Looking back at 2015

While I am sure that many of us who create AND blog will be doing a post such as this – I am equally sure that these types of posts are so important.  Not only does this compile a years’ worth of memories, just writing a recap of the year helps me to put all I have done into focus.

With this being said, I find that by breaking down 2015 I am able to plan better for the coming year.

So, let’s dive into all this with lots of pictures! (a full gallery is at our main site GALLERY)

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Hunter’s Star 2015

Yellow and Grey Brick Road

Yellow and Grey Brick Road 2015

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Untitled Customer Quilt 2015

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Blarney 2015

Cowboy Squares 2015

Cowboy Squares 2015

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Out a Western Window 2015

Above are a few personal and customer quilts that stand out this year.  This is only a handful of the quilts completed in 2015.

I also had the unique opportunity of assisting a customer with the restoration of their family’s heirloom quilts.  I was so honored to be a part of this process.

Quilt Restoration Project Part 1

Quilt Restoration Project Part 2

Gotch Enterprises

Finished Sunbonnet Sue Quilt

Gotch Enterprises

Completed Green Boat Quilt

Another rewarding project was to donate a raffle quilt to our local Veteran’s group.

2015 Veteran’s Quilt Raffle

Jack Albrycht is the winner of the Veteran's Celebration Raffle

Jack Albrycht is the winner of the Veteran’s Celebration Raffle

Not all my quilting was for others this year.  While I had gone to lots of shops the year before collecting patterns for the Row By Row Experience, this was the first year that I actually completed a quilt and presented it to a local shop.  I had so much fun!

Row by Row H2O 2015

Row by Row H2O 2015

The prizes I won (all fabric of course) spawned two more quilts.

Rainbow Time – Double Hourglass Quilt (this quilt was a gift to my daughter this Christmas)

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Rainbow Time 2015

Hippie Rainbow Flowers Quilt (this quilt was so much fun to design and make)

Hippie Rainbow Flowers 2015

Hippie Rainbow Flowers 2015

 

These projects are but highlights of a whirlwind year!  While my priority is always client projects, I also found time to do some custom sewing and crafting for family as well:

Cardboard Box Snowmen

MAN-equin (Renaissance Faire Ware and armor stand made by my husband)

The images below did not make it into an actual blog post, but were so much fun to create!

20's Murder Mystery Flapper Dress, Headband and Bag

20’s Murder Mystery Flapper Dress, Headband and Bag – 2015

Pirate Coat - 2015

Pirate Coat – 2015

Brown Velvet Surcoat

Brown Velvet Surcoat – 2015

Lastly, I do want to thank all my friends – locally and across the country – for all their input on different projects.  The Facebook group Gotta Love Quilting! is a fabulous bunch of wonderful folk that provide advice, encouragement and sometimes lots of laughs! Also, because this is a closed group, I am able to share images of projects with their creators without the posts showing up on their feed.  When quilts are meant as gifts, this can be a perfect way to share without over-sharing.

I just can’t wait to see what 2016 holds!! – How was your 2015?

 

What to Get the Man Who Has Everything! (A Christmas Surprise)

Today’s post is about a Christmas Surprise. (originally published on December 21, 2015)

While not at all quilting related, you will find that the DIY value is without question – just in a different way.

So, before I get into the meat of this post, I do need to give a little background.

  1. My husband hates surprises – but I have always wanted to surprise him at Christmas
  2. We usually talk about our gifts to each other each year (not sure why, but probably to be sure we are getting something we like)
  3. Terry is my Knight in Shinny armor – literally – we do Renaissance Fairs and are a fixture at Scarborough Renaissance Festival outside of Waxahachie, TX.

The surcoat of a knight

So, with this little bit of information, I should also say that this all began with a crown and a Facebook post.

 

The Facebook post referred to the following website: www.mysteriouspackage.com.  You can also do a YouTube search to see how this concept actually works.  Ultimately, the company (Mysterious Package) will send a story in 3 packages for a fee.  There are a few pre-configured stories to choose from.

 

The problem is that none of the stories really fit my husband’s personality or interests.  I did; however, have a gorgeous titanium crown on the way from the Ukraine. So, I did my own story!

 

The trick to pulling this off is that:

Every convincing lie must have a vein of truth – the more truth the better!

First thing I did was research our family name, and here is where things started to get a bit eerie.  I found a German Imperial Knight from the 16th century that has a version of our surname.  His story was just too perfect not to use. I enlisted the assistance of my children – who are always up for a challenging mission, and the fun began.

 

Below you will see the actual letters and “artifacts” that I sent to my husband.  The ultimate artifact was a box with his crown inside.  I presented these all to Terry as if I was a long-lost relative who worked with a University as a scholar of History.  This scholar’s only goal was to be sure that his (and the Knight’s) family line was intact and would continue on.

 

The First Letter with its attachment

Letter 1

Imperial Knights

This first letter set the stage for what was to follow. There were no artifacts with this letter except for the “proof” of my business card.  The fun part about this is that I HAD given a card to a lady at Texas Renaissance Festival while shopping for soap and I had told Terry about it that day.

Our son brought this letter into the house one day and said that a “carrier” had hand delivered it.

 

The Second Letter with its artifacts

Letter 2

The Knight and Death

I found the perfect puzzle box!

I found the perfect puzzle box!

Eternal Arms had the perfect lock and key!

Eternal Arms had the perfect lock and key!

This letter included more in-depth information about the Knight in question – Gottfried “Gotz” von Berlichingen (1480-23July 1562). He was also known as Gotz of the Iron Hand.  It was left on the front doorstep and included a small, wooden puzzle box which held two keys.

 

The Third and Final Letter with its artifacts

Letter 3

This is the final artifact - which held the crown.

This is the final artifact – which held the crown.

Terry figures it all out - and loves his gift.

Terry figures it all out – and loves his gift.

This was really the finale to the entire ruse.  Not only did Terry receive the remaining and very interesting information about his long-lost relative, the artifact included was a box which was protected by a large padlock. And you guessed it – the key from the puzzle box fit the lock!  This lock and key set I also got while at the Texas Renaissance Festival.  Our great friends at Eternal Arms had just the artifact I was looking for.

 

Inside the box were three items – a letter marked READ ME FIRST, a green bag (with the crown inside) and a hand-written letter from me.  Of course after reading the letter and finding the bag, the jig was up.

This is the final note that I left in the bottom of the box for Terry to find.

This is the final note that I left in the bottom of the box for Terry to find.

Fortunately for me, Terry loved his surprise and may even use his new found heritage to develop a knightly character one day – I hope he does!

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MAN-nequin … when a Man needs a Stationary Squire!

Ok, that title sure was fun, but the serious issue here is that sometimes a man (or woman) needs a special way to store and display their armor.  Well, it could happen!  And actually it has. But first, we start at the beginning.

Anyone who sews knows that unless you are a specific size range, you will need to make adjustments to a mannequin (dress form) for it to reflect your dimensions. Also, try as I may, I have had no luck finding a Male form that is adjustable.  Let’s take this one step farther as well. Most female adjustable forms only adjust to a certain size and even the XL forms will not accommodate the dimensions of many mature women. I assume men’s forms would pose a similar problem.

The men’s form below would be way too flimsy for the purpose – and never allow for proper construction of a larger man’s garment

So, when I started sewing Faire-Ware for my husband and son, I had to become creative. Overall, one of the largest issues I have is stability due to height and structure.  My family’s men-types are both about 6’4″ tall and as any seamstress knows, the taller you make your mannequin, the more unstable it becomes.

In reality, they do not extend any where near the height needed which is an issue for creating garments.

So while I am dealing with the creative side of utilizing a male form, my husband, Terry, notices a problem for his needs as well:

How best to store his most cherished garment and armor pieces.

Because we have a large master bedroom and the decor’ lends itself to the look of a medieval boudoir, displaying our garb seemed like a fun way to decorate except….

The mannequin he used kept falling over!

Luckily, we ran across a very robust and sturdy torso form at a local flea market which we picked up for a very reasonable price ($5.00 – yea it was a steal).  This torso had the proper body dimensions, but was lacking any stand structure.  So, Terry rose to the occasion and designed a multi-use stand that works in the following ways:

  • holds up the torso with enough strength to allow for under garment, surcoat and full armor to be attached – without falling over!
  • is designed to be the perfect height – it wears the garments in the same manner that Terry would
  • has additional uprights to store his Son of Sandlar boots between fairs
  • Can be filled with sand to provide further weight and stability
  • the stand came at a total material cost of $35.00

As you can see from the following images, the actual construction was very simple and the finished product looks great!

Found the perfect form

Found the perfect form

Attached a PVC drain 2-3" in size work.

Attached a PVC drain 2-3″ in size works

Using a variety of PVC sections and connections, a base was constructed.

Using a variety of PVC sections and connections, a base was constructed

Each section (except for caps) was glued into place

Each section (except for caps) was glued into place

Clean and prep each piece prior to applying the glue

Clean and prep each piece prior to applying the glue

Completed stand

Completed stand

Prior to assembly, measurements were taken to ensure that this MANnequin best emulated the height of my husband.  I measured in the back from the floor to the top of his T-shirt collar. This ended up being the finished height of the stand from floor to the top of the back of the MANnequin.  Now his armor looks amazing!

His Sandlar boots are protected and have their own place to rest between uses.

His Sandlar boots are protected and have their own place to rest between uses

This surcoat flows over the top of the boots and creates a very clean look

This surcoat flows over the top of the boots and creates a very clean look

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a picture is taken of this stand next to one of my X-Large women’s mannequins, it is easy to see how they were lacking.

It's easy to see the difference between the finished MANnequin and an XL Dress Form

It’s easy to see the difference between the finished MANnequin and an XL Dress Form

There you have it, problem solved.  The last bit to do is to paint the PVC black so it blends in and looks good in the room.  The contrast in these images served well to show how everything was designed.

If anyone would like the actual dimensions from this project, just give me a holler – Terry is happy to share!

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Cardboard Box Snowmen!

Every year about this time, I like to create some crafty element to add to my Christmas Decorations.  This year, while perusing Pinterest, I saw some adorable snowmen made from huge chunks of wood.  Had I still been living in Wisconsin, finding logs like this would have been easy, but living in Texas posed a problem.

These guys are the inspiration for my snowmen.

These guys are the inspiration for my snowmen.

These guys are so cute, but I really wanted to create something that was not so heavy and utilized items I had easily at hand.

So, first, I looked around for a basic shape – and found three rectangular boxes in the garage.  Taping them shut and then applying paper mache’ gave them texture and an easily paintable surface.

Cardboard Snowman Supplies

Cardboard Snowman Supplies

The first coat of paint was Gesso, subsequent coats were simple acrylics.  Once the white had dried, I painted the faces.  Note in the picture below that I then decide that my snowmen could do double-duty as ghosts for next Halloween!

The opposite side of each box has a ghost face!

The opposite side of each box has a ghost face!

In the image above you can see how they look before and after painting.

After the paint was all dried, I brushed on two coats of Modge Podge – now they can weather about any (indoor) storm!

Next up were the hats and scarfs.  I dug around in my stash and found some fleece in Green, Yellow and Burgundy.

First, I cut out a triangle shape and sew it together

First, I cut out a triangle shape and sewed it together

I use one of the side pieces for the tassle

I use one of the side pieces for the tassle

It was easy to take the extra cut offs, cut them into strips almost to the end and then put them inside the (inside out) hat and sew it down.  When the hat is turned right side out, the tassle looks very cute!

NOTE: the boxes are quite a bit larger than a human head, so it is important to take that into account when making the hats.

The scarves were very simply a strip of the same fabric that was cut into fringe on the ends.

My cute little snowmen sitting at the door waiting for friends to stop by.

My cute little snowmen sitting at the door waiting for friends to stop by.

Lastly, we used a timer’d set of white lights and batting to create a lighted snow blanket effect.

By making my snowman family in this manner, I was able to:

  1. Use items from around the house
  2. Save money – this project cost me less than $20.00
  3. Create decorations that are light and easy to store
  4. Make decorations that serve a dual purpose – the ghosts will be fun next Halloween (I painted the back sides with Ghost faces)

What fun projects are you thinking up this Holiday Season?

2015 Veteran's Quilt Raffle

If you ask 10 different quilters why they quilt, you may just get 10 different answers. Recently, I asked some quilting friends just this question and here is what they said:

The majority of people that shared said they quilt because it is therapeutic followed by:

  • For family an friends
  • As creative expression
  • For pleasure
  • To give to charity
  • It is relaxing
  • For Sale

One person even said that “(quilting) keeps me off the streets and out of the pool halls”.

Ultimately, it is plain to see that this time-consuming and not inexpensive hobby is a labor of love for the majority of us.  It is interesting to see that selling quilts is not a high priority.  I am not surprised at this.  Most people I know quilt for the love of quilting and would rather not be held to a schedule or quota.

So, why do I quilt?

I tend to quilt mostly for the top two answers – quilting as a matter of self expression that then can be shared with others would most accurately sum it up.  It is with this in mind that I get to the real reason for my post – Charity Quilts.

My most recent charity donation is a quilt I call: Wave the Flag which was featured in a post “So, what’s been going on?”

Wave the Flag 2015

Wave the Flag 2015

This quilt was donated to the Johnson County Veterans Support Organization.  This new group of dedicated individuals consists of a variety of backgrounds.  The organizers represent Veterans, families of Veterans, local officials and folks that just plain understand the need to showcase our brave men and women and assist them where they can.

Because I am a firm believer that charity begins at home, I was more than honored when asked if I wanted to donate a quilt for their Veteran’s Day Event and dinner held on November 7, 2015.

Wave the Flag is a custom-designed quilt featuring custom feathered long-arm quilting. Our Veterans are all one-of-a-kind, so it is only right to raffle off a one-of-a-kind quilt.

When the festivities had concluded, Wave the Flag was awarded to Jack Albrycht (pictured below).

Jack Albrycht is the winner of the Veteran's Celebration Raffle

Jack Albrycht is the winner of the Veteran’s Celebration Raffle

I urge you to contact this great group to check in as a Veteran or to join in to assist with this great cause.

Next year, I hope I am asked again to participate in this way – there is great satisfaction in giving to your community- this is just one of the reasons why I quilt.

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