Loretta’s boxer quilts … a labor of love!


Knew when I heard about the two generously-sized twin quilts my friend, the lovely Loretta, was making for her boys, it would be the perfect subject for this blog. I mean … who doesn’t want to read about quilts made from cotton boxer shorts? It was clear to me it was a labor of love. I had to know more.

But before we get to the boxer quilts … a little background. I met Loretta when we were in a Quilt Bee together for a bunch of happy years. This lady has some serious quilting skills. Sadly for me … two years ago she moved to the Texas Panhandle. At least we have been able to tag up once a year in the fall during the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I savor my “Loretta” face time!

So recently I did a little phone interview for this blog and also some catching up with the awesome Loretta. I learned that Loretta’s grandmother was a serious scrap quilter. When Loretta was a teenager, her grandmother asked Loretta’s mother, and four sisters, for scraps to make quilts for all her grandchildren. One of the 15 lucky recipients, Loretta’s quilt was made with soft colors and triangles and also handquilted. What a treasure to own such a quilt by a beloved family member.

Loretta has sewn since she was a teenager but didn’t learn to quilt until her first-born, Bethany, was 9 months old. That was when she took a 12-week beginning quilting class on Monday nights. Loretta cherished those Monday nights which fed her creativity and started a lifetime love of quilting. Each student made a sampler quilt with 36 blocks. Loretta used fabric colors popular in the 80’s … blues and pinks. The teacher taught such skills as rotary cutting, template making and applique. Loretta still has the quilt.

Fast forward a bunch of years and the addition of two sons! The concept of the boxer quilts got to be a joke with her boys. Loretta’s husband, Jim, used to tease the boys that their boxer shorts were on loan to them. They would someday see them in their mother’s fabric stash.

I loved the boxer quilt concept and the story behind the quilt! For quilters … inspiration can come from lots of places. I’ve seen quilts made from all kinds of things. Why not cotton boxer shorts?

Tyler and Matthew received colorful cotton boxers each Christmas from the time the boys started middle school. Both are now graduates from The University of Texas at Austin so that accounts for the plentiful supply! After the cotton boxers were replaced with new ones, Loretta cut the elastic off the top and took them apart making manageable blocks. Did you know you can get two nice sized pieces of fabric out of one pair of boxer shorts? After cleaning, starching and ironing, the soft cotton fabric called a very large plastic bin home for a number of years.

One of Matthew’s college friends even got into the act. Patrick donated a pair of St. Patrick’s Day boxer shorts when he heard about the project. See if you can pick out the clovers in the quilt photographs!

Tyler’s quilt was made into the “T” block pattern and measures 72 inches by 102 inches. Each block is 6 inches square. I LOVE this quilt! Oh … and did you notice a big friendly dog in some of the photos? That is Colt. Not sure … but I believe it is Tyler’s dog. Colt is often Loretta’s happy companion in her sewing room.

“He does like to spend time with me in my sewing room. I’m sure he would be a quilter … if he only had thumbs,” Loretta told me.

Matthew’s quilt is the traditional Monkey Wrench pattern, but it is also called Hole in the Barn Door. It also measures 72 inches by 102 inches. There are 36 twelve-inch blocks and 60 six-inch blocks in Matthew’s quilt. I love how Loretta made the block sizes on Matthew’s quilt two different sizes. She thought the block pattern needed the size variation. So visually appealing with all the scrappy boxer fabric!

Oh … so Loretta told me this funny story. Tyler had a pair of “good luck” boxers. They were green with white pokadots. He always wore them, even when they got a tad tight, on the first day of school. It was his insurance policy so he would get good teachers!

The two finished quilts were professionally quilted by my favorite longarm lady, Kim Norton. She used a burnt orange thread and longarm quilt pattern. Perfect for these UT graduates!

Loretta hasn’t officially let loose of the boxer quilts. We quilters bond with our quilts. Sometimes it takes a while to separate from our babies! They are currently laying across twin beds in her guest room.

“The quilts have to live with me for awhile,” she told me.

I can totally relate!

A cancer journey – new scan results!


Last week Rick had his three-month scan extravaganza. It seems like years (it has only been 20 months) since I wheeled a very sick husband through MDA’s automatic doors. It is probably why before backing out of the driveway, I asked Rick if he still remembered his patient number. The seven-digit number is asked multiple times by MDA personnel before testing. Yep, like our social security numbers, these digits are forever embeded in both our brains.

Rick just completed six months of observation without any medication. Previously, he had a couple of different types chemo pills which were a disaster. And before that months of immunotherapy. Testing and results this time around were going to be a very big deal.

So on Friday there was a bone scan, bloodwork (I lovingly call “bloodletting”), CT and a mega-MRI scans. I highly recommend having scans on Friday. Everything went so smoothly, in about 6 a.m. and out by 4 p.m. That was probably the shortest scan day in our history. We were both pinching ourselves. We even had time to catch a quick bite to eat at the Rotary House’s restaurant between the CT and MRI scan.

And today we received Rick’s stunning scan results from our favorite oncologist, Dr. Campbell. All the scans are the same as three months ago … stable. His lipase was even normal. Thank you Jesus and MD Anderson. We talked a lot about the trial he had been on. The reflection was good for our soul. This immunotherapy stuff has only been around seriously since 2012. I think it all started with treating Melonoma patients. Rick started on his Immunotherapy Trial for Clear Cell Kidney Cancer in early 2016. Since then, his trial has expanded from 60 patients to 105. That is because patients were doing so well. Rick’s combination of two drugs have a 58% positive response rate. The one drug has a 42% positive response rate. Dr. Campbell indicated they will have all their slots full on the trial by the end of the year for the 105 patients. These positive results bode well for future Clear Cell Kidney Cancer patients.

Dr. Campbell told us that they are expanding the types of cancers that receive immunotherapy ALL THE TIME. There are also new drugs being developed ALL THE TIME. He also said they have learned that some of the old drugs may not hold cancer at bay forever. Some of the drugs are doing very well. The good news is that patients, like Rick, who respond well to immunotherapy have a great chance that if cancer does return there will be lots more new treatment options to chose from.

We go back for scans in three months. If that visit is stable … four month scans.

Quilter’s Patch – September block finished on time!


September’s Quilter’s Patch block-of-the-month assignment, the Greenhouse Block, was finished in plenty of time before the October block hits my mailbox. Geez … I haven’t been this “caught up” since January! It was the perfect block to work on when horrible Hurricane Harvey decided to pay our Texas Gulf Coast a visit. Plenty of hand applique was involved attaching each clamshell shingle bottom edge to the roof. If you have yet to work on this block, Edyta’s tip to use interfacing as a stabilizer made my life so much easier. I found a lightweight black interfacing which really worked well with the dark fabric used for the shingles.

Looking ahead to the finished quilt top … I’ve decided not to add the borders on my quilt top. I like to hang my quilts and change them out seasonally. The quilt, as featured, will be just too large to hang in my house. I’ll add narrow borders … perhaps piece the watering can … it is adorable … and add it to the back with a butterfly.

Next month … a sunflower block!

Quilter’s Patch – August block was tough!


The Hollyhock Block was the only block assigned for August. Thank you Edyta! It is also oversized at 12-1/2″ by 24-1/2″ length-wise … twice as large in length as the previous blocks for January through July. The tricky part about this block was making the three full circle blooms of the block meet at the seams. In a couple of spots, I was off. I have to admit one of the circles looked more like a blob than a circle. So it came to me in a dream on how to make the blooms appear to meet. After the block was pieced, I zigzagged with a generous zigzag around the block and managed to create the illusion of the seams meeting. At least my blooms don’t look like a monster from a horror movie.

September’s block arrived a few days after Hurricane Harvey departed our area. It is the Greenhouse Block. I’ve read the directions on how to piece the clamshell roof. Geez! If I can make it past September, I will be home free!

Thank you Edyta Sitar, designer of this beautiful quilt for challenging me.

P.S. – excuse the poor quality of some of my photographs. The “darkish” photos are taken with my Stone Age camera. I used hubby’s cell phone camera when I could catch him home. Our cell phones take the best photos. Unfortunately, mine won’t let me email them to myself. I know … it is probably something I am doing … or not doing! This morning I am off to the Genius Bar to see if they can sort it all out.

Quilter’s Patch – July blocks are history!


The two July blocks are history and clearly ate my lunch! First was the Sweet Pea block which contained over 70 pieces for the 12-1/2″ block. The “leaves” were paper pieced and easy peasy. I love the accuracy of paper piecing. The only thing that bothered me about this block is the top blooms do not meet with the stem. I thought it was me but when I checked the photo in the book … yep … those top blooms do not meet either. I thought about taking the top row apart and re-doing it … not gonna happen … at least not now. Maybe before I put all the blocks together.

The second was the Bachelor Button block which contained lots of set-in seams in the blossom part of the block. This was a first for me. Even with great directions, it was not a pleasant experience. I have to say my third blossom looks so much better than the first … so I have that going for me. Also, it was difficult to get the blooms to lie flat. As a result, the blooms want to crinkle. Not sure that is the look the author was going for … but I am. The whole time I was piecing this one block, I kept telling myself … no way I’d do a whole quilt with set-in seams. Not me. The “leaves” on this block were super easy since half square triangle paper was provided to copy from the book. For most of us, piecing triangles are to be avoided at all costs. Thankfully, the triangle paper provided made the work so easy to an accurate little 2-1/4″ block.

Looking ahead to the current month … we have just one block for August. Do I hear an “amen?” It is the Hollyhock block and is the largest so far … 12-1/2″ by 24-1/2″. Pretty pink blooms dominate this block. Looks tedious with lots of curves. Prediction … this one is destined to be finished well in September.

Quilter’s Patch – June blocks are done!


The two June blocks for the Quilter’s Patch Block of the Month quilt … the Coneflower and Moon Flower blocks … were a bit of a challenge.

Now that there are twelve completed blocks in this block-of-the-month quilt, I am noticing my most glaring mishaps were made in these two. I cut the bottom of the flower bloom just a tad too short on the Coneflower block. I hate when that happens. Not a happy camper … but not re-doing this block. I will be considering this block a teachable moment in not being too quick to slice off a bit of fabric. Chances are good this block will be my favorite when the quilt is finished. I really love the color choices.

Then on the Moon Flower, I had to adjust the template on the petals since I was not doing needle-turn applique. The first flower took the longest getting the ending dimensions to cooperate. Didn’t want my petals to overhang past the seam allowance. That would have been tragic. Once the first flower blossom was complete, the other two were a piece of chocolate cake.

Looking ahead to the blocks in July … the Sweet Pea block sure has a bunch of pieces. Then there is the Bachelor Button block. Everyone is complaining about this one. I will have to step up my game as I just received August’s block in the mail.

Quilter’s Patch – May blocks finally finished!


I didn’t mean to get behind on May’s Quilter’s Patch block of the month. I confess to walking by my cutting table re-reading the directions about 10 times and just dreading these two blocks. I did take a break to make a quilt top for a charity event. Finished it about a week ago and it is off to the long-arm lady. Now on to the challenging blocks for May!

I have to say these two blocks were the most difficult for me so far. The Dahlia block has hexagon units … something I have never made before in my life … and hope to never make ever again! Thankfully, the directions were wonderful. I felt the designer, Edyta Sitar, sitting on my shoulder egging me on with words like “you can do this” in her cute little accent. She really knows how to challenge a quilter!

Then there was the Honeysuckle block. Geez! I counted 122 little fabric pieces in the 12-inch block. Triangles are also typically not my thing. These were 60 degree triangles and if you didn’t get them positioned correctly with the straight of grain horizontally in the block you are burnt toast. Bias edges will not lay flat if you get them positioned incorrectly. This block was tedious but it is now history.

Ready to move on! I’ve got some catching up to do with June and July blocks!