Wednesday, August 15, 2018

First Day of School {Separation Anxiety Disorder}

She is standing on the sidewalk with a forced smile...her teeth clenched and her eyes flickering a million and one emotions. She watches smiling and laughing children bolt out of the back seats of the long line of cars.  Adult voices can be heard shouting over the slamming car sounds.  "Have a great day!"  Kids resembling pack mules, their backpacks full of school supplies and lunchboxes in their hands skip to the door.  Some respond to the greeters at the door as they hustle in, often not turning around to acknowledge the adults who are calling to them.  A few look back with quick smiles and wave.

Meanwhile, her hand is trapped in a seven year old death grip.  The boy doesn't appear to be in distress. His facial expression is blank.  Only she can sense the tension in his body just by the small connection of their hands.  He is a coiled spring ready to flee.

She tilts her head slightly to the side and gives him an encouraging look.  She knows she is not convincing enough.  She takes a deep breath and attempts to release her own building tension.  Eyebrows up, smile softening and widening, she squeezes his hand quickly, like a small little hug.  He looks up and gives her a tentative smile.  His soft large brown eyes pleading.  The pupils become a large deep pool reflecting all of his fears. 

The woman then pulls her gaze away and scans the vicinity with a helpless look.  She is treading in a violent sea of children, alone, and is frantically searching for a lifeline.  She catches the eye of another woman who approaches with a warm open smile and immediately greets the boy asking his name.  The death grip starts to resemble more of a shackle.  The child shifts warily backwards, his body pulling down like the ball at the end of a chain. But he smiles and says his name.  He is still linked to her and feels safe.

The greeter, who is hunched down, quickly looks up to the woman with questions flitting in her eyes.  The woman shrugs her shoulders apologetically and lifts their hands to show that are irrevocably entwined.  The greeter seems to quickly come to a conclusion and reaches down to break the firm joining.  The boy's deep reflecting pools start spilling over his eyelashes.  His chin trembles.  His body starts shaking.  A tiny contained sob emerges from the small body.  The greeter firmly grasps the boy's hand and speaks soft words as she pulls him away while the woman calmly reassures with the words "I love you and I will be back."

The woman protectively covers her chest as the child leans back and drags his feet behind the person who could be considered rescuer by the woman...torturer by him.  There is a deep sharp pain, like a knife slashing her heart, as she hears the wailing from the boy.

The children that have been happily launching themselves from the cars start slowing down and staring.  An uncomfortable silence.   Some looking on with confusion.  Some with smirks.  Others with disdain.   There is judgement on the faces of the adults in the vicinity.  She internally screams.  She has successfully launched her other three boys into the world in what was considered a healthy and normal fashion.  She left her oldest boy at a college dorm, 1400 miles away from home, without any trouble.  He actually hinted that she should leave the campus early because he didn't need her.

She wants to shout to and from the rooftops that this child....this child is different. 

Instead, the woman releases the breath she has been holding since she walked into the little boy's room, early that morning, to wake him up from his sleep.  She straightens her arms, dons on imaginary armor and wills her feet to take her back to her car.

The floodgates pour out as soon as she closes the door.  She knows it isn't over. 

The woman trudges through her morning, pretending to be occupied, but her thoughts will be far away.   In her mind, she sees him in the classroom.  She knows he won't cry all day.  She knows that he will play on the playground. She knows he will make friends and be kind to others.  She knows he will gradually rely on the teacher to be his temporary lifeboat during the day.  She is also prepared for the journal entries in his childish handwriting expressing love for his mother.  His fears that something bad will happen to her.  His fears that she won't come back to get him.  His fears that she will be gone forever.

At lunchtime, she braces herself.  She pictures him sitting at the lunch table when he is at the lowest point of his day.  She hopes the tiny note she slipped in his lunch box will prevent the inevitable sadness she can't erase.  Maybe, this time, the boy will see her promise to go to the pool after school, and it will give him something to look forward to.  But she knows better. There will be a phone call from the school.  He will plead a tummy ache.  She is fully aware that it is a real tummy ache, but she must quietly and firmly send him back to class.  She cannot swoop in and relieve him of his pain.

In the afternoon, the clock seems to move at a glacial pace.  She arrives at the front of the school, willing the doors to open as soon as they can.  The warbling voice that can only be the end of day announcements can be heard outside.  The doors open and children flood out like the parting of the sea.  She recognizes the boy, his head of white hair a beacon.  She witnesses his eyes flitting everywhere, searching for his salvation.  He can't find her immediately and looks frantically at the nearest adult to gain assurance that all will be okay.  The adult is distracted with others and misses the signal.  Red creeps up from below the neckline, slowly reaching his eyes.  His chin trembles, his eyes fill up.

The woman shouts his name and waves frantically to get his attention.  She silently prays that he notices her before the dam breaks. His eyes alight on her and his face beams.  His hands that were clenched, loosen. He turns to the adult and cheerily waves goodbye.

The boy walks with a skip to the woman and she enfolds him into a hug, like a warm cocoon.  She whispers in his ear "I am here. I love you."  She feels the tension she knew he bore all that day starting to release.  He expels his stream of conscience on the ride home. It's a jumble of thoughts...his accomplishments, his failures, his triumphs, and his fears.

On the surface, it appears to be over.  But the woman knows.  It's not over.  This is just the calm before the next storm.  The boy will try to avoid or prolong homework in attempt to ignore the ticking clock into the evening.  The battle at bedtime will commence.  The woman will forgo the quiet time she treasures at night in order to repeatedly and gently reprimand him to go to sleep.  She holds his hand--his death grip returns--as he drifts off.  Night represents the fast approaching new day.  Night terrors or nightmares may arrive.  She softly whispers and strokes his back to soothe him while he slumbers.  The woman finally creeps away, but without any relief.

Tomorrow...they will have to do it all over again.


For more information on Separation Anxiety Disorder please visit:


Friday, May 25, 2018

Button’s Globe {Teacher Quilt}

This year, Button and I got together in April to plan his thank you quilt to his teacher.

Button requires a little extra patience and care at school and we were grateful, as a family, for her extra kindness and support. We pulled out the Spelling Bee Book by Lori Holt that I had made the Joy pillow, butterfly and fox pillows.  I had originally planned to do letters, but he fell in love with the Vintage Life layout with the globes since his favorite subject seems to be geography.

He immediately became “bossy” and insisted on the fabric choices he pulled from my stash. 

I quickly was able to piece the blocks together. 

There was a bit of a slow down while I chose what to do with the “wire”.
I settled on a twisted chainstitch with a brassy gold perle cotton. 

We ran to the store to buy some sashing and border fabric.
He spotted the dotted blue fabric from the heart globe and we soon had a finished top to quilt. 

I was excited to be able to use my new Prostitcher program to do the crosshatch quilting on the globes. 

And also able to have fun and do free motion quilting everywhere else.  Stippling in the block backgrounds, wishbone in the sashing, and wild feathers in the borders. 

His backing choice wasn’t exactly what I would have chosen, but I just couldn’t argue because he was so determined to make decisions about her quilt.

We had fun digitizing his heart and signature for the quilt label. 

And I loved how excited he was to gift it to her. 

Quilt Stats:
Measures: Lap Size 
Pattern: Vintage Life by Lori Holt
Fabrics: Various scraps and stash. Sashing, Border, Backing and binding Joann Fabrixs. 
Quilting: Crosshatch and free motion on HQ Avante and Pro-stitcher

It was fun to see her open it

and also to see the reactions of his classmates and her!

And now it is summer....his favorite and my time of the year!!!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Baby Bridesmaid {Memory Quilt} Take Two!

I love when a client wants an interesting memory quilt made like the first Baby Bridesmaid quilt
When I was contacted to make a second quilt with a twist for a second baby girl?  
I was excited to do so!

The first design and fabrics were actually approved by her friend who commissioned me to make it, so this time she wanted me to use more pinks and geometric fabrics.  She also asked if I could do a different design.  After a lot of back and forth, we decided that blocks with strips would be a fun way to coordinate with the first quilt and yet be unique all on its own.

  If you haven't had time to read about the first quilt, the quick summary is that I cut up bridesmaid's dresses into strips.  Then I did narrow hems and ruffled the strips for cute accents that I appliqued onto solid blue backgrounds.

Last time, I just had long strips and the ends were secured and hidden in the binding.  This time I was worried that the ruffles would prove to be difficult when I pieced the blocks together, but I was surprised how smoothly it all went together.

I used the exact same dotted pink minky backing with solid blue binding and quilted flowers, leaves and loops on my longarm again for continuity with the first quilt.

Quilt Stats:
Measures: 45" x 54"
Pattern: Simple 3 strip blocks
Fabric: Joann fabrics and leftover cuts from Cynthia Rowley "Oh Baby" line
Quilted: Free motion flowers, leaves and loops on HQ Avante

I think she was pretty excited to have her hands involved on this one which it made it very easy for me to enjoy making.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Judge Memorial School Pride {Quilt}

"Live, Laugh, Love, Bulldog"

At the end of 2017, I decided I was not going to take on any commissions or obligations for the New Year.  I needed and still need to refocus my attentions on where and what I'm doing as a quilter.  The only obligation that I knew I had was my two son's high school auction quilt.

To make this simple, I did the exact same pattern as the one I did for Button's school auction, using
The goal was to keep it simple and use the cutest fabrics I could my stash!

I happened to have some fun stripes and dots I have collected over the years and a few I picked up recently for some Christmas projects.

 Along with the theme of simplification, I quilted it with a freemotion meandering pattern.

I had this black and white fabric with the intention of using it as a backing for a particular bee quilt, but I finally decided will probably never happen and used it on this one! 
It made the decision to use white thread to quilt even easier!

I love how the quilt label popped on it!
 I don't usually go "easy" with applique, but this year I really wanted to simplify this process, so I used wonder under, layered the logo, and used a blanket stitch on the raw edges.

Black dot binding seemed to put a stamp on my idea of a fun quilt!

Quilt Stats
Measures: 54"x 61"
Pattern: School Spirit by Riley Blake
Fabrics: Joann Fabrics
Quilted: Freemotion meandering on HQ Avante

I think it definitely was different using mostly prints over solids only like the other two quilts the past years.

I'll leave it up to everyone else on which of the three is their favorite!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Handkerchief {Memory Quilt}

"A gentleman carries a handkerchief, not for himself, but in case a lady needs one."

A box filled with 33 handkerchiefs and an unfinished quilt top arrived on my doorstop the summer of 2016 from a previous client's mother.  The letter that accompanied it, explained that they were gifts from her grandson. Her daughter-in-law gave them to her from her grandson over the years.  The family custom is that they were to be made into a quilt for his bride-to-be.  The grandson had finally found the young lady who he thought qualified for the title.  Over the years, she thought she would eventually learn to quilt, however, at the time, she was 79 and said she knew it just wouldn't happen.

The first challenge was to choose fabrics.  She had sent me a book she had bought and I gathered from it that she wanted me to stick to a traditional layout.  That meant sashing was needed.  I offered a few choices even though I really wanted her to pick a beautiful natural linen.  She really wanted this icy blue called Kona Cloud.  You always do what will make the clients happy!

As I was about to work on it before Christmas, when I had it scheduled, she emailed me and let me know that the engagement was sadly called off and that there wasn't a rush. She told me to take my time.  One of the WORST things you can say to me!!  I had a bunch of other obligations and I had wanted to make some family gifts, so I postponed it for the New Year.

I blinked and my new year rapidly filled and since there didn't seem to be a rush to have it since there wasn't an engagement, I took my sweet old time, here and there. Maybe too long.  I will say the appliqueing process was a bit tedious.  Since all of the handkerchiefs were different sizes, I decided to make a consistent block size and use a Kona White fabric foundation for each block. 

Some of the handkerchiefs were quite delicate, so I took my time. I used a straight stitch close to the edge of the colored rolled edges.  On the more plain rolled edges, I first did a straight stitch to tack them down and then did a blanket stitch to give them a bit of interest.

I will admit.  I reqlly didn’t feel ansense of urgency since she kept assuring me there wasn't a rush.
I also was very indecisive about the layout of the blocks.  There were an odd number of handkerchiefs and two were actually rectangles.  After a few days, I had an "aha" moment" and decided instead of using plain white fabric side set triangles and corners, I would use the handkerchiefs! I took two of the smaller lace-only handkerchiefs and cut them in half. And used four others cut in half for the side set triangles.

I ended up deconstructing the rectangle handkerchiefs and folded them in a special way to make triangles.  If you look super close you can see a seam where I hand stitched the edges together to make the pretty rolled edge.

You can hardly see the seams after I quilted it!

 After I finished all the applique, I had my layout and sashing put together.  Summer hit and I put it aside for some family issues and traveling I had to do. When the boys got back to school, I pulled it out to get ready to shop for some backing and decide on my quilting plan.

Hurricane Harvey hit.  Her daughter announced on Facebook that her mother's home, my client's, had been flooded.  I messaged to her that I still had the finished quilt (I had been planning to send it the next week) and the handkerchief quilt was still in progress. I would wait to hear where they settled before I sent both.  I thanked the lord that I hadn't sent the first to be lost forever!

At the end of October, my client emailed me her new address for her apartment and the fact that her grandson was re-engaged with the same young lady.  She needed the quilt! I sent her the finished quilt and told her I was going to speed up work on the handkerchief quilt!

When I received her thank you for the scrappy quilt I about cried!  That was the only thing she had left of all the projects she had made her children and grandchildren through the years.  That one sweet scrappy quilt!!!
 I was so excited to find the backing and make a quilting plan!

I chose an organic crosshatch for the handkerchiefs so it didn't overwhelm the tiny flowers.
On the corners with the lace edged corners and side set triangles,
Ole Betsy the longarm insisted on a few swirls.

The binding was a happy marriage of the white handkerchiefs, lighter blue sashing, and the darker backing from Kate Spain's Aria line.

The client really wanted her grandson's favorite color, navy blue as a backing.
I chose a very subtle tone-on-tone feathery navy fabric so it didn't argue with such a floral and delicate front.

I loved how the quilting made a great design on the back!

Quilt Stats:
Measures: 82" x 82" square
Pattern: Basic on point squares with sashing
Fabrics: Kona White, Kona Cloud, Aria by Moda, Navy blue backing from Joann Fabrics.
Quilted: Free motion organic crosshatch, swirls, and fillers on Handiquilter Avante

I sent it right after Thanksgiving, just in time for the holidays.  The thank you note I received from her was absolutely lovely, made me cry again, and was worth every bit of work I put into it.  If you are wondering, I could NOT bear to charge her for my work on either quilt.  My husband and I both agreed that it would be our personal donation to a sweet family that lost everything during Hurricane Harvey.  

It ended up being a glorious labor of love.


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