Sunday, May 12, 2013


Another reflective time--Mother's Day always brings me back to Mom's final days. She passed away less than 2 weeks before Mother's Day 12 years ago. I remember not really wanting to celebrate but instead took my two aunts (Mom's sisters) to brunch at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs where we toasted Mom with our mimosas.

I'm the type of crafter that wants to make something for everyone I love. I spent many years making counted cross stitch items and giving them all away before I made the leap to quilting. My list (oh, there's that word again) of honorees had, and still has, a pecking order, and Mom was at the top of it. The second quilt I made was for her in honor of her 65th birthday. I can't show you a photo of it right now, but promise to soon, along with a story about it. 

And since this is about Mom, I'm sharing how I got into quilting. I'm a lover of crafting by hand and before quilting I had immersed myself in sewing, embroidery, counted cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, and fabric painting (acrylic stuff on clothing). I had always wanted to quilt and wanted my grandmother to teach me, but I waited too long for that to happen. Then Mom got cancer. While in the hospital recuperating from her surgery, I asked her if we could learn a hobby together to help her quit smoking. I mentioned several possibilities and when I said "Quilting," she said, "That might be nice..." It was New Year's Day 1993. I ran right out of the hospital straight to Joann Fabrics and picked up everything I thought we might need to quilt (by hand, of course). The book I bought told me how to make the templates and to draw around them on the wrong side of the fabric, etc., etc. I think there was a sampler quilt in the book that I thought would be great to practice on and I cut all the patchwork pieces and even threaded several needles to make it easier on Mom. I took everything back up to the hospital; she took one stitch and said, "Enh." But I was hooked. A few weeks later while sitting in the oncology clinic waiting area on Mom's birthday for her first chemo treatment, a clinic employee (I'm so sorry I can't remember her name; she moved away a long time ago) saw what I was doing and suggested I attend a guild meeting. That's where I learned about rotary cutting and machine piecing for quilts! What an epiphany...

That sampler quilt was never finished because as soon as I saw what you could do with a rotary cutter and machine piecing, I was off and running and never looked back. Mom never took another stitch. She finally quit smoking just over a year later when she had a heart attack and her doctor told her while she was still on the gurney that she had just quit, and she did. Cold turkey.

I hope you have had a wonderful Mother's Day -- the hubs and I just returned from a lovely lunch with our oldest son and his girlfriend at her home; a beautiful meal and day. I heard from all the other kids and the day is complete. No quilting this weekend, but plan to dig back into the organizing tomorrow evening after work. 
Flowers from Syd

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Just keep organizing, just keep organizing...

Oldest DS came over last night and today to help me reorganize the studio. Since his stuff boomeranged back and his couch was now ensconced in the front of the studio, he told me he'd help me get the studio to where I wanted it. It's been pretty awful in the Bottoms Up! Studio lately:
Front room of Bottoms Up! Studio
We purged a lot of stuff today, moved some furniture around, and still there's much more to be done. The Fabric Cave has been receiving lots of punishment by having non-quilting stuff (i.e., paperwork) thrown into it and we're just getting started in there; we worked in the front room of the studio today. After 2 days off, I'm going back to work tomorrow and will pick up where I left off again this weekend.
The Fabric Cave - ugh...
But the 3 Blind Cats bed runner is done and on the bed! Finally Finished Monday:
3 Blind Cats bed runner
I had this "bright" idea that I would use not one, but two layers of fluffy polyester batting (I haven't used polyester batting since the quilt I made for the DH back in 1995 2000) to be nice to Queen Cleo and Princess Emmy. With a flannel top that has LOTS of seams (because that is the Buggy Barn way) and a flannel backing, the 50 wt. Aurifil thread I used to quilt it looks like 100 wt. silk! But I like the look of the thread; I didn't want anything to compete with the cats. And the Red Snappers worked great! I had this baby loaded on the frame in no time.

And wouldn't you know; the weather turned warm just as I finished it. I know the princess will be on it soon, but the queen likes the warm weather and will spend most of her days and nights outdoors. But this marks one of the items in BIN 1 off the list!

So the next few posts you'll see from me will probably be centered around studio organization--as much as I'm ready to get back on the longarm and quilt another top, the organizing thing is calling me more. 

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 6, 2013

No end to the organizing...

Our oldest son, Jack, boomeranged back recently--actually, his stuff boomeranged back--and he and the hubs spent some time building an extension to our basement storage area. That meant a lot of stuff being dragged out of the basement and plopped IN FRONT OF MY SEWING MACHINE. When you live in a house a certain number of years you are bound to collect some things you'd rather forget about--and for me, out of sight is out of mind. We'll celebrate our 17th year in our home this month and unbeknownst to me, or forgotten, was a large U-Haul box full of stuff that somehow got overlooked when we moved here. As soon as I saw it, I realized what it was...Mom's stuff. Mom lived with us when we moved in, and I remember her saying she was missing a box full of her stuff--this had her medications, work supplies, books, greeting cards,  bank statements, etc. Goodness, it was a trip down memory lane. Some of the things I found I had never seen before; the newspaper clipping from when she and Daddy applied for their marriage license, and the letter from the Marine Corps Commandant sending condolences to Mom on Daddy's passing; my sister's hospital birth certificate:

The end of April is another date for anniversaries for me--last Tuesday was the 12th anniversary of Mom's passing, and my 18th anniversary at my job. Both seem like yesterday. I miss both of my parents like crazy--Daddy passed away 40 years ago; Mom lived another 29 years after his passing. 

I purged a lot of the stuff in the box and saved what I wanted. I'm trying my best not to be too sentimental about stuff--and as some people say, it's all just stuff. But I will lay claim to some of the previously mentioned finds.

Moving onward--I spent Sunday afternoon quilting 3 Blind Cats and hope to have the quilting done by tomorrow. 

And back to organization--Jack is coming over today to help me rearrange things in the studio and hopefully make it more workable. The Bottoms Up! Studio is always a work-in-progress, just like me. 

Happy quilting,
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

April 2013 Progress Report

April is gone and I have made a little bit of progress. The Barn Chicks top is done! I can't show it to you, though--it's a surprise gift for a friend and I want to give it to her on her birthday, which is several months away. I may find a reason to give it to her sooner! Here's a portion of it:

This is not a part of the Barn Chicks pattern; the border was wide and needed something besides the words "Barn Chicks". You'll see the rest when it's time for the reveal.

The practice Trick or Treat basket blocks have been hand quilted and are awaiting assembly into a pillow, but it kept me from making headway with the other Trick or Treat quilt baskets; I've only completed 2 (yes, 2) blocks this month, bringing the total 13.

(I need to quit being lazy; I've been using my iPhone camera and should be using my real camera to get better photos.)

The flannel Crazy Cats are now 3 Blind Cats and are headed to the longarm this weekend; it started out to be a pillow for a bench several years ago, but now I want it to be a bed runner:
3 Blind Cats
Since it's for the queen cat (Cleo) and princess cat (Emmy), I'm not going to invest a lot of energy in quilting this one, but may have a little bit of fun with it. You should have heard the discussion with DH about what to do with it:
Me: "It will be a bed runner instead of a pillow for the bench." 
DH: "Why not a pillow for the bench?" 
Me: "Because the bench isn't where it used to be when I started the project and now the queen and princess sleep on our bed." 
DH: "Ok, why not make it into a pillow for the girls?" 
Me: "Ok; it's roughly the size, right now, of a king-sized pillow case; I can do that, and that will save me the energy of quilting it..." 
DH: "But won't it look nicer and hold up better if it's quilted?" 
Me: "We're talking about quilting a pillowcase for the cats, are you kidding me?" 
DH: "I think they'd like it." 
Me: "All they care about is something soft to lay down on! They don't care about the quilting! I'm already not putting buttons on for the eyes for their sakes!" 
DH: "Well, maybe the pillow would be too tall for them..." 
Me: "I'm turning it into a bed runner." 
DH: "Ok, sounds good." 
Oy...and this was the Reader's Digest condensed version of the conversation.

So nothing actually finished, but 3 tops completed from BIN 1 and moving onward. Spending time organizing and rearranging to make some additional room in the studio has kept me from more quilting, but I'm feeling good about things--progress isn't always measured by the number of projects you make. Sunday before last following the 3 Blind Cats quilt discussion, I told DH that I had some goals for completing a certain number of quilts this year, and that I wanted to spend the month of May quilting one particular quilt that's been waiting in the wings for ELEVEN YEARS. I haven't done much on my longarm for awhile until recently. Last year I purchased a set of Red Snappers from Renae Haddadin and let everything get in the way of me getting them on my machine. (Red Snappers allow you to "snap" a quilt onto your longarm using Clip 'n Seal rods and clamps and saves a lot of time in the loading process.) So DH said let's get them on there! We spent the rest of the day installing the Red Snappers and stitching measuring tapes onto the leaders, so now I'm pumped! Next month I hope to show you at least 1, if not 2 completed quilts (waiting on the thread to arrive). As the weather gets warmer, I like to hide out in the longarm room of the studio because it's the coolest room in the house!

And Spring cannot make up it's mind if it's here in central Arkansas; it's MAY and our heater is on. I cannot remember a May in all the years I've lived here that we've experienced this type of weather--Minnesota, yes; here, no. Just last week we had these outside our office building:

I hope you're able to get some quilting done during the merry month of May!

Happy quilting!