Let’s Get Folksy

I often wonder what attracts us to certain things in life. The color red is one of my favorite colors, and many of my quilts are infused with this color. I am also very attracted to folk art quilting and especially love Sue Spargo’s designs. Years ago, even before I started quilting, I found a book of hers entitled 12Pin Keepers. The pin keepers are actually pin cushions, but I thought they were so cute. I made them as little “love pillows.”

Each of her twelve designs is adorable. I used scrap upholstery fabric, felted wool, beads, embroidery and plenty of love while making these small treasures. Sue Spargo also has beautiful whimsical designs for quilts and a host of ideas for anyone interested in creating the folk art look. You can explore the internet for more folk art ideas.

Enjoy your quilting explorations.

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The Thread

Lately, I have been sifting through my family photo albums. My husband enjoys taking pictures, so as you can imagine, we have pictures galore. As I was eliminating duplicates, blurry pictures, or pictures of the many generations of ducks and squirrels I feed daily, I realized one thread that keeps family and friends together are the holidays. Our pictures showed sharing Thanksgiving dinners with our families, some no longer with us, happy times at Christmas over the years with family and dear friends enjoying delicious meals together. There are pictures of Easter egg hunts with the cousins and friends’ children who are so close to us, they really are cousins. I found an arm load of pictures of my sons playing little league baseball with their, yes, cousins. There are pictures of vacations with our loved ones. A life time of memories are in those picture albums.

The thread is always there. It’s what holds us together as a family. Children grow up and leave the nuclear family, but somehow the holidays reunite us all. This Thanksgiving is taking my husband and me to north Florida to be with our own children, so we won’t be able to be together with our extended families. Just like the thread that connects us, my heart will be connected to my sisters and brother, my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, my three amazing nephews and niece, my Ricky who always sits next to me at holidays, and my dear friend Corinne and her wonderful family.

I am eternally thankful for all of my family and friends, and I’m hoping your Thanksgiving will be the best.

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Halloweens Gone By

I have been sorting and sifting through our photo albums lately. My husband, who has always loved taking pictures, took multiple pictures of the many occasions in our lives. As I was going through the albums, I came upon some fun costumes I had made. Each one brought back memories of happy times.

The pictures below are of my son, Eric, wearing costumes I made. Travis wore Eric’s costume hand me downs for the first few years of his life. I hope to find the costumes I made for him and publish them next Halloween. Eric and I joined a “mommy and me” program at Nova University when he was two. His clown costume was the first one I made for him. I think he looks so cute in it. There were several clowns who borrowed that costume over the year.

He wanted to be a dog for his three year old Halloween. At that time, he started attending a preschool in our neighborhood. He looked so cute. I will never forget him running around as each of the classes paraded around the school showing off their costumes. Afterwards, the pre-k classes went to a local nursing home and made a big hit with the patients.

I know, you’re looking at the Bert head and wondering how the heck did I make that. Well, I really can’t tell you, but it was magnificent. I remember stopping at a red light while driving him to school. Everyone next to us laughed so hard and wanted to know where I got the costume. “I made it,” I said. The shirt and gloves were also a part of the pattern.
Actually, that Bert head was worn by so many people, young and older. My husband even wore it to his law school classes one Halloween.

If you can sew, it’s really fun to make an original costume. I enjoyed making these costumes, plus many others for my sons. Enjoy your Halloween, whether you make or purchase your costume. It’s a boo-lishess holiday.

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Let’s Talk Politics Or What Gave Me God Bumps

My husband, who knows how  much I enjoy seeing quilt exhibits, took me to Mizner Park yesterday to see an amazing quilt display.  Many of the quilts dated back to the mid-1800’s and were absolutely amazing.  One quilt,  through embroidery, displayed Abraham Lincoln’s life from the log cabin he lived in as a child through his time in the White House.  Another focused on Grover Cleveland’s presidency by using applique and embroidery.   There was one made by using a collection of blocks that were made by Japanese quilters which shared their empathy over the 9/11 tragedy.  The quilts are stunning and are in amazing condition for their age.   I also would like to point out, were hand sewn.

Here’s where my God bumps came in.  On the back wall there was a quilt which measured 8’x30′.  The quilt was organized and assembled by the Steel Quilters of  Pittsburgh, Pa. This quilt was made in sections honoring every aspect of the 9/11 tragedy.  The names of every single one of the lives lost that day were included in the quilt’s design. The first section honors those who were killed in the first plane crash into the first tower.  In two inch blocks, contributors from around our country and some from around the world, designed a block with the name of someone who lost his/her life on that day.  Each additional section included the names of each life lost: those on the second flight, those in the World Trade Center, those whose planes were targeting the Pentagon, and the responders. The largest part of the quilt had the names of those who died in the twin towers.

It was difficult not to become emotional seeing the quilt.  A woman and her son were sitting on a viewing bench.  She was sobbing.  I asked her if she had lost someone in the tragedy, and she said no, she was just overcome with the magnitude of loss the quilt displayed.   My husband found the name of a high school friend’s son who was only twenty-three and worked in the World Trade Center.

If you have the time and live in south Florida I highly recommend the drive to  the Boca Raton Art Museum to see this fabulous display.  The National Tribute Quilt is well worth the effort.  The display will be at this museum through January 13, 2013.   You can see a small photo of the quilt on the museum’s current exhibition page.

Quilting has always been a way of expressing oneself.   In times when women didn’t have a voice, it became an outlet for their thoughts.   History has been expressed in quilting.  Quilting was a way of passing on secret messages.  Even today, quilting has expressed the magnitude of what happened to our country on that tragic day in September.

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Trick Or Treat

Have you ever had brain freeze over what to be for Halloween? One of the wonderful things about being able to sew and have a smidgen of creativity is producing some wonderful Halloween costumes. Over most of my young adult and adult lifetime, I have come up with some winning costumes. My sister, Darlene, won first place with a chubby version of a sleep walker costume I devised when she was in junior high school. We laughed ourselves sick trying to get her into a car.

I think the most awesome costumes I ever had my hand in were when my son, Eric, was a senior in high school. Eric and three of his friends decided to go to school on Halloween dressed as the rock group, Kiss. I went out and purchased some silver polyester fabric and sewed the essential parts for each respective costume. The boys spent the night at our house and woke up very early to create their make-up, (with a little help), and dress in their costumes. As you can tell in the picture, they looked awesome. And, they won first place in the costume contest.

This event was something I’ll never forget. What a great way of creating not only fun costumes, but creating an unforgettable moment in time. So get your creative juices flowing, dust off your sewing machine, and come up with a great costume for your children or yourself.

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What’s In Your Closet?

October is here, the stores are ready for Christmas and it’s time to think about the holidays. But, that’s not what I’m going to talk about today in my post. For the last two weeks, my house has been in an up-roar. We decided now would be the time to install wood flooring in our four bedrooms. Well, if you’ve never had this experience while living in your home, it’s not the most fun. We had to remove everything, except the heavy furniture from every room, which included the closets. We were doing fine until we hit the boys’ rooms. I’m sure girls are like this too, but I’m going to focus on boys, because that’s what I have; two remarkable adult sons who live in north Florida, but whose closets and rooms are shrines to their life here with us.

Now, I’m fine with the creating of shrines to one’s children, and I am probably at least 60% responsible for the melange of memorabilia stored in their closets, but as I pulled each box out a mixture of emotions came over me. Initially, I felt extremely nostalgic. Every article brought back a strong emotion of the wonderful times our family shared. Those feelings soon subsided after the fifth binder of baseball cards, plus the huge boxes of baseball cards were lifted out. Up next are the boxes and boxes of comic books. Favorite toys were kept in boxes. My older son, Eric, loved, (and I think he secretly still does), Transformers. Matchbox cars, pictures of favorite baseball players and wrestlers were saved. Newspapers, magazines of amazing events in our life, (my husband was responsible for that), were kept. I won’t bore you with the rest.

When we finally began dusting things off and putting them back I thought, ok this is the time to purge. What can we get rid of? I asked the boys and they were agreeable to recycling the newspapers and magazines. Then I made a decision. So much of my sons’ lives are stored in those closets. Maybe they will never want to look at anything again, but just maybe they would. Isn’t that what home is about?

By the way, the wood floors look great with my homemade quilts on the beds. The rooms have a special warmth; just what home should feel like.

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I Surrender

Sometimes in life we just need to surrender.  After constructing six blocks of the “Dear Jane” quit, I have decided to do just that.  Maybe if there were detailed directions of the blocks, I could have persevered, but the directions I found on-line were nebulous and impossible to follow.  So, here is my second and last letter to Jane.

Dear Jane,

I either think you are an evil genius, or have a wicked sense of humor.  I wonder about you sitting in your rocking chair on your front porch making up these little maddening works of art.  Were you thinking, “Ha, ha, I can’t wait to see how the first fool tries to duplicate this quilt?”  Were you institutionalized and saw these patterns in your drug induced stupor?  I was even thinking you may have been on an LSD trip, but I don’t think it was invented back then.  I just don’t see how a sane person could have come up with such a complicated quilt.

I know there are women, far better than I, who have duplicated this quilt in their own fashion.  I think most of them either took a class, or were suffering from PMS or menopause.  There just isn’t any other explanation in my book.  So, Jane, I love the quilt you made, I am enthralled with the romantic notion of its production, I do think you were a genius and way ahead of your time, but I have surrendered.  I am one of  probably many, who is putting my few little blocks away and hiding the book so I will never find it again.

I bet you’re up in heaven snickering, “Ha, another one down.”

Kathy

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