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dad's Clothes, Part 2

I tried a simple block design with Dad's jeans and flannel shirts.  I cut a 3 1/2" square of denim for the center of the block and four 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" strips of flannel to go around the center.  I found that the flannel was difficult to work with and I didn't like the look of the plaids going every which way around the center square.  I couldn't picture how I would set together blocks I constructed that way.
On to Plan B. 
I would cut 9 1/2" squares of flannel and jeans.  One square of jeans would be the center square and squares of flannel would surround it.  I would need 24 squares of flannel for each quilt.  (Between flannel shirts, pjs and chambray work shirts, I can come up with 24 different fabrics.)
Once I started cutting, I realized that the shirts are smaller than I'd thought.  I could not cut nine (the number of quilts I plan to make) 9 1/2" squares from each one...from some I could only get 7 or 8.  That means not every quilt will be the same.  For some, I'll have to use the leftover shirt parts creatively.
I'll begin by stitching one 25 block quilt to see how it turns out. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dad's Clothes

I finally started the task of cutting apart my dad's flannel shirts and jeans.  The goal is to make 9 small quilts (I'm thinking 45" square)--one for me, each of my 2 sisters and each of our 2 kids.
Seems like a lot of useable fabric in the shirt bodies and sleeves.  The jeans are worn, but still useable...Dad was pretty small towards the end, though, and the legs are tapered.
I'm saving all the buttons so I can put them on as I tie the quilts.  For now I'm saving the yokes and collars, too.  Not sure if I'll need the fabric that is in them.
I have picked out a few simple patterns that I think might work for these quilts...I will know once I start working with the actual fabrics.  Some flannel shirts are thinner than others...those must have been favorites and worn a lot!
I'll track my progress here...stay tuned.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Costa Rica: First Project

The first project that was taught to the ladies in Costa Rica was the pillowcase dresses (little dresses for Africa).  The pattern was taken from the Nancy's Notions website.  Perhaps you already know about these dresses--just made from a "tube" of fabric.  Armholes are cut and hemmed (or encased in bias),  and casings are made at the top edges of the front and back.  Elastic is run through the casings, the bottom edge is hemmed, and ribbon ties are stitched to the shoulders.  Quick and cute!
Making those put me in the mood to sew for my granddaughters when I got home.  I've already made a sundress for the Oklahoma granddaughter who just turned 4 and a top and shorts for the almost-3-year-old.  Another dress is waiting to be cut out and stitched.  I'd forgotten how much fun it is to sew clothing for the little ones!  I'm glad that the trip to Costa Rica reminded me!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Trip time is here!

Well, so much for keeping a diary of my thoughts as I prepared for my trip to Costa Rica...I really haven't been able to focus on preparations for the trip since my mom's death a month ago.  So much to do following her death, including 2 trips to Wisconsin and lots of paperwork.
I leave for Costa Rica early tomorrow morning.  My suitcases are packed and I'm trying to spend the rest of the day relaxing.  I know that I won't be able to sleep tonight--I'll be excited, anxious and worried that I won't wake up in time to get to the airport by 5:30am.
I am excited because I've never been to Costa Rica before and I love exploring and learning about new places.  I've heard it is beautiful there and I can't wait to see it.  I also can't wait to be someplace WARM!  
I am a bit anxious because I still really don't know what I've gotten myself into.  I do know that teaching is something I can do, but will not knowing the language be a barrier?  It is a good thing that sewing/quilting is very visual!
I will definitely have lots to share when I get back--my camera is ready and I have my journal and several pens and pencils in my bag.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Assignments Part 2

One of my teaching assignments for Costa Rica is reverse applique. Since Costa Rica is home to over 100 species of butterflies, I would like the learning project to be an appliqued butterfly block, which I can then turn into a pillow cover (another of my teaching assignments).
I spent the past couple of weeks looking through my quilting books for just the right butterfly pattern.  Nothing seemed to be what I was looking for, and I thought I would have to design something myself.  That's when I looked out my kitchen window and saw my shepherd's hook.  As you can see from the picture (even though it is slightly blurry), the design was right under my nose the whole time.  Quilting designs truly are everywhere--we simply have to keep our eyes open!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The trip to Costa Rica is a teaching trip, so each member is responsible for teaching one or several aspects of sewing and quilting.  Last year's team taught many of the basics, so this year, we are building on those.  From the list of possible topics, I chose (and was assigned) the following:  hand applique (specifically reverse applique), making pillow covers, and finishing the edges of a quilt--with binding or prairie points. 
In my years of teaching, I have taught all of these skills, so it's just a matter of looking in my file cabinet for the lesson plans I have kept.  There is something to be said for hanging on to those papers throughout the years!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Starting to Learn

I have borrowed several books about Costa Rica from my neighborhood library.  The more I read them, the more I get excited about my upcoming trip!  It looks like a BEAUTIFUL country.  I can't wait to see the birds and butterflies that make Costa Rica their home!  And the mountains and volcanoes ringing the Central area where we will be staying!  I definitely want to shop for a better camera.
I also checked out a couple of Spanish language books and I have realized that I DO know a few Spanish phrases!  I can say "good day", "how are you?", "my name is," "please," "thank you."  I still need to practice "where is the bathroom?", but I'm good at "Hola"--mainly because my granddaughter's favorite books are all about Dora, the Explorer!
Can't wait to learn more!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To-do list

I have made my to-do list for my trip to Costa Rica.  I'm starting to check things off the list.  My passport has been renewed and I have an appointment to bring my immunizations up to date.  One-half of my trip payment has been made, so I am now truly committed!
Our team leader has been in contact...I receive several e-mails from her each day.
A recent one contained a link to a crash course to learn the Spanish language.  I know French, so I thought that Spanish wouldn't be that much different.  But looking at the vocabulary list of sewing terms that I received, I'm not so sure.  It is a good thing that teaching sewing/quilting is mostly visual...I don't think I'll learn a lot of Spanish in the few short weeks before the trip!  (I was also told that there will be a translator along...that's a good thing, too!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, New Adventures

I've decided that, for me, this is the year for adventure.  My blog will be my adventure journal, mainly because it's faster to type in my thoughts than write them down on paper. 
Probably my biggest adventure of the year will be my trip to Costa Rica in March.  From March 1-March 9th I will be part of a MOST ministries team that will be teaching sewing and quilting to two groups of women in Costa Rica.  The hope is that, through the handcrafts they produce, they will have income for their families.
Why am I going?  Here's the story:  Back in September, while researching an article I was writing on quilt -related travel, I discovered the website of 2 American ladies (who now live in Costa Rica ) who hold quilting retreats at their villa.  The thought of going somewhere like that for a quilting retreat intrigued me, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.  I also thought that the first two weeks of March seemed like an ideal time to get away from Michigan.  I made an initial contact and also talked to a couple friends about the trip. Life got busy and the retreat idea was put on hold for a couple of months.  Right after Thanksgiving, I put out an e-mail to quilting friends who might be interested.  I also contacted the CR ladies to see if they had openings in March.  They were all booked up until mid-April and only one or two friends seemed interested in foreign travel.  Then came an announcement in our church bulletin:  MOST ministries was forming a team of quilters to go to Costa Rica the first week of March...they were looking for a few more people for the team.  I couldn't believe what I was reading!!!  I truly believe that God was telling me to yes, go to Costa Rica in March, but don't go to play...go to teach and use my skills.  How could I say no???
It didn't take me long to find out more and fill out my application.  March 1st is not very far away--I'm already excited! Definitely an adventure!