Sewing for a Cause

I’ve blogged before about my wonderful quilt guild that I’ve been attending, and how wonderful it is to be a part of it. I’ve also blogged about my goal of sewing at least 20 min. a week. This post is a combination of the two!

At last month’s guild meeting, a group of ladies had brought in a hand quilted quilt that needed a binding sewn on. Typically most quilters HATE to put the binding on. It’s a very tedious but important job. The binding, which is the last step in finishing a quilt, can easily make or break the quilt!

As this was brought up and we all sat there waiting for someone else to volunteer to do it, the silence was suddenly broken by a voice that sounded eerily familiar, “I’ll do it! I love to bind quilts!” I was shocked to realize that was my very own voice!

I do love to bind quilts and enjoy the finishing the quilt. For those who know me, I have a habit of starting projects and then taking forever to finish them. So it’s a small victory for me every time I get to put that last stitch in the binding and can declare the quilt finished!

Binding this quilt would be a way to start my goal of sewing for 20 min. a week, and for also helping cement my commitment to the guild. A way to break the ice, so to speak.

It took me NINE hours total, squaring the quilt, sewing the binding on, then hand sewing it down. I even learned a new technique to help make the binding look more professional!

Quilt binding

A close up of the actual binding being sewn on.

Here are a couple of pictures showing what I did. I didn’t take many, or even one of the quilt when it was finished. I hope one of the other ladies got one for me! The quilt was made as a donation for the hospital auxiliary auction to raise money for the local hospital.

hospital auxiliary quilt
I really need to get shelves to have more sewing space!

Motivation and the Beast of Lazy

Motivation is one of those mystical words: What is it? Where do you find it? And more importantly, how do you keep it once you have it?

The motivation for this quilt came from the fact it was a Christmas present and my sister wanted to learn to piece a top together.

This seems to happen to me every time I decide on a chosen path to my goals. I LOVE the planning process. I can spend hours, days, even weeks, making plans. This can sometimes drive my husband crazy, I’m sure, especially since he’s more of a go with the flow kind of guy. I’m not a control freak when it comes to plans, and quite frequently my plans change, which is another reason I’m sure my insistence that we plan ahead drives people nuts!

One draw back to making plans and putting so much energy into them is that when it finally comes time to execute the plan, you’ve used up all your energy and motivation. For this reason, we planners can come across as being unambitious, flighty, and just plain lazy.

This is the point I find myself today. I’m asking myself: What do I do next? How do I find my motivation? How do I keep it going? For this, I think I’m going to take a page out of the proverbial writer’s handbook and try to sew something even if it’s small like a coaster or a hot pad. Just one thing a week. Just 20 min a week! I’ll post my progress here each week starting next week! Let’s see what I can come up with!

Quilts and quilters are everywhere!

I’m taking an introduction to theater course as one of my classes this semester. One of the requirements is to attend two plays during the course of the class. I attended my first one tonight with my husband, Mark. We went to see the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. If you’re close to Edwardsville and haven’t attended a play performed at SIUE, then I highly recommend going!

So what does Oscar Wilde have to do with quilting? Nothing of course, but one of the characters, Aunt Aggie, during the third act came out wearing the most wonderful Victorian era costume. The FABRIC the dress was made out of sure had my mouth-watering. It was a terracotta colored calico. Or at least from my seat that’s what it appeared to be. I was imagining all the different quilt patterns that I could use that fabric in.

That got me thinking about other things I’d seen in the play. IF photos were allowed it would have been a great time to snap some for future inspiration. The color schemes used in both the costumes and scenery would be a great inspiration for future quilt colors. There was also this wonderful wall that had a painted swirl on it. I thought if I could just copy that into a free motion quilt pattern how beautifully it could be translated into many quilts.

It’s been said in many places that you are a true quilter once you start seeing quilts and quilting patterns everywhere you look, subway tiles, fabric patterns, clothing of people you pass on the street. I figure seeing these things pop in a play must mean I’m on the right track in my quilting journey!

How do you measure success?

The Ripson Bridge festival was on Sunday. I was one among 70 vendors there. Crafts galore, so many it was hard to decide where to look and browse first. Thanks to a connection with my friend who sells Pure Scentations candles, I had a prime spot. There were a lot of “looky-lous” and a few people even took business cards. A few festival goers even stopped long enough for us to have a conversation before they moved on to the next booth.

My first attempt at a booth setup.

I had been warned, “don’t be disappointed if you don’t sell a thing.” That was sage advice, especially coming from seasoned craft fair vendors. Of course, AFTER the fact it’s easy to tell just how wise those words were. I had heeded them, in the  recesses of my mind, but was still overly optimistic that I’d make it rich on my first craft fair. It’s easy to take the compliments that friends and family give you and build a pedestal for the products that you’re trying to sell. After all, they wouldn’t lie to you about something so important, would they?

Even though I only sold fourteen dollars worth of product (the space rent was 40), I’m still considering this a success. I did after all sell something! People took my business cards, and I’ve got my foot in the door! I didn’t have the items that others were looking for, but have also learned how not to market my items at this particular craft fair. Plans are in the making for improving my offerings and their marketing for next year’s festival. I’ll be giving my new ideas test runs at a show or two before then. Next spring should give me sufficient time to perfect my ideas and build up product! I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as to where and when my next show will be. Until then you can always browse what I’ve got for sale at

“It’s your foot in the door.”

My oldest son Colten enjoying the festival last October

When I decided a few months ago that I would sign up to participate in my first ever craft fair it seemed like a good idea. As the date gets closer, I’m not so sure! We’ve all been there, hearing about something that gets you excited and gets your blood pumping. You start looking for more information, find it and decide, “yep let’s do this!” So you fill out the required information and start to dream about just how wonderful it will be.

This is where my dreams usually depart from others! I’m a big dreamer, and tend to “over” dream. In my dream I have the most wonderful booth set up. Filled to over flowing with product. All tastefully displayed in a way that everyone is drawn into my booth and can’t help buying something. All of my quilts and wall hangings are done at the top-level my skills would allow. I sell out of everything and am rolling in the dough!

Reality often falls VERY short of these dreams. Now I find myself in the panic stages of event planning. Am I going to be able to pull this off? Will I be able to make enough product to even remotely fill a 10×10 booth? Will these items be what draws customers in? These things are bouncing around in my head. Sometimes they get so loud I have to take a break from sewing and find an outlet. During these times my house gets very, very clean! My family loves it, as often times I beat them to doing their chores just to get rid of the jitters.

I still have a week and a half until the Ripson Bridge Festival arrives, and I plan on working until I drop to make this as much of a success as I can. My loving husband, I think, said it best. “If you don’t do this sweetheart then you’ll never know. You won’t fail, but if you don’t do as well as you hoped, you’ll be better prepared for next year. It’s your foot in the door.” I have the best husband in the whole world! His words of encouragement will carry me through this and help me to succeed.

If you’re interested in seeing first hand if I’ve succeeded, please stop by my booth at the Ripson Bridge Festival, located near Sorento, IL in Bond County. I’ll be at the end of the tear drop shape next to a wonderful friend who sells candles!

To heirloom or not to heirloom?

Recently I picked up ANOTHER quilt magazine. Yep, I have to admit that I have a weakness. If I can’t buy fabric or other quilty tools, I have to find a new magazine that I haven’t read ye and bring it home where I will read and reread it! There are a lot of good articles in these magazines. From the history of quilting and techniques, to the who’s who in the quilting world, they are a wonderful source of information.

Here's my version of a "collage"

Upon reading an article in the October issue of Best Quilts for Christmas published by Quilter’s Newsletter, I discovered that there could be a wide range of things considered heirloom quality. In the article on page 6 “Memories of Christmas Past” they show some wall hangings that are made with pictures that were printed on fabric. I love this technique and have actually made a few christmas presents this way myself. However, it got me thinking. If you make something and put a picture of something vintage, old, or antique on it, does that alone make it an heirloom? Is it an heirloom because of what is used to construct it, or because of how it is constructed?

Here are the conclusions that I came up with. It is only an heirloom if it has been treasured enough to be passed on to someone in a younger generation with the intent that they keep/use it and will one day pass it down. Having defined it as such, I think there are important things to consider before making something of heirloom quality.

  1. What is its intended purpose?
  2. Does the construction fit this purpose? Will it last in its designated role?
  3. Is it something that anyone will want to keep or gift as something to be treasured?
  4. Does it require extra work to preserve? If so, is it reasonable?

These things are questions that will have to be answered as I continue on this journey. So very few things get passed on as heirlooms, will I have what it takes to create these treasures for my own family and yours?

Where to go?

For anyone starting out this can be a hard question to answer. Where is the best place to go for materials? Who is the best person to get your information from? Is there a good place to go for classes and instruction? There is enough of a debate about the best places to go for materials so I’ll leave that for another day. Today I want to let you all in on a little secret that I’ve discovered.

This spring I dragged Betty, my other mother-in-law, to a quilt show. It was at a local church hosted by the historical society and the local quilt guild.  The Creative Stitcher’s

This quilt was my "ticket" into the guild

guild was auctioning a queen size quilt. Since the show was free to attend, I decided to buy $5 worth of tickets. We looked around at all the lovely quilts and left. I was shocked when I found out I had won the quilt a few days later! One of the members of the guild brought the quilt to me at my son’s soccer game. While talking to her she invited me to attend the guild meeting later that same night. Wow! My first guild invitation! It would have been spectacular except for the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make it for a few more months.

I have since attended two guild meetings. My husband makes fun of me since the guild is run through the senior citizens’ center in nearby Greenville, IL. I am one of the youngest by at least 20 years, and there’s another reason he gives me such a ribbing. You see, I’m older than my husband by 2.5 years, so the old jokes fly regularly around my house!

I joined the guild as a card-carrying member on Sept. 1, 2011. I decided after attending the first meeting I couldn’t pass up this great opportunity for networking and camaraderie. These ladies have all been quilting for years longer than I have, some even longer than I’ve been alive. They have massive amounts of information and the time to teach it to someone who wants to know what they do. I’ve already been privy to the guild’s lessons. They have contributors come in to each guild meeting and present a lesson in quilting techniques, information or just plain fun. They also have a show and tell session where guild members and guests can bring in their projects and show them off. During the first meeting I attended, I was privileged to be shown a quilt that was made back in the 1850’s or 1890’s! This last meeting, I met a lady who routinely does t-shirt quilts. You can bet I’ll be getting in contact with her to pick her brain for information!

These are just a few reasons that your local guild’s and senior centers are a great source of information. I encourage anyone who is starting out in a new hobby to check out both of these places to see what you can learn! I know I’ll be keeping you posted!