Tag Archives: Family

Sisters are Warm

It’s cold and snowy in Boston, where my sister lives, today. I could say neener-neener from my warm Southern California climate but I wish I could be there to give her a big hug instead. See, it’s her birthday today. So this post is for you, little sister! I love you.

beach estey

I don’t feel too badly that she’s stuck in the snow because she, always the adventurer, just got back from a family vacation to Mexico.

mary in the snow

Plus her daughter Mary sees the snow as a grand adventure! Look at that cutie’s smile!

estey trying to escapeSis has always been eager to explore. This photo with my Dad is actually one of the most flattering ones. I have a LOT of pictures where she’s trying to escape and making scrunchy grumpy faces. It’s not that she didn’t want the loves, she just had things to do!

preggo estey

This mama, pictured when she was pregnant with Mary, is always up for some silliness. Princess preggo! Professional photo by Jasmine Holzworth.estey witch costumeDressing up has always been appealing. Look at her as a witchy toddler!estey and kate sharing fries

Super-social, she prefers company over solitude. Above she and our cousin share french fries. A few years back she was shocked that I was going to get a facial alone. What’s the fun in that?! I’m a firm introvert and loved it. We’ve learned to appreciate our differences and see more and more similarities as the years pass. Happy birthday chickie.

If you’re needing to warm up your cold fingers, or need an awesome winter gift check these out. I’m up-cycling wool clothing into arm-warmers. The socks, scarves, vests and sweaters I use have stains and holes in them so these are truly giving them new life. They’re pre-felted so they won’t shrink on you and are stretchy to fit most adults. I have one child-sized one for sale in the shop as well. That one has smaller thumb holes. Only $15-$20 each! These two pairs and more are up for sale and I’ll be adding more as I sew them.

warmers lblue tan outside
arm warmers long dark inside

 

Linking up to Handmade Tuesdays and Thankful Thursdays.

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15 Quilting-ish Goals for 2015

It’s almost New Year Resolutions Time. I quilt for myself, for pay, and for charity. In order to get more organized I’m joining Jetgirl and a few others in making 15 quilting-related resolutions for 2015.

  1. Get organized. Keep detailed financial records for my business. Rearrange my fabric stash so I can tell quickly what I have and don’t.
  2. Market my business. Do what I know and learn what I don’t. Make it a priority to really learn some new tricks. Try them out and see what works for me. learn-all-the-marketing
  3. Work on one charity project at a time. I have at least 3 charity unfinished projects and find great causes that need quilts or blocks all the time. Thing is, if my emotions are in charge none of these things will get done. One at a time and they’ll get finished and to the people that need them. First up is the turtles quilt for Crystal Lake Camps
    turtles blocks
  4. Teach some classes! I already have one class ready to go, teaching crumb piecing. I’ll work on getting that one booked at guilds and shops as well as having more classes to offer.
  5. pink crumb placematsTry new things. You know, stuff I haven’t done before.
  6. Finish a quilt for my own bed. We have store-bought blankets on there now, along with a gorgeous hand-quilted Amish quilt. Still, it needs one of mine. My husband has been bugging me about this for a while and this year I’ll turn one of the bed-sized tops into our snuggle covers.
  7. Give myself a raise! As a skilled worker, I will charge for my services like, well, a skilled worker. This year it goes up from $16.50 to $18 an hour. sew worth it
  8. Learn how to better communicate with my customers. For example, I recently discovered that a good question to ask with custom work is if there’s a preference for the backing fabric.
  9. Make another large crumbs quilt. I love my crumbs piecing! I have a LOT of 6″ squares and they’re ready to go into a large quilt. Maybe it’ll end up being a show quilt like this other one I made a few years ago. BAQS exhibit large
  10. Go to at least three quilt shows. Meet the vendors, be inspired by the quilts, refill my creative cup.
  11. Meet some of my online friends. I have some that I know only through blogging and Facebook. I’d love to give them in-person hugs in 2015!
  12. Be silly. Laugh. Allow myself to make things just because it’s fun. Inject beauty into my artistic life. 230126_7118653765_8586_n
  13. Say no. No to writer’s block. No to continuing with a project that needs to go into the donation bin. No to going to a guild meeting that’s designed to be exclusive. Trust my intuition and highest sense of self and say no when that’s the right answer for me.
  14. Quilt with friends! I’ve joined the Stash Bee and am looking forward to meeting some new online friends through that monthly activity. I’m also going to make an effort to sew in-person with mini-groups, sew-ins, at retreats, or just when my local friends have a minute to spare. stash bee
  15. Stop quilting. Know when to put the needle down. Watch a movie on the couch with my husband without my handwork. Stop the sewing machine when on the phone with a family member who’s letting me hear their secret thoughts. “One more block,” won’t do when I could be running errands before rush hour.

 

How about you? Do you have any resolutions for 2015?

Jasmine’s Wedding Quilt – In Her Words

My cousin Jasmine is today’s guest blogger. I got to sew simple log-cabin quilt blocks for her wedding guests to sign. Now it’s a treasured quilt. Here’s what she has to say about it:

 

 

 

Getting married to the guy you love is such an awesome thing.

jas time professional photo

But you know what was almost equally as awesome about our wedding day? That ALL the people we love came from all over the country to be there with us.

wedding party jas

Seriously – when else in your life does that happen? Everyone in ONE place??

fire jas wedding

So one of our favorite gifts we got was the signature quilt that Megan made for us. She put fabric blocks out for everyone to write notes to us on, and then quilted them together into this exquisite quilt. The colors match our wedding day – a beautiful red-orange-yellow fall day in Massachusetts. It’s super fun to read and re-read the messages all our loved ones left for us.

close-up photo of jas quilt

And the quilt itself is such good quality that I’m not worried about ruining it in the wash, or leaving it out as decoration on the couch. Thank you Megan, for such a thoughtful gift that keeps on reminding us of all the love in our life!

jas&timquilt

 

 

Lovey Beanbags for Mary’s First Birthday

My niece, Mary Constance, is a year old this month. I remember waiting by the phone on the day she was born, and being so excited to meet her in November. I even got to give her a quilt in person during that trip. I wasn’t able to be at her first birthday party, but several of her extended family members were so I’m grateful for that. Everyone should be surrounded by people they love on their birthday.

Of course, photographs were taken of the cake-eating. I love how Mary is focused on sharing her cake. It’s a serious job.

Mary sharing cake

 

She allowed others to feed cake to her, too. It became a big ‘ole finger-food experience.

Mary having cake

My Dad, brother, and I wanted to give her something special. I’ve been dubbed the artist of the group, though my Dad’s a great writer and my brother’s a musician. Plus I used to work as a nanny, so I know a lot about age-appropriate toys. So here’s what I came up with.

Mary Beanbags

The beanbags, sewn by Mary’s favorite Aunt Megan (me!) are developmentally appropriate for a toddler. They’re good to squish and throw. As she grows, I’m sure she’ll learn her colors in English and Spanish and these’ll be good tools for that too as they’re primary and secondary colors.
Beanbag Qualities

Can you see the qualities embroidered on the front of each beanbag? My dad, brother, and I each chose two things we see in Mary Constance. On the back of them is the name of the person who chose that word for her. Now they’re customized specifically for her and – BONUS – they’re super gushy mushy lovey.
Beanbag Names

 

I do custom orders! These were invented for Mary’s birthday, but if you like ’em I can give you a quote and make some for your special occasion. Just email me and we’ll make it happen.  mrs.megan.null@gmail.com

Inside the Reading Quilt is a Bit of History

 

 

I’m restoring my reading quilt, which I introduced to you guys in this post. I discovered something really cool when I started cutting the blocks out. I thought that this lumpy quilt was just the three layers: top, batting, and backing. I assumed that the batting was lumpy because it was poor-quality polyester which was commonly used when this quilt was made in 1991. I was wrong.

Here’s what I found underneath the first block. Huh. Interesting. There’s another quilt in there! It’s degraded to the point that the fabrics are thin and literally falling apart. There’s hand-embroidery across the block as well as ties.

Inside the Reading Quilt

Here’s what it looks like after I’ve cut out all of the reading blocks. There’s a crazy quilt under there! It’s completely done by hand with large pieces of fabric and large hand embroidery.

You’ll notice that some of the borders are still there. That’s because before my current plan of restoring the quilt by reusing the blocks, I tried to add some quilting and save it that way. I didn’t get far with that plan before deciding it wasn’t the way to go. Inside the Reading QuiltHere’s a closer look at some of the embroidery.
Inside the Reading QuiltI wanted to see if there were any surprises hiding under the backing fabric, so I cut into that. Nope, looks like the backing is original to the crazy quilt, as it’s attached to that. The stuffing is completely falling apart, as you can see.

I did a burn test on the batting to see if it’s synthetic or natural. Since it caught fire right away, instead of melting or curling away from the flame like rayon and polyester it’s a natural fiber. Probably cotton or wool.
Inside the Reading Quilt

Here are my top two theories on the history of this crazy quilt. We may never know for sure. First, it could have been made by maternal grandmother. She started a cathedral window quilt that includes fabrics from Mom’s communion dress, Papa’s handkerchief, Grandad’s shirt, and more. (Read more about Papa here.) But she never finished it. The story is that she liked the idea but hated sewing it so it was a UFO (unfinished object) that Mom completed when she learned to quilt. Now it’s a family treasure. Maybe she made the crazy quilt before starting the cathedral window, which is a much more difficult project.

Second theory. My Dad’s grandmother (Gigi to me) was a healer. Sometimes people bartered for her services instead of giving money. She might also have sewn herself, I don’t really know. Anyway, when she died our family found a stack of beautiful, hand-sewn quilts. None of them had labels so we didn’t know who the makers were. Mom was given some of those and maybe this one, which has clearly been falling apart for a very long time, was re-purposed that summer that I learned to love reading.

Some others of Gigi’s quilts are still out there somewhere, intact I hope. I learned to quilt with my Mom. After she died, it was too painful to do it without her for a long time. Besides, I was a teenager who wanted to spend her time at the movies, mall, and finding a boyfriend. So her fabric stash, rulers, and other supplies were given to her quilting friends. Over time other things were given away too, including those unknown quilters’ art.

I came back to quilting about five years after Mom’s death… to make a Christmas present for my cousin Jade. I am an artist, and fabric is a great medium to express that. Plus, sometimes, it makes me feel closer to my ancestors.

Restoring My Learning to Read Quilt

In the summer of 1991, my mom used my love of art to encourage me to practice reading. I got to draw a picture of my favorite part of the book as I finished each one. I drew these pictures with fabric crayons on muslin fabric. By the end of that summer, I was begging to go to the library and check out more books.
reading quiltHere’s the thing. This quilt that I treasure so so much was made before Mom learned to quilt. It’s made with the cheapest fabrics available, lumpy polyester batting (which has only degraded with age) and is held together with… tied yarn in four places. Obviously her craft improved greatly with her later quilts. This one is literally coming apart at the seams.

This one is such a treasure to me that I’m going to restore it. The photo above is the “before” picture. I will carefully cut out each square, add some stabilizer to the flimsy muslin, and border each block in a similar manner as the original quilt, with higher quality cottons. I plan to use calicoes, which were the choice of quilters at that time. It’ll get new batting and backing, and be quilted lovingly in her memory.

Of course, my drawings are cute… but one of the things I love most about this quilt, now that my Mom has passed, is that the titles of every book are written on the blocks… in her handwriting. It’s interesting what’s comforting when a loved one has died. Handwriting is one of those things for me, and the love that’s obvious in this project.

I’ll share with you guys the progress I make on this as I make it. This quilt has been folded up in a box for too long.

A – door – able

My sweet friends and family have noticed that I haven’t blogged in a while, so here’s a small update on what I’ve been up to. Firstly, I’ve been spending most of my time in bed getting over some kind of bug (ick!) but exciting things are still happening at my house. Like…

DSCN0026

We have a new door! My ultra-handy husband installed this new door where there once was only wall. It goes from inside the garage to the side yard. As you can see there’s some stucco patching and other finishing touches that still need to be done, but we (he, with me handing him tools) got it done before the rains came.

DSCN0030Here’s the view from inside the garage. Woo! Oh, and there’s now a handle in it. Snapped the photo before that was installed.

I’ve been making little things for my etsy shop here and there as I can, too. Here’s the latest version of those card holders I like so much. They’re shiny! Here’s the listing if you want one (or three!)
green card holders (1) green card holders (2)

 

There are a couple more fabric choices in these already made. You can find cute robin card holders here and blue bubbles card holders here.

I do custom work! Would you like some card holders for a special occasion? Perhaps a holiday, birthday, or bridal shower? I can make these in nearly every cotton fabric combination you can imagine. Send me a message and let’s get started.

As my health improves I’ll be doing more and will get back to blogging more often.