Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hexagons... or Why I quilt

Sometimes when I tell people I quilt they look at me like I have 3 eyes. What? But you're so young. Isn't quilting something old grannies do?

As much as it bothers me when people say things like this, when I reflect on it further I think the tradition of quilting is part of the reason I quilt. I grew up in a home filled with quilts made by... you guessed it,  my great grandmother.  They are some of the most treasured heirlooms in my family.

Quilting is an American Legacy. Quilting first became popular in colonial America when women would take scrap pieces of fabric and make blankets. When I made my first quilt top years ago, I was drawn to quilting because I thought I felt like it was a dying art that was being lost in my generation.

cutting some hexagons for a new project/experiment
Many projects later, I still enjoy quilting. I love the idea that my children and their children's children may get to snuggle under blankets I made. I love making quilts for other people; there is something about the labor of love in handmade gifts that I really enjoy. I love the creative process of picking out colors and fabric, deciding on designs, and getting to create something new.

Today, after enjoying a quilting convention with my mom all day, I jumped into a new project with some of the fabric and tools we got at the convention. I began laboriously cutting tons of little hexagons to make a pillow . It was pretty labor intensive and I am still not 100% sure how they are going to be sewn together, but am excited to try something new.

hand made quilt by my great grandmother
When I finally headed upstairs to go to bed, I immediately noticed the beautiful quilt lying on my bed. I have seen this quilt thousands of times in my life, but suddenly it took on a whole new meaning for me. Hexagons. Cut individually and sewn together  (by hand), by my Great Grandmother Myrtle Mullins.

I wish my grandmother was here with me today and I could ask her all of my questions as I venture into this new project;. Until then, hopefully she can laugh from heaven as I make mistakes and smile in knowing I am helping carry her legacy forward.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finished Project: Americana Baby Boy Quilt

One big perk to settling down in one location and no longer travelling is that I have had time to craft a lot more than last summer/fall. I did a paint by numbers project over Christmas (surprisingly easy and relaxing), I started a scrapbook/smashbook that features highlights from 2012, and I have been quilting up a storm. Below is a project I just finished for a colleague at work and his upcoming baby boy. Their primary nursery colors are creme and red, with "rustic americana" as the theme.

This quilt was very similar to one I made about this time last year for my friend Erin. I think this might be my favorite kind of baby quilt because they are so easy to put together but also are a little more personal than a swaddling blanket (which I also make a lot of). My favorite way to make them is to applique a monogram or word on the back to give it a little bit of personality.

As usual, as soon as I set the quilt down to take photos, Myao Ming decided I was on his turf and he needed to check things out.

A little  bit of the detail. I have a tendency to be a bit too "matchy matchy" with my quilts, but I think this one came out nice. I also used a friend's machine quilter for the first time which was really fun and also makes for such a nice finished product.  I am now in major machine envy and dream of owning my own (I just need a few, say 10 or so... thousand dollars!)

And here the kitty has claimed his spot for a nap. Hopefully no one who receives gifts from me is allergic to cats... yikes! But in all truthfulness, I did dump him off the quilt shortly after this photo was taken.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Window Treatments

Since we moved to Little Rock, I have done a bunch of fun house projects. I volunteered to host a baby shower man shower* for a colleague, and since the whole team was coming over I wanted the house to look nice. I am not the only one who has crazy nesting urges before entertaining, right? I sure hope not.

Anyway, one of my first projects was to figure out some window treatments. I knew more or less what I wanted them to look like, and since I couldn't find them in a store I decided to make them myself. For the living room drapes I followed tutorials from the House of Hepworth's,  They were fairly simple to put together, and came out nice. I bought the fabric fairly cheap from one of my favorite spots in Dallas, Best Fabric Outlet.

We also got some new furniture shortly after moving in, but yikes were the pillows that came with them ugly. So, with the help of John and my Mother in law, we bought some fabric and made our own pillows. 

This is our dining area - I went back and forth about how I wanted to do these, but decided to go with a valence. These would have been beyond easy if I had done them, I initially just slapped some fabric on a styrofoam board with some masking tape. John knew better, and did some fancy hole drilling and stapling to make them more secure.

*I don't have a ton of female colleagues. So I get desperate and throw the men I work with "man showers" when the time comes.  This one was mustache themed and so much fun...will have to follow up with another post.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Weekend with Dad in Dallas

John and I just returned from a long weekend in Dallas. I guess I spoke too soon last post -- unfortunately my dad's cancer has made another appearance. He had surgery on Wednesday and we arrived later that night to spend a few days with him. He was in high spirits all weekend, my dad's attitude through trials is nothing short of incredible. He kept joking with us before the surgery "What does a guy have to do to take a nap?", when referring to being put under and finally getting away from work. Through giant incisions,big scars, the potential of more grueling treatments, and a lot of uncertainty, he is almost all positive energy and smiles. He is an incredible example to me of faith and perseverance through trials. And Oh! How I love my sweet father.

One of the highlights of our weekend was enjoying a yummy chicken pot pie.  My dad saw the recipe in the Dallas Morning News before his surgery, and wouldn't stop talking about it until he was eating a bite (and even after, he referenced how great it was daily!). It was pretty tasty, though I recommend substituting thyme and rosemary for the tarragon. This is how I cooked it anyway -- not sure who would want a pot pie that tastes like black licorice?

 When I go home to Dallas I often do a lot of cooking, sleeping, reading and resting. This weekend was no exception, I spent many hours just chatting with my family or going for walks. I hope your weekend was just as  peaceful, relaxing and refreshing.

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