Grieving the 2020 Fall Festival Season

Well I suppose it was bound to happen. All three of the craft fairs I was hoping to do this fall have been canceled. To say it’s a bummer is putting it nicely. I absolutely LOVE craft fairs. I love curating my little 10’x 10′ booth for maximum appeal. I love checking off items in my checklist app as I load my car. I love the adrenaline rush of leaving early in the morning,and I love the set up time when all the vendors are quiet and focused on perfecting their little plots. I love hearing people ohh and ahh over my products. And of course, I love the thrill that comes with the phrase,”Okay, I’ll take it.”

So now this fall is looking a lot more open and a lot more dismal at the same time. I still have my commissions, of course, and they are doing very well. But there’s something about the excitement of a craft fair that cannot be duplicated.

As organizers announce the cancellations and closures, their pain and regret is evident. But what is worse than canceling the craft fair you’ve spent months organizing? I’d say it is the vitriol that these good people have been met with as they make their sad announcements. I mean,seriously,people are being really mean towards event organizers over this. As said before, I love being a vendor at craft fairs, and I’ll miss them this fall dreadfully. But the choice to cancel them wasn’t easy, and it hurt the organizers a lot. I promise.

This is one of the craft fairs I was hoping to participate in. This is their announcement.

So as the announcements come in, please take a moment to thank your local event organizers for their work. They’re pretty heartbroken right now, too. They’re trying to look out for everyone, and people are going to be grumpy either way. If you’re really upset, please wear a mask and social distance to help ensure we can pick up where we left off as soon as may be.

Be these people!

Do NOT be these people!

And most certainly,do NOT be the random angry person in the comments yelling at everyone.

Girl Scout Quilt

I made this quilt based around some green and pink Girl Scout badge fabric I had. I was experimenting with color and such. It did end up looking busier than planned, but I like it. It was also bigger than planned as it came out to a twin size once I added the outside pink border. I ended up going for a pink flannel-backed satin backing. It feels so sleek and smooth!

Kayak Quilt

This was a special commission for a dad as a Father’s Day present/late anniversary gift. The couple met while kayaking, and she wanted to give him something special in honor of that first meeting.

Funny enough, there isn’t a whole lot of kayak in this kayak quilt. I found a picture of a canoe going down river, and I really liked the first person perspective. And they met in the spring, so I decided to use greens to make the hill foliage instead of autumn colors.

The water was a neat task, and I knew I wanted to make it unique and have a cohesive-yet-scrappy effect. Using two different shades of navy blue and adding in lighter accent blues, I was going for a watery movement effect, and I gave it an overall unity with a horizontal quilting pattern.

The hills are an element I am particularly proud of. I mused a while over how to approach them. In the end, much like the water, I just dug in and started cutting and let them lead me where they may. When it came to quilting them, I decided to do a different quilting style depending on which shade of green I was on. I even tried to create an evergreen effect for the darker greens.

The kayak element at first was nothing but a red triangle, and I added an inner line and black strap to help create the look found with most kayaks.

Overall, I am very proud of this one, and I know it’s going to a home where it will be loved. This client and I have worked together on commissions before, and she is fantastic at getting me to try new styles!

The completed work!
The unfinished top – known in the quilting world as a “flimsy.”

Rainbow Mariner’s Compass Quilt

This quilt falls under the “things I’ve been meaning to make” category. English paper piecing is a tedious technique. Each star is made from a wedge, and each wedge is made of two scalene triangles. The design I used for this quilt was a simplest mariner’s compass pattern in the book. The pattern comes from the book Mariner’s Compass Stars by Carol Doak. I’d bought it years ago to make a gift for my husband.

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I had originally wanted to make all the stars with batik fabrics, but it didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t going to have the effect I wanted with what I had on hand. The biggest goal of mine was to use 100% fabrics that I had at home in my stash already. I had the rainbow fabric for the backing and based my colors around it. This was definitely a “quarantine project.” In the end, the only thing that was purchased was some extra white thread. Not bad.

I did get to practice the colors and design on my new quilting software, so that was an extra bonus, and it helped me catch a mistake in my color placement. Can you see what I did?

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EQ8 Quilting Software trial run with my colors.

 

I’ll admit that red fabric is notorious for running dye, even if one pre-washes like I do. This quilt had too much time and love put in to it to take any chances, so I pinned a color catcher sheet over the white sections of the red star. I did NOT come here to play.

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The finished result is worth it, and I am in love!

Here is the Etsy listing if you’re interested in purchasing it.  

Making masks, masks, masks

Like everyone else who owns and/or has touched a sewing machine in the last decade, I’ve been making masks for folks.

I’ll admit that a lot of times when I see Call-to-Arms posts circulating, I am very cynical. I’ve seen too many follow up posts where well-meaning people have made things worse instead of helping as intended. So when my sister, a talented paramedic, messaged me that, seriously, they were in need of masks to help extend the life of their n95s at the station, I got to work. I even called on my friends and other crafters to lend a hand if they hadn’t already. I’m so proud that, between us all, they were soon in good shape. The Walking Dead fabric was a huge hit, by the way, as was the Mario and blood splatter fabric. Gotta love that paramedic dark humor.

From there, I made some more and messaged a couple of former students who are now nurses. They said that they could use them in the ER at Egleston – a large children’s hospital in Atlanta. I’m familiar with this hospital for a couple of reasons. More recently, we took my daughter there a couple of years ago for some tests, but it goes even further back. My dad had leukemia when he was young, and Egleston helped him survive that. So I was happy for a chance to give back to them. And they did NOT get the scary zombie or blood fabric if you were wondering. Nothing but cute and simple fabric patterns for the children’s nurses.

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After that, I made some and offered them to the other teachers in my school language arts department. And then my mom messaged me asking for a large order, over 40, to donate to her veterans group. I’m happy that those were finished up earlier tonight.

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All this being said, the making masks adventure continues to be both exhilarating and draining.  It’s exciting because it’s an active role in an otherwise helpless situation, so I’m happy to have some sort of control in that regard. It’s also draining because the need is so high that I can’t possibly keep up, and there’s so many conflicting articles out there about effectiveness, need, etc that one wonders why even try. Of course, this is nowhere near the amount of stress on those receiving the masks: ER nurses, paramedics, veterans. So I’ll hush on that note.

 

Boy Scout Lap Quilt

A while back I made an Eagle Scout Quilt, and I had a fair amount of the Riley Blake Modern Scouting fabric leftover. I wanted to try something different, something a little more chaotic and less predictable. It’s been a while since I’d gone with a mosaic design. I also had varying amounts of the fabric samples left, so I added in some solids to balance out the patterns. Overall, it was fun and took very little work up front with the planning. I just cut out squares of 9″, 6″, and 3″ and arranged them as balanced within each square as I could.

It has a green flannel backing. And in the end, I had enough to make two!

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Theater T-shirt Quilt

This quilt was fun and a definite break from my usual mold. We divided the shirts into color families. I knew the some of them had rather big designs, and I wanted to make sure nothing “cool” was left out. For some of them, I just cut the central image in half and made sure each was still in. I rather like the crazy-quilt-shadow-box combo.

A fun bonus is that the white section is excellent for signatures! And can I begin to say how much I just LOVE the neat green and gold scroll design on the backing fabric?!

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The Value of Handmade Gifts

This is an article I wrote a while back for our community magazine last fall. I wanted to share it on the blog as well.

The holiday season is upon us, and people are already beginning to buy gifts to give – if they haven’t started already. Gift-giving is an art form in and of itself, and it takes many factors into consideration: age, cost, usefulness, etc. The best gifts can also remind the recipient about the giver as well, and this is where a unique group of gift-givers excel – the handmade gifts.

It’s a common misconception that handmade gifts are low cost or even “cheap.”  But nothing could be further from the truth.  When someone takes the time to buy/collect supplies and craft an item specifically for a loved one, that takes a personal investment that simply cannot be duplicated in an item purchased from a store.  Not to say that bought items aren’t special because, of course, they can also be cherished.  But there is something about a handmade gift that endures beyond its time and even beyond the item itself.  Some of my favorite pieces of furniture, while not the most attractive, are special to me simply because my great-grandfather made them. And as of the last several years, they are also a lasting memory as the man himself is no longer with me. So what is it about a handmade item that gives it that lasting power? The explanation is more profound than one might first think.

In 1992 Gary Chapman released his book The Five Love Languages. He identifies five areas where people express their love for others as well as how they feel the most loved.  These areas include Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, and Physical Touch. As a quick review, Acts of Service translate to doing nice things for a person, like washing their dishes or mowing the lawn.  Words of Affirmation simply mean a person likes to be told how much they matter.  Quality time can mean a date or any one-on-one time. My eight-year-old daughter feels most loved when we spend time together, so a trip alone with her to the grocery store can help her feel connected and loved. Receiving Gifts doesn’t mean that a person is greedy – just that a gift, no matter how small, is a gesture that means more than just the item itself.  My sister showed her love to her friends every year as a child by spending her birthday money on Christmas gifts for them.  And she is so very proud when she knows she has found THE perfect gift for someone. And Physical Touch doesn’t have to be overly dramatic.  It could be as simple as hand holding.  My six year old son feels loved if we are sitting beside one another while watching a movie.  As long as some knee or foot is touching me, he feels loved. And while it is possible that some gestures can fall across multiple areas, I can only think of one thing that combines all five.

A handmade gift is unique in that it covers multiple Love Languages.  The act of making it with a specific person in mind, the time spent on designing and crafting it, and even a sweet note accompanying it all touch on multiple routes wherein people feel loved. It says over and over again, “I love you.” A person made this item specifically for that person, spent time on it, made it with their own touch, gave it freely to that person, and it often includes an explanation or sweet note with it.  A handmade gift has the potential to say “I love you” in all five Love Languages. And in that, it is no small feat.

So if you are lucky enough to receive a handmade gift this holiday season, take a moment and realize exactly what you have been given.  It isn’t a mere item or token.  It certainly isn’t cheap. It is the ultimate expression of what it means to love another person from every conceivable angle.  Honor the handmade gift for it was made with love.

Doll Quilts

I’ve been sitting on this project for a while because it would give away a surprise. However, I learned that the gift has been bestowed and was given permission to post away!

I played around with the notion of doll quilts for 18″ dolls and came up with these after finding some diamond cuts left over from a previous project. I’m thrilled they’re being put to use, and I can’t wait to see what all I can come up with on down the road!

I am loving the central star design, but I don’t think I’m ready to make a quilt bigger than this using it. I’ve enjoyed the more traditional look of them, though. They’ve been posted on Etsy already. You can find them by clicking here.

Wine Silhouette Quilts

Disclaimer – I LOVE silhouettes. I am fascinated by the idea of how something so simple can convey so much, especially with people. I’ve experimented a lot with them in previous quilts: Star Wars lightsaber duels, Disney Princesses, Hocus Pocus, Darth Vader, Luke Skywaker, and Rey and BB8. From there, I began playing with jelly rolls and making some half-and-half images: guitar quilts and viola quilts.

I’ve had a wine-themed jelly roll for a while now and finally figured out how I wanted to approach it. I’m proud to say I free-handed the wine bottle and the wine glass. I added a burgundy border around them to make them more lap quilt size instead of wall quilt size. One of them was claimed pretty quickly, but the other one is still up for grabs.

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