Friday, June 16, 2017

A Nod to My Dad and Grandpa

One of the things I placed on my quilty bucket-list was a quilt using my Grandpa's ties (and the two, yes, the only two, ties that my Dad owned).

The plan was to do a quilt like the one below...



But when I pulled the ties out of the closet and started to lay them out I quickly realized that I did not have enough ties to make a circle... or even half of a circle... or even a quarter!



I gathered them up and had to develop a "Plan B"...


I pulled out a pattern for "lollipops"... 




I then watched a few youtube videos on making Dresden plates...
and then I asked my sweet hubby to make a template for me using the pattern... while batting my eye lashes and looking all cute, I might add.  I added that if he could make it a little longer than the pattern showed, it would be great... He obliged and even scored the template for the original length.  What a guy!  He is definitely a keeper!





I began to remove all of the stitching in the ties to press them open... what a tedious job, by the way!  I did however enjoy several episodes of Chopped and Chopped Junior as I performed the task.  


Once all opened, since the ties were silk or wool, and on the bias I used fusible interfacing to stabilize them...  





Using the template I cut the pieces out.  
This particular pattern has 15 blades to make up the circle...










Folding the wide portion of the blade in half you stitch 1/4"- 








and then turn to form the point...






















I just love how it looks like an itty-bitty tie!


I did a bit of fussy cutting with a few of the ties to capture the insignia or a focal point of the tie.  (The two ties with the arrows are my Dad's ties...) The rest of them were just however the template fit since they were all stabilized with the interfacing.


As I prepared each of the plates I recalled the memories of vacations with my parents and grand-parents... 





Our "extreme weather" trip that included:  

     The high temperatures and desert like terrain in Arches National Park (the hike that we failed to take water with us and we came upon a hiker going back down the trail with an aluminum water container with ice jiggling it

     The "follow the leader" in our trucks/campers in Salt Lake City because we got lost (Grandpa and Grandma made U-turns, and we were right behind them, lol!)

     The very wet and soggy stops in Idaho (and the excitement of my Grandpa when the toilets at the campground were once again flushing [the campground was on a septic system and the ground was saturated], lol!

     And getting snowed in while camping in Yellowstone (and the breakfast prepared on the tailgate of a parking lot, and the enticing smells of bacon and eggs that all the others in the lot wanted as well{{I think they felt as we did in Arches and the guy with the water}} 

     I will never forget these memories! Yep, all in one trip! And sooooo many more memories!






I recalled spending a few weeks in the summer with them in Tucson... how I was so homesick the first few days of my first visit... getting up early so that we could work in the yard or do whatever chores needed to be done while it was still cool... taking naps or going swimming in the heat of the day... and enjoying ice cream every evening... 




(<<==this picture is a recent picture that I took while in Tucson in February)





I easily recalled the routine of getting ready for church each Sunday... Dad would be the first ready with his tie and cowboy hat in place would go get the car so that it was strategically placed at the end of the sidewalk so that we wouldn't have to cross the muddy or rutted driveway...  

And the smell of roasted chicken or ham and baked potatoes as we returned home.... Mmmmm!

Okay, that is enough time down memory lane... But what a special project this has become... I'm not yet sure how many plates I will get from all the ties or what I will do with them when I have them done, but I sure am having fun making them!  Thanks for joining me as I get all nostalgic.

What memories would you recall if you had your Dad's or Grandpa's ties?  
Please share in the comments below... I love to hear what my readers think.

Happy Father's Day!

Melva


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Heart of the Home...

In most homes the kitchen ends up being a gathering space for all that are present... It has been that way for generations.  

Below is my dad with his parents, obviously admiring the feast that lies before them... 

And an after-dinner visit with my cousin's baby... in the kitchen!



























It still holds true for many households today.  As the meal is prepped, the conversations and laughter ensue...  the food is placed on the table and family and guests gather together... some may offer thanks and some may just dive right in and dish up.  

It matters not, but conversation seems to flow much easier when there is a meal involved.  

Defenses are dropped and everyone becomes a bit more honest and real.

Conversations, sometimes heated conversations, ensue.  The recounting of the days events are given.  The good. The bad. Even the ugly.  Laughter is shared... Tears may be shed... Bodies are nourished... Energy is renewed...  Opinions are shared... Jokes told... Milk is spilled... and how many of us cried over spilled milk??? And then were told "I'll give you something to cry about." ? ME!

The table is where games are played... where cheaters get caught... stories are told...

The kitchen table is where memories are made.

This table cloth, I am certain, holds many memories.  Just imagine the stories it could tell... 




And when I was asked by my customer to turn the table cloth (that had been embroidered by her mom) into a quilt, I was more than happy to oblige.  


The table cloth was made from flour sacks...  
you can see there is still a light stamp "Bakers"




It was well worn, but patched with love...



I would have loved to have done some sort of "whole cloth" design on it with a wreath of feathers, but my customer requested an overall lattice design...




And when the quilting was done, it was obvious to me that it needed a pop of color so i pulled from the flowers and did a flange binding...



It has a cozy flannel backing as well as flannel for the batting...

Just imagine the memories that will be recalled when my customer Terre gives this quilt to her sister in October... until then, I think Terre may enjoy it herself. **wink, wink**


What memories do you recall when you think of your families kitchen table?

Happy Thoughts,

Melva



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Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Design, My Design

I have taken a big step out on a limb and designed some fabric on Spoonflower... my design features several major landmarks in the Trinidad, Colorado area.

Spoonflower has made it super easy to design!  I snapped a few pictures and borrowed a few (with permission from the photographers) of the landmarks that I wanted to feature, played with them in a photo editing program on my tablet to turn them into sketches and sketch/photo combination.  I then uploaded them the design page.  They offer several layouts and options of repeat, size, etc. and when I was satisfied with the look and the size of the photos for the projects I have in mind, I ordered them.

I have three fabrics in the collection...






This one is a sketch/photo combination featuring Simpson's Rest and the Trinidad Sign atop Simpson's Rest, Fishers Peak, the Spanish Peaks and the Bloom Mansion.







The Trinidad Brick is also a photo/sketch combo to offer a rustic, worn look... much like the brick-lined streets of Trinidad... (note: the brick does have TRINIDAD stamped in the center)





The sketch offers a simplistic look that features the Spanish Peaks, Fishers Peak and the Trinidad Sign.


I think the combination of these fabrics will be perfect for the "souvenir" type items that I offer, such as the wine bottle gift bags, bibs and pot holders.  



I am super excited to receive them and start creating!  But I have to wait a couple weeks for the order to arrive.... **sigh**





In the meantime, I will be working on another fun little heirloom project.  My customer wants to use an embroidered tablecloth turned into a lap quilt.   


Have you ever designed a custom fabric?
If so, what was your subject/theme?
What sort of items did you use the fabric in?

If you had to design some fabric, what sort of collection would you create?


Be Creative, Be Happy!

Melva

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Do YOU Ever Feel Let Down?

Avid readers often feel sad or let down when they finish a really good book, novel or series.  I have experienced this as a reader myself, though I am not really an AVID reader... I have also heard that Authors experience similar feelings... As a commissioned quilter I experience the very same let down when I finish a project...

And that is exactly what I am feeling today.  Just this morning I finished the "Sister Quilts" - The Snowy Day Quilt and The Rainy Day Quilt.  They have their labels and have been washed and and dried and are all wrinkly and squishy... 




And I am sad that they are done. **pouty face**

I  developed a relationship with them... I worked through some challenges - not just with the quilting, but also in my mind and I could probably solve all of the world's problems, if anyone just asked.

But honestly... 


Am I the only quilter that ever feels this way???  

Now, I admit that the feeling is much stronger when the quilts are for someone else.  

If it is a quilt that is staying in our home I toss it over the back of a chair... or the couch... or a bed... and I feel good about it.

I simply want to know that they are loved and cared for properly when they get to their new home.  I worry that the recipient will be nonchalant about it and not care.  

I get that some might think, "Come on, you got paid for them.  Let it go.  They are in the owner's hands now."

But what I'm not sure of is that many of the recipients understand the amount of thought and planning put into the quilt... the effort and love poured into each piece... each. and. every. stitch.  I'm not sure they understand that a little piece of ME goes with the quilt.

It's a little like sending a high school graduate off to college to experience life as an "adult"... You know parents worry needlessly, sometimes obsessively, that their child is getting enough sleep, or eating the right foods, not party-ing too much and doing well and making "good choices"... 

I survived sending off kids to college... and I will survive this as well.  And MOST of the young adults survive too... (though some battle scars are worse than others...)

It's not that I don't have another quilt to make.  

I do, in fact.  I have the next quilt sitting on my cutting table.  A pretty little embroidered tablecloth that will soon be a flannel backed, quilted lap throw.




But for now, I am going to savor my last day with the Sister Quilts.  I can start the next project tomorrow.

Be Happy, Sew Happy,

Melva

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Monday, June 5, 2017

I Like Bread...

I grew up on country music... and years ago there was a song by Tom T Hall entitled "I Like Beer".

Since blood tests revealed that my thyroid started "misbehaving" again I am following the direction from a natural health professional to make a radical diet change and eliminate all gluten (on top of my already restrictive diet of no corn, soy, dairy, sugar and potatoes), I have been experimenting with some recipes... and I have been singing "I like bread... it makes me a jolly good fellow!  I like bread..."  😎 ** sigh** It doesn't really help...


You can see that my "bread bin" has been taken over by my collection of GF flours...



Some experiments have been successful enough that I have or will try them again, like the pancakes and the pumpkin muffins shown here... The biscuits and tortillas were quite successful as well. Yay!




and some others... not so much! Blech!

As I find and try successful substitutions and alternatives my mind-set and attitude has improved.  However, I will be honest, just a week into the diet change there was a pot-luck at church.  I managed to make it through the line with some dry salad (lettuce & cucumbers) and a spoonful of BBQ beef that was made specifically for those that needed gluten-free and soy-free.  It was disheartening and disappointing and pathetic... and I was grumpy. Grrrr...😠

As the day progressed I continued to feel physically ill and did some reading on the supplements that I had started and discovered that one was specifically to help my body detox. 
Okay, so that explained the headache and lousy feeling.  I drank LOTS of water and slept for 9+ hours and felt better Monday morning.



Grateful that I was feeling better I happily headed to my studio and played a bit... The result was some Dresden Plates made with ties.  


There is a Father's Day post coming soon... 




I then plopped myself in the recliner and got caught up on my recorded programs from food network and did some English Paper Piecing...




It was so soothing...

But now it is time for free-motion feathers on the second sister quilt...


But before you go... do you have any gluten-free recipes you would be willing to share with me???
Please???

Happy Quilting!

Melva


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Birds of a Feather...

The first of the "Sister Quilts" has been quilted and is ready for binding!  It has been quite a week in my studio as I sat and quilted... continued quilting... and then quilted some more!

I chose to go with what I call and "orange peel" quilting in the sampler blocks.











As well as some pretty little vines and leaves in the sashing strips and the "non-HST" parts of the blocks.




I divided the wide borders into sections and did two runs of quilted feathers divided by a section of vines and leaves.



I was really at a loss for ideas of quilting as I sandwiched it.  Thank goodness it all started to come to me as I moved to the machine and progressed!  I had considered doing a serpentine pattern in the borders as I had done on the "enlarged quilt" last month, but my left hip argued with me stating that I sat nearly enough and that I needed to do something a little faster.  Free-motion is much faster than the walking foot!  So, free-motion won. 

What sort of quilting do you do on sampler quilts?  
Do you treat each block individually, or do you go with an all over quilting?

Also, what do you do to avoid the aches and pains that come with sitting at the sewing table for too long?

Let me know your ideas and suggestions by leaving a comment.  I love to hear from my readers and have the opportunity to interact with the quilting community in cyberland!

Happy Quilting!
Melva

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rainy Day Quilt

Last week was a wet, rainy and cloudy week...  




Not very typical for the area (we live in the high-mountain desert), but the moisture was welcome in our drought stricken area.  We had so much rain that the drought conditions have been reversed and everything is looking lush and green!

As it rained, day after day after day, I was happily in my sewing room working of the sister quilt of the "Snowy Day Quilt"... "Rainy Day Quilt"



The rain clouds have moved on and the borders of both quilts are on and ready to be sandwiched and quilted.

As I spent time perusing the gallery of the finished quilts I found several interesting quilting options for the sampler quilts.  You will have to watch for when I post about the finished quilts... how's that for a tease?

On a personal note, it was the early morning of the snowy day that my husband and I had ventured out for the local health fair, and it was at the end of the rainy week when we received the lab results of the health fair. 

The news of my TSH levels being low was a bit disturbing.  Mostly because I had been through the 2+ year treatment for Graves Disease several years ago and had been medication free for 5 years.  The endocrinologist had stated at that time that if my TSH levels dropped again surgery would be necessary.  My heart sank!

Not only surgery needed, but also the knowledge of needing medication for the remainder of my life does not appeal to me.

I quickly called the Natural Health Center of the Rockies and let them know that I was interested in some sort of natural alternative in treating my thyroid.  They helped me a year ago to find natural relief from seasonal and environmental allergies and it was life changing for me!  They reassured me that with a strict and radical diet change and a few supplements there was hope for correcting my thyroid activity.  YAY!

So, this week I have been exploring options for a gluten free diet... So long bread... farewell buns and English muffins... good bye pasta...  I know, I know, there are a lot of gf options, but in just the few days I have been searching, I have discovered that- 
1) the options in Southern Colorado are extremely limited and 
2) that most of the options are bland tasting and a weird texture.

I have openly admit that in the past I have enjoyed food...  for the flavors... for the textures...  and the variety.  And I refuse to succumb to eating strictly for nutritional necessities.  

I know that I am not alone and I am on the hunt for tried, tested and TASTY recipes - that are not only gluten-free but also soy-free and corn free. 

Many people suggested corn tortilla as an option to flour tortillas... Ehhh! (that is a buzzer sound, btw - lol.) No good - I can settle for a "burrito bowl" with some brown rice or quinoa instead of tacos or burritos.  But only if there is no pork or seafood.  **sad, pathetic sigh***

Thank goodness I had become adjusted to the biggest part of the diet change a year ago and know where and how to make substitutions... and that I don't mind taking the effort and time in making things from scratch.  I have recently looked into making my own vegetable stock since many of the stocks are not gluten free.

Most of the time I would welcome the opportunity to be in the kitchen, but I really, really would prefer to be in my studio quilting these sister quilts...



So if you are willing to help me out by sharing your tried, tested and TASTY gluten-free recipes, so that I don't have to search and experiment, I would greatly appreciate it.  You can leave the recipes or links in the comment section or feel free to e-mail me at davemelvanolan@aol.com  


Many thanks & blessings to you,

Melva

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Snowy Day Quilt

It was a snowy day when I finally had the time to devote to The National Quilters Circle Quilt Block Challenge...  




I had signed up way back in February and dutifully printed out each pattern as they arrived in my e-mail each week - ALL. NINE.  




At the time I thought, "No problem.  I'll have an hour each week to devote to the block"...  Yeah, right.

And then the wedding shower for my daughter happened.  And then I had to finish the wedding quilt.  And then I needed a baby shower gift.  And then, and then, and then.  And then it was time for the wedding!



It had been three weeks since the wedding... and then it was a cold, snowy Saturday that I didn't have any commissioned projects with pressing deadlines staring me in the face and no other obligations pulling me away.

I pulled fabric and started piecing... 

Six-and-a-half hours later I had eight of the nine blocks complete.  And there was a total of 8 inches of wet, heavy snow blowing outside... and it wasn't done yet! The quilt blocks OR the snow storm...




But I just couldn't muster up any more interest in the last block, shut down my studio and called it a day.  I did, however, return on Sunday afternoon to finish block #9...  For the most part, it really was a "snowy day quilt"!

A few days later I had an inquiry about a couple quilts for a customer's two young daughters.  He and his wife want to give them each a quilt that they could use while growing up and then take with them as they head off to college and spread their wings.  "A couple girly quilts."  And BOOM!  I had a purpose for all of these blocks.  

I made a few more blocks of my own, added sashing strips and "jewel stones" and have it ready for the final borders.




I have some fabric pulled for the second quilt and will get started on that next week.




For now the weather has turned warmer and I have enjoyed having the windows and doors open with a soft breeze passing by... Maybe the sister quilt will be "A Breezy Day" Quilt...

I had a random selection for the winners of the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Volume 15 issue... And the winners are Allison and Karen of Tu-na Quilts.  Congratulations!

Thanks for participating!

Melva


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