Inspire Me!

Quilts and projects that inspire us!

Can you choose just one?

Part of the fun of going to a quilt show – like the one in Sterling, CO, that I enjoyed with my sister this spring – is voting for Viewers Choice. You look and examine (without touching) and decide which one (and only one) you would take home if you could.

There are patriotic quilts  …

and seasonal quilts …

There are traditional quilts with a twist  …

There are big quilts with lots of pieces

and little quilts with applique.

There are quilts for special days

 

and quilts for special new family members.

There are quilts with embellishments

and quilts with lots of cross stitched embroidery.

And there are quilts that seem to be dimensional

and quilts that took LOTS of time to make!

But most of all, there are quilts that you love to share with your sister!

 

PS – Just in case you are wondering, the Colorado sister voted for the Maze quilt and my first choice was the embroidered Block of the Month.

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Fight the Chaos Friday – April edition

They say confession is good for the soul and I’m going to believe that is true because I have to confess that I’m behind on our Chaos Challange in order to celebrate an “I did it myself!” moment. And since it’s just between us stitching sisters, I’m sure my secret is safe.

The January list said it was time to clean my sewing machine but [drum roll – confession to follow] I keep avoiding that cleaning business since I had never done it before. I have taken my machine in for professional tune ups but I had never opened one up to clean it myself. If you are horrified, I understand. It is a deep flaw for sure!

So, here I am facing April – the queen of procrastination – and I got just the nudge I needed! I visited the Colorado sister (more details on that in a later post) and her quilt club had a presentation from someone with a long history of fixing and cleaning machines. When I saw her walk through the steps, I thought, “I believe I could do that without doing irreparable harm.”

a picture + patient demonstration = great teacher

To give myself a little reinforcement, I consulted — the manual (genius idea!)

A manual with pictures – what a great invention!

And “TA_DA!” [insert trumpet fanfare]

Just seeing the clean metal parts gives me confidence!

It was so do-able that I did both my Bernina workhorse and my little lightweight Singer. (which I picked up at a garage sale for the price of a nice dinner and I LOVE the blanket stitch it produces!)

I think I heard a little sigh of appreciation and a soft “Thank You!” coming from the machines.

I have to tell you that cleaning the second one was absolutely necessary since my Bernina foot has died. [moment of silence, please] Having survived a house flood and limped along after a couple other disasters, it had given a noble contribution. So while I wait for a new one to arrive, I’m very happy to have my garage sale buddy as a stand in.

Someone downsized and we were happy to help them!

So now I’m caught up on my Challenge lists and I’m ready for a new one for April. Except for the fact that the Colorado Sister shared some treasures with me so I have some more “cut into usable sizes.” [see January list] But that is an ongoing effort in order to maintain victory over the chaos!

And in a coming post I’ll tell you one thing we are doing with those self-made precuts which allowed us to check off the “make a block-or 10” item this past month. Stay tuned.

Make it easy on yourself – Fight the Chaos! Clear the Clutter! Mash the Mess! okay, maybe my alliteration skills are weak today!

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You can print your free April Challange list HERE.

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Fight the Chaos Friday – February edition

The Sister and I have a Challenge going this year. We are going to fight the chaos and conquer the clutter in our sewing studios. I call it “studio” because that sounds more like serious business whereas “sewing room” sounds like an option. It’s a mind game with myself. She has a bit of an advantage since she thinks and even breathes in a more orderly fashion than I do. But, I’m giving it my best shot.

So, we started the year off with a once-a-week list called Fight the Chaos Fridays and last month it focused on:

  • Put away gifts and Clean the work area
  • Clean machine, including a new needle and Put a new blade in the rotary cutter
  • Cut fabric that has accumulated on cutting table into usable sizes
  • List and post projects and due dates

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER shots of my “work area” i.e. cutting table.

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Remember I cropped out the really messy part.

 

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Amazing how this open space motivates me!

You can tell already it is a necessary challenge. And you will be more convinced as the year moves along and you see the other BEFORE pictures I will post – as often as I can stand the embarrassment.

And you’ll agree that it’s a good thing Sister was here for a visit last month to get me off to a strong start. Here’s some more of the work area AFTER we fought through the chaos.

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And an empty ironing board is actually quite handy.

While Sister2 was here we went on a hunt to find creative storage for the “useable pieces” we cut from my accumulated scraps.

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We stuck gold! What a pile of treasures!

 

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The Colorado sister’s creativity tells us that 2 1/2″ squares can be tucked away in so many places – even a little chicken feeder!

 

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My 2 1/2″ squares fit perfectly in the little drawers of the tin space cabinet. Thank you for the gift, sister!

And now, as you can see above, there is a place at the end of my vintage ammo box to hang our Spools for Tools project (get pattern HERE) which holds my favorite rulers – like the skini minis by Martelli with their wonderful non-slip backing.

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A metal vintage film reel box is just the right size for the Colorado sister’s 5″ squares!

 

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And this vintage metal filing drawer is filling up with my 5″ squares. My own “pre-cut” charm square stash!

 

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The 10″ squares (some call them layer cakes) will be tucked away in this portable school desk I just couldn’t resist.

 

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This beautiful spool cabinet, found on her Florida road trip, is just the right size for Sister 2’s 10″ squares. (and some 5″ strips she added to the equation.)

 

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For now my 2 1/2″ strips will nestle in this metal mesh lantern so that I can see them in their light, medium, and dark glory.

The whole cutting process to get control of accumulated scraps has been addictive! Probably because we have been using some templates made by Martelli. The non-slip backing grips through about 8 layers of fabric and you can turn the template without the fabric slipping! If you want a set of non-slip templates to help you cut those “pre-cut” sizes, send me an email (SistersAtHeartMilesApart@gmail.com) and we’ll give you a special Stitching Sisters price. Look HERE under Template for Precuts for details.

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These non-slip templates make cutting your own “pre-cut” sizes so easy!

So, how’s the rest of my Fight the Chaos Friday list?

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I still have a little work to do as far as cleaning my machines. And my project To Do list is right on the Notes section of my calendar, although some of the due dates are a little flexible.

Remember, it’s a year-long effort so celebrate the things you check off each week and don’t worry about what is still left to do. Trust me, honey, it’ll still be there when you find it on our challenge list in a few weeks.

We’d love to hear from you if you think of things we have missed. And we’d love to see pictures of your progress!

Here’s the list for February:

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Since it’s the first Friday of the month, you can get your FREE February printable checklist HERE.

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The Button Box: recommended therapy

FL Sister id tag

This has not been the most productive month of my quilting, stitching life due to some kind of lingering skjoxpeddlfkdjf-ITIS. And for much of the last 30 days my life has centered around this box:

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So glad to have them but so ready to see them disappear!

You can imagine how quickly that got to be ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

Since a variety of medicines and medical approaches were not bringing relief very quickly, I knew for my sanity’s sake I needed to find some kind of therapeutic distraction. Something sewing related, not too strenuous, not requiring much focus. (Even 2 Tylenol can make me fuzzy)  hmmmmmm  I needed to trade the Kleenex box in for a different kind of box!

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So much fun from such a simple thing!

The button box was in chaos! Okay, I admit – the buttons were not even in a specific box. There was a box, a couple of tins, some jars and some plastic bags.

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What treasures would I find?

The whole sorting by color and setting special ones aside goes back to the days when our great grandmother would keep us occupied with the button box.

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Grandma’s button box looked much like this. And so did our mother’s.

 

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Some of the vintage buttons were divided by color into old milk jugs

 

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The special vintage buttons still on their cards were tucked away in this special wooden box.

 

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I love the pearly sheen through this old canning jar.

I cannot explain it but I feel better already.

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Have you tried button box therapy?

What are your tips for keeping your buttons easy to access?

 

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I’m a “Prepper”–Are You?

I’m a “prepper” but with no bunker or ammo or supply stock (other than fabric).  I’m not prepping for the end of the world but I am prepping for the first winter blizzard. Here in Colorado it is very hard to believe that it is even fall let alone winter. But a dear friend (I think she is still a friend even though she totally destroyed the order I had just put into the sewing studio. :/) has given me BAGS of fabric and “stuff” to go through.  I don’t mean little grocery bags, I mean trash bags! Six of them!

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Bags of friendship!

There were yardages, starts and stops of projects, kits, scraps, books and one whole bag of Christmas fabric.  It is enough to keep me busy all winter.  I’m ready for a little snow on the ground to keep me in the house. If you know me at all, you know I have never met a shade of green that I didn’t like but would you believe that in all those piles there was only ONE piece of green.  Guess I’ll be OK working with the bag of fall colors. 🙂

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Lonely Green

All of us have projects that we start and then put away for a while (Tell me I’m not alone in this).  A couple of these were put away for good reason (not working out as planned), but some I’m sure were just not on a deadline.  So I’m thinking about imposing a deadline on myself to finish these up.  I can’t let my sister in on the decision because she knows my procrastination skills are excellent. The first special treat to work on are the squares of embroidery that are completely finished. They await a special setting that will of course use some of the bag fabrics.

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Embroidery blocks

I know a little girl that is REALLY in need of a new quilt for her big-girl bed.  She might like the mouse, or the bear, or the A-B-Cs.  I know that she would like some fabric out of the purple bag.

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Girl without a quilt.

Other pieces are not my favorites. As my mom would tell me, “Don’t say “Ugh!”  until you’ve tried it.” But I’m prepping for winter not for a character building session, so I’ll pass them on to be used as backs for a charity quilt or book bags for the kids.

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Ugly fabric. Ummm, backing pieces.

There was even a challenge inside the bags and Sister knows I can’t resist a challenge.  I’ve seen the block in magazines but never attempted it before.  Someone made an excellent start on the 3″ nine-patch blocks set into hexagons and even sent along the extra pieces.  I can just see this finished with maybe some very large wool applique on it.  Back to the design board after I finish this little start up.

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Fun in a bag.

I do have one last confession to make.  I’m keeping something just because.  I have no plan for these blocks.  I have no purpose for them.  They don’t match anything in my house.  But who wouldn’t want to look at butterflies in the middle of the winter and that’s what I’m preparing for.

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Wouldn’t they look great with black sashing?!

I’ve got extra needles, now if I can just find a sale on thread before the snow flies I’ll be prepped and ready to be house-bound for a few days.  How are you prepping for winter?

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End of an Era…New Beginnings

CO Sister id tag

The end of an era is approaching.  I’m not talking about the political scene.  (Ugh!) I’m talking the quilt show scene.  For most of my life I’ve done trade shows of one kind or another.  I started packing boxes with my husband the first year we were married and it has continued with my sister since the beginning of our business.  Sometimes we did both kinds shows at the same time.

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Antiques in the front, patterns in the back

When we started Sisters At Heart, Miles Apart it was a necessity to do shows to get our name and product out there, so we did shows.  We met vendors, distributors, and wonderful customers.  The technology of today has made that less vital. So we are behind a keyboard more often than in a show booth.

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Sisters at work a LONG distance from either home.

Back then I only had one grandchild, now I have 10 and another one due in February. I want to spend more time with the kids than I do at the shows. I want to take the laptop with me when I go to visit and not take a box of samples or product to hang.

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We have added two since this but can’t get them all together.

 

So I’m ready to close the curtain on shows. But not on sewing with my sister!

I’m ready for new beginnings….The Linens and Old Lace patterns have set our brains a buzzin’.

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Needs a couple more rows ASAP

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This pattern is ready for sale on the Etsy store.

We are deep in designs for bags, pillows, quilts, and projects to use vintage lace and woven linen.

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Can never have too many cuffs.

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Lace & Bag Idea

 

The Lullaby Line needs to expand with special items for the new baby in February.

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Quilt & bag & changing pad & & &

The Really Big Hat People like our Cowboy & Cowgirl have over populated our brains and need to get onto the fabric with a farmer, quilter, fisherman, sportsman, etc.

New beginnings are just a project away.  So good-by to the show era (still doing classes) and ibuprofen from unpacking boxes. On to the new sewing projects and patterns.  What do you say, Sister?

FL Sister id tag

When we were kids at the end of the school year we used to chant: No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. There was no regret in that chant – only anticipation. Now we will chant: No more boxes, no more stacking, no more toting, no more packing!

Well, who could argue with that?!?!

All through life we have learned to rearrange depending on what needed to be done or if a change of seasons had come. Add a leaf in the table when our families were together, take a different vacation route if there were flooded roads, change the living room furniture to make room for the Christmas tree, replace the hot chocolate bar with an ice cream bar, move the wooden snowman to make room for the Easter egg basket…

I see that we are doing that once again.

Rearranging to make room for what needs to be done. Exchanging one thing for something better. It’s time for a new era – a new season. And we have enough shared history to have learned that different seasons of life bring different opportunities and different things need to be given attention.

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Thanks for letting me wear the bonnet for the picture.

My feet thank you, my raspy voice thanks you, and my aching back thanks you for having the wisdom to ask: Isn’t it time to acknowledge the change in eras?

It’s a win-win that we can keep doing what we love – stitching together – and get rid of what isn’t fitting well with this new chapter of life – shows. Especially since this change makes room in our days for things most important – like grandchildren.

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A good reminder every day.

I can imagine that we will still hatch new projects during Jacuzzi brainstorming sessions and still find reasons to celebrate at Texas Roadhouse and still find inspiration and stitching treasures in unlikely places.

And our patterns will still be available. They will be available on our Etsy store, at Sisters’ classes and in select quilt shops. And that is a good thing that we have those outlets because the idea board is full to overflowing.

Doodle birds and

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There are so many just waiting to fly onto a pattern page!

one more seasonal tea cozy and

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The summer mat has been patiently waiting for its companion tea cozy!

ooooh, my the vintage lace and linens!

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Piles of potentiality!

And I’m sure there will be more …

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Enduring sister wisdom.

 

 

 

 

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Extended Contracts & Cigar Box Treasures

FL Sister id tag

I’ve decided to extend his contract indefinitely. The list of reasons for the contract extension is very long. And this summer the list has just grown longer and longer.

You may already know about Dietz and his amazing feats making and setting up quilt racks

quilt rack Jim

He can make it happen – and he smiles while he does it!

and the old sewing machine he turned into a vanity

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He does amazing things to bring concepts into reality!

and the blue bird bath he found at an estate sale.

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He offered to paint it any color I wanted but somehow the blue was just right!

And now this summer he raised the bar way high with a road trip through the Smokey Mountains

which took us through Pidgeon Forge,

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Look closely in the lower left corner. Yes, outside our restaurant that is a pigeon at Pidgeon Forge.

the Biltmore,

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They didn’t have a sewing room so the library was my favorite room.

zip line adventures …

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Yes, I did close my eyes the first time and after that I did scream.

and a lake boat ride.

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And the day ended with ice cold watermelon!

And I brought home a hummingbird for my back door.

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The perfect souvenir!

I need to mention the quilt shop stops along the way, too.

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They had wool on sale!

 

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This one was right next door to a quilt retreat venue!

And now in the middle of summer’s heat, he caps it all off with a cigar box.

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I couldn’t wait to open it!

I know nothing about cigar boxes, Cuban or otherwise. But this box is valued because Dietz found it for me (of course!) – and because of what is inside.

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These are a few of my favorite things!

This treasure box is filled with hankies of all kinds! He knows what warms my heart!

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Bouquets of flowers!

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A cuddly puppy!

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Delicate simplicity!

What will I do with more hankies? Oh, the possibilities are endless. And the Colorado sister is giving me inspiration as she works on a quilt for her smallest granddaughter. It looks like a dress-up fashion show to me!

postponed

Photo cannot be viewed at this time by order of the Colorado sister. Check back in a couple of weeks.

I plan to sign myself up for a hankie project as soon as I finish the Sisters round robin and the August class I’m signed up for and the To Do list for the fall show …

But most important, I’m signing up for 41 more years with this guy!

jim small

I think he’s saying, “What is she going to get me mixed up in next?”

You can see more inspiring ideas on our Pinterest Old Linens board.

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The Language of Quilts

Tutorial Tuesdays header

Cecilia is continuing the business her mother started, Pat’s Sacks.  Her booth is filled with vintage fabric, sugar sacks, and all things 30’s – including great music playing.   I enjoyed time in her booth very much and loved this handwritten memo she had hanging.

cajun quilt language

Cajun Quilt Language

 

Cecilia’s memo reads:

Before telephones, Cajuns spread news by hanging quilts over the balustrades of their houses.

Each quilt had a special meaning.

 

A red quilt – political victory

A yellow quilt – quarantine

A blue quilt with a big white star – wedding in the making

A patchwork quilt – a big celebration – Mardi Gras, New Years, July 4th

One quilt hung out with the wash – a child has eaten too much watermelon.

 

It reminded me of the book I enjoyed reading a few years ago —  Hidden in Plain View, written in 1999 by Raymond Dobard, Jr., an art historian, and Jacqueline Tobin, a college instructor in Colorado. I found their assertion fascinating that quilts may have been used to send coded messages to run away slaves.

Reading that book, and again when I saw Cecilia’s memo, I stopped to ponder – if I used quilts to send messages, which quilts would I use on different occasions?

During the NCAA basketball tournament –

KansasTrouble

Kansas Troubles

When I just happen to look at the calendar and remember a commitment at the last minute –

MyLuckyStars

My Lucky Stars

When I back the van out of the garage and forget the Jeep is parked in the driveway. (#fenderbendermyself)

PatienceBlock

Patience

When I get to the end of back to back traveling commitments –

NoPlaceLikeHome

No Place Like Home

When I proudly make a grocery list – and stick to it –

TheFrugalPatch

Frugal Patch

 

When The Sister and I pass our 5th year in business Anniversary mark-

Memory

Memory

When something gets checked off the UFO list.

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Shining Hour

What quilt message would you use most often?

Thanks to the Quilter’s Cache for their line drawings.

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Sweet Memories

FL Sister id tag

Memory is priceless. Never is that more clear than when a loved one begins to loose hold of the memories that weave your lives together. This last month when we got to be together to celebrate my sister’s landmark birthday we made some new memories and we “rememberated” together about other landmark days. I know that isn’t a real word but I like to think I invent things.

So when I got back home and started to work on a workshop I’m hosting on embellishing quilts, I pulled out the Memories quilt top that we did together long before we were officially Sisters at Heart, Miles Apart.

When we started this shared project, we reviewed life by decades, recaptured milestone moments and divided them between us. We used the high-tech method to accomplish this: writing on little squares of paper and taking turns drawing them out of a bag.

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For unknown reasons the mailing paperwork is still in the folders with all the graph paper plans and fabric swatches. I may be a bit over sentimental.

After graphing the layout to plan the size of each block and setting the design parameters (I’ll put those down later in the post in case you want to try this project with someone else.) we specified which blocks would be pieced and which would be appliqued. And we planned to put a row of Friendship Stars across the pillow fold – for obvious reasons.

Both of us began life in Colorado so we put the Colorado block in the upper left hand corner.

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We added some mountains to the right and some farmland at the bottom of the Colorado block.

 

Cindy chose baby buggies and baby blocks for the early childhood blocks.

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She embellished with buttons on the baby buggies.

Childhood fun for us included tobogganing and snowmen, Fourth of July picnics, reading, cooking and Christmas celebrations including church Nativity programs and a dilapidated wind-up Santa that rang a little bell even though he only had one surviving arm.

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Favorite book titles are included: Five Little Peppers, Green Leaf in Drought Time, Pilgrims Progress, Nancy Drew, Dr Suess …

As older kids our lives were impacted by time at church camp in the mountains of southern Colorado near Monument Lake.

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Pine cone fights, the pillow pole and Bible sword drills will forever bring smiles to our faces. And the homemade noodles and bread. Oh, my, the home cooking!

Later there were weddings for both of us. Cindy in her hooded cape with a blown glass bouquet and I in our mother’s wedding dress.

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We stitched this long before we introduced our Wedding Wishes line of patterns.

 

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And the pieced block to commemorate that significant life event was, of course, a double wedding ring.

In the middle part of life we both invested much to teach our children at home. We shared ideas and curriculum and encouragement and accumulated many sweet memories along the way. Hence the schoolhouse block. The other building with “Fire Sale” in the window reminds us of an unforgettable time when we found treasures because the store next door to a fabric shop had experienced a fire. All the fabric needed was a thorough washing to bring it back to life.

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Did we go back 3 or 4 times to get fabric? My memory is not good on that point.

Some things span more than one decade of life – coffee and tea …

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Constant Comment has been a life-long favorite. Maybe there is a deep significance in that even!

… and Our Favorite Things …

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One sister collected Noah’s Ark and one collected chickens. We both loved baskets and fat quarters – and the telephone!

Down in the lower right hand corner the memories conclude with a Tree of Life complete with significant charm ornaments.

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You might be familiar with other blocks called Tree of Life. This was our version.

 

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a diaper pen, music notes, tea-pot and cup, an old car ….

 

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sewing shears, a pencil & an apple for the teacher, a diploma, wedding rings …

WELCOME HOME at the top of the tree reminds us of what is important here and, also, that at the end of life we will get to go HOME in the best sense of the word.

welcome home

p.s. HOME is my favorite word of all

Now, I really, really need to make a quilting plan! Any ideas?

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can you find: church window, hopscotch, checker board, sisters choice, windmill …

The fabric of shared history is irreplaceable.

 

Here is our design plan which kept us on the same page. (Our choices are in parentheses.) Maybe you will want to make your own memory quilt to preserve seasons and moments that have made life good.

  • color parameters (no primary colors, pastels or white-white)
  • range of tone for backgrounds (light to medium)
  • setting plan (no sashing between blocks, set block to block)
  • main color (use green in all blocks)
  • trading plan (send a 6 1/2″ block of fabric with each completed block for use in future blocks)
  • journaling option (journal throughout the project)
  • solo work (each do our own letter blocks)
  • scheduling (finish 2 blocks per month, 1 month for bottom row, 1 month for letter blocks)
  • embellishing parameters (dimensional is good and embellish at will)
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Sisters’ Challenge

Let’s be very clear about the title of this post.  I’m saying that my sister and I are doingCO Sister id tag

a challenge together.  I’m NOT saying that my sister is “challenging”.

I want to state that before I being to talk about the problems involved. So hear me,  my sister is offering to do this quilt challenge with me. I’m not forcing myself upon her.  We have established a few ground rules to guide us.  But before we got through the first round we had a misunderstanding.  (about the wording of the guidelines, not with words).

The design focus this year has been old linens and lace and we are only at the beginning stages but you can get a glimpse of a runner from old blocks here or a display scarf from vintage linens here.  We took it a step further and started a round robin exchange between the two of us using old linens and lace in our quilts.

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Center with pieced blocks

The rules: (that was the beginning of the “issues”-one of us likes rules and one doesn’t)

I’m not telling which sister made which “challenge” but here are the facts as they stand.

  1. Make a center 15 1/2″ unfinished — one ended up 20 1/2″
  2. Deadline was April 15th — one of us wanted to wait until May 2nd so we could open them together
  3. First round of borders would be 5 1/2″ unfinished — one ended up 5 1/2 inches “divided between two sides”
  4. One was designed with a verbal description– one changed her mind
  5. The borders would include the following in any order:

    Old linen

    Pieced block

    Old lace

    Embellishments

    Dimensional

    Applique

    — one now says that one of those is included in her center

  6. Each sister would design and complete a border and then exchange — one designed the entire quilt!
    blocks-web

    Center with old linen

    None of that is the challenge! 

 

The real challenge is that now I want HER quilt instead of mine!  How do I break the news to her that I might not give hers back?  She really stepped out of her box and designed her own center with MY favorite color scheme.

red floral

Red and brown floral

Don’t you LOVE this combination?!  It will really shows off the old lace doilies and trims.  I’m more excited about working on hers than on mine.  Well, I need to go tell her that I’m facing a moral challenge of trying not to covet but have excused myself with just whining a little to you all.

A word to the wise…be careful when you accept a challenge it may be more challenging that you think!

 

Categories: Inspire Me! | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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