My sister is very good at getting me out of my comfort zone when it comes to quilt designs. She’s not a quilter herself, but she has a great eye for detail and can think up some really fun ideas. So when she asked me to make a baby quilt for a friend that was Flash-themed, I knew it was going to be fun.
I looked around online and found a few ideas. Some of them were gorgeous, but I didn’t have the time to devote to them. And then I found this minimalist poster from Andres Romero. He’s done a bunch of them, and the simplicity was promising.
We decided that this image was perfect, and we would add in some type of full-bodied image at the bottom, maybe with the running motion.
The actual face was easy because I just appliqued the shapes on.
After that, I did the same for the running figure. We played around with the idea of having gray gradient figures spaced out behind him, but time constraints prevented that. So I decided that I would use a quilting design echoing behind him to get the same effect. I like how it turned out.
I quilted over the whole thing with an homage to the lightening shown behind Flash in comics while he’s running. It does look a bit like a heartbeat, though. Oh well.
My sister picked out a Super Friends themed fabric for the backing.
With so many angles, I decided to soften it a bit by curving the edges. I like the overall effect!
The name “Empty Bobbins” comes from those times when you’re in the middle of a project and your bobbin runs out. You have to pause what you’re doing and reload. While you do that, you have a moment to just sit and reflect. This is a collection of musings and reflections on life’s moments. Some are quilting related, and some are not. This one comes from seeing all of the back-to-school pictures.
As I’ve said before, in my other life I’m a high school literature teacher. One question or reaction I get a lot when folks find this out is one of exasperation. Something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh! I don’t know how you do it. I would lose my mind!” And while, yes, some days I’m not sure how I do it either, most of my days are pretty fun. I’m pretty sure I smile and laugh more during my average work day than most. I love my students, and they are super cool to watch as they grow and make their post-high school plans. It’s exciting to think that I could be teaching someone who could one day save my life as a nurse or become another teacher or be a loving role model to his/her own family.
But the general public seems to forget this a lot. And this bias is embedded in our culture something fierce! Even my second-grader has made derisive comments about teenagers. They’re painted as lazy, entitled, and naïve. But the honest truth is this – they’re working so hard!
They’re one of the most informed groups of people that I know, and they check multiple new sources as a matter of habit now. They’re active, involved, and are going to change the world the second they get a chance. They don’t go home and sit and play video games every day. They work jobs, lead clubs, perform community service, and have so many extra-curricular activities that I can barely keep them straight.
Example: one of my AP Literature students was enrolled in all high level academic classes, orchestra, honors groups, and played lacrosse. And then when I thought she couldn’t do anything else during the day, I walked in to the local coffee house and saw her tutoring a younger student! And she isn’t alone. I see them coaching and leading with a fervor that is unmatched.
One year, my school had a band director quit suddenly, and a student stepped up and led the classes in band. He taught, conducted, and empowered his fellow students in a way that was humbling.
So yes, they like taking selfies. They do like their phones. But let’s give them credit where it’s due. Those selfies are fairly innocent, and those phones do a whole lot more than play games. They get news updates, class messages, and are coordinating groups on those phones.
The teenagers that I know, across all levels of diversity, are inspiring. Sure, some aren’t much for school, but even those students have their own agenda and plans, and I am awed by their abilities.
So when folks ask me how I do it. How do I put up with teenagers at a high school? The joke is on them. Those kids are amazing, inspiring, and it’s an honor to be a part of their lives. My only worry is how I will do justice to their goals when the time comes for me to play my part.
So here’s to a new school year, a new set a students who will inspire me, push me, and make me smile. May I be worthy of them. And may we all realize the gifts they have to give us.
This quilt was given today. I’ve been sitting on it since earlier this month, and I couldn’t make a peep about it since it was for a friend who was also connected with me via social media. She’s a youth minister, and I was asked to make a quilt in celebration of her 15 years of service at our church.
I thought about several options concerning the design, but we all knew it would be for signing in the end. So this meant it would need a lot of light colors or at least a good sized section.
I remembered I had a picture in my Pinterest quilt section that I’d been wanting to try. It wouldn’t take anything to do a different instrument! And what does every self-respecting youth minster play? The guitar, of course! I loved the blog entry that went along with it.
I also had a rainbow jelly roll I’d purchased while on vacation with friends in Mississippi. I’d been waiting on just the right project to come along, and this one seemed perfect!
The urge is to think that you can simply cut out the fabric and flip it, but that would have the wrong side of the fabric and the seams sticking out. I had to make two identical columns of rainbows and cut out a guitar shape from each. The cool part is that in doing this I automatically had two quilt tops prepped!
I couldn’t get to my projector at work, so I got creative and taped a bunch of card stock together, traced half of my own guitar, folded the paper in half, and cut out a full sized guitar! I did it this way to ensure symmetry. I am keeping the template as it looks neat and will, no doubt, come in useful for later projects.
The side with the white half of the guitar is made using reverse applique, and the other side is using traditional applique.
The quilting inside the guitar needed to be extra special. There’s a song that is sung at a lot of the youth events, and it was stuck in my head almost the entire time I was making the top. So it seemed a no-brainer that the first verse of that song would be quilted into the white part of the guitar. The song is “The Servant Song”, and I quilted the following in cursive, “won’t you let me be your servant. Let me be as Christ to you. Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.” And although I’m a literature teacher, I had to forego the punctuation. It hurt a little.
For the rainbow side where no one would sign, I really wanted to do some type of vine or tendril look. I did a faint tendril on the white side as well because it needed some type of quilting to ensure it was sturdy.
After that, I did my usual wrap around binding technique and used rainbow thread. The final step was to add a hanging sleeve.
We presented it to her this morning and hung it up at the reception for everyone to sign.
I was given an unusual task recently of taking a t-shirt blanket and turning it into a t-shirt quilt. Unfortunately it involved taking the whole thing apart. So I sat down with a movie and a seam ripper last night and got to work. I was surprised when I finished taking that entire blanket apart right as Dazed and Confused finished up, and it got me to thinking.
A blanket and a quilt really are two very different things. Don’t let anyone tell you they are the same. A blanket is one or two pieces of fabric connected at the outside edges. A quilt is a “sandwich” with a top layer, usually pieced or highly decorative, a back, and a thin middle layer of some type of stuffing – polyester, cotton, wool, or any blend therein. Those three layers are then quilted together with thread. They can also be tied together using yarn or embroidery floss. The effect is two layers of design playing off one another. The layers blend and create an overall effect.
If someone sat down with a seam ripper to pick apart a well-made quilt with appropriate quilting throughout, there is no way that they will finish picking it apart by the end of a single movie.
Empty bobbins are moments in life where we pause and reflect. It’s like when your bobbin runs out in the middle of a project, and you have to pause everything you’re doing to reload. Here’s one such reflective moment. This is a recollection on how small moments can have unforeseen effects.
Our story begins in July of 2000. I had just gotten on to the campus of Berry College for my freshman orientation, and I was excited to be spending the next four years on this gorgeous campus. Berry College has what’s known as “The Berry Bubble” where the outside world seems to get cut off, and our sense of community was so strong we could go back to older ways now considered dangerous, liking giving rides to other students when we didn’t necessarily know one another yet.
I guess that bubble-effect is immediate because I slowed down and offered a lone guy, clearly a new freshman like myself, a ride to the buildings where orientation was to begin. It was July, after all, and even in the Appalachian foothills the heat was profound. His name was Jonathan, and we spent the rest of that afternoon chatting and getting acquainted with the campus and our peers.
The first week of classes, he was still about the only guy I knew on campus, and my roommate had met him, too, so she and I decided to be brave and visit Jonathan over at the boys’ dorm. I’ll admit, the boys’ dorm was a unique experience, and before my college years were up I’d have a lot of memories there – some innocent and some not: my first time getting intoxicated (1 of 3 times in my entire life), my first D&D game, realizing I’d forgotten a music performance there, staying up all night watching movies in the lobby, and even learning how to do a 3 point haircut. But it all began with that first trip to visit a friend.
My roommate and I ventured up to that top floor, reserved for freshman, and found Jonathan’s room, door wide open to anyone who wanted to stop by. That’s Jonathan to a tee – open, friendly, and one of the nicest people I know. He still is, by the way. Top-notch dude. There I also met his roommate, and it wasn’t long before that roommate and I started talking. But that relationship didn’t last much longer than our freshman year, and it was definitely for the best. One good thing that came out of all this was that I met his friends, affectionately known as the computer kids. You see, I was a music major, a group notoriously close knit and always nose-deep in a practice room. I didn’t have a lot of the same classes as these guys because of rehearsals and private lessons. Most of my core classes were early in the morning – not so for them and anyone else who could manage it.
I met the computer kids, and through them, my junior year, I started going to a LARP (Live Action Role Play). Yes, it’s geeky. If you’re judging and raising an eyebrow right now, then you have permission to go and step on the nearest Lego. I got the last laugh, as you’ll see by the end.
Anyhow, through this LARP I met some of the most wonderful people who are my dearest friends to this day. These friends decided that I would make a good match with a guy named Herb. So they told a white lie on one side and a white lie on the other, and eventually he and I went on our first date. I had just gotten out of an engagement and had no interest in dating, and he wasn’t “on the hunt” for a girlfriend. That meant it really was the perfect scenario because neither of us was feeling pressured or pressuring the other. It was a relationship built on a foundation of not being too serious or pushy, and that has become a trend with us. This kept our wedding from turning into something other than a celebration and union (no stress or over-the-top displays), and holidays are pretty fun because we don’t get too wrapped up in the presentation of it all. And we’ve kept that same idea throughout our marriage (10 years and counting) –never take yourself too seriously. Always be able to sit back, breathe, and laugh about it and about yourself. Fourteen years since our first date, ten years since our marriage, two children, two cats, a dog, and a house later – I’m still head over heels for this tall, bearded guy who surprises me with sour gummies when he goes to the store.
It’s funny how life works, though. I always wonder how my life would be if I hadn’t stopped that day back in July of 2000 to give Jonathan a ride.
Due to the popularity of the Star Wars quilts, I started thinking about what other silhouettes I wanted to do. It turned out I still had a couple of Star Wars ones I wanted to try out before moving on to other images.
I wanted to do the Rey and BB8 silhouette from The Force Awakens first, but I ended up working on another one in tandem after seeing a picture a friend bought online of Luke’s Last Sunset from The Last Jedi. I remembered choking up in the theater when I saw this shot, and the symbolism was NOT lost on me. So I looked online and found this screenshot.
I traced it as best I could and then got to cutting up my orange, maroon, and dark purple fabric into strips. For the original Star Wars quilts, I used 3.5″ strips because I was aiming for a twin-sized quilt. For this one, a friend suggested I go smaller, and I agreed, considering this was going to be a wall quilt. Much smaller. I ended up going with 2.5″ strips and was pleased.
I knew I’d cut a lot, and after rolling it all up and making the strips, I ended up with enough strips to make SIX wall quilts. So I decided I would make two of the Luke quilts and two of the Rey and BB8 quilts.
They were arranged and sewn together. Next step was to cut out the silhouette. I opted to use gold crepe back satin for the suns to give them extra luster and make them stand out against the orange fabric. I even ended up running some gold thread over the suns as well.
I liked the way the final results look. Happy with this one. The final step was to add a hanging sleeve.