Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival

I finished this quilt a long time ago, and for one reason or another never got around to posting about it. Seeing the Blogger's Quilt Festival going on this week was just the inspiration I needed!

I made this as a baby quilt for my niece Gracie. Heather Ross is my all-time favorite designer, and when she came out with this line, Far Far Away II, a few years ago, I was in love! I was lucky enough to find a bunch of it on sale online a while ago, and stocked up! 

These prints are all a linen-cotton blend, with a nice heavy drape. I thought it would be great for a Fall baby! I love the way this colorway is so vintage-looking, yet so fresh at the same time!

I had a hard time deciding which pattern to use for this quilt. There are so many little scenes and characters, and I didn't want to cut anything off. I finally drafted my own pattern using two different 12" finished blocks. 


There were just enough prints, that at this size there wasn't too much repeat! I'm planning on making a Real Big size quilt with all three colorways for me to keep forever my daughter soon!

The only bad thing about this pattern, and this fabric line honestly, is that in order to have full fussy-cut scenes, there is a lot of waste, especially with the Rapunzel towers. I cut the Owl & Pussycat print two different ways, so that saved a bit of fabric, but I had quite a lot of towers & other scraps that I couldn't bring myself to throw away! Then I remembered Megan's beautiful quilt using my all-time favorite fabric line, also by Heather Ross, Far Far Away 1. So I trimmed my scraps to 2 1/2" x whatever size they already were, arranged them all over my dining room floor, commissioned my husband to figure out the math, added in a bunch of Essex linen in natural, and came up with this:

The binding is also Essex linen. It was the perfect match for the FFA2 in both weight and color. I really hate mixing fabric types, so finding the Essex was great! Binding in linen, and to be honest, quilting with it, is a little bit of a pain. It wasn't horrible by any means, but way more difficult than regular quilting cotton!

I hand quilted it in a light pink Gutermann hand-quilting thread, 1/4" away from each seam. I love how it frames each little square!

My great friend Hilary Reimers took all these pictures for me while our kids played at the park--she is always so awesome and generous and kind, and I love being able to have her as my friend! I think she deserves the "Best Quilt Photography" award, don't you? :)

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Stats
Finished quilt measures : ~36" x 48"
Designed, pieced, and quilted by : me!
Best Category : Baby Quilt, Hand-Quilted Quilt, Favorite Quilt Photographer

Be sure to head over to the Blogger's Quilt Festival to vote and see almost 500 (yes, really!) amazing entries!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An Incredible Experience

I want to share with you, and remember for myself, something amazing.

Yesterday was kind of a hard day: it was a day where Scott had a full day of school and then a full day of work, so I was on my own all day. Some creepy guy came up onto our porch and was babbling nonsense right in front of my unlocked glass front door, and freaked me out completely. The afternoon was busy and hard--I'm supposed to be in charge of the pirate costumes for Will's upcoming school opera (The Pirates of Penzance), which involves me having to be in charge of things and call and email people and coordinate things and ask people to do things, and is just way out of my comfort level. Anyway, then my friend Monique randomly called and said, "Can I bring you dinner tonight? Great, I'll be over in about an hour." What? How awesome is that? It was just such a kind and spontaneous thing for her to do, which totally lifted my spirits, made me stop whining to myself about how hard things were going, and totally turned my day around. It also made me feel a little guilty. So many people over the last year have helped us so much, and I haven't really done anything awesome for anyone. I felt like I needed to start looking for opportunities for awesomeness, and be more awesome!

After the kids were in bed, I read this post from an amazing woman who is parenting traumatized kids, and whom I have long admired. She mentions a moment where she was overcome with grief, and then 

"Hearing a very kind voice ask, 'May I hug you?'  I accepted, and received a very thoughtful embrace.  'What are you feeling?'  I explained the loss of my friend and how he died.  Didn't expect to feel as overwhelmed as I was, by the sight of the fire.  This complete stranger asked me questions about my friend and created a space for me to grieve for a few minutes.  J was exactly what I needed at that very moment." 

I didn't think I would ever be courageous enough to do something like that--to get out of my comfort zone in that way, to, in my mind, invade someone's privacy like that. But it would be really good if I could.

Today we went to Park Day, which is honestly just as much fun (if not more so) for me as it is for the kids, because it's the only time I have with my friends. Afterwards I decided to go to the new Chik-Fil-A that just opened up, which is about 20 minutes away. I had to drive on 880, which I really don't like, and was worried about getting lost. Then I started thinking about that story up there again, and said a tiny prayer that I might be able to notice and act if a similar situation arose near me. Finally I got to the corner where Chik-Fil-A was, and as I was stopped at the light, I looked over, and there was a young man doing some seriously awesome stuff with a sign for some new housing development. He had earbuds on, and was throwing and spinning the sign, and smiling like crazy, and sweaty, and waving at people, and he just looked SO happy. I know it sounds simple and just something you might see anywhere, but it just gave me such a fluttering of happiness. Immediately, this video came to my mind. If you haven't watched it, please do. It will seriously make your heart feel so good:

I wanted to thank that young man for making me feel so happy. I wanted to thank him for working hard, smiling, and being so full of joy. When is the last time I did that? Did my very best work at my job, so hard that I got all super sweaty even on a cold cloudy day, and still had a huge smile on my face, still waved at and interacted with those around me? Has there ever ever been a time when someone has seen me doing my "job" of parenting my four kids and had a spark of joy? Because I want there to be. I want people to think, "Wow, look at that lady with all those kids! She must be so busy, but she looks so happy!" instead of "Wow, look at that poor lady with all those kids! She must be so busy and overwhelmed! I feel sorry for her!" I was so inspired by that young man, and I was so grateful for it. Plus, positive reinforcement is the best way to influence desired behaviors, and I want our society to be full of people like that young man, who work hard and are happy. I wanted to do something. I realized that I had some cash in my wallet, which very, very rarely happens. I decided I would go talk to him and give him a couple bucks. I started getting all shaky and sweaty and nervous as soon as I decided this. What if he were just faking it? What if he was really a jerk and would yell at me? What if he was an alcoholic and would just go binge tonight? Then I remembered that video. I wasn't expecting tears or heartfelt prayers of thankfulness, but by this time I had decided that I was hoping for a chance to do something good, a chance arose, and I needed to take it! So after we ate our food, I took my sleeping Max and confused Evy out of the car and walked over to him. I went up to him, and said something along the lines of, "Hey dude, I just wanted to let you know that you totally made my day, and it makes me so happy to see someone working so hard and doing such a good job and looking so happy, and, um, thanks, and, um, can I give you this?" And I shoved the money into his hand, and said "Have a good day man" (yes that was a direct quote--I'm not so great at thinking during anything the least bit confrontational). He said thanks and gave me a big smile, and I walked away. I was still shaking at least 15 minutes afterwards. I wish I had articulated a little better, and looked him in the eye better, and asked his name, and checked out the sign company's name from his shirt and then call them and tell them how great their employee is. But hopefully he understood, from my super-fast nervous little speech, how happy I was to see someone working hard, being good at what they do, and being happy about their work. That's what I hope to be, and what I hope my kids will be when they grow up. And hopefully he felt a little good, and appreciated.