A collage quilting class!

Several years ago I purchased a quilt pattern at the International Quilt Festival for a collage quilt by Laura Heine of Fiberworks. I’ve never made a collage quilt in my life but absolutely LOVED this quilt! The quilt’s name is Lulu the elephant and the sample quilt was a sassy hot pink elephant. I had to have it!

When I noticed Painted Pony ‘n Quilts in La Porte was offering a collage quilting class, I jumped right on it. The class was taught by the awesome Jo Lynn O’Neil. She teaches and runs a quilt retreat house west of Fort Worth named Rock House Retreat in Santo, Texas. Her rooster collage quilt is named Doodle-Doo Rooster and is fabulous! Two long, creative days were spent in a classroom. I was one of a dozen ladies laboring over our creations. The technique is nothing like I expected. In a peanut shell, large pieces of all kinds of fabric are fused and then cut out into smaller pieces. Karen K Buckley makes awesome scissors for precisely cutting these pieces. The smaller fused pieces are pinned down on the quilt pattern. After the pieces are where you like them, the fusible paper is removed and placed a little more permanently onto the pattern. Heck, it is a little more complicated than that but you kinda get how to get started. No sewing machine involved until the quilt is actually quilted.

I was the only one making the elephant and it was, of course, the largest pattern. You know me … go big or go home! We had two ladies making the pincushion and two creating the Cora the owl. The two ladies working on Purrfect Cat had two completely different takes on their creations and both turned out amazing! The dress form (entitled “Perfect Form”) was made entirely with Victorian fabric and stunning. I was sorry I didn’t take more photos of The Guardian Angel (made with narrow little strips) and The Dress collage quilts. Both were turning out awesome!

My Lulu the Elephant all started with her floppy ears. Nearly all my fabric is Kaffe Fassett with some Tula Pink. Personally, I didn’t know where to start. But I had these large pieces of elephant ear fabric cut out. I guess the teacher could see my hesitation on where to begin. Jo Lynn picked up the elephant ear fabric pieces and placed them where they now reside. I was up and running! I took Lulu home probably with most of the fabric pieces placed. Now I am working on getting the fusible off all the pinned pieces. I was amazed how quickly this kind of quilt comes together. In about a week, I should be able to take it to be machine quilted!

Below is a taste on how Lulu is progressing!

A Michigan “Night to Shine” story

I have been following Tim Tebow and his awesome foundation for about a year now. The guy is doing amazing work in the world of special needs. If you have a few minutes, you should read his story and find out all the good things he is doing.

It was why when my son and awesome daughter-in-law, Kate, told me they were volunteering for the 2018 Night to Shine held on Friday, February 9, my ears perked up. Kate’s lovely mom, Aleta, and dad, Bruce, also volunteered. Southridge Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan sponsored the event. Heck, it almost was cancelled due to a snowstorm but the show must go on!

First a little background on the special night. 2015 was the very first “Night to Shine” event. It was supposed to be a one-time event and happen just one time. This now yearly event is held the Friday before Valentine’s Day each year. Same night all over the world. It is a prom for people with special needs ages 14 and older. Basically, a church sponsors, supported with lots of volunteers, those with special needs who are greeted like rock stars down the red carpet. They are given corsages or boutonnieres. Lots of planned activities from limo rides, karoke, dancing is involved, dinner, photo booth and probably the best part … all the special needs guests are crowned king and queen of the prom on stage.

In 2018, 90,000 special needs guests attended “Night to Shine,” sponsored by 537 churches in the United States, and 16 countries, supported by 175,000 volunteers. Let those very large numbers sink in. Each year the event grows.

This was Southridge’s second year to host the event. The pastor announced they would be hosting again next year. Southridge had 125 special needs guests attend. Twenty-five special needs guests didn’t make the event due to the weather. A video link is also provided of Southridge’s event. Trust me … it will put a smile on your face!

Aleta told me she had been paired with the perfect buddy. Kala and Aleta were both wearing red shoes.

“My buddy was so sweet. After I introduced Kala to Ricky, and he walked away, she cupped her hand over her mouth and said, ‘Now he’s cute! I’m happy for you!'”

Aleta told me that each buddy was given a card with hints on the back with likes and dislikes. On Sunday, Southridge’s pastor remarked that he heard one young special needs man comment, “Look at this crown. I will keep this forever.”

A cancer journey – scan results, reflections and more

It seems a LONG time since we talked about cancer and three whole months since the last scans. Geez, it was nice to have a break. Just so you know … cancer is always the elephant in the room. Sometimes it is the size of a mouse and sometimes a lot larger. When Rick’s ankles started swelling … a lot … conveniently right after our last visit with his oncologist, inside I panicked. We blamed it on a change in medication. Changed it … still large ankles. When we finally ditched the medication … after about six weeks … the ankles returned to normal. Found out he could live just fine without it. The elephant turned back into a mouse.

Then in November, I thought it would be a great idea to walk in the 2017 MD Anderson’s Boot Walk. Rick woulda never made it in 2016. I loved how cancer survivors at the Boot Walk were given a “survivor” bandana. Rick wore it like an arm band. It was surreal walking with so many survivors, caregivers, friends and family that were touched harshly by the evil hand of cancer. I also noticed many walking in memory of those they lost. What a lovely tribute and a great way to raise money to fight cancer.

Final numbers on the 2017 Boot Walk fundraiser … they reached a million dollars. Rick and I walked along with our awesome daughter, Katie, and grandsons, Jacob and Ben. The sign pinned on Jacob’s back read, “I am walking for my Pop-Pop.” And Ben, he slept the entire walk.

So this week Rick had his three-month scans and blood work. Our visit with Dr. Campbell is always an adventure. We chatted about so many things besides blood work and scans. Rick is doing great. Everything is still stable and we head back in May!

Then Dr. Campbell got out his magic marker and started writing across the tissue paper on the exam table. Geez, the last time he did this was to explain how immunotherapy works from a chemistry perspective. I looked at Rick to see if I should be worried.

“I am telling all my patients three things,” Dr. Campbell started.

In a peanut shell, he was frustrated with the state of Medicare. Lots of his cancer patients are on Medicare and having problems with receiving care. Apparently, Medicare has all these rules/laws that date from the 1980’s and it is his … and his colleagues … opinion that changes need to be made. Lots of articles in magazines, newspapers and other social media outlets are not having much of an impact in Washington. It was his thought perhaps there needs to also be a patient-driven mission to help make some important changes to Medicare.

His three points were, as follows:

1. Medicare has to be able to negotiate drug prices. Let’s face it. Cancer drugs are expensive. He also said the United States pays for 80-85% of the world’s drug costs. Other countries negotiate their drug prices and that is why they are so cheap compared to the United States. Something I never knew. Sounded reasonable to me.

2. Medicare patients should have the same access to care as commercial insurance with their co-pay programs. So I am guessing this is not happening. Why not?

3. Cancer patients should have the ability to participate in clinical trials. These important trials are saving so many lives. I’m living with one success story.

I wondered if Rick would have been approved for the immunotherapy trial that saved his life had he not been insured by commercial insurance. Looks like I need to become more educated about how this works. Thoughts anyone?

A look back – 2017 quilting projects

2017 wasn’t a banner year for completing quilt projects. I count only two quilts that were actually completed! That means binding sewn down and patch on the back! One was a charity quilt donated to the Village Learning Center, the day center my Mimi attends. A lovely lady named Clare won it in their silent auction. I always love it when someone is excited to have one of my quilts. Hildy won the charity quilt last year for the Village and reminds me whenever I see her how much she enjoys it.

The other quilt completed was the 2015 Row-by-Row quilt which was a lot of fun. Eight rows make an official row-by-row quilt which is a very LONG quilt. It is the reason I put three rows on the back. That way the quilt fits perfect hung in my quilt room. I worked on the rows whenever there was a little extra time between the month-by-month mailings and finally sent it off for quilting. I actually have all my rows for 2016 still in their little plastic pouches untouched. As for 2017, I also have all my eight rows and actually worked on a few of them. I’ll let you peek at them later.

I believe it was that block-of-the-month Quilter’s Patch quilt through Fat Quarter Shop that ate my lunch this year. But as a result of the monthly project, I also grew and stretched as a quilter. The things you can do by manipulating fabric. Who knew? The top is now complete and pictured above. I did not make the large borders and switched a couple of the flowers around by accident. This quilt will be added to my meager supply of seasonal quilts that I hang around the house. I’ve been wanting a spring quilt in my quilt menagerie for some time. This quilt is it! Please excuse the wrinkle-ness of the quilt top photo. I was running off to take it to the long-arm lady and realized I didn’t have a photo. Whenever it is finished later this year, you will be the first to see it up close and personal! It is going to be awesome!

2018 is going to be fun!

So what is up for 2018? Want a little peek? Working on another baby quilt! Due in May, my lovely daughter-in-law, Kate, and son, Ricky, are having a little bundle of joy. It’s a GIRL. Kate and I collaborated and I think we have a winning baby quilt in the wings.

I am also taking a collage class at Painted Pony in mid-February. Can’t wait. I’ve had this Elephant quilt pattern named “Lulu” for about two years and could probably figure it out myself. But then this class popped up and I thought, let’s do it! My only dilemma … I’m torn whether to make the elephant hot pinks and greens, or use my stash of colorful Kaffe Fassett fabrics and go wild. Any suggestions?

Martha’s Quilters honor Fr. Borski with quilt on his 50th anniversary as a priest

St. Martha Catholic Church officially celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fr. Chester Borski’s priesthood on December 21, with a Mass of Thanksgiving. He was ordained 50 years earlier, in 1967, at the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome. Happily for us, Fr. Borski has shepherded his flock at St. Martha for the past 17 years.

When word got out there were special events being planned this year, one of Martha’s Quilters’ members, our “fabric whisperer” Noreen, spearheaded an ambitious quilt project for the anniversary celebration. Yes … Martha’s Quilters would make Father Borski a quilt. This project took seven months to complete. The other members of our prayer quilt ministry carried our workload while this project was being created. This insured all the needs for quilts for sick parishioners were filled.

It was decided that a “friendship quilt” was most appropriate, one with signatures of his friends and parishioners. A team of people began collecting the signatures and well-wishes on small rectangles of fabric. One of our members, Angela, and parishioner, Lourdes, were a tremendous help in collecting signatures. Fr. TJ helped with some of the clergy. Noreen even wrote Pope Francis a very nice letter to see if he would sign a block. Alas, a signed block was not meant to be. However, the Pope did send a letter and lovely rosary.

One of my personal favorite signature blocks reads: “We never got to go bear hunting.”

After the multitude of signature blocks were gathered, Noreen sewed colorful pieces of fabric around each signature blocks. She then stitched the blocks together into a quilt top. The quilt has approximately 300 blocks which represent well-wishes from individuals, families and church groups, such as ACTS. We estimate this quilt represents one thousand people who have been touched by Fr. Borski.

The design of the quilt block and layout was something Noreen hadn’t seen before. While on a trip to the Holy Land earlier this year, she found a tile design on the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. No kidding … this is the only other place Noreen had ever seen this design she would turn into a quilt block. Yes … the Holy Spirit had a hand in the design of the quilt. During the quilt top construction, Noreen also added prayers and scripture verses.

After all the blocks were stitched together, 12 members of Martha’s Quilters worked to finish the quilt. They basted the quilt, Sally and Clara machine-quilted it, and Sally added borders. I had the privilege of machine-sewing the binding. Then the binding was sewn down by many hands, the pocket was embroidered, and finally, the hanging sleeve was made and sewn on. The quilt was displayed in the church narthex during the Fr. Borski’s Mass of Thanksgiving.

On December 13, the week before his Mass of Thanksgiving, our little group of quilters presented the anniversary quilt to Fr. Borski in the parish office. Little did we know the heavenly significance of this date. Fr. Borski told us it was his mother, Lucy’s birthday, and also her patron saint, St. Lucy’s feast day. He told us that his mother was a quilter late-in-life and one of her projects was to make each of her children a quilt. Since Father was a priest, he urged his mother to first make all his other many siblings their quilts. His mother died before she could make that last quilt. Fr. Borski never got his quilt … that is … until his late mother’s birthday this year. I feel certain his mother was smiling down on the group assembled that day.

Quilter’s Patch – November fence and blocks together

The November fence block with heart-shaped garden gate is finished! OK … so I know it is December … but only by a few days. Did I mention December is my favorite month of the year from a blog perspective? It’s the snow falling across the blog. I love that WordPress adds the snow in December!

The fence was an easy and fast block to piece! November’s block-of-the-month assignment also included several butterfly blocks, but I am not using them in the quilt top. I had so much time on my hands after the fence was finished, I put all the flower blocks together. Just for fun, I switched the order on two of the flower blocks. I’ll post a completed quilt top once the border is on. Decided to use a plain narrow border as this quilt will be hung. I anticipate the dimensions will be around 65″ by 65″. Can’t wait for this one to be machine quilted!

Quilter’s Patch – October block finished!

October’s Quilter’s Block-of-the-Month is finally history … two weeks late! There was only one oversized Sunflower block this month using Dresden units with points. A little bit of machine-piecing for the stems and leaves … and a little bit of applique for the sunflower blooms. This block was actually fun.

On to the November block. I’m skipping the Butterfly blocks that is a part of this month. Not putting them in the quilt. They would make this quilt much larger than I wanted. My plan is to make this quilt smaller than the original size of 75″ by 78-1/2″. The Fence Block is my last one before putting the blocks together with narrow borders.