Thursday, August 28, 2014

C- in Social Media

I am a bit busy these days. Busy with my three bunnies, a good sized house and busy trying to building up a charity dedicated to memorial quilts and my longarm quilting business too.

I want to be good at social media - I want to promote myself, my talents & my ideas - but I just end up having very little energy or time for it. I also find myself (not yet 40) feeling and looking confused and often stating 'I just don't understand!' I feel like my parents when we first got a VHS video player!!!

I have an iphone - I have an instagram account, I also have a twitter account (what is twitter?). While I work I often take photos of what I am doing thinking 'oooh I like this' or 'ooh that is pretty' and then fail to do anything with them and later in the day I think to myself 'no one is really interested in that!'

So here are some 'would have been' social media posts with their 'would have been' captions and you should tell me if I should be trying harder with this whole social media lark ....

"Standing on it doesn't help me decide what and how to quilt on it"

"It is pitch black and I'm still quilting .... "

 "It is pitch black and I'm still quilting .... " (do you see a trend?)

"Does anyone else find matching thread really really exciting?"

"Donna - help - it broke!!!"

"Creating a quilt with Bunny#1's first fabric line"

"Bunnie#2 confused by the concept of a 'silly selfie'"

"Bunnie#2 has fully got the concept of a 'silly selfie'"


"Had to put the rule against it to see how tight the quilting really was"

 "Unmarked feathers - whoop whoop"

"Bunnie #1's first selfie"

"I call this kind of stretching while I work 'sewga'"

"It has begun."

"Beginnings of a another heart breaking memorial quilt"

"Bunnie#1 is sewing!!!"

"Nearly finished!"


"New obsession - peppered cotton"

"Selfie - audio book on - new cheapo glasses on - optician said 'its your age'...."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What your parents teach you ....

Like every child there times that I found my parents embarrassing. I'm a bit mortified that already by 5 years old I'm being spoken back to and being told to stop doing what I'm doing because I'm clearly being just too silly .... (Moi? Jamais!)

After having had my own children I developed a new sense of appreciation for everything my parents have ever done for us - granted they still do stuff I don't quite understand - but I get that now because I am constantly doing things that my kids don't understand at all! It occurred to me the other day that my love of recycling fabrics and things does come from a lifetime of my parents recycling and remodeling things into beautiful toys and things for us too. They taught me to look beyond a paper roll or potato and turn it into something else.

Here are some examples.

This is a quilt that my mother made for me when I was very young. It is a twin quilt made out of recycled clothes. I think a lot of them are her old clothes - but the light blue gingham border & name is made from our old summer school uniforms from when we were very young.

I have to be honest Mummy - I'm not sure what the rat and the worm are about ;-) ...

.... I used this quilt on my bed until I was in the mid twenties and finally indulged myself to a double bed!

You can see how worn the fabrics are - and it really needs some repair. 

My mother was surprised to learn I still had this quilt. But it is something that is now very carefully wrapped up and looked after. I hope to mend/restore it in someway in the future.

And here is my sisters quilt - equally as loved, used & cherished.

My father doesn't sew (although he has done some mean splicing of rope in his time) but he does make the most amazing things out of old wooden wine cases.

I have an art box that he made me and that came to school & then onto art school with me. It is very heavy - but I lovingly lugged it around with all my paint & paint brushes in it.

And he made the most beautiful advent calendar for the kids. When we were little he made versions of this out of cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other - every day a new box with a new little goodie in it. It was fabulous and we loved it - but now I realize how hard it is to find 24 different little things that fit into small spaces every year for the advent calendar! How much you don't think about when you are little. Do much taken for granted. I want to be little again!!

And most recently he made the most beautiful 'box of secrets' for Bunny #1. We haven't actually given it to her yet as we really want her to fully appreciate how lovely it is (and have some hope of cracking the crazy homemade secret mechanism he invented for opening the box.) It is really incredible and he doesn't quite give himself enough credit for the amazing things he makes.

So when families thank me for the quilts I make them from their loved ones clothes - I should remember to thank my parents too - because there is rather a lot that they taught me about the potential of and beauty in recycled things - and they should be credited (just a little bit) for the work I do.

But how I dearly wish I had a picture to share of the giant rocking sheep they made us when we were little ... that was an epic homemade toy!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Best Beetle Ever

There are some really special moments when I hand over the quilts to the families I have been working for. 

I was sad not to be able to hand this quilt to Asia & S in person because they live some distance away. I was so utterly thrilled to hear their response to the Bess Beetle quilt was more than positive!

To quote the adorable little S - "This is the best quilt ever. I love Bess Beetle's babies there are so many of them"


S - "Thank you this is the best quilt ever and it is also a toy. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Oh how I love children, their imaginations, the words they use & their unique perspective on the world. I want to make more of these quilts - if you would like to make one with your child - lets work together to make that happen.

If you have small children don't forget to check out Asia's website Fun at Home with Kids - it is a magical resource for exploring the world with your little people.

A big thank you again to the whole Citro Family for giving me this very special project to work on. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kids Outdoor Activity: Hedgerow Hair

We have been in the UK visiting family & friends. It is a tough job to travel transatlantic with 3 small children under 5 - away from their routine, toys and home comforts. Not to mention my withdrawal from my beloved Bernie & Freddie.

Crippling homesickness also returns whenever I travel to the UK. One forgets how beautiful the UK is and other important things like how delicious Jammie Dodgers and Jaffa Cakes are!

I know the kids will be so happy to return home to all their toys - but I do dream of a much simpler life where we don't have a room full of plastic toys and where the pressures of a consumer society are more removed. (I am a mild hermit at heart!) But truth be told - my kids are kids and they love toys!

So for two weeks we have been entertaining the kids without many of the things we utilize at home. And yet again I'm blown away by the kids imagination and ability to amuse themselves with little to no toys within their reach. For example I never knew collecting eggs from chickens would be such a highlight for them.

And I was really amazed by this idea that my eldest came up with. I have to admit that she wanted to be like Rapunzel in the Tangled movie - but the title of 'Hedgerow Hair ' appealed to me more.

Basic premise:

Go for a nice walk in the countryside ....

.... spend a longtime throwing stones into a stream ....

.... pick lots of wild flowers along the way and stick them in your hair.

It was so simple yet had them entertained for a VERY long time.

(If you don't have the countryside hedgerows easily available to you - like us in the US - letting your kid pick and use the flowers in your yard will provide the same experience and delight for your children!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kids Art Quilt: Bess Beetle

There are few things I am more passionate about than turning clothes into quilts - but making quilts from kids art work is probably up there too. This was a quilt that I took some 8 days to longarm - that is about 64 hours of non stop quilting - which for a good sized twin sized quilt is a pretty decent amount. This quilt has some fun surprises in it too. The original drawing of Bess Beetle can be seen here. 

To begin with I began Googling 'beetles' to get some ideas. Beetle tracks popped up - and I liked that idea. So there are beetle tracks all over the quilt. I made my beetle tracks with a round foam brush and black fabric paint. Once the paint was dry & heat set with a hot iron it was time to load the quilt onto Freddie and begin quilting around those beetle tracks.

Have you spotted the quilting design yet? It is a mix and match leaf pattern. All the leaves are the same shape.

I made my own template out of a cereal packet to quickly mark the outlines & then each leaf line is heavily quilted - more than a micro stipple - and each leaf has its own design.

Bess herself was made from a panel I created and ordered through Spoonflower.  (Spoonflower Tip: To create an image the same size as the width of the fabric your picture needs to measure 6300 pixels x 5400 pixels.) Here is Bess ....

Here is what the whole quilt looks like.

 And of course you need to see the back. 

 And that isn't it.

What is this? A little bag? What could be in it?

Well when Bess was with us she had some babies. (Again with the help of Spoonflower.) Fifteen babies to be exact.

And on the back of each baby is a piece of Velcro. 

And each baby attaches to various places on the quilt. (The black beetle tracks hide the Velcro spots perfectly.) I wonder if S will be able to find where they live!

I used a wool batting AND a cotton batting for this quilt so the texture is divine. 

And here is the quilt - all folded up and concealed in its matching Bess Beetle pillowcase.  Did I forget to mention I made a matching pillowcase too? I used a very old pillowcase tutorial of mine - and I was pleased that it all still made sense!

I really hope that Asia & S love their beetle quilt as much as I loved making it.