Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘grandchildren’

Life is more than just Quilting…gasp

The weather has been nice, so I’ve spent time outdoors working in my flowerbeds.  I cleaned up the dried stems & leaves from last year’s perennials and raked out the leftover leaves.  I split up some hostas that have overgrown and transplanted iris rhizomes that were being crowded by black-eyed susans in the same bed.  The heavy rains over the last three days should set the plants well.  My tulips have bloomed and the peony plants are growing.  What started as two lily of the valley plants some 15 years ago has spread through the back bed.  May’s birth month flower will soon bloom.  I transplanted a trumpet vine last fall and hope it takes root and sprouts leaves this spring. The rose bushes are sending out vines and needed trellises to control them.

Flower gardens give much inspiration for quilters.  The simple shapes & lovely colors offer a myriad of designs for applique.  I continue to work on my Craftsy class project. I finished stitching the petals on an applique flower block and the butterfly block.  Though my progress is slow, it continues weekly.

Flower & Butterfly blocks

Friday, my sister & I set out on a quilt Shop Hop.  We travelled over 300 miles to visit four shops in mid-Michigan.  We also checked out a new quilt shop that wasn’t on the hop.  It turned out to be my favorite – Park Bench quilt shop in Midland, Michigan.  I think the shop was well aware of the 3-day shop hop at their competitor down the street.  They offered the same 20% discount on purchases.  The fabrics are beautiful and the selection more the style that interests me.  I picked up Joan Ford’s latest Scraptherapy book, The Versatile Nine Patch, along with several fat quarters to use in my elephant baby quilt I have yet to begin.

Shop Hop Fabrics Closeup

Shop Hop Fabrics

Shop Hop fabric purchases

I always take along a list of notions I would like to try.  One in particular I looked for and found is the Kwik Klip. I have heard many rave about how well it helps with closing safety pins when pin basting.   Got one and hope it lives up to the hype.

Kwik Klip

The dreary weather kept me inside most of yesterday, so I also completed a bit of FMQ. I’ll have to share photos next time.  Tomorrow, I am going on a field trip with my granddaughter to Woldumar Nature Center.  All the rain has likely made the trails muddy and I’m praying the rain will hold off until the trip is over.

That recaps some of the activities over the last two weeks.  I’ve been busy with a lot more that keeps me away from needle & thread.  But life is more than just quilting.

Hoping to share more progress next week.  Until then…happy stitching!



Emma’s Pillow

Learning a new craft is challenging.  Teaching can also be challenging, trying to explain basic sewing principles in easy to understand terms.  My granddaughter, Emma, has been a willing learner, but she exhibits frustration when she doesn’t do something right.  When that happens, she needs a break and I allow for it.

Today’s project was a small charm square pillow with a hand stitched initial.  Emma has a keen sense of color.  She spent quite a bit of time selecting fabrics from my stash, selecting fabrics that appealed to her and looked nice next to each other.  Today’s lesson involved learning how to use rulers and a rotary cutter, including handling the cutter safely.  We handled the rotary cutter together, knowing that she needs close supervision until she is more skilled.


sewing the pillow together

I also allowed Emma to practice her previously learned skills.  She wound a bobbin, threaded the sewing machine, and stitched quarter-inch seams.  She also learned a new skill: how to use a seam ripper.  Interestingly, she realized during the sewing that she had veered out of the seamline.  She stopped and immediately reached for the seam ripper to tear out part of the seam.  No hesitation on her part to unsew and resew.  That may be the perfectionist coming out in her.

Emma completed the pillow project over the course of the day by taking breaks to do other things.  At one point, I thought that she had stitched enough for the day, putting the project aside and shutting down the sewing machine.  Later, I found Emma back in the sewing room hand stitching her initial onto the pillow top.  It is exciting to see her developing an interest in handiwork.


Emma’s Pillow

She’s already asking what our next project will be.  I’m ready to teach her how to cut out a paper pattern and stitch together a piece of clothing.  I made my first pair of pants in 4-H when I was 9 years old.  My plan is a pair of flannel pajama pants.  Emma is also learning to knit, from her other Grandma.  Someday, she will realize how fortunate she is to have learned these skills as a child, since many of our young people are not learning them.  If you’re a sewist, quilter, knitter, or embroider, pass that skill onto a younger person.  We owe it to the next generation.

Until next time…happy stitching!

Emma’s Pincushion

Quilting and sewing is enjoyable only when you are able to share it with someone else.  I share my stitching with my two sisters, friends, guild members, and even acquaintances.  Now, I am sharing stitching with my eight-year-old granddaughter. She spent another Saturday morning practicing the sewing lessons I started a couple weeks ago.

Emma is learning to embroider.  She traced the heart pattern onto a piece of muslin and hooped it with flannel backing.  She selected three colors of embroidery floss and is learning to thread a needle and make a knot.  This isn’t easy for a newbie and is teaching Grandma patience.  She outlined the hearts using a stem stitch. Sometimes she made large stitches and had to take them out and redo them. Sometimes she didn’t catch the thread on the front of the stitch and either removed the stitch or kept it.  Sometimes she caught the corner of the fabric in her stitch as it folded across the back of the hoop.  All this is a part of the learning process.


We took a break from stitching to practice on the sewing machine.  She threaded the machine and stitched a sample with straight, curved and V-shaped lines. Learning to start and stop at a specific point can be challenging.  She is also learning how to adjust the speed with the foot pedal.  After a couple of hours, I think Emma needed a break.  But, she was persistent and wanted to finish the project. So, she trimmed the finished embroidery, pinned it to a backing, and stitched the seams on the sewing machine.  After turning right side out, she stuffed it with some batting scraps and whipped stitched the opening.  Voila, a pincushion.  Quite an accomplishment.


As for my projects, I completed some hand quilting on Sunday.   Too many other activities going on in my life to allow much time for stitching.  But, sewing with Emma is worth more than finishing a WIP anyday.

Until next week…Happy Stitching!

Borders, Granddaughters & Hand Quilting

This weekly progress update has multiple topics.  My goal was to complete the borders on a BOM begun about 1-1/2 years ago.  Although, I would like to say that I met my goal, I was only able to complete 3 of 4 borders.  But, I also spent time doing something crafty with each of my granddaughters, and made progress on a project that wasn’t even on my radar.

Mid-week, I put the first border on my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.  The pattern is by Jacquelynne Steves over at The Art of Home.  My older sister & I planned to do this project together.  The block options included applique or embroidery, and I chose to embroider.  The first border is the cream fabric used as the background fabric and the sashing.  This framed the blocks, making the fabric colors and embroidery stand out.  By Friday, I was able to add the second border of blue bird fabric.


Both of my granddaughters spent time with me this week-end doing a crafty project.  I planned a Saturday morning sewing lesson for 8-year-old Emma that included a trip to the local dime store to purchase items for her personal sewing box, practicing straight line stitching on striped fabric, and teaching embroidery stem stitching.  Her first project is to make a pin cushion, which has embroidered hearts.  Her nearly 5-year old sister Carly, spent time with Grandma on Sunday making a beaded turtle keychain kit.

In between, I added the third border to my quilt.  The dot fabric was purchased off the Hobby Lobby clearance rack.  I love dotty fabric and couldn’t pass by this purchase, only realizing after I got it home, that it is a perfect match to the fabrics in my quilt.  Bonus: I have enough to do the backing.


Being Grandma is lots of fun, but tiring.  Carly is a bowl full of energy.  I spent the remainder of the week-end on the sofa.  I picked up a hand quilting project in the vicinity of my resting place and added some stitches to the project.  My Solids Liberated Improv is from a Gwen Marston quilt retreat in 2009.


So, that’s what I accomplished last week.  How about you; what projects have you been stitching on?  Join me this year in finishing up all those projects you’ve started.  I’m trying to learn persistence and determination with my UFO’s.  Just a little every week and, as the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race”.

Happy Stitching!


Picture Play Baby Quilt

I’ve completed another baby quilt.  This one is for my soon-to-be-born grandson.  Big Sister, my 7-year-old granddaughter, assisted with picking out the pattern and fabrics.  The design is adapted from the pattern Tiny Treasures in Picture Play Quilts by Ami Simms.  Her pattern used 2-inch patches, but I had lots of 3-1/2 inch patches that I’ve saved using the Scraptherapy method, by Joan Ford of Hummingbird Highway.  I also completed a different border treatment than the pattern by Ami.

I found a great bargain on a dotted fabric and used it to make borders and backing.  The colors are perfect for a baby boy quilt: brown, yellow, blue & green.  And, it fit well with the patches in the quilt.  I love all the little designs fussy-cut from my collection of children’s prints.  I’ve been collecting these since my first grandson was born four years ago, but haven’t used any of them until now.  Isn’t that how it goes. We collect fabrics with good intentions to make something, but it takes forever to get that project made.  It took my daughter having a baby to give me a deadline to finish a quilt.

Speaking of deadlines, her delivery is fast approaching.  So, I took time this holiday week-end to get the outside borders onto the quilt and make the backing.  Here is a peek at the quilt top before I send it out to the longarmer.

Tiny Treasures Picture Play Baby Quilt

Baby quilts are so much fun to make.  Over the last 30 years or so, I’ve created more baby quilts than I can even remember.  I really need to document all my baby quilts together.  That may be a topic for a future post.  For now, here are more close-up shots of the picture patches.



My Bernina has Come Home

My Bernina finally came home after a three week stint for a cleaning and repair. In the past, three weeks without my machine would have been devastating, but I managed this time without any problems. It seems that I have been doing a lot of hand sewing. See my posts about my Rose of Sharon study quilt HERE and HERE.

The quilt shop had five other machines ahead of mine to clean and repair, so I had to leave mine knowing that they wouldn’t get to it for a few days. I also knew that they would need to repair the throat plate area, so a wait for the part delayed the work further. I picked up my baby on Saturday and brought her home. She looks so much better and I expect she sews fine. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to take her for a spin. Our granddaughter had a sleepover at Grandma & Grandpas house and today was a BBQ with family for Father’s Day. The weather is lovely outside and I am enjoying the warm, breezy afternoon as I write this blog post on my deck.

I always find it interesting to note the amount of time I spent sewing on my Bernina since the last cleaning. However, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done as much machine stitching as in previous years. I purchased my Bernina virtuosa 155  March 27, 2004 at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. My first cleaning was completed 11/24/06 and I had put 55 hours of sewtime on the machine. The next cleaning was 7/23/08 and I had 83 hours of sewtime. This was followed by a cleaning 9/9/09 with 27 hours of sewtime. I was averaging 33 hours of sewing annually. This time, I hadn’t had my machine in for a cleaning in five years. I really thought it had been less time. I was surprised that there was only 48 hours of sewtime on the machine, which averages less than 10 hours sewtime annually. What’s up with that!

I know that I have been doing a lot of sewing, so I wonder what it is that has shortened my sewtime. Some of this is the type of sewing I am doing. As I said earlier, I am doing a lot more hand sewing. As you can see in several of my recent posts, I am doing a lot of hand applique. I started an Applique Club with my local guild three years ago and made two of these projects by hand applique. I also have several other hand projects in the works – applique, redwork, and hand quilting. But, I still thought that I had done more sewing on my machine than 10 hours.

I began thinking it over and realized that there has been a lot going on in the last five years that has kept me from my Bernina. In these five years, three grandchildren have been born and they take precedence in my life. I haven’t been attending retreats, preferring to stay at home and do stitching with my sisters. We’ve been getting together every month or so for a sewing day. We travel to each other’s house and I usually take a cutting project or hand sewing when I travel, so I don’t have to pack up my machine. You can read about many of these sister sewing days at Modern Sue’s Previous Musings under the Sisters tag. I also started blogging four years ago and that certainly takes away from sewtime. My husband also reminded me that I have had many physical limitations over the last couple of years that has interfered with my ability to sew. I put my Bernina aside last March to undergo a shoulder repair and only began doing my machine sewing  again at Christmas time. I’ve also had surgery on my thyroid gland in 2012 and my right great toe in 2009. Maybe not as limiting as the shoulder repair, but certainly cutting into sewtime.

So, what does all this mean. Well, probably that I need to find more time to sew. Or, maybe I’ve discovered that sewing and quilting aren’t the most important aspects of my life. Relationships are more important than a piece of cloth, thread and a needle. Sewing and quilting are what I do to create things for my family and friends. It is an extension of me, but not all that I am. I may not be the fastest stitcher at a retreat, or the guild member that makes the most quilts to show & tell, or the family member that always has a homemade gift-wait, that one is me! I want to be remembered for being a loving and caring wife, mom, grandma, sister, aunt, friend, or you fill in the blank. My quilts are just an extension of that love and care.

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day. I enjoyed a BBQ dinner with my family. But, tonight is sewtime!


Child’s Quilted Backpack

I spent my Monday holiday stitching up a child’s quilted backpack. With the entire day off work, I hoped to do some quilting. But, I diverted from this plan to make this backpack, a project I began for my granddaughter more than a year ago. The pattern, fabrics, and notions have been in a box stashed in my sewing room, waiting for me to have the time to make it.

I let my granddaughter pick out the fabrics. She loves kitty cats and had to use some cat fabric from my stash for the pocket. Purple is her favorite color, unless she’s wearing pink, and the butterfly fabric perfectly fit with the cat fabric she picked out. If you look closely at the photo, two of the cats are inside a green bag with purple butterflies. The top of the pack opens and closes with drawstrings that double for shoulder straps. The project stitched together quickly.

Child's Backpack

Child’s Backpack

Some may wonder why I didn’t work on my quilting goal list for 2014. I just didn’t include other sewing projects on the list, but do need to put effort into completing some of those, as well. Quilters sew up bags and sundry items, often for gift-giving. My granddaughter has a birthday next month and this will be included with her other gifts. I had a quilt on my list for her birthday, but that will have to wait until next year. I should have started that project sooner.

Having emptied a box, I now have one less sewing project on my list. Finishing a project in a day is always a motivator. I need to empty more of those boxes, so they don’t end up as one of those Boxes Under the Bed that my children find when cleaning out my house in the future. My ultimate goal is to clean out the sewing room, either stitching up forgotten projects or giving them away. So, look forward to seeing more completions this year.

Happy Stitching!

Feather Tree Advent Calendar

Last Fall, I purchased an Advent calendar pattern by Kansas Troubles Quilters. A feather Christmas tree is pieced of calicos, then ornaments are hand pieced of wools with embroidery and blanket stitching. Each ornament is attached with a ribbon loop to a button on the tree. You can read my blog about the Marquette County Quilters Guild show where I purchased the pattern.

I plan to make two of the Advent calendars, one for each of my daughter’s to enjoy with my grandchildren. I determined last week-end that I needed to make at least one ornament a weekday, while using the week-ends to sew the quilt top feather tree, if I expected to finish the project by December. Then, I could present the gift to my daughters for my grandchildren to use during this year’s Advent. So, I got right to stitching and finished two each of the first four ornaments – a bird, an acorn, a decorated tree, and an ornament. Here they are…

Wool Bird Ornament

Wool Bird Ornament

Wool Acorn Ornament

Wool Acorn Ornament

Wool Tree Ornament

Wool Tree Ornament

Wool Ornament 1

Wool Ornament 1

The pattern comes with activities to do each day as the ornament is hung onto the Advent calendar. For example, as the bird is hung onto the feather tree, the grandchildren hang a suet cake onto a branch of an outdoor tree for our feathered friends.

I am enjoying making these wool ornaments. Of course, anything I do for my grandchildren is a pleasure. As you can see, I am hand stitching the ornament to the wool backing with a blanket stitch. Handiwork is one of my favorite activities, whether I am doing wool work, redwork, hand applique, embroidery, or beadwork. The projects are portable, go together quickly, and, I find, relaxing.

Stay tuned for more advent calendar ornaments and Happy Stitching!

Emma, Postively Charmed

My oldest grandchild just turned four. I made a pink Drunkard’s Path design as her baby quilt. I purchased pink fat quarters everytime I went into a fabric shop, until I had enough to make the scrappy quilt. The border has hearts and flowers machine appliqued around the border. The pattern, called Positively Charmed by Jan Bretzel, was published in baby Quilts published by Fon’s & Porter’s Love of Quilting – Winter 2008. Here is a picture of the quilt, displayed at a local quilt show back in 2009.

Emma's Baby Quilt

Now that she is older, I need to make her a larger quilt that fits her personality. I have already picked out the pattern, Techno Pets designed by Janet A. Maurer. The quilt is a colorful block design with seven fused applique baby animals. The fabrics are all selected and just waiting for me to begin. It’s just taking the time to make the quilt, with so many other projects in the works. I decided that I would make the quilt by the time she was five years old. I guess that gives me another year to do the project.

Keep an eye out for this project to begin.

Tag Cloud