Tag Archives: Family

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.

Sample Sale! 50% off and free shipping!

Welcome to 2014! It’s time for a sample sale. These quilts have been all over the place (even if just all over the internet) and it’s time for some fresh art to show for the new year. So here’s what I’m offering: 50% off the value on each sample piece plus free shipping. Each piece will be up on my etsy page so it’ll be first come, first served. Here’s what I have to offer!. Also, my prices on custom quilts are increasing on February 1st so now’s a great time to get new orders in.

First up is, “Big Megan.” Not because I’m big, but because the next one is little Megan. I like these words better than child and young adult. This piece is quilted and measures 13″ x 15.5″ and is valued at $85.45. Which means it’s now on sale for $42.73. Buy it here.

13x15.5  $85.45 value

Next is, “Little Megan.” This one is quilted and measures 10.5″ x 13.5″ which brings the value to $67.53. It’s on sale for $33.76. Buy it here.

Little Megan

I’m going to break some hearts now. “Denver on the Beach” has already been sold. Here it is to admire anyway. It has a happy home now and has by far gotten the most Oooo’s and Wow’s.

Denver, age 2

“Uncle Time” features my baby sister. You know, before she had a baby of her own. This one’s a 10″ x 8″ top with two subjects in a frame. I’m adding $3 for the frame, so that brings the value to $65. Sale price is $32.50. Buy it here.

Uncle Time

“Baby Food” is another 10″ x 8″ top in a frame. This frame is sparkly and heavy. Since I’m paying for shipping, let’s add $8 for the pretty frame. Total value $45. Sale price is $22.50. Buy it here.

Baby Food

“Superhero” is 11.5″ x 11.5″ square. It’s a quilted piece and is valued at $64.66. Sale price is $32.33. Buy it here.

Superhero

Last on the list of sample quilts is one that I’m keeping. I call it “Four Faces” and has sentimental value to me. Plus it’s quite a bit larger than the ones I’m selling so it could make a nice impression hanging in a craft booth in the near future. Here’s what this one looks like:

FourFaces Completed

Expect previews of this year’s sample pieces in my next post. I’m hard at work making beautiful and unique treasures. Thank you in advance to the photographers and subjects that are letting me use their photographs as inspiration.

Nine and a Half

Do you remember when you were little, playing hide-and-seek, or cleaning your room, and Mom gave you slightly more time by counting to nine and a half before getting to ten?  I have s’more photos to share before we get to the post about colors. Is this cheating? Kindof. I said the colors would be in the next post. So this isn’t a full post later, it’s just a half.

STLAlexandDadlookgood STLAlexhappydaddy STLHappyGirlsIlookgood STLJimandEsteylookgood STLMarylooksawesome

So Much Thanksgiving

I didn’t actually take many photographs while I was on vacation. I’m still waiting to hear back from some family members who’ve offered to share their photographs, but here’s what I’ve got in the meantime.

SheriTurkey

My brother and I helped Sheri make this lovely vegetarian-friendly turkey. Now when I say helped, I mean that I cut the celery and he cut the carrots. That’s helping, right?! Anyway, Sheri’s masterpiece was so cool that the group collectively decided to eat it symmetrically so as to preserve the bird. For example, if I wanted a carrot, I’d take it from where the carrots are most dense so the poor thing didn’t have a bald spot.

Ta-Da

There’s that brother of mine snuggling up to Sheri. He’s 15 now! I hadn’t seen him since my cousin’s wedding over two years ago… so we were very happy to spend time together. We watched movies, played card games, saw a lights show, and enjoyed ice cream. My first thought when I saw him this trip was, “Oh no! He’s a MAN!” Always my baby brother, not quite a baby anymore. JimSheri

Alright, here are a few more I’m adding right off Facebook. These were taken the day we went to the Arch. My brother was in school that day, but my sister, her hubby, and little Mary were there. Dad, too. And me. Yeah. Here are the photos. Ready? Okay, now.

Arch with Alex

Baby Mary was so snuggly and cozy! Didn’t complain one bit as long as she was close to her mama. Us non-mamas could hold her for 20ish seconds before she’d loudly object. Her Dad got a little longer, of course. Whenever she got fussy, music usually did the trick. She loves “Baby Beluga” and “Open, Shut Them”. If all else fails, Elmo is magic. Mary cut her first two teeth on this trip. So exciting! Mastens arch

Those were taken at the top of the arch. This last one is on the ground but I just love how baby Mary and I are making eyes at each other. Which is not what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re supposed to be smiling at the camera. Sometimes the candid shots are way cuter anyway.

MaryandItalkarch

In my next post I’ll talk about getting my colors done. As a quilter, I know that picking the exact right color is important. The almost-right color often isn’t good enough. I had my personal colors done (you know, for makeup and clothing) and it has changed my perspective. In the past when I wanted to look nice, I didn’t really know how. Little black dresses made me look pale. Makeup darkened the circles under my eyes. Turns out I was choosing the wrong colors. More on that soon.

Baby Mary’s First Quilt

 

I got to meet my niece, Mary, while on vacation. Isn’t she the cutest little April-born, ruffled butt, Elmo loving, quick crawling, happy baby ever?! You don’t have to answer that. We all know it’s true. Here she is hamming it up for the camera on her quilt.
MaryonQuilt

Here she is with her mama, my baby sister. Yes, that’s a Christmas tree in the background. Sheri decided to decorate for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a happenin’ holiday place all right.
EsteyMary

So, about this quilt. My sister had a baby shower planned for late January and a bunch of us family members flew in to surprise her. It was so fun to see her react to each new person coming. She was completely surprised and we were able to love on her all weekend. One of the things we did was make signature blocks. Mary’s name was a secret at the time so I had everybody guess what her name would be. These blocks make up the front of the quilt. The centerpiece is, of course, her actual name.

MaryTop (1) MaryCloseUp2 (1) MaryCloseUp1

On the back are love letters to the baby. These are bigger blocks so there was room to write. I ironed freezer paper onto the back of each block for a more stable writing surface. It peels right off when you’re finished. Fabric markers in a rainbow of colors were set with a hot iron. MaryBack

Small Business Saturday Deals

FourFaces CompletedIn honor of Small Business Saturday, here’s what I’m offering in my etsy shop. These deals start now and are only good this weekend.

Everyone who buys anything from my shop will get a coupon code for 5% off your next purchase. This coupon is good through June 1st, 2014.

The first five people who order a custom portrait quilt will get 10% off the entire purchase price.

The first three people who order a custom portrait quilt that is no bigger than 50″ x 50″ will have it done in time for Christmas. Plus the 10% off.

Check out the listing for details on pricing and what we need to get started. https://www.etsy.com/listing/109205494/custom-fiber-art-quilt-portrait-from?ref=shop_home_feat

Update as of midnight Sunday 12/2: These deals have expired. Prices will increase on February 1, 2014.. so it’s still great to get these orders in before then. Or after then. I’ll have another post up soon. Until then, thank you and goodnight.

Koala in the Air

Just a reminder that I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. Here’s somebody I’m flying towards:

Panda MaryIsn’t Mary the cutest little Koala bear you ever did see? She flew to Dad’s (with her parents) from the other coast today. So excited to meet her.

I’ll be checking messages so feel free to write if you need me. Back to packing!