Cheers to The Year I Started Quilting

Today marks not only the end of 2013, but exactly 373 days since I bought my first sewing machine. (Which I know is slightly longer than a year…)  I can easily say that this past year has changed my life.  Over the years I have tried many crafts: drawing, painting, pottery, knitting, crocheting, stained glassed windows (yes, really), scrapbooking (one and done, friends), etc.  My soul longs to be creative, but it wasn’t until I put the binding on my first finished quilt that I knew I had found the craft that truly fulfilled those creative urges.  By the way, that first quilt finish was May 22, 2013.  Exactly 5 months after I bought my sewing machine.  You might remember those first five months of paralyzing quilting fear in which I made plenty of quilt tops and no real progress.  Thankfully, I’m over that nonsense.

From my very first post, full of small icon pictures, to my first tutorial, and all the other musings I’ve posted in between, this blog has opened my life to the most creative people I have ever known.  Here’s to you, my friends around the world.  Here’s to your encouragement and inspiration.  Not a day goes by where I’m not thinking, dreaming, or actually quilting.  Here’s to the ladies who sold me my first machine, and patiently helped me pick out fabric.  Here’s to my favorite teacher Melanie who got this girl quilting and became a sweet friend.  Here’s to my favorite quilt shop in NJ where I have formed a circle of friends in a place I never thought I would call home.  Here’s to the ladies in ScrapBeeLicious that bring joy and creativity to each month, and made me one of the most beautiful quilts I will ever own.  Here’s to the NJMQG, full of wonderful wisdom, creativity, and the love that only quilters can understand. Here’s to the babies whose pictures on quilts I’ve made bring me a sense of pride I never knew before.  Here’s to my quilting friends who make it into conversations at dinner with my husband, even though we’ve never met: “What’s Molli making these days?” “Do you think we’ll be able to meet up with Laura this year?” “Michelle invited us over when we’re in NC?” (Which is happening in 2014!)  “That quilt you liked on instagram by Cath is insane.”  Here’s to Renee, a quilting goddess, and the world’s best pen pal (where I fail).

You are all loved, friends.

When I think back on this year, I am in awe of all that was accomplished in my little sewing room, but I am mostly blown away by the friends I have made.  I didn’t realize when I started my little corner of the blog world that I would make friends.  I honestly didn’t think anyone would read this except for my mom, grandmothers, and occasionally my husband.  Before I look ahead to 2014, here’s a recap of 2013.  My first year quilting.

The first finish:

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The baby quilts:

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Quilts I made for family members who needed some love in 2013:

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The Best Friend Quilts that I made for me and my sweet friend Maggie with “matching” backs:

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My first charity quilt and the first quilt I will list in my Etsy shop:

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Fourteen finished quilts, a few stockings, some pillows here and there, a few more WiPs, and 6 more quilt tops. 2013 has been a wonderfully productive year.  Here’s to the year ahead, with new goals, a new machine (this news coming soon!), an opening Etsy shop, and a growing list of 17 “planned” quilts.  If this year is even half as much fun as 2013, I say, “Bring it on!”

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Back at it…

 Last night my fortune cookie said, “You won’t appreciate the water until the well has dried up.”

Oh, how very true.  For 28 years I’ve enjoyed the wisdom and love from four wonderful grandparents.  It was one of those blessings that I knew I should be thankful for, and I was, but I see now that I didn’t fully appreciate just how much of a treasure I had in these four amazing people.  Last Friday morning my grandfather passed away.  Even though I knew that his time was coming, and even though I had said goodbye, written him a letter, spoken to him two nights before and heard, “I love you, honey.  I love you, darlin’.  I love you, sweetie.”  I wasn’t ready.

How can you ever be ready?

This space is a creative outlet, a place to showcase what I make for those that I love.  It’s not usually a place that I air my grief.  I just felt like I couldn’t post about quilting without mentioning my grandfather’s passing.  It didn’t feel authentic to post about my newest quilt without mentioning why I had been absent for the past two weeks.  I do know that I am lucky to have had 28 years to learn from him, especially since in my younger years I was not as in tune with the wisdom his life had to offer.  I am also forever grateful to have so many memories from the past few summers where I went home during summer vacation.  Thank God I made the choice to be a teacher.  

Last night I decided I needed some therapy time with my sewing machine (isn’t quilting such great therapy?) and I pulled out my Honey Honey quilt top.  It’s time to be finished had come.

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Then, as I was basting this quilt my quilting pattern completely changed, and I am so excited to finish this one now.  I decided to mark the quilt lines, and it was worth the extra time.

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I can’t wait to show you the back and the binding I have chosen for this quilt.  It is all coming together so beautifully.  Thank you to all of you who sent me words of love and comfort over the past few days.  I am even more thankful for the quilting community, and for the therapy this craft brings to my life.  

 

Runs in the Family

There is no keeping up with my grandmothers.  You may have noticed that I have been off grid lately…  That’s because I have been soaking up as much time with my grandparents as possible.  This includes lugging my sewing around with me and subjecting them to talking with me, looking at my quilts, and helping me at all times.  Although, I don’t really think they mind…

This means that I have been super productive and I am now super tired.

(They seriously have more energy than me…)

On Tuesday I hung out with my Gramma and Grandpa, picked up 6 gallons of fresh blueberries, finished all the blocks to a quilt, cut out another quilt top, and she made dinner for the family.  I’m pretty sure I made drinks and set out the napkins.  Oh, and loaded the dishwasher.  I am useless.  She had it all done before I could blink.  See, here she is making a cobbler while I sit and use a rotary cutter.

Did I mention she cut all of her quilts by hand?

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Utterly useless, I am. 

I also finished another project I have in the works and she helped me lay out part of the finished project in between all of our other projects:

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Which I can’t reveal quite yet.

Then, today I went to hang out with my Mammaw and Pappaw, and again she helped me with quilting, she made lunch, and she made dinner for the family.  I made drinks, got napkins, and set the table, but otherwise she basically runs circles around me, too.

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I finished some quilt backs and we got all the butterflies ready to be appliqued.

We had a nice little assembly line going.

I would sew the butterflies to their lining:

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She finished them of by hand-stitching the opening:

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And, wait for, we even enlisted my Pappaw for help with ironing:

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(Did I mention that he’s made a quilt – because he reminded me of that tonight!)

Now we have a nice pile of 35 butterflies to be appliqued once my mother teaches us her skillz.

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Here are some of my favorites:

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Basically, I am having the time of my life, soaking up all of this knowledge, quilt love, and grandparent time.  I apologize if I’m not responding to emails.  I know you all understand and appreciate my absence! 

Happy Quilting!

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The quilt may be delivered, but the baby is not.  How’s that for meeting a deadline, folks?  Possibly the only time I’ll make a deadline ever.  What started as a pillow idea, turned into a beautiful baby girl quilt that I hope my sweet cousin will love using with her daughter.  This will be the first baby of the next generation in our family and I am so excited to have some new life at get-togethers.  Babies make everything more fun.  Also, I get paid in baby snuggles, so I can’t wait to meet this little one.

Finished Quilt:

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Thanks to everyone for the suggestion on quilting the X – LOVE how it turned out!

The quilt back (I need yards of this fabric!):

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The fabrics are “Keep It Cool Raspberry” and “Linen Raspberry”.  Spring House by Stephanie Ryan.

Here’s some more of this quilting: Proud Momma right HERE!

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And finally, my new favorite part of quilting:  The binding!

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Fabric:  “Floral Woven Pink” Spring House by Stephanie Ryan.

Quilt Stats:

  • 39 inches x 39 inches
  • All fabrics:  Spring House line by Stephanie Ryan
  • Quilted by ME on my Bernina 215

There really is nothing like shipping off a quilt and knowing it’s going to someone you love.  Today I’m linking up to quite a few fun linky parties you should check out:  WiP Wednesday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish it Up Friday!

Now I’m off to Los Cabos, Mexico to celebrate 3 years of marriage to this guy:

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Our Wedding Song: Grow Old With Me by John Lennon

  Happy quilting, y’all, and see ya in a week!

WiP Wednesday

This week, there has been very little quilting.  The school year is winding down, and I have to say, this has to be my all-time favorite class.  So even though I’m exhausted, I’m trying to remind myself that a class like this comes along once every decade.  (I hope?!)  Last night our fourth graders performed A Midsummer’s Night Dream and I was speechless.  I hope I never get tired of teaching young souls and celebrating all they have to offer the world.

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(Final rehearsal before the big event.)

Can I just say that I am such a stage mom.  My god, dancing like a fool, waving spirit fingers at my face to brighten theirs, snapping, clapping, etc.  Bless my future child’s heart. I also might have teared up.  (Softy over here!)

Since this week has been crazy, and I got distracted last night by starting a pillow, this is all I have to show for my next quilt top: a plan of attack and the outside borders sewn together.

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SimpleChicopee.  Need I say more?

If this fabric was all I got for Christmas over the next 5 years I would be a happy girl.

Up next on my agenda is finish this top and finish this baby quilt – the binding fabric is on its way!  I might be second guessing my quilting plan, but I’m hoping the pins are fine even if I change my mind.

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At the risk of scaring myself even more, how would you quilt it?  Remember, I can’t FMQ, and I really like straight lines.  I was considering straight lines, but only in one direction (top to bottom).  Or even more organic wavy lines?  But, then I don’t want it to get too stiff?  What the world?  Help a sister out?

Happy WiP Wednesday, friends! 

Behind the Seams

Welcome, Plum and June Blog Hoppers! First things first, I’m Ashley, the voice behind Wasn’t Quilt in a Day: a fourth grade teacher by day and fervent quilter by night.  Most days, it’s way too late at night!  Who am I?  Here are some fun facts: I wore a tie-dye article of clothing almost every day for two years, I’m a certified archery instructor, and I wore red cowgirl boots to my wedding.

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(photo credit: Story Photographers)

 If I’m not quilting, cutting into new fabric, or looking for inspiration, you might find me running or reading a book.  You would most certainly not find me ironing or doing dishes.  Pretty much ever.

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 I’m a displaced southerner, originally from the great state of North Carolina, who lived in Washington, D.C. for three years, before moving even further North to New Jersey: where it is illegal to pump your own gas.  Basically, heaven on earth.

Finally, I’ve been married to the hubs for three years!

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(photo credit: Story Photographers)

Now that we’ve gotten acquainted, (since mom always said not to talk to strangers), let’s talk quilting!

What started six months ago as a space to keep myself motivated, has quickly turned into a creative outlet that I didn’t even realize how much I desperately needed.  Over the years I’ve dabbled in all kinds of crafts: knitting, painting, pottery, stained glass, etc.  Then, once I started “the real world,” crafting went by the wayside, and I’ve felt the void ever since.  Since buying my Bernina this winter, and taking my very first sewing lesson (oh, happy day!), I have been energized by a constant need to create and share my passion for colors and patterns.

My very first quilt block:

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 Of course, I didn’t realize how prophetic my blog title was going to be when I decided on “Wasn’t Quilt in a Day”.  I just thought it was a clever pun.  No, really, there are great quilting blogs with weekly finishes, and I love them, find them inspiring, bow down to them… PSA: You’re not going to find that here!  I love to start new projects, buy too much fabric, and share my mistakes and inspirations.  Occasionally I even throw in a tip: like what to do with old needles or how I made my design wall.  This space is all about my process.  I probably share too much, but I love blogging and meeting new bloggers.  So, what’s my favorite type of project?  ALL OF THEM.  Well, except for flying geese.  We don’t get along.

Here’s the quilt that I started first in this crazy journey… (I promise my photography has gotten better as I’ve made more quilts…)

Love Lives Here

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And some quilt tops I’ve made since then…

Great Granny and Lotta Love

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Ziggy Zag

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Cousin Love (I don’t have a good picture for the finished top!)

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Charming Chevron

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Hey, Honey Honey

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 Yes, I’m constantly in a state of almost finished.

And, drumroll please, my first completely finished quilt

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Straight cheesin’ up there!

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 Brushes off shoulder.  I’m pretty proud, and I know you understand! Since I can’t brag publicly every day, I love the blogging community because you get it.  I love the juxtaposition of the quilt I started first with the quilt I actually finished first.  When I started this journey my mom and grandmothers might have laughed and tried to tell me I needed to start with a simple square quilt… whoops.  It’s true, mothers really are always right!

Now that I’ve started to find my groove and rhythm with designing, creating, and piecing quilt tops, my goal now is to start exploring the world of quilting!  Just this week I finally got a walking foot, (HALLELUJAH!) so it’s all uphill from here!  I can’t wait to start finishing some projects.  After all, I’ve got to get these tops out to my people.

One project I’m super excited to share is one I started after I finally realized that what I created would really be leaving me.  (I kind of lived in delusion that my projects would magically duplicate if I loved them enough!)  While I have been the extremely grateful recipient of a quilt from my grandmother, I didn’t really get the absolute love, thought, and care that went into making one until I started quilting.  I knew it was special, but I just didn’t get it.  Now, I realize that when someone makes a quilt, they sew a little bit of their thoughts, prayers, love, and memories into the stitches.  They dedicate hours thinking of that person, and hoping to show them their love through the comfort of something they created.  I realized that I not only wanted to document my journey here, but that I wanted a “fabric scrapbook” of what I had created for others to remind me of all the love that came from my little sewing desk.  So, to celebrate what I have made and will make, I created the Scraps for Me project.

In lieu of a tutorial, I’ll share this!

Scraps for Me

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 Materials:

  • Scraps from a quilt – gather everything!    (Scraps from the top, backing, and binding)
  • Paper piecing pattern  (I used this FREE star)
  • OR Any quilt block
  • Background fabric (I would suggest a classic that you can buy over the years since your quilt will build as you finish projects)

Directions

  1. Finish a quilt (or in my case, a quilt top)
  2. Using the scraps from only that quilt, create one star or block of your choice that represents the fabric and feel of the quilt
  3. Create a star or block of your choice for each quilt you create
  4. Over and over again
  5. Once you have enough stars or blocks of your choice to form a completed quilt top (20 blocks: 4×5, 48” x 60”; 30 blocks: 5x 6, 60”x72”, etc.) lay out all of your block in a layout you find pleasing – keeping in mind the variety of fabrics!
  6. Piece together the top like the quilt master you are after finishing so many quilts – You are a beast!
  7. Baste, quilt, and bind.
  8. Sit under your quilt and reflect over all the love you have shared through this amazing hobby we all call “quilting”!

Here’s what I’ve created so far, with five other scrap bags waiting to go!

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 So, you got me.  As a newbie quilter, I haven’t finished many blocks.  I haven’t even gotten past step 4 in my own tutorial.  I have made the commitment to get to Step 8 one day, though, and I can’t wait to snuggle under this “scrapbook” of love.  I hope you enjoyed my first contribution to the quilting community – and if you’re inspired by my project, thank you!  I have been so inspired by the blogging community.

Have I mentioned that I’m rather chatty?  If not, I’m sure you caught on! Thanks for stopping by; feel free to click around, hop around, or stay around!  No matter what – I’m looking forward to meeting you through this blog hop!  Thank you to Beth, for hosting this hop, and to all the fellow hoppers for opening up your blog to all of us!  I can’t wait to meet you.

In an effort to finally curb my chattiness, if you’d like to know more, you can check out these posts:

Or you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, or at my local quilt shop.  Free fat quarter bundle to anyone who finds me there!

Be sure to check out the other blogs up this week!

Amy @ 13 Spools
Casey @ The Studiolo
Here is the list of all participating bloggers that I can’t wait to visit!
Friday, June 7
Nancy @ Owen’s Olivia
Amy @ 13 Spools
Casey @ The Studiolo
Friday, June 14
Julie @ Jolie Maxtin
Adrianne @ On The Windy Side
Valerie @ Between Quilts
Friday, June 21
Leigh Anne @ Ella’s Cottage
Sarah @ Quilt Candy
Jackie @ NW Patchwork
Erica @ Happy Fabric
Stephanie @ Simple Sewendipity
Lauren @ Seraphym
Friday, June 28
Green @ So Sew Green
Gwendellyn @ The Rainbow Revolts
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts
Kris @ Sew Sunshine
Camilla @ Faffling
Friday, July 5
Christa @ Christa Quilts!
Stephanie @ Quarter Incher
Friday, July 12
Anne @ PlayCrafts
Friday, July 19
Aylin @ AyliN-Nilya
Kelsey and Amanda @ Everyday Fray
Friday, July 26
RobinSue @ RobinSue Quilts
Elisa Lea @ Lovelea Designs
Elizabeth @ In The Boondocks
Emily @ Sew E.T.

Sister in the City

There are no two people more precious to me than my little sisters.  I’m incredibly lucky in the sibling department, and I enjoy any time that I’m able to see them.  Being 9 and 10 years older than them makes for an interesting relationship dynamic.  It also means that my life has taken me forward and to new places while they are still at home and just starting the college journey.  Since moving away I’ve wanted to fly my sisters to my new homes and take them around, but they were always too young or our schedules never could line up.  Finally, I was able to work out a long weekend visit with Z.  There is nothing that can compare to a sister and I am so glad we were able to have this time together.  I am so proud of who she is and I absolutely love laughing with her.  I hope you enjoy a glimpse into our weekend!

As soon as she landed in Jersey we headed straight for our favorite local pizza shop, Emma’s.  Basically we “treat” everyone who visits to this establishment… but it’s really a treat to ourselves.

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We didn’t stop there, and headed straight to our ice cream parlor.  I don’t think she believed me when I said it had award- winning ice cream flavors, but she’s definitely a believer now.  She went with my favorite, chocolate silk  – smart girl, and we stayed up way too late for our early morning alarm to get to work.  She definitely wasn’t prepared for the 5:30 am wake up (who is?), but she was amazing at school with me!

ImageIt’s always so funny to me when my students meet people in my “real” life.  Their reactions were hysterical and Z fell in love with the kids.  I truly do have the best job.  They also could not come to a consensus on whether or not we looked alike.  It was a highly debated topic and many students did not think we were sisters at all.  We are completely used to this and completely agree!

After school we headed to my LQS to show her where I spend most of my time, and money, and to introduce her to my friends there.  She was equally as smitten with all the gorgeous fabrics and she helped me pick out a few.  Once we got home, we were both dead to the world and decided to take a nap since it was so rainy outside.

4 hours later we woke up.  What?

Dinner at 9:30 pm.

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I’m telling you, this place knows food.

Saturday was a trip into NYC.  My sister had only seen it from the highway on our way to Boston, so I was so excited to take her in and show her around.  We packed plenty of things into a one day trip, and I think she’s looking forward to visiting again next year!

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First stop: Time Square

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Central Park:

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Empire State Building:

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Then we walked to the other side to show her the view of Uptown and Central Park…

Have I mentioned that I’m terrified of heights?  Well, I am.

The wind kicked up.

They were enjoying taking in the sites and turned to find this:

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I was done.  Time to go down.  Hate heights.

Never again.

Then it was onto her request for lunch.  Street Hotdogs.

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She was one happy girl…

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Until this man walked over and started making this weird noise.

At first one squirrel responded.  Then two more.  Then six were all around him with others joining in.  We caught on quickly that he was calling squirrels.  Then he left.  However, the squirrels stayed!  They were not afraid of humans at all.  One was on the hubs leg, they jumped up on the park bench beside us… it was insane.

The irony is that my sister was attacked by a squirrel when she was five.

I can’t even explain how weird this was:

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The hubs thought to show her a Cathedral since he realized she’d probably never seen one.  Great thinking because he was right.  I think she was in awe and commented that she felt like she was in another country.  I always find the windows so inspiring!

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Then we found an amazing underground flea market where we thought we’d find some steals.

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Of course the one vintage shirt Z really wanted was $225.00.  No.

We finished out the day with a comedy show and dinner:

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In one of the sketches they mentioned the T.V. show Wings and I went to hit her arm laughing because I had watched that show with our mom.  Then I realized that she didn’t know this reference because she wasn’t born yet.  Whoops.

Needless to say this was us in Penn Station waiting on the train:

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Before she left today we squeezed in one final Jersey treat:

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Diner food.

So, there has been little quilting since her arrival, but there was plenty of laughter and fun.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

The other day I had to call my mom to ask her a question. (Heck, everyday I have to call my mother to ask her a question.  How long to cook a potato.  What cut of meat to buy for a stew.  Should I buy this?  Did I say the wrong thing. Etc.)  On this day, my students overheard the end of the conversation: “Love you, mommy.”

They thought it was hysterical.

Even my coworkers thought I had suddenly sprouted a second head.

Apparently I’m too old to call her mommy.  “Why don’t you call her by her first name?”

Sometimes I do.  Sometimes I make up an extra addition to her name and call her Sarah Jane.  Sometimes it’s Maj, and sometimes it’s Madre.  It’s often Momma.  But, I still break out mommy.  As far as I’m concerned, she is my mom, maj, Sarah Jane, Momma, and mommy.

No matter how old I get, she is without a doubt the voice I trust the most.

After 28 years of seeking her advice, love, and wisdom first, I think it’s natural to call her what she is.  So, as a detour from the progress that’s on my design wall, today I am celebrating my mommy.

She is the woman who taught me how to embroider when I was a tiny thing.  She is the woman who bought me craft supplies even when money was tight.  She is the woman who let me experiment with color, mess her kitchen up, and told me everything I made was beautiful.  She is also the woman who gave me critique, made my eye sharper, and taught me to take pride in my work.  “Garbage in, garbage out.  Take your time, Ashley.”

She might not think so, because she is her own worst critic, but she is also where the art comes from in my DNA.  She is clever with her design and knows how to make simple stunning.  She is more subtle with color, but she taught me to be bold and always encouraged me to trust my instinct.  In everything.

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I mean, hello, she not only made the two beauties in this picture, but also the quilt behind them.  My mother is talented, strong, and beautiful.  So, today, everyday, all the time, I love you, Mommy.  Thank you for all the Sculpey Clay when I was younger, the yarn, knitting needles, embroidery hoops, the fabric for my first quilt, the trips to art museums, and for teaching me to express myself always.

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Love you, mommy.

I Bought You Something…

The other night, my husband came home from Barnes and Noble (his fabric store).  Usually, he heads there and reads, drinks coffee, decompresses, and finds books to buy on Amazon. 

I hear, “I got this for a penny.” quite often.  He’s pretty proud of himself that he never buys books for retail.  So, when he came home with a bag and said it was for me, I was pretty intrigued…

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He bought me a book about quilters.

He spent money on a book about quilters.

I married a good one.

Now, I’ve finished the book, which I found rather enjoyable.  It’s a quick and easy read, nothing profound and life changing, but one of those books that are “just for fun.”  Really, all it’s made me want to do is go on a quilters’ retreat.  Like now. 

Quilted Name Tag

This weekend my husband had to chaperone a field trip and when he mentioned that he needed another chaperone I quickly volunteered.  Basically, I don’t like to be home alone.  Ever.  The weekend was a great time to interact with his students and see him in action.  However, let me tell you, a high school teacher I am not!  As a bonus, we also got to hear Fareed Zakaria speak, which was a nice surprise, especially since I spent all of high school and college reading his articles in Newsweek.

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During his speech I was doodling on paper planning out the embroidery letters for my quilted name tag.  (I listen better when I’m drawing, honest.)  At one point I looked over my shoulder and another chaperone was designing a quilt block.

Quilters are every where!

We also no longer sit in the back of the bus with the cool kids…

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I was most definitely the only chaperone doing this in the lobby:

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My only goal this weekend was to finish my quilted name tag for my MQGs challenge.  I literally sat in the lobby embroidering the entire day on Saturday.  I’m pretty happy with the results, but I am not showing you the back!  Hot mess!  Tonight, when I got home, I headed straight to little BerNina.  I knew if I waited, I would never finish this project.  I used the binding tutorial that came with the Herringbone Hot Pad tutorial I tweaked for this project.  The only difference was that I used these – teachers do what they gotta do!

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My first time binding:

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 The binding got a little curved on the bottom, but overall I’m really happy with it!

Here’s a closeup of the decorative stitch I used:

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 Did you catch the lint at the top of the Y?  Whoops.  Gotta clean that.

Finally, here’s the finished product:

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 Ok, so it’s not really finished, you got me.  I still have to attach the pin.

So, what do you think?  Will my partner like it?!

Be sure to check out the other projects at for Let’s Get Acquainted Monday!