Thursday, 7 June 2012

In the beginning...

Welcome to passion quilting, my blog is about my journeys in learning this craft. I consider myself an absolute beginner with enough passion to compensate for the lack of experience, if I can visualize it I will try it! 

I started out sewing many years ago, in a Home EC. class I enjoyed it but it wasn't something that was done in our house and I wasn't allowed to use the sewing machine at home unless it was for homework, so sewing fell by the way side. Then many years later I got involved with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) and began creating medieval garb in the most simple way, thus began my scavenging skills, I never used patterns, I learned how to eyeball a design and work it out in my own way. I mean really who wants to pay $20 or more for a pattern that you are only going to use a piece or two out of? I also bought very little fabric from fabric stores (which I feel are over priced) and started trading, going to yard sales, estate sales and 2nd hand stores to find "treasures". The only time I ever bought fabric was for a specific purpose and I couldn't find what I needed anywhere, you know when you need just one piece to pull everything together?

My favourite bit of scavenging was to use flat bed sheets that you can get in any second hand store or garage sale for a dollar or two, I used them to create under-dresses, gypsy pants or skirts, pants for the guys or tunic tops, whatever I could think of got made with them. Why? If you consider it, a flat twin size bed sheet is around 2m's of fabric with a great width, and you can get high quality cottons as well as a range of colours or delicate patterns and buying them second hand means you pay less than 1 or 2% of what it would cost you to buy it off the shelf in a department store or get equal length and width from a fabric store. What a steal!  Not to mention you don't have to worry about shrinkage or even colour fastness because they have already been washed repeatedly.

Some Background:

Eventually we moved out of the SCA and that circle of friends mainly because my husband and I were the only ones with small children and we couldn't continue spending our time that way, my (now) middle child whom I will refer to as my Chickie had some vision issues and we ended up having to spend our time and moneys in that direction obviously. Unfortunately her vision problems were just the tip of the iceberg, at a year old I noticed she wasn't quite herself and I started keeping my eye on her, I discovered I was pregnant with my 3rd one just shortly after this realization and so I have to split my focus between her, my eldest young lady and the soon to be baby and lets not forget hubby either!  I think I was a bit overwhelmed at this point... ;)  Anyway, I was due with my 3rd youngling, March 4th 2006 and as the months passed my little Chickie gradually started getting worse, at the end of January 2006 she developed an odd rash which disappeared for a week after topical treatment and then in February came back with a vengeance all over her right side, I took her into Doctor after doctor and they all said, just keep an eye on it, it should go away. Needless to say it didn't and I was coming closer and closer to my due date. It was decided by my team of Doctor's to schedule my c-section on February 20th which for me personally is a necessity but that is a whole other story in of itself. Why so early? I can't recall the reasons now but I do remember it was important that it happen then instead of later, and it turned out to be a blessing from God that it did happen then. 

After I had my little one, Dad brought the other 2 to the hospital to visit me the following morning, I looked at my little Chickie and just knew as only a mother can know that there was something WRONG. It needed to be looked after NOW. The rash she had? Well it now had red lines following her veins with it, if you have never seen anything like that I hope you don't ever see it. It's more than a little terrifying. 

I was up and out of my bed within the hour (Just over 24 hours after having major surgery, yes) and on my way home with my family, why my Doctor released me? I don't know, I don't ask questions, I just have faith. Anyway, within 4 days little Chickie had a battery of tests which had odd results, the Wednesday following we went into see the doctor who was really concerned because her belly had started swelling and she was scheduled for a ultrasound on Friday. We went in for the test, got a call Saturday morning to come in for full spectrum blood tests, I won't get into the details but it was bad, it took a half hour to get the sample. The attending Doctor told us to go home and wait for the results, we figured it would take a couple of hours so we decided to go for a quick bite before we headed home. Half an hour later we get home, there is a message on the phone telling us to get our rear ends back to the hospital RIGHT NOW. 

I knew, right then I knew she had cancer. I didn't need the doctor to tell me, he looked at me and said "You know don't you?" I nodded and asked "What type?" Leukemia, ALL to be exact was his reply. 2 hours later we are on a plane to the Children's Stollery in Edmonton AB. The date? March 4, 2006
I realize that you are wondering why I am telling you all this, the last 10 years of my life with my family has been Epic.. I don't know how else to explain it and it all relates to how I began quilting. I could fill an entire novel with stories just from this era of my life and still not have told everything.
Continuing on with how I began quilting I am going to skip over 5 years and go to January 2011 (it's ok to breathe a sigh of relief lol) my little Chickie has completed her chemo (4 years worth) and had her eye surgery that she needed and now I get to focus on house and home a little, all my girls are in school and I find myself with time on my hands. What a new fangled thing that is... Time... on my hands.. I don't know what to do with myself. A friend of my parents whom was instrumental in helping us out during our first year of chemo life, again another story for another time, contacted me and started bugging me to join her in her quilting guild. I refused at that time but she persisted, it got to the point where it was a running joke every time we ran into each other. "You going to come to the guild now?" ... "Umm no, not this week... I have to wash my hair and trim the lawn... " . 
For months she bugged me.. and I mean MONTHS, so come December 2011 I shocked her.. I said YES. She didn't know quite what to do at that point!  I go to the meeting to discover that 80% of the women there are all women I have known at various points in my life, now whose shocked and floored? ME! 
I don't exactly recall why I picked the fabrics that I did for my first quilt, I just started off with a bed sheet, I had this beautiful, retro, 1970's fitted sheet with the little girl 
In her bonnet on the green or yellow gingham background and then some pale yellow seersucker which I thought matched nicely, it is my first attempt so I wasn't going to run out an buy a whole bunch of new material for something I may not enjoy. Makes sense right? Little did I know I was about to delve into a project that would allow me to express myself and my emotions in a way that I despaired of ever finding. 
So I attended my first meeting in December and funnily enough I didn't take to it right away, I don't know if it was the timing or if the planets weren't aligned correctly or perhaps that fact that I had the brain freeze that us Northern living women deal with when the temperature drops to -40 degrees for weeks on end.
I had gotten the basics of how to cut, what to cut and when to cut it from my soon to be Quilting mentor, Suzie (One and the same with the persistent harassing lady.), she taught me how to piece the blocks together and I had a good time but I wasn't sure it was for me so I let it go for a few weeks, come January I was HOOKED. Once I started to piece the strips together I realized how relaxed I was, I nearly bawled in relief I haven't relaxed like that since... I don't know when!
I ended up buying the paisley squares at Wal-mart because of course "Only buy what you can't find" the rest of the material came out of my treasure hoard. 

The Embellishment

The little girls in this picture have a story of their own, as soon as I saw them I knew the quilt was for Chickie! Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley? If you haven't the general story is, a little boy gets flattened one day and he is so flat he can be folded up and put in an envelope then he gets mailed everywhere. Well my little Chickie's teacher makes Flat Stanley's for us to mail all over the world and the person receiving the Stanley is supposed to take him around and show him the sites of their town or countryside perhaps include a photo or a souvenir. It's quite the thing and the people whom we send these out to just absolutely love it, these little girls came back from Nova Scotia with Flat Stanley so he could have company! 
Obviously I couldn't just set them aside or throw them away, they are too precious and hold an exciting memory for Chickie. So I stumbled upon the idea of making a memory quilt quite by accident and satin stitched these little ladies in the middle of her quilt, they have been stitched on after the quilting was done so the satin stitch shows up on the wrong side but they look funny all alone on this big quilt...

So I found these lovely little blue threaded butterflies at the local dollar store, laugh all you want but they actually aren't too bad of quality, I just have to be careful how I dry the quilt in the dryer which isn't a problem since I usually hang my quilts on the clothes line.  I put these particular ones swirling up the right side of the quilt, if you looked at the first picture at the top of the blog you can see what I did, and they to are satin stitched through all layers on the back, the reason why I've done that is because it's a memory quilt, I can now add other bits to it and have the effect on the back and the front.  Once I find my camera again I'll take a picture of the back and post it. 
The only problem was the quilt now seems to be imbalanced since the left side is bare, so off to the dollar store I went yet again! And I found these:

Wonderful pink butterflies! I thought they made a great contrast to the blue not only in colour but in shape and texture, and they are oh so girlie! These also washed well, this quilt is well loved already and it's barely 3 months old! I used a rayon embroidery thread for the antennae so they would show up and shimmer a bit, as you can see from the photo it worked quite well. Of course rayon embroidery thread is difficult to work with on a sewing machine and I made the mistake of putting it in the bobbin as well... Do not do that! Use a good poly thread for the bobbin it will make your life so much simpler.


I realized that once I had finished and bound this quilt, just how much of the stress I'd had in the last few years was worked out through it, this Chickie quilt will never win any awards, I mixed up my strips so there is no rhyme or reason to the pattern, my binding is less than impressive but in the end it doesn't matter because I created it, and it yells everything that my daughter is to me personally and I doubt any show piece will ever be as loved and treasured as this quilt is by her. That is what matters, and there is my passion.

Thank you for taking the time to read my rather large ramble, I didn't know how to squish such a large story into a few sentences hopefully my following blogs won't be as large but to be honest I doubt it ;)

Passion, in creation.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! Greetings from Finland. I found your wonderful blog. Welcome to my new blog


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