April 07, 2012

don't put off today...

I'm a procrastinator (as evidenced by my last post). This is a problem I have struggled with most of my life. I've never received a diagnosis from a medical professional, but I'm fairly certain that I also suffer from ADD... and while I'm at it, I might as well confess to being OCD as well. Doesn't that sound like a hot mess?

ANYWAY... back to the procrastination thing. Sometimes I put things off because they aren't fun and I don't want to do them. Things like laundry, income taxes, cleaning. You get the picture. Other times, I procrastinate because I lose focus when I'm trying to do too many things. I've learned a lesson about this, but before I can tell you about that, let me introduce you to my dear friends Stewart (L) & Richard (R).


I met these two beefcakes all the way back in 1995. I was a wild & crazy college girl waiting tables at Logan's Roadhouse. Richard was my GM and his partner Stewart was a server & trainer. I instantly hit it off with both of them. Stewart and I formed a very close friendship and when they moved away I was so broken-hearted.

Just a few short years later we all find ourselves here in Nashville. We reconnect and life is lovely. We don't see each other often, but the comfort of knowing they are close is good for the soul.

One year ago, I got the terrible news that Richard was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It shook me. I was devastated for Stewart who had built a life with Richard for 20 years and what had seemed solid one day was crumbling at his feet the next.

I began working on a quilt for Richard. He always gave the best hugs and I liken wrapping yourself up in a quilt to getting a hug from whoever made it. I planned a simple quilt out of some soft woven plaid scraps and opted to back it with a lightweight denim. Anytime I think of Richard, he is wearing a plaid shirt and jeans. He started cancer treatments and was responding well. His surgery went better than expected and it seemed he was on the mend. Knowing this, I lost the sense of urgency to finish, even though the top was complete.

I woke very early on a September morning. It was around 3 a.m., but I just couldn't sleep. Not much else to do at that hour but troll Facebook, where I found an album of photos from a Hawaiian vacation Stewart and Richard had just returned from. I was taking in the scenery and noticing how great Richard looked. I remember smiling and reminding myself to get his quilt finished. He would need it on chilly nights in the Fall.

That afternoon, I learned that Richard had passed in the early morning hours. Once the shock wore off, I got mad. Mad at myself. Mad for not finishing his quilt. Mad for not going to see him to tell him how much he meant to me. I was determined to finish the quilt.


This is for you, Stewart. I hope this brings you comfort and reminds you of the wonderful man you loved so much, and who loved you with all his heart.

There are things worth putting off. Expressing how much you love someone should never be one of them. I pray I never make this mistake again.

March 29, 2012

how to have a nervous breakdown

It's taken me over three months to summon the strength to write about this ordeal. Please bear with me, this might take a while...

Last fall one of my friends from childhood commissioned me to make several quilts for her to give as Christmas gifts. I drew up a quick pattern and suggested a line of fabrics, which she loved, and I quickly got to work. I got the tops finished and backings pieced and took them to my long-armer to quilt. I normally quilt my own quilts, but time was not on my side, so off they went.



As usual, my quilter did a wonderful job. Aren't they beautiful? I quickly got them labeled and bound and then they were off for a quick wash and dry before I was to wrap them up for delivery.

One thing I failed to mention earlier in the story is that both quilts had photographs pieced into the backing. I have used printable fabrics many times. This time I had opted for a new-to-me type of printable fabric for these two quilts. At the time, it never dawned on me that I should probably do a little test first. Live and learn.

So, as I reach into the washing machine, i see what appears to be ink bleeding through the quilt top. Panicked, I pull both quilts out of the machine followed by a profanity filled tirade. The quilts..... were due.... to my friend.... the next morning! The ink had transferred from the printable fabric through the batting, to the front of the quilts and beyond. It was an enormous disaster.

The chain of events immediately following my discovery are a bit hazy. I recall leaving a few profane messages on my friend Royce's voicemail. I soon targeted my rage on 'that damn' fabric. So I came into my office to find the package in hopes of finding a phone number for the manufacturer. You can bet your sweet behind, I was going to let them have it. As I was giving the packaging a once over, my eyes locked in on this.



WHAT THE (**&%&^$*^&*!

At this point, I remember texting this photo to Royce with a profane message questioning why ANYONE would use a dry clean only printable COTTON fabric on a quilt, and why, for the LOVE OF GOD did the manufacturer not feel it was important to point out this "product feature" in a more dramatic fashion?

In the meantime, my inky quilts are just hanging out, and my panicked self decides to come up with a plan. First things first, I messaged my friend to reschedule delivery for the following week. Fortunately that was better for her schedule.
The photos on the back were ruined, there was no way to save those. So I moved on to finding a way to get all that ink out of the quilts. The alternative (and last resort) was to remake both quilts. I soaked them in hot water, I used Retayne, but in the end, what worked best was four-five washings in the sanitizing wash cycle of my washing machine supplemented with lots of Shout, lots of Baking Soda, a heaping helping of Oxy Clean and Tide.

While I washed the quilts, I put together a plan to applique the photos onto the quilt backs. It took an entire day to wash the quilts and another whole day to get the photo appliques ready and stitched onto the quilts. I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained by the time I finished the last one and snapped this quick photo.



I agonized over the fact that the quilts weren't perfect. But my friend loved them and never knew there was an issue. She was thrilled to be giving a cherished heirloom to members of her family. She knew they would be loved, so to her, they were perfect... and that's really what matters in the end.


December 23, 2011

school spirit

I love facebook for many reasons. Mostly because it has allowed me to reconnect with friends from different stages of my life... childhood, high school, college, sorority, work, etc. But I also love how it has allowed me to share my love of quilting with my friends. And every once in a while, I will get a message from a friend like the one I got from my friend Leighann a few months ago.

"Hey Stefanie- Do you still make quilts? I am looking to have my daughter Abby a Western KY quilt made for Christmas and wondered if you might be interested. The colors are red, black and white."
 So that began a conversation about size, pattern etc. We settled on a twin size quilt and she really liked the Mix Tape Quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. Once I had received the deposit, I got busy ordering fabric, including some custom designed by myself and printed through Spoonflower.


This quilt went together very quickly and would be a great beginner pattern. I would suggest that beginners start with a smaller size. This is the largest quilt I've ever made. It's HUGE and is going to look awesome in her dorm room.



I backed this with Dottie in Christmas Red by Moda and it is just so darn cute. I'm a sucker for red/white polka dots.


Because of the size, I opted to send this out to be quilted on a longarm. I found a local gal who does great work with pantographs and is SO reasonable. I think she only charged me $40 to quilt this (and it was back in two weeks). I just love the loopy look. I have used this same quilter on five other projects and she did a beautiful job on all of them. I will definitely be using her again. She doesn't have a website, so if you are interested in contacting her, please leave a comment and I can email her contact info to you. (PS - If you are a no reply blogger, be sure to include your email address in your comment).

I delivered this quilt (along with two others she ordered) to my friend Leighann last week and she loved them all. That's the most satisfying part... creating an heirloom that will be cherished for years and years.

December 20, 2011

counting stars

I started my journey as a quilter almost two years ago. Since that first stitch, I've finished dozens of projects and this is only the second quilt I've completed for myself. I'm not complaining. It feels good to make something and give it to someone else, but every once in a while, it's nice to make something just for yourself.



I first saw this quilt here. I was instantly in love with it and bought the fabric immediately. I got busy with lots of other things, and was afraid I would let the holiday season pass me by with all the fabric just sitting in a drawer in my sewing room. Then one day, I made up my mind I was going to do this. So I pushed it to the front of my list (even ahead of a few custom quilt orders I had taken) and vowed not to put it aside until it was finished. Since I had three custom quilts to deliver before Christmas, I had to work quickly.

This was one of the larger and easier quilts I've ever made, which I didn't expect just looking at the pattern. It's just so gorgeous and I am so glad I pushed myself. After it came back from being quilted, I got it bound and it is so nice to snuggle up under this by the fireplace while I watch my Christmas tree spin round and round. 

So, my advice to all my fellow craftaholics out there is very simple... make those creative projects for yourself a priority. You deserve something special too!

December 19, 2011

a day at the races

Last month our guild held a Jelly Roll Race. For my non-quilting readers, a jelly roll is an assortment of forty 2.5" fabric strips. You can either create your own assortment or many manufacturers sell them in a range of coordinating fabrics. Basically, you sew the strips together end-to-end and then through the course of five "laps"of folding, sewing and cutting, you end with one quilt top. This is a super-quick way to make a quilt. These won't win any awards, but they keep you just as warm as those that require lots of time. 



I knew I wanted to make something for Christmas. I had already planned a Christmas quilt for myself and knew my husband would want one too. I selected this really cute line of fabrics, you may recognize it from the pillows I posted a few days ago. I thought this quilt turned out really cute and best of all, it took less than two hours to piece. I sent this out to be quilted on a longarm, so all i had left was the binding. Easy peasy!!

December 16, 2011

so, how've you been?

It's been a busy couple of months for this craftaholic and even though my blog hasn't featured any of it (yet), I've been busy crafting lots of pretties. I wanted to share these cut little pillows with you today. I made them for the Music City Modern Quilters Guild Secret Santa Swap. I was lucky enough to be secretly paired with my friend, Chelley. She always has a cute display of seasonal pillows on a little bench in her entryway, and I thought she would like these.


This was a super-simple design and pieced together in no time. Every bit of fabric used on the front was leftover scraps from the quilt tucked beneath the pillows in the photo above. More on that quilt later. I'm such a sucker for using some sort of white, and I can't get enough of straight line quilting these days. I just love the texture it lends to solids.I finished these with a really simple envelope back and added the red with green stripe as binding for a great pop of color. This was my third project using Countdown to Christmas by Sweetwater for Moda and I just love it. I have a few more things I'd like to make with it and I'm hoping I can get one of them done before Christmas (a girl can dream, right?).

This is just a tiny bit of what i've been up to recently, but i have six, yes SIX quilts that I've finished up in the last couple weeks that I can't wait to show you.


November 10, 2011

third time's a charm

A few days ago, I put my latest Pretty Little Pouch in the mail for my partner. I have loved, loved participating in these fun swaps. This time around, I struggled with what to make for my partner. There was a bit of a difference in what she said she wanted and what was shown in her mosaic. I sometimes have a hard time verbalizing what I like too, so I went with the visual clues and hope I hit the mark.


This pouch features some tiny scraps of Verna I've been hoarding. Those of you who truly know me, know I don't usually save anything smaller than a 5" square, so you know I had to love this fabric to hang on to it. I set it against an Oatmeal colored linen, which I just love. My first instinct was to use white instead, but I know that can be a bit impractical, so i stepped out of my comfort zone a bit. I love the casual look it lends.

Minimal quilting on this piece... just enough to give a little texture and visual interest. I lined it with a really cute print from Verna. I've got just a tiny bit of yardage from that collection in my stash, so I parted with a small bit to finish this sweet bag in style.


My partner indicated she loved the Sherbet Pips line of fabrics. I happened to have quite a few scraps left from this quilt just waiting for a new home. I filled the pouch with all those scraps, a great sample pack of thread from my friends at Aurifil and a little pack of sewing machine needles. I hope my partner is happy with everything.


Only one swap left for me for the year. It's for the Music City Modern Quilters Guild Secret Santa Swap. I'm really excited about it and trying to decide what to make for my partner.