Category Archives: life

Quilts & Salt Dough Ornaments

Everyone was still sick- but at that point where they’re too sick to go out or do anything big, but not sick enough to do nothing.  So really we had 2 not at all tired children who were sick.  Fun times!

I pulled Linda’s cat quilt off the frame.  Isn’t it cute?  I ended up using a light purple thread (to match the inside border) and the design “Pretty Paisley”.  The backing is flannel so it’s sure to be cozy snuggly!

Linda’s cat quilt

Then I loaded Jan’s Tie quilt on the frame. These are from a family member and she carefully took apart the ties and added a lightweight interfacing before piecing the hearts. For batting she chose Pellon Polyester which has a little loft and is very lightweight. The thread is a charcoal- just a shade lighter than black- this blended well with the various ties.  For the quilting design she told me to choose something swirly, so I went with “Jilly,” one of my favorite designs. 

Isn’t it wonderful?  

What a great way to repurpose the ties!

In the afternoon after all my work was done, the girls got to finally begin our December advent calendar. 

Advent mittens

I picked this cute mitten calendar up at Target & filled each one with with an activity for the day. December 1 said “make salt dough ornaments”.  The girls had a wonderful time assembling the ingredients and mixing it up.  Megan in particular could almost do the entire project herself! (4 y’all!  It’s an amazing age!) giving us more energy to help Emily.  Of course after starting the project I remembered the only cookie cutters we had were the woodland creatures from IKEA, but the girls didn’t mind.  And really they’re so freaking cute!

They baked up in no time & later we’ll paint them & I’ll dig around the studio for ribbon.

Here’s the recipe if anyone else is feeling adventurous!

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix together, knead until smooth, roll out to about 1/4” thick, cut with cookie cutters, place on baking sheet, bake at 250 degrees for 1-2 hours until firm. 

See you tomorrow!

Neighborhood trees

Friday Musings

Well yesterday started off with a bang- my husband and oldest were sick, and the little one (who is teething) decided it was the day to begin potty training.  Needless to say no quilting was accomplished. 

Neighborhood creek

During the witching hour when the little one was going stir crazy, I took her out for a walk around the neighborhood for some fresh air.  We’ve lived in this house for 4 years now (how is that possible!?!) and my breathe is still taken away by the lovely trees.  

Neighborhood trees

After the girls finally went to bed I started a new scarf. I don’t have a good mindless carry around project & I’ve been itching for an easy crochet project.

JoAnn’s scarf

I found this pattern, JoAnn’s Scarf, in a book from my library, Crochet One-Skein Wonders.  I picked up the yarn at Yarn Cloud, a new-to-me local yarn shop.  So far it’s exactly what I wanted- I quickly internalized the pattern & I’m able to just crochet. I made it a little wider than the pattern calls for.  My plan is to crochet until the yarn runs out, sew the ends together and make a cowl. I recently discovered I prefer cowls to scarves for their snuggliness & stay puttedness.

It looks like a dreary, rainy weekend in northern Virginia, so I’ll be here crocheting, potty training & taking care of sick folks. Hopefully some time at the long arm will happen too!

Tuesday Tip! Scheduling Projects

It’s time for another Tuesday Tip!

It seems that we quilters/crafters/makers have a lot going on.  We’ve usually got several projects going at once & many times are working under deadlines, even if this isn’t our “work.”

I think I’ve used almost every kind of planning system out there & I’ve recently discovered one that works best for me (so far!)

The post-it note on a whiteboard system (like my super fancy name?) finally gave me everything I needed in one place.

To Do System by Ormond Beach Quilts

I simply write each individual project on a post it note & the note on the upper left hand corner has 1st priority.

On each note I quickly jot down the big bullets of the project & any pertinent notes I need to be aware of. For example, let’s say I was working on a quilt where I making the entire quilt- from choosing fabric to binding.  These would be my bullets:

  • Choose fabric/quilting pattern
  • Piece quilt
  • Longarm quilt- XXXX design
  • Bind quilt
  • Invoice quilt

Whenever I come down to the studio I can quickly assess what needs to be done that day & I can shuffle projects as needed.  I love how this gives me the flexibility to move projects around as deadlines change (which let’s face it, happens everyday).

It’s also very visual for me, a key piece I’ve learned in helping me stay organized.

I’ll add that I got inspiration for this from Pinterest but that I really simplified what I saw.  They made this very complex with different colored post-its, & categories & I have no idea what else b/c at that point my eyes glazed over.  I can see how it would be very easy to make this a “super duper organizing board,” but I noticed that when systems get involved like that, I can’t keep up.  And if my organizing system creates too much for me, well that’s not very helpful is it?  So simple & boring it is.  And it works for me.  Hopefully it might work for you too!

A Quilt for Maribeth (or Lessons in Giving)

Sometimes you start a quilt & are unaware of what it will become.

Random Reflections by Ormond Beach Quilts
I began this quilt back in 2009?  2010?  I can’t remember, but it was a class sample for a class that never came to be.  I used the Moda Bake Shop pattern “Random Reflections.”  I pieced this at a quilting retreat in Kansas & wow, there were a lot of issues with this quilt.

Random Reflections by Ormond Beach Quilts
For starters, I used a precut batik collection from somewhere (can’t remember exactly where, but it wasn’t a name brand.)  I went ahead & just cut the white from yardage & cut 2.5″ strips.  Come to find out, the precut strips where slightly larger than 2.5″ & instead of cutting new white fabric, I steamrolled through forcing the fabric to fit.  (Side note here, this is bad quilting.  Don’t do what I did.)

After piecing the top, I wasn’t thrilled with how it came out.  It didn’t look “bad,” but it also didn’t speak to me.  So it sat in the “to be quilted pile.” (which really has grown to almost hilarious levels.)

Random Reflections by Ormond Beach Quilts
Fast forward to the summer of 2013 & I wanted to practice some custom quilting, so I dragged it out & got started.  Immediately I cursed my bad piecing & honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with the quilting choices I chose.  Then I found out I was pregnant & we were moving & it sat in a box.  I did work on it some after we moved, but not enough to really say I made any progress on the quilt.  Finally after we moved into this house & I was face to face with all my quilting projects, so I loaded it on the longarm & finished it in less than two hours one Sunday night.

Random Reflections by Ormond Beach Quilts
I couldn’t believe it.  All that procrastination & it could have been done in 2 hours!  After finishing the quilting, I was in love with the quilt!  It was beautiful!  The binding was already prepped, so it was finished quickly.  But there was a reason for the wait.   At the same time, a very good friend from college mentioned that her sister was moving into her first apartment.  I was down in the studio when I read this online & I turned around & saw the quilt & immediately knew this was for Maribeth.  It was her colors, style, everything!

So the quilt that I was ho-hum about in the beginning turned out beautiful & has found it’s home in California.  It just took six years for me to learn that wasn’t meant to be a class or a piece to show off my custom quilting- see, it wasn’t about me at all.  It was meant to be loved by a 20-something in the first place she can call her own.

I wonder what more lessons I’ll learn in the pile of unfinished quilts.

Piece of Cake Dress

Occasionally I get the urge to sew clothes.  It seems to come & go in waves, so I try to pounce on it when it comes around.  For me it’s about being a maker & aware of what you have & appreciating a few well made items instead of having 100 poorly made ones.

Anyways, I saw Anna Maria Horner’s “Piece of Cake” dress pattern back in the spring & fell in love with it!

Piece of Cake dress by Ormond Beach Quilts
(Confession, when I have to get some work done I’ve been known to give her a box of fabric to play in.  Fabric goes everyone.  It’s chaotic.  We both have a great time!)

I used some cotton fabric from a big box store (honestly, Teapot grows too quickly to justify using expensive fabric) & had a great time making the dress.  It’s a free downloadable pattern that came with excellent directions & required few skills/tools.

Piece of Cake dress by Ormond Beach Quilts
(I was trying to get a picture of the bias casing, but someone was having too much fun taking selfies!)

It was the first time for me to make a bias casing for the elastic around the neck & it came together well.  I did use my serger to finish the edges, which I’m glad I did since this dress has gotten a lot of use.

The only step I didn’t follow was to make a blind hem.  For some reason it wasn’t working so I just made a folded hem about 1″ from the edge.  Again, it’s a dress for a baby/toddler so who really cares about the hem- as long as it’s durable, it’s fine.

Piece of Cake dress by Ormond Beach Quilts
(Why yes, that’s an ice pack to the side & some advertisements above her head that she was playing with while eating a cheese straw on the kitchen floor. Some days are like that around here.)

The only downside was that the pattern only goes up to 12 months!  I love this dress & want to make this for Teapot again & again!  (I guess I could draft a larger size, but really, that’s not going to happen.  Anyone have a recommendation for a larger size pattern I can buy?)

Piece of Cake dress by Ormond Beach Quilts
Afternoon adventure in the sand box! 

Foster Teen Quilts, Part 2

As promised, here’s part 2 of the Foster Teen Quilt Project!  If you missed Part 1- here you go!

I wanted to take this time to share some facts about kids in the foster system while I share the four feminine quilts we made.

On any given day, there are approximately 402,000 children in the foster system in the United States.

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
The City of Alexandria on average has about 100 children in foster care. About half of the children are a part of large sibling groups, almost half are middle –school age or older.

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
The amount of time a child stays in foster care can vary from as little as a few days to a number of years.

The average time and Alexandria child spends in foster care is one  year.

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Youth who age out of the foster care system are more likely than their non–foster care peers to be involved with the criminal justice system, have low educational attainment, become pregnant, and experience homelessness.

Foster children attend an average of seven to nine different schools by age 18—80% are held back in school by the third grade. Less than half of foster youth in the nation will graduate from high school and only 2% graduate from college or higher.

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts
 Thank you for sharing in this journey.  It was a wonderful experience for our moms group & an incredible joy for us to give quilts so freely to these teens.

Lastly, I want to invite you to think about how you can help foster children in your town.  Get in touch with a local social worker & chat about how your skills, whatever they are, can help foster kids.

Many thanks to Kathryn Coneway for helping me photograph the quilts & Krystal Fenwick, social worker for the City of Alexandria who provided these facts.  And of course, to my mom’s group for coming along on this crazy adventure with me!

Foster Teen Quilts

About three months ago I came across an email asking for donations for graduating foster teens.  It was more than your typical monetary solicitation, this woman was asking for umbrellas & wastebaskets for these teens.

See, when teens age out of the foster system, one day they in the custody of the state, the next they are on their own.  They leave with mostly the clothes they are wearing & that’s it folks.  They don’t get to go shopping to decorate their new apartment paid for courtesy of their parents, they don’t even get a set a sheets.

In Alexandria however a social worker is trying her hardest to give them a start.  She has arranged a graduation ceremony to recognize this huge milestone in their lives & is working with the community to give them a wastebasket of basic items.

I read the initial email & immediately knew I wanted to give them quilts.  But truly I had no idea how I would pull it off.  Granted it was only seven quilts, so it seemed possible in theory, but Teapot was in between crawling & walking, & I wasn’t getting much sleep.

I knew several women in my mom’s group quilted & I was familiar with the string quilt project Quilts from the Bluffs runs where the blocks can be sewn by many different quilters.  I took this idea to the women & to my surprise they were excited & anxious to start!

We sewed & sewed & sewed.  Those who didn’t know how to sew contributed by cutting & pressing strips as we sewed.  We sewed during nap times, after bedtime, while babies crawled around our legs, together at meetups, alone in our homes.  I longarmed all the quilts & then led a class in machine binding for the women.

There are seven graduating foster teens this year, three men & four women.  These are the masculine quilts.

On the red quilt I used a freehand square meander pattern that I love for men’s quilts!
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

On the blue quilt I used the “Square Spiral” pantograph that works up nice & quickly while adding interest.
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

On the green quilt I used “Zebra” which is fast becoming a favorite.
Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

Foster Teen quilts by Ormond Beach Quilts

It was an empowering project for the moms.  We all have babies under two years old & the most surprising realization for me this first year of Teapot’s life is how all your life becomes this child & much of what you used to do is impossible to do anymore.  Through all of us working together & supporting each other, we were able to make seven quilts in ten weeks with babies.   This was no small feat, but our love for these teens they’ve never met gave us the determination to finish.

In my next post I’ll share pictures of the feminine quilts & also share some data about foster children.

*also thank you to Kathryn Coneway who help me photograph these quilts!  I learned a lot about photography from watching her work those two mornings as we documented these quilts!

An Afternoon of Sewing

This past week I had a large project for a customer & to ensure I got in done in time, I scheduled a babysitter for two afternoons.

To my surprise I finished the project in one afternoon!  (It’s amazing how productive I can be when I’m not working in the evenings exhausted from a full day of chasing after Teapot!)  So instead of cancelling the sitter the next day, I decided to use that time for myself (& make things for Teapot, but whatever, I was still making & I wasn’t working!)

First up were 3 wet bags:

Wet bags by Ormond Beach Quilts
I had bought a package of 3 large PUL squares from the big box store back when I had the great idea to make diapers.  Since I quickly realized that was not for me, this package had been sitting around unused.  I opted to make some wet bags for our swim suits, cloth diapers when we’re out & about, who know what I’ll use the third for, but it’s nice to have available.

I used the 10 minute pencil case tutorial, but increased the size to 15″x24″.  While the first didn’t take 10 minutes, the third definitely did & I highly recommend this tutorial.  I chose this one because it had french seams which I like for wet bags.

On two of the bags I used some black grosgrain ribbon, so we’ll see how I like using it.

Wet bags by Ormond Beach Quilts
Then I made a second wet bag for Teapot’s diapers:

Diaper Wet Bag by Ormond Beach Quilts
So we do cloth diaper part time (Kawaii diapers with liners & disposables at night) & I made this pattern before & loved it, we just needed a second to have available when the first is drying.

I used some of the fun Sake fabric I won when I participated in a contest sponsored by Kona Bay Fabrics.  Three cheers for using stash!

I also finished binding a quilt, but I can’t show that quite yet.  Well, ok.  Here’s the back:

Longarm quilting by Ormond Beach Quilts
I used a new pantograph Moxie by Leisha Farnsworth- I love her style & can’t wait to get more of her designs!

Moxie

Moxie

It was a wonderful afternoon- Teapot had a great time with the babysitter & I actually made stuff!  Luckily for all of us, our new favorite teenage babysitter is available for the rest of summer!

The Evolution of a Teacher, Part 1

I recently wrapped up a session of my Fabric Collage class for kids & had several revelations I wanted to share.  But first, I need to share how I got to where I am today.  Because you need to understand that before you I can share these thoughts.

I started off teaching project based classes.  All the kids would come to class & I’d have a sample of a specific project & they’d all walk out the door at the end of class with basically the same item.  And it worked.  Sort of.

Art at the Center
And then we moved to Virginia & one morning as I was walking to the Farmer’s Market, I noticed the sign for “Art at the Center” in a cute white house & stopped in & chatted with the owner, Kathryn.  I mentioned I taught sewing & before I knew it, there I was teaching again.

I did the project based classes again, but as I chatted with Kathryn over time I became interested in how she taught.  If you had the opportunity to visit the old building, you probably noticed that it wasn’t your typical Art room.  There was an abstract mural in an “active” state, there were signs all around about how to rethink art, there was advice to parents on how to incorporate improv art into their lives.  It was different because rather than talking about how great art is, this place seemed to resonate with “Make Art.  Play with Your Art.  Think About Your Art.  Own Your Art.  Know Why Your Art is Yours.  Know that Art is a Process.  Respect the Art of Art.”

This idea of playing as art intrigued me & I asked if I could observe Kathryn teach.

The result was mind blowing.  I’d never seen something like that before!  8 kids walking around the room all doing their own thing, but everyone was calm, it was quiet & everyone was working.  I mean- they were working.  They were serious & focused & you could tell by the atmosphere that these kids had art to make; they were busy owning their art.  And Kathryn wasn’t all in their business.  She was hanging out in the background, reminding them of some of the rules of clay & letting them be.

At the end, they gathered around a table for “Celebration” & the kids talked about their pieces.  They spoke about what inspired them, what they found challenging & what they enjoyed.

After leaving that class I knew I wanted to change my classes.  I wanted to create an atmosphere of an active self directed studio.

Thanks for reading the story of my evolution!  I hope to have the next part posted soon!

The Evolution of a Teacher, Part 2

Lessons from Quilts Trunk Show Pictures

In my last post I mentioned that I didn’t have any pictures from the trunk show.  Well, that same day a woman who attended the trunk show shared with me the pictures she took.

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
This is sweet quilt I made for a class sample.  This is one of my favorite patterns for beginners.
Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
These are a few of the first quilts I longarmed.  I’ve learned a lot since those days!

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
This is called a winding ways quilt.  I started this in Alaska & only recently finished it.
Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
A Seven Sisters quilt!  One of my favorite patterns!

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
A log cabin quilt I made with a friend while J was deployed.

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
A Double Wedding Ring quilt!  This is one of my personal favorites & was a feat to accomplish, but it was well worth the effort.

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show
The sunflower quilt!  My only hand quilted quilt!  My sister pieced the top & I quilted it, took 15 years & I’ll never hand quilt again….

Ormond Beach Quilts Trunk Show

And my first official quilt!  Just look at those pastel calicoes from the 1980s!

Thank you Heather for your pictures!