Sunday, August 29, 2010

Memory Quilts for Charley's boys..

The Memory Quilts
I always tell my husband sewing is therapy for me. It calms me down, it helps me focus, it gives me joy, it lets me be creative, it frustrates me and it also soothes me. I had a big dose of therapy as I made these quilts for a dear friend's children from their father's clothes. This was probably one of the hardest, yet most therapeutic sewing projects of my entire life.

I was so honored when my very good friend, Carrie, asked me to make a memory quilt from her husband's clothes when he unexpectedly passed last fall. The quilts are for their two wonderful, spirited boys. Carrie is an amazing woman. She is strong, generous, witty, and has a great sense of humor. She is gentle, loving and kind, and most of all she is courageous. She has spent very little~ if any time wallowing in self pity since Charley passed. She has kept strong and carried on like no one can imagine. When Charley passed she talked to her kids about the upcoming "stormy days and sunny days" that they would face together. One of the many things I admire about Carrie is her strength- to keep chugging, but also her strength to be raw and human~ to cry, to laugh, to be angry, to be in denial, and to do it all over again the next day with her beautiful boys in tow as they push through and live life without their beloved Charley.

Carrie has reminded me to live in the now, to love and be loved.  Her journey has shown me that relationships are so important- not just family, but good friends who can play parts in your life that family members, sometimes for one reason or another, just cannot.

Being with Carrie in those early months as she lovingly chose each article of Charley's clothing so carefully with a heartfelt story and a deep sniff of each item was so brutally painful. Charley was a husband, a father, a best friend, a sailor, a bicyclist, and a darn good person. So I took on the project with gusto at first... and nearly 9 months later I was able to finish it. It is weird how one's reptilian brain, as my mother calls it, protects you. I was finally able to move through my sadness about Charley, my grief for Carrie and the boys, and my own personal grief/loss issues while creating these quilts.

The journey I took while making this quilt was a good one. I faced my own mortality, the fragility of life itself~ for my husband, my children, and of all those I love and care. I really had some great conversations with God the entire way. I measured, cut, sewed, and cried while remembering the painful grief of my childhood when my older brother, Jamie, died, as well as all those other people I have lost. I celebrated the lives of Jamie and Charley with each stitch. 

Memory quilts are hard. Emotionally as you can imagine, but they are hard to make from a construction standpoint because they are different types of fabrics in different shapes and conditions. You have to stabilize some fabrics so you can quilt them. So I did a lot of research online and decided~ well~ not to follow one bit of it. I just winged it and let the Holy Spirit guide me on this project.

I ended up doing a crazy quilt style so I could incorporate different parts of Charley's work and play shirts, well worn and carried daily handkerchiefs, chino pants, dress pants, swimsuit, sweaters, bicycling shirts, vests and oxfords... In the quilts for the boys I tried to include the tags from Charley's clothes in one square or a pocket from his swimsuit because he had such interesting clothing choices... He loved good quality fabrics and so it was really a joy to sew them. Each material represented a facet of his life~ work, play, family... I hope William and George will see that little glimpse of their father in this quilt. I also included some favorite phrases and nicknames that Carrie wanted in a square around each of the boy's initial.

I loved doing this for Carrie and the boys. Amazingly ~ I had just enough scraps for a throw for Carrie too. I hope it brings them joy, comfort, courage, and they feel part of Charley's legacy when they wrap themselves up in the blankets (backed in super soft swirl Minky) on the sofa with a hot cup of cocoa as they read a favorite book or watch movies of Charley. Thank you Carrie- for letting me be part of your journey!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stash Game Time!

STASH GAME is about to begin...
I spend more time reading other people's blogs and bookmarking them as favorites than I do on my own! I have been sewing a lot in spurts... lots of baby stuff for family and friends and then a random creative project here and there that more often than not ends up in the wadder pile... I made some utilitarian stuff like napkins and the sort and more some back to school shirts. My kids wear uniforms so we didn't need a ton of stuff and it is still sweltering her in the Midwest. I am looking forward to some fall sewing though. I joined a sewing contest on my favorite sewing site, Sewingmamas, called Stash Game. I think I will be motivated really soon to be in my sewing room as much as possible. The goal is not to buy anything for a month and to sew, sew, sew from your personal stash. You loose points for buying fabric and there is a whole point system for mending and sewing things. Well this should be very, very good for my bank account!

Here are some projects I have been made recently...
More baby gifts~ I just love the NCBE pattern (Newborn Conceptions Baby Essentials)--- I think I can make it with my eyes closed I have made so many! I was thinking the other day- I wonder if people love them as much as I love making them... I mean are they useful? I would think the wide open kimono style would be good for newborns so you don't jostle their noggins too much right? I wasn't much of a sewing when my kids were infants so I guess I really don't know if they are a go to outfit... really cute though- and isn't that what really matters- Fashion over Function~ right?

Here is one of my all time favorites... why am I obsessed with Japanese import fabrics- particularly heggies? They are so cute! This one is for my new nephew, William, who lives all the way in Alaska! Front and back view... He was too little to wear it yet... (just 2 weeks old now)

This is the Ann Marie Horner Multi-Tasker bag and it is a cute bag. Functional with 4 exterior pockets- so it is great for a diaper bag, knitting bag, or whatever.. I like it because it has interior and exterior pockets and it doesn't take too much interfacing (the stiff stuff on a bag). The pattern was not well written at all, but I was able to make it work. It is a very large bag- more like a tote so it helps to have all those pockets and some little wristlets to organize things... that being said you could fit a small child in this humongous bag! Here are a couple I made recently- a bag from my favorite, sadly now out of print Moda 1974 print, a bag I made my SIL to take to the hospital when she had her baby, a graduation bag for my cousin, Alana, )who is off to college- can that be possible?), a bag for our silent auction Growing the Arts fundraiser at my kiddo's school and a knitting bag for a friend...

Some fabric baskets for a friend who is putting on a bridal shower...

A boxy bag for toiletries for my mom who was traveling and of course gave the other one I made her away to her hostess...

Some back to school shirts for my nephews.... (modelled shot of James, with his dad and new brother, William, right after birth)

My nephew, Timothy, who loves fishing, Shamu, any kind of construction, and of course airplanes~ it is always sew fun and easy to sew for him!

Some more baby presents... embellished burp cloths are so fast to make and a little minky backed blankie... Oh how I love my Heather Ross fabrics... so soft and such nice quality to sew... and so whimsy... a simple bag for big brother filled with Thomas Train surprises and a train book and read along cassette tape (do people even have cassette players anymore???) and a few quiet bags for a friend's children during a funeral...

Sewers will understand this... sometimes there is a print that you really love... you love it so much that you will pay big bucks for it! Even for a little scrap or a piece only big enough for a front of a shirt or maybe just a sleeve or an applique... This is one of those prints.... it is called Happy Camper and it is the perfect green and browns with a print of a retro camper with a smiling face on it... get it Happy Camper? I love it for some unknown reason and it is super hard to find. I happened upon a piece from a generous mama on a sewing board who sold it to me so reasonably...

Alas, I only had a little piece... I was thinking of all the things I could make with it... a baby outfit for my nephew.. a cute quilt... well my son saw it and he immediately asked for it. How could I refuse? No~ I will probably never get my hands on another piece again, but I gladly sewed into up into a beloved hoodie (his wardrobe staple) knowing the time is coming
***covering my ears and singing loudly lalalalalalalala ***
when he won't want me to sew for him... So I made him another hoodie... And he wears it all the time. And that is the joy of sewing!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Introducing... my new nephew~ William Paul

My brother, Ted, and his wife. Megan, had their baby and I couldn't wait to get on a plane to see him! I was especially anxious to get my hands on new baby after hearing reports from my brother, Roy, about how beautiful Baby William was~ Roy flew out the day he was born. Baby William is so darn cute it and such a good natured baby~ he only cries when he has a diaper change and wants to nurse--- really!

So without further ado... here is Master William Paul with his mama~ doesn't she look super for just having a baby?  A picture of William winking at my Aunt Eileen-- wearing a little giraffe outfit I made him... he is still too little to fit into all the outfits I made at just 10 days old, but he is growing so fast!

My proud nephew, James, in his comic hoodie holding his little brother in his ninja gown...