Friday, February 28, 2014

34 quilts in February

I'm liking this picture a month of what I've been up to.  Some days I'm not doing anything, but when I look at what I accomplish over the month, I can see that every little bit adds up to a whole lot of something.  These things sure are colorful.  And I'm happy that most of them are out of the house and into the hands of the people who need hugs.  Some of these went to a family whose father was shot over the Christmas vacation.  There were three girls and two boys and a mom who got quilts.  Some went to A Mother's Hope and some went to Layers of Hope, Quilting 911.  Some stayed locally for Nurse Family Partnership.  Some will go to the Philippines.

This weekend I will be changing the tracks on my quilting machine and then loading up more quilts for the next round of quilting madness.  March madness starts tomorrow!  Looks like it will come in like a Lion around here.  Stay warm my friends.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Really? Another phone call? Another crashed car?

 This time my husband crashed the car.  Lots of rain, slick freeway onramp.  The police said there are lots of accidents at that onramp.  Nobody else was involved luckily.  And my husband wasn't hurt.
 Good thing we have extra cars sitting around.  This is not good for my stress level or migraines.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Binky Patrol

 Today is my 10 year birthday of starting my Binky Patrol chapter.  10 years.  That's a long time to keep doing the same thing.  10 years of hugs.  10 years of smiles.  10 years of collecting fabric and yarn and meeting great people and hearing stories of kids and helping.  Sometimes I wish I had kept track of exactly how many blankets we've made and sometimes I am glad I haven't.  I've always been really bad at numbers.  The blog has helped a bit because I've been keeping track in shorter time spans, but even then, I don't have an exact number of blankets in and out.  I just know it's been a lot.  Thousands, that's for sure
 So how do you celebrate a big milestone like 10 years of doing something you love?  By making more Binkies of course.  I wonder if I will still be making quilts 10 years from now and how the group will have changed .  When I started, I was pregnant with my youngest.  I had three kids at home and didn't live in this house.  I was only a crocheter and didn't know how to knit.  I had just started teaching high school, my oldest was in middle school.  She's in grad school now.
 My house was full of birds and guinea pigs and buckets of yarn.  I was making about one crochet afghan a week. When I first started, it was just me, making blankets and I couldn't give them away to the hospital because they thought I was a crazy lady trying to sell them baby blankets.  They didn't want to buy blankets from me so my mom encouraged me to start a Binky Patrol chapter so I would have a national organization behind me with a recognized name.  Once I did, the hospital happily accepted my free blankets.  Then, they wanted more than I could make myself.  I had my first official drop off meeting in August and had a whole bunch of people come and drop off quilts and blankets.  I think I got about 200 blankets at that first meeting.  By that time I had given birth to my son and my kids came with me to help me collect the blankets.  It was exciting and fun and scary at the same time.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I'm oh, so glad I did it.
No matter what the next 10 years have in store for me, I'm happy for the past 10.  I'm happy for all the friends I've made and the new skills I've learned and the people I've been able to help.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A picture of Carla and Me!

An actual picture of Carla and me together.  Do you know how rare that is?  We've worked together almost 10 years and this is the first time we've been captured on film together.  Crazy!  This is from the online edition of the newspaper.  I'm so happy I could dance, but I won't.  That would be scary.


Does this quilt remind you just a little bit that summertime will be here soon?  Sorry to everyone who is in the middle of another snowstorm.  We will be enjoying another 70 degree day.  You are all welcome to come join us, but of course we have no water so there are down sides to every story.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

steps to making a quilt

This post is more for me, but I thought you might be interested in what goes into the making of one of the quilts we give away.

First, there's the fabric.  99% is donated.  Most starts with a phone call or through word of mouth from someone who hears about what we do.  Either they buy too much fabric (how is that possible?) or the wrong color, or decide that they really don't like sewing.  They have leftovers from a project and don't want to deal with the scraps.  About once a month I get a call from someone whose mother or grandmother or wife has passed away and they are left with a hobby and don't know what to do with all the 'stuff'.  Could I use it?  I pick up anywhere from a bag to an entire garage full of goodies.  They are happy the items are going to a good cause, I am happy to have new colors, patterns and beautiful fabrics to play with the aged to perfection fabrics that have been waiting for new friends to play with.

Then, there's the sorting of the fabric.  You have to listen to the fabric.  If you listen, it will talk to you.  Some fabric wants to be a quilt top, some wants to be backing fabric and some wants to be binding.  Listen closely and you will hear it talk.  Some wants to wait a while to be matched to fabric that isn't here yet.  You have to be patient. If you must have a clean and neat house, you probably aren't meant to do this.  Or, you really need to have a really big house, storage shed, or great organizational skills.  I have none of the above.  What I do have is a very patient husband and children who could get a gold medal in obstacle avoiding, even in the dark.  Every day, I rearrange, trying to pack in more items, moving in and out fabric, quilt kits, finished quilts and things in various stages of being finished.  They never know what will be where and they always go with the flow, rarely complaining, except when they step on a pin.

Once the fabric has been sorted, it then gets cut.  I have several 'go to' patterns we use often.
Mary's Quick Strippie
is probably the most used when we have three fabrics that go together.
Super Size 9 Patch is a super quick quilt for another 3 color quilt

Then there are dealing with scraps.

The Accuquilt Studio fabric cutter is a must have for dealing with the tremendous amount of scraps we get.  If you have lots of teenagers and a whole bunch of scraps, you can get a lot of quilt kits cut out.  I love the 6 1/2 inch tumbler die.  The shape is interesting and the size is perfect, not too big and not too small.

Once the pieces are cut out, we pass out the kits to anyone who wants to take them home to sew.  Some people sew them quickly and some more slowly but all area appreciated.  When the quilt tops are finished, they are returned to be quilted.  There are lots of ways to quilt the quilts.  Just visit youtube and search how to quilt a quilt.  Having a long arm machine is the easiest way for sure.  I've tried quilting in the ditch on my sit down machine and I was very lame at it.  Kudos to anyone who can do that!

EDIT: I left out a step here!  When the tops are returned, backs need to be made.  Here's where I get stuck sometimes.  If a top is narrow enough that I don't have to piece a backing for it, those quilt tops usually get finished first.  What can I say, it's one less step in the quilting process. :)

But, most quilts need a pieced backing.  So, there is more sorting and digging for the perfect backing fabric.  Then, there is measuring of the quilt top and measuring of the backing fabric and often there isn't enough of one piece of backing fabric so there's digging to find two or more pieces of fabric that actually go together to make a nice looking back for the quilt.  That has to be sewn together and loaded on the frame.  I'm getting faster at this step, but sometimes I just can't find the energy to do all of these things just so I can quilt something and rather than load a quilt, I will sit and sew.  It slows down the quilting process.  A couple days ago, I had a power matching session and pulled about 2 dozen quilt tops and matched them with backing fabric.  I took a giant decision making step out of the process so when I'm ready to quilt, all I have to do is make the backings and I can then quilt the quilts.  Time is saved because some of the backing goes with multiple quilts and can be loaded once and quilted two or three times.  That helps a lot too when making so many quilts.  I can quilt three quilts before having to unload the quilting machine.  It saves about 10 minutes per quilt that way.

Once the quilts are quilted they need to be bound.  We have a group of ladies who are our binding buddies.  They are my heroes.  I can bring them a stack of quilts and pick them up finished in a week.  While I don't mind binding, I would rather do other things.

Then, homes need to be found for the quilts.  There are so many places for the quilts they rarely sit around for long.  More often than not, the quilts have homes before they are finished.  I could make them twice as fast and still have homes for all of them.  That's one reason we are asking for more helpers and why we are teaching the teenagers how to sew.

Note to self:  I need to plan more time sorting and cutting fabric and making more quilt kits.  I have lots of people willing to make quilt tops if I could get them quilt kits faster.  I have a lady that can sew 20 quilts tops a week.  She has an industrial machine that is really fast.  But then I have 20 quilt tops a week that I can't quilt fast enough.

I wish I was better organized so that I could work more efficiently.  Since I have the robotic machine, I can quilt while I cut fabric, but sometimes I have to sort and move things before I can find what I need and by the time I get everything organized the quilt is finished and I'm tired.  I need the energy of the teenagers, but my house is too small to host a quilt day.  Maybe I should host a clean my house day :)  Think anyone would show up?

show some love

 Margaret's Hope Chest is looking for some heart quilts.  This one was sent to me to quilt.  I didn't see the heart while I was quilting it, but how cute is this?  It's an I spy quilt too with really cute little blocks all put together.  I 'heart' this quilt!
And more boy quilts are always needed for every charity I work with.  I'm really focusing on picking out boy fabrics to make kits with this year because every time I get a phone call from an organization, they are always asking for boy quilts.  I have to be purposeful in reminding myself about this.

And I got a phone call yesterday from a group that works with homeless asking for quilts for the kids they serve.  Then today I got a phone call from a man who said his wife passed away a couple years ago.  He asked if I would like all the boxes of fabric she had.  She was a quilter and had won best in show in the Dixon May Fair a few years ago.  He didn't want to give her fabric away to Goodwill and wanted it to be used for something like Binky Patrol.  He saw the article in the paper and was so happy to find us.  I was so happy he found us too. :)  I love those phone calls!  I will be picking up the fabric tomorrow afternoon.

Layers of Hope Quilting 911

Have you heard about Layers of Hope, Quilting 911?  It was started to help dispatchers and first responders who need some help themselves.  We work to make quilts to send to comfort those who answer the call when we are in trouble.  If you are looking for a worthwhile organization to donate a quilt to this year, check out this group.  They are looking for a few quilters to step up and help out.

What do these things have in common?

 This bucket of scraps...
 will meet this Accuquilt Go! fabric cutter and dies...
 to be cut into practical shapes, which will be made into quilt kits that will be passed along to a new recruit :) yay...
while I watch the USA hockey team play Finland for the Bronze medal.  I don't even like hockey, but I do love the Olympics.  Go USA.  Let's see what a couple hours of focused work can accomplish.

Friday, February 21, 2014

from all over

 This quilt top came from Carol Egan in Saint Paul Mn and I quilted it for Margaret's Hope Chest.  I love coin quilts.  They are a great way to use up bits and pieces from other quilts.  I need to do this with my scraps.  Boy do I have scraps.  I have a coin quilt my mom made for one of my kids that I use all the time.  It's just a kid quilt, but is perfect for the couch when you just need to cover up for a nap.  Today was a nap kind of day.  Gravity was strong on the couch.  I think partly because the furlough week is coming to an end and partly because I wasn't feeling well.
This quilt top came all the way from the Netherlands.  How crazy is that?  I love the pattern.  Too bad my photographer didn't tell me I was holding it sideways.  Hard to get good help these days :)  The box is almost full of quilts for Margaret's Hope Chest.  Let me know if you have something you want quilted for the project.

Quilt Day Feb 20, 2014

In their own words.  Why people come to Quilt Day.  Enjoy!

Quilt Day

and a short video too

We had our quilt day yesterday and the local newspaper came out to cover it.  We got front page coverage in today's paper :)

We had a great time making quilts for kids.
 Here's the reporter taking a video of the kids working.
 Lots of ladies sewing binding onto quilts.
 The president of National Honor Society attempting to sew.  He gives everything 100% effort!
 The reporter even tried sewing something.  He said he wanted to be a part of the quilt making process and the 'group hug' we were making.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

memory quilt finished

 well, except for the label.  It should make it in the mail on Friday.  Tomorrow is quilt day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

rainbow cats

After changing out the tracks on the quilting machine, the stitching is really smooth.  I need to order some new ones.  The new tracks (not really new, just different ones I already had) are already starting to get pitted, they just are just old and brittle.  Maybe the new ones are better made and will last longer.  I can only hope.  I love the smooth stitching, that's for sure!

Binky Patrol: For those considering starting a local chapter

Want to start your own Binky Patrol chapter or get involved with a local Binky Patrol chapter?  Here's a video from the founder, Susan Finch on ways to get started.

Monday, February 17, 2014

getting close

I want to put a border on this, but the fabric I want to use is so wrinkly that I threw it in the dryer to help take some of the wrinkle out.  I tried ironing it, but half my ironing board is full of stuff.  How lazy can I be?  I'd rather just throw the whole piece in the dryer than clean off my ironing board. :)  Please tell me I'm not alone here!  I was hoping to get this one on the machine today, but I need to change out the tracks on the carriage before I quilt another quilt.  Just one more thing.  I must eat one more cookie my oldest daughter made and sent me for Valentine's Day to build up my strength before I tackle that job.  That quilting machine is HEAVY!  And those cookies are quite delicious.  I'm sure they have no calories because she is such a healthy kid.  I have no idea where she got that from!  And I'd hate for those cookies to rot before they got eaten.  They are so yummy.  I'm liking this turn of the times where she is sending me treats for the holidays.

I'm also watching women's hockey in the Olympics.  So different from men's hockey.  THe ladies keep falling down when they bump into each other.  Kind of funny.

Happy President's Day. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

simple and practical

 these quilts with 6 1/2 inch squares are some of my favorites.  I especially like this one because of the unusual fabrics.  Fun, funky and yet they all go together so well.  The backing fabric is from the 60's and has waited long enough to be finally made into a quilt to comfort someone.
 And what could be more perfect than a panel of pre printed cuteness?  I was cleaning the sewing room last week and found these two.  I thought about adding borders to make them bigger and then found two pieces of flannel that matched perfectly and knew they would be perfect baby quilts for the Nurse Family Partnership.
Seems like I got a lot done today and I have the whole week off.  Here's to organizing, planning and using time wisely.  Maybe I will even squeeze some grading in this week.

final blocks for the memory quilt?

 maybe.  I am hoping to lay out the blocks tomorrow to see if I need anything else.  I believe I have 20 blocks.  I love the Blazing Star blocks I made using the Accuquilt Go! die.  I will post a tutorial on that one.  It was a bit confusing at first because I didn't follow the directions on the die, I just winged it and sewed it backwards.  I had a nice bowl on the first block and had to resew the whole block.  It didn't lay flat and I should have known I was doing something wrong when the seam wasn't straight, but I kept going anyways.  I'm learning, sometimes very slowly.  But, it's just fabric so it's ok to make mistakes and learn from them.

a quilt for every taste

 I just love that there are so many different quilts in so many different colors, patterns and sizes.  This first quilt has fussy cut centers and bright, bold colors.  Just perfect.
 This one is simple, just squares in pinks and reds, but calls to me.  I love the simple quilts that let the fabrics do the talking.  The same quilting on this quilt and it really stands out because the quilt pattern isn't as obvious.  I love this quilting design.  It's one of my favorites and my go to when I can't decide what to put on a quilt.  It came free with the quilting machine.
And what could be easier that a whole bunch of strips sewn together?  I added the border because the backing fabric was big enough and who wants to waste backing and batting?  I love the plumeria quilting design because it is cute and fast.

What motivates my quilting

I found this article interesting.  It talks about what motivates workers.

I know that when I know where the quilts are going, I'm more motivated to finish them quicker.  I really liked the idea of having a picture in mind and the idea of a baby panda made me smile.  While we don't make quilts for baby pandas, being able to see the kids, really does help.  99% of the time I don't get to see who actually gets the quilts, but that 1% does really motivate me.  I'm totally ok not having the personal connection between making the finished quilt and handing it to the final recipient, because I know the person I hand the quilt to will give it to a child who really needs a hug.

One of our recent quilt destinations is Project Pearls.  After the typhoon in the Philippines where so many people lost their lives, I made a friend, Melissa.  Here she is with one of her new friends.  These are the children who have lost their parents.  I recently learned she was orphaned at a young age and that is why she started Project Pearls.  If you haven't heard about the project yet, look them up either on their web page or through Facebook.  They are doing great things for the children of the Philippines.  Perhaps you will want to support their efforts as well.

And because baby pandas are just too adorable, here's a dozen of them to motivate you to go quilt something today!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What motivates your quilting?

 Marcia Harmening came to my local quilt shop today and I just happened to be in there to purchase some fabric for a new quilt I'm making.  There were quite a few women there to hear her talk about her quilts.  She had lots of quilts to share and I popped in the back room for a few minutes while the ladies cut my fabric.  Several things came to mind as I listened and watched the people who were watching.

I've never seen most of the people who came to hear this author at the quilt shop before.  I started thinking, what motivates people to quilt?  I'm sure for every person there, each one has a different story.  I'm sure some quilt to make gifts for others, some quilt to make beautiful art, some quilt to bring comfort and some quilt because it is a relaxing way to spend extra time.

It can be an expensive hobby, or it can be thrifty, if you use recycled fabrics and hand me down, recycled clothing.

I often wonder what makes people like me make charity quilts and give them away and what makes people like the lady today make dozens of quilts and hang onto them, drag them all over the country and show them off.  

So, how did you get started quilting?  What motivates you?  What keeps you going back again and again?  The colors, the finished quilts, the friends you make?

I often wonder what people who don't quilt do with all the time in their day?  Do they spend all day cleaning their houses?  What a sad life they must have!

Thanks for taking a minutes to help me learn a little more about what motivates quilters.

Olympic Inspiration

 How much do you love the Olympics this year for the inspiration it is giving to us quilters?  I mean seriously?  the patchwork, the color, the beauty?  I just love watching all the sports because all the athletes are sporting such great uniforms and the flags are everywhere showing off such great patchwork which makes me want to go quilt something!  Thank you Sochi!
 I'm just waiting for all the quilt designers to put out some amazing quilts to go with these gorgeous fabrics.
 Now the USA team jackets?  I'm not so in love with them.  Looks like somebody just threw a whole bunch of USA stuff together without too much thought to the final product.  Come on, we could have done better. :(
 Like the Norway Curling Team!!  That's some style!
 And yes, those pants do make your butt look big!
 I LOVE the Snowboard jackets.  My husband asked if I wanted one.  No, but I do want to make a quilt in those colors.  Perfect for a guy quilt, don't you think?

GO USA!  Go Quilt something!