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Video Tutorials are Now on the Website!

A video tutorial for the entire process of assembling the Bluebird of Hope kit and the Scarlet Cardinal kit are now available on the website!  At this point each of these tutorials is located in the Store on the appropriate product page.  Just click the “Video Tutorial” tab on the left side of the screen and the video will come up.

These two videos are each about 45 minutes long.  Please feel free to fast forward!  🙂  I did want to do a couple of videos that showed the entire process, with a lot of explanation (and some less than professional moments), so that you could see how easy these kits are to assemble.

I apologize for the amateurness of these, but you have to start somewhere, right?  What a learning process this all has been for me!

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Not So Good Fortune, and “Good Fortune” Week 4

Gee, I am re-reading last week’s post, and life seemed so much simpler then.  LOL.  Isn’t everything in life just relative?

My three year old great-granddaughter did indeed help me decorate the tree last Monday.  I put her in charge of adding my favorite icicles to the bottom half of the tree.  (I have 24 of these, so probably 20 of them are at the bottom now.)

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After EACH addition, she made sure I looked at it, and then, EACH time asked “Isn’t it just beautiful where I put it?”.   Now remember, she is only three.  She has been talking full conversational paragraphs since she was 18 months old.  And boy does it get entertaining at times!  She brightens our lives for sure!

We then moved onto the very fragile glass ornaments that she insisted on unpacking and handing me one at a time, with much commentary on each.  So fun!  I am just happy to have the tree decorated.  And the week did a fast decline from there, so it is VERY good to know at least that is done.

 

Tuesday included attending an elementary school Christmas Sing Along (my youngest daughter is the music teacher) an hour away.  Then afterward texts and calls were flying back and forth as a two year old grand was taken to the ER with difficulty breathing and an almost four year old grand was covered in hives and the question was “Do we go to the ER?”.   Do hospitals do group discounts?  We thought we were going to find out.  All is good with them now.  Wednesday was good.  The Sewing Connection sold out of Snowflake kits, and I had a good evening playing with lasers.  Playing with lasers and quilting are my happy place, so good times.  Then the creepy crud hit me very early Thursday morning, and that was pretty much the end of my week.  I spent two days in the recliner (And it takes A LOT to put me down.  I don’t sit still well!) and spent the next two feeling like I should be back in the recliner, and now it is Monday!  And we are even CLOSER to Christmas.  Yikes!

So, when you have no energy, feel like crap, and feel like there is way too much you should be doing to just be snoozing in a recliner, what do you do?  First of all, you realize that there are legions of people in way worse shape, and you thank God for your life, and move forward. Then you take a good look at what you CAN do, which for me was Good Fortune (in very short bursts), online Christmas shopping (also in very short bursts), and store stuff (even shorter bursts).  I am so thankful my husband was willing to run errands and go to the basement work area and bring me what I needed.  I am also so thankful for online shopping!

Last night I even set up my YouTube account, so I could start adding tutorial videos to my store.  I have added ONE!  You can click here to see it.  It took six hours to upload!  So ONE it is!  And now that I know, I will add them before I go to bed at night, and sleep while they load!

I am also so thankful that this week’s assignment for Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune” was foundation string piecing, which did not require accuracy.  The accuracy comes with the trimming into rectangles, and I didn’t have to deal with that until I was ready.  I still haven’t taken the paper out, and I think that is just going to wait until after Christmas.  I DID get all my pieces from Week 3 sewn, but didn’t trim those up after either.  I sure hope I have the break after Christmas that I see in my mind.

So here is what I have for this week, and what I have done so far, and yes, I am keeping my eyes open for a larger basket.  I know there is one around here somewhere!

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I was not thrilled with the idea of orange.  I am not a huge orange fan, so I went with more of a sherbet shade, which I like, but I am still not convinced that these colors will mesh together in the end.  This is my first ever mystery quilt, and I have found the color palette to be my largest issue.  Color is something I am usually pretty good at, and maybe that makes me even more nervous of whether or not I am going to like this when all is said and done.  I also am trying very hard to keep to my scraps and stash on this one, which is limiting as well, however I did purchase a bit of orange, as it is not something I use much of.  I am enjoying the mystery from week to week, and doing things I haven’t done before (like these strings) and learning new tips, including what I will do differently next time with the color palette.  Someone will think it is lovely when all is said and done, and it can always be passed along to that someone.  But who knows?  There is the possibility that that will be me!  It most certainly would not be my first project that I doubted while in progress, and then turned out great.

Please consider heading over to the Quiltville Blog and getting involved for yourself.  It really is fun, and you can download the instructions from the past weeks and save them, start where we all are and get involved in the community,  and catch up later.

I wish you “Good Fortune” and that all your Christmas plans go forth smoothly!

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Bonnie Hunter’s 2018 Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune” Part 3

Bonnie Hunter "Good Fortune" part 3

Good grief!  Is Christmas really only a little over two weeks away???   I am SOOO far behind this year!  Between babysitting little ones, working on the store and the new designs to be released in early 2019, and the Mystery Quilt, I lost track of how quickly Christmas was approaching!

I have been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt “Good Fortune” (https://quiltville.blogspot.com/2018/12/mystery-monday-link-up-part-3.html), but I am afraid I am going to have to slow down on it and get my Christmas together.   Our family dynamic is way outside the box of being normal.  (As Patsy Clairmont says, “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.”)  We have lots of grandkids and a couple of great-grandkids, and the great-grands are older than some of the grands.  At the moment we have five under the age of 5.  Three of those are grands.  Two are great-grands.  (I had my four children over a 16 year span, and my youngest child and my oldest grand are only 2 1/2 years apart.)  Christmas is going to be really fun this year, IF I pull it together!  🙂

So, back to “Good Fortune”.   Here is what I have so far:

Basket of Quilt Pieces for Bonnie Hunter "Good Fortune" Part 3

 

Obviously, I need a larger basket!

It is really fun to play with all of the little blocks and wonder how Bonnie is going to put them together when all is said and done.  I realize the arrangement at the top of this page doesn’t work.  The green and neutral squares would not fit like this after they were all sewn together, but it was fun to play with them!  I only have about a fifth of the green and neutral ones sewn together at this point, but I will plug away at them in the late evenings until the next clue comes out Friday.  If I don’t get all of them done, the rest will have to wait until after Christmas.

In the meantime, hopefully my great-granddaughter and I will decorate the Christmas tree today.  (She is hanging out with me today while her mom does nursing school clinicals), and get some online shopping and my store work done so that I can get back to “Good Fortune” without feeling guilty about taking the time to sew!

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Wish me “Good Fortune” as I try to get this poor naked tree dressed today!

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Quilting Letters into Your Borders

I make quite a few t-shirt quilts, and I love to quilt the borders with information about the t-shirts that are in the quilt.  For the high school quilts, I like to put the person’s full name on one border, the high school name on another, and “Class of …” on a third.  Activities can be added this way as well.  The family name and year can be added to Christmas quilts.  Baby’s name, birth weight and length, and date can be quilted into those special baby quilts.

To do this, I use the Mylar Alphabet Stencils and lay the wording out along the borders.  I trace the letters with a pencil or pen that will be able to be removed after the quilting.  In the past I have used Frixion pens, but recently, I have had issues getting the lines to disappear.  When heat is applied, the line changes from the color of the pen to white.  The moral of that story is to ALWAYS test whatever pen, markers, or pencil you are using to mark on a scrap first to make sure it will come out!

I start my quilting about half way down on the left side of the first letter (see photo below) and, moving toward the bottom first,  follow the outline of the letter around the bottom and up to the point that it is closest to the next letter.  I keep stitching and move across to the next letter.  I quilt the bottom part of each of the letters in the same manner.  When I get to the last letter, I quilt all the way around, and when  I get to the line coming from the previous letter, I stitch over it and complete the top half of that letter.  Moving from right to left, complete the tops of the letters.

Alphabet Stencils

Alphabet Stencils 2

Hopefully the pictures will help you to visualize this!  These photos do not necessarily use the same same font as the 2 1/2″ Alphabet Stencils in my store.  Click here to check them out!

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Bonnie Hunter’s 2018 Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune”

I have considered doing a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt for many years now, but joining just before Christmas was a hindrance.  I have folders on my computer of a couple of the PDF’s from years gone by, hoping that I would make it during another part of the year, but without the deadlines and community, never started them.  One year I even tried to get some quilter friends to do it with me, but was not convincing enough.

This year, someone posted about it in a Facebook group I am active in, and I decided that this was the year to just do it.  It really helped the decision that when the paint swatches came out, they were all colors that I had in my scrap bin or my stash, and using much of that fabric was priority.  So…  I have taken the plunge, and I am glad I did!  It actually is a nice break at the end of the day to go to my sewing area and work on something rather mindless.  Bonnie has done all the hard work, and each week you are just doing the same block, in the same way, over and over.

This is Week Two of actual sewing, and I would think it would be quite possible to jump in now and still keep up.  All the information and the free downloadable PDFs are on Bonnie Hunter’s website.    In one of her posts or instructions, she gave “permission” (Let’s face it… some personalities need to get permission!  🙂 ) to do part of the blocks and make a wall quilt, or do part now and catch up later.  I thought that was probably what I would end up doing, but I actually get a little caught up in it and go farther than I expected.  So far I have completed all of the Week One blocks (the red and neutral ones) and almost half of the Week Two (blue and neutral) blocks.  Week Three instructions come out Friday, so I plan on being done with these by then.

Bonnie’s instructions are very good, and even though I am an experienced quilter, I am learning time saving and accuracy tips.  Another plus is that at least the first couple of blocks are small pieces.  I have been able to use some fabric that needed to be cut very small to look good and get them out of my stash.

I plan on posting weekly updates of progress on here, but I realize that as it gets closer to Christmas it may be fewer pieces than needed, and I will have to catch up later.   I would love it if you would join along!

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Our Kits are Now Available at The Sewing Connection!

I am happy to announce that some of our kits are now available at The Sewing Connection in Milan Ohio!  The Sewing Connection is a Husqvarna Viking dealership and service center and sew much more.  They offer long arm quilting, carry a large selection of decorative threads, specialize in beautiful batiks and hand dyed fabric, and have classes on how to use all of the above plus garment construction.

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Within the last couple of years they have expanded into the space “next door” and added a huge beautiful classroom/work space.  They have classes in this lovely space as well as groups that gather to sew together, such as Quilts of Valor, Button Box, and Snack and Sew.

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If you are in the area, stop by and check them out.  They are located on State Route 250, just a couple of miles south of Kalahari Resort.  If you are not in the area, you can visit them at http://sewing-connection.com/classes.  Make sure to tell them that Deb sent you!

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The Bluebird of Hope

The very first kit I am offering for sale is the one I have named my  “Bluebird of Hope”.  I would like to explain how he came to be so named.

When I was a child, we sang songs in our music class about bluebirds.  There were also those adorable bluebirds in Disney’s “Cinderella” that were instrumental in turning her from a scullery maid into a princess.  Who wouldn’t love those bluebirds who sang along with “Snow White” to cheer her up?   There were bluebirds on birthday cards and in coloring books…  The problem was that I had never seen a real live bluebird.  My grandma and my teacher assured me they were real.  My mother told me they were different from the blue jays that were common in our area.  In my young mind, that made the bluebird something very special and elusive…  somewhat like a unicorn.

Fast forward many years, and I came to a dark period of my life.   And that dark period included a week that  was darkest of all.  I was exhausted from sewing the dresses for a large wedding party.  My father was pronounced terminal, comfort care only to be given. I was chasing preschoolers and driving teenagers here, there, and everywhere.  And watching dreams die for one of my children.

In the midst of all this, I was in my living room having a very real heart to heart talk with God.  I had just read a verse in Psalms that said “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.  I so wanted to believe that verse, but the darkness around me just made it seem totally impossible.  In the midst of all this, I simply told God that I really, really needed to know if that was true for me, if I could hold onto that verse, and if He was actually listening to all of this heartbreak being poured out.

I no more than said this, when a real bluebird landed at the very top of a tiny twig of a tree in the center of our front yard.  It seemed to defy gravity sitting there.  And to top it off, a sunbeam illuminated him, as if he were on display.  And he was.  He was there for me to see that God was hearing, and that He cared.

I was so elated.  And so excited.  A couple of hours later when my husband got home from work, I met him at the door with car keys in hand, and asked if he would put up a bluebird house if I went and got one.  Being the great guy that he is, he said yes, but questioned if we would ever have one come around to live in it.  I told him what had happened, and off I went to buy a bluebird house.  Within a couple of days, it was occupied, and most summers since we have had bluebirds living in our houses.  I have also accumulated quite a few bluebirds for inside our house, most of them gifts.  And every one of them reminds me that God is listening to my pleas.  And He CARES!

My “Bluebird of Hope” had to be the first kit in my new business.  I hope you begin to be reminded of hope when you see bluebirds from now on!!!

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The Store is Open!

Quite a few years ago, we built our own house.  Hands on built.   During that time we learned a very important life lesson.  If you think it will take an hour, it will take a day.  If you think it will take a day, it will take a week.  If you think it will take a week, it will take a month.

As it turns out, that also applies to stores and websites.

I started considering this about three years ago, and dismissed it for all of the reasons we as humans come up with because we are reluctant to step into unknown territory. However, it would not go away.  Finally at the beginning of this year I decided I HAD to do this.   Every argument I came up with would be demolished by something I read or heard.   Beyond that, I just knew this was what I had to do or I would forever wonder…  What if?

So here I am.  Here IT is!   This truly is a culmination of my life:  all that I have experienced and all that I have learned (about myself, about my craft, about life, about those I love).

I hope you will come along and watch my store grow and maybe even help me with suggestions, photos of your work, and even questions.

And please examine those thoughts that keep coming back to you and won’t go away.  Please don’t get to your sunset years and find yourself asking…  What if?

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Why doesn’t it FEEL like the holidays are here?

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It is almost Thanksgiving.  The turkeys are thawing in the refrigerator.  The shopping lists for Thanksgiving dinner are prepared.  The date and time of our family Christmas get-together is set.  The names are drawn for the gift exchange.  So…  Why doesn’t it feel like the holidays are upon us?  And what do I do to change that?

When I get into one of these funks, it is hard for me to be creative.  I can do the work.  I can do all the right things, and they can come out looking good.  But they are missing something.  That spark is not there.  Again, what do I do to change that?

For me, the best thing I can do is get out of my routine and do something appropriate.  So that is what I did.  I took the time (when I didn’t feel like I had the time) and made the drive to a somewhat local, one location, garden center that happens to ship its plants all over a several state radius, Corso’s Garden Center.  I called them first to ask if the poinsettias were in the store’s greenhouse and if they were in bloom.  The answer was “Oh, yes!”  And as you can tell from the above photo, boy were they!  Not only that, but the beautiful decorations were up, included an exquisite garden railway, set up by a local garden railway enthusiasts club.  I am sure soon the music will be playing as well.

It struck me later that we don’t have much of that in our area anymore.  The higher end department stores and malls used to be beautifully decorated, and abuzz with music and people.  Most of those high end stores have closed in our area, and the malls are feeling the loss.  I was missing something I hadn’t even noticed was gone.  I knew the stores weren’t there anymore, but I hadn’t realized that the “extras” had left too.  What has replaced those extras is all mass produced and artificial.  And we have already been looking at it for months.

I am so glad that there is somewhere I can visit that still goes over the top for Christmas, with natural beauty and the scents of Christmas included.  Not the artificial scent of cinnamon pine cones found EVERYWHERE (and I should know, as I have a coughing fit every time I get near them), but the real scents of flowers and pine in abundance.

I am happy to say the inspiration is back!  Full force!  And now I know where to go when I need it again!

Where do you go to get re-inspired?

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Eat Your Frog!

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.
And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Mark Twain (Brainy Quote.com)

This little stone frog lives on my windowsill above the kitchen sink.  He lives there because that sink tends to be the first place I go in the morning to fill my tea kettle.    He is not adorable.  He is not even cute.  But he does have great significance to me, and I need to see his face each morning.

I bought this little guy back in February, 2011 at a small “flea market” in Haiti.  This was just a little over a year after the Haiti Earthquake of 2010, and the effects were everywhere we looked.   My husband, adult son, and I were all there as part of team that was building a village for displaced people to live.   When we came across these little hand carved stone frogs, my son and I just had to bring one home as a reminder of an important principle we had learned.

One morning while there, a spry awesome little spitfire 80+ year old nurse stopped at our table and asked my son and I if we had eaten our frog today.  Neither of us had any idea what she meant by that, so we asked for an explanation.  She proceeded to tell us that it was a saying that meant that you should look at the tasks that you have for that day, and do the one that you dread the most first thing in the morning.  This not only stops procrastination (You can’t procrastinate on a dreaded task more than a day if you are doing this!), but the rest of your day just seems so much easier after accomplishing that one thing.

We had no idea that this was part of a Mark Twain quote, and it wasn’t until years later that I found that out on the internet.   When I sat down to write this today, and looked up the quote, I found the second half of this quote:  “And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”  Even better!

Over the years, I have found it to be amazing how many things I put off and put off, only to find that it only takes me a few minutes to actually do it when I set my mind to it.  And it is so freeing when that thing is not on my mental to do list anymore!  Freedom AND productivity, all in one simple step.

So…   have YOU eaten YOUR frog today?