As I’m preparing to see my 65th year (horrors!), I’ve decided to prove I’m still young enough to learn a new trick. At this advancing age and with many finished quilts to my credit, I’m still curious to try different methods to achieve new results. Foundation paper piecing is my newest challenge.
In the photo are the first triangle units (loosely laid out) of a foundation paper pieced ‘Wild Goose Chase’ quilt top. This pattern and instructions are available online (pricey!!) but I was able to develop my own patterns (printed on used printer paper) and follow general instructions I found on YouTube.
The big benefit of foundation piecing is accuracy. It also offers the ability to assemble intricate designs including small slivers of fabric with total success. This first top is making me comfortable with the process before diving into something more intricate and detailed. Thus far, I’m loving it!
We were delighted with a visit from Jacob last weekend. He was able to stay over to accompany DH on his Monday oncology appointment for the biopsy results. The news was not as good as we had hoped but not as bad as it could have been. We’re learning through this experience to pray for miracles and adjust to reality. We continue to be hopeful.
At the closing of 2015, I can’t help but look back at the highs and lows the year has brought to our home and hearts.
At the top of the list of blessings is our son’s success in his life. Though his job is often stressful, he seems overall happy and healthy. We are tremendously proud.
Our most difficult struggle came with DH Bob’s cancer diagnosis. After two surgeries and multiple treatments, he continues to work at regaining his health. He improves a bit each day and I pray for continued betterment. Other than minor issues, my own health has been uneventful.
This year marked our most successful in gardening. Although we had enough rain to rot most area gardens, our sandy hill garden thrived. I am so thankful our shelves and freezer are full of the bounty.
The quilts I’ve finished this year include:
- Bright Hopes baby quilt gifted to Braxton
- Scrappy Split-16 queen+ quilt for my bed
- Wonky Stars sofa quilt for the foot of my bed
- Batik Winding Ways sofa quilt gifted to Hearmon and Theresa
I continue hand stitching on String Pyramids quilt nearly every day. The twin+ top is almost complete. There are also some unfinished quilt projects in the stack but I continue to slowly work on them too.
This is also a year that saw me sewing. I’ve made 2 PJ pants for Jacob and 5 for Bob. Bob also got a new hooded robe. Jake has added 5 new shirts to his office wardrobe while my clothing stash increased with 2 long-sleeved tees and a few pairs of shorts. Yesterday, I finished a stuffed dog bed for Lolita (filled with fabric snips, crumbs and threads. The cover is removable for washing. She LOVES it!
Overall, our year was full of blessings and as we ring in the new year, I wish you good health, success, laughter and love.
Had several days of celebration with son Jacob before Christmas. We visited, giggled and ate like kings (standing rib roast, yellow and red potatoes with green onions and Texas Cream peas from our garden [frozen]) . . . all so tasty! We had received our gifts from him several weeks ago (the calendar doesn’t dictate our lives!) but I recently made things to give to him.
Because Jake’s girlfriend/roommate mentioned he wears his flannel PJ pants often, I made him another pair with lightweight navy blue fleece. These are less obviously PJ’s and can be worn outside or for a quick run to the Dollar store (a common occurrence). Though our weather is currently too warm to wear fleece (80°F!), I have faith we will see cold weather in a few days.
I also made two shirts for Jacob. Both are seersucker with chevron pockets and back yokes. The first is charcoal and white stripe with a tiny silver thread along each stripe. The fabric is gorgeous with a subtle bling when the light catches it just right. It has a rounded collar and contrasting inner band. I thought I’d have to hide this shirt to keep Bob from swiping it. He absolutely loves it and even tried it on to find it fits him perfectly. I’ve made note to make him a new shirt for his birthday. With his recent weight loss due to chemotherapy, most of his shirts swallow him. Though he has a closet full of clothes, I know he would love a new, well-fitted shirt.
The second shirt I made for Jacob is aqua and white stripe seersucker with a standard collar, contrasting collar band and chevron pocket and back yoke. This is my personal favorite simply because of the color. I’m a fool for any fabric in the aqua through teal color range. I find it so appealing.
I also made Jake a huge batch of beef jerky from 2 large shoulder roasts. I presented him with one stuffed quart bag to enjoy during his visit and saved another bag until he was departing. He loves the stuff so much, this is the only way to make it last in hopes there’s some to share with his girlfriend when he gets back home. I sent homemade cookies with him too.
Jacob stuck around to take Bob for his recent biopsy at M.D. Anderson in Houston. We won’t get the results until after the first of the year. Our fingers and toes are crossed the cancer is gone or can be removed via surgery without spread, especially since the oncologist says Bob can’t tolerate any more chemo. The last treatment darned near did him in.
After Jacob departed late Tuesday, I began to get a sore throat and fever. I had been to the doctor’s office several days prior for routine blood work so I figure I picked up a bug there. The nurse was sneezy. Jacob was also suffering with an upper respiratory bug when he was here. Two days later, Bob caught it so needless to say, our house was suffering.
Except for potty breaks, Bob stayed in bed for 4 days, eating nothing and feeling like death-warmed-over. He’s so anemic, I was really worried this illness might turn into pneumonia. We did nothing for Christmas day but suffer. Finally a week after it all started, though we are still coughing and not 100%, we are up and eating and handling some of our daily affairs.
I will say, this hasn’t been my favorite Christmas season because of illness, Bob’s surgery, the miserable 80°F temps/99% humidity and deadly storms in the area. Last night, the Dallas area was hammered and it looks as if it may be our turn today. We’re prepped and as ready as we can be.
I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been busy making gifts. I’ve taken a few pictures and will share them after they are given.
We don’t celebrate the holidays in any traditional way and never on the day the calendar suggests. We dance to our own tune and keep things as stress free as possible. That being said, I still like giving (and receiving) gifts.
I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with DH about his illness and chemo treatments. I frankly told him he CAN’T die because I won’t be able to afford fabric if he does. He chuckled but said nothing at the time.
Late last evening, FedEx came to the door with a weighty package. I knew I hadn’t ordered anything though my name was on the shipping label. I tried to hand it off to the hubs but he said it was for me. Hmmm. I opened it to discover a full pack of 90 (!!!) fat quarters of Benartex Fossil Fern fabric. I was floored. Fossil Fern has been a very favorite fabric line for years and I’ve been privileged to have a very few small pieces visit my fabric stash.
Oh my stars! I can’t believe how beautiful it is and the box full is much too pretty to tear apart and use. I’ll be petting this fabric for a while before I’ll bring myself to cut into it. What a NEAT gift that I’ll enjoy for quilting years to come!
Because the chemotherapy treatments have left hubs extremely ill and severely anemic, when he’s not too nauseous to eat, I’ve been feeding him healthy, iron-rich foods. He’s mostly enjoyed eating the bean soups I’ve canned. Today, I’m replenishing some of the store with navy beans flavored with lots of ham, garden tomatoes and bell peppers, onions, carrots, yummy herbs and spices. The house smells super as they simmer. I’m hoping to pressure can 7 pint jars with enough left for dinner tonight. We will enjoy them. I think we need cornbread!
Bob’s most recent chemo treatment knocked his chin to the dirt. He has been nauseous, extremely tired, suffered severe headaches, joint aches and generally feels poorly. He was sent home from his most recent appointment with the oncologist saying he should gain some strength before more treatments. His next treatment is planned for after Thanksgiving.
He literally lives in the flannel pajama pants I’ve made.
As local temperatures continue to drop and the house gets cooler, I decided to purchase some fleece and make warmer PJ pants for Bob. Along with his weakness, he has felt more chilled and no matter how high we set the central heat, he remains cold. Fabric Mart came to the rescue by offering a very generous sale on fleece. Perfect timing!
The dark gray pair are made with polar fleece with a short pile on one side and a knit backside. They are incredibly soft and comfy. Today, I finished a pair of heather tan/gray Sherpa fleece pants with a longer pile. They are a little heavier but still very soft. He loves them both and they’ll come in handy with our temperatures dropping below freezing tonight and tomorrow. He especially likes that I use 2″ wide waistband elastic for added comfort.
I didn’t have quite enough of the darker olive fabric so I made the sleeves with pale green cotton thermal knit fabric.
The cloth is so lightweight, it’s impossible to create a flat hem so I made ‘lettuce edges’ where hems would normally go. It’s a solution I’ve used often when sewing light cotton knits. These tops will be worn often around the house during our cooler weather.
The Bright Hopes pattern was found online when I searched for a simple quilt to make for a pregnant distant relative. When I began cutting the fabric, the baby’s gender was unknown so I chose to go with a gender neutral color scheme. Since then, we’ve discovered a boy is expected. Thankfully, the quilt is not overly pink!
The center of each block is the palest mottled off white with scrappy strips all around. The individual blocks finished at 5½” square and were machine pieced on my Singer 66 treadle (circa 1925). Fortunately, I have a stash of 2½” strips so piecing was as easy as it gets. The narrow dark green border is a little less than an inch and the outer pale green border is less than 3″. The corners are mitered.
The light green backing from my fabric stash was not quite wide enough to do the job so I added a pieced stacked bricks strip down the middle. This adds enough interest to make the quilt reversible. The label is hand embroidered.
I chose to quilt the blocks with a square-in-a-square design using YLI variegated pastel thread. The pale green border is quilted using a meandering vine with stylized leaves and tulips. The vine and leaves were quilted using dark green YLI thread and the tulips were done in dark red YLI thread. The thread color is very subtle done in small stitches.
I bound the quilt with a narrow green batik binding. I love the narrow bindings I’ve used recently as they give a quilt a clean finish without the appearance of an additional border.
The finished quilt measures 42½” x 48½”.
We finally got past the residual rainfall from Hurricane Patricia. We were more fortunate than many by receiving a little less than 5″ during the weekend. We needed it! I felt so bad that Jacob’s trip to and from Grapeland was under rainy skies and over wet roads. It certainly makes a 6 hour drive seem much, much longer. Thankfully, his trip was without incident.
During the rainy weather, I made more pajama pants. The teal/blue are for Jacob, who was thrilled to receive them. During emergency weather conditions (ice, snow), he may spend the night on a cot at work. Until now (because he doesn’t own pajamas), he had planned to sleep in his clothes (for the sake of modesty). Now, he can sleep in a tshirt and these pants and feel completely clothed while comfortable. He loves them!
The dark red/purple pair of pants are for Bob. Since making 2 other pair for him, he has worn them daily so another pair will be handy especially since I already have the pattern, flannel and elastic. They whip up so easily!
I’m hoping my sewing mood lasts. I am in serious need for warm, casual tops. I have lots of cotton knit fabric needing to be used and cooler weather is coming. Wish I enjoyed sewing for myself more than I do.
The quilting on the Bright Hopes baby quilt is finished. I embroidered a label and made the binding last night. All that’s left to do is sew them on and launder. I’ll be looking for another quilting project soon. Hoping to feel like finishing something I’ve already started but we shall see. It’s so easy to get distracted by something new and exciting.
Began making pajama pants for Bob. Upon closer inspection of the pattern I already have (vintage Simplicity 4889), it is sized XL-XXXL. According to the pattern envelope, XL is WAY too big for Bob but since it’s the only suitable pattern in the stash, I decided to grade it down substantially and make it anyway. Thankfully, they’re pajamas so fit is not a big issue.
The stash fabric is beige, brown and dark teal flannel. I narrowed the full length of the pants by 4″ and shortened them by 2″. The waist required elastic and a drawstring but after discussion with Bob, I learned he hates drawstring pants. I decided to put 1″ elastic not only in the elastic channel, but also in the drawstring channel. He LOVES the double elastic and says they are wonderfully comfortable.
Even after altering the pattern, the pajama pants still turned out really baggy but he says they are extremely comfortable and he wears them very often. I call them ‘clown pants’ but he insists they are perfect. Yeah, perfect clown pants!
For the next pair, I found a vintage pajama pattern (Simplicity 9956) online in Bob’s actual size and ordered it. In this particular pattern, Bob wears a size Large and according to the line drawing on the pattern front, the pants appear slimmer. Thankfully, the seller sent the pattern right away so after I made myself a pair of denim shorts, I was able to cut the new PJ pattern from teal, black and purple plaid flannel from the stash. For modesty sake, I eliminated the fly and elasticized the drawstring waist. I shortened the crotch and leg length by 1″ each. This pattern had no pocket so I decided to add two positioned on the upper leg, much like cargo pants. The pockets will be handy when he is in the hospital and wants to leave his room. They offer a secure place for his wallet and glasses.
Because of a minimum of alterations, these pants whipped up fast. Bob has tried them on and absolutely loves them. I know both pair will receive lots of wear now that our weather has cooled.
There is more flannel in the stash so I feel certain more pj pants are in my sewing future.
For a few days, our weather cooled causing me to think of warm casual wear and sleepwear. With hub’s new health situation, he needs hospital wear too. We dug through my patterns and deep into the fabric stash and found everything required to make him some new duds.
I chose a vintage robe pattern (Simplicity 8275) because I liked the featured hood. With Bob’s newly buzzed and balding head (gee thanks chemo!), I want to ensure he stays warm, especially in our old, drafty house. The fabric is some sort of polyester fuzzy-textured stuff (maybe moleskin) that is lightweight while warm. He absolutely loves it and when asked to try it on, he wouldn’t take it off. It fits perfectly with no alterations to the pattern! (Note: Contrary to appearance in the photo, the bottom hem is actually straight.)
Now that he has a new robe, today I’ll start cutting and stitching pajama pants from plaid flannel we found in the stash. He’s excited with the prospect and I hope to have 2 pair finished before his next overnight trip to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
The cooler weather has also inspired me to cook soups and oven meals. Before son Jacob’s visit last weekend, I baked a huge batch of reduced-sugar peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies. This week, I’ve also made cheesy potato/ham soup, pulled pork and my mother’s recipe of onion-flavored chicken and rice. I have to be more conscious of Bob’s reduced eating (not to mention requiring soft foods) so I either cook much less or less often. Thankfully, we don’t mind eating leftovers.
Quilting on ‘Bright Hopes’ baby quilt has slowly continued. The main body is done and I’m now working on the border. I expect it to be finished soon. The appearance is pleasing.
Yesterday I began to feel sorry for myself and the situation where we have found ourselves.
Hubster was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer and will receive his 3rd chemo treatment later this week. His hair is falling out and he has chemo-fog brain. After this round of treatments, his bladder will be removed and he’ll probably receive still more treatments. No fun, especially for him.
As I was making him a new robe yesterday and thinking about our future and the irony of making pj’s and robes for a guy that has never worn them, I heard a drip, drip, drip. Knowing this is never a good sound to hear inside, I traced it to the big utility closet in my sewing room. When I opened the double doors and stepped in, I discovered 2″ of water on the floor. OH NO! This closet holds the AC and heating unit along with the water heater. Because the closet is so big, I also use it for storing my quilt fabric/supplies and portable vintage sewing machines. YIKES!
Here is why my cup is still half full:
I instantly got to work to discover the machines were sitting in a raised spot and are dry and safe. All the fabric, supplies and unfinished quilts are in Rubbermaid-type bins on shelves so all remained dry. The only thing damaged by water was an old, worn out mini-ironing board that should have been tossed years ago. Our biggest loss was an afternoon moving fabric and sewing machines to make it easier to access the water heater. The old unit was about 15 years old so not a loss; it was due to be replaced.
While moving fabric, I couldn’t help but realize I have enough to last a lifetime and beautiful, pristine old sewing machines I enjoy using. I also took advantage of the opportunity to scrub the floor, making the area fresh-smelling and clean again.
We’re so fortunate to have this big, (DRY!!) home with plenty of space for doing what we love.