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.

 

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.

Bib and Burp Cloth Sets

I have made a lot of bib and burp cloth sets over the Thanksgiving Break in anticipation for my last show. I figured I’d post some pictures below. Prices listed in the picture caption. Please add $4 for shipping. If you’re interested in one, email me about it at the new email address: kira@questquilts.com.

Rainbow Guitar Wall Quilt

Before this set, I have made four other guitar quilts and one viola quilt in the same style. I bought the music fabric at a Black Friday sale (okay, it was really a Black Saturday sale) at JoAnn’s and had been sitting on it for almost a year. I hadn’t quite figured out what I wanted to do, but the idea of another guitar quilt set had definitely come to mind. When I found a jelly roll at JoAnn’s that featured an earthy rainbow pallet, I knew what I would do!

What I love most about the guitar quilts is the fact that if you cut out the guitar carefully then you’ll automatically have two quilts! If you notice, one of this set is the negative of the other. I love it.

I’ll admit that the guitar pegs at the top of this one are a little more “homemade” than I’d like, but I know how I plan on fixing that for next time.

For these, I used wool batting instead of cotton to give them a puffier look and keep the weight to a minimum since they’re going on a wall.  I’m so used to cotton batting that these feel like they weight nothing at all.

In the past, I’ve done a much more detailed quilting design, but since the music fabric already had texture to it, I didn’t want to distract from it.  So I ended up keeping the quilting simple.

These are both for sale, and I’m hoping one of them will sell at the December show I’m doing on the 6th.

Hocus Pocus Quilt

I have wanted to make this quilt since last year, so I decided to go for it before finishing up some of my other commissions.

I couldn’t find an outright silhouette or image that I liked, so I free-handed them and then made them bigger with a projector.

I went back and forth a bit with what kind of background I wanted to do, and I ended up going with a crazy quilt style because of the hodgepodge feel of the witches themselves and their outfits.

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I was pretty pleased with the backgrounds over all, but there are some choices with the green fabrics that I wouldn’t include next time. I added a black border and quilted in some rough swirls to mimic the cauldron heat.

One last detail I had fun with the adding a cord to Mary’s vacuum since it played a bit of a role near the end of the film.

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For the backing, I went with a black fabric that featured a simple swirl design.  I felt like it was just perfect for the overall feel of the “magic.”

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I am planning to put this one up on the Shop page in a few minutes.  I will also have it up at the next craft fair or so until it sells.

Hello, I’m still alive – promise!

I realize it’s been since the end of July since I’ve posted.  Of course, that post was about getting ready for pre-planning, so I’m sure you’ve probably picked up on the fact that school started back.  So yes, I’m back in my classroom.  That being said, I made about 16 quilts over the summer and up to now.  Some of them were t-shirt quilts, and others were more creative projects.  I’m still working on others, but I cannot post about them just yet.  Not until they’ve been gifted.  Sometimes, honestly, that’s the hardest part of finishing them – the wait.  So stay tuned for later on this month when I can show you all the one I’m particularly proud of.

I’m also wanting to gear up for a couple of shows in the fall, possibly a new one in December.

Until then, I’m bushed!

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British Monarchs Wall Hanging

My main job is teaching, not quilting, and I love when I can bring my quilting ability into my classroom.  I teach British literature, and often my students get lost in the 2,000 or so years of timeline.  Years ago I made a bunch of demotivational posters about the British monarchy to help my students know “where we are in time”. Those little posters have sparked many conversations, and they are definitely one of my best teaching tools.

However…there are 60 of them, and putting them up and down from my classroom walls repeatedly as I’ve changed rooms/schools has taken a toll.  A while back I’d considered making a wall hanging instead of putting up the individual posters.  I knew it would be an undertaking, though. When I found out I was moving from my trailer classroom (where there wasn’t enough room for them) to an indoor classroom, I decided it was finally time to undertake this project I’d been sitting on for several years.

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I printed the posters onto fabric, and then I color-coded the historical periods/families.

Blue: Anglo-Saxon
Green: Norman
Yellow: Plantagenet
Light Blue:Tudor
Red: Stuart (Bright red embedded for Interregnum)
Green:Hanover
Purple: Saxe Coburg Gotha
Light Purple: Windsor
The last two are both purple because it’s the same family branch…just a name rebrand thanks to WWI. 

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I used fabric I already had on hand, some pretty green, yellow, and black shirting flannel. Between the front and the flannel backing and the huge size, the wall hanging was getting heavy, so I decided to leave out the usual batting and quilting.

In the end, I’m loving how it turned out!  I can’t wait for my co-workers and students to see it.

Newest item – bibs and burp cloths

A friend of mine is expecting, and I was going to buy her a bib set as a small gift.  But as I looked through the shelves over at the baby store, I just didn’t see anything that really struck me. So I finally told her I’d just go home and make one for her. I wanted to make her the kind of bib I would have loved when my kids were babies – a terry cloth back. I bought a gray towel from the store and headed home.  From that towel, I was able to make 2 burp clothes and 4 bibs using a gray woodland themed fabric.  I loved it, actually, so I decided that this could be another way to use some of those awkward-sized pieces of fabric. So I bought some terry cloth from JoAnn’s, but most of it came from cut up towels I’d bought.

I really got in to making them and worked on the bulk of them while watching Stranger Things 3 with my husband.  I even put him to work turning them right-side out.

I’m happy with how they all turned out.  I decided to stick to cutting up cheap towels because the terry cloth on the back had more plush than the terry cloth off the bolt at JoAnn’s.