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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Quilt Reconstruction

A friend from church messaged me earlier in December and asked if I might be up for possibly fixing her long-loved quilt that her grandmother made her. I’m friends with the grandmother, and we talk shop about quilts all the time.
She sent me a picture of the original top before the quilt was finished.  It was made of bright 2″ squares and was scrappy in design.  Cute as could be.

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Then she sent me pictures of the back and the damage that had come from pretty constant use.  Once I had my hands on it, I noticed that many of the squares in the front were also shredding.  In fact, the quilt itself had almost been loved to death – the ultimate compliment for any quilter.

The first step was to disassemble the quilt.  This was actually easier than anticipated because it was a tied quilt.  I actually brought a seam ripper with me to my grandmother’s and got to work while she and I were chatting after Christmas. I separated the front from the back and batting and removed any squares beyond repair.

When I returned home, I used squares already cut from my own scrap stash that would blend in easily color-wise. Then I added a layer of white fabric underneath the top. This gave the thin top layer something to “hold on” to and to take the stress of the thread off of that thinner fabric. I found out from a previous reconstruction that it can also help revive some of those faded colors. It did result in a heavier quilt, though, especially since I’d changed it from the original polyester batting to cotton.

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From there, I had to pick a different backing as the store didn’t sell that same pattern anymore. I found one pattern that was closer in color, but it was thinner, and I didn’t want to be right back where we were again so soon.  So in the end, I chose a brighter green pattern that was a bit thicker and would last longer.

The quilting on this one needed to be closer, especially on the squares that still had some damage. I went with a stipple pattern because it would help when some squares needed extra quilting, and it would even out any misalignment from the top being pulled into shape and the old fabric stretching more. Pretty much every square has at least two lines of quilting running through it.

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In the end, I’m pretty proud of it, but I’ll admit I held my breath a bit when I put it in my washer and dryer.  But it turned out fine, and I am confident that it will stand up to many more uses to come.

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Related Blogs and Posts:

DIY Quilt Repair/Reconstruction

Saving the Double Wedding Ring Quilt: Vintage Linens and Trims to the Rescue!

Saving the Pink Fan Vintage Quilt

 

Flower Fairy Quilt

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the late Victorian style fairy illustrations, especially those of Cicely Mary Barker. They were enchanting in their simplicity and dreamy color pallets. This would explain why I couldn’t help myself when I came across a fabric panel featuring three pink flower fairies. I normally don’t use fabric panels in my works, but this was so pretty that I couldn’t resist. I bought this fabric months ago and am only now getting around to using it. I also found some purple fabric that also featured a smaller flower fairy design, but they were more of a nighttime look.

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Originally, I was going to incorporate the purple fabric as a border around the pink panel, but I decided that it just wasn’t complimentary to either fabric. They were both so pretty that they needed their own space. After some quick measuring, I realized I had enough to make the purple fabric the backing to the pink panel.

For the pink panel, I added some greens to accentuate the leaves and then one last pink border to tie it all together.  I wasn’t expecting the corners to be as awesome and picture frame looking as they were, but I’m delighted and might use that design again in other quilts.

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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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Dog Scarf Quilt

This commission was unique in that it was a memory quilt for a sweet little dog, Munson, who had passed away.  His owner was so sweet, and she loved him very dearly as was evidenced by her getting choked up just talking about him.  Apparently he had a scarf for every occasion: Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, Christmas, and many other colors and patterns in between.

After taking a look at them, I realized there were so many variations of fabric and size that my options were limited.  The best option to include them all was a crazy-quilt style design.  I sorted the scarfs by occasion and/or color and went from there.  The owner did give me one t-shirt that she wore, so I made it the centerpiece and worked around from there.

I like that she chose a light blue backing.  It reminded me of the sky, and I thought it fitting.  This was also one of the first times I’ve added a label onto the quilt.  Hopefully I can remember to do it more often.

So here it is – the dog scarf memory quilt.  I just love it, and it was wonderful to work with something new.

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Happy customers!

One thing about making t-shirt quilts and memory quilts is that I don’t often get the see the reaction of the actual recipient.  I get to see how much the person who commissioned it likes it, but the actual recipient is rare.

So when a customer shares a picture with me of their quilt being loved by the recipient, I cherish it.  I’ve gone through and collected some of my favorite pictures from over the years of people loving on their quilts that I made.  It’s a good smile for a Friday.

Tyler
Most recent graduation quilt gifted!
T-shirt quilt 1
The original memory quilt! First one ever made – for my grandmother.
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I think he likes it!
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She loved hers so much she brought it to school. My heart!
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Pre-school director gets a neat one.
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It’s not a quilt, but my dog is definitely a happy recipient.
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My buddy loves his Star Wars quilt.
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Loved this silhouette quilt almost as much as the new mom.
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My husband with this surprise king-size mariner’s compass quilt.
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Memory quilt 1
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Memory quilt 2
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What a fun baby quilt this was to make!
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Brother 2
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Brother 3
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A memory quilt made from dress shirts and t-shirts. This is the mother holding it after it was gifted to her as a surprise.
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A graduate holding her t-shirt quilt. I think she liked it.
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Baby quilt made from panels for my niece.
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Little buddy cuddling with daddy’s Darth Vader quilt.

New adventures

I love the craft fairs and being a vendor at them.  They’re fun, and I get to meet lots of different people.  But one issue I run in to is that I don’t sell many smaller items.  Much of my inventory is higher priced, so I’m learning what shows work for me.

Lots of folks will come by and oohhh and aaaahhh, but if they aren’t bothering to look at price tags, they didn’t come prepared to shop.  And if you’re selling larger priced items, you need to find shows where people are prepared to shop.  Shows that are focused on something else and have thrown vendors in as an aside don’t often do well for larger-priced items.

So I’ve found that Spring shows haven’t done well for me in the past.  Let’s face it – quilts don’t sell well in warm weather.  I’d sworn I wasn’t going to do anymore Spring shows, but two came up that I just couldn’t resist giving a try.

One is the Riley Day event, April 27th, hosted by the fine people over at the Amanda Riley Foundation. All proceeds from that show go to support families as they deal with childhood cancer, and the more I learn about the Riley family the more I want to support them.  So I figure it’s a win no matter what, and the fact that it would reach my niche client group is a major bonus.

The other event is my biggest event yet – the Vintage Market Days of Greater Atlanta, May 31-June 2.  Vintage Market Days specializes in antiques, recycled and up-cycled art and decor, and they have shows all over the USA.  My daughter and I went on a reconnaissance visit to the Christmas one, and I thought I might do alright at it.  My daughter gave her 8 year’s wisdom and agreed that it was worth a shot.  Again, the people attending looked like they might be in my niche client group – folks who liked sentimental items, especially re-purposed ones.  So I don’t know how my ready-made items will do, but I’m thinking my t-shirt quilt commissions will fair well.

Since the big event is also inside, I’m trying something new with my booth layout, and I’ll use the Riley Day event to test it out.  So here’s hoping the new layout pays off.

So if you’re in the area, come on by and say hi!