Documenting a life during a Pandemic

I’m happy to report that I’ve finally finished the back of my Coronavirus quilt!

You might remember this quilt I finished last summer. It was Bonnie Hunter’s Unity quilt-a-long with some slight modifications to the outer borders because I ran out of the fabrics we were using. I named it my “Coronavirus Quilt” because I made it during our German lock-down (and I thought the middle block looked a little like the virus!).

Things were still locked down when I finished that so I had the idea to order some white fabric for the back and embroider scenes from our life during the Pandemic.

Remember, I had a nice looking plan? I was so naive! I mean, none of us had any idea how this whole thing was going to play out but maybe I should have left more room for future entries?

I know this pandemic is not even close to being over but I had to draw (sorry for the pun) the line somewhere so I chose to end it at the end of 2020.

As you can see, things got a little bunched up at the bottom due to my poor planning but that’s kind of how my last few months have been.

I did start in the middle and go towards the outside so I had to go back and add where everything started for me.

I think I shared some of these before as I was working on the quilt.

This is one of my favorites!

Then it felt like I needed to tell more of our story with words more than with pictures. I did NOT get better at embroidering the words but they’re all there.

Then this happened and besides being sick, I was feeling all the things – fear and anger. So much anger. Moving from overseas is stressful enough and trying to manage a move where nothing was working how it should was overwhelming. Then there was an election and arguments and disagreements over wearing masks. We had serious culture shock and felt like we had landed in a place that we could no longer recognize as our home country. We’re still trying to find our way.

With this quilt story, I just called it like I saw it. I had to do something with all my anger, so I kept sewing. When I look at this I remember the feeling of sitting and crying in my car in the parking lot of the Hospital ER waiting for my husband. He developed pneumonia and they wouldn’t let me in with him. We were both scared.

I thank God every day that he got better even though he still has a lingering cough 7 weeks later. As of today, the number of deaths from Covid-19 here in the US alone are over 365,000 so I know our outcome could have been very different.

I thought about putting more things on the quilt like the numbers of deaths or how many cases there are but then decided to just tell highlights of my story. I’m ready to put this quilt together and then I plan to hand quilt it with white thread. I still have a lot of time on my hands.

I keep wondering if there will be more that I need to tell about this pandemic. I sincerely hope there isn’t. I pray that we can all get the vaccines and the virus will eventually be eradicated and we won’t lose any more loved ones to this virus. Let’s hope so.

Low Volume Baby quilt

You might remember this quilt from my blog that I worked on earlier this past year. It was a smaller version of the “Keep it Down” quilt from Sarah Fielke’s book called Old Quilts New Life. Well, it’s new life is going to be a baby quilt for a baby boy coming in early 2021!

When I heard that the new mom was hoping to use a woodland theme for her nursery, I found the perfect backing for this project.

How adorable is this fabric from Robert Kaufman called Forest Fellow Raccoons Wild? It goes perfectly with the greys and pops of color on the quilt.

I used one of the grey fabrics for the binding so that the quilt will go with any other colors in the nursery and then I used my favorite “big stitch” quilting with a grey thread. The quilt is soft and sweet.

I wasn’t sure at first, but now I’m definitely liking this trend of low-volume quilts for babies.

This quilt is ready to be boxed up and shipped off for this new baby boy!

I’m still quilting…

I feel like I’ve been away from this blog and from my sewing for soooo long. We survived the move and I’ve landed here in Kansas.

I feel like I’m getting too old for all this moving and starting over – it exhausts me!

In any case, our stuff arrived a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally getting my sewing room set up. I’ve been banished to the basement in this house. My husband needs to work from home sometimes and has 2 computers set up so the “office” is all his. I’m using a room in the basement that claims to be a bedroom but it feels more like it was a storage room. I feel like they’re calling it a bedroom so they can get more rent but no worries, once I get it all set up, it will be a fine sewing room.

I did run into some problems with my sewing machine. I hadn’t used my Pfaff sewing machine in 4 1/2 years since I was afraid to plug it into a transformer overseas. I set it up and had to dig out the instructions so I could remember how to put the bobbin in and thread it. After all that, it didn’t sound good when I tried to sew with it. It sounds like it needs to be cleaned and oiled so I’ll try to take it in soon. Hopefully that’s all it needs- fingers crossed.

I had mailed my little Janome machine back here and after the Pfaff wasn’t working, I set it up and turned it on and got an error message that wasn’t in the instructions. I was about to have a tiny breakdown but then I realized the bobbin winder was pushed over so … whew, I’m still sewing!

After that, I gave up for the day. My Kitchen Aid mixer still seems to be fine after being stored for all these years so I went and baked some cookies.

I made these yummy chewy molasses cookies from a recipe I found on Pinterest. They’re perfect for the fall weather!

You might have noticed the stacks of fabrics on my sewing table. Well, it’s that time again! Bonnie Hunter has announced her annual mystery quilt on her blog and posted the color selections. This year’s mystery is called “Grassy Creek”.

I know, I know! I said I wasn’t going to do one again but let’s just see how it goes. I welcome getting rid of more fabric but it looks like I’ll actually need to buy some just to get started. I may just print out the clues and then decide if I want to make it after it’s revealed.

Well, back to more unpacking. Hopefully I’ll get to some quilting soon!

Updates on the Coronavirus quilt

I wanted to share some more of the embroidery pictures from the back of my Coronavirus quilt.  You might remember that I’m creating a pictorial backing for my quilt as a way to document our lives during this pandemic.

corona1

As you can see, my “expert” stitching gives it a real homespun quality.  (That’s what I tell myself anyway.)

corona2

I’ve discovered how hard it is to draw people and then make it simple enough to stitch around.

corona3

corona4

corona5

corona6

corona7

I have about five or six more images that I want to add but I’m happy that it’s coming along so quickly.

I recently packed up my sewing machine and am in the process of getting my sewing room ready to move.  We’re about 2 months away from the end of my husband’s contract here.  With everything that’s been going on, he’s having a hard time finding a follow on position.  I’ve lost count of how many interviews he’s had and of those, how many of the positions they’ve decided not to fill at the last minute.  Things are a little stressful but this project has been a nice distraction.

Obviously, I’ll have more to add to my story when we find out what the next chapter of our lives will be and luckily, this project is very portable!

More of the story…

I think I mentioned before that I wanted to create a pictorial version of my life during this pandemic on the back of my Coronavirus quilt.

Well, despite my inexperience with embroidery, I jumped right in.  Now, I’m not going for perfection here.  I just want to record a little history and tell my story in my own way.  (Please keep that in mind when you see my goofy pictures.)

IMG_2547

I started by drawing out what I wanted it to look like.  I think the scale is off a bit here but it’s something to go on.

IMG_2548

Then I got some embroidery floss or thread, whatever you call it.  I tried to go with colors that I used on the quilt front.  This was a little hard since I didn’t have it with me at the craft store and if you pick something up there – you bought it.  I have no idea how much I’ll need for this project.

IMG_2552

I started in the middle of the quilt by folding and ironing to create some lines to work with.

Then I’ve just followed my plan.  Working out from the middle on the easy pictures first!

IMG_2554IMG_2550IMG_2553IMG_2551

It’s a little slow going but ….well, I have plenty of time these days.

IMG_2549

Here’s how the whole thing looks so far.  This is definitely flexing my artistic muscles these days.  I usually draw the picture on a piece of paper first (so I can erase if needed) and then I trace the drawing onto the fabric with a pencil and sew over the pencil lines.  I’m hoping I can gently wash this before I layer the quilt and quilt it to get the pencil lines off (and any blood from finger pricks – yes, that happened already).

 

My Coronavirus Quilt-top Finish!

coronaquilt1

It’s hard to believe that I worked on this quilt for something like 9 weeks while we’ve been staying home and social distancing.  It’s also hard to believe I didn’t buy any fabrics but just used what I had in my stash.

Thanks to Bonnie Hunter for doing this free Unity quilt along on her Quiltville website!  It was fun and I had no idea how it would turn out. It was definitely something to look forward to each week.

Let me fill you in on some of the steps since I last shared:

I left you at week 6 and was excited to do the red and white half square triangles.  Those triangles turned into big pinwheel blocks that were added all around the quilt.

IMG_2525

These pinwheel blocks also had some blue and aqua squares which I was able to dig out of my scrap bins.

And then this last and final week I took a look at the blocks and realized that I didn’t have enough aqua fabric and maybe not enough blue.  So I just decided to finish it my own way.

little stars

I made smaller versions of the blocks from the last part and decided to use them as corner blocks.  They’re cute!

Then I made a bunch more of the half square triangles and used them as an all-around border.

IMG_2536

I also added a plain background border to fill the space between the saw-tooth border and the quilt since my corner blocks were 4″.  There was a lot of math involved and math is not my thing so I’m really thrilled that it came together!

extras

(There were a few extra parts. Whoops!)

This thing is big!  Mine measures 82″ x 90″ so it was challenging to find a place to take a good photo.

Now, I’m finishing up a few other projects and can’t wait to get started embroidering my quarantine activities on the backing of this quilt.  Wish me luck on that!

Coronavirus Quilt update

I’ve finished a few more weeks of clues on my Coronavirus Quilt (Bonnie Hunter’s Unity Quilt-along) and I’m really loving it!

coroquilt2

Every week, I wonder if I’m going to run out of fabrics.  I’ve pulled out every scrap of red, blue and aqua that I could find in my sewing room.  I don’t have much dark blue and aqua blue left but I still have plenty of red.

I got lucky this past week because the clue was to make red and white/cream half square triangles that we’ll use next week I guess.

coroquilt1

So here are my 272 red and white/cream half square triangles.  Yay!

I did have to dig into the ugly fabrics to get a nice mix.

uglyfabric

But it’s been cut into small pieces and in the end, all you’ll see is something beautiful.

Isn’t that how life is sometimes – you have to make something beautiful out of something ugly?

Believe it or not, I also finished hand quilting the Homemade quilt.

house1

house2

It’s a little hard to see with the light thread but it mostly adds texture.  I want to bind it with the dark brown fabric that I used for the churn dash background but I’m a couple inches short!  I went online to order more and now – I wait.  Things are taking longer these days so it will probably be here mid June (frown- y face here).

I’m also back to hand quilting the borders of my Beauteous quilt but I’m running out of steam on that one and I did something to bruise my left hand so hand quilting is a little painful now.  I’ll get to it eventually.

Stay well my friends!

Stay Home Sewing

I haven’t been good about blogging during this pandemic but I feel like I’ve been busier than ever!  There’s extra cleaning and cooking and the grocery shopping – don’t get me started on grocery shopping!  Shopping for only two of us has become like planning a WWII military campaign.  I.. am.. not.. kidding.  There are apps and charts and color coded teams.  And now, someone is selling t-shirts based on our color coded teams!

So we’re only allowed to go on base every two weeks to go to the PX, commissary and get our mail at the mail room – and we get three days to do all this shopping.  We’re divided into color teams and we have to go on our color days.  As you can imagine, it’s difficult.  Of course we have the German stores and that’s where I’ve been doing much of my shopping but there are just some things we can only get on base. I won’t whine too much because we’re healthy and have plenty of food but it’s definitly taking up a big chunk of my life!

When I’m not cleaning or planning my shopping, I have gotten some sewing in.

I’m so thrilled that Bonnie Hunter has offered us a fun sewing project!  On her Quiltville blog she’s having a Unity Quilt-along.  I just finished organizing and cutting my scraps into usable pieces so I thought, why not?

This is a medallion quilt so we’re building it from the center out which is fun (and also, I’m thinking I can quit anytime and it’ll be a cute small quilt – we’ll see how long my fabric lasts)!

corona1

Here was the first week.  Pretty easy.  So Bonnie Hunter is calling it the Unity Quilt but I’m calling it My Coronavirus Quilt because: 1. it looks like coronavirus to me and 2.  I want it to be my scrapbook, my reminder of this time in my life.

corona2

Here was the second week.  It got a lot harder and took me most of the week to finish.

So this week we’re adding a border of stars.

tiny stars

These stars are so cute!  We need 36 of them and I’m thrilled that I already had all these blue squares cut up in my scraps and a ton of little red and aqua squares.  However, it’s Friday and I only have 5 made.

corona3 (2)

I’ll catch up eventually.

But do you want to hear something funny?  Our Base shopping group colors are Red, White and Blue.  Of course.

Last night, someone organized a shopping group color t-shirt order on Facebook which I thought was hilarious.  I sent the pictures of the shirts to both my kids since they’ve had to listen to  my complaining and BOTH of them asked what was to keep someone from buying all the shirt colors and shopping whenever they wanted.  Hmmmm.

Anyway, I won’t be able to look at this quilt without also remembering our shopping group colors.  Go white team!

I also have finished 2 baby quilt tops.

baby quiltbaby quilt2

Someone asked me to make a gender neutral baby quilt in grey and I used the fabrics for two different layouts.

 

And my hand quilting is coming along.  We’ve had some warm weather here in Germany so I’m sewing as fast as I can.  I don’t want to be sweating under this quilt as summer arrives.  I’m over halfway done on the Homemade quilt and want to share it soon with my thoughts on using the felt quilting templates.

Homemade quilt

Take care and stay safe everyone!

Quilting in Quarantine

I’m on day 12 of a travel quarantine after my trip to Spain to see my son.  Of course, once this 14 days is over, I really have no where to go!  Pretty much everyone seems to be on quarantine these days and there’s no public gathering.

I’d like to say that I’ve gotten all kinds of sewing done; but I really haven’t.  I’ve been feeling all the anxiety and doom that comes with this global pandemic and I don’t like to sew in that condition.  My patience is short & I make a lot of mistakes.  And not to be too new age-y but if I’m making a quilt for someone, I want loving and warm thoughts to go into that quilt and not fear & anxiety.

I’ve been watching way too much news and checking in on my kids via Skype and text.  My daughter is in Seattle and my son is in Spain.  Thank God for technology!  I need to keep myself busy with a detailed project but it just isn’t happening.

I thought this would be a great time though to start organizing and cleaning my sewing room and quilting stuff since we’re moving sometime this year.  After I packed up some of my quilts, set some aside for charity and started cleaning out my scrap bin; my husband told me that his company said they won’t move anyone for 60 to 90 days.  I guess I have a little more time.

Here are some things I’m working on:

IMG_2518

I’ve been finishing up my hand quilting of this “Beauteous” quilt.

IMG_2516

For the past few months I’ve been using a big-stitch to quilt around the design.  Now, I’m working on a swirly design in the border.  It’s been very comforting to have the weight and warmth of this beautiful quilt on my lap and something to occupy my hands.

I had contacted my friend and favorite long arm quilter here in Germany to quilt the “Home Made” quilt I recently finished since I didn’t think I would have time to quilt it.  We ran into some problems trying to meet up with my travels and meetings getting cancelled and me trying not to be around anyone.  Last week, I decided that I now have time to quilt it!

I got it basted over the weekend and started quilting it last night.

IMG_2510IMG_2509

It also has a nice weight to it with the flannel backing.  I’m quilting it with a cream colored thread (I think I would’ve liked something brighter but I already had it here) and using an all over baptist fan design with a big stitch.  I’m trying a new technique that I found online using felt templates so I don’t have to mark any lines.  If it goes well, I’ll definitely share it.

Yesterday, I made a couple of masks for just-in-cases.  There were so many patterns being shared online.  I thought about making some to send to the states but the logistics of mailing made me decide against that.  I really pray that hospitals there are able to get more supplies of the proper gear.

IMG_2515

I also started this quilt last week.  It’s called “Keep it down!”  It’s from the book Old Quilts New Life by Sarah Fielke.  It’s a very traditional quilt but made with low contrast fabrics.  My fabrics have a bit more contrast than the one from the book but it’s still very low color.  I wanted a predominately grey quilt.  I’m making the quilt in a baby size so it will be about 40″ x 52″ and I’m using primary colors for the pop of color that the pattern calls for.  It’s a very quick and easy quilt.  I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s all finished.

Stay safe everyone!

Home Made finish

I’ve spent the day adding borders to this quilt and getting it finished.  Borders wipe me out but I’m so glad to have it done!

IMG_2477

This is the quilt I started in between working on Frolic clues back in January.  It’s called “Home Made” and it’s from the February 2020 American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.  Monique Jacobs is the designer.

I want to gift this quilt to some German friends so it’s priority #1 right now to get it finished.

You might remember that I changed a few things from the original pattern.  In the magazine, the houses are going all different directions but I liked them all going the same way.  I had to change a few of the fabric colors because I couldn’t find just the right striped fabric for the sashing.  I think the stripe doesn’t really add that much and I could’ve left it out.  I decided to change the border around the houses too and ultimately decided to add a small dark border to frame the houses.

IMG_2469

I thought I was being so smart and sewing the 2 small inner borders together first before adding them to the houses.  I quickly realized that unless I wanted to miter the corners, it wasn’t going to work.  My other options were to add cornerstones or rip apart the sewn borders.  I opted for cornerstones.

 I played around with different cornerstones and went with half square triangles.

I made one tiny churn dash block since I thought that might look cute.

IMG_2481

It just looked too busy on the quilt but I think it’ll be great as a label on the back.

IMG_2480

This was an easy and fun quilt to make.  Sometimes you need easy!

I’ve ordered some flannel fabric with little houses on it for the back and am debating whether to have this quilted with the long arm machine or to hand quilt it with a “big stitch”.  It measures 76 inches square.  I would love to hand quilt it but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time.  Either way, I really hope that this will be a soft and cozy quilt that our friends will love.

While I was making this, I fell in love with the churn dash blocks that were the corners for the outer border.

IMG_2470

They were really fun to make and I got to thinking about all my left-over Frolic pieces.

IMG_2467

I was puzzling about what I could do with all these flying geese pieces but then I got churn dash fever.

IMG_2472

These are made with some of the left-over half square triangles!

Then I had to quit playing around and get back to work on the House quilt but there’s got to be an interesting quilt with all these left-overs in my future!